Posted in Scripture, life, Family, Southern born, thankful, fear, priorities, Trials

Watch Out

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 27:12

I grabbed it and couldn’t let go.  I’ve said it before but growing up, times were pretty lean.  My Daddy worked very hard to provide a good home for us and we always had plenty of good food.  Sure, sometimes there was more “loaf than meat” but hey it was still good.  One of my favorite food memories from when I was nine or ten was a fried potato sandwich.  When there wasn’t any meat for sandwiches, Mama would slice some potatoes and fry them up.  We would slap those things between two pieces of bread with some mayo and instant heaven.  I mean who doesn’t like home fries anyway?

We lived in an old-World War II barracks that had been converted into a two-bedroom house with a breezeway that led to a closed in garage that served as a third bedroom.  We also had two acres of land which was great for playing but not so great for mowing.  We didn’t have a riding mower until I was in my teens, so the two acres had to be mowed by hand. To get it done we had an old push mower.  Just trust me that was a lot to mow with a push mower.  Anyway, this mower had two unique qualities.  First, it didn’t have a throttle.  It had one speed—wide open.  It was one of those deals where you wrapped a rope around the top and gave it a yank.  If you said your prayers and held your tongue just right—it would crank.  And like I said, when it started…it started.

The other quirk with our lawnmower was that it didn’t have a kill switch either.  There were two ways to turn it off.  First, you could take a screwdriver and ground the spark plug to a metal part on the mower.  The second was a lot riskier.  You could attempt to pull the spark plug wire off the spark plug.  Now, keep in mind I was young and didn’t understand all the dynamics of a spark plug, the coil and touching the wrong thing at the wrong time.  It was a setup for a shocking experience.

So, one day…you can see it coming, can’t you? Well, one day, I was done mowing and the lawnmower was running wide open.  I had to kill the beast—slay the dragon if you will.  I was a good piece from the shed and didn’t have a screwdriver so that left only option 2—pulling off the spark plug wire.  Running wide open, shaking like a hula dance (that would be me and not the lawnmower) I reached down and grabbed a hold.  I still don’t know if I grabbed the wrong part or if the current came though the brittle insulation on the wire, but it got me.

I’m not sure if I can describe the sensation that I experienced. I can vividly remember two things.  My whole arm shaking and the fact that I couldn’t get loose.  I’m sure I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.  Like the Ray Stevens song about the Mississippi Squirrel, I was sure “something had a hold of me.”  I don’t know how I got loose.  It may have been mercy from above or pure desperation, but I did get loose. The lawnmower was still running, and my arm was still shaking.  If you ever see this strange twitch in my left arm—well, it still hasn’t got over the sensation.

I’m supposing I got a LONG screwdriver and killed the engine, and I am also sure I never, and I mean never, went out again without it.  You only need to grab the wrong thing one time and you will never do it again.  I know that is true with quirky old lawnmowers, but I also know it is true with bad decisions.  I suppose every one of us has a bad decision somewhere in our past—and I am not talking about spicy pizza as a midnight snack.

There are certain things, and a lot of times they are lawbreakers, that you shouldn’t do once much less twice.  If we would just hit the pause button and think about it we could eliminate a lot of our regrets and consequences.  Do I really want to do that? Do I really want to keep that date? Is that a call I really want to make? Is that a relationship I really want to maintain?  Think about it.  I have never done this before, but I just need to use that verse we wrote about recently.  It is from Proverbs (which are wise sayings) and it tells us the prudent (or wise) person will see danger and take refuge.  The simple (inexperienced) person will see the danger and keep right on going.

Let me tell you.  I grabbed that wire once and once was enough.  The only thing that would have been better was if I would have walked to the shed and got the screwdriver. It wasn’t that far.  But I thought I would be the exception.  I thought I could pull it off…no pun intended…and I was wrong. I.Was.Wrong.  I don’t know if there is anything in your life right now that is a bad idea or maybe you’re making plans.  Take some advice from a former “wire grabber.”  Don’t.  Just do the right thing and you won’t regret it.  Oh, and if you don’t, there is a God who loves and cares for you.  And if you ask, He will help.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, Trials, USA

Momma and Politics

Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5

He was running for county commissioner.  A long time ago when I was about ten years old, I had my first and only encounter with political campaigns.  Somehow, and I have no idea how, my Momma got involved with the campaign to elect a guy named Bill Basford as county commissioner.  And, when Mom jumped in—she jumped in all the way.  That meant a couple of things.

First, and totally embarrassing, was this thing they put on our car.  We were pretty much not rich, in fact, I’m sure we weren’t even middle class.  We drove a 1957 Plymouth and let’s just say 1957 was a long way in the rearview mirror.  Anyway, back in those days if a person was running for office, they had these triangle shaped signs that people strapped to the top of their cars.  Now if it had been a little triangle that wouldn’t have been nearly as embarrassing, but this thing belonged on the sands of Egypt with the rest of the Pyramids.  It was HUGE.  It loudly proclaimed, “BILL BASFORD FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONER.” We would drive around and advertise for Bill.

That wasn’t all.  We also had to go door to door asking people to vote for Bill.  We covered our neighborhood like the plague of locusts that cleaned out Egypt.  I am certain people saw us coming and quickly closed their blinds and pretended they weren’t home.  It turns out that was just practice for when I became a preacher.  By the way…I know you are in there.  We also had a big supply of bumper stickers which we would gladly stick on your car.  When you’re ten, you like to stick things on things, so I liked that part—a lot.

Well, election day came, and Momma waited for the big news.  Either by television or by telephone we got the word that Bill had won, and they invited Momma to come downtown to the headquarters to celebrate. Like Ma and Pa Kettle we (as in Daddy, Momma, my two sisters and I) got in the 1957 Plymouth and off we went.  I only remember a couple of things about the celebration.  There was loud music, there was free food and there was a bar.  My daddy went over, and I saw him get something to drink and I don’t think it was sweet tea.  The reason I remember that is because if Daddy wasn’t a teetotaler, Momma was.

So that was it.  Momma was excited because her guy won.  She didn’t get a political appointment or anything, but we did have a bunch of bumper stickers leftover to stick on things.  But the best part of all was that our guy won.  Winning is always a good feeling.  Everyone wants to be on the winning side. Every contest has winners and losers.  Like the song says, “Some gotta win, some gotta lose.  Good time Charlie’s got the blues. Well, your name might not be Charlie, but maybe you’ve got the blues.  And I’m not talking about any election results.

If the truth be known, life can be pretty blue, can’t it?  And sometimes, it is because we lose…our health, our job, our family, our house, well, lots of things.  But I want to tell you something that is really important.  There is Someone who never loses, and His name is Jesus.  If it was an election…He would win every time. If it was a game…He would win every time.  If it was a war…He would win every time. If it was a debate…yup, He would win every time.  Do you want to know the best part?  Keep reading.

Remember how mama got invited to the big celebration downtown?  Well, if we are willing to place our faith and trust in Jesus and follow Him, two amazing things happen.  First, because He wins, we win.  In a way, when Bill Basford won—Momma won.  And when we choose to follow Jesus, because He wins—we win too.  The Bible says, “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Then, the party starts.  Sometimes people think heaven is going to be one long boring church service.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is going to a celebration like no other…like a party without end.  And while we won’t be the center of attention—that’s Jesus’ place—we will be guests of honor.  How about that?

I don’t really know how things turned out for Bill Basford, but I suppose he was a good commissioner.  I also know it made my Momma feel pretty special to be a part of his campaign.  She felt included—we felt included.  We may have driven an old 1957 Plymouth but on that night with Bill’s name on the top, it felt like a Cadillac.  Jesus invites you to be a part of His campaign team too.  He’s not running for anything—He is already King of Kings. But there’s one thing for sure, He loves to invite people to come along for the ride.  He hopes, and so do I, that you will join Him.  When this campaign is over, we are going to celebrate Him forever.  Until then, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, thankful

Boom! Problem Solved

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:13

I like coffee…a lot.  Coffee has been a best friend of the Taylor tribe for as long as I can remember.  I grew up with my Daddy’s words, “Dewayne, get me a cup of coffee” ringing in my ears.  One of my favorite memories of my parents is Daddy coming home about 4:00 pm and Momma having a fresh pot of coffee waiting.  She would pour up two cups and they would sit under the tree in the back yard and visit and drink coffee.  Now I am one of those coffee drinkers who likes their coffee bold and strong.  Someone said drinking weak coffee is like drinking brown dishwater.  I agree.

Now this is one area that my wife Judy and I don’t quite agree on.  She likes her coffee, well, mild.  You might say I like man coffee and she likes lady coffee and that works because I am a man and she is a lady.  The only time that doesn’t work is when I am downstairs and the only coffee is her lady coffee.  It is something called breakfast blend and it is pretty mild. So, when I am downstairs, what am I to do?  Well, I stumbled on the answer awhile back.  Less.

That’s right…less.  You see we have one of those Keurig coffeemakers.  I know, I know…you purest coffee drinkers out there are probably gagging, but it is a good compromise for flavor and a fast cup of coffee.  One of the features on the Keurig is that you can easily adjust the amount of water in the cup.  You can set it on anywhere from four to twelve ounces.  So, if the coffee is a little on the lady side, well, I just set it to use less water.  Less water equates to stronger coffee.  Boom…problem solved.

You see, when it comes to how big the cup of coffee, sometimes more water is just more.  The coffee may still look black (which is how I drink it) but the amount of water vastly affects the flavor.  More water equals less flavor.  And that is not only true in coffee (or tea I suppose…though I am not a hot tea drinker) it is true in life.  Sometimes we just think if we can pour in more of this or more of that we will be happier.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just a lot busier.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just further into debt.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just in greater need for a larger wardrobe.

Along with more is better (and often it is not) comes the thought that, “If I only had…” and in our “culture of much”, that is often thought and often believed.  Well, take it from someone who often looked for happiness at Best Buy or Target…it just isn’t so.  The thing that can make life worth living is not found in a store…it is found in the people we love most…that matter the most.  The thing that makes life worth living is not found in a store…it is found by looking to the Heavenly Father.  The fact is, He made all things for us to enjoy…yup, it’s in the Bible.  But keep in mind that He has given us nothing to worship.  That belongs to Him and Him alone.

Remember, you can adjust your coffee flavor in your Keurig with the amount of water you choose. If you like stronger coffee…more isn’t better…it’s just more.  And when it comes to life, learn to appreciate, to love those around you.  Take the time to enjoy them.  In that case more is not only more…it is abundant. And when you need to add some richness to life, you’ll find no better source than God.  He loves you so much and wants you to experience life to the fullest.  In fact, He said, “I have come that you might have the life that is truly life.”  And to help you along the way, He will be right there beside you, ready to help, ready to assure, ready to let you know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, love, Scripture

A Daddy’s Love

“And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6

I might have been just a little difficult when I was little.  I can remember when I was quite young that I wasn’t very quiet.  I also remember that I had a hard time standing still.  I used to rock side to side sometimes and I can remember Momma asking, telling me, to hold still.  I’m sure there is a name for it now but back then it was just kind of a weird normal. At any rate it might explain some of the things I did that got me into a hot mess.

I can remember the time that I stuck my daddy’s water hose in the ground and couldn’t get it out.  We lived in North Florida and the soil was very sandy.  I discovered if you turned the water on and pressed the end of the hose against the soil, it would kinda self-drill into the sand.  On a good day I could get the hose three or four feet into the ground.  That was the easy part.  The problem was getting it back out of the ground.  You see, the water and sand created a seal around the hose and no matter how hard I tried…it was stuck.  I suppose you can imagine how upset, maybe angry, my daddy was when he came home and tried to water his roses and his hose was stuck in the ground.  Hmmm…not good, not good at all.

Of course then there was the time I found some leftover firecrackers in the workroom we had attached to the back of the house.  I decided that I could make a rocket of sorts with the firecrackers and a can.  I went to the trash and found a tin can, poked a small hole in the bottom and then fed the fuse for one of the firecrackers through the hole.  Then, I dug a hole just the size of the can, put the can in the hole and lit the fuse and…ran.  The firecracker exploded as planned and that propelled the can up in the air probably twenty or thirty feet.  There was only one problem.  I had dug the hole for the can right next to the front of daddy’s car.  Well, what goes up must come down and that can came right down…and landed right on the hood of daddy’s car.  Since this was a long time ago, it was when cans were made a lot stronger than they are today and when that can hit the hood—it definitely left a mark…a dent in fact.  Hmmm…not good, not good at all.

The worst of them all was the time I shot my daddy in the back with my BB gun.  We were hunting squirrels and daddy had let me take my BB gun along.  I was walking along and violated one of the big rules of gun safety—actually two of them.  First, make sure your safety is one and two, keep your finger off the trigger.  Well, I apparently flunked gun safety because my safety was not on and I had my finger on the trigger.  I stumbled and shot daddy dead in the back.  Now calm down.  The good news is he had on a heavy hunting coat and the BB gun was pretty weak.  The bottom line is he hardly felt it but he did feel it enough to turn around and give me “the look.”  I’m sure I had to retake Gun Safety 101.  Hmmm…nor good, not good at all.

So you would think after these three things and probably a couple of dozen more I can’t remember, my daddy promptly disowned me or at least sent me off to reform school or the French Foreign Legion.  But the truth of the matter is…he didn’t.  Oh, I’m sure there was some sort of punishment but one thing was for sure.  He never stopped loving me…he never disowned me. No matter what…I was still his son and his love, a father’s love, never failed. I know for some of you that is hard to understand, because it just wasn’t that way with your daddy.

Let me share some good news with you.  No matter what kind of daddy you had growing up there is another Daddy in heaven who loves you no matter what.  In fact, the Bible says He is an Abba Father…or Dearest Daddy and He is just waiting for you to be a part of His family.  And that happens when you ask and when you believe—ask Him to forgive your sins and believe that His Son Jesus in fact died for your sins making that forgiveness possible.  Trust me…it is the greatest gift and the greatest decision you will ever make.  Why not ask Him today?  Why not let Him make you His.  I promise you won’t regret it.  If you are afraid you’ve messed up to bad…well, don’t you worry about that.  No matter what you have done you can be assured that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Time to Stop

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

I’m not sure when it started but I do know when it ended.  It was probably just part of growing up boy and part of growing up country, but the bottom line is looking back I wish it wasn’t part of my boyhood.  Somewhere along my growing journey, probably when I was six or seven, I had access to a BB gun.  Then, just a little later I had my own.  I’m sure I would pluck cans and shoot at paper targets.  While my Daddy wasn’t a big hunter, we did shoot our share of squirrels and rabbits and that might have been where it started.

One day, and I don’t remember the day, I grew tired of plucking cans and decided to go “bird hunting.”  Our yard had three large oak trees and several large cedar trees so there were plenty of birds around.  It’s funny but I never thought about shooting something as innocent as a bird but one day I did. I don’t remember the first time, but I do remember the many times.  I would walk quietly around my yard, listening for the chirp of a bird, look through the leaves and branches and find my target.  I would aim, I would pull the trigger and too often the bird would fall.

I can still remember going over and picking up the now lifeless bird and walking across the road to dispose of the body by tossing it into the woods that stood there.  I want you to know as I write this it still causes me grief…not because I shot a bird but because I senselessly took the life of a living thing. Sometimes I would feel a bit of remorse, but it only lasted until the next time I felt the need to stalk and hunt again. And it wasn’t just birds.  We had a healthy herd of toads around our house too and occasionally they too would fall victim to my deadly aim.  But it wasn’t so much the toads…it was the birds.

This went on for quite a while.  The boredom, the stalking and the shooting followed by temporary remorse…until the next time.  Then it happened and I can remember it to this day. We had a cedar tree on one of the corners of our house.  It was large and went all the way to the ground.  As I approached the tree and peered into and under the tree there on the ground, happily hunting bugs, was a brown thrasher.  It was larger than a sparrow, so the thrill of the hunt was intensified. I saw him but he never saw me.  I took aim and in a moment of time he was on his side in the dirt. But this time…it was different.

The BB had not instantly killed him…rather he lay on the ground…mortally wounded and still breathing.  It was only for about thirty seconds, but it was almost like we locked eyes and I watched as he died and…that was it.  As far as I know I never shot another bird.  As I watched his life ebb away, I saw this little hobby as what it was…senseless fun at the expense of another’s life. Yes, I can still see that brown thrasher and it still causes me grief.

What was different that day was that I saw the grim reality of my actions…a reality so harsh it caused me to stop.  It.Caused.Me.To.Stop. The truth is in our everyday walk about lives we are confronted with difficult and often painful situations.  No, they don’t involve a bird, they don’t involve a BB gun, but they can be just as painful and cause just as much harm.  Sometimes it is a senseless action and sometimes it is a senseless word, but the result is a wounded heart followed by a lifelong scar. And unlike my hunt ending experience with a brown thrasher, for some reason these encounters often go on and on.

Like what happened when I stared death in the face…we need to see what our words and actions can do to the innocents, or maybe not so innocents, in our lives.  We need to pause and think before we speak or act…before we leave another scar.  I usually write from a Jesus perspective, and I guess I am now, but really, this goes beyond that to this—be kind and love one another.  Kindness and love are not always easy, but they are always right—and especially for us who follow Jesus.  Wherever and whenever…we, of all people, should set the example of the One we follow.  Tall order? Need help? Don’t fret…your Father is waiting to help. He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne 

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

When Daddy is a Pastor

If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless, and he deceives himself.” James 1:26

It wasn’t what it seemed.  The life of a pastor is, well, interesting.  In fact, the life of the pastor’s family is interesting.  You could say that we live in a glass house and that would be so true.  I remember when we lived in a parsonage (that’s a house provided by the church) and we had a wood burning stove.  It was difficult to control the heat so often we would leave the front door open to allow some cooler air in.  There was a sweet (and she really was) older lady who attended our church, and she was very concerned that we had our door open.  She would call saying, “Judy, do you know that your front door is open?”  Of course, we did, but she felt it was her civil and religious duty to make sure we were stewards of our electricity.

When we moved to Cobden, Illinois our girls were very young…five and four.  Back in those days during worship, the pastor had a big chair where he was to sit on the stage.  I don’t know if we did it that way to make the pastor seem important or so everyone could stare at him. It was just the way we did it.  Now here is what was interesting.  While I was sitting on the stage looking at everyone and everyone was looking at me, Judy was playing the piano.  Many pastors are blessed with musically talented wives, and I certainly was one of them.  Now don’t miss this.  I am on the stage and Judy was at the piano. Who do you suppose was watching the girls?  Well, that would be no one.  And you know, girls will be girls.

Like so many siblings, the girls loved to pick at one another.  It was always nothing serious…just enough to make mom and dad nervous.  Well, that Sunday was one of those days.  They were being little girls and poking and pinching each other. They were giggling enough to cause a bit of disturbance and to catch their mother’s eye.  Judy gave them “the look”.  Now every married man knows about “the look”.  Personally, I would rather stare down a cobra than face “the look”.  The problem was, while Judy was looking…they were not.  They were busy poking and pinching.  You might wonder what I was doing.  I was sitting on the stage trying to ignore the two little girls on the first or second row.  I was pretty good at it, too.  However, there was no ignoring the lady at the piano.

When they didn’t get the message, Judy made sure I did.  I don’t know if it was “the look” or smoke signals coming from behind the piano, but I got the message loud and clear.  Handle it.  As much as I didn’t like sitting on the stage on the throne, I preferred that to handling the girls in public.  I rose from the throne and walked straight to the girls.  I took them by the hand and as casually as possible led them out the side door of the sanctuary.  Now there is one thing that every pastor has to remember whether he is going to the restroom or taking his kids out to have a “come to Jesus meeting”.  Turn your microphone off. I didn’t.

As the door closes behind us, Becca, our oldest, and in her sweetest five-year-old voice says, “Daddy, please don’t hit us.”  Now, pause, because I know in this world the idea of hitting a child conjures up all kind of bad things.  If there was any hitting it was only going to be a gentle swat on the bottom.  Period.  I knew that and the girls knew that.  Thanks to my not turning my microphone off—everyone in the sanctuary knew it too.  You can probably imagine that sweet little voice coming over the speakers.  There were no tears between the three of us but there were plenty of tears in the sanctuary.  No, they weren’t grieving for those precious little girls—they were fine.  They were tears from laughing so hard.  We walked back into the sanctuary and every person was either rolling on the floor or trying to stay in their seat.  It was a Hallmark moment.

Yup…we live in a glass house for sure.  Even worse, I still had to stand up and preach later in the service. Amazingly, somehow, we made it through.  It is things like that which make our relationship with the families we serve so special.  I have deeply appreciated that through the years.   Anyone who knows the Taylor tribe knows that we are unapologetically human.  If you are looking for a perfect, plastic pastor family…well, you won’t find it with us. I’ve often said that people can handle Christians who make mistakes…they get that.  What they can’t handle is when we act like we are perfect and better than they are. Truth is we are neither.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, said if anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless, and he deceives himself. Well, spoken, James.  In fact, we could probably put several actions in place of controlling our tongue and come to the same conclusion.  I am always so grateful that God can handle our imperfections. He never regrets inviting us into His family, but He does desire for us to be honest and real…and so does everyone else.  Go ahead, take off the mask and just be you.  You can rest assured that His unconditional love will still be there…even when you leave your microphone on.  And, if you do, don’t worry, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

Writing Every Day

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Numbers 90:12

It wouldn’t cut soft butter today but back then it was cutting edge. I’m a tech guy.  I loved the newest and greatest technology.  When a new something comes out, if I’m not careful, I am on my way to grab one.  Of course, the funny part is it usually ends up sitting around somewhere.  Even my iPhone is mad because of the hours it sits on the counter—unloved and unattended.  Frequently I have to apologize for not returning a call or not answering a text…not because I’m ignoring a person—I’m ignoring my phone.

This love affair with tech began when I was a kid. When it came time for Christmas, I would browse the Sears catalogue and dream of the cool gifts that might come my way. And somehow, Momma and Daddy, with a little help from Santa, would pull it off.  Of course, sometimes they surprised me.  It would have been Christmas of, oh, 1966 and I received something totally unexpected and totally cool. It was a small, battery powered, portable reel-to-reel tape recorder.  This was before eight-tracks, before cassettes…before anything.  The size of large book, it gave me the ability to record something and play that something back.

One time I took my recorder to my grandparent’s house in Gainesville, Florida.  My grandfather (there was no “Papa” with him) was talking with my Daddy and was even telling a joke.  I decided to start the recorder and record what they were saying. Sure enough it worked and later, I played the tape for everyone, and we all marveled at the ability for something so small to do that.  But here is the amazing part.  Somewhere in my stuff, is a small reel of tape and on that tape is my grandfather and my Daddy’s voices…probably one of the few recordings to exist.  Even though they are gone…their voices live on.

Their.Voices.Live.On.  Think about that for just a moment.  Both of these men who influenced me so much have long since passed away. But through technology their voices can still be heard.  Oh, I know it is not a big deal now but back then…it was so unusual and that makes the recording valuable.  They are, if you will, speaking from the grave.

In one of those moments of clarity, I recently realized that I too, one day, will speak from the grave.  My life, my actions, my priorities, my values, sermons I have preached, and stories I have written, will all be left behind and all will speak.  And I wonder…what will they say of me and what will they say of who I was?  When my great grandchildren hear the stories of their great Papa, will those stories be stories worthy to share? Will the words encourage them to live right and do right, or leave them scratching their head like a batter thrown a good curve ball on a hot Saturday afternoon? We should all hope to leave a story that is worth telling…one that brings some light and laughter into their world.

There is a verse I keep coming back to time and again.  Moses wrote it thousands of years ago and yet is as fresh as today’s news.  He asked God to help him number his days that he could gain a wise heart.  He wasn’t asking for his math to be accurate when he counted birthdays.  No, he was asking that he be wise enough to make the most, the very most, of every single day.

Legacy.  It is a great word, and we are all leaving one.  The only question is, “What kind will it be?” That is up to us.  Five days a week I write a story but in reality…I write one everyday…and so do you.  Let’s be sure to write one worth telling.  Fortunately, there is a publisher who is all about helping us and if we are Jesus followers, we call Him Dearest Daddy.  He is more than willing to help us write a best seller…after all, that’s just one more thing He does.  He’s got that too.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, life, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Barefoot

The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

Ok…it just hurt. I grew up down South and there and especially then things were just a bit different.  Back in those days before Nintendo and Game Boys, we played…I mean we just played.  Even though we had television, and yes, it was black and white,  it was rarely on…especially during the day.  When school was over for the day, we would go outside and run the neighborhood and…the woods.

We lived in a small country neighborhood that was surrounded by brushy woods.  We played army, built forts, and played every game you could imagine.  We had a large Chinaberry tree in our backyard, and we would load our pockets with the small berries and then chase one another trying our best to “ping” someone with the berries. As you can imagine we ran…a lot. And the best running shoes then were no shoes at all.  We ran and played barefoot most of the time.  There were times of regret, like when we would stub our toe on a big old pine root, but most of the time we did just fine.  Of course, all that “barefoot-ness” toughened our feet up till the soles were leather tough.

Well, things change, and we all grew up and started wearing shoes.  With the shoes, we lost our toughness but not our love to occasionally go barefoot.  There’s still just something about the feel of grass and soft sand on the bottom of your foot.  Yup…what good memories…that is until I stepped on a stupid rock. It all started when I went outside early in the morning, as in the sun was still yawning, to have a cup of coffee with Judy.  Of course, I wasn’t wearing shoes.  We have a paved driveway and patio so no deal…right? Not so fast.

I walked out to the patio, visited awhile, and then decided it was time to head back into the house to get ready for the day.  Our patio is a foot or so higher than our driveway and we have a small step there to make things easier.  So, I stepped down onto the step and then on down to the driveway.  Not thinking, nor thinking to look, right where I stepped was a nice, small rock.  Now this wasn’t the smooth stone kind of rock but the kind that you find in an unpaved alley.  Anyway, I stepped, and stepped hard and landed right on that stinking rock.  Ouch.

As things would happen, it was in the middle of my heel, and it just hurt.  I muttered something about stupid rocks, picked the rock up and chucked it back in the alley where it belonged.  It really was a “no harm, no foul” deal.  I mean, it wasn’t like it hurt all day and it wasn’t like I had to go to the doctor, but for those few moments…it just hurt and for those few moments…I was mad at the rock. Mad.At.The.Rock.

Wait…later I decided there was something wrong with that.  I am sure that rock didn’t wake up that morning (do rocks wakeup?) and decide to be in the exact wrong spot.  In fact, I am sure the rock had nothing to do with it at all. I am sure that I am the one who chose not to wear shoes that morning, who didn’t look to see if there was a rock in the way, and who wasted my emotional energy by getting mad at a rock.  It sounds like this one is on me.

The bottom line is when you do life, you will occasionally step on a rock and it may cause some pain.  But like the Disney song says, maybe we should just, “let it go.” The Bible gives us some even greater counsel.  It says that we are to remember that God is our strength, and we should ask Him to guide our feet as sure as a mountain deer.  In other words…to help us watch where we step…whether it is off our patio or into a questionable decision.

Well, I know, and you know it wasn’t the rock’s fault that day and really, in the scope of things, it wasn’t mine either. It was just one of those things.  Oh, and this morning, I went out barefoot again but before I stepped off the patio, I looked and that means, I may have learned and that is always valuable.  So be sure and look before you step and remember, even if things don’t go exactly like you plan today…He’s still got this. Bro. Dewayne

Oh wait…I thought that was the end of the story, but it wasn’t.  So, the same day I wrote this, at lunch I went home to eat and kicked my shoes off.  As I was walking across the kitchen floor, I stepped on a…get ready…rock.  Yup, right there in the kitchen.  I guess you just never know.

Posted in Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Mother's Day, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Remembering Momma

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:28-29

Well, it’s time. Enter Mother’s Day…a day to celebrate our mothers, our wives and other ladies who have poured their life into our lives, but time can make that harder.  Let me explain. You see, time can be a bane and a blessing. It is difficult to live with but we sure can’t live without it and as we get older, it can begin to fuzz the brain and our memories. Things that at one time were vivid and clear become a midst and sometimes disappear into the fog.

That seems to be true of so many of my childhood memories—my Momma memories. Things that I am sure were so valuable, so definitive at the time, are now simply not there. I am sure that is the case with my memories of my parents as a child. When that happens, I simply fill in the gaps with hints and clues from the things I do remember. As the pieces come together, it quickly becomes obvious that my Momma was one of my anchors and a huge blessing in my life.

As I scan the landscape of my childhood, as I piece the pieces together, I realize that I had a really good childhood, and it was largely because of my parents and in particular, my mother. As the baby of eight, by the time they got to me, two things were obvious: they had it down to a science, and I was pretty spoiled.

Because of our finances, we didn’t get everything we wanted (not by a long shot), but Christmas, birthdays, and usually even ordinary days were special. Momma was often the one who made that happen. She was a stay-at-home, hold the fort down, mom and was always there when I needed her. Perhaps you have heard of a Swiss Army knife.  It is one crazy invention where a simple pocketknife becomes an all-purpose, whatever you need tool. And that describes Momma. Whatever the occasion she was there for us…for me. Well, truth be known, while she didn’t wear a habit like Mother Teresa or a nurse’s uniform like Florence Nightingale or banish a sword like Joan of Arc, she was that and more in my eyes.

I wonder how many times was I sick, and she became Doctor Momma?  On so many occasions I can remember her pulling me into her lap and holding me. On one particular occasion when I was over five and under ten, I was very sick— fever, nausea, and a young body that felt like it had been beaten.  I know now it was probably the flu and probably contagious and yet there she was in our old rocking chair, at two in the morning, cradling me and holding me.  That was Momma.

Sometimes Momma put on her Leonardo da Vinci hat and showed a designer flare. I can remember as a teenager I had a rather new pair of jeans—ordinary to some—valuable to me. I was horseback riding one day, and the horse cut a corner too sharply and ran me into a pole, ripping my jeans right above the knee. Bummer. My Momma simply cut the legs off the jeans where they were torn, put in some bright red cloth, and sewed them back together. There you go…good as new, and since it was the 70’s, it made a statement. I had a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans.

Two or three times a day Momma always put on her chef’s hat. A couple of years ago I made a thoughtless and inaccurate comment about Momma’s cooking not being “the best in the world.” Can someone say, “Dumb?”  Can someone say, “Really?” No, Momma was a great cook and my waistline still proves it.  She had the amazing ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. To me, her chicken and dumplings and blackberry dumplings were both legendary.  Oh, and did I mention her fried corn beef hash?  No, Chef Momma was amazing…and we loved her for it.

Yup, my Momma was amazing and the longer I live the more I realize just how blessed I was to have her.  It has been said that men often marry women like their mothers.  Well, that at least helps to explain the amazing wife that God has given me.  In so many ways she too is that wife, that mother, that grandmother that so many wish they had.  I don’t have to wish…Judy is my wish come true. Someone once said that a person who has one good friend in their life is blessed.  Well, without going any further than my home I know I have had two—Momma and my precious wife Judy.  Thank You, Lord…a bunch.

Remember, there is no such thing as perfect Momma’s but a lot of us have been blessed with great ones. On this Mother’s Day, if Momma is still around, be sure and let her know how much you appreciate her.  And if she isn’t…well, be sure and thank the Lord.  And one more thought…be sure and thank your wife, for all she has done. Guys, trust me, we would be lost without them.  Oh, and do remember this, there is a God who loves you more than your Momma ever could or did.  It’s good to know that no matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Stinky Football & Me

Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25b

She told me what I didn’t know.  If you read Grits even occasionally you know that I was born special…the baby of eight.  After seven tries Momma and Daddy got it right.  Yes, it is and was a burden to bear but someone had to do it.  I was so special my brothers and sisters called me “Precious” though I’m not sure it was a term of endearment or endangerment.  Of course, all of that is written in jest but the bottom line is…I was the baby of the family and that made me special.

Even us special people don’t always get it right.  In fact, truth be known, we might get it wrong more often than the rest.  Sometimes that is a result of being just a little spoiled and sometimes it is just not knowing and one night, I found that out.  My oldest brother Reggie and his wife Sonia played a big part in my growing up.  Reggie is like sixteen years my senior and of course Sonia almost as many.  In my growing up years they were one of the main reasons I managed to stay in church.  They were regular attenders and would swing by the house and make sure I had a ride to church.

Because church was such a big part of my social world, I went all the time.  All.The.Time.  We had church three times a week and I was there.  My favorite time to go to church, though, was Wednesday nights.  We had this cool group of guys, led by two really cool older guys, and we had a great time learning about Jesus and stuff.  But it was what happened after the Jesus time that topped it all—football.  Our church had a large field out back and we would get together and play every Wednesday night after our class.  And we played real football too…tackle.

Of course, this was North Florida and most times that meant it was hot so by the time we were done we were hot, sweaty, and well, stinky.  The only problem was I didn’t have a clue.  You see no one in the Taylor tribe had ever told me about the wonders of deodorant…Daddy didn’t, Momma didn’t, my sisters didn’t. So often, I was a stinky mess.  It was just about then that my sister-in-law Sonia came to the rescue.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  We were done at church, we had played football and I was, well, you know.

Reggie and Sonia had a two door Pontiac Lemans. That night Sonia was holding the door open and the seat back so I could crawl into the backseat and that is when it happened.  When she got into the car and closed the door, she said, “Dewayne, has anyone ever told you about deodorant?” Well, I replied truthfully and replied, “No ma’am.” And, without explanation, she simply said, “Well, honey (everyone was “honey”), you need to wear some.”

Well, shoot that thing, no one ever told me about that.  I knew about taking a bath and I probably knew about slapping on some smell good stuff, but I sure didn’t know I stunk and that there was something to help with that. Well, that changed everything.  I guess I went home and found some deodorant and started wearing it.  It probably made me just a little more popular with my friends…especially the girls.  If she hadn’t told me the truth, I would probably be a single hermit living somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains or something.

You see, Sonia told me something I needed to know…and I’m glad she did.  It probably wasn’t easy…though she was always telling Reggie how to drive. Smile. But since she knew the truth would set me free from a stinky situation…she cared enough to speak up. So, do you know someone that needs to hear a truth…even if it is hard?  And, more importantly, are you willing to share that truth?

All of us have someone in our world that needs this but there is one thing that is key.  In order to earn the right to share truth we need to have a relationship, a trust, with the person.  Sonia’s hard truth did not offend me because I knew she loved me.  Her truth wasn’t to embarrass, but to help and that made all the difference in the world. That’s what Paul, the New Testament writer meant when he said, “Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” Sincere truth speaking isn’t judgmental…it is helpful.

If you know someone who needs a little truth, think about it and then carefully and tactfully share with them.  That is no guarantee that it will go well but at least you will know that you did your part. And if it does go wrong and you end up in bit of a storm, don’t worry, don’t be discouraged because, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne