Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Kickapoo Joy Juice

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” James 1:17

I guess I needed a little Kickapoo Joy Juice.  When I was a kid, I loved anything that was free.  It seemed back then marketers were always giving something away to try to lure consumers.  When I was about nine or ten and living in Jacksonville, one of the local radio stations, WAPE or “The Ape,” was giving away little orange styrofoam balls.  You would put the ball on your car antenna (which in those days was a metal stick about thirty inches long).  “The Ape” would have cars driving around and if they got behind you and announced your tag number on the radio, you received a prize.  It was amazing how many people had those balls on their antennas.  I think at one time we put two or three on there trying to increase our chances.

I also remember different companies giving away vinyl decals.  Countless times I would go the local “Minute Market” to see if they had anything.  One of my favorites was a soft drink that came out in 1965.  It was taken from the comic strip, Li’l Abner, and was called “Kickapoo Joy Juice.” It was similar to Mountain Dew and like Mountain Dew, had an extra kick of caffeine. I would go to the store and, if I had a dime, I would buy the drink but the real mission was to get the free decal to put somewhere in my room or on my notebook.  From the number of decals I had, you would have thought it was my favorite drink.

Recently, I bumped into another kind of Kickapoo.  During my dance with COVID, remember I nicknamed her Corena, my doctor and friend decided it would be good for me to try an infusion of special medicine.  It is given to folks that have a compromised immune system.  In my case because of my age and the fact that I am diabetic he thought it appropriate. So I went to the hospital, pulled out my wallet and got some Kickapoo Joy Juice.  And even that was an experience.

They asked me to wait in my car and they would come and get me.  Sure enough, after a few minutes, two people came out.  One was a nurse to make sure I felt like walking, I did, and the other was an escort, a bouncer of sorts, to “part the water.”  Her job was to either stop normal people when I came anywhere close, or to stop me from being too close to them.  I’m not sure if I felt important or felt like one of the lepers from the Bible.  Remember how they had to shout, “Unclean, unclean?”  Well, I’m pretty sure I know how they felt. But everyone was super kind and before long I was settled in to get my infusion of “Kickapoo.”

Well, it took almost an hour for the infusion and then I had to stick around for another hour just to make sure something weird didn’t happen.  It didn’t.  I went home and since I was in the middle of the storm, I really didn’t have a good day or night but about noon the next day, my fever broke, and I began to feel some better. I’m not at a hundred precent but each day is getting better and I am grateful. I.Am.Grateful.

Saturday night I was having supper with Judy, and she prayed the blessing for our food.  I thought she went a little over the top thanking God for this bump in our lives.  When she finished praying, I jokingly said, “Let’s not overdo the gratitude thing for this.”  I said it in jest, but really, it didn’t need to be said at all.  I don’t know all the good that is going to come out of my dance with Corena, but I know it will far outweigh the bad.

The same James, the half-brother of Jesus, that I quoted a couple of stories ago, said that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above.  Think about that. Every good and perfect gift comes down from a God who loves us more than we can imagine.  Just like my doctor and friend knew the cost would be high for my dose of Kickapoo Joy Juice, he also knew it would be of great benefit.  And my Abba Father,  sent His only Son to a broken world and a cruel cross for the same reason, except it was more than for our benefit.  It was so we could be redeemed…set free.  Amazing. He knew the price, which was higher than we could ever imagine, yet He did it.  Why?  He just loves us so.

Well, hopefully my dance with Corena continues to a swift end.  Thanks for the dance Corena, because you taught me to hurt with others.  And thank you Dearest Daddy for trusting me with the dance and for showing me once again that, “You’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, New Year, Southern born, thankful

New Year’s Eve Eve

And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Ezra 3:11

We weren’t famous but we had fun.  I was fortunate to have what a lot of kids never did. First, I know that not everybody did or does the church thing…and certainly not all teenagers but when I was growing up it seemed a lot more kids did.  I went to the same church from the time I was about 10 until I joined the Air Force at age 18.  We had the most incredible youth group you could imagine.  We were all good friends and it seemed we did everything together.  Almost every Friday or Saturday night we had a party at someone’s house.  It was some kind of cookout and always involved some kind of crazy game. Personally, I was partial to spin-the-bottle.  Smile.

Music was a huge part of our teen years.  Again, it was a different time but I believe our group was special.  We would rush through our Sunday night Bible study just so we could sit in a room and sing four-part harmony.  We weren’t the Tabernacle Choir but we sounded pretty good and better than that—we loved it.  After church it would be a trip to Frosty’s or one of the local pizza places.  I believe that a lot of who I am today came from that group and the awesome leaders who poured into our lives.  Musically that would be Lloyd and Jane.  She was the church pianist and he was the music director.  They loved Jesus, loved music and loved kids—in that order.  And that is how it all started.

It had to be Lloyd and Jane that came up with the idea of forming a four part quartet.  Now you have to understand in the late sixties and very early seventies, two things were huge: church softball and gospel music.  So, it probably seemed more natural than not.  Four of us young men, Doug, David, Steve and myself, formed a quartet with Melody on the piano.  After a contest to find a name we became…drumroll please, “The Youngmun”. Lloyd and Jane took us under their wing and taught us how to sing parts, add tone and balance and after a while we sounded decent.  Then, we started getting gigs—opportunities to sing.  Sometimes it was Friday nights, sometimes Saturday nights and sometimes Sunday afternoons with a sprinkling of times in-between.

We just had a great time. We loved to sing and were really good friends.  One of the Bible guys said that we should sing responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” And do you know what?  We tried to do exactly that. Well, eventually we went our separate ways, but the memories still live in my heart.  And that is the reason for this story.

You see, back then there were things called “all night singings”.  You can guess what it was by the title.  While they were held at different times the all-time favorite was New Year’s Eve.  Churches or groups of churches would book groups and they would literally sing all night long.  More than once we sang very late or very early—depending on your perspective.  And amazingly, people came and people stayed.

Well, times have changed.  I rarely hear of gospel concerts like the ones from days gone by.  I know there are some but not to the level of those days.  I don’t miss staying up all night—these days if I make it to 10:00pm I am doing really good.  The ball may fall in Times Square but it does it without me!  But I do miss the way we started out the New Year.  Being with a bunch of people who loved Jesus and loved music was pretty cool.  Song after song spoke in poetic ways of God’s incredible love for us and the hope of tomorrow and the day after that “Because He Lives.”

You know, it probably wouldn’t work today to try and have an all-night singing, but do you know what would work?  This New Year’s Eve maybe we could, maybe we should, take some time to thank God for all the blessings He sent in 2020.  Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking He went on strike.  Oh no, His blessings, His love notes were everywhere.  They always say the most powerful person in the room is the guy with the microphone.  Well, we all know too often that person didn’t shout the most encouraging news in 2020.  In fact, I’m not sure they could spell encouraging. 

But I do know this.  No matter what 2021 holds, if we choose to follow the God who made it all, if we will trust and believe, no matter what—I think we will find that it’s gonna be a great year.  We may not always get exactly what we want from God, but we always get what is exactly right for us.  Someone said He is too wise to make a mistake and too good to be unkind.  I know, sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but He loves us—a lot.  How much—enough to plan Christmas and Easter—and that is a lot. So, I don’t know your plans for New Year’s Eve but I hope it includes Him…the God who wants to be your Father—your Dearest Daddy.  I hope it will include some quiet time so that you two can chat as the Whisper whispers His love in your ear. Listen as He speaks those three precious words, “I’ve got this.”