Posted in Family, food, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Mushroom

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Her name was Mushroom, and she was a hoot.  The other morning on our way to a pastor’s conference, my wife Judy and I decided to eat at a Waffle House (WH).  Now, I need to be honest and tell you that for no apparent reason, WH has never been on my list of places to eat.  I think it probably is some sort of prejudice from my days as a teenager when I formed some sort of opinion (based on nothing, I am sure) that it wasn’t my kind of place.  So, I very rarely, ever went.  It has probably been 25 years since I ate at one.  And, then just like that, there I was.

The WH was next door to our hotel where we stayed so it made logical sense.  We made our way through the flower bed and into the WH parking lot and right into the front door.  It was a “sit where you want” kinda place and we found a booth in the corner.  A few minutes later, Mushroom came over to serve us.  I’m not sure the 26 letters in our English alphabet can adequately describe her…but let me try.  She was funny.  There you go—that’s all you need to know.  If you get Grits with a picture (some don’t) that is her in the picture, (yes, we have her permission). The mask she is wearing is supposed to be Santa Claus but I’m not sure there was a likeness.

As she asks what we want to drink and, in the process, Judy and I strike up a conversation with her.  So, Judy said something like, “How are you doing?”  Mushroom (and yes that was her name) said she was having a real bad morning.  One of us asked her why and she indicated that she had had a really, bad dream the night before.  Well, I just asked her, “What kind of dream did you have?”  And she said, “Well, I dreamed I was in a muffler shop and I woke up exhausted.”  Right there on the spot, two things happened.  One, I died laughing (I love corny jokes) and two, I liked Mushroom and started liking WH.

Well, everything she said from that point on was corny.  She turned our order in and then would occasionally stop by and make us laugh again.  I asked her about her name, and she said it was indeed Mushroom. I’m not sure if it was her given name, or one she picked but it sure seemed to fit. She went on to say that she had a twin brother named Rick (I assume it was another joke, but it wasn’t) and he was a pastor and very sick with COVID.  She asked us to pray for him and I told her we would when we blessed the food.

She stopped by again a little later and she shared she liked to sing and then right there and then, she broke into an old hymn which Judy and I quickly recognized.  Mushroom turned out to be the highlight of our day.  She was a breath of fresh air in a world that has forgotten how to breathe.  Oh, and by the way, the food was awesome.  Eggs, sunny side up, awesome grits swimming in butter, salt and pepper, three strips of soft bacon and, of course, a waffle (with sugar free syrup, thank you) and it was just plain ole good.

So that day I believe I learned a couple of good lessons.  First, don’t let an old, unfounded prejudice keep you from trying something like WH. If I had, I would have missed meeting Mushroom and I would have missed a good breakfast.  Second, there are a lot of great people out in the world and Mushroom was one of those.  While I didn’t ask her directly (or did I?), Mushroom was a sister that I had not yet met, and I was glad that we bumped into each other.  I’m a fan of that verse in the Bible where Paul reminds us that we are created by God and that we are masterpieces of His, created to do the good works that He has planned for us.

Not all masterpieces look alike.  Some look like the Mona Lisa and some look like a Picasso on a not so good day.  Regardless, God is fond of His kids…very fond.  We all know the verse—the one that says He loved the world enough to send His Son to a Roman cross. I am always amazed about that measure of love—totally undeserved and unwarranted.  And I’m glad that God didn’t make everyone just like me, or you for that matter.  I’m glad He put a few Mushrooms in the mix because they sure make life interesting.  As you journey today, keep your eye out just in case God decides to send someone special your way.  I’m glad He and Mushroom have a sense of humor because we all need a good laugh.  Even in a difficult world, we can find a reason to sing, and laugh because…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

My Friend Charlie

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22

His name was Charlie. He was my friend, and he was a lot of fun. Over the years I have met so many different people.  They have been like a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns all coming together to form a beautiful display.  Now sometimes the colors were muted and gray, but more often they were an explosion of color and life.  As I look back over the years my mind goes to my friend Charlie.

I met Charlie when I became the pastor of Cobden First Baptist Church. Cobden is a small town in Southern Illinois and God allowed us to stay there for 14 years.  It was amazing.  And trust me, God had to use His spiritual shoehorn to pry us from the friends we made there.  Our time at Cobden was the perfect storm in a good way.  So many of us were raising our kids and for whatever reason we just liked to have fun.  If church is supposed to be about community—we had a good one.  None of us were perfect but when the bumps came, we loved our way right through them.

Charlie and I were pretty good buds from the get go.  One of the first things he did for me was drive me around the community pointing out where different members lived and, more importantly, where people lived who didn’t know Jesus.  You see, Charlie loved Jesus and Charlie loved people.  Our families quickly became fast friends and that meant, among other things, food.  Right after we arrived in town, Charlie and Cheryl, his wife, invited us over for supper and we had Dixie BBQ. This “mom and pop” place located a few miles from town became an instant favorite that night.  Thank you guys for that.

Charlie loved practical jokes…a lot.  There was the time that we had a deacons’ Christmas party at an old mansion located on the Ohio River. We had the place to ourselves and being Baptists, we were definitely teetotalers, so we told the owners to leave the bar closed. Period.  Well, we were having a great time and then, without warning, our server comes up to our table, specifically to me, and sets a nice cold Budweiser right in front of me.  I could have died. I wanted to die.  I mean I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I tried to explain to the server that this was a mistake and she told me, “No sir, that man right over there ordered it for you.”  Oh, yes it was Charlie and we laughed till it hurt.

Another time, and I do not know the occasion, he decided to out-do himself.  I’m thinking it must have been pastor appreciation month or something.  So, I get up to preach and I read the scripture for that morning and asked everyone to bow their heads as I prayed.  I prayed a nice, pastorally prayer and when I said “Amen” at the end and opened my eyes, there were almost two hundred people, all holding a newspaper up over their faces like they were reading them.  Instead of smiling faces I saw last week’s headlines.  It was crazy and we laughed till it hurt.

One time, though, Charlie got into trouble.  I think again it must have been a pastor appreciation deal and we were having a fellowship after church.  Again, think food, think Baptist, and think fun.  Well, just about that time Charlie came up behind me and pied me in the face with a large vanilla cream pie.  Well, I thought it was hilarious and some people laughed—but not everyone—especially Charlie’s mama, Grandma Veda.  She got mad because she thought it was disrespectful.  I believe it took a while for Charlie to get out of the doghouse for that one, but we did manage to salvage some of the pie.

Well, that is just a short list of all the special memories I have because of Charlie.  Without trying I can still see his smiling face in my mind’s eye.  It was people like him that made those years at Cobden so memorable.  And here’s the deal.  I believe that church should be like a community. I think, dare I say it…that it should be fun. I know we have a hard time imagining Jesus smiling, much less laughing, but I believe He did.  How could you be that full of joy and not let it leak or slosh out?

I know there is a time to be serious but there is also a time to laugh and we need to be sure and do both.  A sour expression doesn’t mean you’re spiritual…it just means you might be a bit…sour.  Proverbs (that’s the book of wisdom in Christian and Jewish Bibles) 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Now, that is worth remembering.  In these crazy days—in fact, especially in these crazy days—of COVID-19, vaccines, elections and the like, let’s remember to just laugh.  The mask might hide your smile, but it can’t stop your laugh. I’m glad we have a God with a good sense of humor—after all He made me and you. Smile.  And I’m glad we have a God that can give us a reason to laugh because no matter what—He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne