Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Contact- Lost and Found

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

He did it again.  It was a love note from my Heavenly Father and at least for me…it was a big one.  It all started with a nap.  You see, every day after lunch I take a short nap.  I have done it for at least 45 years.  It goes something like this.  Eat. Nap. Back to work.  It seems as soon as lunch is done so am I. (It could have something to do with my 4:30 am wakeup time.)  It is my understanding that the folks who live in Japan do this, and they live longer and are healthier. So, Monday, I ate a sandwich and then went to take my nap.  Generally, it is about 15 or 20 minutes and as usual, that’s what happened.  However, as I woke up, I sat up, and it was then that I messed up.

You see, accidentally and totally unintentionally, I touched my right eye as I set up.  It might have been one of those getting the momentum going in the right direction kind of thing.  At any rate, I touched the eye where I wear my “mono vision.” I knew right away something changed.  I have a test I perform to make sure my contact is doing its thing. I simply look at my watch and if I can read it, all is well. However, when I looked that day it was way past blurry.  That meant my contact was either on the bed somewhere or lost in my eye.  From the way things felt—it was lost in my eye.  I called my eye doctor friend.

I explained that I thought my contact was lost in my eye and she kindly agreed to meet me there. That’s the kind of person she is—kind. I was soon at her office and in her eye checking chair. She looked and looked. Nothing. Next, she put in some dye to make the contact stand out and then even rolled my eye lid up to peek there. Nothing.  In spite of all her best efforts—no contact was to be found.  We were pretty sure it had jumped out.  Only time would tell the tale.

Well, throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, every once in a while I knew I could feel it.  It would stick its little head out and when I went and looked it had already disappeared again.  This happened again and again.   I went to bed that night knowing my friend was still in there.  Well, the next morning, it greeted me but at the same time alluded me. It was frustrating.  It was going to be one of those things that make your day a little more difficult.

And then it happened.  I was chatting with my wife Judy, and I felt it.  I could tell it was right near the edge of my eye lid.  I rushed to the bathroom and reached in, pinched and boom—I got it. Oh, happy days were here again! Talk about a game changer…you would have thought I won the lottery and in a way, I guess I had!

Here’s the best part!  I knew it was a love note from my Dearest Daddy.  You say, “Really?”  And I say, “Absolutely.”  You see He is a good, good Father who is into the details.  He cares about the biggest things and He cares about the smallest things.  Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament, said that He could and would do more than we can ever imagine.  Trust me, it was no accident the contact suddenly made its appearance, and it was no accident that it was right where I could grab it. Yup…it was a love note.

So, I told Him thanks about a dozen times, and I figured I had to write this story.  I had to take another opportunity to tell Him thanks by telling you about Him. I just had to share this big truth—God cares about the little things.  Oh, and it doesn’t happen every time or all the time—nope, and that is what makes it special.

So, today, why not look around for a special love note from your Heavenly Father. If you think about it, even the fact that we are breathing His air is amazing!  Whether it is a lost contact that is found or just a beautiful day in the neighborhood, remember to say, “Thank you.” Learning to see the little things and being grateful is better…in fact, it is a lot better.  And as we learn to be grateful, well, we will recognize more and more that great truth, no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Sunday Surprise

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13

I love surprises—well at least the good ones.  From the time I was a kid, there were two things that rang my bell:  gifts and a good surprise.  When you marry those two together—well, it’s a good thing.  One of my favorite memories center on a time when that happened.  When I turned 40, my wife Judy arranged a surprise birthday party for me and we just had a great time.  The gift thing was a little odd—you know, Geritol, Depends—the normal stuff when you’re being toasted at a party.  My favorite perhaps was a horseshoe shaped toupee custom designed to fit my receding hairline.

Yup—there’s nothing like a good surprise—especially a Sunday surprise.  I’m a pastor so around Christmas or perhaps Pastor Appreciation Month, it is not uncommon for the folks to give us cards and gifts.  It’s great.  You go to church and you get presents. I love it. Every once in a while, it’s a bit more random.  That happened not once but twice very recently.

Several weeks ago, I was talking about grief and how the Bible says that people who follow Jesus grieve differently.  According to Paul, the guy doing the writing, we don’t grieve like people with no hope.  The reason for that is we believe the end doesn’t have to be end.  That’s what Easter is all about.  Well, to illustrate the point I said if I were to lose twenty dollars there would be two ways to grieve.  One is the way I would grieve if it fell out of my pocket.  It would be gone.  No hope of recovery and no hope of getting it back.  Adios, President Jackson.  But if I were to put it in the bank, I might grieve that I can’t use it, but at least I would know where it was.

Well, it was a good illustration—now for the surprise.  When Judy and I got home from church that day, we walked up to our backdoor.  There, tucked neatly where the door met the frame, was a twenty-dollar bill.  There was no note, no anything just President Jackson there smiling at me.  To this day, I don’t know who left it but it sure made my day.  But here’s why!  Someone listened and just wanted to be a blessing.  It worked.  What a great Sunday surprise.

Guess what?  It happened again a couple of weeks later.  This time it wasn’t a portrait of President Jackson but something just as special.  At Christmas time we have a nativity set.  I shared recently in a Grits with Grace story how our nativity set includes a special guest:  Scarlet from the movie “Gone with the Wind.”  Years ago, someone gave her to us as an ornament for our tree. Well, my granddaughter added her to our nativity set about 17 years ago and it just seemed natural that she should stay.  After all, a sinner like her, like me and like you is what Christmas is all about.  You know, Baby Jesus came to save the world from all our brokenness.

On the Sunday before Christmas, I shared that story as part of the morning message.  Now, fast forward a couple of weeks—the Sunday after New Year’s.  Judy and I finished up with church and headed to the house.  When we got to the back door, I looked down and there was a small box.  It was wrapped in plain, brown paper and simply said, “The Taylor Family.”  It was another Sunday surprise.

After lunch we opened the box and guess what was in there?  It was another Christmas ornament from “Gone with the Wind” but this time it was, drumroll, please, Rhett Butler.  Now in case you don’t know, Rhett was Scarlet’s beau in that movie.  We laughed till we cried.  We still don’t know who left it for us, but it made our day.  Next Christmas—yup, Rhett will be by Scarlet in our nativity set. They both will remind us that Jesus came to fix broken people—just like them and just like us.

Both of those surprises were special because someone thought enough to reach into our lives with a special touch.  It is appropriate that they happened on Sunday because it seems that is when God just loves to surprise His people.  Often, we manage to make it to church after a difficult week wondering what could possibly happen that would make it worthwhile—make life more bearable.  And then, it happens.  A friend speaks a compliment to you.  The worship team leads a song that reaches right down where you are and picks you up.  The pastor chooses a scripture that seems it was written just for you that very day.  And all of a sudden, you know why you made the effort to get up and go.  God had a Sunday surprise just for you.

I believe God loves to do special things for us.  He sends us love notes that just remind us that He is still there and that He still thinks mighty highly of us.  Oh, don’t get puffy…it isn’t that we earned it or deserve it—it’s just the way He is.  It is His nature and character and I just love it.  So, whoever thought enough to tuck a twenty dollar bill in my door or somehow find a Rhett to be with our Scarlet—thank you for blessing us.  You touched our hearts.  And let’s be sure and thank God for all His special surprises He sends our way—not just on Sunday but every day.  And don’t be surprised about this crazy world—just remember, “He’s got this.”

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, prayer, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

Happy Birthday

This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Today is my birthday.  Now wait.  That isn’t a hint for a gift.  It isn’t an invitation for a bunch of comments.  It is a statement of fact—and fascination.  You see, 67 years ago I was born.  I don’t say that because I remember, I say it because I am here…now.  I am amazed that over six and one-half decades have come and gone since Leslie, my mama, said to Alston, my daddy, “It’s time.”  She had already done this birthing thing seven times so I suppose it was just another day at the office by then.

Since the day I was born, I have been alive 24,473 days.  That means that 24,473 days the sun came up in the morning and went to bed at night.  It means 24,473 times God faithfully gave me a wakeup call.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the one that says this is the day that the Lord has made, so we should find joy in it and be glad for the opportunity.  24,473 times.  24,473 love notes from God that He thinks life should go on.

Now there are a bunch of those days that I don’t remember.  In fact, these days I don’t remember what happened yesterday. I find some humor that as a pastor I have to think about what I spoke about last week.  Sometimes it just slips my mind.  Oh course, the good news is that most people can’t remember what I said either.  One day all I will need is one sermon.  Together we will just hit the replay button.  But that day is not today.

Today I am so filled with gratitude with the incredible journey that God has allowed to play out in my life.  Not every day has been that good.  I mean, the days I woke up with the stomach flu didn’t make the top 1,000.  But it has been a great journey.  My childhood, or at least the part I remember, often causes me to smile.  The more I think of my Mama and Daddy, the more I appreciate them.  They were pretty ordinary folks but at the same time they were just extraordinary.

I think about the night in 1974 when I walked into that church in Valdosta, Georgia and saw “the girl” and I am grateful.  I have shared 44 of my 67 years with her and boy am I glad I decided to go to that church that night.  Our journey has been and is one adventure after another.  I’m hoping God decides to let us grow really old together—its gonna be a hoot for sure.  Throw in the mix the kids (including the ones who stole our daughter’s hearts) and the grandkids and, well, it is awesome.  Perfect? No.  But who said life has to be perfect to be amazing?

And, then there are the everyday people I have met and bumped into, especially as a teacher/pastor. If life was a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream and people were the toppings, it would be one fantastic, multi-flavored, rainbow colored sundae.  You know those things kids love to sprinkle on ice cream—all the different colors and flavors mixed together?  Well, that’s life and that’s people and that’s what makes it wonderfully unique.  Yep, it’s been a good ride.

It seems that life is like a really long stint in school.  Someone said all they needed to learn they learned in kindergarten.  I think that really is life—one big, long day in kindergarten—learning, playing, living—with a few skinned knees along the way.  I know this and yet I am still learning this.  Life is not a destination—it is a journey.  There is not some magic place we are going to arrive at one day and feel all warm and fuzzy and complete—well, unless you count heaven.  No, the joy of life is the journey.

No, the joy of life is the journey.

Dewayne Taylor

There it is. That is why we need to wake up every day, thank God for another love note, another opportunity to make an impact and be impacted.  That is why every day, regardless of how it plays out, is a gift.  The hard days are opportunities to learn those hard, but very valuable, lessons.  The good days when things just go amazingly well are like recess—or lunch.  The trick is learning to be grateful for both, because both are valuable.

At any rate—I’m grateful that at t-minus nine months Alston and Leslie decided one more couldn’t hurt.  I’m grateful that they decided I was a keeper—even if the table was a little full.  And if it isn’t your birthday today, go ahead and celebrate anyway.  Today is God’s decision that life should go on.  Today is His way of saying I love you.  Today, regardless of the circumstances, is an opportunity to believe that He is good, that He is faithful and that He can be trusted.  It is just one more opportunity to believe, “He’s got this.”