Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

One Thing I Know

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Momma always knew best.  I was blessed to have a good Momma and Daddy.  They were everyday people but in so many ways they were anything but every day.  Willing to take on the task of raising eight children, they gave up a lot for us.  Daddy worked hard as a jet engine mechanic and Momma mostly stayed home and took care of us.  Momma was always there when we needed her.  I remember one time I was sick with a stomach virus.  It was the middle of the night and Momma sat down in an old wooden rocker we had and then invited me up into her lap.  There she gently held me.  It didn’t do much to ease my unhappy stomach, but it sure made my heart feel better.

Momma had her own brand of medicine.  As best as I can remember, Momma was a big believer in “family herd immunity.”  In case you are not familiar with that, it is where a certain illness is almost intentionally shared with members of the family, especially siblings. I guess Momma thought it was best to get it all over with at one time.  And it seemed to work.  I remember one of my sisters came down with the measles.  Rather than isolate her from my sister and I, Momma just put us all together in the double bed in the spare bedroom and waited.  Sure enough, we all promptly got the measles and we also all got well about the same time.  I’m not sure modern medicine would approve, but that’s ok.  It worked for us, and Momma was always there to help us get better.

However, Momma didn’t always use herd immunity.  When I was about nine, there was a pretty serious flu outbreak in our north Florida city.  I really don’t remember too much about it.  I also don’t remember if I became a patient or not.  But there is one thing I do remember—I knew what we had in our family wasn’t good and I felt I needed to do something—so I did.  I found a piece of paper and a pencil, and I made a sign warning other people to stay away.  The sign said something like this, “Warning.  We have the FLEW.  Don’t come in.” Even if my spelling wasn’t the best, it still got the message out.

When I was in the second grade, Momma’s brand of herd immunity took on a different look.  My sister Kathy was not feeling well so Momma took her to the doctor, and I tagged along.  Dr. Smothers was our ears, nose, and throat doctor.  He checked my sister out and it was determined that she had tonsillitis.  That was something a lot of kids back then seemed to get. Well, Dr. Smothers suggested to Momma that perhaps it was time for my sister to get her tonsils out.  Again, back then that was the standard treatment.  So, Momma agreed and then said to Dr. Smothers, “Why don’t we take Dewayne’s out too?”  Hmmmm.  Herd immunity strikes again. So, the doctor says, “Well, Dewayne, what do you say?  Would you like to get your tonsils out too?”  Now I had no clue what in the world he was talking about.  But I think he said something about all the ice cream you wanted, and I was in.  A few days later I found myself in the hospital with my sister and the world’s worst sore throat.  I’m still not sure if that ice cream was worth it!

I’m sure there are many more stories about Momma’s medical skills and judgement, but they have slipped from my memories.  But let me tell you one thing that hasn’t slipped away, that is the concrete knowledge that my Momma loved me.  Whether it was the measles, the flu, or getting rid of some pesky tonsils, Momma always did what she thought was best for us.  Some people probably wouldn’t agree with her medical practices, but I know everything she did was for our good.  For my good.

And do you know what?  I think that is just another way my Momma was like God.  You see, God is constantly working in my life for my good and His glory.  I mean He is working out His purposes but at the center, at the core of it all is—my good.  The Bible verse that is so poplar is so true.  It goes like this, “all things work together for good, for those who love God, the ones who are called according to His purpose.”  Like I have said so many times that doesn’t mean that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all things.  I know Momma loved me a lot but even her love must pale to the love that God has for me—for us.

Now I am certain if you asked me in the middle of encounter with measles, that truth might have been a little clouded.  If you asked me after the surgery to remove my tonsils, well, I probably would have doubted it.  But in the long run, looking back—well, my Momma loved me and did her best to show that love.  So, today if you bump into a hot mess—today if things go south and it is hard…maybe real hard—just remember how much God loves you.  You can take it to the bank—it is a sure bet.  When life leaves you hurting worse than a bad stomachache, you just crawl up in His lap and let His strong arms ease the pain away.  Then, just nod off and take a nap.  You can safely do that because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Sandspurs from the Past

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12

It was a voice from my past—and it was singing the blues.  While we were in Southwest Florida on holiday, I tried to keep up with my morning routines.  That included, first and foremost, coffee.  After coffee and a look at the weather came God time.  After God time came Judy time.  After Judy time came—exercise time.  The problem with all these times is they all take time.  Before I knew it, the sun was up, the humidity was up, and the temperature was up.  Regardless, I had to get up and get going.

The first morning we were there I was still learning the lay of the land and wasn’t exactly sure where I should walk.  So, I headed toward the way in and out of our condo property.  This led to the highway and so I took a left and decided to walk on the edge of the road.  It was safe but it was miserable.  There was no shade and soon it was just plain hot—very hot— “why am I doing this” hot.  I was determined to go my 3.6 miles, but I began wondering if this was such a good idea.  After a little while longer I was sure it wasn’t.  But you know how men are—do or die and in this case, death might have been an upgrade.  Ok, I’m exaggerating.

In my misery, I met an old friend.  There was a point when I had to cross a bridge across a channel.  They had built a walkway but to get to the walkway you had to go behind a guardrail through the weeds.  Without breaking stride, I charged on and then I saw them.  Sandspurs.  These were old friends from my childhood.  They are a type of weed and have sharp, spine covered balls of pain at the ends of long stems.  They will grab anything that gets close and if that happens to be your skin…you are done.  If they don’t get you when they attach, they will get you when you try to detach them. Ugh.

Like I said, they were an old foe from my childhood.  When I was a kid, we would run barefoot all the time and without fail we would step on them. They would hurt…bad.  Well, this time, even though I tried to avoid them, they found their way onto my shoes and socks, but I didn’t find them till I got back from my walk.  As I was sitting by the pool trying to recover from a 145-heart rate and the 100-degree humidity, I found them. And, just like the old days, they made sure to give me a “stick and an ouch” as I tried to remove them.  Just.Like.The.Old.Days.  Though it was years ago, the whole sandspur scene was painfully fresh.

I find that sandspurs aren’t the only painful thing that love to bump into our present.  Often, too often, unpleasant memories and regrets, sneak back into our lives and cause us pain all over again.  Try as we may, sometimes, it seems they reattach themselves to us and we relive the whole hot mess again.  It could be a similar situation or maybe a repeat performance, but all the pain and remorse come flooding back.  I hate it, you hate it, but how do we avoid it?

Well, I tried to avoid the sandspurs on my walk.  I saw them, I knew they were there, but in my rush, my determination to exercise, I simply didn’t give them the wide berth they deserved.  I should have made it a higher priority. I realized that when I was trying to remove them.  When you sense or when you feel your ugly, painful past creeping into the present, do whatever it takes to change the scenario. Don’t allow yourself to relive the “sandspurs” of past failures. Trust me—they will attach themselves to your present with all their former pain.

There is one more thing that is even more important than that.  Should you find yourself reliving that regret, run straight into the arms of grace.  Remember and relive the forgiveness that came after the failure.  The Bible tells us that God casts our failures as far as the east is from the west.  I love that because it doesn’t say as far as the north is from the south. You see if you go north long enough you will find the south.  But not so with east from the west.  You can travel east forever and never find the west.  And that dear friend, is what God does with our failures and sin if we ask Him for forgiveness and help. It is gone—outta here and that is real good news.

Well, I couldn’t wait to show Judy my sandspurs, not because I liked them but because they reminded me of an important part of my past and the fact that I knew they were not going to be a permanent part of my future.  I may have bumped into them, but I wasn’t going to live with them. And that is a good thing. So, as you are speed walking through life, remember to give your painful past a wide berth and keep Jesus close by your side. You’ll find Him a mobile “rest stop,” there to make every step, every day survivable and “thrive-able.” And never forget, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Scars are Stories

When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:10-11

It’s a great setup.  I’ve written several times about my early morning routine. It involves coffee, the weather report and Jesus.  I am a creature of habit and mess with my habits, and it messes me up. But sometimes I do something a little different that just works better.  When I fell a couple of months ago and messed up my hand, my wife Judy donated a little lap desk to help me study and write.  Well, she never took it back, so it became…mine.  I also found out that this little desk made a great addition to my routine as it is a great place to put my iPad and my coffee cup. Boom.  Things just got better.

Well, the other morning I was sipping coffee and using my iPad to read a couple of devotions.  The guy I was reading wrote about scars and as I was reading…I was looking.  You see, my hands have several scars and each one is a story.  On my right thumb is one that reminds me of the ten year old (or so) who was cutting watermelon and ignored his Daddy’s advice about how to use a knife. On my middle finger of my right hand, right on the knuckle, is an inch long scar caused by my careless use of an X-Acto knife I was using to build a model car or plane.

Let’s look at my left hand.  On my index finger are two scars…close together.  One was caused when I was riding with my sister and her then boyfriend in his car.  The car in front of us stopped…and he didn’t.  This was before seatbelts and when I headed for the windshield, I threw my hand up to protect my head.  I guess it worked but I did cut my hand up in the process.  I guess hand is better than head.  The other scar was a woodcutting thing.  I didn’t cut it with the saw or you might be calling me “Three Fingers.”  No, a piece of wood that was in a bind slipped and whacked my hand leaving a nasty gash.

There are a couple of smaller scars on both hands but their birth didn’t garner a memory.  I do have a couple of scars in other places, like the one by my eye which happened on a racquetball court.  A guy hit me with his racket on that one.  But by and large most of my physical scars are on my hands because that is where all the action is.  In other words, whatever you put out there in life will probably get scarred…like our hearts.  All of us probably have some scars left when we put our heart out there and someone wounded us.  It’s just life.

But now for the bigger story.  Remember that scars may be a sign of a painful wound…but they are also a sign of healing.  The scars that are on my hands were bleeding and painful when they happened but gradually they healed over and the bleeding stopped and they healed over. That’s a good thing.  Now you know and I know that wounds on our heart are a whole different animal.  They may heal but it often takes more than some antibiotic cream and a Band-Aid. They say that time heals all wounds and that might be partially true.  Time does help but time can’t always heal.  The good news is there is something…Someone…who can heal and His name is Jesus.

My friend Jesus is a healer of hearts.  When He walked the earth, He amazed the people in many ways…twice He gave everyone a free lunch.  But countless times He would take the broken, the castaways and lovingly put their lives back together.  I love the story when a woman was caught in adultery.  The religious people wanted to stone her but Jesus chose to love her.  I suppose in my life, and in yours, there have been some stoning opportunities but here is one thing I know.  Jesus isn’t a rock chucker—He is a heart healer and He wants to help heal yours today.

So, how about it?  Do you have some wounds on your heart that time just hasn’t taken care of? Are you still hurting from a train wreck in life years ago?  Why not give Jesus the opportunity to help?  “How” you ask?  Well, why not try asking?  It is called prayer and trust me it is worth a shot.  The other key element is faith—believing that He is there listening.  Don’t be surprised if the first thing you hear is Him asking you to forgive because forgiving others always helps heal our own wounds.  So, when you are done reading, why not start praying.  He is waiting and He is willing.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, life, Scripture, thankful, travel, USA

Daytona 500 – My Night in the Infield

“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer.” 1 Samuel 14:6

My eyes were opened.  Now that I think about it, for a country boy on a limited budget I got to do some pretty cool things.  We got to visit my brother in New Jersey…hey, don’t laugh…at least it was away.  Then another brother lived in the Smoky Mountains and while his then wife wasn’t too fond of our family, it was still away.  And yet another brother lived out in Texas and that was always an adventure.  But the best of all was my oldest sister.  You see, she and her husband J.W. lived in Daytona Beach and best of all…they were pretty cool.  It was because they lived in Daytona Beach that I had my eyes opened one day…or night rather.

As I said I was a country boy even though I lived on the outskirts of a large city, Jacksonville, Florida.  My world had limited exposure, and given this was the sixties, that probably wasn’t a bad thing.  The most exciting thing going on in my world was my neighbor Dick Snyder who smoked cigars and drank beer…a lot.  Other than that, it seems our world was pretty tame.  And then it happened.  Somehow or another, my brother-in-law arranged for me and Daddy to go to the Daytona 500.  In case you don’t know this was and is a really big deal.  This race kicks off the NASCAR season and it was Katie-Bar-The-Door excitement.  And…there was a lot of sin going on.

You see, to save money, I think, we only had tickets to park in the infield.  That is the area inside the track.  I’m can’t remember exactly why, but we decided to go the night before and spend the night…camping if you will.  The only thing was the fact that we didn’t have a camper…all we had was our car.  So, we loaded up the trunk and drove down to the track and before you could say, “checkered flag,” we were parked right smack dab in the middle of sin city.

Now most people know that NASCAR is a family sport and I love the fact that it is a sport that loves America.  But I’m pretty sure that family description doesn’t include spending the night in the infield the night before the Daytona 500. As it got dark, all those thousands of people started milling around and as they milled, they drank a lot of beer.  In fact, it seemed that a whole lot of them reminded me of my neighbor Dick. And it also seemed that a lot of the “ladies” there were dressed for the sixties.  Now I only say that because I remember my Daddy saying something like, “Don’t look there” or “You stay right here.”

Well, sometime later, Daddy told me it was time to go to sleep so I crawled into the backseat, covered up and soon was fast asleep.  When I woke up the next morning, it was like a different world.  Besides a crop of beer cans, you would have never known that a big party had taken place there the night before.  We hung around a while and the race started and every once in a while we could see the cars going round and round the track. I believe we even climbed on top of the car…something Daddy probably wouldn’t allow back home.

Well, soon it was all over, and we spent the next couple of hours fighting the traffic getting back to my brother-in-law and sister’s house.  Soon, we were back on the road again heading back to Jacksonville.  Well, honestly, sin and all, my night in the infield at the Daytona 500 is one of my favorite memories.  Not because of the sin (Daddy did a good job of protecting me from that part) but because of the time with my Daddy and his willingness to share a great adventure with me. Even now it makes me smile.

Life is and can be full of great adventures.  Whether it is a trip to New Jersey, the Smoky Mountains, or the forever plains of Texas, we need to be sure and take the time and make the time to have adventures with those we love. One time in the Old Testament, a guy named Jonathan decided to risk a great adventure.  He said, “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer.” Now that’s an adventure.

My trip to the infield didn’t involve the most expensive ticket, and even now I’m not sure I would recommend it as a place to take the kids, but the excitement of sharing that race with my Daddy was incredible. So, as Stephen Curtis Chapman sings, “Go ahead and saddle up your horses….this is the great adventure.”  Oh, before you go, remember to ask the Dearest Daddy for a little advice. In fact, why not ask Him along.  You know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

The Gap

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all You have done; I reflect on the work of Your hands.” Psalms 143:5

I’m not sure why…but there’s a gap. When I started school in Jacksonville, Florida there was no kindergarten.  It was like one day you were at home and the then you weren’t.  My first four grades of elementary school were at Wesconnect Elementary School and the last two were at a brand-new school—Jacksonville Heights Elementary School. Unlike Wesconnect that required a bus ride, the new school was only several blocks down the road from my house.  

Wesconnect was an old…real old.  It was all brick with no air conditioning. It was hot. That is one reason why we didn’t start school till after Labor Day.  I remember it having large paned windows, oak floors and tall ceilings.  Hundreds of footsteps would echo through the halls. And, to a little kid like me, it was big—like huge.  It was at Wesconnect, that I met and fell in love for the first time.  She was an older than me—my first-grade teacher—Mrs. Jones.  And, like the song from the seventies says, “we had a thing going on” or at least I did.  She was pretty (at least from my seven-year-old perspective) and she was pretty nice.  I became her number one eraser cleaner.  But soon, it was time to move on.  So, I passed first grade and it was so long Mrs. Jones.

By second grade I was a veteran.  A lot of the insecurities were gone and I met Mrs. Webb.  She, like Mrs. Jones, was a kind teacher.  I think, though I am not sure, that my sister and I had our tonsils out about then and she had all the kids write me get well cards.  I can still remember how special it was to receive that big envelope from my classmates. Thank-you, Mrs. Webb.  Third grade meant yet another teacher…this time Mrs. Wilson.  Now I don’t mean this in a mean way but she kinda reminded me of one of the witches from “The Wizard of Oz.”  She was an older lady, and wore her hair in a tight bun and was quite stern.  I didn’t clean Mrs. Wilson’s erasers.  But looking back, she was a good teacher and she helped us learn and that is what mattered.  I managed to pass again, so soon it was so long Mrs. Wilson.

Fifth grade meant a new school (with air conditioning—smile) and yet another new teacher and her name was, get ready for it, Mrs. Slappy.  She was rather short, had bright red hair and was rather snappy.  Today I think I would use the word, “feisty.”  As I remember her class, it was fun and I had a new responsibility.  She selected me (and a couple of others) to be trained to run the film strip projector and the movie projector.  It was a big deal.  When we were going to see a film strip or movie in class, one of us would go down and check out the equipment, set it up and operate it.  Wow…what responsibility and to think, she trusted me.  That was a big deal. Thank you, Mrs. Slappy.

My final year in elementary school, sixth grade, was a landmark year.  I had my first male teacher, Mr. Perry and was selected to be a “patrol boy.”  Mr. Perry was, as you can imagine, a little different from Mrs. Jones in First grade but I remember him being imposing but fair.  He was a “rules” guy but as long as you followed the rules, you did ok.  That served me well then and really for the rest of my life.  I know it started at home but Mr. Perry reenforced it…a lesson well learned. Well, there you go my parade of teachers. The end. Thanks for reading.

Well, not quite.  You see there was a reason I walked you through all of that.  Did you notice something? Well, if you noticed that there is a gap…you are right.  You see, for some reason, and who knows why, there is a total gap for the fourth grade.  I have absolutely no memories of my teacher, classmates, or surroundings.  I know it was Wesconnect but beyond that…zero…and that intrigues me.  I don’t know or believe it was anything bad…there is just a gap. In fact, it means that there was probably a really good teacher who taught me, good friends that I met and played with and a whole year of great memories that, for some reason, I have forgotten. I.Have.Forgotten.

And that made me think.  How many other incredibly good things have I forgotten?  It seems we have no problem remembering all the bad stuff but sometimes we tend to sometimes forget the good stuff, the great stuff that comes our way.  I love writing about my days as a kid but I wonder how many good stories I could write if I remembered all the other adventures that came my way.  How many more adventurous things came my way that slipped away.  Hmmm.

Remembering the good always feeds gratitude and dwelling on the bad tends to feed the opposite. And, trying to filling unexplained gaps, well, can do the same.  Why don’t we celebrate the good, let the hard stuff stay in the rearview mirror and those gaps…just let them be.  I like what the writer of Psalms 145:3 said, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all you have done; I reflect on the work of your hands.”  In other words, whether it was good, whether it was difficult or whether there is a gap, we know and celebrate one constant, “He’s got that.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, Halloween, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Days Gone By…or Not?

“[He] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44b

In those days it was one of my favorite holidays.  Things change…we all get that but back in the day, Halloween was fun, it was candy profitable and we loved it.  There were church parties where we all dressed up in costumes.  And those costumes weren’t bought in a store…they were made from wherever was handy.  We would have hotdogs and chips and there was always a contest for the best costume.  Come trick or treat night we would again don our costumes. Mine was invariably a hobo—I just went to dad’s closet and boom—I was ready to go.

One of my favorite things was going to Momma’s cedar chest.  It was a magic place where so many cool things were stored.  It was filled with once-a-year delights and special treasures.  One time my daddy had to make a trip of Ecuador for work.  He was a mechanic at the Navy base and one of their planes broke down down in South America. He was selected to make the trip and trust me—it was the trip of a lifetime for him.  He bought everyone souvenirs and mine was a poncho and a short bullwhip.  They were stored in the cedar chest for safe keeping.

But there was something else in the cedar chest—our trick or treat bags.  Momma had made one for each of us out of cloth scraps and in my mind’s eye I can still see them.  At the right time, Momma would open the cedar chest and get them out for the special night. Now these are different days but back then as soon as it began to get dusky, we would hit the streets of our neighborhood.  It was a wonderful time of innocence—no danger, no dark tricks…we were safe and free, and we would run the streets until the porch lights were all out and our bags were full. 

Things are tragically different now.  The meaning has changed, the danger is real and well, it’s just not the same.  When our daughters were small enough to trick or treat it was still pretty safe, but we would never think of letting them go out by themselves and now, today, certainly not the grandkids. I wish they could have known the Halloween I knew but alas they are gone.  Things do in fact change.

Sadly, there is something else that hasn’t changed.  The trick part of trick or treat.  Back when I was, oh, ten or so, we might, maybe take a bar of soap and soap a window or two but even that was rare and brought a twinge of guilt. But those memories are not what I am thinking about.  I am talking about the ultimate, most evil trickster—the devil himself.  If you know anything about him you know he is a great deceiver and he loves to lead, or drag, people down a dark path of regret and consequences.  It’s who he is and it something he was done since the beginning of time.  Just ask Eve and Adam. He promises the best treat—which is a lie—and never tells the rest of the story—the trick. Like he told Eve, “Go ahead and have a bite—you won’t die.”  Well, we know how that turned out.

Well, I know this story is a day late and a dollar short, but the big truth is for every day.  Never, ever, trust what Satan offers.  Jesus said he is a liar and the father of it and trust me—Jesus always tells the truth. What Jesus offers—love, forgiveness, grace and peace—are all real and all can be ours for the asking.  He is the treat of a lifetime—with no small print and no tricks.  You can believe it—He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Invincible

The Lord watches over the foolish; when I was helpless, He saved me.” Psalm 116:6

It was the day of my Daddy’s funeral. I was 20 years old, into my second year in the Air Force and I was pretty much convinced I was invincible.  When you are a young buck, independent and all that, it seems you are going to live forever…and I guess you think that those around you will too.  That Sunday in July 1974 changed all that.  That day my Daddy slipped away from us, and we were left to say goodbye.  So, I’m sure there were trips to the funeral home, conversations with the pastor, and details to be ironed out.  And then suddenly it was the day of the funeral.

For some reason I don’t remember much about the service.  I remember walking into the church and my then girlfriend telling me not to cry.  I guess big boys don’t cry after all.  I remember a church mostly filled and I remember we sang the old hymn, “In the Garden.”  Beyond that there is a void…an emptiness…until lunch.  Down south the answer to everything is food…and that is especially true when it comes to grieving.

We had dinner at the home place and there were plenty of people and plenty of food.  I was standing out in the backyard talking with a bunch of guys.  One of the neighborhood guys I grew up with had a new Honda 750 motorcycle.  Like I said…when you are 20 you think you are invincible or maybe since I had just come from my Daddy’s funeral, I needed to prove that I thought I was.  Regardless, he asked me if I wanted to take it for a ride.

Now a Honda 750 is a lot of motorcycle…especially for 1974.  I mounted my metal steed and headed for the road.  The roads were Wheat, Firestone, 118th St., and Ricker. They formed a very large block about a mile each way. If you took four right turns, you would end up back where you started.  At first, I went easy because my experience on motorcycles was just about like it was for horses…an occasional ride…very occasional. I made the first right onto Firestone and a mile later made my second right onto 118th.  I’m not sure what prompted it, but I decided to see how fast the Honda would go. So, I opened the throttle and quickly shifted through the gears.  I was going fast…too fast.

Before I knew it I was somewhere over 100 miles an hour on a one mile stretch of road on a machine I knew little about. I looked up and coming up very quickly was the stop sign where the road ended at Ricker Road.  I needed to stop so I began to downshift and hit the brakes and somehow, someway I managed to bring me and the Honda to a stop.  My heart was just about to jump out of my chest and all of a sudden, I didn’t feel very invincible. In fact, I felt quite the opposite.  Suddenly I realized that life can be very fragile.  I got back to the house in one piece.  I’m sure I shared the story with the guys and we probably all had a good laugh but one of us wasn’t laughing on the inside.

You see that day I came face to face not with my invincibility but rather my mortality. I realized that life was precious and was something to be valued and guarded. I’m still not sure what I was trying to prove that day or maybe it was some sort of weird ritual thing that boys do when their Daddy dies.  I know this.  If my Daddy had been there that day there would have been a very serious discussion about me, motorcycles, and safety.  But, fortunately, my Dearest Daddy was there to watch over me. And even though I was not acting responsibility or even rationally, He still cared, He still rescued me. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 116:6 “The Lord watches over the foolish; when I was helpless, He saved me.”

My earthly Daddy, after our talk, would have extended grace that day. My Heavenly Father extended grace too that day.  He watched over me, protected me, and gave me the opportunity to live and experience life.  Thanks, Father.  Over the decades of my life since that hot July day on the day of my Daddy’s funeral, I have experienced God’s grace over and over, again.  He has been there for me and from experience I can tell you for a fact that He does indeed, “have this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Poud and Pouder

I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

What in the world is a “Poud?”  Last week I wrote a story about my wife Judy, and me. It was a special week with an anniversary and birthday to celebrate. And celebrate we did…but that’s another story. Anyway, in last week’s story I mentioned Judy’s nickname, and someone asked, “What is the story there?”  Well, I am glad you asked.  Admittedly, it is a rather unusual nickname. It goes something like this.  A long, long time ago, before I was around and when Judy was young,  one of her brothers stated calling her “Judy Poudy.”  Since she was the last of nine siblings, maybe they ran out of creativity? Anyway, I am assuming it was because it rhymed.  Sometime later, the family shortened the name and started calling her “Poud.”

As the years rolled by, she was “Poud” this and “Poud” that.  Well, finally, in the fulness of time (you know, like the Bible), I show up on the stage of her life.  After we began dating, I met her parents and then I got to meet the extended family. There probably aren’t enough letters in the alphabet or adjectives in the English language to describe this crazy bunch of South Georgians. Let it be enough to say that they believed in having fun and telling tall tales.  Oh, the things one learns from sitting around the table at family gatherings and just watching and listening! Get them in a room together and the tales would start and wrapped up in those tales would be the occasional “Poud” this and “Poud” that.

Well, that could be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  You see, this crazy bunch of South Georgians knew how to make a guy feel right at home and before long I was the object of several stories, some true and some not…. and some of those stories caused me to end up with my own nickname, “Pouder.”  Now I’ll leave it to your imagination how that came about, but the new couple in the Allen clan had a new name—“Poud” and “Pouder.”  Finally, after years of marriage, we decided to make it easier by simply calling each other “Poud.”  It goes something like this, “Hey Poud?”  And the other would simply reply with “Yes, Poud.”  It doesn’t matter much now, but when we get really old, it should at least be convenient.

It’s funny (no pun intended) how “Judy” became a “Judy Poudy” and together we became “Poud” and “Pouder.”  New relationships sometimes generate a new name and that is just what God does for us.  When we join His family, whatever we once were slips away and we become something new—one of His children…His son or daughter.

In the Bible, there was a woman who had an unclean issue of blood. Basically, that meant she wasn’t welcome anywhere…especially at church and because of her sickness she only knew the scorn and harshness of those around her.  But one day she met Jesus and He healed her and gave her a new name—daughter.  And when we meet Jesus…well, whatever the world and those around us used to called us, no matter how condemning, that all changes and He calls us His. I love that.

There is a scripture in the last Book in the Bible, the Revelation, and it says that one day God will give us a new name.  It says there, “I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”  I don’t know what all that means but I do know it will be special.  To be called His son is amazing enough but to know that He has a special name for me, for us…well, that is incredible.

I hope you have made the decision to be called His child.  It’s not just church, it’s certainly not religion—it is a relationship with Creator God.  And that unknown and special name…well, we will just have to wait and see what that is all about.  One thing is certain—it will be special and He’s got it reserved just for me and just for you.  Until then we will just have to wait and trust that…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, love, missions, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Laughter in the Rain

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

It was a rainy afternoon in South Georgia.  I had met this girl, this Georgia peach, a few weeks ago and I was stuck fast.  From the moment I laid eyes on her I wanted to get to know her more.  So I made a call, she said yes, we had a first date and well, the rest is history.  From that first date came a marriage of 45 years.  She was young and I was a little too old, but love has a way of overcoming those kind of things—especially with God in the mix.

So, we were about five or six weeks into our journey.  We had been to church, something we would do together virtually every week of every year of our togetherness. It was a cloudy afternoon and rain was in the forecast.  I’m not sure how, but it had to be her knowledge of the area, we decided to drive up and over to Reed Bingham State Park.  It was more something to do than an adventure, but it left a tattoo on our hearts that remains today.

As we drove over to the park, it began to rain…nothing hard just a gentle Southern rain…the kind that waters the grass and makes flowers grow.  Soon, we were at the park, and it was still raining.  We decided that a little rain wasn’t going to stop us, and we struck off on a walk down one of the wet sand packed roads.  It wasn’t long before we came upon some large puddles the size of a small pond.  They weren’t from that day’s shower but a frog strangler sometime before.  So we reached the point where we had to decide to turn back or go a little farther.  We decided to go farther. To keep her dry from the puddles, she climbed on my back as we walked.

A little while later the rain picked up and with her still hanging on, we turned around and headed back to the car. We were getting wet, but we were young and in the midst of young love, so we laughed, we enjoyed.  Too soon we were back in the car and ready to head home.  We had left the radio tuned to one of the popular stations and as I started the car, the radio came to life and one of the new hits began to play.  It was by Neil Sedaka, and was called, “Laughter in the Rain” and in that moment it became our song. And, to this moment, it remains our song.

Part of the words go, “Oh, I hear laughter in the rain, walking hand in hand with the one I love. Oh, how I love the rainy days and the happy way I feel inside.” What started as a song became our mantra—our way of doing life.  We decided we would walk together, sunshine or rain, and we would do so…hand in hand.  We also decided that we would love, not endure, the rain and the rainy days, that came our way. Oh, it isn’t always perfect, and she is better at it than me but slowly over the years we have learned the secret sauce of doing life is to walk hand in hand with each other and the “Rainmaker.”

Judy and I have been blessed with an incredible life. Over our four and a half decade, journey we have seen and experienced big chunks of the world, and have been blessed with three daughters and sons-in-law and eight grandchildren.  We have loved serving God together as a team, watching as He made a difference in the lives of others.  We don’t know how long the journey will go, but we are wanting to walk it together, hand in hand, loving the rainy days.

The Book that matters, the Bible, tells us that we should number our days that we can have a heart of wisdom.  It’s not talking about numerics, but rather to value and see the value in each day.  To know that rain or sunshine, each day is a gift from God…an opportunity to walk hand in hand together and with the “Rainmaker.”  We’ve come to know and believe that He alone is worthy of our faith and trust and that no matter how light or hard the rainy days are, well, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne