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, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, wisdom

Approval-itis

As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9

If He can’t, why am I surprised that I can’t? Do you know what still amazes me?  Creation…and not just part of it…all of it.  I’m amazed when I stop and look at a spring flower.  I’m amazed that the sun rises and sets day after day.  I’m amazed that my heart beats about 75 times a minute.  That is, wait for it, 108,000 times a day.  In case you are interested that is 39,420,000 times a year.  And, so far, it’s done it pretty well for 66 years.  Oh, and I’m amazed that out of all the galaxies, solar systems, and planets—zillions of them—only one can support life as we know it.  Earth.  And it is no accident.  It is an intentional act of creation.

God is really good at creating things.  He made us.  The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Another place in the Bible He says we are His masterpieces.  Now granted some are Rembrandt’s and some are Picasso’s but we are all masterpieces.  Handcrafted by the Creator of the universe—a “one of a kind” miracle. I know He made me with a few quirks and several warts and that is the point of this story…one of my quirky warts.

You see, from the time I was a little kid I have wanted people to like me.  I have craved approval from the time I can remember.  Whether it was from my mama and daddy, my brothers or sisters or the guy who picked up our garbage…I wanted approval.  Let me tell you if you are going to have a quirk wart…there are a lot better ones than this one.  The problem with “approval-itis—the need for people’s approval” is that it leads to a far worse disease—the passion, the drive to please people.  Now if I lived out in Montana where my nearest neighbor was 20 miles away, this wouldn’t be such a big problem.  But my life revolves around people—I am a pastor for goodness sake.  And, to be honest, I want everyone to be happy and I want every one of them to like me. Sigh.

To be clear…the deal isn’t their deal…oh no, it lands right in my lap. The wart with all it’s bumps is right here.  For years I have been learning, or trying to learn, that I will not ever, never, please everyone.  But like an alcoholic craves the bottle—so we people pleasers crave approval.  And, by the way, I’ve gotten a little better.  Now, if I’m driving down the street and I wave at someone and they don’t wave back, I don’t write down their license plates and put a contract out on them. Smile.

If you can identify in any small way with “approval-itis” I have some good news.  It is sure to help you.  No, it is not seeking counseling and paying someone $125 dollars an hour to tell you that you can’t please everyone.  No, it is not moving to Montana…that wouldn’t work anyway because you would think the horse didn’t like you!  No, it is something that I read in one of my devotions the other morning. It is a simple truth.  Are you ready?  Here it is, “You can’t please everybody.  Even God couldn’t please everybody.”  Now isn’t that just profound…and true.  I mean God is like all powerful, all wise, all knowing and can be everywhere at the same time and a majority of the world is always mad at him.  How about that?

Think about it.  If God couldn’t pull it off, then who am I to think that I can? I guess God could snap His celestial fingers and make everyone like Him but He has this thing about free will.  He doesn’t want to make people love Him—He wants them to love Him because they want too.  Because.They.Want.To. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die on a Roman cross and He did it knowing that many…maybe most…would never even respond.  Amazing.

So, here’s the deal.  I understand that I will never please everyone…probably not even a fraction of the people I bump into.  I can’t do that, but I can do this.  I can love like Jesus loved. He said, “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” He was saying, “Hey, when it comes to loving people…I’m all in. Sit back and enjoy it.”  I can give my best not because a person will respond like I want, but rather because that is what my Dearest Daddy wants me to do.  And guess what?  His approval is the only approval that matters.  We should live, love and long for the audience of One—Jesus.

Well, truth be told, I won’t get this one right in this lifetime because I probably won’t live that long—like a million years.  But with His help I can be more like Him, every day.  Love God, love people.  It’s that simple.  If you are “plum wore out” from “approval-itis,” well, why don’t you just take a rest?  You can, you know—because He’s got this.