Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

The Phone Call

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

It was a phone call that was to change my life.  It was from my brother-in-law’s brother.  We were fringe friends, and he had an idea.  We were both seniors in high school and both really didn’t have plans for after graduation.  So, he says, “Hey Dewayne.  Why don’t we join the Air Force together?  They have the buddy plan.  We can attend basic training together and go to our first duty station together.  We can be buds.”  Well, I didn’t have any better ideas and I liked the idea of serving my country and I was always kinda adventurous so, “Why not?”  I went down and signed up singing, “Off we go into the wild blue yonder.”  We were set.  Or not.

After I went down to sign up, I called my brother-in-law’s brother and said, “Have you signed up yet?”  Silence.  He then told me that he had changed his mind.  We were no longer buds.  Well, regardless, I was going into the Air Force.  That much was decided. What wasn’t decided was what to do in the Air Force.  They have this test they give you to decide what best suits your talents and abilities.  I took the test. When the recruiter gave me the results he was smiling.

“Well, Dewayne, looks like you are strong in the administrative field.” “What?” I said.  “Administration.” he said. 

He tried to make it sound really important, but he was really saying I was going to be a secretary.  Now this was not cool.  My dad was a jet engine mechanic.  One brother had served in the Army and I’m not sure what he did but it wasn’t typing.  Another brother who joined the Air Force saved the world—or at least that’s what he told me.  My other brother joined the Coast Guard—saving lives and stuff. Me?  Well, I get to be a secretary.

So anyway, I kept my word and joined the Air Force.  I even realized that being a 702X0, (that is the official designation for an administrative specialist), was not too bad.  When guys were standing in the rain guarding planes I was in a nice, warm office.  There were always a few unkind jokes about 702X0 guys but when those guys wanted their leave papers processed, the joke was on them.  Yup, it was totally unexpected but it turned out the Air Force was right.  I was in my groove.

Now for the best part of the story.  Later I met my wife Judy and we decided to make the Air Force a career.  Secretary or not, she thought I was rather dashing even if I did type instead of fly a plane.  The days and years went by and then I heard a whisper—the God kind.  It said something about pastoring and preaching.  I told the Whisperer that I was gonna stay in the Air Force and we could talk later.  Another year passed and the Whisperer kept whispering and finally I said, “Yes.”  So, after twelve years I left the Air Force and walked from one office…and right into another.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had been in school for twelve years.  I suddenly realized that God had been grooming me for the pastorate all along.  Can you imagine if I had done my thing and become a mechanic and then walked into the pastorate where working on jet engines didn’t help you write sermons?  Because of God’s sovereignty and wisdom, I left one office where I typed, wrote, researched, supervised, filed and zillion other things and walked right into another where almost all those skills were needed.  Can someone say, “Amazing?”

So here I am 40 years into my calling as a pastor sitting at a computer and writing.  It all happened because the Whisperer whispered and for once I had the common sense to figure out He was a lot smarter than I was.  Proverbs 3:5-6 has been a powerful force in my life, all my life.  It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  I know from personal experience that is true.

I haven’t always gotten it right.  I haven’t always listened to the Whisperer, trusted Him totally or not leaned into my own understanding.  But when I did, I have always had better outcomes and fewer regrets.  And do you know what? Even in this crazy new world, even in today’s circumstances, He’s still got a plan.  This isn’t a world gone mad or to use my favorite word, “crazy.” This is a world under the watchful eye and caring heart of our God.  And He is crazy about us.  So, go ahead and surrender to Him—rest in Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, New Year, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

The Captain

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of Man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!” Matthew 8:27

It was a long, long time ago.  There are many historical events that are almost timeless.  They carry with them a mystical allurement that keeps them alive in the minds of people.  No matter how much is written, when that event is mentioned, immediately interest is peeked, eyes focus and ears open. Such is the story of the Titanic.  It was on May 31, 1911, that the Titanic was launched.  Now launched didn’t mean open for business…ready to sail.  No, it meant that Titanic had what it needed to be called a ship but not what it took to make money.  The hull, the keel, the engines all were in placed but people don’t pay for that…they pay for the good stuff, the nice stuff, the luxurious stuff.

Well, almost a year later, on April 10, 1912, all that stuff was in place and the great Titanic was ready to set sail.  The appointments of luxury were amazing.  For that time and that place there simply was nothing like the Titanic.  Of course, there were different classes of people who bought tickets—from the very rich to the improvised poor looking for a fresh start in America. But the Titanic was really…or was she?

Four days after her maiden voyage began, she struck an iceberg and, in a few hours, sank in the icy North Atlantic taking with her well over a thousand souls.  While all the details are a matter of debate, most agree that the basic design of the ship was flawed.  The watertight compartments instead of being totally sealed allowed water to overflow from one compartment to the next.  Like a cascading river, the water flowed from one compartment to the next sealing the fate of the “unsinkable” ship.  Not one detail for the comfort of the Uber rich was overlooked and yet the one thing that could have kept her afloat was.  Amazing…and disconcerting…worrying.

I think what prompted me to write this story was the New Year.  We all, well those who were awake, watched the ball fall, the peach drop, the fireworks explode.  We celebrated; we partied launching into the seas of another New Year.  But as we launched, did anyone, did someone, did I, did you stop and examine the “ship” that was going to carry us into 2023?  Did we carefully craft the “luxurious” while ignoring the crucial…the vital?  Did we plan diets and dream of vacations while being strangely silent about the most important? Did we launch into 2023 without the one thing that would ensure our safety…our survival?

What is the one thing?  Better yet, who is that Someone?  Well, the answer is Creator God. These days I still feel compelled to make sure we understand that I am not talking about church (though that is profitable) or religion (though that can be good) but I am talking about making sure He is the Captain of our ship.  Try this on for size.  When the Captain of your ship is the Master (and dare I say Maker) of the storm, there is great comfort.  The passengers have the calming assurance that no matter what, He is there, He is ready, He is in charge.

One time the disciples of Jesus found themselves in the midst of a terrible storm, in what could only be described as an oversized rowboat.  They were frightened to the point that they thought death was imminent. Just about then they remembered that Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat.  They woke Him with a shout of “Don’t you care we are about to drown?”  Well, Jesus got up, spoke to the wind and waves, demanding calm…and it happened.  He then asked the guys about their faith.  Where.Was.Their.Faith.  Looking around at the now calm sea and their frail oversized rowboat they asked a question, “What kind of Man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!” Hmmm…good question.

The answer, of course, is that He is and was a one-of-a-kind Man, a Man like no other, God in human form. He was the Captain and Master of the storm and what was true then is true now…with Jesus in your boat you don’t have to fear. So, as we launch into 2023, shouldn’t we make sure that our Captain is Jesus, and shouldn’t we invite Him to lead and guide us?  Any unknown, any new horizon can be frightening…unless the Creator and Master of it all is on board.  If He is…we don’t have to worry because we have the confident assurance that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

It was a gentle reminder.  So last Sunday we were driving to church and heard a soft “ding.” A quick look at the dash told us why.  Our car has a built-in thermometer and when the temperature dips to 39 degrees, it sounds a soft chime to let us know that the temperature outside has reached a point where the roads might be slippery because of ice or snow. It is a great idea because sometimes we get too busy to be careful and then, well, it can lead to a mess.  I wish life sometimes had a little “ding” too…it might save me some oops.  Let me explain.

A week or so ago I had a schedule that was just jam packed.  I knew it was going to be busy. I knew it was going to be crazy but for some reason that didn’t stop me from eventually acting crazy.  It all started on Monday…well, make that Sunday.  Sunday for me is preach twice Sunday morning but this particular week we also had an evening service to prepare for a special event that was happening at our church…which was part of the crazy.  I spent the afternoon getting Grits ready for that week and the next…so, add in a little more crazy.  Now back to Monday.  Monday, I had the privilege of officiating at the funeral service for a church member who happened to be a good friend too.  Because of that it was especially emotionally draining for me.  I felt the loss…we all did.

I returned to the office that afternoon and finished out the day and woke up early on Tuesday to speak on “The Baptist Hour,” a radio program that we sponsor on the first of every month.  Then it was off to the office, preparing for the rest of the week.  In the late afternoon, we packed our bags to attend a state meeting two and a half hours away.  We arrived that night, slept and woke up to a twelve-hour day of conferences and meetings. It was just about then I should have been listening for the little warning chime because certainly it was going off.

Thursday morning began with more meetings before leaving for home. After driving for two and a half hours, we got back in time to serve at our outreach event.  I was one of the speakers and we got to the church at about 5:00 pm and got home about 10:30 pm.  Friday, the day I usually call my day off, was filled with more study and a return trip to the church for the event. Was that a “ding” I heard?   Then Sunday…well, it was Sunday, and our first service begins at 8 am.

Now all of that wasn’t written to whine about a crazy week…it was to warn you that, chime, or no chime, when things get crazy…be careful you don’t.  So, in the second service Sunday morning two things happened that were anything but usual.  First, two young men in our young group, two young men I like and respect, decided to have a conversation while I was speaking. When I say “conversation,” I don’t mean whispering…I mean speaking loudly—loud enough for me to hear from the stage.  Loud enough to distract me. Loud enough to mash my crazy button.  The second crazy thing was, I stopped sharing and publicly told them it was my turn to speak…not their’s. Was their behavior out of line? Yes.  Did they need to be corrected?  Maybe…but not publicly.  Trust me…that is something that I would certainly not normally do. In fact, I don’t think I have done so in forty years…at least not that I can remember, besides the Taylor girls.

Anyway, I fumbled through the rest of the message and as soon as I was done speaking, I went and apologized to them. And before I could get the words fully out, they apologized to me. They were wrong for talking and I was wrong in how I fixed it.  The good news is the devil didn’t win the day, but he could have.  Now the question is, “How did this happen?”  And the answer is, at least on my side, I had allowed my tank to reach empty and you can’t run on empty without consequences.  You can’t give and give without taking something in.  I was sure I could do it all and found out…I couldn’t.

So, like the chime in my car, I needed something to let me know it was time to restock, to replenish.  While God doesn’t give out chimes, He does give us His Spirit. I love a verse tucked away in Psalm 46:10. It says, “Be still and know I am God.” Be still…literally, “stop striving” and know that I am God. He wants to be our warning chime but to hear Him we must slow down and listen.

I shared a quote a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t personally apply it. It said, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap,” or maybe just get away. So, after church that Sunday, we did a little more crazy. We packed our bags and headed to New Orleans for a five day cruise. We were grateful for a time to physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually recover. This quiet time was a gift from God to us…a time to be still and know that He really is God.  I hope this story will help you stop before you reach the tipping point. But if you do, if we do, at least we know, no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, travel, Trials

Life’s Puzzles

Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

It seems we have a new piece of furniture.  Awhile back we made a trip to northern Indiana to visit the Indiana Dunes National Park.  While we were there, we went to the park welcome center to get our “park passport” stamped, gather some info, and of course visit the gift shop.  While we were walking around the shop, my wife Judy picked up a puzzle.  Since we don’t do puzzles and since at least half of this team doesn’t even like puzzles I was somewhat surprised. Then I concluded that she was probably buying it for our Airbnb.

This puzzle wasn’t one of those for the faint of heart.  It was a 1,000-piece monster.  I smiled at the thought of guests going crazy trying to figure it out.  “Have fun,” I said to myself.  “Good luck,” I said to myself.  And then it happened.  As we got in the car the puzzle came up and Judy made the big reveal.  The puzzle wasn’t for the Airbnb…it was for…us.  I quickly explained that I didn’t do puzzles, didn’t like puzzles, and especially didn’t like puzzles with more than 10 pieces.  “No matter,” she said, “I’ll do it.”

After we got home, and not many days later, the puzzle made its appearance.  At first it found its way to the dining room table.  As she spread the 1,000-piece monster out on the table, it was quickly apparent that we needed a better solution.  So, we went down to our basement brought up our card table.  Soon, she had the table up, the pieces spread out and we were the proud owners of a new piece of furniture—a puzzle table.  Well, for the first few days she would occasionally wander over and mess with the puzzle.  There was delight when a piece was found that fit another and then something happened.  The delight slowly began to wane as the next connecting piece became harder to find.

Now, sitting in our living room, is a puzzle table that doesn’t hold much hope of completion.  I think Judy even said maybe she should have started with something less challenging.  I mentioned that Christmas is right around the corner and the table is sitting where the tree will go. I suspect that while the table will go back to the basement soon…the puzzle will find its way to the Airbnb awaiting its next victim.

That puzzle reminds me of life.  Sitting on the shelf in a store it seemed so benign.  Perhaps a challenge but certainly not something that is not conquerable but then the boxed is opened, the pieces spread out and it becomes something we can’t quite handle.  With puzzles you can just put it back in the box—no harm—no foul.  But with life…well, that is a different story.  You can’t just put away—our life journey, our life circumstances, our life challenges—seek a solution, an answer, a completion.  And we are often left scratching our heads.

And that is where God comes in.  Talk to people who love puzzles, and they all have their ideas, plans and strategies…but what works for one may not work for another.  But with God what works with Him always works for us.  His wisdom, His strategy is never wrong and better than that…He is willing to help us put it all together.  He gently makes suggestions and whispers solutions. Sometimes He even guides our hands to the right answer for a question that demands an answer.  That’s just what He does.  Always helping, always loving, always there.

If you have a puzzle that has you stumped, you might consider putting it in your Airbnb.  If you don’t have one of those, try having a yard sale or using it as a repurposed Christmas gift…to someone you don’t particularly like.  Smile.  But if we are talking life, turn to the One who knows the answers to all the puzzles but remember…it is a matter of trusting and sometimes…waiting.  I like a promise tucked away in Isaiah 65:24—in the Old Testament part of the Bible. It says, “Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” I like that.  I can just see Him saying, “You might try that piece right over there.”  I listen and sure enough…it fits.  And of course…sometimes He might just whisper, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel

At 217

The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

It stands tall.  When we moved to 217 West Poplar Street our yard was a blank slate.  The house had sat empty for more than a few years and while someone made sure the grass was cut, no one cared if it was beautiful.  When my wife Judy came…all that began to change.  Somewhere along her journey she acquired what can only be described as a green thumb. She has a way with plants that causes them to grow…to thrive.  What was once a blank slate is now a garden, lush and green, with many kinds of plants, trees, and flowers.

Her style, though planned, is not one that is starchy or stiff.  The flowers and plants are allowed to grow freely…to multiply.  While there are times when pruning has to be done and digging has to occur, largely they are allowed to “bloom where they are planted.”  The best example of that is Herbert the tree.  I need to tell you that I only recently named the tree Herbert.  I thought it might add more human interest to the story.  Anyway, several years ago, a maple tree began to grow in one of our flower beds.  Now, honestly, that usually doesn’t end well for the tree.  But this one, well, somehow the story turned out differently.

Herbert started growing too close to the fence in our front yard.  I can say with certainty that he was probably cut down a couple of times and each time he came back.  So finally, somehow, we decided to let him grow—and he did.  Time gets away from us all and it may be longer than I think, but I think Herbert is now about five years old.  He has grown from a little maple sapling into a 25-30-foot-tall tree.  He was planted by nature, but it was our decision to let him grow…to bloom where he was planted.  I’m glad we did.

Herbert is now big enough to provide shade in our front yard and he also adds depth and dimension to our yard. Oh, and now, for the first time, when I rake leaves in the fall, at least some of them are mine and not my neighbor’s.  Somehow that is satisfying. A friend says I should have cut Herbert down a long time ago…you know, wrong place. But I told him that we were going to give him a chance.  While the place nature put him isn’t the best, he is a constant reminder to us that we should grow, to flourish, wherever God plants us.

Our life has been a series of great adventures.  While some folks choose to grow in the same community all of their lives and maybe live in the same house…well, ours has been different.  It really wasn’t us making the call…I believe it was a sovereign God working and planning what He thought best for us.  Our path isn’t your path, but it was the one that God chose for us.  One of the writers of the Jewish hymnbook in what we call the Old Testament said, “The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”  In other words, life, and especially the life of someone who follows Jesus, isn’t a series of accidents and circumstances but rather the handiwork of a Master Gardener. And for those Jesus followers, well that Master Gardener just happens to be their Dearest Daddy.

So, when you drive by our house on Poplar Street look at Herbert.  He lives by the alley and by the fence on the East side of our front yard.  Notice that he is closer to the fence than he should be but also remember that he is simply, “blooming where he was planted.”  It seems to be working out well for Herbert and guess what?  It seems to work out well for us humans too. Regardless of where you’ve been planted and regardless of the soil—just keep trusting the Master Gardner…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials, wisdom

Preachers, Chicken, and Golf

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” Psalm 37:3-5

It never was my thing.  I have been a pastor now for four decades and I’ve learned that there are a couple things that just seem to go with being a preacher.  Number one is food…and fried chicken…in particular.  I know there are pastors who don’t like fried chicken, but I personally tend to look at them with a little suspicion.  I mean, you know, chicken—preachers: preachers-chicken.  I once heard a couple of chickens talking and one was bragging to the other about her children. The other chicken asked why, and she said, “They are all “in the ministry.” Hmmm. That is a bad joke.

Now the other thing that kinda goes with being a preacher is golf.  It goes like this, “So you are a preacher?” “Why yes.”  “Do you play golf?” “Of course.” Well, unlike chicken, that is one preacher thing I don’t do and there is a logical reason—I’m terrible at it.  I’ve hit the ball a few times but that’s about it.  My golfing career came to a sudden stop after one particularly frustrating attempt to play. On that day, I was on the course with a very good friend who had invited me to try and play. After several holes, in frustration, I finally blurted out, “Why am I doing this?  I can stay at home and be frustrated for free.”  And that was it. Game. Set. Match. Oh wait…that is tennis…another thing I can’t do well. In spite of the demise of my golfing career, I have grown in my appreciation for the game.  It obviously involves a whole lot of practice and skill.

One time we were staying at a home in Vero Beach, Florida.  The home backed up to a very nice golf course.  In fact, it was a world-class course. Even with my limited knowledge, I could tell the fairways on this course were better than the greens on most.  It was magnificent. It had strict rules and you had better observe those rules.  I had learned the hard way that you don’t drive a cart on one of the greens. If you do you might be shot or at least chased off the course.

Well, we were at this place for about a week and every morning I would have a cup of coffee on the patio and watch all these people play golf.  Then something happened that totally surprised me. One morning, a crew with some specialty tractors showed up and began to tear up the part of the course behind our house.  They methodically destroyed the thing that only days before they had carefully cultivated and protected. The very thing that would get you thrown out if you abused it was totally messed over.  What was going on?

The answer was simple. The caretakers of the course knew that periodically you must come in and rebuild the course.  This involves hurting the thing they love so it can be made stronger. It restores the soil which in turn helps the grass to grow stronger and greener.  It really confused me but then I realized that is exactly what must happen in our lives.  We have a heavenly Father who loves us so very much.  Yet, just as the caretaker knew what was good for the course, our Father knows what is good for us. And that means sometimes He allows difficulties and adversity to come into our lives to stretch our faith and to teach us to lean on Him.  His activity in our lives, even when it involves painful experiences, is strong proof of His love. Read that again.  It means He loves us and cares for us.

God is love, God is good.  You can take it to the bank.  If we listen to our circumstances and the culture around us, we will be discouraged and disillusioned.  There are two things we can do that will keep us on track.  First, look back and count our blessings and second, spend time reading and meditating in His book, the Bible.  What we put in our brain sure tends to affect how we live.  One of the guys who wrote the book of Psalms in the Old Testament part of the Bible said we should trust in the Lord, delight in the Lord, and commit everything to the Lord.  That is just good advice.

So here is the end of the golf course story. What had been so torn apart on Monday was already healing and growing by Thursday.  Though we had to leave, I’m sure just weeks later, the course was better and stronger than ever—and you can believe and trust our Dearest Daddy for the same. He knows you better than you know yourself and no matter how difficult the day, you can believe that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel

Divine Rescue

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

It was a close call.  It all started several months ago when I received an email from a website called “Travelzoo.”  Each Wednesday they send out a “Top 20” list of their best travel deals.  Well, in June that list included a really, good deal at a really nice hotel in Naples. Now you probably ought to know that one thing trumps all else when it comes to me and hotels:  PRICE. I love a good deal.  But this one had a great price along with a nice pool, hot tub, great decor, good location and a free shuttle to the beach. I talked it over with Judy and we began making plans for a trip to Southwest Florida.

Well, as time went by, I arranged our flight to and from Naples and of course the now famous car rental—a Mustang convertible.  Well, as the days got closer, and for a reason I don’t remember, I just started wondering if we should look at another place to stay—something with more space, perhaps a kitchen—you know, a small condo.  So, we started looking and low and behold we found one—actually me, Mr. Price Trumps Everything, found one.  Yes, it was a bit more expensive and it wasn’t in Naples but rather Fort Myers Beach.  But it seemed to be saying, “Rent me.”  We did.

Now there are lots of ways I can tell this story but perhaps the shorter version is the best version.  I apply this often to my sermons—NOT.  As we get to Fort Myers, we find this condo is a home-run, grand slam.  It overlooks this large, beautiful bay with a fabulous view from the seventh floor.  It had a large balcony and the living room wall was floor to ceiling glass.  It really was amazing.  Fish and dolphins were jumping in the bay, birds were everywhere, boats zipped up and down the channel, and each morning a beautiful sunrise greeted us.  Paradise.

Ok, so now, fast forward.  We left there on Wednesday and drove down to the keys in our Mustang convertible (can someone say, “cool”) and stayed for a couple of days before returning to Naples on Friday, to spend the night and fly home on Saturday morning.  So…we spend Friday night in the hotel we had originally booked for the first six nights of vacation.  Now, it was nice, but there were no restaurants nearby, the beach was several, and I do mean several, miles away.  The room was small with no fish or dolphins jumping anywhere, no birds, no boats, and no morning sunrise to say “Hi.”

Now that was fine for one night.  However, I looked at Judy and she looked at me and we both realized we had been blessed and rescued.  That small room could have been our home not for one night but six nights and every meal would have meant a hunt for a restaurant.  And anytime, and I mean anytime, we were outside our room and in the building, a mask was required.  The whole tenor of the vacation would have changed. It would have been away but that was just about it.  Away.

Let me tell you that we firmly believe that our Dearest Father acted on our behalf.  He knew we would not have been happy for six nights in that hotel and He whispered and nudged at just the right time and gently moved us in another direction…a direction that exceeded our needs and expectations.  It occurred to both of us that God had sent us a love note.  God knew what we needed better than we did.  He knew that saving a few bucks paled in comparison to what He had picked for us!  It was so cool.

We had a great time.  And over and over, throughout the time we were there, we kept saying, “God rescued us” and we knew it was true.  And here’s the best part—while we got to recognize this one, I wonder just how many times and how many ways does He do it over and over again?  He works behind the scenes, silently changing plans and directing our steps towards His blessings and away from our disasters.  I believe when we get to heaven it is going to be crazy good. We will see Jesus and our loved ones who knew Jesus and have gone before us. It’s gonna be awesome. But until then the Psalmist says we should just keep tasting, keep discovering just how good God is and that will keep us busy for a long time.

I think one of my favorite things about heaven is going to be the fact that we will finally see all the ways that God acted on in our behalf.  I can imagine the walls of heaven covered with sticky notes—love notes from our Dearest Daddy to me and you—all saying in a million different ways, “I love you.”  Oh, I know it won’t be exactly like that but I also know in heaven I will see all the things He did for me.  I can’t wait.  Till then I’m going to have to be satisfied with the times I see them and the times we get to sit together and rest in our love…especially His for me.  Oh, and then there are the times when I realize, I know, that He’s got this.  And that is in everything and every day.  How about that?

Posted in Family, life, Military memories, Scripture, travel

If You’ve Seen One “Brucken”

A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way.” Psalm 37:23

We were so close and yet so far away. It was 1977 and we had recently arrived at our new USAF assignment in Germany. We had purchased a 1967 Volkswagen station wagon which turned out to have virtually no floorboards just floor mats.  We found that out the first time it rains.  It rains a lot in Germany.  Anyway we named him Herman.  He wasn’t fast, he wasn’t pretty.  But he would go…most of the time.

Our friends that lived a couple of hours away invited to come over and spend the weekend with them.  We lived in Sambach which wasn’t too far from Sembach where I worked.  You can probably already tell that things can get confusing in Germany.  So, we had been in country for about 10 days, we had our international drivers license which meant I paid someone $15 dollars, and we had Herman.  Not to sound like Gilligan’s Island but we started out on “a three hour trip…a three hour trip”.

We were heading to a small city called  Zweibrucken where our friends lived.  The Air Force had a small airbase there where he worked and since Zweibrucken means “two bridges” I assume they had those also.  It was simple.  Get on this highway with your car named Herman and with no floorboards, drive about an hour or so, take a left and head toward Zweibrucken.  Not a deal. Right? Well, not so fast.

Soon Judy and I were traveling along, excited for a new adventure.  We had no traveling experience in Germany, it was raining, remember it does that a lot in Germany, so we had miniature swimming pools for floorboards and the antique wipers were just keeping up with the rain. After about an hour we came to a large directional sign.  It said Saarbrucken straight ahead.  Well, Mr. “I’m a man who doesn’t get lost” looked at his sweet, dear “Don’t look at me, I’ve never been out the country before either” wife and said, “Uh was that Saarbrucken we were looking for?”  You know, if you’ve seen one “brucken” you’ve seen them all.

Well, I couldn’t remember, she couldn’t remember so we kept driving and it kept raining.  We drove for quite a while and suddenly found ourselves in Saarbrucken which happens to be on the French border. We also found ourselves on the verge of having to learn French. Since we hadn’t mastered any German either we decided we had best turn around before we started an international incident.

I did a quick turn around and headed back the way we came.  We were disoriented, discouraged, and disappointed.  We drove back about 30 miles or so and there we saw a sign:  Zweibrucken.  I remembered, she remembered—sweet Zweibrucken. Hallelujah. We exited off the autobahn (which is German for “you can drive fast if you don’t drive a Herman”) and as we exit we see our friend just pulling away.  He had come to look for us and was just about to give up.  We saw him, he saw us.  We laughed, we embraced. We had made it.  “Guten Tag.”  Guten Tag, indeed!

We still laugh about that crazy story.  Two young people who didn’t know better driving in a foreign country, taking off in a too old Volkswagen station wagon with swimming pools for floor boards, getting lost and unable to ask directions. Yup, life was good. Now knowing me,  I was probably frustrated, discouraged, and discombobulated. I’m not exactly sure what that means but I am sure I felt it that day.  But the bottom line is, we had fun. Even then we laughed at the hot mess we were in.  It was a story we would tell our kids one day.  Well, we have and it still brings a smile to our lips.

I know there is so much craziness today.  So many missteps, so many “I don’t knows,” so many “Saars” when it should have been a “Zwei.” But remember this.  There is a God who is writing this story called your life and He is a God who loves a good adventure.  And the things that we count as disruptions just might be one of His great adventures purposely put in our path for our ultimate good and pleasure.  David, in Psalm 37:23 writes, “The steps of a good person are ordered [directed, planned] by the Lord.  And He delights in that path.”  In other words, God has a plan and it is a plan that He has written just for you. I know I sometimes question my GPS when it takes me down some crazy roads to save a minute or two but I am learning to just enjoy the journey.  I wrote a few days back that Judy and I love to drive around and try to get lost.  One of my friends said, “Come on down to Pope County.  I can get you lost.”  I think I’m gonna take him up on it.  I’ll have my trusty GPS on standby and my friend won’t be too far away so it should be a great adventure.  I’ll just go along for the ride and rest in Him.  After all, He’s got this.  Guten Tag.