Posted in fear, friends, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials

When Bad News Meets Good News

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

Some things were just better in the old days…like the weather report.  Back when the local weather was sponsored by one of the local oil brands and the weatherman wore a service station (that is a gas place where they pumped your gas, checked your oil and cleaned your windshield) uniform, things were so much simpler.  He would get his magic marker out and draw some symbols on his paper map and forecast the weather. It was easy.  If it was going to be hot…he would say it was going to be hot.  If it was going to be cold…he would say it was going to be cold.  If it was going to rain…he just laid it out in simple terms.  Yup…those were the days.

It kinda reminds me of my visit to a gift shop in the Smokey Mountains.  They had what they called a “Hillbilly Weather Station.”  It was a rock attached to a string.  It also had a card that went with it that said if the rock was hot, it was hot. If the rock was cold, it was cold. If the rock is wet, it was raining and finally, if the rock was swinging on the string, it was windy.  My simple sense of humor likes that even now.  But today, they have to give us a lot more information and most the time I am grateful, except for this.

This is this.  Instead of simply saying it is going to be hot they must go a step further and give us what they call the “feel like temperature.”  In other words, if the temperature is going to be 90 degrees and there happens to be a bunch of humidity in the air, well, they let us know it is going to feel like 100 degrees and we are going to be extra miserable. And, if it is cold and there is a wind, well, just to make sure we know how miserable we really are, we have wind chill. Now I know their intent is good, but I just wish they wouldn’t go the extra mile in defining and describing my misery.

If that isn’t enough, the news folks seem to feel like they must top the weather folks.  They scrap up every bit of bad, discouraging, and disgusting news they can find and then read it to us with passion and glee.  It is almost like they want to say, “You only thought things were bad…just listen to this”.  And “this” is always about the awfulness of our broken world.  Yup, I think the weather and news people are in cahoots with one another to make sure we are miserable.

Well, if that isn’t enough, then there are some folks that we bump into in our world and it seems they just can’t wait to slosh their negativity on someone else.  Like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh stories, theirs is a “woe is me” world.  Eeyore once said, “I wish I could say yes…but I can’t.”  Well, the truth is we can.  In a world where some choices are limited, the choice of how we act and think is all ours.  We get to choose to be what stories our “newscast” is going to cast and what report our “weather reporter” is going to report.

One of the reasons I love God is that He is a positive thinker.  His book, the Bible, is a reality check but it is also a book of good news.  In fact, when describing the story of how much God loves us and how He sent His son into this broken world to pay the price for our sin…it is called “the” Good News or Gospel.  And if you allow that Good News to be your good news—well it changes everything.  So, if you need a change, if you need some Good News, why not try the Bible.  It will tell you the truth, but that truth includes God’s incredible love for me and for you.

In a part of the Bible called the New Testament, John, one of Jesus’ closest followers wrote, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” Wow…the God who made it all loves us enough to call us His own.  Now that is worth hearing about and the place to go to hear it is His Word.  So, when you are feeling down and things look hopeless, why not look up…to the God who wants to be your Dearest Daddy.  Imagine a world of Good News…with Someone who is waiting to whisper to you, “Don’t worry.  I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful

Vine Ripened

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

You know there’s just something about a vine ripened tomato.  Yup, it is that time of the year again.  Around our neck of the woods, it starts happening around the 4th of July.  All those folks who planted tomatoes earlier on are now enjoying the fruit of their labors. Oh, and by the way…did you know that tomatoes are a kind of fruit?  Well, that’s what I read on the internet anyway and you know everything on the internet is true.  Smile.

Well, every year some nice folks who raised tomatoes will call and offer us some of their bounty.  If we don’t have any we would gratefully answer yes and get some.  If we still had some on the counter, we would let them know we were good but not to forget us.  This year, like everything else from toilet paper to new windows for your new house, tomatoes are rare and expensive.  My friend was telling me how he paid $3.19 for one large, vine ripened tomato.  Holy moly that is like red gold, but I suppose a good tomato is worth it.

The other day, Judy stopped by a stand and got three small tomatoes and a couple of other veggies and paid about $7.00.  That night we had them for supper.  We put some salt and pepper on them and then some feta cheese. Oh my, and shoot that thing, they were so good and worth every penny.  Well, a couple of days ago, she got a nice large tomato from one of the local grocery stores.  I mean it looked really good. So, we sliced it, added salt and pepper, and crowned it with feta cheese and…it was terrible.

You see that bright red large tomato wasn’t vine ripened.  I don’t know all the details, but somehow most commercially grown tomatoes are picked green and then “gassed” and this causes them to prematurely turn red.  Consequently, they may look good, but they are almost tasteless.  They spend less time on the vine and consequently simply don’t taste as good.  The ones that hang on the vine, taking the time nature intended are so much better than the ones we force to maturity.

I wonder, no I know, that is true in life also.  So often we force situations and sometimes force people into relationships, and segments of life for which they simply are not ready.  I know it seems our children are forced to grow up so much faster than I was.  When that happens, well, in the best case they miss out on some of the great parts of growing up and in the worst case they end up struggling in life because they simply were not ready.  But it is not just the kids, but it can also include relationships.  We jump into marriages for which we are not ready…sometimes just because the clock is ticking, and we don’t want to end up alone.

I wonder if we can learn something from the tomato and the ones who grow them.  I wonder if we can learn the value of just taking our time…time to ripen on the vine and gain the flavor that God intended?  I wonder if we can learn to slow down and trust God just a little more?  I remember just how disappointed I was when I put that “gassed” tomato in my mouth and found it bland and tasteless.  It may have looked better, but it surely didn’t taste better than its vine ripened cousin.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1 which tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  What a difference it might make if we let things have their season…their time.  Our world might be a little better, our lives a little sweeter and our tomatoes a little tastier.  I know that sometimes it is hard to wait for the seasons but if you think about it…it might be worth it.  Need some help in the waiting department? If you know God personally, why not ask your Dearest Daddy for a little advice?  I’m sure He would be more than glad to help.  And if you don’t know Him yet, go ahead and introduce yourself.  Just whisper a prayer and you will find Him ready to love and help you.  After all, He’s got a big heart and strong arms…and “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Spilt Milk

I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

It gets real hot in North Florida.  When I write these stories I always try and remember things that happened in my youth that were either funny or difficult or both. Sometimes though they are just hilarious.  When I was about eight years old, my Momma and Daddy were always looking for ways to save a little money.  I didn’t know if we were rich or poor and I don’t suppose it mattered. Sometimes it was more obvious but most times it was just life.

I’m not sure how we got started but we began to buy our milk from a family that lived about a mile from where we lived.  It wasn’t really a dairy farm it was more like three or four cows. We would go over twice a week and buy a couple of gallons in big half-gallon glass jugs.  And let me tell you…this wasn’t the pasteurized stuff we drink today.  It was straight from the cow.  And one more thing, it was NOT 2%, or 1% or skim milk.  No sir, this stuff came fully loaded with milk fat.  It was good.  We had an old ice cream churn, the kind you had to crank and that milk made the best ice cream you ever tasted.  It was always a special day when we went and got milk.  And then one day it wasn’t.

We were still driving that old 1957 Plymouth and it was time to get milk.  I think Momma was driving and one of my sisters was in the front seat and the other in the back with me.  Those were the days before seat belts and rules about kids not sitting in the front seat.  In fact in those days the dashboard was made out of metal.  Anyway, we got to the home where they sold the milk. Momma paid the lady and I was supposed to carry the milk to the car and carefully put it on the floorboard in the backseat.  It was a good plan…almost.

The milk jugs had little handles on the top near the neck of the jug.  I picked up the jugs, one in each hand and headed to the car.  I put the jugs down on the ground and opened the back door.  Then I turned around and picked up one of the jugs and set it on the floorboard.  Then I turned around to get the second jug and put it next to the other.  You know, next is a nice word.  It means close too.  Well, I swung that ole jug through the door and well, you might say I got it just a little too close to the other one.  There was a sound of glass hitting glass and one of the jugs busted wide open and that nice fresh milk spilled all over the carpeted (remember that) floorboard.  Bummer.

Momma came over and of course was upset about the wasted milk.  I was too, but you know what they say, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” That is true but things were going to get worse before they got better.  I suppose we bought another half-gallon of milk and headed for the house.  Once there I did my best to clean up the spilt milk. The problem was first there was carpet and then, like they did back then, there was a thick pad underneath the carpet.  You could do what you wanted to, but there was no way all that milk was coming out of that carpet and pad.

Remember I told you that it gets real hot in North Florida.  Well, by the next morning there was a strange odor in the whole car and it just got worse and worse.  By the end of the first day the smell of sour milk made it just about impossible to sit in the car.  We already had the windows down because there was no air conditioning but even that didn’t stop the odor.  It made it better but when Momma or Daddy hit a stop light, Katie bar the door…it stunk. So for days and days our 1957 Plymouth smelled horrible. I’m pretty sure I was not winning any popularity contests for about the next two weeks. That smell lasted a long after the accident…oh boy did we hate it.

Have you ever broken a jug of milk in your car before?  Well, probably not, but let me ask you this.  “Have you ever done something wrong, something that hurt someone, something that broke someone’s heart?”  You probably know that is really what this story is about.  You see when we get all fired up and make some bad choices with big regrets it doesn’t just go away…oh not…it lingers and lingers and lingers.  And you know and I know sometimes the scar just stays forever.  I know we shouldn’t cry over spilt milk but maybe we should shed a few tears over broken hearts, hearts that we have broken.

I sure wish I had been more careful that day.  I know I was just a kid but I was old enough to be careful.  My careless behavior caused a big stink and it was a stink we all had to endure.  I think we should be more careful with our actions and our words each day.  If we would it might save a few hearts and a few big stinks.  The Bible says that we will have to give an account for every word and every action that we say or do.  Do you know what?  If I would have asked, my big sister would have helped me that day…so would Momma but I thought I could handle it.  We think that way in life too.  Why not ask for a little help from your Heavenly Father before the milk gets spilt?  He is always ready to help you carry your milk. Two things are certain…you can count on Him and always, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Seasons Come and Seasons Go

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Seasons come and seasons go.  A while back, Judy’s great nephew posted a picture on Facebook. It showed their son, maybe five years old, walking down his driveway.  On his back he carries a backpack that is just about as big as he is. He is heading to school—his first day of kindergarten. The first day of school is a big deal, even more so when it is kindergarten, especially for mom and dad. In the foreground of the picture, is a line of toys…I suppose some of his favorites.  The message was beautifully clear. As seasons change, as great adventures come along, as each new journey starts, sometimes you must leave what you love behind. It’s part of growing up—it’s part of life. I’m sure out of camera range was mom, and dad too, who watched through teary eyes.  Their little boy was growing up.  Seasons come and seasons go.

It happened a couple of weeks ago as fall silently arrived. Did you feel it? Did you sense it? Probably not.  For most it wasn’t even a blip on the calendar. There was no fanfare, no ticker-tape parade, no sounds trumpeting its arrival.  In many ways it was just a day on the calendar that most of us probably missed.  But not everyone missed it.  The trees took note.  Slowly and surely, their leaves began turning a beautiful yellow and red before drifting, floating to the ground.  The plants took note.  The shortening days began telling their leaves it was time to prepare for next spring by preparing for winter’s sleep.  And oh yes, the squirrels definitely knew it.  They began gathering their supply of acorns and pecans, tucking them away for the coming winter.  You see, fall is a time of transition…nature’s way of letting us know that another season is soon coming…Winter. And winter, like all the seasons, is something to celebrate—something to embrace.

For me the first day of fall was an event.  Every year I look forward to it. I told my wife that part of the mystery of fall is how something so beautiful prepares the way for a time of dormancy and sleep.  You might think of it as a time of things dying but you would be wrong.  No, it is a time of preparation and transition.  Remember…seasons come and seasons go. And in the beauty of fall we see the promise of spring, of new life.  It is that way for nature.  It is that way for us.  In the fall of our lives, things begin to change and it is God’s way of preparing us for new life—eternal life with Him. While we do have to walk through the winter of death, just on the other side is the eternal spring of heaven.  It is something to celebrate—something to embrace.

So, seasons come and go.  It is true in nature and it is true in life.  While the changing seasons sometimes bring challenges they also bring on exciting new adventures. Changing seasons on the calendar are something to celebrate—something to embrace.  It is God’s promise to us that something new is coming. The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us that for everything there is a season—a time for every purpose under heaven.  He’s telling us that seasons come and seasons go. There are times for living and dying, playing and harvesting, dancing and sitting still. Yes, it is something to celebrate—and something to embrace.

As we casually flip the pages of the calendar, as the clock keeps ticking, leading us toward new seasons and new adventures, don’t get stuck in the cold of winter. No, remember this—spring is on the other side.  Every day is a gift from God and is a gentle nudge from our Dearest Daddy that He is preparing new seasons and new adventures for us.  Like our first day of kindergarten, it might mean leaving behind some of the things we love, but we can rest in Him knowing that only the best comes from Him and He never, ever gets it wrong.  Never. Sleep well tonight knowing that He who creates the days, masters the same.  Rest knowing that He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne