Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful


But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

It’s tucked away in the memories of my mind…a snippet in a sea of remembrances.  I’ve said it so many times by now that some might say it is overkill, but the bottom line is my Daddy and Momma went so far to make special days…special.  The king of the hill, of course, was Christmas but they also tried to make each birthday special. They couldn’t afford it but somehow, they did it. And one of those sacrifices is the center of the snippet.

It was probably 1959.  I was about five years old growing up in a world so different from today you would think that we moved to a different planet. It was a dozen days past Christmas, and it was my birthday. I’m sure there was cake, I’m sure there was a family celebration but what I remember most is the present.  I’m not sure how you decide what to get a five-year-old, but Daddy and Momma sure knocked it out of the park that year.

Since there were no K-Marts or Walmart’s, I can only imagine that Daddy and Momma went down to the local Western Auto to shop.  If you don’t remember they were a neighborhood store that was part appliance store, part general store and part household store.  They also had a selection of toys…especially at Christmas and maybe that is why they had what I got.  That year my parents bought me an ice cream truck.

Well, it really wasn’t a truck, and it really didn’t hold ice cream, but it was something special.  It had three wheels, like a trike, but behind the seat it had large metal box with decals that said, “ice cream.”  The handlebars had those plastic streamers on each end, the front wheel had a fender and of course, it had a bell.  I can remember driving and peddling down the road in front of our house.  There was little traffic so there was also little danger of getting run over.

For some reason I can remember about a quarter of mile down the road a man was building a small box house.  He was singlehandedly taking on this project, and I decided to peddle down there, and he was working away.  I “pulled up” and asked if he would like an ice cream and the reason I remember him, his house and that day was that rather than brush me off…he played along and if I remember correctly, almost every day I would peddle down the road to see my new customer and friend.  The ice cream was pretend, but his kindness was not.  Looking back at this snippet of a memory, it still makes me smile.

Hanging over the fireplace in my wife’s “keeping room” is a quote by Maya Angelou.  Something she said says so much.  She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that is the very reason I remember this man taking time from building a house to talk and befriend a five-year-old boy.  I don’t remember his name, but I do remember his heart.

What about you?  What about us?  I wonder will we take the time to be kind…to treat someone with an extra measure of kindness and implant a “snippet” in their hearts? In those days when I was five, kids were supposed to be more seen than heard.  There seemed to be the adult world and the kid’s world and while there weren’t walls there were boundaries and this kind man chose to move beyond the boundary.  He made me feel…important.  He made me feel like I mattered.  Perhaps today, we should try to do the same.  Today, perhaps we should choose to be like…Jesus.

Jesus was famous for seeing the invisible people and touching the untouchable.  He even said one time, “Let the little children come to Me.”  He would have said to that little five-year-old boy with an ice cream truck, “Let Dewayne come to me.”  And I want you to know that no matter how invisible you feel, no matter how insignificant…you are not either to Jesus!  Tattoo that on your hearts…you matter, and you matter a lot to Him.  So, if life seems overwhelming, or maybe underwhelming, just remember you’ve got a friend in Jesus.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Quiet Time

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

Something just wasn’t right.  You know you never know what you are going to get when you stay with someone.  From the bed to what’s for breakfast, well, it’s all up for grabs.  That is especially true when it comes time to shower.  I’ve learned you just have to be flexible.  Sharing the house with my wife, three daughters and a girl dog meant that things could get pretty girly.

Being a man, I use man soap.  It might be whatever was on sale, or it could even be Lava—that soap that grinds off the first layer of your skin.  One thing was for sure—it didn’t smell like a girl.  Then came all these women in our household along with the advent of body wash.  It wasn’t long before the Lava, he-man soap was replaced with something that smelled like roses or gardenias.  This really causes a problem when you walk into the office and smell like a garden.  The guys on staff kinda give you a strange look.

But here is the deal.  It didn’t stop with just the soap or even the shampoo.  It got down to the toothpaste.  Oh, it wasn’t that it tasted like flowers…it tasted like bubblegum.  A while back, Judy and I were spending the night with our daughter and son-in-law and their kids…a couple of our grandkids.  So, anyway, I survived the sweet smelling soap and shampoo only to discover that I was out of toothpaste.  I looked around and gratefully found a tube on the vanity.  I didn’t read the label past the part that said, “toothpaste.”

I squirted a glob on my he-man electric toothbrush and proceeded to give my teeth the once over.  About two seconds in the process I realized that this toothpaste tasted different.  You see, I am old-fashioned.  I believe that toothpaste should taste like peppermint on steroids.  You know, the kind that when you are done you know you don’t have bad breath.  And mouthwash? It’s gotta be the same.  I like to take a big swig of Listerine and swish it around for as long as I can stand it…about five-seconds.  Well, that day was not like any of that.

As I brushed, I realized this toothpaste was sweet and gooey.  It took me a moment before I could place the taste and then it hit me.  It was bubblegum.  Now, excuse me, but who ever heard of bubblegum toothpaste? What’s next, “Snickers?” I thought the whole point of this process was to clean your teeth not birth a desire to blow bubbles.  What is the world coming to? Well, anyway, there was no other option, so I finished up.  I went out into the kitchen still kinda wanting to pucker my lips to blow a bubble.  And besides that—something just didn’t feel right and then it hit me.  It just didn’t feel clean…and I told Judy so.  I knew I had brushed my teeth, but it didn’t feel like I had brushed my teeth.

You know, and this probably seems weird, but that is sometimes how I feel after another of my morning habits—my quiet time.  A quiet time is when you get by yourself, read God’s Book, the Bible, maybe read what someone else wrote about God and then talk to God.  It’s God time to get you ready to face the day.  I know it is a good idea because Jesus did it.  More than once in the Bible we are told He got up early and went out by Himself and prayed. I figure if it worked for Him, it would certainly work for me.

Now there are some days I know that what I read stuck and what I prayed got heard. Even though I couldn’t see God—I knew He was listening. But then there are the “bubblegum” days.  Days when I read and don’t remember and pray and feel like my prayers were just circling the ceiling fan. Oh I “brushed” but it just didn’t feel like it. Just like bubblegum toothpaste. Hmmm.

I know that if you want minty—well, you must get some minty toothpaste. All the sweet gooey toothpaste in the world just won’t get the job done.  And if I want to have a God time that is going to make a difference…it must be intentional.  Not just a habit but a special time with your Heavenly Father…the One who loves you no matter what—the One who patiently waits for you—for me…the One whose grace leaves us fresh and spiritually minty!  So, why not mark your calendar for a time tomorrow when you can meet with the One who loves you the most?  Take a moment to rest in Him and know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Don’t Wait

Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” John 13:27

Who would have known? Sometimes a change of plans can be bigger than we think.  As you might remember through several Grits stories, my wife Judy and I have made a couple of trips down to Ft. Myers and Marathon Key, Florida.  We had a great time.  We landed in Ft. Myers, rented a Mustang convertible, and then drove to the Keys.  After several days, we drove back to Ft. Myers and stayed at a really nice place called, “Lover’s Key.”  It overlooked a beautiful large bay and was just a few blocks from the beach.  We ate some incredible seafood at a couple of incredible restaurants.  Well, the bottom line is we had such a good time we knew we had to visit again.

This year, early in the year, we laid plans to do just that…visit again. We originally set the time for around Labor Day weekend but later, because of the crowds, changed it to September 8-17. We booked a few days at Marathon Key, a few days at Lover’s Key, and the Mustang…well, that wasn’t going to happen.  Prices for rental cars, Mustang or not, had just about tripled.  Oh well, we could at least roll down the window.  We were excited…anticipating a repeat of last year.  And then…things went crazy with the airlines and the economy, and we knew we would have to cancel…and we did.

What we didn’t know, what we couldn’t know was a powerful hurricane named Ian was going to sweep into the Gulf of Mexico and literally destroy Ft. Myers.  Just eleven days after our planned dates, Ft. Myers as we knew it was gone.  The wonderful restaurants, the beautiful beaches at Ft. Myers and Sanibel Island—all gone.  The truth is it will eventually recover but it will be years and years and years and still yet there will be scars. And here’s what I now wonder.

What if, what if we had known that this beautiful place was going to be swept away would we have made a greater effort to go?  If we had just known that the time we had planned might be the last time…would we have made a greater effort?  Honesty, would money, would price have mattered?  And the answer is—no. I honestly believe we would have made every effort to visit.  Knowing it was going to be perhaps the last time would have changed our effort and the value of the visit.  But alas, it is too late.

Like I said, it will eventually open back for people like me to visit but the scars of that terrible day in September will linger long after the last road is rebuilt.  And that made me think.  What is there in our lives that we are putting off? What is it in our lives that we think, we figure, we can do later?  What thing are we waiting to say, waiting to do, thinking, believing there will be enough time?  And you know what I know—we don’t know if there will be time or not.  That means, perhaps, just perhaps, we need to say and do what needs to be said and done—now not later.  We shouldn’t and perhaps can’t wait because things can and do change and later might be too late.

I call it my favorite “taken out of context” scripture.  It involves Jesus and Judas.  Jesus knows what Judas is about to do so He tells him, “Hurry and do what you are going to do.”  That whatever is his betrayal of Jesus to the authorities.  Like I said it is terribly taken out of context but still there are those glaring words…hurry and do whatever you are going to do. Judy and I have been talking a lot about our next chapter in life.  We are both getting older, and we keep asking each other…and God, “What’s next?”  Well, we are not privy to all of that, but we do have today…we do have now.  The bottom line is we need to do what we can do now and say what we want to say now for tomorrow may not come.

Do quickly. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wish you would have…rather be glad that you did.  Remember, grateful that you did is always so much better than regret.  I’m hoping writing this will spark wisdom in my life. While we don’t know about tomorrow, fortunately we do know Someone who does.  To some He is just God but to some of us He is known as Dearest Daddy and we know and believe that He knows our tomorrows. We also know and believe that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Seize the Day

But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16

After a long silence…they are singing. I stepped out into my backyard to finish my last cup of coffee…well, at least for a couple hours.  When I opened the door, my backyard, and apparently the back yards, and front yard, and side yards of my neighbors were all filled with the sound of cicadas singing their song.  What is a cicada?  Well, it an insect, and quite honestly, an ugly insect that emerges late summer.  And if I’ve got it right…different kinds emerge at different times and even years.

So, when Facebook only existed at Harvard University and when the sitcom “Friends” aired its last episode, a newly hatched brood of cicada nymphs (babies) fell from the trees and burrowed into the dirt.  They stayed there snacking on the sap of rootlets and slowly growing…until the time is right.  The cicadas that were singing this morning, again if I am correct, aren’t the ones who have been preparing for these days for 17 years—most of these are in the dirt for a much shorter time…only a year or two.

You’ve probably heard the song of the cicadas.  It can be loud, and it can be annoying, unless of course you are a cicada.  You see, they are not just singing, they are singing a love song.  They are letting everyone know that they are up, they are out, and they are ready to prepare for the future.  They have just a few days to sing their love song, find someone to love, start a family and, uh, die. That is one reason they are singing with such gusto. They don’t worry about annoying their neighbors…they are just looking for love.

In a few days, our yards will be a lot quieter.  The party will be over, their love song will be silenced and buried in the ground will be thousands and maybe millions of nymphs waiting for their time to sing.  The beautiful thing about us is that we don’t have to wait 13 years, or 17 years or even one year to sing.  We have the opportunity to sing every day, and it is an opportunity we should embrace.  There is a Latin saying that says “Carpe diem.” Now don’t confuse that with the surgery you have when your wrist hurts.  That is carpal tunnel and has nothing to do with singing…unless it is the blues.

No, Carpe diem means that we are to seize the day…to make the most of every day.  It means that we are to sing our love song clearly and loudly.  “Love song?” You ask.  Sure.  If we look around, we have so much to sing about.  Breathing makes the list…so does seeing, hearing, and walking.  If you don’t think those things are worth singing about about…ask someone who can’t. Oh, and then there are people…people like family, like friends, like the guy who rides on the back of the trash truck and once a week hauls your garbage off.  Ever thank him? Ever include him in your love song, your life song?  If not, why not?  You see the more we are grateful, the more we realize how much we have to sing about.

I know for me when I walk out in the morning and see the sun rising and the moon fading, my mind immediately goes to Creator God, my Dearest Daddy, who thought us worthy of another day.  Oh sure, it’s not gonna be perfect, in fact, it might be difficult, but it is and should be something worth singing about.  A song writer in the Bible put it this way, “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” Well, put Mister Songwriter, well put.

So, tomorrow, step out and see who is singing in your world…and join them.  Dare to believe that you have a reason to sing…even if your world is less than you wished for. Stop, pause, and listen, and believe.  There is Someone who loves you dearly, who wants to walk with you, who believes in you and that is something no circumstances can steal away. So, sing and believe “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Facing Down Mortality

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

I look and see my mortality.  Now don’t think for a moment this is one of those “Debbie Downer” stories.  In fact, in a way, it might be the best news you will hear all day, all week, well, for always.  So, I am sixty-eight years old.  I know, I can’t believe it either. And all around me are signs that I am mortal.  Remember that—all of us are mortal. I have been at my present position as a pastor for 22 years.  I came to the church I serve in 2000 when I was 46 years old.  I must have dozed off because just like that, 22 years of life have ticked off the calendar.  My children are married, I have eight grandchildren and Judy and I have now been married 46 years.  And the best part?  It has been, and is, a great ride.

But then I did the math.  When, and if, the next 20 years tick off the clock called life, I will be 88 years old.  I find that astounding.  We Taylor boys don’t have a real good track record when it comes to longevity.  Three of my four brothers, all older than me, have already moved to heaven.  Our clock is ticking, and we don’t know when the last tick will come.  It is a sobering thought.  But stay with me.

I live my life by the calendar.  I speak to my church every Sunday and some Wednesdays. It seems I no more finish one message before it is time to deliver the next.  The weeks fly by.  Every first of the month I speak on the radio on a local program called “The Baptist Hour.”  My tag line is, “Can you believe another month has come and gone?” And the answer each month is, “No, I really can’t.” I remember on the first of February, after a speedy January, I made a joke about it being Christmas before we know it.  July is past which means over half of this new year is in the rearview mirror. Time flies by.  It is a sobering thought.  But stay with me.

Part of “The Baptist Hour” is the reading of the funeral arrangements of those who recently died.  Invariably there are several, often more than a few.  I’m learning that too often the names being read belong to people my age or younger.  Recently an acquaintance in our small town suddenly died—a massive heart attack.  He was younger than me.  That really caused me to stop and ponder.  It was a sobering thought.  But stay with me.

Here’s what I am learning.  Time is relative.  We are eternal beings made and destined to spend forever somewhere.  That destination doesn’t depend on good or bad, church or no church, religion or not.  Does that surprise you?  You see, heaven isn’t for good people and hell isn’t for bad people. No, where we spend eternity is about forgiveness of sin and that forgiveness is a free gift from God to anyone…anyone…who asks.  I believe faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. I know that sounds narrow but when you consider that God invites everyone to the party—well, it is really pretty broad. We read in the Bible that the payment for sin is death and radically Jesus came for one purpose—to willingly die and pay that price.

So, if we are eternal beings and if we place our trust, our faith in this one of a kind, God-man named Jesus, that means that when we die we can spend eternity in this place called heaven.  When Jesus said that if anyone would believe in Him, they would never die—that’s what He meant. And then He closes with that all important question, “Do you believe this?”

With Jesus in the equation, death isn’t the end, it is a beginning.  That might sound wacky to you.  However, before you chuck it out, I challenge you to check it out.  Get a copy of the Bible and read the four different accounts or stories about Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You might find yourself intrigued and amazed.

I read a true story yesterday about a man’s perception of his morality. This guy happened to be a minister and he went to the doctor and got some sobering news.  He was terminally ill with no chance of recovery. The doctor told him he had about a year to live.  He left the doctor’s office and went to one of his favorite spots—you know, to kinda take it in. Now, allow me to let the man tell his story. “I looked at the river in which I rejoice, and I looked at the stately trees that are always God’s own poetry to my soul. And I said, ‘I may not see you many more times, but mountain, I shall be alive when you are gone; and river, I shall be alive when you cease running toward the sea.’”

Wow…what wonderfully strong words.  If this whole God story is true, and I honestly believe it is, then people who trust that Jesus is the path to God and heaven, will outlive the mountains and the rivers. We may change addresses, but we will live forever.  I know this is probably a different kind of story than we usually share together, but I hope it will make us think about what happens next. For myself and so many others, it makes all the sense in the world—and beyond.  I’m grateful for the eternal part but I also love the part of the story that says He is with me now—hot mess world and all.  I can rest in Him and trust in Him because, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Christmas All Day, Every Day

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

24 hours…almost to the minute.  It all began with Christmas Eve service at our church that started promptly at 5:00 pm.  This is one of the best things we do all year and yet it really isn’t anything we do.  Families come and fill the worship center. We have some wonderful Christmas worship and readings from the Word of God.  It is my privilege to share something from the Bible and from my heart.  We end the service by sharing “the light of Christmas” with one another…a simple candle is lit and shared with everyone across the room as we sing “Silent Night.”  It always lasts just about an hour and then with anticipation, everyone goes their own way.

For Judy and me and the rest of the Taylor tribe that means gathering at one of our homes where we enjoy family, food, and fellowship.  Everyone gets a new pair of Christmas pajamas as we share some wonderful food.  Soon, too soon, our family disperses to their various homes.  The only exception is that Judy and I spend the night with our oldest daughter and her family and get to wakeup Christmas morning as the family opens presents and just enjoy being family.  Later in the day some of the family comes back and we have Christmas lunch together with more laughter and more fellowship.  Soon, too soon, the day comes to a close, and we go our separate ways, and our hearts are filled with gratitude for a day well lived.

It is sometimes hard to see the day end.  After weeks of anticipation and excitement, as the sun sets, the reality is that we go back to our routines.  Soon the Christmas music will be pushed to the end of our playlist and the decorations will be packed away for another year and all of us will soon be doing life as before…or will we?  I believe that we can and should carry some of Christmas with us right into the New Year.  I believe that is what Mary and Joseph did.  They didn’t leave Bethlehem the same way they arrived.  They left carrying the Hope of the world in Mary’s arms and under the watchful eye of Joseph.  They left with new purpose and new insight to care for and love the Baby placed in their care. Life wasn’t easy and neither Mary nor Joseph knew all the curves and potholes this new road would have.  They simply decided to trust God for the day after Christmas…and the day after that.

It would be easy for us to slip into what is called the “post-Christmas blues.”  But I think we do have a choice.  While we do have to move on, we can carry Christmas with us.  You see Christmas isn’t just the music, the decorations, and the traditions.  No Christmas is a celebration of God becoming man and dwelling with us and among us and in fact…in us. Christmas is a celebration of Christ and that isn’t, nor should it be, about a day or season on a calendar.  It is about the power of God’s love for this world…a love so great He gave His Son…the same one born on Christmas…for us.  How about that?

So today, why not go ahead and break into a chorus or two of “Joy to the World?”  After all, the good news of His coming is still good news.  Why not do today what you did a couple of days ago when you chose to show a little kindness?  After all, there are no seasonal limits on kindness or love.  That is something we can and should do every day.  I think we can all agree, Christian or not, that the world could use a little more of each.  I know that is what Jesus did. He went around doing good…not in honor of His birthday but because that was who He was and what He did.

Paul, the guy who wrote a bunch of the New Testament part of the Bible said, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” Now that is enough to make it Christmas every day!  Sound a little challenging?  Don’t worry, the God who made all of this is just waiting to help you.  In fact, if you listen closely, you will hear Him whispering, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Construction Zone Ahead

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

It was a long time ago, but I remember it well.  Way back, before I knew anything about Harrisburg or Dorrisville Baptist Church, I made a trip to this small town in Southeastern Illinois.  I was pastoring in Cobden, a smaller town by far.  A person associated with our church there was having some mental health issues that required admission to a clinic.  Somehow, they ended up at the center located at the Harrisburg Medical Center.

I wanted to go over and visit them but had no clue how to get there.  This was a time, gulp, before GPS, so I had to rely on directions and an old fashioned map.  I made it to Marion and got off Interstate 57 and followed the road sign pointing to Harrisburg.  Before long, I found myself on a long and winding road (wait… isn’t there a song that goes like that?).  It was the kind of two-lane road that you got to play like a race car driver on.  There were plenty of curves and practically no passing lanes.  I remember coming upon a gigantic crane…I mean HUGE…that was abandoned by one of the coal mines.

Well, the long and winding road was about 24 or 25 miles but because I was blessed to get behind several slow, like really slow, drivers, it seemed like forever.  In fact, when I got to Harrisburg, I had to stop to get a haircut.  You ask, “Well, why didn’t you get one in Cobden?”  The answer is “I didn’t need one then.” Smile.  Anyway (I have to be careful not to get distracted.) I made my visit and then reversed the route.  I remember thinking how isolated Harrisburg was.  I mean you had to be going there to get there. I kinda reminded me of the wagon trains and the Oregon Trail.

Now, fast-forward years…I’m not sure how many…but lots.  My daughter Jennifer was going to try out for the Illinois Baptist State Association All-State Choir and her audition was at Dorrisville Baptist Church in Harrisburg.  When I heard that, I mentally blocked off two days for the trip (ok, I’m being facetious). But I still remember that long and winding road.  Now, imagine my surprise when we exited off the interstate again and followed the signs for Harrisburg and there before us was a four-lane divided highway.  No winding road, no 45 mph speed zones, no no-passing zones—just smooth sailing.  What a change.  What a blessing.  What took the better part of an hour now took 25 minutes.

Obviously, barring a road building fairy, a long and complicated construction project had taken place and replaced the two-lane, long and winding road with a modern highway.  I’m sure it involved multiple construction zones.  I’m sure it involved inconvenience.  I’m sure it involved frustration—though I’m not sure what could have been more frustrating that the original two-lanes.  But I bet it all was worth it when the new highway opened and the miles flew by.  It had to be game changer.  Yup, the construction zones had to be worth it.

Well, I was praying this morning and something like this came out of my mouth, “Lord, help me to be patient in the construction zones of my life.”  I paused when I said it because it really grabbed my heart.  The construction zones of my life.  Hmmm.  You see, it made me realize that I am like a construction project and it can be frustrating.  But God is in charge of the project and He does have a plan that He is working out in my life. I know I use this a lot in my writing but it just too good.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  One day, someday, it will be worth it.  It might be years down the road, or it might even be heaven, but I will see the big picture and I will know that no matter how painful or costly, it was worth it. It.Was.Worth.It.

There’s an old song (my apologies to my younger readers) that says, “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. One look at His dear face all sorrows will erase.”  I believe that. So, as you tootle down life’s road and you hit one of those stinking construction zones—hold on and throttle back.  It could be that God is working in one of His mysterious ways.  It might be to bring you into His family or it might be He is just trying to make you a little bit more like Jesus.  One thing I know for sure…it won’t be wasted.  God doesn’t waste time and He doesn’t waste suffering. I like that. If you find yourself in stopped traffic on this road called life, just hit the pause button and breathe deeply.  Then repeat this as many times as you need to, “I choose to rest in Him.  He’s got this.”  There you go.  Now, don’t you feel better already?  Bro. Dewayne

* Signpost photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Posted in food, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Sand Through an Hourglass

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” Ephesians 5:15-16

The thief has struck again.  Without anyone noticing a thief has been stealing from us all.  It happens every day and no one does anything to stop it because they can’t.  Slowly and almost without notice the thief takes from us.  Who is this thief?  It is time itself…the calendar.

The day of the year with the most daylight hours is around June 21st.  It is known as the summer equinox.  On that day the tilt of the earth allows the northern hemisphere to be closest to the sun allowing the maximum amount of daylight hours.  On June 21st sunrise occurs at 5:32 am in our town.  Fourteen hours and forty-six minutes later it sets at 8:19 pm.  From that time forward, slowly, and surely the amount of daylight hours began to recede.

You ask, “How much?”  Well, today the sun will rise at 6:35 am and will set at 7:00 pm.  If you do the math, you will discover that will give us 12 hours and 25 minutes of daylight.  Amazingly you will find that the thief has taken over two hours of daylight from us.  And each passing day he will take another few minutes.  Finally, someday in the near future, we will get up and wonder why it is still dark, or why the sun is setting so early.  The answer is the daylight thief. Like sand through an hourglass, he steals away the day.

I find all this pretty fascinating.  As the days and weeks march by, it reminds us that fall is coming.  Before long the leaves will be changing colors and falling to the ground.  Soon our thoughts will turn to cooler temperatures, beautiful mums, and Thanksgiving.  On December 21 the process will all reverse.  We will begin to gain back those precious minutes of daylight and it will remind us of the promise that spring is on its way.

The amazing part of all of this is how subtly it all happens. It is true of the calendar and the hours of daylight we experience, and it is true of so many small things in our lives.  We take in a few too many calories and before long we wonder why our clothes are tighter.  Humidity?  I mean they do call it the air you can wear.  We miss a few days of exercise and wonder why our energy level suddenly drops.  We miss a few days talking with our Dearest Father and wonder why He feels like a stranger. We miss our time with the Book and find ourselves bumbling our way through life. Sigh.  It is all too familiar and all too predictable.

The secret, I believe, is to be aware.  I have an Apple watch that tells me more than I need or want to know.  One of the things it tells me is the time of the sunrise and sunset.  A few days ago, the sun was setting at 7:45 pm and I knew that meant before long it would be setting at 7:00 pm.  Sure enough, it is.  Whether it is exercise or calories or prayer or reading the Book, if we pay attention, we will have fewer surprises and consequences.  I like what Moses said.  He wrote, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”  You know, wisdom to watch what we eat and how much we exercise.  Wisdom to stop and talk to God and read His Book.  Yup…good, good advice.

Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, put it another way.  He said we should make the most of everyday, not living as someone who is foolish but as someone who is wise.  He goes on to say we should do this because the days are evil—or full of difficulties and challenges.

The fact is we all get 1440 minutes a day—no more, no less. The hours of daylight may change, but time has been set for eternity.  1440 opportunities to make the most of life, to get it right.  And, because we are imperfect humans, we can use some of those minutes to talk to our Dearest Father about our warts and failures.  We can snuggle up close as He whispers assurances of love and forgiveness.  We can just rest and know…that He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, sovereignty of God, Trials

Watch Out Below

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:13

The clock was ticking…and I didn’t even know it.  Getting older is, well, interesting.  It certainly has its perks…like you mess up and people just give you that knowing nod, you know, the one that says, “We’re gonna give you a pass on that because you are old(er).  Of course, sometimes they are not understanding, and they give you the “what for”.  One of the things that is just a bit difficult are the things that you lose.  You know sometimes you lose your mind, sometimes you lose your hair, sometimes you lose your teeth, sometimes you lose your vision and sometimes you lose your hearing.  Wait, what did you say?

Well, I can speak from personal experience on a couple of those things.  My hair is in full retreat and my hearing, in a least one ear, is well, less than.  One of favorite hearing tests is the fact that I can cover my “bad” ear and still hear our clock ticking at 25 feet.  If I cover my good ear…not matter how close I get…I can’t hear a thing.  One time I put my face up to the face of the clock and still couldn’t hear a thing.  But here’s what is kinda strange—it’s not every sound, but only certain frequencies.  I can hear most voices (except for some reason my wife’s), most music, and most other sounds.  Of course, some things you just can’t hear—or see coming. That happened a couple of years ago.  A clock was ticking, and I had no idea.

My wife called me one Wednesday afternoon.  She sounded a bit frustrated—you know like that tone wives have when they ask their husbands to take the trash out for three days…well, it was kinda like that.  Just a little edgy.  But this had nothing to do with the trash.  Instead, she said, “Dewayne the ceiling in the middle bedroom has fallen.”  I said, “What?” She repeated what she said, yes—I had heard her right.  It turns out that over half of the plaster ceiling in the spare room was now laying on the bed and floor.  I said I was on my way! When I got home, I found out that she was not kidding or even exaggerating.  Water-soaked plaster and blown insulation covered the bed and the entire floor.  What a mess! How do you even begin to clean it up?

As it turns out…it was not a fluke. We have an air conditioning unit in our attic for the upstairs. When the company installed it, they build a small platform where the overflow pan would sit.  The pan was there in case the primary drain clogged. So, unknown to me the main drain clogged, and the pan began to fill. The pan also had a drain but in this case, it just wasn’t enough to handle the excess water. As it filled with water the platform slowly, ever so slowly, began to tilt.  As it tilted, the water in the pan spilled over the edge and onto the attic floor, seeping into the ceiling.  Slowly, surely, over a few days, and believe it or not, without a drip, the ceiling continued to absorb the water until it had enough… and the insulation and plaster fell…big time.

It was a sloppy, no fun, you’ve got to be kidding me, mess.  And then, of course, we had to repair the ceiling.  It took us a couple of hours to clean up the mess and a good friend helped me repair the ceiling. We also had someone come in and properly rebuild the platform so it would not give way again.  In two or three weeks the whole thing was a memory.  It was a learning experience for sure.  One lesson I learned, is to make a trip to the attic on a regular basis and make sure everything is working.  Pour some bleach in the drain to kill any algae and make sure the drain isn’t clogged. Two, understand that there are clocks ticking that we don’t hear…can’t hear and when the straw breaks the camel’s back—you’ve got yourself a dead camel.

Life is filled with surprises and with some of them, all the preparation and all the good intentions in the world, can’t help you avoid them.  But we can do what we can.  It never occurred to me to ask God why He allowed that ceiling to fall.  I mean, I know He loves me and I’m sure on that day He wasn’t mad at me.  The bottom line is… I didn’t do my part.  My part was to make a trip to the attic every once in a while and check things out.  His part was to help me not lose my cool in the midst of the mess.  And, amazingly, even though I didn’t do my thing…He did His.  He sent friends to help and now in the summer when the air is running I make an occasional trip to the attic.  You know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—or several pounds of wet insulation and plaster. So, thank you Father for helping me grow in patience and shrink a little in frustration.  Thank you for being faithful and for always being there.  I know You’ve got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel, wisdom

Watch Your Step

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  Ephesians 5:16

There are certain times you just need to watch your step.  For example, there are at least two things to watch out for when you are walking through a cow pasture.  First, you need to make sure that it is fact a cow pasture and not a bull pasture.  If it is a bull pasture you need to head to the nearest fence…immediately. Bulls are not cows, and most of the time the reason they call them bulls is because they are bullies.  The second thing you need to watch out for when walking through a cow pasture are cow patties.  You will just have to trust me on this one.

There are lots of other times and places you need to watch your step and one that I recently experienced was while hiking down by Bell Smith Springs.  My wife Judy and I have grown quite fond of hiking.  It is great exercise, and it is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy nature.  So, last week we headed down to Bell Smith Springs to take on the Sentry Ridge Trail.  It is a three-mile loop trail that follows a ridge (no surprise there) and looks down on a small canyon with a creek.  The problem is a pleasure.  It is just beautiful.  There is so much to see, you want to look and look. But that is also the problem.

You see, the trail, in more than several places, is quite rocky.  There are places when the trail is “paved” with large slabs of native stone.  In other places, though, it is as if someone had come along and strewn stones everywhere.  While they are mostly firmly embedded in the ground, they are still uneven.  The bottom line is watch where you are stepping, or one of three things is bound to happen.  One, you will twist your ankle.  Two, you will fall and bust something you don’t want busted.  Three, you will find yourself on the way down a long wooded cliff or bluff.

Now for the pleasurable problem.  So, as we were hiking one of us believes in the destination.  In other words, the goal is to make it, to do it, to get it done.  The other one is in it for the journey.  They actually believe the journey is primary to the destination.  Can you guess who is who in this scenario?  Yup.  I, as the man, the conqueror, believes that the primary purpose of this trip is to finish and put another notch in my “hiking” belt.  Judy, as the lady of the trail, wants to stop and take pictures of the trees—every tree; the rocks—every rock.  Her conversation is dotted with “Look, Dewayne…” and other phrases that conquerors don’t use, or necessarily want to hear.

Now, because I love her so much, I will actually try and look but there is a problem.  I have discovered that while you are looking around, you can’t be looking down and if you aren’t looking down you aren’t seeing rocks and if you aren’t seeing rocks you are in trouble.  Whew.  Now that was one long sentence.  But do you get my point?  I suppose you could actually stop, and look around, but that is just not what conquerors do.  We conquerors conqueror and you can’t conqueror much standing still.

So, what is a conqueror to do?  Well, the truth is, we should stop (all you conquerors forgive me) and smell the roses.  Judy is in fact right.  The joy is in the journey.  The joy is pausing and seeing what there is to see…to enjoy what is there to enjoy.  Now that doesn’t mean I need a picture of every rock and tree, but I do need to see what my Dearest Daddy has made.  We need to learn to hit pause, every once in a while and then soon enough, hit play again.

What happens if you don’t?  Well, actually,  two things.  You are going to miss the best part of the trip or maybe the day.  As I am writing, there is a big, and I do mean big, full moon.  They said it was a “Wolf Moon.”  I’m not sure why it is called that besides the fact that the conqueror in me kinda wanted to stop and let out a howl.  Earlier I was driving when Judy said those two words, “Dewayne, look…”. This time I got it right.  I stole a quick glance to my right and there it was…and it was magnificent.  I could have made some comment about I was driving but I discovered you can carefully sneak a look at the moon and drive too.  That is true on trails, and in many other sights and sounds.

Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament in the Christian Bible said that we should take the time and redeem the time.  What he was saying is that we should make the most of the time we have.  But we need to realize that while that includes working and doing life…it should also include time to enjoy the journey.  I’m glad I’m married to someone who knows how to do that.  Does it drive me nuts sometimes?  Absolutely, but even that is part of the joy of the journey.  So, be careful and watch where you step but be sure and take a few minutes to enjoy life around you.  Think you can’t?  Sure you can, with the Creator’s help! After all, He’s got this.