Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, life, loving others, missions, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, Trials

She Just Wasn’t Herself

For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

She just wasn’t herself. We had been in Panama City Beach on Florida’s Gulf coast for several days.  We were blessed to have a condo right on the beach and five stories up.  The sights and sounds of the Gulf were just amazing.  We have been here many times over the years, but this year was a little different.  You see, I was raised over on the East Coast of Florida where the Atlantic Ocean lives.  There the water is grey and is in constant motion from the waves as they made their way to shore.  Usually, the Gulf is just different.  Here the water usually has just a slight chop and it is not uncommon for it to be a bluish-green color.  In a word…it is beautiful.  All of that is especially true in the winter months.  While the water is too cold for me, I never grow tired of its beauty.  But this year…well, it was different.

From the get-go, the water was much more boisterous.  The waves were constant and large…especially for the Gulf.  The sounds of water tumbling toward the shore filled the air.  The red flag flapping on the pole said, “Stay out of the water” but not many needed a flag…especially not today.  Today the turbulent water said it all—stay clear…stay on shore.  And while the air temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees, the grey clouds, matching the color of the water, echoed that message.  The bottom line was the Gulf just wasn’t herself.  The old girl was stirred up about something.  What, I didn’t know, but she wasn’t herself.

The strange thing is that even though she was not herself, even though she was something totally different, the beauty was still there.  There was something about the waves and the grey water that was still beautiful.  Perhaps it was the power and majesty of nature and knowing that it was all there by Divine design.  Perhaps it was knowing that sometime in the future I would be back…and so would she.  I knew that those three or four days didn’t dictate her permanent nature…it was just a moment in time.

At that moment, it occurred to me that what is true with the Gulf is true with us.  You see, we all have our days.  We all have times when we are just not ourselves and instead of calm and peaceful, instead of a thing of beauty, we act the opposite—turbulent and troubled—more “beastful” than beautiful.  And, like the Gulf, we and perhaps not even they, can explain why they are struggling that day, week, month or perhaps year.  And probably, most likely, you don’t need to tell them…they know it.  You are on the shore looking in, but they are in the midst of the waves…struggling.  And hopefully, soon the time will pass, and the calm and color will return to their lives.

What do you do when you bump into someone who is acting like a turbulent Gulf?  I think we should do what God does for us…extend a little grace.  Grace is defined as unmerited favor and that is what He extends to us and encourages us to extend to them.  Grace receivers should always be grace extenders.  I like the way John, the one in the Bible, puts it.  He says, “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Jesus, so full of grace, went about splashing grace on everyone He met—including us.  And it just seems right that we should do the same.  First, understanding God’s gracefulness to us, be full and then splash it on everyone we bump into—especially the ones who need it the most.

So, tomorrow we are heading home.  We will leave the Gulf and according to the forecast she will still be turbulent but not forever.  Calmer days are ahead for her and for me and for you.  And that person that is struggling right now, go ahead and splash a little grace on them.  It just might be the thing that brings a return of calm and beauty.  And whether you find yourself in the turbulence or on the shore looking on, remember this.  No matter if you need grace or need to extend some, He will be there.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

The One in Control

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

I soon discovered who was in control…and it wasn’t me. My adventure with my wife, Judy, down Jack’s Fork River in Southeast Missouri was a lesson in life. Jack’s Fork is a tributary to the Current River. The key word there is “current,” because there is one, both on Jack’s Fork and its big brother. At the launching place the current is hardly noticeable. It all seems so serene, so gentle, so docile. The reason for that is the fact at that particular point, the river is somewhat wide…at least compared to downstream. It seemed to be saying, “Come on in.  Trust me.” We have a saying for that “Liar, liar. Pants on fire.”

As Judy and I launched from the shore I was immediately impressed with how stable the canoe seemed to be. “This isn’t so hard,” I said. “This is going to be a breeze,” I said. “We’ve got this,” I said. I decided it would be good time to test my steering and guiding capabilities for the canoe. If you want to go to the left…you paddle on the right. “Paddle, right,” I said to Judy. The canoe went straight. I decided to try the other way, “Paddle, left,” I said to Judy. The canoe went straight. Hmmm. It kinda reminded me of my teenage kids. It kinda reminded me of me when God was saying one thing and I didn’t listen.

Well, I tried “Plan B” of the steering plan and that is when the guy or gal in the back drags the paddle in the water. If you want to go left ,you drag your paddle in the water on the left side and if you want to go right you do the opposite. Now this produced some results…I think. I say I think because sometimes it seemed to work and sometimes it didn’t and there was a reason. You see I might have been in the back trying to steer but really, it was the current that was the boss. And too soon that became apparent.

About ten minutes into the trip, the river narrowed a bit and took a turn to the left. The water went from gentle to a class 14 rapid…the kind you see on television when people are dying. Waves, 15 feet tall, threatened to swamp the boat. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the current was definitely faster and stronger, and we did lose four or five boats there. Somehow, Judy and I survived the challenge but trust me it had nothing to do with skill and a lot to do with grace.

But here’s the deal. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, it seemed I wasn’t in control. The current took us where it wanted. The best I could manage was to manage to stay away from the hazards and stay somewhere in the middle of the swift water. It would pull us this way and push us that way and we were along for the ride. Even in smoother water it seemed we spent a lot of time going from side to side instead of down the river.

I think I know the problem…inexperience. I knew the basics, I knew some of the mechanics, but I just didn’t have the time in the saddle, if you get my drift, partner. Someone who had done this a lot wouldn’t have had the same issues Judy and I did. With experience, you learn to read the river and use the current to your advantage. And, equally important, you learn to work together as a team. By reading the river and working as a team, you overcome the obstacles and hazards and that increases your chances of arriving safely…and dry.

Speaking of dry…Judy and I did arrive dry. The only time we got wet was when we stopped for a rest and some snacks and then it was a welcome relief to get in the cold water. So, whether it is in marriage or family, at home or at church, or at work, perhaps we should learn to “read the river” and work with, and not against, one another. The wisest guy to ever live and the author of one of the books of wisdom in the Bible said it best, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.” The current may be strong but two might just be able to overcome it. It gets better.

You see, the same guy says in the same place, that a three strand cord is not easily broken. You see, often our best efforts are just not enough. Sometimes those currents can become raging rapids and sometimes it happens with little or no warning. Why not invite a third party along for the ride? Why not invite God along for the journey? I know that He has all the experience in the universe and beyond and the One who made river, knows the river better than we ever will. As you are navigating the river of life, take a moment and listen from the back of the boat. You will hear the Whisper say, “Hey, take a break. I’ve got this.” And do you know what? He does. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, life, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

-346 Degrees Below Zero

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10 (NLT).

Hi Grits family.  Hey, Judy and I are out of pocket for the next five days, so we are giving you the opportunity to revisit some of our favorites.  So, God bless, enjoy and we will see you soon.

I got to go to the skin doctor last week.  That’s right…I got to go.  My skin doctor is located in Paduach so that meant I could jail break.  Judy and I hopped in our zippy little car and headed south.  It was good just to be going somewhere…even if it was to the doctor.  When we arrived there were special precautions.  It reminded me of what going into the White House might be like.  Sitting in my car instead of the waiting room, masks, temperature checks.  I’m sure I saw a Secret Service agent poking around the corner.

So any way, I finally made it inside.  Now this was a skin check.  They look and make sure something is not growing that shouldn’t be there.  Being a southern boy who regularly thought it was cool to go to the beach and get sunburned, this is particularly important.  What I thought was cool then is setting me up for skin cancers and the like now.

So the nice skin doctor (at least I think it was her…she had a mask on…she could have been the secretary for all I knew) came in and checked me over.  You will be glad to know that things went well. She did find one “pre-cancer” thingy on my ear.  She said they should freeze it off.  I said, “Yes Ma’am, you go right ahead.”  So she got her little freezing tool and cut loose.  Ouch.

I have had this done before I just forgot how bad it hurt.  It’s funny…freezing feels a whole lot like burning.  There is a reason.  Liquid nitrogen, the stuff they use for this, is -346 degrees.  Yup… you read that right.  I had a couple of other things that needed to be frozen, so she did those too.  Speaking of frozen, after this chilling experience, I wonder how all those Disney characters could be so happy in that movie by that name. Anyway, it was over, it was done.  After a couple of hours, the pain went away and so did the pre-cancer.

You know, sometimes pain is part of the process.  In this case I was probably part of the problem.  My neglect earlier led to a situation that had to be fixed—painfully fixed.  Sometimes it isn’t our fault at all.  Sometimes it is just part of life.  Sometimes it is for our good.  And that is where God comes in.

God loves us a lot.  He knows what is good and what is best for us.  Sometimes that means pleasant trips and sunshiny days.  Sometimes it means pain.  There are some lessons, and yes, some consequences, that require a season of pain to teach us. No one likes them.  In fact, sometimes we get just a little mad at God.  That is where faith comes in.  Is He a loving Father? Yup. Is He all wise? Yup? Does He have our good at His heart? Yup.  Are we willing to trust Him? Well, that’s just a little harder.

At least twice in the Bible the scriptures talk about the “refiner’s fire.” Proverbs 17:3 puts it this way, “A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and the Lord is the tester of hearts.” The metalsmith will heat gold or silver to the point it melts and then all the impurities will float to the surface.  He does this again and again till he can look into the pot and he can see the reflection of his face in the molten metal.  The.reflection.of.his.face.

Our Abba Father, our dearest daddy, loves us enough to allow us to go through the fire and make us more and more like Him.  And that usually means suffering. In Isaiah 48:10, God says, “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Some suffering is easier than others but honestly, none of it is pleasant—but it is all purposeful.  God doesn’t know wasted suffering. Remember that.

So, as we walk these twisted paths we call life, rather it is twisted by the coronavirus or an illness or a tough circumstance, remember that God is with you and He is in control.  You see, He is honestly more interested in our holiness than our happiness.  Don’t take that harshly. As God’s kids, we are happiest when we are holiest.  It’s just the truth.  That path, the one directed by Him, means less regrets and less consequences.  So, no matter what today looks like…trust Him.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, travel, Trials, wisdom


The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

Nahum 1:7. It was in the Bible and it was his verse.  Church has always been a part of my culture.  From the time I was born it seems I always found my way to a building with a steeple on top. That also means I bumped into several pastors and preachers too.  Each one left a fingerprint on my life and because of that each one made a difference.  Speaking of different…each one was.  Different gifts, talents, and personalities, but each one made an impact.  I am grateful.

When my wife Judy and I moved to Germany in 1977 for a stint overseas with the Air Force, we were fortunate to have a church not too far from where we lived and the base where I worked.  It wasn’t long before we were part of that family.  In fact, it wasn’t long before we were good friends with the pastor and his wife.  He was a young pastor, had an infectious smile and a great personality and we hit it off right from the start.  We were about five or six years different in our ages, so he was kinda like a big brother only he wasn’t very big…but his heart was.

One of the things (literally) that I liked about hanging with Steve (not his real name) was he had a new shiny, red Volkswagen sports car.  It was great on curves and it was plenty fast and since Germany had lots of curves and often no speed limit on the autobahn…well, it was fun.  I guess in some ways we were like a couple of teenagers.

Steve also was a Godly guy.  He really tried to live his faith out. One of the things that he shared with me was his “life verse.”  In case you don’t know what that is, it is a verse from that Bible that jumps off the page at you and gets stuck in your mind and heart. So, Steve’s verse came from one of those books in the Old Testament that no one can find.  It is called the Book of Nahum and his verse came from chapter one, and verse seven.  It goes like this, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”

It is the kind of verse that you gotta love.  It is the kind of verse that can be a lifeline when the sea of life gets rough.  It isn’t that the verse has any magic powers, it’s just that it contains a boatload of truth.  God is good, and it isn’t that He just does good, He is good.  He is like a place you can run to when things go south, and He remembers my name, your name, our names.  Those are great truths when the sun is shining in life and really, great truths when the storm clouds roll in…just like it did for Steve one day.

Without warning, he learned that his marriage was over, there was another guy.  It was just one of those crazy things that happen, and it broke his heart and our hearts.  The bottom line, he decided it was best to head back to the states and in a short while…he was gone.  I never saw him again but if by chance he reads this someday, I hope he knows there were some things that stuck with me…like his life verse.  No, his verse didn’t become mine, but it stuck.  God is good, God is a refuge, God knows my name.

How about you?  Do you have a verse that jumped off the page one day and into your heart and life?  Mine for a real long time has been Proverbs 3:5-6 but for the last several years it has had some real competition with Psalm 37:23-24.  Check them out…they are both awesome scriptures.  That is one thing about the Bible.  Even if you’ve never taken the leap of faith to believe, and I hope you will, you will find it an incredible Book of wisdom and knowledge and who knows, if you try it, it might just leap right into your life.  God is good, God is a refuge, God knows my name.  It was good back in 1977, it is good today, and when I launch from here to there, it will still be good. And no matter the circumstance, no matter the deal, it reminds me that, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne