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, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Boom, Crash, Ouch!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Well, it happened again.  It was Saturday evening and it had been a good day.  I was able to get a lot of yard work done including mowing my yard.  I found out, though, that I had violated a cardinal rule. In Southern Illinois you never, and I mean never, mow the yard before the first of April.  My neighbor and some guys at church told me all about it. Oops.  Anyway, it was a good day.  Later that afternoon my wife Judy and I went to eat at our favorite local restaurant and came home to study and prepare for Sunday.

As I entered the kitchen, I saw a box of tools that I had been using for various inside projects.  My wife Judy had asked me earlier if was done with them and I said yes.  That was code for “Hey, get your tools out of my kitchen and back in the garage.”  Got it…it just took a while.  So, seeing the box of tools, I picked them up and carried them to the garage.  I could feel Judy smiling.  While I was in the garage, I saw a bottle of algae killer which reminded me that our little goldfish pond had looked more than a little green earlier in the day.  I grabbed the bottle, went out to the pond, and gave it a dose. Check.

So, I went back to the garage, put the algae stuff back on my work bench and was headed back into the house when I saw it.  It was the net that I use to get floating stuff out of the pond.  Well, having just visited the pond I knew there was plenty of stuff floating in the water, so I grabbed the net and headed back to the pond.  I should have quit while I was ahead.  As I bounded up the single step from my driveway and onto the patio, I caught my toe on the edge of the concrete and fell…hard…real hard.

Part of this happened at hyper-speed and part of it happened in slow motion.  The falling part of fast but it all seemed to slow down as I watched my extended fingers and hand hit the concrete and bend in the direction they were never meant to go.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was stunned and I was hurting.  Remember the commercial for the lady who falls and says, “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”?  Well, that was me.  My hand wouldn’t work, and my body just hurt.  After several minutes I rolled around and managed to sit up and then get up.

I made it into the house and told Judy I had fallen, hard. Amazingly, most of my body still worked but my hand didn’t fare so well. I will spare you all the details, but the good news is that nothing was broken and none of the tendons were torn.  They were stretched and strained but the doctor said in a week or two they should heal.  Someone asked if I lost my religion in all of that and the answer was, “No.”  In fact, the first thing I thought, when I could think, was “thank you, Lord.”  Why? Well, here’s the short list.

First, it was my right hand and for once I was grateful I am left-handed. A lot of what I do involves a pen and a keyboard. So while it was a bit inconvenient it was not life changing. God was good. Second, my late sixties model body still bounces well.  It really could have been a different story. Many a person has had a less dangerous fall than mine and didn’t fare so well. And finally—people.  Judy was there for me and when I got to church and shared some of this during a preaching time (I’m a pastor) so many were concerned.  It’s lovely to be loved.

I had a quote in that morning’s message that said something I needed to hear…and you need to hear.  It goes like this, “Trust [in God] is believing that when everything seems to be falling apart it is actually God arranging things just the way He wants them.” Boom! You see, I am sure God has all kind of good things to teach me through this.  And it made a great sermon illustration and gave me one more “Grits” story.  Thank you, Lord.

As I write this my hand is still sore, it is still bruised, and it is still swollen.  I’ve grown up with mismatched ears and now I have mismatched hands.  Go figure.  If you don’t mind me using an overused verse from the Bible, remember what Paul said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” It’s true and He proves it over and over again. Oh, and I think I can tell you with certainty one more thing, one more time.  Write it down, take it to the bank, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne