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

Mountains or Monuments

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

It was on my bucket list.  I confess…I am a pretty big fan of America. I mean, even with all of its warts, and there are plenty, with all its flaws, surely a bucket full, it is the best place to call home.  Over the years I have visited over twenty-five countries—some in Europe, some in Asia and some in Africa.  Some were affluent, some were poor, and some were somewhere in between. All had something to offer but none could match this land I call home.  While some of my visits were brief, my wife Judy and I lived three years in Germany and the final word was…wait for it…home is better…there is and was no place like home.

I think the secret to learning to appreciate where you live is to learn to look for the good and not bad, the whole and not the broken.  The way we look at things can vastly change how we experience things.  A few days ago, I mentioned a quote from a movie that I had watched which, by the way, was based on a true story.  The guy said, “There are two ways to live—either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.” He opted for the latter and I think I will too.

Last year, we were out west on a trip with part of our tribe.  The main, but not only, destination was to see Mount Rushmore.  I’ve seen a chunk of America, but I hadn’t seen that…and yes, it was on my bucket list.  So, the day came. As we drove toward the monument, suddenly, around a curve we were face to face, if you will, with Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Lincoln and it was amazing.  We parked the car and frankly, the closer we got, the more amazing it became.

This great tribute to America (no, it wasn’t just a tribute to four men) took over fourteen years to build.  As you keep in mind it was about ninety years ago, you begin to appreciate the vision, work, and skill that it took to turn a mountain into a monument.  I was amazed to learn that many of the workers, who often had 12 hours days, were paid about $14 dollars…a week.  Those were hard times, and they were grateful to have a job.  But for many…the job became a passion…a mission…a cause to believe in.

Somewhere along the journey, they stopped seeing a mountain and began to see presidents.  Somewhere along the journey they began to see what Gutzon Borglum saw. While the project wasn’t his idea (that belongs to a guy named Doane Robinson) he was the one that chose that mountain.  The quality of the stone led him there and, honestly, where others saw just a mountain, he saw presidents. He.Saw.Presidents.

So, perhaps, just perhaps, it does matter what we see around us.  Perhaps if we choose to see miracles…or like Borglum to see monuments where others see just a block of stone, perhaps we can help make this world a better place.  Perhaps our lives, regardless of our messy circumstances, will take on a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose.  Perhaps if we learn that it is not about us but about others…things will change…for the better.

One of the writers in the Old Testament part of the Bible said that when people don’t have a vision, when they choose to see desolation rather than miracles, well, they perish.  It is true individually and it is true corporately.  If we are going to see a better world, two things need to happen.  First, we need to learn not to just see a mountain but what that mountain can become.  Secondly, and this one is for God followers, we need to believe again that with God nothing is impossible.  As we stand on the edge of the new normalcy, with that stinking COVID in the rearview mirror, let’s choose to believe again.  And why stop there?  Why don’t we determine to see presidents where others see mountains and believe that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, travel

Enjoy the Journey

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

It just depends.  Last year, my wife Judy and I returned from a trip out west.  It was a trip that would involve flying and driving.  It was also a trip with one purpose…to get away, to relax, and to enjoy.  It is not uncommon for us to take a trip and encounter some less than perfect weather.  We have learned to say, “Oh well, at least we’re still away.” Away…that’s a good thing.  You see, the purpose of a journey can often determine the success of the journey.  Set your sights too high and too narrow and you will often find frustration and stress.

Let me explain.  The first leg of our journey was simple…get to Colorado as quickly as possible.  Because that was the goal…we flew.  Also, because that was the goal every delay caused me to have a stressful moment.  Long check-in, stress.  Long security, frustration.  Flight delay, double both.  You see, the point was to get there…not to enjoy the journey.  When I was much younger, just the thought of getting to fly was exciting.  I would always ask for the window seat so I could watch the world go by.  The joy was the journey, but now, alas, it is just a means to get somewhere, and the wonder and joy have slipped away.

Leg two of the journey was different.  It was a hybrid of experiences. Renting a new and different car to drive, driving in a new part of the world, and going at a pace that better enabled us to enjoy it. Usually. But honestly, there was still a battle to be fought…an alligator to be wrestled to the earth.  I had to determine if the destination was the goal…or was it the journey?  I mean I know that there is always a destination but if that becomes obsessive, the joy quickly slips away.  It was my call—enjoy the journey or race to the destination.

You see, if I am racing to the destination, then put me on an interstate highway where the roads are wide, and the speed limit is high.  Out in Wyoming, the speed limit on the interstate was 80 mph…Katie bar the door.  Oh, and those long, straight two-lane roads—yup, 75 mph.  That fit my destination minded mindset just fine, thank you.  But then there were the times that we were in the Rocky Mountains on a curvy, mountain road just driving.  There really wasn’t a place we had to be—we were just driving and that changed everything.  If there was a slower driver in front…that was fine. We would just sit back and enjoy the scenery as it slid by the windows.  The journey was the destination and joy was the result.

But here is what I discovered.  As soon as there was a “gotta be there” destination and mindset then that same road and that same slow driver became a stress point.  The only thing that changed was the pressure to get there.  That same scenery was an ignored blur as the only thing that mattered was looking for a passing zone so I could get there—wherever there happened to be.  The end of the day often told the story—tired and stressed or refreshed and blessed—the way I traveled seemed to make all the difference.

There will always be a destination to get to and there will always be slower drivers and unexpected obstacles to keep us from getting there, but joy in the journey changes everything.  Jesus knew that His destination was a Roman cross, but He never let the that stop Him from enjoying the day and loving those around Him.  He loved the joy of the journey.  I can just imagine Him smiling as He changed the life of a leper or blessed a small child…all joy in the journey.  Paul, one of the guys who wrote a large part of the New Testament, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  In other words, have joy in the journey…no matter what that journey looks like.  He did that really well.

So, when you find yourself on a winding, two-lane road, enjoy the journey.  Take a moment to watch the beauty around you slide by the windows.  See what God has allowed to come into your world that day and the destination will come soon enough.  And when you find yourself backed into a rushed corner, there’s a couple of things you can do.  First, plan a little better when you can and then use that extra time to talk to the Father about that day or maybe relax in Him because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, Trials

They Drove Us Batty

He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

It was years ago but trust me…it is still fresh in my memory. We had made one of our journeys to the land of grits and collards to see family.  We enjoyed some good southern cooking, some great times of fellowship and revisited several places from Judy’s childhood and our days together before God and the Air Force sent us on the next chapter of great adventures.  There’s no place like home, Dorothy said it and I agree.

We decided to do something different so rather than stay with the relatives, we rented a nice Victorian home in Valdosta at a very reasonable rate.  It was wonderfully decorated, and we had the whole house to ourselves.  The location was great, the hot tub in the backyard was great, everything was just great…and then I looked in the sink. Something was moving.

After we arrived, we were still checking out the place and my wife Judy and I went into the kitchen and happened to look in the sink and there were some rotten banana peels lying there.  Well, that wasn’t too cool.  Who would leave rotten banana peels in the kitchen sink of a nice rental house anyway?  The answer—no one.  You see, about that time one of the banana peels moved!  Yikes—they weren’t banana peels after all—they were—BATS—five of them.

Well, I mustered my courage and threw a towel over them, scooped them up and tossed them out the door.  There—gross but end of the story—nothing could be worse than that—right?  Wrong.  That evening we were watching some TV and I stepped out of the room to hear Judy holler “Dewayne, here’s another one!”  Sure enough, one was walking across the floor, so out he went.  Then I looked and one was hanging on the fireplace screen—out he went too.  Well, surely it can’t….don’t bet on it. We went to bed that night and I dozed off pretty quickly…Judy didn’t.  Soon, I heard, “Dewayne, there’s one flying around in the room!”  Well, she was wrong…there wasn’t one–there were two.  The batman (that’s me) knocked ‘em down and hauled them out and called the owner.

The next day a bat removal guy came. He told us he had been there the previous Saturday and had patched a couple of entrances he assumed the bats were using. I guess he missed one…or two.  Well, he searched the house and came up with seven more bats. Can you believe this?  He patched and sealed some more entrances and we thought that was the end of problem—finally!  Well, that is we thought.  Long story short—by the end of the week we had removed 25 bats from the house. He caught and released them somewhere.  It turns out they were endangered…more so than they knew.

This is one reason I said, “There’s no place like home.”  The only bat at 217 W. Poplar is a ball bat! So, by now you are wondering, “Why didn’t you guys leave?”  Well, the landlord did offer us a partial refund and there was a bed and breakfast down the road, but the bottom line was twofold.  First, we really, really liked having the whole house to ourselves and in such a good location.  Second, I didn’t know on day one that there were 25 bats in the house—I always thought the last one was the last one. I was wrong.

I wonder if my reluctance to leave explains why some people continue in a bad habit or a sin even though everything in the world is telling them to get out. It becomes obvious that we like the habit or the sin.  Sin can be pleasurable but mark it down—it not only offends God, but it is also expensive (on a couple of different levels) and it can wreak havoc in your life (or your vacation). Secondly, sin will take you further than you want to go and make you stay longer than you want to stay.  I kept thinking the last bat was the last bat but there was always one more.  Finally, the week was gone and if nothing else I became an expert at bat removal.

So, if you need a house to stay at in Valdosta and you don’t mind bats let me know.  I can promise you it will be an interesting visit to say the least. Personally, it just about drove me batty…pun definitely intended.  Oh, and if you need someone to help you remove some of the “bats” from your life, I know just the One.  He is my Dearest Daddy, and He would love to help you out.  He will cast those pesky “sin bats” to the bottom of the sea. You can trust Him…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, Grace, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Sports Card Heaven

I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me.” Proverbs 8:17

Well, it sure wasn’t my thing.  Each November we take a short vacation with the Guest tribe.  Their tribe consists of my oldest daughter, Becca, her husband, Jonathan and three of my grandchildren, Faith, Hope, and Ethan.  It’s usually a three- or four-day trip to the Smoky Mountains but this year the tour guide, Becca, decided we would go to Branson, Missouri.  So, over the river and through the woods we went, and we all ended up in that Southwest Missouri vacation mecca.

The first day we went shopping before heading to the Sights and Sounds theater to see a production on the life of Jesus—more on that in another Grits. Shopping just isn’t my thing.  We got to the outdoor mall and the boys went one way and the girls went another.  I figured my chances were better with the guys.  I mean whatever they wanted to look at had to beat girl stuff.  Well, Jonathan and Ethan eat, sleep and breathe sports so naturally our shopping selections curved in that direction.  The first stop was a shop that specialized in hats and shirts for the various team sports.  We poked around for a while, liking this one and trashing another one—you know, the right team, wrong team thing.  Soon, it was time to move on.

So down the mall a way, there was another sports shop called, “On the Ball Sports.” This store sold a good variety of sports memorabilia.  It’s funny…neither store sold the tools of the trade but rather things that indicated what team or player you liked.  We entered “sports heaven” and it was soon apparent that this was not going to be a short visit.  We were there for the long haul, and it wasn’t what you might think that held us there.  It wasn’t jerseys or hats; it wasn’t pictures or mugs—it was sports cards. I’m not even sure of the official name but they had guys, or mostly guys, pictures on them and described who and when they played.

It turned out that I discovered my grandson Ethan was totally into sports cards.  This store had a very large selection and the young man working there was helpful and friendly.  We looked and looked and then we looked some more.  I discovered there might be, oh, a zillion cards for each player and based on their popularity and condition, they could be quite valuable.  The most expensive card we saw was worth $850 dollars.  I’m not sure why.  I asked a lot of questions and got lots of answers but quickly determined I should stay with my day job and try some other investments.

Well, two days later, ok, that is an exaggeration, about an hour and a half later, we walked out of the store.  While I had to take a couple of breaks from “card heaven” I did manage to stay there even though the Bass Pro Shop was next door.  You might ask, “Dewayne, why didn’t you just go next door.  Why did you stay in the card shop for so long if it wasn’t your thing?”  Well, the answer really is quite simple.  While it wasn’t my thing…it was my grandson’s thing, and I learned a long time ago that we should learn to love the things that those we love… love.  Did you track with that?

Well, it goes like this.  If you don’t like to shop but your wife does, you learn to love shopping.  And, on the other hand, ma’am if your husband loves to fish, you might want to give it a try. And here is the great part.  When you do that, you are showing love.  The whole tribe made jokes about my stint in “card heaven” for the rest of the trip.  It was fun and it kept the memory alive.  Into the days, weeks, and months, I’m sure we will occasionally remember our time together in “card heaven.”  Oh, and guess what Ethan is getting for Christmas.  I promise you it is something he loves.

What is true in our human world is also true in our spiritual world.  If you happen to be a Jesus follower, one of the surest ways to a close and personal relationship with Him is to learn to love the things that He loves.  And the amazing thing is the things He loves always makes life better and they never carry any regrets or consequences.  It is like following a guide who always knows the best fishing holes, the best golf courses, or the best places to hike.  It is always…good.

Solomon, one of the smartest guys to ever live, wrote about God. Writing for God, he said, “I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me.” Just like the time I spent leaning over the counter with my grandson, it is valuable to spend time with Him, leaning at the counter of life, asking questions, learning, and loving what He loves.  Yup, it is always…good.  And why not take it a step further and just believe and trust…even if you don’t understand, that, “He’s got this.”   Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Ready…or Not

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
2 Timothy 4:2

“Do you think they would mind?” she asked.  It was very early in the morning on our last day at Key Colony.  I awoke from a good night’s sleep (I mean we were on vacation), made a cup of coffee, and headed down to the beach.  Sunrise was a good hour away, but the water and the air were both calm.  The only sound was the gentle lap of the waves against the sandy shore.  This is my time of the day.  God is in the labor room delivering another day for us to enjoy…and I love it.

After a while, the sky slowly turned gray, and you could see the beginning of the sunrise.  It was going to be a good one.  About that time, my wife Judy wandered out and sat down with me.  Just when you think something couldn’t get better…it does.  Judy seems to make anything better.  We chatted and sipped coffee enjoying the creation process.  After another few minutes, the sun peeked over the horizon and another day was born.  Good job, Father, and thank you.  Now that it was daylight, you could see that the water was not only calm…it was crystal clear.  It was then that Karen walked up.

We had talked with Karen and her boyfriend the night before.  We talked about life, faith, and God.  It was an opportunity for me to share some about how much God loved us.  Gary had a large tattoo on his left arm that said, “Faith.”  That gave an opportunity to talk about not only faith, but where that faith should be directed.  I shared it wasn’t enough just to have faith…you had to direct that faith in the right direction…right toward God.

When Karen walked up that morning, I noticed that she was carrying two small containers. I could tell that something was on her mind and that is when she asked the question.  She asked, “Do you think they would mind if I poured my son’s and husband’s ashes in the water?” I quickly assured her that I am sure they would not.  It turned out that her son had tragically died of an opioid overdose at the age of 22.  I didn’t get the details of her husband’s death but since she was in her early fifties, I assumed he too died young.  Then, it was my turn to ask a question.  I asked, “Would you like me to say a prayer?”  And, without hesitation, she answered yes.

Judy asked if Karen would like to have a picture taken and she agreed to that too. All three of us walked down into the water and slowly Karen opened the containers and poured the ashes into the water.  As they touched the water, it turned to a color very similar to wet cement but then just as quickly the color disappeared.  She said a few words, speaking to the souls she could no longer hold.  And then, I asked God for His peace to be on Karen.  I thanked Him for His love…even in hard times like this.  With an amen we were done. Almost.

Judy and I both gave Karen a hug…that was the only way we knew we could tell her we cared, and that God cared too.  As we left the water, Karen headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for a cup of coffee and Judy and I returned to our chairs by the beach.  We knew that we had kept a divine appointment.  I wish I could write and share how Karen and Gary both placed their faith in Jesus but that wasn’t the case…at least not that day.  But I do know we scattered seed in their lives.  I know we left fingerprints on their lives and heart and who knows what God will do with that.

When I woke up that morning, I didn’t know I was going to preside over a funeral standing in the Florida Straits.  Judy didn’t know she was going to act as a memory maker for Karen…but our Dearest Daddy did.  He knew…just as He always does.  We just need to be ready whenever He opens a door or a window and then simply walk where He leads.

Paul, the one who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, told a young preacher named Timothy one day, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”  When he said to preach…trust me, it was more than standing on a stage on any given Sunday…and it wasn’t just for preachers and teachers.  It was for all of us Jesus followers and it is for all places…planned…or not.  I learned a long time ago that the best sermons are often not preached on Sunday…rather, they are lived out over the course of the other six days. So, let’s be ready to be used.  It may be at the store, on the job or at the ballfields.  Just remember this.  When the time comes, He will be there to help and you can rest assured, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, travel, Trials, wisdom

Joy in the Journey

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

It just depends.  My wife Judy and I recently returned from a trip out west.  It was a trip that would involve flying and driving.  It was also a trip with one purpose…to get away, to relax, to enjoy.  It is not uncommon for us to take a trip and encounter some less than perfect weather.  We have learned to say, “Oh well, at least we are still away.” Away…that’s a good thing.  You see, the purpose of a journey can often determine the success of the journey.  Set your sights too high and too narrow and you will often find frustration and stress.

Let me explain.  The first leg of our journey was simple…get to Colorado as quickly as possible.  Because that was the goal…we flew.  Also, because that was the goal every delay caused me to have a stressful moment.  Long check-in, stress.  Long security, frustration.  Flight delay, double both.  You see, the point was to get there…not to enjoy the journey.  When I was much younger, just the thought of getting to fly was exciting.  I would always ask for the window seat so I could watch the world go by.  The joy was the journey, but now, alas, it is just a means to get somewhere, and the wonder and joy have slipped away.

Leg two of the journey was different.  It was a hybrid of experiences. Renting a new and different car to drive, driving in a new part of the world, and going at a pace that better enabled me to enjoy it. Usually. But honestly, there was still a battle to be fought…an alligator to be wrestled to the earth.  I had to determine if the destination was the goal…or was it the journey?  I mean I know that there is always a destination but if that becomes obsessive, the joy quickly slips away.  It was my call—enjoy the journey or race to the destination.

You see, if I am racing to the destination, then put me on an interstate highway where the roads are wide, and the speed limit is high.  Out in Wyoming, the speed limit on the interstate was 80 mph…Katie bar the door.  Oh, and those long, straight two-lane roads—yup, 75 mph.  That fit my destination minded mindset just fine, thank you.  But then there were the times that we were in the Rocky Mountains on a curvy, mountain road just driving.  There really wasn’t a place we had to be—we were just driving and that changed everything.  If there was a slower driver in front…that was fine. We would just sit back and enjoy the scenery as it slid by the windows.  The journey was the destination and joy was the result.

But here is what I discovered.  As soon as there was a “gotta be there” destination and mindset then that same road and that same slow driver became a stress point.  The only thing that changed was the pressure to get there.  That same scenery was an ignored blur as the only thing that mattered was looking for a passing zone so I could get there—wherever there happened to be.  The end of the day often told the story—tired and stressed or refreshed and blessed—the way I traveled seemed to make all the difference.

There will always be a destination to get to and there will always be slower drivers and unexpected obstacles to keep us from getting there, but joy in the journey changes everything.  Jesus knew that His destination was a Roman cross, but He never let the that stop Him from enjoying the day and loving those around Him.  He loved the joy of the journey.  I can just imagine Him smiling as He changed the life of a leper or blessed a small child…all joy in the journey.  Paul, one of the guys who wrote a large part of the New Testament, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  In other words have joy in the journey…no matter what that journey looks like.  He did that really well.

So, when you find yourself on a winding, two-lane road, enjoy the journey.  Take a moment to watch the beauty around you slide by the windows.  See what God has allowed to come into your world that day and the destination will come soon enough.  And when you find yourself backed into a rushed corner, there’s a couple of things you can do.  First, plan a little better when you can and then use that extra time to talk to the Father about that day or maybe relax in Him because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, life, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Your Expected Wait Time

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Warning…whining ahead.  Ok, I just wanted to give you a heads up that I am about to whine.  It really isn’t my fault.  I think I was born with it…wired with it.  While most babies cried, I whined.  If the milk wasn’t quite the right temperature…I didn’t cry…I whined.  If it was a quarter past a diaper change…you guessed, I whined.  And if someone failed to realize just how precious I was…whine, whine, whine.  I am so good at it I believe it must be some kind of gift.  I know the Bible talks about people having a special gift from God so who knows…maybe there is a whining gift.  People sometimes say you shouldn’t whine but that is probably because they are jealous.  Whining is an art, a talent but there is a problem.  Nobody seems to appreciate a good whiner.  Someone even gave me a little plaque to hang in my office.  It simply says, “Thou shalt not whine.” Imagine that.

I try to be a good steward of my whining gift and save it for very, special occasions, but the problem is, to me everything day is special and almost every situation an opportunity to practice my gift.  But tonight, tonight it is valid.  Tonight, I have the right to whine…and I have.  Here’s why. So, a couple of months ago, my wife Judy and I planned our fall vacation and decided to go back to Fort Myers, Florida.  It just sounded like a good idea.

We began to make all the appropriate reservations and arrangements.  Car rental…check.  Places to stay…check.  Plane tickets…check.  Yup…we were all set.  And then it happened.  The airline, which I won’t name but whose name starts with a D and ends with an A decided to change our flight schedule.  Hmmm.

We always fly in and out of Evansville because it is so convenient.  As close as it is, it is still about an hour and a half from where we live to the airport.  We had arranged for the return flight to land in the early afternoon.  This is especially important since as a pastor I am supposed to speak the next morning.  It’s always good to have a cushion…just in case. Anyway, here comes the email.  Surprise, surprise, surprise…we have changed your flight from landing at 4:40pm in the afternoon to 9:09pm (yawn) in the evening.  Add an hour and a half drive and it makes 5:00 am come pretty fast.

So, I checked and found out there was indeed a flight that landed at 4:40 pm and there were indeed seats available.  I decided to call the airlines and ask them to fix the problem. I dialed the number and the chirpy voice on the recording assured me that I was a valuable customer (I even had a special number to call) and they would be right with me.  The expected wait time was just four hours.  I’m not kidding, 4:00 hours.  Well, I just knew there had to be another way but after spending an hour trying to find it, I realized there was not one.  Not an email solution, not a wish, or a prayer…nothing, nada.  If I wanted to talk to the nice airline, I would have to stay on the line for four hours.  Can someone say crazy?

Well, rather than stay on the line for four hours (yawn) I decided to spend the time writing a story about it.  I just know all of you out there in grits land will understand and whine with me.  I’m not sure how I’m gonna fix the problem, but I assure you it will not involve me holding on the phone for four hours.  I can also assure you it will involve an appropriate amount of whining.

Now fortunately, not all customer service is as poor as this.  In fact, there is one place where there is no wait, no busy signal and each person is indeed special.  And, where would that be…on God’s hotline.  I love the fact that my Dearest Daddy is never too busy, never too overwhelmed to take my call.  And the best part?  He always makes the right call—pun intended. He is too kind to be mean and too wise to make a mistake.  Even when His way doesn’t match my way, I am sure that it is the best way.  I guess I could ask Him for patience, but I hear the training program for that involves six hour hold times.  Yikes!

Well, I feel better now.  Thanks for reading and understanding.  Who knows, all this might work out for my good…actually, I’m sure it will.  I mean the Bible says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose,” and I suppose that includes long holds on the phone. Someone (and that would be me) tells everyone that will listen, “He’s got this” and I believe that He does.  I even believe that includes airlines with four hour hold times.  How about that. God bless you!  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?