Pass the…Sweet Potatoes

Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever (1 John 2:15-17, Common English Bible).

This is part 17 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

I have a lot of stuff. I am one of the few people I know who loves ties. I don’t wear them, at least most of the time, more than once a week. And, with the exception of weddings and funerals, I don’t wear them during the summer at all. It’s just too hot in Texas. At that rate I think I could go about four years and never wear the same tie twice.

I also like my guitars as I have already said elsewhere in this blog. I have six and can think of at least three more I would like to have and truth be told, if I had those three there would be more added to my list. My mother likes to remind me I can only play one at a time. I respond that while that is true, most of them have different sounds. One is a straight up electric guitar. Another has steel strings. One is a base. The remaining three do sound much the same but they all live in three different places where I spend a lot of time.

If you walk into my study, either at the parsonage or at the church (to a lesser degree our retirement home) you will see lots of lighthouses and even more books. I enjoy all these things and probably several more.

Like I said, I have a lot of stuff. And truth to tell, I have a lot of stuff I really don’t “need.” It is all stuff I want. It is all stuff I like having around and it means something to me.

I am thankful for all my stuff, even if I don’t really need it. My ties are something I like and having at least a few goes with expectations of my job. I know there are preachers who don’t wear ties even as often as I, but there are times when we are expected to wear a tie. I could probably cut 75 percent of my ties from my wardrobe (or more) and still be fine. But then, I might be saying, “I don’t have a thing to wear.”

I could get by with one guitar. The real truth is, I don’t have to have one at all. Still I am glad I do have them. They provide food for my soul. It is something I enjoy.

Today I am asking that we pass the sweet potatoes. I know that sweet potatoes are a staple at many Thanksgiving tables. People make them into casseroles and pies. Others have various other ways of preparing them. I have a sister-in-law, Cindy (yes, one of Cindy’s brothers married a woman named Cindy, go figure) who makes probably the best sweet potato dish I have ever eaten. She has never told me what all is in it and honestly I don’t think I want to know. All she has said in my presence is, “Those sweet potatoes are bad, they aren’t very good for you.” Well, I don’t care. If Cindy’s sweet potatoes are there, I’m eating at least some of them.

Sweet potatoes are something I eat a lot. Being diabetic, they are much better for me than white potatoes. Usually I eat them prepared in a pretty simple way, baked with a little butter and cinnamon sprinkled on them. Far more often than not, the sweet potatoes I eat are a simple dish.

While I am thankful for all the things I have in my life, I also recognize they are all just things. And, things can be taken away. Things are something I can lose. Things are something that can break. In the end, things really don’t mean that much.

While I am thankful for all of that, today’s post is really more about simple things. These are things I would find it a great deal harder to live with out. Today I want to remember to be thankful for the simple things in my life as these are often the things I take for granted.

I am thankful for things like food and water. There are so many people today that don’t have those or don’t have those in the quantities I have them. I am not worried about my next meal. I am not worried about whether I will have water to drink today.

I am thankful for the air I breathe. I am not a person who waives the “Green” banner particularly high but I do recognize if we fail to take care of it, if we take it too much for granted, air might be something of which we rediscover the hard way just how important it is.

I am thankful for the love of family and friends. Without that love there are days it would be difficult at best to even get out of bed. I cannot take that love for granted.

Finally, I am thankful for the love of God and the faith God has placed in my heart. Like so much else, love and faith are both something that all too often we look past and take for granted. God above all, is someone who shouldn’t neglect but all too often I do.

Because so often, I eat sweet potatoes that are prepared in a simple way, they remind me of the simple things. The things I need in my life, the things I can’t live without but the things that all too often I neglect and take for granted.

So, would someone please pass the sweet potatoes. I need a reminder to be thankful for the simple things of my life.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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