My Family

Watching the Sun – Remembering Things Past

I drove down to the lake Sunday afternoon where I had one of those glorious views so that I could watch the sun dip itself into our beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.

I thought about my dad and how he loved the water, rivers, lakes, just water. He talked for years about building a houseboat, but mother would have nothing of it, and that was enough excuse to keep him from starting the adventure. I think it might have been a dream that he enjoyed talking about more than doing.

I am grateful for my parents, God placed me in a wonderful home and I am deeply blessed because of it. I remember mom and thought about how busy and worried she always was and how she got so excited when the holidays would come. She would plan for a big feast on Thanksgiving and again for Christmas. She loved it but you never caught that in her talking and in her worry. It would have been a dark hour if her ‘children’ had not come home for the holidays.

I ran across my mind those events when we gather at the house at 246 South Lindsey Street, grownups talking, children playing, rooms full of people, but though it all the events of the day were all circled around our being a family and being together.

I remembered the Thursday night that mother died in that house, how it had changed even the aroma of the place. After mother left it was never the same, what she took with her could not be replaced.

I thought about dad as the years closed and he stopped dreaming of a houseboat and travel and adventures; it was like the sun I was watching, almost ready to dip itself into the darkening waters of our lake. I asked him one day if he ever thought about the houseboat and he said, “I think there is not enough time to finish it.” He was right for when dreams stop, time begins to run at its rapid pace and like the falling sun it is soon gone.

Darkness fell across me, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the life that God has given to me; remembering the past was good but living today in now the task.

Ivan

 

Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Teachers Make a Difference

Teachers Make a Difference

As usual Nick was the first of his six grade class to arrive at school. He loved school, it was wonderful. Nick liked how nice it looked, how quiet it could be, how warm it was; for Nick school was a haven, compared to his two bed room house with one bath, six children, his mother and the sometimes three men who shared the house from time to time as their mother’s friend and the father of two of the girls, school was great.

He loved Ms. Ann his teacher, she was beautiful, kind, and so very smart. At his home the four girls shared the second bedroom so he and his brother lived on the back porch, closed in with cardboard in the winter and open in the summer. Just a miserable place, always noisy, fights, crying, and the screaming always filled the air. Some people said there was no place like home; Nick knew better, there were a lot of places better than home. Yes school was just like Nick thought heaven would be. He saw her first, Ms. Ann as she entered the room, he was ready for the day in fact Nick was ready for the year. He had already read his history book, literature book and science book, yep he was ready. Ms. Ann greeted the class and thus another great day had its start.

In the second term of his freshman year his mother had left along with the children, Nick stayed. The utilities were cut off but Nick managed through the warmer days of spring and with the Summer Mr. Craig had given him a job at the local grocery store. He sold everything he owned and got the utilities turned on, in his mother’s name, and thus went the next three years of his life. He heard that his half-brother was in the state juvenile system, two of his half-sisters were now mothers and the other two had taken off, his mother, who knew, he never saw her again.

There was no one related to him in the audience as he stood to give his honors address, he opened the speech his counselor had approved then looking into the eyes of all in the audience he thanked his 47 class mates for the contributions they had made to his life and then closing the prepared speech he begin one by one calling the names of the 41 teachers and other school employees who had touched his life, pausing to speak a word of gratitude to each one telling some bit of their contribution to his years of school. He thanked Mr. Craig for the job he had provided, referring to him as God’s gift of a grandfather, He looked toward the ceiling of the building and thanked God for keeping him safe and giving him such a wonderful home with 41 parents and one great grandfather in Mr. Craig. The old floor in the gym almost rose from the slab as the tears of a town spilled from the eyes of the audience and everyone stood clapping for him for more than five minutes. It was a night that Little Town would never forget. Teachers Had Made the Difference.

Ivan

Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Driver Was Blind

Neighbor Found on Hwy 13

Dr. Lawrence Steiner and I were headed home to Waynesboro from Florence, AL when we noticed a lady standing by her car on the shoulder of the south bound lane. We made a U-turn and pulled in behind her car to see if we could help.

She was looking frustrated and said, as we approached her asking if we could help, “I am out of gas.” Then she continued that she had told those two %#@* preachers she had called in Waynesboro that she was almost out of gas but had to go to Florence to see the doctor.

She looked at us and said, “You know how that %*#@ preachers are they would not help anyone but themselves.” We stuttered a bit, told her that we knew where there was a garage just down the road and we would go and get her some gas. She said that would be nice but she didn’t have any money but that she did have an empty gas can in her trunk. We explained that we could handle the money but that the can would be great.

As we drove back toward the garage we laughed at each other and wondered if we should tell her that we were also preachers. Then we tried to guess who the two preachers were that she talked to in Waynesboro and decided when we found out we would make them split the cost of the gas.

We got the gas, put it in her tank and helped her get the car started; we gave her fifteen dollars and suggested she stop at the garage and fill up. Now fifteen dollars does not sound like much but remember gas was still well under a dollar in those days. She thanked us and said, “Sure is nice to meet some handsome, polite, and generous men. Too bad those #@*% preachers couldn’t be like you nice looking men.” We drove off in a bit of a hurry realizing that the lady not only had a bad mouth she was also blind.

Ivan

Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Small Thing

The Small Thing

Make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5

I think too many time we wait for the ‘big’ event in order to get involved in the work of God. Maybe the lady at the checkout needs a nice word, not a big thing, but it just might make her day. Maybe a child needs some attention, a frustrated driver needs out of a side street, or a confused person need just an extra moment to collect their thoughts and make their decision.

I noticed in Baltimore that when I opened the door and held it for someone to enter, took my hat off in the elevator, and stopped to explain to a lady how the ‘in town’ bus worked, that I received some smiles, a few thank you, shocked looks, and genuine appreciation. None of these events were large and non-required any great effort, but each one seemed to have some effect.

Maybe the reason the ‘Big’ event never comes along is that we overlook the little things which God puts in our path. Jesus did say something about being faithful over little and He would make us rulers of the great.

Could it be that what we are waiting for is already coming before us day after day and we, because we are busy looking for the great, never see it? As I walked toward my car after leaving the store I heard the lady call to me. “Sir, sir may I tell you something?” I turned and realized she was speaking to me so I took off my hat and waited for her to catch up. She said, “Thank you for being so nice to the lady who checked you out. I saw and listened to how you spoke with her. She lives two doors down from me and I know that she is really struggling to keep this job and her senses. You made her day with your voice and kindness. Thank you.” I really did not know how to reply, I had just been treating the lady the way I would have wanted someone to treat my wife.

Just be alert, God has a lot of work for you to do; now do it.

Published in: on July 26, 2015 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Time to Kneel

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed, before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4

When Nehemiah hears the troubling words of his homeland, how it had been destroyed and was as a waste land his first thought, first action was to turn toward God.

We don’t see Nehemiah trying to place the blame, to curse the King who had enslaved him, to rant and rave at all the wrong things which had happened to his people as well as his homeland.

Nehemiah who had the opportunity is not plotting the death of the king. Instead we see him on his knees confessing his sin and the sins of his people. We see him weeping great tears of sorrow, not sending out shouts of foul play. We see him seeking an answer from God even when the answer includes the assistance of those who had enslaved him and destroyed his homeland.

He was willing to take his sorrow to God, confess his wrong and ask the Father for a way to victory. But look at us, we see the difficulties of our nation and we begin to assets the blame, to accuse our leadership, and cry foul to everyone involved. We blame ever group of people we can and we never once take any personal responsibility.

I wonder what would happen if the Christian people of this land would do as Nehemiah and weep, mourn, fast and pray to God. I am sometimes shocked at how judgmental we are and how we are so sure about one side or the other without even a moment of thought and concern of how thin our innocence is and how our greatest woe is that we will not get our fair share of the blessings of this great nation.

May I call upon you to realize this is not so much the moment of judgment and blame but rather it is a time of personal sorrow, powerful prayer, private confession, and a public call to kneel at the Cross and seek the face, forgiveness, and will of God?

You know it’s not too late for our country; God has blessed us from the snow cover ground of Washington’s frozen army at Valley Forge, to the shores of Normandy, through the islands of the South Pacific, and He will bless us now as we call upon Him.

Published in: on July 23, 2015 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Father’s View

A Father’s View

I wrote most of this in October, 2011, the rest I wrote today: you will understand as you read it.

Melrose High School football stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Friday October 7, 2011 the half is almost gone his team needs the points to leave the half leading. J. R. Osborn, fifteen year old freshman at CPA came into the game to attempt a 51 yard field goal for his team; if successful it would set both a school and personal record. The snap came, the line held and J.R. put the ball through the uprights. Of course the crowd went wild, the coach was elated and J.R. lived one of those thrilling moments that all guys would love to experience. His mother, Jennifer Osborn VanOrman and step father Justin stood two feet taller and the thrilling moment is still ringing. Heaven

Somewhere in the glory of glories Jim Osborn who left this world on April 4, 2001 smiled one of those complete and beautiful smiles. O I know that heaven is always great but this moment for a father who did not live to see his son hit the level of success he has achieved must have smiled really big and said if to no one else but to himself, ‘Way to go son.’ J.R. is Carole’s daughter Jennifer’s son and thus my grandson. I knew his father and I watched in those closing moments of his life how he faced the journey of death, how he prepared for the care of his wife and son, and how he lived those final days with honor and faith. Since God is on His throne and since God is always good I know that Friday night had to be a ‘good’ night for Jim. “God I thank you for a man like Jim to be the husband of our daughter and the father of J.R., we all do miss him and sometimes there are new tears in our eyes because of that journey of April 2001 but Father we trust you and know you and give thanks for Justin and the journey that he and Jennifer are now sharing.”

Today: United States Naval Academy Preparatory School:

The Naval Academy recruited J.R. to play football and placed him in the USNAPS for the next year. He will not only prepare himself for the Academy but will also grow and mature in his football skills. Their team will play nine games this year and he will get a first class education as he prepares to go to the ‘Yard’ in the summer of 2016.

Today will be his first full day at the USNAPS, his mother watched as he came out in his uniform, shaved head, smartly dressed and took the oath of service to his country. Then she began her journey home with tear filled eyes last night knowing that it will be three weeks before he can call and contact her. From Heaven Jim also shed the tears of a father and from here Carole and I send our prayers that he will do his best and walk with God as he begins this journey.

Grandfather Ivan

Published in: on July 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do Not Wait

Carole and I went to a church fish fry in Franklin on Friday for part of our celebration of her birthday and we saw a lot of people whom we have not seen in years, it was a real treat and joy. We met a couple I had married a few years ago and we all hugged and talked a thousand words a minute as we sought to catch up on all the events that have passed.

Sunday morning his wife called and said that she could not wake him that he had died in his sleep. Suddenly it was like a load of bricks dropped on me; Frank was younger than I am, never sick, no real medical problems and now I am going to be part of the formal goodbye in a couple of days, cannot be real, but it is.

So why are you waiting to do what you have always planned and wanted to do; a trip you want to take, a fish you would like to catch, a friend you really wish to visit, maybe it is a letter you need to write or a call you should make, Do Not Wait, do it now.

Having entered old age, some people say it is a state of mind; no it is not, it is a state of life. Now your mind can have a lot of influence on how you vision this age, but I promise you it is real.

My bucket list is not going to be completed, a trip to Alaska, another book published, and places I would like to see, sermons preached, walks I had planned to take, the list is too long.

So from one who has entered the Golden Years and found them to be Olden Years, Do Not Wait, do it now. . Read the book, take a nap, write the letter, give the gift, say the words, hug the person, make the visit, spend the time and do not wait, Do It Now.

Say I love you while they can hear, give the flowers why they can smell, spend the time while they will know, Do Not Wait.

(Some of you will remember Frank and Dee, I married them after church here in Byrdstown a few years ago and they had their wedding lunch at the Dixie}

Ivan

Published in: on July 20, 2015 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dr. Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I visited the New York World’s Fair in 1964; it was filled with wonders for a young man just out of the Navy from Tennessee. I walked until my strong legs of youth were almost gone so I went to visit and sit awhile in the Billy Graham pavilion.

It was filled with the pictures of crusades that Dr. Graham had led, cities were they planned to visit in the next couple of years and a place to sit down, get a coke and just rest; that I managed very well.

About the time I decided to leave I met an evangelist that I had first heard preach when I was in California, Merle Roselle. He had led a revival at the Balboa Park Baptist church where I was attending and thus I had gotten to visit with him and have a couple of meals with a group of people from the church.

He hugged me, asked how I was doing and wanted to know if I had seen Dr. Graham; I had not, he went on to say he was sure he was in so he told me to follow him and we went behind a false wall and he called the lady at the desk by name and asked if we could see Dr. Graham, she told him most assuredly so the two of us knocked on his office door then walked into the presence of one of the greatest men who has ever preached the good news.

Merle introduced me to the great man and he stood, shook my hand then gave me a great big fellow preacher hug. I was in heaven.

He asked all about my family, my boyhood, and my dreams, I left the room believing that I was really someone. I don’t think I washed my hand for a week; after all it had touched Dr. Graham.

He was so real, so personal, so unimportant to himself, I still remember leaving there with the full knowledge that Billy Graham was real, and after all of these years he has proved it so. What a man God made when he made Dr. Billy Graham, we need more like him today.

Ivan

Published in: on July 19, 2015 at 10:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

On The Way To Growing Old

On the Way to Growing Old. . I Forgot.

I really believe that is what I did, forgot. I forgot that I was getting old and that time was moving rapidly. Now recently events have occurred that have caught my attention and my memory is once again working.

For example when I was 56, it was a very good year, that was 1994, go figure if you wish to know how old I am, I retired after pastoring most of my adult life and took off to Belize. I spent almost half of a year there in mission work with our International Mission Board, went to the Congo, Zaire and Rwanda, they were having a civil war and the greatest event, got married.

That’s right; got married, like a newly graduating college student I started a very new life. Wow! Having preached a lifetime I started a new career as vice president of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.

1994 was a wonderful year, I think, I believed I would live forever; I would love to have a hundred more 1994’s.

But recent events have put life in a bit of a clearer picture. Maybe part of it started with the death of my sister Alice a few years ago, then my sister Peggy died, 246 South Lindsey Street where we once all lived was empty, I am the only one left.

It really hit me when my pal, Louie died. He wasn’t even anywhere near as important as my sisters. But with Louie I had watched him grow old day by day.  Now I have buried other pets and even Louie’s father, but Louie, Louie I had watched grow old.

When we were at the children’s home, he chased and caught a skunk twice in one run. He did battle with a deer that had the foolishness of invading his yard and when I would go downstairs he would rush down to be with me and then beat me back up the steps.

But over the last several months of his life I noticed he was content with remaining at the top of the stairs and waiting for me to come back up. He didn’t chase any more cats, some mornings I even beat him out of bed. So I saw it, growing old.

His eyes looked at me with a longing to run, to do the chase, but his body would not allow him and thus he now rest under the hillside where he use to sit and stare off into the far off place.

Since you have had time to do the math you now know that I am as Mildred, one of my church members, tells me in the dying age. Like Louie the stairs are less frequent and the stare into the far off place is more present. I see my church deserving a younger better pastor but with a selfish desire I hold on for another Sunday, another sermon.

The drive to Nashville is longer, the Sunday afternoon nap more important, and even when the phone rings I jump, hoping it is not bad news. I say with Dr. Graham, these are not the golden years, these are the older years.

But the sunrise will bring new joy, the hellos form those who see me on the street sweeter, and each day become a new and wonderful adventure. I am still ticking, and I still live in this wonderful place, so tomorrow will be another day of victory. Say hi when we meet, it is very important.  Ivan

Published in: on July 13, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Special Town

A very wealthy man in our small county of Jasper, South Carolina died and everyone was asking the question; “I wonder how much money he left?” A deacon in my church said, “He left it all.”

The beautiful restored pre-civil war home, more than 25,000 acres of land, cars, cash, a single engine plane and who knew what else stuffed in the home of more than ten thousand square feet.

He had no family in the local community, few friends, only employees who had spent most of their adult lives working with him. I searched to see what the paper had to say about him and if there was any reasonable record of his life lived in our community. Nothing was noted of his years in the community and the obituary was very brief, with plans for the funeral unknown.

Outside of an occasional visit to the local bank very few people had ever seen him. The manager knew very little or was careful not to share what he knew.

Two men in their fifties flew in from Main, stayed in the house a couple of days, visited the bank, funeral home, told the plantation employees that they would be paid through the end of the next month. Arranged for the two elder servants who lived on the plantation to move into the house, put the entire estate up for sale and flew out within three days.

He lived, he accumulated, he died, and he left it all. When I moved from the area the ‘for sale’ signs were still in place and the once great plantation showed the pain of no attention, no care, and touched only by the hand of time. I remember driving by the gate to the house and wondering why, why no investment in the community, no interest in others, and why so little came from a life of hard work and the gain of great personal wealth. Life is like that, it is not a rehearsal, it is real and it passes even if we live it gloriously or not at all, it does pass. Consider today, use it, enjoy it and most of all share it.

Postlude: I met a young girl last night who works in a fast food restaurant in our town of Byrdstown; she was in tears as she asked me if I knew the name of the local motel.

I of course knew it and then asked what the problem was; she said there was a man in the restaurant that had been caught in the rain, no dry clothes and no place to spend the night. She was weeping over a person she did not know and making plans to spend several days of her pay in order for him to have a place to stay

I knew that the local ministers organization could pay for the room and told her we would be glad to take care of that, she had found some dry clothes and her mother had come to take him to the motel. Her tears were as wet as his clothes, her heart was touched, and her soul was involved in caring for another. I think she has already given more than my rich man from South Carolina; our world needs more like her. May our Lord bless her?

Published in: on July 12, 2015 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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