I Forgot

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 but it really hit me when my pal, Louie died. 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 don’t worry about health except that I may live longer than my health, and my second worry is very much like it that I will live longer than my money.

God has given me a wonderful place in which to grow old, my church allows me to sit when I like as I preach, they seem to listen, and my heart tells me that they love me.

With a family of love and a church family of love who knows I may live longer than I am worthy, but no matter the case I am grateful for each dawn and for each hello as I move through our lovely community. Good morning fellow travelers shall we grow old together?


Published in: on October 12, 2015 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Bed

Last Part of the Last Leg

He was sitting in an old rocker smoking his pipe and look across the room at all of his tools and the work in progress.

I asked how he was doing and what was moving and he smiled and said he had almost finished the bed. I could see the head board, foot board, and several legs; the beautiful walnut wood was gleaming. I told him it looked pretty complete to me and he said, needs another post, got three but need four.

I told him how beautiful it looked and stood one of the legs up beside me, it was six feet tall, spooled, and polished with the touch of an artist. “Better get that last one done” I said, “you might need a place to sleep when you wife finds you out here rocking.” He smiled, pulled on his pipe and said, “Been working on that thing for maybe five years, forgot to count, got two of the three section of that last leg done, but not sure about the last one.

What am I going to do when I finish it?” There seemed to be a serious concern in his voice and in the question. “Sleep in it,” I said, put it up in the house and make it a gift to that beautiful wife of yours.” “Been sleeping in the same bed with her for more than fifty years”, he said, “might not like a new one.” “I know she will love it.” I responded, “It will be a great gift to her and each part of it reflects your good work.”

“Always though I would die if I ever finished it.”, He answered, “Not sure why, just believed it was my last work so I have been putting off that last part of that last leg.” I smiled, he smoked the pipe and I started to leave. He said, “Boy do you want it?” I turned and said, “No sir Mr. John, no sir, I had rather have you around rocking in that chair and dreaming of that finished bed, no sir, just keep on polishing on that last part of that last leg and someday you will know when to put it together.”

His wife and I put it together a couple of weeks after she buried him, I think she still sleeps in the old bed and just shows the new one off.

Published in: on October 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Doggy Door

The Doggy Door Adventure

Let me begin by saying that I am not a handy man, not even close. I have labored over hanging a picture, become frustrated with installing blinds, I am just not handy. I believe that I should preach, and let those who are so gifted, put in doors, fix cars and do all the other wonderful things that all of us depend on.

I had a doggy door, but Max being locked out one day decided to do away with it and for the last several months it has just been taped in place. So off to the task, after all as old as I am I should be able to make a simple replacement.

We have in Byrdstown a wonderful family that owns and operates a ‘Farmers Supply’ store. It is our version of Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Lows. It is a great place. You don’t have to park in yesterday to get to the door, they call me by name, they don’t have to but they do, and even seem really glad to see me. They let me talk about anything and act like they are interested and listing. It is really neat.

Since I don’t know the correct names for items, I describe them and they go to the exact place and get it for me. I really like the store. They didn’t have doggy doors but they found one somewhere and ordered it for me. It was the same make as the one I already had and I knew it would be a piece of cake.

The first problem I had was getting the old door off. The screws came off after I made about ten trips to various friends to borrow the right screwdriver, that gave me hope, but the door would not come out of its hole. When they had installed it they pasted it in with glue that just would not turn loose, it fought me with all of its power to stay in place.

Two days later, broken knees, skinned legs, and heart running at 190 I got it loose. Then I rested; back to work and wouldn’t you know that since they made the first door they have changed the design and the holes for the screws do not match. Now the door is metal and with all of my power I could not get new holes and screws in place.

All this time Max just looked on like, ‘You are in way over your head, might just as well leave the door open, it would be easier to heat the sun porch than work with the door’. I considered that, but after a debate with myself, borrowed a drill, made some new holes and what should have been a job for a couple of hours, now crossing into three days was complete.

Max wasn’t sure it was safe for him to use but the need to get outside outweighed his fear and now he is once again using the doggy door. Me, well I can barely stand, knees won’t work, heart beats 200 times a minute, breath is gone, and I now know that I really am old. No more doggy doors for this pastor, I will preach and let the doggy door doer do their thing.

Sure is nice of God to make so many kinds of people.

Published in: on October 7, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Found Any Peace

The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.  Psalm 29:11

Peace is not always what we expect it to be.  Many would believe that peace would be to have no debt, others great health, and others that special ‘I want’ which is most important to them.  We certainly don’t have much peace today as the world would define it. Just listen to the news, read the papers, read your email and you will see what an inward war we are fighting even among our own people. To read our mail you would think that we do not like anyone.  Maybe we don’t have peace because we don’t know what peace really is? I think the best description of peace is the simple truth of knowing that we belong to God and we can depend upon Him for all things. No one and no power of this world is going to give you peace. Name me one thing of this world which can give you peace that will walk with you through sickness and into death.  I stand by the beds of those who are slipping out of this life into eternity. They never ask for power, money, and fame; they ask for comfort and peace. Name something that this world can give you that cannot be taken from you? There is nothing! God alone can give us peace; why don’t we call upon Him?

Published in: on October 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Comments (4)  


A Little Chuckle to Make Life Better

Carole and I were suppose to be in Myrtle Beach this week but since they had the greatest rain in one thousand years the Highway Patrol said, Don’t Come to South Carolina.

We didn’t go. Carole had a yard sale Friday and Saturday of last week, it wasn’t a thousand year rain but it sure put a ‘damper’ on her yard sale.

Seven year old grandson Jack was playing with the sale items and somehow he came up with a pair of handcuffs that John and Jim had purchased about fifteen years ago.

The adults who were there were sure those were toys so when he put them on no one said no. Turned out they were real; John couldn’t remember where the key was so Jack was stuck.  When I got back from running my errands for the morning all of the adults were on their phones asking how you get out of handcuffs. Really they have that information on line, but they never could figure out what to do so Jack was locked up.

My phone is a lot better than all of theirs; I called the Metro Police, told them the problem and in about five minutes four young officers were on the scene.

They could not have been nicer but like all of us they were stuck, none of their keys would fit.

Finally one of the officers went to his car and came back with largest bolt cutters I have seen, one snap and Jack was free.

Needless to say we made a great impression on all of our neighbors and can you believe business picked up as they all came over to see what was going on and I made them purchase something or pay for parking. Turned out to be a pretty good rainy day.

Published in: on October 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

In The Mountains

A couple of years ago I spent a week with the Smoky Mountains Resort Ministries working with them as they minister to the thousands of people visiting the area this ‘Leaf” time of the year. I was assisting with the Fall Craft show, vendors and visitors each day from eleven until five. Since I enjoy talking I had a great time, I met so many wonderful people and some who did not quite make it.
I helped a lady who had a lot of trouble walking by running some errands for her as well as watching her craft booth. She was depressed, sickness does that to people and she had allowed it to turn her in and not allow her to reach out with her pleasant personality. We talked a lot and I think maybe I left her a bit less depressed than when we first met. I spent some time in prayer for her each night and I just know the Lord is going to bring her more business as well as more joy.
I got to meet a lot of men who had served in our military as well as a full bird female Colonel. We talked about how difficult it had been for her to advance and how she had met the different challenges a mostly male army offers to a female making it a career. We prayed together and she left with a belief that our meeting was no accident but a plan from our Lord.
I spent some time with a man who had lost his leg in Vietnam, because it was broken they had removed it while he was in a prison camp. He gave our Lord the credit for his being able to survive the almost five years of his imprisonment. It was a joy and privilege to speak and pray with him about our Lord.
Then there was the newly wed couple whom I suggested find and watch the movie, “Fire Proof”, they returned the next day to let me know that they had purchased and watched it and were thrilled at the message. They have a real chance of making it to the finish.
People growing old and afraid, people worried about out nation, those in so much debt that the future seems impossible to face, and Carlton a young boy left behind by all the knowledge of this world but thrilled that I let him touch my beard and spent time talking to him while his mother did a bit of shopping. She hugged me and almost cried as they left and Carlton waved all the way out of sight.
Nothing that changed the world kind of week, but it was good for me and I hope it was good for a few others as our paths crossed.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Serving Others

I pulled into the parking lot of Public’s Food Market in Bellevue found a great parking spot and started across the parking area to enter the store. The white hair man passed me talking to himself, I can relate, I do a lot of that, but I could tell that it was distress talk not happy.
I spoke to him and asked if it had been a bad day, he responded with, ‘The worst, I have been in the store for fifteen minutes and I cannot find a thing my wife put on this list.”
I laughed and said something like join the club it happens to me all the time but I have found a great solution. He looked interested stopped his walking and said share it with me.
So we returned to the store, I spoke to one of the nice clerks and told her that my friend needed some help, she stopped what she was doing and asked how she could assist us, I handed her his list and told her that he could not find a thing in the store on that list.
She took one look, smiled at me and said I can solve this, with that she grabbed a buggy and asked him to follow her.
I got what I wanted and watched as he and the clerk returned to the front with a number of items, she showed him how to use the self check out and he loved watching it work.
He thanked the young lady offered her a tip but she refused and I join him for our walk out of the store and back to our cars.
He said man that reminds me of going to the store for my mom when I was a boy, right I said, they really know how to help a fellow here. You got that right he said, my wife is really going to be surprised, I have never finished one of her list before.
We both laughed and parted ways.
I know nothing about the store and its national policy, but I know that at this store they have a winning system.
Thank God for people who still like to serve others?

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Be Careful

Behold, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. First John 4:11
How can we see how much He loves us and accept that love, and then not love one another? I sometimes believe that our greatest fear should be the way we feel about others.
I am sure and I believe the scripture proves this that a heart that hates others has a very difficult time in finding room and emotions to love God. His word speaks about being careful of our feeling for others and realizing that if we are so bitter about those we know how can we express our love for Jesus?
With that start I am not sure how to continue. I am almost certain that no one will really understand my thinking and that many might just get mad. I see this instruction from our Lord being broken every day. I get mail where even Christians express their hate for other people.
Now I understand fear, and I fear for a lot of things for my country, however in all of my fears I must not hate people. I see us saying one thing and doing another. For example God loves all people and desires for them to be saved. Somewhere in that concept is the central theme that our hearts, while standing against Actions that are proof in themselves that we do have enemies, we must dip ourselves so deep into His love that we can see the soul of a man as being worthy of salvation and seek his salvation. But we must not hate people.
I sometime feel that we have gathered ourselves into such camps of dislike and distrust that we are very likely to come away with great walls of hate being built even among friends. How can we ever overcome some of the things we say about each other?
Don’t allow your fear to be so great that it over rides your need to see others as loved by God and even desired by Him.

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Frozen Fish

I Am Thankful for a Frozen Fish
When I taught school I raised a lot of tropical fish in the class room. The children seemed to enjoy watching them and helping me with taking care of feeding and cleaning the tanks.
One Christmas I purchased a number of small bowls and gave each child two fish to take home for Christmas. I told them they could bring them back after the holidays or they could keep them, the choice was theirs. The first day after the holidays several of the children returned with their fish and stories to tell me about their names and all that had happened to them. One pair had reproduced and the bowl was now full of small fish. Another had jumped out of the bowl, landed in the kitchen sink and lived a full day before he was noticed. Most of them just wanted me to see that they had cared for their fish and enjoyed seeing them get back in our large Aquariums.
Bobby said that his fish had died. I told him I was very sorry but that sometimes when you change water on fish they will catch something and not live very long. He said mine froze to death. I explained that you really should keep these kinds of fish in the house with a lamp over the bowl. We had talked about this before they left for the holidays.
Bobby looked at me with those big eyes and said, “Mr. Raley, I could only keep mine in my room and they froze, in fact the bowl froze solid.” I expressed my understanding and told him that when it got closer to summer he could have some more and they would do well in a pan out in the yard where the sunlight would keep them nice and warm.
The day ended and I keep thinking about what he had said, ‘They froze solid in my bed room.’ On my way home that evening I drove by Bobby’s house. As I enter the smoke filled my eyes from a bucket of coal burning in the middle of the floor. All of the family was huddled around that bucket, bodies covered with blankets eating dinner out of paper plates. The children were excited to see me but I could tell that the parents were embarrassed. We visited a few minutes I asked if they would use a stove if I could find them one.
The father said they didn’t want to be a burden but that without a way to vent the fire bucket they had, he had to let the fire go out at night because he was afraid the fumes might harm them. The house became very cold, that was a certainty for weather staying in the 20’s. I called a man who owned a furniture store, told him the story and the next day Bobby had a new stove with vent and all in his house were warm for the first time since summer.
I am thankful for heat in the winter and a cool house in the summer. I am thankful that Bobby, now a middle age parent, lives in a house with central heat and air and a family that can raise all the tropical fish they desire. He is a great father, soon to be grandfather, and he has come a long way from a bucket of coal in his living room. Maybe that frozen fish was a message from the Lord. I am thankful for a frozen fish,
What are you thankful for?

Published in: on September 23, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Carries Me

I am He who will carry you even to your old age and gray hairs I am He. Isaiah 46:4
Well I know a lot about old age but with a bald head like mine I don’t know much about gray hairs, just that I wish I had more of them.
But I am sure glad I have Him. Growing old has its problems, many of them I do not like. The health issues, the worry over finance, and just facing the end, all of this troubles my heart at times. Then I read a wonderful verse like this and realize that the God of this universe is carrying me.
WOW, He who made the stars has time for my heart and time for my concerns. He, who called the world into being, knows my name, my fears, and my needs. In the book of John Jesus said that he was my Shepherd and that a good Shepherd knows His sheep and they, know, hear, and follow His voice.
Like most sheep, and those who know the animal say they are a bit dumb, I have done my share of straying and belting out pleas for help when I got myself in trouble. Always He was there. He would take out His staff and put it around my neck and pull me back into my place. Of course like David said He also had a rod, we don’t want to talk about the rod; certainly used to defend us but sometime used to put us on the ground so that we can get our head back on in the correct position, and sometime used to hold us close to the ground while He check us out and whispers in our ears the instructions we need.
Thank you Lord for carrying me even into my old age, the baldness of my head and the thinness of my hair, thank you for being to me the strength of life, the healing of life’s hurts, and the hope of life everlasting.

Published in: on September 22, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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