To Betty


Time is such a strange animal when we are young it moves so every slowly and each day seems a life time long.  But then in time, just when we need it most it moves like a shooting star and is gone.  We are creatures of this unknown commodity called time. We move our lives through it like a long tunnel and then suddenly so quickly we cannot believe we reach its end and time is no more.  But Betty has moved to where time is no longer measured;  For where she is a thousand years is as an hour and an hour as a thousand years.  She is preceded in death by many she loved and she is survived and grieved for by so many more. We enjoyed her laughter, her passion for George and her possessive love for her children, their spouses and their children.   She always finished Georgias stories and now he is left silent without a completion. She loved with enthusiasm, laughed with exuberance, and loved each moment of this fleeting time.  Her mission to be a Light was well focused and it moved across our lives with wonderful illumination and joy. She will be so missed for her place cannot be filled for it was hers and hers alone. Put your finger in a sea of water and when it is removed there is left no mark of its being there, but with Betty that is not so, she leaves her mark, her place for she found this wonderful lamp stand upon which God placed her and there she let her light shine and all whom it touch will never be the same.  

Thank you Betty for making our lives better, sweeter, and more joyful.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank You – Chapter Three

I sure sorry you going to die Mr. Raley, but I sure glad the good Lord going to take you to a better place and maybe you can tell my daddy hello for me cause he done been gone for a long time and mommy too.  You was good to them Mr. Ivan and they be glad to see you and hug you good.”  My father’s eyes sparkled as they did when his soul was merry and he spoke softly, “James, thank you for coming by and you be sure and tell your wife hello for me and James, always do your best because I will be watching you.”  “Yes sir, Mr. Ivan, I be doing my best now for both of us.”  With that James turned and left the room.  I am not sure he ever noticed that I was in the chair in the corner of the room. Dad closed his eyes and a few tears ran slowly down his face. He smiled again with his eyes, looked at me and grinned, and then he turned back to the window.  Dad left that room the next Tuesday and took his place in a new world. Lots of people came to see him in those last days but I think James might have upped them all.

James and his wife, who was confined to a wheelchair, the last I knew, were still living in the small white house in Jackson, TN

Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank You – Chapter Two

“Why James,” Dad said, “You don’t need to tell me anything.  You were always a good friend and a hard worker and we are all caught up on our talking. But I will say it is good of you to come and tell me bye.”  “No sir Mr. Raley, it ant just to tell you good bye but I be needing to thank you for all you done for me. Now don’t you say nothing until I get finished cause I just might forget and cry? Mr. Ivan if it hadn’t been for you I would never had known how to work, why I wouldn’t even have a job.  Nobody going to hire a dumb boy like me. But you did, yes sir you did, and you tell me what to do and showed me how to do it a bunch of times until I get to know just how it be done.  Mr. Ivan I wouldn’t have that little old white house me and my wife lives in if you ant gone down there and told that banking man that I be good to pay for it. And my job at the cemetery, them city people ant going to hire me to take care of all them graves if you didn’t say I do it good.  Yes sir Mr. Ivan I has lots to say, but it mostly be just two words, Thank You.”  Dad turned over on his back, put his frail hand up and James reached over and grabbed it and then wrapped himself over my dad bed and all.

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank You – Chapter One

(A true story of my father and his friend.)

Dad was lying on his side facing toward the window of the hospital room away from the door when James entered the room. My father had not seen James in several years yet when James said, “Mr. Ivan how are you doing?”  Without turning to look toward him dad said, “James what are you doing here, shouldn’t you be at work?  James said, “Now Mr. Raley you know I work for the city now.  Why you got me this job down there taking care of that big old cemetery, besides that, it’s Saturday and we city boys don’t work on no Saturday.”  Dad laughed in his own almost silent way, more to be heard by looking at his eyes than listing to his voice. “That’s right”. He said, “You got one of those easy city jobs.” “Now Mr. Ivan ant nothing easy bout keeping all those graves clean and all those flowers picked up and put away.  Naw, nothing easy like when you use to let me come to work and then when I gots caught up you would let me catch some of those big blue gills out of the creek down there back of the compress.” James was quick to respond.  He continued, “They told me you done about to die Mr. Ivan and I had to come up here and tell you something before it gets too late.”

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Special Visit

John was a great guy but he spent a lot of his life on the down side. It almost seemed that he enjoyed his bad health and bad turn of events. It was so bad that most of us who knew him sort of tuned him out when he begin to spin his tale of woe. That was not kind of us but you can only absorb so much, ‘life is bad,” I took John with me one day as I visited a mother in my church who had a two year old age 21 son. Let me explain; her 21 year old son was about the size and weight of a two year old child.  He had never spoken, never given himself a bath, never hugged his mother’s neck and said ‘I love you.’  She was an amazing person and mother.Her heart saw a son who needed her and who needed her love and response. He was not a burden, not a cross to bear, but her child to touch and love. We both watched as she carefully cared for Bobby, loved him and placed her lips on his cheek and said ‘I love you Bobby.’ John left that house never to be the same. He was changed, his hurts seemed to vanish and his regrets of life dimmed and the smile that makes life good, the voice that draws people to you all returned to John after this special visit with Bobby’s mother. Maybe we all need to visit Bobby’s mother.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love On the Obey – Chapter Three

After I finished my reserve training last summer they called me into active service and I am now on my way to the Gulf.  Sara, you have made these last eight years wonderful.  First as a little sister, sometimes in the way, like sisters can be, but always a joy under all of the trouble, and then slowly as a young lady.  You must have known this past couple of years it was only the difference in our age that prevented me from taking you in my arms and saying that I loved you. I felt honored bound by your young age not to put you in a position you were not ready for but now I want you to know that I do love you and have for several years.  Last year when I kissed you goodbye it was the nicest moment of my life.  Don’t worry if you do not feel the same, I just wanted you to know how I felt.  I shall dream of you while gone and hope that next summer I will be back in time for our annual visit. Don’t let all the boys on Dale Hollow erase your memory of me. Have a wonderful time and enjoy Ball State.With love, Zach.  She looked with tears falling from her eyes out toward the lake as she read the letter again and again. How wonderful, how truly wonderful.  She heard Zach father approach her again and turned as he said, “Sara, Zach’s mother and I want you to have this, we knew that it would please Zach.” Then he handed her the folded American flag and said, “This was on his coffin last month when they sent him home from the Gulf”She grabbed the flag held it to her breast and turned with tears flooding her body as she watched the sun slip itself into the lake and the darkest night of her eighteen years became a reality.

Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love On the Obey – Chapter Two

He had graduated college last year and had to cut the normal two weeks to only ten days because he was off to the army reserve for training. She wondered if he would come now that he was all grown, she hoped he would but only time would tell the full story.  She had graduated from high school a few weeks ago and would be going to Ball State in the fall.  This might be her last summer at Dale Hollow.  Last year as he got ready to leave he had met her on this very spot, for the first time they embraced as more than friends and he had gently kissed her and said until next year.  Then he walked to his car and like the sun was gone.  He just had to return, this was the important year, this would be the deciding year, he must, he must come she thought to herself as she enjoyed the summer breeze and soon coming night.  She knew the man who approached her, he was his father.  He said, “Are you Sara?”  “Yes” she responded.  “My son Zack gave me a letter to give to you.” he said, “He wanted you to have it in case he couldn’t come this summer.”  She thanked him and took the letter tore it open as quickly as possible then her eyes fixed on the hand written note as she read;  Dearest Sara I asked my dad to give you this letter if I could not make our annual trip to Byrdstown.  Well if you are reading it then I couldn’t come.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love on the Obey – Chapter One

Sara walked out to the end of the small jetty that allowed her to see both the Sunset Marina and the large open space of the Lake as the sun found its way toward the water to dip itself into darkness for the summer night.  She had been coming here since she was ten.  Her family loved the lake, the camp ground, and all the friends who returned each summer, most of them at about the same time each year. She wondered if he would be here again this year. Their annual two weeks of seeing one another had been going on for the last eight years.  She had met him when he was almost 14 and she ten going on 20.  It had been a strange relationship.  They played in the water; he had taught her to ski, to jump from the high rock cliff on the eastern end of the lake and in general had made the trip from Indiana to Byrdstown something she looked forward to each summer. They were strange friends in that only Dale Hollow Lake and the summer trips connected them. Since he was older for several year is he had treated her like a little sister never showing any romantic interest just a great friend, someone to go to the Dairy Queen with, play a round of putt putt, get a pizza at the Shell, and do what whey liked best just ‘hang out’.  She had always liked him a bit more than just an older brother and two years ago she had done everything but kiss him herself to get some response.  But they had just held hands, enjoyed the warm nights, and felt good together.

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Don’t Mind Sharing

Robert and his family of five had been living with us for about a week as they waited on a place to come open for their family to live on our campus.  Robert, a four year old, was stretched out on the floor in our family room with a bowl of cheerios and milk in front of him eating his breakfast and watching TV. Our cocker spaniel was stretched out beside Robert and as Robert would take a bite then Louie would lick himself a nice bite. I came in the room and said something like, ‘Son Louie is eating out of your bowl.’ He looked up at me and with those big eyes beaming said, “That’s OK sir, I got plenty and I don’t mind sharing.”  I’m sure I should have told him all the reason this wasn’t good but Louie looked up and seeing me walked to the door and I let him out.  Robert looked over and said, “Sir, are you Jesus?” I smiled knelt down by him and said “No I’m not Jesus but He is the reason you came to live with us. He loves you and wanted you to have a great home.”

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank You

I learned this verse about “Ambassadors”, Second Corinthians 5:20, as a young Royal Ambassador. It became the main sail for my life as I sought to find the direction of the wind of God for my life. Ambassador, one who represents the person of the King in a court of another, that was the meaning shared with me. I was to represent the person of Christ here in this court of life. Tell His story, share His love, and show His invitation to all with whom I came in contact. That sail has directed me to five continents, to preach thousands of sermons, and to share a word for my King with thousands. Yet it has never seemed a burden to me, never a handicap, and never a hardship. For me the journey has been an honor; this smallest boy in the forth grade, timid, shy, tongue tied, and scared has had the privilege of sharing a word from God with others. How could anything be any sweeter?  Now I am in my old age, writing on a regular basis for three publications in the Upper Cumberland’s, sending a daily devotion five times each week to more than five hundred and fifty people, putting a devotion on Face Book, that I do not understand how it works, preaching on three FM stations each Sunday, having my messaged scanned over the world wide web and standing before the warm and wonderful family of First Baptist of Byrdstown as their pastor. I have a beautiful wife, a son of my flesh, two sons and three daughter of choice and ten grandchildren. How could all of this be true of a boy from 246 South Lindsey Street, Jackson, Tennessee? Today I stand in awe while my voice is still audible, and my mind somewhat clear. For in time I will not be able to say thank you to all who have touched my life and made this wonderful life possible.  Thank You

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment