Just Wait For the Dust

The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Our community has experienced a number of deaths in the past couple of weeks, I believe we counted seven families that had gone through the sorrow of death in just the last ten or so days. I stood on Monday and said goodbye to a friend who had invested his life in this community; taught school for more than 30 years, worked with the Corp of Engineers in the summer, filled out tax forms for our citizens, and ran the local community ‘center’ known as the Shell Station. Frank was one of those individual who came home from serving in the Army as a medic in Korea to build his life in Pickett County . Loved, cherished, and respect by all who knew him, he forever left his mark on the green, tree covered hills of our area. With a daughter who is a Pharmacist, a son who is a Medical Doctor and a Nurse for a wife Frank invested well in Tennessee . In a down pour of rain I watched as a community said good bye and paid their respect.
Tuesday I stood with a family of five boys and their mother as they said goodbye to a father and husband. Bobby had put his roots deep into this hill covered community and left us with five sons to help build tomorrow for our ‘smallest’ County in the state. Once again the friends from this small community stood in the almost snow rain to pay their respect and to say good bye to a good neighbor. Events like these remind me what a good place we have in this North Central part of our State. I visited my parents’ graves a few weeks ago when I was in Jackson . It occurred to me that one of these getting up mornings there is going to be a great dust storm in that place and God is going to call out of the dust my wonderful parents. In the same area when my parents are buried, my sister Alice is buried a space for husband Ed is also there, my brother-in-law Ralph is there with a space for my sister Peggy. There is also a place for Carole and me waiting for our need. Now that is going to be some dusty ground when the trump of God sounds and Jesus breaks the Eastern Sky. But not to worry just as their spirits are now with Him, He will return for their new resurrected bodied. Out of that dust He will call them and they will go to be with him and all the other ‘saints’ made so by the blood of Jesus. From Picket County to Jackson, as the song says, ‘From Sea to shinning sea.’ A new storm of dust will cover the land as all of those who died in Jesus come alive in Him. Just wait for the dust.

Ivan

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Let Him Make it to the End

He looked at all the food on the table and the tears would not leave. He listened as his nephew said the prayer and the tears still came. He excused himself walked out of the kitchen door into the back yard pulled his pipe out of his pocket, stopped a moment and lit it then walked to the edge of the yard and sit down on the bench he had put there when he had been a young man and tears never came. He looked back toward the house; he had lived there for a long time, in fact, a life time. It was from that house that he had left for the Navy, flight school, and Vietnam . It was in that house that both of his parents had died while he was gone. They never knew that he was a ‘guest’ of the North Vietnam army. Those years had aged them, crushed them, and before the terror ended they were taken in a twist of events called an accident. He remember those five years of his own personal terror, the lost of faith, the regaining of faith and the desire to make it to the end, no matter how long that would take, he would make it to the end. His sister had learned three weeks after their parent’s death that he was somewhere in a place called Hanoi , alive, and hopefully if all the diplomatic chess games worked with America and the enemy he would come home. That had been forty years and more ago yet that first day seemed to him like only this morning. The house was empty then; his sister and her husband had kept it, repaired it, but left it vacant for the day he would return. He tried marriage but was terrible at it; He loved but never accepted the love of his wife. No children, no success he had just live in the house worked at the simplest of jobs he could live with and made it one day to the next. For the rest of the world that war was long forgotten, the enemy now friends, and the pains of those five years not believed by most and considered deserved by some, but for him in the deep of his night he heard the silent sounds of that cell, smelled the filth of the place, and saw the hate of those who held him. He still felt the pain of bones unset and deep cuts untreated, to him the night never really ended, the prison was never left and he had yet to make it to the end. All that food on the table that his sister, her children and grandchildren had cooked was wonderful but for a moment he remembered the empty bowls that were shoved under his door and the hard dark bread placed in them that was to serve as the meal of the day. Lt. Searcy Belton, USN, never left his prison, never made it to the end. The price he paid was not in years but in a lifetime. Unlike the story book tales that always end with ‘they lived happy ever after’ his book never ended. Somehow in some way we ask our Heavenly Father to heal his wounds when he greets him in glory.

Ivan

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Just Another Throw Away

Bradley hated being in the classroom. He knew he did not belong here but where else were they going to put him? He was fifteen, large for his age and in the sixth grade. But even here the math meant nothing and he could not read a page in any of his text books. When they left him alone in the study hall he could sometimes find a book that he could read, he knew that they were for second and third graders but he knew most of the words and they sounded nice as he ran them through his head and over his tongue. But today would be no different than a hundred other days, shouts, name calling, teasing, he was always the blunt of any joke and he was always the one the teacher blamed for any problem in her class. He had heard her say a dozen times if she could get him out of her room she would have a perfect job. I met Bradley a few weeks later in a judge’s office, there were school people there, child services and an attorney assigned to represent him and in the corner his screaming mother. The judge explained to everyone that he had one last proposal and wanted them to hear him out. He introduced me and said that I was willing to take Bradley into the care of the children’s home if his mother would assign custody to us. If she were unwilling to do that he would place Bradley into the custody of Children’s Services. They asked me several question and then asked if I could outline a plan for Bradley. I answered their question then introduced myself to Bradley and told him of my plans. He made little response, the judge was not impressed but said he would give it thirty days and then he wanted us all back in the room for an update. We found a special school for Bradley where what he did well he could work on and what he did not know he would be taught one on one. The first thirty day meeting went well, maybe that was a stretch, but we got another thirty and then another. At the end of six months Bradley was reading on a sixth grade level doing math at about the same pace and more important than any of those things he had smiles on his face and a faint sound of joy in his voice. He never made the deans list, never received a scholarship for grades, and with a lot of pushing and pulling made it across the finish line of high school. When I hugged him at graduation he handed me his diploma and said, “Here Mr. Ivan you should have this because if you had not loved me I would not be here.” I was surprised for he had said very little to me in all the years and never expressed thanksgiving. I smiled, wiped away the tears and told him that all of us were very proud of him and for him to hang it on his wall. I got too much credit, for it was the teachers, team of lady social workers, and a hard working, much forgiving, ever loving foster family that had made it possible. Bradley is serving his country, I received a card from him last year it said, Merry Christmas and Thank You. Not bad, not bad at all.

Ivan

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving in the Low Country

(A reprint from ‘Just a Moment)

I was alone that Thanksgiving and gladly accepted the invitation to have lunch with an elderly lady in our community. She lived in one of those great old plantation homes of the Low Country in South Carolina . She had out lived her family and had no close friends; I was the only guest. I was greeted at the door by her butler and driver he ushered me into the formal dinning room and Mrs. Mayfield greeted me with the charm and warmth of an old southern plantation. She asked that I sit at the end of the table and she was seated by the butler at the far end just to the right of the head of the table. Each place had been prepared as if someone would be eating in that seat, but in truth it was only the two of us. The cook and two servants served us and she asked that I offer grace. Then she began to tell me about each empty chair. At the head, on her left, was her husbands place. He had died many years prior but there was his silverware and china. On the opposite side from her was the seat for her son killed in Korea . Next to him was his wife who had remarried and moved out of her life. Next was the place for her niece also deceased, then myself and to my left was her youngest son killed in a boating accident. To his left was his younger sister, killed in the accident with him. There was just the two of us at the splendid table plus the great memories of years gone by which she now relieved. Between the tears of lost love there were moments of thanksgiving. Even in her sorrow she could still remember and be thankful for other days. That day I begin to grow memories of thanksgiving. After the lovely dinner at the table set for eight occupied by only two Mrs. Mayfield asked if I would like to see the portraits of those absent from the table. I assured her it would be an honor so she directed me across the entrance to what she called the parlor. A nice fire was burning in the fireplace and hanging over it was a wonderful portrait of her husband, hanging on each side was an equally grand portrait of each of her sons. There was a smaller portrait of her daughter-in-law who had now left the family, one of her niece and then another grand portrait of her daughter. We took seats in the parlor and were served warm eggnog and pie. The staff was seldom seen but you always knew that they were close by waiting for any command. She explained that she kept the old house of more than 10,000 square feet open so that her staff of six who lived there would have a home and she would have someone to share her life with. I asked why she never came to church nor took part in the local community. She told the story of being an outsider. Her husband’s family had purchased the 15,000 plus acres of the plantation as ‘carpetbaggers’ after the Civil War and thus she felt she was always looked on as an uninvited guest. It seemed so strange that after one hundred years the old hurt still wounded the people of both sides. There was sadness in the grand old place, in her face, and on my heart as I looked at the splendor that life had given and the value that it also had withheld.

Ivan

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Sounds of Thanksgiving

A Song

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free

A Commitment

I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one nation,
under God,
indivisible,
with liberty
and justice for all.

A Prayer

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever.

Amen.

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I know that most of you are busier than a one arm paper hanger in a wind storm trying to get ready for Thanksgiving. Just think of all you have to do: make sure there is all the things you need on hand to complete your thanksgiving dinner, know the football schedule so you won’t have to have family member jumping up to check on the game, making your list for shopping on Black Friday, time and places you will need to be, families members and friends you must call, it is going to be a busy day and now I come along and add to your list. Lead your family tomorrow to be thankful for: Sgt. William Story, standing watch on a hill in Afghanistan so that our lunch might go well, Lt. Page Whitehouse flying her helicopter into harms way to bring out those who have been wounded, even the enemy wounded, Petty Officer Steve Chandler aboard the USS Florida, deep under the ocean where not even those who know can tell anyone, his duty of silence makes our enemy aware that they can never win in a nuclear war against America. Of course there is Pvt. George Simmons, somewhere near the neutral zone in South Korea standing his post, keeping the honor of America , Lt. John Fisher serving as duty officer aboard a ship at sea, Sgt Marvin Suiter in a ditch looking across the landscape hoping the enemy will not come today, A mothers son or daughter, a wife, a husband, a father, all around the globe men and women keep watch today, not of a Football game, not a great meal around the table of their family but somewhere on the edge of conflict and terror. A police officer, a fireman, a medic, a trooper all away from home, missing family and friends in order for all of us to laugh, have a wonderful meal, enjoy a lot of football, eat too much, and fall safely asleep on our couch in this land of the free and home of the brave. Our thanks to God and His abiding care upon one and all that make this day free for each of us.

Ivan

Published in: on November 23, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Standing My Watch

It was time for Habakkuk to stand his watch. It would be a long three hours, but important, necessary, and his duty. As he climbed the ladder which would lead to his rampart, the place were he would stand as the protector of his city he remember what his father had taught him about the duty of standing watch. He had told him as he passed the time of providing protection to look in three directions. First he was to look outside the wall, out where the enemy would come from, out where those who would do them harm were hiding. A good watchman knew how far his eyes could see and how long it would take a warrior to come from that distance to his city. He knew each tree, stone, ditch, and other places where the enemy could hide in order to bring harm to his city. Second a good watchman would always look within; from where he stood on the rampart he could see the roof of his home. He knew that under that roof his wife was asleep depending on him to proved protection, warning, and safety. His children were there deep in sleep with no fear and no concern about their safety because their father was standing the watch. The third place a good watchman would look was up; up to where the stars marked their place in the sky, where the dimming of those stars would let him know that soon over the eastern horizon the sun would begin to peek and the morning star would begin to bring light to his city. Habakkuk was an excellent watchman, he searched the darkness and shadows of the night outside his city, his eyes saw the image of his family and others who depended on him for their safety. He would not fail them. Habakkuk also looked up and as he did so he looked not only for the peaking of the sun in the eastern sky but for the presence of The Son as He keep their city safe and provide what no watchman could provide, assurance of salvation. Habakkuk watched, he listened, he learned, and he longed for the coming of the Son. I wonder who did not keep their watch in America . Who allowed sin to slip so far under our doorway that what was once horrible has become an accepted way of life. Who forgot to sound the alarm, who failed to see how fast the enemy approached, who slept and did not look and allowed our values to slip until even truth is hard to find? Maybe it is time for us to look up and ask for The Son to rise.

Ivan

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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 want 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 smoked filled my eyes from and 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 and a smile wider than the Mississippi river on his face. 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,

Ivan, What are you thankful for?

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The News From Byrdstown

I looked into the well today and it was very shallow, after more than 250 brief stories posted on my web page, I suppose it should be a bit dry. I checked the news, hasn’t changed much, still lots of problems, market still crazy. I use to worry about the market but after loosing more than half of my retirement fund I noticed that it didn’t change the market, my worry that is, so why worry it hurts me more than it helps or hurts the market. I notice a baseball player’s signature from the 1890 is expected to sell for more than 100,000 dollars, an American astronaut had to go with the Russians to get to the space station, we don’t have a taxi going that way any longer. The democrats and republicans still don’t like one another, in fact if I listen and read much of the news I just want to go to bed, maybe take a nap on the couch and hopefully wake up when people learn to like one another, work with each other, and do what is best for the people they serve. But I decided I didn’t have a sleeping pill big enough to sleep that long. I was at a ball game the other night and some guys were talking about a former boss who had died. They said it was ok for he had lived a long and wonderful life so what else could you expect. I asked them how old he was, they said about 71. I moved away and checked my driver’s license, wow, ‘what else can I expect?’ My good friend and a great guy, “Bud Carman”, celebrates his birthday today, too bad Bud, you have joined the ‘What Else Can I Expect?” club. Bud is one of those friends that if God gave you money and told you to purchase a friend you would want to buy a hundred just like him. But you know you couldn’t get enough money anywhere and really a great friend can never be purchased any more than a great man can be purchased. But now and then God allows you to meet a man like Bud and somehow it all clicks and the friendship, worth more than a pearl found in a field, becomes a reality. Happy Birthday Bud. I’ve been sick the last two days but as Mildred says, “I’ll get over it” so on to tomorrow and have a great weekend from Byrdstown and my dog Max and me.

Ivan

Published in: on November 18, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

When Do We Talk

I like to watch people. I really prefer to be far enough away that I cannot hear them but just watch. That way I can make up the conversation to suit myself. Since I eat alone in restaurants a lot I have many opportunities to do just that. Yesterday I watched a well dressed couple sitting just across from me; both very attractive young adults, well dressed, responsible jobs they sit down took the menu, spoke to the waiter, and placed their order. For the next twenty minutes they talked and texted on their phones. She started by making a call, then he received one and back and forth it went even after their meal came and between bites they talked. An older couple just ate, that was it, they didn’t talk, exchanged almost no words with anyone, just ate.
Three girls, about 18 to 23 all got on their cell phones, ate and talked and sent some text messages. I wondered why these people were not doing what I was doing, eat alone. They were no company to each other, it didn’t matter who was at the table, they just talked to an unseen and un present audience. I realized now why the waiters are surprised when I speak to them; ask them if they are in school and just talk. They are not use to it, no one does that anymore. Even a table of preacher, you can tell, spoke now and then to each other but for the most part they talked on their phones, two of them even got up and went outside with their conversations. I wonder when we relax. Just enjoy the company of another person and talk face to face with real live present people. Will we forget how, maybe someday mothers will pick up a phone and text their babies, the kid is five but he only learned to text, not talk. Oh well I am old and with it goes old fashion ways, not right because they are old, but I am use to them and I like them and I think I will still talk to the waiter.

Ivan

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment