Almost Missed – Thanksgiving

Long ago in another world one of the men in my church invited me to take about 20 extra turkeys that an organization he was a member of had left over from a fund raiser and give them to people in our community who needed a thanksgiving meal.

I left early the next morning anxious to get the turkeys to the people I felt sure would not have such a treat for thanksgiving. The first house I came to was up a mud hill, slick, soft and messy. The house looked like it would tumble off the hill at any moment. When the mother of the family came to the door I recognized her as a parent of some of the children we were ministering to in our church.  With great excitement I handed her the almost 20 pound bird, frozen like a great chunk of ice expecting her eyes to light up with great appreciation and thanksgiving. Instead she looked at me and said, “Bro. Ivan what am I suppose to do with this turkey?” I explained that it was a gift from an organization in our town and that she should put it in the sink, keep it covered with water and let it thaw out over night so she could cook it the next day. She looked at me like I was from space and said, “I don’t have no sink.” Not to be beaten I told her to just put it in a pan of water and keep the water fresh. “Got no pan big enough for that thing.” She said, “besides you know how far I have to go for water, why it would take me ten trips up that hill in the back with all of that mud just to keep it covered with fresh water. Besides she said, I ant’s got no pan big enough and it sure wont fit in my little over.” By this time I was ready to slide down the hill throwing the great frozen bird to the varmints. But somewhere and somehow God got the best of me so I said, “Hey I got you and I understand, now don’t prepare a thanksgiving meal, and tell all your neighbors not to prepare one, I will be back on Thursday, just hang in there.” “Hanging is about right,” she said, “that is about all we do up here on this muddy hill. Thanksgiving ant no big day for us we just be eating our oatmeal like usual.” I took the bird, looked at the broken hearted and hungry children standing around and as I slid down the hill and hollowed, “Don’t eat that Oatmeal.”

Long to short the ladies in our church took the turkeys and cooked meals for all of the families in the hollow. On Thursday true to my word, along with a dozen nicely dressed ladies the mud hills were cover with turkey dinners being delivered to all of the family in the hollow. Children screamed, looked at the great legs of the bird, and beautiful pies, a few mothers cried, and I ran down the hill believing I was General Patton, with mission accomplished. I don’t think Judge Jerry Scott ever knew how many people his turkeys had fed on that almost missed thanksgiving.

Ivan

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Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes – Cheerful Hearts

Bright eyes cheer the heart; good news strengthens the bones.  Proverbs 15:30

All of us have rejoiced when we saw our child or another looking at us with those big bright eyes. There is just something about that which reaches out and grabs our hearts. Have you ever considered that God would love to see that same look on our faces as we bow before Him in prayer? Eyes bright with joy, heart filled with excitement all because we were coming to see our master in prayer.  Maybe the reason we don’t realize that is we do not spend any time listing to God, just in silence before Him with eyes that are expecting and hearts filled with joy; with even our bodies in need of His strength.  Maybe we never experience that because we never seek Him with such a heart and wonder. Here at Thanksgiving time would be a wonderful opportunity for us to pause and give thanks to God, to examine our hearts insuring that they are aware of His blessings and filled with a sincere thanksgiving.  I can still remember my dog Louie 88 in dog years when he died, jumping and barking and getting so excited when my car would pull in the drive. Now we really should be smarter than dogs and we certainly should be more excited than they to meet our Master. Since I am on a roll why don’t we let others know how precious they are to us and how much we care for them and are blessed by them. I just bet there are some friends of all of us who could use a big, smile and thank you.  It would make their day, Thanksgiving equals Thanks Living.

Ivan

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

A Message From the President of The United States – Thanksgiving 1944

Notice how he depended on God and how he requested that we all turn to God.

A message by the President of the United States –Thanksgiving 1944

In this year of liberation, which has seen so many millions freed from tyrannical rule, it is fitting that we give thanks with special fervor to our Heavenly Father for the mercies we have received individually and as a nation and for the blessings He has restored, through the victories of our arms and those of our allies, to His children in other lands.

For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace, we should lift up our hearts in thanksgiving.

For the harvest that has sustained us and, in its fullness, brought succor to other peoples; for the bounty of our soil, which has produced the sinews of war for the protection of our liberties; and for a multitude of private blessings, known only in our hearts, we should give united thanks to God.

To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.

Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby proclaim Thursday the twenty-third day of November 1944 a day of national thanksgiving; and I call upon the people of the United States to observe it by bending every effort to hasten the day of final victory and by offering to God our devout gratitude for His goodness to us and to our fellow men.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of   America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this first day of November in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-four and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-ninth.

                       
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

 

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving In The Low Country – Final Chapter

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, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

November 22, 1963

Most of those who have reached sixty will remember this day fifty years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was teaching a fifth period math class in high school in South Carolina, a teacher stuck her head in my class room and told me to turn on the television. As the picture began to roll down the screen we learned that the 35th president of the United States had been killed, I was broken by the reaction of the students; a cheer almost went up across the room, I called for order and made some effort to tell them how embarrassed I was at their reaction. I knew that I was living in a part of South Carolina that disliked the president and much of what he stood for but this reaction just stunned me. I was in the process of giving them a large piece of my mind when the principle called for me to come to the office and offer a prayer for our nation as it had been decided that school would be closed immediately. Of course the nation fell into mourning, television programming went off and only the events of the death of our president filled the air for the next four days. Most of us watched as Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday afternoon in the tunnel area of the jail in Dallas as he was being moved. When it was announced that the burial service for the president would be on Monday and all schools and businesses would be closed I announced that we would have a memorial service in our church for the president. Knowing how the teenagers of our members had reacted I was not sure if this might not be my last act as their pastor. By the providence of God I had torn out the center pages of Life Magazine that contained the inaugural address of the president and decided to read it as a part of the memorial service. I expected a couple of dozen people for the service but was amazed as I walked out of my home across the street and saw the church already filled and people standing in the yard for the service.

I saw that day how such an act of tragedy could change the heart of a community in one swift moment. I never again heard one negative word about the president, our community came together, and our repentant hearts changed the lives of us all. How sad that it sometimes takes an act of terror to bring our nation to the Lord.

Ivan

Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving In The Low Country

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.

Ivan

Published in: on November 21, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving From Another Time

The sounds of Christmas are already in the air and the smells of food being cooked for a great feast of Thanksgiving battle for the attention of our nose. I was in college before my family celebrated with a turkey, we always had a couple of baked hens with all the trimmings; I don’t remember if turkey’s were too expensive, maybe not so available as today,  maybe mother had nothing large enough to cook one in, we just didn’t have turkey. I don’t remember that it mattered for we had a table so full that we were always able to eat for days on what was left over. The house was filled with family from the smallest grand child to my mom and dad. All of us were always there, we listened to the stories of days gone bye, played in the yard, fell asleep on the couch, chairs, and floor. Until I was a senior in high school we didn’t have a television so it was family and one another that entertained us. We came back to the table to snack for supper and one by one all would leave our home at 246 South Lindsey Street as the sun fell from the sky and the night air became cold with the reminder that winter was coming. I slept those nights the sleep of the innocent, full, warm, snug in the bed of my youth. God carved the memory of those beautiful days in my heart and now in the time of my own winter I find it warm to remember, to travel down those carved pathways and walk again those beautiful, full and wonderful days of Lindsey Street.

Ivan

Published in: on November 20, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

It Never Pays To Worry

I could tell as I walked down Lindsey Street from WhiteHallSchool that something was wrong at our house. I couldn’t see it well enough to know for sure but there was something on the porch that was all wrong. When I got close to the house I realized that there was furniture, a chair, chest, maybe a couple of other items that did not belong there. As I entered the house and saw my sister Alice crying and I knew that something bad was wrong. I soon learned that her house had burned that morning and the furniture on the porch was all that was left from their home on the farm. For the next several months she and her husband would live with us at 246 South Lindsey Street. They took over my room and I took the couch that broke down into a bed in the living room. It wasn’t bad and in fact there were some fun things about them living in our house. But then came Christmas, what were we going to do?  The tree had to be put up in the room I was sleeping in and while we made the room, what about Santa Clause?  How was he going to get into the room with the tree, leave my gifts, and get out without waking me and I knew if I woke up and saw him all of my gifts would disappear. This was a new scene for Christmas. I didn’t say anything about it but I spent a lot of hours in deep worry. A BB gun was on the list of gifts and as sure as Santa left that I would wake up, see him and the gun would be gone. I didn’t mind sleeping in the room with the tree, in fact it was fun and on Christmas eve the place was filled with gifts and people and we enjoyed our regular Christmas event with dad giving out the gifts and all of us throwing the paper all over the room.  It was great, but there was my bed, in the room where Santa was headed. That night I tried and tried to go to sleep and somehow in all the mess and clutter I did. Christmas morning came and there it was the wonderful BB gun. What a scene that Christmas morning with the house filled with family and my gift just like I had requested. It was great having Jimmy and Alice in the house that Christmas and it really only made the house a greater home for a larger family and I, I slept through the night and kept my BB gun. It never pays to worry!

Ivan

Published in: on November 19, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Follow The Footprints

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me.  Where I am, there My servant also will be.  John 12:26

I can still see in my memory the first large snow of my life.  I was five years old and our street and yard at 246 South Lindsey was covered with what seemed to me like a foot of snow.

To a five year old it was really deep.  My father had a work shed in the back yard and I watched from the kitchen as he started down our steps and out to the wood shop. I ran after him and when I reached the ground the only way I knew to move in the snow was to jump from footprint to footprint that my dad had left. It was really hard but I made it all the way to the shop and when I looked back toward the house the only footprints I could see in the snow were those left by my dad.

I remember that event and wonder now that I am old, how much better my life would have been if I had been diligent to jump from footprint to footprint that Jesus has left before me.

I cannot go back but I can sure try to stay in those footprints today.

Ivan

Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Father Forgive Me

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your wrongdoing.  Mark 11:25

“I would never make that mistake, my children will never do that, and I can’t believe a good person would do something like that.” Some statements most of us have made and some of us have had to eat.

We do love to judge others. Somehow when we see someone caught in a sin or guilty of something we believe it relieves us a bit and makes what we do look; if not ok at least better.

We somehow feel that if we stand on the failures and sins of others that it diminishes our own sin and responsibility. That it makes us taller. It does not, it only makes us guilty. It has been said that the Christian army is the only army that shoots it’s wounded. Sadly we do just that.  Let a well known member of the church, a preacher, any believer make a mistake and the rest of the church and family of God will be on them like chickens in a hen house on a wounded chick. I have known some very good people who made mistakes, sinned and failed God and their responsibility only to be left in the house of the wounded forever. The verse not only warns us against such judgment and unforgiving spirit it says very clearly that we should ask God only to forgive us in the same manner and measure that we are willing to forgive others.

I wonder how many of our sins God is waiting to forgive because we have not forgiven others. Do I believe that this is easy to do; no I do not believe such, but I do believe it is a direction from our heavenly Father? I don’t fully understand that statement even after having made it but is that not what the scripture says? Forgive others so that God can forgive us.

This one will require me to do a lot of work.

Ivan

Published in: on November 15, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)