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.
Ivan

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?
Ivan

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.
Ivan

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.
Ivan

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

A Great Teacher

My Encourager

I was a small shy boy of nine when I met Mrs. Wilson my fourth grade teacher. I thought she was the prettiest teacher I had ever seen but I was far too bashful to even be noticed in her class. In fact I was the smallest person in the class.

I never answered a question, never offered a remark, and stayed very out of the way and near the back of the room. I felt safe in not being noticed so I made sure that I did not bring attention to myself. I didn’t respond well to other children and seldom took part in any recess activity. For some reason, that is not part of that memory, I felt very inferior and just wanted to be alone.

Mrs. Wilson must have notice these traits in me and decided to invest more than teaching in my life. Before class one day she asked if I could do her a favor. I wasn’t sure how to respond but nodded that I would. She told me that she had been collecting ‘Blue Horse’ note book covers and when she got a certain number and sent them in she would receive a nice gift for our class. She said that she needed me to count all of the covers, put them in stacks of 100, and give her a total count.

I am not sure why but this thrilled me and I gladly completed the task. She told the class what a good job I had done and how proud all of us should be since our class would be receiving a new world globe because of my hard work and their gifts of note book covers. All of this was far outside her duties as a teacher, but somehow she knew that they were duties of her life and calling. Teaching is a great and noble calling; they invest so very much into the lives of our children. Like great soldiers we owe them our honor and thanks.
Without knowing it Mrs. Wilson became my first encourager. I have never forgotten her and will always be indebted to her.

Ivan

 

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mom and Lindsey Street

The Start at Lindsey Street

 It was a cold November day in 1941 when we left the rental house at the corner of Camden and Lexington to walk through the lumber yard then across McCrea Street through an unpaved seldom used alley to 246 South Lindsey Street to see our new home.

It had been build as a duplex with a porch and two doors on the front and a porch running across the back with three doors opening onto that porch.  One door each for the two units and then a door leading into the common bathroom. The house rested on concert pillows about three to four feet off of the ground.  You could stand in the front yard and look under the house all the way to the back yard I was only four at the time but I still remember my dad holding mother and telling her that it would be alright.

While the house was not as nice as the one we were leaving this would be our house and we would make it into a real nice home.   We stood there in the cold November wind listening as my father dreamed aloud of all the plans he had for the house and how he would fix it up for mother and someday she would come to see that it was hers and it would look like her dreams as well as his. 

For the next forty-five years dad kept that promise and the house at 246 South Lindsey became home to the Raley clan. It was from that house that I would walk to Whitehall Elementary School, Jackson Junior High, Jackson High, and even my first year at Union University.

It was from that house that my three sisters would leave to build houses of their own and from that house that my mother would leave on Thursday night May 5, 1977 to enter her new house build for her by Jesus.

 

Published in: on September 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is It True

When I published the story from Thursday, “Throwaway” in April of 2012 I had a number of emails and calls, this time only three. But here is the explanation:

The most asked question was, ‘Is it True?” Look at it real close, yes the part about the girl, her parent’s reaction, the birth and death of her son are true. The part about her living on the edge of poverty and in deep depression for so many years is true.

Now the ending, I will leave that up to you. I wrote it from my heart, but you can choose any ending you like. Others wanted to know ‘What Was the Point?” I was trying to get us to see how our judgment and reaction to others can affect not only them but many others.

I also wanted you to see that the father was not really concerned about his daughter, but his own reputation and standing in the community. I think a lot of people react with that same motive to many different kinds of problems. I suppose you could call it self-protection, but maybe you could call it selfishness.

Now I know that bad decisions and sin do have consequences, we do have to face up to our failures and learn from them and seek forgiveness for them. Most of the times we need help in climbing those mountains and rejection and judgment do not add a lot of climbing ability.

For myself I know that my guilt over any wrong, large or small is a great judgment to me without others putting salt into the wounds. I am open to your comments on this story and any others. It is always great to know that they are being read. inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on September 17, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Comments (2)  

A Throwaway

Throwing a Child’s Life Away

This had been the worst day of her sixteen years of life and she knew it was about to get tragic. Her brother and sister left the dinner table, her mother fixed a piece of pie and place it on a plate in front of her as her father filled his plate with the second load of spaghetti.

Then she dropped it, the bomb, she was going to have a baby. The reaction was worse than she could have believed. Her dad threw his plate, spaghetti and all into the sink and began to shout as if he was in his Sunday pulpit; her mother simply ploughed her head into her hands and began to weep.

Her father told her all the wrong she had brought to her family, the disgrace, how he had always known that she was a miserable sinning slut and that now she had brought run to him and all the family. He screamed as to how he was in line to be the president of their state religious convention, that was ruined he screamed, he would even likely lose his church because of her and the wicket choices she had made.

Nothing was ever mention as to when, who or anything concerning her and the future. She knew more than he did how she had failed, she had broken not only God’s plans but hers as well. It was a moment in her life when she just got everything mixed and all of her emotions drove her and now, this. For two days she was not allowed to attend school, her father had said she would probably brag to all of her friends about ‘having a baby’ so no school and no contact.

Silence filled the house except when her father would rant and rave at her calling her names and accusing her of the total breakdown of the family.

On the third day he told her that in spite of his best judgment, which would be to get rid of it, he was sending her to live with his older sister who lived across the country in California, she would have the baby and then give it away; maybe he would allow her to return home and finish school, but he didn’t think so.

Her aunt had been kind, her own children were grown and out of the house so she took care of her and saw that the baby would have a good chance to be born healthy. Her father flew out the day after she gave birth, brought a lawyer by with papers for her to sign, but she refused, she would not give him away, she would keep her son.

The father left in a rage and that was the last time she would see him. Her aunt allowed her to stay and helped with her son; she finished school and her boy blossomed. After graduation she went to work full time and when her aunt died and her children asked her to leave she had moved into a housing project.

Her life was miserable, hard work and little reward, but her son was wonderful. From one housing project to another they had moved until at the age of seventeen he had been killed in a drive by shooting. The community helped her bury him and she found herself in the bottom of a great well from which she never recovered. Now twenty years later she was dying of cancer, in a hospital ward with three other women, and only the pleasant memory of her boy that moved across her mind brought any joy or peace to her.

Her father had gotten his wish, he had been the state president, and her mother had written her once but said she would not do so again. Joyce felt the darkness of the room overtake her, she knew that she had made a mistake long ago, but she also knew that she loved and trusted God and she would see both God and her son soon.

He walked down the hall of the hospital and the further he went the more he knew that she would be in the worst part of the facility. The nurses all looked at the tall handsome man about to approach his forties and wondered who he could be; they had never seen him before. He walked into the room sat down in the chair beside Joyce’s bed and took her hand in his.

He touch her brow, pressed his finger to her lips then leaning over said, “Mom, it’s me, Robert, I have come to take you home. Come on mom it is time we both got out of this place.” They walked hand in hand out of the building unnoticed by anyone.

They were going home.

Ivan

Published in: on September 16, 2015 at 11:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Investment

He left his townhouse and decided to walk the blocks around his new ‘billet’. He had spent 36 years in the Navy and now at the age of 55 was on his on and without a job for the first time since he was 19.

Kyle had never married, lived most of his life in the quarters provided by the navy and as a mustang Lt.Cmdr. in the Bachelor Officers Quarters. The years at sea and on navy bases both at home and around the world had given him an opportunity to meet a lot of people but he had only made surface friends.

His only family, a brother, lived more than two thousand miles away and he had not seen him in ten years or more so all of this ‘liberty’ was new to him. He had chosen Buford, SC as his retirement home because of the navy bases and hospital but even this area was a stranger to him.

His retirement was great, money was of no concern, but time; time was a problem. No morning muster to check, no routine to follow, no daily drills, and schedules left his life an empty vessel. As he circled the neighborhood he discovered several open lots, almost like parks, but there was nothing there just empty vacant space.

The children he saw played in their yards and they certainly seemed far too small to do any real playing in. There was a school in the area, it seemed to be for the younger grades, so he knew that a number of children lived in the area, but where were they when school was out and the school was closed.

After reading about the area and checking with the local parks department he learned that the lots had been left by the developers of the subdivision to be used as public property, parks of some sort but there had never been any money to do anything more than keep them clean and mowed.

Long story made short Kyle reached out to the families in the community and after a number of meetings and a lot of discussion he begin to develop one of the areas as a small softball field along with playground equipment for younger children. He discovered a couple of guys he had served with living in the area and with their help the project was completed and money was raised for a summer team of college students to oversee the park and keep it open for children all summer long.

Kyle would sit for hours on a bench and watch the children and their families play; he marveled at the joy they shared and found his heart filled with his on quiet joy for having found a project and bringing it to completion.

Is it not amazing how just regular people can make such a difference in the lives of others when they decide to invest them in the needs of someone beside themselves. You don’t have to build a park; you might just visit a lonely person or write a note to a hurting heart. Try it.

Published in: on September 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment