Goodbye 2015

As I turned and walked from under the tent that protected the family from the wind at the cemetery I looked around and saw a number of men about my age, some a few years older, some younger I wondered if they were thinking the same thing that had crossed my mind as I watched the color guard fold the flag and present it to the wife of the deceased; which one of us will be the next to have our friends gather, pay their respect, and walk back to their cars only to have the chain to begin again. Life at my age is like that; it knows that the destination is real but you cannot ponder that too long or your heart will become depressed and life will lose its luster.
2015 must feel a bit like that for the hours now tick away and soon it will be among the former years. This year of angry talk, television filled with riots, terrorists attacks, unresolved problems, and a world no lighter than when 2014 closed itself. How disappointed this year must be that disease, heartache, bitterness, and problems still abound. Is it disappointed? Does it fill wasted and broken? I do not know how time ticks itself across the space of life, but surely there must be some moment of despair written somewhere in its history.
I would like for my clock to chime the words of Paul in Second Timothy 4:7, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: . . As time ticks away I want each day to be lived in the faith, fighting a good fight for Jesus, (by loving others) and I want to finish my course.
Ivan

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Published in: on December 30, 2015 at 11:58 pm  Comments (1)  

The Failure of Fear

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7

In these trouble times with all of our fears God must be saying to us, ‘Stop being so afraid, believe me, I am going to win.’

I have suffered from fear since I was a small boy. There was the fear of failure, missing the ball, not doing as well as others, and a thousand other fears. It was a very crippling destructive problem in my life. I always felt inferior, not prepared, and just not able to do the job.

This weight came to life when I was in the Navy. I was so fearful of failure that I could not perform. I worried about each detail until my mind was so cluttered with the fear that I just wanted to throw in the towel.

A Chief at San Diego saw this in me and said, ‘Ivan with your fear of failure you are never going to be able to do enough just to get through. Would it not be better to give it your best shot and see how it goes?  If you fail at least you tried, if you don’t try then you have already failed.’ The Chief was right.

Published in: on December 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Eraser

David walked down Bourbon Street and turned right onto St. Peter Street, the air was pungent with the odors of the night before and the fog that had moved in from the Mississippi River kept it close to the ground. David had never smelt such an odor, he watched as the street crew washed off the spilled beer from the night before and others gather large bags of trash to throw into the truck that stood double parked on St. Peter’s almost at the Jackson Square.

Not many people were about and the whole area appeared to be suffering from the hangover of a night of riotous living. David felt a bit of breeze as he reached the Square, at least here the air was breathable he thought. He saw her leaning against the front of St. Louis Cathedral her back against the building her head hanging over almost in her lap, she was pitiful, covered in layers of clothing, and no doubt she was wearing her wardrobe, skin the color of death, hair matted with the smells of the streets of the French Quarters. He walked across Jackson Square to Café du Monad, got two beignets and a large cup of coffee, picked up a couple of cups of creamer, some sugar packs and a stirring stick and walked back to the figure of a woman.

“Marie would you like a cup of coffee and a beignet?” he asked. She stirred, pulled her head back against the wall of the cathedral and said, “How do you know me? I don’t know you, and beside I am closed, no business today, no business, go away.” “Here take the coffee,” he said, holding it so that the aroma would fill the pungent air, “I am not here for business, just some time, how about this?” Then he place a hundred dollar bill in her hand and watched as she waded it and placed it inside her blouse. “You crazy man, nothing I know is worth that much bread.” She took the coffee and beignet and taking a sip and bite she looked with her unclear eyes into his face.

“I just came to share a minute,” he said, “I know about what happened when you were fifteen, I know about your dad the preacher, the boyfriend, your dad taking you to the Clinic in New York, the abortion, I know all of that Marie, I just wanted to know if you remember the Sunday in July when you were nine and were saved and then baptized? I was just wondering?”

“So long ago she said, so long. I know that by now God has wiped my name from His book; I didn’t mean to do that, we just got crazy one night and then my world fell apart, Daddy went crazy, we killed that baby and as soon as I turn eighteen I left and have never looked back. Who are you, how do you know all of that? I must be crazy; well I know I am after all of the years living in this hole.”

“You are not crazy mother,” David said, “Just frightened, confused, and I have come to take you out of this hole. Drink your coffee, God does not erase what He writes in His Son’s blood; you ready, Marie?” He held out his hand and she looked into his eyes and said, “What did you call me?” “Marie” he answered. “No before that, you said, mother; mother, I can’t be a mother, I can’t I am not fit.” Time to go Mom, time to go, he took her hand and they walked toward the Andrew Jackson monument, he looked back and saw her worn out form leading now on the sidewalk of the Cathedral, “Let’s go home, mom, let’s go home.”

Published in: on December 28, 2015 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Fresh Sheet

I started school during the Second World War and like Americans everywhere we tried to be as careful as we could with all of our school supplies. Thus we wrote on all of the paper, we had our margins all the way out to the edge and we would write on both sides of the sheet saving all of the paper we could so that the war effort would be helped.

But now and then, not often but on a special project the teacher would say, “Now students get out a fresh sheet of paper.” I loved those days, just looking at that clean and fresh sheet of paper and dreaming of all the thing I could do with it, that was magic.

This week our Lord is going to say to each of us, the year has ended, 2015 is now part of history so get out a fresh sheep of paper and let’s start a new year.

I am looking at my wonderful sheet of paper this year yet unlived, unused, no marks, no mistakes, no do overs just a brand new fresh year.

Just think it will be what we place on it, our dreams, our hopes, our gifts to other and all that our hearts can plan and do. I wonder, will I love more, touch the lives of others more, help more, care more, show my devotion both to God and His creation.

Will I be a better citizen, speak softer, give others the benefit of the doubt, judge less let others see more of my love for them and our Lord.

You know I can and so can you. There is a fresh sheet of paper coming nothing on it to spoil it, just the Happy New Year of 2016, WOW! I love fresh sheets.

Ivan

 

Published in: on December 27, 2015 at 8:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Mad House At Christmas

I have always loved Christmas; the smells, sounds, green trees, colored lights, bright stars on top, gifts under the tree, the aroma of food cooking, the laughter of children, marking items in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue and turning down the pages so ‘Santa would know’, how could you live at 246 South Lindsey Street and not love Christmas?

My three sisters and their children and husbands would all gather on Christmas Eve, dad would get under the tree and hand out the gifts; madness would begin, paper would fly, ribbons would sail, and laughter would feel the air.

Mother was always one we could depend on to do something really funny; she opened this large box, pulled out the lamp shade and pushed the box over to the side to be filled with all the torn paper. Later that night dad asked her how she liked her lamp, “What Lamp?” she asked, “I got a shade but didn’t see any gift with a lamp in it.”

We all hurried to the back yard, dug through the pile and there in the large box filled with throw away paper was mother’s lamp. One year she prepared three dozen deviled eggs, we found them in the refrigerator  three days later, we had roast chicken, table so full it would almost fall under the weight of the food, but more than anything we had each other.

Mom and dad spent almost fifty years throwing a party for all of us, time finally ran out and the crowd did not gather, the children did not chatter, and the old table just looked alone and empty, but wow it was wonderful while it was happening and I am forever the better for it. Ivan

Published in: on December 21, 2015 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas

The years have added up and time has moved on; the boyhood days of Santa have ended but the spell that filled my soul as a child still lives and the love I have for Christmas still flows. The smells, mom’s cooking, dad’s tree standing tall in the living room, time brought that to a close but the memories do not leave and the joys once experienced still linger in my heart.

I love to watch people shopping, just stand by and hear the voices of excited children, parents trying to decide what will make Christmas best, husbands seeking advice and suggestions from clerks and a small child asking if he has enough money to buy the gift he has chosen for mom, all of these become pages in and old man’s book, pages he is slow to turn, pages he wishes to read and relieve just one more time. I love Christmas.

May the joy of this season infect you, may it bring tears, laughter, and love to your heart and may all who share it with you know that they are the building blocks which hinges the memories to your soul. Enjoy the event, write it in your heart and remember it forever.

Ivan

Published in: on December 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Something For Christmas

We spend a lot of time and worry trying to decide what to give each person on our list for Christmas. I wonder how this came to consume our lives. We worry, fret, change our minds, and finally give up and make a purchase only to often wish we had made another selection.

I can give you a gift that will fill all of the plans of Christ; Just give Him yourself. No other gift will be of such value. He would love to have your company. But then maybe He was not on your list; I wonder why since it is His birthday.

For your closest loved ones, maybe a gift of time would be the best Christmas they could have, just you and them time alone. After all I have always felt with children and spouses you spelled love, T I M E.

Ivan

Published in: on December 17, 2015 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Old OneTusk

When I was teaching school a small child gave me a gift wrapped in white paper and asked that I not open it until the class was gone. When I tore open the package I understood the reason, it was a one tusk missing elephant. It was not new, it had seen a lot of seasons but this child knew that I loved elephants and since her family had no money she had talked her mother into giving away a long used item from off their trinket shelf.

I wrote the family a note and when we returned from the holidays that gift was on my desk sitting on top of a beautiful glass mounting. She gave me from her heart and I wanted her to understand that I had received it with all of my heart.

Needless to say old one tusk elephant mounted on the glass was the hit of our returning day to school. Everyone wanted to know what it cost, if it was expensive, and who had given it to me. I explained that it was very valuable because the person who gave it to me treasured it and that is what makes a gift expensive.

I explained that it would not be polite to say who had given it and in time the questions stopped.  But the child who gave it never stopped smiling and from that day on she was a great student always doing her best.

Some years later I was able to return the gift to her and years later I heard that she was a first grade teacher, married, with children, and a ‘one tusk elephant’ on her class room desk.

Ivan

(Reprinted from another time but worth the reading.)

Published in: on December 17, 2015 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment  

His Christmas of 1954

From a friends heart, his warm memories of Christmas 1954

(Name Not Used)

I remember 1954. There were many needs. We were one of those many.  But I remember the love we shared at Christmas time.

Gifts were almost non-existent. But we had food from the cellar, put up from the large garden Mom and the boys worked.  Bad times. But good times too. Know what I remember most?  Being thankful for the warm wood stove in the living room.

That bedroom with the snow blowing through the cracks was mighty cold. A body appreciates the blessings of today  a bit more when, In 1954,  from the light of the moon shining through the bedroom window, he saw (and felt) the snow blowing from just below the window sill.

But even then, we were blessed and I knew it. Know what I miss most? Mom.  And on the really difficult days, and there are still a few, I long to be held by her and squeezed as she often did, yes, as late as 1954.

Thanks dear friend for sharing. Ivan

Published in: on December 15, 2015 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas at Point Loma

I had arrived in San Diego on Friday December 12, 1958. It was my first Christmas away from family and Jackson, Tennessee. The palm trees made into Christmas Trees did not impress this West Tennessee boy with his memories of cedar trees; they left something missing from Christmas.

Since I was the new man on the duty roster I pulled Christmas duty on that Thursday of 1958 and sometime that weekend looking for something to do I made my way to The Point Loma National Cemetery.

Standing there looking across that beautiful green bed with its white markers pointing to the sky I felt a sense of home. Looking back I am sure it was because of my love for those who had served our country.

At Point Loma you look across the green grass of the hillside dotted with the white markers into the great blue of the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful sight and a great reminder of the price that so many have paid for our freedom.

I had seen the lady and her young son of about seven but caught up in my own thoughts I did not notice them until the boy seeing me in my  dress blues came running over to me and asked with great seriousness, Did you know my dad? Standing, not sure what to say his mother answered for me as she told the boy not to bother me and that I would not have known his father.

I stooped down asked the child to show me his father’s grave and read with pride, Chief Petty Officer Dan Raymond Sharp, 1919 1952. I saluted his grave and putting my hat on his son saluted him as well.

 I left that beautiful and holy ground with tears that day but my heart was very proud and thankful for all those who made the day possible for me.

Published in: on December 15, 2015 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment