Last Memory

Last Memory

Wayne could still remember the exact moment that he heard his father tell him, ‘that he was good for nothing and never had been and never would be’ it was at his birthday party when he turned seventeen. His father had always been difficult, drunk, and too loud, in all his years of school he only had two friends who ever came to his house and they only once or twice. His mother had insisted on giving him a birthday party and while they had invited about ten people only six showed up, he was surprised for that was four more friends than he had. She had grilled hamburger in the backyard, made homemade ice cream and put up a boom box so they could play music. About the time they had finished their meal, eaten the cake covered in ice cream his dad had come through the door shouting “What is going on around here, who do those cars out front belong to and who is playing that loud music?” His mother had tried to run interference but his father had shoved her aside and walking up into his faced began to shout the words of no good, and who did he thing he was and who were these freaky kids. The friends began to move away when they saw his father slap him, and each of them managed to leave before the full storm raged. He had never felt so bad, so discouraged, so humiliated, and so ashamed of his father and sorry for his mother. After the storm raged, his mother was hit and the grill turned over in the yard his father went to his room in his drunken state telling him to clean up the mess and calling for his mother to come upstairs. He had cleaned up the mess, packed a few things he needed and wanted took the $300 dollars that he had saved and left.

 

After a lot of nights on the road, under bridges, in camps of the homeless, he had made it to a distant uncle’s house and they allowed him to stay with them until he enlisted in the Army. After six years of hard work in the army, doing his job taking classes and saving all the money he could he got out of the army and in two years had completed college. The next ten years found him hard at work in a small upcoming company in New Orleans. They supplied packages of items that were needed by the workers on the oil rigs in the gulf and soon found a very profitable business. Over the sixteen years he had called his mother, hung up when his father answered and talked briefly when he could with his mother. Life at home was the same she said, his father had never mentioned his name and had never changed his ways.

 

He received a call from his mother telling him that his father was in the hospital dying, so without telling her he flew back to Memphis hoping that a final moment might bring some peace. It didn’t, his father had died soon after his mother had called and the storm of Wentworth Circle was over.

 He begged his mother to come and live with him but she had a few friends in the community and the old house was paid for and all the investment she had. Wayne walked into the backyard, remembered that night eighteen years ago and wept. Before he left he arranged for all the repairs to be made to the house, got his mother a new car and promised to stay in touch. For the next thirty years she received three calls a week, a visit each month and a nice check from her ‘no good son’, and even flew in a plane to New Orleans a few times to visit. After her funeral he placed a marker that covered both her grave and his dad’s for no one had bother to do so in all of those years. He wept as he stood and looked at those two markers and realized that while they looked so much alike, they stood for so much that was different in his heart. In love he wept for his mother, in heartache he wept for his father.

Ivan

inraley@yahoo.com

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Published in: on November 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Shorter Path

The Shorter Path

I have moved into a new decade. On the eleventh day of this eleventh month I moved from the seventies into the decade of the eighties. My family and friends paid a lot of attention to me; we had a wonderful time, with a great attendance in church and a lunch with more than a 160 people it would be a hard event to improve on.

My wife Carole and the ladies of the church made the fellowship room look like we were in a great hotel banquet hall. Pictures of me were at all of the tables and our catered lunch from The Dixie was more than we could eat, not to mention my special cake and the other great deserts.

From our blended family of six children four were here, one lives in Germany and the other one was sick, not  bad four out of six. Friends from afar and my family of First Baptist and it was great.

I was on cloud nine on Saturday and Sunday, grandchildren making over me, cards to open, it just could not have been better.

The children left, the friends went home, I kissed Carole and watched her drive her worn our self toward Nashville and the schedule of work on Monday. As I listened to the empty house, and tried to fall asleep my mind would not leave the fact that I am now 80. The path before me is shorter; the journey will not take as long to reach the end as it did when I was a boy at 246 South Lindsey Street.

God promised me that the house was not empty and that no matter the length of the path He would be there for every step of the way.

So I take the years behind me and stand on them as I take the steps before me. Byrdstown is a great place for the shorter path.

Ivan    ivanraley@gmail.com

inraley@yahoo.com

 

 

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Evening With Dad

An Evening With Dad

As many of you know my mother died in 1977 and dad lived another ten years. Somewhere in that journey dad began to be afraid in his home at 246 South Lindsey Street and decided to sell it and moved into a senior adult high rise facility in Jackson. He really seemed to adjust well to the move and living where there were many people his age.

One night, about 2 in the morning he called me to let me know that he was sick, so sick he said that he believed that he was going to die. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was very sick at his stomach and could not stay out of the bathroom. I asked him what he had eaten that day that might cause him to be sick and he said he had only eaten a bowl of banana pudding that was all.

Being two hours away in Nashville I asked him if he had called my sister Alice, she lived about ten minutes away and could be there long before I could arrive. He said that he didn’t want to wake her up so he hadn’t called. I told him that I knew it was late and I understood but if he was really that sick he would be dead before I could get there and even if he did not call her I would have to let her know what was going on so she would be awake under any choice we made.

He wasn’t sure but I told him that I would call her and see what she suggested. Since Alice was the only child left living in Jackson she already did 99% of the care for dad and like him I really hated to call but did not know of any other choice. I explained my conversation with dad and she said that she would go over and check him out and call me back and let me know what needed to be done.

In about twenty minutes she called and said that he was going to be alright that he had eaten some banana pudding and it had made him sick. I told her that he said he had eaten only one bowl of pudding and I didn’t see how that would make him so sick. She replied, “Right only one bowl, one punch bowl of pudding.”

We later learned that the ladies had a party that day and after it was over they had one large punch bowl of banana pudding left so they had given that to my dad, he loved banana pudding and he had gone by the refrigerator about a hundred times with a large spoon and over the afternoon had eaten the entire punch bowl of pudding. He lived, Alice got back to sleep and I made plans to go down the next day and clean both he and the apartment. What a night, but what a next day… wow… Ivan

Published in: on October 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Dog Named Max

A Dog Named Max

I really don’t know how to write this, Max is my 94 lb. German Shepard, he is in real trouble, but as I am limited by how much I can do at this moment in the way of writing and it is late on Monday 9/11 and I really should be writing about our country and what that day stands for in the hearts of our people, but at the moment a dog named Max is taking us so much room in my emotions.

Even in dog years Max is several years younger than I am but he is so down in his back parts that he just drags his back legs when he tries to walk. He reminds me of the man at the pool who could not walk but each day he drug his body to that pool hoping to be healed. Then he looks at me with those big black eyes and I know he is asking me to do something.

It has been several months since he could hear anything including my voice but I believe he hears me with his heart.

I know most of you will think this is silly and I should do the right thing and let him go, but then I am old and I am sick and yet my heart still feels and hears and longs, but then he is a dog and I am a man but it is sometimes so hard to do what must be done.

I did nothing today but talk to him and pet him, maybe tomorrow, no not tomorrow I will know when, maybe. At the moment he is sleeping, dreaming of those cats who live in back of him, wishing he could make the chase, my dreams are very much the same, dreams of the heart, dreams of doing better, being better, dreams of being young once again.

 

Published in: on September 11, 2017 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Asking

Asking

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, Search, and Knock; God never turns away a sincere seeker.

In Second Kings the fifth chapter we have the wonderful story of Naaman being healed. Naaman was a great general and a very important man. In his country people moved out of his way when he walked by, the people honored him and gave privilege to him. I am sure that he fully expected the man of God to greet him with the custom of his rank. But

Elisha did not even come to the door to greet him. He sent a servant to open the door and to tell Naaman what to do.  Now you can tell that the great General was not pleased at his greeting by Elisha or the instructions he was given. He was not use to such common treatment and he had his rank overlooked and his feelings hurt by Elisha. In fact he just got mad and started home.  He did not like the answer.  But God had sent a servant along with him to convinced him, since he had come this far and since he had received an answer, why not give it a try? You know of course that he did so and received complete healing.  I believe if Naaman had returned home without obeying he would have died of leprosy.  Maybe we die to our prayers because we don’t like the answers.

Ivan

Published in: on August 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Doer

A Doer

But be doers of the word and not hearers only. James 1:22

All of us know that what we do speak is louder than what we say. James is very strong in his belief that people see much more than they hear. He makes it very clear that while we are saved by the grace of God through Faith in His Son that it is very hard for people to see grace and faith in others without it having some physical manifestation.

I think James also has a very strong feeling that having received the Grace of God it should change our lives. We should be different enough that others could see that difference.

He points out, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit that it is difficult for people to be moved by our faith when that faith has not changed us from the world.

One of the great sins of the church in today’s world is that we have not challenged our people to be different, not strange different, but good, kind, and loving different. Too often the church in its difference is just mean and judgmental or desiring to blend into the world that nothing of spiritual value and commitment shows.

Let’s put our faith to work allowing others through our actions to see that we are not a hopeless people but rather a people of assurance and hope.

Not a people who hate but a people who love and cherish others, not their actions or their sins but them.

Ivan

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where Are the Stones

Where Are the Stones

She had hated her life, she could not remember the last time she had a positive thought about herself, it had been a long, long time ago, if ever. But this moment, this event was the worst. Being dragged through the street like some kind of animal by this group of men was more than she could take; it was the very bottom of her life. She knew a number of them and she knew that they had been as guilty as she had but here they were making sure that everyone knew of her sin, and everyone would watch as she was punished. She had been set up, of that she was sure, the men came in just as she and her ‘companion’ were in the middle of their fleshly lust. But it would mean nothing to these men nor those standing watching her being shouted at, spit upon, and cursed to try and make her case, after all she was guilty, not the first time but many times.

They threw her bruised and naked body in front of a man, a man whom she had never seen and asked him to be her judge.

She could see him looking at her then searching with his eyes each of the men screaming for her punishment, her stoning. He stooped and wrote something in the dusty ground, they continued to shout at him to have her stoned, he looked up and said, “Here is a plan, Let the one without sin cast the first stone at her.” The he continued to write in the dust. She could see the men one by one slipping away, she felt no thrown stone. The stranger covered her with his robe, asked where those who had accused her were and then told her to go a stop her sinning. In all of her sin, in all of her shame, she had met the Master and He had forgiven her. Life for her started over, brand new, no stain, no sin, she had met the Master.

Ivan (Story from John chapter 8)

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dusty

Thanks for the Dust

I had just spoken to a group of churches in the upper part of East Tennessee and told them what a great job we were doing taking care of children and helping with their families when suddenly the dust from the old road that my car had stirred up swept over the four people walking along the side of the road.

Remembering all the good things I had said about our ministry the guilt of covering these four forced me to stop.

I told them I was sorry and asked if they were in need of a ride. The father explained that they were on their way to Knoxville to get a new start at life.

I explained that walking to Knoxville was going to take them a couple of days but he said they could no longer pay the rent and he could not find work but had been promised by a friend both a job and place to live if he could get to Knoxville.

We loaded the car with all that they were carrying got them all a place to sit and took off for the next place to stop, Knoxville.

The children were excited at my car, thrilled by the air condition and happy not to be walking with their heavy loads.

The kids went crazy when I suggested we stop and eat. They had never been in a restaurant. The father explained that he didn’t have much money, I told him it would be on me and we could use the time to call his friend and see where to meet him.

By God’s grace his friend was there to meet him and happy that he had made it to Knoxville. Turned out that the friend’s pastor was a friend of mine and with a quick call the ladies of the church were coming over to help fix up the living area. God is so good, the kids all hugged me and my eyes were full of tears as I drove away.

My prayer was simple, thanks God for the dust.

 

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Honoring The Fallen

Honoring the Fallen

Carole and I stood along with many others outside the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Army Base next to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia and watched as the band of the U.S. Army Old Guard, 3rd Infantry Division played softly and eight of the Old Guard, honor guard moved with reverence to the Cason which would carry the body of Lt. Colonel Rex Smith to his resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. The six great black horses pulled the Cason followed by the band and the company of men of the 3rd infantry Division the two miles to the eternal resting place of his remains. This journey started on October 8, 1936 when Rex Smith, age 14, talked his sister into posing as his mother and signing the papers stating that he was 18 so that he could enter the United States Army. In his first years as an enlisted man his Commanding officer tried to get Rex to attend Officers Candidate School believing that he would make a good Army Officer.  Rex knew if he did this his real age would be discovered and he would be sent home. He was at Wheeler Field in Schofield Barracks on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. He received the Soldiers Medal during that battle for retrieving the fallen bodies of two citizens by going down a 600 foot rope and bringing them back one at a time. By 1943 his age was no longer an issue so he attended Officers Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lineament. On June 6, 1944 he was with the First Engineer Amphibious Special Brigade as they made the 7:00 A.M., first wave, landing at Utah Beach, Normandy France.  He retired as a Lt. Colonel in July of 1962 at the age of 40 after having served 26 years in the army. He had a second career as an Inspector in the District Attorney’s Office, San Mateo   County, California and retired again in 1978, At his grave we listed as the Chaplain read the word of God and prayed, then the thundering sound of the 21 guns and the somber playing of ‘The Last Call” taps and watched as the flag he served for 26 years was folded and given to his son. Later at the Officer’s Club at Fort Myer we looked at pictures, shared moments with friends from his years in the army and in retirement. In the week in which our Nation celebrates its birth we watched with reverence as honor was paid to one of its soldiers and his remains were placed with the more than 300.000 others who are so honored at Arlington.  God Bless America and God bless the Men and Women who have paid the geatest price for our freedom.

Ivan (Note the Army states that he was the youngest man to enter and remain in the Army for more than twenty years.) He really wanted to serve his country.

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Father’s Day

Father’s Day

As we celebrated and honor our fathers Sunday in church I am reminded of the times when I had such wonderful moments with my own dad. The days he would take me to work with him to check on the night watchman and look around the warehouse to make sure that all was well, a couple of fishing trips, some overnight; the times we went to church together, how much I loved church and I really believe now looking back that much of that love came from watching him.

Dad treated all the men who worked for him with great respect and honor, he made all of them feel very special and I believe I learned from him how important other people were and how they all, no matter their rank in life, deserved credit and praise.

I remember his growing old and how much the rolls changed as I became more of the father and he the son. The little things which once went unnoticed now became moments of memory and joy. A cone of ice cream, which he loved, a ride in the car, with my pushing him back to his side of the seat as his body kept slipping toward mine, the fears, tears, and joys of those days.

Remembering my dad I to remind our men to become watchmen, men who will stand their watch, knowing the dangers that the outside can bring to their homes and families, realizing how God has given them the responsibility to protect their family in the love for God. I challenge them to not only know the dangers, but to see the great value of those whom they influenced and those for whom they were the watchmen. I call upon them not only to look out at the dangers, inside to those depending on them but also to look up and know that all of those who know them will also want to know their coming Lord, Judge, Forgiver, and Father.

Thanks Dad,

Ivan

Published in: on June 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment