Tuesday, March 3, 2015

You Can't


As a child, I went to vacation Bible school at the same church every year. Games, toys, fun and homemade ice cream!

Sitting around a small table with a few girls, our teacher had each of us read a verse from our Bible lesson. The other girls laughed at me when I had difficulty reading from the King James Version of the Bible. The teacher never encouraged me nor did she stop the teasing.

I occasionally stayed at a girlfriend’s home on Saturday nights. Her family attended that church so I went with them on Sunday mornings.

Year after year in VBS and Sunday school, children raised in that church told me, “You can’t be baptized because you haven’t been saved.”

Thinking about those experiences, I see the harm done to me. “You can’t…” and I believed it.

The curse riddled my life with painful scars. My heart bled a little more with every failed relationship. My emotions never fully developed. My spirit only knew evil. My body knew sexual abuse. I couldn’t be loved.

If you have read my devotion, “Earl Would Tell You”, you know of my anger and fear toward Earl when we met.

I accepted Earl as a man – not a Christian. I separated his roles. Fighting with the calling God had on Earl’s life, I declared, “I married Earl – not the pastor.”

By the faith Earl and other Christians lived before me, I began to know the love of Christ. Through the testimonies of women whom God had redeemed, I saw Jesus working in my life.  I felt more of God’s love for me each day.

How did I know I was saved?

My life changed without my conscious effort. I didn’t have to give anything up. I didn’t have to do anything against my will. Every yoke of sin fell away. Bad influences stopped talking to me. My sinful desires were no longer there. My language no longer cursed but praised God for redeeming my soul.

I later heard about some awesome prayer warriors who had lifted my plight to the Lord for salvation and forgiveness over a year.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV)..

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 9-10 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Love



Earl’s arms around me assured me that I was OK. After work the night before I’d gone to his apartment and told him I was going to The Caravan. He said, “If you drink too much call me.”



I didn’t drink too much, and I didn’t have a good time. The usual raucous crowd didn’t draw me in as I sat by myself at the bar nursing a warm Budweiser. Anger seethed through my veins. I had changed. What do I do now?

When I saw Earl the next day, I burst into tears and said, “I wish I had just gone home last night.” He wrapped his arms around me and said, “I love you.” He had spoken those words to me before, but as I calmed down, he looked into my eyes and continued, “Will you marry me?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes!” I wanted to get married right away, but Earl insisted we wait a respectable time. We set the date for December 29, and shopped for my wedding gown and my engagement ring together.

We found my gown at the first bridal shop on our list! White lace covered the simple white gown and formed elbow-length sleeves. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The “V” neckline lengthened my already long neck. The bodice fit my small chest and the skirt was long enough that I wouldn’t need to have it altered. I turned around and around looking at my reflection in the room of mirrors. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale.

Shopping for my ring happened the same way. I saw exactly what I wanted at the first jewelry counter. “This is it.”

Saturday afternoon, December 29, 1985 my sister, Bobbi, nervously helped me put my gown on and checked my hair and makeup. My friend, Demita, came in and said, “Let’s go upstairs now.” She directed me to the sanctuary entrance. She settled my veil in place before slipping into a back pew.

I nervously peeked into the sanctuary and saw Earl and our pastor, John, standing at the altar. When the Wedding March began, I stepped into the sanctuary. My bouquet shivered and my mind whirled as I made my way to my future husband. I focused on Earl’s blue eyes. How had I missed the love they held for me?

John opened the service by reading 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. We quietly repeated our vows, exchanged our rings, and John said, “Earl you may kiss your bride.” He did so with a grin that matched mine—from ear to ear. John presented us, “Reverend and Mrs. Earl Dickerson.”

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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Monday, February 16, 2015

A Date with a Preacher




A year of meals shared and truths told went by, and I hadn’t thought much about our relationship until Earl surprised me at supper one evening, “Would you go out with me?”

“Are you crazy?” All I could think about was how terrible I was. How can he like me?

A month later, he asked again, “Will you go out with me?”

Reluctantly I agreed and on a hot July evening, I sat waiting for Earl in the hospital parking lot because I wouldn’t tell him where I lived. My palms were sweaty and when I saw his baby-blue Thunderbird, I caught my breath. I still couldn’t believe I was going on a date with a preacher. (I’d even had my hair done and was wearing the only dress I owned.)

Getting in his car my voice cracked as I said, “Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Where are we going?”

“I made reservations at The 91st Bomb Group restaurant on the Memphis airport flight line.” The restaurant reminded me of one my Uncle Don had taken me to when I was eighteen. After dinner, we sat in the lounge and watched the runway and airplane lights as planes took off and landed.

“Have I told you how much I like flying?”

“Yes, that’s why I brought you here. Doesn’t your uncle fly?”

“Yes, he has a Cherokee 180 now. I remember flying over my hometown as a little girl and seeing Momma waving at me from the sidewalk in front of the Candyland. I guess I’ve loved flying ever since. Uncle Don even let me take the controls a few times when I visited him as an adult.”

We were unusually quiet for us on the trip back to the hospital. Earl parked next to my car, turned and asked, “May I kiss you.”

“No!” I can’t kiss a preacher.

In Christ,
Berta



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 A Piper Cherokee 180