Sunday, November 23, 2014

Controlled



At sixteen, I lived with my family of eleven in the old Standard Oil gas station on the corner of Main and N. Putnam. We actually lived in the garage.

Daddy built three sets of bunk beds for us eight kids. The four youngest shared. Daddy and Mary, my stepmother, slept on a rollaway bed. My one-month-old niece slept in a bassinet.

We had an electric stove, a refrigerator and a large storage cabinet. We placed a 4' by 8' sheet of plywood over the hydraulic lift to use as a table.

Mary opened a gift shop in the office. Everything we sold was handmade by us. I learned how to create beautiful flowers, baskets and candles. I enjoyed crocheting afghans, hats and scarves.

Some days I forgot about the smell of engine oil and grease as I created beautiful objects that people would enjoy.

That winter we heated the garage with a potbelly, wood burning stove. When the temperature dropped below freezing outdoors, Daddy moved our milk cow into the garage with us.

My sisters and I shoveled manure into buckets and dumped it in the back yard. The foul odor became another normal part of our life.

The oddity of our lifestyle separated us from our peers. The matriarchal power abused by Mary to isolate our family trained us to follow her instructions to the letter. If not obeyed her punishment was severe.

For eighteen months, because of Mary’s control, I spoke to no one outside my family.

Why? Control. Plain and simple.

We all have a desire to be in charge of our own lives and our environments. Some, like Mary, cross the line.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish leaders added many laws after they received the Ten Commandments from God. The people focused on obedience to the rules and many lost intimacy with God.

Jesus did not come to set rules or force us to obey His commandments. He offers freedom not control. Abundant living is ours to receive and share. Love one another. Pray for each other in times of lack and times of plenty.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dirty Water


McGee Creek flowed a quarter of a mile from our bus home. My sisters and I carried water by the bucketful to supply our little homestead.

The creek’s appearance changed often. Calm weather meant nearly clear water. If it rained north of us, the water would be brown with thick yellow froth. The pesticides and herbicides from our neighbor’s fields washed into our only source of water.

Our full water buckets sometimes stood a few hours as we waited for the sediment to settle and could skim the oil from the tops. When we could see sand, small pebbles and even tiny shells lying in the bottom, we declared the water safe.

My family’s life depended on that water. We assumed it was clean because it was clear. Looking back, the poisons I ingested daily for nearly a year have never made me ill.

I have questioned my survival from many situations in my life. I believe there is only one answer to my survival. God was active in my life from the beginning.

God had a plan for me. His power protected my mind and my body from the harmful toxins in McGee Creek.

I continue to see God in my daily life. He is with me when I meet a new friend. He holds me when I hurt and laughs with me in joy. Every encouraging word or prayer spoken comes through nail-scarred hands.

“Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring?” (James 3:11 CEV)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jerimiah 1:5 NIV).

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NIV).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

I Don't Know


As a hospital corpsman in the Navy, I worked in many areas of medical care. Part of my job in Aviation Medicine included physical examinations.

Five days a week at six-forty-five AM, the staff and I began evaluating the physical fitness of active duty, reserve and retired men and women.

We checked vital signs, height, weight and visual acuity. Lab techs collected blood and urine specimens. EKG’s and chest x-rays were done.

I pressured myself to learn the guidelines for the multitude of physical examinations performed in the clinic. Different jobs had different requirements.

A pilot’s eyesight had to be greater than that of an air-crewman. An electronics technician couldn’t be colorblind.

As I typed out the summary of each physical, I had to ask my chief the same questions repeatedly.

One day Chief retrieved a copy of the manual for Physical Examination and Standards. He set the four-inch thick book on my desk. He tapped his finger on it and said, “You don’t have to know all the answers. You just have to know where to find them.”

What do we do when we have biblical or faith based questions and we don’t know the answer?

God has made His manual, the Bible, available to many.

Children’s Bibles begin with soft cloth for infants and hard covers change as a child matures. Teens and college-age students have their own styles. Each of us chose the version and format that help us understand the Word of God.

We each have opportunities to study the Bible be it personal, in a small group or an internet broadcast. God encourages us to be strong in our faith, to study and be prepared to help others grow.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 15 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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