Sunday, October 19, 2014

Not Even a Sad Smile


“I said ‘Go!’ damn it!” Daddy said with a hard shove to Mommy’s back. She stumbled forward a few steps and stood still on the porch. Daddy repeated his words with more expletives.

Mommy cried quietly without fighting back and seemed to have no control over her body. She could barely stand, let alone walk. Daddy continued prodding until she was down the front steps and standing next to our car.

My three sisters and I sat on a worn blanket in our front yard that early spring morning crying as we watched them fight.

“Why do you have a suitcase, Daddy?” I asked. “Where’re you going?”

“I’m taking your mother to the airport. Say goodbye.”

“Say goodbye to Mommy? No!” we all cried.

No hugs or kisses. Not even a sad smile. Daddy threw the suitcase in the backseat and shoved Mommy in the front seat of our little white Corvair. They drove away.

Mommy and Daddy had fights all the time but they’d never left us. We stayed on the blanket until Daddy came home three hours later. He was alone.

“Girls, your mother has moved to California.”

Life went on as if Mommy had never been there. We were four lost little waifs who needed their faces washed and their hair brushed in a little town called Meredosia in Illinois.

No one seemed surprised. No one but us, her children.

This scene took place in April 1968.

As my sisters and I grew into adulthood, we each attempted to reconnect with our mother. We all found an empty shell of a woman we didn’t know. Beaten down and broken, Momma barely existed.

I know now that God had a better plan for the home than what my parents showed us. By God’s grace, I accepted that plan and intend to pass it on to others, including to my own daughter.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:18-21 NIV).

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:15-18 NIV).

In Christ,

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Upside Down

Daddy jumped off the horse drawn sled before it came to a stop. “It’s a tornado, he yelled. We unharnessed the horse, Oscar, and let him run.

I could see the funnel cloud then and though it looked far away, the wind was already there. It grew stronger and whipped around me.

As I leaned into the deafening wind I heard Daddy say, “Berta, tighten the ropes on this side of the tent! We can’t lose it!” He went to the far side and I started on my side. Rope after rope I released the lock and pulled the rope as tight as I could by hanging on it and relocked each one.

I was on the last rope when the tornado hit. It lifted me off the ground and turned me upside down. As I held on to the rope I screamed, “Daddy!”

No one could hear me. I couldn’t even hear myself.

Then, just as gently as the wind had picked me up, it set my feet on solid ground. When the roar ended, my legs buckled.

“Berta, you OK?” Daddy asked. I didn’t think he would ever believe what happened, so I just said, “Yes.”

We had only been living in the bottoms a couple of months and every day brought a new experience. The Army surplus tent, where we stored all our essential tools and supplies, only had two tears in the top. One on my side and one on daddy’s.

When I remember being upside down that spring day so long ago, I feel peace. I cried out for my daddy and God responded.

I didn’t know God then, but He knew me. After many years in Christ, I learned a lesson from this scene. Even back then, my heavenly Father had a plan for my life. He heard my cry and saved me.

God has allowed many trials in my life and many people to help me through them.

Praise be to God!

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2 NIV).

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2 NIV).

 “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism’” (Acts 10:34, NIV).

In Christ,

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nothing Lasts

When I was eleven, Daddy made Momma pack a suitcase and sent her away, Daddy started touching me and our house burned down.

Momma was gone.  My innocence was lost. The only home I had ever known lay in ashes.

Nothing lasts.

Daddy’s bad choices slowly stole our chance at a new beginning. My sister’s and I were isolated from friends. We lived in the garage of an old gas station, a converted school bus in bottomland and in an old run-down farmhouse over the next two years. Soon nothing of my childhood remained.

Nothing lasts.

My unimportant life continued through five years in the Navy. Relationships disappeared with the tides. A bad marriage brought a beautiful daughter I didn’t know how to love. Afraid of failure, I walked away.

Nothing lasts.

After more failed relationships, I met Earl and we talked over meals at the hospital where we worked. Then after two months, he left with barely a word.

Nothing Lasts.

On his return, I sought him out and we picked up where we had ended. I failed to see our friendship growing until he asked me out on a date. Even then, I couldn’t see a future.

Nothing lasts.

When Earl proposed, I said “Yes” without hesitation or thought of what was to come.  A preacher’s wife. “I haven’t even read the Bible.”

I told myself, “It won’t last.”

And it nearly didn’t. My attitude at home was shameful. I couldn’t face my past and mistreated my family. I avoided our parishioners for fear they would learn my secrets.

That perfect storm lashed its fury on me until I nearly went under.  Finally accepting the forgiveness Christ offered on the cross, the storm clouds cleared and the sun shown bright all around me. I began to share my testimony everywhere I went.

Nothing Lasts.

Eight months later, an accident injured my spinal cord. Paralyzed, I became withdrawn and depressed. Adrift on an ocean of fear and guilt, the years passed me by.

Nothing lasts.

When I came to myself, it was through the crimson flow of Jesus blood. The love, encouragement and prayers of my husband, family and Christian friends buoyed me until I could stand on a solid rock again.

Nothing lasts? Nothing but Jesus. He never let go of me. He never tired of my tears and He never turned away from my pleas.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

“The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2 NIV).

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8 NIV).

In Christ,

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