Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tested and Proven

My physical therapist is doing sensory testing on me today. With my eyes closed and head turned away, she begins. Following a dermatome chart, she touches different areas of my upper chest and arms with a pin. I respond “sharp” or “dull.”

Laughing she says, “That’s incredible, Berta. What level are you supposed to be?”

“I’m a C-4* complete. My spinal cord is severed.”

“That means all you’re supposed to feel or move is your head.”

“I know.”

She checks her chart again. “You’re testing at T-4** on your chest, C-6/7 on your arms, and even some distant sensation that is difficult to classify. Tell me again about your injury.”

“The initial classification was C-5/6 complete with very little strength, and no stamina or control. A year after the injury I was still struggling with weakness in my arms, and I couldn’t hold my head up. An x-ray revealed that my neck wasn’t fused, and I needed surgery.”

“In surgery, broken pieces of my fifth cervical vertebra were removed, and a piece of my hipbone was wired in place from C-4-7.”

“Four months later I returned, and after several tests were completed the surgeon began the exam. He seemed perplexed, rude even, as he tested function and sensation. I was able to do most of what he asked. He looked over my chart and shook his head. ‘Well, I’m going to release you to go home and I recommend you go to physical therapy.’”

“Seventeen years later a friend, who is also a radiologist, encouraged me to have a cervical MRI, ‘Just to see what’s going on in there.’ What was going on was an obvious lack of spinal cord from C-4-7. I’m thankful no one told me that little bit of information in those early days. I might have quit trying.”

“That’s amazing. What do you think it is?” She’s still looking at the chart.

“A God thing.”

“God is healing you, isn’t He? “


In Christ Alone,

* C: cervical
** T: thoracic

Thursday, August 5, 2010


When I was eleven, my father molested me. Then two neighborhood boys—one continued until my family moved several years later. As a young adult it seemed I had “RAPE ME” or “tell me your sexual problem” tattooed on my forehead. Boys and men, even some women, assaulted me in word and deed.

Marked? Yes, I am!

I have been told that a sexual predator can be placed in a room full of 100 women, and pick out the one survivor of sexual assault. I know that’s true in my case. Dating almost always ended with an assault, if only in my psyche. When I met my husband-to-be I only shared my telephone number—no address. We met at a neutral location for dates, and I was afraid to kiss him for a long time.

As a young wife I was propositioned by both a father and his son on separate occasions—in church. These attacks had a negative impact on my marriage bed. Almost 20 years later the son subtly repeated his intentions in front of his date and my husband. And I responded, at first with embarrassment like it was all my fault. Then I remembered:

Every word is another attack from Satan on my soul causing me to doubt my forgiveness of past hurts, and my salvation through Jesus Christ. I didn’t make the sign of the cross, or cast out this man’s demons—I testified to him about my life today. I told him what God has done, and is doing, in my life.

I thought my mark had disappeared with my forgiveness, but found it is still there. Will it ever be gone? I don’t know. I do know, however, that predators are everywhere. They are in all walks of life, and we survivors must be careful to protect ourselves. God’s plan does not include our destruction. Satan’s does. We are in the midst of spiritual warfare.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:10-17 NIV).

In Christ Alone,
Berta Dickerson

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Several years ago I received a letter from my friend, Lynda. In it she spoke of her homesickness. She talked about her family in Chicago, her grandmother’s death, and her Church family in Kentucky. She got me to thinking about homesickness.

I can’t count the number of moves I’ve made, and the people I’ve left behind throughout my life. I never seemed to stay in one place long enough to establish bonds, or I knew I’d be moving on sometime soon, and never opened up to anyone.

Looking back, I was always homesick. Never satisfied with my surroundings. Never content with the people around me. I remember crying out in agony even as a child, “I want to go home!” I was tormented with a desire for something I couldn’t describe.

Then in 1985 I met a hospital chaplain, who introduced me to the Savior. After the chaplain and I married, we moved to Kentucky to pastor a local church. Six years later we moved to pastor another church. Then five years later. Then seven years.

I’ve come to understand that God always gives us a ministry where ever He sends us. Throughout the years our family in Christ nurtured me with love, prayer, and biblical instruction. They showed me glimpses of that unfathomable home—that place my soul yearned for, and my mind struggled to believe in.

Today I know Heaven is my real home.

In Christ Alone,