Monday, September 29, 2014

Fear. Guilt. Pain.

“Did that little girl eat all those ribs?” Our server nodded at the pile of stripped clean, baby back, barbecue rib bones in front of our five-year-old daughter, Kari.

“Yes.” Kari had eaten more ribs than her Dadda and twice as much as I did. Yet, she looked clean. There were no outward signs to indicate she had eaten anything. Especially barbecue.

She had wiped away the evidence with those little “towelettes” our server had provided. Her face glowed. Her fingers held no signs and we found no trace of the sauce on her clothes.

If a little child can clean up so much external filth with a few small pieces of wet paper towels, how much more can Jesus cleanse in your life.

Everything! Every mark. Every stain. Every bad feeling. Fear. Guilt. Pain. Envy. Coveting. Every sin, for no sin is greater than another is. Christ died for them all that we may have eternal life.

Jesus already knows your sin, and He is still wooing you to so sit down and talk to Him. He knows your hopes, your desires and your dreams. He also knows what is holding you back.

Our God is not an angry God. He created us to love Him but gave us free will. We can choose to love and follow Him or we can remain in this world of sin and death.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

In Christ,

Please Share

Monday, September 22, 2014

Taking Up My Cross

For ten or fifteen years after my injury, I still woke up each day and attempted to turn over. Then I would remember, “Oh. I’m paralyzed.” I hated remembering. Depression set in. I would not accept this broken body.

Yet, I continued to live. Angry, I lashed out at my family. Embarrassed, I wanted to stay home. I feigned sleep to avoid conversations.

It took many years for me to grow into this new state of being. Physical therapy and strength training helped me adjust.

It took many more years for me to believe I could be useful to God. Love and Christian encouragement taught me to trust God.

I no longer dread waking up. I have adjusted my mind’s eye to see my body as whole and healed. My body is God’s temple. Its shape and physical ability do not matter. What is important is my faith and willingness to let God speak through me.

Crucified with Him that day more than 2,000 years ago, I no longer live. But Christ lives in me. He died for me. His blood covers all my sin. He delivered me from sin and death. I am forgiven.

What cross am I picking up each day? Christian ministry.

I live as a child of God in active ministry with you. I write and you read my devotions. We call, email, text and talk. We encourage and pray for each other. I tell people about my Savior where ever I go.

I pray that people will see and hear Jesus in me each day and they would know I belong to God.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him . . . take up his cross (Matthew 16:24)

In Christ,

Friends, Please share this devotion with your friends. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Caregiver Becomes Invisible

When Earl first heard about my wreck, he prayed that I would live, “…as long as she is Berta.” Two months later my neurosurgeon told Earl, “If she lives she’ll be brain damaged, ventilator-dependent, and bedridden for life.”

The doctor told Earl, “You are too young to be stuck with an invalid wife.” Then he offered some simple things that could be withheld to allow me to die quickly but comfortably.

In that moment, God replayed in Earl’s mind the oath he swore on our wedding day. In the voice of Reverend John Jones, he heard “ sickness and in health, forsaking all others, keeping thee only unto her, so long as you both shall live.”

Without hesitation, in his spirit, Earl said, “I do.”

Earl chose life for me that day and has been my primary caregiver for twenty-three years. He has done everything and more than expected.

Earl has a super power. He is a child of God. He relies on his Christian faith to get us through each day. So often, we pray for renewed strength, rest and peace in our spirits.

Wherever we go, people watch me, the disabled one. But, few talk to Earl as a caregiver.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).

In Christ,

Friends, Remember to share with your friends. People are being blessed around the world for God. I am so thankful to be a broken vessel in the hands of a loving God.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Power of Friendship

I left my small Midwestern hometown at sixteen and I’ve never gone back. When I got on Facebook thirty-six years later, I was only interested in one childhood friend, Louise. I didn’t find her. I put my maiden name on my wall and prayed.

It only took a few hours for Louise to find me.

“Hi Berta, Not sure if you will remember me. I’m glad you’re on Facebook!  I'd always wondered what had happened with you and was talking about you just three days ago. And here you are!”

I was surprised she remembered me. She told me how afraid she was for me when my father moved my family of eleven into a converted school bus and to bottomland along the Illinois River.

Louise and I had a sense of each other’s lives in 1974, though we had never spoken of them. Today we have the closest friendship I’ve ever experienced.

In God, we are always growing and changing. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV). At sixteen, we were young and abused. As we grew older, we were taken advantage of for different reasons. We survived and became stronger for the trials.

I thank God every time I think of Louise. To know that for thirty-six years she remembered a tall, skinny girl with freckles and long, strawberry blonde hair is amazing. I thank Him for bringing her back into my life.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one (wo)man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV). Change per author.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

In Christ,

Friends, Remember to share with your friends. People are being blessed around the world for God. I am so thankful to be a broken vessel in the hands of a loving God.