A Little Girl Lost

Archive for the ‘God’s Faithfulness’ Category

Tell Your Story

You all know how much I talk about my Jesus. Well, while reading some journal notes about my rehab days at Shepherd, I read about my weekend nurse, Teresa. We had a lot in common; we were both Christians, United Methodists, wives, mothers and registered nurses.
We talked about our faith and daily struggles. We talked about what God was doing in our lives and what we could do for others. Teresa assumed I knew the Bible well and called me her preacher.
That was the first time I shared my story. I’d only been studying the Bible and attending church regularly for eight months before my accident. I’d learned much in that short time. (Being married to a preacher helped.)
After years of low self-esteem, a poor self-image and worry about what people thought, I stepped out in faith and climbed on to my soapbox for JESUS.
When people ask questions about my appearance, I tell about my accident. When I catch someone staring, I smile and nod. If they’re close enough I say, “Hi.” Often shoppers near me hear a strange creaking and stop. I speak up, “It’s me. I have a ball bearing going out.” We laugh and the ice is broken. I ask anyone near me to set items I want to purchase on my table. Store cashiers carefully handle my credit card or cash and ask, “Is this OK?”
At each point, I see an opportunity to share what God has done and is doing in my life. Your opportunities are there. A sick child healed. The baptism of an elderly father. A mission trip full of miracles. Assisting the birth of a child. Volunteering at Vacation Bible School. Changing a tire.
“Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” (Psalm 66:5 NIV).
In Christ,
Berta
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Raised From the Dead

As an LPN working in the critical care unit at a local hospital, I was in the final hour of a twelve-hour shift when I entered my last patient’s room. A “Do Not Resuscitate” sign was posted at the door. I had met several of her family members the evening before and appreciated their love for her.
Looking at the cardiac monitor I saw her heart rate decrease to zero. I listened to her heart and lungs for life-signs. There were none. Stepping out, I asked the unit secretary to call her family members in from the waiting room.
Back at her bedside I leaned over, placed my hand on her chest and spoke quietly to her lifeless form, “Your family is coming in and you know they would like to be with you to say goodbye.” Gazing at the monitor, I watched her heart rhythm begin slowly. I laid my stethoscope on her chest and listened to her faint heartbeat while my own raced.
She was alive! And she lived long enough for her family to gather at her bedside and say goodbye to her.
Do such resurrections occur today? Yes. I am a witness. God on His throne reached down and used a young Christian to touch the soul of a dying woman.
Life is a precious gift. I know the Person who gives this gift. Do you know Him?
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV).
In Christian Love,
Berta

Loss, Loneliness and Leaving

My family in the Bottoms 1974

 I grew up in Meredosia, Illinois: Dosh—a small town of less than one thousand people. Dad sent Mom away when I was eleven. He was abusive and all my sisters and I had were each other. Our house burned to the ground that Christmas. A new house trailer replaced it, but we were on survival mode only. When our stepmother, Mary, and her four kids joined our family, we were isolated from the world we knew.

 
We moved to Arenzville—first into a trailer then an old farmhouse, then back to Dosh to the old Standard Oil gas station. Mary forced us to make and wear floor-length dresses and skirts every day. We didn’t play anymore. Then we moved to “the bottoms,” across the river in Brown County, where we lived in a converted school bus. I didn’t continue in school, opting to work the land.

Winters were the hardest. No matter where I lived after Mom left, I was cold—I still can’t stand to be cold. I left the bottoms at seventeen and never went back there or to Dosh.

Through the advent of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with a few people in or from Dosh. When we talk, I feel a deep loss. I don’t remember things they say I did or we did together, and I missed that “coming-of-age” time with prom and other school activities. It seems my sisters and I weren’t the only kids who suffered some type of abuse growing up there. As we share we are helping each other to heal.

Today Angela said, “Seriously, all of us know life can just suck, at times. But there is something in each of us that can overcome those times. I think Berta got an extra dose of the overcoming stuff… so… Super Powers is my answer.”

After lamenting about my despair and death wish, I realized I do have Super Power. I wrote:

“I didn’t know God knew me in the days I thought I was living in hell. Even after I made a profession of faith, I felt guilty. How could He love me? Didn’t He know how bad I was? Yes He did. It was my problem with self-deprecating guilt. When I quit hating myself and accepted His love and forgiveness, I forgave myself for doing what I’d done to myself, and others. God is my Super Power.”

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV).

In Christian Love,

Berta

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Planting Seeds

Looking back over my life, I see God’s hand in every day, even before I knew Him.

Though I had made a profession of faith in my twenty’s, I was far from Christ. I felt I was drowning in a sea of personal sin I didn’t dare share with my Christian friends.
Fear of their judgement scared me in to my own private hell.

Then I went to a retreat where I heard Christians talk about their sins and God’s forgiving heart. My shell shattered and I cried out to Him and found freedom in the love and forgiveness He held for me. I made a promise then, “I’m going to tell everyone I meet about Jesus.” And I did. Friends turned away and “perceived enemies” became brothers and sisters.

Eight months later an accident severed my spinal cord. I came home weak and weary six months and nine days after my injury. My power wheelchair had one true asset then—it reclined. I withdrew from life, laid back and hid behind veiled eyes. I refused to face my future.

The cost was high in body, mind and spirit, but God’s blessings are phenomenal. In His infinite wisdom, He prepared the way. Earl had served as a hospital chaplain on a reconstructive surgery floor where many of the patients had a spinal cord injury. In rehab, the staff taught us how to take care of me at home. According to them, I would live to within five years of my natural lifespan if I had something to look forward to and got out of the house routinely.

Earl took me on nearly every pastoral visit and preachers meeting he went to, but I just leaned back in my wheelchair with my eyes closed. He encouraged me to keep a journal and try teaching Sunday school. He loved me even when I failed.

As I filled those roles with study and preparation, I learned more than I taught. I read the story about how David sinned but was a man after God’s heart.* Job lost everything yet said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.”** I began sharing my story of God’s faithfulness again and grew stronger in my faith each time. I wrote my brief story and passed it out as a tract to everyone who spoke to me.

While in a small group studying Steve Harper’s Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition many years later, a friend pointed out my seemingly fearless sharing of my faith. I made light of it, “I just tell what God has done for me, but I’ve never led anyone to accept Christ.”

She said, “You may not have, but you have planted many seeds. You may never know until you get to heaven how many people are there because of your testimony.”

Those words have encouraged me to be bold as I tell my stories of His faithfulness to friends and strangers. Old and young. Churched and un-churched. In stores, in doctors offices or on the telephone with sales associates. Earl says, “Imagine that, Berta’s talking.”

Jesus tells us to make disciples. You too can plant and water to prepare hearts for God’s harvest. Trust Him and tell what He has done for you.

Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NRSV).

In Christian Love,

Berta

*Acts 13:22 KJV
**Job 13:15 KJV

Because Of a Wheelchair

It took years for me to adjust to my new life. Paralyzed from my shoulders down with minimal use of my arms, I sat in a large black power wheelchair and stood out in a crowd.  People stared and I often overheard them talking about me. “What’s she doing here?” “What does she want?” “She can’t sit there.”  Many said they were sorry I had to be in a wheelchair while still others yelled at me as if I couldn’t hear. Most people just walked around me. In my pain, I withdrew and hid behind veiled eyes.

Until one day, someone asked me to teach a Sunday school class. I didn’t want to do it, but God wouldn’t let me go. I accepted knowing He would be my strength. That single invitation gave me the courage to step out of my uncomfortable-comfort zone and speak up about the healing love of God’s presence in my life. My disability opened many doors for ministry; the wheelchair however, couldn’t go through all of them.

Buildings with narrow doorways, steps or other barriers set physical limits to my ministry while much of society continued to shun me. As I took a stand for Christ’s sacrifice “for the least of these” word of my ministry spread and I found I could be both a minister of the gospel and an advocate for persons with disabilities.

I prayed for healing from past hurts and God gave me an incredible ministry. God’s call may not be a “dream come true” but if you’ll accept it, He will bless you through it.

Father, it is my prayer that you would work through me, and use my disability to open doors and share your word everywhere I go.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are (disabled), but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).

In Christian Love,

Berta
 

God’s Timing

Do you ever feel like God has forgotten you? Or forgotten a promise He made to you? I have. A few months before my injury I attended a spiritual gifts workshop. We filled out surveys then broke into small groups. My group determined my gift was “healing,” a repeated theme in my spiritual walk that I had ignored because everyone knew I was a nurse. That day I believed it and it scared me.

I talked to a friend who listened and prayed with me. When he got up to leave he said, “You have to be healed before you can heal.”

I didn’t understand. I wasn’t sick.

After my injury, I believed God would heal me instantly—so I could begin my healing ministry.
God’s timing is not our timing. It requires us to persevere in our trusting God. This may mean years of patience and longsuffering. What gives us strength to wait upon the Lord? We must focus on His promises and the fulfillment of them. We must be careful not to go before Him as Abraham and Sarah did (Genesis 16 NIV).
God will do His part but we are responsible to do ours. We must move in great faith, being ready to answer His call. Remember that acting in faith builds faith. God starts us with small things, and if He finds us trustworthy, He will give us authority over many things (Matthew 25:23).
There will be battles. Satan will try to steal our destinies. Trials and travail bring us to new levels in our walk with Christ. We must recognize our need for help, humble ourselves and ask for prayer, counsel, and encouragement.
Stand together with your brothers and sisters in Christ knowing He is with you carrying you when needed. He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
His timing may surprise you today.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV).
In Christian Love,
Berta
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God’s Plan

The New Year had come and I was driving to meet my Emmaus reunion group. The next thing I remember was my husband, Earl, telling me, “You were in an accident.” I’d been in the hospital for seven weeks with a spinal cord injury. Paralyzed and on a ventilator, I had little to look forward to.

After three months in ICU, Earl had me transferred to a rehabilitation hospital that focused on spinal cord injuries. I felt comfortable there, surrounded by others in wheelchairs with injuries like mine. Yet once at home, I felt lost. Who am I? A pastor’s wife? A mother? A nurse? I’d had those roles before the accident. 

“God, why did you let this happen?” I prayed. “I’m a Christian. I read my Bible. I go to Sunday school and Bible study.”

Rather than answer me directly, God spoke through the people of God.

The church we were serving, Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, remodeled the parsonage, held fundraisers and gave me time to recuperate. The churches in our Conference, and people everywhere, who had heard about my accident, prayed and took up special offerings for us. Strangers visited, prayed with me and lay down checks. 

Each new appointment fell heavy on my heart. Another remodel and the pressure of learning new names to place with new faces overwhelmed me. But God blessed me as He gave me a ministry at each new church. 

At our second church, Maple Spring UMC, I tried my hands at teaching Sunday school. At the third, East Dyersburg UMC, I wrote for the church newsletter, taught Sunday school and started a telephone ministry with women who had difficulty getting to church. While serving our fourth church, Concord UMC, I added many areas of ministry within the local church, the district and the conference.

God’s love and the continued prayer and encouragement of you who are reading this carry me through the hard times. Today my life is everything I thought it couldn’t possibly be.

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare” (Psalm 40:5 NIV).
In Christian Love,

Berta

Please take a moment to read about God’s love for orphans and pray for the Flowers family as they move through the adoption process to bring their son home from El Salvador. www.facebook.com/Bringing.Carlos.home

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