Saturday, December 27, 2014

40 Years and Counting

Forty years ago today, at South Main Baptist Church in Pasadena, Larry and I made a marriage covenant with God that was witnessed by family and friends.  According to God’s Holy ordinance, we pledged to love and to cherish each other for better or worse, whether we were rich or poor, sick or healthy, or until death parted us.  Those ideal phrases for newlyweds are even more powerful and meaningful today knowing that we are still committed to living and experiencing those expressed words.

 With the infamous Chocolate Chip Groom's Cake

I’m grateful that…
*When we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; and in all our ways submit to Him, He has been faithful to make our ways straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
*Our cord of three strands is much stronger than if we rely on just one or two strands.
*We’re family, on the same team, and sharing life together.
*Larry is a promise keeper who takes to heart when the apostle Paul says to love your wife like Jesus loved His church and gave Himself up for her.
*God gave me more than I could have ever asked or imagined when He blessed me with Larry. 

 Looking forward to beginning year 41

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:25

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Perfect Gift

With December 25th rapidly approaching, gifts have been made or purchased and are now being wrapped, in anticipation of our CHRISTmas celebration.  Each December 26th, I make out my list for the next year’s gift recipients.  I then listen for hints or wishes throughout the year and write them on my list.  Whether the presents are for our children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, or people we have never met, I want to find a gift that is just right for each person.  Sometimes that means spending time researching products on the computer, making calls to several stores in and out of town, or going to another city to pick up the gift.  Even with all the thought, planning, and care in choosing the present, there is no guarantee that the gift will be exactly what each person desires, wants, or needs...even if they wished for it.

Only God is the “Perfect Gift Giver.”  He offers everyone the perfect gift of His Son, Jesus.  Because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, obedience on the cross, and resurrection, we can each have the gift of a relationship with Him for eternity.  God offers us the present of His presence through His Son, Immanuel, “God with us.”  And like the presents we receive for Christmas, for the gift to be ours we must take it, embrace it, and accept it as our own.

 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:23

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:16-17

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Greetings, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Bertrands!

May your Christmas Season be full of special times with family, friends – old and new, and most of all Jesus.

 Scott and Abby
Mary (2)
Houston, Texas

Brad and Melinda
Houston, Texas

Chad and Lori
David (4), Ryen (21 months)
Gatesville, Texas

And wherever you go, may you share the love and light of Jesus.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 
Luke 2:10-11 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Going the Extra Mile

Kayla Montgomery played competitive soccer in junior high.  The summer before high school, she noticed that due to numbness, she couldn’t feel her feet.  In October of 2010, after multiple tests, Kayla was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  At first she cried a lot and just wanted to be alone.  For 8 months Kayla had no feeling in her legs and had to give up soccer.  With medical help, the feeling in her feet and legs began to return as did Kayla’s desire to run and compete again.  Since soccer is a contact sport, another sport had to be chosen.

Kayla approached the track coach, Patrick Cromwell, at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about training and running on the track team.  She wanted to run, make the most out of every day, and to be held accountable.  As Kayla trained, she progressed from an average runner to one of the best in her area.  She made Varsity and pushed herself further by training with the boys’ team.  Because of MS, when her body overheated she could no longer feel her feet or legs or know how fast she was running.  She had to listen to her coach and learn how to pace herself.

Not only did Coach Cromwell train, motivate, and push Kayla to do her best, he also made the commitment to meet Kayla at the finish line to catch her after she completed each race.  Since she could no longer feel her legs, Kayla would collapse in the coach’s arms and he would pick her up and carry her off the field.  People would come and place ice packets on her and give her water or Gatorade to drink to begin the cooling down process.  Her body temperature would eventually return to normal and the symptoms would subside.

Earlier in the year, Montgomery qualified for the North Carolina state meet for outdoor track in the 3,200-meter race.  Within the first 100 meters of the race, Kayla was running with the group and tripped and fell.  She got up, began running again, and eventually caught up with the crowd of runners.  Kayla crossed the finish line, collapsed into her coach’s arms, and was declared the winner with a time of 10 minutes 43 seconds, which was a good enough time to rank her 21st in the country.

There are so many things that encourage me about this story:
*After assessing the situation, Kayla didn’t let being diagnosed with MS define her life.
*It’s important to have dreams and goals and to be willing to work for them, even when there are hurdles along the way.
*When you fall down, you have the choice of staying down or getting back up to finish the race.
*Wise instruction is beneficial when it is assessed, taken to heart, and then applied.
*Going the extra mile helps bring results and blessings.
*I am blessed by people who invest in me so I can fulfill my dreams, goals, and purpose in life.  I also need to be willing to encourage, catch, hold, pick up, or bring water so someone else can have the opportunity to do the same.
When interviewed for a documentary Kayla stated, “I just hope to run as long as I can and to make the most out of it as long as I can.  When or if I am not able to run at some point down the road, then at least I can look back and know that when I could I gave it my all.”  May we all be able to have the same response to whatever Jesus is asking of us.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
I Corinthians 9:24

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Following the Recipe

For Thanksgiving, with both sides of the family, people bring certain parts of the meal each year.  Recipes are followed to ensure that the dish that is served is as delicious as the one prepared the previous year.  The chocolate chip cake has been one of our items to make and take. 

For years, I would take out the recipe for the cake to make sure that I made it just right.  Even though there are not many items in the recipe, I still wanted to make sure that I made it in the correct order and used the proper measurements to make the cake.  At times, I have tried a different brand of cake mix or pudding, but I keep returning to the original ingredients for the best taste. 

Since I have made the cake so often now, I no longer need to use the recipe.  But if I were trying something new it would definitely be an advantage to have written instructions to follow for the desired results to have the best chance of occurring. 

There are also “Recipes for Life” to follow in God’s Word.  They are not limited to special holidays or seasons of the year.  Some will be easier to memorize and apply over time and others will need to be read and practiced often to see if all of the “ingredients” and “measurements” are correct.  It will be important not to substitute or eliminate items that God has given so that what we do will consistently bring Him glory.

A few recipes for life:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:9-13

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
I Peter 2:17

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
II Peter 1:5-7