Our New Home!

Our New Home!
The sun sets on our first month in Oklahoma!

Friday, June 28, 2019

LIFE!


I found myself bounding down the 3 flights of stairs from my apartment this morning around 7:30… holding on to one end of a yellow leash that was attached to my 65+ pound pooch!  After the first section, I noticed that I had a smile on my face due to the fact that it dawned on me exactly what I was doing.  I was taking the dog out for his morning constitutional and actually enjoying it!

It was funny to me because about a month ago, I remember thinking that having to take him out and about… away from the quiet privacy of our spacious backyard in North Carolina… was gonna be a pain!  But there I was, performing my pet-owner’s responsibilities in broad daylight, in the midst of a whole bunch of apartments and their occupants… and I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee or shaved and showered yet.  But it seemed right and perfect!  I’m discovering that I actually enjoy being around so many different people again.

By the time I got to the final flight of stairs my attention had switched from the dog to… you guessed it  My lovely wife Piper.  Once again, I found myself quietly chuckling when the thought hit me that I tend to put her on a pedestal whenever I talk or write about her.  But I just shrugged my shoulders, justifying that this response is a rational part of my husbandly prerogative!  Besides, its basically the way I thought of her from day one!

By the time Fiver and I returned to our apartment and I jumped into the shower, my thoughts had moved on to the difference between LIFE and DEATH.  Now it wasn’t a deep philosophical discussion, but a simple vision of the differences between those who tend to dwell on the joys of life and of those who lend themselves to negative responses in their daily lives.

Her love of life was another one of the important things that drew me to Piper… and I believe her to me!  We’ve always seemed to have a positive outlook on things going on around us. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses told the children of Israel… and it still rings true to us today… that “I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. (God’s Word ©)  Joshua tells the Israelites the same thing at the end of his book in chapter 24.  But he goes on to clarify that in order to do that, you have to stay diligently focused on the truth of God’s teachings.

During the last twelve years of Piper’s physical presence on this earth, as the details of what was going on with her began to become clear, it was pretty obvious as to where people that we interacted with had their focus and expectations set.  There really weren’t any shades of grey… it was simply BLACK or WHITE!  People either gave into thoughts of death or expressed an expectation for life when they heard about and/or saw the changes going on with her.  It was easy to see by the look on their faces and the words that they spoke.

For us, one of the many benefits we received and walked in during the entire experience was an attitude and expectation of life.  This was due to the fact that as Joshua stated, our focus was locked onto the Word of God.  His Word gave us Godly expectations, hope, consistency, strength, wisdom and an uncanny joy that stayed present throughout the whole ordeal.  When I looked at the devastating changes that were drastically altering my wife’s beautiful features and sharp mind, I wasn’t moved (too much), but constantly was reminded of what God said and promised us through His Word.

Philippians 2:16 tells us to “hold firmly to the Word of life.” (God’s Word ©)  Which is exactly what we did then… and I continue to do today as I sort through the fog that thankfully now seems to be dissipating around me!

What is your view in the events of your daily activities?  Do you choose LIFE or do you choose DEATH?  Do you give in to the negative things that you see going on around you, complain a lot or keep thinking about how good things used to be?  Well if so… you need some personal adjusting and a refocus to view the precious quantities of LIFE that are present all around us!  And you do that by focusing your attention and expectation onto what God says in His Word.  It’s actually a pretty simple solution.  It just takes commitment and consistency on your behalf… and before you know it, you’ll be seeing the joys of LIFE unfold before you!

It may not be walking the dog early in the morning in front of the whole world, but something that’s just as simple in your daily existence!  Have a great weekend, and as you do, think about LIFE and say with me… “I am expecting to concentrate on the joys of LIFE instead of on the depressive pull of DEATH-full thoughts, today!”

PS:  When I first returned from taking the dog out, I looked out from my balcony and spotted a neighbor walking his dog while dressed in pajamas and flip-flops... I don't think I'll ever get to that place of relaxation!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Personal History


After yesterday’s on and off again storms, I woke up today to mostly sunny skies, moderate temperatures and a dog that was eager to go out and explore his new domain.  I have to keep reminding myself that I have absolutely nothing to get or be anxious about here in my new home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  After pushing myself for months getting the house ready for sale, dealing with the showings, the offers, the packing and then the following move out and in again to the new place…  All that “gotta get it done” is… well… done!

Now what?  Okay let’s see… the first order of business is to take care of the car and driver’s licensing, auto insurance, new health insurance and the other ten or so immediate things that come with moving to a new state.  But, it’s not my first rodeo, so I’ll just get it done one step at a time… while learning something called: “RELAXING”

I keep thinking about how Piper’s and my history brought us out here to Oklahoma… twice!  And as I sat on the balcony reading from the book of Ephesians, I had more opportunity to consider what the history books will say about the life and times of Jim and Piper Berruto.  I like what the God’s Word © translation says about history.  I tend to personalize most everything I read when I study the Bible, so Ephesians 1:10 said to me today that “God planned to bring all of Piper’s and my history (as well as all of yours) to its goal in Christ.”  The very next verse in The Message paraphrase would tend to agree with that thought as it declares that “It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for…”

While a cool and refreshing breeze blew about Fiver and I on the balcony, I began to laugh as I had the sudden idea that Piper’s and my history must have been pretty decent as it seemed like the devil unknowingly put God’s stamp of approval on it… through all the vicious personal attacks that he (the enemy of our souls) unleased on us during the years of Piper’s illness.  Hummm… that’s kind of a cool way to think about it!

Our Pastor was teaching on fear yesterday and spoke on one of Piper’s and my LONG-TIME favorite verses found in 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul taught his young protégé saying “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)  Pastor Hagin stated that when fear moves in you lose POWER.  You lose the ability to LOVE and you lose SOUNDNESS OF MIND, which results in you making decisions that a SOUND MIND would never allow.

Well, that sent a chill through my body because that is exactly what we saw happening around us over the last twelve years.  But the chill came not with that realization, but with the realization of how AWFUL it must have been for those caught in the clutches of such debilitating and panic driven fear… With NO strength to overcome it, no ability to walk in giving and grace-filled love, and all the while, continually doing and saying hurtful things that a sound mind would never allow to be spoken and/or acted upon!  YIKES!  You talk about a SCARY situation to find yourself in!

As I pondered all of this, I realized the goodness of the Lord in preparing us for our future history that He started at the beginnings of our relationship.  For as far as I can remember, 2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13 and 19 and Joshua 1:9 were some of the first scriptures that Piper and I took deep into our hearts and made to be active participants in our lives. 

So, when the hardest of times came upon us, we already had a history of God’s strength in our lives to fall back on.  We quickly identified the various forms that fear tried to take in the attack on Piper’s health and turned our eyes away from what our physical senses were screaming at us and looked to the overwhelming truth of God’s Word and the history of it working in our lives over the 37 years of being together when we received that first negative doctor’s report in July of 2007… right here in Broken Arrow!

So yeah… history has its place throughout our lives!  In many respects, our past history saved us when the present troubles became evident in Piper’s and my lives.  Have you every thought about your past and present histories?  What will it say about you?  Will it help or hinder you in troubled times… as well as in the good times!  I am looking forward to my history of the past, present and of that which is yet to be written, to carry me joyfully into the next chapter of my life.  How about you?

Have a great week, and as you do, continue to say with me… “I am expecting my history to work great things in my life today!”

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace…


“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”                Matthew 11:29



I came across this version of Matthew 11:29 last week and it literally shook me… but in a very meaningful way!  I’ve been really pushing myself this last month with the house sale, move, memory upon memory and my new life in Oklahoma.  I reached a point yesterday afternoon where I felt like I just couldn’t physically go on any further.  Headache, body ache, heartache… you name it… it ached!

But I stopped and dragged myself up into a chair at the dining room table, opened up my laptop to my Bible Study program and clicked on Matthew 11:29 in The Message paraphrase Bible.  And it was like a sudden shock of fresh air similar to the effect of when I would walk from the green house into the store at the Home Depot in Tulsa, OK where I worked from 2006-2009… when the summer temperatures were 100+ degrees with 90% humidity outside and around 68 degrees inside!  I am not exaggerating one bit when I say it was a SHOCKING EXPERIENCE!

The reality of the “unforced rhythms of (God’s) grace” flowing over and through me had that same effect yesterday.  It was better than a cold sip of Gatorade anytime!

I’ve always had a good sense of rhythm.  I would say that it has to have come from my folks.  It was a funny thing though… My Mom had a beautiful voice and loved to sing, while my Dad couldn’t hold a tune in a bucket – but get them on the dance floor when a 1940’s swing song was playing and the floor cleared as others watched in awe at their smiling faces and graceful moves.  My Mom told the story of the first time they danced at a USO dance in New York during WW2.  She said that she thought that he was "so stuck up" because he hardly talked.  My Dad later confided in her that he was very nervous and counting his steps!
I always thought that I wanted to be a drummer until I tried it for a few months in Jr Hi with a friend’s band and discovered that it was too hard for me to sing and play drums at the same time!  So, singing won out and I took up the guitar!

I always played rhythm guitar in the two bands I was a part of in Jr and Sr high, as well as with the various church praise and worship teams that we were a part of over the years.  I loved the tone and sound of the strings being strummed in cadence to the beat and seemed to have little difficulty with any rhythm pattern.  When Piper got sick though, I seemed to have lost my inspiration… and whatever talent I had and haven’t played now for years.  When I was packing my two guitars a few weeks ago, I sat on the coffee table and attempted to play a couple of familiar songs and found it hard not only to remember the chords but also the rhythmic patterns of the music.

That kind of describes my life since Piper passed nine months ago.  Yesterday seemed to be a zero point, but that verse and the thoughts of God’s “unforced rhythms of grace” snapped me back into a place of expectation and of remembrance for all the “rhythms of grace” that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit had played in Piper’s and my life over the 48 years of our precious time together.  That renewed expectation and those happy remembrances flooded my heart and mind with His JOY and that JOY brought me back to His place of STRENGHT as stated Nehemiah 8:10.

Today I awoke determined to perpetrate His Joy and His peace into every part of every task I take on.  To allow His sweet “unforced rhythms of grace” to drive the tempo of my day… and with each of the seemingly 1 billion things left to do on my “To-Do” list before we drive away this coming Saturday!

How are you doing today?  Is there something that’s attempting to break up the tempo that God wants for you to flow in today?  Well, then take a moment, sit down, take a deep breath, open up your Bible, meditate on His Word and then speak it out so you too can “learn the unforced rhythms of (God’s) grace” for YOUR life… and then DO IT!

Have a good week.  I’ll be on and off the air this week as services get disconnected here and reconnected there.  But I’ll stay in touch as best I can… as I flow in HIS “unforced rhythms of grace”  …along with you!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

An Old Family Recipe!


“I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”   Philippians 4:12-13 (The Message)



This week has been kind of crazy as I have been pushing myself ever closer to the goal of getting us moved to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma by the end of next week.  I just received notice from our realtor that we successfully passed the Due Diligence period and are now free to finalize all of our moving plans both here and in Oklahoma!  I was quite pleased as almost all of the concerns on the house inspection report were simple wear and tear items like old water stains, a few holes or worn areas in the vinyl siding or wood that might need to be replaced on the back deck.

I had been thinking that I was doing a pretty good job handling everything… that is… until this morning!   I awoke rather early… so what else is new… and found myself fighting off an uncharacteristically high amount of anxious thoughts about all that still needs to be done.  But in the midst of a steaming hot shower, I suddenly found myself speaking out the Word of God and realized the almost instant peace it brought to me, especially when it came to Philippians 4:13, which is and OLD friend of Piper’s and mine since the early days of our relationship!

As soon as I got out of the shower and ready for the day, I headed into the dining room and took the time to really study out that verse… again!  It is uncanny how much encouragement and empowerment that is connected to that portion of scripture.  Before I actually sat down at the table, I stopped at one of the few pictures of Piper still up on the wall and was momentarily hampered by a wave of sorrow, sadness and self-pity as I briefly considered the potential harshness of walking into something entirely new for me without the ability to hold her hand!  But again, I thought of Philippians 4:13 and how the Word says that I can do all things through Christ, and settled right down within the truth of HIS reality!

While studying out the individual words and phrases of the verse, I renewed my understanding that with God’s anointed Word actively working for and through me, I have the strength to overcome anythingincluding, the world without Piper.  I also took extra special note of Philippians 4:12 as stated in The Message Bible, where it tells us that Philippians 4:13 is the answer to my concerns for today… and every other day for that matter.  Here the Apostle Paul proclaimed, “I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.” And then goes on to explain that “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

That, my faithful readers, is the answer to all that we each face throughout our lives.  For me it was this morning, for you it might be another day… perhaps tomorrow.  But no matter what the day is, no matter what the situation or need is, we NOW have the recipe for God’s victory in our lives!  The answer lies in not what you might have been thinking about yourself, or in your abilities, or based on some story someone else has made up about you… the truth of who you and I are is WHO THE WORD SAYS WE ARE!

I was rejuvenated this morning with the FACTS of God’s Word and now know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (EMTV)  What about you?  Get in the Word and find out all the loving and utterly fantastic things that IT says about you!  It will change your life as you move forth with a correct image of yourself within the empowerment of His Word that you put inside of you! 

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, do it all within HIS STRENGTH and say with me… “This is my expectation today: that ‘Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.‘”

Monday, June 3, 2019

Decisions, Decisions…


I got up around 6:00 this morning and spent a few moments staring at the early morning scene that was dawning before me as I stood at the back window.  The sun had not yet peeked its golden glow over the eastern horizon and thereby forced my attention to more of what I could hear than what I could see.  What arose to my audible senses was the orchestration of singing birds, the faint rustle of the leaves shimmering in a soft breeze and the symphony of a quiet, peaceful and thought-provoking morning.

In an instant I was transported back to the memories of our quiet early morning campgrounds that we stayed in over the years… be it amongst the tall giants in the Redwood forests or the thick pine groves snuggled in the beauty of Plumas or Sierra Counties in northern California.  What came strongly upon me was the wonderful feelings of peace, comfort and joy as I sat alone at the picnic table with a hot cup of coffee, my open Bible and my trusty Geodex notebook, that still sits next to me as I study the Bible today!

Since it was still a little early for me to get up today, I returned to bed, pulled up the covers and contemplated those marvelous times as the first one up in camp within the soft stirrings of the forest and the slowly awakening campgrounds.  In the early years I would complete my morning study, quietly re-enter the tent and gently rub Piper’s arm or back to arouse her from a deep slumber that seemed to be a part and parcel of our camping adventures!  In later years the kids would come bounding out of the tent one by one to greet me and have me accompany them down the camp road that was almost hidden by the big trees on the way to the restroom.  Then when we returned, Piper would peek out her head from the side of the tent flap and brighten the whole camp with that wonderful, heart-warming smile of hers! 

With all those wonderful memories flooding my being, I couldn’t help but fall back asleep with a smile upon my face!

So… that was all part of the life we chose to live.  A life that was loyal to each other and to God.  It seems like each of us are faced on a daily basis with decisions that challenge us to decide who or what we will be loyal to.  Deuteronomy 30:20 tells us “Love the LORD your God, obey him, and be loyal to him.  For he is thy life, and the length of thy days…” (God’s Word©/KJV)  For us, those challenges were too insignificant and came too late!  We had already made up our minds.  We always chose life… we always chose God!  How about you?

Have a great week, and as you do, think about how’ll you’ll decide when faced with those challenges and then say with me… “I am expecting to choose God’s life and God’s ways today!”