Monday, December 24, 2007

My prayer today...

Psalm 143:8, 10-12
8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.
10 Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a plain country and into the land of uprightness.
11 Save my life, O Lord, for Your name's sake; in Your righteousness bring my life out of trouble and free me from distress.
12 And in Your mercy and lovingkindness cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my inner self, for I am Your servant.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Learning to lie down and rest...

God is so good and so wonderful! Not only does He shows us the sins that are in the way of getting closer to Him, but He also provides a way out of them!

As I spent time praying and asking God to help me quiet myself this past week, I was reading out of book called, "Powerful Promises for Every Woman," by Elizabeth George. The book is focused on Psalm 23 and explains the "12 Life-Changing Truths from Psalm 23." The chapter, "God's Promise of Rest," is about Psalm 23:2: "He makes me to lie down in green pastures." It also talks about the reasons why sheep won't lie down: 1) Fear. A sheep that is afraid will not lie down and get the rest it needs. It takes the presence of the Shepherd to dispel all fear; 2) Hunger. It's a fact that a sheep that's hungry will not lie down and receive the rest it needs. Instead, it wanders about restlessly, frantically searching for food; 3) Fighting. A sheep that's involved in or even witnessing fighting also cannot lie down and receive the rest it needs. As I thought about how these truths apply to my spiritual life and my struggle to "lay down and luxuriate in God's green pastures," I asked myself, "Why won't I lie down? Is it fear, hunger, fighting?" I knew fear was a huge factor; I felt constant anxiety about "lying down." I fear that God will just leave me here and forget about me, that I will cease to exist in His mind and heart. I know He has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), therefore, I know that my fear is not based upon truth or what is real, so I needed to just remind myself of this. Hunger: I knew it wasn't hunger as I have been regularly feeding on God's Word and thoroughly enjoying it! Fighting: I knew some of it was fighting. Although God has promised to fight my battles for me, I found myself going out there and fighting life, the "bears," the "wolves," and the "lions of life, and Satan and all his cohorts. God, as my Shepherd is fighting and will continue to fight them for me, but somehow, somewhere, I felt I had to go out there and fight too. But when I do so, I end up feeling battered, wounded, and unable to rest. It leaves me feeling uncared for.

Then God gave me a picture in my mind of His green pastures, beside the still waters (second half of Psalm 23:2). I found myself wanting to lie down, but still not able to as I anxiously looked up at the cliffs on the other side of the stream. I kept looking at the future, worried that He might not take me there (provide a husband for me). Throughout that day, while I mentally/emotionally tried to picture myself lying down and forgetting about the future, not looking anxiously at it, I couldn't do it. Again, that night and the next morning, I found myself praying for help to let go of the anxiety about the future. The following morning, while getting ready for work I started thinking about Isaac and how he must have felt waiting for his father's servant, Eliezer to return and wondering if he was going to bring back a bride for Isaac. I went to the Bible and read the story again and realized that although Isaac probably looked longingly at the horizon for Eliezer's return and the hopes of a bride being with him, it wasn't with anxiety that he waited and watched. In fact, in Genesis 24:662-63, it says, "62 Now Isaac had returned from going to the well Beer-lahai-roi (that is, A well to the Living One Who sees me), for he [now] dwelt in the South country--the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate and bow down [in prayer] in the open country in the evening; and he looked up and saw that lo, the camels were coming." First, Isaac went about his work with a "business as usual" attitude and then he proceeded to "meditate and bow down [in prayer]." I recognized that God was calling me to do the same in regards to waiting for a husband. I can look longingly in hope toward the future, but I'm not to be anxious about it. Instead, I am to "be about the business of my daily life," and continue to "meditate and bow down in prayer" and trust that just as He (God) fulfilled Isaac's need for a wife, God will fulfill my need for a husband.

Over the next day or so I found it easier to think about lying down and didn't experience as much anxiety about the whole situation, but I still was having trouble with emotionally/mentally lying down to rest. I knew the other thing that needed to be dealt with was the anxiety about my finances. So, again I turned to God in prayer.

Sabbath morning, after getting up and even during and after my study and prayer time, I felt so drained, so empty. In fact, I ended up reading Psalm 38 and much of the Psalm was exactly how I felt, but in particular, verses 8-10 "8 I am faint and sorely bruised--deadly cold and quite worn out; I groan by reason of the disquiet and moaning of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You, and my sighing is not hid from You, 10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me." And then, Psalm 139, in particular verse 7, "Where could I go from Your Spirit? [and where would I want to thoughts]. Or where could I flee from Your presence? [Please don't let thoughts, again.] All day I struggled with my feelings of despair and loss in regards to my finances.

This morning (Sunday), during my prayer time, the Lord really opened up the windows of my mind and heart and spoke to me directly about my finances through the reading of His Word in Zechariah 2 and the book Prophets & Kings (pages 573-575). Both of these readings were all about the return of the exiles (Israelites) from Babylon. They were to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. But they met with opposition and became discouraged, went to their own homes and began restoring their own homes instead of the temple first. This only created more problems for themselves as the thing they feared the most (poverty), is exactly what came upon them because they didn't obey God and rebuild the temple first in faith and trust. God had promised to prosper them, as long as they obeyed Him and put Him first in their lives, which involved restoring the temple.

What a lesson!!!! I knew that God was speaking directly to me and my financial sin. I have for many years put my "own house" (personal wants and needs) above "restoring God's temple" (giving back to Him in Tithes and Offerings) as He has commanded. Therefore, the one thing I have dreaded more than anything else (poverty) has come upon me. But, thankfully, God didn't leave me there. He went on to show me through the Israelites experience that all they needed to do was repent and step forward in faith and obedience and He would turn things around for them. God also gave me a verse that reassured me that He will rid me of this sin in my life. In Zechariah 3:4-7, it says, "4 And He (God) spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And He said to Joshua, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel. 5 And I [Zechariah] said, let them put a clean turban on his head. So they put a clean turban on his head, and clothed him with rich garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by. 6 And the Angel of the Lord solemnly and earnestly protested and affirmed to Joshua, saying, 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in My ways and keep My charge, then also you shall rule My house and have charge of My courts, and I will give you access [to My presence] and places to walk among those who stand here." My burden was truly lifted from my heart and my prayer became, "Lord, please teach me Your ways that I may walk in them and Your charge, that I may keep it."

By the grace of God, I am now able to lie down and rest. At times, I still find myself, out of habit, trying to toss and turn and not rest, but all I have to do is remind myself of what He has shown me, how He has taught me to lie down and I can once again lie down and rest.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Learning to quiet myself and wait...

The Sabbath School lessons this quarter have been truly excellent! Every week there has been something I can apply to my life and this past week was no different. The theme of last week's lesson was learning to wait upon God to act on our behalf and we studied about David and Saul and how David didn't do anything towards the fulfillment of God's promise to make him King, even when he had several opportunities to kill Saul, who was the King of Israel at the time and trying to kill him (David). Instead, in faith, David waited for God to act on his behalf and at the appointed time, after Saul had been killed in battle, David was given the throne.

As some of you who have read my latest updates may know, I'm in the midst of waiting upon God for a husband and for the financial resources (above what I am making through my work, which is not enough) to live on and make restitution. Internally, I found myself feeling "strapped down;" feeling as if someone had me on a gurney in the hospital and had me strapped down so I couldn't move. I felt frantic, tossing and turning, trying to break free. As I looked to God, I kept begging Him to loose me from the gurney, but He wouldn't. As I struggled emotionally throughout the week, I was reading about David's waiting and I couldn't seem to grasp what I needed to do to enable myself to wait or how I was to do it.

Thursday morning, as I was contemplating the lesson and how to apply it to my life, a thought came into my mind, "What did King Saul need to do when he was waiting for Samuel (God's prophet) to arrive at Gilgal to offer up sacrifices to God, that he didn't do because he was impatient, and which ultimately led to his downfall?" Instead of quieting himself before the Lord (and the people) and continuing to wait for Samuel to arrive, he "broke forth" and made the sacrifice on his own, a sin.

So, what do I need to do? I too need to quiet myself (emotionally) before the Lord and wait for God to act on my behalf. The longer I take to quiet myself, the longer I'll have to wait for Him to act on my behalf. Otherwise, I'm liable to act rashly and sin and hurt myself.

Upon realizing the significance of this "picture" God had given me, I now could understand why God was saying, "No," to my plea to be released from the ties that bound me to the gurney. I also could understand why I was seeing a gurney in a hospital. God couldn't/wouldn't loose me from the gurney until I quit striving and fighting Him as He needed to perform "heart surgery" upon me. But, I couldn't seem to stop. I was too scared to stop. I was afraid if I stopped that He would leave me there forever, all strapped down (emotionally and financially). Even now, as I'm trying to quiet myself before Him, I'm still scared; I'm still asking Him, "For how long, Lord, how long? How long and how painful will this 'heart surgery' be? Will I die (emotionally and financially)? Will I be a cripple when You are done? Do You really love me? Will You give me an abundant life (emotionally and financially) or will You forget about me and let me die? Do You really, truly love me?

He answered me and said, "Yes! I really, truly love You and I won't let you die and I won't leave you here forever, but I have to remove the 'stony heart out of [your] flesh' and 'give [you] a heart of flesh' [a heart that is sensitive and responsive to My (God's) touch], so that I will 'keep His statues and ordinances' and 'I will be His people and He shall be my God'" (Ezekiel 11:19-20) .

God is requiring me to go through these trials of complete singleness and financial deprivation for a time (not forever) for two main reasons: 1) So that I will come to abhor the sins that have caused this and never want to commit them again, and 2) So that I learn to quiet myself before Him and trust Him and be willing to wait for Him to act on my behalf.

So, with these thoughts and with this prayer, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me," I am learning to quiet myself before the Lord and wait upon Him to act on my behalf. When the appointed time has come, when I am past the point where I will act rashly or hurt myself, He will loose the ties that have strapped me down.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Living in exile...

There have been 3 distinct times (this time being one of them) that I've been in this place of exile, this place of complete singleness. During the first time, I was at a complete loss as to what I should do and I didn't understand why I was going through it. It felt like it would go on forever and I was overwhelmed with the loneliness of my situation. Therefore, I connected with a friend that I had known for most of my life. When I connected with him, I felt that God told me that I could be friends with him, but I wasn't to date him as he wasn't for me (he had a lot of personal baggage and issues that he hadn't dealt with and still hasn't dealt with). I ended up going against what I felt God had told me and chose to get involved with him for the next 6-7 years.

The second time I was in this place of exile or complete singleness, was 3-1/2 years ago, just before my Dad died. This time, I felt that God had told me I needed to be patient and wait for who He had planned for me. This was fine until I was emotionally drained from watching my Dad die, something unexpected happened (one of my nephews was killed in a motorcycle accident), and something I should have expected, but wasn't emotionally ready to deal with happened (my brother temporarily returned to a life of constant drinking). The combination seemed too much for me and I reverted back to old behaviors and familiar people, my ex from the first time mentioned above.

Coming back to this place of exile again has been difficult, but a couple of weeks ago, I asked God if it was because I was so unlovable that I was back in this position or if it was Him Who had brought me back here. The next day, the Sabbath School lesson was on "Our Father's Plan for Us." The setting was Jeremiah 29:1-10. It talked about why God's people should not give up hope even though they had just been taken captive into exile. The three important sources of hope were: 1) Their situation was not the result of chance or unpredictable evil. For God Himself said, "I carried [Judah] into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon" (vs. 4, NIV); 2) He [God] can work even within their present difficulties. "Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper" (vs. 7, NIV); and 3) He [God] is going to bring an end to their exile at a specific time. "This is what the Lord says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place' " (vs. 10, NIV).

After reading this, I felt strongly that God was answering my question. I wasn't back in exile because I was unlovable, but because He brought me here. He needs me to go through this without running away from it or rebelling against it. Additionally, I felt that God was telling me that I needed to pray for the prosperity of the city of exile (singleness) that He has brought me to and that it isn't forever. Thankfully, I also believe it isn't for 70 years as I wouldn't even be alive anymore, nor do I think it will be 7 years as I feel that God has told me it would be in a "reasonable amount of time." I don't know if "reasonable amount of time" means 4 months (unlikely), 7 months (probably), or longer (hope not), but I know that I can trust God with the timing and fulfillment of His promise to not leave me here. Knowing this hasn't made the adjustment much easier, I still struggled with self-pity and sulking for the first week or so, but I am pretty much at the point of acceptance now. I just pray that this time I can past the "test," persevere through the trial, and come out on the other side a "winner."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Walking my talk...

How can we ever preach/teach something we have never actually learned? We can't. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. This is why we must first learn before we can teach others.

This truth has really hit home to me this weekend as I struggled with maintaining purity within a relationship/friendship. In fact, even though I didn't lose the battle physically (which is only because of distance), I did lose it mentally and verbally, which is just as much of a loss as losing it physically.

This morning, during my prayer time, I realized that I have been choosing boys/men over obedience to God for a long time. In first grade I had my first experience with this scenario. There was a little boy that I really, really liked and I wanted him to like me. One day, the teacher told us we all had to wear our boots when we went outside because it was a wet, rainy, muddy day. Well, the boy I liked didn't wear his boots. For some reason, I thought that he would like me more if I did what he did, so I also didn't wear my boots. Being who I am, someone who can't get away with anything, I got caught and was destined to be punished for my disobedience. I had never been punished or really even disciplined in my life so far (I had been a naturally obedient child up until this day), so I was quite devastated by the thought and the teacher ended up not disciplining me as my mother intervened on my behalf.

As innocent as all of this was, there are a couple of principles coming into play in this situation that I now know helped to create the issues I am still struggling with right now. First of all, although my teacher wasn't God, she was in authority over me and I was to obey and submit to her authority as an indirect obedience and authority to God (Romans 13:1). I didn't obey her, instead I chose pleasing a boy over pleasing my teacher (or indirectly God) through obedience.

Secondly, my mother intervened, not allowing me to experience any consequences of my choice to disobey. Would the consequences of my disobedience have scarred me for life? Unlikely. Therefore, it probably would have been beneficial for me to experience the consequences as a deterrent of future disobedience in the same area.

Not that I'm trying to blame others (my teacher or my mother) for the choices I make today. I'm not, but remembering that experience helped me to understand when my problem of choosing men over God actually started and allowed me to ask forgiveness for my original sin and all that have followed.

Unfortunately, this also doesn't mean that the problem is gone, never to be an issue again. Habits don't usually die that quickly and I've been choosing men over obedience to God for many years. But, I do believe that it is the first step and maybe the most important one in the battle towards purity in relationships.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A month later...

Well, here it is a whole month later, exactly. How time does fly no matter whether you are having fun or not!

So, what can I tell you about the past month...Well, the church I go to, Otsego SDA Church, had its 140th Anniversary Celebration on the 22nd of September, which went really well...I am now half-way through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course I'm taking and haven't made any progress financially, boss and one of the other girls I work with at the office went in together and bought a workout bench, a weight bar with 5# and 10# weights, and a set of 10# ankle and wrist weights for me, along with the 10# set of barbells that my boss had already given me the week before. Unbelievable! I was completely overwhelmed at their generosity and thoughtfulness. I have been using the workout bench almost every day since. There are a couple of days during the week that I end up only having time for my aerobics, but I'm trying to get to where I do both aerobics and weights six days of the week and rest on Sabbath (except for my leisure walk with some friends after potluck)...You would think with all this exercise and with cutting my calorie intake as much as I have that I would be losing weight quickly. Nope! I'll drop a few pounds and then it seems to take forever to drop down to the next weight goal. Tonight I went to the next level of the aerobics walk, in hopes that it will help me to break through the barrier.

I have been reading, of course. Currently, I'm reading the book, "Loving God with All Your Mind," by Elizabeth George. Another excellent book. This past weekend, I read the book, "When God Writes Your Love Story." That one made me cry, but it showed me how different I want my relationship to be with whomever God has chosen for me. There are days when it feels like it will never happen. Even though I technically didn't wait on God over the past almost 30 years (marriageable age) for the right one, it feels like I have been waiting for the whole almost 45 years of my life! In Proverbs 13:12 it says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life." Now let me tell you about hope deferred! It really does make a heart sick and I have thought of this verse often while my hopes of marrying a Godly man have been deferred. I'm glad that it also talks about what it will be like to have the desire fulfilled..."it is a tree of life," that I will be truly grateful for!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Choosing life and going forward in faith...

Yesterday the sermon was on going forward in faith. Our head elder, who gave the sermon, spoke on Mark 9:17-29. In verse 22, the father of the son that was demon-possessed said to Jesus, "but if You can do anything, do have pity on us and help us." 23 "And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If you can do anything? [Why,] all things can be--are possible--to him who believes!" 24 "At once the father of the boy gave (an eager, piercing, inarticulate) cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! Constantly help my weakness of faith!"

The sermon really spoke to me because I had just had a dream that morning that at first seemed like an awful dream, but later as I was writing about how weak and helpless I sometimes feel, I sensed that it may have been symbolic, rather than literal and it spoke to me of being broken, helpless, so weak and without faith. In the dream I was beside a car that had been in an accident. There was a woman lying on the floorboard on the passenger side, all broken and unable to move, but able to talk. It seemed almost as if I was her and yet I spoke to her. I said, "Give me your hand." She said, "I can't." I replied, "That's OK, I'll just hold your hand." I then reached over, took a hold of her hand and held it tightly, while saying, "It's OK." "Don't worry, I'll stay here with you."

While telling my brother of the dream, he said how it reminded him of how God just reaches down and takes our hand when we are too weak to help ourselves. So true. My brother has been struggling with smoking and drinking again and feels so helpless and I feel so helpless to help him.

Too often I have also found myself back at square one, starting over after trying so hard for so long, not with alcohol, but with my own issues. I know how discouraging it feels to be back there. In fact, last night I felt quite discouraged about several things in my life and about my brother's life. But then during my prayer time this morning, I realized that I must step forward in faith, I must not give up on praying for myself, my brother, or others. The enemy wants us to give up, but God is right there with us saying, "Don't give up!" "All things are possible to him/her that believes."

I also realized today that as hard as it is to start over, as hard as it is to get back up, we must. Sometimes we are so broken we just have to sit there a while and let God hold our hand and tell us it will be OK, but eventually we must get up again. We must choose life for as long as we can! We must go forward in faith!

Friday, August 31, 2007

"The Lesson"

Although there have been several lessons resulting from my attempted move to Montana this past June, I have continued to feel like I was still missing a piece to the puzzle or I still didn't quite understand the purpose of it all. In fact, I couldn't explain what had happened and why it had happened the way it did.

Well, as of yesterday, the inability to explain what happened has changed. I was talking with one of the girls at work about finances, trying to get out of debt so that I could move and seek a life for myself, when I said something like, "The only reason I didn't stay was because I didn't feel I could pay my bills (which include debt, of course) with the pay I was being offered." All of a sudden it was clear as a bell, this was "THE LESSON" I needed to learn, this was the purpose of all of it! I needed to learn that the only way I would ever be free to answer God's call, to go and do as He wills, was to be debt free.

Prior to this new understanding coming out of an extremely vivid experience, I always thought and talked about being debt free, but it never became a priority in my life. Now I know I never want to be in this position again where debt has made me dependent upon a particular company, job, income, or place. I want to be free to go and do as God wills.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

So cute, I just had to share it...

My sister-in-law sent a link to this video today and it was so cute I just wanted to share it here. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Little Girl and Psalm 23 - Bluefish TV
To play the video, click on the arrow in the middle.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No decisions made without prayer...

I've been reading the book by Elizabeth George called, "A Woman's Call to Prayer: Making Your Desire to Pray a Reality." Prayer has always been an area of disappointment to me. Either it feels like my prayers aren't very effective, never quite know what to say or ask for, or oftentimes it feels like they aren't being answered. I guess that's why they don't seem very effective.

In one of the chapters, the author talks about knowing God's will and making decisions. She said she came to the point where she realized she needed to "Make no decision without prayer." This was a new and somewhat difficult thought for me, but I wanted to experiment with it, so I started a prayer journal specifically for listing any decisions I needed to make and presenting them before God. I found that there were some decisions I didn't want to present to Him as I wasn't so sure I wanted to know His will in the matter. A little rebellion there, I think. I wanted to make some of my decisions on my own without His input. But I went ahead and put them down and prayed about them (well, except for two of them, I must admit). Other decisions, of course, I felt desperate for His input and questioned whether or not He would or will provide any.

Well, since I've just started I don't have a lot of results to report yet. I'm going to try this method for a few weeks and see how it goes. The rest of the information that I've read in the book is good also, but not so new to my thought process.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Filling my soul with light...

God has answered my prayer for light instead of darkness in my soul. Today a friend of mine at church handed me a book and asked me to browse through it and tell her what I think of it. She said, "If you like it, we'll get you one when our check comes in at the first of the month."

As I began browsing through the book and reading different sections, everything I read was very uplifting and encouraging. I ended up reading a couple sections that spoke to me and my current situation very directly and gave me hope on what I can do to change it.

Later as my friend and I were taking a walk after potluck (my new habit), she told me that God had really impressed her that I need to read the book she had handed to me, but her husband didn't want to give up the book, understandably, so they were going to buy the book for me.
What a blessing!

The book is called, "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen. The section that spoke the most to me today was titled, "Let God Do It His Way." I'm not a very patient person and this is one of my greatest areas of struggle. When I feel that God has given me direction, has told me that something is going to be, or has called me to do something, I put my emotional, mental, spiritual, and sometimes physical engine in "Drive" and go. Too often I find myself half-way down the road, all of a sudden feeling all alone and wondering where He's at, when I look back and see that He's still at the starting gate. Let me tell you now...having to back up, sometimes to a situation that is less desirable than it was, and then having to wait for the instructions to go forward isn't all that fun. I really want to learn to "do it His way" the first time around. It sure would make life more manageable.

Thankfully, even when I have gone forward before He was ready for me to, and have created a mess, He doesn't desert me. He just waits for me to back up, resettle, get through all the emotions the "going forward and backing up" has created, and then when He is ready, He will lead the way. This time, I'm praying and praying that I will just follow and not run ahead again. Running ahead is just too exhausting and such a total waste of time and energy!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beauty and peace...

Tonight I long for beauty and peace in my soul more than anything. Right now I am using this photo of a beautiful and peaceful sky that I took back in May from my front yard, as my desktop background. It represents how I want to feel rather than how I have felt this week.

Last night we had some storms come through that were fairly violent and took out my electricity. I thought about how much my emotions felt like those storms and how my life this week felt similar to being without electricity, full of darkness. I told God that I didn't want to be filled with darkness. I wanted His light to fill my soul! I hate it when I feel at odds with God.

Tonight, when talking with one of my sisters about my feelings right now, she mentioned how much it reminded her of the feelings I had previously expressed regarding my relationship with my Dad when he was alive. It is true that I have at times projected the feelings I felt with my Dad onto my relationship with God. I guess they have represented similar positions in my life. My Dad was my "rock" and now God is becoming my "Rock." The biggest difference, other than God is God and my Dad was only a human, is that I expect so much more from God than I did from my Dad because He is God.

At the end of my Dad's life, I was at peace with our relationship, but the truth is we didn't really have a relationship. I just accepted that we never would have the type of relationship I desired. My Dad never really understood my thoughts and where I was coming from. Although I knew he loved me, I didn't feel his love. I think I expected some type of love he wasn't able to give.

With God being God I expect Him to not only understand my needs, but to provide the relationship I desire with Him. When I don't understand Him, His action or non-action in my life, or I feel that He has left me in the dark about something I become angry at Him. Again, although I intellectually know God loves me and have at times felt loved by Him, just as it was with my Dad, I oftentimes don't feel very loved by God. This time I know I'm not asking for a love that God isn't able to give, but maybe I'm asking for a demonstration of love in a way He's not always willing to give or isn't always the best for me. I'm not sure, but I know this is an area of contention. I expect Him to act on my behalf or in a certain way and I feel frustrated, angry, and unloved when He doesn't. I think it's a trust issue. I still don't quite trust that His way, His choice, His will for me is the best.

Thankfully, God isn't done with me yet!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Feeling out of sorts...

Today I've been feeling out of sorts. My whole life seems in limbo...I can't seem go forward right now and I don't want to go backwards. Sideways doesn't seem the way to go either. I know that I want to go forward with God and I guess I'm just having to learn to wait on Him to give me direction, open the doors, and provide the means to do so. Waiting isn't easy, particularly when I'm not exactly sure what going forward means right now. I don't know exactly what God has planned or when, therefore, I can't say what my plans are, which isn't like me. I've always had plans and dreams. Although I still have dreams, some of them have definitely changed and I no longer have it all planned out. In fact, I don't know how to plan for them at this point since they can only come about if God brings them about. I am definitely out of my comfort zone and maybe that's the first step in this "new life and commitment."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Learning to trust...

This past couple of weeks I've had several experiences that were significant turning points in my life. I briefly mentioned them in my post from last night, although I didn't describe them in any detail, just called them commitments.

The first experience, which came about on July 31st, was a call to commit to working for God in the future, when my other commitments are finished. I had never before considered working directly for God. Since the beginning of the year I have felt that God was/is preparing me to be a wife to a man who has been called by God to a ministry, and although I was excited by the prospect of marriage, I still didn't feel anything specific about working for God. In fact, I struggled to see how I would fit, but that has changed. About a week ago, I had a paradigm shift...not only did I see myself working with the partner God will provide, but I also saw myself working for God alongside my partner. Hand-in-hand we'll work together...he's not the only one called; so am I. Wow!

The second experience happened earlier this week. I have been going through some really rough times financially. Definitely some of it has been from my own mistakes, but also some of it seemed to be completely out of my control. Finances has always been an area of my life that I never seemed to be able to surrender to God. Growing up, our family never had a lot of money, but there was one time in particular, when I was just about five years old, that we experienced severe poverty. It didn't last a long time, but something significant had happened to me. I don't know if I had prayed and felt that God didn't answer my prayers, or if I heard my parent's prayers and didn't feel that God answered their prayers, but whatever happened, I felt betrayed financially by God and have never trusted Him since in this area of my life.

Monday night God brought me to a point where I knew He required that I make a decision. Was I going to surrender control of my finances to Him and handle His money His way and trust Him to provide when there wasn't enough, or was I going to continue to pretend I could do whatever I wanted with His money and keep borrowing when there wasn't enough? I knew what my answer had to be for me to move forward in His will, so I made two decisions in the act of surrender and implemented them immediately. First, I cut up my credit cards and said "no more relying on credit cards to get me through." Second, I signed up for one of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) course, a thirteen week course on handling money God's way.

The next couple of days were really rough emotionally. Just because I had made the decision to surrender my finances to God and to trust Him and His way, didn't mean that all the old feelings were gone. My feelings from childhood and throughout my life regarding money all surfaced and were "screaming" at me to take everything back. But, through a sermon I listened to, Bible Study and prayer, I ended up calming down somewhat inside.

This evening, God took me one step further. I was checking my account balance tonight because I felt concerned that my insurance company hadn't notified me of the full amount I was going to owe and have drawn out of my account at the beginning of the week. I was correct in that they pulled more than what their letter had said they would pull. The amount they said they would pull was incorrect, so I wasn't surprised to see that they had pulled an additional amount, but it was just enough to hurt me when I'm already hurting and scraping bottom. My immediate reaction was the old feeling of discouragement and betrayal, but then I felt God speaking to me and asking me if I was going to give in to the old feelings or was I going to trust? "What's it going to be, Connie?" I decided to trust and immediately felt tremendous peace.

God is changing me and preparing me to work for Him. I am excited and look forward to the fulfillment of His will in my life.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Choices that matter...

Tonight I watched the fourth DVD of David Gates, President of Gospel Ministries International, speaking at the Michigan campmeeting this past June. God is really using David's messages to speak to my heart and show me the direction to go. I have made a several commitments to God and God's work in the past two weeks or so that I never even really thought about before.

Each DVD I've watched has strengthened and encouraged me. Listening to his messages has not only confirmed my desire and commitment to live and work for God, but has also added to it.
It has been painful, but now it's kind of interesting, how "the enemy" has been oppressing me mentally and emotionally so much this past weekend and several times throughout this week. The commitments I am making are important and I'm sure "the enemy" doesn't want me to make them, but "...He who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) I am making choices for eternity, choices that matter, and by the grace of God I will continue to do so.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

God's call...

This past week I've been reading the book of Jonah. Although I didn't really spend a lot of time in Jonah, there was something that kept speaking to my heart. Jonah 1:1-2 says, "1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it; for their wickedness has come up before me. In verse 3, we read, "But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord [as His prophet]..."

In the rest of Chapter 1 and through Chapter 2, it tells the story of Jonah asking the sailors to toss him into the sea, God creating a great fish that swallowed Jonah, and then three days later the Lord speaking to the fish and the fish vomiting out Jonah upon dry land.

The significant part for me came when again, in Jonah 3:1-2, I read, "1 And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you."

This time, in verse 3, "Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord...."

This story, although I've read it before, really spoke to me this time. I recognized God's call on my life. He called me 3-1/2 years ago, but I didn't even wait to find out what to, I ran from God's call out of fear and pain. In January of this year, I again heard God's call. This time I didn't run right away. I did answer the call and even went as far as to actually go out to Montana (where I felt called to). But from there I panicked, felt very confused about God's call, and came home. Thankfully, I didn't run nearly as far emotionally and spiritually as I did before and I didn't turn away from God, but I did run. This week, I have heard God's call again through the reading of the book of Jonah and a praise story given by a young guy today at church.

What God's call means in physical terms, I'm still not sure, but I will start praying about it again. I am committed to my place of work up through at least April or May of next year, I'm committed to attending my family reunion next year, and whatever the call involves, I know I want and need to plan my response much better. I need to take the time to let God work it out and not rush. But I also know that I must answer God's call and trust Him to show the way.

I am at risk for running from His call again, but I am stronger in Him than I was before. Each day that I spend with Him in His Word, the Bible, and in prayer with Him, I will continue to be strengthened to endure the tests that I will be confronted with in answering His call.

The story of Jonah reminded me that when God calls someone or sends someone as a "messenger" He doesn't change His mind or give up. He brings you back around to try again until you answer the call and/or go and do as He has requested. I'm grateful that God doesn't just give up on us; that He does bring us back around, gives us another chance.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

At loss for words...

For the past several days I've wanted to write and yet I can't seem to actually complete a posting. Everything coming out of my mouth seems to be so negative, so lacking in faith, or just so NOT spiritual. I'm going through a really rough time right now, financially and other, and God seems so far away. But I don't want to just leave it there. I know that God isn't far away, even though it feels like it, and I want to remain strong in trusting and depending upon Him.

Whenever things are rough, I find myself turning to Psalms. David had a lot of rough times and he cries unto God in the way that I so often do. In Psalms 25, David says (starting with verse 1), "1 Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life. 2 O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on and am confident in You; let me not be put to shame or [my hope in You] be disappointed; let not my enemies triumph over me." And then starting in verse 16 he says, "16 Lord, turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are multiplied; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Behold my affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins [of thinking and doing]."

So that's kind of where I'm at right now. I just want help and comfort from God. I want to know that He's there for me (Hebrews 13:5); I want to know that He loves me (Isaiah 43:4); and I want to know that He will help me out of my distresses (Psalms 118:5 and Psalms 121:1-2).

Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A break would be nice...

A break from learning "life's lessons" would be really nice about right NOW! I don't know that I've ever had so many opportunities to learn to "give thanks in all circumstances" as I have lately!

Tonight I am feeling truly weary. Life just doesn't let up and sometimes things really seem like too much to bear. But, the verse that came to my mind tonight is Galatians 6:9, "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint."

My prayer tonight is that God will help me to not "loosen and relax my courage and faint."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not always serious...

Today I came home and was trying to get my camera to work. Last weekend at the Halvorsen Reunion, my batteries died on Sunday and when I put in replacement batteries, it still wouldn't work. I thought it was again the batteries, as I had lost them in my Jeep a few weeks back and just found them last weekend. Today, after putting in new batteries, the camera still wouldn't work, so fiddled around with it and finally got it working again this afternoon.

Although I don't usually like to have my picture taken anymore, I ended up taking a few just for the fun of it. They aren't the greatest, one of them is posted on my profile here, but I guess they aren't too bad for being without a tan and without makeup. For those of you who love me dearly and won't judge me too badly, you can see the other two on my personal Website photo gallery:

Also, I took the time to post the photos from the family reunion on my family's Website. Again, for those who may have interest, here's the link:

Maybe I'll finally get a tan before the summer is over and post a better photo...but until then..."it is what it is."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prepare for the answer...

The other night I was reading a short story in the May 2007 Signs of the Times magazine. The title was Disappointed Cannibals. The story was about James Hudson Taylor, a British Protestant Missionary to China in the late 1800s.

When he first went to China, he was on a sailing vessel. Close to the shore of a cannibal island the wind died down and the vessel began slowly drifting toward shore. On shore the inhabitants of the island were eagerly awaiting their anticipated feast. The captain came to Mr. Taylor and begged him to pray for the help of God.

"I will," said Taylor, "provided you set your sail to catch the breeze." The captain declined to do so, as he didn't want to become a "laughingstock" with the sailors by unfurling his sails in a dead calm. Taylor said, "I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails." The captain went ahead and ordered the sails unfurled.

Mr. Taylor went to his stateroom to pray. While engaged in prayer, there was knock at his door and he asked, "Who's there?" The captain responded and said, "Are you still praying for wind?" "Yes," replied Mr. Taylor. "Well," said the captain, "you'd better stop praying for we have more wind than we can well manage."

Approximately 100 yards from shore, a strong wind had struck the sails of the vessel and the ship was able to pull away from the island. All aboard were safe from the inhabitants of the island.

The article concluded with this thought, "Sails are made to catch the wind. This part of the prayer, namely, the spreading of the sail, the sailors could do. It belonged to God to send the wind."

A very profound thought! It reminded me how important it is to prepare for the answer to your prayer, believing that God will answer. Immediately, I thought about my heart's desire and prayer request I have before God. I know I need to and want to prepare for the answer like I've never prepared before!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Build up or tear down...

Yesterday's reading in my book spoke to me in a very powerful way. The images, the memories, the experiences it brought to mind were very painful in a lot of ways. The chapter focused on Proverbs 14:1, which says, "Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands." The chapter went on to talk about how a woman can either build up her home, as in the "knitting together of family and the day-by-day routine of creating a happy and comfortable place for a family to live," or she can tear it down as in "break or destroy it, to beat or break it down--to ruin it" with anger, bitterness, deceitfulness, disrespect, and accusations, and many other hateful, non-loving attitudes and behaviors. I feel it can also apply to the literal physical and financial "tearing down" a person can do in their life.

As I've mentioned before, there have been a lot of good lessons and experiences that have come out of the attempted move to Montana, but I have to be honest, they haven't all been good. Some of the lessons and experiences have actually been painful. As I read the chapter about building vs tearing down, the first thing I thought about was the tearing down that I've done in my life in the past month with the trip to Montana.

I thought about the fact that even when a house has good structure and a good foundation, sometimes you have to tear out and tear down parts of it that may have rotted or no longer fit so you can end up with a house that is really good and that you love. My life was kind of like a house that had basic good structure and a good foundation, but needed some remodeling, some tearing out and tearing down. But, in my inexperience and in my need to get rid of people, places, and things that I was attached to and needed to detach from, I went to the extreme and tore down some of the basic structure and foundation. I became "a foolish woman tearing down her own house with her own hands." This realization made me sad. I hadn't meant to, of course, and I can't change it, I can only make a point of remembering this in the future.

Reading this chapter also reminded me of how my mother "tore down her own house with her own hands." I remember hating my mother for the way she treated my father, for spewing forth anger and bitterness and making him feel worthless as a father/husband. I know my father wasn't the easiest man to live with and she had many reasons for her feelings, but her anger and bitterness permeated our home and allowed the enemy, the devil, to create havoc and chaos in our supposedly Christian home. I know that my mother didn't know any better and I trust God to know her heart, but I truly, truly never want to cause the emotional, mental, and spiritual tearing down in my home as my mother did in hers. She also at times caused a physical tearing down, similar to what I just did. We were forever moving and going somewhere different, which caused a physical and financial tearing down of the family. It wasn't always my mother and sometimes the moves were to our benefit, but there were many moves initiated by my mother and many of them weren't to our physical and financial benefit.

It's not wrong to want to go somewhere different and make a different life for yourself. In fact, I still do. It's also not wrong to have gotten rid of all the stuff I got rid of, but it has made it more difficult for me financially and has caused a setback that I couldn't afford. This is the tearing down that was unfortunate and foolish. In the future, when and if I choose to make a change, I need and want to plan a lot of things out differently and better and do everything I can to make sure I am "building my house" physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, not "tearing it down."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Not yet, but I easily could be if I looked at all I desire to achieve and thought that I had to make sure it happened. Fortunately, much of the growth I desire in my life comes from God and He seems to have His own timetable! Obviously, there is a part for me to play also and even that part could become overwhelming if I allowed it to. Today, looking at my need for growth in so many areas, particularly in building stronger foundations, I started to feel overwhelmed. I need to remember though, I'm not doing it alone. Philippians 4:13 reminds me that "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me--I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me, [that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency.]

Castles in the air...

I am the kind of person that tends to build castles in the air. I like to try new things, come up with new ideas, dream big dreams. Most of the time, this is a positive trait. It keeps me desiring to grow and to help others grow; it helps me to let go of what's behind and keep moving forward, it gives me hope that tomorrow will be better. But, there is a downside to this trait also. It is easy to become so busy building the castle that I forget to make sure the foundation is strong enough to support the castle. More times than I want to admit, this flaw has caused my castles to crumble and fall for lack of support.

Today, while thinking about "castles" or dreams that I desire to build, I recognized the need to build a better foundation. During this year, when I am focusing on growth more than I have in the past couple of years, I want to make sure that my foundations in all areas of my life (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical) are more solid, built to last.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Just a couple more things to say...

While out in Montana I went to Borders Bookstore to use one of the gift cards from the ImproMED gang. (Thanks know what I love!) I had been wanting to get the book, "A Woman After God's Own Heart," by Elizabeth George, in part because the title reflects one of my heart's desires, and in part because I had been reading and enjoying another one of her books.

I did find and buy her book, but then in the following couple of weeks, I went through a lot of emotions that made me feel very "ungodly," which made it almost impossible for me to even look at my new book. It felt like even the title was mocking me. Well, fortunately, God helped me to get over those feelings and I've been reading it ever since. Boy, does it ever speak to my heart! I am truly enjoying it and know that I will be reading it again.

This week I have found that my prayers to God are starting to change due to the inspiration gained from reading this book. I have started to pray that God will change my heart, give me a "heart of flesh," ((Ezekiel 11:19-20), a heart sensitive and responsive to His touch. I desire for Him to change me, change my desires, my thoughts, my attitude...give me a desire for more of Him and teach me to listen, hear, and obey His voice. I want Him to create in me a "deep river of peace and love" that nothing outside me can even cause a ripple within. I know that this will take a lifetime. These are not the things that happen overnight, but I want to be in it for the long haul.

Quite a few years ago, when I started at Improvisions/ImproMED, all of us who worked there spent a day at a "resort" participating in "team building activities" put on by a facilitator. I don't remember all that much about the day, but in one of the activities we were to come up with an adjective to describe ourselves that started with the same letter as our first names. I came up with "Constant Connie" to describe myself. Although I'm not always constant, there are many times when I have been and still am constant. I am constant in my friendships, my work (except when I take trips to Montana :), my family, and my desires/dreams. In the past week, I've recognized a strong desire to be constant in my relationship with God. I don't want to be "on again, off again" as I have been so many times before. This time I want to be "constant for God."

Another lesson I'm learning...

A week ago today, when I went out to start my Jeep to go to work, it wouldn't start. When I turned the key, it would crank, but not turn over. Also, the gas gauge was showing up as empty even though I had 3/4 of a tank of gas and the fuel pump wasn't coming on at all when I would turn the key to on.

I called a faithful friend of the family from Glenwood church who came over and tried to see if he could figure out what was wrong. In the time available, he couldn't, but he ended up taking me in to work. While at work, I started feeling really down about my Jeep not working, the fact that I had to ask for help, and not having the money or credit to just go get a new vehicle.

By the end of the day when my cousin's husband, Harry, came to pick me up from work, I had managed to make myself feel pretty miserable about life and hateful towards myself for not "having it all together." My negative feelings were quite apparent and Harry strongly admonished me regarding my attitude. He reminded me that we are to "give thanks in all circumstances," and said that my negative attitude about life was an expression of doubt of God's love and my attitude towards myself was telling God He had made "junk" when He created me. Although it wasn't all that comfortable to be admonished, I did recognize fairly quickly that what he was saying was true and that I have a real issue with being negative when things feel like they aren't going well for me.

For some reason, I had always felt that by "giving thanks in all circumstances" I was actually lying, but when I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, I realized that by not "giving thanks" I was actually going against God's will for me. I decided to make a commitment, right then and there, with God's help, to "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

I have to admit this one will at times be very difficult for me. I came by my negativity very honestly...both of my parents could be quite negative at times even though they were Christians. So, if any of you readers of my blog hear me starting to be really negative or down on life and myself, you are welcome to admonish me and remind me of my commitment as a way of helping me!

A few lessons learned...

Most anyone who would be reading my blog already knows that I was offered the job in Montana, but decided I couldn't handle the "cut in pay" from what I could make in Michigan, along with having a hard time finding a place to stay out there. So, I'm back in Michigan, working for ImproMED again, and temporarily living in my house for the next six months.

Although there have been some negatives regarding the whole experience, for the most part there were so many positives that I can't really say I regret the experience. I've learned so many things and I feel the trip changed me in some very positive ways. There have been two significant lessons coming out of the experience which are having and will continue to have an impact on my life.

One of the lessons involves listening to God. I've been a Christian for many years, but I haven't really ever been fully committed to listening for, hearing, and obeying God's voice prior to this year. The last two or three weeks before leaving for Montana, I realized that I wasn't hearing God anymore. Because of my history and lack of experience, I found myself continuing to push forward without taking the time to step back and make sure I was still doing as God wanted me to. If I had stepped back and taken the time, would I still have gone to MT? I don't really know...a part of me feels that maybe God had meant for me to come all the way up to, but then not really go. On the other hand, maybe He still would have had me go. It doesn't really matter now...except that I have learned that it's OK to step back and make sure you are within God's will. In fact, it is a much safer position to be in. Thankfully, God has promised to never leave or forsake me and He didn't throughout the trip.

The second lesson really came after the trip although I thought about it while out in Montana. There have been two things in my life that ever since the day I received them, I knew they were special gifts from God just for me. One was my job with Improvisions/ImproMED; the second was my house. Both gifts were more than I had asked for or imagined when they were first given to me, and both have continued to be there for me even when I haven't deserved them. Coming back to both of them, even temporarily, made me realize how faithful God is in showing His love towards me. It also encouraged me as I believe God has promised the gift of a godly husband for me and I recognize I can trust His giving and His timing of the gift!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A waiting game...

Well, this seems to be the motto of my life right now, along with facing new challenges moment by moment. I never imagined that trying to relocate could be so challenging and exhausting. Those two words seem to permeate my every thought right now. My life has been consumed by this experience. Today, I feel like I might be slowly climbing out of the emotional "flood waters" that have engulfed me for the past 4-5 weeks. I actually might be able to breathe again...but as I'm learning, only time will tell.

My second interview went well this morning. I was interviewed by six people this morning! Definitely a new experience and nothing like being put on the spot. They all seemed friendly enough and they asked some good questions. I should know later today what their decision is and when they would want me to start. In a way, I would like it if they would have me start in a week. It would give me time to go home and pick up some of my most important things. Also, I could pick up my accounting books as I think I will need to refer to them often at first. It has been awhile since I've been involved in accounting to the level I would be in this position. The great part of the position is that I would be teaching and helping clients rather than doing the accounting for the actual business. This would give me a lot of variety. I also would be able to get involved in software testing and some web development!

The big issue seems to be finding a place to live if I do get this job. They don't have apartment complexes here like they do back at home. There are a few here and there, but mostly any apartments for rent are part of a larger home and even then there aren't very many. Everything in Montana seems to be "out in the middle of nowhere," including places to live, towns, and businesses.
The rooms for rent haven't seemed too promising either and I don't care to live with any weirdos. It would be nice to find someone from church that would have a room to rent, but if I could afford a place of my own, even a small place, I think I would prefer it. I found that staying with people comes with it's own issues. You have to live their way, not your own. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it later today, once I know what happens with the job. Maybe I'm just beginning to get used to living moment to moment...probably not though.

Until next update...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not on the road, but making progress...

I had expected to be on the road to Montana by now, but life doesn't always go as planned. Last Thursday night I ended up with an abscessed tooth and had to get an antibiotic and pain medicine called in by my dentist.

On Friday, after praying about my plans to haul a trailer and talking with a sister and a friend, I decided against hauling a trailer. Instead I decided to put all but what I absolutely need in the next six months into a storage unit. Saturday, I didn't make it to church or anywhere else as I was sick from the medicine. On Sunday, my friend Denyse came to help me pack up stuff for storage and then on Monday her and her husband, my sister Ruth and her husband, my brother JD and I loaded up my friends van and my Jeep and hauled it all to storage.

Since then, I've been working on packing up the rest of my stuff to take with me to Montana. Yesterday, it became apparent that I still have more to go than what my Jeep will hold, so I'm now looking into car carrier options or as a friend of mine suggested, a "Hitch-Haul" carrier, which sounds like it may work.

Also, my tooth is still quite sensitive and today my dentist recommended that I have it pulled. So tomorrow, I will be visiting an oral surgeon to have the tooth pulled.

What a process! I would have never guessed how hard it would be just to move. I told God yesterday, that if for any reason I misunderstood Him and He really didn't want me to move, then please stop everything now, because it would only get worse from here. But, I haven't had anything that impresses me to stop, but rather to press on...and so, that is what I will on.

The new plan is now to leave Sunday morning, 6/3. This will allow me to see everyone at church before going, since last week I was sick. Also, it will allow me to see my sister Marie and her husband who are up from Tennessee this weekend. Hopefully, I will have Internet access next week and can update everyone more often.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Middle of the week...

Here it is...middle of the week already! Today, my sister Ruth was here to help with packing. With masking tape, we created a 4x4x8 and a 5x5.5x8 space to see how well all my stuff is going to fit in the U-haul trailer. Well, by mid-morning, I knew that a 4x4x8 was NOT going to work and I very likely will need to continue to get rid of stuff to fit all of the dishes, books, and my dresser into a 5x5.5x8 trailer. My clothes (except for what is in the dresser) can fit into the Jeep along with all my files, and hopefully the weight bench and the NordicTrak Skiing machine. Oh, I also have the two TVs, DVD players, VCRs, and my bread machines and a bike, but I don't know that I'll be able to take it. It isn't a great bike anyway and I would like to get a really nice bike, but we'll just have to see. Moving is such a difficult project! There is just so much to do! I'll sure be glad when it's done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Final countdown

Here it is Monday evening of the final week before I leave. I'm done with the sale, but still have two refrigerators, a freezer, and a stove to get rid of! Someone did come to look at them tonight and I am praying that either him or someone else will be willing to pay at least a little money and move them on out of my house this week.

There is still so much purging and packing to do it is unreal! Thankfully, my sister Ruth offered to take a day off work and will be down to help me on Wednesday. I also have to get the transmission on the Jeep serviced and after towing a trailer tonight, there is a creaking noise in the rear of my Jeep. Doesn't thrill me, but I am hoping my mechanic friend, Charles, will be able to determine what it is and if it is anything to worry about. I tell you, when it comes to dealing with the vehicle, I SURE DO MISS MY PAPA!!! He would have already looked it all over, fixed whatever needed to be fixed, and probably even paid for the parts. This is an area of my life that remains hard to deal with. I'm not used to having to take care of my own vehicle and pay for all of the maintenance and repairs!

With being so busy this week, it's not always easy to remember to stay connected with God throughout my day, remain in His presence, but God is good. He has continued to remind me throughout the day that He is my source and all I have to do is lean on Him. God is really opening up some areas of my life that I both desire and need growth in. In the upcoming months I'll begin writing about some of what God is teaching me, but I want to write about them when I have more time to do so. This week is not that time!

Monday, May 14, 2007

If I had known...

Even though the current situation of selling and packing up my life is different than taking care of and watching my Dad die in 2004, the emotions being brought out through the process are very similar. If I had known how hard it was going to be to take care of my Dad, particularly during the last two weeks of his life and then watch him die, I don't know that I would have ever prayed for and taken on the commitment of taking care of my Dad.

In a similar way, if I had known how hard these last two weeks of selling/packing up my life, letting go of my dog, etc. were going to be, I don't know that I would have ever prayed for and made the commitment to move. Today it has felt like the emotional "floodwaters" were swirling around my neck and I felt like I might even going under for a few brief moments, to come back up coughing and choking, trying to catch my breath.

God has promised in Isaiah 43:2, that "When I pass through the waters, He will be with me, and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm me..." Well, I was counting on that today as I felt like I might go under to never breathe again.

I also realized today that no matter how hard it was to take care of and watch my Dad die, I never regretted my decision and commitment to do so. In fact, I have treasured the fact that God answered my prayer and gave me the opportunity to be there for my Dad, as he had always been there for me. I think I will feel the same way about this move, once I am moved and have gotten past the difficult part, it will be one of those decisions I'll never regret!

Practicing His presence in the midst of chaos...

This morning during my devotional time, I read a short paragraph in one of the books I'm reading, which really struck home with me.

Sometimes, life seems so full of pressure, there's always so much to do, that it seems difficult to "abide in Him," to "live in God's presence." And yet, just as the authors of this book remind me, "Practicing the presence of God isn't something to add to your already busy schedule. It doesn't take more of your time, it takes all of your time. It's what you do while you do whatever you're doing."

The authors go on to say, "But as you dwell in the presence of God, your life will gradually rearrange itself. You'll find that some activities don't seem appropriate anymore, or have simply gotten boring, and that without much effort they'll drop away. Other activities will take over, they will become your longing and your delight."

Lord, I pray that you'll take control of my schedule, my life, that I may do what You need me to do, live as You want me to live, and let go of what I need to let go of. May I find "rest in You alone." (Psalm 62:5)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Heart and soul of a young daughter...

Today, as I again tackled the overwhelming task of going through my stuff to get ready to move, I came across an envelope of my Dad's filled with a few photos and a Father's Day card or letter from each of his children that he had kept over the years.

One of the letters was from me, which I decided I would like to share with all of you that may be reading my blog. The letter was just so me, even at the young age of 17 or 18, so desiring to do right and yet struggling and being honest about the struggle.

The Letter to My Dad
[Note: There wasn't any date on the letter, but since I wasn't at home and the handwriting is very teenager-like, I was probably 17 or 18 when I wrote the letter.]

Dad, Happy Father's Day!!!

I do not have the money to buy a card, a gift, or to come see you, so here's a little note to say hi and let you know how much I love you!

Dad, I know that I make you worry a lot and I am sorry. Sometimes I try so hard - other times I don't - I hope someday that I can be everything you want me to be!

You are a man I admire very much! You are such a Christian - a gentle, quiet, loving father, a father who would give us your last slice of bread, your only shirt, and do your best to keep us from hardships.

I know you have worried over each one of us, loved us, disciplined us, and taught us.

Dad, many times life scares me - I am so scared of what I am or am not going to become. I want so much and I have a lot of weaknesses in my character which hinder me from obtaining. But Dad, I am so glad that you love me no matter what I do or don't do. I need your continuing love. Sometimes I am so scared that I will hurt you, that something will happen to you because of me. Dad, when I worry you and/or hurt you, I don't mean to.

I love you very, very much! I hope I can become "Daddy's Little Girl" that you can be very proud of! Thank you for being my Daddy! Connie

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Abiding in His presence...

I've been thinking and praying, over the past couple of days, about what it means to become a "Woman after God's own heart." This morning when I awoke and before getting up, I was talking to God and the first thought that came to my mind was that I need to abide in Him (Christ), relax and dwell in Him (John 15:4). This is my first step in becoming a "Woman after God's own heart."

By learning to abide and dwell in Him, thinking of and focusing on Him throughout my day, He will be able to "instruct me and lead me in the way which I should go" (Psalms 32:8); He will be able to "keep me from all evil; keep my life" (Psalms 121:7).

Lord, I pray today that I may learn to relax, abide, and dwell in You, in Your presence, Your light. May I seek Your face, Your love, Your thoughts, Your desires, and may they be planted in my heart to "energize and create in me the power and desire--both to will and to work for Your good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Start of a new life and a new blog!

Although I will always treasure growing up as "a farmer's daughter" (the name of my old blog), I decided I wanted a new blog that would better represent the new feelings and new life I am experiencing. So, here's my new blog, "Precious and Honored," which God says I am (Isaiah 43:4).