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!