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.