Sunday, December 28, 2008

Almost the new year...

Here it is almost the New Year; just a few more days to go. I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions and what is important for me to be focusing on in the coming new year.

There is one area that is MOST important, my relationship with God, and my resolution would be two-fold in this area. First of all, I desire to do all I can to draw closer to God through reading His Word and meditating on it, spending time in prayer, and memorizing scripture. Secondly, I desire to become a "Woman of the Word," to know and understand the Bible more fully.

The second area that needs a lot of my attention this year is my physical health and well-being. Back in February of last year I had to move from my house into a 1-bedroom, somewhat small apartment where I have struggled to live this past year. I call it "my cave." And then in March, I had to work a significant amount of overtime (while on salary), which added tremendous stress to my already stressful life. Between these two huge negatives, I found myself quite depressed and unable to get back into a routine of exercise and healthy eating. Instead I have continued to eat and eat and eat with little or no exercise, which has made the situation even worse. I feel almost desperate at this point and hope to begin making changes in the new year.

The third and final thing will be to work at paying off my debts from the "attempted move to Montana." My financial struggles have been unending this past 1-1/2 years and they haven't really improved yet, but somehow, by the grace of God, I hope to make some inroads into this left-over debt. One of my creditors is suing me, so I guess that one will get paid no matter how bad or good things are for me financially. This will only make my financial struggle even worse, but maybe this is the only way it will happen. I don't know how things will turn out, but I trust that God will provide for my needs and help me deal with these financial issues in my life.

There are other things I will be doing, such as work, school, church, and there are other things I would like to do, such as move, get a cat and dog, etc., but the three resolutions/areas of focus noted above are the most important ones to me and will be what I focus on in the coming year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What a night...

Tonight the roads are truly yucky! Not as bad as last Saturday night where I couldn't even see well enough to take my brother home, but still yucky enough that it took an hour to where he lives from my apartment (usually a half-hour drive) and another hour to get home. I feel completely wiped out now and just want to go to bed. The roads had many patches of pure, black ice where I just prayed and hoped I would keep going straight through it and patches of drifts where I again just prayed it wouldn't pull me into the ditch. To say the least it was a strain and I'm glad to be home, safe and sound. Thank you Jesus!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Catching up...

Life has felt like a whirlwind in the past few months and now I'm hoping to maybe catch up a little. Family reunions and such tend to keep me busy in the summer, but this year has just been a little overwhelming...

  • 4/18, Brother Martin had grandmal seizure and ended up in the hospital. Found out he had a brain tumor.
  • 4/21, Spent day in the hospital with Martin and his family and 3 of my sisters and a niece who came up from Tennessee to see Martin.
  • 5/4, Grandniece, Reese Abigail, was born.
  • 5/14, Martin had surgery to remove brain tumor, then began chemo and radiation.
  • 5/17, Grandniece, Carys May, was born.


  • 6/8, Special mini-Underwood Reunion to see Uncle LeeRoy and Laurel who had come up from Florida for Urbandale's church memorial to Aunt Doris who passed away in March. Photos will be posted soon, I hope.
  • 6/20-6/29, Went to Michigan SDA Conference camp meeting in Cedar Lake, MI, with my friend Denyse. Had a great time, went to many wonderful seminars, and heard many good sermons.
  • 6/25, Great-grandniece Jade was born. It is also grandniece Jadyn's birthday.


  • 7/10, Phill's Mom died! Will definitely miss her. She was like a second Mom to me.
  • 7/11-7/13, 62nd Halvorsen Reunion. Great to see everyone! A secretary's report and photos to come soon, I hope.
  • 7/14-7/19, VBS at Otsego SDA Church, Monday through Friday, with a special program on Sabbath.
  • 7/19, Tanya (my niece) and Aaron got married on the beach at South Haven, MI. Photos to come soon.
    7/20, Underwood Reunion. Again, great to see everyone! Photos to come soon.
  • 7/20, Computer crashed. Wouldn't boot for the next couple of weeks. Had to do a complete restore to factory specs and start over. Need new hard drive!!! Or, new computer would be even better!
  • 7/29, my Dad's cousin Forest Halvorsen passed away. Didn't find out until Thursday night late, so I'm unable to attend the funeral.
  • 7/30, Brother JD ended up in the hospital with a gallbladder attack the day after his birthday and spent several days in Borgess Kalamazoo. Had surgery on Sunday, August 3, to remove gallbladder and went home Monday, August 4.


  • 8/5, Battery in car went completely dead. Had to purchase new battery. Can't really afford, but can't live work/live without transportation.
  • 8/9, Belated birthday party for grandnephew Seth and went to see my cousin Betsy down in Niles who isn't doing well.
  • 8/10, Have had a bad headache all day...not sure why. Hoping it will go away soon.
  • 8/16, Betsy passed away early this morning; funeral will probably be on Thursday. Glad she's not in pain anymore. Lester Halvorsen, another cousin of my Dad's passed away this evening. He lives in Florida, so I won't be able to attend.
  • 8/17, cleaned up my parents and grandparents grave site at Crane Cemetery.
  • 8/21, Betsy's funeral today. It was a nice service. It was good to see everyone...saw quite a few people I hadn't seen in a while. Betsy was buried out at Crane Cemetery, not far from her parents, my parents, and our grandparents.

So, this is why I've been so lax in updating my blog. There is still a lot going on and I am applying to a Master's program in Communication at Spring Arbor University Online to hopefully be able to start school on September 8th. This will make my life even more busy, but I feel that it is time to go forward and accomplish my goal of getting a Master's.

This Sabbath I will be teaching the adult Sabbath School class at Otsego, so I need to spend time this week preparing for it. Also, in the upcoming weeks, sometime in September, my brother Martin, who has brain cancer, will be getting the results of his latest MRI. We are all hoping for a miracle! I know God can do this, but I don't know if it is within His will to heal my brother. I keep praying.

I guess that's it for this post. I will try to be more faithful in updating my blog and please keep praying that my computer will hold out until I can get a new one.

May God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Learning truth...

In the past couple of weeks I have had two experiences where I have felt that something was a direct answer to prayer, but then by the next day it felt as if it had done a 180º. I couldn't understand what was happening and felt confused and angry at myself and God. How could an answer to prayer one day feel like a curse the next?

In my confusion and pain I was going to call a friend of mine that I hadn't talked to in quite a while, but no longer had his number. So, I called his brother, also a friend, to see if he knew his number. His brother is very spiritual and insightful and could sense that I was in pain. He asked me what was going on and I began to share the pain and confusion I was feeling. We talked (in between my occasional tears) for several hours. He told me the Native American tale of two wolves, which I had heard before, but didn't remember what it was really about.

The Two Wolves Within
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice... "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It's like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." "I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But...the other wolf... ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing." "Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?" The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."-- -- A Native American tale told many times around the Sacred Fire

My friend called the "bad" wolf, the critical wolf, the enemy (just as Satan is our enemy) and the "good" wolf is the wolf of truth, (just as God's Word is our truth). Whenever God gives us a gift and we receive it, the enemy hates it and tells us all kinds of evil, so that we no longer see the gift from God as a gift, we no longer can see God's hand upon our lives, we begin to see the gift as a curse. What we need to do is refer back to the Bible, to God's Word and focus on the truth, not the appearance of things around us. In Isaiah 43:4, my theme for this blog, God says, "Because you are precious and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life." And then in Matthew 7:9-11, Christ says, "9 Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? 11 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!" The "loaves" I had been given had come to feel like "stones," but that is untrue. God would not give me a stone. The enemy wants me to see the gifts as stones. Which wolf am I going to feed? The critical wolf, the evil wolf or the wolf of truth, the good wolf. Who am I going to believe?

I thought of this during my Bible study this morning. One of the verses that really stood out for me was Psalm 105:19. In the verse just before this, the Psalmist talks about Joseph being put in fetters, "he was laid in chains of iron and his soul entered into the iron." And then in verse 19 he says, "Until his word (speaking of Joseph's words to his brothers when telling them of his dreams) came true, the word of the Lord tried and tested him." Even though everything looked the opposite of what Joseph had told his brothers and his future appeared bleak and dismal, God was only trying and testing him until the appointed time when Joseph was to be released from prison and become ruler over the people of Egypt under the King. During his trials Joseph had to rely on the truth of God's Word, the truth of God's way, not appearances, not his physical circumstances, and then eventually, at God's appointed time, his words came true, the truth from God was made manifest in his life.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Where I want to go and who I want to be...

This past Saturday night, after getting off a phone call from a friend of mine in Tennessee, I remembered a situation from my past that was an eye-opener to my present. It was back in 1987, when I was living in Kansas City. I had moved several times since moving to Kansas and at the time was living in a 2-bedroom apartment with an unmarried couple that I had met. The apartment wasn't very large, therefore, my belongings consisted of a bed and dresser and a few other items, besides clothes, that I was able to store in boxes against the wall of my bedroom. It was very college-like and unsettled, an odd arrangement, but I really didn't know where I was going or what I wanted to do, so this seemed the best for the moment.

During this time, a friend of mine that I had dated occasionally and who I had longed for a chance to date seriously ever since I had met him the summer of 1981, happen to be coming out my way for some event and decided to spend the weekend with me. At the time, I knew he was dating someone he had been dating for quite sometime. In fact, I believe they were either considering getting engaged or were already engaged, but for some reason he came to see me. We had a relatively nice weekend, but I was fairly certain when he left that his heart wasn't mine anymore and never would be again.

Now for whatever reason, the other night, all of this came to my mind again and for the first time ever I asked myself, "What if he came to make sure whether or not he was making the right decision to not be with me and to become engaged to the girl he was dating?" "If that was the case, what did he see that made him decide to go ahead with the girl he was dating?" "What was he looking for that weekend that might would have made him wait a while longer and possibly consider being with me as a real option?"

Looking back, I recognize that there really hadn't been any growth in several significant areas. I wasn't any different than when we had dated back in Tennessee. I was still unsettled, clueless as to my direction in life, what I wanted to do, where I was going. I was still living as a college student even though I wasn't going to college at the time. I hadn't gotten any closer to God, I was still readily open to sexual sin and hadn't become any better with my finances. I was the same person, just living in a different place. I never knew why he felt he didn't want to become serious with me even though he seemed to really like me in a lot of different ways, but I have often felt it had something to do with my lack of spiritual, emotional, and financial growth. Not that he was so mature in these areas either, except financially he was doing very well by that time, but I think that he was looking for someone who was, someone who knew where she was going and what she was doing spiritually, emotionally, and financially. I was not the one.

Now, 21 years later, I find myself in a similar situation. I have a “new” friend who I really care about and would like the opportunity to date. But last night, after remembering the situation with this other guy back in 1987, I asked myself, “If this friend that I care about came to see me right now, what would he find?” “Would anything be different than when we met, 1-1/2 years ago?” Just as with the other guy, I don’t know the exact reasons why he decided he didn't want to date me at the time we met or since (it wasn't a lack of physical attraction), but whatever it was, I wondered if there would be anything different now. “Is there anything in my life that would be different enough to possibly make him reconsider his options?” And, “What would I want him to see?”

Here's what I would want him to see (not in any particular order):
  1. Someone who has created a clean and orderly, comfortable home with touches of beauty throughout.

  2. Someone who has resolved what her role is to be in her brother's life.

  3. Someone who has a healthy awareness and gratefulness for what she has, along with goals toward the future.

  4. Someone who is at peace in her relationship with God and who is spiritually growing.

  5. Someone who is involved in a ministry of some sort and is compassionate and loving to others. Someone who is more focused on serving others than serving herself.

  6. Someone not afraid to talk about her faith and beliefs.

  7. Someone who has learned to save money and live frugally. Someone able to live within her means and be content, while doing what she can to improve her financial position.

  8. Someone who has expanded her horizons, who has opened herself to new opportunities and growth, whose world is larger than just the small world around her.

  9. Someone who is physically active and eats healthfully for the most part.

  10. Someone able to live in this world, but daily preparing for Christ's second coming.

Yes, this is who I want to be and in some areas I am closer to being this person than I used to be. But in others, I am still a long way from being there. I'm not even sure what holds me back, except life seems to continue to throw things at me that I don't handle very well and seems to throw me off-course for various periods of time. Not that life unfolds perfectly for anyone, as I know it doesn't, but somehow even in the midst of the terrific storms of life, some people are able to maintain their focus and not become diverted into meaningless, dead-end side-trips. Whereas I have too often become diverted, lost focus, and spent years indulging in the meaningless, dead-end, depressing, side-trips. Somehow, I haven’t retained my focus in the way that I wish I had. Additionally, I have lacked and still lack some of the tools needed to become this person I desire to be.

So, the questions I ask now are, "What do I need to do to become this person?" "What steps can I take now, toward becoming the person I wish my friend to see, no matter if he ever sees or not?" "What tools do I need to obtain to enable me to become this person I desire to be and where do I obtain them?"

To be continued...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Waiting beside the Jordan...

Friday morning, during my prayer time, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me that I had passed the "test," I had come through my "Spiritual Jordan." I was elated, of course, as it has been a long and tiresome trial for me, one that I had never made it all the way through before. To be honest, I also felt that doors would begin opening right and left for me to go forward into marriage and ministry! But on Sunday and today, I found myself feeling pretty miserable and discouraged.

Physically, I came down with a bad cold or sinus infection and ended up sleeping most of these two days and just praying and hoping I've gotten past the worst of it. Emotionally and spiritually, I have all of sudden not known what to do with myself. I'm not moving forward in my life yet and I feel like I'm just standing/sitting here on the bank of the Jordan waiting for my directions and God has not given them to me yet.

A little bit ago, I was resting and trying to calm my emotions and not venture into disbelief, when a picture of the disciples in the upper room came to mind. After Christ had died and the disciples had completely forgotten that He was to rise again on the third day, on Sunday, they were gathered together in the upper room, behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. I'm sure they also were feeling quite discouraged and miserable, wondering what to do next. Although Christ had risen again, the disciples were not aware of this yet as Christ had not appeared to them.

In the Bible in John 20:19-22, it reads, "19 Then that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, Peace to you! 20 So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture). 21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you. 22 And having said this, He breathed on [them] and said to them, Receive (admit) the Holy Spirit!"

A short time later, in a matter of days, Christ met with the disciples again and gave them their instructions, their commission (see Matthew 28:19-20), which is also our commission. But even then, there remained a slight waiting period. In Acts 1:4 the Bible says, "And while being in their company and eating at the table with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which, He said you have heard me speak (meaning the Holy Spirit). A little later Christ ascended unto heaven and the disciples returned to the upper room where they were indefinitely staying to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Christ had commanded them.

So, what did they do during this waiting period? In Acts 1:14, it says, "All of these (meaning the disciples and the others gathered with them) with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer, [waiting together] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers."

Although I am struggling a bit with still more "waiting," I realize that I need to do as the disciples did and devote steadfastly to prayer. The doors will open, God will give me my directions, but just as the disciples had to wait a little while yet, so must I.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Call me Mara [bitter]...

First, let me say, "Thankfully, by the Grace of God alone, I'm not bitter!" But, what the title of this post is referring to is what Naomi, in the Bible in Ruth 1:20-21, had said upon her return to Bethlehem.

"20 And she said to them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty; why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

This past week, these words kept coming to mind as how I felt. I have felt these past several months that "the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me." I have been afflicted and tormented and left empty and maybe that's where God needed me to be. Maybe He needed me to become completely empty, empty of pride and self-sufficiency, empty of my goals or dreams, so that I could be filled with His Spirit, His goals, and His desires for me.

I like the part that follows these words of Naomi...Starting in Chapter 2 of the book of Ruth, God begins his restoration of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. He works miracles in their lives and brings about physical and financial redemption to them through Boaz. He doesn't just leave them there, afflicted and tormented, but provides for them in miraculous ways and I believe He is going to do the same for me. He will bring healing and restoration to my life and redeem me spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. He will work miracles within my life. He will fulfill His promises to me!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Expecting a miracle!

March has been a horrible month, or at least it seems like it to me. I'll truly be glad to turn the page on my calendar! Work has been horrible, winter has refused to give up, and I've felt like I was dying emotionally and sometimes spiritually. But, as I read my emails this morning, The Dare to Trust! Daily Devotional, "Your Faith Has Healed You," and an email from our Head Elder at church, "Miracles in Mexico," I realized that I have never gone into my day, my week, my life, expecting, trusting for miracles. I wonder how much this could change my life to go into each day expecting miracles from God, expecting Him to open the doors, "part the waters," heal/restore, and deliver me and others?

When Christ was here on earth, there were some towns (including Nazareth, the town He grew up in) that He was unable to do "works of power" (ie, miracles) there because of the people's disbelief. In Mark 6:5-6, the Bible says, "5And He was not able to do even one work of power there [talking about Nazareth], except that He laid His hands on a few sickly people [and] cured them. 6And He marveled because of their unbelief--their lack of faith in Him. And He went about among the surrounding villages [and] continued teaching."

How sad! How sad to have missed out on the "work of power" that Christ was able and willing to do because of unbelief. I don't want to be like that! I want to be like the woman of Matthew 9:21-22, the woman who had been ill for 12 long years, but "She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said. "Your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Faith and February...

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

Just as surely as February's gray skies, snow covered fields, brown trees, and dark-blue, icy streams will eventually give way to spring's soft breezes, sunny skies, green leafy shoots, and colorful flowers, so will God fulfill His promises at His appointed time.

In the midst of February, it feels as if winter will never give way to spring; the grayness of it all lingers on. And so it is at times in our lives, waiting for God to open the doors, to bring about the fulfillment of a promise, to show us the way.

The Psalmist says in Psalm 37:4-5, 7a, "4 Delight yourself also in Lord and He will give you the desired and secret petitions of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord--roll and repose [each care of] of your load on Him; trust (lean on, rely on and be confident) also in Him, and He will bring it to pass. 7a Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him, and patiently stay yourself upon Him." And in Psalm 57:2, he says, "I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me--Who brings to pass [His purposes] for me and surely completes them!"

Spring will surely come...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Called to walk in the (Holy) Spirit...

In Galatians 5:16, God through the apostle Paul, calls the Christian believer to walk in the (Holy) Spirit, not the flesh, "But I say, walk and live habitually in the (Holy) Spirit--responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh--of human nature without God."

In verses 19 through 24, Paul goes on to describe the outward differences. 19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear--obvious; they are immorality, impurity, indecency; 20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies); 21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit, [the work which His presence within accomplishes]--is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness; 23 (Meekness, humility) gentleness, self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus, the Messiah, have crucified the flesh--the Godless human nature--with its passions and appetites and desires."

This morning, as I was reading in the book, "The Desire of Ages," I read a couple of paragraphs that talked about being a witness for Christ. A couple of sentences, in particular, caught my attention: "We should never give to the world the false impression that Christians are a gloomy, unhappy people. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we shall see a compassionate Redeemer, and shall catch light from His countenance. Where His Spirit reigns, there peace abides. And there will be joy also, for there is a calm, holy trust in God."

In another book of mine that deals specifically with learning to "walk in the Spirit," one of the first questions it asks in the growth and study guide is, "What might happen in your life if you were to follow the instructions in Galatians 5:16?" As I read the question, the first thought that came into my head was, "I would have to give up my right to be in a bad mood, to be ill-tempered when I feel like it!" Ouch! Talk about God opening my eyes!

I have known for a long time that whenever I am faced with a lot of things not going my way, a lot of stress from situations or people, or when my life feels out of balance, I have a tendency to "lose" my Christianity. I will get into a foul mood and become negative, rebellious, difficult, obstinate, and ill-tempered. My "walk in the (Holy) Spirit" lasts until the "rubber meets the road," and then it's all over. I begin my walk in the flesh (sinful, fallen human nature). I know that this is wrong and yet I haven't been able to remain in the Spirit. When talking to God about this, He showed me it's because I want to hang onto my "right to walk in the flesh" whenever I feel like it and when I do choose to walk in the flesh, the presence of the (Holy) Spirit must leave. A person can't serve two masters. Either she will serve the Lord through obedience and walking in the Spirit, or she will serve the enemy and walk in the flesh. By choosing to walk in the flesh, I am thereby choosing to not experience the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit (joy, peace, love). To continue to walk in the Spirit, I must give up my right to walk in the flesh. How scary that feels! The thought of never again being able to use my right to get into a bad mood, to take out my frustrations on someone or something else, to be obstinate, difficult, negative, and ill-tempered. It's like telling the alcoholic he/she can never have another drink, and yet, that is exactly what they must accept before they can experience recovery. In a similar way I must actually learn to surrender to God my negative, ill-tempered feelings and my right to express them, and allow Him to remove them rather than reverting to walking in the flesh. This is not going to be easy. In fact, the only way I'll even get to the point of being willing is with God's help. "I will [not merely walk, but] run the way of Your commandments, when You give me a heart that is willing" Psalm 119:32. "O Lord, please give me a willing heart!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

And the waiting continues...

This weekend has been emotionally and spiritually hard for me. I found myself feeling anxious, tired, and irritated at the waiting, constant, never-ending (it seems) waiting. Waiting for God's fulfillment of my dream, God's direction, God's appointed time. I tried to pray and got irritated at God during prayer; I tried to read and got irritated at God's promises. Nothing seemed get me out of the "rut" I had fallen into over the weekend. Even during the potluck after church, a time when I usually enjoy talking and socializing with others, I got irritated and mad at several people. I was definitely not my usual self. It was actually a relief to come home and eventually go to bed.

Thankfully, God doesn't "leave me there," when I have fallen into one of my "bad moods." This morning, my Bible reading was about Joseph, during the time when he was in the dungeon, and then at "God's appointed time," he was called forth to his new life, his purpose. The sermon yesterday had been on the exact same Bible verses and as I read it, I could imagine how Joseph must have felt during the "waiting." After Pharaoh's Chief Butler had been restored to his position and the Chief Baker had been hung, just as Joseph had through God's Spirit told them it would be, the butler forgot to mention Joseph to Pharaoh. It was another two years of waiting in the dungeon before the king had the prophetic dreams and the butler remembered Joseph and how God had given him the interpretation of the butler's dream. During these two years Joseph must have wondered and pleaded with God for a plan, a purpose, the fulfillment of his dreams, or at least I imagine that he must have. And then, one day, at God's "appointed time," he was called forth from the dungeon to his new life as governor over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

Joseph's calling forth must have felt like being woke-up from the dead, or at least that is how I would have felt. Sometimes I feel so "dead" in this waiting and at God's appointed time, when He finally calls me forth from the "dungeon of waiting," it will feel as if I've just been raised from the dead!

Reading the story and thinking about how Joseph may have felt made me think about the reasons for waiting. A few months back I had studied about waiting, about staying in the crucible, the trial and the authors of a couple of different books had listed reasons for waiting, which I have since combined. Reading over these reasons again was a fresh reminder of the blessings to be had from waiting. Here is my combined list:
  1. Waiting can refocus our attention away from "things" and back to God Himself; it encourages us to get to know God better.
  2. Waiting allows us to develop a clearer picture of our own motives and desires; it tends to purify them.
  3. Waiting builds perseverance--spiritual stamina, steadfastness, staying power.
  4. Waiting opens the door to the development of many spiritual strengths, such as faith, trust, and patience.
  5. Waiting allows God to put down other pieces in the puzzle of the bigger picture. (One of my favorites.)
  6. Waiting energizes us for the walk (or race or battle) ahead. It gives us time to rest and refuel.

My next thought was, "But what are we to do during the waiting?" "What did David do while he waited for the throne to become his as God had promised?" "What did Saul not do when he was waiting for Samuel to arrive to offer sacrifices to the Lord?" And then, more specifically, "What am I to be doing?"

In Psalm 37:1-11, David explains what we are to do...Over and over again in various ways he says, "Fret not, neither be anxious;" "Delight yourself in the Lord (meaning 'to live in a state of perfect trust. Nothing can ruffle our peace, because God is here and at work. We can praise Him, we can even smile, because no one can outwit our God!');" "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him;" "Be still and rest in the Lord, wait for Him, fret not;" "Cease from anger, forsake wrath, fret not." And, although David made his mistakes, this he did right...he waited, he did not rush ahead and "grab what God had not yet given." David had several opportunities in which to kill King Saul and take the throne by force, but David recognized that "God's gifts are always best received from His hand and in His time."

On the other hand, King Saul did the exact opposite. He became impatient, anxious, and angry at the wait and chose to make the sacrifices without Samuel (God's representative). And in doing so, he caused himself to sin and then refused to acknowledge his sin before God, which led to his permanent loss of the throne.

So, once again I am brought back to the vivid pictures of the choices I have and what I must do. I must choose to wait, just as David did, and not rush ahead and try to "grab the gift" that God has not yet given. Also, I need to refocus on what I need to be doing and learning from this time of waiting:

  1. Continue to spend time with God, getting to know Him better, continuing to grow spiritually, learning to quiet myself and rest.
  2. Continue learning to trust, learning to depend upon and wait for God, learning to "not lean on my own understanding," or anyone else's, but rather on God.
  3. Continue learning faithfulness and perseverance, learning to be constant and steadfast (staying power).
  4. Continue using the time to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (as described above) to become a wife and possibly a mother.

The task is not easy and many times I feel so broken and helpless, but as Philippians 4:13 states, "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]. And, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God promises that His grace will be sufficient. "But He said to me, My grace--My favor and loving-kindness and mercy--are enough for you, [that is, sufficient against any danger and to enable you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect--fulfilled and completed and show themselves most effective--in [your] weakness..." Also, He has promised to not give us more than we can bear, "For no temptation--no trial regarded as enticing to sin [no matter how it comes or where it leads]--has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man--that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out--the means of escape to a landing place--that you may be capable and strong and powerful patiently to bear up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

And so, the waiting continues and I continue to yield to the waiting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Doubt opens the door...

This morning, after reading my online devotion which talked about "seeds of doubt," I realized that doubting God opens the door to sin. Eve, in the Garden of Eden, was fine until she allowed the serpent's words (the seed of doubt) to create a thought of doubt. As soon as she allowed herself to doubt God for even one minute, it opened the door to disobedience (sin).

This has been true in my life also. At some point, as a child and when I experienced things that didn't fit with my picture of what I thought God should or should not be doing to provide for me, the initial thoughts of doubt and distrust crept into my mind. From there it only grew until I thought nothing of disobeying God, even at a huge personal cost, because I no longer trusted what God said.

The only step to take is to say as Job did, "Yea though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." By taking the stand, I am going to trust and obey, no matter what everyone else is telling me and no matter what my outward visible circumstances look like, allows God to work tremendous miracles on my behalf and gives me His peace "which transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In quietness and (trusting) confidence...

A verse that has become one of my favorites now is Isaiah 30:15. "For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength. And You would not." [My thoughts: Please don't let it be said of me, Lord. Please help me to quiet myself and trust in You!]

Although I had read it before, it has become really significant to me over the past couple of weeks as I've been learning to quiet myself even through stressful situations/events in my life. On New Year's weekend I received my eviction hearing notice, which of course, created some stress. I found myself waking up in the night and saying to myself, "in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength." It is amazing how true this verse really is...I feel stronger emotionally, I'm not chaotically "running all over the place," but rather I mentally and emotionally come back to God's quietness and rest and trust that He will take care of it and help me to know and do my part. It's actually really cool!

I'm grateful that God has brought me to the to the place where I am today and I never want to go back to the mental and emotional fearful and frantic chaos that was before. It is so peaceful and restful no matter what is going on around me that I feel truly blessed!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Whatever you are filled with...

Sometime ago, I came across an old Native American saying, "Whatever you are filled with will spill out when bumped." I have never been able to forget this, particularly when anger, hatred, bitterness, or envy spill forth out of me when people or life "bump" me. I desire to be filled with God's peace, joy, and love, but too often the opposite spills forth.

Yesterday, one of my online devotionals (Dare to Trust! from Literature Ministries International) talked about Deuteronomy 8:2, "And you shall (earnestly) remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."

The author of the devotional, then pointed out that there were three things expressing the "why" of their wilderness journey. "First, to 'humble you.' God wanted to reveal their pride, ego, self-sufficiency, and independence. Second, to 'prove you.' God sought to reveal the sincerity of their faith. Was it a faith that had relevance to their daily lives? Third, to 'know what was in their hearts.' They needed to realize the deceitfulness and degradation of their hearts. 'The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it.' God sought to orchestrate their lives to be upright in their love of Him."

These words really spoke to me, as I have felt like I've been going through a "wilderness" experience. I realized that these were additional reasons for me to go through what I have been going through...First, I also needed to be humbled and my financial deprivation has certainly humbled me and created a "teachable" spirit within me. Second, I also needed my faith proven as I have not been willing to stay in and go through the crucible ever before. I have always backed off, resented and became angry, or ran away from the "testing," anything except stay in the trial, wait it out, yield and go through it. Third, just as the Israelites needed to know what was in the their hearts, I also needed to know. So often, I have felt that "I'm not all that bad, I'm loving, I'm kind and generous." Getting "bumped" by people and life recently has shown me exactly what I'm filled with deep within my heart and it's not from God. God needed me to see the truth so that I could acknowledge my sin and plead for a new heart!

This morning, just before waking up, I had a dream in which I saw someone do something to someone else that was wrong and made me angry. The anger I experienced was "righteous indignation" (not a sin), but instead of taking the time to ask God how I should respond or what I needed to do, I remained angry and ended up taking out my anger on someone else who didn't deserve my anger (a sin). In turn, I saw that person then take out their pain and anger on a third, innocent bystander. I was going to say something, but then realized I had been the cause and had done the exact same thing. I woke up knowing that in my dream (and too often in real life), I had allowed my anger to cause me to sin and in turn had angered someone else, who also sinned because of their anger. What a harsh way to wake up!

When I started to write today's entry, I looked over what I had written yesterday and remembered the peace I had felt all day, but didn't seem to have this morning. As I thought longingly of that peace, God spoke to me in my heart and said, "It's available to you again today, you just have to let go of your anger, quiet yourself before Me, and rest in My presence. You don't have to stay (emotionally) where you are right now." Thank You, Lord, for this reminder. Help me to quiet myself again before You and rest in Your presence. Amen. [So be it.]

Friday, January 4, 2008

At rest...

OK Lord, here I am...What do You want to do with me? What do You want me to do? I realize that I don't know what You are doing and I don't know what I'm suppose to be doing. I'm just here...Your daughter...Your choice...Your plan...Your will...and Your timing.

I sure do have hopes, dreams, and desires, but even in these I can't pretend to know Your will. I am here in Your "green pastures," trying to learn to rest and quiet myself before You and in Your presence. I'm surely not "there" yet, but I have hope that I will get there. I have longings, but know that even these are outside of my ability to bring about. My life is in Your hands...please take me and fulfill Your will. Show me Your ways that I may walk in them and Your charge that I may keep it.

I know that everything is empty and brings "death" unless it is given by You. I feel as if I must sit here, before You, until You have given me Your directions. So...although I must physically get up and go to my job today, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, I am still sitting before You, waiting.

The truth is Lord, I don't ever want to leave Your green pastures. I desire to get married, possibly have a child, have a ministry, a purpose, a life, but not if I have to sacrifice Your green pastures for it. I don't know exactly how this works in real life, (ie, practical application), but that's where I'm at. I'm going to trust that You will show me how this works. Thank You.