How is GOD using the fire and storms in your life?

I’m not exactly sure when it was, but for a period of time, I kept finding myself reading verses in the Bible about being in the fire or storm. Daniel 3:9-30, Isaiah 43:1-5, Matthew 8:23-27, the book of Job and others. I’m not sure what I thought at the time, but looking back, I can see that GOD wanted to prepare me that I would be going into the fire…a hot 🥵🔥 one!

Since October 22, 2015 I feel like I have been in the fire. That is on-going pain from surgery with no answers to why, spinal pain which was in the 7-8/10 pain levels for several years (as well as occasionally now, but regularly around 4-6/10 pain levels), for several years inability to get regular sleep, doctors unwilling to help, insurance denials, workplace falsely accusing me of theft, loss of beloved animals, mental breakdown, weakness in my legs taking my freedom to drive, autoimmune disease, noise/light/smell sensitivities, depression, migraine headaches…

; BUT GOD has been faithful throughout. Majority of the verses I continued to see over and over were about being in a fire or storm, BUT most importantly the verses were about WHO IS WITH US WHEN WE GO THROUGH THE FIRE OR THE STORM!

Isaiah 43:1-5 -But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your GOD, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.

Remember Shadrach Meshach and Abednego; GOD didn’t put out the fire, in fact, the fire was stoked seven times hotter! ;BUT GOD was in the fire with them. It’s not about GOD putting out the fires, it’s about who is in the fire with you.

In Matthew 8:23-27, the One who controls all things, including the weather, was in the boat with the disciples. JESUS calmed the storm with a Word.

For just over six and a half years, I have been in what feels like a fire that’s gotten a little bit hotter over time. I’ve learned that the key to not fearing is to know that GOD is with us through it.

I have also started to see that going through the fire is about healing and restoration. This happens when we surrender every aspect of the fires and storms to GOD and allow Him to use it for our good.

Today it occurred to me that maybe GOD wants to use the fires in our lives to give others life. I was reading a devotional about “heaping coals on the heads of our enemies” and remembered that in the past is was a blessing to give someone a hot coal. It meant they would be able to warm their house, cook food, warm water for drinks and baths, etc.

I’m not quite sure what it would look like to use the fire I am in to give life to others. Maybe instead of just existing in the fires we are in, we can look outside of our fires to encourage others who are going through it and we can pray for others asking GOD to show Himself in their fire.

How is GOD using the fires and/or storms in your life? What is He teaching you? Please let me know in the comment section.

Despite the fires in my life, I desire to see the Church, the Bride of Christ, united together in love. I desire to see the Bay Area to become the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight. I’m not sure how I can be part of this, other than prayer, but I am at least asking GOD to use me.

I pray that GOD will show Himself faithful to you. I pray that GOD will show you, that even though your fire might be getting hotter or that your boat is about to be overtaken by waves, He is with you, He is for you and He is in control of the fires and storms. I pray that GOD will empower you to stop crying out to be saved from the fire and the storm to see that you are safe in the fire and the storm BECAUSE HE IS WITH YOU. I pray that GOD will encourage you, strengthen you and show you purpose inside the fire and storm. I pray that GOD will remove all hopelessness, anxiety, fear, dejectedness, etc and give you His peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind. I pray that GOD will soften any part of your heart and mind that has become hardened because of the fire and storm. And I pray that GOD will renew your love for Him, allow a fire to burn inside your heart and that He will show you new purpose. May He build something beautiful from the ashes, bringing healing and restoration in and through your life because of what you are going through.

Waiting on God was worth it….

Oh my goodness, it’s been two months since I was on here! I am still in school at De Anza College getting my Accounting certificate. I am in my second of four quarters, well God-willing I will be able to finish in a year.

It’s been 19 months since I donated 60% of my liver to a friend’s husband and I still have pain daily in my incision – of course, it’s something that you can never plan for! I was supposed to be without pain after 3-4 months. My pain specialist told me last month, “I don’t want to bring you down Michelle, but this may be your ‘new normal!'” Sigh!!! I am doing all to trust God, knowing He must have a good plan in store despite the pain.

I have been out of work since October 20, 2015 except for a little work here and there. I had received short-term disability for exactly a year but Social Security and Unemployment both decided that I do not qualify for their funds because I am “employable with limitations”.  Between that and school, it was extremely hard to find work. It was really starting to get hard to live financially without a job when I sent my resume to my school counselors and teacher.

Finally on Wednesday, May 3, my OTI (Occupational Training Institute) counselor at De Anza contacted me to ask if I would like to interview for an accounting internship on Stevens Creek in Cupertino. I was excited because I could ride the bus if I needed to, so I said yes to the interview.

In my last post, “Encouraged to write another Psalm“, I posted a video of eleven cars God provided for me from June of 2015 to March 20 of 2017 while I did not own a car of my own. By the time of my interview, I was driving car number 12 that God had provided but I had been taking the bus to class when no car was available to me.

When I “Google-mapped” where the interview was, I found out that it was not on Stevens Creek and it was not in Cupertino! Instead I found out that it was on Bascom in Campbell which was not going to be an easy bus ride! In fact, it would take me over an hour and a half each way – possibly more! Ugh!

I went to the interview anyway since I had a car to get to it. It is in an area that is very familiar to me. The lady I interviewed with was pretty awesome. I think we laughed more than anything during the 45 (ish) minutes that I was there. She told me that she usually isn’t so forth-coming but said that she really wanted to hire me but needed to talk to the owner – I’d be getting my job offer by 5pm that day – if she got her way.

Ok! A job, an accounting internship, with a decent pay and hours that would be worked around schooling was most-likely going to be offered to me. On the drive home, I was scared! I cried out to God, “LORD, I don’t know if I can handle riding the bus to work, working 5-6 hours, then riding the bus home or to school! I have pain as it is…will it increase with that much more activity and sitting?” At that point, I could see something in my heart and life that I had not seen before. “LORD, please forgive me of the fear I have had inside of me. Please forgive me for not looking for a car as I should have because I have been so afraid that I would get another lemon! Please forgive me. Thank You so much for providing the 12 cars despite the fear I have had. LORD, will You please bring me a car?”

Within about 15 minutes of getting home (about 30 minutes of praying that prayer), my housemate sent me a text saying that she had sent out information about me needing a car to a group that she is connected with AND a friend of hers had a car for sale in my price range….did I want to see the car???

I got God-bumps all over my body! I had forgotten that my housemate and I talked that morning about what would happen if I got a job across town. She also knew that it would probably be too much on me to try to take the bus, so she posted my need.

I started texting with her friend trying to say I could come to her, but she insisted on bringing the car to me. At the same time, I received an offer email from the lady I had interviewed with. I called her to let her know I have a disability. When she answered the phone, she sounded depressed. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that no one called her when she offered a job, they always respond to her email – she thought that I would not be taking the job. I said, “no, I am excited about the job – I want the job!” She cheered up immediately then asked why I called. I let her know of the pain that I have and let her know that I would need a sit to stand desk or something compatible to that. She had no problem with that request, so I got the job!

And, on Sunday after church, my housemate’s friend brought the car to me….Let me rephrase it….GOD BROUGHT THE CAR TO ME!

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I knew immediately when I saw the silver car drive up that I was supposed to buy it. I got into the car to test drive it and the owner, sitting in the passenger seat opened the glove box to show me the paperwork. Everything was clean and orderly! She was very impressed with my knowledge of cars as I opened the hood to check everything out, turned the wheels to check the axle and struts, and looked under it as best as I could. It had not been steam cleaned, it was just 14 years of dust – no liquid spills or leaks, new struts, good tires…it was the best looking car I have seen since I started looking for one in May of 2015! And it was an excellent price! Yes, I knew it was from God.

I’m not going to tell you that all has been easy since then. In fact, I was not able to get the car for several days, I had to go to Department of Motor Vehicles twice because I didn’t have enough money to pay the taxes the first time (but praise God the car was already smogged and registered only weeks before so I didn’t have to pay for either of those!), I have had higher pain levels (ranging between 5-6 sometimes) because my standing work station hasn’t been put in yet, and I won’t get paid until June 15th!

But, waiting on God for a job and car has been worth it…Actually, I can say waiting on Him for housing has been worth it too! My housemate has been a very special blessing to me.

And today I learned again that waiting on God for finances is worth the wait too! I was not sure how to pay for my storage unit so I have been waiting on God for direction. Today I felt I was supposed to go to my Chase credit card which meant I would need to pay $100 for it to be enough credit available to pay the rent. When I got on-line, I found out that I had over 10,000 points on my card which meant that I had $101+ change to credit to my account! I couldn’t imagine why I had the points, but I was praising God for the unexpected money to pay for the storage shed. Turns out that two of my friends took up the invitation to get themselves a Chase card with $50 for them and $50 for me! So cool! Thank you whoever it was that helped me out! If anyone reading this wants to get yourself a Chase card with $50 for you and $50 for me, let me know…hee hee! I still have half a month til I get paid!  But I know God will provide! Maybe I’ll even have another story about what He will do.

On With the New….

Wow, it’s been a month since I have written a blog!  I have much happen, so I am surprised I have not written! Oh well…

I was going to Nova Job Center throughout the spring and summer of 2016 but for some reason my badge was no longer valid which meant that I had to reapply for their services. I believe that it was a “God-thing”, because when I re-applied, I was able to qualify for job training. When I applied the first time, I would not have qualified because I was receiving short-term disability, but they also did not have any funding available when I first applied.

I went through the orientation training and then I went to a class that talked about the process to receive a training grant. After that, I met with a job councilor who told me that I could probably get a three or six month training program. So, I did all my homework. I looked back at all the work I have done through my years of work to see if there was something I really enjoyed doing. I decided that I enjoyed bookkeeping using Quickbooks and Quicken. I researched positions with different titles, position requirements, salaries, benefits, etc. I listed each and made graphs, I interviewed three ladies in my network or from people connected to my network who were either bookkeepers or non-tax accountants, I printed my master job and schooling resume and more.

Then I took all of that to a training councilor who first wanted to know why I was not working. I told her that I had quit my job and two days later donated 60% of my liver to my friend’s husband. She clapped her hands and smiled as she told me that she wondered why I was in the system with priority status to receive training funds. I was told I had priority status, but I was under the impression that it was because I was reapplying for their services.

After going through all of my “homework”, she told me that it is rare for someone to come in with everything completed. Majority of the people have to go back to her several times before she can make a decision about job training. She marked “APPROVED” on my paperwork and then proceeded to ask me if I wanted a nine-month training or a twelve-month training. I was dumbfounded for a moment before she explained that she was not approving me for a three or six month bookkeeping training but instead she was approving me for a nine or twelve month accounting certificate!

She explained both of the options to me and I made the decision that I would like to go to De Anza College in Cupertino for a twelve month accounting certificate.  I was told that I would have quite a bit of stuff in order to be able to start in January but the plan was that I would sign my grant contract on January 3rd and start school on January 9th.

On the 20th of December, I got a call that my contract was ready to sign and that I needed to go to Nova to sign it before the Christmas break. I went in that day to sign. While I was there, my councilor suggested that I contact my doctor and ask for a temporary handicap placard for the car since the campus was big.

The next day on December 21, I went to De Anza to do all my paperwork. While I was there, my training councilor encouraged me to have my doctor approve for me to get a handicap placard. So I did all my paperwork as well as contacting my doctor to find out what he thought. Since he agreed, I sent paperwork to him to be signed and sent back to me to take to Department of Motor Vehicles.

Well, all seemed to be going well. Then, on Christmas day, the car (Number 10) that I was borrowing from friends was stolen. It was recovered last night but had drugs and other things in it that have caused the owners concern for my safety, so they will no longer be loaning the car to me.

The other thing that is happening is that the classes that I hoped to get are not available now and I have not received the email from De Anza to register. So, it seems like there is something keeping me from moving forward!

It’s interesting, my friend Amy sent me a text that said, “Wow, you are such a person of faith and yet the LORD tests you down to the wire. His glory always prevails, but it’s so much at once!”

It is easy to think that if we take a step of faith that things should be easy. But that is not the case. Think of Abraham, the father of the faith. God gave him a promise that he would have a son. He was already 75 years old when God made that promise to him. Then he would have to wait 25 years before Isaac was born. AND then God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice the son of his promise. But Abraham got up and took Isaac to the place that God told him to go, he tied Isaac to the altar and had the knife in his hand raised to sacrifice his son of promise…AND then only did the angel of God speak and the ram was provided in Isaac’s place. (You can read the story of Abraham in Genesis, Chapter 22 for the story of him being asked to sacrifice his son.)

I am not being asked to sacrifice anything. I already sacrificed 60% of my liver and a year worth of wages! But walking in faith isn’t always easy. The one thing that makes walking in faith a little easier is that God doesn’t change. He is the one who told me back in June of 2015, “I love you, I have a plan, and I am in control!” He hasn’t changed. He still loves me, He still have a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and He is still in control! Nothing has changed.

So, I want to encourage you. If you are in a place where circumstances are hard, where nothing seems to be going right and even then good things seem to be made hard, don’t be discouraged. Trust God that He is more powerful than the enemy. Trust God that He loves you. Trust God that He has a great plan for you. Trust God that He is and will always be on His throne. Keep your eyes on Him because He will make a way where there seems to be no way! (Read Isaiah 43:1-3).

Attempt, not success but not failure!

I am not sure why I named this what I did. Interestingly, I had a Bible verse come to mind as I typed the title: Proverbs 24:16 “For a righteous man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; But the wicked are overthrown by calamity.”

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to MyCupCakeAddiction. (Hi Elise, just in case you happen to stop by!) It is so much fun to watch all the videos Elise Strachan puts up on YouTube. She is so creative and just fun to listen to as well as to watch. Even Bebe the cat has started watching the videos with me.  The hard part, is that I am trying very hard to get off of processed sugar and of course, on the videos, everything is loaded with sugar.

However, last night I was watching some older videos and I saw Elise making homemade fondant. I wondered if I could make a processed sugar-free version so I started looking on-line (of course I have no clue what I need fondant for since I haven’t made any cakes in a while!) Looking for a sugar-free fondant recipe caused me to look for sugar-free marshmallows, which ended up causing me to look for a sugar-free marshmallow recipe because sugar-free marshmallows are expensive!

Well, I made my first batch of homemade sugar-free marshmallows. They look like they were a success from the top, but they weren’t. I knew they were iffy when I was making them because it never fully combined and only started to whip and thicken when I added some tapioca powder. It never doubled in size or began to peak. Well, I will blame the age of the gelatin because otherwise it tasted quite yummy!

I was going to save the attempted marshmallows, but decided that it has been way too long since I had rice krispie treats, so I attempted to make some out of the attempted sugar-free marshmallows. img_20160914_190537749

Again, the picture makes it look like I had success. They did set and they were sooooo yummy! But they had too much moisture in them. Attempt, not success but not failure!

How many times do we do something and it doesn’t work out, so we don’t try again?

I can think of many times that I have felt like I failed at something so I didn’t try again. This time however, I really don’t feel like this is a failure but rather a trial. Those who succeed are the ones who try and try again until they make it. Abraham Lincoln is a great example.

Even in the Bible verse above, the Righteous man doesn’t fall and stay down. He falls, repents and rises again.

So what things have you down??? Have you tried, failed and refused to get up again? Maybe you’ve made a recipe that just didn’t work out?

Encouragement for the day: I encourage you to get up and try again in an area where you feel like you have failed. And if you fail or it doesn’t turn out as you thought it would, try again….even if it takes seven times, I encourage you to try again.  And please share your stories with me!