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.

Christmas Christmas time is here…

Are you having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit this year?

SIGH, I’m not sure what to write or how to write it. I had a lot of hope and anticipation at the beginning of December. Then I suddenly found myself struggling with depression, yet again!

I really thought I would get past it this year and finally experience the hope and anticipation throughout the month. If you are like me, you need something, anything to anchor onto so that you can make it through the holidays.

I know we are to focus on Jesus, the reason for the season…and Christmas should be in our hearts and lives all year long. I can spend all morning reading devotionals and GOD’s Word. And worship and sing songs of praise to Him all while still struggling with depression.

I’m finding that looking back at past Christmases while asking GOD to shine a light on my memories to show me how He was in them is bringing some relief.

I was at my church’s Christmas Carol sing last week and people were asked to share memories. There seemed to be a theme this year where person after person shared about their family opening Christmas presents for hours for Christmas. My family didn’t do that.

Interestingly, GOD brought to mind not a time with lots of presents, but a Christmas when I was younger after my parents divorced and my Dad had remarried. We were at my Dad’s sister’s house. It was evening and the adults had the kids join them. The adults started to sing (and recorded it on a cassette tape).

GOD shined His light in the gift of His presence. You see, my family were not just singing the melody of the Christmas songs, but were harmonizing with one another. It was like a taste of what it will be like when we get to heaven.

GOD is reminding me of other Christmas memories too. Is it causing the depression to go away? No. BUT GOD is allowing me to have peace, hope, anticipation and even some joy despite the depression. He is able to do that when we let Him.

GOD has an adventure for each of us. He never promised life would be easy. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. It’s our choice to take Him up on the adventure He has for us or try to do life on our own without Him.

Having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit? Ask GOD to shine a light on what He is doing as well as where He was in past seasons of your life. He will show Himself faithful. He will show you where He has been working in your life, even in the hardest parts of your life.

And one more thing, please know, it’s ok to be depressed. It’s ok to not be ok. But know this, you are not alone. GOD is with you and loves you. BUT if you are thinking about taking your life, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). GOD will help you get through this season. Trust Him.

I pray that GOD will show Himself faithful in your life. I pray that He will encourage you, strengthen you and give you hope and anticipation of what is to come. I pray that GOD will envelope you in His arms and lead you on the adventure of a lifetime. He is able and willing. I love you friend. Merry Christmas!

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).

This is the end….

 

Ok, so you are probably wondering why I put a funny cheese commercial at the beginning of this blog post.  Well, it’s kind of long story. So, my short-term disability ran out on October 21, 2016. I thought I was going to be getting a fantastic job, but not quite sure if I was ready to be working full-time with lots of travel. Turns out, they did not feel I had enough experience in an area and not enough knowledge in another area. So I didn’t get the job.

I should note that prior to my short-term disability running out, I applied for Social Security Disability, which takes about 3 months to be approved or denied.

Back to not getting the job. I’m not sure who I spoke to, but was told to file for unemployment because I did not get the job but no longer on short-term disability. I was accepted for unemployment benefits right away, but I had to go through a screening call to make sure I qualify. Well, I got the call, which was not an easy one! The woman wanted to know if I was disabled or employable. I tried to explain that I am employable with limitations. She would not accept my answer. “You are either disabled or employable, Ms Wilson, you can’t be both!” She wanted a note from my doctor saying I was employable without limitations. I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. I won’t tell you that I didn’t cry. I did!

Almost immediately, the Message version of Isaiah 43:1-4 came to my mind.

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead-end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

Also, a song started in my heart:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

I felt comforted by God. I know He loves me, He has a plan and He is in control. Later in the day I ended up at a Job Center for a class. Ironically my badge had expired even though I was doing things to keep it active, so I had to meet with a counselor for a new badge. I met with a lady who is a Sister-in-Christ and she told me that she could not tell me what to do but to trust God to show me what was the best thing to do. She explained that with me being “employable with limitations” that I would qualify for job training (which I was not eligible of getting before because I didn’t qualify and because they didn’t have funding) and possibly help from Department of Rehabilitation (which I also had applied for).

I had pretty much decided that I would not worry about losing unemployment thinking I might get Social Security Disability. However, I called UCSF to talk to them about what they thought I should do. No one contacted me back in time to do anything about unemployment, so when the letter of denial for unemployment came, I was not surprised at all.

This morning, I was looking at my bookshelf and opened a devotional book I have not read yet. There was a challenge on the page I turned to, so I read it since I like challenges. It read:

“Challenge: Today make the LORD your dwelling place. Let Him be the one that delivers you from your enemies. As you talk and pray to God, ask Him to show you the best way to handle a current crisis. Like He did with David, He will deliver you. May God bless you.”

I decided to verbally acknowledge the LORD as my dwelling place to at least take part of the challenge. I started to pray, “God, I don’t have a current crisis that I know of….” Immediately I thought “you won’t receive Social Security Disability.” I knew that it was the LORD and not the enemy. And as crazy as it may seem, I heard the mailman drop the mail in the box right then. Sure enough to His word, I received a letter from Social Security that I do not qualify for Social Security Disability because according to my doctor at UCSF I am “employable with limitations”.

I could not believe it! Well I could, but I couldn’t. The same thing that disqualified me from receiving unemployment was also disqualifying me from receiving Social Security Disability! Wow! That is just unbelievable!

No Bible verses came to mind. No songs of hope sprang up in my heart. Just the enemy telling me that I thought I was at the end before but now I was at the end. “There’s no hope for Michelle…she will not be able to get the training she thought she would be able to get since she won’t have any form of income from State or Government!”

Then a song arose but not one from God. “This is the end, beautiful friend, This is the end, my only friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end.”

I was sure that I have seen a video of a mouse in a trap with this same music playing. You think, “poor mouse!” It truly looks like the end for the poor critter. And that is what it feels like for me right now. But the mouse ate strong cheese and as a result was able to “bench press” the bar that had snapped to take life from its body to the tune of Eye of the Tiger! Hee hee! My God is much stronger than the strongest cheese! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He is my dwelling place and He will deliver me from my enemies.

I love when I can laugh at Satan. He may think that I am at the end, “But my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). I laugh at Satan, not because I know God’s plan or how provision will come in, but because I know God is faithful!

Tonight when I talked to my housemate about my day, she told me, “I want you to know, you will not be kicked out of my house if you can not come up with rent! Just know that, ok?” I am already praising God for the blessing of the beautiful home I am living in as well as the generosity my housemate has already shown me. Now I praise God all the more for an assurance of housing in a time of uncertainty with my finances. God is already showing Himself faithful!  Praise God not only is He my dwelling place, but He has provided a dwelling place!