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What is Judgement; What is Justice? Who decides???

We all have moments in our lives, moments that are crystal clear, moments that, no matter how old we become, we’ll never forget….even if we wish we could. A marriage, the birth of a child, loss of a loved one….I could go on and on, but I think you’ve got the idea.
So, what is this post about? It’s about Judgement, Justice, forgiveness, acceptance….
Before I delve into this post, please, if you know who I’m writing about, please don’t use names.
Tonight, as I have done many nights in the past 26 years, I’ve thought about a friend of mine. I’ve wondered how her life has turned out. Is she ok? Where is she? What is she like now?
When I was a young teenager, I had a friend. She was so very sweet, kind, thoughtful. That’s who she was then. One day, all of that changed. In just ONE day, her life was irrevocably and profoundly changed so that there was no going back to the girl she was. Never.
One day, my friend’s mother, a woman whose home I’d been in, who was a staple at our sporting events, knew all of the kids’ names….one day….she snapped. She shot her son, turned and shot my friend, and then tried to kill herself.
To say our town was stunned is putting it lightly.
Her son died instantly, but my friend….she didn’t. She survived. As soon as I found out, I got in touch with her dad, found out what hospital she was in, and my dad drove me there to spend an afternoon with her.
How do you look at someone who has just suffered something so traumatic, so devastating, that you know… The minute you saw her…she was different? How could she not be? How could any of us, in the same situation, not be changed?
In my young mind….I was naive…I’d never dealt with something like this. How do you comfort? How do you help heal? What did I do? I took makeup and hair supplies. I did her makeup, fixed her hair pretty, and, all the while…she talked. She sat and talked through everything with me. Exactly what happened, where it happened, why it happened. Do you know what I remember most? She didn’t cry. Not a single tear. She’d already locked it down. Way down.
I listened….no questions….I just thought I’d provide what I had…a shoulder to lean on and an ear to hear.
She told me that, after she was shot, she got the gun and tried to use it on her mom but it was empty. No tears, just a matter of fact statement about what had happened.
We sat for a few hours, talking about the event, about makeup, about hair stuff….it was a varied conversation.
When I left, I promised to be there for her in whatever way she needed. And so I was.
About 2 weeks after the incident, I went with her back to her home to pack some things she’d need at her dad’s house. What an eerie thing. She walked thru and told me where she was, where her brother was, everything. Again, no tears, just a calm exterior that had locked the emotions up.
I remember leaving that house, thinking….this is too heavy. For her, for me, for anybody. It was the first time I realized…truly realized there was evil in the world.
In January of 1987, my friend, although no longer at my school…we still talked daily at this point, she asked me for a favor. I had no clue what she was going to ask and it shocked me.
She said she wanted to go to her mother’s sentencing and they thought it’d be a good idea if she had a psychologist with her. She said she just wanted a friend, someone who knew her, not someone impersonal. She asked if I would be that friend. The answer, of course, was yes.
When that day came, I don’t remember much about the proceedings. What do I remember? I remember watching her mom walk in and that’s it….for that part of things. From the moment her mom came in the room, I felt my friend stiffen, tighten her grip on my hand, barely breathing. I remember thinking a stiff wind might break her into a thousand pieces. From that moment on, all my focus was on my friend. Doing what I could to let her know she wasn’t alone. I didn’t even remember the sentence her mom got. I remember my friend and the vault that was within her that locked her emotions away.
From that day, we talked but as our lives changed,we grew, we became different people. We had less in common and she was spiraling out of control. I had no idea how to help, what to say, how to comfort her. All my life, I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, too emotional….but that’s me. It won’t change. I think those qualities are what my friend needed at that time of her life. She needed someone to cry for her since she couldn’t cry for herself. There are seasons in our lives that God places people to help us along, someone to carry your burdens with you. I think He put me in her life for that but I also believe she was put in my life for the same reason.
The last time I saw her, we ran into each other at the drive in. My husband and I were there on a date and I ran into her in the concession stand. She wasn’t the girl who’d been my friend 10 years earlier. She was hard, angry, bitter. Again, who wouldn’t be? Who wouldn’t be different? No longer the sweet, thoughtful, kind girl she had been. I had no idea how to reach her, how to let her know I was still here. But she didn’t want that. I understand…I think….I think maybe, she didn’t want connections with the girl she was; she was a different woman and she’d learned to protect herself against any and all emotion. It broke my heart.
So you may ask….why am I writing this?
For many years….sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes even daily, I’ve thought of her. How she is now, 26 years since that awful day. Has she found peace? Has she found happiness? Has she dealt with it?
Then, tonight….just by random….I found out her mom had been released from jail. When? June, 2000. She’d served just 13 years for her crimes. 13 years! She was given a 50 year sentence and she served 13 years.
I don’t know why this has hit me so hard. I haven’t been able to sleep because I can’t stop crying. Why? This didn’t happen to me! It happened to her!! All those times I’ve thought about her, I always found comfort in one tiny seed of hope….that as long as her mother was in jail, my friend would feel safe. She wouldn’t have to worry about her mom being out and about, maybe wanting to see her. Then I found this info tonight and my heart breaks for her. To be honest, I was mad. Mad at a system that lets a woman go just 13 years after she killed her son and attempted to kill her daughter.
Was justice served? Was the judgement just? She took the lives of two people that day. Her son’s life and her daughter’s life. Both were murdered; it’s just that my friend’s life as she knew it was murdered. Her life she hoped to have, the life she deserved to have, the right to be innocent just a bit longer….it was all taken away from her. Her heart was still beating but her life wasn’t.
As I’m writing this, I can’t stop crying. I’ve been talking to God, asking, how is that just? How is it acceptable?? 13 years for such a horrific crime of a mother….a mother…taking the lives of her children. 13 years.
So I prayed, asked for guidance because my heart is feeling a bit hardened right now….not towards God but towards man. Towards the sins that abound in this world. How do we cope with that? How do we deal with the evil that resides on this side of the veil? Should I ever have the blessing of being in contact with my friend, how would I explain to her what God says about this? The only thing that kept coming to mind is the verse which says, Vengeance is mine!
God says, the Vengeance is HIS…..not ours.
I kept thinking….Lord is that all we have to cling to when bad things happen? Horrible things that we can’t understand, things we want to avenge ourselves….is that all we have? No. That was a very clear answer to me. No…..

I went to Romans 12:9-21

This section in my Bible is titled: BEHAVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving The Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with ALL men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says The Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty; give him drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.

Would this give my friend hope? I would like to think so but I don’t really know. We’re all different, we all have our own path to walk.
By no means did I think anything I did with her was for me in any way. My focus was so much on her that that’s all I remember. When I heard about her mother being released after just 13 short years, my immediate thought was, how did she handle it? How is she? Does she feel, as all of us would be tempted to feel, a deep desire for revenge? A deep desire to make that person hurt the way they hurt you? To make their lives change just as they had made yours change?
It’s so tempting….so tempting….but that path only leads to one direction; lack of fulfillment. It won’t change your life, it will weigh your life down even more. What do we do?
We heap blessings upon their heads. We remember that God, who sees ALL, has judgement and justice in his hands. There is redemption for everyone, no matter the sin. My prayer is for lives to be changed; to be healed. To focus on who God calls us to be as Christians. To leave judgement and wrath for Him to deal with. It isn’t our place.

Does that mean it’s easy? Not by a long shot. This walk will never be easy. The day it becomes easy is the day we are no longer on the path.
My heart, hearing this news, broke all over again for my friend. She deserves to have her burden lifted. In my experience, that only happens when we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I ask you to join me in prayer that my friend, wherever she may be, has already accepted Him. Pray, if she hasn’t, that God will put people in her life who will minister to her, who’ll show her how to ease the hurt. Pray for her to have peace.
So do we only have God’s vengeance to cling to? No! We have SO much more. We have an example of how to handle the evil in this world. We love each other, we care for each other, we don’t repay evil for evil. We stand back and realize we have no control over certain things in this life. We can know, however, our God is just and He will take care of things. We just have to step back and let Him.

We all must Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. In this life, there seems to be more evil than good lately. It seems everything is falling apart. It isn’t. God’s timing is impeccable. Until then, I choose to “Cling to what is good” and I pray you do too.

Miracles or True Belief??

One night while reading I was in the Gospel of Luke, I came across the following Scripture and used it as the foundation in a post on Facebook:

Luke 23:8 “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.”

I chose this verse to post on Facebook for my nightly….mostly nightly….commentary on my Bible reading. Here’s what I posted….

SO those were my thoughts thatnight. The day after, as I was thinking about posting on Hadassah, I thought I should clarify some things.

1. I’m not saying miracles aren’t important or that they can’t happen. I’m saying that the miracles Jesus did were to point to who He was as the Son of God. If we use miracles as the sole reason we come to Jesus then when the times get tough, I believe, those people will fall away from Jesus. The reason….the SOLE reason…..we should come to Jesus is because of His sacrifice for us. Because we realize that we are worthless. Yep…..worthless. That seems like such a harsh word doesn’t it? It’s true though. There is nothing in us that is worthy of the sacricfice Jesus made for us when He died on cross for our sins.

FINALLY….A Diagnosis

At the end of November I had a number of tests to look for, yet again, an answer to this illness. The first week of December I received a call that I had longed for for almost 8 years. Although I never considered how I would react if I was finally given an answer, I just needed to know, to finally have an answer. I just never expected the answer that was coming. The nurse from my neurologist’s office told me my EEG was severely abnormal and I needed to be put on anti seizure meds immediately. What??? Seizures!??! She was talking so fast my brain couldn’t comprehend what she was telling me. I stammered…but….but….I don’t have seizures!!! Having been put on so many meds, and not understanding her, I refused the meds until I could meet with the neurologist in person and have everything thoroughly explained. Another week went by before I could see her. My husband, Jeff, took the day off to go in with me. As we sat in the waiting room, we had a discussion about his time off of work until the end of the year. He told me he was taking the upcoming Friday off but I couldn’t remember why. He just looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, “Really?!” Apparently we’d had a discussion about having family pictures taken by a friend that day and I don’t remember much of that discussion. Pretty soon we were going to have an explanation for that. As we waited in the exam room for her to come in, I was a nervous wreck. So scared of what she was going to say. She began explaining to us what my severely abnormal EEG meant, told me she was shocked, given my symptoms, no one had ordered one before. Then she said when I had my first exam and was telling her my symptoms, she immediately thought it was epilepsy. Thankfully she didn’t share that with me that day. As she explained what the seizures would look like, not necessarily grand mal, but more like a “going away”. That I look present, I may even nod or say uh-huh, but that I’m not really there. That I may have “time warps” when I lose time but can’t understand why. That after these I would have confusion and memory loss. As she explaining this, I’m thinking….screaming in my head…”BUT I’M NOT HAVING THAT!!!” Then I hear my husband say that he and my girls had noticed these behaviors in me (confusion and memory loss…yep!). Seeming to be out of it, not present. He told the neurologist he thought I was just ignoring him. That made me laugh….later. That made me so very…I’m not sure how to explain it. Sad, distraught, scared, and even guilty.
So we talked about medications and she explained, because of the severely abnormal EEG, I need to be on a higher than normal dose. It’s taken 7 weeks to get me to a full dose and then I have another two weeks before I see her again.

Jeff and I walked out, got in the car, and he started to drive away. I made him pull over because I knew I was going to have a “little” breakdown. Little….Hah! He reassured me it was going to be ok, that we would deal with this just like we had dealt with things the last 7.5 years. TOGETHER. With a lot of love, support, laughter, and understanding.

Going home to my girls was scary for me. How did we tell them without frightening them? Without them feeling like the bottom had dropped out of their world? Jeff did most the talking. Explaining enough that they felt calm but not too in depth. I remember sitting there, not crying because I’d gotten that out of my system before coming home so I wouldn’t frighten the girls, nodding and agreeing with Jeff. I didn’t say much because I was afraid I’d not say the right words. That I would scare them.

Then we decided to go file for disability because we knew this diagnosis was going to change everything. Everything.

So why am I just now writing this??? I just this evening came to a head on, full impact of acknowledging what is wrong with me. I’m currently reading a fiction book and the main character has a brain injury and is having seizures. For some odd reason, seeing that word…SEIZURES….Seeing it in stark black and white….I started crying.
Then I realized….I’ve avoided saying a specific statement….I’ve said “They say I have epilepsy.” Notice that….THEY?? Reading that word seizure, it slammed into me….what I haven’t yet said, what I’m scared to admit, “I…..I have epilepsy.” “I’m an epileptic.” I’M AN EPILEPTIC.” So there! I’ve said it, I’ve admitted it to myself……after 7 weeks and a word in a book later.

Why didn’t I say those words before now?

I think by saying “they” I was fooling myself. Thinking, I don’t REALLY have that. After seriously thinking about the last 7+ years, I realized I have been having seizures. One I know about specifically because it frightened me so deeply. The others, Jeff and our girls have witnessed and I trust them. I can not distance myself from this truth any longer.

So what now? Where do I go from here?

Well….I move forward just like I have for the past 7+ years. I move forward with God leading me, holding me, reminding me that I’m His. I’ve had a few eye opening, random thoughts that pop up at the oddest times … Like I can NEVER allow my life insurance payments to lapse. See? Random!

What I cling to is this….Epilepsy isn’t who I am. It’s a part of me, it helps me explain to people why I can NOT remember their names even after having met them 5 times…(memory loss….). This is a small part of what makes up Amanda. I was a swimmer….but that isn’t who I am….it’s a part of me. I was a scholarship student to Germany….but that isn’t who I am….it’s a part of me. I have epilepsy….but that isn’t who I am.
So, who am I? I am a child of the King. I am His and He is mine. He holds me and makes me more like His Son Jesus every day. Who am I? I’m Amanda, a gal who may have many small things that are a part of me but who has ONE thing that drives me and makes me who I am. I am His child. Desiring Him above ALL else, begging Him to NEVER stop working on me, to make me more like Him and less like me.

THAT’S who I am!!!

Thanks for reading this. It was gut wrenching to write but at the same time, healing and purging to my spirit. Much love in Christ to all of you. Keep striving to stay in God’s path for you.

I’m Still Here

I’m still here and thinking about the ministry God has laid on my heart.  Unfortunately, our home has been ground zero for illness for about a month!  Both girls, then back to my younger daughter then to my husband and I.  Just when I thought it had left the building, I was the recipient of a stomach bug.

To say I haven’t felt up to doing much has been an understatement!  Give me a few days and I’ll be back!  God has it all in His hands!

Faithful and …….. OBEDIENT????

Hmmmmm….faithful and OBEDIENT????  I can get behind faithful but obedient?  Yes, I can get behind that word too!  It can be hard though right?  I know women who have removed the word OBEY from their wedding vows because they say they won’t OBEY their husbands!  Why?  Why is it so difficult for people, women in particular, to be comfortable with this word?

Thinking along those lines….let’s look at why it may be difficult to have the word obey, to be known as that  word,  in our vocabulary.

Because this ministry is about God first, let’s delve into Scripture and see what His Word tells us about that word.

I have this handy-dandy program on my computer to help us.  It’s called

E-Sword and you can get a free….yes FREE copy of it here:

http://www.e-sword.net

Let’s start on the yellow brick road to learning about that word.  

Using the E-Sword tool, I typed in that word  and came up with some surprising stuff.  That word, or a variation of it, is used 1,149 times in the KJV of the Bible.  The first time it is used is in Genesis.

Gen. 22:18  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

The last time it is used is in I Peter.

1Peter 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  

The Hebrew word is shama.  What I found cool was the definition….. to hear intelligently.  That isn’t so bad is it?   To hear intelligently…..I can get on board being called intelligent, what about you?

I think we can go back to calling that word by its proper name now.  Obey doesn’t seem such a frightening word now does it?  Now that we’re beginning to put it in its proper context.

When we as women, obey our husbands, it simply means to listen intelligently. If our husband asks something of us that is wrong, that goes against God’s Will, it is okay to refuse.  That’s called hearing intelligently.

Ladies, don’t be afraid of the word obey.  Know that in learning to obey, to listen intelligently, there is a great freedom and peace.  Just as there is peace and freedom in obeying our Heavenly Father.

Insights from the Lord

Dear Friends,

I have, since end of December 2011, been posting on Facebook thoughts I’ve had as I’ve been reading the Bible nightly.  I felt God asking me to make a “Spiritual Bucket List” of things He would like me to do for the year 2012.  The top of the list was the nightly sharing of God’s Word to my Facebook friends.  A way to witness to believers and non-believers alike.  I’ll post each day as a separate post so it is easier to read.

As you read them, take time to really think about it, go to your Bible and read the passages that the posts are about.  Ask God to give you insight as you read His Word.  The things He will show you may not be what He’s speaking to me.  It’s a wonderful thing….God giving to each of His children what they need when they need it.  I love His Word and I pray that’s what you see when you read these posts.  That you see Him and not me.  He’s the one they’re all about!

May God Bless You My Friends.

Why Hadassah?

Why Hadassah Ministry and not Esther Ministry or something else from the Word of God?  As I was thinking this over, it became very clear that I need to start at the beginning.  To explain how I believe God is guiding me.  So!  Here goes!

July 11, 2005 was a normal day for me.  I was in my office, working a normal day. I had been to the doctor the Friday before and was told I had a sinus infection, given meds, and sent home.  I was experiencing weird sensations as I was working.  I felt like someone was taking an ice pick and stabbing my head.  It was so painful that my head would flinch involuntarily.  Being a normal person, I figured that I needed a different antibiotic and planned to stop by the doctor’s office and getting his opinion on the matter.  As I was driving home, I was on the phone with my husband telling him of my plan.  As I was talking to him, I was getting worried because I knew he was my husband but I couldn’t remember his name.  This upset me greatly.  Then, right outside of my daughters’ school, I started to feel extremely weird and was holding onto the steering wheel for dear life.  As I turned into the school, I felt and heard an explosion in my head in the same place where I felt like I had been stabbed while in my office.  I was able to dial 911, ran into the school, threw my phone at the principal, asked her to tell them where I was, and I collapsed.  I felt like I had a million hot needles stabbing from the inside out.  This sensation was in my head and neck.  I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and put through a symphony of tests.  All of which came back…..negative!  They sent me home, telling me I had a reaction to the antibiotic I was taking.  I’d had that particular antibiotic many times before with no problems.  By Wednesday of that week I was back in the hospital, but by this time, the needles were from my head down to my stomach and arms.  Again, I was sent home.  By Friday, the heat was everywhere in my body from top to bottom.  I went to my family doctor and I told him I wasn’t leaving until he told me what was wrong with me.  I was admitted as an in patient and many more tests were done.  All came back normal with the exception of a positive ANA which indicates inflammation.  In 5 days I had lost 11 pounds….NOT the way I wanted to lose weight….I had a fever with red circle splotches on my face and neck, and was as weak as a newborn babe.  The explosion happened 3 more times and I spent 6-8 months thinking I might not live through the day.  As things started to settle into a new normal, my heart decided to go out of whack.  I have about 1700 extra beats a day.  The extra beats I can handle, it’s the stopping that’s scary!  So here we are, 7 years later.  Every day since July 11, 2005, I have woken in pain.  Each day’s pain has a different intensity level and different challenges to overcome.

SO!!!!  Why all that background??  To show what I am dealing with, the comments people have made to me regarding my illness, and what I feel God has asked of me.

There is today, a movement that has taken hold of this world.  The movement that says God doesn’t want you to hurt, God doesn’t want you to be poor, God doesn’t want you to experience hardship.   Does it grieve God that we struggle?  Yes, I believe so.  Does His Word say our lives will be without hardship, without pain, without trials?  No.  We live in a world that wasn’t God’s design.  What He made was perfect but sin has turned His perfection into a fractured world.  The Bible is full of examples of people who suffered, who struggled.  The biggest example?  Jesus!  The very Savior in whom we believers trust.

Why do we struggle?  I believe, after dealing with this mystery illness for seven years, that God is working in me.  That He is pulling out of me what doesn’t honor Him and instilling in me the qualities He desires I have.

I’ve had perfect strangers who’ve, after getting to know me, have said I just need to “claim my healing”, that God doesn’t want me to be sick, that I must have  sin in my life that I hadn’t confessed, and God was using my illness to punish me.  Do you know how that made me feel?  Like I was less.  Less of a woman, less of a wife, less of a mother, and mostly, less of a servant to God.  Those comments made me feel inadequate.  When I already was dealing with enormous guilt regarding my illness and how it was affecting my family.  Then to tell me that?  It made an already hurting woman hurt worse.

Last year I was asked to be the head speaker at my church’s women’s retreat.  To share what I felt God had been showing me.  I actually had, for about 5 years prior, felt that God was calling me to be a speaker for women’s events.  To share Him.  The weekend went beautifully.  I spoke at 3 different sessions and it was wonderful to share what God was doing in my life.  As I was driving home I was just praising God for the weekend and the blessings I had received from the beautiful women who were present.  In the middle of praising Him I felt a deep conviction to speak out against the movement that was taking the world by storm.  To speak out and tell women who are struggling that it’s ok!  That we aren’t less!  God has a purpose for us and desires to use us as He sees fit!  It is in our weaknesses that God can use us to minister to others.

The last few weeks I’ve been praying about starting a ministry and moving forward on the path I believe the Lord has made for me.  It was actually my husband who suggested the name for the ministry.  I figure it’s only fair since I had named his ministry, God’s Proof, about 8 years ago.  He chose the name from the book of Esther, my absolute favorite book in the Bible.  I really liked the idea of using Hadassah rather than Esther.  Before Hadassah was Esther, before she had the “polish”, the riches, and the title of Queen, Hadassah had two qualities that I think we, as women should strive for.  Hadassah was faithful and obedient.

That’s the type of woman I want to be in my life.  To be faithful and obedient in every area of my life.  I feel God is asking me to spread these two qualities to as many women as He puts in my path.

So my lovely ladies…..let me encourage you to be faithful to the Lord, to His Son Jesus, to your husbands, your children, your family, your friends, your work, and in every area of your life.  Be obedient to the Lord.  Be obedient by reading His Word, fellowshipping with other believers, praying, and so on.  If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, please don’t wait.  None of us are promised a tomorrow.  God Bless You my Friends.

Hello World!

Hi there!  Welcome to Hadassah Ministry.  My name is Amanda Sievertson and this is my ministry, my passion.  The goal for this ministry is to first and always to glorify God.  My desire is that God will use this ministry to reach women.  To show women how beautiful we are in God’s sight.

Let me give you a little more information about my family.

My greatest blessing from God……aka my family.

That handsome man sitting next to me is my husband of nearly 17 years, Jeff.  The beautiful girls are our daughters, Sydney and Whitney.  We are a homeschooling family.  We love the freedom homeschooling gives and the deeper bonds we’ve developed as a family unit.

That’s it for now.  My prayer is, as this ministry is developed, that you’ll get to know me and I’ll get to know you.  Most importantly though, my prayer is that women will come to Jesus.  That’s what it’s all about!  God bless you my friends.