Wednesday, October 27, 2010

my hope is in the Lord

Early in my life I met a woman... let's call her Jade. Jade was gorgeous physically, had a loving family, and was very intelligent. However, Jade had one ongoing flaw... she was ALWAYS complaining. She walked with her shoulders hunched over like she had a backpack weighing her down and whined over the smallest of matters. Every little thing was criticized and manipulated into a big production of how wrong and hopeless her life had become. When Jade visited any kind of social gathering, she would make a point to hone in on one person and spend the rest of the evening telling that poor individual about how horrible her life was. It was as if every morning after her alarm clock went off, she would hand Satan the keys to a big Mac truck and allow him to drive over her spirit. She viewed herself as worthless and life as a big disappointment. This belief reflected itself onto everything she touched and spoke about. Jade had no hope. She was worn out, spiritless, broken, irritable. Jade was... well, jaded. And her presence made others weary.

The interesting thing about this whole story, is that Jade claimed to be a Christian. A believer. A follower of Jesus Christ. A child of the King of kings. However, her actions and words did not reflect that of a person who held the eternal hope of a Redeemer. Instead, she lived defeated... hopeless... worthless... sad. And it was sad. For the joy of the Lord was not her strength. Rather, the discontentment of the enemy fueled her. When confronted about her hope of eternity thanks to God's Son, she would agree to the terms, but not actually follow through by living the life. She was stuck in defeat and the enemy knowingly kept her pinned down in his pit of despair.

As much as I would love to tell you that I was able to help and counsel Jade, she would not have it. Even today, she is still comfortable swimming in her pool of complaints. She is content to extend negativity in all her statements. However, now that many years have passed, she incorporates into her dilemmas a would-have, could-have, should-have mindset as well. What would have happened if she only did this or that? What could have happened if she married so-n-so? What should have been but never was. She is still stuck and now living in regret. (Please pray for Jade.)

While reading this, you are probably thinking, "How sad. How pitiful. I'm so glad I'm not like that!" I would likely agree that many of us have not taken our complaining to the level that Jade has taken. That said, as women we are (unfortunately) capable of falling into this same pit of hopelessness with Satan. We can easily look around and become discontent with our lives and families and nag and criticize like a champion whiner. Things can easily get broken... schedules can easily change... husbands may fail to follow through on responsibilities... parents may become overbearing... children may get into trouble. From this, we can easily carry too many burdens on our back. We can worry about things we have no control over. And while being pummeled by all this life throws at us, we can quickly become unhappy. Troubled. Worn down by all that surrounds us. But wait... we are Christians! Believers! Children of the Most High! Because of this, I want to explain a little something to you about hope.

You see, hope in earthly terms is usually considered more of a wish. It is an anticipation that something may happen. For example, when a person goes to college they hope they will complete their degree in four years. However, life could easily throw them a curve ball. They could fall ill and miss a semester as they recuperate. They could learn that their major is not what they thought and reconsider their focus thus causing them to start over. They could run out of funds and have to work a year to pay for more schooling. The hope they have to complete their degree in four years is really nothing short of a wishful expectation.

However, hope in biblical terms is this: it is an assured outcome. A confident and definite conclusion of events that will indeed occur. There is no wishing or wondering with God's promises. They are certain. In fact, our biblical hope is drenched in certainty and unchanging truth. As Christians, it is important to keep this hope at the forefront of our lives in order to proceed forward with our lives. This is the hope that Jesus gives us. A hope that should shape our attitudes and outlooks because of the promise we are assured to receive in His Name. This form of hope cannot be found in another human being or a new drug treatment for cancer. It cannot be seen in a raise or promotion. This form of hope is not about the possibility of good things that may or may not occur while you live on this earth. This hope is eternal. Forever free of doubt. It is an inevitable certainty of peace to those who have believed that Jesus is God and proclaimed Him as Lord of their life.

When Paul spoke of "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" he was referring to an event that is definitely going to take place. Jesus WILL return to us and rule forever! Nothing can stop this fact. God has promised it. We can live confidently in that expectation! As such, we must also live lovingly and patiently work though all trials and temporary circumstances here on earth with the certain, eternal perspective of what is promised to come to those who accept the Messiah.

An assured outcome!  Ladies, this is an important perspective and truth. We must check our hearts with God each and every day. We must seek Him first so that we are always reminded of the hope He has promised... the hope we truly have in Jesus who has granted us the freedom to LIVE. We must not allow the enemy to rob us of this truth. We must guard it in our hearts and cherish and be blessed by it's promise. For if we truly accept God's full promise and plan, it can change our entire outlook and attitude. It can stop our complaining. It can cause us to be content. It can give us patience and love to continue on as women who seek holiness in all areas of our lives. We must not drag down others and cause them to be weary because the trials and uncertainties of this life exist. Rather, we must rejoice in the Lord always and share this certain, definite good news with others! We have reason to celebrate in spirit. For our eternal destination and position in God's kingdom is assured. Our Redeemer lives and will reign for all eternity! Let's remember to seek His kingdom first every day so that our temporary tents pitched on this earth will not distract us away from the blessed hope and glory that awaits!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

taste and savor His fruit!!!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...

Love fully with affection and passion.
Be joyful always with happiness and delight.
Offer peace and harmony while being content in all things.
Strive to remain patient, steady and submissive to others.
Be kind, compassionate and generous.
Share in the goodness, decency and excellence of the Savior.
Remain faithful, devoted and loyal to His Word.
React to every area of life with a spirit of gentleness, mindfulness and meekness.
And, always practice self control, moderation and balance.

... against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22&23)

Everyday, let us freely taste and savor the fruit of our wonderful King!!!

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Friday, October 15, 2010

let it be

Today, Chuck and I are scheduled to drive to Minnesota with some friends for a weekend of relaxation and play time. Our good friends, Mike and Michele (M&M) are huge Dallas Cowboy fans, and this week Dallas is scheduled to play Minnesota. M&M invited us to join them for a weekend of fun - driving up to catch the game and watch the Cowboys play the Vikings as well as goof off in downtown Minneapolis. Of course, Michele and I are most excited to visit the Mall Of America (or as I like to call it, the "Mall-O-Ma") on Saturday.

The funniest part about this whole trip is that both Chuck and I are avid Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears fans - huge rivals to both the "Boys" and "Vikes". But because we love M&M, we have decided we can suck it up for a weekend and support their team. At first, I thought it was pretty big of us to cheer on a team we usually hate... but in truth, Chuck and I really win the most since we'll be blessed to spend some quality time with our good friends. WOO HOO!

So, the plan is this: At present, Chuck is currently in Oklahoma with a customer, but he will be flying back to Chicago by noon today. I am working/juggling to do's (both at home and at the office) trying to wrap up as much as possible before the busy weekend officially arrives and Mike picks us up around 3:00 p.m.

As you can imagine, with all we have going on - the latter part of this week really turned into official crunch time for both Chuck and I to finish our long list of to do's. Even this morning, I have been emailing back and forth with our German subsidiary discussing a few open-ended issues that need to be resolved before the weekend arrives. In truth, I know that I am trying to do too much before we leave for this long, relaxed three-day weekend. But I'm not one who can easily relax when there are loose ends streaming about.

For example, one of our cars is in the shop and needs to be picked up today. Our only employee just broke his leg and recently informed Chuck that he will be out of office for a few weeks undergoing surgery and treatment. Although I am first concerned for his health, now nobody will be in the office next Monday (while we are out of town) to receive shipments. The vet says Benny Beagleman has a yeast infection in his ear and requires a second round of ear drops (morning and night) in order to get better. Oscar (our 100+ pound mutt) needs ongoing supervision since he is old and requires much assistance due to arthritis and his aggressive cancer. So before we go, I have to prep Momba with babysitting duties and medicine dosages for the dogs. Furthermore, my house is in major disarray with dirty laundry and bills to be paid. My lower back and health has been questionable as some days I've needed to walk with a cane. My office looks like Christmas came early (and not in a good way) - for paperwork is now snowing from the ceiling rafters as we've been wrapping up our fiscal year end and moving into a new fiscal year - all the while incorporating a brand new accounting system. And worse yet... I have a pimple. (Ok, I don't really have a pimple... but it's likely I'll get one soon from all that's going on.)

Yesterday, while freaking out over all this, Momba kindly brought me lunch. She quietly sat in the office eating her salad and listened to me officially loose it - making my mole hill out to be the gravest mountain imaginable. She patiently watched this "Devoted Woman" grumble and complain about stupid matters that would be forgotten within a month's time. Then, once her nut job of a drama queen daughter finished getting it all out, she encouraged me with loving comments and graciously offered to take Benny Beagleman to his vet appointment that afternoon - allowing me more time to get my paperwork done.

When Momba left and the office was silent, I suddenly realized how much I had been complaining and boo-hoo'ing. I started conversing with God... "Lord, I don't want to complain. I know you continue to bless me. I'm thrilled to have some time off soon with M&M (and Chuck, of course). However, since Wednesday I've felt a bit behind the 8-ball regarding my usually efficient schedule. You know it's not because of poor planning or bad stewardship on my part... it's just been crazy-busy. As a result, I've hated running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to get done more than humanly possible. However, for some stupid reason, I can't seem to stop letting it get the better of me. These past few days, I can't stop stressing or complaining. I'm trying so hard to relax and enjoy the journey, but I just hate this idea of getting bogged down with "old" work. I don't want to return to all this on Tuesday! But I also don't want to live sloppily while trying to keep the wheels turning. I've been juggling like a clown - keeping all these balls in the air while spinning plates and yodeling. This is ridiculous. It has been crazy crunch time... and in my mind, I feel I "have to, have to, have to"... I have to finish it ALL... I have to get everything done... I have to get my work, home, life "just so". But unfortunately, nothing is getting done... and I'm feeling overwhelmed. Help me, Jesus. I don't want to complain thru this clutter... but I'm so frustrated to finish it all!"

Once I got home and settled... once reclined in my bathtub with a hot cup of tea and surrounded by warm, aromatic bubbles, I started deliberating about my attitude regarding my work the last few days. While breathing in and out, the Holy Spirit whispered to me...

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." (Luke 10:41-42)

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

Praise the Lord for providing His holy perspective. I have been living like a busy-bodied Martha regarding my work. I have been reacting hastily and unthankfully. My heart has been unsettled and I've been quick to utter words of complaint and dissatisfaction while forgetting to praise the Lord for His continued blessings. I've been a worry-wart over time and matters of which I have no control. My job is to live obediently and honor Him as a good steward - trusting God to give me what I need... to handle what I encounter and, most importantly, when He'll have me encounter it. For a few days, I've lost myself in the clutter of life... I've been focused on a checklist rather than cherishing my King. Oh, thank you, Lord, for refreshing me with Your right mindset. For what work issue and worldly accomplishment could possibly be more important than aligning my pace with Your patient heart? You will work out all my work - in Your time, not mine.

There are only so many hours in every day... we cannot extend them any more or any less. So why lose our heads in errands? Why complain over trivial, stupid tasks. We should always rejoice in our work - doing our best to get things done while glorifying the King and focusing on His peace. Moving forward, I will "let it be" until God gives me new time to finish whatever must be done. I will know that with God, nothing in His plan will fall through the cracks. Yes, God will give me all that I need (even time) to accomplish my purpose in the season it is meant to happen.

So, now I will sit here relaxed. With coffee in hand and a heart at peace, I am taking my time to enjoy packing for the weekend. Praise the Lord for providing me with clothes to pack. Praise the Lord for giving me a home to return to. I will enjoy this time. I will enjoy my weekend. I will not stress over filing, accounting software, bills, automobiles. I will entrust my family to His sovereign care. I will let it be and praise His name.


Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

bubble bath meows

A few nights ago I was enjoying a hot bubble bath in my bathtub while reading my bible. I had shut the bathroom door for privacy since I live with a few animals and a very busy household. Throughout my bath, one of my cats named Valentine was so determined to get into the bathroom to be with me that she began to repeatedly body slam herself into the door with the hope that it would soon open. This went on for several minutes until the latch on the door finally gave way and she was able to come into the room and purrrrrrrrrr. Needless to say, my time in the tub was not as relaxing and quiet as I had originally planned. However, it did remind me of something. You see, Valentine’s persistence to be with me made me think of how devoted we should be to get to God – no matter what. While my little kitty's desire to be with her mamma had overpowered all physical pain of slamming her little body into a door – I should want to be with God more than anything, no matter how uncomfortable it is for me to get to Him. I know it’s a strange analogy, but that’s what it made me think of. My little kitty cat is a great teacher sometimes. Smile.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

she who has ears to hear, let her hear

What do you do with truth? Do you hear it? Receive it? Believe it? Accept it? Apply it to your life?

Whether admitting it or not, people are naturally drawn to hearing truth. Many will receive and believe that truth is, well.... true. But I find that few people actually choose to accept and apply real, godly truth to their lives.

What do I mean? Well, if you regularly follow DW's blogs, you already know that the Lord has called me to boldly share in love some very specific (and sometimes difficult) topics with The Devoted Woman community. He has pushed me to move past my own introverted uncomfortableness and speak up where I once would have remained quiet. In doing so, I have relied on His words... His truth, to back up whatever topic He lays on my heart to write about. That way, whatever I share is because of His promptings and in line with what I know to be truth.

Usually after posting a truth that God is teaching me, the response I receive from those who follow DW (both on and offline) range across the board from genuine thankfulness to outright hatred and disgust. Mind you, I've learned to not take every nasty comment too personally. I take great care to speak honestly and in line with what the Holy Spirit is showing me in scripture. So, when someone chooses to respond in anger or denial, I know that they really aren't upset with me for the "challenge" laid before them. Rather, deep down they are upset with God's word... with God's way. These are the people who don't want to hear truth and show up only to argue and reject.

Happily, there are those who respond in gratitude - those who join me in agreement of God's word and encourage our little ministry to continue on each day. These are the folks who are open to hear, receive, and believe what God says. Just like me, they may struggle at times with some truths that our Savior shares, but they remain open to trust that His ways are always righteous. They have faith that Jesus loves them and desires what is best for them. So they choose to accept His word and pray for God to help them actively apply His truth within their lives.

Then, there are those who are amazed, and in fact, taken aback by the truth our little group projects... especially in an age where tidbits of truth seem to only be spoken as a means to disguise someone's underlying corporate agenda for profit or to gain something selfishly. They don't know what to do with the truth of Jesus, or His love, for that matter. But they keep coming back because they are curious about Him. Their ears are somewhat open to hear as their hearts struggle to determine if they will ultimately receive, believe, accept or apply what God is telling them.

Lastly, there are those who respond with enthusiasm when truth is spoken. They definitely hear, receive and believe that God's word is accurate, real, and the only way. However, they stop there. They don't accept or claim truth for their own lives. They don't apply it to their day-to-day. They are what I like to call Christians in Quotes.... "Christians". These people make up the majority of DW's audience (or any Christian audience for that matter). They know full well that God's way is the right way. But sadly, they are unmotivated or unwilling to move forward from their own selfishness and ultimately never claim His truth for themselves. Their faith is short lived. Their lives are lukewarm.

So, what do you do with truth?
Do you hear it?
Receive it?
Believe it?
Accept it?
Apply it to your life?

Jesus talked about how differently people will respond to God's truth in His parable about the seeds. Check it out (below)...

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."

Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, " 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' "

Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." (Mark 4:1-20)

Ladies, does your life take root in God's truth so that you produce a crop? Or are you still standing at the starting line of salvation? Jesus said that the secret to the kingdom of God has been given to each of us in scripture. Are you stopping to hear what God is telling you? Are you receiving and believing His words are true? Are you accepting that He is the only Way? Do you take care to retain and apply what the Almighty Teacher has said and claim His Way as your new way? Or are you just showing up because you are curious, or want to debate, or wish to feel spiritual but then forget, reject, and fizzle out to what He has said? How far... how much of your comfort zone are you willing to give over to God? Are you an "all"... or "nothing"... or "lukewarmly standing somewhere in the middle" kind of Christian?

The choice is yours. She who has ears to hear, let her hear!

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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