Monday, June 26, 2017

the choices we make... the way we live

Poor choices: a tiny lie, a coveted idol, a lazy job, a rationalized thought, an emotionally driven decision, a disregard for another, a word spoken in vain...

Poor choices make up the majority of sins we allow entry into our routine lives. Poor choices showcase our inate selfishness. These choices derail our quest for holiness and drip with the ugly residue of the enemy's presence. They steer us away from our conscience... away from the Holy Spirit. Poor choices - YUCK!!!

How driven are we when it comes to living courageously, abundantly, effectively, successfully for the Lord? How frequently do we start out our days in prayer and communion with our Master? Do we seek Him regularly with intention... deliberateness... discernment... divine leading? Are our plans focused? Are our feet stable in His word? Are our choices good, biblical choices? I hope so.

I have a wonderful Aunt that once taught me the greatest lesson about "how" to approach each day in faith and avoid the snare of making selfish, poor choices. She said that she starts every day an hour earlier than her family. With her "to do" list and schedule in hand, she lays everything at the feet of her Almighty King in prayer. (This includes feelings, health issues, desires, bills, meetings, family, friends, etc.) Then, if something unexpectedly changes in the course of her busy day (a certainty), she is able to handle it with grace... trusting that God brought the situation or person into her life for a reason. She is then able to take a moment to regroup and seek the Lord's leading. Sure, she is always hit with surprises and her schedule is crazed, but she begins at the starting line of each new day with deliberate intent to follow the teaching of her Savior and give over her plans to Him first. That way, her plans are covered and driven by His plans, His leading. When Satan drops in with a surprise temptation to make a poor choice, she is already prayed up, equipped with scripture, thinking on whatever is pure... noble... lovely. She is ready to face anything because Jesus has provided her daily portion and is walking with her - guiding her in Spirit. I love this.

Before knowing this approach, my days usually started rushed, unrested, unfocused, unorganized... un-everything. I was more concerned about disappointing the people in my life rather than seeking out God's daily instruction and call. So, I would give others my first fruits and thus feel stretched to accomplish whatever seemed important from moment to moment. Mind you, my choices were not driven by an eternal focus. They were chaotic timeframes that caused me to have an anxious and restless heart spiritually. Rather than pick up my daily supply of manna, I would only approach the throne of God when I was desperate. When it suited my purpose. The rest of the time, I lived on the fly and with the whims of my emotions and selfish desires. I made an infinite number of poor choices that cost me many blessings due to my lack of focus and inability to seek my Savior first. I began my days unprepared to make good choices and live like Jesus. So, how did Jesus live?...

When Christ came to earth, He lived each day making the best choices. He approached every day with eternal focus and had purpose to follow the plan and teaching of His Father. He started every quest, every endeavor with intention... deliberateness... discernment... divine leading. He was stable and knew the Word of God intimately. Yes, He was interrupted constantly by others and tempted greatly by Satan. Yet He never made a poor choice. He never said, "Ya know what, I'm busy and really tired right now, so ya'll have to just figure it out on your own." Or, "If I don't address this now, surely God will handle it later." No, Jesus lived each day deliberately... diligently. From the moment He was born - until the moment He died - until the moment He rose again... Jesus showed up and lived up to His calling. He made good choices by living and knowing God's perfect will. We should do the same.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 1:10)

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men (women) of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Friends, let's seek God first each day and welcome His presence into every decision we make. To be people of courage... to be strong and deliberate... to stand firm in our faith.  Let's stop pretending that our daily routines are average and meaningless. Rather, let's be on guard and humbly attentive to the choices that face us each moment. Let's live our lives with significance that showcases Jesus in every single breath we take. Let's sparkle with His love. Let's be prepared to obediently live following His ways.

We each are responsible for our own walk. We are accountable for how we choose to behave and live out our faith. Our choices, both poor and great, are decisions to follow the cross or follow self. Mother Teresa so aptly put it this way, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." This is so true. By dedicating our every day to God first, we are more easily able to keep our eyes on heaven and love others selflessly. God can use such a woman to point those who cross her path to see a glimpse of His throne.... to feel His love... to experience His grace. Oh, how I long for Him to use me as His Devoted Woman to glorify His Name above all other names!!! Lord, help us to make good choices that always seek Your holiness.

Thank God that Jesus loved The Father so much to follow God's will each second that He was on earth. Our salvation is due to His perfect example to make good, biblical choices - following The Father's redeeming plan! I am both heartbroken and grateful every time I think of our Messiah carrying the weight of His cross to Calvary to die on my behalf. It takes away all my words. I can only sing, "Hallelujah to the King of Kings! Praise be Your Name, Jesus! You are in charge of EVERYTHING! We dedicate our small everyday choices to you. We give the sum of who we are to YOU to use FOREVER!"



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, June 23, 2017

truth, provision and all glory and honor

Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:7-9)

Yes, Lord!!!
In agreement with your holy Word...

Make my life clear.
My heart transparent.
My words truthful.
My focus only on YOU.

Give me specifically what I need today to successfully glorify your Name.
Feed me.
Protect me.
Sustain me.
Shelter me from sin and storm so that You alone may be exalted.
So that Jesus can be seen when others look in my direction.
Keep evil from me and give me my daily bread.

Yes, today is yours.
Today is only about you.
All praise and glory and honor... Today!

Jesus, I will rejoice and be glad... for today is YOUR day, precious Savior!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, June 17, 2017

letting go of the thing-a-ma-bob

I decided I needed a new thing-a-ma-bob.

See, last year my puppy accidentally chewed up my old thing-a-ma-bob and I've been trying to manage without it ever since.  But this week, I really wished I had that thing-a-ma-bob.  So, I decided to go online and order a new one.  However, once I started searching online, I realized there were three newer versions of my old thing-a-ma-bob.

I was baffled. Which one was the right one to choose?  Which should I order?  I couldn't know unless I saw them all in person.  Unfortunately, my local store didn't carry any thing-a-ma-bobs, so I would definitely have to order online.

I decided I would charge all three versions of the thing-a-ma-bob onto my credit card and then return the two extras once I was able to see which was indeed the best.

But then...

I noticed all the bright and shiny whatcha-ma-call-its marketed for sale next to the thing-a-ma-bobs.  Ooooo, they were new and beautiful and would surely come in handy someday.  Perhaps I should order even more thing-a-ma-bobs and a few whatcha-ma-call-its to boot... just in case, of course.

Just in case I needed more.

Just in case something happened again to my thing-a-ma-bob.

Oh yes, I needed more, just to be safe...

... For those unforeseeable just-in-cases of life.

Suddenly my plan to order one replacement thing-a-ma-bob turned into an online shopping extravaganza!  And, whoa... that $25 bill quickly turned into $300!

Wait, what happened?

I'm only trying to store up for the just-in-cases of life.

I'm only thinking about how I could best be prepared for the future unknowns.

How could I possibly be expected to now whittle down this order when I so clearly NEED all these thing-a-ma-bobs and whatcha-ma-call-its for those possible just-in-cases of life!??!!!

Then the Holy Spirit flicked my ear...

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Realizing I had probably made a wrong turn, I stopped and began to silently pray, "Lord, I would really like a new thing-a-ma-bob."

Then, the truth was made clear...

"You don't need it."

"You have lived a whole year without it."

"I will provide all that you need."

Yes, I have lived without it... and for a whole year, in fact.  Truthfully, I have not needed a thing-a-ma-bob until recently, when I was reminded I didn't have one and decided I should probably replace it just in case.  But it wasn't really a necessity, now was it?  Clearly, I was the one who blew it up into a full-on NEED.  Sigh.  I do that.  On my own, I bite when the bait is set out.  I get snared in the trap.  I fumble and fall away.  "Lord, help me.  For I know only YOU can keep me safe, secure, and satisfied."

Folks, Satan loves to clutter us.  He loves to promote, and glorify, and peddle until our lives are so over-consumed and complicated that we forget our original focus and fearfully scramble in confusion to manage our own would-be way. Sure, planning for the future is rational and sound, but only to the extent that we continue to keep our eyes fixated on Jesus.  The moment we turn away from being good stewards of God's generous gifts... the moment we put our wants and desires first before His hope and trustworthiness... well, those just-in-cases burden us down and draw our eyes away from the Creator/Savior that has promised to always provide.

In truth, I didn't need a new thing-a-ma-bob, or a whatcha-ma-call-it either.  But rather than pray about it, I simply decided that my wants justified a need.  Not so.

I am thankful that the Lord corrected me to let it go.

It is so important to know and understand this lesson.  It is vital that through the help of the Holy Spirit we learn to distinguish what is necessary for us to flourish in His grace, verses what is a temporary and unnecessary distraction sign that was sinisterly erected to turn us off-course.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Friends, let us not fear or worry about what we may or may not have come tomorrow.  Instead, let us live trusting that the Lord will always provide!  Let us focus on today, wisely, and with our eyes destined toward the Truth of Heaven.  We exist solely to serve and glorify the King of kings.  To love one another and use everything He gives to us for that eternal purpose.  We do not need a side-plate of thing-a-ma-bobs or whatcha-ma-call-its to satisfy.  We only need Jesus... "and all these things will be given to you as well."

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to let go of everything that distracts me away from Your purpose.  All I need is you.  All I want forever, Master, is YOU!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, June 15, 2017

my morning prayer

I've been pretty busy over here at the Anderson abode.
So busy, that I really don't have too much to report or write about.
However, earlier I was alone with God and praying Psalm 143.
I love this Psalm.
I especially love praying verses 8-12 to the Lord in the morning hours.
So, today I thought I would simply share with you these lovely verses and encourage y'all to pray them to God every morning - before you begin each new day.

Check it out...

Psalm 143:8-12 (KJV)

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the  way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

Let's daily surrender all our circumstances to the wisdom of His Throne.
Let's give God all glory and honor in every single day!




© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

there's a'Lot bugging you... but don't look back

A little something-something for y'all to chew on...

The more you dismantle your fear under the lens of Scripture...
The more you show up to ask God for His bravery and strength while trusting Him to deliver on His promises to protect you and yours...
Then, the less scary, threatening, and intimidating your fears actually become.

Example please, Victoria....

Well, take my fear of big yucky bugs.

When we first moved to hot-summer'ed Texas from cold winter'ed Chicago, I loathed the thought of Southern mutant-sized mosquitos, roaches, and spiders being within a two mile radius of my home.  Ewwww.  However, in Texas all manner of creepy crawly bugs and dangerous reptiles roam... AND IT'S NORMAL!

While out with friends one evening, Sharon (my seasoned Texas dynamo gal-pal) and I were walking back to our cars after a pleasant dinner together with our hubbies.  As we chatted, a BIG yucky bug managed to fly in front of our path.  I shrieked.  But Sharon... well, Sharon scoffed at the creature and then chased it away in a totally alpha-female way.  Those big bugs were nothing for her to shoo, and swat, and step on.  Forget Wonder Woman, y'all.  That day, in my eyes, Sharon became the most awesome female warrior.

But not me.
Nope, I coward and cried.
In fact, each time I encountered another bug here in Texas, I screamed bloody murder while threatening my dear husband that I'd soon be relocating.

Dramatic, yes.
Realistic, no.

It took me five hard years to settle into our new corner of the world.  Five years of me boo-hoo'ing like a spoiled child over silly, small creatures that, in fact, I could actually "end" with only two of my ten fingers.


In year four of our Texas transition, the Lord not-so-subtly started reminding me of Lot's wife.  You know, that selfish wife-mamma in scripture who longed for the comforts of her established Sodom home.  That gal who stalled her family's spiritual progress while she longingly looked backwards to what she would be leaving rather than embrace where God intended for her family to go.

I am certain that Sodom was surely sprayed for mosquitos, you see.  And I doubt a poisonous snake or spider dared show it's face in the plush surroundings of her cushy townhouse.  None the less, we all sadly know the story of selfish Mrs. Lot.  Her disobedience reached fruition under God's throne.  Her fear of the unknown and of not getting her way ultimately caused her to reject God's loving path.  So she chose to look away from God and backward to her sinful home.  And let's face it... sin has no place in God's perfect, holy plan, now does it?!!!

... Anyway, four years into our Texas relocation and the Holy Spirit gives me Mrs. Lot's tale to digest.  Ugh.  Yes, in my heart I knew I was being Mrs. Lot when it came to the bugs... to Texas... to everything.  For I had not lifted a finger to "nest" in our new home.  (A home the Lord had so clearly picked out for us to live in, by the way... and in only three days!!!  Another story.)

Sadly, four years in and I had not branched out of my introverted shell to really love on others the way I knew my King was calling me to do.  I stubbornly stalled.  In my heart I hemmed and hawed to The Holy Spirit with excuses and disappointments.  Sure, in our first year we experienced a rocky start with some really damaging punches from business-related unsavories.  We were broken down and leveled from personal and financial threats that proved untrustworthy and dishonest.  But despite all that... instead of me displaying the grace I knew that the Lord would provide and conquer for us... I simply wanted out of this crazy place!  I hated this big ugly "bug" of a state!  UGH!  Texas!  I loathed the thought of ever calling it home.  Ewwww.  (Let me pause here to apologize now to all my Texas lovelies who are reading this.  You know my heart.  You know where this story leads!)

Anyway, isn't God great?

Clearly, He knew that in order for me to actually overcome the uncomfortable fear and disappointment that was dragging me down, I had to choose to look to Him for more.  I had to let go of my 40-year safety net of familiarity and trust that His armor was sound. His Word was reliable.  His Way was my new way and future.  I had to undrape myself of old "me" in order to cloth myself with His new life.

I knew this.
But for four years I kept turning my head... looking backwards.
I lingered in my lust.

Then this year, two very interesting things occurred.  First, I finally decided I would heed the Holy Spirit's call and obey the Lord in this matter.  To begin, I would start caring about my new Texas home and stop cry-babying over my latitude and longitude.  My priority was the condition and well-being of my family.  I knew God was calling me past my own buggy war-zone and into something more progressive.

Secondly, I decided to start a garden in our backyard.  Mind you, I had never gardened.  But Texas seemed a logical location considering the humid climate.  So, I invested in learning how to grow plants from seed as well as tend to plants already established.  I did this daily - making it my new routine.  Ironically, my little garden project soon became a bigger, family-participation activity.  Chuck made lifting heavy pounds of soil seem easy so that our raised beds would flourish.  Momba brought home interesting plants to add into the mix.  Slowly... daily... the investment started producing fruit, quite literally.

I share all this with you to bring to your attention the obvious bug and reptile population I would now have to voluntarily come in close contact with as I developed our new garden.  But you see, you cannot move past your fear until you realize the important reward and purpose God places past that discomfort.  You cannot enjoy more in His Name until you obediently choose to pull on your protective pink rubber rain boots and matching garden gloves each and every morning and get yourself out there to attend to the good work He has started in you... the life He has called you to joyfully invest yourself into while also sharing His bountiful love with others.  His Way is progress.  His future promotes healthy, holy growth that fills, and satisfies, and rewards.

This year, I have learned more than ever that God is so much bigger than the frightening and dangerous nuisances that lurk about my life.  He is a God who offers to clothe me daily in His grace while protecting me from the evil swarms in this season.  I have learned that Satan and his army have no real power or place in God's new life.  They are insignificant in comparison to Christ's astounding, eternal greatness and hope.  I am brave because He provides and protects.  I can prune them away because He has given me every tool to accomplish the task with grace and dignity in His Name.

So, this year I am learning to be content with wherever God now leads.  To move forward in the beautiful new gardens He will teach me to steward.  Those growing, giving, fruit-bearing places that keep my heart focused homebound as I cultivate His love.

With Him, I can work past any mutant-sized distraction and progress forward... toward His harvest!  Toward His bountiful banquet table.

Again, my friends...

The more you dismantle your fear under the lens of Scripture...
The more you show up to ask God for His bravery and strength while trusting Him to deliver on His promises to protect you and yours...
Then, the less scary, threatening, and intimidating your fears actually become.

Praise the Lord.
His mercies are new every morning.

Wherever you may be today...
Whatever is drawing you to look backwards rather than move ahead toward God's kingdom...
Let me remind you that He has promised to cast out all your fear.
He is able to strengthen you.
He wants mostly to clothe you in His glory and honor.
He loves you.

Let me say that again...

Our great God loves you and wants to see you through to completion.
May we all trust and obey the Redeemer who gives us His new life.

God bless!


P.S.  Much love to y'all from the great state of Texas!

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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