Monday, June 11, 2018

God makes me _______

Yesterday as I was driving to pick up my hubby at the airport, my mind was racing, and I was feeling a bit anxious and low.  So, I began talking with the Lord about matters weighing heavily on my heart.  Over the course of this very teary dialogue, I finally questioned God about my place in His Master plan.  I blurted out, “Lord, what on earth makes me special anyway?”

I’m so thankful for The Holy Spirit’s immediate reply... “Victoria, I make you special.”

Stunned.  I realized that His answer was all-consuming.

For what makes me beautiful?
God makes me beautiful.

What makes me interesting?
God makes me interesting.

What makes me valuable?
God makes me valuable.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Like a protective shield, the Spirit’s response both comforted and challenged me to answer every question of insecurity and doubt with His covering:

“Fill in every blank with My completeness.  Victoria, I make you _______.”

Isn’t that just like God?  He takes away all our emptiness and fills us to completion with His magnificence.  We lack for nothing in His presence.  Our holes become whole.

And what makes us worthy to showcase His great honor?

God says: "I make you worthy."

God says: "I make you _______!"
Hallelujah!  There is nothing bad to be entered on that blank line!  For He calls us to come to Him... To rest our souls in His gentle care... To be filled with His love... To live His Salvation.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Friends, when we stop feeling sorry for our wretched selves and submit to the One who is truly in control of all Heaven and Earth, we must rejoice!  We must testify in His love!  For Christ is indeed our gain!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:13-16)

God says: I make you _______!
(Fill in the blank with His completeness and think on these wonderful things.)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for reminding me of your all-consuming covering of salvation.  I truly am born again under the light of your glory and grace.

Blessings!

😊

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

old vs. new... now vs. then

Old vs. New...
Now vs. Then...

As I hang more basil from my garden to be dried by the morning sun, I consider the value found in all seasons of life.

The excitement found in youth.
The wisdom known with years.

Mostly, I consider how every age has a unique flavor.
How the passing of earthly time allows us fleeting moments to grow and bouquet, to seed and give, and finally, to wither and fade.

And yet, in each of these experiences, Jesus offers us His newness.
We are reborn in His presence.
We are renewed by His grace.
We are restored with His forgiveness.

To those who know Him, we will experience an eternity of discovery.
For our God is great and infinite.
Our God is awesome and beautiful.
Our God gives us LIFE.

Let us seek His magnificent presence throughout the ages.
Let us notice him equally in every molecule and dew drop.

Yes, today I sing because I’m happy.
I sing because I’m free... forever in His presence!
For this magnificent God’s eye is on every single sparrow.
And praise Him, I know He watches over me!

Blessings!

😊

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, May 18, 2018

serving with all faithfulness

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14&15)

Of late, my chronic physical pain has been at an all-time high.  Pain that I am frankly tired of talking about.  It wears me down.  It robs me of energy and rest.

I, like many others in this world, am too healthy to be considered disabled, and too disabled to be considered healthy.  Too young to retire, and too old to rerun.  I can work..., but only limitedly, for I am fragile.  And, this makes it hard to earn a profitable living like I once did back in the day.  It makes everything hard, frankly.  As a result, my world seems to keep getting smaller.  I have gotten very good at the art of giving up.  (Which, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing.)

In this new normal, I continue to question God's plan as I seek more intimacy with my Maker.  It is here that I paint the beauty He shows me.  I write about the promises He teaches me.  I pray...  yes, I pray for the Lord to continue to give me His patience and strength... to accept what I have no control over... to let go of the seemingly accomplished person I once thought I was... to submit to His greater Way.  For I know God is still molding me into His perfect accomplishment.  I know that He has good plans for my life, even now in this broken, worn-down frame.  He made me for a reason.  I am valuable to His kingdom.  And He loves me beyond all human measure.

So, in the thick of today's painful woes, I choose to trust Him and pray for His peace, His relief, His comfort, His hope...  yes, His purpose.

It is so easy to fixate on the wrong in our lives and feel sorry for ourselves, isn't it?  We forget that every trial should be considered pure joy when truly seen in the context of God's refinement.  And this brings me to share the words in Joshua 24 with ya'll.

"...we will serve the Lord." 

It's interesting that Joshua doesn't talk about "believing"in the Lord, or "hoping" in the Lord.  No, He strongly talks about us "serving" God.  He bids us to give up clinging to everything else... to let go of old idols and old traditions and to simplify our lives around faithfully serving the only God who is worthy.

Mind you, the service Joshua speaks of is actionable.  For serving has a pulse and path.  It resources.  It supplies.  It facilitates.  It utilizes and employs all that we are and have... all that we think and know.  In fact, to serve fully demands complete devotion.  For good service cannot exist if we do not actually stand up and serve.

Sure, service looks different depending upon each person.  Nonetheless, faithfulness requires participation from those faithful, irrespective of crummy man-made working conditions.  In fact, the truest faithfulness exists and excels in spite of the thickest mire or the heaviest of loads.  As such, our goal is still to complete this race set before us... to finish strong... to continue moving forward in joyful obedience toward the favor of the Throne... the Grace... the One who heals all wounds and wipes away all tears.  We are to serve only Him today.  Joyfully for His Kingdom.  Rejoicing in His Glory!

Just a thought the Holy Spirit shared with me this early Friday morn.

Lord, no matter the trial... help me to continue giving up every idol in order to faithfully serve You.  Make my life as small as necessary.  Walk me through whatever is needed so that I may please only You, Jesus... sweet, wonderful You!

Amen.

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

when a woman loves

What happens when a woman loves?  Men stand taller.  Children feel more assured and confident.  Parents beam with pride.  People feel welcome.  Yes, it is the gift of hospitality... reception... sufficiency... satisfaction.  That is what our love produces.

I have noticed that when women choose to give of themselves with their whole heart, things change... lives change!  Why is this?  What is it about a woman that so drastically influences the anxiety, the tone, the easement, and the attitudes of others?  I think it is our God-given role.  Who we were created to be.  What we are intended to accomplish.  You see, we were made to complete mankind.  We were made to be a suitable partner.  Someone becoming.  Someone befitting.  Someone created to be competent, capable, and compatible with man.  Someone who encourages fullness, harmony and unity within the family of humanity.  That is our role.  (Did you know that?)

What happens when a woman loves?  We represent the heart and intentions of a perfect Creator - the Almighty God - finishing His good creation.  His image, whom we were originally fashioned after, was taken directly from the first man so that we might share a unique partnership of life together... one flesh complimenting each other as we physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually enjoy the glory of our Maker.  As such, we were created to jointly and successfully fill and subdue the earth God constructed for us. What exactly does that mean?  It means we are to respect this planet while utilizing it's gifts.  It means we are to cultivate and care for our family.  It means we are to humbly govern and supervise all that we have and know.  It means we are to wisely care for every living plant and creature because of the glorious Name of the One we joyfully live to worship.

Are we living this way?
Are we wisely caring for each other?
Are we extending the gift of "welcome"?
Or are we abusing our role?

What happens when a woman loves?  Beauty is seen and known.  Seeds are sown and territories increase.  Warmth and affection flourishes.  Spirits soar high.  Confidence grows.  Care is generated.  Work is accomplished eagerly and is profitable.  Compassion extends beyond borders.  Integrity, respect, strength, and dignity are produced. Wisdom is appreciated.  Faithfulness is extended.  Benefits hail.  Nobility is praised and esteemed.  Life is just better....  flowing... blessed... fruitful.

What happens when a woman loves?

Why not choose today to love, and let's find out?  Why not adopt and share the heart and intention of our perfect Creator so that He might further be exalted and glorified through us?  He is whom we were made to represent and obey.  He is the reason to love love LOVE!!!

"No matter if we are single or married, working, in school, moms, sisters, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, whatever... Each woman represents the 'heart' of her family and thus holds a tremendous power and responsibility in this world to set a godly tone of encouragement while motivating others to seek and glorify Jesus.  This is the whole concept behind DW.  The Devoted Woman is for every Christian woman who makes that daily decision to live TODAY for Jesus Christ... choosing to love God and love others with everything she's got!"  (Victoria Anderson)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Friday, May 11, 2018

to the living redeemed: love like Jesus

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name... Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15&16)

A few years ago, a friend of mine was in the midst of going through a treatment program to overcome a particular addiction. Since her family lived far away, she asked me to accompany her to her rehabilitation meetings because the sponsors of the program had encouraged every participant to bring a supportive "family" member. I agreed.

Each gathering was filled to capacity with teenagers addicted to smoking heroine and/or stronger substances, mothers who had shopped away their family's savings, husbands out of control with pornography and sexual addictions, men and women of all ages desperate to stop drinking alcohol in excess, etc. etc, etc. It was heartbreaking to see first hand how extensively sin can truly enslave mankind.

At these meetings, I held the hands of many people... people who lived in my own community who were struggling helplessly alongside their distressed spouses, mothers, fathers, children, siblings - all there to support each other. All desperate to find a solution to overcome whatever habitual bondage had affected their lives... praying that this time would bring lasting change.

I particularly remember an elderly Christian woman who came to support her husband - a man who had squandered away their entire life savings to feed his sinful hunger. This was their third time going through rehab. This was their third formalized cry to seek lasting freedom from what had ensnared every aspect of their life. Through tearful eyes, this quiet woman snuggled close to her husband, an empty shell of a man, and repeatedly whispered words of support and encouragement to him. She squeezed his hand no matter how many terrible things he said or did to her. Yes, she removed herself from harms way when necessary. She protected herself and responsibly took over certain life matters in order to invest in their future needs, but she never stopped being this man's wife. She never stopped praying for him and trusting God for answers. Throughout the course of their problems, they had separated several times and had lost just about everything this world would consider worthy of holding onto... but she never gave up. She never stopped loving and respecting her husband while still standing against and hating his sin. She never stopped being this man's helpmate. She loved him and was disciplined and committed to show up on his behalf - no matter what. Her covenant to love was God's covenant!

I walked away from these meetings with many learned lessons and prayer requests. However, what stood out the most to me was the living testimony of this one quiet woman and her choice (yes, choice) to love. It has always brought me back to my own commitments - to my husband, my family. Will our love stand the test of time - even if faced with the most strenuous and trying of circumstances? Will I be able to follow God's intended plan and remain a unified helpmate, a constant support, a co-pilot to the man I offered my hand to in marriage over two decades ago? Will I be able to live wisely and sacrificially give myself to serve my Master, my Savior, my King and the others he has placed before me? Will I be able to love like Jesus in my marriage, my relationships, my life?

Ladies, I share this story with you to stress our need to stay close to the Savior. This world is filled to the brim with sin and disappointment and the enemy is doing everything he can to infiltrate our homes, our churches, our lives. Too often, we forget that this is spiritual WAR and our enemy wishes for us to be dead, useless, broken shells. He wants our existence to be tarnished rather than glorifying God's holy Name. We must never forget that if there is a weak point in our marriage, Satan will find it and monopolize on it. If we are faced with a selfish hunger for a habitual practice or substance, Satan will serve it. He is a ruthless enemy who will attack our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends... our hearts. With this in mind, I write today's blog to remind you of your focus... to love. Love like Jesus.

How do we love like Jesus? The only way to do this is to know Jesus. To be close to Him and reflect His character to those in our lives. To understand what sacrifice truly is. To agree to the disciplined life He has called us to live and to extend His arms out through our own. We are to be mirror images, imitators of God, living each day loving others as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

To love the Lord with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor (anyone we know or will come to know) as we would love our own self... this is clearly not the way this sinful world would exalt. It is not a path that promotes separation, isolation, self gain, or comfort. To love like Jesus is a choice to be humble and sacrificial - just as our Savior was as the thorns dug deeply into His scalp. Just as our Messiah lived and died and LIVED again on behalf of our eternal safety. Such a choice can prove both physically and emotionally challenging... but I promise you, it is the correct and right way to live. And it is possible in His Name!

The world would tell you to do what selfishly feels right and your heart, soul, mind and strength will benefit and be fulfilled from it. But Jesus teaches us that the ways of this world will never satisfy. Only He is able to free and fulfill us. Only His loving presence is capable of giving us LIFE. He must remain our one and only focus. He must truly rule our every breath, our every decision... our every choice!

Ladies, let us be women willing to offer everything over to our King so that He may share His love through our existence. We were made for one purpose... to glorify His Name! Let our lives promote the freedom and eternity that awaits us because of the One who has redeemed us. Let us never walk away from any trial in defeat with our heads low... but rather, let's allow God to work in us and walk through every difficulty with Him (no matter how long, or challenging, or distressing). Let us stand up for Christ and love like Jesus, holding the hands of those He has put into our lives and supporting, nurturing, caring, giving - just as Jesus did for us. And let us do all this always praising His Name.

This is our opportunity to show others WHO Christ is with our very lives... our living testimony. I encourage you to stay close to your Savior and to love... love like Jesus!

But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD. (Jonah 2:9)

Indeed, salvation comes from the Lord alone! Let us share His love. Let us live in Christ no matter what the trial. He is faithful and has promised us so much in His Name. Let's believe Him, ladies... no matter what obstacle the enemy may throw our way. Always remember, we who have accepted Christ are part of His kingdom... we are the living redeemed! So, today let's live like it and LOVE LIKE JESUS!

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. (Luke 1:68)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

charm and grace

When I was very young, my mother enrolled me into an evening class at a nearby charm and modeling school with hopes to turn her tomboy daughter into a lovely young debutante. The goal set out for me was to walk away (or more to glide away) with the understanding of how to execute proper etiquette in any situation. It was a unique experience that I both loved and hated. Loved: because it proved to be really girly. Hated: well, because it proved to be really girly. Ha ha.

My class consisted of about twenty girls, mostly in their pre-teen and/or teenage years, however, I was much younger. Our instructor, Mrs. Kent, was an older, refined woman who frequently wore blouses that tied at the neck. I remember noting that the tie of every Mrs. Kent blouse was always knotted in the most pristine bow. You see, in my mind Mrs. Kent was always perfect and her ties were no exception to this theory. She set the "charm" standard for us all. Sure, some days the tomboy in me would daydream of running up to Mrs. Kent to untie her perfect bow so that she would become a common mortal like the rest of us... or at least like me. Of course, I never did such a thing. Instead, I began to mirror the ways of Mrs. Kent and wear blouses adorned with bows tied neatly at the top. Thanks to this kind woman, I was able to demurely set aside my childish shenanigans and learn the art of becoming a lady. (A lady with moxie, mind you... but indeed a lady.)

In addition to Mrs. Kent's influence, there was an older teenage girl who stood out above all others in our class... Bethany. Without a doubt, Bethany was the most beautiful and lovely of all the girls who attended charm school that season. Everyone adored Bethany for she was clearly a natural when it came to social graces. Bethany's posture was straight. Bethany's table placement knowledge was unmatched. Bethany's dinner manners were delicious. If you ever needed help learning any given charm... Bethany was the friend to know. For without any former coaching, on the first day of class Bethany glided in with a dictionary balanced on her head, with her pinkie finger extended and ready for tea time, and with a lovely hostess gift for Mrs. Kent. (OK, maybe not - but she may as well have.) Her demeanor was soft-spoken. Her complexion flawless. Her appearance neat and tidy. Her conversation skills top drawer. I sooooo wanted to be exactly like Bethany. She was just gorgeous both inside and out. Bethany oozed charm. (I'm talking the good kind of charm... not the fake "Rico Suave" kind of charm common to shifty car salesman.)

Needless to say, I learned many wonderful and helpful lessons in charm school. But what intrigued me the most about the experience was the impact that these two ladies had made on our class from the very beginning. Neither Mrs. Kent or Bethany walked in as stuck-up or snooty individuals like the popular girls who form exclusive clicks in school. Neither went out of their way to demand special attention from anyone. Neither desired to bask in a spotlight or be showered with fame or fortune. No, these ladies simply mastered the art of graciousness. As a result, their presence could not be ignored. Their way grabbed your attention and caused you to want more. Why? Because their way was simple and good. They were respectful and thus were respected by those who noticed them. They were lovely and thus were loved by those graced with their presence.

In retrospect, I think the ministry of Jesus has had a similar effect on me as the impression of these two ladies from charm school. For just like Mrs. Kent and Bethany's example, Jesus has never shown up as overtly loud or obnoxious. Rather, He is naturally gracious and unquestionably impressive. No matter how people may react in agreement or disagreement to His message of hope, it is clear that Jesus cannot be ignored. We cannot forget Him. For He is just that important. He is just that good.

And whether loved or hated, Jesus' way has always been about action and improvement. He is full of substance with zero hype... zero pride. He is proof of all that is pure and lovely and has the ability to leave every human being awestruck when His glory is revealed... when His fullness is realized.

Yes, there is no other way to say it, Jesus is the most attractive. He is the most charming. He is the most beautiful. He is the most gracious. He is the Most High who made Himself the most low in order to grant us the most of His kingdom for all eternity. He is The Light of the world who shines brighter than any other and is simply perfect because He is. Jesus is the standard! What an honor to be given the opportunity to mirror His image. What a privilege to follow His steps and live His way.

Just like Jesus... yes, that is my goal. To be just like Jesus. When anything I say or do is noticed in this life... may it only be in acknowledgement and agreement with my Savior and nothing more. For I am nothing without Him. He is THE MOST. Let me forever walk upright and deliberately in His holy and pleasing ways.

Give me more of your graciousness, Lord. Let me always enter into your gates with sincerity and thanks. Let me sing in your courts with praise and share in your giving heart. Let my posture be your posture. Let my demeanor be your demeanor. Let my conversations be your conversations. For you are the standard! Teach me, dear Jesus, to pristinely model your love... your perfect, holy, unmatched charm and grace.

Blessings!

~Victoria

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

re-landscaping the impossible terrain surrounding every little mustard seed

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)


Pretty clear, isn't it?
Unless the Lord is involved in our endeavors, all we attempt to do in our lives will be in vain. Apart from God, we are unable to accomplish anything. However, any effort we pursue that faithfully honors Him will succeed... we will be a part of building up His kingdom... we will bear much fruit!

Now, I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, "But Victoria, I don't feel particularly close to the Lord right now. I'm struggling in my faith. My life is a mess. I'm completely overwhelmed and out of control. My relationships are lacking, my home is a mess, and my heart feels nervous and disheveled. How on earth can I be used to bear much fruit when I don't feel close to my Savior to begin with?"

OK, first, don't panic. God knows exactly where you are at today, and what condition your heart is in. AND, second, remember that He has already promised big plans for you to live fully satisfied in His kingdom. Lastly, if you simply believe His promises to be true, but still find yourself feeling isolated and alone in your spiritual walk, I encourage you to pause and consider what Jesus said about even the smallest amount of faith:

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

Wow! Did we read that right? Jesus said that if you have a mustard seed-sized faith toward Him, it is enough to experience His great blessing! That is wonderful, isn't it? For in this tremendous universe, a small mustard seed seems so insignificant. But God calls every struggling believer to remember that there is always hope found in Him! Even if that hope feels microscopic compared to the mountainous problems set before us!


All we must do is believe Him today...

Believe His Way.

Believe His Word.

Believe His path and purpose for life.

Believe, and remain steady that He alone is God!

Yes, abide in the Savior! In turn, He promises to take on the heavy lifting and make the impossible possible again. He will make every endeavor pursued in His Name valuable and fruitful. So, seek Him first, dear Believer. Put your trust in Him no matter what obstacles encamp around your heart. For God is able to re-landscape the impossible terrain surrounding every little mustard seed! YES! He is able and has already won!!!

Today with God, you can accomplish lasting change within yourself!
Today with God, you can learn to love your spouse again.
Today with God, you can teach your children obedience and charity.
Today with God, you can become a good steward... an encouraging friend... and a healthy ambassador and hopeful romantic to His eternal throne!

Yes, this is the day that the Lord has made. So, cling to His hope, and yield a bounty that glorifies Him FOREVER!

Ladies, let's start living His blessed life rather than fester any longer in Satan's chaos of doubt! With Jesus, we are able to get through any trial! With Jesus we can overcome sin and stand firm! Yes, let's believe in the simple truth that our God can make ALL THINGS NEW again! He is an able Messiah, and salvation is ours when we remain focused on His strength alone!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6)


This is the day to take hold of your mustard seed-sized faith and seek God's kingdom! Despite life's turbulence and trials, determine to plant your faith solely in His ability and choose to grow closer to Him today, tomorrow, forever!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Sunday, April 1, 2018

He's Risen! He's Risen!

Majestic, Exalted, Supreme, and Divine;
My King, yes my King, all glory is Thine!
O Zion, arise! Make way for the One;
Our Savior is risen! Messiah has come!

The chains have been broken; oppression removed;
For Jesus, yes Jesus, His power is now proved!
At Calvary's Cross, came my greatest delight;
Forever, Eternal, my Day Spring, my Light!

The tomb has been emptied. The rock rolled aside;
The heaven's rejoice, cause in Him I abide!
So sound every trumpet, rejoice and give praise;
Both justice and mercy are found in His Ways!

See, death could not bind Him. Sin could not endure;
Believe Him, believe Him, and find yourself pure!
Forgiven as far as the East is to West;
Renewed as His bride and made whole as His blessed!

O Holy, yes Holy, for the Lamb that was slain;
O Glory, dear Glory, He's returned now to reign!
My words cannot showcase the depths of His care;
My heart stops astounded. My mind can't compare.

He lives! He fulfills! He frees! He restores!
Almighty is Jesus! All peace, love, and more!
The battle is over. The war has been won!
He's Risen! He's Risen! A New Life has come!

Happy Easter Weekend!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, March 24, 2018

in trying times

This year has been a doozy so far.  Already we are reaching the end of March and I can’t seem to keep up with the rest of the world.  Why?  Well, I’m still technically sick.  (Yes, since January!)  I've been dealing with breathing, coughing, and autoimmune issues.  I've been meeting more doctors with more medicines and tests.  I've been trying to keep my head above water... Trying to take care of myself...  Trying to take care of my family...  Trying to love...  Trying to give...  Trying to stay positive, hopeful, driven...  Problem is, sometimes my trying can be so trying.  Sigh.

Sometimes life is just too big... too overwhelming to take on... too much to process and follow through.  Sometimes it seems easier to just curl up and hide under the covers and hope nobody will find you “slacking” away.  (But thank God for a little slack, right?!!!)

I know I’ve not written much to y’all this year.  I know my plate is fuller than I can normally handle with work and commissions still waiting for my completion.  I know I’ve been a hard friend to meet with for lunch or dinner.  I know. I know.  I know.

To this I acknowledge... The enemy loves to overwhelm us, doesn’t he?  He strives to make us feel isolated, broken, alone.  This year, he has been chipping away at me... and the Lord has allowed him to take much.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the beginning of the book of Job.  How God confidently tells Satan to look at Job’s dedication.  That no matter how much Satan would interfere with his life, God knew Job would remain faithful and trust the Lord.  Seriously, read Job 1:1-12.  It's almost mind boggling to see how confident God is in His servant.

Of course, Satan jumped at the chance to derail and upset everything... Very quickly God allows much to be taken away from Job’s comfortable life.

But what does Job do after bleakness and tragedy strike?

Does he stop living?
Does he give up?
Does he blame and hate God for all his sorrows?

No, rather he immediately falls down in worship and acknowledges...

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. 
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 
(Job 1:20)

How much have you lost in this life?  How difficult are your trials to carry?

The good news is, Jesus is able to take our heavy loads and walk with us through each obstacle and storm.  He calls us to abide in Him.  He invites us to surrender our pride upon His altar.  He promises us His peace... not the peace of this world, but rather a peace found in His lasting holy presence.

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)

This year, I am slow.
My health is “iffy”.
My heart is heavy.
My life is messy and uncomfortable.

But, friends, my hope remains secure in The Redeemer.  I know that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (See Ecclesiastes 3.)  I know that my Master's promises are true and unchanging.  I know that I am exactly where He planned for me to be within this crazy 2018.  Heavenly Father, keep me in tune with Your steps.

I am fully aware that Satan's objective is to wear me down physically while overwhelming my emotions, and bankrupting my spirit. He taunts me to surrender. He preys on me to blindly accept that all my very personal road blocks of pain and hardship are chronic and permanent obstacles unable to be overcome.  Always highlighting my certain ruin, he compares me with others - pointing out how ignorant, ill-equipped, and pathetic I measure in model.  Then he deserts me at my lowest low.  Positioning himself just far enough away to keep me festering in lonely misery.  Waiting for me to give up, defeated.

He mocks...

"There is no hope.”
“Your future will always be bleak.”
“You might as well accept that you are stuck.”
“Nothing will ever change.”
“Why bother to care/try?”
“You are all alone.”
“You do not matter.”
“Life is pointless.”
“You never asked to be born in the first place.”
“Surely death is better than this.”
“This world does not suit you.”

But the truth is, there is only one road Satan travels down: Death.
There is only one outcome the enemy knows: Destruction.

Jesus approaches each of us, however filthy and worn down we may be, and asks our consent to wash us clean... to repair our fractures... to quench our thirst… to feed our hunger… to medicate and restore us to a new, holy health we thought impossible.  The Creator of all things, in His mind-blowing grace, meets us inside our humanity and humbly requests permission to fix our failures.  He astounds us with unpredictable servanthood and challenges us with untamed possibilities.  Yes, His is the hope in which I cling to through this difficult year.  For His is the only Way to proceed each and every day.

I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants - but let them not turn to folly.  Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.  (Psalm 85:8-13)

To this end, I would like to share with y’all a daily prayer that I continue to recite.  In fact, it is stamped on the first page of my beloved Bible.  I hope that it might be useful to anyone who finds life to be a bit “trying” these days.

My Daily Prayer
Lord, give me the grace to care without neglecting my needs;
The humility to assist without rescuing;
The kindness to be clear without being cold;
The mercy to be angry without rejecting;
The prudence to disclose without disrespecting my privacy;
The humor to admit human failings without experiencing shame;
The compassion to give freely without giving myself away.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Give me strength this new day to fulfill Your purpose.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:17-18)

Friends, we were created for such a time as this... and in His perfect timing, we will be refined to His holiness.

God bless us, everyone!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, January 27, 2018

flow

It’s close to the end of January, and I’m FINALLY writing my first blog post of the year.  For those of you who follow my personal pages on all the social media sites, you likely know the whammy’s I’ve already been hit with in this new year.  From my dog suddenly passing away to my getting extremely ill these past couple of weeks... I’m just so happy to now be awake and functioning again (albeit ever so delicately).

Today is a “home sick watching old movies and drinking herbal tea” kind of day for me.  Yes, my lungs are still congested, and my cough is quite heavy.  My ears/nose/throat are sore and I’m exhausted from the toll that has been taken on my sinuses and lungs.  There is worry in my household that I may have developed pneumonia.  Yes, pneumonia.  Sigh.  But thankfully, I’ve been able to pause and rest.  As such, my body is slowly improving despite the occasional setback.  For example, right now my breaths are quite labored.  Congestion fights against me.  Congestion suffocates my air flow.  Congestion halts my “chi” (as they would say in some cultures).  And while I am not interested in promoting anything outside of Jesus Christ, I also cannot deny the universal truth that God created each of us to live in open and healthy unity with His presence... moving productively forward into His holiness and for the sake of His glory... always flowing in the direction of His love.

As such, today I’m realizing how congestion has always been a nemesis - both physically and spiritually.  Clutter, distractions, disorderliness, confusion, undisciplined and selfish motives... yes, my own human habits without the presence of Jesus’ guidance inflames my life with unnecessary sorrow and gives Satan a foothold to make me messy and thus, ineffective for God’s kingdom.

So often we find ourselves at the beginning of each new year asking how did we get so off track and misdirected away from God’s will?  How indeed.

Currently, my pastor is leading our church through a study on stewardship.  How fitting.  For as January comes to a close and New Years Resolution’s begin to grow lax, how important it is to re-assess and regroup once again.  To take pause in God's rest and healing as we once again measure and evaluate our intention with His direction.  It is here in His safe care that we quietly must ask ourselves:
  • How are we overseeing what God has given us to manage?
  • Have we allowed room for His love to move freely and unhindered in our lives?
  • Have we prayerfully made the commitment to clear out whatever is holding back His sufficient grace... whatever is suffocating us from His breath.
  • Are we living simply and contentedly so that we can showcase His richness and generosity?
  • Are we opening every space and passageway, no matter how uncomfortable, in order to afford His promises room to bloom, flourish, and flow?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Folks, when we hoard after false gods and false securities, we suffer.  We stagnate.  We hinder our effectiveness and drown our ultimate happiness.  We struggle and gasp for the true Breath of Life.  To this I say, spit up and cough out whatever is keeping you unhealthily away from God’s living and active Word.  Remove all sinful obstacles from your life.  Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let's run with perseverance this magnificent race marked out for us!

Our goal is Jesus.
Our hope is His Kingdom.
He is the treasure.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.  (Revelation 22:1-5)

Our healthy flow depends upon His Life, not our own.  For alone, we will remain sick and congested and overwhelmed.  But when our choices are directed solely for His purpose and glory, we must steward differently, mustn’t we?  We must run toward His blessed future.  We must decrease so that He can increase and fulfill us in His grace.

Without Jesus, there is no true life, only false “placebo” substitutions leading us to death.  I don’t know about you, but I want to go with the flow - where the real medicine is... where true life lives and flourishes!  I want to be full and satisfied and blessed with His cleansing NEW in this brand new year!  Sure, trouble always will come on this earth.  But where your confidence lies in troubled times is everything!

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

So today, allow my sick-but-in-recovery-self to encourage you who feel far away or blocked from God to simply stop and prayerfully rest in His freely given grace of renewal.  Pause in His peaceful presence.  Most importantly, fill yourself with His life-giving Words as you seek first His hope of restoration.  He will revive you.  He will teach you how to live consecrated in His purpose instead of congested in this world's corruption.  Yes, today, let's allow God’s Spirit all room to refine and cleanse us into His Holiness... toward His Healthy New Life... into the loving arms of The Savior, Jesus!

He is ready.
He is able.
He is waiting for ALL of us.

❤️

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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