Monday, July 31, 2017

focus on His scars and believe in His grace

Every evening I try to block out at least twenty minutes of my time to enjoy a warm, fluffy bubble bath. It is a nice way to slow down my acrobatic brain and encourage my mind to prepare for resting through the night. It is also a huge help to my body because I suffer a lot with pain from past injuries. Yes, this old girl "ain't what she used to be", but thankfully, the hot water from my tub seems to temporarily pacify my aches and pains so that I am not as uncomfortable and fidgety during the time I've allotted for sleep.

Anyway, last night while I was soaking, I was looking over the ten inch scar that remains on my left leg. It runs down the middle of my thigh, over my knee, and ends midway over my tibia. I've had many surgeries on this leg (and expect many more) because the knee and surrounding bones have proven unreliable due to a past accident. Without getting into all the gory details, I started to remember the day my leg was injured and the unthinkable pain that pushed me in and out of consciousness while gracious paramedics and hospital personnel did their best to assess and treat my many fractures. I have never endured such insurmountable pain and physical suffering as I did during this time. No amount of pain killers could prepare me for that trial, and I will never forget the blood-curdling screams that came out of me while being moved every which-way through the x-ray process, surgery, therapy, etc. It was terrible. Needless to say, it was a very difficult and extremely painful time of my life.

When all this had happened, my dear husband (Chuck) dropped out of his busy travel schedule and "moved into" my hospital room to advocate on my behalf while continuing to carry the load of managing our work/life commitments. When I slept, my husband worked. When I was awake, my husband comforted me. I was so grateful because I could relax a little easier with him beside me - knowing that he was there to protect and watch over me no matter what.

During this time, I had a lot of physical therapy to get through. Whenever my doctors and therapists would push me to do something challenging, Chuck would encourage me to keep going... to not give up... to push through the pain and focus on the goal of getting better. Whenever I would stumble or complain, Chuck was right there and ready to motivate - coaching me to lay aside my frustration and believe God was in control. And even though I felt like an ugly mess, Chuck would reassure and praise me - always telling me how beautiful I am to him, how much he loves me, etc.

I am so thankful for Chuck's help through this trial. Because of him, I became stronger, healthier, focused. Because of his help, my spirit remained refreshed and I was energized to keep moving forward rather than sit in the pity party of what was now in the past. Yes, without my dear husband by my side, I don't know if I would have made it through my desperate, injured state. Oh, thank you, Lord, for giving me such a support!

So anyway..., yesterday I was in the tub remembering all this while inspecting my scar. And it got me thinking about how much more my Savior had endured on the cross. I thought about the tremendous love and will that Jesus demonstrated during this dark and lonely time. Here was the Creator of the whole universe (who made our bodies to work a very specific way) being subjected to the worst physical suffering imaginable.

I wondered when He was whipped and beaten - when His body began to bruise, if He thought about the capillaries under His distressed human tissue that had begun to break under the skin and allow His holy blood to build up. I wonder if He considered the nerve endings that He had designed and how now, on His own body, they would report the trauma back to His brain, disclosing the severity of His deadly situation. I wonder as the thorns dug into His scalp, if He thought about the day He skillfully fashioned blood to coagulate and clot whenever the body received damage. I wonder how wounding the sting of His tears felt as He looked lovingly into the eyes of those who came to hurt Him, condemn Him, murder Him.

I thought about all this as I looked over my own scars and suddenly realized that even after overcoming death, Jesus chose to keep His scars. He kept the nail marks on His hands! Why? He didn't need to do that. He was a resurrected God! A King! Why keep ugly scars on your person when you are the Savior to all who believe and claim your name as Lord? Then I remembered doubting Thomas. How he could not accept the unbelievable news that Jesus lived! And I realized, Jesus kept his scars for us! His hands carry the marks of death so that we can always remember what He victoriously did for us! By merely looking at our Savior - we can know that our Messiah endured and overcame our greatest foe... death! AMEN!

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)

Friends, our lives on earth are not meant to be easy. God already knows that we will endure many hardships and likely be scarred in many, many ways from the sin that surrounds and entangles us. However, just like Jesus, we can use our scars to showcase His sacrifice and triumph. Just like Jesus, we can be a living example of God's love and victory over sin and death.

It is crucial to understand that as we live on this earth, we are each in the process of undergoing our own spiritual therapy as we relearn how to walk in what is holy and healing. And with us... alongside us - is our faithful Savior, who through His own experience understands our need for encouragement. He has promised to accompany us... pushing us through our pain... motivating us to keep our focus on the goal of becoming healthier in His Name.

Whenever we stumble, He will be there to help us get up again. Whenever we are frustrated, He is ready to teach us that God is in control. And no matter how ugly and worthless and messy we may feel, Jesus is ready to remind us how beautiful and precious and important we are to Him... how much He loves us. He is ready to refresh our spirits and energize our souls with His precious grace. Let us receive Him... seek Him... know Him... be with Him.  Let's keep our dearest Husband by our side so we can make it through this desperate, injured, lonely, corrupt world. We need Him to get better. We need Him to become new.  So let's lift Him up every day of our lives and thank the Lord for giving us His perfect support!

Consider what trial you are presently facing; what hardship and pain you are currently enduring. I encourage you to think about it, and then put it into perspective. Consider the sacrifice your Redeemer has made to insure your safety and eternal security.  Remember His grace.  Remember His pain.  Remember what He endured and overcame for your benefit.  Relax in the fact that He will always be with you... working toward your best interest... at the ready to protect and watch over you no matter what.  This is your Comforter, your King.  He loves you.  Continue to allow Him to "move into" your heart and carry the load of your life.

Let's keep our focus on what is truly important.  No matter what comes, let's continue to fix our eyes on the Creator and Savior of this world. Bathing ourselves in His comfort. Remembering that He has fashioned all that we are... all that we will face... all that we must endure to become more like Him. He has perfectly planned to see us through.  So, focus on His scars and believe in His grace.  There is no One greater.  There is no One mightier.  There is no One that loves you more.

Glory be the Name of our Redeemer.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)



Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson
Copyright © | All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

unfiltered disgruntlement or thankful confidence

You spill a glass of milk.
You stub your big toe.
Your cell phone gets disconnected during an important call.
You get cut off in traffic.
The list of day-to-day annoyances goes on and on and on.

When these nuisances occur, our natural reaction is to blurt out a hearty four lettered "#@*!" while we wrap our minds around how to endure the newest frustration that has come about.

But what does our chosen vexation say about our heart? How are we representing a perfect God when we blurt out profanities and inappropriate language in unfiltered disgruntlement and disappointment?

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' " (Matthew 15:10-11)

This topic is not a new struggle for me. I can swish out my toilet mouth with the best of intentions every single day and still fall short when my pen runs out of ink or the batteries die in the remote control. Then, without deliberation or thought... all bets are off. Before I know it, I have yelled out another inappropriate "gem" for my family and friends to hear and cover their ears. As a result, I have negatively chipped away from my Christian testimony and have presented myself and my Savior as inapproachable... dissatisfied... beaten. Is this how I want to be? Is this how I want to represent my King?

Friends, good intentions can only get us so far. However, to fully sanitize ourselves from sinful lips, we must seek after the One who created our tongues in the first place. We must go directly to the Master of all matters and turn to Him in obedience and thankfulness - especially through the seemingly trivial irritations that occur in our lives. You see, God tells us that all things are planned for our benefit and His ultimate good. When we willingly trust Him and accept the experiences He has sanctioned (even the little annoyances that creep into our day), we are able to look through His eternal lens rather than our own limited scope or viewpoint. As a result, our hearts are more open to mirror His holy tone, and we are able to adopt how Jesus would react to things and give glory to our Father in heaven.

But it is key to keep our eyes focused on the Creator. It is imperative to share His heart in all matters. For everything... EVERYTHING will happen according to His perfect plan. So much so, that we must look at even the smallest of annoyances as a means to expose His abundance and love! We must use all moments to give Him glory!

Might we all be challenged to lay down every word spoken on God's altar. Ask Him to remove any forms of disappointment from your heart and instead teach you to give thanks in all circumstances. Remember, all things really do work together for His good. So, let's remember to faithfully keep Him first in both word and deed so that we can be used to glorify His Name and share Him with others whom we may come in contact... especially those closest to us!

Let us no longer negatively chip away from our testimonies. Let us no longer present our Savior as inapproachable... dissatisfied... beaten. No! He is our Redeemer and we are more than conquerors in His Name! His Spirit is always available... always encouraging... always confident in the Almighty Father's will! As His people, we should live the same.

Let's use our words to uplift and uphold the way of Jesus. In all things, let's be content and thankful. Let's live our lives following the Savior's perfect example and be a people set apart... holy and pleasing in His sight. We are living, breathing testimonies saved by His grace. So, let's "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This is the day that the Lord has made... let's rejoice and BE GLAD IN IT!


Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson
Copyright © | All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 17, 2017

this little sheep's travel journal

Journeying through... ah, what a view!
We march through fields of gold.
Nearest our King who leads His few
Obeying the Word He's told.

Through valleys, through shadows, through death we tread
Where darkest lions prey.
Here, Shepherd instructs us in urgent love,
"Beloved, stray not away."

His staff ensures us comfort and rest,
His rod brings strength nor else found.
"Stay close. Fear not, my little flock."
Passing Jericho tumbling down.

"Onward, forward!"  We clench His robe.
"Be strong and help those least!"
"Stand witness to passing wayward foes,"
"Invite them home to feast!"

Praise Father. Praise Son. Praise Holy Ghost!
Yes, lead us to Promised Land.
Today is the day we rejoice and believe,
Because with You, you've promised WE CAN!

(Victoria Anderson)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

a mighty fortress... an ever-present help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... (Psalm 46:1)

"An ever-present help in trouble..."

What a wonderful promise.
God is ever-present.  He is here.
God is available to give aid; to be of service and advantage to us.
God offers us His benefit and support.
And not only does God offer help, but He is constant, ceaseless, current.
What a wonderful, loving God we serve!
Our refuge.  Our sanctuary.  Our hiding place.  Our shelter.
Our strength.  Our fortitude.  Our stability.  Our authority.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)

What is there to fear when God is our refuge and strength?  The answer is nothing!

Satan will try to distract every believer away from this promise.  He will do all he can to make fear our focus rather than Jesus.  And to do so, he will upset everything - and I mean EVERYTHING!  He will threaten our comfort, our security, our health, and our foundation.  He will upset our feelings.  He will break our hearts.  He will tour us into hopelessness and take away all that we have come to enjoy.  He will bring us down down down down down.

You see, what Satan desires most is for us to permit him access into our hearts and minds so our eyes will look away from God, causing our souls to become troubled.  Simply put, he wants our focus away from Christ. Why?  Because then we will be more likely to believe that God cannot be GOD to us when we absolutely need Him the most.  Satan wants God to seem distant and insignificant.  He wants us independent and unattached from our Creator.  And what better way to redirect our heart, soul, mind, and strength than to point our attention toward our own flesh... ourselves.  "Look at you," he whispers.  "You are what matters.  Not God!"

But God is ALL that matters, isn't He?  He should be the only One we care about!  In all our ways, we should be acknowledging him!  With all our hearts we should be trusting Him.  With all we are, we are to love Him more than ourselves.  Seeking Him first.  Being still and knowing Him!  Not vaguely acquainting ourselves, but rather becoming intimately bound and genuinely hungry for His nourishing Word.  For God's Law is more important than our own flesh.  His Way is greater, better, ever-present, everlasting.  Yes, God is all that matters!  Without Him, we are nothing.  Without Him, we are dead.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.  (Romans 8:13)

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14)

Joyfully, the most beautiful twist of all is that WE are who matter the most to God!!!  So much so, that He gave us Christ in order to save us from ourselves!  What a wonderful, loving God we serve!

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Let us boldly believe God's promises and cast every burden we face upon the Lord.  For He will sustain us.  He will direct our path.  He will provide, protect, and guide us.  Thankfully, He is always with us.  Graciously, He is always for us.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1 & 7) 

So... are you with Him?  Are you for Him?
Is He first?
Is God ALL that matters to you?
Who will you love and glorify most this brand new day?



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 3, 2017

persevere... for our hope is in the Lord!

Because of my chronic pain, I've been tracking my sleep patterns to see if there is anything I can do to get more rest.  Here are last night's notes (mirroring a pretty typical night for me).
  • 11pm: Fresh new sheets.  Bedroom cool/dark/essential oils diffusing.  Took two Advil PM's.  Definitely am tired and ready to sleep.
  • 12am: (1 Hour Sleep)  Woke up with acid tummy, stuffy nose, and really bad leg cramps.  Sciatica is shooting fierce!  Uncomfortable.  Now what?  Took Benadryl, Prevacid.  Don't want to take pain killers until morning because of the Advil earlier.  Removed all clothes.  Raised head with second pillow.  Left knee throbbing like a toothache.  It hurts so much, I can't even stand the feeling of the blanket touching it!  Kicking exercises from physical therapy to try and help.  Frustrated!
  • 12:35am: (15 Minutes Sleep)  Dozed off for about 15 minutes.  Still kicking when I awoke.  Sigh.  Will try to lay still and hopefully fall back to sleep.  Legs hurt!
  • 12:48am: Gave up on the bed and moved to the jet tub.  Added Eucalyptus epsom salts.  It's now 12:53am and I'm going to close my eyes in tub.  Hopefully will sleep.
  • 1:40am: (1 Hour Sleep)  Just woke up in tub.  Moving water really helps, but sciatica is still a burden. Can't remain in this position any longer but love the water.  Slow to get up.
  • 2am: Clothes back on.  Giving up on trying to sleep for a while because pain is pretty bad and I'm frustrated.  Grabbed a Greek yogurt and am now watching a House Hunters International re-run.
  • 3am: Eyes heavy again so I'll try to sleep. Praying I get a few hours in before morning.
  • 4am:  (1 Hour Sleep)  Dozed off but not remarkable REM.  Giving up and going into my office to paint/pray/study/write.
I've decided that the worst outcome in living with chronic pain is not necessarily the pain... it's the lack of good sleep due to pain.   People always ask me how I am able to function and remain upbeat when I'm always hurting.  Well, in truth, I just do the best I can in the moments I'm given.

I can say this, however...  I do believe that the Lord only gives us what we personally can handle.  Furthermore, I know that if God gives us the gift of time (albeit time I'd prefer to be sleeping/resting), that we should do our best to use our moments wisely and for His good.

When 4am came about this morning, I was frustrated with my health AGAIN.  I'm tired, you see.  I hurt from arthritis and sciatica and can't seem to get it together... to keep a consistent sleep schedule... to feel physically rested and refreshed come each new day.  Yes, my circumstances are definitely difficult.

But here's the thing... God says that he will ultimately give my spirit the rest it craves.  He will come through.  He promises me this hope throughout scripture - and His promises are true and trustworthy!  Because of this, I know I must consider today's trial a joy.  Why?  Because it is useful in testing my faith and teaching me perseverance.

I know that this life will dissipate as quick as a vapor.  This life is short after all.  But Jesus has promised to give me so much more.  He has come to save us from all hardship known in this life and lead us into a new life, a new home, a new health!  No matter the test we face today, we can still look ahead in faith toward Him and know victory.  For those who are in Christ are indeed promised His peace and a future where He will wipe away all tears and pain.  Thank you, Master!!!

I've decided that the worst outcome about living with chronic sin is not the deserved death it demands of all mankind.  Rather it is the unbearable separation away from the Creator.  I can't even imagine living without the Holy Spirit's spiritual upbuilding.  We need God in order to function and survive!  Thank goodness that He loves us!  Thank goodness that He sent His only son to save us through His own sacrifice!  In Christ, God promises us true peace.  In Christ, He will bless us and keep us free from death and destruction.  In Christ, God is gracious to us and lifts up His countenance upon us.  He redeems us from the pain and discomfort we face today and gives us the hope of His future.  Hallelujah!

So friends, no matter what trial you find yourself overburdened and exhausted by this hour... do not let it sway your focus away from the Savior.  Instead, use it to build your faith.  Use these moments for His good.  Choose to rejoice and be glad despite this suffering and seek Him.  Seek Him and He will bring the rest you crave.  He will see you through to holy completion.  Persevere, and you will hear Him say, "Well done."

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Persevere... for our hope is in the Lord!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson