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.



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!!!



© 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!


© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson