Monday, December 21, 2009

"ho-cho" and the art of being nice

Yesterday afternoon, I had a massage scheduled with Nadia... the best masseuse in the entire universe. (It's really true!)

I have been going to Nadia as long as I can remember and have always been blessed by her gift to lesson the knots in my neck and make my aching back stop aching! She is a gorgeous person inside and out and talented beyond measure!

Anyway, during the course of the massage and our "catching-up", Nadia and I began talking about Christmas, staying warm, and ultimately... hot chocolate (ho-cho). You see, I love hot, HOT chocolate. I was explaining that my all-time favorite "ho-cho" was the kind made from REAL chocolate and seasoned with a little chili pepper. (Really, I highly recommend it!) From there we started to evaluate who currently made the best "ho-cho" in town.

After my massage was over, I was scheduled to get a mani/pedicure in the attached salon. (Come on, I want to be somewhat presentable over the holidays to my extended family and friends... you know, for pictures, etc.) While sitting in a big, comfy chair as the technicians worked on my nails, in walked Nadia who had run out to her favorite "ho-cho" vendor and picked up a cup for me to enjoy!!! Really, how sweet is she, people? SWEET!!!

This brings me to the purpose of my post. How hard is it for all of us to just be nice to each other? To love one another? To go out of our way and treat people well? Nadia's cup of "ho-cho" was a gift that I can pay forward to another by spreading the love I have in Jesus, and all that He continues to bless me with. This world needs that kind of thoughtfulness. And, it is how we are called to live in Christ!

So, today I challenge you to go buy a cup of "ho-cho" for someone. Or go hug someone. Or go tell someone what you appreciate about them. Let's follow Nadia's kind and loving example and just be nice to each other... because we can!... because it is the right thing to do!

Yes, Christmas is a great time to get started, but I say let's continue the good will toward men even after the holidays are over. Let's always practice the art of being nice... ALWAYS!

Thanks, Nadia, for always being a blessing to me! I love you, sweetie! Merry Christmas to you and yours! You are wonderful!

XOX!

~Victoria

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

who really wins the argument?


A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. ~Proverbs 25:11

When my husband, Chuck, and I were married, I never thought that we would ever have any problems, quarrels or disagreements. I imagined a perfect life together. We could not possibly be one of those couples who fought over petty differences -we had too much fun being together. Then, reality set in and we had our first disagreement. My first instinct was to defend myself and start complaining and disputing about all the things I felt he could improve upon. I established my argument and was ready to attack full on. In my mind, it was war, and I strategically began to formulate my plan of how I would end up the victor.

Oh, how we love to argue. How we love to be the winner. How we want to always be the one who is ALWAYS right. Unfortunately, I was not right. Even worse - I didn't have the right attitude about how to trust and relate to the man I betrothed my whole life to.

Wisely, my husband did know better. He calmly and rationally sat me down and gave me the statement of the century. It was so profound and wonderful that I think all loving husbands should make it a priority - a code to live by - and a common theme to communicate to their wives....

He said, "Vicki, I'm not disagreeing with you because I'm mad or want to hurt you.... I love you. I'm disagreeing with you because I want what is best for you. I am not your enemy. You are the most important person on earth to me. So please get it out of your mind that I am against you and listen to what I am saying because my intentions are based in love."

Wow. How do you fight that? How do you win a battle against an "enemy" that is really your greatest ally? Because I disagreed with a stupid detail, I had given into Satan's lie that somehow Chuck was against me and I had to WIN a battle. All I was doing was complaining and preparing a big dispute - rather than trusting God and the man he gave me to marry. How often do we do this? How often do we get so caught up with our argument that we can't see past ourselves to the people we love? I mean really, what is more important....if the laundry is folded and put away, if the TV is turned off, if the toothpaste cap is screwed back onto the tube - OR - if we have a supportive, growing relationship with one another?

By no means am I suggesting that you don't share your cares and concerns with one another. By no means do I mean putting yourself in a "doormat" position. But come on. We are not always right. In fact, I find that I'm usually wrong but too proud to admit it. The only person who really wins when we argue against one another is Satan. I don't want Satan to win anything when it comes to my relationships - do you? Instead of disputing with one another, let's approach all things in love. As we learn to love one another as God commands, we learn to look beyond our selfishness and care about each other's well being.

So, give your attitude a check-up the next time you feel your blood boiling over a matter with your spouse, family member or friend. Is it really THAT important in the grand scheme of life for you to WIN the fight? Or, are you willing to let God use the experience as an opportunity to share and relate better with one another without drama or war being waged?

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault. ~Philippians 2:14-15
Blessings!

~Victoria

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a joyful smile

"Frown and you frown alone, but smile and the whole world smiles with you."

Don't you love a true, genuine smile that showcases joy? Smiling: it is such a simple thing to do and can be communicated without saying even one single word. Even if someone has woken up on the wrong side of the bed, a joyful smile can help change the most hopeless outlook. Who can deny the power of Christ behind every joyful smile?  Indeed, it is wonderfully contagious!  HE is wonderfully contagious!!!

Did you know that when someone is smiling they are able to impact and change the moods of others as well as alter the attitudes of people in general... making everyone happier.  In short, a joyful smile shares the positive hope of Jesus, and, in turn, causes others to smile back. It is certain, those who smile a lot are more desirable to keep company with because their outlook projects an encouraging and motivating approach to living.

Smiling can help prevent stress, looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. In fact, smiling has been shown to actually help our immune system to function better. It reduces blood pressure, releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. A smile provides a natural reaction that makes us feel better as well as aids us in warding off depression.

Yes, a smile can truly affect lives. So, let's show off that wonderful facial grace!  Let's smile, dear Christians, because we have Jesus to smile about!!!  WOO HOO!

XOX!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 5, 2009

in a dry and weary land

Today, Chuck and I spent the afternoon sitting with a family member as she underwent chemotherapy treatment. During the course of my lifetime, I have been around all forms of medical patients and in many health care environments due my own physical handicaps, family disabilities, and critical care situations. However, this has been my first exposure to witness cancer treatment up close.

While entering the treatment center, I noticed that there were hospital recliners spaced three feet apart from one another in a large communal room. Sitting in each seat was a person undergoing their treatment, receiving a custom recipe of medicine to aid them in their fight. We walked to the back of the room where our party waited for their dosage to be administered. While waiting, I couldn't help but look around the room and study the faces of patients nearby. There were all types of individuals... young, old, male, female... every ethnicity... every walk of life. Some looked as healthy as anyone you'd pass by on the street. Some did not. All were fighting to survive.

As we sat with our family member, she began to get sleepy and dozed in and out during the course of her treatment (which is not uncommon). Fortunately, we were already blessed to know from her last round of tests that her cancer is officially gone. She must return for three more treatments, but then she is good to go. Praise God.

However, sitting two chairs over from us was a woman who was clearly not as fortunate. She was about my age. Her hair was completely gone. Her body was frail and worn down. Her spirit was clearly deflated. She sat in the corner with the curtain half drawn... all alone. I could not help but wonder about the status of this woman's health, hope, and eternal home as her feeble presence and lack of companionship caught my heart's attention. I wanted to hug her and shower her with everything I could share about Jesus. But it was clear that she was in no position to receive any visitors... she was just too weak to speak. So, I did the only thing I knew to do while sitting beside her... I prayed.

At one point, her face turned completely blood-red because she was not able to breathe and her nausea (a side effect from the chemo) was overpowering all the energy she had to give. The nurses immediately rushed to her side with oxygen while summoning the nearby doctors to come STAT! Suddenly there where ten to twelve medical professionals hovering around and doing all they could for this poor woman. Frantically, the curtain around her closed as moans of her agony reverberated across the room. It was intense and heartbreaking all at the same time.

While still in shock from what was taking place, I scanned the room once more to see the reaction of others. I looked again at the faces of each patient and their visiting family and friends. Strangely enough, no one raised an eyebrow. No one showed emotion. No one had any kind of reaction. It was as if this woman didn't exist... as if everyone who had just witnessed her struggle felt completely indifferent and/or numb to her situation.

By the end of our visit, the woman's vitals had stabled, but I could not fathom how she would be strong enough to get home on her own. Her health was that bad. She was asleep from exhaustion and curled up in her reclined chair... her i.v. still attached and dispensing the final dose of chemo treatment for the day. The hospital staff was monitoring her status and remained at the ready if the situation again became grim.

I left exhausted and heavy burdened for each soul there, for I had spent the afternoon praying for every face I saw... but especially for this particular woman. While we drove home, I continued to think about the events of the day. Then, the Holy Spirit gave me this thought...

How often do we ignore the struggles of those barely making it who are in desperate, dire need? How frequently do we as Christians look around the room but fail to display any emotion or care to the existence of those nearby... those who are drowning in such despair that they can hardly gasp for breath because they are too exhausted and weak from the plague of sin and the strongholds of Satan?

DW's, we are women who are to represent the love of Christ to the lost, and I fear that we have forgotten the importance of sacrificially taking the focus off ourselves and looking into the faces of those who are worse off. I am greatly troubled that we frequently fail to acknowledge those curled up and stripped down to nothing... those in need of comfort... those who need Jesus. Have we become so numb and desensitized that we no longer acknowledge the existence of those lost and their need for our prayers and comfort? Have we accepted defeat from the overwhelming presence of sin in this world that we no longer are willing to stand up for the sake of Christ's cause? Have we selfishly thought, "At least I'm saved by grace," but beyond that, have we given up the hope, the honor to be used by God to turn the eyes of others toward Christ?

I urge you to consider how frequently you share the message of our Messiah to the lost and dying of this world. Consider how regularly you discuss God's love to those outside your comfortable Christian circles. Let us no longer overlook those who are alone. Let us no longer do nothing when we so clearly can do something. Let us spread the gospel as the churches did in the days following Jesus resurrection. Let us go into all the world and show them His love... to the sick, to the weary, to the poor, to the needy, to the widows, to the orphans, to the hungry, to the helpless... let us give them the message... the meaning... the hope we have found in our Savior and King.

Ladies, let us share with others the refreshment that God gave David while in the desert of Judah, "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." (Psalm 63:1-4)

Blessings!

P.S. Today, please pray for all the cancer patients throughout the world who are suffering and struggling to survive. Lord Jesus... save them, heal them. Use our lives to touch their hearts. We praise Your name in all situations, our gracious Heavenly King. Amen.

Thomas Aquinas once said, "Pray as though it depends on God. Act as though it depends on you."

Friday, October 30, 2009

to all the singles out there...

Dear single, never lower your standards for love
Look not for substitutes or foolish exceptions
Learning to be without a spouse in your life
Is far wiser than settling with deception
For each servant will always have a Master
To dictate his course of direction
Don't settle or desperately embrace second best
Trust God with your hopes and affection
Each moment in knowledge that you are with the wrong individual
Is a moment you are spiritually ineffective
Satan would love to keep you on his emotional coaster
So your spirit is defeated. So your time's misdirected
Please consider your "wish list" with the Holy Spirit's leading
And let not the enemy discourage you with grief
By waiting on the Lord to bring you to your soul mate
You can relax in your faith and belief
For the Father will direct your path to the right one
His timing is the only schedule to be followed
So worry not, and remember you are never alone
Our God is in control of your tomorrow


© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

crown molding

As Momba and I were out-n-about yesterday, we passed some model homes for sale located only a few towns over from our own house (Casa del Anderson, established in 1996). Our curiosity got the better of us, so we stopped in to check out this builder's ranch-style home since I have some physical limitations with stairs.

As expected, the model home was beautiful. The builders spared no expense. They incorporated twelve foot ceilings, beautiful wood doors, special nooks, crown molding, wrought iron touches, ceramic tile and hardwood floors throughout. They faux finished the walls so that the entire home flowed seamlessly from one room to the next, finished with complimentary furniture and special touches to give it that pretend "lived in" look. It was like a lovely Italian-style villa - sooo pretty.

Upon leaving, I was reminded of Jesus telling His disciples about going to prepare a place for those who believe in Him in John 14. It comforted me to think that right now... at this very moment, Jesus is taking great care to prepare the most lovely space for me to reside in His house... a house where I will live forevermore with my Savior! When I think of all the good things God made on this earth in only six days, I am amazed to imagine what Jesus could "prepare" for me within His eternal house. It is truly overwhelming. More importantly, such an act is very personal and dripping in LOVE. When everything is ready, my Redeemer will come back and get me. As His family, I will be welcomed into His house where I may enjoy His glorious presence forever... I will be blessed beyond measure merely because I have taken on His Name. Of this, I am truly not worthy. For I am a wretch. Yet my God, my LOVE wants more than anything for me to be with HIM! Hallelujah to the King of kings! May I forever let His name spill out in worship from my lips and may my heart exhalt Him and remain intimately close to His Spirit's leading until His return. No matter what, let me always seek Jesus as the perfect model. Irrespective of my physical surroundings here on earth or later in heavenly glory, Jesus is my eternal home. HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Life... MY Way, MY Truth, MY Life!!! I want to absorb the beauty of His goodness and decorate myself as close as possible to His image. Lord, fit me with your kingdom's "crown" molding... spare no expense as you work in me to become more holy. For more than ANYTHING, I only want to be with YOU!

Ladies, Jesus floor plan is the only one worth living in... the only one worth welcoming into our hearts. He will restore us and build us up... removing all debris of sin. With Him, we are secure in knowing that the goodness and mercy of our Messiah will be with us all the days of our lives... no matter what comes. If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have His assurance that we will dwell in His house... forever!!! We will always live in His grace. We will always be one with our Redeemer. We will ALWAYS be with HIM. How wonderful.

Let's rejoice today and everyday because our Jesus is our safe and secure home. Let us welcome His workmanship and restoration into our lives and praise His Name forevermore... He is sooo lovely... sooo beautiful... sooo worth it!

Blessings!

~Victoria

Saturday, October 17, 2009

trust who is driving

Well, I guess it is inevitable that when you spend a week driving from destination to destination with your spouse you will ultimately encounter a quarrel. Ours occurred on the trip home when Chuck was behind the wheel in Tennessee. We were driving through the most beautiful mountains where the clouds were touching the tips of their peaks... but I couldn't enjoy the view. Why? Because I could not stop stressing over how close my husband was driving to the vehicles in front of our car. Poor Chuck... he had initially offered to drive to give me time to knit while enjoying the beautiful fall scenery. He has never once gotten us into an accident... yet here he was having to listen to me squirm and gasp at every turn. (Mind you, he drives almost exactly as I do - just a little closer to the car in front.)

Finally after hearing enough of my dramatic shrills, my husband took the matter to heart and told me firmly that I needed to "chill-ax" and trust him... trust that he knew how to drive... trust that he would not do anything to get us hurt. "JUST TRUST ME!", he said two volumes louder than normal.

Naturally, I reacted as the perfect Devoted Woman that I am... NOT! I immediately started to get self defensive and angry. I felt the nerves in my neck tensing. (The same nerves that we just paid good money to have massaged at our spa destination!) I could hardly believe that the man I betrothed myself to over a decade ago could not even take a moment to consider my needs. How could he not understand how hurt and unsafe his driving made me feel... didn't he care?

So there we were. Two people who had just enjoyed a wonderful vacation together, now angry, tearful and avoiding conversation. Both with reasonably valid arguments. Both feeling as if there was now a large mountain inside the car pitted between our hurt egos.

With tears in my eyes, I looked down at my knitting project and started to question God in prayer. "Lord, what the heck?! We are supposed to be on vacation and having fun together." I then remembered the series of events that happened at the beginning of our trip only a week ago and how nasty Satan was in his attempts to stop us from going altogether. Everything had gone wrong. We had technical difficulties with work issues. We had bouts with sickness. We had family and home matters that needed immediate attention. The list went on.

The biggest issue of all occurred after we had finished packing up the car and heading out... the engine light went on and we had to return home to regroup. (Mind you, I had taken the car in for servicing the week before to insure it would be ready for our trip.) Yes, Satan was on full attack to prevent my hard-working husband and I some enjoyment time alone to regroup as a couple... so why was I surprised at this little spat?

I sat and prayed and waited. Then Chuck, who always is first to take the high road, started pointing out the splendor of the scenery around us. He pointed to the misty clouds above the colorful mountain tops and said, "Wow, those sure look ominous." I gave no reaction to his AWESOME word for the day, except a nod. (We like to come up with cool words... come on, "OMINOUS" is cool!!!) Then he touched my arm and continued..., "Look at those pretty trees." With every statement he made, I started to realize that this was not a man out to get me. This was a man who truly wanted me to enjoy this trip alongside him. He knew that I loved driving through the mountains during the fall months to inhale the delightful autumn colors and scenic views. He wanted me to relax and enjoy myself. Suddenly, I started to realize that I wasn't trusting him. I was being a "back-seat" driver. I was the problem! Sure, I needed to be up front with him and let him know that I was uncomfortable with how close he was driving, but I could have asked him more respectfully (with less drama) and then trusted his headship as husband, driver, and "ominous" wordsmith.

When I realized how I had acted, I immediately asked for Chuck's forgiveness. I had let my own crazed insecurity take over trusting the man who loves me the most on this earth. The same man that would give his life for me. I had forgotten that my fear would only divide us... but my trust and respect toward him would make us stronger! Chuck instantly responded in acknowledgement that he would try to back off more from the cars in front, but I would still need to trust him no matter how he drove. He noted that he cared more about me than anything, and that we should always try to remember that we are on the same team. What a wonderful man. With that, we air smooched and held hands - continuing the enjoyable drive home together.

Ladies, I tell you this story to remind you of this... How often do we forget that Jesus is behind the wheel of our lives? He is in control and has never steered us wrong... yet frequently we give into the indulgence of dramatic feelings while mistrusting His perfectly capable methods. We must instead strive to be holy in our approach to seek and trust His ways. Our Almighty Father wants us to enjoy our journey with Him while taking in His abundant love during the course of driving through the mountains and rocky planes of this earth. Our God does not want us to give into Satan's attempts to stop our joy. And Jesus does not want us to become fearful with how He chooses to steer and guide us through life. Rather, He wants us to trust Him no matter what, and no matter how or where He takes us. He cares more about our well-being and feelings than anyone or anything... we are His children... His beloved. Let's not loose sight of his loving intentions for us. Let's trust that He is in control and stop being a "back-seat" driver. Let's give up our idol of self to Him.

We have a wonderful, loving, faithful and completely capable God. Let's choose to humbly and faithfully share our feelings and concerns respectfully and honestly to Him. Then, let's choose to simply trust Him... holding His perfect hand as He continues to guide us home.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalms 9:10)

Blessings!

~Victoria

P.S. Thank you, Momba, for the use of your vehicle. We had a lovely time. XOXOXO!

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, October 15, 2009

oh, the beauty of the earth

Hey ladies. Today, Chuck and I left our vacation resort in North Carolina to drive approximately four hours South to a small town outside Charleston, South Carolina. We are visiting my dearest girlfriend for a few days before we turn around and head home. Our vacation has been very relaxing and lovely, but today was exceptionally beautiful and wonderful. God blessed us with a sunny day, perfect temperatures and yummy yummy yummy fall colors! It was soooo gorgeous, I decided to play Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suites to accompany the living beauty all around us.

Ahhhhhhh. Glorious!

During the drive, all I could think of was how the voice of my perfect Creator once spoke these majestic forests and mountains before me into existence. I was overwhelmed by the splendor of the hilly landscape and the sparkle of glistening water flowing down in varying places while I took in the soothing music. I relished in the visual delights of His craftsmanship and marveled in His creativity. God's glory was all around us in our commute today. I enjoyed seeing His signature written on all nature and enjoyed His beauty with every one of my senses.

My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. (Isaiah 48:13)

Glory to God in the Highest! It is awesome to think that everything - from the heavens to the earth - declares the glory of God... and WE were created for His glory. We were made to worship and appreciate HIM.

Today, as you begin your day... please remember to take time out to praise God for all He has given. We take sooooo much for granted each day. Rather than forget our generous Creator... as His people, let's appreciate the beauty of the earth. Let's reach for Him with open arms as the trees lift up their branches. Let's run to Him as the rivers flow. Let's praise Him as the colors perform. Let's glorify Him as boldly and brightly as the warm sun.

Ladies, don't lose sight of God’s constant glory before you. As you journey through life you will experience and see His splendor manifested here and there... in specific people, nature, music, etc. All beauty that exists is of God! Remember to praise Him always for His magnificence!!!

Blessings!

Victoria

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

real men... godly men

As many of you know, yesterday I took a vacation day and relaxed. Since my husband is traveling on business this week, I decided to spend part of my evening bumming around the local bookstore near my home. I selected two or three books, and proceeded with my usual routine by heading over to the nearby café for a cup of coffee. After ordering my beverage, I began to scope out the biggest, deepest chair around, but none were available. So instead, I ended up selecting a small table in the corner. There, I sat with my yummy drink and began to peruse my selections.

While enjoying this quiet time alone, I noticed that a few men had come into the café and began pushing several of the nearby tables together. As time progressed, more and more men arrived and joined in the gathering. With every new debut, the established group that was already seated would welcome the new person by name in a unified chorus... "Ed-waaard!".... "Joe-seeeph!"..... "Matt-theeeew!".... an so on. It seemed like this macho sport of two syllabled name singing was a regular activity for these guys. While their numbers grew, their need for more tables and chairs also grew. Soon, there were about 15 men huddled around 4-5 tables. Their ages ranged from young singles to old retirees. However, despite their vast age differences, these men were clearly happy to see one another and be together. While waiting for everyone to show up, they talked sports, women, sports, music, sports, technology, sports, cars, sports, work, sport and.. hmmm, what else.... oh yes, SPORTS! (What is it with men and sports?)

As I sat back and half read/half listened to these cheerful fellows, I realized this was no ordinary group of men. These men openly loved the Lord and were meeting for their weekly Bible Study together. Soon, their conversations changed to topics such as service, evangelism, church, family, faith and Jesus. How wonderful! Don't you just love godly men!? What a blessing that these simple blue jeans and t-shirt wearing "dudes" were actually taking time out mid-week to just hang out, check in with each other and chat about the Lord and their lives. Considering the lechery, greed, vulgarity and overall wickedness out there, it was truly refreshing to see a group of real men meeting openly and comfortably in a public setting to talk and support one another toward living a holy life.

Of course, once I realized they were their to discuss the things of the Lord, I couldn't help but listen in on their discussion. Suddenly, I felt like a special agent... listening in on behalf of all women out there. What secrets would I learn? What mysteries awaited? Interestingly enough, the topic they threw on the table could have been one of DW's topics. Here is the question they discussed... "What is one thing that you have been putting before God in your life?" In short, their impromptu answers broke down into four categories: (1) A powerful desire to have a family... this was from the singles in the group; (2) To be the best at work and to be successful; (3) Lust... this was a big, BIG issue and they discussed it for some time; and lastly, (4) Those who were married said that they had ongoing challenges putting their wives before God.

The gentleman in charge of the group encouraged each person to consider that the Lord must be the first love of their life. They resolved together in prayer to bring their matters before God. Then, they read Psalm 139:23 & 24... "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Lastly, their facilitator discussed how they should approach God when issues arise. He wanted them to consider when they cry out to the Lord, do they ask, "Why God?" or "How God?" His point was that they should make an effort to surrender more of the "whys" over to God. Rather, they should be more concerned in asking God "how" to proceed. He noted that when you ask "why" to the Lord, you are blaming Him or doubting His intentions. When you ask "how" to God, you are requesting guidance and instruction from your Teacher. I couldn't agree more.

Finally, they ended by talking about how every day is a new day to "live for what is up there rather than what is down here." (Sounds similiar to DW, doesn't it? WOO HOO! This is the day!!!)

So, why am I sharing this with you, ladies? I have to admit, the encounter of being a "fly on the wall" to such a meeting made me revisit how I could better support the men in my own life. How could I encourage them to further seek God and live a pleasing life for Him? It made me wonder what more I could do as a wife, sister, friend... woman... to further respect and help these warriors of the faith while they strive to be leaders in a lost world filled with sinful distractions. For me, this was a terrific reminder and wake-up call. Especially as a wife, I realized that I must make sure that I am not so demanding of my husband that His focus turns into pleasing my interests over serving God. For those single, it made me understand that there are men equally longing for a wife and family but are waiting and praying for that special someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. Regarding modesty, I was reminded how difficult it is for men to take the high road and avoid sinning when everything around them is sexually suggestive and aggressively available. And with regard to leadership, I know that every man needs to feel like they are valuable and successful in their work. They need to lead. They need to fight the good fight.

Ladies, today I would like to ask each DW to consider the godly men in your lives. How can you love and respect them better? How can you lift them up? How can you help them become strong leaders? Rather than finding ways to tear down, complain, overpower and place selfish demands or blame on your husbands, co-workers, friends, brothers, etc.... how can you build up their confidence and pray for them? Today, I'd like to ask you to focus on the value of our godly men and think about how you can encourage them to be honorable and courageous in their walk. Praise God for such men.

To all the real men... the godly men out there... WE SUPPORT YOU! Thank you for continually striving to be the leaders God has called you to be!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

rest

Yesterday, I was anxious and tired. I was irritable, uneasy and edgy. It was one of those days that I wasn't feeling 100% and I truly wanted to be isolated from the rest of the world... perhaps tucked away in a bookstore with a cup of tea or curled up in my bed with the shades all drawn. But alas, I had to work. I had meetings and obligations. My day was full and I had to produce. Nonetheless, I felt so raw to the idea of being in the presence of others that my skin actually felt like a sunburn. I had no sense of humor. I felt beaten down and weary. I simply was not at peace...

So, what do you do when you are weary, anxious and in need of a break? Where do you find peace... and is it acceptable to seek such peace?

Thankfully, Jesus gives us the answer in Mark 6:31-33. Christ told his busy disciples to stop what they were doing and, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Thank you, Lord!! How wonderful to have Jesus validating to us that it is OK to stop and smell the roses!!! Most women (myself included) are so busy burning the candle at both ends that they forget to seek Him for the freedom of relief and restoration. They put their needs last, justifying that the concept of loving others means turning themselves into a doormat to be stepped all over and trampled upon. This couldn't be farther from the truth. We are to seek Christ in these times and STOP! We are to be still and know Him as our God. It seems simple, but it can be so hard to do.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus appeals to his disciples to, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." God expects us to take time to rest. To stop. To breathe in and out. To regroup. It is healthy and necessary for us... and it allows us to be more effective for Him.

I'm reminded of when Chuck and I fly together. At the beginning of every trip, the flight attendants are required to do their presentation as to what passengers should do in case of an emergency. I can almost recite it by heart, "In the event the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will come down from the ceiling..." They always take care to instruct passengers who are traveling with a small child to first put the oxygen mask over their heads... then over their child's. Why? In the real world, not attending to your child first in a crisis seems cruel. But in this situation, if the parent does not secure their oxygen mask first, they could pass out while in the process of attending to their child. Such a decision could put both the parent and child's life in serious jeopardy.

The same concept to care for ourselves is true. In the midst of sharing the Gospel, Jesus pulled His disciples away to stop and breathe. By doing this, He teaches us that sometimes it is necessary, and acceptable, to vacate with Him to a quiet place with the intent to refresh our spirit. (Vacation = vacating!!!)

When we take time to pause and care for our needs, we are putting aside the worry and pride of "doing it all" and submitting our life, and the lives of those we love, over to God's providence. When we worship Him in our stillness, we are acknowledging that we cannot assume the weight of the world on our shoulders. Instead we are laying our cares on the altar and trusting Him to provide... believing that He is in control and will allow all things to work together according to His purpose and in His timing. We then return more capable, alert and ready to serve.

"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)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:5-8)


Today, I am slowing my pace and removing myself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Today, I am on vacation. I am taking to heart my Lord's welcoming call to, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Please don't misunderstand, ordinarily I am greatly blessed by my family and work and the opportunity to share and serve others. But my anxiousness yesterday was a symptom. It showed me that I need a break. Rather than ignore such a symptom, I choose to recognize that I need to stop and be in solitude with my Comforter... alone. I choose to allow my Healer to care for me. For I do not wish to be anxious or heavy burdened or edgy. I wish to be filled. I wish for peace. I wish for the fullness I can only find with my Savior. So, today, I am taking the day off to regroup, relax and worship. How wonderful.

Ladies, please do not allow anxiety to rob you of your spirit. When it becomes increasingly evident that you need to stop... STOP! Rest in the Lord. If you need a break, make arrangements to take one as quickly as possible. You are no use to anyone if you are not revived and at peace. Do not let yourself pass out from lack of oxygen because you are trying so hard to serve others. Take the necessary steps to breathe in solitude with the Prince of Peace. Jesus wants you to take care of yourself when you are in need of refreshment. Remember to take time out to be with your Holy Comforter. In Him, be calm... be still... be quiet... be.

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, August 20, 2009

yesterday, today, forever

Late this past Wednesday, I enjoyed a lovely impromptu dinner, shopping, movie..."girls night" with my mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin. We decided that we could attribute our celebration to all our birthdays which are peppered throughout the scheduled season. To make the occasion extra-special, we called in a reservation to our favorite fancy-shmancy restaurant and warned them to be prepared because the women of my family were en route and coming to celebrate. Once we arrived, we were elated to find that our favorite waiter went above and beyond the call of duty by sprinkling rose petals across our table. He continued to spoil us all evening with many extra treats courtesy of their chef. We were purring by the time the complimentary dessert tray arrived and all agreed that the entire dinner brought a whole new meaning to the word "delectable"!!!

Anyway, as we all sat around the table, I became reminiscent of all the things that had occured during my lifetime while knowing these wonderful women. You see, I will be 40 years old this year. In my 40 years, I have lived what feels like many lifetimes. With each passing decade, I have endured many hardships and have enjoyed many blessings.... it is a little overwhelming to ponder. Through the good and bad, thick and thin, I have been stretched and molded into the women I am today... and the person God is growing me to become. It is clear, I am an ongoing work in progress that seems to constantly be changing.

But not Jesus. Jesus is not a person who changes. He is. He was. He always will be. He is the same and He does not require progress. He is Perfect. He is Eternal. The bible says in Hebrews 13:8 that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Isn't that wonderful?

I am comforted to know that my God is constant. He is my eternal source of strength, hope and blessing. Even though my circumstances will change, my Jesus is always good, always loving, always merciful, always kind. That is so important. Warren Wiersbe said it best, "To build life on that which is always changing is to invite constant unrest and disappointment, but to build on the changeless and the eternal is to have peace and confidence."

Barnes said, "If he (Jesus) were fickle, vacillating, changing in his character and plans; if today he aids his people, and tomorrow will forsake them; if at one time he loves the virtuous, and at another equally loves the vicious; if he formed a plan yesterday which he has abandoned today; or if he is ever to be a different being from what he is now, there would be no encouragement to effort. Who would know what to depend on? Who would know what to expect tomorrow? For who could have any certainty that he could ever please a capricious or a vacillating being? Who could know how to shape his conduct if the principles of the divine administration were not always the same?"

How blessed we are with the knowledge that our God is faithful and constant. How soul-inspiring to be assured that He on whom we have built all our hopes will remain the same yesterday, today, and forever! I am encouraged to continue forward with my life because I know my God will keep His promises. He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me. I am frequently in awe of Him and can hardly believe all that He has done for me. His actions toward me are no different than what He did four thousand years ago in the life of Abraham or two thousand years ago in the life of Paul or fifty years ago in the life of my own grandmother.

Jesus is the same Creator who formed everything I know. He is the same Savior who died on the cross. He is the same Physician who made the blind man see. He is the same Christ who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, turned water into wine, walked on water, raised Lazarus from the dead. He is The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; the one which is, and which was, and which is to come; the Almighty - the eternally existing and supreme God. He is a God whose plan is perfect and whose timing is impeccable. He is the God who promises me in Malachi 3:6, "I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed."

Ladies, let us never become so accustomed to God's grace that we take Him for granted. Let us remember that while we remain ever-changing in a world filled with unpredictability - a world filled with people constantly trying to reinvent themselves... our God is unaffected. His word will stand forever, unchanged.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him and be blessed!

~Victoria

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a lesson from Chloe

Within the confines of our home is a rather large menagerie of animals that our family rescued from various fates of life. Included in this number of furry friends is a particularly beautiful strawberry blonde and white kitty with piercing green eyes named Chloe.

Chloe caught the eye (or rather the ear) of Victoria's husband, Chuck - our illustrious leader and head of the house, on a visit to a nearby animal shelter. This sweet kitty called to Chuck with her siren "meow song" and he was instantly smitten.

Now the thing about Chloe is that when she has something on her mind, she lets EVERYONE know about it..... CONSTANTLY.... until her problem is resolved, she feels heard out, or she is disciplined for disturbing the peace. She usually wants to spend the night snuggling with me in my room and doesn't stop or give up until I open the door and let her in.

In a busy home where two businesses and many social activities take place, all family members contribute together in chores - and serving out "kitty breakfast" is one of my tasks. However, this morning I slept in rather late. I awakened to the not-so-subtle grousings and grumblings of Chloe letting me know she was not pleased with the delay in her meal time.

Now, I must admit, because my bed was so comfortable (thank you Lord), I chose not to respond as quickly as Chloe would have liked. So, she proceeded to use every means at her disposal to get me up and moving. While vocalizing her complaints, she raced back and forth across the bed, sat on my chest, climbed under the covers, jumped on and off the bed, etc., etc., etc. Secretly, I wondered just how long she would continue her antics, but my conscience finally got the better of me and I acquiesced to her sorrowful cries.

While I was preparing the meal and reflecting on Chloe's behavior, I was reminded of Jesus' parable in Luke 18:1-8 about the persistent widow and the judge. Like Chloe, the widow had something on her mind that needed attention and she would not stop or give up until the judge responded to her petitions. Jesus shared the story with his disciples, "To show them that they should always pray and not give up." (vs. 1)

A great reminder... Jesus wants our faith to remain strong no matter how our prayers are answered. He wants us to trust God even when things don't go the way we want. Of course, we can stop praying for something specific if God indicates to us that His answer is no or different than we desired (which may open an opportunity for something or someone else).

Jesus also contrasted the unjust judge with God. If the judge, "who neither feared God nor cared about men" (vs.2) eventually listened to the widow, just think how much more quickly our loving, caring God will respond to us, His children. What a wonderful reminder.

While our pack of saved pets doesn't include a donkey (who was used to teach a lesson to Balaam in Numbers 22:21-39), I'm thankful that the Lord could use a little kitty named Chloe to remind me of his lesson about faith, trust and my persistence in prayer.

Blessings!

~Victoria

Monday, July 20, 2009

a piece of binkie

Recently, a memory popped up from the archives of my mind...

The picture that appeared on the screen of remembrance showed a small, tattered, threadbare piece of cloth. I smiled as I was flooded with warm, wonderful feelings recalling memories this small piece of material brought. You see, these fibers were all that remained of a soft, silky binding that once surrounded a beautiful, snuggly, baby blanket - the most important possession in the life of one particular toddler, my nephew Jonathan.

Jon's blanket had literally evaporated down to the size of a fragment from daily wear and tear and necessary washing. It was his constant companion through many years of laughter and tears. Sleep came so much easier to his tired, little eyes during nappy time because of its presence. In fact, until this fragment was found and placed in his trembling little hands, night brought sleep to no one in the household.

I'm so grateful the issue never had to be addressed about what to do when the last thread dissolved. For, sadly and yet also thankfully, the bittersweet day came when "baby things" were no longer needed. A new stage of life was at hand when "big boys" put aside their binkies....it makes me remember I Corinthians 13:11, "I put childish things behind me."

The years have passed and this former toddler is now a grown man - married, and father to a gorgeous child of his own. Through the years, he has come to have a close, personal and growing relationship with his Lord and Savior. He is an honoroble man, concerned with serving the Lord and sharing the good news of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Today, Jon's treasure is found in that which has eternal value. Unlike the shred of binkie which has passed from this earth, he has "stored up... treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:20-21).

DW's, as we grow each day in Christ, may we examine our hearts and decide what is really important. What is our treasure? Will it last only for our days here on earth.... or will our treasure have eternal value, focusing only on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

tickled pink

I'm so excited! In fact, I'm tickled PINK!

But wait. Let me start at the beginning...

My desire for several years now has been to streamline and simplify my life. To reach this goal, I have gone through and evaluated everything I own. I have asked myself questions, such as:

Do I really need or even want this item? Does keeping this item clutter my life or enrich it? How do I want to fill my space? When I look at my space and the items in it, am I weighed down in my spirit or uplifted? Do I want to expend the energy necessary to maintain this item or is my energy better spent in some other way? Is this item contributing to my life or has it served its purpose? Does keeping this item reveal some unresolved issue in my life that needs attention?

After many months of soul-searching, I have waded through all my clothes, shoes, purses, books, music, knick-knacks, memorabilia, files, correspondence... you name it. I've scrutinized and evaluated where each item fits in my life. As a result, untold garbage bags of STUFF have gone to benefit the local crisis pregnancy thrift shop. Special apparel that hasn't graced my body in years has been sold at a consignment shop. Some antiques and furniture have been auctioned online. Many valued items were happily received and now live with family and friends.

Of particular fun was the burning of a six foot tall tower of papers (I kid you not!). Talk about satisfaction! Now, my space is more sparsely filled... BUT...what I see has been deliberately chosen for its location. (A place for everything - and everything in its place.) Not only does each item enrich, renew, and uplift my view - - it may even cause me to giggle.

Each morning I am energized and refreshed by my environment and ready to face a new day. My quest has caused me to become aware of being aware... aware of being deliberate in my choices. I realize this will be a continuous exercise. Each new day any number of things or issues could try to force entry into my haven to undermine the work that has been done. I'll keep my eyes open to "catch the little foxes" that want to "ruin (my) vineyard." (Song of Solomon 2:15 ) But, at least, this will be a much more managable task, especially with my new coda regarding mail: "Handle it once."

A scheduled daily block of time allows me to open each envelope and immediately address what needs to be done - pay the bill, write the note, make the appointment. No more subtle accumulations to be attended to at some vague future date that eventually grow into mountains of discouragement and denial. I want to "throw off everything that hinders" (Heb. 12:1) so I can focus my energies on what the Lord has in mind for my day. Which brings me back to my first statement, "I'm tickled PINK!"

Several months ago, my faithful computer gave up the ghost. After a very touching memorial service and time of mourning the loss of my beloved electronic friend, I began to save my pennies and research what new model would best meet my needs. It was during this search that I happened upon the most beautiful and unbelievable work of art ever to grace the computer marketplace. I couldn't stop giggling while looking at it, and I knew this was the computer for me. It was love! Truthfully, it really had nothing to do with the technical aspects of the unit. (I knew it was a very good brand.) What caught my eye and drew me in was the PINK crocodile skin on the notebook cover, the pearlized PINK surrounding the pale PINK keyboard and screen, and the PINK jeweled clickers on the PINK touchpad. (Have I said PINK enough?)

Thanks to my daughter, a complimentary PINK butterfly/heart screensaver was added onto this perfectly PINK PC's desktop, and needless to say, I was hooked. To some (ok, to all), this may seem wildly outrageous and very "teenaged girly, girl" for a woman of my age, but it brightens my day and brings joy to my life... and that is the point of this blog. (And to see how many times I can say the word PINK in one article! Wink..in PINK.)

The Lord wants us to "think on whatever is lovely" (Phil. 4:8), and by extension, I believe He wants us to remove all that would bring us down. When we do, He can bless us and fill our lives with all that is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy." (Phil. 4:8) And so, as I type to you now on this masterpiece of PINK, that is exactly what the Lord has done for me in a most unexpected, glorious, and humorous way! (Too bad my favorite color is really BLUE....just kidding....lol.)

Thank you, Lord, for your blessings and sense of humor!! Thank you for always providing!! And most of all, thank you, Lord, for all things PINK!

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

lingering

This morning, I was reading about Lot in Genesis 19. I decided to mix it up a bit and read from my ESV Bible which really drove home a very important point that I've now been chewing on all day. Let me set the stage...

Lot is visited in Sodom by men (angels) of the Lord. First thing in the morning, the men instruct Lot to leave the city immediately because God was going to destroy it. In verse 15, the angels actually say to Lot to get "Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city."

Now, I don't know about you, but when I read that, I thought...MOVE! Get going, Lot! Take off and run out of that city FAST!

But here is the strangest part of the story. The Bible says in the ESV version that Lot "lingered". In fact, he dragged his feet so much that the angels finally "seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand....and they brought him out and set him outside the city." Only by God's grace and mercy did Lot escape Sodom's coming destruction.

After I read this, I thought - what an idiot! The Lord told him to move and he just hung around and twittled his thumbs until God had to move him. Why? Then the Lord reminded me of a past event in my own life...

A few years back as I was visiting some family in Florida, we stopped at Wendy's and there was a homeless man alone in the corner of the restaurant. The grungy man quietly sipped a small cup of coffee while watching all the patrons come and go - ordering their double cheeseburger meals with large fries, etc. The instant I noticed the man, I felt strongly to buy him a meal, give him my Bible and share the Gospel. But here was my problem. I loved my Bible and didn't want to give it to anyone. I also was afraid to approach him and share the Gospel because I was with others and in a busy restaurant. How stupid. I lingered. I did nothing... and the opportunity was lost. I ate my cheeseburger (just like everyone else) and proceeded on with the rest of my day.

But just as God intervened in Lot's circumstance, my story continued and a great lesson was learned. As we headed home, God graciously and mercifully began to work in my heart. During the 20+ hour drive, God showered me with His message of promise that He is in control and that all salvation must be attributed to His mercy and not my own merit. He reminded me that even though I didn't immediately obey Him, He would still use all things to work toward His good. So I decided to trust Him.

Once I was home, I sent a "care box" to the manager of that Wendy's with the best Bible I could find, other resources, and instructions to give the box to the homeless man. If the man never showed, I asked the manager to give the package to whomever he felt could use it. I don't know the outcome of what happened, but I do know that God will use my obedience (even if delayed) for His good.

Lot's is a sad story. But ours doesn't have to be. I encourage you to think about all the things God convicts you to do each day. How quickly do you react? It is important that we learn not to linger but rather JUMP at the chance to follow His leading.

Who knows - someone's eternal life could depend upon it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Abba, Father (In Memory of Benjamin John)

Since learning of the birth of precious little Benjamin John on Thursday, June 25th, with all the ensuing complications he expereienced, until his death Tuesday night, June 29th, I have not ceased thinking about and praying for him and his family. I know many DW gals have also been led to pray. It is such a blessing and comfort to know that neither mountains nor oceans can separate DW gals when we join together in prayer to our Heavenly Father.

Although I went through the unbelievable experience of the death of my dear husband when he was 38 years old, I cannot begin to imagine the tragedy a parent endures with the loss of a baby. From the first days of learning a precious new life is on the way, through the months of anticipation, until the actual day when that little bundle of joy arrives - we can almost take for granted we will have many wonderful and wondrous years ahead parenting our infant to adulthood. Sadly, that is not always what happens. For too many parents have returned home from the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts.

The Scriptures tell us even the great King David was not exempt from experiencing the death of a child. In 2 Samuel 12:16-23, we read of the intense sorrow David endured. But the story concludes with a message of hope for parents who have lost a baby. David says, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me." With those words, David informs us that he too would one day die and looked forward to being reunited with his son. What comfort and assurance to the grieving heart of a Christian parent. To think one day all sorrow and suffering will end and we can fellowship with our loved ones in heaven as we worship the Lord together.

Isaiah 49:15-16 says, "God can no more forget His children than a mother can forget her baby." Because He constantly remembers and is concerned for His children, God has engraved us on the palms of His hands.

New parents look forward to the day when their child utters the words, "Mommy" and "Daddy." Because we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are God's children. As such, our heavenly Father longs for us to feel close to Him and call Him our "Abba, Father," our "Daddy."

Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." God doesn't take the death of His children lightly and feels the pain and grief of parents who have lost a child.

Psalm 56:8 says every tear that is shed is so precious to God that He collects them in His bottle and keeps record of them.

In the Garden of Gethsemane with His soul "exceedingly sorrowful unto death" (Mark 14:32, 36), Jesus reverted to the tender word He first learned as a child and prayed to His "Abba, Father." Likewise, whatever we are experiencing, even the death of a baby, we can call upon our "Abba, Father"

Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted." Our heavenly Father, our "Daddy" promises to "give comfort and joy instead of sorrow." (Jeremiah 31:13b)

We thank you, dear heavenly Father, for the blessing of little Benjamin John. We thank you for the impact he has made on his family and upon all who have heard about him, including The Devoted Woman network. Bless Benjamin's parents and family. Surround them with your love and comfort them. We look forward to the day when we shall meet Benjamin with you in heaven. We give you all the Glory and Praise in Jesus Name! Amen.

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

hope

Last night, Momba and I attended the memorial service of dear Benjamin John who passed away after living only four days on this earth.

As I looked at his tiny body, I was overwhelmed with the thought of how much this precious child had endured physically during those four days, and how many doctors and specialists were involved in trying to keep him alive. In the end, his body was not able to sustain life on this earth and sweet Benjamin passed on into glory to be with Jesus.

Wow. There is so much to digest in that. So much that could be discussed. However, what first came to my mind is how Benjamin is no longer in need of a hospital staff to sustain him. By decree of our loving God, Benjamin left his earthly body with all it's faults, pains and aches to instantly be transformed into a new, healthy, perfect body sustained by true life in the presence of the Holy of Holies.

I have to rejoice because there is such hope in that. There is overwhelming peace to know the second we as Christians leave this earth - an exhale of completeness, balance and relief awaits us as we cross over from death to eternal life in the arms of our loving Savior. At that point, we will be healthy and complete - forever!

In the physical presence of God, dear Benjamin is now experiencing more joy than you or I have ever known. He has complete access to rejoice and worship his Master firsthand - experiencing the inexhaustible riches of God's grace as His child. - - a child of The King of Kings. After the four laboring days alive on this troubled earth, Benjamin John now has full access to enter into his Father's physical presence freely without the burden of sin and death in his way. What comfort to know that he is happy, healthy, safe and surrounded in perfect love.

I am certain that the life of Benjamin John has brought so many lessons to all those who had the honor of knowing him. I am blessed by the love and unity that his family shares with one another as they mourn his passing. But for me, the greatest truth that Benjamin gave with his very life on this planet was the promise of an eternity with a perfect Savior. God's purpose for Benjamin was to share His message of hope - an eternity in the presence of Jesus.

My vision is renewed and focused on that glorious day when I too can exhale into the loving arms of my Shepard...my Father...my Master...my King...my Savior who gave Himself for me....my God who is complete and constant LOVE. My hope is the Lord.

Thank you Benjamin John for your living example of hope and for the reminder of what is to come to those that accept Christ Jesus!

Blessings!

~Victoria

Sunday, June 28, 2009

bleating and lowing

Do you hear the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the cattle?

Does that sound like a strange question for today's Devoted Woman? Let me explain...

In 2 Samuel 15, the story is told of the prophet Samuel being sent by the Lord to King Saul with instructions to totally destroy the wicked Amalekites because they had waylaid the Israelites on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Lord's judgment and direction was very clear and specific. Saul was to destroy EVERYTHING - men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.

Reading on, we see that Saul took his army and killed all the people and everything that was despised and weak. BUT, Saul spared the Amalekites' King (Agag) and the best of the sheep, cattle, fat calves and lambs - everything that was good.

As a result, the Lord told Samuel He was grieved that He had made Saul king of Israel because Saul had disobeyed Him and not followed His command. When Samuel went to Saul, Saul told Samuel that he had done what the Lord had commanded. Then Samuel asked, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears? And what is this lowing of the cattle I hear?" Saul replied that the best of the sheep and cattle were kept to sacrifice to the Lord. (Note: that is clearly not what the Lord instructed Saul to do.)

Samuel told Saul that because he did not obey the Lord's command to destroy EVERYTHING, Saul would no longer be king of Israel. Saul confessed his sin to Samuel. Even though he would no longer be king of Israel, Saul asked Samuel if he could accompany him to worship the Lord. Samuel complied thus allowing Saul the opportunity to get right with God.

So how do we relate this story to today's Devoted Woman?

The words of Samuel to Saul are just as relevant today as when they were spoken in Old Testament days. "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

Has the Lord given you instructions or a direction to follow in your life? Have you chosen to do exactly what He has asked of you or have you decided that your own way is better? Has He instructed you to give up certain habits or attitudes - or even relationships - but you have decided that keeping them isn't all that bad. Perhaps you have rationalized that these things can somehow be used for God's glory.

Do you hear the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the cattle?

Ask yourself.... Have you already chosen a different path or determined how a plan should play out in your own mind rather than trust and obey what God has planned for you and has clearly said in His word? If so, this is sin that does not give glory and honor to His will - but rather honors your will. "Rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry."

If you have strayed from the Lord, the good news is He loves you and wishes for you to return to fellowship with Him and worship Him with your life. He longs to have a special relationship with you and has great plans specifically designed with a purpose for you to fulfill. "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18

May God use all DW's to reflect His love to the world. May He humble our hearts to love Him, while we seek and obey His will with our entire heart, soul and mind.

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

beautiful feet

My darling daughter (Victoria) treated me to a spa day last week, reminding me that we "needed to get beautiful" for my nephew's wedding on Sunday. We had the works: massages, hair shampoos/cuts/stylings, manicures, and pedicures - a day of pure pampering. By the end of all the services, I was so relaxed I felt like jelly. Once again, Victoria had spoiled her old mom rotten. I was so blessed because the experience was something I would have never done for myself.

Interestingly, out of all that care and attention came an unexpected lesson. I looked at my feet and for the first time in my life I thought they were beautiful. Now don't get me wrong. I've always appreciated my feet. They have supported me through thick and thin. They have taken me everywhere, at anytime, always working in closed quarters. They have never complained except when forced to do their job in cramped conditions. They have been the workhorses of my body. But beautiful - No! I have even been teased about the big space between my second and third toes - the result of slamming into a bedpost barefoot while making the bed. (You know what I'm talking about! O-U-C-H!!!)

But after all the whirlpooling, massaging, buffing, lotioning, and polishing something wonderful happened. My formerly taken-for-granted "Cinderellas" were transformed into "beautiful princesses". Contrary to everything I've done in my life, I couldn't wait to try on some snazzy sandals and see my perfectly polished digits brought out into the light for all to see.

Even the writers of Scripture thought the subject important enough to address in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah 52:7 says, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, your God reigns." Romans 10:15 quotes from Isaiah by saying, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

Maybe that's why the Lord opened my eyes to my "beautiful feet" because I know I want to share whatever is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8). I want to share the good news of God's love for you and me. How much God longs to have a personal relationship with each one of us through His Son, Jesus Christ. How He is preparing a wonderful place for us in heaven where we will be able to fellowship with Him for all eternity. Isn't that the best news ever!!!

I'm so thankful for that extra-special day and for an extra-special lesson. Happy Day and Happy Feet to all DW's!!!

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

sisterhood

It is a constant blessing to me to think of the fellowship we gals can enjoy with each other. There is a special bond of love and nurturing that is found between women: grandmothers, mothers, mothers-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, girlfriends... and, or course, our wonderful DW network. Let's look at a few examples of these relationships in Scripture in what we might call the Sisterhood Hall of Fame.

Our first example, found in the book of Ruth, is that of two widows named Naomi and Ruth. When Naomi decided to leave Moab and return to Israel after the loss of her husband and two sons, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, pledged to remain at Naomi's side and to leave her homeland for the unknown in Israel. Ruth's unfailing loyalty to her mother-in-law was also a display of her commitment to follow the God of Israel. With the love and direction of Naomi, Ruth eventually met and married Boaz. Together they had a son named Obed who was the grandfather of the great king David. God blessed Naomi and Ruth's mutual love, loyalty, and commitment by placing Ruth's name in the geneology of Christ.

A second example, found in Luke chapter 1, tells of Mary and Elizabeth who were close relatives and experienced miraculous pregnancies. Mary had just learned that she would become the mother of the long awaited Messiah. Soon after, the angels' promise came true that Elizabeth would become pregnant with John the Baptist. The Bible says that Mary hurried to be with Elizabeth (vs. 39). Mary showed great love and concern for her older relative by staying with Elizabeth throughout what might have been a difficult pregnancy and delivery given Elizabeth's age.

Our last example, found in 2 Timothy 1:5, tells of the lives of Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy. Their godly example and teaching prepared the way for the ministry that Timothy would have under the apostle Paul.

These, and other illustrations, can serve as continuing role models for us as we share our love, care, and concern with all the precious sisters that God brings into our lives.

Written by Beverly (Momba) Drong
(Victoria's Mother)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

think about it...

"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)

Can you imagine asking this?
First, asking God to keep anything that is false or untrue away from you.
Second, asking to be provided only what you need to make it through the day – no more, no less.

This is really a shift from the way we think in terms of saving for retirement and planning for the future.
Can you live happily by relying on God each day with only enough vision to see through to that day’s end?

Think about it.

XOXO!

~Victoria

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

love is patient

A few weeks ago, I was visiting with some gals from my Bible Study group. We were gathered around a dining room table, enjoying one another’s company while savoring the scrumptious blueberry muffins that our host, Chris, kindly prepared in advance. (Chris wisely knew that a room full of happy, hungry women can lead to much conversation.)

While there, I was asked a particular question about The Devoted Woman website from my friend Marilyn. I proceeded to answer her and tell her all the wonderful things that the Lord had accomplished to date. When I finished, Marilyn began to return the conversation with her own suggestion for DW’s website. Before I knew it, I was interrupting her with a response, finishing her sentences, etc. Marilyn graciously allowed me to finish and then tried to interject with her suggestion only to be shot down a second time by my crazy enthusiasm. She patiently let me finish… again…and then continued to share her suggestion. By the grace of God, the third time I was about to drop an “interruption bomb” on poor Marilyn, the Holy Spirit whispered to me. “Victoria, stop and listen. What Marilyn has to say is valuable. Be still. Be patient. You have enough time to talk about everything you need to talk about.” Then it dawned on me. In my enthusiasm, I had become a rambling idiot unable to hear anyone! With that, I breathed in my dangling thoughts and listened to Marilyn’s precious words which proved to be most valuable.When Marilyn finished, I realized how patient she was with me through the course of the conversation, and how impatient I was toward her. I told her immediately what the Holy Spirit had taught me, and she laughed, commenting that I would probably write about the experience in a future blog. (Smile.)

In the end, the experience really taught me a valuable lesson. It pointed out that I was not trusting God to provide the correct amount of time to address what needed to be addressed. Also, it was a neon light with fireworks - showing off my own selfish desire to be heard over anyone else. (Don’t you hate it when you realize just how selfish you are?!!?) Lastly, it was quite clear – I needed to pray to God to help me be more patient. Without patience, I would not be honoring and loving others as Jesus loves us.

Since the incident occurred, I have confessed my sin to my Redeemer for His forgiveness (as well as Marilyn), and I have tried to keep my untamable enthusiasm in check when talking about The Devoted Woman to others. But come on!…You’ve got to admit… it is a real blessing that God has organized such a wonderful network of women committed to one another in prayer and encouragement!!! Praise Him!!! (Smile again.)

XOXO!

~Victoria

Sunday, May 3, 2009

enough

Recently, my husband upgraded our phone, Internet, and television provider to an all-in-one, fancy-schmancy package deal. At first, I thought, "Why bother - they are all the same." However, my husband insisted it was the right move to make. (He really did a lot of research on it.) To my delight, when the task was complete, I was introduced to faster Internet speeds AND the greatest device ever made for television viewing: a digital recorder box thingy. (ROFL. My hubby just corrected me - it's called a DVR.)

This wonderful device allows me to watch my 1 to 2 television shows anytime during or after their air-date as well as fast forward through all the annoying commercials and depressing news blurbs. It's better than the old VCR setup, because we can fast forward commercials while the show is still on live TV - no VHS tapes either. To be able to easily remove those unwelcomed advertising invaders from my family's life has proven to be such a calming relief for us all. I had no idea how many persuasive media messages we were unintentionally accepting on auto-pilot before this change.

Why do I bring this up? Well, it is no secret that in the United States we are monopolized almost non-stop by all varieties of advertising and promotional distractions. Thanks to modern media, our eyes and ears are desensitized by so much junk that we have come to accept it as normal. We are consistently bombarded with the same message of consumerism.... we need more... always more. More of God? (How I wish that were the case.) No, instead we are hypnotized with catchy jingles and larger-than-life advertisements that try to convince us that we aren't complete.... that life is lacking.

According to the world, the only way be fulfilled and find our true potential is to have more of the treasures of this world and to make more money. Not only that, but these messages are just about everywhere... BUY IT NEW.... BUY IT NOW.... and BUY IT NAME BRAND! Just keep looking for more, more, more. It's exhausting.

Don't get me wrong, I am not slamming advertisers in general. They too have to put bread on their table as do the businesses they represent. And we as consumers are blessed to have the convenience to be informed of what is out there. However, I do think (as in everything) a healthy balance of what we let in is very important. Remember, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and as Christian women we are the hearts of our home. It is only right that we should be on guard to defend our environment with holiness as the goal for ourselves and our families.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24)

Ladies, we need to be very careful to filter out worldly temptations and distractions. I'm not saying to hide under a rock - that is not realistic. We are in this world... but we are not of this world. It is crucial that we turn away from ANYTHING that takes our eyes off of Christ. Our objective on earth is to share the gospel, to love others, and most importantly to love God with all our heart, soul and mind.

In short, with Christ we are complete... renewed... fulfilled. HE is enough!

"The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee."


Blessings!

~Victoria

Saturday, April 25, 2009

we will rejoice

Isn't it wonderful to see how the Lord works. The Devoted Woman website went up on April 18th. Since then, there have been numerous inquiries and prayer network submissions sent in to our website. In addition, DW's Facebook page has already reached 170+ fans.

As we continue to spread the word about DW, we are encouraged to see how many women are actively interested in uniting together in prayer and service with the same commitment to encourage one another to walk daily in fellowship with Jesus Christ!

Let's give out a big woo hoo to all our fellow sisters in Christ! WOO HOO!

XOXOXO!

~Victoria

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