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

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