Sunday, February 14, 2010

reveille: a wake-up call to LOVE

On Saturday, my family and I were blessed to enjoy a 1 year birthday party to celebrate the life of my first cousin's daughter, Reveille. Yes... Reveille!!! What a great name, huh? And it is an appropriate name since this little sweetheart has proven to be a huge "wake up call" for our entire family to trust God more and more.

You see, Revielle was born early and has endured more medical challenges/surgeries/treatments than most people will face in a lifetime. (Note: Reveille was born with challenges such as spina bifida, downs syndrome, and a club foot.) However, God continues to prove that all things are possible in Jesus Name and that His grace is always sufficient and, in fact, abundant! We will rejoice as He continues to use Reveille's life to reveal how loving He really is. I cannot begin to share how many smiles this little princess has brought to our whole family! We all pray for her well-being every day... for she is such a blessing! God is indeed GOOD!

Happy Birthday, Reveille!!!

Anyway, at one point during the party, I sat with my Aunt Ruthie and caught up on the happenings of our sassy Rev's life. During our conversation, my cousin, Jon (Rev's father), came over to share some important news with my aunt (his mother). He leaned over and started to whisper in her ear. While he was doing this, I happened to notice that my Uncle Larry (Ruthie's husband) was watching across the crowded room for Ruthie's reaction. You see, Jon had just told my uncle the same news only a moment earlier.

Once Jon whispered into my aunt's ear, suddenly her eyes began to swell up and a big grin enraptured her face. She could not have held back her joy if she wanted to. Something wonderful was happening! Something BIG was brewing!

The very instant Ruthie's facial expression changed, I watched my Uncle Larry's eyes fill with tears as he laughed/cried while watching and sharing in his lovely wife's joyful reaction. It was a beautiful moment between them both. A moment that took place across a busy room full of friends and family. A moment where they never spoke one sentence to each other, but were rejoicing together in heart and mind. Yes, there was love in that moment. There was love in those emotions. There was love in that look.

So by now, I'm sure you are asking what was Jon's news? Well, turns out that my cousin and his beautiful wife may be expecting baby #2!!! Nine months from now, we may all be enjoying another little arrival to join the ranks of our crazy family!!! YEA!

Congrats Jon, Heather and little Reveille!

Since returning home from the party, I have not been able to stop thinking about my aunt and uncle's silent moment of joy when they heard that they would be grandparents again. The experience got me thinking about the divine blessing of marriage... the joy of being "one" with a lifelong mate and choosing to sacrifice our whole heart to love that special person with everything we've got. When we place ourselves in the shoes of our spouse and live our lives in tune to their experiences, needs and feelings, no words or distance can hold back such shared intimacy or closeness. Yes, the experience between my aunt and uncle reminded me of how wonderful marriage can be when two people share EVERYTHING together - rejoicing and praising God through their victories, and praying and trusting their Redeemer through their trials. In a glimpse... in a simple moment of time, I was able to witness a lifetime of partnership and commitment between two wonderful role models. Through the lives of my aunt and uncle, I was able to see what true love really produces.

So, as we wrap up another Valentine's Day and move on with our day-to-day lives, I encourage every DW to hear this important wake-up call. I challenge you to not only consider your earthly relationships, but more importantly your covenant relationship that is shared between Almighty God and His holy church. As devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we are His beloved bride. In Him, we can enjoy a deep, spiritual oneness with a Savior that has sacrificed His whole heart to love us with everything He's got. And as scripture confirms, nothing can separate us from His commitment to stay intimately close and to love us forever.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Wake up, and seek only His face through a crowded, corrupt world. Know the heart of the ONE who loves you the most. He promises to walk through every circumstance with you... every moment... every emotion. Look for Him always and allow others to witness the eternal partnership you share with the ultimate, holy role model - JESUS! See what the love of the King of kings will produce! I promise you it will be BIG! It will be ABUNDANT! It will be SO GOOD that we will be unable to contain our joy when we finally see His complete glory face-to-face!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Blessings!

~Victoria

Monday, February 8, 2010

mastering my waffle maker

I have mastered my waffle maker. HA!

I know, it seems like a silly thing, doesn't it. I mean, what grown woman can't make a waffle maker work correctly? (Ahem. I'm raising my hand now.) That would be me. It's true. For approximately one year, my waffle maker and I have endured a rocky, almost non-existent relationship together.

It all started late December 2008, when my brother, Scott, (and his lovely family) decided to surprise me with a fancy schmancy waffle maker as a Christmas present. You see, Chuck and I have traveled all over the globe for work and pleasure, and Scott once heard me comment that my favorite breakfast to order while out "on the road" was a freshly-made Belgium waffle. (By the way, did you know that you can enjoy a Belgium waffle for free at certain hotels offering a complimentary breakfast? I've noticed that those waffles in particular always seem to taste better. Hmmm... it must be the added ingredient of "free" in em'. LOL!)

Anyway, my sweet, big brother got it into his head to gift me a waffle maker last Christmas so that I might enjoy the delights of freshly made waffles in the comfort of my own home. Easy peasy, right? WRONG! I could not get that darn machine to work right. It was terrible. It would seep and spatter batter out the sides of the machine and all over my kitchen counter. The little portion of batter that remained, did not cook up thick and fluffy like the hotels had so lovingly prepared. No, these waffles were... well, chewy. EWE! CHEWY WAFFLES - YUCK!!!

Needless to say, after determining that the waffle maker had declared war against me, I did what any normal red-blooded American woman would do with an uncooperative waffle maker... I put it on the shelf and walked away. We would not share our future together, that ole waffle maker and me. In fact, in my opinion, that crazy machine proved to be no gift at all. Instead, I considered it an annoyance. I vowed never to lose sleep over my waffle maker and the savory delights it promised. No, the waffle maker was too good to be true. So I would move on... without the waffles I love.

So, fast forward to December 2009... a year later. My brother has come to town for his regularly scheduled holiday visit, and our families have decided to meet at a nearby restaurant to enjoy breakfast and badinage together. After ordering my breakfast (a Belgium waffle with strawberries), my brother turned to me and asked, "So, how have you enjoyed the waffle maker we got you, Vic?"

Thump. My heart dropped. What do I do? Do I tell him the truth or change the subject? I love my brother and never want to hurt or insult him. But since he did ask me directly, and since I always want to be honest and open, I choose curtain #1 and answered. "Scott, I love that you got me a waffle maker, but I'm soooo frustrated with your gift. It won't work for me." With that, I saw a little sadness behind my brother's eyes. Lovingly he looked back at me and said, "That's ok, Vic. Maybe I can help you get it working the next time I'm in town. I know how much you love a good waffle." (What a great guy, huh?)

A week or so later, while still thinking about the hurt in my brother's eyes, I decided it was time to go at it again with my nemesis, the waffle maker. However, this time I would be more prepared. I decided to place a large cookie sheet under the machine to catch the anticipated pool of batter that would surely seep and splatter all over. I measured out my ingredients precisely. And this time, rather than skimming through the instructions on the outside of the machine's accompanying box, I decided to patiently read through the entire user manual and follow it's directions to the letter. "Enjoying the perfect waffle" became my one and only focus. I was on a mission... a mission to make a waffle - and to make it right!

Once I was certain all the steps were complete and all the settings correct, I poured the batter and closed the lid. Suddenly, steam started coming out the sides of the machine... but thankfully no batter! Within minutes a yummy aroma began to fill the room. WHAT? Was I making a waffle!!!??? I WAS!!! And it smelled GOOD! I could hardly wait to enjoy it! And when I did enjoy it, it wasn't chewy. No, it was thick and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.... PERFECT! My taste buds had secured a first class ticket to YUMSVILLE USA! (Insert Handel's Hallelujah Chorus here.) I had mastered the waffle maker! WOO HOO!

Life is like that. Here we are, believers who claim title to God's gift of grace, Jesus Christ. We begin our new life at the ready... a people who are lovingly promised a full and abundant life through a Savior who wants to spend eternity with us... with a God who wants us to enjoy His glory and richness up close and personal.

Upon first receiving His gift of eternal life, we become excited... thrilled that He is now our own to savor and enjoy personally... intimately. But then the trials come. Suddenly we realize that we must face the seeping and spattering danger of sin all around us while still attempting to model a Messiah who lived holy.

Inevitably, Satan will try to convince us that our new relationship with The Almighty is not working out as planned - for it is impossible to live like Jesus. Sacrifice is sooo hard. Servanthood is sooo challenging.

We determine that God's way of doing things is too difficult and His word too complex to understand. So we close up our Bible and place it on the shelf. In turn, we close up our hearts and relax in a generic spiritual security that "at least we are saved from eternal death."

Finally, due to our own neglect, our relationship with God becomes stagnant. Sure, we outwardly carry the title of "Christian" but no longer pursue the dream of actually being close to Christ or enjoy all that He has promised us.... the gladness that we are supposed to be rejoicing in each day we draw breath.

So, we share our home alongside a patient, loving King filled with saddened eyes and waiting for us to return to Him. For He knows how much we could enjoy His goodness. He knows that He can lead us to find true contentment, wholeness and peace. If only we would be willing to take the necessary steps to deeply know Him. If only we would offer up all our effort to read through His instructions, retain the information, and follow His teachings to the letter. If only we would not give into the first sign of trouble, but instead allow Him every opportunity to showcase His glory, allowing us to be blessed beyond measure with His sweet aroma of grace.

This is the grace that He freely prepared for us to receive. Why? Because He loves us. This is the gift of LIFE that He wishes for each of us to enjoy as we live triumphantly and fully satisfied under His covering. This is not a Savior at war against us. No, He is not our enemy. Rather, this is Jesus who longs to be our Comforter, our Ally, our greatest Friend. This is the mighty God who wants to give us ALL the desires of our heart! He wants our cups to overflow in His bounty.

Once I took the necessary time to read, understand, and follow the instructions of my waffle maker, I mastered the art of making perfect, delectable waffles and have enjoyed them ever since. The same is true spiritually. We must take the necessary time to seek the Lord... to read, understand, and follow His holy word so that we can fully know our Master and enjoy His abundance today, tomorrow... FOREVER.

Ladies, I challenge you to seek after the LIFE God has planned for you and longs for you to enjoy in His Name. Do not be discouraged by the trials of this earth. Instead, return to Him and KNOW His promises thoroughly - always trusting that His word is reliable and good. He has provided us with His useful "user's manual" to refer to regularly so that we may succeed on our mission and live triumphantly and fully satisfied in His presence. God wants to abundantly provide and sustain us - if only we would welcome Him and follow His guidance. Trust me when I tell you, there is no One greater than our Lord. There is no One more beautiful than our Savior. There is no One more perfect than our Creator and King of the universe! We are complete and secure and loved beyond all measure if we are abiding safely in Him.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:4-11 King James Version)

Ladies, let's keep our hearts and minds focused on the mission of following Christ alone. Let's enjoy the scrumptious Manna of Heaven that He has lovingly provided to us each and every new day.

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath. (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)

Hallelujah! For our Redeemer LIVES! Seek Him and enjoy these truths. Find Him and enjoy His love! Believe in Him and enjoy LIFE! His abundance is unending. His grace is complete.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Blessings!

Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson

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