Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas!

Merry Christmas, DW's!

Hallelujah! Jesus is KING!

May God bless you and yours as you celebrate His glorious birth! His truth endures forever!

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

XOXOXOXOX!

~Victoria

Friday, November 25, 2011

the maddening toxicity of sin

What is poison?

Poison is anything with an inherent property to destroy life or impair health. Poison is harmful or pernicious as to one's happiness or well-being. Poison contaminates, pollutes, taints, retards, inhibits.

Simply put, what is poisonous to us will indeed kill us!

Yet... every day people choose to absorb poison. We choose to eat chemically laden foods. We choose to work too much and sleep too little. We choose toxic environments... toxic relationships... toxic lifestyles. We eat junk food, ingest chemicals, smoke cigarettes, avoid exercise, forget to breathe in fresh air, and fail to expose ourselves to nature and sunshine. We lock ourselves in little boxes and accomplish little things. And don't forget about our stress. We thrive to be stressed. In fact, we skillfully find more and more ways to stress about our stress. Yes, as a race, I think we are our own worst enemy. We are a community of addicts who invite in the cancer of destruction. We experience needless pain and misery all because we complicate our lives with the maddening toxicity of sin. Sin that corrupts and deadens us from living up to our full potential. Sin that poisons the health that God originally intended for us to enjoy.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." So, if we are persistent to pursue what is poisonous but still expect to live healthy... are we insane? Has our mental capacity been compromised? Is our judgement sound?

The truth is, humankind is indeed messed up. We are broken and damaged beings. As such, without assistance... without help... we are lethal to ourselves. This is why God's Word is so important. This is why Jesus' sacrifice and simple truths are the only solution - the only Way we can ever experience and know real freedom. The truth is, the blood of Jesus carries our only antidote from the poison of sin.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood. (Leviticus 17:11, KJV)

It's amazing how far away we can live from God, isn't it? He has given us everything necessary to know Him and live healthy, holy lives. Yet we continue to choose the poison of sin rather than the simplicity of His holiness. We allow toxicity to win out over and over and over. We continue to destroy ourselves - going our own way, doing our own thing, choosing ourselves instead of serving Him. And sadly, we still expect a different outcome/result - always forgetting that God is no respecter of persons. Forgetting that His absolute Word will hold true no matter who challenges it's validity.

The Bible says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6, NKJV) This could not be more true. Our antidote, Jesus, cannot heal our poisoned lives if we continue to impair ourselves by avoiding His Word. Rather, we will remain toxic and sick if we ignorantly believe we can somehow become close to a King whom we won't bow down to... whom we won't allow to reign in our lives.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6)

Satan is a venomous snake who wishes to keep us distracted from the biblical danger signs that our Redeemer has provided in order to warn us away from the poisonous trappings of sin. Stop believing the insanity of the devil and instead seek Jesus to rid the merry-go-round of the enemy's sickly ways.  Choose to follow the holiness of the one true King! For only God's Word is medicinal to our spirits... only Jesus is capable of strengthening the marrow of our bones!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16)

Ladies, a new life has been offered by the King of kings. A new hope to know the Creator of the universe is detailed within the pages of sixty-six chapters of scripture. Without Him, we can never live up to our full potential. Without Him, we will never be healthy or know freedom from the maddening toxicity of sin. Without Him, we will die from poison.

Knowing this, what will you do next? 
How will you live today? 
Will you continue to ignore the King? 
Or will you consider the perfect advisement of the loving Savior? 
Will you continue consuming poison? 
Or will you choose to be healed by His holiness, His counsel, His rule? 

I encourage you to take your next step in the right direction - His new direction! 
Everyday, may we each live deliberately and bow down to His throne. 
Everyday, may we each know a healthier life in Jesus Christ while offering ourselves in worship to the Lord of all lords!

This is the day!

Blessings!

~Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

be ready

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7)

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding oat the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44)


Judgement day is coming... the end is near! Yes, some have predicted that Jesus is scheduled to arrive on this or that particular day... that the world will be over and done (insert ominous music here). Well, whether it occurs tomorrow, next year, or next century... my response is still the same to these haughty and presumptuous claims: Bla bla bla bla blaaaaaaa! (LOL)

In my lifetime, I have heard so many predictions and proposed dates around the exact timing of Christ's return. Calendars that have been calculated, publicized and debated. Then, of course, the predicted time passes and the "date of certainty" must again be recalculated, readjusted, re-publicized and, of course, debated some more... (let me just say it again... blaaaaaaa!)

What folly of men! For our prideful collaborations and speculative ways cannot compare to God's supreme authority!!! We do not control the moments of this age. He does! We cannot proclaim to know something that God has already stated NO ONE will know but the Almighty Himself! How much time and resources have been wasted on this foolishness? For God's Word plainly states that the timing of Jesus’ return and the end of the age is not for us to know.

Rather, the Messiah simply encourages His people to do one thing: BE READY!!!

Jesus tells us to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come.” This clear command from the Savior discourages His followers from wasting precious time speculating over the discovery of Christ's actual return date/time, and instead motivates us to live EVERY moment abiding in His Spirit while keeping a watch out for His triumphant return. In short, we are to remain motivated to glorify Him at EVERY hour of EVERY day for His Name's sake!

We are to live our lives ALWAYS devoted to His glory as we anxiously await His imminent return!!!

As these last days of earthly history play out under God's sovereign reign, it is too bad that we will continue to witness the foolish forecasts of men trying to predict the future around our King's glorious return. Let's fervently pray for those misled in this area as we continue to trust and adhere to the words of our Savior. Let's ask God to restore and reclaim those led astray and/or diverted by the schemes and "scare tactics" of the deceiver. And let's always BE READY as we love and pray for others... just like Jesus loves and intercedes for us!

Friends, whether Christ returns today, tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade, next century, etc... BE READY, believer! Always be ready for your King's return and always live devoted to His Throne! This is your purpose: to glorify Him TODAY - this very hour!!! So, make Jesus your ONLY focus and priority - not logistics or a speculative date to count down to! HE is what's important! So, stay near to Him! Abide in His Word! Know His Ways! Trust His simple, steadfast truth!

TODAY is the day to rejoice and be glad in Him! So, let's be ready to love our Savior until the moment He surprises us in person! WOO HOO! Hallelujah to our wonderful Redeemer! Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done, Almighty Father!

YOUR Way, precious Lord... not man's! Amen!

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

are your laces tied tightly in His truth?

Well, yesterday was certainly an interesting day at The Devoted Woman, because yesterday I knew the Holy Spirit was pushing me to repost a blog God had given me pertaining to divorce. Without rehashing this topic again, I will say that divorce is a controversial topic within many Christian circles. Many who profess Jesus as their Savior have still chosen the path of divorce, or have experienced the repercussions of divorce in their lives. Sadly, it has become a commonality in our society and age.

That said, yesterday I knew going into the blog that we would be under attack. I knew that our position would be challenged for quoting God's Word on such a volatile issue. So, I began my morning in prayer, trusting in His care and guidance, and preparing my heart for the tidal wave of emotions that my inbox would inevitably receive from our readers.

All this proved true. For I received many emails filled with anger and hatred in addition to several notes offering me support and encouragement. I received stories outlining the lives of women (and men) from all walks of life, dealing with all kinds of difficulties, and deciding for/against the decision to divorce. Many felt compelled to explain their life experiences and/or rationalize their decisions. Many expressed rage and defensiveness. Many wanted to debate over the truths of scripture and why God's Word did or did not prove relevant to their life. But what comment came up the most was a quote taken from Jesus words in Matthew 7:1-2, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

I prayed over these words yesterday, taking each person's feedback seriously. I asked God to search me and know my heart - exposing any sin on this (or any) matter. For, of course, I do not wish to enter into a discussion under pretenses measured by my own self righteousness. That would be foolish. I understand completely that without Jesus, I am nothing. I agree with the spiritual ramifications that Christ spoke of in Matthew 7 and whole-heartily acknowledge that my corrupt and sinful human nature is hopeless without His guidance. Yes, I prayed over this scripture yesterday and walked away with a clean conscience. For I was assured that the lesson I shared in our blog was reflective of His Word. I know that the truth under question by some audience members is still, indeed, TRUTH spoken from my Master's lips. And I am confident that His holy institution of marriage should be upheld rather than discarded. I know that God is clear on this... He hates divorce. He always has and always will promote restoration in relationships. So whether you agree or disagree with His stance, as a servant of Jesus, please know that we at DW choose to lovingly promote God's unchanging truth without apology. I ask that you respect this choice (as it is biblical) and assure you that my intentions to share His Word are unselfish in motive.

(Pause and breathe.) Lord... I pray that you give me Your wisdom to address this next topic that you have put on my heart. Let me speak as Jesus would. Let me love others in these words.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged (KJV)..." We like to throw that one out in defense when someone speaks up against a sinful behavior and backs it up with scripture, don't we? For simply put, mankind wants to be right. We hate to be opposed. We resent when our character is questioned under the microscope of God's Word. Sure, we acknowledge our nature is tainted by corruption, but we don't like to be beat over the head with solid reproof and correction, do we? No, that is too raw. That takes out the wiggle room in our gray, lukewarm lives. That contradicts our rationalization for self preservation.

No, rather than pausing to hear and receive God's truth... rather than responding in repentance and obedience... rather than seeking to follow His way boldly and without exception - when challenged, we can easily become defensive and angry. Then, in an effort to save face, we turn ourselves into "victims" and redirect the focus back onto our "accuser" by denying their credibility, by questioning their understanding, by rejecting their love.

As a result of yesterday's email "bombings", my husband and I were discussing how some Christians do not know how to lovingly and respectfully confront one another with biblical correction. Some have not learned to test their hearts against scripture to insure that we each are in fellowship with God's Word (and each other) with pertinence to the foundations He has established. Sure, it is a given that people won't always agree while living on this side of heaven. But we still must care enough to share with one another... to do the work and seek after His kingdom while relying on His Spirit to show us the righteousness He has planned for our lives.

I fear that too often we try to keep reproof and correction on the down-low and maintain a numbness and politically correctness at the forefront of our faith. This approach results in us sweeping the harder issues under the rug and readopting the acceptance of popular sins as excusable behavior. Why? Because it is uncomfortable to address divorce... or lying, or gossip, or homosexuality. It is uncomfortable to bring up the remorse of abuse, or infidelity, or apathy... or any other sin for that matter. Even more, it is uncomfortable to admit that we may have shared ownership, enablement, or possibly even initiation of such sins. So instead, we keep up "holy" appearances and speak Christianese while maintaining a generic undertone that God will always forgive. God will make it all o.k. in the end. And while it is true that God uses all things for His ultimate good and glory, it is dangerous to live outside the honesty of His perfect will. It is folly to ignore the eternal voice of our Creator and avoid all reproof. For when we willingly walk outside any portion of God's solution for a full, redeemed life, we venture with our shoes unlaced into territories where Satan thrives. We look backward to the false security of our corruption rather than forward to His assurance, newness and peace. This is what trips us up in sin and selfishness. This is what stops us from growing deeper spiritually.

As believers, we are to boldly proclaim what God's Word says about sin as well as be willing to humbly own up and repent of our own transgression. We are not to respond in hatred to what God has said. We are not to react in resentment, defensiveness, or anger against others because we don't like hearing that The Master's authority should win out over our own. No, everything that is brought to us biblically must be considered... and considered pure joy at that. For God cares enough to correct His children. And He will greatly bless those that love Him in obedience and humility.

In this race of life, it is a blessing to succeed spiritually right out of Salvation's gate rather than stumble because we didn't follow God's simple instruction to tie our shoes. So, when we are encouraged as believers in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction," we must do so without apology. We must share our faith with one another and avoid intimidation tactics against those who step up to what is godly. We must never default to promoting man's agenda because we desire selfish comforts or waveless waters. Most of all, we must love one another as Jesus loves each of us. We must remember that His authority always overrules our own. For He has the authority to judge our faithfulness. Because of this, we must always promote His way as the ONLY way. For the path to His kingdom is narrow enough. So, we should do all that we can to help one another avoid stumbling along the way.

Yesterday, I spoke up against one topic: divorce. I did so with James 5:19-20 in mind. "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." Although I cannot change anyone's past and I do not claim to know the details of anyone's future while on earth, I am certain that God will forgive us when we repent and turn from evil. He will bless us when we follow His ways over our own.

Regardless of your situation... regardless of what you have lived through... regardless of the choices you have made by your own will or by obeying His will... please stop and listen when God speaks in the form of correction and reproof. Receive His Words when a fellow-believer shares something in love or when He brings truths to the table via scripture or other means. Stop and think about your emotional/physical motivation when someone challenges you about your spiritual choices. Above all, I exhort you to seek God first... His kingdom... His righteousness. For His way is the only way to live fully!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

My hope is that every DW comes to know God intimately rather than coasting along in their faith generically. My wish is that we each can openly love Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind without having to rationalize or make excuses about how we have chosen to live. For our choice should always default to holiness. So, let's motivate one another to seek after what is holy and simply choose Jesus' Way. Let's resolve to stay true to His truth without apology or waiver. Let's lay our comfort level on His altar and live out every trial He gives us in accordance to God's gracious, eternal plan. This is how Christ sacrificed for us. He endured every abuse, every trial, every temptation to the cross because He loved us more than His own comfort. Then he rose again to free us each from our sin. Let's love like Jesus and endure this short moment on earth in joyful obedience and humble sacrifice to His Word. His is the only Way. His foundations are certain. His institutions are sound. His kingdom is FOREVER AND EVER! So, enjoy His blessed richness and live fully while running forward... while running with your spiritual laces tied and your feet secure... while running safely and wisely home into the arms of the King.

I love you all. XOX! ~Victoria

Blessings in Jesus Name.
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

a holy decision


The Holy Spirit has been teaching me how easily people deceive themselves when it comes to divorce. Mankind's quest to live a happy life causes many people (Christians included) to sinfully rationalize how God might make an exception to the rule for the sake of their comfort level. However, I fear that these rationalizations are simply convincing lies that we like to argue with hopes of an easier road - advancing what we THINK or FEEL is "right" rather than actually OBEYING what our Master says is holy.

Recently, I was visiting with a group of women. While many shared their backgrounds and life stories with me, one woman approached me and started discussing her marital history. Her story was this: She was married very young, but determined shortly thereafter that her husband was the wrong man to be married to for reasons she chose not to disclose. She quickly divorced him and later remarried a "nicer" man. Now, she is enjoying "a happy life" and a "normal" relationship. (That is how she worded it.) Her concern was this: Should she repent to God about the decision to divorce her first husband when she honestly felt that leaving him was the right thing to do?

After hearing this, many other women piped up to share their own stories regarding how they too divorced themselves out of difficult marriages. Suddenly, I found myself in a room filled with a parade of divorced women (Christian women) rationalizing why God would not have wanted any of them to have stayed married to their first spouse. Their husbands were men who ranged from dead beats, to alcoholics, to abusers, to two-timers/cheaters, to men that just didn't get them, etc. etc. etc....you name it. Each woman stood in agreement that surely God would approve, "They deserved better!" Each admitted that by divorcing their first mate, they were clearly happier today for making the decision... no regrets whatsoever.

Finally, the woman who first initiated the conversation wrapped up her argument by stating in agreed satisfaction, "Let's face it... now I'm able to serve Jesus better without all that messiness in my life. So, why repent for something that turned out well? Sure, God says He hates divorce, but why ask for forgiveness when divorce was really the best solution for my situation?"

Hmmm.

"God hates divorce, BUT..." But what? He hates it!

"So, why repent..." Wait... what? Did I hear that right? Why repent? REALLY???

Admittedly, I was speechless. What the heck has happened to our belief system that we somehow think that God's will for us has changed from scripture and does not involve any messiness or suffering through trials - especially in marriage? Furthermore, if God outright has said that He hates divorce, it is clearly NOT a "holy" decision when we go do exactly what He despises. No, this cannot be rationalized as a "right" decision - irrespective of how happy one may emotionally feel afterward. God would NEVER encourage His children to divorce. That is not a physical representation of His covenant love.

What concerns me most about this whole matter is the complete absence of regret or repentance that so many lack today after following through with such a decision. In fact, most people defend their decision to divorce at all cost. It's like we form these little clubs of "Why it was OK for so and so to get a divorce" and then seek the approval of others to secure our position on the matter. But I ask you this, are our hearts truly repentant hearts if we are quick to go against God's plan? Do we value His Word, His Way so little that we quickly embrace exactly what He hates?

Perhaps we have forgotten what our repentance really means. According to New Testament Greek, the word for repentance (metaneo) means a change of mind that results in a change of action. The Bible tells us that true repentance will result in our turning to God and what He loves... not away from Him! Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. Not a change of scenery. Not a change of spouse. No, if we have accepted Jesus' way, we must change how we perceive and see things - even in our marriages. We must seek to recognize the sin that Satan uses to destroy our covenant relationship the same way God recognizes such sin. How do we do this? By loving our spouse to the level that Jesus loves us while sacrificially giving over our lives to God for His use - to bring Him glory. Do you choose to bring God glory by seeking divorce? I think not. In fact, I know not. For here is what He said:

“I hate divorce...” says the Lord God of Israel. "So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith." (Malachi 2:16)

Did you get that? Guard yourself in spirit and do not break faith! How do we guard our spirit? By embracing God's Word... by knowing what He says and repeating it to ward off the enemy... by following His commands to avoid sin. How do we keep our faith solid? By remaining in His presence and seeking His ways over our own... by literally abiding in Him and setting our sights on His ways.

Ladies, I know that many will not like reading this blog today. Many will disagree and argue against these passages because they simply want what they want. Many will promote a life of earthly happiness over a marriage of sacrifice and obedience. But heed my words... following Jesus is not about finding a self-serving form of happiness on this earth. Rather, God gives us specific trials so that we can become MORE like Jesus... not less. And what was Jesus' model? Well, Jesus surrendered His life over in order to fulfill the will of His Father. Jesus loved his bride (us) more than His own life and gave everything up so that we could be with Him intimately forever. Jesus lived as a humble servant and did what was necessary to restore our relationship with Him... even though we were deadbeat, sin addicts who abused His love and cheated by looking toward another selfish way of life. Jesus loved us enough to do everything possible to repair our broken relationship with God and restore us back home!

You and I both know that Jesus would not agree to divorce... no matter how difficult a relationship is strained. We are to be help mates to our husbands as Christ is to us. We are to sacrifice. To serve. To love. To be joyful. To be self controlled. To be patient and long-suffering like our Savior. (2 Peter 3:9)

Many examples of difficult experiences have been documented throughout scripture where God allowed his children to endure unimaginable trials and tests of faith. Some, like Joseph, were sold into slavery. Some, like Paul, were imprisoned. Some, like David, were hunted down. Some, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were sentenced to death. Did they give up or throw in the towel? No. Did they turn from God's plan and renounce their Savior's way? No. They sang and rejoiced and sought after God while trusting Him to see them through... mind you, through things we could not even imagine enduring!!! Most importantly, no matter what the earthly result of their trial - their deeds gave glory to their King! Their life was a repentant life - a changed life that only sought after God's way of doing things.

So, just because your marriage may face challenges and variances of hardship, it is biblically an unwise conclusion to dissolve a holy covenant that was instituted by the Creator Himself. In short, it is NEVER healthier to seek what we want over what God wants. It is never good to sway from His truth because Satan has painted a picture of greener pastures promising earthly happiness. That's how we got into this sinful mess in the first place! (Remember Adam and Eve?)

Now, depending on circumstances that involve an individual's safety, a separation based on prayer and trust (with the hope of God being able to restore and renew) may be a necessary course of action in a complex marital trauma... and it may even run the course of one's lifetime. But divorce? No. Not when God clearly hates it. Not when God is blessing our lives with a holy trial to become MORE like Him! Rather than running away, consider such testing as PURE JOY...

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

For those who have already been through divorce, whether self initiated or forced by a spouse... I challenge you to take ownership of your heart on this matter. Consider your involvement and pray about your willingness to surrender your spiritual eyes to look through His holy lens. Confess any sin where you held ownership that contributed to the broken marital covenant. Allow Christ to change your mind, soften your soul, strengthen your faith. Forgive and love your ex. And if possible, start seeking and praying for restoration and healing in Jesus' gracious Name. God is ready and able to renew so much if you only allow Him the opportunity... if you trust Him without limits... if you seek and obey Him at all cost.

I do not claim to be an expert at anything. I am merely a lover of Jesus and a follower of His word. He is my authority in all matters. So, I write this blog in love and obedience to my King. I write, because if we are to be honest about what God says on this matter of divorce... if we are to face the trials He puts us in for the purpose of making us more like Jesus... we must stop making excuses for sin and call a spade a spade. Divorce is man's solution. But marriage is God made. I have learned to always, ALWAYS choose God's way over man's!!! Let's acknowledge His holy way and be ready to account for our deeds. Let's live for His Name's sake - not our own.

Please ladies, let's stop trying to convince one another that divorce is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. It is not. God HATES divorce. So let's make a holy decision to stand for what is right and base our choices on mirroring His sacrifice rather than advancing human selfishness.

Every day we follow Jesus - through every trial we face here on earth... it is one day's march closer to His perfect, healthy presence and eternal glory. I encourage you to always focus on Him. Follow Him. Strive to be holy like He is holy. You are new in Christ Jesus, ladies. Live like it. Encourage it. Depend on His eternal covenant and model it within your own marriage. No matter what, represent your King correctly... honorably... holy.

It won't be easy... but eternally, it will be worth it! I encourage every devoted woman to always turn to God... not away from Him!

Let she who has ears hear. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Blessings!
Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

speechless, astounded, ecstatic, filled

Speechless that He loves me.
Astounded that He forgave me.
Ecstatic that He saves me.
Filled because I am new in His grace.

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

let's go!

Hallelujah! The repentant sinner may find His way!
The broken heart may be restored...
All in His Name!
All in Jesus' Holy Name!

Freedom is ours because the Savior sacrificed it all so that we may have life!

NEW LIFE!

This is the day to celebrate and submit to the One... the King... the living, active Redeemer who is full of grace.  This is the day to walk in His ways and be refreshed!

So, let's go!... WOO HOO!

LET'S GO LIVE IN CHRIST!

Yippee!

(Victoria Anderson)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

serve Him well, dear Christian

Serve Him with all your heart.
Serve Him even if you don't understand.
Serve Him no matter where you are.
Serve Him no matter who you are.
Serve Him no matter what you think or feel.
Serve Him as He sovereignly commands.
Serve Him as He purely instructs.
Serve Him with full obedience and trust.
Serve Him with full honor and praise.
Serve Him in complete fear and love.
Serve Him well, dear Christian...


Serve Him well... and BE WELL!!!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

(Victoria Anderson)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

watching over our household... His household

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:27)

Mmmm, that wicked bread of idleness can indeed be appetizing, can't it?  We've all tasted it's fattening flavor.  We've all gobbled away our precious time with it's hollow, trivial vanity.  And in the end, here we sit with gained weight... still lacking... still hungry. In fact, our appetites have strangely increased. We are lazily reclined in our worldly ways. A chosen sinful pause. But is this where we'll find true rest and comfort? Are we really relaxed as we munch on this bread?  Absolutely not!


As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)


Then there is the polar opposite of idleness; The Martha vs. Mary debate of busyness. Ahhhh, we also crave this drug-induced high of pride, don't we? Our self-proclaimed importance of always being necessary - and noticed for it. Our impulsiveness to get the job done. To achieve. To seem irreplaceable, unsubstitutable. But is any credit really ours to take? Rather, isn't the devoted woman's role to"watch over the affairs of her household" best centered around sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to the teachings of our Master?  Should we not surrender to Him the burden of independence and full charge?  What a testimony our hearts could display if we made Him our priority over all other activity!

Yes, how do we properly watch over what God has given us...
If we are to manage the blessings our King has bestowed,
Then how have we performed?
Distracted?
Overwhelmed?
Untrusting?
Unfocused?

How have we followed through?
Lethargic?
Disinclined?
Selfish?
Entitled?
Unthankful?

Whose glories can we truly claim for ourself? And if not for us... what gives us right to take credit away from our King... the One whom all glory is due?  For aren't we to live as servants under the reign of the Most High?  Aren't we to resemble His image while wearing His family crest... without becoming fattened impostors of His position and authority?

Indeed.

For we are not called to live haughty and selfish in our own name, but rather humbly under His Name - resting obediently under His sovereign grace.

O Lord, forgive us!
For both idleness and busyness have easily distracted our hearts from faithfully serving Christ.
May we no longer forget to eagerly attend to your household.
May we joyfully watch over what you have entrusted to us.
May we strengthen our bones in your peace and serve you with our willingness...

So that we may rest in your pure satisfaction.
So that we may be still in your completeness.
So that we may know and project your full capacity... your grace... your love... your holiness!

Let our lives be pleasing in your eyes.
Let us produce for your purpose...
Because YOU are our purpose!

Yes, teach us to watch over the affairs of our household, Father. Keep us from wandering in our own wilderness of pomp. And let us lift up Your Name in honor and gratefulness... always in thanksgiving of your eternal, esteemed love! We give you all glory and honor and praise and attention! We bow down in total submission and choose to trust your higher ways. We are your servants. We joyfully surrender it all.

So, please come visit our homes.
Teach us.
Rule every facet of our lives each and every day... THIS DAY!

We are devoted.
We are yours!

Friday, August 5, 2011

lunch break

Taking my lunch break right now.
It's been a busy, grueling work day.
Collapsing in a comfy position and elevating my feet up.
Heaving a big sigh and looking around at the many blessings that surround me.
Remembering all God provides.
Refocusing off the temporary of today and pausing to remember all God has sacrificed so that I might live freely in His love.
Mmmmmmmmmm. Yes, I love LOVE!

Opening my Bible and tasting the sweetness of words I know so well...

“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)

Ahhhhhhhhhh!
What a comfort!
He's still here.
He's still with me and able to take on all my weights and burdens.
He's still faithfully available to offer me His gift... His LOVE.
How wonderful to know that I am my Beloved's and He is mine!
I'll say it again... Ahhhhhhhhhh!

Isn't life easier with God's assurances to rest upon?
Isn't today better when you realize that Jesus offers peace for your soul?
Yes, Lord... I'll gladly take on Your yoke.
I'll happily learn whatever You want to teach me.
For I want to receive Your rest!
I want to know You more intimately, even in this short lunch break.
Teach me, Lord. I've come to learn.
Teach me and use me for Your glory forever and ever!

How has your day been so far, believer?
Are you weary or burdened?
I encourage you to take a moment to pause in His splendor!
Take on His yoke.
And be mindful to love His LOVE this very hour!

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Friday, July 29, 2011

busyness

WOW!
It's already Friday.
I feel as though this week (this very challenging and busy week) has had its way with me.
Honestly, as this morning rolls in, I feel beaten up and run down.

But now that Friday is here, I am excited to enjoy the much-needed weekend, I realize that this week was the first week of 2011 where my life seemed truly unmanageable... overwhelming, if you will. So this morning, I stopped everything and started praying for the Lord to show me what was going on... why life seemed so hectic all of a sudden. Here is what He revealed:

Turns out that this week I allowed my own "busyness" to bulldoze over God's healthy promise of calm, comfort and control in my heart. Sadly, at some point I stopped focusing on Jesus with regard to my schedule... I stopped looking to my Creator to give me just enough time and energy to finish the work He planned for me to accomplish. As a result, I stopped focusing my gaze on the Master of all my comings and goings. Instead, I obsessively propelled my life into more and more busywork as I pridefully embraced the far fetched notion that I could handle it all... that I could complete a never ending to do list in five days or less. How ridiculous.

Have you ever had a week like that?... A time when you were distracted away from your purpose to live deliberately under Jesus' authority, and instead became a responsibility addict... a delusional workaholic who lived hurried and scattered? And unfortunately, the deeper you tried to get things done, the more your heart and spirit started running on auto pilot? Have you found yourself sitting at the end of a time period wondering how you got there?... Realizing how many meals you skipped or scarfed down, how much sleep you lost, and how frequently you worked late rather than working smart - all for the sake of self fulfillment and accomplishment?

This was such a week for me. A week where Satan was able to cloud my judgement with stacks of responsibilities and people pleasing. And I bit down hard on the enemy's bait. So hard, that I've been struggling to wiggle free from his net since Monday. Even though I had enjoyed my daily study and prayer time this week, in retrospect, I don't think I showed up 100% for God. No. I was more like the spouse who takes his partner out for an intimate dinner but ends up discussing business on his cell phone throughout the entire evening. SOOO, not cool!!!

Thankfully, today the Lord came to my rescue. He dusted away my fog of frenzy and exposed how self destructive I had become in only five short days. With busyness monopolizing my time, I lost sight of the fact that He should be the only one overseeing my productiveness. How embarrassing. I knew that. I strive to live by it. Yet in one small work week, my sinful ego began to overshadow my Redeemer's rule, and I started grabbing it all back... all the work and worry... all the intense rushing and pushing to get EVERYTHING done now. How grateful I am to realize how much I need to let go and give back to Him in order to stay on track and enjoy His peace and rule over all that is going on around me and in me.

So, as the weekend soon approaches, I look forward to sacred renewal and a time of restful submission as I pause to snuggle back into the arms of my Good Shepherd. Thank you, Lord, for coming after me when I fall astray. Thank you for opening my eyes to the dangers of burnout and busyness. Thank you for protecting me and my time even when I foolishly abuse the moments you have given. Keep my eyes focused on You, dear Jesus. Keep me committed to Your plan and not on my own objectives. Direct my steps and prevent me from over-prioritizing my days with hectic and superficial tasks. Remind me to stop, pause, breath and be silent as I seek to trust Your timing. Continue to give me exactly what I need, to accomplish exactly what You have planned for my life.

Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Father, let me produce and please You alone. In all I do, may I forever proclaim, "Glory be Your Name, dear Jesus. All glory and power is Yours to rule! O Holy King of Kings!" Amen!!!

Blessings!
Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 25, 2011

love in action

Joy is love exalted;
Peace is love in repose;
Long-suffering is love enduring;
Gentleness is love in society;
Goodness is love in action;
Faith is love on the battlefield;
Meekness is love in school;
And temperance is love in training.
(D.L. Moody)

Since the start of DW, just about every day I have heard a recurring comment about our ministry... "This is sooo good." That statement has reminded me of the above quote from D.L. Moody. In particular, the part that said "goodness is love in action".

You know, that is what I hope and pray for The Devoted Woman Ministry, and all who claim part in it... LOVE IN ACTION.

So many times in life, I stood by the sidelines and didn't step up when God was clearly telling me to. How selfish and lazy I was. Only when I got passed my own excuses did I learn that when God leads us to do something... it is a great opportunity to see Him work in a BIG way for what is GOOD. Only then are we able to see Him bless us beyond measure!

God has shown me that the only way I should love (and live) is with action and a heart for Jesus! He intended for each of us to exist to glorify Him with every single breath we inhale/exhale. As believers and followers of Jesus, we are dead to sin... but even more important... we are ALIVE in Christ. And Christ is love! He is really the One that is sooo GOOD! All credit should always go to Him.

I have learned that it is an honor to speak God's words and mirror His ways. As such, it is my lifetime goal to share everything that the Lord, our wonderful Counselor and Teacher, has said. I am resolved to follow His call and speak His truth to anyone who will listen. You see, TODAY is the day to live in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! We are each here to glorify and worship Jesus' name in all we say and do. We are alive for one very fulfilling reason - - to love and honor God above everyone and everything else (even our own self) with all our heart, soul, mind, strength!!!

I encourage you to focus on WHO love is! WHO goodness comes from. Forget about what mankind says and focus on God's grace. Know and share His word! Believe in every one of His blessed promises! Abide in Jesus!!! Succeed in Jesus!!! Assume your identity in Jesus! He is sooo GOOD, believer. He is sooo worth it!!!

I hope you will join me in this worthy quest - to love in action and spread His glory to all the world while living each and every moment for His holy and perfect name's sake!

Love you and praying for you all!

XOXOX!

~ Victoria

Sunday, July 3, 2011

a note from Benny Beagleman

Hello. My name is Benny Beagleman. My Mommy (Victoria) wanted me to send you a note letting you know some wonderful news....

JESUS LOVES YOU!!!!

Mommy wanted me to tell you this important news because she thought that it would make you smile big! (...and she likes it when people smile big and are happy.... actually, so do I!)

OK, I'm going to go take my daily nap now... however, please note that my tummy will be open for rubbing if anyone feels so inclined to pat it. God Bless You and Woof Hoof! ("Woo Hoo" if you talk like my Mommy.)

XOX!

Love,

Benny Beagleman

love vs. lust

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:5-6; 16-17)

Did you know that 80% of all pictures on the internet are of naked women, and for every 'normal' webpage there are five porn pages? Considering there are approx 1,319,872,109 people on the Internet each day, this is a huge issue every Christian should stand against in Jesus Name.

Satan will continue to use all means possible to infiltrate, influence, and lead people away from God by doing all he can to destroy our marriages and families by numbing our hearts and feeding into our lustfulness.

In Jesus Name, let us live modestly, prayerfully, honorably, righteously, holy, and pure in God's eyes. Lord, we ask that you intervene and change us. We ask that your Holy Spirit guards our hearts from all forms of sinful lusts. Teach us the best way to stand against this corrupt epidemic. And lead us into your perfect, unmatched beauty that always satisfies!

~Victoria

Friday, June 17, 2011

moving forward...

Moving forward.
Toward His glory.
Toward His presence.
Toward His love.

Being still.
In His glory.
In His presence.
In His love.

Standing firm.
For His glory.
For His presence.
For His love.

Rejoicing always.
About His glory.
About His presence.
About His love.

Moving forward.
Being still.
Standing firm.
Rejoicing always.

Moving forward.
Toward His glory.
Toward His presence.
Toward His love...

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Monday, June 6, 2011

my heart in Haiti: beauty (conclusion)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, recently I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. This past week I have shares with you the writings of my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, who wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. Today, I would like to conclude this blog series with a blog written by DW Shelley from The Apparent Project. We all hope and pray that these writings will bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call wherever he leads! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Shelley's blog entry regarding her beloved Haiti... and now also my beloved Haiti. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Latina in Haiti)
Beauty By Shelley Clay at The Apparent Project
This woman has no teeth. Her eyes are unproportionately large, her hair, pure grey. She obviously skipped her last few sessions of botox, is half the height of a super model, can't remember who she is, has huge calloused feet from walking in the dirt barefoot her whole life, has nothing really to offer in terms of productiveness or service, her hands are crooked and wrinkled, she has no womanly figure to speak of any more. And she is the most beautiful, breathtaking thing that I laid eyes on this year.

Her name is Latina.

What is it about brokenness, about things ancient, used up and yet still somehow unchanged that is so attractive over time?

I feel the same way about Haiti, about the earthquake rubble, about the lady in my neighborhood with stubs for arms, the precious little girl with orange skin, the piles of trash to pick through for new recycling ideas, the teasingly inconsistent everything here, and the way that my life in Haiti only half accomplishes what it should in three times as long. It has become my place of rest. This broken country so beautiful to me.

I loved China. The efficiency, the cleanliness, the amazing streamlined production, the meticulous importing and exporting of everything, the starched collared guards at every corner. But it was not home. It was not comfortable. It was not something to sink into. Haiti is comfortable to me.

The thought of this scares me as I know that in order for Haitians to someday move past the bondage of poverty, things have to change. Marketing, importing, music, clothing, internet, jobs, food.. it's all changing. People are being trained, leaders rising up, tents going down, buildings going up. And all of it is so tearfully good. So good.

But there is something to the idea of timelessness. Of leaving a piece of the Berlin Wall in tact, the sacred space of Ground Zero undisturbed, the scar from a horrible childhood incident not erased, the broken pieces of your heart still on your sleeve that brings something living and real to what the fabric of Haiti is.

May Haiti be all that she can be. May Haiti rise up to be the cool breeze that refreshes the Caribbean and blesses the world with her beauty, people, and culture as her kids start to receive education, her moms and dads fill their calling to work, the young and old alike need not die for lack of medical care, and her plants and animals need not be broken and abused anymore.

But may she never lose her wrinkles, her scars, her weathered feet that bring all that she is becoming into a new kind of beauty. She is not broken to beautiful, but rather beauty because of her brokenness.

She is my Latina.

And may the stunningly gorgeous Latina live to be 300 years old (if she's not already) so that every time I venture into the paradise of the Furcy mountains, I can see her face and melt in her glow.

Thank you, my online DW's for taking this "journey" with us the past week or so. Additional pictures from our trip can be found on my Facebook Fan Page under "Photos". In months/years to come, my prayer is that we at DW will be able to introduce you to other areas of the world that also need prayer, support, aid, help, etc. We are the hands and feet of our Master. Let's learn to love others... ALL OTHERS... as He first loved us! Many thanks to DW Jennifer and Shelley for sharing their hearts (and DW Sara for her pictures). It has been a great honor to serve alongside you, my dear sisters in Christ! Love you, gals! XOXOXO ~Victoria

For more information on how to help the Haitian people through
The Apparent Project, please visit www.apparentproject.org.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 8)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, recently I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Haitian-made, artisan jewelry from The Apparent Project)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 8)
By Jennifer Theodorou5:30 a.m., awake and already sad. We're going home today. The emotions are so complex. I miss my babies and my husband. I even cried after the one time I talked to them during the week. But I don't want to leave here. In my heart I know, if I were single, I would be spending some significant time in Haiti. But, that is not in the Lord's plans for me. He has blessed me with a family, a home and so much more. Though I will be back to Haiti (I hope soon), my time here was truly a gift.

I'm thinking about all of the wonderful people I've met this week. Shelley and Corrigan are amazing. What they are doing here is having a great impact on those around them. From the calling of the Lord they are caring for the orphans, the widows, the least of these.

James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (English Standard Version)

I've not seen Peterson since Tuesday night when he had dinner with us at the Clay's. We are leaving early enough this morning that I don't think I will get to say goodbye to him. This absolutely breaks me in two. On day one he got into my heart. If there were a way, if my husband agreed, I would bring him home. He would have so many friends at our house. I live surrounded by a neighborhood of little boys that would love him. I love him. Perhaps there is another way to help him, we just haven't figured that out yet.

And then there is Rodney, our walking companion. Rodney has left another beautiful imprint on my heart. I had two amazing conversations with Rodney. One, after he took us to church on Sunday. He asked if I loved Jesus, which seems to be the leading question with these boys. I shared again that indeed I did and he voiced the same. He asked if I thought I had the Holy Spirit. I explained that I believed all who have received Christ as Savior and have proclaimed Him as Lord, have the Holy Spirit. That that is our guidance for this life. He nodded and said he wants to get baptized. I think he sees this as a link to the Holy Spirit. He asked me some questions about heaven and I shared what I could.

Last night, Rodney accompanied us on a walk to and from the Clay's house. It's only about a 10 minute walk. On the way there we walked in a light rain which felt so refreshing in the heat of the day. On the way home, the sun was shining. As we set out Rodney pulled out his phone and started to play worship music. We walked and sang along to "You're All I Want." Rodney shared that he loves listening to "Jesus music" and I asked him why. He said, that if he is thinking about doing something wrong, he listens to this music and then he doesn't want to do it. I put my arm around him and said, " See Rodney, THAT is the Holy Spirit. He's with you to show you the right way to go." He smiled broadly and nodded. We returned to singing and to our walk.

Rodney will stop by this morning on his way to school, to say goodbye. I know we will see him again. He hopes to finish high school, and come to the states for college. He wants to become a doctor and come back to Haiti to help his people. His heart is huge.

I will never forget Vesline and baby Pierre. Both are doing well by the way, praise the Lord!

The faces and smiles of the Haitian people are forever imprinted in my mind. I can close my eyes and here their beautiful Creole voices. And though I must go, this will never leave me.

For more information on how to help the Haitian people through The Apparent Project, please visit www.apparentproject.org.

(Concluded tomorrow...)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 7)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: DW Jennifer, DW Sara, and DW Victoria)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 7)
By Jennifer TheodorouI've been amazed all week at how comfortable I am here in Haiti. I'm comfortable in my surroundings, comfortable with the heat and humidity (which I usually can't stand), and comfortable with the people. I have slept like a baby each night and have awoken with the break of day each morning.

At home I would be groaning for a little more sleep at this hour, but here I am up and ready to go. I awake each morning inspired to write and to share the details of my journey.

Yesterday was fun. The metalworkers community was incredible. As we turned off the main road you could here the building sound of the artists hammers and tools as they worked. Ping, ping, ping. The volume grew as we drove deeper into the community. We parked and wandered through many shops. I am in awe of the creativity and skill of these people.

Shelley has several people she buys from regularly. She carries some of their items in the Apparent boutique. As we walked others vied for our business; "Come, let me show you something different, something better." All were eager to make a sale. Most shops carried similar styles of art, others were extremely creative. One shop carried pieces that reflected a strong vibe of the voodoo culture here. It kind of creeped us out and we left quickly. I bought an amazing wall piece for $20. At home something similar would cost at least $70. Some of this art is actually bought by large retailers in bulk and resold in the states and other countries. They have an opportunity to survive in this community. Hopefully one day soon this will happen for the Apparent workers.

On our way back we stopped for Shelley to visit a friend who owns a restaurant right by the United Nations building. It's a very cute and modern place with light fixtures that look like they came from an IKEA catalog. It was incredibly busy. We stayed for lunch and I indulged in a bacon cheese burger and French fries, which tasted like home to me and killed a MAJOR craving.

The other group that was supposed to join us last night had flight cancellations and won't arrive until later today. So we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing.

At one point Rodney, our guide to church and the tent city, came by for a visit. It was raining again and he wasn't ready to go home to their tent where he would spend the rest of the night wet. We interviewed him a bit trying to get the feeling for what his life is like. He's almost 18, in school, and has 4 years left to complete a high school education.

They only go to school for about 4 hours a day. After that, he comes to work at Apparent or goes to Shelley's to hang out. There are only a few of the street boys that she welcomes there. Several actually live in an upstairs apartment above their house. They help with household chores and watch their kids from time to time. But Rodney has family so he returns home each night.

We asked how everyone in his family feels when it rains, knowing that their shelter does not protect them from the wet. Do they get scared? Sad?

He said they feel sad. I asked if he can actually sleep when it is raining, he said yes. But when he wakes up, and he is wet, and his books are wet, he cannot go to school. They are trying to build a more protective shelter over the array of tarps that comprise their tent. But materials are expensive and hard to come by. This is just one story that can still be told by 800,000 people living in the same situation. Apparent is providing hope to a few and the promise of "change" from the new president sounds hopeful but all too familiar. Who knows how much longer this suffering will continue.

Soon, Rodney said goodnight and headed off for "home".

Someone had left the game Mad Gab here, so we played for awhile and laughed hysterically. I'm sure our voices carried through the open windows and had the locals wondering what all the laughter was about. It was just like hanging out with a group of friends at home, again, comfortable.

Today Shelley will be busy with the full swing of jewelry making. And with many tasks accomplished this week we have decided to take a tap tap (taxi) ride into downtown. This is where the most obvious devastation from the quake is. It will be a photo opportunity mostly. Today is our last full day here. I am not surprised to find myself sad. My heart was in Haiti long before I was, and I knew I would love the people that much more. I want to capture every moment of today in my memory. Haiti will be going home with me tomorrow.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Friday, June 3, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 6)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria
(Pictured above: A Haitian metal worker)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 6)
By Jennifer TheodorouThe drama of yesterday morning carried through the day as Vesline's fever came and went. She spent the entire day on the sofa sleeping. We took turns keeping watch over baby Pierre, who for most of the day didn't seem quite right himself. Mama wasn't up to nursing, so he took small amounts of formula which only upset his tummy. He didn't eat nearly enough, so between hunger and gas pains, he was not a happy boy. He too spent most of the day asleep, which had us concerned.

The beautiful part of this whole ordeal was watching as Nobel, Vesline's husband care for her. In the morning when Shelley decided she needed a cool bath to break the fever, he willingly and lovingly bathed her. Pouring one cupful at a time over her chest, her face, her back. He did not leave her side for most of the day. When she gained enough strength to eat, he fed her, and held a cup at her lips so she could drink. I was touched by this obvious display of love. At one point I asked Shelley to tell Nobel that I think he is a good man. She said it was good to see this because he has not always been so loving. Perhaps her illness made him think of the loss they have already experienced. (Visit Shelley's blog for more details.) Vesline has no family aside of Nobel and baby Pierre. In the last few months she has lost her mother and brother to cholera. It is easy to understand her concern for her baby, (for) he is all she has left.

On a lighter note, I got to take a ride into town with Junior, Shelley's manager here at Apparent. He helps Shelley keep things under control here. She jokes the he is actually her boss. We needed to get some office supplies. Tape for packing boxes, markers for labeling them and staplers for tagging jewelry.

Junior is a 31 year old Haitian man, raised in New York. He completed high school in the states, did one year of college and then returned to Haiti. He loves Haiti. He has hope for change here as well. To some it might be hard to imagine leaving your family, all secure in the states, to return to this. For him it was the natural choice of following his heart.

The Apparent Project shuts down on Wednesdays to give Shelley a much needed break. Many of the artisans will bead at home and return with finished product tomorrow. This morning we are going to the artisans community of Metal Workers. I am excited about this trip. Not just for the opportunity to see all the beautiful things that they create from recycled metal materials, but because this is the dream for Apparent in action. The fundraiser we just had (in the states) was to raise money for a piece of land here in Haiti. On that land Apparent hopes to build their own artisan community of jewelry makers, seamstresses etc.

These communities become self-sustaining through the attraction of tourists and visiting missionaries. They come regularly to buy the goods they create, providing regular income for these individuals and families. Here they have shelter, food and opportunity.

Apparent is close to their goal for purchasing their land. I pray that they will be able to meet this goal soon.

Another group will be joining us at the guesthouse today, for the remainder of our time here. It will be nice to get to know some others who's hearts have been called to Haiti. Two and a half more days. I think it will be hard to leave.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my heart in Haiti (part 5)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Vesline's baby, Pierre)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 5)
By Jennifer TheodorouMorning is so beautiful here in Haiti. As I lie here in my bed, the sun is beaming through the window and warming my face. Before it rose I was actually a little cool for the first time here. There were some pretty intense rains here again last night, with lots of thunder and lightening. Not the gentle rain that lulled me to sleep on our first night. I was reminded again of the impending hurricane season. At one point during the evening last night I looked out over the hills around us at the most intense blackness I have ever seen. The city power was out (a common occurrence here these days), and our backup generator had kicked in without so much as the blink of an eye.

Though our accommodations are no five star hotel, we are living in the lap of luxury as far as the locals are concerned. I may have killed the biggest cockroach I've ever seen, and tried to chase a cute lizard out from under our dresser, but MAN! We've got it good!

Yesterday we got to experience Apparent Project at full tilt. We awoke to the bustling of dozens of Haitians gathering to work. Their Creole chatter was energized. As I made my way through the house their curious faces followed me. I greeted them warmly with smiles and "bonjour's" all around.

Quickly I set to work on my job for the day. The jewelry boutique where Shelley sells the jewelry and other goods was overflowing! Praise the Lord, this was money to be made for these hard workers. My task was to sort necklaces according to length, group them by tens, and box them for shipping to the states. Many jewelry parties will happen with these.

I probably boxed a couple thousand necklaces, or so it seemed. As I sorted, the artists would gather at the boutique door to watch. I wondered if they knew what I was doing. At one point in the day, several of the ladies came in. Talking quietly amongst themselves they began looking through the jewelry yet to be packed, grabbed a handful of pieces and slid them onto the rack where I was sorting. Then they giggled and departed. I looked at the tags that identify who made each necklace. They had handed me their own handiwork. They wanted to make sure it got to wherever I was preparing this all to go. They know there is hope in what they are doing here.

Shelley's job is not easy here. Though her workers are diligent and determined, there is always someone looking for a handout. As Shelley and I were talking, a woman appeared with a young baby, maybe 8 months old. On the back of the baby's neck and shoulders were white patches and spots. Against the darkness of her Haitian skin it was concerning. The mother wanted money to take her daughter to the doctor. There are plenty of free doctors here since the quake, but this is an open opportunity to ask for money. The hard part for Shelley is saying no, especially in regards to a child. With free medical care available she must teach them that they can't take advantage of the situation. Shelley has seen horrifying medical needs here, both with the locals and her own family. She has rushed people to hospital in the middle of the night, seen her husband perform CPR on their own son, and ...........

Ok, you're going to think I am making this up. I kid you not, as I was typing that last sentence there was a knock at our bedroom door. It was Shelley. One of the workers, Vesline, just arrived here this morning with a very high fever, rapid pulse and labored breathing. Shelley gave her some flu meds to help, and asked if I could help with cold compresses while she went to run her son to school. I quickly dressed and hurried to the living room where Vesline was lying on the couch. Her skin was burning to the touch, she was shaking and wheezing.

Shelley decided we should just get her to the tub of water in our shower area and bathe her with the cool water. Her husband, Nobel, and baby are with her. Feeling it would be more dignified for her I offered to take the baby and let Nobel do the bathing. Slowly she made her way to the bathroom, undressed and eased into the small round tub. Her shaking intensified as the shock of the coolness against her fevered skin set in. Nobel began gently pouring glasses of water over her back, face and chest. For a moment I feared she might go into literal shock. But as I watched, her trembling gradually slowed. I could see her breathing become less labored.

My first thought was that these are classic signs of dehydration. I gave her some water and she gulped it down. When her fever seemed to have broken her husband toweled her off, she dressed and returned to the couch. I gave her some more water and encouraged her to rest.

An hour has passed since the knock on my door. Vesline's fever seems to be down for the moment. The baby is hungry and as she rests the baby feeds at her breast.

I guess God thought I needed to see this up close and personal this morning.

(Continued tomorrow...)

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