Friday, January 31, 2014

bless this piece (a prayer)

I paint with words
To express my life;
You created with Word
To showcase Your heights.

I share small ways
With little thoughts inside;
Your glorious Way
Became man to die.

I expose my being
Private, insecure;
You offer your Being
With everlasting cure.

Please bless this piece
And every note I've written;
With Your Eternal Peace
And all the hope You've given.

(Victoria Anderson)




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

be daring, and wild, and adventurous!

Considering the cold temperatures today, my cousin back in Chicago posted an interesting fact on his Facebook page.  It read, "The North Pole is currently 24 degrees warmer than Chicago. Have a great day."

To this, I immediately replied, "Be safe."

As I hit the Facebook post button, in my heart I started to reconsider my statement.  "Be safe."  Isn't that obvious?  Isn't it human nature to settle into self preservation?  Aren't comfort and safety usually the first things we consider if threatened or when faced with unknown, unusual circumstances?  "Be safe."  Blech.

In less than a minute, I responded again... correcting my original sentiment with, "Actually, I take that back... Be daring, and wild, and adventurous! But stay warm doing it!!! Xox!"

And that is how I think Christ calls us to live, folks.  Fully, passionately, courageously!  Like living lightning rods grounded in the Holy Spirit through our obedience and worship.  Praying for His uncertain, unusual, electric moments of grace to surprise us and charge us into a free'er and more trusting church.

When it comes to the human view of safety, I now realize it is overrated.  Safety is boring.  Sure, in the Western Hemisphere we are pretty much considered (obvious point ahead...) safe.  We live lives with no real surprises.  No risk.  No nothing.  (Again, belch!)

But what in scripture encourages us to live safe?  Ark building?  Vagabonding and grand exoduses?  Bloody battles?  Being imprisoned, mis-judged as a rapist, seen a liar, herolded a fool?  What about giant slaying?  Temple building?  Furnace walking?  Lion cuddling?  Eating bugs in the wilderness?  Giving birth without any medical aid near farm animal feces?  Living with the knowledge that one day you will suffer torture and ultimately die on a cross for someone else's guilt?

Safety is none of these things, is it?

No, our view of safety and comfort were never to be the primary focus of the human condition.  In fact, such a view is unrealistic, a facade, a mirage.  For the only safety that truly exists is the Lord.  He is the only certainty in life, because HE IS LIFE!

Before 2014 began, my husband and I found ourselves stretched in our comfort and safety.  Even today, we are quite aware that the Holy Spirit has enrolled us in His training and is leading us into places WAY outside of normal.  Some of these places are really, really exciting and good... and well, some are absoultely terrifying.  (Notice I didn't say bad.)  In response, we have prayerfully chosen to proceed ahead in faith.  Not fear... faith.  For both Chuck and I know that God desires for us to let go of everything in exchange for His daring, wild, adventure.  Instead of mourning inside prison walls of false security, the Counselor is teaching us how to live outside our self-made cell blocks.  He is proving that there is so much more joy to be realized, more Jesus to be seen and experienced.  But we must choose in submission to depend on God's promises and run toward Him in order to witness this.  He calls us to focus solely on His image and forget about the temptations that surround us.  In short, we are to look fervently for God's glorious, show stopping, splendor!  We are to pray for Him to dazzle us as we run obediently in our journey toward His throne.

Within the course of the Holy Spirit's training, Chuck and I have learned that uncertainty is something too alarming for most folks to embrace in real time.  (And, yes... I said embrace.)  Sure, we are capable of enjoying varying degrees of questionableness in the books we read and the movies we watch.  But why stop there?  Why not allow Jesus to do a great thing with our real life?

Don't you remember the times when your heart actually cheered inside a great storyline?  When challenges loomed around a hero or heroine, and unusual, insurmountable odds dramatically affected you to applaud them on - to overcome that obstacle!  Yes, in the make-believe we love the odds.  We relish every gamble that threatens a beloved character's life.  We cheer when the impossible becomes possible, or when underdogs overachieve, sparkle, and shine.  Heck, we give out Acadamy Awards for such stories and performances!  Simply, we love those fictitious miracle moments.  But why don't we love miracles for ourselves?  Why live as paralyzed cowards when God has something fuller, something better planned for us in real life?

I think that Satan is on full attack to convince Christians that miracles are much too stressful an occupation.  He argues that miracles are unrealistic, facades, mirages.  Wow.  Isn't that just like the devil to twist God's truth into a lie?  Yet strangely enough, many of us still choose to believe Satan's lie over God's call to action.  Our frightened, selfish hearts dare not show interest or be stretched even within the same continent of a spiritual breaking point.  No.  That is too much to ask of us, isn't it?  That is reserved for those special few, or even more for those stories found only in the Bible.  No... not today... not with me, Lord.  I like my comfort.  I enjoy being safe more than anything You want to do.  YIKES!

To this I say, it is nothing short of foolishness when we fail to wait upon the Lord.  Why not give Him the chance to dazzle us?  Why?  Because perhaps we believe we will be worse off - a people who cannot cushion or plan for every contingency?  So instead we cushion on our own.  We plan outside and instead of Him.  And in doing so, we rob God of showing off His miracle moments originally and exclusively designed for OUR LIFE.  We remove the threat of His glory in exchange for comfortable, sinful numbness.  Believers... is that real safety or stupidity?

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)

And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?  (1 Peter 3:13)

Our King has commanded us to be strong and courageous!
Our King tells us not to live in fear, nor to be discouraged!
Our King has assured us that He's got this!  He's with us always!
Our King has already won the war, and wants to dazzle our hearts so that we might joyfully cheer through the entire storyline of our life in Christ!

So why not stop "being safe" and instead relish in the unsurmountable odds that threaten you today? In fact, consider them joy!  Why not welcome in the Holy Spirit and ask Him to stretch your faith to His spiritual breaking point?  For your whole life belongs in the care of Christ.  You are His beloved!  And in Him, really... what harm will eternally come?  Impossibles become possible!  Underdogs overachieve, sparkle, and shine.  Yes, Jesus is the ONLY safe Way!  So be daring, and wild, and adventurous in His Name!

Considering the cold unknowns surrounding you today, allow me to encourage you to run hastily and vulnerable toward God's daring, wild, adventurous LIFE!  Yippee!  Do not allow fear to paralyze you any longer.  He has opened the prison doors and wants you to see His glory outside! So run home to Him!  Run to His warm presence! Nestle yourself in His promises.  Run as fast as you can to Jesus!  Do not hesitate!  Do not look to the right or to the left!  For there is no worse case scenario that He has not already planned for.  There is nothing He cannot overcome.  Be strong and courageous!  Be obedient in your faith.  For God is with you and ready to dazzle in His perfect, trustworthy timing!

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Have a GREAT day!

~Victoria


Saturday, January 25, 2014

i need me my äppelkaka, people!

OK...  it's late January and today I'm officially cold!  COLD!!!... IN TEXAS!!!  Time to pull out my super-mega warm sweaters from those fond Chicago wintery days past.  Time to talk Chuck into bringing more firewood in from our backyard.  B, to the R, to the RRR...  BRRRR!!!  My toes are like little pink-painted ice cubes!  Thank goodness for warm blankets, knitted socks, and my snuggly Benny Beagleman.  (LOL - he is like a little snoring space heater.  Ha ha...  Patting that chunky tummy right now.)

Anyway, across the United States I think everyone would agree that it has been a very, VERY cold winter.  That being said, it is easy to forget that seasonal vernalization and climate changes are important and vital to all of us.  For without such cold periods of rest it would be impossible for us to enjoy many of the fruits and nuts we so easily take for granted in our daily lives... apples being just one.  NO!  Not apples!  That would mean no apple pie, no apple turnovers, no apple cobbler, no apple tarts, no apple butter, no apple sauce, no apple strudel, no Swedish äppelkaka (apple cake)... YIKES!  I don't know about you, but that would certainly be more distressing to me than having to put up with a few months of cold weather.  I need me my äppelkaka, people!!!

Just like plants, we humans also require scheduled times of winter.  We need stillness and dormancy alone with God... resting in solidarity with His Spirit so that later the Savior's yummy fruit can bloom generously out from us, and we can be used to feed and bless others spiritually.  In the plant world, most seeds require periods of cold and stillness in order to germinate.  In fact, without this crucial downtime, most will eventually rot out and fare useless.  The same is true for us.  Many well-intended Christians can easily "rot out" and fall away from intimacy with Jesus because they don't take the necessary time to rest in the stillness of His Divine.  Simply put, we each need time to break away from the many distractions and noise outside us and just let the snow fall.  Just be alone with Jesus.  Studying the Savior in pure calm.  Meditate on His truths, commands, words, peace.  Being mute before God's throne while resting, sleeping, snuggling, and burrowing close to His heart.  Truly, there is a time when our inactivity is the best activity of all.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Yes, to everything there is a season.  A time for action and a time for pause.  So, to those well-intended believers of the Most High who have not paused in a long, long time... this blog is for you.  Take time out.  Do it today!  Embrace His season to stop.  Turn off the television. Close the front door.  Silence your cell phones.  Rest.  Simply rest and retreat to be alone in His Word.  For God promises to make everything beautiful in His time.  But you cannot become beautiful or useful in God's kingdom without first pausing and hibernating close to His heart.  As Samuel so correctly instructs at the end of 1 Samuel 9, "... stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God."

Take the time, folks.  It's important.  It's meaningful.  It's crucial and essential.  For we all need God's holy äppelkaka, people!  There is nothing sweeter than enjoying Jesus!

L, to the O, to the V, to the E (times three!)...  LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

~Victoria


Victoria's Swedish Apple Cake (Äppelkaka)

3 tablespoons biscotti crumbs
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4-6 apples, pared and sliced into thin wedges
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch spring-form pan or cake pan. Sprinkle the crumbs in the pan, being sure to coat the bottom and sides as evenly as possible.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar with butter. Add one egg at a time until all are incorporated.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the bowl until a smooth batter is formed. Pour batter into pan.

Toss the apple slices in the cinnamon and 3 tablespoons remaining sugar, then press each one lightly into the batter to form a decorative pattern (pinwheel pattern is the prettiest). If desired, scatter chopped almonds across the top.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Dust with powdered sugar on top. (optional)

Bonus: Vanilla Sauce Topping (for Äppelkaka Med Vaniljsås)

1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon potato flour or cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1-2 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Heavy whipping cream (optional)

Combine egg, sugar, potato flour or cornstarch, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Be careful not to let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Important note: Avoid using a steel whisk as it can turn the sauce a grayish color. (I always use wooden-made utensils when cooking.)  Once cool, you can serve the sauce as is, or fold in some homemade fresh whipped cream to thicken.  Mmmmmmmm.

Älskar det!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

magnificent life

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill (his purpose) for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands. O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalms 138:7-8 & 139:1-18)

It is true... how wonderfully made is the human body? I mean, really - who can look at the human anatomy without being amazed and in awe? Our frames are delicate and frail, made up of simple components, yet we are quite marvelous in design. I think of how often I take for granted my own heart, brain, eyes, ears, nose, limbs, nerves, sinus cavities, blood vessels, skeleton, etc. How observant of the Psalmist to admire the work put into our structure and issue his reverence to the One who assembled us together.

"The human frame is so admirably constructed, so delicately combined, and so much in danger of being dissolved by innumerable causes, that the more we think of it the more we tremble, and wonder at our own continued existence." ~ Spurgeon

Great Creator and God over all things... let us not take for granted the number of breaths you have bestowed upon us and have planned before we were even born. Our lives are indeed a gift granted to us by You, our great Creator. In advance of our mother even conceiving us, You were in control of all the events of the universe. You planned each planetary movement, each spoken word, each heartbeat, each sunrise and sunset, each blink of the eye, each and every circumstance - all for Your purpose, in Your timing and for Your glory.

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

Ladies, God admires the heavens and all that He created, but His affections and admirations are for mankind. He loves us over anything else that He has designed. Isn't that crazy - but awesome?!!! So, let us not forget the Potter who formed the clay. Let us be used as the instruments he created us to be. Thomas Adams said, "There is no workman but would have his instruments used, and used to that purpose for which they were made... Man is set like a little world in the midst of the great, to glorify God; this is the scope and end of his creation."

Let us remember that each morning when we awaken, God is still and will always be with us - ordaining us to be alive. Let us remember to praise Him for our individuality and ask Him to use us as He intended. For all God's works are admirable and unique and created to suit a specific purpose in His plan. We only must be willing to obey. We must remember that we stand distinguished from all other creation. We are made for eternity. This present life is only the introductory part of our existence. Let's make sure we live in reverence to our great God and thank him for His visible design that we may first hand see and experience His glory.

"Oh, my soul, tremble at thyself! Tremble at the fearfulness of thy situation; and commit thine immortal all into his hands 'who is able to keep thee from falling, and to present thee faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.'" ~ Andrew Fuller.

In each breath... the breath of life we have been given... let us worship He whose image we resemble. Let us be thankful for our magnificent LIFE. Let us praise our awesome Creator and Savior! Praise Jesus Precious and Holy Name!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

Friday, January 17, 2014

in memory of a godless man

Once again, the silent door of death has welcomed in another man's tragic soul. His last breath has dissipated. His last heartbeat has drummed a final farewell. From this moment on, all that surrounds him will be sorrow. For unfortunately during this man's fragile time on earth, he rejected the good news of life. He merely lived out each day his way - following the wide path that so many others walk, while reasoning that everything would work out in the end.

He was never approached by those who knew better... for they were convinced it was too risky. They believed they were inadequate, unprepared. They knew they would look foolish; so why make a situation uncomfortable or awkward? Rather to remain quiet and pray for God to help him figure it out. But alas, they never prayed. They never spoke. They walked away toward the rest of their days and ignored the still, small voice within.

So, he missed the gift.

Now, he will never see light again.
He will never hear laughter again.
He is damned in horror, separated from the King of kings... forever.

As the sun rises over the earth and a new day begins, please remember this man.
Then consider what you will say to the godless man you meet today.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20)

Blessings!

~Victoria

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

insert Handel's Hallelujah Chorus here!

Today, as my hubby was out interviewing for a new job, I had my final follow-up at the dentist for a BIG matter that had to be fixed.  It all started last month when one of my back teeth decided to crumble... yes, crumble!  Then it turned into a three-tooth-repair-thing once my dentist and orthodontist really investigated further.  (Apparently, I have soft teeth.  Sigh.)  Root canals, specialized work, temporary crowns, and now the final crowns were ready to be inserted and finished.  All without insurance covering everything except the root canals.  All with only my personal promise to pay a hefty (but generously reduced) dental bill just as soon as I was able - - once Chuck and I were back on our feet again.  How blessed to know those who are not only talented, but also kind, understanding and patient.  Thank you, Dr. Wambaugh!!!!  Thank you so much for getting my teeth back in working order.  I love you.

Anyway, after finishing the installment of my permanent crowns, Dr. Wambaugh asked me if I wanted to fix a small chip that I've been living with on my front tooth FOREVER!  Note: A few years back, a dentist back in Chicago had casually swiped some filler over the chip, but he (unfortunately) did it incorrectly.  The result was so annoying - with a front tooth that was never cosmetically or functionally right (a food trap, if you will).  But, I lived with this stupid flaw because... well, I don't know why.  I just lived with it.  For years, that poorly-filled front tooth just annoyed and annoyed me.  Blaaaahhh!

So, when offered to have it immediately taken care of today, you can imagine my mixed emotions.  Am I going to make it worse by messing with it?  Will Dr. Wambaugh really be able to fix this forever-long problem?  Will I have a weird smile?  Will I lisp?  Will it be pretty?  Will it cost too much?  Questions, questions, questions ran through my head while Dr. Wambaugh, and his lovely assistant (Rachel), patiently waited for my decision.  (They are so great.)

Suddenly I remembered that my friend, Shelene Bryan, has a new book coming out sometime in late April named Love Skip Jump (which I highly recommend, by the way).  In it, she talks about being open to saying "yes" to the opportunities that God presents to us in our daily lives.  To live in readiness, revealing His glory through us, in order to expose Jesus' great love.  Over the holiday I was blessed to pre-read and review Shelene's book, and last week she and I were chatting about how that concept of "yes, Lord" has already played out in so many astounding ways in both our lives.

So fast forward to today... when the Holy Spirit reminded me of Shelene and to say "yes" to Dr. Wambaugh's opportunity rather than worry over all the "what if'" questions surrounding my silly tooth.  Without further hesitation, I internally thanked God and robustly said "yes" to Dr. Wambaugh.  "Yes, please!  By all means!  Feel free to fix that annoying little chip on my front tooth that only I seem to notice but clearly hate!  Yes!  YES!"

Within seconds, the dental team was back in my mouth doing who knows what with their drilly-thing-a-ma-bob-ice-cold-spray-device... filling, smoothing, polishing.  It all sounded quite horrible, really.  But thankfully, I was in the best hands and felt only some mild pressure.  When finished, Rachel held up a mirror to my face and said with a big smile, "OK, look!"

(Insert Handel's Hallelujah Chorus here!!!)

"My tooth!!!"  I squealed with delight.  "It's... it's... BEAUTIFUL!"  Sure, the real necessary work had been done deep down in the back of my mouth where nobody would ever see.  (And that work was equally, if not more, impressive.)  But my front tooth... ahhhh, now it looked, well... perfect!  (I'm teary-eyed just thinking about it. Running my tongue over every tooth and thinking how blessed we are to have dentists, and friends, and all that God provides!  We must share this wonderful hope and love, you know!  We must bring the same joy of Jesus to all the world by sharing our own talents and time, peeps!)  Thank you again, Dr. Wambaugh... and thank you, precious Lord Jesus, whose glory cannot be compared!

Isn't that just like God?  He generously works deep within us - restoring and renewing the mess inside our crumbled, corrupted souls.  Rooting out all that is evil and broken, and making us into new, better creatures in Christ.  Then, once His Way is deeply established within our softened hearts, He further blesses us with the honor of looking more beautiful.  Why?  Because Jesus is apparent outside when He is firmly living inside!  Our chips are filled and corrected by His grace.  Questions are answered through obedience that awesomely then gives us the greatest privilege of exposing The Master's glory.  Sure, there is work to be done.  There is pressure to endure as we learn to abide in Him.  But isn't it all worth it?  And aren't we in the very best hands?!!!  People, we are desperately in need of God's filling, smoothing, polishing!  So please, trust me when I tell you that there is no greater joy than to look in the mirror and squeal with delight, "Jesus, you are soooo BEAUTIFUL!!!  You are faithful to restore and renew!!!  Let me take in everything you wish for me to reflect.  Let me always say 'yes' in order to expose Your grace and glory!  Let me showcase YOU in all that I say and do!!!"

(Again, insert Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and have a blessed day allowing Christ to restore your life to His beautiful NEW!)  LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Proverbs 27:19)

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)

Blessings!

~Victoria

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

let's choose Jesus, His way

I really hate when my sinful longings push their way to the surface and expose the ugly nature within me that remains in conflict with righteousness. I find that no Christian is immune to the relentless territorial warfare that exists between the forces of good and evil sparring for our hearts and minds. As children of The Most High, we claim to understand our problem of sin... we accept that Jesus remains the only way to freedom... we believe that He has the power to change us.... BUT in this life, we still remain at risk to stumble in our race toward heaven. This is due to our pathetic attention span and our default nature to keep company with the enemy.

It is hard to accept that while we remain on earth, we will never completely overcome our sin or be free from worldwide turmoil. Sin will always be a reality in this lifetime. The more we look at mankind, the more we realize that we are indeed sheep that need Shepherding! We are stubborn creatures that frequently forget God's ways are ALWAYS better than our own.

Instead of absolute, unending gratitude and submission to a perfect Master, many of us spend our time questioning the motives of our King. It is in this moment that we become annoyed with the inconvenience to do what is right in the face of trials. For if we do not succumb to accepting God's way in all circumstances, then we are faced to admit our fear to trust His plan. This truth will indeed expose our desire to shift power to our self and away from The Almighty. So, we look to each other to validate our need to question God's way - because we can always find company in sin. We begin to rationalize and compromise how important our faith and commitment to follow an "unseen" Savior really is by redefining what being a Christian really means to us rather than what it means to God. Why?... Because we feel sanctioned in our position to question His motives. For where is He? Why does He allow such bad things to happen in this world? Let's face it, we secretly feel safer trusting our own ways over God's. Satan has contained us in the familiar of our own bondage. Yes, it is corrupt... but it is also predictable. Here we live at the center of a cosmic holy war where our vision remains clouded with our own ego. We believe the underlying lie that we can view ourselves somehow equal to the Creator and thus consider ourselves bigger than we actually are. Oh Lord, help us to overcome such selfishness! Less of me.... more of YOU!

You would think that after we accept Jesus as our Savior, everything would be easy and perfect and we would be transformed to be just like Him instantly... but alas, that is not how God chose to make life work. Instead, He uses our time and experiences here on earth to mold us to become more like Christ while we deal with the aftershocks caused by sin. This is where we learn true humility. I am certain that we need a Redeemer that can take our souls out of orbit from the planet "Me" and oversee our spiritual healing process. But this process is indeed just that... a process. God wants us to go through the effort of daily sacrificing our self to follow His ways. We must lay all that we have at His feet and ask Him to change us... to teach us His path. His ways are straight, correct, just, right....good. In short, if we are not following Him, we are sinning. It's that simple.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Ladies, I challenge each of you to look at how you view yourself in contrast to how you view God. I further encourage you to look at how you react to trials and tests in your life. Circumstances, both pleasant and difficult, are intended to teach us how to live godly... meaning, how to live like God. We must accept that we are not God. We will never be God. We are, however, made to be like Him - created in His image. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. We are not. To be like Him, we must always strive to know Him... to follow His ways... to be with Him always.

Human beings cannot expect to be able to fully understand God’s ways and why He allows bad things to happen. But God has given us every reason to trust Him. God makes it abundantly clear that all of mankind is tainted, infected with sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:8). Because of this, at this very moment each person on this planet deserves instant death. Every second we spend alive... every breath of oxygen we enjoy is only by the grace and mercy of God. He is good. Even the most terrible misery we may face on this planet is still merciful compared to what we really deserve due to our sin. Without His love, we all would be doomed to eternal hell in the lake of fire. He has made it possible for us to have hope to move past the muck and mire of our corruptness. He has given us our Messiah... our Savior. God is faithful and just to those that accept Jesus as Lord. He will deliver us from sin and purify us if we accept His ways over our own. To become a new creature in Him, we must own up to our humanity and accept that we are plagued with sin. Then we must choose Jesus. We must ALWAYS choose Jesus. Let's believe His promises over everything we know until we are one day blessed to see Him face-to-face. With every decision to trust and follow Him, it becomes easier for us to grow closer to God. All because He first loved us. All because He is love.

We are special to God. Outside of Him, we are nothing. God allows all things on earth to happen for His reasons, whether we understand them or not. Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. Instead of questioning His motives, let's lay down our lives for Him to use. Let's remember that His ways are good, just, loving, and merciful. Let's love Him with all our heart - for he sees what we cannot. He rules where we cannot. He is in control of everything... and, thankfully, we are not. His Kingdom Come... His Will Be Done! Amen.

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. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Blessings!

~Victoria

Sunday, January 5, 2014

to those hanging on by a thread... an invitation

What do you do when life becomes too hard?
Where do you go when there seems to be no place else to turn?
What do you do when death looks more attractive than life...
When the thought of leaving this cruel earth seems the easiest solution to escape your depression, hardship, sickness, rejection, hopelessness, failure, loneliness, emptiness, etc.?
What do you do?

Perhaps you have family/friends who claim to care about you? 
Perhaps you have no one at all.
Either way, you now stand at a crossroads.
You have reached depletion and nothing really matters anymore.
You are numb.
You have nothing left inside - no desire, no purpose, no point.
You are empty.
Stress is at an all time high and hope is at an all time low.
You heart is broken.
In fact, your whole life is broken.
So, why continue to maintain a place in this world and live with these overwhelming feelings of despair and disappointment?

Deep down, you wish someone would hear you, save you.
You wish someone would love you enough to intervene and carry you out of this tragic pit.
But really nobody cares. Do they?

So, what do you do when you can no longer rationalize a logical reason to continue forward to the next moment?
What do you do when you start to believe the nagging voice in your head that tells you that this world would be better off if you just stopped existing and disappeared forever?
Do you give in?
Do you pull the trigger?
Do you overdose?
Do you step off the ledge?
Do you drive off the cliff?
Do you do the unthinkable... the unspeakable... the irrevocable... the unchangeable?
And if you did, then what?
What would await you after this horrible, difficult life?
Isn't there something more to this life than sadness?
Isn't there???

Before you answer the above question... would you pause for a moment and allow me to introduce you to some valuable evidence?
Would you stop and take a deep, full breath, and permit me to present a real solution to your sorrow?

BREATHE. (Fill up your lungs and expand and retract your rib cage as you allow air in and out... in and out.)

As you continue to breathe... trust me when I tell you, there is indeed MORE to this life.
There is a solution for your despair.
There is a rational and logical reason to continue living and a real hope to find pure joy.
Most importantly, there is someone who cares for you exclusively.
There is someone who always hears you.
There is someone who wants nothing more than to save you.
Someone who loves you more than you can imagine.
Someone who is ready and able to change your depression to devotion... your hardship to blessing... your sickness to health... your rejection to acceptance... your hopelessness to promise... your failure to success... your loneliness to companionship... and your emptiness to complete satisfaction and fullness.

Would you be interested in knowing more?

If so, I invite you to join me first in breaking down and confirming a few unspoken truths about this physical world in which we live. (Warning: this conversation will get worse before it gets better - so be prepared, and keep breathing in and out.)

OK. It is undeniable that this earth is messed up. Sure, as a race, mankind can discover and invent some pretty amazing things... but regardless, you and I both know something just ain't right with us. Our underlying core is corrupt. Evil runs rampant everywhere and in everything. Politics, religion, corporations... even our homes, schools, and local communities are a mess. Of course, many folks do strive to make a difference... to make the world better. Many even contribute all sorts of time and money to charities, churches, and programs that are supposed to improve. But have we really improved? Is our world better?

The world media is peppered with horrifying news stories each day. It counterbalances these messages by bombarding us with commercials and information about the beautiful "it" people - the put together celebrities who promote the idea that a better life is out there. They encourage the mindset that more must always be attained to find true success and happiness. We are told to "acquire what we desire" and discard and reject what makes us uncomfortable. But what do we really desire? Money? Possessions? Status? Yes, those are all nice. But even people who have attained these things still are unsatisfied.

So, what do we REALLY want... true love, balance, peace, security, joy? To get these things, we are told by the "it" people to dig deep into our own spirituality and "find" ourselves. Here, we'll hear a lot of buzz words about self esteem and inner peace and are introduced to advocates who promote the power of positive thinking. But since there is not too much positive out there to think about, they will then go so far as to suggest ongoing psychoanalysis and perhaps the prescribing of antidepressant medications that we may or may not really need.

All these things still seem to leave us without answers. We now find ourselves clinging to anything that makes us feel good and builds up our ego, yet we are still hanging on by a thread. Are these self-help methods really the answer? If so, wouldn't we all be healthy by now? Wouldn't we have all found our "bliss"? Wouldn't we have evolved into the perfection we all seem to think is attainable by being the fittest and smartest?

(Keep breathing.)

The truth of the matter is that people (ALL people) are selfish, corrupt, unstable, unsettled, and destructive creatures struggling to survive on a dying planet. We have convinced one another that our best life is NOW. But clearly, it is not. Even those who have everything you could dream of are hard pressed to find satisfaction or peace on their own. Why? Because this world cannot promise peace. On our own, we can never be settled in this volatile environment. And when we try to pretend we are at peace, we set ourselves up for devastation. Our hearts ultimately break and we question "why bother at all." We realize that this life is indeed lacking... that we are hopeless on our own.

OK, now let me begin to share something with you that will refresh your soul!
Let me start to share with you the real plan... the real reason you are here on this earth.
You see, the Holy Bible says that mankind was originally created by God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. (Genesis 1:1, 26-30)

In the beginning, our original and only purpose on this earth was to relate closely to our Creator while overseeing His creation. We were made to be refreshed by His good presence while enjoying the honor of supervising all He created on earth. Made in His image and offered the opportunity to have it all, mankind was fashioned with the purpose to live a blessed life worshipping a loving God. And being made in the image and likeness of God (according to Genesis 1:27), we each have the ability to know God and therefore love Him, serve Him, and fellowship with Him.

For by him (God) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

It's important to note that God did not have to create human beings because He needed companionship. As God, He clearly needs nothing at all, for He is complete. Furthermore, in all eternity past, God never felt loneliness. So, He did not need to create us because he lacked a friend. All that said, God still chose to make mankind. Why? The answer is, because it pleased Him to create and love us. When God made the universe, He did what pleased Himself. And since God is perfect and good, His action was also perfect and good. As stated in Genesis 1:31, “It was very good."

Knowing all this... we can surmise that your life, specifically, was planned out by God in order for you to enjoy that same genuine and fulfilling relationship with the Almighty One who made you in order to love and relate to you. As such, the only way you can be refreshed and made whole is by seeking His good presence. To be fulfilled, you must be close to God. For God wants you to enjoy your life and embrace every blessing He has bestowed upon you. The Bible says that Jesus is the only Way to be close to God.

Have you ever really thought about this?
Have you ever considered that this world is not quite right because men have chosen to turn away from their original purpose... away from God's relationship and love?
How can we possibly know real peace if we continue to deny the One who created us and the life He originally intended for us? Whether men will admit it or not, it is impossible to live a healthy, happy life if we choose to walk outside of God's loving plan.
Can a fish live outside water? No, not for long.
Can we live without God? Clearly, no, not for long.
Without God, we are all gasping for breath here, aren't we?

With this news, will you continue to breathe in and out for just a while longer?
Will you make a commitment to join me here every day and deliberately seek His truth in order to restore your health... your heart, mind and soul... and begin to live according to His good Way?
Rather than simply give up with no hope, I invite you to take a joyful life journey with me here at The Devoted Woman website.  A journey of hope, peace, satisfaction, truth, and love!  Trust me when I tell you... I've been where you are, and God's Way is SO MUCH BETTER and SO WORTH IT!

To start immediately, take my advise: get a Bible of your own and begin praying to God for everything you are feeling, thinking, and desiring.  Then keep praying to Him all the time.  Talk with Him.  Share honestly with Him inside your heart and mind... He will hear you and really does want to give you everything good! And while you consider what you are praying for, perhaps write it down and compare how your prayers parallel to the prayers written in the book of Psalms.

Secondly, that Bible you just got yourself... read it... read it a lot!  (I recommend the King James or more modern English Standard Versions.)  Read a chapter or two both morning and night - no matter how difficult it may seem... just make time and read it every day!  Turn off the television, or radio, or computer, and read the Bible.  Get a Bible commentary to help you understand it better if necessary.  But don't give up or be discouraged if it is hard at first. Just keep reading it. Intake and do your best to comprehend God's Word as best you can!  You see, whether you know it or not yet... prayer and reading God's Word are more important to you than even food, water, or sleep!  Sure, you need those things too, but your eternal survival and nourishment can only come from the Lord who made you.  In fact, His Word actually spoke our whole world into existence!  His breath is what gave you LIFE!  Are you still breathing?  That's God's breath of LIFE you are breathing RIGHT NOW!!!

Lastly, I encourage you to get involved in a Christian, faith-based church.  Please don't forget or ignore this last step as God intends for each of us to live our days loving and serving alongside others - growing as a family and community according to His law.  Pray to God and ask Him to lead you to exactly the right church to attend.  And if it seems too overwhelming... feel free to email me personally at victoria@thedevotedwoman.com and I will do my best to pray for you and help find a church in your area.  (Please understand, I do receive a lot of emails, so I will respond as quickly as possible... but I will respond!)  OK, so now... here are some key statements that you need to look for in your new church.  Check out their website or talk with their pastor to insure their mission statement coincides with these truths:

God's Ultimate Authority
  • The Bible is the infallible Word of God.
  • The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal God.
  • Jesus Christ is the Son (God in human flesh) and our only Lord and Savior.
Sin & Death
  • Without God's forgiveness, sin insures mankind of eternal death and separation from God.
  • All people have sinned and need to be forgiven by God.  There is none righteous, no not one.
  • God is perfect and holy.
  • God loves people and longs to be with them, but God cannot tolerate man's sinfulness.
God's Loving Solution
  • Jesus Christ died on the cross after living a sinless life to take the punishment for man's burden of sin. 
  • Jesus Christ overcame death by rising from it, proving to the world that He is God - the Way, the Truth and the Life.
  • Jesus Christ is alive today in heaven, preparing a place for those who believe in Him.
  • Jesus Christ has the only authority to forgive us of our sin and transform our lives forever.
  • Salvation is a gift of God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  • People who choose to accept and follow Jesus Christ will find new life in Him and never be separated from God and   His infinite love.
  • Christians are followers of Jesus Christ.  (Note: People who profess to be a Christian but do not accept and follow Jesus Christ according to His authority are not truly Christians.)
What a Redeemed Life in Christ Looks Like
  • Christians are responsible to love God with all their heart, soul and mind.
  • Christians are responsible to reflect the love of Jesus Christ to all the world.
  • Christians are responsible to disciple all nations by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Friend, I hope you will move forward as I suggest, because there really is a good plan for your life! God loves you!!! He has provided the solution of Jesus to save and restore you and make you whole again. With Jesus, you are promised a new, wonderful, fulfilling life forevermore!  So don't give up!  Instead seek Him!

Yes, we all know that this world has a big problem that nobody wants to admit. We also know that it's getting worse and worse. Yet still, people don't like to talk about the big "elephant" of sin sitting in the middle of the room. Instead, society would rather dance around the issue and make excuses while seeking false gods and fake fulfillment... which are clearly NOT solutions!

Isn't it time to give up the world's broken way?
Isn't it time to instead know the real joy of JESUS?
Isn't it time to embrace God's real solution for your life?
Isn't it time to stop trying to live your old way and instead live the healthy way your Creator intended for you?
I think so!  Don't you?

I invite you to join me here at DW each day and let's share what is happening in this walk together. This is a safe place with likeminded individuals who also are seeking after Jesus to rule their life. Really, let's grow together in Christ and take the necessary time to study, obey, and praise the One who is ready to hear every problem AND BRING US SALVATION.  Receive the One who is ready to lift you out of despair.  Relate to the One who loves you... yes YOU, enough to intervene and carry you out of this tragic pit.  He is able.  And He will make you whole and happy if you allow Him headship in your life.

Friend, God is the solution.
God alone can help you out of whatever you are burdened.
His Word is indeed Life.
His breath is what we are all gasping for - whether we know it or not.
So, keep breathing.
One breath at a time.  
And join me!
Let's seek His way together.
Let's receive His Son and be restored by our Creator!
I don't claim to have all the answers to everything..., but I do know God does!
He will answer anyone who seeks after Him sincerely and always!

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

This is promised truth you can rely on with no hidden agenda.
GOD LOVES YOU!
Yes, Jesus is the Way to peace!

I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.  O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. (Psalm 30)

Wouldn't you like to have an intimate, eternal relationship with the One who made you and loves you unconditionally? If so, I encourage you this very day to devote yourself to Him (either in your own words or use and believe this simple prayer below) to receive Him as your only God and King:

"Father in Heaven, until now I have been living life my own way, but I want to start living for You. I trust You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit, I realize I’ve sinned before You and come to You in repentance. I believe that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus, Your Only Son, to fully pay the penalty for my sin by dying on the cross. I receive the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I will live eternally in Your perfect, glorious presence. Dear God, thank you for forgiving me, making me Your child, and preparing a place for me in Heaven. Amen.”

Until tomorrow... BREATHE!  Inhale.  Pray.  Exhale.  Seek and obey God's Word.
(Keep repeating and He will deliver, defend, and restore you!)

Many Blessings in Jesus Name!

~Victoria Anderson




Saturday, January 4, 2014

the tale of Chris and the mosquitos

There once was a boy named Chris.
Chris loved his father.
And his father loved Chris.
In fact, Chris did everything with his dad and cherished beyond anything else their relationship.

You see, Chris' father was the most powerful and renowned person in the land.
He was responsible for everything good... building homes, influencing leaders, producing food, etc.
Sometimes, Chris wondered if everyone in every country knew his father, because there was no one more impressive.
"What a wonderful father, I have!" Chris would sing aloud.
"What a terrific person is my dad!"
Yes, Chris' father was indeed above them all!
Chris' dad was the greatest to ever be.

One day, Chris' father asked Chris to go outside to accomplish chores in their backyard.
He promised Chris that after he had finished doing what he had asked of him, they could spend more quality father/son time together, which is all Chris really desired.
Dad was his hero.
So without hesitation, Chris ran outside and did his chores,
But all the while he found himself surrounded by swarms of hungry mosquitos.
They buzzed around him, greedily biting and sucking at his skin.

When Chris was ready to come inside, he saw his father standing in the doorway overseeing all that was going on.
He called out, "Dad, can I come in now?  I finished these chores and I really want to be with you."
Chris' father looked at him sadly and said,
"No son. There is one more chore I want you to finish..."
"I want you to allow the mosquitos to suck your blood dry."
Chris looked at his father in tears and realized that no matter how awful these little bugs where attacking him, his dad actually loved the mosquitos and saw value in their existence.
It seemed crazy, but Chris' father loved mosquitos!

Always wanting to please his father and trusting his wisdom thoroughly...
Chris, now infested head to toe, faithfully replied,
"Father, I will do what you ask because I love you... but really, is there any other way this chore could be accomplished?"
"No son," his father replied, "You must allow these bugs to suck you dry... to the death."
Father was clear.
And Chris uncomfortably endured the worst of all pain.
And, Chris obeyed his father.

So, that day, Chris let the mosquitos suck his blood dry.
He died because he loved his father and everything his father loved,
And Chris' father loved mosquitos!

Three days later, Chris was alive again and back with his dad who had collected him.
For even though Chris had died,
His incredibly wise father knew exactly how to bring Chris back to life.
And, as he was promised, Chris returned home to be with his dad.
Nonetheless, to this day he remains scarred from the mosquito incident.

Strangely, as a result of obediently finishing that one last chore,
Today, some of the mosquitos continue to feed on drops of blood left behind by Chris in the yard.
And each time they feast on his blood, they begin to grow and change more.
Growing and changing... slowly morphing into creatures that look less like mosquitos and miraculously more like Chris!
Not every mosquito, mind you...
Just the mosquitos who remember and love Chris' blood the most.
For his blood was the sweetest they had ever tasted.
Sure, there are some mosquitos that have left the yard to feed elsewhere,
But oddly they have not grown or changed.
They remain the same annoying little mosquitos that look and act, well, like mosquitos do.
The difference has really been something to watch!
For the more Chris' mosquitos drink and change, the more Chris believes his father's original plan was always for those particular bugs to become a special part of their family...
His own blood brothers and sisters, if you will!
How wonderful!
And all because of his father's genuine love of mosquitos and Chris!

Today, Chris wishes every mosquito would seek out his blood.
For they won't survive in the long run if they don't grow and change.
But alas, some have chosen not to nourish themselves with his blood.
And sadly, they will die.
But Chris remains ready to name and clothe those who are transformed.
He waves and watches them - pointing to the places he knows where more blood can be found,
For he has been in their yard.
Excited, he decorates rooms inside - customizing everything for those who will make it.
Yes, when father says it is the time to collect and bring them inside...
Chris is definitely ready to receive his new family!
What a celebration they will all have together!
Chris can hardly wait!

But how can something like this even scientifically be possible, you ask?
How can an annoying, wretched, worthless mosquito be turned into a new creature and become an heir alongside Chris rather than be squashed and forgotten forever?
Only Chris and his father know the answer to that mystery.
And only Chris and his dad can explain why they love mosquitos so very, very much!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

XOXO!

~Victoria



Thursday, January 2, 2014

discovering and returning the crystal clear love of Jesus

Ok, I just have to say it again...  God is wonderful!

It is so great when He gives us the encouragement we need through another's prayer and obedient actions to love.  So allow me to share with you a little January 1st tale from the Anderson home...

Since being let go in mid-December, Chuck and I had decided to return a few items that we had purchased earlier from Zappos.com. Zappos kindly received our returns and timely refunded monies from two orders that amounted to $212.79.  However, rather than returning that money back onto our credit card, they issued a store credit - which we didn't want.  Upon realizing this, on December 31st I wrote a quick email to Zappos customer service requesting the following:

"Hi Zappos Peeps. I currently have a $212.79 store credit that I really just want refunded to my originating credit card. Could you please do so? Thanks. ~Victoria"

Within hours, I received an email back from a Zappos representative named Duff who replied:

"Hello Victoria!  My name is Duff, and I am with the Zappos Customer Loyalty Team. It will be my sincere pleasure to help out one of our VIP customers on this lovely Winter day!  I can absolutely refund that store credit back to you, Victoria, I'll just need a moment to change into an outfit more suited for this mission, if you'll just give me moment. *Hits a button on the desk, a pole is revealed from behind a bookshelf that has slid open. I slide down the pole, and few moments later burst into the room from behind a grandfather clock, huffing and puffing.* Phew... more stairs than I remember...*wheeze*... I have returned as Batduff, using the pain from my past to fuel my hunt for bad customer service in the present!  After some investigation, and a harrowing battle with a deranged clown, I have issued your $212.79 back to the orders it originated from. The refund was split across orders #****** and #*******, $111.50 and $101.29 respectively. Both orders were payed with the same Discover card, please keep in mind, it can take up to 2-10 business days for the refund to be reflected in your account depending on your financial institution. 

Have an amazing New Year, Victoria! I hope you have an amazing rest of your week, and a great Winter! If you have any questions or need more help please don't hesitate to contact us again, we are here 24/7 and always willing to don our favorite super hero costumes to try and save the day. 

Your comic book loving Zapponian, 
Duff "

(You gotta love that Zappos sense of humor!  Hahaha!)

Anyway, you'll note that I underlined and highlighted the words "Discover card" above.  Because herein emerged a bigger problem... Chuck and I don't own a Discover card - never have and never plan to.  YIKES! Where was our $212.79 being refunded to now?  I immediately wrote back that same question to Duff.

Then I received another Zappos email:

"Greetings and Salutations, Victoria!  Thank you for contacting the Zappos Customer Loyalty Team, my name is Shea and I'll be your driver today on the Zappos happiness bus, yes, it's real! Please have a seat in our special VIP section and remember: Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and hold on tight, my driving skills are questionable, while I deliver you some happiness. 

We apologize for any inconvenience that it may cause, but unfortunately, we can only refund the credit card originally used on the order. If you still have an account with the issuer/bank, they will transfer the funds to your new account/card. If you have closed your account, please contact your card provider for additional information regarding your refund. 

If there's anything else we can assist you with or if this happiness bus completely missed your stop, please don't hesitate to get a hold of us! We're available 24/7 by phone on the VIP line at 1-877-927-2332, Live Chat on Zappos.com, or via email by either responding to this email or sending a message to cs@zappos.com. 

Have an amazing morning, you know what..Go ahead and make your whole day amazing! 

Your friendly Zapponian, 
Shea K."

Wait... was that clear, Shea K?  Is Zappos sending my refund back to my original credit card or some strange Discover card number that they think is mine???  (Lord, help resolve this matter!!!)

I received the second email very early on New Years morn (like 2:00 am).  So, I resolved to call Zappos Customer Service during regular business hours and speak to someone live about the Discover card confusion.  And here is where my story REALLY begins...

After playing the required directional tones on my phone to get to the right department, Crystal answered.  She was new to Zappos, and very friendly and helpful.  But upon investigating the Discover card question, she found herself at a loss and had to put me on hold to check with their crediting department folks.  Happily, when she returned, she confirmed that my $212.79 would be refunded to the actual credit card I originally paid with.  YAY, Crystal!  Mission successfully accomplished.  (Thank you, Lord!)

Then the most interesting thing happened.  You see, earlier in our conversation, I had ever so briefly commented that the reason I returned these items was simply due to Chuck's job loss since our finances are now very, very tight.  I also mentioned that we were trusting the Lord to provide for us - taking each day as it came.  So, before hanging up the call and merely wishing me well, Crystal kindly began to assure me of God's great provision and care.  She offered up a little bit about herself - a student who went to Bible college, a Christian, and a new employee with Zappos. She asked if she could pray for me and my family, and then did so immediately when I accepted her invitation. And then, she shared what she referred to as some Hebraic biblical numerology meanings that she had studied in school concerning the number 14 (considering our New Year is in the year 2014).  She said that with it being a multiple of 7, 14 partakes of its importance and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection.  She then began to share the following which I later looked up online also:  The number 14 represents deliverance and salvation and is used twenty-two times in the Bible. The term "14th" is found 24 times in scriptures.  In fact, the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover, when God delivered the firstborn of Israel from death. Some 430 years earlier, on the night of the 14th day of the first month, God made two covenant promises to Abraham - one of the physical seed, Isaac, and his descendants, and one of the spiritual seed, Jesus Christ.

Long story short, according to Crystal, 2014 would be a year of deliverance and salvation from God.

Pheeewwww!!!

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, that was a lot of information to take in.  And since I am no expert concerning biblical numerology and it's would-be importance, I am not equipped to confirm or deny that the information Crystal shared with me even jives with God's ultimate, authoritative Word. That said, I do know this... whether or not biblical numbers really have any significance to teach a spiritual truth is not my first concern.  For God does not call us to search for secret meanings, hidden messages, and codes in the Bible because, simply, there is more than enough truth in His Word to already meet ALL our needs... making us “complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Anyway, all things considered, I was definitely blessed by Crystal's enthusiastic and obedient heart to not only share her faith in God's salvation, but to encourage me to keep my eyes focused on Jesus' provision and love!  Furthermore, she didn't hesitate to invited me to look into a particular Christian Women's Conference if I was able, and recommended I visit a nearby church she knew of in Houston.  What a love, right?

I gave Crystal my email and DW's webpage, and told her to always feel free to contact me if she needed prayer or simply someone to talk to... and I thanked her for her open, loving heart to boldly share Jesus.  (So, if you are reading this now... HI CRYSTAL!  Love, love, love to you in Christ, sweetie!!!)

As I wrap up this little story showcasing a small part of my January 1st, 2014... I thought it important to share this lesson with you, DW's:  God calls each of us to daily "discover" Him.  Then, He commands us to feed His sheep and "return" Christ's message of salvation to those we encounter each and every day.  We are to enthusiastically promote discipleship and service within His church while offering the glorious hope of the Savior to those who remain lost and outside His fold.  Speaking truthfully and loving one another without reservation, we must obediently take the time to give of ourselves whenever the Spirit calls us to do so... whether it be on a Zappos Customer Service Call, standing in line at Starbucks, or sitting on a park bench.  For really, the place nor time is not nearly as important as the people God brings before us to minister to. Yes, Jesus wants us to share His eternal message of deliverance and salvation to all the world.  He wants us to love and give as He has loved and given to us. So today, I encourage you to do so!  Go into all the world and preach His GOOD NEWS, Believers... for the world thirsts for His perfect, timely love!

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25)

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

As January 2nd begins... let's discover and return the crystal clear love of Jesus to a world in great need of our eternal, Almighty King!

Many blessings!

~Victoria

P.S.  Below is a list of Zappos.com Family Core Values.  I encourage you to add onto the beginning of each of these values the words "In Christ" and then follow-through!!!  God is soooo wonderful!!! XOXO! ~V

  • (In Christ) Deliver WOW Through Service
  • (In Christ) Embrace and Drive Change
  • (In Christ) Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • (In Christ) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • (In Christ) Pursue Growth and Learning
  • (In Christ) Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • (In Christ) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • (In Christ) Do More With Less
  • (In Christ) Be Passionate and Determined
  • (In Christ) Be Humble


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

divine nutrients

Hello my DW loves.  Before I move forward with new blogs and thoughts in this blessed New Year, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all so much for your ongoing encouragement and continued prayers for both myself and my dear family.  I can't possibly tell you how much your supportive comments, notes, emails, and letters of encouragement have meant to us.  In fact, these typed out words I write simply don't seem sufficient enough to express my sincerest gratitude.  Rather, I find myself a bit speechless, teary-eyed, and in total love with y'all so much more!

Every day that has past since Chuck and I received the news of his job loss has felt like a week within itself.  Especially when I measure the emotional drama that seems to fester within me concerning our security, our financial losses, our questionable comforts, our immediate future, etc.  Fortunately, we have learned from previous trials to prayerfully give our stress and worries over to Jesus.  To be still and know that He will show up and save.  And always... miraculously... faithfully... God continues to reveal Himself to us!  He is trustworthy... Hallelujah!  So much so, that our daily anxieties are lifted and our burdens carried as the continued love of our precious Savior seems to override and direct us closer toward His majestic and magnetic throne.  (Thank you, Lord!)

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

I have always considered myself a prayer warrior.  Or in my case, perhaps "warrior" is too generous a word.  For when I go to God, I imagine myself as more a child with a toy sword in hand approaching the most cunning and experienced of all military generals. Nonetheless, I have always "walked and talked" with my Master through the turbulence presented on this broken earth.  And no matter how ill-equipped I may feel for a fight, I have trusted that He is always able.

However, in this new trial, I find myself almost begging God to stop the earth's very rotation so that I can catch up to Him and grab tightly onto His hand while also chain linking my other hand to the rest of my family.  This way, we can all follow his lead together - in full, single-filed submission.  In the strangest moments and in the most unusual places, I seem to insist to everyone, "I think we should pray about this or that RIGHT NOW!" And God has definitely blessed us whenever we have done so - running directly to Him in prayer.  Sure some might struggle to see where those blessings exist today since nothing has changed on the surface of our present troubles.  But trust me, His peace REALLY is everything!  His assurances become our united mantra.  His hope brings eternal focus and allows us to give back without hesitation so that we might not waiver in glorifying His holy kingdom.  Indeed, He is able!!!

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  (Psalm 103:1-2)

Yes, prayer is so very beneficial.  Gratitude and humility are the most important of dispositions.  Our posture should always be face down in spiritual communion with the Savior.  Our hearts and mouths wide open... ready to receive and repeat to one another God's life-giving Word of divine nutrients!  We are indeed image-bearing beings created to worship the Creator with ongoing supplication, thanksgiving, and adoration, as we confess transparently and encourage one another lovingly.

So, thank you my wonderful, loving DW family for prayerfully standing beside me!  Thank you so very much for supporting in agreement OUR whole family, in Jesus Name!  Personally, I hope that God continues to allow me the great honor of encouraging you with His Word daily - here on DW's site.  For his Law is marrow to each of our bones!  His promises are new every single morning!  His presence welcomes each and every believer to mutually savor His benefits and fruit... together!  And, mmmmmmm... how wonderfully yummy and satisfying is the fruit of the one and only Redeemer!  How blessed we are as we begin this new year!  Really!!!

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:17-18)

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.  Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (Proverbs 3:1-10)

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy... For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:3-4, 7-10)

Happy New Year, my DW loves.  Let us pause in speechless awe of King Jesus and prayerfully worship His beautiful Name above all other names this brand new refreshing and glorious day!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

XOXO!

~Victoria

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