Friday, December 11, 2015

come!

Holy Spirit, please come.
Reside in my heart, soul, mind, strength.
Fill me with your perfect presence and direct my every step... my every thought.
Influence my conscience to forever seek what is holy, what is wise, what is in accordance with your Word.
Do this, so that I might act righteously.
Do this, so that I might stand firm against every principality that dares to slander your powerful Name.

Come, comfort me, Father.
Cover me.
Give me your breath and peace...
A peace I cannot understand but desperately need to survive, to move forward, to flourish, to fear not!

You are welcome here, dear Savior.
This house is yours to abide... to relax comfortably.
Freely monopolize every corner and crevice.
Redecorate every square inch with your creative newness.
Remove the cob webs, the filth, the grime, the spoiled, the soured.
Evict what is not fit for your sanctuary so that every room illuminates your glory.

Come, so that every bone, every limb, every cell, every organ... every part of me shines your precious grace from within.
When others approach, may they become Son-burnt by your warmth.
May they feel welcomed and accepted as family once lost... now found.
Allow me to open every door, not only to receive... but to give, offer, sacrifice.
Teach me to surrender all skepticism and pride.
Teach me to not only feast, but to serve at your table.
Teach me to enjoy and extend every blessing of your love.
Teach me to cling to what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is excellent, what is praiseworthy...
For only you are all these...
Only you.

Creator, please come!
You are welcome here!
Fill me. Consume me. Reconstruct me. Redefine me.
Replenish my soul. Renew my life.
Restore my soul to you, my Beloved...
Yes, my glorious Redeemer... come... redeem.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” (Revelation 22:17a)

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done!

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, December 10, 2015

a large piece of humble pie for breakfast

This is one of THOSE mornings in my home, Lord!  It is a morning when my family has not realized that I am a writer, and sometimes writers need actual quiet time to well... write.  As I type this, my husband is chatting away - asking me riveting questions as to where he could have possibly left his favorite pair of shoes, his car keys, his whatever!!! My mother is noisily moving around the house, rearranging things from point A to point B while carrying on a not-so-insightful conversation with our motley crew of pets.  Furthermore, there is even a pesky mosquito that someone accidentally let into our house last night who has taken a personal liking to my head and won't let up on his covert attacks to freak me out with a surprise dive bomb at any given moment.  (I'm itchy just thinking about him!)  Argh!

What's the matter with this picture, Lord?  What is the problem?  What is it about ME right now that seems so engaging for others to annoy?  ME, an introverted insomniac who sits quietly in a corner with laptop and coffee.  ME who wants nothing but disengagement and solitude in the early AM hours of her weekday.  ME, a person who, right now, wishes to be invisible... rather than converse, or help, or answer, or attend to those I share living space.  ME, a girl who just wants some space... some peace and quiet, if you will.  Space, so that I can spend my time writing to other women about (pause...) sharing the love of Jesus in our daily lives. (Gulp.) Yep, I just realized what the problem is, Lord.  The problem is (gulp again)... ME.

While realizing this, my loving husband (unaware of my morning selfishness) begins coo'ing to me across the house. He playfully sings out to me from an open office door, "Vic, I love you!"  Then he joyfully continues... serenading my spirit with a playlist of romantic songs while physically organizing his busy workday.  Clearly his morning is not one of THOSE mornings.  His morning is full of love and gratitude and blessing.  He is not short-sighted with ego or pride.  No, instead, my husband loves.  Who does he love?  He loves ME!  He is appreciative to have his beloved bride of almost two decades near him.  He is thankful for our life and all God has supplied us.  He is thoughtful and mindful and motivated and chivalrous.  He is not stingy, or sarcastic, or disheveled about what is wrong or what is not going his way.  No, instead his day begins with fresh eyes of kindness.  His morning is full of grace.

As I type the last paragraph (above) my mother walks into the room where I sit and quietly kisses my head.  She whispers, "Good morning, sweetie!" and happily continues on with her chores.  She is excited about the new day.  She is content and quiet, and peaceful.  She is everything I aspire to be in a godly woman.  (Why again did I want space, Lord?)

So, dear reader, perhaps this is not one of THOSE mornings when I need to write an insightful blog post. For clearly today I could learn a thing or two about sharing the love of Jesus from those He has blessed me with.  Yes, perhaps this morning I will stop festering in disappointment about what isn't working out "just so" for ME, and instead eat that large piece of humble pie the Holy Spirit has served up for breakfast.  Yep, today is one of THOSE days that I must accept that, yes, I am a writer, and sometimes writers need actual quiet time to well... LOVE.  For what's the point of writing anything, if I don't actually take time to first love others like Jesus?... with all my heart... with full gratitude... with thoughtfulness, and mindfulness, and motivation, and charm... with kindness, and grace, and contentment, and godliness.

Yep. It's time for this writer to stop typing and start eating the tasty lesson my Redeemer serves for breakfast. Give me a full plate of your humility to consume, Holy King. I am indeed hungry for YOU!  So, please, dish me up a much-needed, early morning helping - and make it a heaping helping to boot!  And, most importantly, thank you... thank you for the large piece of humble pie, dear Lord.  Thank you for the reminder!  Thank you for first loving ME and actively showing me your love through others!  Thank you for blessing me with a wonderful marriage, family, and life!  Thank you for every goodness, and thank you for a full, satisfying future of hope!!!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making this one of THOSE mornings to teach me about how important it is to share your love in my daily life!  Blessed be YOUR Name!!!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 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 3:12-17) 

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

a special day to celebrate

It used to really bother me.
It used to gnaw at my gut.

How could I say I was a Christian if I couldn't even remember the historical calendar date when I was saved?

You see, I was spiritually "born again" very early in my life.  And although I was young, I indeed recognized my sin, repented to God, and submitted to the truth of Scripture that says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) and “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.” (Joel 2:32).  But my problem was that I was too young, too childlike, too spacey, too naive to actually think about documenting that momentous date.  I was just a "little one to Him belong".  As a result, later on it really, really bothered me that I did not know the initial date when I accepted Jesus as my Savior.  For I simply had nothing on the calendar to look to as documented proof.  I believed in Christ as my King, but I couldn't answer the question, "So, WHEN were you saved, Victoria?"  Sure, my big brother's salvation was clearly noted in my father's Bible.  But nobody... nowhere... had written down anything about my own conversion.  What up, people?  Lord, now what do I do???

Again, how could I say I was a Christian if I couldn't remember the historical calendar date when I was saved?

Sadly, for years this little detail made me question my eternity.  Over and over I would find myself walking down church pews to rededicate my life to the Lord... just to be sure...  Just to show Him my heart's desire - - even if I couldn't remember my salvation date.  Again and again, I would be tucked into bed each night and fearfully question my mother, "Momba, am I really saved?" Oooo, that ruthless enemy and his bag of tricks.  He frequently introduced doubt while scoffing at my undocumented profession of faith - causing me to question God's promise.  Leading me to consider his lies.

Thankfully, after years of tip-toeing over Satan's minefields (mind-fields) and seeking after Christ's security, God finally offered me this important understanding.  Salvation is not about that one moment in time.  It is about every moment in time with Jesus.  It is not a date noted on a calendar.  It is about a new life affectionately receiving and loving Jesus.  He is the importance.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is the proof.  It didn't matter WHEN I had accepted Him.  It only mattered that I HAD accepted His beautiful gift of NEW life, and that He continues to be my #1 priority and focus as I live it!

Ahhhhh!  Freedom in Christ!  Freedom to celebrate believing in Him!  Freedom to know that I have called on His Name and that I am delivered by His grace!!!

Ladies, the Bible commands us to evaluate and examine our spiritual condition so that we aren’t self-deceived into thinking we’re truly saved when we’re not. (See 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 2 Peter 1:10.)  We are to regularly test ourselves to insure that we are living faithfully to Jesus. We are to diligently make certain that we are following His call.  That said, for those of you like me... those who never documented their historical date of salvation and have questioned your commitment to the Lord because of it... let me share with you something important...

Jonathan Edwards wrote in his famous work "A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections" these important words: “There is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?  The principle evidence of life is motion; so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy motion.” 

What did Edwards mean?  He meant what Jesus said simply in Matthew 12:33, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit."  Or my own paraphrase: When someone is physically alive... they move, act, breathe, progress, and live their life.  Equally, when someone is spiritually alive... they move, breathe, progress, and live their life choosing to actively follow Jesus Christ.  And by choosing to follow (or not follow) His Way, our spiritual fruit (our salvation) is made known.  In short, His Law becomes every believer's new oxygen to breathe in and out!  The priority of loving, obeying, and submitting to His reign becomes evident because we are living in holy motion.

Does this mean we won't struggle with sin.  Absolutely not.  We are still sinners.  But in taking on God's Name, we are goats now transformed into sheep by His grace. We are NEW creatures!!!  Sure, even Paul struggled with sin in Romans 7 where he shares with us his battle with the old sinful nature.  Clearly none of us is perfect.  But Jesus is.  And He will do a good work in those who actively seek after Him.  He will lead His sheep into His perfect pastures and restore us into His righteousness!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:2-3)

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  (Titus 2:11-14)

Zealous...  That is what we should be questioning.  Our zealous evidence of holy motion toward Jesus.  Are we spiritually alive - moving, acting, progressing, and living affectionately, lovingly, and wholeheartedly in obedience of Jesus Christ?  You see, calendars are not the importance when it comes to the Savior... for TODAY is the day to celebrate His promises and reign!  TODAY is the day to rejoice and be glad in His authority!  TODAY is the day to accept Christ the Lord again and again and again as our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!  Yes, THIS IS THE DAY TO REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN HIM!

I am so thankful that God taught me that every calendar day is a special day to celebrate and believe in His promised salvation.  So, TODAY I live in praise and commemoration of Him!  For I have recognized my sin. I have repented to His authority.  And I have submitted to His truth and chosen to affectionately, zealously, and lovingly believe in His only Son with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength!  Yes, every day, I live NEW because of the Savior's glorious gift of LIFE!  Jesus is my assurance!  Jesus is my proof!  Jesus is my new oxygen!

Believer, God assures us that, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Ahhhhh!  Freedom in Christ!  Freedom to celebrate believing in Him!  Freedom to know that I have called on His Name and that I am delivered by His grace!!!  This is definitely a special day to celebrate in His Name!  WOO HOO!

The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.  The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.  The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.  I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.  The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.  Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:  This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.  The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.  This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.  Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.  God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.  Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 118:14-29)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

Let us rejoice and believe!!!  Let us actively LIVE our new life zealous to honor the King of kings!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

call to me and I will answer you

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)

Call upon the Lord.  Sometimes I forget this.  Sometimes I suffer unnecessarily before finally realizing that I am incapable of fixing everything.  Understanding that my way isn't always the right solution.  Unfortunately, my standard default is to think I know everything... or that I can come up with all the correct answers.  Sure, I can figure this whole life thing out on my own.  NOT!  Alone, what do I know about life except to complicate it?!

But God... ah, God knows me better than I even know myself.  He created me.  He knows how many crazy, curly blonde hairs sit atop my head.  He knows my comings and goings.  He knows exactly when I am walking in and out of His will... when I am wasting my time with distractions that do not glorify Him, and when I am loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Yes, God knows everything.  Even things I do not.

So why not call upon Him?
Why assume that my independence can somehow surpass His greatness?  What foolishness!!!  Especially when He promises to bring new things, new solutions, new ways to the forefront.
Why not go to God first?  Why not call on Him for direction?  Why not?

You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it?  From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. (Isaiah 48:6)

Friends, the daily dialog of prayer with the Creator of all things is vital for every Christian to flourish and live fully.  Yes, we need to hear and know our Master's life-giving Word... but application to "do" is equally important.  We must communicate!  We must make the effort to speak with Him.  We must allow our Redeemer the glory and honor to answer us with His unfathomable grace.  We must see and declare every wonder, every blessing, every miracle, every truth our King delivers to us in real time.  We must live our testimony out every hour rather than hole up in stifling selfishness.  Simply... our way does not work.  But His Way is transforming!

I cannot overestimate how vital our calling to the Lord in prayer is.  In fact, daily communication with God is as important as learning His Word inside and out.  Without such dialog, we are unable to share and relate with God.  (And there is no relationship more important than His.)  So, today I encourage you to take time out to call to Him.  God wants us to call to Him so that He can answer our prayers. He wants us to share our lives with Him so that He can bring to us His incredible blessings that we might otherwise have missed. James 4:8 tells us to “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” God wants us to be close to Him always, folks.  God wants us to acknowledge Him in worship and be thankful to Him for all He provides.  God wants us to confess and repent our sins to Him so that He can further teach and guide us into His holiness.  God wants us to obediently acknowledge Who is really in control of this life we are living.

God is sovereign. Nothing happens without His knowing about it.  As such, He deserves our full attention, our only worship, our complete and consistent praise... our words, thoughts, deeds... our everything!

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Let me encourage you to acknowledge Him each and every day.  His proper place in our lives is FIRST!  His authority is FIRST!  His Way is FIRST!  So, humbly, reverently, and regularly call to your King.  He will answer.  He will bless.  He will lead you and restore your weary soul.

What a marvelous privilege to be given the freedom to call upon the King.  To have a real relationship with the One.  To live with the honor and know the friendship that brings us into actual speaking terms with the great I AM.  Do not take such a blessing for granted.  Build your relationship with the Lord always.  Talk with Him regularly.  Unite yourself to Him in all things.  Draw near and allow Him to show you true life!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

a broken spirit running with blinders... conditioned for His prize

Jesus is all I need.  I really do believe this.  But sometimes I forget and do not live like it.  I stress over the big things, the little things... everything!  I fear and worry.  I want, and want, and want.  But if I were to be honest with myself, I rarely ever find myself in need.  I mean really hard-core NEED!  For God always supplies, doesn't He?  Maybe not exactly the way I want Him to.  Maybe not in the timing I'd expect or in the method I'd prefer... but He always comes through.  He always protects, always cares, always gives.  God always loves me.  What an incredible Master who loves His servant more than the life of His own Son.  Who freely offers full adoption into His household and knights those who believe in Him with every blessing and title attached to His Mighty Name.  Astounding.

What really matters is being close to Jesus.  Being near Him.  Staying open to receive His boundless love, and banking on His hopeful future.  Learning and obeying His Word.  Seeking Him in every circumstance.  I know this.  And yet, too often I find myself stuck in a self-made prison of doubt, fear, defeat.  I forget His higher Ways as I focus on my lower worries.  Why?  Because the enemy distracts my eyes away from God's vision.  Rather than give thanks for every gift, I set my short-term sight on greed, lust, pride.  Ugh, pride.  My pride pushes me to look away from God and toward false comforts and fake promises.  And I love me my comforts.  For the sake of comfort, I have bought into so many fake promises "guaranteeing" safety, security, fullness, peace.  But without God, there can be no peace.  So, inevitably I stumble in my selfishness.  I fall down and feel my heart break once again for my Creator, my Savior, my Teacher, my Redeemer.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51)

Some horses must wear blinders.  Blinders are a pair of small screens attached to a horse's bridle to prevent it from seeing sideways or behind.  Many astute riders depend on blinders to keep a horse on-track, on-course, on-point.  It channels a horse's vision and cuts down on the scope of their natural sight, producing a potent effect on an anxious horse accustom to seeing and reacting to everything that is around him.  Not every horse runs with blinders, mind you.  Some are more developed and inclined to block out distracting sights and sounds.  I, however, am not such a horse.  I am easily distracted, it seems, at every twist and turn.  In fact, I am quite capable of slowing down and wandering off my intended course.  Because of this, I need the blinders of Christ's Spirit protecting my eyes.  I need to solely focus on the restoration and joy of His salvation.  I must willingly rejoice in His unfailing love without compromise.  For I cannot run my best without His veil of peace over me.  I cannot win this race without His compassion and help.  I cannot live pure, or steadfast, or justified without Jesus's Name clothing my whole being... my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Only with Him guiding me forward, will I win.  His Way is all that matters.  He is all I need.

My natural sight easily paves a path into sin.  Alone, I am corrupt, lost.  But my new life and vision in Christ exposes the full and complete compassion and love of Jesus.  He gives.  He provides.  He loves.  He conditions me for MORE!  In His Name, I am a running purebred with a broken spirit.  So today, my sacrifice, O God, is a broken contrite heart that You will not despise.  Today, I choose to run with Your blinders on so that I might be trained to win.  Please keep me focused and thankful, dear Lord.  Stay close to me and help me to overcome because You already overcame!  Yes, help this old mare to run well, run hard, run deliberate, and run with full vigor and thankfulness in order to glorify Your perfect Name.  For all I really need is YOU leading me!

All I really need forever is Jesus!!!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Saturday, November 7, 2015

keeping our lips filtered with His holiness

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)

All too often the Holy Spirit must remind me mid-sentence what words I am allowing out of my mouth...
What under breath comments and harsh tones I am capable of blurting out and, even worse, believing are fully justifiable and warranted.

Yes, it is natural to grumble.
It’s easy to passively (and sometimes not so passively) express hatred when we blurt out snide comments of discontentment to those within earshot.

You see, people (especially the one’s we love most)... well, they can really annoy us, can’t they?
They don’t always care about what we care about.
They don’t always do things the way we want done and for reasons we think important.
So yes, people can get on our last nerve.
So much so, that our love for them can seem downright schizophrenic when it comes to our words.
For when others irritate us, we usually say so.
We share our thoughts.
We say our peace.
But is it peace?
Is it really God’s defined peace that we are sharing?
Do our words accurately represent His holiness... or do they represent our own selfishness?
Have we forgotten to filter our lips not only with His truth, but with His perfect love, respect, and sacrifice?

I find it interesting that so many Christians (myself included) are more than eager to criticize and negatively complain about any given topic, but falter when it comes down to actually uplifting, evangelizing, and sharing God’s love.
Is this how our voices are to be used to represent the Savior?
Absolutely not!
We are to love others as if we were actually loving ourself.
We are to give them the benefit, share with them the truth, pray for them, honor and respect them, and most importantly extend to them the consistent and never-ending love of Christ!

So, dear readers, today I implore you (and myself!) to please think before you speak.
Be deliberate and thoughtful in Jesus' Name before choosing to be vocal.
And most importantly, use your words to uplift and promote His kingdom... what, in God's economy, really matters:

Whatever is true.
Whatever is noble.
Whatever is right.
Whatever is pure.
Whatever is lovely.
Whatever is admirable.
And ANYTHING excellent or praiseworthy...

Yes, think about these things!  Speak about these things!  Encourage these things and let the love of the Lord be showcased again and again and again!

Heavenly Father, set a guard over our mouths and watch over how we communicate in your Name.
May our words always be pleasing to your ears.
May our voice be your voice as we strive to represent your holiness and love always!

This is the day to joyfully and gladly be His blessing!
THIS IS THE DAY!!!

XOXO!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, November 6, 2015

the path of the righteous

The Time: Fall 2001

The Place: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

The Occasion: Business/Mini-Romantic Get-Away Trip

The Participants: Chuck and Victoria Anderson

The Mission: A few customer sales visits, eating as much seafood as humanly possible, and relaxing on the powder white sands of the Gulf Coast together.

Chuck had flown in from business out of New York.
I had flown in from Chicago.
We met in Atlanta's airport.
Once reunited, we took a short flight together to Fort Walton's airport anxious to start our "Romantic Get-Away" trip.

Chuck arranged everything in advance: beachfront hotel, upgraded rental car, primo restaurants, etc.
It was an impromptu vacation that we were very much looking forward to since we hadn't been together in over two weeks.

Once in Florida, we held hands and casually rolled our suitcases to our favored rental car vendor and picked up a brand new Buick Rendezvous. For those of you unfamiliar with the old Buick Rendezvous, it was a "crossover car" made for consumers who wanted the cargo carrying capacity and elevated seating of an SUV but who never planned to take the vehicle off the pavement. Because of this, the Rendezvous was developed as a front-wheel drive SUV that drove similar to a standard car, just higher.

With gooey-gum-drop eyes filled with love and anticipation for the romantic time we would soon have together, Chuck thoughtfully loaded our luggage pieces into the vehicle, opened/closed my door (like the gentleman he always is), and proceeded to show me a map with the fastest route to our beachfront hotel. It was a magical time... the beginning of our mini-vacation of LOVE! WOO HOO! We drove onto the highway - my husband taking charge as "acting pilot" of the vehicle while I assumed the role of his faithful "co-pilot". We breathed in the glorious fresh air and acted like newlyweds who had just left for their honeymoon, laughing and enjoying one another's company while driving to our resort destination.

I was so excited to be with MY MAN. Sure, I knew Chuck would fit in one or two customer sales visits during this trip, but that would allow me some time alone to enjoy a great novel by the pool or get a manicure. One thing was certain, this was going to be a FUN vacation together!

In 2001, navigation systems were not yet mainstream in rental vehicles. So as we drove along, we relied upon our map to get us safely to our hotel. Since I was acting co-pilot,  I was in charge of navigation.  Now admittedly, I am not the most adept at giving directions or reading maps, and I was distracted by the beautiful shoreline and dreamy expectations of our time now together. So, when we neared the resort, I failed to pay attention to the path we were on and missed telling Chuck when to turn. This resulted in us overshooting the entrance to our hotel. No biggie, right? Easily correctable.

Chuck found a nearby souveneir shop and pulled in so that he could turn our vehicle around. Once in the parking lot, we both realized that we could actually see our hotel from behind the shop. In fact, the only thing separating the two buildings was a small sand dune.... but the road entrance was back the way we originally came from. Suddenly the proper entrance seemed too far away to my husband, and without thought, he impulsively decided to "gun it" toward the sand ahead.

As I remember the next few moments playing out, it seemed as if life began to move in slow motion. For in this instance of impulse, my husband had forgotten that he was behind the wheel of a vehicle unintended for off-roading. On the other hand, I immediately remembered that the Rendezvous was not a four-wheel drive SUV and panicked... I quickly yelled out in desparation, "Noooooo!" But alas, the deed was already done. As the tires hit the soft earth beneath us, we both instantly knew it was too late. We were stuck. Really stuck. Worse yet, the more Chuck spun the tires, the deeper the car sank into the sand... and the farther we felt from the hotel and each other.

In the end, we were able to contact a towing service who came to our rescue... but at a very high cost. After what seemed like hours, we were finally able to check into the hotel. The same hotel that we viewed from only a few feet away while stuck in the sand for hours. Finally, we were back on track and following the original plan. But my lack of attention to insure that we were on the correct path followed by Chuck's impulse to take the "easy" way to our hotel, cost us a lot of time and money and hindered our happy adventure together.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."

How often in our Christian walk do we look away from God? Sure, we know He has a planned path for us and are truly thrilled in anticipating eternity with Jesus, but sometimes Satan distracts us with attractive earthly scenery and selfish expectations and desires. We become so distracted that we stop focusing our full attention on God's Word - our map. Then, we slowly lose sight of where we should be and fall away from Christ's call. Before we know it, we find ourselves in the wrong place. The only way to get back to God is to stop, admit our mistake, turn from our sin, and change our course so that we are back on track seeking His way.

How often in our Christian walk do we try to take an alternate, easy route? Sure, we know our way is not the same as His instructed way, but we think we can get there on our own... so why not go for it? Then, before we can correct the mistake, we find ourselves knee-deep in unlevel ground, sinking from our sinful decision... STUCK! The only way out, is to call on God for help and let Him rescue us and take over correcting the mess we have made.

"The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come." ~Matthew Henry

"Listen, my son (daughter), accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. (Proverbs 4:10-15)

Let us be wise and follow God's Word.
Let's guard our hearts and focus on His ways rather than impulsively running in our own direction.
Let's not stumble or hamper our steps and waste precious time recovering from our own sinful mistakes.
Let's not get stuck in sin.
Rather let's protect ourselves from the ways of the wicked and set our feet on His solid, level ground.
This is our life... let's always seek Jesus with joy and perseverance as we strive to live it well.

The Time: NOW

The Place: HERE

The Occasion: LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS

The Participants: YOU

The Mission: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I'm engaged to be married!

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5)

Did you hear?
I'm engaged to be married!
I've met the most wonderful man who really loves ME!
In fact, He loves me more than He loves His own life!
Our story is so incredible too.
Would you like to hear it?
Yes?
OK, let me share it with you....

I was at my most hopeless state.
Alone... defeated... stuck in the rut of my own self.
In fact, I was just SICK of myself... you know, with my shame and the sin.
I dated around, but all the guys I met were losers.
You know the type - promises promises promises.
Everything had to be on their terms.
And, ugh - the egos!
In fact, the last one I dated... I think he thought of himself as some kind of god or something!
He was a noisy, clanging symbol of garbage that My Father would NEVER have approved of irrespective of my own problems!

Then, miraculously, HE showed up... and He was perfect.
I couldn't believe He would even look at me because I was such a mess and had hung out with so many other messes.
But He saw past that.
He didn't care.
He just loved me.
Let me tell you, there is nothing better than knowing that you are loved, irrespective of your past!
I was in shock.
Could this be real?
Could this glorious Man be trusted?
Or was He like the others who promised but never delivered?
I had to find out.

When He understood my reservations, He suggested I measure Him up against all the other "wanna-be's" out there.
He has always been a gentleman and very honest with me.
In fact, in the beginning of our relationship He laid out exactly where He stood on all matters and what He knew to be right.
All the promises He has every made me... he has kept.
It has been unbelievable, wonderful.
The more He has revealed about Himself to me, the more trustworthy I see that He is.
I can't help but want to love Him!
Finally, I told Him that I wanted only HIM with all my heart.
No one else could ever compare!
This was TRUE LOVE!!!

So, now I've accepted His proposal for a new life together!
I can't believe it.
It's like a fairy tale to think that one day, I will be HIS bride!!!
When I think about it, I get so excited and have to sing about how thrilled I am to all the world...
WOO HOO!!!
I'm engaged!!!
To the KING!

Oh, didn't I mention that?
Yes, He's the King.
I'm engaged to THE KING!
And He loves me.
He pursues me.
He cherishes me.
Wow.
I really need to thank Him for loving me so much.

Anyway, did you know that He is so in love with me that He has offered EVERYTHING in His kingdom for me to enjoy?
We have nothing between us.
In fact, right now He is preparing our new home together.
I am so excited!!!
I know he won't spare any expense or luxury.
I know he is very particular that I receive only the best He has!
He is so kind to me.
And sweet too.
He continually reminds me in the silliest ways how much He loves me.
He's such a romantic.
Did you know that just this morning, he gave me the most gorgeous sunrise?
Then he covered the whole earth with His glory so that I could see how much he cares about me.
No matter how busy, He always takes the time to bless me with His love.

Purrrrrr.
I love being in love!

There is still that old boyfriend of mine who just can't take NO for an answer though.
He is a pain that I must endure until I'm finally reunited with my True Love!
You know how hard it is to shake an old stalker-ex???
Let me tell you, it isn't easy!
But my Honey is aware of the matter and promises me that if I follow His instructions, I will be safe. So, follow Him I will.
I know that even though we aren't physically together right now, my Love has made every provision to make sure I am protected, nurtured, blessed and cared for under His authoritative reign.
Boy, that makes is so much easier to relax when Mr. Old Boyfriend keeps calling!!!

So now, I'm using this time apart from my Love to get as gorgeous as I can.
I want to be ready for Him on our wedding day.
For example, I have so many things I still must learn about His kingdom.
I want to please Him with how much I truly know about Him.
To honor Him, I want to be the best bride possible.
He's a great role model for me to follow since He has taught me all about true LOVE.
So, I'm modeling myself after how He lives.
It is so exciting!
I can hardly contain my enthusiasm!!!
I just want to kiss Him, and love Him, and be with Him FOREVER!!!
He is just the BEST!

Oh sweet Jesus, take me away with YOU!
Let's hurry to our wedding day!
I'm so excited!!!

So anyway, that's my awesome news!
But wait.... did I hear a rumor that you were engaged too? (Wink!)

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

selah.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah. (Psalm 62:8)

I must confess, my heart hurts today.
My eyes are teary this hour.
My stomach feels as if it has been punched.
Why, you ask?

Well, yesterday my family and I had to make the hard decision to put down our sweet kitty of 16 years.
Her failing kidneys had finally gotten the better of her.
In only a short period of time, her little frame had dropped a lot more weight.
We knew it was time.
Our vet confirmed it was time.
So goodbye, sweet Valentine...
Selah.

As my whole family struggles to get used to this new reality, we are in agreement concerning one definitive truth...
Death sucks!
Seriously... it just sucks!
Mind you, for me it isn't so much the dying part that is hardest to absorb.
Rather, it is the forced goodbye that we must endure while watching someone we love no longer exist in our same realm.
I hate that goodbye.
I hate that feeling of loss and the physical separation from someone I have cared deeply for.

In my life, I have been forced to say many goodbyes to people and pets.
I am quite familiar with the feelings that accompany dying.
The isolation.
The remoteness.
The solitude that lingers as I am left behind to live out the rest of my days without their presence.

As a human, I personally know the lasting hope and/or the bitter misery that can accompany another person's passing.
For the outcome of our death is always dependent upon one's choice to receive or deny Jesus as Savior.
Either Jesus is our God or someone/something else is selfishly substituted in His place.

Every conclusion of human life will summarize WHO that person chose to make first.
Jesus or Self?
Success or failure?
Sadness or rejoicing?

In seeing both decisions made by people I care for, I've experienced my share of celebration and sorrow when saying goodbye to loved ones who have passed.
I've understood that some of death's forced goodbyes are only temporary...
And some, sadly, are not.
(The "not's" are when death sucks the most.)
(The "not's" are when I lean on the sovereignty of my Maker and trust that His ways are higher than my own.)

All that said, Valentine's passing yesterday has caused me to think about something more than death...
My little kitty's exit from this earth forced me to consider the concept of "time" itself.
For in one moment Valentine was alive...
And in the next, she was gone.
The only thing separating her life from her death was time.
The quiet tic-tock of the clock was the distinguishing factor that determined her existence vs. her nonexistence.

Valentine's death has caused me to think deeply about my own life.
About my God, and about the time that has been ordained especially for me to exist.
For God created all time when He created the world.
He made it so that mankind could take note of seasons, days, years.
And as a result, in the world's timeline, our Heavenly Father has prescribed a certain amount of time for each person to individually live out their days.... a lifetime, if you will.
He has destined for us to be alive at this very point in earth's history.
Because of this we can surmise that we are here, now, for a very specific and individually planned purpose according to His will.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-16)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

The good news is, God is not limited by time, but rather in control of it.
I am alive today, because He planned it.
I am here writing this blog to you on His schedule.
I have and will experience many more trials and joys over the course of my lifetime - all because God has approved what will occur and when it will occur in my life.

Yes, I am the recipient of His grace to LIVE.
And in this life, I am called to live wisely and for His glory.
Sure, I could choose to disobey His purpose.
I could separate myself from Him with sin.
I could choose to reject and deny Him as a holy, perfect King.
But that doesn't mean He isn't God.
My choice will not change the fact that He knows what will occur and will use it to be glorified and honored.
I cannot change His ultimate headship or plan.
For every moment belongs to Him, and He will use my obedience (or disobedience) to serve His kingdom.
All His creation will follow His supreme rule.
That just makes sense, doesn't it?
For what kind of King would set up a kingdom He couldn't ultimately rule?
What kind of Potter does not mold His clay into His planned vision?
So, whether mankind accepts their Maker or not... God will still be God, folks!
And we cannot function healthy without Him!

Fortunately, He is a good and just King and will wisely advance His kingdom while blessing those who love and follow His ways.
Ultimately, there will be no life without God.
We cannot exist without His presence.
When I consider all this, I always think, "How great is our Almighty Father in Heaven!?"
I cannot fathom His omnipotence and omniscience!
For despite our decision to love or hate the One who must be praised...
His love for us is unmeasurable!
In fact, He loves us more than Himself.
For He sent His only Son to secure us a place in His home.
We are offered everlasting life in His presence!
He lovingly gives Himself (for He is the gift of LIFE) to every person on earth, and will continue to do so until the end of days.

All God desires is to be close and intimate with mankind.
All God longs for is our complete devotion and affection!
All God wants is for us to enjoy the very best He could possibly offer - Himself!
He knows that there is nothing better for us than His goodness and blessing.
Yes, all God has planned for our lifetime... for our eternity... is His true love!

All God has given is ALL God, ladies...
ALL GOD!

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. (Psalm 139:1-16)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Once we realize God's goodness and look at "time" in terms of being completely connected and completely devoted to Him, the limitations of earthly moments become cloudy and irrelevant.
Only HE becomes clear and worthwhile.
Only HE proves important.

When I focus on His presence and the authority He holds, the past and future do not seem to be such a concern.
The details are more for Him to work out.
For He is my refuge and strength.
He is an ever-present help in times of trouble.
No past mistake or sad experience can separate me from His love.
No deliberation or worry over comfort, plans, or any future event or outcome could overshadow the glory He has in store for those who love and seek after Him.

When I surrender my life to the loving presence of this Master, He is all that matters.
Death does not hold it's sting.
Sin cannot enslave me in defeat.
For all my life... all my time... all my eternity is safe in His capable hands.
No hour will pass if He has not sanctioned it.
No moment is without His rule.

Whatever HAS happened and whatever WILL happen are not as important as WHO I have placed all my trust in right now.
WHO is in control.
WHO is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Jesus is all I need.
He is WHO my faith rests upon.
He is WHO I must follow... no matter what.
All seasons belong to Him.
All time is always His.

The death of my kitty, Valentine, has made me wonder what echos my own life will produce in the halls of God's kingdom.
Today, I consider the "now" of my time on this planet, and the urgency of God's presence in this day.
For this is the day to honor His headship as King and praise Him for His sovereign rule.
This is the time to seek His holy and righteous glory...
To live joyful in His hope.
To trust His perfect purpose and infinite love.
Friends, this is the time to live out our faith...

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Life is really nothing without the love of the LORD.
Time is really useless without His presence.
It is not about what we want, or get, or experience.
No, the blessing now and forevermore is in WHO we serve.
Joy is found only in WHO has saved us.
The glory is in WHO we place all our trust.
HE IS WORTHY!

So, as I mourn this hour...
I also rejoice in His unfailing love.
He will use all things for good.
He will turn today's sorrow and tears into everlasting joy.

Yes, Jesus is all I need.
He is WHO my faith rests upon.
He is WHO I must follow... no matter what.
All seasons belong to Him.
All time is always His.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah. (Psalm 62:8)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

let us forget not all His benefits




This morning I got up with my husband.
I helped him.
I made his coffee and breakfast.
I fed the dogs.
I picked up the house.
I started the dishwasher.

This morning, my husband kissed me before leaving for work.
He took out the trash and recycle bags.
He promised to meet me for a difficult vet appointment later this afternoon.
He hugged me tightly as we giggled, and nuzzled, and told our special inside jokes together.

And as I later watched the hubs leave for his meeting, it occurred to me how blessed I am.
How rich my life is.
How generous my Creator has provided.

So, I started listing out my thankfulness...
For my husband.
For clean water and food.
For family.
For pets.
I have warm shelter, devices to aid me in cleaning, nearby medical facilities (even for my animals), and laughter in my home.

How daft I can be to overlook these gifts...
Labeling them to seem ordinary, mundane, common, unremarkable.

But they are remarkable.
They are noteworthy and good.
As such, God calls me to think on these things.
To think about Him as their Giver.
To worship and live thankfully.
To bless His Name with all that is within me!

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)

God is the greatest gift giver, isn't He?
His love is durable, lasting, righteous, and healthy for us.
Mind you, this is the same Almighty being praised every moment by angels singing...
"Holy Holy Holy!"
"Holy Holy Holy!"
"Holy Holy Holy!"

That we would be privy to such greatness and love in our lives... unfathomable!!!

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.  (Proverbs 8:17-21)

Yes, Lord... may we no longer forget the credentials of WHOM grants us every earthly treasure!
May we seek your Light every hour and return our hearts in gratitude!
For you are so generous to us.
You love us more than anything else.
How blessed we are to see even a glimpse of your grace.
You are worthy of all our praise.
You are love Most High.
You are all that truly matters.
You are the Light of this world!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  (John 1:1-4, 9, 16)

I exist because the Light has given me life.
How carelessly I forget that I am to live fully under His Name.
Forgive me, Lord, and thank you for teaching me Your focus.
Remind me to daily claim your wisdom and reward!
I have been granted eternity in Your holy house because the Light made Himself man, died on a cross, and overcame all evil and death so that I may be close to Your presence...
So that I may never be without Your brightness.
So that I may be blessed every hour with Your holiness. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Indeed... "Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty."

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.  And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4)

Ladies, let us start every day in worship, for that is what we were created to do.
Let us look around and realize what our great God has generously given each of us.
And let us remember the Word with God... interceding on our behalf.
Praising He who was God, and is God, and forever will be God...
The One who saves us from all sin and promises us a full, satisfying life of eternity under the grace of His endless care.

This is the day to REJOICE!

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 118:1)

Praise ye the Lord. 
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. 
Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150)

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:3)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, November 2, 2015

the love of One

In a world where relentless, sinful men devise to take take take from me,
It's nice to know the love of One who gives gives gives for free.

While others try to benefit their bank accounts and fame,
My Jesus humbly intercedes and shares His Holy Name!
The greedy scream and shout their lust with pushy, self-demands,
But my God's still, small voice of truth remains the strongest place to stand.
Surrounded by excessiveness and hype spun out of control,
I'm thankful for all I'll ever need is the Savior who saves my soul.

Yes, in a world where relentless, sinful men devise to take take take from me,
It's very nice to know the love of One who gives gives gives for free.

Thank you, my generous King.
I am blessed in every breath with Your unfathomable, eternal love!

And he said unto me, It is done. 
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 
(Revelation 21:6)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, October 31, 2015

letting go of our own versions of good and false idols of fear

Since Tuesday, I have put everything on hold solely to lay low and practice my watercolor technique.  I deliberately blocked out some relaxation time to wind down from last week's travel because flying always seems to take a toll on me.  So, yesterday my goal was to stay in my pajam-jams all day and focus on a few painting exercises I had gained from a classroom experience years ago.  In addition, I blocked out a few hours to watch some online instructionals from a few master watercolor artists.

As afternoon rolled in, I found myself in front of my computer absorbing the words of one well renowned painter whom I would esteem as most skilled in her field.  However, as I watched her teach,  I realized that we had a big difference in opinion concerning what we each would consider a "good" watercolor painting.  You see, as she was covering the important topic of how to make one's watercolor "picture" into a "painting"... how to work the whole of one's subject rather than simply focus all effort onto one small sketched section of a page... I couldn't help but feel like her small sketched examples were equally beautiful in their simplicity.  In my opinion, her example didn't need extra brush strokes or further techniques.  It looked just fine.

Suddenly, I found myself questioning her aloud.  Asking why her subject matter would need to be blended, blurred, and perhaps a little bit lost within the sum of her composition.  Perhaps that was her intention all along?  I wasn't sure.  But I was frustrated because her "lesser" version already seemed to be so much more to me.  From my vantage point, her "little" had already gone a long way.  Her small taste of something beautiful had satisfied my seemingly uneducated palette.  So why mess further with it?  Why insist on changing the subject that already seems "good" into something much, much better?  Surely it was fine as is.  Wasn't it?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

A few days ago, while Chuck and I were flying home from a family wedding event, I cried.  I cried the whole flight home.

Why, you ask?

Well, as other passengers slept, read their daily newspapers, and/or ate their in-air complimentary peanuts, I wrestled with the Lord over the genuine condition of my heart.  Through minor moments of turbulence, I tearfully gazed outside the window and watched the remaining clouds of hurricane Patricia sweep over the sky.

It was here that I struggled with the Lord through my fear.  Fear of flying?  Fear of losing control?  Fear of dying?  Fear of insignificance?  None and all of the above, yes.

Mostly, I wept because God had been challenging me throughout my whole vacation to let go of more... more of myself... more of my own way... more of me.  He exposed my ongoing anxiety and seeming authority as distracting idols that cause me to look away from Him.  Yes, my fear is indeed an idol.  My need to control is definitely an idol.  For I am more comfortable playing it "safe" than trusting God's sovereignty.  It does not come naturally for me to live limitlessly under the eternal promise of His grace, because frankly, His methods don't always seem so good to me.  His Way is usually the bumpy, unpredictable, and turbulent path.  Sure, He might yawn at the wind and sleep through the waves, but I panic... I fear... I flounder... I cling to the small, sketched subject matter that I already know and feel secure with.  It blows my mind to think His bigger thoughts.  To trust His plans more than my own.  To give up my comfortable vantage point in order to know His greater, more experienced salvation and love.

Yes, Jesus looks good as my Savior from a comfortable church pew safely bolted to the ground, but what if I followed Him further into the heaviest of storms?  What if I believed Him more than myself?  What if I went along with Him into frighteningly unknown space, allowing Him to skillfully teach me how to navigate higher into someone better resembling His new creation?  Could my heart actually blend deeper into His composition?  Do I want my lines to be blurred so much that all that remains of me is a portrait that displays His glorious image?

Yes, Lord.  Through surrendered tears... oh yes!

Yesterday, I watched the completion of a gorgeous work of art.  It was beautiful, breathtaking.  It was more than I could have ever dreamed up at my simplistically limited creativity level.  The finished painting was so much better than the inferior sketch that I earlier thought was the best it could ever be.  Why on earth did I question the instructor's proven ability?  Why didn't I trust the obvious skill and knowledge of the master artist?  Old habits die hard... but die they must if we are to grow.

How stuck we can become inside our own safety nets.  The devil loves to snare us back, to pause our progress, to stop our course.  But Jesus, our King Creator Teacher Maker, challenges us to soar above.  He invites us to join Him in places we could not venture without His teaching and leading.  He lifts us higher, makes us holier, brings us closer to His heart.  We must only be willing to follow His Way - letting go of our own versions of good and false idols of fear.  Giving up our make-believe ideas of control, and instead, actually allowing Him to rule our lives.  So, let us seatbelt ourselves daily into His Word and choose (ever so tearfully sometimes) to trust His ability to save us - not only from surrounding storms and trials, but from our very selves.

Yes, Lord.  Let me become lost in Your composition.  Create in me a clean, fearless, open heart that always is willing to give up myself in order to showcase you, the Master Artist... the Alpha and the Omega... the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory forever and ever!  Amen!

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, October 29, 2015

love "lock-down" day

So, here's the thing.  I had every intention of using my morning to write out and share a new blog with y'all today.  I had every intention of encouraging you, challenging you, relating with you in how we each are to live TODAY (and every day) for Jesus. But as I began to write my intended posting, I kept getting interrupted.  Not interrupted in a bad way.  Not interrupted like the enemy sometimes does to try and prevent me from sharing God's Word.  No, today my interruptions have all been good... with family things... with hubby things... with life, and morning, and laughter, and love things... with the people I share my life with type of things.  And now, I see that those wonderful people are whom the Lord wishes for me to spend all my time ministering to this morning.  As such, the Anderson family is in a temporary love "lock-down" and I will be unavailable for a newsworthy comment.  (LOL.)

With this in mind, I thought I'd at least extend a courtesy to y'all (so that you didn't think I fell off a cliff or something) and share this short blog post reminding each of you this important thought:

Sometimes, we might not know how the Lord will use us in a day.
Sometimes... often, the people He would have us minister to are those closest to us - and sometimes they are not.
That said, you never know how a day will play out when it comes to sharing God's love with others...
Ahhhh, but you should always be flexible and willing to adapt to His perfect plan when He chooses to direct your paths differently than expected.

So, on this morning, I bid you adieu.  Today is a vacation day... a personal day... a family-only day!  I am vacating with my family... with my closest loves.  I am available exclusively for them - merely because they have asked me to be.  Because sometimes, you need to step back and make sure your own household feels they are most special to you... not only knowing there is love, but seeing it and experiencing it close up, first hand, personally, and fully from your heart.

Might I encourage you to do the same with your own special loves.  Take a day off.  Be with you and yours, just because.  Love... minister... remind them that they matter!  Because they do soooo matter!!!

Love like Jesus!
Love wherever He leads!
Love love love!!!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

have Christian women forgotten the golden rule?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)

"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39)

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31)

Last night I was laying in bed considering today's blog. I was thinking about how I would start discussing the topic God has recently laid on my heart to share with DW. I was wondering how I should expand upon the concept of considering others in love... of treating others with biblical respect? It seems so basic. So elementary to our Christian beliefs. But unfortunately, it is not practiced as regularly as you'd think.

For how many Christian mothers have thoughtlessly reacted to their children in frustration, desperation, and anger rather than with loving discipline? How many Christian wives have harvested bitterness and resentment against their husband's God-given position of leadership rather than lift Him up in loving submission and support? How many Christian friendships have maintained an ongoing undertone of contempt and competitiveness rather than encourage a mutual regard for one another and a loving appreciation of the gifts shared. Mind you, I have not even skimmed the surface of the unsaved community. Nor have I discussed the people in our lives that we don't like... those who we are inclined to merely tolerate because our experiences coincide in some way. How do we love them?

Furthermore, how do we "do unto others" and "love" who we meet online... or over the telephone... or who we must engage with through business dealings or forms of service... or who we simply pass by as we walk down the street? Really, how do we love these "others"? Is it in the same way we love ourselves? Do we truly think to extend the same courtesy, respect, regard, honor, or care that we would in turn wish to receive? Or do we hold favoritism to those we only expect to get something from? Do we reserve our "do unto others" for those with promise to fulfill something we want... or agree with something we feel? In short, do we maintain such relationships as a means to feed our many forms of selfishness rather than extend God's many examples of servanthood?

Ladies, I am concerned that many Christian women have forgotton to consider God's primary command to love other people... ALL people. In fact, I am certain that in this matter, some of us look no different than the unethical and ungodly of this world. Some of us cannot rebuke without condemning. Some of us cannot manage without belittling. Some of us cannot share without gossiping. Some of us cannot give without selfishly gaining. Some of us are so wrapped up in ourselves that we can't hear the Spirit's call to pray for a complete stranger who passes by. Some of us are so absorbed in our own ways that we can't focus on what is righteous in the eyes of God over what is rightful in our own opinion. We crave for our identity to be benefited first. We insist that our treatment is reciprocated justly. But is this love? Look at Christ's words again:

"As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34b)

Jesus tells us to love others as He has loved us. When we look at the example of our Savior, we not only see a life of sacrifice (which is a BIG component to love), but we also see His emphasis to love in positive agreement with the will of His Father. This means, that even in the harshest examples of Christ's love being demonstrated, He still chose to love us in a way that was positive in execution, rather than negative and corrupt. Jesus always maintained a genuine concern, consideration and respect for others that righteously reflected His Father's love and encouraged others to be built up in such love. This is the way of our Master. This is the example of how He loved us... positively and with great care to restore ourselves to healthy, uplifted individuals secure in His presence.

Is this how you love?
Is His the example you consider when you "do unto others"?
For if you are not mirroring His image, whose image are you reflecting?

Ladies, I challenge you to honestly and prayerfully consider your words and intentions when it comes to your daily practice of "the golden rule." I encourage you to pause and reflect upon the example of our perfect Savior while extending love to another.

Does your heart showcase His heart?

No matter how close a relationship you may have with someone... no matter how fond you may like or dislike an individual... no matter how society may deem a person respectable or unworthy... rise above it all and love your neighbor like Jesus! LOVE them as God has loved you. Love with positive execution. Love with righteousness. Love in agreement with the will of your Almighty Father. Love because He first loved you.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

I am certain that if every Christian woman asked God to remove the selfish scales from her eyes and actually stopped to think about how profound her glorifying His way of loving others would effect the hearts, attitudes and interactions of people (including herself)... well, I think it would greatly change our world if executed and carried out!

So why aren't we?
Why are we still stuck in our own selfish problems rather than moving forward with His holy objective?
Are not the lives of others most important to share what Jesus shared with us?... To give what Jesus gave us?...
To do as Jesus did for us?...
To bring up our children, love our husbands, respect our employers, honor our parents, pray for our leaders, and care about strangers as Jesus sacrificially proved for us?
Isn't God's love what we should be completely focused on?

He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27)

Our wise Redeemer summed up how we are to live in two simple phrases: Love God with everything you are, and love others as you would love yourself. Simply put: Love God and love people. Both put the needs of others before our own. Both positively promote the execution and agreement of His righteousness. Both give every devoted woman the opportunity to do something great with the life God has blessed her.

So, will you use your life for His purpose?
Will you love others as Christ loves you?
I hope so.
For we are each sinning in this area if we do not do as He says.
We are each disregarding His will and going our own way if we do not take this matter very, very seriously.

Ladies, I encourage you to embrace this important message today.
Pray for the Spirit to guide your steps as you implement and demonstrate the Savior's sacrificial, unfathomable love in your own life.
Remember, we are living testimonies for the sake of the cross.
I encourage you to live like it and make everything you say and do about God's wonderful, marvelous, sacrificial love.

Love... just LOVE!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, October 26, 2015

an important lesson about satisfaction

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

Yesterday, I was asked the following question, "Victoria, do you think that God only created one distinct person for you to marry, or do you think you could have married someone else and lived just as happily?"

I thought about this deeply and realized that such inquisitive speculation is really a "would-have, should-have, could-have" kind of question that opens up the screen door for the enemy to breeze in discontentment. For how could I entertain answering this question when I'm already living the path God intends for me? How can I faithfully trust God's sovereignty while wondering at the same time what else could have happened differently in my life?

The more I contemplated this, the more God led me toward the topic of satisfaction. For in simply considering the question above (or questions like it relating to other areas of our lives) - our mere asking reveals how hungry we are for something else, something different, something outside of where God has placed us today.

Really, is it for us to think past God's plan? To speculate around His authority? Absolutely not! Nor is our happiness the end in which we must be focused. Rather, God's glory is the goal!

Needless to say, I've been up most of the night pondering and praying over this matter... asking my King if satisfaction is more about spiritual discipline and sacrifice rather than happiness and/or what makes me comfortable. For without His spiritual intervention in my heart and mind - without His higher disciplined Way followed by my obedience - I can never really be full, can I?

Simply put, mankind can never be satisfied without God. Yet, as a race we are always looking for the next thing - the next something/someone to fill us up with whatever we seem to crave at any given moment. And unfortunately, the average Christian of today is no exception to this snare of Satan. In fact, I think that if all self-proclaimed Christians paused right now to state their full satisfaction in God alone, many would not be speaking honestly. For how many of us use our time with God as one of many default checklist items for finding inner peace? However, in truth we are quite unsatisfied with God. For deep down, we don't care for His way of doing things. We'd certainly prefer that He changed His style to suit our desired way. Sure, we say we want more of Him, but in reality we spend much time speculating, planning and making excuses around Him. Yes, most of us live each day thinking and acting independent of His commands for our lives. To this I ask, can contentment exist without real godliness present? Consider Paul's charge in Philippians 4 to be content no matter what the circumstance...

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:11b-12)

What is the secret to Paul's fulfillment? What brought on Paul's honest, active satisfaction - no matter what his current situation presented? Please note, he was not speculating about would-have, should-have, could-have's. No, Paul was referring to satisfaction in his daily life. So, what was his secret to being content in any and every situation?...

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13 NIV)


"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

Through Christ, Paul was focused on getting through the NOW of his life. As such, he was strong in His faith. He consistently looked to the only One who could give him exactly what he needed... TODAY - at this very moment.

Do we do the same? Right here? Right now? Is God enough for us? Can we simply, obediently abide solely in His Way, His Truth, His Life without turning our heads to the left or to the right? Without seeking or speculating elsewhere? I encourage you to search your heart on this: Is Jesus Christ ALL that you need to be fully satisfied TODAY? Or are you still searching for something/someone else? Do you still want something/someone else?

Be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. (Deuteronomy 5:32)

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7)

So, how can we live both godly and content in our present situation? How can our lives be lived in complete union and satisfaction with the Savior alone? Read earlier in the chapter of Philippians 4 and refocus your lens, believer... for here is the answer:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

1. Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS!
2. Let gentleness be evident to everyone. Gentle treatment to ALL!
3. Remember always that Jesus is right beside you. He is HERE NOW!
4. Do not be anxious for anything, but rather trust that your active, present, available God will answer every prayer and petition you lay before Him in His perfect timing.

Then what?... Then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! What a blessing! Your heart and mind will be covered under His protection so that you can freely focus on His things rather than your own!

And what happens when you live out these steps and solely focus on the things of the Lord?...

THE PEACE OF GOD WILL BE WITH YOU!


Friends, this very minute YOU CAN HAVE THE PEACE OF GOD WITH YOU! Peace... ahhh yes.... Jesus! I receive your gracious gift of peace! I submerse my life in your Way. I choose to obediently, calmly, and confidently think on the things you have sanctioned in Philippians 4 and will trust you to handle the rest of what the enemy throws my way! For you are my covering! You will protect and provide for my every need! I can do this, because you give me the strength to do it! All glory is YOURS alone, dear Savior! Thank you for saving me TODAY!

Yes, Jesus is the NEW LIFE of satisfaction and fullness you seek, ladies! His is the only Way to know true contentment. Once you stop searching for things outside His Word... once you make it your only priority to think about all that He has made true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy... then you will know His lasting, eternal, glorious peace! Then you will realize, as Paul did, that "my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

Let us make the glory of the Lord Jesus our only mission right here, right now! Let us praise Him TODAY - the day in which He made for us to live rejoicing in Him! His Way is indeed healthy and good for us and will bring us peace. Yes, in Christ alone... we can be satisfied this very second... and forevermore!

Believers, I encourage you this very hour to seek God's kingdom, His righteousness, His glory! Hallelujah to the King of kings! All glory is His! So be satisfied in His rule and let you life serve as living proof in Jesus' Name!! WOO HOO!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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