Monday, August 31, 2015

surrendering the wrong that is real

When I was a very little girl, I was a very big dreamer.  I would dream out different scenarios, occupations, and outcomes for myself.  I would pretend and play out varying roles and romances in the privacy of my pink wallpapered bedroom.  All stories concluded with happy endings.  All situations showcased me as a leading lady accomplishing, achieving, and advancing in some significant way.  Some days, I would become a secret agent masterfully obtaining those ever-necessary covert plans.  Some days, I would become a stranded castaway on a tropical island with only my beloved animal friends to play with and amuse me.  Some days, I would become Princess Leia, dressed head to toe in flowing white garb along with her signature "Cinnabon" buns.  Some days, I was one of Charlie's Angels... you know, the Angel that knew Kung Fu, who always wore sparkly pink outfits, and who loved Reese's Peanut Butter Cups... of course!!!  Yes, imagination was always a close, comforting friend.  I loved to dream excessive and BIG - where the possibilities of my doing good remained believably attainable and beneficial for all mankind.

It is interesting how our dreams are put into question when we are forced to see the real life of our sinful surroundings.  When our eyes are opened to the wrong that is real rather than the wrong that is imaginary and make-believe.  My eyes were opened at the Joy's house one warm, summer's day.  Mr. and Mrs. Joy were long-time church-going friends of my parents.  Regularly, we would visit their home to hang out, eat, and swim in their large, above ground pool.  There were two key things to enjoy every time we visited the Joy family: (1) an endless supply of Dr. Pepper, and (2) lots of swimming!  Mr. Joy was successful in business and always had the latest and greatest gadgets and what-nots.  Mrs. Joy and Momba were the best of friends and could literally giggle a whole day long.  It was always joyful at the Joys, and I loved visiting their home.  

The Joy's had two girls close to both mine and my brother's age.  Cathy Joy was their oldest.  She was quite intelligent and drop-dead gorgeous.  Of course, while growing up, my brother had the biggest crush on Cathy.  He tried not to show it, but acted strangely like Fonzie whenever we visited their house.  Really, I couldn't blame him.  For Cathy was completely mesmerizing as a person.  From my vantage point, she was older, more sophisticated, and world-wise in all things fashion and charm related.  Furthermore, all the cute boys liked her at our church, and all the girls wanted to be her very best friend.  Yes, Cathy was the bee's knees!  Her bedroom was tastefully decorated, neat, and filled with the latest and greatest of modern toys.  Also, Cathy seemed to excel in everything she set her mind to.  Wow... Cathy Joy.  Awesome.  

Laura Joy was the younger of the two Joy girls.  Laura was equally smart and also "celebrity" beautiful.  But Laura was closer to my own age which somehow made her more relatable and real to me.  Laura's heart was bigger than the sky as she willingly shared every doll she owned with me.  We'd often play Barbies while waiting out the adult-regulated hour to pass between eating our lunch and swimming like dolphins in the pool.  Laura and I always had fun drinking too much Dr. Pepper and seeing who could burp out alphabet letters like a boy.  Also, Laura was the very first person to admit to me that she had once pee'd in the pool.  Ah, Laura Joy.  Good times.

Anyway, one day out of nowhere Cathy Joy asked me to join her for a neighborhood bicycle ride!  WHAT???!!!  ME????  What an honor!  Yes, yes, I would go bicycle with Cathy!  Wow... I was definitely moving up in the world.  To rub shoulders with Cathy Joy on a true "friend" basis!  To tour the town with Cathy Joy!  This was something really BIG!  My imagination began to run wild with all the best friend things we would soon be doing together.  Just me and my "older" and more sophisticated friend, Cathy.  Yippee!  Sorry, Laura Joy... I can't play little-girl Barbies or burp with you anymore.  Instead, CATHY and I will be doing grown up things together, like bicycling throughout town.  I felt myself growing an inch taller just dreaming about it.

As we began to ride our bikes through the neighborhood, Cathy would randomly stop, get off her bike,  and investigate underneath varying miscellaneous items such as rocks and small logs.  Following her like a lost puppy, I realized that she was looking for something hidden, but I couldn't figure out what.  So finally I asked, "Cath, what are we looking for?" And then it began...

Cathy proceeded to tell me a long, drawn out story about how she had found candy hidden in varying locations all around town. 

"Candy?"  I squealed with excitement as my mind raced with sugary possibilities!  

"Yes... and sometimes the candies found were Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!" she added.  

"Shut the front door!" My eyes got really big as my stomach started to growl.  (She had me at Reese's.)

Thus, our candy-treasure-hunting-adventures began!  From that moment on, I too was picking up large rocks, looking under staircases, ruffling through bushes.  We biked all over town. Randomly stopping.  Randomly looking for those hidden would-be Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that Cathy had reported once finding.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on that stash of yummy candy.  We just had to locate it!  Oh what fun, and what trust for my new best friend Cathy to confide in me about such a treasure.  (Did she know that Reese's were my absolute favorite?)

Now, I know what you are thinking.  WHAT?  CANDY?  Victoria!!!  Have you gone mad?  But in my defense, it was the 1970's and I was REALLY a small child in the care of a somewhat older child.  I'd always been naive in my youth because most of my life was centered around my blind father's medical needs with Momba doing her best to care for him while keeping our family together.  So, when "THE" Cathy Joy promised a secret candy loot was mine to be had with only a simple bike ride and a few turned over stones... well, I was in!  ALL IN PEOPLE!!!

Every time thereafter, whenever we visited the Joy's house, I attacked Cathy with the same question, "Can we go on a bicycle ride, Cathy?  Can we?  Can we?  Can we, pleeeaaasseee?"  And for the first four or so times afterward, we did. We bicycled all around town laughing together and talking about where the candy might be stashed.  Searching for those elusive Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Oh, I was so hopeful to find just one, that I could almost taste it.  It was so much fun.

Then, one grim Saturday afternoon, Cathy took me on a historic bike ride that would change everything.  

After riding a few blocks away from their home, Cathy steered off the road and asked me to come sit with her on a big tree stump.  There she confessed the following, "Vic, there is no candy.  I lied to you.  I really just wanted to go for a bicycle ride a few weeks ago, and mom said I couldn't go alone.  So I made it all up.  We can't keep looking for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups every time you visit because they simply aren't there.  I lied, and I'm sorry.  Would you forgive me?" 

Whhhaaaaaaaa!!!?????  My heart sank as I tried to process Cathy's words.  She LIED!!!  Cathy Joy lied... to me!!!  Who would do such a thing?  Who would make up something like that?  And why?  Also, how could I so easily have believed it?  Was I just that dense?  Was I a first class idiot?  Cathy Joy had swindled me into believing something I desperately wanted to be true, and now I sat there - a stunned fool.  Not Cathy Joy!  Not my very best friend in the whole world!  Wait, were we ever best friends?  Gulp!  Noooo, Cathy!  

As truth settled into my psyche and tears welled up in my eyes, I became more and more devastated.  I turned to Cathy and whispered in dramatic anguish, "Whhhhyyyyy?"  She looked down at the ground embarrassed and kicked the dirt with her sneakers.  Finally, she answered, "I don't know.  I just lied.  I'm sooo sorry, Vic.  Let's just forget about it and go swimming, ok?"

From that day forth, the world was different to me.  Sure, I forgave Cathy.  I forgave... but I could not forget.  Nor could I ever trust another with my grand imagination.  No, that effort had proven to be too tricky.  For I had strongly, passionately, and wrongly believed Cathy's lie.  A lie I really wanted to come true.  I had manufactured a friendship that was false, and adopted a goal that was futile.  As a result, that day my eyes were opened to the wrong that is real rather than the wrong that is imaginary and fixable in my own private make-believe.

You see, in my make-believe the covert plans are retrieved and national security is restored due to my craftiness and sound judgement.  But in real life, clearly my intuition is sketchy and unreliable.  My "spidey-senses" are off.  Alone, I am not immune to being bamboozled or led astray - no matter how savvy I might think I am.  So how does one move forward from that?  How do I now live relaxed, hopeful, joyous, and with real vision and purpose?  It comes down to answering this:  Who can we trust with everything?  How can we dream big and still do good?  What is reliable, honest, and honorable in this broken world of dishonest promises and disappointing paths?

Allow me to share with you the answer:

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles! (Psalm 25)

Friends, prayerfully consider all the wrong that is real in your life - the sin that draws out your selfish hunger causing you to waste time turning over burdensome boulders while seeking after earthly idols.  Are you seeking after pleasures that cannot fulfill?  Are you spending your valuable time looking around sinful places and listening to opinions that do not matter.  Pause and take an honest inventory of where your heart is truly focused each day.  Are you humbly and obediently trusting the Lord to guide your every step, or are you distracted and delayed in your own made-up forms of false glory and selfishness?  Are your eyes ever on the Lord... or are you being snared, bamboozled, and led astray into strongly, passionately, and wrongfully defending something that God is against?

There is only One holy voice you can trust.  There is only One correct path to follow.  There is only One Way, One Truth, One Life who is completely reliable, honest, and honorable.  That One is Jesus.  No other - not even ourselves can be depended upon.  Only Jesus.  His integrity and uprightness protects, guards, and rescues us from all the wrong that is real in our lives.  His loving kindness generously longs to give us the desires of our heart.  Because of this, we must spend our days seeking Him, Believers!  Living in His freedom - and dreaming excessive and BIG under His guidance!  You see, today is the day where the possibilities of doing good in Christ's love are indeed attainable and beneficial!  His friendship is real.  His will is always successful!  Obey His Word and share with Him your deepest desires.  Then see what He'll have you accomplish in His magnificent grace!  Always... ALWAYS... follow the King!  WOO HOO!

My hope, my trust, is in the Lord alone!  My salvation belongs to Him!  Ahhhh, wonderful Jesus!  There is nothing sweeter than You, Lord!

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, August 28, 2015

content in His gracious sufficiency

Yesterday someone asked me where I felt more at home: Chicago or Houston.  After thinking about that question a while, my most honest answer is neither.  Sure, I was born and raised in Chicago, and it is home on so many levels because it is my familiar.  And yes, in the past two years Chuck and I have relocated to Houston and started developing new roots there.  Houston is also home on so many levels, but for completely different reasons.  But the truth of the matter is, no matter where I seem to hang my hat these days, on the whole I feel like an itinerant, a vagabond, a wanderer.

In the last couple of years, The Lord has been weaning me away from my own comfortable, everyday stabilities.  These have included several people, places, things whom I always thought would "just be there" for me.  I feel as if Jesus has been peeling back most of my surface comforts to further expose my true heart toward Him.  He has asked me to address my own contentment in uncomfortableness.  My eternal joy through uncertainties.  And for this, I am grateful... and a little terrified.  

Of course, at first I was anything but accepting toward God's spiritual fine tuning.  In fact, at times I have been down right annoyed with God for allowing my apple cart so much upset.  I'd think, "Lord, what are you doing? Why are you permitting the rug to be pulled out from under me over and over and over again?"  I'd wonder when I would ever get my footing back, or feel even a little more stable on my heels.  You see, it seems that I have been floundering in every environment.  I have felt like a big ole crab stuck in a very high and very vicious tide - belly flopping from one crises into the next... sometimes getting close to the shoreline, hoping to finally crawl safely onto the beach and bury myself in the warm sand, but suddenly swept back in an enormous ocean of spinning chaos by another huge wave of change.  A wave where predators circle. Where armies of enemies who wish to harm and destroy me watch and wait as I spiral out of control in territory I cannot easily maneuver.  Struggling to survive.  Doing all I can to simply keep my head afloat.

I read somewhere that it takes a substantial amount of time for a person to recuperate from a major crisis.  But what do you do when one life altering crises follows the next... and the next?  When dilemmas present themselves in double digits?  When every time you try to stand up, the tide pulls you down and deep again?

Upon much prayer and reflection, I have now come to realize that my footing is not really the issue.  Nor is my ability to control my circumstances or environment.  For the very place I am at today, whether safely seated in warm sunlight or struggling beneath a furious undertow... WHERE I am is exactly WHERE God wants me to be.  It is a place predestined and overseen by my Savior who loves me and decrees my every step.  He is my real home... my true stability!  Yes, on this earth I might be a nomad, but I am not alone.  With Jesus, I am never alone!  So, I am not to worry about whatever may come.  Instead, what is most important is WHO I look to and how I respond in praise to Him while always trusting that He is in control.  I am to live content in God's footing.  Stable in God's sovereignty.  Not my own.

Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:19-34)

So, where do I feel most comfortable?  Right here.  Wherever God puts me.  Wherever I am nearest to Him.  I walk in contentment with the knowledge that He walks with me and is for me.  He is my treasure.  He is the prize.   So, it doesn't really matter what tomorrow will bring or even how clamorous today may become.  It only matters that Jesus is with me... that Jesus is my solid Rock... that Jesus is the Master I serve and love most.  HE is my only true and lasting comfort.  Today... always, I am content in His gracious sufficiency.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, August 22, 2015

what do we do when our maladies overshadow our line of sight to God's remedy?

Cough cough cough cough cough cough cough cough.... Ugh.  I have been sick for two weeks.  Sick with the WORST. COUGH. EVERRRRRRR!  A cough residing deep in my lungs and unrelenting to leave.  Sure, I'm suffering through other symptoms.  I have a fever that comes and goes. My right ear is painfully full of fluid.  My sore throat and joints remain, well, sore.  My nose and lips are chapped.  My sinuses swollen.  But what is really hurting me... what is tearing me down to a lifeless lump... is this unproductive deep-in-the-lungs wheezing that drains me of myself.  Ugh!  Cough cough cough...

That said, I know I am far from being the only person suffering today.  I have so many friends and family battling for dear life. Some critically ill.  Some abused and brokenhearted.  Some deceived and betrayed.  Some left and forgotten.  In comparison, my annoying lingering cough seems low on the list of emergencies.  And yet, I'm exhausted and sooo over feeling this way.  I hate hurt.  I need a break.  A help.  An oasis-reminder that this pain will not last forever.  Lord, help!  Cough cough cough...

What do we do when our maladies overshadow our line of sight to God's remedy?  When trials cause us to curl up into a deflated ball and cough cough cough... cry cry cry... cough cough cough...

Satan loves to penetrate our lives like a bad cough.  He strives to distract us with constant frustration and suffocates us away from God's peaceful breath.  He knows that we cannot advance if we are paralyzed in pain.  So he keeps us coughing, wheezing for air, exhausted.

The solution: It is wise to seek strong shelter when bombing occurs.  We are not God.  We do not win the war.  He does... in His timing.  So, when the enemy attacks become too strong that our health and hope is weakened, it is smart to fully cover ourselves under the banner Name of the Lord.  God wants us to retreat to Him so that we may regroup and return strong on the battlefront.  It is so easy to fall into depression and doubt God when our wits end are scattered blocks behind us.  But friends, it is in this place where He shines brightest.  He will help us heal, and he will use us to encourage others who become stunned and broken in these same scary places.  For we all can relate in our sufferings.

Like so many others, today I am working through a very frustrating and dark time.  My heart is heavy with many prayer requests and the enemy is hitting hard on so many fronts. Cough cough cough... Yes, it is wise to seek strong shelter when this hurtful bombing occurs.  I will seek relief in the assurance that God is in control. He is able. He has already won and will get me through this annoying cough... this irritating time.  He will use me past this trial for His ultimate good.

What do we do when our maladies overshadow our line of sight to God's remedy?  We regroup under the strongest of towers: the One who has already overcome all hurt and pain... let's thwart the enemy and simply say His Name...

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus. 
There's just something about that Name.
Master.
Savior.  
Jesus.
Like the fragrance after the rain.  
Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.
Let all heaven and earth proclaim:
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there's just something about that Name.
(Lyrics by Gloria Gaither)

Today, I am deaf to Satan's lip service. Sure, I am down... crawling, coughing, wheezing for relief.  But I know that after this storm the Dayspring will rise up and snuff out all darkness.  So, I will camp here and wait upon the Lord to renew my strength.  I will cover myself in His unchanging victorious Name.  I will trust that in His timing, He will cure my pain and pick up my pieces.  He will restore and use me for His good purpose.  I will remember (even in this trial) that He is God.  He is good.  He wins this war.  Yes, Jesus is able!

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Blessings!

˜Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, August 21, 2015

stand firm, be still


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians - all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops - pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen - the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14)

The Israelites had left Egypt. They were on their way to the land God had promised them. They had seen Jehovah work first hand as He plagued Pharaoh for keeping their race captive, and now - they were free.

Until...

It dawned on Pharaoh that by allowing the Jewish slaves to escape, they had threatened Egypt's whole economy. There was only one answer for Pharaoh... he had to recapture the slaves and bring them back to Egypt, irrespective of their God. So, Pharaoh commandeered all his chariots and went into full pursuit after the Jews. Suddenly, the Israelites realized they were in trouble. They began to look away from God and focused their eyes back on the Egyptian army that was closing in on their position. They panicked - for surely they would be killed.

We've all been there. We've been in the position where we thought we were moving forward on the right track with God. Then, in one small glance away from His guidance, we find ourselves in an unbelievably terrible and frightening scenario. This is what happened to Israel. The instant the Jews began to look away from Jehovah and forgot His promise of deliverance, was the same instant they gave into their fear and unbelief. One of my commentaries worded it this way, "Unbelief has a way of erasing from our memory all the demonstrations we've seen of God's great power and all the instances we know of God's faithfulness to His word."

So now what?

As the Israelites found themselves trapped between Pharaoh's approaching army and the large, uncrossable Red Sea in front of them, they started to panic and push blame onto Moses (and ultimately God) for leading them into this unbeatable predicament. In their terror, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. If they had only stayed, they would have avoided this doom.

But Moses was a great man of faith. He knew that his God was greater than the approaching Egyptian army. He was not sure how - but He trusted that His Lord would deliver his people. So, in his wisdom he gave this advise, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:13&14)

The Lord, of course, was faithful and did demolish the Egyptians in a glorious and miraculous way. In this experience, we learn two very important lessons about trust and handling trials in our lives. (1) Trust: If God brings his people into a difficult circumstance that looks hopeless to our human eyes, He will deliver us from all evil, for He promises to always be with us; and (2) Handling Trials: In times of our greatest difficulties, it is usually best to stand firm in our faith and sit still. When we are calm and sedate... when we can be still and know that He is our God (Psalms 46:10)... we are then able to be rational and allow God to speak to us and work in us effectively.

So, no matter the problem you are facing today, here is God's instruction and promise from Exodus 14:

Stand firm.
Be still.
The Lord will fight for you.

Knowing that the Lord will fight for us gives us the hope that our God is greater than anything this life can dish out. Through any trial, God will win. In fact, He has already won. Keep this in mind. Because in Jesus Name, ultimately the time will come that you will never see the enemy you see today ever again.  WOO HOO!

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exhalt Him. (Exodus 15:2)

Blessing!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

thank you, haiti


While visiting Port au Prince, Haiti in 2011, I was brought to an artisan village filled with talented people who spent their days hammering out art from used oil drum barrels. I paid the asking $10 for this huge "Tree of Life" piece in addition to a bonus $10 "just because" I felt it was the right thing to give. Today, these pieces are more easily available to worldwide consumers - offered through large companies who produce luxurious catalogs and employ designers on staff. They usually tag them as fair trade for prices well above $100, and it makes me wonder how much the original struggling artist actually receives vs. the large company. 

But when I look at this piece... my piece, I remember the thankful man whose hand I shook and whose wife I hugged - both so happy I had come to support their family business. I remember their barefoot children playing nearby in the worst of conditions. 

Later, I remember carrying the sharp-edged metal onto my flight home in a dirty blanket, hanging it on a wall of prominence in my home, and realizing just how blessed I live each day in a constructed house with a raised dry bed, with a refrigerator full of cold ice, with indoor plumbing, working electricity, nearby medical aid, and of course a place in my wonderful family. 

I love this piece because it reminds me to have a heart for the post earthquake realities that are still present in Port au Prince and the poverty and displacement so easily apparent all over the world. Whenever I look at it, I am grateful for life and I want to love others more like Jesus. 

So, thank you Haiti.

XOXOX!

˜Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, August 17, 2015

my ugly selfish little control problem

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)

The other day, I looked around my house and felt my jaw starting to clench. Angry feelings against my poor unsuspecting husband (and family) began to bubble inside me as I was suddenly overwhelmed with one earth shattering thought: Nobody in this house cares about getting anything done except ME!!! Of course, this was not at all true. However, even though I knew it wasn't true, deep down, I still found my throat swelling up with bitterness, anger, grumblings and feelings of defeat. In my heart, I began turning on my family and the blessed life we share together.... it was an unimpressive display of a normally sane woman traveling from zero to selfishness in less than sixty seconds.

I immediately became easy game for Satan to mess with. My ugly selfish little control problem had once again surfaced, so I could only focus on how life "should" play itself out in my perfect, imaginary world... ruled by, of course, ME! As my dissatisfaction increased, I began the internal drama of devastating questions that would lead me nowhere productive. They included: Why on earth did I ever get married? Nobody appreciates all I do anyway! How can this family continue on when we are doomed to work together as a team? We'll never be happy. Really, if God wanted us to be happy, why did he have me marry a man who doesn't care enough about my feelings to do _______ (fill in the blank) before vegging in front of the television to watch hockey?

I'm sure you can see how catastrophic my life had become in less than two minutes... NOT! Never mind that my husband had traveled all over the country on business the past three months to put food on our table, clothes on our backs, a roof over our head. Forget about the fact that he had just spoiled me with a romantic vacation at my favorite spa only a few weeks before. Ignore that this was his first day off in weeks to just hang out at home, cheer on his favorite team, and enjoy snuggle time with his woman. Overlook the fact that his life motto throughout the course of our entire marriage has been about us being on each other's side and working as a team. Oh, sure... my life was really terrible. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

So there I was, stuck at selfish central and lingering in my mental temper tantrum. And why?... Here were my reasons: because the canned foods in the kitchen cabinet were stacked on the wrong shelf, the used dishes were not put in the dishwasher, the television was too loud. (Um, I know... I'm also rolling my eyes and saying, "Oh brother!" while typing this.) What a pathetic mess I had become. Let's face it... nothing was really wrong! I had just allowed Satan to carry my thoughts off to the dramatic sensationalism of doom which fueled a colossal and pathetic pity party. Mind you, during all my "boo hoo'ing", I had conveniently failed to take time out to acknowledge the many blessings God gives... I'm embarrassed to admit that I never praised Him for the food we had in our cupboards... the dishwasher He supplied to save me time... and hello... the ability to hear always has come in handy for me!!! Perhaps I had the wrong focus? Hmmmm?

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. (Proverbs 21:9, 19)

A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. (Proverbs 27:15)

Instead, I was preparing to set the world straight on my self-justified path of perfection. I began stomping downstairs to give my unsuspecting man a piece of my mind as well as question the validity of his undying love and devotion to me. (Sigh... poor Chuck.) Thankfully... miraculously God intervened and stopped me from making a complete fool of myself.

While rehearsing my silent speech of spitfire down the stairs, my bad knee began to buckle. Instantly, I had to stop dead in my course and try to catch my balance. I was able to prevent myself from wiping out because I was holding onto the railing. But the second my knee did this, I forgot my objective and had to stop everything. With that, I had no other option but to stand still for a few seconds to catch my breath from the potential terror that could have happened by my falling and causing greater damage to myself.

Whew.... in one gasp of breath everything changed.

Immediately, the Holy Spirit stepped in and a thought popped into my head, "Victoria, are you responding as 'The Devoted Woman' by approaching your husband with respect, submission and love while you strive to honor My Name? OR are you acting more like 'The Devoted Control Freak'... 'The Devoted Selfish Brat'... 'The Devoted Wife of Ungratefulness' by storming down these stairs with a mind to start a stupid fight because life isn't playing out to your exact (and unrealistic) expectations?"

Then, as if to drive the point home all the more, I heard my husband's loving voice call out to me, "Honey, you ok?"

Gulp.... "Yes, sweetie. I'm ok. Thanks for checking."

OK, I hear you, Lord. How about we start to do things Your way now? How about I set aside my Ms. Nasty attitude and give the control back to You. How about I actually honor my husband and acknowledge all that he does for our family rather than rip him to pieces on his day off? How about I refrain from biting the heads off of every person that I see? How about I start being thankful for everything you have blessed me with? How about I begin living in love rather than feeding my ugly selfish little control problem any further?

Satan, get thee behind me in Jesus Name!

Ladies, I tell you this story to remind each of you that controlling every aspect of life isn't your job... it is God's. I clearly am not immune to falling into the sinful trap of control accompanied by bitterness, grumbling and feelings of defeat. I'm sure you aren't either. But thank God that He loves us enough to stop us in our destructive tracks (literally)! Thank God that He corrects His children so that we can confess and turn back into His grace and live in love. It is a virtue to restrain our unwarranted anger and seek Him first... a virtue that we must constantly ask Him to give us. For the only kind of control that we should strive to maintain is that of self control in His holy name. By the power of our Redeemer, He can change our hearts to stop being anxious and dissatisfied. Instead, we can start living fulfilled and with the love of our Savior who gives us all we need.

I'm grateful that God was generous to remind me of this lesson. I am equally thankful that He continues to keep me in check and stops me from being the annoying brat that I am surely capable of being. Praise Your Name, Almighty Father! Praise You for Your correction and teaching. Thank You for all Your blessings... I deserve nothing and You give me everything. Continue to soften my heart so that I turn over my whole life to You and love others as You have loved me. Break me if you must, Jesus, but keep me on your righteous path. Help me to put on Your beauty so that my ways are no longer evident. Take over so that I can live fully in You. Less of me... MORE OF YOU!

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

P.S. Chuck just read this and said, "What? You were upset? Honey, what can I do to make you happy...?" Sigh... I'm so blessed. Praise God.

Blessing

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

His life to live

When we choose to follow Christ...
When we choose the Lord's Way and not our own...
When we choose to study and know the Almighty's Law, 
Binding ourselves close to His healing Word,
Oh what wonderful gifts and blessings we are privy too!  
What honor and hope He extends to us!
How graciously he directs our hearts to become tender, exposed, transparent...
To selflessly love as He loves.
How patiently He teaches us kindness, obedience, truth, forgiveness.
How wonderfully He shows us His path to peace.

There is no darkness that His light cannot extinguish.
There is no trial or fear that He cannot overcome.
For the mere mention of the Savior's Name makes evil shutter and scurry.
Yes, there is power in The Lord!
There is enlightenment and strength in His promises!
So lay yourself on His altar:
Surrender every burden, every sorrow, every grief, every horror, every debt, every sickness, every wicked desire, every hateful thought...
Surrender, and become New in His Name!!!
Give Jesus your brokenness and believe He will continue to do a good work in you!
He will restore you!
Surrender, and be cleansed in His righteous blood!
Seek first His Holy Holy Holy!
For "our toil He doth richly repay," dear Christian!

He gives us the greatest of all gifts... 
He gives us His own Life to live!
He shares with us His perfect identity!
He adopts us into His Home.
He places His cloak and crown upon us.
We, who are His, are dressed in His beautiful, astounding glory.
We are protected with His unmatched might.

So, today... represent!
For His Kingdom is magnificent!
His Throne is unmatched and His nature is good!
So, today... press on!
For His authority is with us to accomplish much!
His Word is a lamp unto our feet; a light unto our path!
Whatever He says... do!
Wherever He leads... go!
Abide in Christ and rejoice, Believer!
For this is the day you've been given His Life to live!
So, today... LIVE!

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, August 10, 2015

say... do...

I don't like to mince words.  I like direct.  I like honest.  I like caring, concise, and creative.  I'm not a big believer in delivering feedback without feeling, or of being so rough and blunt around the edges that love and compassion are all but forgotten.  Also, I very much trust the rules of "do unto others"... "say unto others"... "speak about others" exactly the same way you would want to be treated, talked to, or spoken of.  I am quite certain that you can catch more flies with honey, and that sweet words refresh while sour words, lying lips, broken promises, and hateful speech destroy.  I know that a soft answer turns away wrath.  That grievous words stir up anger.  That a gentle tone combined with thoughtful timing is paramount.  That exactness is better than sloppy reiteration.  And lastly, that more often than not, silence is truly golden.

Today, I felt compelled to use my words specifically to share Psalm chapter 12.  Why?  Because it weighs heavily on my heart, and because I believe the Holy Spirit wishes for me to encourage you lovingly and particularly in this area.  Please take time to read each verse of Psalm 12 (below) and consider how actively you, as an ambassador of the Most High God, have chosen to treat, to talk, and to speak as His church.

Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.  They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.  The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:  Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?  For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.  The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.  The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. (Psalm 12)

Hmmm.  Who exactly is Psalm chapter 12 referring to?  Is it you?  Is it me?  Are we the godly that ceaseth?  Are we the faithful who are failing?  Are we filled up with a lot of thought provoking speeches each Sunday, but still do not aid the poor?  Are we sighing desperately together with a hope to see action, but sadly still forgo to help those before us in need?  As you meditate on this Psalm, please keep in mind what God's Word says in the book of James:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:19-27)

Lord, often we forget to choose our words prayerfully before we speak.  We loosen our lips and bla bla bla about absolutely nothing important... or perhaps about too much of everything that should be left unsaid.  I ask that you take control of our tongues.  For we desire to speak of Your righteousness.  In joyful praise, we want only to repeat Your promises, Your commands, Your holy wisdom - always surrendering our lives to your purified truth.  Help us to remember to love You first, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  (Matthew 22:37-39)

Lord, let us never be finished saying what You have definitively said.  And most importantly, let us never be finished doing what You have so definitely instructed us to do.  In Jesus' Name, amen!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Saturday, August 8, 2015

is your god God?

Where is your treasure?
What can't you live without?
More specific, what gets your heart pumping and your passions stirring?
What is your regular, standard, go-to activity... or thing... or person... or whatever?
Does it make you happy - maybe even elated - every time you are near?
Or does your treasure go far beyond feelings?  Perhaps something much deeper and more profound than a momentary emotional response or material high?

Let's take a physical inventory, shall we?

How much money are you spending each week, and what are you spending said money on?
Is it money you currently have available to spend, or is it borrowed money from another person or financial institution?
And while we are on the subject, how much debt do you owe?
What kind of debt is it?
Could such a loan have been wisely avoided through prayerful planning?
Could you have paid in full to avoid debt altogether?

Yes?
No?

How about this...
Are your credit cards maxed out?
If so, from what?
Are you shopping too much?
Are you shopping wisely?
Do you consider yourself a good steward?
Do you think Jesus would consider you a faithful servant?
Is your home overflowing with goods?
Do you need and use everything you own?
Everything?
Or is the big elephant standing in the center of your life that dirty little secret of too many digital book downloads that could never be read in one lifetime... or the boxes of designer shoes, or purses, or jewelry, or clothing that still have their price tags on them and are collecting dust in your closets... or how about dining out too much... or the extra cable tv channels you don't watch... or "pimping" out the second car you don't really, really need... or insisting on purchasing the latest and greatest technology to match today's status quo... or perhaps something else?

Just where does your money go?
Do you even know?
Are you embarrassed to say?
Are you afraid to find out?

Here's another question...
Is tithing even an option in your life?
Is giving your time, money, and personal gifts to Jesus your first and most important priority?
Or does Jesus even make the cut over the new iPad mini?

Are your expectations and actions on this matter realistic in how you portray and obey God's Law?
Is God's Law even important to you?

How important?

Where is your treasure?
What is your priority?
How do you spend the majority of your time, resources, and (most telling) your money?
For whatever your honest answer - that is your heart's biggest desire.
That is your #1 focus.
That is your god.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

So, is your god God?

Blessings!

~Victoria


Friday, August 7, 2015

for King and crown

I have these lounging pajamas that I bought from JC Penney last year. It was time for me to throw out my old, ripped faithfuls as they had seen better days.  I really like the new pj's because they are soft and have a royal princess theme printed throughout the fabric.  (Hello... love that!!!) These cute pj's were part of a clothing line that had a British Monarchy theme... all cute... all in need of Victoria-zation. Of course, I could further rationalize the splurge because, to date, I've never met a Brit I didn't like. In fact, I'm wearing them right now and doing the "queen" wave just for you ladies across the pond who might be online reading my blog. "Cheerio y'all!". (Hmmm... perhaps the queen wouldn't say, "y'all." Then again, maybe she would if she was visiting me in Houston?  But I digress.)

I also purchased a pair of Batgirl pajam-jams from Old Navy... but that's a different topic altogether and for another day perhaps....  (Pause.)  Ok, I can't resist saying it, "I'm Batman!" Did you hear my deep voice? Really, why must it be so grave and raspy sounding, Bat-peeps?... and the same question goes out to my Star Wars/Darth Vader peeps too! Respiratory issues? Frog in the throat? What's-up with all that?  Can't the Caped Crusader afford a cough drop?  At least a roll of Mentos?  Or are gas prices and repair costs just too inflated for the up-keep of that Batmobile and all those unfashionable belt accessory items?  Perhaps a flux capacitor that runs on garbage fuel would be more in order?  I'm just sayin'.

(Ok, by now you have probably all figured out that (a) I'm a huge nerd... and (2) I have had little-to-no sleep since yesterday and (C++) I might have ingested a few meds for my chronic pain issues.  No matter... let's just go with it, shall we?)

ANYWAY... whenever I wear my princess pj's, I am always reminded about the royal inheritance we have been promised as followers of Jesus Christ. As a result, they encourage me to consider the openness of my heart - especially pertaining to my relationship with the Lord.  Things like, am I actively seeking God's Word each day in preparation of His kingdom?  Do I learn His Law with the same fervency a princess should in striving to know such things?  Do I understand the magnitude and importance of my position under Christ's authority?  And, am I willing to surrender everything I am for King and crown?

Whatever your current situation may be... know this: If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a spiritual debutante to the Most High.  You are high society in Heaven's gates.  You are a majestic princess to the Almighty God.  You are a beautiful bride to the Prince of Peace.  You... yes YOU, are a royal heir to the One and Only Sovereign Lord!  How is this possible?  Because He says so!

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17)

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (Isaiah 62:2-3)

The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people.  They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.  How attractive and beautiful they will be! (Zechariah 9:16-17a)

This is the day to remember our honored position in Christ Jesus!  This is the time to prepare ourselves for His palace while displaying our sole (soul) allegiance to His glory.  For this is the day to joyfully learn His Law and promote His righteousness as we refine ourselves to gracefully walk His streets of Heavenly gold!

Yes, rejoice, for we are His royal heirs!  We are children of the Most High!  We are His beloved!  We are princesses awaiting the return of our charming Prince!  So, let us each consider how open our hearts are to receive His Kingdom.  Let us understand the magnitude and importance of the position God Almighty has elevated us to, always thanking Him for His Only Son and remembering the sacrifice Jesus has made on our behalf in order that we might become heirs.  TODAY, let us surrender everything... EVERYTHING... for this King and His crown!!!  Glory, glory... Hallelujah!  His Kingdom come.  His will be done - on Earth (in us!) as it is in Heaven!

Blessings and Cheerio, y'all!!!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Thursday, August 6, 2015

living beauty eternal

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

Occasionally, my hub's job requires him to visit customers situated throughout our state, and often he asks me to accompany him so that we can spend his off hours touristing together.  This week, we have been staying in San Antonio, Texas, at the notable Menger hotel situated right across the street from the Alamo.  While here, I have been taking in the uniqueness of all the historical antiques they have on display: endless pieces of art, old ledgers filled with the beautiful cursive handwriting of past travelers signing in, intricate vases and knick knacks, unusual chess sets and hobby items, as well as many elaborate grand pianos and furniture pieces.  The location is hopping with so much history and full of photography subjects to keep me busy for quite some time.

Yesterday I was leisurely strolling through one of the Menger's grand hallways, admiring their architectural columns and stain glass ceiling art signature to the hotel.  Amid all these beautiful pieces, one small item completely grabbed my attention and overshadowed all else: a small, simple vase filled with pink orchids.  There, in the middle of so many finely crafted and expensive artifacts, sat these little flowers that took my breath away.

Throughout history, there have been many.  Many who have accomplished great things.  Many who have gained wealth and status.  Many who have made their mark.  Indisputably, mankind has a full and active history.  Still, only One is able to grab my complete attention, overshadowing all else.  Only One stands out amongst the rest.  Only One is alive and eternally vibrant.  Only One is most important when all is said and done.  That One is Jesus.  He is most worthy.  He is most predominate.  He cannot be ignored, for His beauty is beyond any other.  He is stunning.  He is perfection.

As I sat down and absorbed the grand hallway in which those lovely pink orchids were stationed, I remembered my dear Lord who has made every flower.  The God who can create by merely speaking.  The Savior who outshines the entire course of human history with His astounding, attention-grabbing love.  How thankful I am for WHO He is.  He is the One who cannot be ignored.  He is my God.  He is living beauty eternal.  Blessed be His Name!

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. "For in him we live and move and have our being." As some of your own poets have said, "We are his offspring."  Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him (Jesus) from the dead. (Acts 17:27-31)

My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. (Psalm 102:11-12)

Let us take notice to the One above all others and rejoice in His glory!  Let us not stroll through this day without acknowledging His uniqueness, His perfection, His Name above all other names!  Glory to the Lord!  Glory to God Most High!!!

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

champagne taste

I have champagne taste. Not because I was cosseted as an elite.  Nor because I have acquired an endless bounty of means.  I have champagne taste because I know what really matters... and how much what matters is truly worth.

Sure, I have met the wealthy, the genius, the famous. I have dined and enjoyed the very best. I have been clothed and accessorized in designers. I have slept comfortably in first class.  I have been given much (and have worked very hard) to achieve former career and financial gain.  And, if you ever did corner me into a few hours of candid sharing, I really do have stories and stories of crazy life experiences that, if accumulated, would probably measure up to the tallest of skyscrapers.

But when I say I have champagne taste, it is not because I am well-to-do, highly educated, or renown.  For equally so, I have also scrambled in much sorrow, wallowed in deep pain and depression, and begged in devastating hunger.  I have struggled beyond broke.  I have experienced first-hand abuse and manipulation.  I have been beaten, betrayed, forgotten, and left for dead more than once.  In short, I have lived on both sides of the fence.  I have been both coddled and stung.  And through it all... good and bad... rich and poor... status and quo... I have learned that The Lord is my only true portion.  He remains still and solid - a refuge in this clamorous, superficial, bankrupt world.  Because of this, my Savior is all that really matters to me.  Really, you can have the rest... just give me Jesus!!!

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16)

I love the lines of text in Psalm 16, "Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips."  Such truth!!!  So many people, places, and things in this world can easily dazzle and distract our human egos away from God's holiness.  By our sinful natures, we are drawn to the unremarkable and flashy.  But Jesus says we should be exclusively and intimately seeking after the very best of God's kingdom.  Boy, that is the last thing Satan wants for us, isn't it?  Because if we REALLY sought after all our Master offers... if we looked to His glory each and every day... we wouldn't care one iota for Satan's cheap beer budget worth of trinkets and slavery.

This is why the enemy goes out of his way to cover up and bedazzle every loud speaker around us with his worthless rhinestones of false proposals, demanding that we settle for his pathetic less.  Pffft.  Not for me, folks!  I won't waste my expensive tastes on Satan's toilet water!  Blaaaa!  I don't want to simply shack up with vile evil and wear Satan's cheap, bubblegum ring of lies.  Especially when Jesus has offered me so much more - His Holy, Eternal Name!  God has put on my finger His priceless hope diamond and I fully intend on letting His Light sparkle the hell out of it, quite literally!  Why settle for less when the Savior can truly satisfy under His glory and prestige?  Why just "look" the part of someone expensively worthy when we already are truly valued, cherished, and treasured by the Most High King of kings?  Christ paid the ultimate price for us, folks!  He loves us more than anything!  He wants to fill us up with His real joy and eternal pleasures!

So yes, I do have the highest of standards.  I do have champagne taste!  I do, Jesus!  This bride wants nothing except The Lamb and His wedding feast.  Thank you for serving the sweetest and most bubbly vintage of particularity, freedom, and holiness!

Just give me Jesus forever!

May we never settle for less than Christ's loving perfection!

Cheers, y'all!!!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Monday, August 3, 2015

refreshing, restorative LOVE

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Over the course of this summer, I've been faithfully working out every day for a minimum of 30 minutes, only missing a day or two here and there.  Exercise is especially difficult for me because I suffer from chronic pain and many health issues, but I find my body performs better when I take the time to stretch and move every single joint and limb regularly.  However, with strenuous movement comes muscle fatigue and soreness.  And for me, that soreness must be calculated and monitored closely so that I do not worsen my health condition by "over-doing" it.

Anyway, today I woke up late and particularly stiff.  I was very, very slow to get moving because my whole being felt like one big bruise.  My physical form felt heavy and sluggish, and I questioned if I should even get out of bed to try.  But I know that I always must try.  Otherwise, what's the point of being alive, right?

Slowly I stood to my feet and proceeded into my usual routine - heading to our espresso machine for a much-desired morning cup of coffee, a banana, and a cup of homemade yogurt.  There, I found my husband already awake and thriving as he was preparing his second cup of the morning.  He had woken up hours before and was moving at a much faster, smoother pace than I... and he was clearly getting much of his work done.

Upon looking at me, Chuck realized that my day was beginning with severe pain.  Yes, I hurt.  I was fragile. This, of course, is nothing new in our home.  My family is accustom to watching me struggle with body-wide arthritis issues and lower back and knee aches.  My husband knows all-to-well how much I depend on pain medication, numbing patches, and customized equipment and supplements in order to secure even a few hours sleep each night or function as close to normal as I am able.  Still, my wonderful partner put down his coffee cup, turned off his phone full of emails and stopped the world to hug me.  His strong arms wrapped around me for a still, perfect moment... his encouraging words of adoration whispered secretly in my ear - exclusive for my heart alone to absorb as assuring truth.  Ahhhhh.  How refreshing love can be!

I think we can become dangerously indifferent to the broken.  We live in a world that is full of so much pain and busyness that we get caught up in our own self-made safety nets and become insensitive to those in need of a healing touch.  It is not uncommon for us to choose to forget... to choose to overlook... to choose to ignore the fact that all mankind, as fragile beings, need love.   That someone actually cares for us.  That we are adorable, valuable, and important.

It is astounding to think of how many are in need of such attention.  It is heartbreaking to look at the masses of poor, needy, sick, and dying.  Of those who have been deceived, robbed, abused, and pummeled.  We are bruised worldwide; our pain shoots deeply to our core.  How we need the refreshment of love in our life.  And how differently we are able to endure conflict and turmoil when we believe we are cherished... when someone offers us care... when encouraging words of truth and adoration are whispered exclusively for us to absorb and know.  Love makes all the difference, doesn't it?

Upon hearing my husbands affirming words, my pain seemed less troublesome this morning.  Nothing had changed in my physical world, mind you... but everything had changed inside me.  I found new resolve to move... to proceed forward... to run this race of life, and to run it with gusto!  Love does that.  Love gives us hope and a future.  Love promises and delivers.  Love heals.  Why?  Because real love is from the Creator who made us to thrive and be healthy.  Love is of God, because God is LOVE.  

We all need God's love, don't we?
And as Christ's ambassadors, we are called to share the truth of His love to others, aren't we?

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

I encourage you to consider this as you go about your day, dear Believers.  Consider whomever the Lord puts before you.  Do not overlook their need with sinful eyes of indifference.  Do not fail to see their brokenness because you are too preoccupied and/or busy.  Do not fall short in addressing their hurt because of your own discomfort.  Choose to notice.  Choose to see.  Choose to attend to those fragile and bruised and extend the healing love and gentle kindness of the Most High.  For in His eyes, they are adored.  In His mind, they are valuable.  In His heart, they are most important and worthy of attention, praise, devotion, truth.  Love makes all the difference.  And mankind desperately NEEDS to know His love.

So, won't you make love your first priority today?
What a blessing you are able to be for the Lord!  
What a valuable hope you were made to exhibit from His Kingdom!
Let us run this race with gusto, fellow Christians!  Together!  Forever!  For Jesus... with LOVE!

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)

Blessings!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, August 1, 2015

vision and voice

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1: 4-5)

Imagine being blind.  Unable to see light.  Unable to know color.  Unable to distinguish or comprehend beyond the black void before you.  Now in addition to being blind, imagine you are also deaf.  Unable to hear any audible sound.  Sure, you have the ability to feel and touch.  You know which direction the wind is blowing while sensing the vibrations and movements of a world surrounding you, but you are unable to actually hear the mellow hum of the breeze or see the soft glow of the candle flame flickering about in it's path.  Blind and deaf... you feel alone, isolated, confused, useless.

This was reality for Helen Keller.  At age two, she lost her sight and hearing due to an illness.  As a result, she was unable to comprehend or communicate with the world around her.

So, was hers to be a life lost?
Was she to be left for dead and forgotten?

I'm happy to report, God had bigger plans for Helen.  Around the age of seven, Helen was visited by Anne Mansfield Sullivan.  Trained at the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts, Anne quickly assessed that Helen was very, very limited in her ability to communicate.  If she was happy, Helen would laugh and giggle.  If she was unhappy, Helen would kick, scream, and scratch.  That was Helen.  That was her whole world.  So, Anne resolved to help Helen.  And fortunately for Helen, Anne came with an understanding of Helen's personal suffering and frustration.  You see, Anne had been partially blinded herself due to a severe eye infection.  She understood the same misery and knew that if Helen was going to survive and thrive, she would need to learn how to "see" and "hear" in a different way.  As time passed, Anne was able to win over Helen's trust and successfully teach her the basics of communication.  In retrospect, her loving guidance was paramount in restoring the life of a child once cut-off into a valuable person of worth, input, and contribution.

Later in life, Helen wrote about her first initial meeting with her teacher, Anne.  She said, "I felt approaching footsteps.  I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother.  Someone took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and more than all things else, to love me."

I love this true story.  I love it because it showcases in parallel the love of Jesus Christ toward mankind. Not just as an Almighty Creator, but as a Redeemer who took it upon himself to understand our misery personally in order to restore our lives eternally.  He came to walk among us.  To know our struggle.  To help.  Yes, he was tempted, hurt, happy and unhappy... for he was human.  Perfect, and human.  God, and human.  He knew firsthand our helplessness and mercifully gave his life as payment to save us out of the muck and mire.  Remarkably, he overcame death and returned to give those who love Him true hope past the hopelessness of the grave.  In Him is life; and that life is the light of men!  He is the beacon that guides.  His is the Word that corrects and instructs.

"I believe that God is in me, as the sun is in the color and fragrance of a flower, the light in my darkness, the Voice in my silence." (Helen Keller)

One day, everything changed for Helen Keller.  Anne Mansfield Sullivan decided to place one of Helen's hands under a spout of running water while also spelling out the word "w-a-t-e-r" onto Helen's other hand.  Suddenly an inner lightbulb turned on as the student felt the cool liquid pulse through her fingers.  It was at that very moment that Helen was able to connect the letters being pressed into her palm with the water flowing over her other palm.  Miraculously, she began to understand the new language of her loving teacher.  Later Helen shared "that living word" had awakened her soul, and "gave it light, hope, joy... set it free!"  

So, was hers to be a life lost?
Was Helen to be left for dead and forgotten?

Thankfully, no.

Helen Keller was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.  She wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles.  She became a world-famous author, political activist, and lecturer and traveled to over 40 countries in her full and honored life.  Isn't it remarkable what sacrificial love can set free?  I wonder who we might play paramount in restoring if we too, like Anne Mansfield Sullivan, offered even a small dose of such love toward another.

"There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark." (Helen Keller)

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." (Helen Keller)

"I cannot do everything, but still I can do something." (Helen Keller)

So, is yours to be a life lost?
Are you to be left for dead and forgotten?

How great is the love and new language of our King and Teacher, Jesus?  His living word awakens the soul and promises light, hope, joy!  Yes, Christ sets the captive free!  Sure, we may not fully comprehend His omnipotent Way with our human eyes and ears, but His new language has been made available to learn, to seek, to know, to find... to share!  His love is present and with us NOW.  His truth is certain and paramount in restoring our lives to whole.

To Jesus, we are valuable and worthy.
In Christ, we are made to offer input and contribute toward His eternal kingdom of LOVE in our own gifted way.

(How I pray every person reading this little blog gets to know Christ intimately, for His love is better than life!)

"It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision." (Helen Keller)

"I thank God for my handicaps.  For through them, I have found myself, my work and my God." (Helen Keller)

So, let us start today thankful; for with Jesus we are no longer blind or deaf.  He gives us vision and voice.  He offers us a future so that we may LIVE this very moment in His hope!  Hallelujah to the King of kings!!!  Let us rejoice and share His love for HE IS GOOD!!!

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men."

Blessings and Happy Saturday, August 1st, y'all!!!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



  

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