Sunday, July 31, 2016

this busy, busy life


There is a lot going on.
Really, there is always a lot going on.
But this week is especially busy.
This week, in addition to some of my own health and personal matters, I am attending to a sick spouse, a mother who is going in for knee surgery, an elderly dog with severe allergy issues, etc. etc. etc.
There are medicines to be dispersed.
There are doctors and veterinarians and physical therapists to consult.
There are matters to attend to.
Food shopping.
House keeping.
Bill paying.
Orders to fulfill in my small business.
Appointments to schedule.
Life.

But too often when life gets this hectic, I forget.
I forget that my Master is with me and most important.
I forget that my Savior is close; His Spirit alive within.

Too often I become overwhelmed and default into my own hurried ritual of what I can accomplish...
I can clean.
I can organize.
I can cook.
I can nurture.
And, while all these abilities are good, they mean nothing if I loose sight of my King's loving presence.
For God is more concerned with who I am becoming than what I am capable of doing.
You see, no matter what chaos may come, I have missed the whole point if I fail to thank Jesus for His many, many gifts.
I have foolishly wasted my time, if I do not first seek after His peace and promises.

So, as this new week dawns...
This busy, busy week with so much going on...
Lord Jesus, I lift up my eyes to your Throne.
I seek first your beautiful Light.
I pray that my walk remains straightforward along your path.
And I ask that you use every word I speak for good.
EVERY SINGLE WORD!
Attend to my thoughts and keep my focus.
Afford me your wisdom and a frequency to recall your healing Word in every moment, every breath, every opportunity that you have ordained.
Move me, Lord Jesus, at your speed, at your pace...
So that I might observe and react to this hectic world through your lens of love and grace.

For there is a lot going on.
There is always a lot going on.
And in these moments,
These precious moments that you have prepared for me to become more like You...
Dear Master, remain in me.
Root your everlasting truth around me and deeply ground my heart inside your holiness.
You are my Cornerstone.
You are my Constant.
You are my Vine, my Bread, my EVERYTHING!
You are all that matters in this life...
This busy, busy Life.

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Thursday, July 28, 2016

in between

The in between.
The journey.
The time along each road I travel.
Not the start, nor the finish.
Just that space and pace of walking, waiting, hoping, creating...
This is where I seem to find God most.
This is where His Spirit waits for the whole of my heart.
And honestly, it used to really annoy me.
It used to rub me wrong.
For I wanted the destination.
I was impatient for immediate answers.
Yes, often the race seemed so much more taxing to endure than the splendor and glory awaiting every finish line.
But finish lines are not always the pinnacle of God's magnificent style.
He knows what is to come.
He has accounted for every moment.
And honestly, our most genuine prayers to know Him are rarely spoken at the finish line.

Instead, I believe God desires for us to embrace the precious in between moments.
When we travel closely and dependently alongside Him.
Here, He encourages us to forgo our stress, our aches, our worry, our uncertainty...
Trusting Him through the worst of storms.
Getting to know His big heart and cherish His perfect companionship.
Believing His promises.
Allowing Him to carry us... 
To romantically drape his robe over every puddle we must cross...
To be so engulfed in His beauty and presence that everything else (even that glorious finish line) seems secondary to the now, the new of Him... today.

Yes, God will work everything out in His holy timing.
But right now, I simply desire to be close to Him in this in between.
Here is where He teaches me intimacy, courage, obedience, faith, love.
And isn't this the purpose of my life...
To love Him.
To love Him now.
To love Him closely through panic, and sin, and darkness...
To love Jesus, wherever we are, and to obey His wise shepherding.
To want only Him.
To be exclusively devoted to Him.
To relax, and trust, and let our battered souls be restored in His graciousness.
Yes, I am so thankful that God is teaching me His eternal lesson of contentment.
For He is faithful.

Here, in between my past and His future, I am learning to enjoy His healthy, life-giving companionship.
I am grateful for His holy insight which expands my vision and centers my focus to the now...
To today.
So, I can look past Satan's flashy billboards of trouble and despair.
I can file away my own expectations and surrender my immature ways.
I can be still.
I can know, right now, that He is my greatest Love.  
He is my truest Friend.
He is my Comforter.
He is my Strength.
He is my Hope and Joy.
He will never, ever, leave or forsake me.
He is with me always.
He is my God.
He is.
Hallelujah... that's all I need to know.

Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you so much for this new moment in Your presence.
I love you, Lord...
You are my very best and most beloved Friend!
Stay close and reveal Your Holy through every in between!!!

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 25, 2016

keep on

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

Keep on, dear Pilgrim.  For you are here only a short while.  Look ahead to your final destination.  To the presence, the power of The One who is always with you.  Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere.  So live a thousand days, or perhaps only a hundred.  But live always looking to Jesus.  Live, knowing that today you may endure great pain, but your discomforts are temporary and He is still here.  Yes, pain hurts.  But there is hope right now in Christ!  There is hope in what He has planned ahead!

You see, sometimes on our journey we can trip and break a limb.  And sometimes while traveling, we can be struck down and discouraged by outside foes and/or conditions.  Yes, sometimes the very worst of this world sabotages our voyage, and brings about much turbulence and trouble. But know that these delays, these mishaps, these rocky moments are in no way changing your future.  True love is inevitable for those who seek after the Lord.  So seek Him, believer.  You will find Him.  You will be with Him.  You will abide and know His presence.  You will.  For He has promised it.

So, take one step... then another.  Keep on!  Be joyful, hopeful, patient, faithful.  Proceed forward however you are able, and always trust your King.  Trust Him through all this brokeness.  Yes, there is hurt now, but His courts are full - cheering us on with the greatest crowd of witnesses imaginable.  Remember, you have been called according to His purpose.  You are His beloved.  So, keep on, dear Pilgrim.  Look upon your Shepherd through tearful eyes of faith and trust His plan to save and restore you.  No matter what happens here, place all your hope in the Lord and keep going.

Friends, sometimes our circumstances seem unbearable.  Sometimes the enemy causes us to lose our direction so we don't know which way is up.  Sometimes evil pierces, and stings, and poisons us repeatedly without regard or sympathy.  In short, this life is very, very hard and in it, we will hurt deeply.  This life is cruel and difficult.  This life is broken and full of unholiness.  But through it all you must always remember, JESUS IS HOLY.  So look to Him.  Trust only Him.  Through it all, keep on believing Jesus!  He is all you need.  He is more than your heart craves.  He is greater than anything you have desired or longed for.  He exceeds everything else you will ever encounter.  So endure the pain of today as you cling onto His Word.  For rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

"We presume... that trust will ease infusion, dull the pain, redeem the times.  The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 testifies that it is not so.  Our trust does not bring final clarity on this earth.  It does not still the chaos or dull the pain or provide a crutch.  When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says, 'Into Your hands I commend my spirit.'" (Brennan Manning)

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Psalm 84:1-2)

Yes, better is one day in His courts.  Into Your hands, Father... we will trust You and keep on.

We who are alive in Christ will indeed see Him.  We will dwell with Him and praise Him in His courts.  We will know His presence face-to-face.  How wonderful a Hope we have despite today's discomforts.  Still, there is no denying that right now it definitely hurts.  These times are assuredly hard to swallow and difficult to endure.  But walk on, dear Pilgrim.  Trust Jesus through it all.  Trust your King for HE IS GOD!  He will see you through.  He will give you only what you can handle.  He will use every moment for His good.  And we need His good.  In the end, we cannot survive without His good.  So keep on keeping on!

Today, I am praying that your life is blessed abundantly in the Lord. That you seek and know Jesus intimately. That you love as He loves, and give as He gives. I'm praying that you obediently follow God's Word and daily seek to know His heart, no matter what trial may come in this life.  For better is one wonderful day in His courts... so keep moving forward toward His promised hope.  Believers, one day you and I will be laughing and singing and playing in God's presence for all eternity! Keep your focus on THAT day as you live today in His Name!

Today, I'm praying that God shows each of us His miraculous and unchanging promises in real time as we proceed forward and finish this race.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds... Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 12:1-3; 13:13-15, 21)

If you keep going, you will get there.  So, keep on, dear Pilgrim.

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

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Saturday, July 23, 2016

what a lovely day to seek the King

Living in hopeful anticipation while daily seeking holy inspiration.
What a lovely day to know the Savior.
What a lovely day to seek the King.
Let's fall in love with His Word once again.
Today, let's hang onto everything He says and does!
Hallelujah!  All praise belongs to the Most High God!

I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. (Psalm 119:16)

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, July 22, 2016

excavating His holiness at the core of your rock bottom

Rock bottom.  At some point in life, we all hit rock bottom.  We arrive at a point, a place, a path that exposes a very small yet significant portion of evidence of a once holier past... a different, better life from today's "normal" and "accepted".  It is here we realize that life isn't quite what it should be.  There should me more... more good, more hope, more love... more!  Shouldn't there?

Ahhh, rock bottom.  Where God asks us to look closely at our truest, most exposed core and consider His life-changing invitation: Will we allow Him access for further investigation, cleaning, exposure and even the surrender of weighty surface materials to be removed - allowing Jesus to restore us to our originally intended and created state of purity and holiness under His intimate guidance and care???  OR will we smooth out the dust below our feet and ignore His Law... once again abandoning God's kingdom and hiding our sinful shame under more and more layers of sediment?

As crazy as it sounds, most will choose the latter.  Most will walk on by and hide the truth.  Why?  Because covering up a problem seems so much easier, doesn't it?  It requires less embarrassment and scandal.  (Or at least that is what Satan wishes for us to think.)  Let's face it, nobody wants their ugliest secrets detected and publicized.  Nobody wants to repent an exposed core of faults, corruption, and corrosive instabilities.  That would prove that WE are the real problem... that OUR universe is imbalanced because of mankind's chosen brokenness and not God's sovereign graciousness.  And clearly, WE don't wan't to be the broken or helpless ones, do we?  No, we want to believe that our best life is NOW!  That we are in complete control and living OUR way... on OUR terms (albeit a false life comfortably buried in the sand).  Yes, rather than actually experience God's eternal truth, peace, and a joy-filled life as it was originally intended, most of us are more interested in simply looking the pastoral and serene part on the surface layer of our lives.  We pridefully do all we can to save face in our social pockets of political correctness, technological and scientific adeptness, and visual celebrity pleasantness while remaining hush-hush about the accountability for man's damaging sinfulness.  Yes, that mindset is so much better than digging up the layers of fossilized, cancerous corruption that we've allowed to accumulate around our broken, weary hearts.  Isn't it?

Umm.... NO!  Not according to Jesus.  He has something much better in mind, folks!!!

Believers, Jesus has graciously made it possible to excavate and restore us into His holiness.  His death and resurrection (sacrificing Himself so that we might rediscover and receive His kingdom) is more important and valuable than anything we could possibly conceive or imagine!  Today, he invites us to submissively give up our status, our charm, our identity and instead trust our truest self to His rock bottom beginning.  To offer Him all damage present at our broken spiritual core.  To let Him do what He will with us.  Why?  Because Christ comes ready to save and restore!  He wants to uproot and plant new seeds within.  His experienced hands are ready to build new, better foundations without fault... without corruption or corrosion.  Yes, Jesus is ready, able, and willing to save us from being buried alive by all our secret, suffocating sin.  The Creator, who made us from the very earth on which we stand, brings His hope!  He can remove all man-made sinking ruins and build up His rock-solid, eternal temple!  WOO HOO!  Sure, there will be a lot of dust and debris uncovered.  There will be heavy boulders of embarrassment and stubborn weeds of pride to remove.  But consider the wonderful everlasting crowns and treasures to be gained in His Kingdom's Name!  It will be worth the effort!  Our sacrificial willingness and transparency to invite God into our rock bottom core will bring us into His intended holiness and unending LOVE... FOREVER!

So, let's stop living as frozen, ineffective fossils and get to know Jesus intimately!  It's time to get digging, peeps!  Allow the Messiah to excavate His holiness at the core of your rock bottom!  You won't regret it!

Yes Lord... remove every skeleton and cobweb of sin in our heart.
Bring us back to life... to now... to NEW... to YOU... TODAY!

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

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

precious moments: embracing God's Word as home

Precious moments...

I have been thinking a lot about the precious moments of my life. You know, those special moments that can't possibly be re-created once they have past. Moments that, when remembered, stir up blessings that might not have been realized in any other way and seem to have happened for a reason.

Usually when I first think of my own precious moments, my memories default to times spent alongside my dearest family and friends. Times spent relaxing and laughing with those I cherish. Yes, many of my precious moments have filled me up with the satisfaction of togetherness, and community, and love for others. These are times when the weight of worldly troubles seem to take pause and tidings of comfort and joy flourish. These are the details in life that we each seem to look forward to. The interludes that many would say make a life worth living. Yes, I do believe that these glimpses of goodness are indeed samplings of God's eternal Way of life for His people. But what about the moments that aren't always so joyful? What about the rest of our time when we don't feel so warm and fuzzy?

To this I ask: Can moments still be considered precious when they occur during times of personal struggle or difficultly? Can blessings still arise when trials abound? Can we glorify and praise God through moments of human instability... even when all seems hopeless and lost... even when the rest of the world around us loses faith in God's promises?

Read with me Paul's final charge to Timothy...

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Interestingly enough, Paul teaches us to be prepared both in season and out of season. To keep our head in all situations. To endure hardships. To do the work God has called each of us to do as ambassadors to God's throne. You see, Jesus has made Himself readily available to us in every season. Furthermore, He already knows the details of all our moments (good, bad, happy, sad). In fact, Jesus knows what is best for us more than we know ourselves!

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. (Psalm 139:1-10)

With this in mind, I believe it is vital for Christians to understand that life is not always going to feel as warm and inviting as a special get-together enjoyed with close friends. You and I both know that most of the time our days are hard, complex, challenging, and overwhelming. But God says that He is willing and able to guide His people. So, all moments are precious gifts of time to be used for one purpose: God's glory!

Friends, no matter what trials you face today or in the future, I encourage you to continue racing confidently toward the gates of God's kingdom while embracing His Word as home. For every moment you seek Christ's guidance is indeed a precious opportunity to worship the King of kings! What an awesome honor! So, dear believer, seek first His perfect peace and everlasting satisfaction. Trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him always and He will direct your steps safely home!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 18, 2016

application... execution... delivery...

I'm learning to paint.  Specifically, I'm learning how to paint with watercolors.

A few years ago, I took a community art class to introduce myself to the medium.  In it, I was shown a color wheel and many popular paint brands, the best kind of brushes to work with, hot vs. cold pressed papers, etc.  Per the recommendation of my instructor (who conveniently worked at our local art supply store when she wasn't painting or teaching), I bought a small set of watercolor pigments and a few simple brushes in addition to her favored textbook covering the art of watercolor.

However, in retrospect, I feel like the course as a whole was lacking in the end.  Why?  Because it turned out to be more an informercial covering the many would-be materials that I could possibly purchase and use to paint with rather than my actually "Learning How To Paint With Watercolors" as promised.  Our instructor would have us experiment with varying gessos and masking fluids, sponges and texturing pastes, but I don't recall walking away with a finished product... or, for that matter, being taught the slightest introduction to sketching, composition, lighting, or choosing a subject matter.  Instead, we spent our only "painting" time working on how to lay down a background wash.  A valuable technique for a watercolor artist to know, yes.  But what I hoped to learn, apply, execute, and achieve from our teacher... ummmm no.  Lacking, to say the least.  Sure, every student showed up each week relaxed and happy to have set time aside to feed creativity.  But in the end, there was nothing to show for our effort except more purchased art supplies in our bag.  There was nothing truly accomplished except learning some basic product knowledge and mastering one painting technique.  So into the drawer my supplies went... stored away until I could figure out how to paint with my watercolors.  Sigh.

Recently, I came to an astounding realization about "Learning How To Paint With Watercolors."  Perhaps you should sit down for this game-changing news...

One cannot learn to paint with watercolors if one does not actually PAINT WITH WATERCOLORS, folks!

Mind blowing!!!  (I know, right!!!???)

And when I say paint, I mean PAINT, people!  Not collect supplies.  Not putter around with color washes for months on end.  I mean, sit down and discipline one's self to work out a composition and then see it through to fruition... maybe even several times and with several methodical tries.  I am now learning from each frustrating mistake I make while choosing to celebrate all my present achievements discovered through watercoloring.  I'm getting my hands dirty with application, execution, delivery.  Cause, this is how we learn, folks... by doing.  This is how we grow... by developing our purpose.  This is how we live fully... by pushing ahead toward maturity.  Right!!!???

So, finally, after many years of collecting, puttering, wondering... I am finally learning how to paint with watercolors because I AM PAINTING WITH WATERCOLORS.  And I'm loving the journey as I anticipate and ready myself for each new step ahead with this art form.

It's easy to sabotage progress, isn't it?  To want to grow in the Lord with hopes to do wonderful things for the sake of God's kingdom only to stay stuck at the starting line with a bag full of new materials.  Many who seek the glory of Christ show up with high hopes, big dreams, wonderful intentions to know Him, serve Him, love Him... but few actually change gears into drive and fewer choose to do whatever is necessary to reach the gates of His finish line.  Spiritually speaking, few actually learn how to really do this Christianity thing... and to do it well under the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Instead, we putter around and spend our resources on infinite versions of bible translations, book reviews, sermon notes, study tools... collecting data while following the hype of others who are well-spoken but frankly lacking to teach anything of eternal depth or value.  But our bags are full of supplies to become holy, aren't they?

How about some more game-changing news...

Friends, one cannot become holy if one does not actually BECOME HOLY IN THE LORD.  We must work out our salvation. We must practice daily our dying to Christ in order to gain a closer perspective to His desired presence.  Through every frustrating mistake; through every achievement, this is how we learn... by doing His will.  This is how we grow... by obeying His purpose.  This is how we live fully... by pushing ahead toward His perfect maturity.  We are His masterpiece, in progress through the Holy Spirit.  So clearly, progress is key to know His success!  Progress is necessary to finish well.  We must progress so that our faith will become complete!

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14 & 26)

Therefore, my dear friends... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Today, I encourage you to become holy by BEING HOLY.  To work out your salvation by progressing ahead obediently in the Lord.  Follow His commandments.  Obey His Word.  Study under His approval and then choose to love actively in His Name.  Move ahead in discipline as you anticipate the journey He has ordered your steps to walk.  Stop puttering and collecting data about being a Christian and BE A CHRISTIAN!  LIVE IN CHRIST!  For the sake of His call... for the glory of His throne... for the goal of His eternity.

Application... Execution... Delivery...  Be holy, because He is holy!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson


Friday, July 15, 2016

take pause, give ALL

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1)

Sometimes I forget to take care of myself.  Sometimes I forget that I cannot serve as God intends if I am not first a good steward of my own health and temperment.  For how effective am I if I am broken down?  How helpful can I be if I am defeated?  How fully can I love when I am cynical, and wounded, and frustrated?

When I am called to give with ALL my heart, ALL my soul, ALL my mind, ALL my strength... what "all" am I offering? Is it the obedient "all" of a flourishing garden, full of ripe fruit and encouraging beauty?  Or is it the thorny "all" of a poorly maintained plot, full of rooted weeds and unwanted growth that suffocates out the light and causes premature decay?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Friends, it is easy to lose track of how to best to manage our time for this purpose.  It is easy to forget our life's focus and run ourselves ragged with distracting work schedules and daily to-do lists.  But at the end of the day, we are servants of the Most High God who are called to love for the purpose of His glory.  Sadly, many of us find ourselves collapsing on our couches with little left to give merely because we do not make our well-being a priority and thus fail to biblically manage the care of our health and happiness.  Perhaps it is because we feel to do so would be selfish?  Perhaps it is because we are simply too busy to know up from down?  Sure, each of us has a reason.  But trust me when I tell you, the Lord created everything to function under the authority of His perfect balance.  So just as we must be careful not to over-indulge or live undisciplined, we also must not under-indulge ourselves to the point of becoming void.  God has given us so much to enjoy and praise Him for that we must make knowing His peace (physically, mentally, and spiritually) a true priority.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  (Psalm 23:2-3)

So often I forget this lesson and get snared into a rut of exhaustion and despair.  But my God is not a God of exhaustion or despair, is He?  No, He is The Way... The Truth... The Life.  He is the Giver who calls me to feast and enjoy every blessing at His table.  He is the Vine - and my branches cannot reach their highest or spread their widest without His communion.  I need His peace to prune and refresh me.  I need His rest so that I might give Him my very best.

Yes, sometimes we all can forget to take the necessary time out to wisely care for ourselves.  Sometimes we forget that we cannot serve well, as God intends, if we fail to wisely steward our health and temperments.  Simply put, Jesus told His disciples to take time out in order to rest... so we must also make the time to privately familiarize ourselves with His offered peace.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.  And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.  And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. (Mark 6:30-32)

Why is this important?  Because, it is in our restful moments that we are able to reboot and refocus our eyes back onto Christ.  It is in our restful moments that we are able to be refreshed in the bounty and goodness of the Creator's proven peace - thus reviving our faith and leaving us ready to serve with the best "all" we have to offer both King and country.  When we take pause under the quieted care of the Master... our hearts are refilled, our souls are refreshed, our minds are refocused, our strength is renewed.  Yes, when we stop to steward after ourselves in worship, the generous Savior redeems and returns the time with His fruitful and blessed blooms of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Lord, teach us to take good care of ourselves so that we are available to love mightily in your Name.  Help us learn to live under your perfect discipline, balanced and ready to give our "all" for the benefit of your kingdom.  We wish to be healthy, able, effective, grace-filled vessels full of your abundant joy.  Teach us to treasure every moment deliberately paused in your presence.  Teach us to be still and know that you are our restorative, life-giving Redeemer-God who will be exalted and praised.  Amen.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson



Saturday, July 9, 2016

made to give

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. (Psalm 92:1-4)

Sometimes I forget that I was made to give.
I was made to love.
I was made to glorify my Maker.
Instead, so often, I foolishly forget and hoard to myself.
I cling tightly to this world.
I defiantly clench my fingers around things unnecessary and lusts unwarranted.

But God created me to glorify... to give... to worship in action.
My body was made to recycle His message of love and redemption;
My life displayed as a living example of His grace and care.
Surely, what goes in clearly must come out.
Which makes me consider, what do I allow going in?

All things created must process and move.
We perform correctly when we run our course, and according to Scripture, run it well.
But when we hold onto things selfishly,
We can make ourselves sick and weigh ourselves down...
Stalling progress...
Stifling success.

How I can hinder myself if I do not willingly give up, let go, release, and return every blessing that God has provided to me.
So, I must worship Him.
I must honor His Name.
I must draw all attention to His Headship.
For Jesus sacrificed His life for me in order that I might live.
Because of this, I know it is right to willingly sacrifice my life for His kingdom.
Yes, I was made to live for Christ, not myself!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Sometimes I forget that I was made to give.
I was made to offer.
I was made to worship.
O Lord, use me in this holy, healthy manner.
Protect me from my own ability to hinder and stall.
Remind me that your love can overcome all my fear and failure.
Your love renews, restores, rebuilds, refreshes... Hallelujah!
So, let me glorify and give back what you have so generously blessed and bestowed upon me.
And let me do so cheerfully...
With your hope...
With your grace...
With your righteousness!
Teach me to sow my life bountifully so that others may be enriched with the good news of your eternal gift!
Let us give thanks and glorify Your Mighty Name in unwavering devotion and service.
Yours is the kingdom and the power forever, dear Lord!
Again, Hallelujah!!!

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

glory from humility

We all wish to be seen as important.  We all long to be respected, acknowledged, honored, appreciated.  No matter how extro-/introverted our personality, we all want glory.  We long for distinction and admiration.  We desire (more than anything) to be loved... to know love intimately... and to give love whole-heartedly to someone else we see as special.

Yet, so many of us seek said glory outside of humility.  We perform in order to be measured.  We show off our talents, our bankroll, our belongings, our work efforts hoping that our "uniqueness" might be noticed and accepted by the audience of social hoopla... by the vote of popularity... by the so-called evaluators and determiners of this earth's fame, fortune, power, success.

But what if there was no one to impress?

What if there was no platform or publicity in which the best version of ourselves could be reviewed and rated?

To whom would we be considered valuable?

And, most important, how would we know love?

I'm embarrassed to admit that recently our television was on merely as background noise.  Seriously, nobody in my home was even watching it.  It was just ON... polluting the silence... bombarding our senses... marketing, selling, pushing, influencing.  Sigh.  As you have probably figured out, I'm not a big fan of the television, although they seem to have multiplied in my home.  These days, there are very few shows broadcasted that keep my conscience clean and/or refrain from scaring me into living life as a recluse.  But that's another topic for another day.

Anyway, the tv was on, and one of those "American Idol/So You Think You Can Dance/Whoever Has Talent/Simon Says Do The Hokey-Pokey" shows was airing, and I found myself getting reeled into watching.  Only problem was, every person looked and sounded the same to me.  Every person acted the same.  Every person longed for the same accolades.  Sure, some would try to identify themselves as "unique" and "more worthy" of the show's reward because, oh I don't know, perhaps they wore a cowboy hat, or they had a pierced nose ring and purple hair, or they overcame a statistically deadly disease, or they grew up too poor, too rich, too fat, too thin, too gay, too straight, too disabled, too different, too whatever.  Yep, every person seemed to be so boringly the same in their quest for uniqueness, importance, glory that all I could think of was "there is nothing new under the sun."

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:  “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.”  What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.  All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.  To the place the streams come from, there they return again.  All things are wearisome, more than one can say.  The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”?  It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.  No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11)

It saddens me to consider how many are stuck settling for less of God's presence in their life because they are too busy pursuing more of themselves.  How easily we run our hardest and fastest - only in the wrong direction.  How often we struggle to have what we want rather than want what we have already been given, mind you, for free!

Here's a radical thought to consider:

Rather than us making an impression...
Rather than our seeking after the approval, friendship, and endearment of others...
Rather than gaining good reviews, receiving wealthy rewards, becoming renowned or honored...
What if we humbly gave our best each day, and then let the glory go?

Does that sound crazy?

For if we did that, how would our life prove valuable?
And, most important, how would we know and receive love?

The truth is this: the only glory that is worthwhile, lasting, and promised to benefit us in full is the glory that comes from our willing humility redirected toward the Creator that already says we are most cherished, most valuable, most important, most loved.   He is all we need.  His is the only approval and reward that matters.

You see, we were not created to receive glory, but rather to give it.  We were not made to seek after our own gain, but rather to love with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Leaving all praise and reward at the trustworthy throne of the one true God.  The God who loves.  The God who gives.  The God who provides.  The God who is everything!

Without His magnificence, this life is indeed vanity, meaningless.  Without His love, we are all boringly and obviously dead.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4)

Won't you praise Him today?
Won't you humbly forgo the rest and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, strength?

:)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 4, 2016

freedom

Today (in the United States), we celebrate our freedom. Every July 4th our nation pauses to celebrate and pay respect to all those who have gone before us and who continue to defend our right to unite together as a democratic and independent republic.

However, before we forget this annual celebration of freedom, I'd like to take a moment to address the greatest freedom of all. This freedom transcends national boundaries and is not based upon independence. In Galatians 5:1 Paul tells us, "For freedom Christ has set us free." This freedom is dependent upon a gracious Savior who offers eternal life to all who accept Him.

When Jesus went to Nazareth, he went into the synagogue and read from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." In doing this, Jesus was proclaiming that He was our Savior.

True freedom is dependent upon following Jesus. As God, His life shows us the perfect role model to follow. His words teach us the commandments to obey. His love shows us truth, compassion and why He alone is worthy of all praise. We are dependent upon his grace and mercy to live eternally with Him in glory - free from sin and death. We must never forget to be thankful for this freedom.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)

If you have not already accepted Jesus as your Savior and would like to know freedom from sin and death.... if you would like to have an intimate, eternal relationship with the One who made you and loves you unconditionally... start by telling Him in your own words or use this simple prayer if you desire a reference:

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

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are truly free indeed.  May we each seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

Hallelujah!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Friday, July 1, 2016

God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called.

At 11pm Tuesday night, I sent out an all-points distress text to my church Lifegroup gal pals.

"Help!  Our air conditioner has stopped working!  What should I do?  Who can I call for service?"

I was quite literally a hot mess in panic mode!  You see, my hubby was flying out of town very early the next morning and would be gone the whole week.  So, the responsibility of fixing our broken a/c would fall on me.  Yikes!!!

By morning, my wonderful friends had chimed in with several service recommendations.  (I love my friends!)  My friend Sharon's stood out, however, because of WHO she recommended I contact...

OK, so there is a back story to all this that I will briefly share.  You see, my friend Sharon, and her husband Steve, are the best people in the whole world.  (They really are!)  They host our weekly church Lifegroup gatherings.  They have a big family with more kids and grandkids than I could ever count.  They have full careers with full schedules to boot.  But most importantly, Steve and Sharon always have time to love on others.  They live every single day best representing Jesus by giving of themselves on behalf of His kingdom.  Not only do I have the grand privilege of knowing and attending the same church as them, my home is enviably situated only three doors down from their home.  They are my most awesome neighbors as well as my good, good friends!  SO BLESSED!

Anyway, this past April, this sweet couple sadly lost their grandchild, Radley, to a very rare form of leukemia.  With respect to the whole family, I will not go into all the heartbreaking details of Radley's physically complex journey, but I will introduce you to someone who was able to put a smile on Rad's face while he was still alive and gracing this earth with his big, beautiful heart.

Meet Ed Newby.  Ed is the owner of All Star A/C and Heating which services the Houston area and surrounding suburbs.  Also, Ed is president of a local non-profit called Operation Snowstorm.  Operation Snowstorm's mission is to bring the joy of a winter wonderland to the doorsteps of terminally ill children facing cancer.  Can you imagine?  Snow in Houston!!!  Snow used as a major blessing!!!  Snow as a way to show God's love, and hope, and joy!!!

Here is a blurb from Operation Snowstorm's website explaining some of their story and intent:

"There are many wonderful charities advocating for childhood cancer, some fighting for a cure while others rally for awareness. Our contribution to such a deserving cause is to establish an organization that offers a very sick child a rare opportunity to experience a miracle, a snowstorm in Houston, Texas.  In 2014, we created our first “snowstorm” and the results were overwhelming. It was for a four-year-old girl in Cypress, Texas who suffered from a rare form of childhood cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, which ultimately claimed her life. The day that we threw her the snowstorm, she was so full of life. She played, she danced, and she simply forgot for a brief moment that she was ever sick.  We dropped 10,000 pounds of snow in her front yard. The fun lasted the majority of the day and her family was able to invite extended family and friends, as well a photographer that captured some of the last precious moments of her life. Those memories are so dear to those that loved her. We are now driven to offer the same experience on a larger scale. Our vision is to give a child a day away from being consumed by sickness, to play and just be a kid.  Operation Snowstorm allows children with terminal cancer the opportunity to experience a snow flake, something so rare and almost miraculous here in Houston."

Sharon texted me Ed's contact info and reminded me WHO he was - the Snow Warrior that brought joy to Radley's brief but important life.  Of course, I would call him!  And without question, I had to hug him!

After briefly speaking on the phone, Ed was at my door in less than an hour.  He identified that our a/c motor had died and recommended replacing it at a very fair price.  I called Chuck who agreed and approved.  Quickly, Ed took care of every detail and my air conditioner was running efficiently once again.  Thanks, Ed!

More notably, while Ed was at my home, he openly shared the Lord's presence in his life and active ministry.  When asked how he was able to keep the snow in Operation Snowstorm from melting in the hot, Texas sun, he answered, "I can't take any credit for that... that is all God's doing."  He pointed out how the Lord had called him to love others in a way exclusive to the gifts he was clearly given, saying... "I can't personally cure cancer, but I do know how to make it really cold to produce snow!"  What a blessing!  Thank you, Lord Jesus!

While finishing up at my home, Ed commented on something my friend Sharon had said to him only a few months before when Radley was still alive...

"God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called."

I've heard this saying many times in my life, and I know firsthand how true it is.  God equips those he calls into His Kingdom.  God gives His people exactly what is needed for each of us to love like the Savior.  Mind you, we are not all rich, or renowned, or well-read... but we are His.  We are a blessed people, a family, called to love one another while displaying Christ to all the world.  Under His authority and reign, we can glorify His hope.  Yes, we can each become a blessing of the Most High God every single day.

Today, I encourage you to meditate on these important verses and consider what God has equipped in you (personally) for the benefit of sharing Jesus' perfect, life-changing love to a world in desperate need of the Savior.

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)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Friends, no matter what, God can use each of us to express His love.  We must only be willing to share the gifts He has given us and glorify His Holy Name.  Like my new friend Ed... like my dear friends Steve and Sharon... let us joyfully serve one another in love for the sake of Jesus Christ!  Let us live each moment God grants to us like the gift it truly is!  Blessed be His Name!

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

P.S.  If you would like to submit a donation to support Operation Snowstorm, please click here.

Blessings!

:)

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson




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