Monday, July 17, 2017

this little sheep's travel journal

Journeying through... ah, what a view!
We march through fields of gold.
Nearest our King who leads His few
Obeying the Word He's told.

Through valleys, through shadows, through death we tread
Where darkest lions prey.
Here, Shepherd instructs us in urgent love,
"Beloved, stray not away."

His staff ensures us comfort and rest,
His rod brings strength nor else found.
"Stay close. Fear not, my little flock."
Passing Jericho tumbling down.

"Onward, forward!"  We clench His robe.
"Be strong and help those least!"
"Stand witness to passing wayward foes,"
"Invite them home to feast!"

Praise Father. Praise Son. Praise Holy Ghost!
Yes, lead us to Promised Land.
Today is the day we rejoice and believe,
Because with You, you've promised WE CAN!

(Victoria Anderson)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

a mighty fortress... an ever-present help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... (Psalm 46:1)

"An ever-present help in trouble..."

What a wonderful promise.
God is ever-present.  He is here.
God is available to give aid; to be of service and advantage to us.
God offers us His benefit and support.
And not only does God offer help, but He is constant, ceaseless, current.
What a wonderful, loving God we serve!
Our refuge.  Our sanctuary.  Our hiding place.  Our shelter.
Our strength.  Our fortitude.  Our stability.  Our authority.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3)

What is there to fear when God is our refuge and strength?  The answer is nothing!

Satan will try to distract every believer away from this promise.  He will do all he can to make fear our focus rather than Jesus.  And to do so, he will upset everything - and I mean EVERYTHING!  He will threaten our comfort, our security, our health, and our foundation.  He will upset our feelings.  He will break our hearts.  He will tour us into hopelessness and take away all that we have come to enjoy.  He will bring us down down down down down.

You see, what Satan desires most is for us to permit him access into our hearts and minds so our eyes will look away from God, causing our souls to become troubled.  Simply put, he wants our focus away from Christ. Why?  Because then we will be more likely to believe that God cannot be GOD to us when we absolutely need Him the most.  Satan wants God to seem distant and insignificant.  He wants us independent and unattached from our Creator.  And what better way to redirect our heart, soul, mind, and strength than to point our attention toward our own flesh... ourselves.  "Look at you," he whispers.  "You are what matters.  Not God!"

But God is ALL that matters, isn't He?  He should be the only One we care about!  In all our ways, we should be acknowledging him!  With all our hearts we should be trusting Him.  With all we are, we are to love Him more than ourselves.  Seeking Him first.  Being still and knowing Him!  Not vaguely acquainting ourselves, but rather becoming intimately bound and genuinely hungry for His nourishing Word.  For God's Law is more important than our own flesh.  His Way is greater, better, ever-present, everlasting.  Yes, God is all that matters!  Without Him, we are nothing.  Without Him, we are dead.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.  (Romans 8:13)

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14)

Joyfully, the most beautiful twist of all is that WE are who matter the most to God!!!  So much so, that He gave us Christ in order to save us from ourselves!  What a wonderful, loving God we serve!

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Let us boldly believe God's promises and cast every burden we face upon the Lord.  For He will sustain us.  He will direct our path.  He will provide, protect, and guide us.  Thankfully, He is always with us.  Graciously, He is always for us.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble... The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1 & 7) 

So... are you with Him?  Are you for Him?
Is He first?
Is God ALL that matters to you?
Who will you love and glorify most this brand new day?



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

Monday, July 3, 2017

persevere... for our hope is in the Lord!

Because of my chronic pain, I've been tracking my sleep patterns to see if there is anything I can do to get more rest.  Here are last night's notes (mirroring a pretty typical night for me).
  • 11pm: Fresh new sheets.  Bedroom cool/dark/essential oils diffusing.  Took two Advil PM's.  Definitely am tired and ready to sleep.
  • 12am: (1 Hour Sleep)  Woke up with acid tummy, stuffy nose, and really bad leg cramps.  Sciatica is shooting fierce!  Uncomfortable.  Now what?  Took Benadryl, Prevacid.  Don't want to take pain killers until morning because of the Advil earlier.  Removed all clothes.  Raised head with second pillow.  Left knee throbbing like a toothache.  It hurts so much, I can't even stand the feeling of the blanket touching it!  Kicking exercises from physical therapy to try and help.  Frustrated!
  • 12:35am: (15 Minutes Sleep)  Dozed off for about 15 minutes.  Still kicking when I awoke.  Sigh.  Will try to lay still and hopefully fall back to sleep.  Legs hurt!
  • 12:48am: Gave up on the bed and moved to the jet tub.  Added Eucalyptus epsom salts.  It's now 12:53am and I'm going to close my eyes in tub.  Hopefully will sleep.
  • 1:40am: (1 Hour Sleep)  Just woke up in tub.  Moving water really helps, but sciatica is still a burden. Can't remain in this position any longer but love the water.  Slow to get up.
  • 2am: Clothes back on.  Giving up on trying to sleep for a while because pain is pretty bad and I'm frustrated.  Grabbed a Greek yogurt and am now watching a House Hunters International re-run.
  • 3am: Eyes heavy again so I'll try to sleep. Praying I get a few hours in before morning.
  • 4am:  (1 Hour Sleep)  Dozed off but not remarkable REM.  Giving up and going into my office to paint/pray/study/write.
I've decided that the worst outcome in living with chronic pain is not necessarily the pain... it's the lack of good sleep due to pain.   People always ask me how I am able to function and remain upbeat when I'm always hurting.  Well, in truth, I just do the best I can in the moments I'm given.

I can say this, however...  I do believe that the Lord only gives us what we personally can handle.  Furthermore, I know that if God gives us the gift of time (albeit time I'd prefer to be sleeping/resting), that we should do our best to use our moments wisely and for His good.

When 4am came about this morning, I was frustrated with my health AGAIN.  I'm tired, you see.  I hurt from arthritis and sciatica and can't seem to get it together... to keep a consistent sleep schedule... to feel physically rested and refreshed come each new day.  Yes, my circumstances are definitely difficult.

But here's the thing... God says that he will ultimately give my spirit the rest it craves.  He will come through.  He promises me this hope throughout scripture - and His promises are true and trustworthy!  Because of this, I know I must consider today's trial a joy.  Why?  Because it is useful in testing my faith and teaching me perseverance.

I know that this life will dissipate as quick as a vapor.  This life is short after all.  But Jesus has promised to give me so much more.  He has come to save us from all hardship known in this life and lead us into a new life, a new home, a new health!  No matter the test we face today, we can still look ahead in faith toward Him and know victory.  For those who are in Christ are indeed promised His peace and a future where He will wipe away all tears and pain.  Thank you, Master!!!

I've decided that the worst outcome about living with chronic sin is not the deserved death it demands of all mankind.  Rather it is the unbearable separation away from the Creator.  I can't even imagine living without the Holy Spirit's spiritual upbuilding.  We need God in order to function and survive!  Thank goodness that He loves us!  Thank goodness that He sent His only son to save us through His own sacrifice!  In Christ, God promises us true peace.  In Christ, He will bless us and keep us free from death and destruction.  In Christ, God is gracious to us and lifts up His countenance upon us.  He redeems us from the pain and discomfort we face today and gives us the hope of His future.  Hallelujah!

So friends, no matter what trial you find yourself overburdened and exhausted by this hour... do not let it sway your focus away from the Savior.  Instead, use it to build your faith.  Use these moments for His good.  Choose to rejoice and be glad despite this suffering and seek Him.  Seek Him and He will bring the rest you crave.  He will see you through to holy completion.  Persevere, and you will hear Him say, "Well done."

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Persevere... for our hope is in the Lord!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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