We shall all blossom again.

I am someone who is easily pleased and one sight that is beautiful to the eye, is the blossom that is emerging on the trees. I am a Spring baby, it makes me excited to see that Spring is beginning to return. It means that life is returning after a cold and dark winter. The blossom reminds me of the faithfulness of God; the beauty and the life that he continues to bring to his creation. Year after year.I feel with spring, comes new opportunities and renewed hope. That the bitterness of winter can be covered with the beauty of everything coming into bloom again. I entitled this blog, ‘We shall all blossom again’ because it is my prayer for a lot of people at the moment. 

I have been having conversations with people about how life is not turning out the way that they expected. For some, they felt like they had everything together; only for it to fall through their grasp. For others, they have been going through some truly rough seasons. I am not someone who wants to disregard what people are going through. I know from my own experience, that people have walked with me through my toughest seasons. As I walked today, I was thinking about these conversations. While being distracted by the buds that were beginning to bloom in peoples gardens. Many of these buds were emerging from the decay of nature around it. I feel for some of us we do not realise the light and the beauty that is emerging from us. Instead we see the brokenness of our situation, the disappointment and the darkness. It can be truly crippling, there is no denying that. I truly believe that even in the toughest situation, hope can be found. That is due to my faith that I have in Jesus. I do not know where your hope lies, but, I pray that it will be in something steadfast and true.

Two years ago, my mindset was completely different to what it is now. It did not find a lot of beauty in life and it was completely negative. I struggled a lot with how life was going and felt like such a failure in many ways. It took a lot of time for my mind to come out of this way of being. I know there were many people who prayed over me and who walked along with me, as I tried to get to grips with everything. For sure, my life did not turn out the way I expected it too. However, I feel blessed in how it has gone so far. To let go of unrealistic expectations and to learn to breathe more. To enjoy the process, instead of always trying to reach a certain goal to be fulfilled.

Truthfully, life is uncertain. We never know what will be round the corner or who we will become. I feel we need to learn to be more gracious to ourselves. We need to learn, that it is okay not to be okay. To be honest with how life is going but we should never give up on hope. There will be occasions when we need to rethink the process. We may need to take a left instead of a right. We may even fall out of love with what we believed to be truly passionate about. That is all part of life, nothing can ever stay the same. That can be disappointing but it can be liberating. Life is not something that we can control as much as we wished we could.

One thing I am thankful for is a Saviour who knows what it truly means to be human. Who has walked through all the highs and lows of life. Who has known the greatest joys but felt the deepest pain. I believe in a Jesus who is not far from our pain, who is with us through it all. There is a song by Amanda Cook ‘ Our Breath Back’, you can find it on Youtube, that I truly love. It proclaims the life that can be found in Jesus. A God who is not fearful or ashamed of our brokenness but will hold us close through it all.

“He dignified every single human emotion. Everything that causes us to be anxious and frantic, Jesus lived it. So I just see him coming in so gently tonight and giving us the realisation of breath…. YOU ARE GIVING US OUR BREATH BACK”.

I believe in a God who can change around our situations or at least change our perspective in the situations. A God who can bring healing to us or use our situation to bring healing to others. For I have seen, how my past has been used to bring hope and encouragement to others.

You may feel disappointed with how life is going now. I pray that you would be able to find joy within the process. That you would allow what you are going through to grow you as a person and to come out of it stronger. May you be thankful for the people that will come alongside you, to support and hold you. May you not give up the hope, that you will blossom once again. It may not be in the place that you imagine but you have so much life to give. There are people who need to meet you. There are places that need to be impacted by you. There is beauty that needs to embrace you. This is not the end. It may be the closing of one chapter but there is much more to come. You are doing amazing. Stand strong and offer the world what you have to give, no matter how small it may be. Life will begin again. It is the small steps of faith, that lead to something much bigger.

If you feel like you are losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they stand tall and wait for better days to come” – Unknown

I finish with something that has really helped me. I learned to appreciate the small things. Whether that is going for a walk, enjoying a coffee in my favourite cafe or hanging out with friends. Life is not only happening when we have our successes. It happens in all the small things around us. Last year, I kept a journal for each day to remind me of the beauty and the goodness in that day. For some days, it was tiny little things but they mattered a lot to me because it reminded me how wonderful life can be. Keep pressing forwards and learn to appreciate the small things. Before you know it, life will be moving again.

Remember you are loved and cherished. God bless, Victoria. XX

 

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How the Amsterdam Ministry transformed my faith!

The past five months have been such an incredible time of growth in relation to my faith. I used to believe my faith was a part of me, that I could pick up and use when it was convenient to me. Now, I know without my faith I cannot be the person that I was meant to be. That without my foundation being built on Jesus, everything else will just crumble. I am thankful for the joy that flowed back into my life. To learn to love God and people more deeply and intentionally. My heart has been renewed, I feel that the broken parts have all been healed. I want to share with you some of the incredible blessings I was able to encounter in my time away.

In my last blog I wrote about my struggles with prayer, as I reflected I realised the people who had came alongside me to support my prayer life. I was incredibly blessed by having a wonderful prayer “buddy” very early on in my time in Amsterdam. I appreciated how we did life together, for example eating Ramen or going shopping. There was a deep need in both of us to grow spiritually deeper, the way that we did it came naturally. Anything that we needed to pray about simply started as a conversation; we would talk about it and look at how we wanted to progress through it. We would offer it to the Lord, asking him how we can use it to grow and to come closer to him. My prayer “buddy”, she is so powerful in prayer and she encourages me a lot in my faith to step out and to trust God more. Even when I drifted a little bit with my faith, she bought me straight back to staying in the arms of Jesus. Romans 12v12 ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’.  I have so much love and respect for her. She is going to do awesome acts for the kingdom.

The prayer mentor I was paired with, encouraged me to come to know God in a way that I had never know him. As a God that I could come before, with everything and anything.  His love was not dependent on me ticking all the right boxes, for God loved me before I knew what love was. Conversation, was the main instrument in which our prayer flowed through. Being able to share what was concerning me and the atmosphere feeling so calm and relaxed, helped me to be more open. There was always laughter and that helped me to know that the joy of the Lord can flow through all situations. I learned to come to prayer just as I am. To talk to the Lord like I would anyone else, knowing that when I leave it in his hands that is the best place for it. I needed a prayer mentor who would push me to be my best, to make the most of all opportunities. She did not let me give up on myself and would check that I was meeting the targets I had set. I will miss having those conversations with her.

I have come to realise how vital prayer is. Being back at home, I prioritise prayer as being the open communication between Jesus and I. I love it.

The ministry work that I did in Amsterdam, allowed me to see how we can honour Jesus through the smallest and simplest acts. A life of living out my faith. That is not an easy act to do. I am pretty sure every time I prayed, “Help me Lord to serve people well today, in your name”. There would always be one guest, which would really test my patience. It is about learning to take all the highs and lows, to get it wrong sometimes. To apologise when you get it wrong and to know that Jesus is not going to leave because you messed up again. One of the most beautiful interactions was getting to know people. Finding out where they were from and what they had been doing on their travels. It was great to see peoples excitement as they shared. At moments there were times to come along guests who had similar struggles that I was going through; using that opportunity to share how I had found my hope in that situation. I believe in a Jesus who cares about what we have to say but who wants to give us a greater hope than we have ever known. For some of our guests that was hard to take, for others they received it with joy.

I have talked about being CS in some of my previous blogs but it is the role that helped me to fall in love with reading my bible again. I became passionate about reading it for what it was and not with all these ideas about how it should be and what I should gain from it. Reading it with the cleaners, they would ask questions that I had never thought of. It made me realise that I still have so much more to learn. That made me so excited. I was reading the Old Testament and was amazed at how it shows the character of God, There was one week we did a whistle stop tour of the book of Joshua, it was cool to see how they were interested in the battle of Jericho and in all the little details. “Why did they have to kills the donkeys?”. I became passionate about sharing it because it was sparking an interest. Especially in the New Testament, trying to figure out what it all meant. There was always something to learn. This is my encouragement to you reading this, continue sharing God’s word. It is not dead, it is very much alive. Isaiah 55v11 “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”.

My relationship with people began to change a lot when I was in Amsterdam. In learning where my identity was from and who I was becoming. Allowed me to become more comfortable with people.The friendships that have developed helped to bring a lot of healing and closure to past wounds. The past no longer has any authority, it cannot steal my joy. I love how each person within the community had their own personality and was willing to serve in a beautiful way. There was no competitiveness and everyone learned from each other. There was such a passion for each other to grow in their faith and a genuine sense of friendship and love for each other. It was truly beautiful to be a part of that.  Hebrews 10v24-25 ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.’. The community life showed how beautiful life can be when the hand of God is upon it. In all the highs and lows, God’s faithfulness would always meet us there.

Overall my faith has changed for the better. I am no longer worried or ashamed about how people will perceive me with my faith. It truly does not matter. I want to keep serving and loving people well. I want to travel more and have more opportunities to minister to people. I am excited for what God has in store for me next. I want to keep being challenged and growing. Most importantly I want to walk in a closer relationship with my Saviour. I am truly thankful I got to be planted somewhere else for a while, there I truly bloomed.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3v5-6)

May you all have such a blessed week. Take the opportunities that are presented to you. Love and serve each other well. God bless, Victoria. xx

 

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A prayerful heart. (Struggles with prayer.)

One of the hopes for this year is to begin to become more intentional in my prayer life. To make it a part of my everyday life, instead of just praying when times are hard or offering up thanksgiving when life is good. My prayer life is still a working progress because I feel like it is not something that comes naturally to me.  There is such a pressure (from myself, of course) in how I do it and what I say. There have been some steps that I have began taking to trying to have a more prayer in my life. One of the simplest steps I took was beginning with a prayer journal. Breaking it up into certain themes and having different topics underneath in which to pray for. It was a reminder for me, that even when I do not find prayer easy; that there is always something or someone who needs prayer. I am not always so good, at remembering to pray about certain places or issues but it is an aid that helps me to take my eyes off myself.

In prayer it has been good to begin with the basics, in just learning to have conversation with Jesus. Whether it is about something that is making my heart anxious or about the day in general. This has been helpful to keep my mind more focused on who is in control of my day and how I am not doing it alone.

Prayer is something we are greatly encouraged to do, for Jesus talks about it in his ministry. He even uses a parable, to show us how we should keep on praying and not give up. This is through the parable of the persistent widow who kept on going to the judge to demand justice for her adversary. Even though the man did not fear God or people, he gave the woman what she wanted because he knew that she would persist until the end. ‘And the Lord says, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?’ (Luke 18v6-7). Persistent prayer is something I have struggled with. When I continuously prayed about something or for someone, my belief was that I did not have the faith that God could answer it the first time. I have learned that prayer does not work in that way, it is not a one request shot and God decides if he will answer it or not. I have been learning that prayer is a beautiful act of communication with my Saviour about the people and issues that are on my heart. In persistence it is about me continuously surrendering them to the Lord, for I know that he takes better care of them than I could ever do. The parable is true, God is not deaf to our cries to him. Sometimes we can feel like that but that is not the truth. God is a God who cares and he will always care for his people.

Prayer is not an easy act, I am thankful that even the Bible highlights this. We read in the gospels, that in the most crucial time that the disciples should have been praying they were instead asleep. The gospel does not paint this perfect picture of the disciples. Instead shows them as the humans, with all their highs and lows. (Luke 22v40) ‘On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  They had reached the garden of Gethsemane, in which Jesus was in anguish due to all the events that were about to unfold. Jesus was praying over all this, only to return to the disciples and find them not praying. (22v45-46) ‘When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted with sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The disciples at this moment paint a relatable picture for most of us. There are moments that we are so overwhelmed with all that is going on, that prayer is not that appealing. Instead we sleep or use some form of something to escape. That is not because we do not want to deal with the crisis at hand, instead,  we do not know how to deal with it. For some of us, we need a rebuke like the disciples got. To push us closer to prayer and to keep us away from the other things that we find comfort in. For sure, I  know I do. I know that many of the times I should be surrendering something to God. You would instead find me watching an episode of Gilmore girls to drown out the issue with quick wit and familiar characters. That does not help in the long run because you still have to ultimately end up dealing with the issue. I have found the longer I keep it quiet and try to deal with it on my own, it turns into a much bigger mess. 

Praying does not have to be eloquent. I am constantly reminded, even when I am praying, that God already knows my heart. I do not have to put on any sort of show for him. I come authentically as I am. I do believe that there should be respect, for I am praying to my creator, my God and my father. However, he also knows my brokenness as his child. Many of the times when I come before God, I use all these fancy ways to explain issues away. That is not what God wants, instead I need to be honest and say I messed up. For it is through God that the healing and the restoration will come. For sure, it is not always pleasant admitting something I knew was never right to do in the first place; it can be used for a beautiful opportunity of grace and growth.

There are other times I come before God and I have no idea what to say. Sometimes, it is better not to say anything. Instead, to sit in his presence. There was a time last year, where I had a cup of coffee in hand and my bedroom floor as my comfort. Truly, I had nothing to say. I thought, God I will enjoy this silence and this coffee with you. It was such a beautiful time of peace. If you ever need any encouragement in not knowing what to say Romans 8v26-28 speaks the truth. ‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ We can put a lot of unnecessary stress upon ourselves to be able to do everything right. Even with our prayer life. This passage in Romans confirms, how we do not do any of our life on our own. Including prayer. That the Spirit aids and guides us and keeps us in communication with God. That is truly awesome, that we are not disconnected. All we need is a willing and faithful heart and interceding comes as part of that.

To finish I want to refer back to Luke 18 and the verse that follows from the aforementioned. 18v8 ‘I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Sometimes, we can quickly give up on prayer. We see no fruit straight away, therefore, we turn to other things to find our security and hope. I know, I have been convicted of how quickly I can give up on prayer and just hope for the best. That is not fruitful and as I said before, normally leads to a bigger mess. I truly want to learn to communicate more and more with the Lord. Whether it be on my walks to the shelter in Amsterdam or when I return home and need to trust God that I will find a job again. I want to learn to put my faith in him. To stop being so easily disappointed and to lean in and rest in his goodness. For he is a gracious and loving Saviour. Prayer is a wonderful attribute of our relationship.

Lysa TerKeurst “The reality is, my prayers do not change God. But, I am convinced that prayer changes me. Praying boldly boots me out of the stale place of religious habit into authentic connection with God himself.” I definitely want more of this within my life.

I will continuously keep working on my prayer life, as I am sure many of my fellow brothers and sisters are doing. I hope this has encouraged you if you struggle with some of the issues I do or if you have any advice, always feel free to post it down below.  Prayer will change our lives, that is clear as we read about the lives found within our Bibles. May we not be discouraged or dismayed if we do struggle. Keep the faith and ask for someone to come and pray alongside you. I know that has helped me a lot in my time here in Amsterdam.

May you have a blessed week. May you remember, you are loved and cherished by the King of kings. God bless, Victoria. xx

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Blank Canvas: 2020

Happy New Year to you all!

I started my new year in Amsterdam, which was beautiful. They really love their fireworks in the Netherlands, there were marvellous colour shows of explosions all through the night. I was thankful to spend it with the community within the shelter, that was an awesome experience.

I worked on New Years Day and I shared with the cleaners, which is one of my ministries, the blog I did at the beginning of last year. In which I shared how I see each new year as a blank canvas, that is emphasised with always starting with a blank notebook/journal.

This year I wanted to focus on having some expectations and hopes. They are in no way resolutions; therefore there is no pressure to reach a certain goal. However, I did want to choose to speak life into the year. It is something I did with the cleaning team, we took some time to write down some hopes and expectations we had for the year. It was a solo activity, there was such a peace in giving people time to do it.

Sometimes we can really rush into the new year, we feel all these obligations, that we miss the beauty of the life and newness that this upcoming year brings. I do have hopes that no matter how hard the year may be, that the Lord is still faithful to his promises. One promise I truly want to hold onto is Lamentations 3v22-23 ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ The Lord has been incredibly faithful to me over the past few years. Especially seeing his goodness in my time here in Amsterdam; has been a beautiful demonstration of what a loving and caring Father that God is. I think like any Father, he is not afraid of us having expectations for our life. God wants to be a part of that. That is what is amazing about being able to have a relationship with God, through Jesus. Jesus is an incredible friend and saviour, who knows exactly what it is to be human and the expectations that they have. Who met with people who had been thrown out of community, who were rejected and alone. Who blew all their expectations by healing them and enabling them to come to know the love of God. That enabled them to be fully healed and restored. That is the life that we can all know today.

A lot of my expectations are focused in on my faith this year. Especially, to walk in a deeper and closer walk with the Lord.

I want to learn to be more intentional with my Bible reading and prayer life. To not just do it but allow it to be part of my relationship with God.

To be faithful with what God has given me. Allowing God to have control of my time. Instead of trying to have everything under my control. To not be scared to step out into unknown places.

Most importantly, to use my remaining months in Amsterdam to serve people well and love people well. To not allow opportunities to pass me by but to truly be present in the moment.

I also have to start making plans for what is next after Amsterdam. Wherever I may end up. I have expectations that it will be a place in which I can continually grow in my relationship with Jesus. Also, being able to serve and love people is the core of how I want to live my life. It is not always easy to do but there is confirmation that all things are possible through Christ.

For you reading this, take some time to reflect on this up coming year. Maybe, not a lot has changed for you. You are still in the same job, place, etc. How can you change your perspective? How can you reflect more of Christ in the places where you are? How can serve people well? You can have expectations and hopes for this year or how you would like to grow. Surrender them to God, he cares and he listens. Who knows, what this year will have in store for you. Keep the faith and hope in all things. For we serve a living God, who is constantly moving in all things.

Hebrews 10v23 ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’

I am excited, for what this year holds for the blog and what God will teach us all through it. I pray that you will all have a blessed year of growing deeper in your relationship with the Lord. May we encourage and support one another.

You are loved and cherished. May you have a blessed week. Love Victoria. Xx

Letting go!

“You remind me of things forgotten. You unwind me until I’m totally undone. And with your arms around me. Fear was no match for your love. Now you’ve won me.” (Steffany Gretzinger, ‘Letting go’)

As this year begins to wrap up, I finish it with a thankful heart. Not only for how crazy good this year has been but for how much grace God has poured over my life. I still have a lot of wisdom to grow in and life to live. However, to see how God has poured purpose over my life and brought me out of a lot of shame and darkness has been incredible. It sounds cliche, but, I now see life with a lot more colour. Truthfully, I was tangled up in myself that I could not see the beauty that God had for my life. Many times I chose to believe I was not loved because I felt I was not worthy or good enough to come before God. I chose to chase after people because it was a love I could see and feel. It was a temporary and crumbling love. God has been so gracious towards me in my disobedience and I have never known a love like that before. As I reflect on this year, I remember the books that I received. How they were used to uproot the lies that had become the foundation of my life. Instead of those lies, truth was placed into those holes and beauty and light began to emerge. I am incredibly thankful for the amount of worship music that has poured into my ears this year. The healing that God spoke through that music was and still is incredible. Now listening to those songs, fills my heart with thanksgiving of how much change God has brought into my life. If there is one album I can recommend you from this year, it would be Amanda Cook’s ‘House on a Hill’. That album is a wonderful declaration of who God is and who we are in him.

As I finish this year encouraged, I want to share some of the lessons I have learned from this year. God does remain faithful to us, even when we feel so rejected and alone. We are his children and we are not cast off from him and he is not distant from us. These truths can be so hard to believe but we need to remember that we are loved because he first loved us. It is not by our own gain that we are loved it is because Jesus paid it all. We can come before God as broken as we are, for we are already covered by the blood of Christ. Trust in all that Jesus has done for us, we are in relationship with God again and that is incredible.

2 Corinthians 5v17-21 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

I am a child of God, no one can take that away from me. A price has been paid and I am now part of the family, I have been adopted into the family. The NLT of Ephesians 1v5 puts this beautifully. ‘God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.’ For a long time I struggled with with my identity in Christ because I felt that it was continuously changing, I felt like if I messed up I was no longer worthy enough to be a part of that family. I have came to realise, my mistakes have already been paid for. It was not only my mistakes until I came to faith, it is also the mistakes that I make throughout my faith. The Bible is full of people who loved God but still were human, they messed up. Yes it was a sin but God did not cast them off. He was with them through it all. To learn that my identity in Christ is a steadfast truth, has really helped my faith to grow. It has helped me to be more honest before God and to embrace his love more fully. It has helped me to become more grounded in life and to be thankful for the character and the passions that God has gave me. For God did not make us to be all the same. God made us fearfully and wonderfully with all different characteristics and passions. For some of us, myself included, when I was told about getting rid of the old self I came to believe that meant getting rid of everything which was connected to me before I came to faith. That is not true. There were ways  that I did need to remove from my life because they were in no way beneficial to my faith. However,  God formed me in a way which he wanted me to be. Whether it be my sense of humour or my love for reading. God did not create us all to be droids.

One of the greatest challenges this year has been removing a lot of toxicity from my life. I can truly tell you that the mindset I began 2019 with and the mindset I am finishing 2019 is completely transformed and that is such a blessing. In God sending me to do ministry in Amsterdam (I truly believe that it is by God’s guidance because I would have never found that ministry without him) brought a lot of healing. I was incredibly nervous to go and live with many Christians, especially after my university experience. God showed me what true faith looks like in people. I was incredibly thankful to have such a good group of godly women around me. One of those women I shared so much of my hurt and mistakes with. There was no judgement, she spoke God’s truth over it all and so much healing came from that. It enabled me to be more open with my own story and sharing that with people, has led to them being blessed and knowing they are not alone. All of us should be encouraged to look out for one another. Listen to what people have to say and allow them to process it all. Let us not judge but in time speak the truth of God over it. Let healing come from the greatest healer of all!

A further issue I needed to deal with was the media I was consuming.  I gave very little thought to the music I was listening to and the shows and films I would watch. I am not saying that I have completely disregarded all media, I just watched Peaky Blinders series 5 and it was awesome. Deep down I knew there was an issue with what music I was listening too. Especially the way it would impact my emotions and the memories that would come back with that music. I put a lot of my identity in that music because I felt lost. As I began to move on through this year and my faith was growing, every time I felt I had messed up. I would always turn back to this music, it did not help to deal with the situation instead it blocked it out for a while. Emotionally it would drag me down further. I needed to let it go to move forward. For 10 years it has been a big part of how I viewed society and how I viewed myself. I think now, I have outgrown it and to keep listening to it would be disobedient and not wise. Not only music but there are TV shows, books and Youtube channels that I needed to remove because they were not fruitful in any sense. Watching something for the sake of watching it, is a huge waste of time. For yourselves, maybe it is something you can consider too. It took me many years, to understand why and actually surrender it. It does not automatically change your faith in surrendering things. Instead, it leaves Jesus more room to work in our lives and through our lives to others. Romans 12v2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.’

The greatest lesson this year has been learning to share with people about Jesus. I am not one of the most confident people in going and speaking to others. However, I have loved being able to meet so many people from all over the world and been blessed to get to know them. It has not always been easy sharing the gospel with people, some people have told me straight that they are not interested. On the other hand, by meeting people who travel a lot you come to understand how open they are. While they may not receive the gospel message straight away, we can all be encouraged that in sharing we begin to sow seeds. People leave but we hold them in our heart and pray for them. One vital aspect of doing any sort of ministry with people is getting to know who they are first. That makes all the difference, Jesus knew people intimately for who they were. We should learn to continuously love people and serve them well. 1 John 4v12 ‘For no one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God’s love is made complete in us‘ In serving people, that helped me to heal and to grow in confidence again.

Throughout my blogs this year, I have been trying to encourage you all to come before God as you are. I focused a lot on self-worth and on bringing biblical passages into an understanding for us all. As I have wrote these blogs , they have been instrumental for getting me to the place that I am today.  I hope you will come to know how much God loves you and he sees you. He walks through every area of life with you.  We are his and our names are etched on his hands. Isaiah 49v16 ‘See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’ .Walking with God is not always easy but his way brings life and fulfilment, more than the world can ever bring!

I will sign off now, until the beginning of next year. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Keep in the faith. Love you all, Victoria. xx

P.S I am incredibly thankful to my family, who have been my greatest supporters and who never stop encouraging me. I am thankful God placed me into our family and thank you for everything!

Amsterdam Ministry: What do you have to offer?

Mark 12v42 ‘But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.’

The widow’s offering is a story that is familiar, one that I often glaze over. Commending the woman but not thinking about any applications for my own life. Other than I should probably learn to give more.

As I read it this time, I began to reflect on the woman herself and how it must have felt to be her. She gave everything to God. She offered all she had at that moment and her faith was noticed. Not by the people around her but by the most important person in that room, Jesus. V43-44 ‘Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on”‘

I began to think, how sometimes in our lives we can be like the widow with what we have to offer. We wake up feeling broken or unworthy or we have very little to give. When we think about even having any sort of quiet time or prayer that day, we feel that we can barely lift anything before God.

I was taught something valuable through the widow’s story; give to God all that you have, even on your hardest day to surrender the little that you have. To be able to come before God and to surrender even the emotions that have been overwhelming you that day, allows you to begin to know some release and hope. Knowing that those emotions do not have to overwhelm you. Small offerings include reading your bible even when you feel that nothing makes sense. Praying when life feels so jumbled and messy. Praising God, even when you feel so far away. Surrendering some of your time, even when you feel you have no hours left in the day.

It matters where our heart is when we come before God. It does not matter how big the offering. For everything already belongs to God. It matters more where our trust is placed. I have been learning even on the days where eveything feels so distant and bad. That God is still God, he is still good. To simply lay my life before him, saying, “Today Lord, this is all I have but I offer it to you.”

I am learning to be thankful that God takes me as I am. That when I give him my day, he has a wonderful way of working it for his good. Even if I do not see it at the time. I have seen how God has used the time that I have offered to him, to go on and bless people. Not by my own will but by his. In seeing how God shows up in incredible ways, reminds me to be at peace. That I do not have to do big and extravagant acts for God. For eveything is already under his control. It is about learning to come before him and walk faithfully with him throughout the day. I am not left alone to figure out everything. God has an incredible way of working, that enables me to see him in the people I interact with or even in the creative activities I do. I am truly learning to see how awesome God is. That it is not about me! That my life finds it fulfilment when I surrender all to him. Sometimes that offering of surrender may feel so small but he is a gracious God who knows where my heart is. It is not about comparing my life to those around me! I need to learn to be honest before God, to surrender and find my hope in him.

Hebrews 4v16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Let us offer up what we have with hearts of thankfulness. Not worrying about the quantity but the quality, especially where our heart is in the offering. The woman with the two small coins is an account that shows a beautiful act of faith and surrender.

We cannot be ignorant of the other people in the account, the ones who gave out of their wealth. They gave a portion but knew that they still had security in their money. V41′ Many rich people threw in large amounts. ‘ What they were doing was not necessarily wrong but it mattered more where their heart was. Sometimes we may need to reflect on our own lives. I know I fall short of this. That I give a lot of my time to serve people and do acts for God. Sometimes, my heart can be far from him. Instead of giving my all for God, I work out of my own strength and security. I want to trust in myself just in case. It is such a reckless way to live. God is so much greater than even my greatest successes and my life should be used to give him glory and honour. I need to learn to surrender all that I have to God, it is in him that I find fullness of life. Nothing or no one else can give me that security. That is something I need to learn to live out each day.

It is possible we can identify with both sides or one of the sides. God is gracious towards us, he will lead us and guide us in the way we should go. Let us come to him with a thankful heart and begin there. No matter how big or small, God will lead us forward.

Psalm 100v4-5 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

May you have a blessed week. Remember that you are loved and cherished. God bless, Victoria. Xx

Amsterdam Ministry: The faithfulness of God.

Amsterdam has been an incredible journey, so far. It has been a real place of growth, not only for me as a person but most importantly for my faith. It has been hard but encouraging to learn what it means to put my trust fully in the Lord. To have to learn that I cannot do it in my own strength because I easily become drained and pessimistic. It has been about me learning that God is still faithful in the hard times even when I do not feel it and have no idea how to move forward. That God’s character and his promises remain steadfast. It is just me, that is being so easily swayed by circumstances.

Hebrews 6v18 ‘So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

I have had to learn the importance of laying the day before God. I have mentioned in previous blogs how each shift at the shelter begins with prayer, for which I am always thankful. Especially in the ministry with our cleaners which is something I have stepped into over the past month. It is this wonderful opportunity to work alongside the cleaning team and to share the gospel with them in morning devotions.

It is a wonderful ministry but it is something that is challenging too. There were quite a few days where I would be planning out the work and would see there was not enough cleaners for all the work to be done. Normally, my first instinct is to panic but I have been learning that peace meets me within those situations. It enables me to have a calmer mind and to pray over the day. Learning to trust God, that even in our limits he still has a wonderful way of providing. Countless times, God has shown up in incredible ways. Whether it being the motivaton and determination to be able to get the work done, providing people, or the work not being as bad as first perceived. It has been wonderful to see how in God showing up, it encourages my faith and enables me to share God’s goodness and faithfulness with the cleaning team.

Sharing devotions has been a way to see how faithful God has been. The way that God speaks through the devotions, even when I feel like my words have failed me. I am thankful that in faith we do nothing on our own. We actively step out but the Lord is leading the way.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’

A valuable lesson I have been learning is not to speak death into every new and good thing in my life. When I am offered a new opportunity the first thing that goes through my mind is all the reasons that I cannot do what has been offered me. When I focus on all the negatives, I see how that does not glorify God. Instead, I am abiding in my weaknesses and disregarding the goodness that God can pour into that situation. Even the Bible highlights how perfection is not attainable. However, in our weaknesses that God is still working. 1 Corinthians 12v9 ‘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 in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ Honestly, it is refreshing to reflect back on a day and see how much God showed up. Whether it is in people, conversation or simply in a few minutes of peace offered throughout the day. To be able to thank God and praise him, for being the faithful and gracious God he is. Even when my mind wants to do doubt it, his truth continously prevails. In learning not to speak death and negativity into every new thing; has taught me to surrender it to God through prayer. To recognise my weakness but to know that he is God. What God has led me to, God has an incredible way of leading me through. I can speak hope and life into new things. To see the joy in it and be thankful to God, who keeps me moving forward.

My prayer for you reading this is that you will be encouraged. A lot of the time we can allow our feelings to lead our faith. What happens when we don’t feel anything? Then we quickly become dismayed and we lose our hope. Instead we need to learn and to trust in the character and promises of God, not based on our feelings but because they are truth. They are unchanging and they stand the test of time. Like myself, you may be easily controlled by the situations you are in. However, God does not change. He is still as faithful to us in the bad times as he was in the good. We need to learn to trust, to step out and to abide in his presence. To learn to be thankful even in the mess of things; because God’s grace has a wonderful way of turning that mess into a something beautiful for his glory.

I finish with saying how thankful I am that God continues to show up so faithfully. Each day my faith is being challenged in some sort of way. However, God shows me how his mercies are new every morning. How he never stops being God and how he has eveything under control. Even when I struggle to see it.

I pray that you will have a blessed week. That you remember you are loved and cherished. Lastly, God never stops being God. God bless and with love, Victoria. Xx