Lessons I am learning from: God’s grace, healing and restoration.

I write this letter to my 21 year old self as a reminder of all that God has done in my life. My life looked a mess two years ago, I was absolutely broken inside. Slowly and beautifully God removed the broken parts and restored all that I needed to be. I struggled with trusting but God never stopped moving. I thank God for all I am today, for making me in his image and restoring all that was broken. I thank God for restoring my worth and for walking through life with me.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.’

To 21 year old Tori,

You have finished university and your internship has fallen to pieces. You mind is still trying to catch up with the past three years. I know you are continuously questioning yourself and doubting that you have made the right decisions in life. These next two years will feel really useless to you. However, they are the making of you. You will have massive slumps, will make bad decisions and generally struggle. Looking back on these two years, you will see how much of it was about stripping off the old to be made new. Through it all, Jesus is holding you and walking with you. You will find that it is in your faith, that you will be transformed and renewed. That those relationships that look broken, will be restored. Your body changes but you learn to put your value in something greater than your weight. You learn to thrive, to stand up for yourself, to love deeper and to let go of hurt.

Don’t disregard the next two years, they may look dull in perspective to the lives around you. Reagradless, every step forward is progress. Unfortunately, you will allow your emotions to guide you. They will tear you apart because they are not truth. Your spirit will feel crushed, due to what you dreamed of crashing down in less than a month. I can assure you, if you had gone into any sort of ministry your heart nor your mind would have been ready. Be thankful, that in the next two years you will devour God’s word. You will read many books on how to live out God’s word and how to serve. You will have many opportunities to learn and grow in ministry. At the moment, you are not ready . You have a lot of healing to go through. Even at 23, you still have a lot to learn but you are in a far better place than you are right now. Lean in and trust God, his way is not easy but it is far better than trying to do it on your own. Do not be discouraged, even when you mess up do not believe God has turned his back on you. Turn your face back to him and recieve the grace that he gives. It is overflowing. Jesus’ blood covers you, none of your mistakes are beyond God’s redemption. Don’t let the past hold you and destroy all that is good in front of you.

As you heal and grow, your life will be used to minister to those around you. In greater ways than you could ever know. Even in retail work, by being yourself, you love and serve people well. Never feel like an opportunity is wasted, place it into God’s hands and he can turn it round for his good.

You will struggle with doing retail but it will only make you stronger. It is being used as preparation for your next step in life. You learn to serve people with all different manners; you will find that the ‘rude’ customers are some of the nicest people you will ever know. You will be glad to get out of retail but your time there was worthwhile, keep working hard. You will meet amazing people along the way. Choose to see the situation in a better light, it will help you on some of your hardest days.

Coming back home does not mean you have failed. Your parents will love and support you as you get back on your feet. They will help you not to make decisions based on your emotions. You make amazing memories with your youngest sister. Going to some incredible concerts and amusements. You look after each other and laugh too much even on the hardest days. You make stronger relationships with all your siblings. With age comes wisdom and healing. You see friends you have not seen in years, you help and support each other. Even though you do not love your town, you allow yourself to favour coffee shops and food places. A little warning, you spend too much time and money in Waterstones. You grow and you thrive. Your church family care and support you through these years. They speak truth over you to allow you to grow in areas of ministry. God uses these wonderful people to speak truth over your life.

Throughout the two years you will apply for various other jobs, none of them will be successful. I would admit starting an email to a candle shop stating ‘I love candles’ is neither professional or smart. (Thankfully your sister read through that email.) Honestly, you will be just about to give up when God opens the next door for you. Restoring your dream of going into ministry work, to care for and love people. God’s timing is perfect. You are thankful none of those other job opportunities were successful, for you would not be able to do what you are doing now. Even though this move is to a new country, you know that the Good Shepherd is guiding you all the way through.

From your 23 year old self, I cannot assure you anymore by saying. ‘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).

I pray that this reflection over my life will reassure, encourage and help you. There will be many people who want to guide us; I found my life when I trusted God with it.

You are loved and cherished. Have a blessed week. God bless, Victoria.

Lessons I’m learning from: Next steps and God’s provision.

There is a Bible verse that I keep in my phone case. It has became a promise that I have received not once but twice this year. It is a verse that I have seen come into fruition this past month and a truth that God speaks over all our live.

‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.’ Psalm 55v22

I have been offered this amazing opportunity to go and serve and do ministry work abroad. While it comes with a lot of excitment and new opportunities. There was also a lot of planning, preparation and costs that needed to be met. I also needed to wrap up the job I was currently working. My mind instantly started trying to work out if I could afford to go and also to meet all the requirements. That was unnecessary for me to do, I have learned through this whole process at how much God had already gone before me and has provided everything that was required. All of the costs have been met through the kind and generous donations of loved ones and my church family. It has been incredible to have their continuous support as I begin to make moves into this new area of ministry. Although I know God has gone before me, to know I have many people praying and supporting me while I am out there. Enables me to bring them along as part of the ministry I am doing there. In none of this process have I felt alone or out of my depth. Even my doubts have been quickly met with peace.

When you feel you are being called to do something. Do not do doubt and fret about whether you are capable or whether you have the money. Take the leap of faith and trust and obey that what you are being called to is meant to be. My mum has this saying; what is for you, will not pass you by. Don’t allow fear to stop you from pursuing your calling for your life. Have faith and move forwards.

There are a lot of emotions that come with a new transition in life. For me, it’s closing the chapter on the job I have had for the past year and a half. It was not a job that I loved nor was I often very passionate about. However, as I close this chapter I do it with a grateful heart. There has been an incredible amount of growth through that job, not only for me as a person but also in my faith. I have seen countless times how God has enabled me to speak to people and even use my faith to bless them. Also, how he has used people to encourage me and to enable me to grow within my faith. It has been a time in my life, that has given me spare time to start my blog and grow deeper in my faith outside of work. I feel blessed that God could use that job to enable me to make new friends but, also, to draw me closer to him. God has provided for me countlessly throughout this job. Enabling me to enjoy precious time with family and friends. No opportunity is ever wasted when God is invited in. I have seen that truth prominently over the past two years.

A further note on emotions. Do not allow them to dictate your beliefs over the situation. I can tell you in all my excitement, I have also shed tears. Going into the unknown is scary and it is not always in our control. Tears are not a bad but don’t allow them to cloud your view of what you are stepping into. Share how you are feeling with others and allow them to support you through it all.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29v11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3v5-6

Trusting in the Lord means that he will call you to things that you may have never dreamed of. The opportunity I am going into. I had never heard of before but as soon as I began to apply, I felt this sense that this was what I was meant to be doing. I felt like life was moving forward and I needed to pursue this opportunity . The application process was rigorous and at times it hit snags. I persevered, even in my doubts God never stopped speaking his truth and favour over it. May it be an encouragement for any of you, sometimes that leap of faith is not always straight forward. God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. Keep the faith and keep preserving.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11v1

I will continue to update on this journey I am on. I hope you trust, that God never stops moving. A truth that I learned I church this week is, ‘God believes in us, more than we believe in ourselves’. God has a purpose for each of our lives, far beyond what we could imagine. Nothing is impossible with God.

May you have a blessed week. Love Victoria. Xx

Lessons I’m learning from: not losing sight of what is important!

‘Do not lose sight of what is important’ is a reminder that I have propped on my bookshelf, which came from a quiet time this weekend where I had been blinded with fear. The past weekend I spent in a fearful state because I believed a situation had happened that would have severe consequences. It did not matter that people had told me not to worry about it. Even when I spent time in prayer and I was being given incredible peace over the situation, I chose to remain in a fearful state. I wanted to believe that I had done wrong and that I was going to have to face repercussions for it. The truth was, the situation I was fearful about was not even real. I had made it real within my life. This reminder became a warning, that I had spent so much time trying to face a situation in my own strength I had lost sight of where my truth and worth comes from. Even in all my fear, I was being reminded that even if this situation had happened that God would not leave me or forsake me through it. That he still had authority over the situation, I could still trust in him no matter what was going to happen.

In being reminded to not lose sight, I needed to strengthen my faith further. To not allow this trial to overwhelm me; to stand against it with the truth and strength of God. I was talking to someone about the situation, they referred to it as a spiritual attack that was being used to bring anxiety and fear. There is significant purpose on being reminded to put on the armour of God, for even everyday situations can be used to attack us and deter us away from God. I know a fault of mine is that when I become too familiar with scripture then I miss the truth that is being spoken through it. For myself and for you reading this, may we remind ourselves what the armour of God is and its purpose. Ephesians 6v13-17 ‘Therefore put on the FULL armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ This is a person who is able to face any trial that comes their way. I love the reminder that there is no armour for our back, because with God we face our enemies straight on with the authority and the strength he gives us. It was how I needed to be suited up but instead I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with the situation. I was fleeing and had my back as an open target for everyone. I was not standing firm, being prepared to face the situation. I was losing sight of my worth and power that God gives me.

A further reminder was that these spiritual attacks come when our lives are moving in a deeper pursuit of God. When we are being asked to step out in a greater step of faith. If you go through the Bible, there are many examples of these spiritual attacks that come from various places or people. They are being used so that we question our faith and who we are. We need to stand boldly and to fight courageously against what is trying to destroy who we are. We don’t have our faith in Jesus because it is something fun to do, we put our entire trust in him and surrender all who we are. That is not an easy way to chose but we pursue it. We know that in each and every step we take, Jesus leads and guides us. Even when it is hard to see where our path is leading, we always have hope and love surrounding us. The things that we face in this world, no matter how hard or upsetting will never be the end of us.

A journal entry that I wrote over the weekend, spoke this this truth over my life. ‘Allow Jesus to be lifted higher than all your circumstances. Jesus is and always will be the good shepherd; who will guide you through all circumstances of your life. You are not rejected and alone. When you stray, call on the name of Jesus and he will bring you right back to him. John 10v14-15 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for my sheep.’ Jesus has been through all the trails and temptations we have been through, he understands. No season is too tough when you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.’

I was reminded that we are not complete yet, therefore, we are not perfect. To stop demanding that for ourselves and from others. That each day we need to allow God to mould us, to remove and to prune what is necessary. Within our own life’s we  have received unconditional grace and love and each day we can bless other people with that. We are all a purposeful part of God’s creation, may we never allow the enemy to tell us anything that would dim that truth. That we need to allow God’s truth to speak louder than any lie of the enemy. To always remember, that God loves and cherishes us beyond our comprehension. That no matter what we face in life, it cannot separate us from his love. Isaiah 49v16 ‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.’

May we not lose sight, of how powerful and loving our God is. We never face anything he has not prepared us enough to face, we can trust him in that. Life is not always easy but with the full armour of God and with his power, we can face each trail straight on.

May you all have a blessed week. May we support one another, we will all struggle but may we be people who speak purpose and hope over each situation. Remember you are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: an anxious heart.

‘Your name is life, your name is hope inside me… hope inside me. Your name is love, a love that always finds me… Always finds me. Be lifted up, be lifted higher.’ Praises (Be lifted up), Bethel.

Truthfully, I started writing this blog with an anxious heart and it did not mean that I had stopped being faithful or that I was not trusting God. My chest felt super tight and I was praying through it. Knowing that God does not fail to meet me in those moments and walk with me through it. Before I started writing this, I was praying and being reminded of the truths of who God is and who he calls me to be. May we never believe that our anxious thoughts means that we are not trusting God but may we bring our anxious thoughts to God. Lift our perspective to a God who is mightier and far more powerful than anything we will ever face. Allow God to hold it and to speak through those moments. I am wrapping up this blog as I type this, the anxiousness that I felt has been lifted and I pray that this blog will be a blessing to you as it was to me, if you are struggling at the moment. For some of you reading this I know that anxiety is not something that can be easily removed. I pray that you will find some encouragement through this blog and wherever you may be, you will find people to help you cope and support you through your journey.

As human beings, we have our limitations and we are easily overwhelmed with situations that we feel are out of our control.  I was reminded of the passage in (2 Corinthians 12) where Paul has, what is referred to as his thorn and pleads to the Lord three times to take it away.  (v9) ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘. When my heart becomes anxious, I need to remind myself that my limitations do not limit God. There are incredible verses found in Isaiah that reminds us all of who God is, compared to who we are. (Isaiah 55v8-9) ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, , so are my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.‘ These verses remind me to keep trusting God. Where I see limitation and failure; I believe God sees hope and potential. I also know that the Lord does not disregard my anxious thoughts as not important, for he knows our anxious heart. This truth is proclaimed wonderfully through Amanda Cook’s song ‘The Clearing.’

‘You waited through the night. Stayed here by my side. Not anxious of the time it takes. You whisper to my soul, just three steps left to go . Patiently you show the way.’

In the Lord meeting us in those moments, he does not leave us there. Even in the anxious thoughts I was having, the truth that I was being prompted with was allowing all that was clouding my mind to be removed. I did not need to find my identity in my insecurities, for my insecurities were being used to bring my closer to the Lord. I love the next verse of this song because it shows the transformation that happens within our life, with the Lord’s guidance. It is never an easy journey but with God we arrive at a place that is far better than what we left.

‘I could make my bed, so many places I have been. But you said I was meant for more. So I’ll never settle now, for less than holy ground. What a life we’ve found here.’

The verse that has been a constant reminder throughout the past weeks is (2 Timothy 1v7) ‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’ When my anxious thoughts, my doubts and fears become too much I am reminded that they are not my over-comers. That I have been given a spirit that is not fearful or timid but is powerful, self-disciplined and full of love. That I can have the faith that no matter the mountain I come across, that the Lord is with me and I can be courageous enough to face it. That applies to anything I come across in life, it may never be easy and the outcome may be disappointing but it does not have the final say. God does! That is where my faith will be found, resting in who God is and not restricting my perspective to my limitations.

I am learning the need to stop being disappointed in who I am and having this fixed mindset, that my mistakes stop me from moving forwards. For that is not truth, there is always growth and renewed hope that is planted into our life. We are restored by God’s love and grace. Jesus did not die for us all so that we would burden ourselves with our mistakes and limitations. He did not conquer death so that would remain in that stale and broken place . We are given new life and new hope. We are given salvation as a gift, that is an incredible gift to receive and we did nothing to deserve it. That is a blessing that we can encounter today. We need to trust that our anxiousness is not God leaving us or forsaking us, he promised he would never do that. Anyone or anything that would whisper he would, is not speaking truth. Nothing we face in this life is beyond God’s power, he is the creator and he is the restorer. He knows our life from beginning to end. nothing happens that is shocking God.  (Psalm 139v16) ‘ Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Let us not lose sight of who God is and who we were created to be. The world is a messy place but God is still working. We need to trust! We can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts but until  we come into that place of trusting and surrendering to God then it is all just knowledge. The world will tell us many ‘truths’ that we need to believe. The ‘truths’ that we are told are ever changing, it is not surprising we are anxious daily, fearful of what is to come. Everything we do on earth is fleeting, we cannot put faith in it. We cannot put our worth in it either. It is not everlasting. We can be faithful in the places we are put and in the work we do. We should not put our faith in it.

From an anxious heart to another. Our anxiousness is not our worth, may we speak God’s truth over it. May we deafen it’s mighty roar with the wisdom and love that God speaks over us. We are incredibly loved by a God who is love, we are his children. May we delight that God has authority over all things. May we remember that our spirit is not that of fear but one of POWER, LOVE AND SELF-DISCIPLINE.

‘We cannot grow when insecurities keep us from the life-giving oxygen of transformational truth. God beckons or invites me to change my mind-set from focusing on my insecurities and limitations to his security and limitless potential.’ Lysa Terkeurst ‘The best yes’

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

 

 

Lessons I’m learning from: Luke 15 (The lost get found.)

Luke 15 is made up of 3 parables, that all look at the theme of something being lost and found. While these may be familiar parables, I learned some fresh lessons through my reading of these.  v1-2 ‘Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”These verses give the context to the parables.I am not going to go into great depth of everything in each parable, I would highly recommend reading them for yourself. Here are some ideas that I explored while reading.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

 v4 ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? The 99 that were left in the open country could be trusted. They knew and understood the dangers of wandering off. As with the one who had wandered off, he had lost his way and was wandering into unknown dangers. The Shepherd knew the sheep could not save itself. v5 ‘And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.’. Even when he find the sheep he joyfully receives it back, protecting it and putting it out of harms way by putting it on his shoulders. They even have a party to rejoice this lost sheep being found. The purpose that the Shepherd poured into finding that one sheep, is a beautiful image of who our Saviour is. There are many people who have already been saved, Jesus does not stop there. He welcomes the sinner into his presence because he sees their purpose and their worth. In the context of this parable, the Pharisees can be seen as the 99 sheep. The Pharisees know what it takes to be righteous. They can choose whether to abide by it or not. The sinners have lost their way, they do not know how to find there way back without someone leading them home. That is why there is so much rejoicing because they are finally in the place they were always meant to be. v7 ‘I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.’.

The Parable of the lost coin.

v8 ‘Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and searches carefully until she finds it?’ . One coin has worth on its own. There is an intense amount of effort put into finding this coin, every area is searched so that the coin will not be missed. There is rejoicing when it is found. It reminded me of our own individual worth, our worth is made complete through Jesus. We are forgiven due to our repentance and the grace of God that comes through Jesus. Amazing grace, that we will never be forgotten or missed by God!

The Parable of the lost son.

The two previous parables put into a human context. One son is righteous and the other a sinner. The younger son was greedy and believed that he deserved to be granted what he had requested of his Father, despite the cost. v12 ‘Father, give me my share of the estate,’ so he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a far country and squandered his wealth on wild living.’ The younger son was very clueless and got lost in his worldly ways, he was not prepared for any misfortune. It leads to: his highest high, to lowest low, humility, surrender and salvation. v19 ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.‘. He had his speech ready and his heart surrendered and was on his way home again. His father saw him at a distance and filled with compassion ran to him! He embraced him and kissed him, showing those around them that although what his son had done was dishonourable the Father was accepting him back and forgiving him.  He dresses him richly, reminding him of his worth and who he belongs to. This is what God does for each of us, he reminds us who we are and who we belong to. He reminds us that we are so loved, that we were worth dying for. That in our brokenness and mess, God saw hope that was made complete through Jesus. v24 ‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found,’ So they begun to celebrate.

On the other side, we see the jealousy of the righteous brother who is feeling hard done by. He has always been faithful but his goodness has never been celebrated in the way his brother was. Instead of rejoicing over the blessing of his brother returning and being saved, he feels rejected. The Father reminds him of all he already has, that he knew his worth and convictions so did not have to go running off like his brother. At this moment his jealousy was misleading him, he did not need to feel rejected for he was already part of something bigger. We have to be careful, that our jealousy does not get in the way or allowing new believers to thrive and come into who they are meant to be. We are not a rejected people, we are greatly blessed  because we are saved. May we not lose sight of that because we believe that someone’s portion is better than ours. v 31 ‘My son’, the Father said, ‘you are always with me and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ 

I hope that you will have a blessed week and will continue to explore the passages found in Luke’s gospel. I pray that you will continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge. You are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. xx