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

Amsterdam Ministry: What am I allowing my life to be filled with?

This is something I have been challenged on over the past few months. To truly think about what I am filling myself with and what I need to surrender to God.

As I was reading through Matthew 12, there was the use of the imagery of a tree. A tree which can only bear good fruit or it can only bear bad fruit. It cannot do both. 12v33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit. The fruit that we produce truly comes down to what we fill ourselves with. This is similar to a post I did about what my heart was pursuing, earlier on in the year. I hope in this one to go a little deeper and to share what I have learned over the past few months.

What I am choosing to fill up on, is something that has been challenging me in all areas of my life. My emotions, my thoughts and my actions have all been impacted with what I am choosing to fill up on. I feel blessed to be in the place that God has put me in at the moment. I live in a Christian community and work at a Christian shelter; it is essential that the words and actions I pour out are in accordance with principles and morals of my faith and that of the shelter. In being pushed to share my faith with people, it has allowed me time to reflect and pursue Jesus more. I want to know more and more about him so that I can share the gospel message in its fullness. In spending more time in God’s word it has also led to healing over my life. Especially over past hurts and spiritual wounds. Once they are surrendered to God it has made room to be filled with God’s truth and love.

In surrendering, it has led me to think about all the things that I was consuming. Especially the media, books and what other things I was spending my free time doing. I have taken some time to fast a lot of the media I was consuming. Especially on Netflix where I would spend hours watching and rewatching things. I was using it as a way to relax but then it began to take over a lot of my time. Having given it up for the time I am in Amsterdam, has allowed me more time to explore and spend with people. It bought me out of a comfort zone I had placed my dependence on. It has gave me more time to read too, especially books on faith. Which has not only enabled my faith to grow, it has been an encouragement to people I have shared it with. In filling myself up with God’s truth and love, it has enabled me to serve and understand people better.

There has been such beauty from allowing my mind to focus on something different. This is what Paul teaches in Romans 12v2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but he 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. To learn to find freedom from the things we put out trust in, is not easy but there is real blessing. Being able to enjoy the activities we enjoy, is not a bad thing. When they are the only way we find or fulfilment, we will always fall short. We will never be enough or what they are offering will never be enough. We will always want more. What occupies our mind is what will pour out of us. It will either be that of truth and love or that of darkness and death. Our words are the true fruit that show where our roots are, what we have filled our life with. Our fruit will either be that which bring refreshment or poison to those around us.

These verses in Colossians have impacted the way that I want to use my life. 4v5-6 ‘Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation, be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ To live out these verses, means making a conscience choice on what I am pursuing and filling my life with. To make the choice each day to deny myself and glorify God with the life he has given me. To serve people well and to allow God to love through me. That means surrender, it means trust. In pursuing God, it allows me to pour out more of his love and truth to his people. I would rather be pouring out that, than trying to pour out the worldly wisdom that I have been doing.

Sometimes we need to take time to check out hearts. To allow ourselves to see what it is full of. To make the choice whether we would like to surrender our will for his will or to continue on our way. I have learned, that in pursuing our way we will always want more and will never be filled. When we pursue God, we find much more purpose and life to pour out. For Jesus teaches that it is only through him that true fulfilment is found. Everything else, will not satisfy.

John 4v14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

I am still learning. Each day I am making choices, some days I still make the wrongs one. I never forget that God’s grace never fails to meet us in the place where we are. That it is by his guidance and strength that we find freedom. Keep pursuing God and filling up on the things that only he can provide.

May you all have a blessed week. You are truly loved and cherished. Always feel free to leave a message, question or even just say hi. God bless, Victoria. Xx

Amsterdam Ministry: Fresh perspective.

Psalm 27v14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

It has been a week since my last blog, time has bought a lot of peace and change. In the past week, I have encountered healing over the past. Also, chains of fear and worry have been broken. I have had incredible opportunities to share times of fellowship with new friends made. I have been learning what it means to serve in different and wider ways. I normally go to bed with a heart full of thanksgiving and peace over the day.

As I was reflecting on my week, I was struck by how awesome God is. This is due to fulfilling one of the hopes I have. This comes from reading Acts 2v42-47. V44 ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common.‘ V46-47 ‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ I love reading how the early believers lived together, worshipped together, learned together and encouraged each other. Each time I have read that passage, I have always wanted to have the opportunity to experience that. It is something I have been experiencing with my church back at home, now it is in a different country and culture. I live in a community where we all are here to serve the Lord. We all go out each day and serve in different aspects. We spend time throughout the day to eat together, to share the word and to encourage each other. We laugh a lot, we are thankful a lot and we are determined every day. That is an incredible blessing to be able to have this time, to be able to live with people from all different countries and to bring many cultures into one place. It is really beautiful and I am incredibly thankful. God has a beautiful way of showing his love and care for each of us. Whether it be through fulfilling a hope or widening our perspective on how we can love and serve him.

I titled this blog fresh perspective because of the way my eyes are being opened to see how the spirit of God is moving in every area of this ministry. Before every shift that is done, at the shelter, we surrender it and give God the glory for it. That is one of the best ways to serve. You never know what guests you will get but to be serving them by doing all things for the Lord sure makes it a little easier. It helps me not to go on auto-pilot just to get the tasks done. I want to see the people I am serving and serve them the best way I can. Whether it be through conversation or prayer. Even in the community there is this beautiful unity and peace. It is a place where no one is left out. People are loved and supported. Where friendships blossom and develop quickly. Testimonies and life are shared together constantly. It is not something we do in our own strength. We allow God to strengthen us and use us for his glory. That has been a real blessing.

Another blessing, is something I wanted to use to encourage anyone who is being taunted by their past. That in trying to move forward there is something always attempting to hold them back. It is an issue I had to deal with this week and I share some of the advice I was given. Always remember that God’s mercy is new every morning, that what happened yesterday does not have to flow into today. Make sure that you have confessed and surrendered it to God, once you have let it go. Lamentations 3v22-23 ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ God love for us, sets us free. He does not want us to be consumed by our sins and our past. God wants us to be free in his presence, to be able to have eyes that only see him and that are not clouded by anything else. If the past keeps taunting you, speak God’s truth over it until it has no power. James 4v7 ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee.’Remember that you are free from that, that God transforms and makes us new. That what has been surrendered, does not need to be picked up. Some of the mistakes we made do have consequences, that does not have to consume us either. Move forward, trusting in God’s strength and healing. Allow God to work within the situation. Healing, restoration and peace comes from the Lord.

This blog focused a bit more on what I was doing this week. I hope through reading it, you will be encouraged. Whether it be, submitting your day and work to the Lord. To see it with a fresh perspective, allowing the Lord to work through you. That God has incredible ways of working, never feel that any dream or hope is useless to God. Also, that there is always time for healing and restoration. Our God is good and gracious. Keep pursuing him, keep serving and keep loving.

Have a blessed week. Remember that you are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. Xx

P. S If you are wondering how the bike riding is going, it is definitely going well. I actually ride with speed and enjoy the bike rides. Though I did learn that rain, converses (they have no grip) and a bike. Leads to quick descent off a bike. A little bruise or two does no harm. Haha.

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.