The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Fight the Battle

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One thing I have discovered with life… there is always something.
There is always an opportunity of one kind or another to fight the battle ahead.

When the battles seem overwhelming our nature may be to retreat. Some of us are fighters and some of us need to learn how to fight. Others are natural warriors that don’t see anything but victory ahead in the midst of it all. This is how I want to fight the battle.

I want to be the warrior that sees their victory ahead of the attack. Just as a good coach, sees victory for his team and focuses on the win rather than the idea of loss, I want to set my sight on a glorious outcome rather than the moment I am fighting the battle.

How do I walk this out? How do I fight the battle, when I feel the onslaught of ‘life’ coming at me from every side?

*RECOGNIZE
I used to bury my head in the sand, instead of looking at the battle head-on. I used to make excuses, and except the battle as just a part of life. Yes, our battles are a part of life, but I don’t have to accept the defeat before even entering the ring. I can’t roll over and just keep getting kicked while I am down. I must stand up and fight not only for myself for all those around me that a defeated outlook or blindness to the situation will effect. If I roll over and am exhausted by the battle, with just a smile on my face, I am affecting my family, my ministry team and others the Lord has placed in my life. It is like a soldier watching everyone get shot around them with a smile on their face that all is fine. NO, it is not fine. It is a battle and I am going in!! This is how we fight the battle. We recognize we are in one!!

Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

*EQUIP and Position

This is the time to take out all the resources in your tool belt! A soldier going to war would not do well if He forgot all his equipment, and just showed up for battle in his shorts and flipflops.
In this same line of thought, a soldier or a team needs all their partners in the battle. Know your team members. Share your heart, let them back you. Know your source of support. This is key to fight the battle. The most important member you can have to back you is the heavenly creator, that has purposed for you to be victorious. He has a battle plan. He has the equipment ready for you to put on and take your stand. Even if all the other team members have run from the fight, you still have that coach pushing you on. He is ahead of the battle. The battle is HIS to fight. We need to ready our ears and hearts to listen and fight the battle.

Ephesians 6:13-18 

The Whole Armor of God

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

* FAITH
Be ready to fight! Posture your heart in readiness. Walk in boldness that you are mighty in victory. Know that the battle belongs to the Lord and the outcome is always victory. It may not look like it at the moment, but the battle is won, when we are ready to win. When we are ready to fight the battle when we are ready to take ownership of victory. We have won. It does not matter what we are seeing. We see with a different lens. It does not matter what we are feeling, our feelings are fleeting. It does not matter that it all is crumbling and falling down around us, we have a master builder, that is ready to remodel and build fresh and new. The fight in the battle is knowing we have won!

Proverbs 21:31- The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but the victory belongs to the Lord.


*CELEBRATE- 

Rejoice in your victory! Be thankful the battle is won. You may not see it yet, well, set your eye on the other side. Celebrate your last victories! See what has worked in your favor. Celebrate how you have come out a victor before in your battles. Your battle does not own you. Your battle does not define you. Your battle is what you walk through and you already have the tools to overcome! Celebrating the one that sees you through, is a mighty weapon in the fight of the battle. Praise and worship, it goes before me. I am equipped and ready. I am the victor and I am seeing the victory ahead! I know the victory may look very different than I expect, but it is mine and I will take it and praise Him for it.

2 Chronicles 20:21- Jehoshaphat asked the people for advice. Then he appointed men to sing to the Lord. He wanted them to praise the Lord because of his glory and holiness. They marched out in front of the army. They said,

“Give thanks to the Lord.
    His faithful love continues forever.”

BE ENCOURAGED WITH THIS ONE : This is how I fight my Battles

Ready to Fly

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2 Corinthians 5:17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

When we come to the Lord in surrender, ready for the new life that only He can give I see His arms wrapping us like a caterpillar in a cocoon. It is in the moment of surrender that God begins the transformation. He prepares us to be ready to fly.

As the caterpillar goes through a transformation before release, so do we as His children. He begins a process. He speaks to the innermost parts that need to hear His whisper and makes us new, ready to fly.

So many times, as the Lord is transforming an area in my life, or renewing my mind, I want to hurry the process. I have tried to fly before I was ready and equipped. Just as if a caterpillar tries to exit the chrysalis too soon, it will not be fully ready for what is to come. If I try to walk out plans the Lord has in store before I am equipped, I will be discouraged and often have to land before the target is hit. I was not ready to fly just yet.

Then the beautiful happens. His transformation and molding, perfection is done. I have seen new life, I have new hope and I hear His voice say, “get Ready for new things. Ready for a new plan. Ready for a new path. Ready to fly.”

It is work to break free from that cocoon. I have to work my own wings, I have to take my own lessons and break free from old behaviors and patterns, to emerge fully transformed and ready to fly.

Romans 12:2- 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.

By spending time wrapped in His arms, renewing our mind, and listening to His plans and directions, we have a flight plan when we are ready to fly. We have a purpose. We have a mission.
Allowing Him to transform every area that we need to be transformed for the preparation for our next destination. We are called to accomplish a work only HE has for us and in that process to accomplish, He equips us with all that we need for His pleasing and perfect will.

Now I have to ask, have you ever seen a butterfly return to the chrysalis and take on her old form?
Have you ever seen a butterfly revert back to her caterpillar self?


I know I am human. I know that life happens. But I shudder to think how many times, the Lord has transformed my mind and situation and I have returned to old ways.

I now hang out in the old ways far less, but the distractions still come. But thankfully each time,  the Lord will wrap me in His arms like a cocoon ( I can return to Him and His process and protection) and work on my heart in new ways. In deeper ways, He takes me and  prepares me for my next.

As I have grown I have learned that it is imperative I walk out living out that transformation every single day. This means I must be intentional about what I allow to impact me.
I have been made complete in him, I surrender to His best plans, I am ready to fly.

Give a Listen : I surrender 

Dreams: prepare in the waiting

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“There is just a moment between the mundane to the extraordinary. Don’t give up the pursuit before you reach what is intended for you: Press in faithfully and see what He will do.” SA

Where the God-given dreams are concerned there is a time to pursue in the waiting.
We are called to sow and cultivate those promises in our hearts. Those dreams will come to pass in their due season if we do the work in the waiting. If we try to hurry that which was planted we will end up with underdeveloped fruit that doesn’t reach its full potential.
If we give up and walk away we end up with a fruit that is rotting and laying waste.

I don’t know how many times I have had a dream for my future and taken action thinking it was for right now, only to find out I was in the wrong season of that dream and the actions I was taking were nothing spectacular. Literally, I have sat looking in the emptiness wondering how in the world did I miss it? Only to realize it was a dream not for that moment but for a time to come. I should have been preparing in the waiting instead of jumping ahead.

The dreams and passions that the Lord has placed on your heart and have been there for so long you may have even forgotten them or let them go, have not been placed there in vain. Often when we are dreamers, we see long before it is time to walk in that dream.

The Facebook LIVE  yesterday was about seasons and perfect timing built on Ecclesiastes 3. I shared how some of the things I was believing for, for over 20 years, are finally starting to gain momentum. Talk about seasons of waiting! I fully believe if I would have prepared and pursued the Lord more in the waiting, I would have walked in more confidence and joy, than I did when I let the enemy rob me of what was planted deep in my heart. NO MORE, I will keep walking with expectation, knowing the dream is being going to flourish at just the right time!

I urge you to meditate on the word and allow the Lord to work in your heart concerning the dreams that you are called to pursue. Don’t give up, don’t be discouraged in the waiting but keep working at it. When you, put the time in, it will be beyond what you, yourself could have imagined!

Ecclesiastes 3: 3- 15

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

 

 

A different lens: Perception

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I recounted a story that changed my perception years ago, at Shaey Anthony on YouTube.
If you are interested, give it a view as it places this blog in a fuller context.

Heart Connection- Intimacy

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The truth of the matter is, you can know someone, know all about them, even be in a relationship with them and still miss out on the deep heart connection of intimacy.

There is head knowledge of our salvation: This is the same as walking in life with someone, knowing they are always going to be there, but stopping at that and continuing on with your life without the heart connection. A knowing without intimacy.

John 5:24- Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.

You can have the head knowledge that you are saved. You can know because you dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s that you will enter heaven. But what good comes from a relationship that has begun, but has not been cultivated.
You can miss out on a deep-rooted heart connection intimacy with the Lord and all the glory that comes with it if you do not seek it.

♥ Heart Connection takes investment:

So often in life, we become distracted in the different seasons that we face. We become overwhelmed, feel inadequate and exhausted. Often our messes in life become our focus, and slowly without meaning to our hearts grow distant.
Just like any earthly relationship, you must invest in your relationship with the Lord.
For a deeper heart connection get to know Him by spending time set apart only for Him.

Invest in:

Prayer
– is our communication with the Lord. An opportunity to talk and share. Cry out and be real.

Word-
The Bible reveals His heart for us, His plans, and His hopes. Loved saved, thought of and not forgotten.

Praise and worship
– Reveals our heart for Him. This is our chance to pour out our love on Him and lift Him up.

When you are feeling lost, disconnected, frazzled, and overwhelmed, make sure to slow down and set time to be settled in your heart connection. It makes all the difference.

♥ Heart Connection takes pursuit:

In this life, you must pursue the ones you love. Lack of pursuit and interest leads to stilled relational growth. At times lack of pursuit can lead to opening a door for another to enter.
It is in our lack of pursuit that the enemy comes in with lies. When we are not fully pursuing the Lord, it is easier to believe that we are less than or lacking. We are not building our relationship on His truths.
Then life comes and smacks us in the face and we can begin to develop resentment. We risk growing angry with the Lord when disaster and hurts have stood to in the way of pursuing him. Resentment turns into resistance.  Examine what is holding you back from pursuing Him. Is there anger, bitterness or distrust there? In order to overcome, you must pursue His heart for you, and not listen to the lies the enemy is trying to win you over with.

♥ Heart Connection takes vulnerability:

Vulnerable – To be exposed.

We are taught to hide the ugly. We are taught to toughen up, don’t be so sensitive, shake it off and to be good. We have learned that when we show our true selves, anywhere that we are lacking others will reject us or ridicule us. We have been hurt in unspeakable ways, rejected and unwanted. So we build walls, we hide, we self-protect.
It has become a habit to hide away anything that is not perfection. The danger in this with relationships, you are holding back your full self. Everything that is hidden, is becoming a barrier between you and the one you love.
The sin areas in our life that are standing in the way of our growing need to be exposed. We do not need to self-protect with the Holy Spirit. God knows our mess, He wants us to be able to trust Him enough to let Him love us through it.
The enemy wants to keep you bound up and hiding. He does not want you to experience the full heart connection that comes from being raw and real with the Lord. It is through exposing all my junk to the Lord, that He is able to come in and do His work. It is recognizing I need Him in a way only He can fill. I can’t do the cleansing and the healing on my own. His amazing power comes in and does the work and I get to rejoice. For being exposed, leaves me open to being held.

As I am held close in the Father’s arms, there is hope. HOpe builds within the Spirit man within us as we experience the Father’s love.

ROMANS 5:5- Now Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given us.

It is in our weakness that makes us whole. He wants all of us, not just what we think we have together. He wants our ugly, He wants our flaws, and He wants our weaknesses. For In Him He makes us strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10- 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 of my weaknesses so the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ then I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamity. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When the Lord makes us strong in our weakness, all the glory goes to His power and not on ourselves. I tried to do it all myself for years in my own strength.  I got nowhere, except broken and exhausted. It is our testimony to what God accomplished when we have overcome in Him.

Reflection- Often times we base how we have been treated by others, on how we think the Lord will receive us. Others judge harshly that is how we see the Father. Others reject us or abandon us, we may expect the Lord to turn away when we are a mess. BUT His word says;

Psalm 27:10- “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”

No matter who leaves us, or abandons us, hurts us and betrays us, the LORD is ready and waiting to embrace us. Arms wide open. Ready for a deep heart connection intimacy. One that does not forsake.

Give a listen to this song:  INTIMACY by Jonathan David Helser

Who am I really? An opinion on Identity.

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Years ago, I was in a bad head space. I constantly measured my identity based on how I felt others saw me: forgotten, sickly, snob, embarrassment, unwanted, boring and whiny to name a few. Now, these thoughts were seeded by the words and actions of a few. But I took those labels and let them take root as a truth that was how most people saw me.

Finally, one day I realized how much other’s thoughts of me were playing on my mind and actions. I was holding back out of fear of how others would label me. As I was praying, I felt the Lord start to work on my heart on the truth of my identity. This got me to thinking, how do people really see me? So, I asked my friends on Facebook to be completely honest, even brutally so, and that it was because I was working on a project.  Their response truly did surprise me. They saw me as Godly,  prophetic, gentle, kind, loving, strong, tender-hearted, caring, worshiper, youthful, bubbly and playful. I did not get one, negative thought pointed out at me. Now for some that did not surprise me, but others that I thought for sure had labeled me, had some of the most encouraging things to say. This lead to an evaluation of the lenses I viewed my identity through.

  • Situational
    What I do or own: Homeschooling mother, Preschool teacher, Worship team member, homeowner, etc.
    Abilities: Illness left me feeling unable to do much and what I did do was not amazing.
    Labels: This has shifted often over the years. But the ones that I was battling were the labels I put on myself. Worthless, weak, depressed, sick, etc.
  • Word of God-
    (was not walking in this as my identity at the time)

The problem with the measuring identity on circumstances is that they are ever-changing and contradicted what the word of God says about my identity.
I learned I was living in a situational identity. What happens when your identity is based on your situations and then things shift in a way that you absolutely hate? You no longer can identify with that part of you that you loved or took pride in. This is often the source of ‘midlife crisis”. Things shift and all of a sudden you have lost the identity you once knew because it was set on a situational foundation.

So imagine how my life felt like it was spinning out of control and I had nothing and was nothing when everything shifted. I was no longer a home school mother, my boys didn’t need me that way anymore, I could no longer be a preschool teacher and I had seasons of not being able to serve on a worship team. I couldn’t and still can’t drive more than a few miles at a time.

When my situation was that I was sick, walking in a season where my illness was everything in front of my eyes, so that is all I saw in my identity, how life-giving is that?
Basing my identity on what I had, imagine how it felt when I lost it all. We lost our home and were no longer homeowners. How does this thought process on identity measure up? What would those like myself now feel when they ‘own’ nothing? No business, no home, or like me if they are even more like me what they do own is debt?”

For many, if things are going well and they find their identity in what they do, they are looking to achieve more, and when they don’t see the progress they hope for they feel defeated.

If we find our identity in what we think about ourselves or what others think of us, we will aim to please people and not our heavenly father.

Thoughts and labels, like I said earlier, were the biggest battle I was walking in with my identity. When I was young, others always told me I was skinny and pretty, but when I got older my face sagged and wrinkles are arriving, hair became thin and straw like and you know it, I grew ‘fluffy’ over time. This hit hard, as I saw value in my younger self but not as an older woman. I took the label ugly.
Secondly, in the labels department, because I had a biological father that didn’t want me born (abortion), and an adoptive father that made statements I wasn’t really his after the divorce, I was always waiting for the next person to leave and constantly had a thought that I was not enough. If I was a boy like my adoptive father always wanted, maybe I could have liked the things he liked more and when he divorced my mom, I would have still had a connection. He would have at least called me to go hunting or fishing, or something, but he didn’t and I again took on the label unwanted. The constant thought ran through my mind, what if I had lost my husband, like the two fathers that thought I wasn’t enough.

Most of my identity being skewed was because of a lack of true understanding. Now, I knew the things that the word of God said that I had been taught over the years, but I knew them in my head, they were not a deeply seeded revelation that I was LIVING.

And the crazy thing is, I viewed others through the lenses of Jesus. I saw their identity of worth and value, but I could not see my own.
Over time, I learned how to go from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
In order for the word to become deep seeded in my life, I have found I need to read the word and pray for the revelation to become real to me. When I  am finding I still struggle, I need to spend time in prayer and fasting. This is preparing the soil for strong roots to take hold.

WHO GOD SAYS I AM: 

* Created: 
Ephesians 2:10- For we are Gods masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

God made me uniquely His. He gave me my very own fingerprints and DNA. He wanted me here on this earth and has a purpose set aside for me! My identity is created, this will not change!

* Chosen Child of God:
Ephesians 1:-5- Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 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.

1 Peter 2:9- But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, Gods very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into the light.

John 1:11-12- He came to His own people and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

Chosen, He will not leave me abandoned. He has filled the place in my heart crying out for adoption. He has made me His own with my belief and acceptance of Him! My identity is chosen and His, this will not change!

*Loved:
1 Thessalonians 1:4- We know dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and chose you to be His own people.

Understanding the Lord’s love for me has helped me to love myself. All that I am and all that I am not, I can love every part of me. My identity is loved, this will not change.


*Restored:

1 Corinthian 1:30-31- God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit, God made Him to be wisdom itself.
Christ made us right with God. He made us pure and Holy and freed us from sin. Therefore as the scripture says, if you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.

I am freed from sin! Through Jesus, I can walk in grace and strength. He has made me right before God and I don’t need to hide in shame and worthlessness. I was living in a lie. My identity is that I am restored, this will not change.

*New Creation:
2 Corinthians 5:16-17- So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ as merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. A new life has begun!

1 Corinthians 6:11- And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. 

New! Let that sink in.
I have been made new! I do not have to live in the old lies that I am not enough. I do not need to live bound by the old lies. I have freedom. My identity is that I am a new creation, this will not change.

He has established all of His word in my heart. Everything, His word says about me, applies to me as His child. If you have excepted His truths in your heart and walk in His ways, Your identity to is secure and steadfast, never changing. All these truths I discovered apply to you as well.
Created, chosen child of God, loved, restored and a new creation. This is my identity and it will not change!
When we see ourselves as God sees us, we walk in confidence in Him, not our own abilities. We are able to pursue the things He has called us to, knowing that He has equipped us with all we need. We do not waiver in our authority because we know where it is firmly found.
He gives us the ability to change our circumstances when we are fighting battles, not for our circumstances to change who we are. We can be steadfast in Him.

Let His word settle into your heart and give a listen to this encouraging song:

You Say: By Lauren Daigle

View my LIVE on this topic at my Channel Shaey Anthony

Follow up scriptures to meditate on this week:
John 1:5
Jeremiah 2:21
Romans 6:6
Romans 8:14
Romans 12:2
2 Corinthians 12:9
1 John 4:17