FULLNESS of Joy

While walking in the mall, I came across a beautiful little girl. She captured my attention immediately and it only took a moment for me to realize that she was walking all alone. This child was no older than two and there was no adult in sight. This little girl boldly walked towards my direction, her face lit up from the excitement of exploring. It took just a second for her to register caution  that she had no parent in sight, but as quick as concern crossed her face it was gone and she was again on an adventure.

I  began looking for  an adult right away and as I watched her, I noticed there was nobody. I had decided to approach her and make sure she was safely delivered to her parent or security. It was then that the father of this little one stepped from the corner of a nearby store. With his eyes only leaving his little girl  for a second, he looked at me and smiled.

With his gaze directed back at her, he patiently watched the exploring escapade through the window and stated simply;

” I want to see, just how far she will go.”

Keep in mind that while this little one appeared to be completely alone, her father was never really more than a few feet away. We just didn’t see him.

It reminded me with a smile of my own that the heavenly father often tests my heart and allows me to have my way. He lets me discover things on my own. He is always there if I turn to look and if I call, but sometimes He allows me to discover His world for myself.

Sometimes these results are not always peaceful, often sheer panic will cross my face and I will call to Him. The awesome thing is, I know He is ALWAYS there.

I pray that one day when all is said and done, He can say that during the times of Him testing my heart and watching me learn that I made Him proud with my decisions. I do know there are times I had failed because I did not call out when I should have but He is always there for me to return. For I know He will never leave me nor forsake me.

It is in this revelation that I know, apart from my Father, there is no FULLNESS of joy.

Following the ‘steps’ of joy, will lead freedom but not a FULLNESS of joy.

Challenge this day my friend: Let’s make sure we are not running so far ahead of Him that we don’t hear Him. Continually know His eyes are on you, He is there for you and will never leave. Have joy in HIM today. Experience the FULLNESS of joy through the Father.

Psalm 16:11-

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Ruby Red Slippers

While jesting with my Sheila Renae, I realized how much I miss her (again) and I laughing mentioned if only I had working ruby-red slippers, then I would click my way home.

I had only lived in Colorado for 9 short months of my life. But they were the most home filled months I had ever had. I had moved around my whole childhood, but there was something about that small town and the friend with a huge heart that always reminded me of ‘home’.

On March 12, 2012 it will be exactly 20 years since I last was able to give Sheila a real person to person hug.

She was my first and most constant best friend.

This friend was always there when I needed her, even with over a thousand miles away separating our bodies, the distance could never separate our hearts. I could always count on her humor to see me through heartbreak. I loved receiving pictures she had drawn, encouraging words through poems, letters, emails and phone calls. It was these gestures of constant true friendship that kept my head above water for those horrible ‘teen’ years and often keeps me above water now.

Sadly, as I reflect back, the only time Sheila was ever silent in my life is when she needed me most. We had lost connection for a season, and I prayed like mad because she was on my heart but I could not reach her.  God answered my prayer and brought her back into my life.

The joking reference of ruby slippers got me to thinking.  I did not appreciate what I had until it was taken away for a while. In the storms of life we lose much, but as the torrent calms, we see hope renewed.

I am working on living in true joy that surpasses all understanding.  There is a joy that sustains me in all things at all times when I allow it. It is during this absolute joy that I pause and remember, “there is no place like home.”

I’ve passed through many storms in life and much has been taken away. But my constant is, I always have peace because I know for me where home is. I have a hope in the kingdom of God.

He will never leave me or forsake me. I may go through some rough rides but He is always faithful, He is always there, He is always home.

Challenge this day my friends, evaluate, where is home for you?  Where can you come to in or through your trials of life. What will bring you peace and a sense of home? Do not stay lost forever in your trial, it is time to have the victory and walk through to the other side.

Thank you again Sheila Renae, for being an inspiration and speaking through your actions to my heart reminding me of home and who waits for me there. The storm is not over at this moment, and I do not own shiny red ruby slippers, but I know there will be an end to this long, long road.

The clock is ticking

Sitting in a coffee shop named ‘Clock Works’, I am reminded anew that time is ticking by and opportunities with it. I often reflect back with regret with all I did not do with my time gone by.

I find that there were moments my eyes were not open to what the Lord had done, was doing, or where He wanted me to obey. I let time slip through my fingers and it could be quite depressing if I stopped on these thoughts and that was all I did with them.

But I chose to remind myself that the great thing about missed opportunities is the fact that new ones always come around again. Joy comes with the actions of doing things we are called to do and not reflecting on the past. Time moves forward whether we do or not, today I am choosing to move forward with it.

We only have so many days on this earth. We only have so much time. And rather than regretting what I haven’t done with this time, I choose to recognize, yes the clock is ticking and I better do something about it.

It is time to take action and to do those things on our hearts. Reach out in new ways and stretch our hands out and say, I have the time, I am going to use it.

Challenge this day my friend; Use your time, and use it wisely. Please let go of  regret of the times you didn’t act or use the best of wisdom, they are done and new opportunities are here. Open your eyes to where they are waiting.

Unlocking the treasure chests

Okay I admit it, I am a closet Zelda fan. I stay away from video games mostly, because once I start them I become slightly obsessive until I complete them. Sadly I stink at handling the controllers and it can take me forever to finish playing the games.

This most recent stint of obsessive game playing left me with a life lesson.

As my character was running all over the screen, while I was trying to figure out how to follow the map, I noticed there were big rocks or walls that needed to be blown up. When you blow these up, you open a cave, and in the cave sits a treasure chest. You want to open these treasure chests because they aid in your game progress in some way or another.

I started reflecting on the rocks and walls that I have placed in front of my own treasure chests in life.

When I am hurt by someone over and over, I will often build up a wall. I often try to cut off any effect they have had in my life and forget them completely. But in reality, behind those walls that I put up,  these people had left treasures in my life. Whether it be joy, wisdom, insight, patience, encouragement or companionship, these people blessed me for a moment. No matter what the hurtful thing was, there was treasure from the moments that these people were in my life. I can’t wall it all up completely or I miss out on learning from whatever the point was in the season.

One key to having true joy, is to allow others to bless your life. To open these treasures and to appreciate them. I want to choose to focus on the blessings and not the hurt or just wall these valuable people up just because they had hurt me.

Also while treasure hunting with Zelda, I was reflecting on all the gifts the Lord has given me. I often find myself comparing my gifts and talents  to the abilities of others. There are so many that are much more talented at painting, singing, dancing, writing and all the other activities I try my hand at, than I am. When I begin to compare, I will want to hide my abilities out of fear or pride. I let ‘feelings’ get  in my way and then  I will place a wall up and hide my treasure.

The Lord gives us our talents and gifts to bless others and ourselves. He gives us our natural abilities and it is up to us to cultivate them to be better and to use what we do have.  Often it is in the using of your gift that is part of your treasure. A treasure does no good to sit and not be used. I may be a mediocre but using my gift brings joy. I can not compare, for it is my treasure and I must use it.

So I encourage you this day my friend, evaluate and find, what are your treasures and how have you walled them up? And then I challenge you, blow up the walls that are standing in your way(figuratively of course)  and unlock the treasure chests.

Lesson from makeup remover

I apply liquid cover up to my face when I will be going out to dinner or want to look my best in public. The cover up will hide the blemished uneven skin tone on my face. Then I apply blush to add color, where the cover up drained me of it.

I started reflecting on the fact that often we cover up things that hurt us, make us angry or are just flat out flawed in our life. Things we don’t want to look at  any longer we will cover with lies, fake joy, busyness, alcohol, drugs or even the ‘ministry’ to make the feelings all pretty again by pretending they are not there.. For a season piling layers upon layers of good things so that we do not need to face the ugly may help us feel better.

But there comes a time when you need to strip away those layers. Just as it is not healthy to pile days and days of make up to the face allowing the makeup to cake into the pores for  months  at a time. It is not healthy to keep covering the pains of this world. You need to take time to prepare and clean the very foundation (the face).

The joy that I desire to walk with in my life, is not a cover up fix but something that is there naturally and beautifully applied by the creator. I desire to strip away the things that I have allowed myself to mask pain with.

It is time to  remove the layers.

This is my challenge this day my friends, find areas you have just masked over and covered up and get rid of them, purge them once and for all. It is time to see what was hidden underneath and remove the blinders that kept you from seeing it. REMOVE it all and start fresh.

Honey are you ready for those shoes?

 

I was sitting in a coffee shop, looking out the window and I saw a girl dressed to the nines.

Her clothing and style was impeccable. She had every hair in place on her head. Stylish black tights, pencil skirt, warm winter coat that had sass with a coordinating scarf flowing, and a perfect handbag to go with the look. And then I noticed she stumbled and was walking with clumsiness and no grace. As I looked down I saw three to five-inch platform shoes with a pencil heel and while yes they went with the outfit she looked like an oaf.

She was trying to walk on stilts and not very well. I suppose without realizing it she left a look at me and I am about to fall on my face impression. I could not help it, I had to laugh. I wanted to ask her ; ” honey are you ready for those shoes?” But I could clearly see for myself that she was not.

Here she had taken so much time to look good and I am sure thought she planned so well, and then had to walk all through down town in clumsiness and discomfort.

There is a season of maturing and preparation to stand on joy. It takes practice to live a joy filled life. Something you must take time at and practice daily. Often we stumble into old patterns, just as this girl was stumbling on her stilts.

It is time to be stable on our joy. To take off the uncomfortable shoes and put on shoes that will keep you on a solid foundation. The shoes that are big and clunky remind me of the worries of the world. Do we really want to take those on, stumbling through life rather than walking boldly in our inheritance of joy?

Challenge this day my friends, what are YOU standing on. It is time to evaluate and remember practice makes perfect.  Practice walking in joy and prepare the way by having your mind on a solid foundation. Do not take on something that is unhealthy and you are not ready to fight head on with joy.

Pour the best brew ~

I am at the position in life where I want joy to pour forth. Not only because I want joy in my own life, but I want to fill others up with it. I want the joy to come from my being and change the atmosphere. Often I find that I am surrounded by people that are effected in quite the opposite way and I have to stop and ask myself why.

I see the answer to this question lies in the one fact ; what kind of brew  am I percolating in?

If I want a good flavor and great aroma I need to peculate in good things. I need to let the good in my life bubble and brew and be perfected.

I will never forget the drink of a nicely brewed cup of coffee that had left over vinegar in the coffee pot from cleaning. A perfect cup of coffee had been spoiled because a little bit of residue of sour was left in it. Even a little bit of a sour note can effect the atmosphere around you and within you.

If we focus on the things that are not going right, than that is what we become. We need to think on and live in the good of the moment. There is always good to percolate in. There is always something to bring life we can share. If we are so wrapped up in our moments, our fears, our worries, gossip, problems that we think others have  or the circumstances around us, we do not allow the opportunity for a nicely perfected brew to come forth.

Clean out the inside COMPLETELY. Do not leave a nasty residue to fester and to show up when you least expect it or want it to. Think about the others around you. What do you want to leave them with? Would you serve them a cup of coffee with vinegar in it knowingly?

Challenge this day my friend. Think things through before we open our mouth. Ask if we are percolating in a good base or in something soured and spoiled. If you  are in need then clean the residue of the past out. It is time to start fresh.

Get the pot ready, the best brew needs to pour forth!!!!!

Go to the right source

Often when my boys were young, they would cry and get angry because their brother(s) had picked on them or offended them.

They would let that anger brew and fester until there was a full on war going on in their young hearts. They very rarely looked at the option of going to mom and dad.

With mom and dad they could have brain stormed, had their voice heard, or just gotten a good hug and perspective.

As I go through my own attacks in life I see exactly where my boys had gotten their brooding, tantrum throwing nature. Sadly, my first flesh reaction can be to throw a big ol’ fit!

During life’s frustrations my gut reaction may be to scream, kick and stomp and pull out my hair. But upon reflection, this does not accomplish anything productive just makes me bald.

I need to remember to stop and turn to the right source. Yes my friends will sympathise and possibly have some great wisdom. But I can not neglect turning to my heavenly father. The one that will give me the hug and lend an ear, and if I let Him, He will whisper into mine and let me know where to go next.

Forgiveness is usually that very first step He leads me in. But no matter what I can take a breath and know… He has me and all is good!

Challenge this day my friend, step back and consider going to the Father with those things that are brooding in your heart. Let go of that tantrum throwing nature and allow peace, and joy to bubble forth.

Fear NOT

One meaning of fear is to EXPECT with ALARM.  I can reflect back and see that I often expected with alarm situations that were completely imaginary. The cycle would start with the question, “What if?” or  ” Could they?”

These are definite traps. To expect the real or imaginary with alarm is to take your eyes off of what is now and looking ahead for trouble. Often the very thing you expect is what you talk about and give control in your life. What you expect is often the outcome of your future. If you are expecting troubles, you will get them and don’t we run into enough trouble without expecting more?

The bible says, ” FEAR NOT! For I am with you.”

Fear is anxiety, anxiety leads to depression, and depression keeps you from experiencing fullness of joy.

There is an internal peace that comes, with the realization that there is no need to fear!

Today’s challenge my friend, take your mind, eyes, thoughts and imaginations off those anxiety ridden ‘what if’s’ and focus on the good in the time of what is!

Blessings ~

Where does my help come from?

People have come and gone. As the storms of life roll in, I find there are very few forever faithful friends. You know, the friend that is there not because they want something but because they want to see you through for once.
However there is time even my faithful friends are not enough.
There have been storms after storms that we are facing this season in the Anthony household. I have struggled with the fibro and virus after virus, Dan gets laid off and we lose more than half our income, best friends live thousands of miles away, a close loved one is currently in critical condition, many friends and family members are watching their marriages fall apart and losing the will to fight for them.
I have my burdens and the burdens of others constantly laying in my lap.
In a matter of months things ‘look’ grim.
A normal human nature is to ‘worry’ over all these issues. To feel hopeless or frustrated because just as you get above water again, a new wave crashes over the top of you.
We need to know the truth, that worry accomplishes nothing. To give up hope and despair leads to destruction, not your victory.
My eyes need to be on the amazing God that has ALWAYS seen me through every single storm. My help is the same today as it was yesterday. last week, last month and the last three decades. (Man this makes me remember how old I am )
I can stop and see grace from His hand and His favor at every turn.
God is my help, He is my source.

I have joy because my strength is in Him no matter what my circumstance. He walks with me. His plan for me is that I prosper and He gives me a future full of hope.

I ask you this day; “where does your help come from?”
I challenge you: Humble yourself and allow help to come. See your victories and focus on those moments when help arrived and know it will come again. If you don’t know the Lord as your help, consider Him. He is an amazing ally!