Category Archives: Joy

Our Shelter in the Storm

WonderfulWednesdays
Sometimes I write about things that have happened in my life and then put them aside for a future time. The other day I was thinking about my Mom and remembered that I had written something about one of the times I was with her. This incident happened a couple of years before the Lord took her home.

Our Shelter from the Storm

Is25-4--ShelterFromTheStorm


You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,

a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
—Isaiah 25:4 

My mother and I watched as high winds hurled the driving rain against the living room windows. We were supposed to leave in a little while to visit Dad in the rehab hospital where he was undergoing physical therapy after knee replacement surgery.

Mom started to get ready but I talked her out of going. Her long battle with congestive heart failure and angina has left her very weak, and it doesn’t take much to stress her. I thought it better for her to stay snug and cozy at home this time, so I went alone.

As I walked out to the car, the high winds almost carried my umbrella away and I was glad Mom had agreed to stay home. She would have gotten soaked in her wheelchair and again while transferring to the car. The stress of that could have caused her to have another episode in which she had trouble breathing.

I felt the assault of the rain and wind on the car as I drove to the hospital, but was comforted knowing that I was protected and dry inside. It struck me how much this resembled living with chronic illness. Even though we are battered by our health problems, God protects us in much the same way. He is our refuge in the midst of the physical and emotional storms we experience every day.

Chronic illness is not easy to cope with but what a privilege it is to be able to lean on Jesus to get through the storms in our lives. Just when we feel we’re going to drown in our pain, God surrounds us with His arms—our refuge and source of joy—especially in the midst of the pain.

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Beloved, when it all gets to be too much, just turn to Jesus and snuggle within His comforting arms.

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SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

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Beneath His Wings

Thankful_Thursdays

On this Thankful Thursday, I once again have the delightful privilege of showing you more of Pat Knight’s writing. Thank you, Pat, for sharing your heart with us!

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Beneath His Wings

By Patricia Knight

Ps57-1

The common loon commands a constant and interesting presence on our lake waters in Maine for three seasons during the year. The loon is a large, pre-historic bird whose back sports a stunning polka dotted and striped white pattern superimposed on black feathers.  In the summertime as soon as the chick’s eggs hatch, they leave the comfort of the land nest for a life-long existence on water. The brown, fluffy young are initially the size of a ping-pong ball and equally as buoyant. In the early stages of life the loon chick spends quality time riding on its mother’s back. As the baby loon nestles into the feathers, the mother enfolds it beneath her wings, providing rest from constant swimming, warmth from her body heat, and protection from prey.

The concept of a mother bird providing comfort beneath her wings is used as a metaphor to describe our heavenly Father’s power and protection.  “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1) .What a beautiful, comforting picture of God’s great strength, where we hide for protection, unencumbered by the cares of this world.  God provides us with strength during a trial, not immunity that spares it from happening, so that His glory and provisions are exalted.

Phil-4-19

There is no time limit for God’s protection, but simply stated, “Until the disaster has passed.”  Some tragedies consume a relatively short span of time while others require that we depend upon God’s strength and power as He fights our foes for years. God is gracious; His love and comfort are limitless. He will never leave His children to their own resources.  If an animal instinctively cares for her young, surely our Creator will keep His promise to provide His children’s needs. “And, God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

There are many instances when we crave a comforting hug or a reassuring promise.  We may be emotionally needy as we navigate adversity, perhaps when dealing with attack or loss issues. Equipped with our own energies, we are unable to kindle hope.  It may be our reaction to either withdraw from human contact or to act out our emotions with unusual aggression. God is willing to meet our needs with His marvelous grace and love, allowing us to relax in His exceptional, shielding care.

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7). It is difficult to sing when consumed with fear. Only when our needs are met and threats diminished are we able to relax and express our joy in song. Because God assumes our anxieties, we can sing with confidence that He will supply our inner peace, as He hides us from all danger.

After curing a slave girl possessed of an evil spirit, the Apostle Paul and Silas felt the full fury of her owners who could no longer profit from her fortune-telling abilities.  A crowd was incited, marketplace justice was served, and the men were stripped and beaten, then thrown in jail. The jailor fastened the men’s feet in stocks for extra security. Bloodied and in pain, sitting in a dark, damp dungeon, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God at midnight, naturally attracting the attention of the other prisoners.  “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26).

Acts16-25-26

Traditionally, if a prisoner escaped, the life of the jailor or a guard was demanded in his place. For the jailer to take his own life would shorten his personal humiliation for the act occurring on his watch. Paul stopped the jailor just before he fell on his sword, assuring him that all the prisoners were still accounted for.

As a result, the jailor remembered hearing that Paul and Silas were preachers. With the earthquake and his own impending death so close, he wanted to know about the way of salvation. Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to explain the good news of the Gospel to the jailor and his family. Immediately, they were all baptized. In turn, the jailor washed the men’s wounds and fed them a meal in his house.

In order to sing under such strained and pained circumstances, Paul and Silas had to be confident that God was in control of their lives. They had vision and trust beyond their current situation. This wasn’t Paul’s first encounter with harrowing injustice.  He had been thrown in jail before and then miraculously released. At another time he was beaten and left for dead.  It was Paul who admitted, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”(Philippians 4:11). He had personally experienced the comfort of God’s protective wings.

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How do we react in stressful situations? Do we immediately call on God, who promises to shield us beneath the protection of His massive wings? The birds of the world and their offspring instinctively provide the object lesson for our protective relationship with our Lord. Call on Him in your time of need and you will find His wings open wide, waiting for you to claim a sheltering refuge there for as long as necessary.

What reassurance, to be hugged by God!

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SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

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Surrounded With Joy

Joy

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

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Happy Happy Joy Joy

Happy Sunday!

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Have you ever noticed how many Scripture passages there are about being happy and full of joy? On this Happy Sunday I’d like to share some of those with you, to remind all of us of the immense happiness and joy we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy

Psalm81-1-2

  • Psalm 63:7You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 81:1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
  • Psalm 89:16We are happy all day because of you, and your saving power brings honor to us.
  • Psalm 98:3-5God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!

Joy

Ps5-11

  • Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
  • Psalm 16:11You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 32:11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
  • Psalm 47:1Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

This is the praise song that I often sing to the Lord each night just before I go to sleep. It is based on Psalm 5:11:

I-Love-You-Lord…..

How about you, Beloved? What songs of praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus fill your heart to overflowing?

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AnnaSmile

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Choose to Enjoy

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EnjoyTheJourney

How about you, Beloved?

AnnaSmile

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Joy and Laughter

Wonderful Wednesday

Joy and Laughter

Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the
hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy. —Job 8:21

I’d like to talk today about chronic illness because it is my life these days. So why would I think of it in terms of joy and laughter? I mean, there is nothing about chronic illness to laugh about. Or is there?

The other day I got my vitamins mixed up. I tried to swallow my chewable Vitamin C tablet and chew my coated multiple
vitamin. Yuck! The Vitamin C refused to go down my throat, even with lots of water; the cracked multivitamin released its bitter taste. Double whammy! I had inadvertently confused the one for the other.

Even though the taste was nasty, I just had to laugh at how I mixed things up. The problem is that these kinds of mistakes occur almost everyday. If I’m not seasoning my food with pepper instead of salt, I’m confused by the huge variety of groceries at the store and end up buying something I don’t need or can’t eat. This has only gotten worse now that I have to read all labels to avoid the many ingredients that are allergens for me.

And what can I say about the time I wore different-colored shoes to church? different-color-shoesNo, this isn’t a photo of my feet but I did about the same thing: wore two shoes exactly alike except for the color. Well, it was an easy mistake because it was dark in the closet and the two pairs were right next to each other. My apparent choice of colors? Black and navy blue, so it’s obvious why I got confused. Right?

I can either lament these occurrences or laugh them away. I admit that it’s sometimes hard to laugh at yet another memory lapse, but in the long run it is a better response. I don’t believe God wants us to feel sorry for ourselves or bemoan our circumstances. He wants us to rejoice in Him and trust that He’s there to take care of us, no matter how much we hurt or forget things.

In this particular Scripture passage,one of Job’s friends is trying to remind him that God has not forgotten him. His words are meant to encourage and uplift Job in the midst of his circumstances. Job had the security of knowing that he could trust God, and so can we.

Snoopy-LOLI wish I could say I’ve gotten better at laughing these things off, but to keep it real for you I have to admit that I’m not as good at that as I believe God wants me to be. This morning I accidentally knocked a jar off the counter and rather than getting angry at myself over my clumsiness, I just stared at the mess on the floor and shrugged. Then I went to get the mop and dustpan to do damage control. Although I didn’t laugh at what I did, I didn’t stress or get angry and frustrated over it. That’s a big step for me, because about this particular part of my life, I am apparently still a work in progress.

So what’s the wonderful part of this? That God still loves this pathetic work-in-progress. And that He is always so close to me that anytime I need help with my attitude, all I need to do is ask Him.

How about you, Beloved? How do you handle frustrating situations?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are so many times when I’m tempted to complain and whine about what I can no longer do or how I mix things up. Help me to always remember that nothing happens that You and I can’t handle together. And remind me to grab on to my sense of humor during these times. Amen.

AnnaSmile…..

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Be Joyful Always

1Thes5-16-18

Rejoice always,

pray continually,

give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

—1 Peter 5:16-18

AnnaSmile

Give Credit Where Due

ThankfulThursday

I normally share devotionals by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight, on Treasure Tuesdays because Pat is such a treasure in my life. But I am also extremely thankful for her presence in my life so I wanted to share one of her “thankful” devotionals with you today.  This devotional is from her book, Pure Joy.

Give Credit Where Due

“Give credit where credit is due.” That maxim is as old as most of us and still good advice. It simply means thanking the person who has done something nice for you, congratulating a person for a job well done, or recognizing the ability of someone whom has made a discovery. There are many other instances to describe the adage. Not only should be understand the meaning, but also apply the principle we learn.

There is something troubling about the above phrase. Why are we so reticent to thank God and give Him credit and honor for all that He creates, maintains, and sustains? If a friend presented us with a painting of a beautiful sunset, we would give prolific gratitude. God creates a new sunrise and sunset each day. Their explosion of color in the sky is nothing short of miraculous. Surely each of us has seen an occasional display of God’s palette in the sky. In a sunset, sunrise or a rainbow we are reminded of the Master Artist. More importantly, we need to thank Him for the beauty, the peace and serenity the color display creates within us. God deserves credit for splashing His vibrant colors throughout the world. Let’s give Him credit by worshiping Him.

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God is the Creator of every living and non-living item on earth. He spent a whole six days making the world and everything in it. We are His greatest creation because we were formed specifically to fellowship and communicate with Him. Then, He placed all His other creations under us, to use, enjoy and care for them. (Genesis 1:30).

Repeatedly in Genesis after God had completed creation for the day, we are told, “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:31). If God was pleased with all He made ought we not to be the first to praise Him? We could choose an item a day for which to give thanks and we would never exhaust the supply!

An awareness of God is all we need. Think of His contribution in our lives and put Him first in our thoughts, our thanks and our worship. As we admire the intricacy yet simple pleasures of a rose, we need to stop to thank God for His creation. Who else but God could create the softness and delicate rose petals with perfume that further attracts us to the bush? But then we discover the thorns, which protect the plant. God creates contrasts of beauty and harshness, softness and prickliness. God sprinkles wild flowers throughout the woods, marshes, and pastures of the world. He has created natural flower gardens for our pleasure and surprise.

babyWhat is lovelier than a baby’s soft skin and sweet smell? Children are a direct gift to us from the Heavenly Father, who treasures them. He further instructs us to have the faith of a child (Mark 10:13-16). Contrast the lovable baby with a formidable raging thunderstorm that rattles our bones, confuses our senses and demands our attention. When the storm is past, the earth smells refreshed and renewed. God is the Creator of all things great and beautiful.

God created vegetables, fruits, and all green plants (Genesis 1:29). He showed great imagination when He formed a cluster of grapes. A vineyard with thousands of clusters of grapes is a wonder to behold. Compare the rough exterior of a cantaloupe with the inner succulence. God’s humor is evident when we examine an ear of corn. Ever wonder how God so perfectly lines up those straight rows of corn? Consider the many textures of a tomato or the luscious taste of wild blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries occurring from God’s own nourishment and tender care.

God formed the tiniest one-cell animal and the hundred pounds of whale. The oceans are teeming with life for our use. Even the lowly seaweed has numerous uses in food manufacturing and processing. The lobster is a delicacy but quite an ugly-looking creature. It will never win a beauty contest even though it changes costumes mid-program!

The skies are the domain of the mighty eagle (Isaiah 40:32) and the midget hummingbird. It is a privilege to watch the flying abilities of each species. God has taught His creation to swim, hop, slither, fly, leap, and run. He matched all the stripes of a zebra and fashioned a carrying pouch for the mother kangaroo to cradle and transport her young. He provides sheep for wool, cows for milk, and the horse family as beasts of burden and for transportation for many cultures.

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God is mighty and loving, creative, and protective. He fiercely loves and provides for His children. He is also a jealous God and craves our worship and admiration (Exodus 34:14). If we know a person who is an artist, a seamstress or a carpenter, we would not hesitate to compliment them for creative expression, original ideas, and work well done. It is time to sensitize our thoughts and words for the most excellent God, the only God in the universe. He has created the world and everything in it. Then, He does not abandon nor manipulate His creation for His benefit. He sacrifices His life and love for us, that we may live eternally. Let us “give credit where credit is due.” Keep God in your constant thoughts and thank Him at every opportunity for His love, greatness, and grace.

PureJoyThank you again, dear Pat! I know you’ll be as blessed as I am to have Pat’s book, Pure Joy. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Pure Joy, please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

AnnaSmile

Be Joyful Always

1Thes5-16-18

Be joyful always;

Pray continually;

Give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

AnnaSmile

You Will Rejoice

You Will Rejoice

Rejoice-Candle

Therefore you too have grief now;

but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice,

and no one will take your joy away from you.

—John 16:22

This year has had its ups and downs, but then when doesn’t it? That’s life here on earth!

Rick and I still love living here in northern Arizona and are thankful for our 14 years of marriage, which we just recently celebrated. Every year we see God at work in us, bringing us closer together as we mutually rejoice at His presence in our lives. No matter what is happening, we have grateful hearts for the One Who leads us in life and in our marriage.

Christmas is a time of great joy as we meditate on the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and what His humble birth means to us. We’re surrounded by sights and sounds of the season everywhere we look.

Are we able to feel and express that joy? Or are we despondent in spite of seeing Christmas trees bedecked with lights and ornaments, surrounded by holiday aromas of pine, vanilla and cinnamon?

We may happily look forward to being surrounded by family and friends, but that happiness may give way to discontentment because illness will not allow us to decorate as much as we used to, or bake Christmas cookies, or wrap gifts, or cook up a fabulous Christmas feast. Maybe this year has been filled with financial problems and there is very little to make a Christmas for our family.

Too many of us may be stuck dwelling on past Christmases when everything seemed perfect. We had enough money to buy gifts for family and friends. Our health was good. Perhaps we were whirlwinds of activity as we prepared that “perfect” Christmas for our families to treasure.

However, our true joy is not in the trappings of the Christmas season, but on what this season represents. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a human being in order to experience everything we do so that He could completely understand what we go through. He knows our sorrows and burdens. He appreciates how difficult it is to live on this earth.

And He is with us every single step of the way.

Emmanuel-GodWithUs

Beloved, Jesus did not lead a trouble-free life. It cannot have been easy to know that He was born to die such a horrible death on the cross. But he willingly did so as the punishment for our sins so that we can have the chance to live with Him forever.

True joy is based on the fact that Jesus did indeed die on that cross for us. The blood He shed there paid the price for our sins. And three days later, His resurrection from the dead proved that death no longer has a hold on us… if we only believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Without Jesus in our lives, happiness comes from our circumstances. Any negative experience, however minor, can shatter that happiness as quickly as snapping our fingers.

On the other hand, we can possess true joy regardless of our trying or seemingly hopeless situations—as long as we keep focused on the Reason for this season. Life may be difficult now, but take heart! Someday God will turn our “mourning into joy and will comfort [us] and give [us] joy for [our] sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

Look up, Beloved! Trust in the only Way to a truly joyful heart: Jesus!

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

—Philippians 2:5-11

Much love and blessings from Anna & Rick

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