He’s Got You

He's Got You - If you feel like everything is out of control, you don't need to worry and this is why... | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Your world may seem out of control;

Your future may seem uncertain;

Your questions may seem unanswered

But there’s no need to worry –

He’s got you.

 

You may feel like your dodging curve balls

Life is relentlessly throwing your way;

You may feel you never catch a break

But there’s no need to doubt –

He’s got you.

 

Your hope may seem dried up;

Your faith may seem extinguished;

Your dreams and your prayers may see futile

But there’s no need to give up –

He’s got you.

 

No matter your situation right now, in this very moment, remember this one truth:

GOD’S GOT YOU!

He’s holding you in the palm of His hand. He is surrounding you with His loving arms. He is working out your troubles for your good. He is preparing you for His glorious purpose.

 

He hasn’t forgotten you.

He hasn’t forsaken you.

He hasn’t failed you.

 

He loves you.

You are His child.

You can breathe easy because

HE’S GOT YOU.

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HAPPINESS in the New Year

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to say “Good-bye” to 2018. This past year has felt like one endless struggle to keep afloat in the tumultuous waters of life. And let me tell you, treading water has never been my strong suit.

So as the clock ticks toward midnight, I’m looking forward to kicking 2018 to the curb.

Sayonara.

See ya.

Good riddance!

The problem is, though, flipping the calendar page does not ensure that the struggles of the old year, the messes, the dilemmas, the hurts, are going to disappear.

If only it were that simple.

But the coming of a new year, a new beginning, gives us the perfect opportunity to embrace a different outlook, to change the way we view our world and to embrace the hope of good things to come.

Happiness can be yours – and mine – in 2019. It’s true! (I’m beginning to sound like an infomercial! For just one down payment of $19.99 and 3 monthly payments of $49.99, you, too, can find your bliss in the new year!! Ha! Ha! I need to be in bed. 😉 )

Seriously. No matter your circumstances, no matter the struggles that are following you into the new year, the one thing that can make the difference between faltering under the heavy burdens of the past year (or years) and freeing yourself from binding chains allowing you to live each day of the new year (and years to come) to the fullest is…

… your perspective.

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Problems will always abound. How you approach them is key. Do you buckle under their weight and succumb to the siren song of “Woe is me”? Or do you search for the lesson behind the struggles and look forward to the wisdom and growth you will gain from your endurance?

Don’t spend your new year throwing pity parties! Happiness cannot live where complaining takes up residency.

Embrace the struggles as growth opportunities. Step back and look for the big picture. And remember, these situtations are only temporary.

God’s Word says this:

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Well, the sound of rockets bursting in the air tells me that we’ve completed another trip around the sun. WooHoo! It’s a new year and as we begin this next revolution, let’s remember to keep our focus on the eternal unseen – the hope of “an absolutely eternal weight of glory.” That’s it right there, folks. Your new perspective for 2019!

How can you change your perspective in 2019? Do you have any problems, situations or people that you need to view in a different light?

*****When you have a moment, go check out the post, Lean Into Loneliness, by Dr. Andrea Dinardo at Thriving Under Pressure.  What an inspiration it was for me this week and a reminder to “make the space for the lesson beneath the suffering.”*****

Happy, Happy New Year!

Pray Anyway

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Though you can’t see an end to your struggle,

Though your heart stings from familiar hurt,

Though your hope has been crushed and your trust has been broken,

Pray anyway.

 

Though you fear nothing will ever change,

Though you worry your cries won’t be heard,

Though your faith has vanished and you’ve nothing on which to cling,

Pray anyway.

 

Though your world, so dear, has stopped turning,

Though you can’t fathom the reasons why,

Though you feel abandoned and your life is in pieces,

Pray anyway.

 

Prayer is more about Gods presence than it is about our problems.

It’s more about who we become while spending time with Him.

It’s about the spark that is reignited,

The faith that is rekindled,

The hope that is reborn.

The resolve that is strengthened,

The healing that takes place,

The rest that is given,

And the peace that floods our souls.

 

The power of prayer is experiencing of the power of God,

Discovering that He is greater than our problems,

That our problems cannot change His promises,

That His grace is always sufficient,

That His love is never failing and

That we don’t have to do life alone.

 

So no matter your circumstances,

No matter your lack of faith,

Never stop praying.

Never stop seeking His Face.

 

Pray anyway.

 

 

 

Don’t Cry Over Uncooked Chicken

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Bad days. We all have them. Even me – the chick who’s always talking about happiness. And this past week has been filled with them. One, especially, was a doozy! It began badly and escalated into something even worse. By the time I made it home after work that day, all I wanted to do was vent to my husband and curl up in my bed. But one of my husband’s co-workers was at the house. Venting was out of the question. So I ended up in the kitchen with a new recipe in front of me and a determination to cook away my problems.

I’ve said this before: it is so very strange that I find solace in cooking since I have no idea what I’m doing! It could be that the challenge of learning (and conquering!) something new creates a distraction from the worries of life. Or the appeal may be the creativity involved – gathering all the separate ingredients and putting everything together to produce something wonderful in the end. No matter the reason, cooking has become my emotional outlet.

So with the weight of the day on my shoulders, I set out to cook a chicken, bacon and ranch casserole. I prepared the ingredients as instructed – cut up the chicken into cubes, cut up the broccoli, cooked and crumbled the bacon and mixed it all together with cream cheese, ranch dressing and shredded cheddar. Then I checked the last bit of instructions to see how long the casserole was to cook:

“Bake until hot about 35 minutes.”

Until hot? Wait. That seemed like very strange wording for cooking instructions. I scrolled back to the top of the recipe to see if I had missed something. And there it was – the very first ingredient on the list:

“1.5 lb. cooked chicken, cubed”

COOKED? Really?

I looked at my casserole dish filled with the gooey combination of raw cubes of chicken, ranch dressing, cream cheese and all the other fixings. I almost lost it. I had just spent over an hour thawing out the chicken (cause I never remember to take the meat out of the freezer), cutting the raw chicken into small chunks (which really grosses me out and almost causes me to never eat chicken again), thawing and cooking the bacon (cause I like crispy bacon) and figuring out if I could substitute ranch dressing for the mayo and spices the recipe called for (Why not just call for ranch dressing in a chicken, bacon and ranch casserole?). It was all I could do to hold back the tears.

This cooking therapy session was doing me no good at all!

My initial response was to throw the whole thing out and order a pizza. Actually, throwing it across the room was my first impulse but then I would’ve had to clean up the mess. I certainly didn’t want to do that! So I decided to fish out all the pieces of uncooked chicken and brown them in a skillet. (I may have been able to cook the casserole as it was but I didn’t want to take any chances with chicken.) After the chicken was cooked, I mixed up the casserole a second time and put it in the oven. The finished product was delicious.

We ate. The family was satisfied. My bad day still loomed.

bad days

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

It bothers me to stress over my bad days. I know that there are so many who have worse problems than I. But there are times when the bad seems to latch on and not let go. I went to bed troubled and praying.

The next morning I awoke with a song in my heart:

“Oh, my soul,
You are not alone.
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.
One more day, He will make a way.
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone.”¹

God is good, isn’t He? He is always with us, even on the bad days. He walks right beside us and He’ll even carry our burdens – if we let Him. He is big enough to handle every problem, every worry, every sorrow, every question, every fear, everything.

You see, God is pretty creative, too. And just like gathering all the ingredients of a recipe and combining them into something wonderfully delicious, He has no problem gathering all the pieces of our lives, the good days and bad, the triumphs and failures, the joys and sorrows, and fashioning these pieces into something wonderful. It may take some adjustments to the recipe – fishing out what is wrong, reworking it or even throwing it out altogether – but in the end, the results of God’s handiwork are always beyond compare.

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Have you found yourself crying over uncooked chicken lately? Have you experienced any bad days? Maybe you’re experiencing a string of bad days. If you are, please remember, you don’t walk through these bad days alone. God is with you and He is waiting for you to hand Him your burdens. So, go ahead, hand ’em over and watch God’s creativity at work.

¹”Oh, My Soul” by Casting Crowns

Happiness in Uncertainty

We all have those moments of uncertainty in life. If you're like me, those moments are experienced daily! In this post, you will find the secret to being happy even in those uncertain times.

“I know one thing for sure,” my husband declared as he walked through our bedroom door with a tall glass of sweet tea in his hand. The statement came out of nowhere but was made as if the two of us had finished a long debate on some deep subject about which neither of us were able to come to any conclusion and the only way to end such a debate was to state a matter of certainty. It’s highly possible, though, that my husband had debated the matter all in his head prior to entering our room and felt the need to sum it up for me with his enlightened statement of truth.

No matter, I was curious and eagerly inquired of his certainty. “What’s that?” I asked.

He paused for a brief moment at the foot of our bed as if searching for the perfect words to express his great truth. Finally he replied, “Give me a minute. I’m trying to remember what I was going to tell you.” Then he lifted his glass and took a long drink of sweet tea as I laughed at his forgetfulness.

And I did laugh – not because I was mocking him (well, maybe just a little – okay! A lot!) but because that brief conversation with my husband pretty much sums up my life. When I think I have it all figured out, life always takes a surprising turn and everything I thought I knew for certain gets thrown out the window. I find myself stumped and perplexed around every bend and when called upon to take action or make a decision or simply respond, I hear myself saying, “Uhm. Give me a minute.”

Ah, but maybe that’s the certainty: Life is uncertain. And maybe that’s what makes life worth living. If I had all the answers, if I knew every situation I would face, what kind of life would that be? Sure, if I knew what problems await me tomorrow, I could take steps to avoid them. But what if by avoiding a problem, I miss a valuable lesson that could help me in the future or make me a better me? And wouldn’t knowing all the good that was coming my way take some of the joy out of the blessing?

I don’t know.

I do know that in my moments of uncertainty, I can always look to the One who knows it all. He holds my every moment in His hands and He is working them all for my good. That doesn’t mean I won’t face any problems or that I won’t have those times when all I want to do is run and hide because I don’t have any answers and can’t seem to figure anything out. But it does mean that I don’t have to face any of my moments of uncertainty alone.

Yes, life is uncertain. But there is one thing I know for sure…

You’ll have to give me a minute, though. I’m trying to remember. 😉

Discover the height, depth, width and length of God's great love for you.

Grace

Discover the height, depth, width and length of God's great love for you.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND what I do.
The things I want to do, the things I know to do, I do not do them.

But WHAT I HATE, that is what I DO.

My heart is DECEITFUL and beyond all cure. My sins have SEPARATED me from God and have hidden his face from me.
You must grow weary of my trampling through your courts of grace with my vain requests for forgiveness.

Oh, God, can you still HEAR me?

Please speak to me.

I am undone.

In my darkness, I hear your voice,

Come now,

And with its sound, I am once again reminded of your TENDER MERCIES.

You are COMPASSIONATE and GRACIOUS, Lord. You are SLOW TO ANGER and ABOUNDING IN LOVE.

You do not deal with me as my sins deserve nor do you repay me according to my offenses.

Instead, you are PATIENT WITH ME. 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so GREAT IS YOUR LOVE FOR ME.

You are FAITHFUL TO FORGIVE – when I confess – and to cleanse my heart of its unrighteousness.

As far as the east is from the west, you have removed my transgressions from me.

YOU REMEMBER THEM NO MORE.

From your abundance, Lord, I have received your GRACE UPON GRACE.

Of this my heart will forever sing!

 

 

 

*This expression of praise for God’s love, forgiveness and grace is a compilation and personalization of the following Scriptures: Romans 7:15; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 1:11-15; Job 11:5; Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:1; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 103:10; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 103:11; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; John 1:16 and Psalm 89:1

Happiness is… A Keeper

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Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine,
No matter if the teardrops start,
I’ve found a secret,
It’s Jesus in my heart.

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that’s worth the livin’,
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord.

“Happiness is the Lord” by Ira F. Stanphill

I learned this fun, little song when I was a child and as soon as I began this endeavor of blogging about happiness, the memories of singing this song in church so many years ago flooded my mind. And it has been playing over and over again in my head ever since. Even now, I can’t help but hear (and sing) it! But what a great message – Happiness is the Lord! And what a perfect introduction to this final installment of “Happiness Is…”.

What have we learned thus far about happiness?

We’ve learned that it is not an object, a person, or a desired set of circumstances. These are merely vehicles for temporary pleasure. They elicit short-lived feelings and never usher us into a lasting state of true Joy.

We’ve also learned that true happiness is not a goal to be reached but rather a by-product of how we live. When we live in such a way that honors God, the Creator and Giver of true happiness, only then will we find a Joy that can weather any storm and sustain us for all of our days.

That’s good stuff! 😉

Now that we know how to attain real happiness, how do we successfully retain it?

Yes, unfortunately, it is possible to lose our Joy. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Once we’ve found the true Joy of the Lord, it’s ours for keeps. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives will be filled with nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. No, life is filled with storms – big ones! Difficult people, sickness, death, financial struggles and so many other trials of life are lurking around every corner waiting to steal our Joy. All of these “storms” have the potential to leave us lonely, depressed, sorrowful and hopeless. So, how do we make it through the storms of life without losing our Joy?

When the storms of life begin to threaten and we feel as though our Joy is waning, it’s helpful to stop a moment for some serious introspection. In times like these, there are four areas of our lives that we need to examine:

  1. Our faith
  2. Our foundation
  3. Our focus
  4. Our hope (Well, pooey! I couldn’t think of a fourth word beginning with “F” to complete my alliteration. How on earth do pastors do it every single Sunday? 😉 )

An honest look at these four areas is key to learning how to retain our happiness.

Where is your Faith?

The tendency we all have (as we learned in Part One of this series) is to stake our happiness on the desires of our hearts, obtaining one treasure, one relationship or one ideal moment after another. When we do this, however, we are trusting our happiness to the objects of our affection and allowing them to reign over us emotionally, mentally and physically. We are essentially placing our faith in our desires rather than in our Creator and Heavenly Father. Only when our faith is placed in God can we be filled with true happiness.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:2, 9-11 (NIV)

Is your faith in the pleasures of this world, temporary treasures that are here today and gone tomorrow? Or is your faith in the Giver of good things in your life and the Author of your Joy?

What is your Foundation?

Just like your house needs a firm foundation to keep it from slipping, sinking or falling apart, so does your life need a secure foundation in order to weather the storms that come your way. Unlike the several types of house foundations, though, there are only two options for the foundation of your life: Rock or Sand. Take a look at what Jesus has to say about your foundation:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

You see, your life’s foundation is your faith put into action. And the consistency of that foundation depends on where your faith lies (see question #1). If your actions, words and thoughts are driven by your faith in people, things or ideals, your foundation will be shifty and unstable just like the sands on the beach. If, however, you live your life in accordance with God’s Word, putting Him first and allowing Him to be Lord over every area of your life, you’ll find there’s no storm big enough to shake your Joy because your foundation is established on the Rock of your salvation!

Truly HE is my rock and my salvation; HE is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭62:2‬ (‭NIV)‬‬

Are you building your life on shifting sand by living out your misplaced faith? Or are you building a firm foundation by honoring God in every area of your life?

Where is your Focus?

There is nothing that can affect your happiness more than your focus. Even when your faith is sure and your foundation is firm, your focus can make the difference between a joy-filled life and a life consumed by negativity and sadness. When you choose to focus on problems, irritations, frustrations and other pains of life, eventually, that’s all your mind will be able to see. And what a shame that would be! God has given each and every one of us so many good things like family, friends, time, the comforts of home, hugs, beautiful mornings and on and on the list goes. Who would want to miss such wonderful blessings!

Focusing your attention on the positive is essential to maintaining your Joy each and every day. It reminds us of what is truly important in life and helps us to stay above those pesky, threatening waves of negativity.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Is your attention on the negativity of life? Or are you focusing on the good gifts the Lord has given you?

What is your Hope?

At this point (if you’ve stuck with me this long), you may be saying, “Come on! Sadness is a given. There’s no way anyone can be happy all the time.”

You’re right. We all experience sadness, anger, regret, grief and every other negative emotion there is. We are human. We are going to misplace our faith. Our foundations are going to crack under pressure and our focus is most certainly going to be diverted from where it should be. And all of this will result in the loss of our Joy.

But if you take anything away from this post, I hope that you will remember this: No matter your struggles, no matter your sorrow, no matter your pain, it will not last forever. The God who gives us our Joy also walks with us through the storms of life. He comforts us. He leads us and more often than not, He carries us. And when the last rain drop has fallen and the winds have finally settled, He will remind us of His great Joy that has surrounded and sustained us through our troubled times.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm30:5b (NIV)

That, my friend, is your hope. It is the hope to which I tightly cling.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

The Choice is Yours

There’s nothing easy about maintaining our Joy. I struggle with it more times than I’d like to admit but each time I let anger, hurt, disappointment or sadness overtake me, I try to remind myself of the questions of faith, foundation, focus and hope. Ultimately, though, hanging on to our Joy is a matter of choice. We can choose to live a life of misery or we can choose a life of Joy.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)

When your happiness is being threatened, you have a choice to make: either give in and allow your circumstances to steal your joy or stand firm and hold tightly to the precious Joy of the Lord.

As for me, well…

I CHOOSE JOY!