11.18.2016

I'm Back :)


I am back in the blogging world once again.  Rhey and I spent the last two weeks in Kentucky with our second family / best friends.

Due to the lack of pictures as of today, I can only share this video Clo made.  Enjoy!



More posts, pictures, and videos will be shared next week - Lord willing!

The Blessings of Unity Review & Giveaway

Marriages today are suffering because they lack one important thing (really, two in some cases .... buuut anyways) :

U N I T Y

Unity doesn't stop at "agreeing" with your spouse.  In order for your marriage to thrive, you need to be unified with Christ FIRST, then your spouse.  Once you're unified with Christ, unification will fall into place with your spouse.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Many movements in today's society have combined to create an atmosphere that at best teaches married couples very little about how to find happiness together, and at worst threatens to destroy the sanctity with which God intends his children to approach that union. Self-centeredness and misinformation have led many away from walking in the Spirit and loving their spouses in Christlike ways, disqualifying them from the blessings that God has in store for his unified children. The Blessings of Unity offers insight and ideas for creating godly unity in our marriages centered around two key concepts:
    1) Abiding in the Vine and walking in the Spirit, and
    2) Learning and applying the concept of unity.
Unity is achieved when a man and woman strive for agreement with God by processing His Will on every decision and in every issue. Through Biblically-centered discussions of discord, division, unity, discipleship, and prayer, and through exploring Biblical examples of unity, Richard Case offers husbands and wives practical and spiritual advice for working together in unity in the Spirit so that they can more perfectly present themselves to God for his divine approval.

I was very impressed with the message this book had, and I recommend it to everyone!

So ... here's how YOU can win this book:

 >> comment below with how long you have been married … or if you'd like to get married {2 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress publically – on sidebar {2 entries}
>> promote this giveaway on all your social media sites & send me the links {3 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress on Facebook & Instagram {4 entries}
>> join Flyby Promotions and send me your link {5 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress on Pinterest and let me know {6 entries}

The winner will be announced on Monday!

11.09.2016

Giveaway Winner

Hello y'all!

I am here to announce that the winner for the Paul Tripp giveaway is William Canfield.

William, if you would contact me with your address, I will contact the representative and they will send your book as soon as possible.

Thank you to those who entered the giveaway!

Blessings,
Alisha

10.31.2016

Let Your Heart Cry Out



We constantly hear our friends and pastors talk about how America needs a revival.  Allow me to take a minute to just say:
there won't be a revival, unless there is prayer and personal revivals happening withing the hearts of God's people [us believers]!

With that said, starting November 16th, I will be hosting a prayer chain that will go on until December 16th .  We will take two hours everyday to pray (you can split the two hours in any way you want to).  Not only will we pray for those who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attack, but also for our president, our congressman, etc.

Here is a complete list of what we will pray for:

*our President - that he will make wise decisions based on the Word

*those in congress - that they will have the discernment to say :no" to bills when needed 

*family - for those who are both lost and struggling

*friends - for those who are facing difficult life situations, lost, need spiritual guidance, etc 

*revival within the heart of yourself - that you will be a new creation in Christ

*revival in America - that America will turn her eyes to the Lord

*your teachers at school (if your home-schooled still pray for your teacher) - for peace as they continue to teach their students

*children who don't have the comfort of home - for comfort in a strange environment; that they will have confidence that God can, will, and is taking care of them 

Feel free to add to this list...make it yours, also feel free to copy, paste, and print this list.  You can use the image as well (I only ask you link back to my blog).  Please pass the word along to your friends and family...the Bible says: "when two or more are gathered..."

If you are going to participate please leave a comment with your name!

Join me as I pray for our country this fall!

10.30.2016

Every Life is Precious



Abortion.
An eight letter word that will change the lives of at least three people.  The father, the mother, and the innocent bundle of blessings growing within the mother.  
We are told in the Bible to "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Gen. 1:28)  With people finding out they are expecting, decide they don't want the responsibility, and abort that precious blessing, they are going against everything our Father above has commanded them!

1. "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex. 20:13)

I have heard others (particularly family members) say, 
"Abortion is not murder!"

... or ...

"What if something terrible happened to you, and you end up getting pregnant before marriage?  Don't tell me you wouldn't consider abortion then?"    


First of all, if it isn't murder, what isn't then?  Now I'm not God, but I'm sure He isn't smiling down on the person who may be having an abortion right now.  In God's eyes (and in mine), abortion is indeed murder!  I don't care how the little BLESSING looks, it is still murder.  I don't care how "humane" you kill the precious BLESSING, it is still murder!  
Secondly, no I wouldn't consider aborting the precious BLESSING that is growing within me, if something that terrible happened to me!  I trust in my Lord to turn any trial or tribulation that comes my way, into something marvelous.  Something that He will use for His glory and His will!


2. "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.(Psalms 127:3-5)  

Many people in our society today don't see children this way anymore!  They think that the children are a burden!  Let me ask you this, 
Do you think God sees each and every person on the face of the earth as a burden?  

Absolutely not!  He sees each and everyone of us as a helpless sinner who have come short of His glory (Rom. 3:23).  He sees each and everyone of us as a precious BLESSING.  Hence why He sent His only begotten Son to die on that cross for our sins (John 3:16).

Now it's time to take how God views us and compare those views to the BLESSINGS that are being murdered today!  The Lord views us as helpless...babies (even those at a 12 week gestation period) are helpless.  The Lord views us as a precious blessing...babies (even those at a 12 week gestation period) are a precious BLESSING.

3. "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Gen. 1:28)

Yes I'm going back to the first verse I stated at the beginning of this verse!  How are we supposed to fulfill this command, if we are murdering the BLESSING growing within the women today?  Many people may say, 

"Well the Lord gave this command to only Adam and Eve!  We don't need to heed that command anymore!"  

Well if that's the case then we don't need to heed the Ten Commandments anymore either!  Being that those were written for the Hebrews that fled out of Egypt!  But that's not how the Word of God works!  We are to obey everything that God tells us in His Word...whether it's:

"Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18b)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19)

... or ... 

"Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Gen. 1:28)

Why any parent would choose abortion is beyond me!  Why a doctor, friend, or family member would encourage this awful sin ... I'll let you know when I have an answer to this question?

I know this is a very controversial topic, but I needed to get my voice out there in regards to this topic.

10.28.2016

I Tried Making It Pleasing to You Lord!



As I was looking through some of some old papers the other day, I came across a "short story" I wrote five years ago (while I was supposed to be doing school).  I thought I'd share it with you ... so enjoy :)

Hey how's it going?  My name is Stephen, I'm an 18 year old Senior in high school.  Looking back on the way I lived my life a year ago, makes me sing praises to God for saving me.  Allow me to share my story with you.

I had it all going my way...all the way to my girlfriend, down to the car I drove.  However, I lived in a broken family, my dad dumped my mom back in '07.  He dumped my mom because she was a devout Bible believing woman after God's own heart. I used to love living at my dad's house 'cause I could get away with anything!  He was always out late at night with a new girlfriend, spending time with his buddies at the local bar and so forth.
I dropped out of school in '08 and got an apartment of my own, my dad could honestly care less if I was living with him or not.  As for my mom, well like all other devout Christians, she was constantly praying for me and Dad.  Now for the exciting part...the day that changed my life forever!

One afternoon as I was hanging out at my place, I received the most bizarre phone call ever, that went something like this:

"Hello."

"Hello Stephen, how are you?"

"I'm sorry you don't sound like any of my friends, do I know You?"

"Not like you should."

"What's Your name, and what can I do for You?"

"I have many names, today I am Friend.  I was wondering if I could come over to your house this afternoon and talk with you?"

"Yeah sure...see You in an hour?"

"An hour sounds wonderful to Me.  Goodbye Stephen."

"Goodbye."

Told you it was bizarre! He never outwardly said that He was Jesus, but I just knew deep down that He was Jesus.  My house was not all that pleasing, and I had a bunch of cleaning to do.
First I started by deleting all of my Internet history, then by throwing away all my posters, and finally having K-Love on as the only preset that I listen to.
Finally He arrived!  When I answered the door and invited Him in, I could tell that He wasn't pleased with what He saw.  

"Stephen who's baby is that?"  He asked as He was looking at a picture.  

"Oh you mean that cute little girl, she's my...my daughter.  Her name is Jocelyn, she's about 12 days old."

"I see, if you're already committed to one young lady, then why did you have to delete your Internet history?"

"Well...I wanted to make that area pleasing to You."

"Hmm I see...I'm also noticing all the defrauding posters in your trash.  How would Janessa feel if she knew that you owned those?"

"Awful Lord, but I tried to make this area pleasing to You."

"I'm also realizing you have K-Love as your only radio preset.  Son, unless you pick up your cross and follow Me (Matthew 6:24) and repent, you cannot live with me in victory."

"Lord, I'm sorry for all the sinful things I've done in my life.  Please forgive me and dwell in my!  Thank You for saving me."

"Go and sin no more, your sins have been forgiven.  Now let's do some clean up!"

I cannot describe the joy I've felt since that day.  My girlfriend Janessa has come to the Lord and is now my beautiful wife.  Dad too has devoted himself to Christ, and is now a missionary in Germany with Mom by his side (and yes they too are now married).  About school, I still don't have a high school diploma, but I'm currently working toward my GED.  Since I have a family to take care of, I can't go to school & work, and still spend time with my girls.  God is truly amazing and will change your life if you let him!

10.27.2016

Paul Tripp Review + Giveaway


Most of the time parenting can be quite difficult (says the girl who has made the decision to never become a parent herself).
Sometimes you wonder “why did I even become a parent?”.
Sometimes you want to just throw in the towel (or wish you could).
Sometimes you just want to pull your hair out (orrrrr, wish you could put the hair you pull out, back in your head lol).

Does parenting have to be so difficult?
Maybe, just maybe, you're going about it all wrong … and know you are, but don't know “WHAT” the right way is.

Paul Tripp's newest book Parenting 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family helps parents grasp the “right way” of parenting.

It is loaded with knowledge / wisdom / Scriptures / and much more.

Mr. Tripp is very concise in his points, and I thought he was quite easy to understand.  There were some parts that I had to reread, but that was due to my mental blondness lol – not his writing.

I was very impressed with this book, and am very thankful that I have it in my personal library :)
I recommend this book to new parents, experienced parents, parents experiencing difficulty in their parenting / children, grandparents.  Alright, alright … I recommend this to everyone ;)

There was an element in the beginning of the book, that I don't think was bad in a sense (it's very real in America as of recently, and now needs to be touched on in parenting books).  If you are one of my younger readers, you might want your parents to read chapter 3 and decide themselves if they want you subjected to the “thematic element”.

Here's Flyby's “about the book”:

“In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost.  Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it's easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list.  Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God's plan for us as parents.  Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques.  Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God – grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.”

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS BOOK:

“Paul Tripp constantly turns us back to the life-giving power of the gospel and God's unfailing grace.”
        ~ TOBYMAC

“Simply put, I read everything that Paul Tripp writes.  I can't afford to miss one word.”
                                                                                                                ~ ANN VOSKAMP

“This is the most meaningful book I have read all year.  It is both theological and practical, a rare combination for a parenting book.  I wish I could have read it twenty years ago.”
                                                                                                            ~ FRANCIS CHAN


Whoot whoot, it's giveaway time! {insert confetti, noise makers, and balloons}

If you would like to add this wonderful book to your personal library, here's how to enter to win it:

>> comment below with how many kids you have … or how many kids you would like to have {2 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress publically – on sidebar {2 entries}
>> promote this giveaway on all your social media sites & send me the links {3 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress on Facebook & Instagram {4 entries}
>> join Flyby Promotions and send me your link {5 entries}
>> follow Alisha In Progress on Pinterest and let me know {6 entries}


Looking forward to seeing who wins this book!

10.26.2016

The Transformed Girl




Have you considered that you have to feel pain, in order for the pain to heal?
I know, I know … weird right?  However, I've recently learned that, what I just stated is so true!
I'm currently going through the healing process and am learning this the hard way.
I recently prayed for God to help me heal from the pain I've been dealing with in whatever ways He saw fit, while doubting all the while it would happen (after all, I had messed up terribly).

But then it happened.
God started doing exactly the impossible
He started repairing my heart.
And it is in this article, that I hope to encourage those of you who are going through the same thing.

I was (am) amazed at how He decided to go about the repairing of this heart of mine.  Again, I learned that when you're praying for something “important” … be specific lol!

How does He repair a broken heart?

The repairing is taking place through … pain!

Not something I was expecting, but I guess this girl needed to go through this pain in order to heal.

Is it God's fault that I'm facing this pain?
Yes it is true that everything filters through the hands of God, and yes He could have stopped what happened from happening.  But God isn't an iron fist God.  God gives us the “choice” to either follow His ways or “rebel” and go our own way.

It's Alisha's fault that she's facing the pain.  She knew better than to set herself up for rejection, failure, hurt, a shattered heart, and scars.  It was her choice to follow the world's plan instead of her Father's plan.

“The world's plan always leads us to places of pain, loneliness, and a deep ache for belonging that seems just out of reach.”

I knew these words to be true, but it was only head knowledge.  The knowledge of these words that I possessed hadn't made the vertical drop.  The drop that would make my head knowledge to become heart knowledge.

It was my choice to turn from Him and His protection.

“If there's an area of your life where you turn away from the direction of His truth – you deny yourself the protection of His truth.”

I made the choice to turn away from His truth.  In the words of one of  Mom's friends:
“She has rebelled against the will of God”

It is so weird at how different your life feels when you walk out of His will.  You literally feel like your world is spiraling out of control, you can't stop things from happening, and when you try … things get worse.  You feel yourself pull away from God, His voice becomes distant … and you don't feel the Holy Spirit heeding/convicting you.  You begin to compromise your convictions … and then …
BAM
You've hit rock bottom … and wonder how you are going to get back up again, and how you will cope with all the pain you've caused for yourself.

“We must feel the pain to heal the pain.”

It hurts, I know … but just know that the pain you feel isn't the enemy!

“Pain isn't the enemy.  Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists.  Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stick in broken places.  Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there's healing on the other side.”

Realizing that you're broken is a great place to be!

“Alisha, you're insane!  How can realizing that you're broken be a great place to be?  You must not know what I've gone through.  I've had a guy promise me that he'd never leave/forget me, telling me he loves me with his entire being one minute, and then escape the face of the planet, not contacting me the next.  Being broken and rejected is not a great place to be … it's exactly the opposite!”

Honey, I get you.  I went through the same exact circumstance … yes it hurts.  Yes it stinks to know that you made a mistake.  I'm not saying to “pretend” nothing happened.  Acknowledge the brokenness within you, and move on.  Realizing the brokenness within you makes you better off.  Thinking you're absolutely fine, “pretending” that you're okay when you aren't really … it's doing more harm than good.

“Numbing the pain never goes to the source of the real issue to make us healthier.  It only silences our screaming need for help.”

Don't let the devil blind you.  You've already been blinded because of your sin … sin itself blinds (Isaiah 6:10; 43:8,18; Zephaniah 1:17; Matthew 15:14; John 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 3:12-13)Don't let rejection have the final say in your circumstance – don't become subject to the devil's deceit.  You are worth more than all of this.  You are worth more than what any guy claims to feel about you.  You are worth more than the lie of rejection.

“The voices of condemnation, shame, and rejection can come at you, but they don't have to reside in you.”

“Rejection never has the final say.  Rejection may be a delay or distraction or even a devastation for a season.  But it's never a final destination.  You are destined for a love that can't ever be diminished, tarnished, shaken or taken.  With Jesus, you're forever safe.  You're forever held.  Completely loved and invited in.”

When you make the decision to overcome the lie of rejection, allow God to reside in you (and not rejection), you will feel yourself start to grow in your faith.  Allow this season of brokenness to grow you in the One who holds your heart, and sees you for the jewel you are.

“Heartbreaking seasons can certainly grow you, but are never meant to define you.”

“On the other side of every hardship is a resurrection.”

Let this season (autumn) be the resurrection in your season of brokenness.  Set your sight on things of that above.  Focus on The One who made you more than what the world claims you are.  Don't fear the thought of never being liked / loved.

“Fear can't catch what it can no longer reach.”

Become so far removed from fear of rejection, that it won't be able to reach you ever again.

Take every thought captive and decide today … right now that you will not conform to the world's outlook on life, relationships, etc.

Don't be a conformed girl …

… be the transformed girl!

* all quotes in italics are taken from Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst *

10.24.2016

When God Is Silent



“Alisha, you think this year is hard.  Just wait until you're 21!  That's the age you try to find yourself and you go through different experiences in order to find your true self.  It will be tough.  Make sure you stay grounded in the Word and prayer!”


I started hearing that statement (or some other form of it) at the age of 16.  I remember thinking “yeah but you weren't raised the same way that I've been raised.  It will be different for me!  I'll always be grounded in the Word and prayer.  Nothing will change.  Just they wait and see!”  I was invincible … like all other teens.  We aren't affected by what affected our parents.  We are unnoticed and unexposed super humans (yeah right).

But like the foolish young adult I am, I didn't use caution.  I had my super human costume on … ready to prove those who warned me, wrong.  After all, I'm a pastor's daughter … I wouldn't lose sight of what was right.

Then the inevitable happened.
I was starting to be devoured by the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).
My quiet time with God was the first to diminish … then prayer … then everything else.  I became consumed with someone else, rather than Christ.  I couldn't discern the Holy Spirit, I only heard the loud voice.

I had lost the super human powers I once possessed.

The past month and a half, I've been trying to get back into the swing of being in the Word and being prayerful.  However, it's been tough.  My parents have helped me, a dear lady I've become close to has offered some advice, and a few dear friends have offered advice/help/encouragement/prayers as well.

With all the advice and help, you'd like to think that my Spiritual life would be back to what it was in April/May …. but it's not.

What's the problem?  I've prayed for God to help me, why hasn't He answered?

Sometimes, silence is the answer to our prayers and is His way of making us persistent in our prayer.  And with our persistence, comes His patience.

So there's no problem!  He has answered me.  God is only silent this time because He's pulling me to a persistent attitude in my prayer life.

Now, in the beginning there was indeed a problem.  Since I was mad about the loss of my super human powers, I decided to rebel and take things into my own hands.
We all know that rebellion is a sin to God.  We also know that sin separates us from God.  We also know that God could have stopped me from going my own way. 
But sometimes God let's us walk on our own so He can pull us to Him and so we can grow in Him.

I have to believe deep in my heart that the Lord has purpose when He's silent.  I have to know that He doesn't afflict pain on us, but that sometimes He holds back to grow us in our faith in Him.

In a way we are redeemed when He holds back.

The best part is this:
when we press in with persistence, He pulls us in to be more like His Son and increase our faith.
Yes, it may seem like God hasn't answered me.  But He has … His silence is the answer.  He wants His baby girl to press in, press on, and finish this race strong.  He decided to be silent in order to grow my faith and make me more like His Son.

So now that I'm not a teen with awesome powers, I don't have to worry … because right now …


my God is silent!

10.22.2016

Learning the Art of Joy


Sin separates us from God.
Sin requires us to take ownership.
                These two statements are simple to let our minds grasp.  Yes they are abrupt, yes they hurt … but sometimes the truth hurts.

When we live a life of sin, we cannot learn how to live a life of joy.  It's nearly impossible!

Like I said in my first statement:
sin separates from God!

How can we be separated from God, live a sinful life, but yet live a life of joy?  That's absolutely contradictory to the Word of God!

“The lost live a sinful but joyful life!  So it's not impossible.”

What you see in the life of the lost, isn't joy … it's temporary happiness (or pleasure).

Let's look at the difference between happiness and joy, that way we can clear up any confusion before we go any further.

H A P P I N E S S  is a blurred emotion and is temporary.

J O Y  is an attitude of the heart.

So yes, the lost live a sinful yet “happy” life.  But their happiness is much like the common fashion trends … in one minute and “so last season” the next.  Their happiness revolves on pleasures and what they can get out of something for them.  Their happiness is ME focused.

So again I say:
we cannot learn how to live a life of joy.  It's nearly impossible!

So what's the secret?  How can we learn the art of joy?

I'm going to be totally honest with y'all …
I'm just now learning this as well, so I'm sharing what God has shown me

To learn the art of joy, we first need to take ownership of our sin.

“What does it mean to take ownership of our sin?”

It means to have a repentant heart, and turn away from our sin. (Psalm 51)
It means to take the words of a children's Bible song to heart
The world behind me, the cross before me
It means to flee youthful lusts. (2 Timothy 2:22)

If you are a child of God whose rebelled, let me have a little heart to heart with you.  From one rebellious child to another:
I have been where you are, and it's the worst place to be.
I've been at the point of thinking God has forgotten about you, and therefore taking things into my own hands.
I bare the scares on my heart because of the consequences I faced due to my rebellion to the will of God.
I know what you're feeling.  I know what you're facing.
But let me tell you this, taking ownership of the sin (rebellion to God and His will is sin too, sweet one), will be the best decision you've ever made this year!  Defeat the devil, crush him, remind him who won the battle 2,000 years ago.  Submit to God, and resist the devil (James 4:7).  Once you submit to God, take ownership of the sin, and turn away, you will feel the burden lift.

If you are lost, then let me have a heart to heart with you as well:

I was once where you are currently, and your current state doesn't get any better.
Heaven is real, and so is Hell.
Life is fleeting, and you aren't promised tomorrow.
If you were to die today and stand before Almighty God, and He were to ask you “why should I let you into Heaven?”, what would you tell Him?
Your eternity is not something to be put on the back burner, because like I said you aren't promised tomorrow.
God wants you to enter into His family (and so do I).  God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you on the cross at Calvary, and rise again three days later.
The Bible says “now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Will you be able to say the same thing?

Okay, so now that our heart to heart is over, and we know what it means to take ownership of sin, let's focus our attention on perfecting joy.

Jesus gives us the answer to learning/perfecting joy in John 15:9-12 :

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My loveIf you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (emphasis is mine)

What does it mean to abide in His love?  It means to never depart from Him.
Abide is derived from the English word “abode” which is another word for dwelling place.
When we accept Him into our hearts, He abides within us, never leaving or forsaking us.  Therefore, we are to do the same … we are to dwell in His presence, never leaving Him.

 
How do we keep His commandments?
We keep His commandments by walking out the two biggies (as our pastor likes to say):

love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
love your neighbor as yourself

However, keeping His commandments doesn't stop there.

Love is a verb (as DC Talk states in their song), and not the ushy gushy feeling.  We need to put love into action. 

So how do we put love into action?

We put it into action by changing our old ways, and walking out the life God has called us to.
It's put into action by allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts in areas of hidden and/or visible sin.

Putting love into action is different for every single person on this earth.  It could be as simple as:

*changing the way you dress
*changing the way you speak
*hanging out with a different group of people
                … this list could go on

Or it could be more challenging (yet beneficial) as:

*getting accountability because you struggle with lust/adultery
*deciding to quit drinking
*deciding to quit smoking
                … this list could go on as well

So, in simple (and fewer words): we keep His commandments by putting on the “new man” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and by putting love into action.
“So that's it?  That's the secret to joy?”

Yes, that's it … there you have it, the secret to joy.

I'm about to become a pessimist for a second (here goes … gulp)
It will not be easy!  We will never reach our full potential of a joy-filled life, until we reach our life in Glory.

(okay … I survived.  But if you don't mind, I'd like to switch over to my optimistic self again)

Yes it will be a constant battle between flesh and spirit, but it will be totally worth it.  This is another way we are called to run the Race.  Think of the rewards:

our joy will be made full.  Full of who?  Our Savior
we will be called His friend (John 15:15)
we will hear “well done good and faithful servant”

… and my absolute favorite …

we will discover contentment along the way.

Make joy the attitude of your heart and embark on learning the art of joy!