Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sisterhood

I found this picture of my sister and I yesterday. It's from several years ago and I thought it was super sweet!


You probably have noticed how I'm obsessed with protecting your skin from the sun! Well I was so touched when I came home from Canada a few weeks ago to find that Melissa has posted these little notecards all over the house. She put them in the bathrooms and on the front and garage doors! What a champ.


#mysisterturnedintome

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

James Challenge, part 2

Welcome to James 2, my friends! I must say that I am so excited about studying the book of James and I hope that you are enjoying it too.  Once again, I will break the chapter down. This time, into verses 1-13 and 14-26. If you missed part 1, go here!

James 2


Verses 1-13:
James starts out with a plea to believers: to not let their walk in the Lord be tainted with favoritism.  This is about more than just treating our brothers and sisters unfairly (although it is certainly wrong too)-- it's also saying that we are the judge and we know best. If we favor some, we judge that they are more worthy than another. That is truly only the decision of God and Christ.  Even more so, the "poor" that we might look down on are really only poor in the eyes of the world. To God, they might be immeasurably rich.  
Truly, we cannot be keeping the greatest commandment if we show favoritism. When we show favoritism, we are NOT loving our neighbor.  As Christ has pointed out, James points out as well-- if you break one point of the law, you break them all! Sadly, we all fall short, but thankfully, God is merciful!
So if God is merciful towards us, shouldn't we be all the more merciful with others? After all, we are only human, not an all-powerful Being. Yet He chooses to forgive and have mercy, and so should we. It reminds me of the time Christ says that with the same measure you use, so it shall be used toward you. The example of David in regards to this is brilliant.  When David is fleeing from the evil King Saul, he time and time again shows mercy to the undeserving King in sparing his life.  Later, when David sinned by committing adultery and murder, God forgives him. Perhaps it was David's very mercy toward Saul that God remembered when He decided to show the same mercy to David.

Verses 14-26:
Faith and works seems to be a never ending discussion that can get very tricky. But the point of the matter is, works won't save you because they don't necessarily come from faith. BUT faith isn't real unless it is manifested in works.  When James points out that Abraham was justified by believing God, we should note that the very act of believing God was a work in itself!  In the end, it's so easy to say something, but we must actually DO! God knows our hearts... which can be either immeasurably comforting or very frightening. 

But He knows. He knows when you are doing your absolute best. He knows your heart, and He is merciful. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Noodle Fun

I made this when Bekka came for dinner the other night and we both thought it was sooo good! I made a full recipe and froze half of it for another week (it makes six servings). Enjoy!



1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz uncooked multigrain spaghetti
1 lb lean ground chicken
1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts

Whisk first 5 ingredients until blended. Cook spaghetti and drain.

In a large skilled, cook the chicken, carrots, pepper and garlic over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink. Drain if needed.

Stir in peanut butter mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3-5 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Serve sauce with spaghetti and chopped peanuts.


Monday, June 16, 2014

James Challenge, part 1

Happy Monday! I have been going through the book of James with Daniel, and it is one of my FAVORITE studies. James is just so chock-ful of wisdom. A while ago my dad gave a talk and issued the James challenge: to read the book of James once a week.  So I thought I'd take five weeks on here to write about the book of James in my own version of the challenge. I hope you enjoy! 

James 1

I will divide it into the 3 sections my Bible has it divided into-- verse 1, verses 2-18, and verses 19-27. I'm not going to quote the verses here so make sure to read the chapter first.



Verse 1: 
James is the brother of Jesus, but it is interesting to note that he doesn't make mention of this fact. He appeals to them merely on the basis of his servitude to God and Christ. We, too, come before God and the believers not for our parents or family, but on the merits of OUR character and faith.

Verses 2-18:
Obviously I love verse 2 because that's what I have called my blog... Pure Joy. What does it truly mean to take joy in our trials? As I have suggested on this blog before, I believe this joy is different than just being happy. It is much deeper. It's a joy in our hope that doesn't depend on outward circumstances. While our trials might not make us happy, we can take joy in the fact that they bring us closer to our hope! However, taking joy in our trials is a hugely difficult task, so James reminds us in verse 5 that if we lack the wisdom to be able to do so, all we have to do is ASK! Ask your Heavenly Father, and He will come to your aid!
In a similar vein, when we waver or are "two-souled" we are literally saying that we doubt God's ability. We may well doubt ourselves but we should never doubt Him! Instead, when we falter, turn to Him to persevere. James points out that God is ALWAYS faithful and doesn't change. People change, but God doesn't, and we should be so thankful for that! The idea of the of our God being like the Sun is beautiful. The Sun never changes but the heat and light we receive from it depend on OUR position to it! 

Verses 19-27
Ahh... quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. It's an age-old proverb and yet many (including myself!) fail to do so. But James warns us that this lifestyle isn't just a good suggestion, it is essential to bringing about the life that God wants in us!  
It's so easy to hear something and think it's great advice but forget to actually apply it's lessons. James reminds us that we must constantly focus ourselves to achieve the results desired.
Lastly, one of my favorite verses is verse 27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I've heard it suggested that the "and" isn't actually in the original text, so the meaning becomes that looking after orphans and widows is what keeps us from being polluted by the world! 

Hope you have enjoyed just a few comments on James chapter 1. Please share any comments you may have!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Goodbye, Canada

Saying goodbye is always hard. On Tuesday, I said goodbye to a wonderful two months in Canada, to my loving fiance and his family. I'm SO glad to see my family and friends, but it's still hard to say goodbye. Here are some snapshots from my trip!


My lovely boat driver!
Riding on the boat every day

My loving future in-laws, who were so gracious to me for two months

(:


The lovely sister from our church that we visited in her nursing home!





The welcome home basket from my sweet sister!





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Approaching the Psalms

This weekend I had the pleasure of hearing a wonderful talk at church about the Psalms. Like me, the speaker had struggled with finding interest in the book of Psalms. I don't know about you, but I've never really enjoyed reading the Psalms. I find that I use verses from the Psalms to support studies or topics I am writing on, but I wouldn't open to the Psalms to just start reading. 

However, the class opened up my perspective on the Psalms. As the speaker pointed out, the whole Bible has a practical application for us. It is true of the Psalms, and here are a few steps he used to show me how to really enjoy the book of Psalms! The same can be done with any area of the Bible you are struggling to enjoy.


Approaching the Psalms:

1. Day-to-day advice
-- Look for themes and advice on your relationship with others

2. Objectives for life
-- Look for guidance on goals for personal growth

3. Guidance for your relationship with God
-- Look for evidence on how the Psalmist speaks to God

Afterwards, I spent some time reading the Psalms and using these tips. I found that the Psalms truly are useful and practical! Thankfully, God is SO much bigger than I!