Friday, August 28, 2015

Radical Joy

Happy Friday! I've been reflecting on my Blog's title lately and felt that it was time to repost one of my very first posts. It is a reminder dear to my heart-- joy doesn't mean always being happy. It means despite our circumstances, we are led by our hope of God's Kingdom. It is this knowledge that brings peace of heart. In it, we can take constant joy. Have a wonderful weekend!

June 19, 2012
Hi!  Today Is My First REAL Blog Post And I Am Very Excited About That.  Since My Blog Is Called PURE JOY, I Figured I Would Make My First Blog About Just That…. JOY.  The Bible Says A Lot About Joy.   We Are Told To Be Joyful In Our Sufferings, To Be Joyful In Our Hope, To Be Joyful Always.  And I’ve Been Thinking… How In The World Do We Do That??!  Be Joyful When We Are In A Car Accident? Be Joyful When Someone We Love Is Dying?  Be Joyful In The Mundane Tasks Of Life?  I Mean, That’s Just Not For Me. 

“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).”

Most People Would Say That It Is A Little Extreme To Be Joyful ALWAYS.  Most Of The Time… Yes, But Always?! Sounds A Little Ridiculous; A Little Radical.  What Happened To The Saying “Moderation In All Things”?  Guess What? That Is NOT A Scriptural Principle.  In Fact, I Believe That God Wants Us To Be Extremists.  In Life, In Love, In JOY, We Need To Be Extreme.

“Consider It Pure Joy, My Brothers And Sisters, Whenever You Face Trials Of Many Kinds, Because You Know That The Testing Of Your Faith Produces Perseverance (James 1:2-3).” 

Not Only Are We To Be Joyful In All Circumstances, But James Tells Us Specifically To Be Joyful At Trials.  How Could He Say Such A Thing?  How Can We Do It?  I Feel A Bit Presumptuous To Tell Others To Be Joyful In Trials When My Trials Have Been Few And Small.  But If You Are Unwilling To Listen To Me, Certainly You Can Agree That The Apostle James Endured Many Dreadful Trials, The Likes Of Which Most Of Us Cannot Imagine. If James And Paul Can Tell Us To Be Joyful In Our Trials, Then We Should Take Notice. 

But How?

What Is This Joy That The Bible Speaks Of? Is It Simply Laughing And Smiling All The Time, Or Thinking Everything Is Funny? Definitely Not.  “The Hope Of The Righteous Brings Joy, But The Expectation Of The Wicked Will Perish (Proverbs 10:28).” More Than Laughter And Happiness, Joy Comes From Our Certainty Of The Future And What God Has Promised Us.  Despite What Goes On In The World Around Us, We Can Find Joy From The Comfort From God That If We “Worship In Spirit AND In Truth” That We Will Be Saved.  We Must Be Confident, Not In Our Own Righteousness, But In God’s Grace.  As Nehemiah Says, “Do Not Grieve, For The Joy Of The Lord Is Your Strength (Nehemiah 8:10).”  So Take Heart, For Our Joy Is Not Determined By The Circumstances That Surround Our Lives, But From The Constant Reminder Of The Wonderful Plan God Has For His Kingdom, And The Promise That We CAN Be There.  We CAN Be Joyful In ALL Things!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I love birthdays. I turned 24 last week and there was none of that "I don't care about my birthday" stuff for me. Birthdays aren't just one day, they are about a week long. I think this started when I became friends with my best friend, Bekka. We make birthdays special. It's a time for parties and dinners and presents and Starbucks and fun! My sweet husband joined right in on birthday week and spoiled me so much!

As yesterday was officially the end of birthday week, I thought I'd share some of my favorite parts.

Um, decorations everywhere?? Awesome!

So much party hat goodness!

My awesome water shoes Daniel got me!

I look like a unicorn! ha

What you can't see from the pictures is how awesome my week truly was! On my actual birthday, I went to Starbucks with Bekka, had family birthday dinner and ice cream, and got some awesome presents from my family! Daniel also planned a little surprise evening with a few of my friends and we went to sushi, sang karaoke, ate ice cream, and had a sleepover. So much fun. Oh, and let's not forget my free Starbucks drink on my birthday! So far I love being 24!

Monday, August 24, 2015

When Marriage is the Best

photos by Melissa Dondero

Daniel and I have been married a year today. In some ways, that year has been an eternity. In some ways it has absolutely flown by. I don't want to pretend that marriage is perfect or easy. It's certainly not. Marriage has changed us and stretched us. But today is not the day for that discussion. Today, I want to share why marriage is absolutely, without a doubt, amazing.

My Favorite Things About Being Married: 

// Having a partner

// Saying prayers together before we sleep

// Getting completely spoiled on your birthday (and I do mean completely)

// Having someone who supports you through everything

// Morning cuddles

// Afternoon cuddles

// Evening cuddles 

// Loving someone so much it makes your heart hurt

// Watching movies together before bed

// Someone to make big decisions with

// Doing Bible study together

// Someone to calm you when you have bad dreams

// Eating junk food and staying up late together

// Weekly date nights

// Someone to challenge you to grow spiritually

// Sharing drinks at Starbucks

// Taking care of each other

// Grocery shopping together

// Having someone to help with dinner and dishes

// Surprises!

// Having someone to take trips with

// Someone that you can dress up for!

// Giving each other back massages

// Sleepovers every night

// Having beautiful wedding pictures to hang up

// Casually using the phrase "my husband" in conversation

// Dreaming about the future

// Kissing

// Always having someone to say goodbye too

// Taking long walks together in the evening

// Having someone there to share your favorite activities with

// Sharing your biggest fears and them not seeming so scary anymore

// Celebrating monthiversaries

// Being as weird as can be and knowing he still loves you

// Working out together

// Sharing an email address

// Learning to put someone else first and be less selfish

// Getting breakfast in bed

// Laughing together

// Spending the rest of your life together

... and that is why marriage is so wonderful. Thanks Daniel for being the best husband I could ask for. Happy 1 year!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Love Right in Front of You

For many years, I had trouble seeing the love that people gave to me. How do I explain this? It's when someone does something for you, out of love, but it might be the opposite of what you would ask for. Do you know what I mean? 

It took me many years and a few hurts in my family/friend relationships to realize this truth. It was when I read The 5 Love Languages that it really clicked-- we don't all love the same way! When I love someone, I might put a lot of effort into getting them a really good birthday present. I might write them letters or send them cards. I generally want to make them feel like I want to spend lots of time with them (because I do!). What I DON'T typically do is tell them how much I love them or what they mean to me. It's because "words" aren't the way I show love. 


As many of you know, we all show love in different ways. For some it might be gifts, for some it might be doing things to help out, and for some it might be time. We just need to take the time to recognize it! 

A perfect example, I think, is something that Daniel did for me on my first trip to visit him (by the way, he said I could use this story). I was feeling super sad because it was our last night together and time was running out. So he thought he woulds surprise me by leaving and going to the grocery store to get ALL of my favorite snacks. At the time, I felt a little upset that with so little time left, he would go to the grocery store for two hours of our precious time! But as I reflected on the experience, I thought this was the perfect example of me not recognizing love when it was right in front of my face! Daniel was trying so hard to make me feel loved by cheering me up with lots of tasty treats. When I think back on that day, I feel SO loved. He's so wonderful to me! (-:

Now that I've come to this knowledge, I try much harder to recognize other's love language and love them in that way. And I also try much harder to realize when people are showing love to me-- even if it's not the way I would show love! It's true not just in romantic relationships but in ALL relationships. If you are feeling a little like your family/friends/spouse don't care, try looking at it a different way. Maybe they are loving you in their own way and you just need to recognize it. 

So, what do you think? Have you experienced this in life?

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Perfect Moment

In a Bible class I recently attended, we were discussing the idea that life is full of opportunities. It's not only the good we do that counts, it's also the missed opportunities that we should have used to do good. 

It may never be the perfect moment, but maybe it is the right moment. In my opinion, the right moment is usually now. If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you might get to the end of your life with a whole lot of regrets. 

I think of Jesus, who never missed an opportunity to do good. Even when he was starving and exhausted, he did God's work. He never missed an opportunity to have compassion and to show love. Am I perfect like Jesus? Of course not, but I aspire to be more like him and less like me.

What are you waiting for? Now is the time to make the most of every opportunity. Do you see someone who needs help around the house? Help them! Do you know someone who needs compassion? Give it to them! Do you see a world around you, desperately needing God's word? Preach it! 

There is so much to be done. If we don't do it, God will certainly use someone else, but I want to be part of doing His work! My challenge for myself this week is to spend more time thinking about what good I can do for those around me and not what good I can do for myself. How will you challenge yourself?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In my free time

I feel like I'm a pretty social person; I enjoy being around people most of the time. I like to talk a lot, I like to hang out at Starbucks, I like to go to concerts, I just plain like to be around people. 

But being around people all the time can still be tiring! As much as I enjoy spending time with loved ones, I like my space too. I am LOVING having a whole month off school! Daniel doesn't get home until around 3 and I don't work until around noon every day, which means that I get the whole morning to myself! 

Here's what I've been up to in my alone time lately:

//Scrapbooking my wedding. This is sure taking a long time to do! I find myself getting a little burned out, so I typically make a few pages at a time and then take a break. I'm also trying to organize my photos from 2014. I don't feel like making a scrapbook for them, so I'm thinking of either making an album online or trying Project Life. I'm a little nervous to start it... any of you ever tried Project Life??

//Reading! Lots and lots and lots... it's so good. I must say, I've yet to find any really amazing books this summer, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

//Online photography classes! I've been wanting to take photography classes for a while, so when I saw a Groupon for this class, I decided to take the opportunity! So far, so good.

//Lots of fun new workout videos! Man, I never knew how many free, full-length workout videos there were. I've been really liking the Popsugar workouts and I've also been trying out some yoga and Pilates. Do you have any favorite workout videos? In the hot California summer, I do a lot less running and a lot more indoor workouts. You can check out my fitness playlist here.
//Last but not least, I've spent a lot of time online looking at blogs! When I'm busy with school I don't always get to read other blogs a whole lot, so I enjoy finding new blogs to read. I have also been enjoying learning makeup tips from Maskcara. I don't know much about makeup (ok, nothing), so I've enjoyed this simple tutorial.

What do you do with your "me time"?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Accepting Change

Dealing with change can be difficult. Even if it's a positive change, many people struggle with change. I know for myself, change is a struggle because I like routine.

Even with wonderful changes like getting married and finishing school, I found myself afraid of the change that it would bring. So how do you get yourself out there to embrace positive change (and accept what you might consider "negative" change)? I am no expert on the matter, but I tried to think of how I attempt to approach change.  What works for me might not work for you, but hopefully, if you too struggle with change, you will find these tips helpful!

1// Try to see the change from all perspectives. If it's a change that you feel is negative, try to put a positive spin on it. A setback can become an opportunity for growth. Try to remember that even in the painful and the ugly, God is bringing about something beautiful in your life. 

2// Pray! No explanation needed for that one!

3// Take care of yourself. You don't have to be strong all the time-- if you are struggling with change, it's okay to baby yourself. Have compassion on yourself, just as you would on someone else going through a big life change.

4// Remember it's okay to ask for help. You don't have to go at it alone! Enlist a close friend to share your fears with. Allow yourself to be completely honest about what you fear from the change (if it's a positive change, what are you afraid of?) 

5// Improve your emotional wellness. Take time to nurture yourself and just BE, without having to DO.  Read a psalm or listen to a few hymns. It might be through yoga, deep breathing, journaling, or whatever else eases your mind. **side note: apparently journaling is not a real word? what??**

6// Realize that change is an emotional experience. Change, even when it's positive, typically means you are losing something. If you are a highly emotional person (like me!), allow yourself to delve into the emotions you are feeling. Instead of trying to ignore the way you feel, take the time to understand WHY you feel that way.

I'd love to hear from you! How do you accept change in your own life?

Monday, August 3, 2015

What Really Matters

For when you need the reminder...

God doesn't care about your salary or your grades.

He doesn't car about how expensive your car is or the square footage of your house.

He doesn't care if you have a thigh gap or a six-pack.

He doesn't care if you are popular or have a million followers on Twitter.

He doesn't care if your floors are vacuumed or your counters are cleaned.

He doesn't care if your house is decorated perfectly or if your kids have Pinterest-worthy birthday parties.

He doesn't care if your team makes the playoffs or you win the race.

He doesn't care what you did in the past or the mistakes you've made... He can forgive.

He doesn't care if you are perfect or if you have it all together... He just doesn't. 

He cares about YOU and WHO you are. You can let go and find a place to rest in Him.