Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday loves

It's Friday! This week has been hard, but here are some fun things that are getting me through the week! What are you favorites this week??



1. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. This book is so sweet and hilarious. I love their down-to-earth attitude and godly attitudes!

2.

Shania Twain is releasing a new CD in September, yeeeessss!!!

3. Morning coffee. I know it sounds silly considering my Starbucks obsession, but I have never been a  morning coffee drinker. Unfortunately, I've been having a harder time getting up in the mornings. Fortunately, coffee with cream and a drop of vanilla syrup is there for me.

4. The Color Story app. It's the perfect way to edit your photos oh-so-pretty!

5. Undisclosed podcast. Okay, I know I'm soo soo late to the game, but I just discovered this follow-up to Serial. Ever since Serial ended, I've been desperate to know more. I am currently listening to Undisclosed season 1. All I can say is that this one better not leave me hanging!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Approaching the Psalms

Good morning! I had to be up extra early today for an orthodontist appointment before work. I was looking through old posts of mine and found this one that has some of the highest traffic of all my posts. I thought I'd share again these thoughts on how to "decode" the Psalms that I heard from a speaker at church. Let me know how it works for you!

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!

Friday, June 9, 2017

This Sweet Life We Live

Hey friends! I randomly got this Friday off, so YAY! As usual, life has been jam-packed with good stuff. 

An unrelated but pretty picture!!
Daniel and I have been looking for a new place for some time, because the place we rent is being sold. On Sunday, we went to look at an adorable two-bedroom cottage and signed the lease on Tuesday! It's a great place and we are excited for the move. However, I've loved this little house we live in now and it will be very bittersweet to leave. 



My youngest brother is graduating from high school and I couldn't be prouder of what a wonderful person he is. Colton is fun to be around, always willing to help anyone out, and most of all, loves God. He's a pretty great guy!

I just received a gorgeous copy of The Nesting Place, which you should totally check out for book club this month! 

In other news, we have a houseful of people coming over tonight and I think my dishwasher is broken. I may spend the rest of my day off washing all the dishes that I have crammed into the dishwasher for the last 4 days. I'm actually drinking cranberry juice out of the bottle because we don't have a single clean cup, but I can't bear to wash one by hand. Yikes! #firstworldproblems

Anyway, I'm just heading out to start my long weekend with a 9 mile run. I'll be out there with my raisins and my Jamie Ivey podcast. I'd rather do just about anything else. Wish me luck! 

Happy weekend! What are you doing this weekend?!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meeting Together

If we look back to the Old Testament and the 10 commandments that God gave the Israelites, we hear about the Sabbath. So what's the Sabbath all about?  

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

It is interesting to note that observing the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments. It's purpose was to draw their hearts from themselves to God. Later, in the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had so many rituals and rules about following the Sabbath that they completely missed the purpose.


What was the purpose? I think it was to refocus, to bring spiritual renewal. As our constantly-working culture has begun to discover, working all the time leads to problems. We NEED rest. We need renewal. God knew so much better than we did that humans needed that day. But it wasn't just a day of relaxation, it was a day to focus on Him. He knew that the cares of daily life would draw us away from Him. So He commanded that one day be set aside to Him, because He knew we needed that.

We still do. We might not follow the Sabbath to the T, but we do follow it in principle. Instead, we are commanded to meet together on a weekly basis. I don't take this commandment lightly. There is a REASON God told us to do this. It's not just a suggestion, it's a reminder that if we don't leave time for that weekly renewal (which really should happen on a daily basis), the cares of this world will pull us away.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Miss one week of church? The second week becomes easier. Then, the third and the fourth week. Maybe it seems like not such a big deal and we still believe in God. But God knows what we need. It's not to remember Him in the quiet of our home on Sundays. It's not to remember Jesus in the woods. It's to meet with those of like faith. I truly believe that is an essential piece. Meeting together brings encouragement to us and to others. That's not to say that we can't remember Him individually, but we do need that meeting together frequently.

Too often, we believe that church is about what it brings to us. I don't believe it always is. Hopefully it brings us encouragement and renewal, but sometimes I understand that we just don't feel like being there. Be there anyway. 

Make meeting together your first priority. It shows others and it shows God what is priority in your life! Next time you plan a vacation, plan it so that you can still meet with those of the faith. Next time you go on a road trip, make sure you don't spend Sunday morning driving. Next time you are faced with a decision to either worship God alone or in fellowship with others, choose fellowship with others. God knows what we need so much more than we do and I am so thankful for that. I'm also so thankful for those that I meet with on a weekly basis to give me much needed encouragement from my day-to-day life. 

Lift up your eyes, look up from the drudgery of life! Rejoice because of the hope God has given each of us and encourage each other with this hope!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday loves

Oh Friday, how I love you! It was SO nice to have a 4 day week but I am ready for the weekend, again! This weekend, I'm thrilled to just be relaxing (I think)-- which really means studying, running, doing chores and other such fun things. 

How was your week? Here's what I am loving this week!


1. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. It's the sequel to another book I enjoyed called Love Walked In. They are enjoyable, feel-good reads (at least this one is so far). 

2. Kenra leave-in conditioner. I've been using this EVERY day for at least a couple years. I forgot to take it on my trip last weekend, so I had a newfound appreciation of it once I got home!

3. This HIIT workout for the legs. It was super hard (to me, at least), but I thought she did a great job of targeting all the major leg muscles. 

4. The book of Hebrews. Every year, we follow a daily Bible reading plan and right now we are in the book of Hebrews. It's a pretty difficult book to understand, in my opinion, but also very exciting when you can begin to put the pieces together! 

5. Dasani black cherry water. I have been drinking lots of La Croix, but Daniel picked up these and I love the black cherry flavor! They are so perfect for a refreshing, cold drink after a long day of work. 

What are you loving this week? Hope you have a fabulous weekend!
 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Book Club: How to Win Friends & Influence People

It's the end of May and time for another book club read! Here's my review of How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. 


Stars: 4.5/5
 
Synopsis on GoodreadsYou can go after the job you want...and get it! You can take the job you have...and improve it! You can take any situation you're in...and make it work for you!

Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie's first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie's principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age.  

My thoughts: I had no idea when I chose it, but this book was written in the early 1900s. That made me love it all the more, because the writing was a little "old-fashioned" while still speaking straight to me. Carnegie's book is split into four sections with information on handling people, ways you to make people like you, how to win people over, and how to influence people without offense. 

For someone like me, who really struggles to befriend people, this book is full of practical advice for how to be more likeable. He also has a section on how to work through disagreements, which is something I tend to struggle with. And it's not quite what you would think, which is how to "win" the argument. In fact, he says that you can't actually win an argument and the only way to come out on top is to yield. 

The book is full of thousands of stories that demonstrate ways to work better with people. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the advice that I am going to use in my everyday life.

Read this book if: You want to be a better "people" person. 

Inspiring thoughts from the author:  
Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Especially when that someone is under pressure from his bosses, his customers, his teachers or parents or children, a smile can help him realize that all is not hopeless-- there there is a joy in the world. How to Win Friends & Influence People, pg 102


So what did you think of the book? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And don't forget to stop by next month for June's book, The Nesting Place


Friday, May 26, 2017

Your Best Life

Romans 12 is one of those wonderful, practical chapters of the Bible that I like to read often! I know the post is a bit lengthy, but I thought it most useful to include the Bible verses that I am talking about. 



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (verses 1-2).

What does it mean to offer your bodies as living sacrifices? Under the law of Moses, the animals offered as sacrifices were completely burned up, or consumed, with fire. I think that being a LIVING sacrifice means to be consumed with your calling. It's up to you to ask yourself-- am I one-hundred percent dedicated to God? Does my life line up with His will? Are there areas of my life that I know are displeasing to God but I'd prefer to ignore?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (verses 5-8).

A necessary trait in discipleship is humility. Without it, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to show love to God and to our neighbor. It often comes natural to humans to look down on those who appear "weaker" or less capable. We must catch ourselves and realize that this kind of thinking is completely out of line with God's thinking. Each of us has different gifts, different strengths, different weaknesses. We must not call gifts that are different than ours bad. While not everyone may be living up to their gifts, it is not our job to judge, but to encourage the members of the church. As for us, we are responsible for doing our gifts to the BEST of our abilities.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (verses 9-21).

Are there any more practical verses in the Bible? Paul lays out discipleship in 10 simple verses. But as we know, it's not so simple. True discipleship does not come easily, it does not come naturally, and it certainly does not come without God's help. I wish I could give you the 5 Steps to Perfect Discipleship, but I'm not nearly there myself. As Jesus says, it's easy to love the one who loves you back. It's not so easy to love the one who hurts you, who does evil to you. That is "agape"-- self-sacrificial love. It is a love that is only attained when we love people not because they DESERVE love, but because God has instructed us to love. 

We love because He first loved us.

It cannot come from our own strength, but when we choose to "cling to what is good." When we do so, God finds us and He gives us strength. He knows that we cannot live a life fulfilled without loving others. We are instructed to go out and DO and LOVE. Your best life is lived in the service of others. Become less obsessed with your needs and desires and find joy.

When you put others first, you are in the best place you can be. You are in His arms. He knows our hearts-- surrender to His instructions and find yourself fulfilled, overcome with His love, overflowing with joy

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When God Calls Us

Here am I, send me!

The cry of Isaiah, the prophet of God, when God asks someone to deliver a message to Israel.

The thing is, that wasn't an easy message to deliver. It was an unpleasant message and wouldn't have been a fun task. The people who heard him would have probably greatly resented him. 

Isaiah's words are the words that should come from our mouth when we are called, no matter where. God won't call me to the same place that He calls you. It might be crazy hard, but if God has called us there, He will lead us through.

Sometimes God calls us to do hard things, things we never imagine we could do. It may be so far out of our comfort zone. Like Moses, when God called him to lead the children of Israel. Moses didn't believe he could do it. He didn't want to lead that many people. But he did it anyway and God walked him through every step.

If God calls us and we follow, He WILL lead us. That doesn't mean that every step forward won't be hard, but we'll be able to do it. We might squirm a little on the way, but if it was easy, then it wouldn't really be pushing us. God pushes us so that we learn obedience.

When I think on some of the things God has called me to do, it's been so worth it. Sure, they made me stick out like a sore thumb because everyone was doing something else. You have to flounder a little bit sometimes. But in the end, it's been just what I needed to be doing. 

And there is always more. When we are finished with one thing God has called us to, there will be another. But I hope that when God calls me, the cry of my heart will always be, "Here am I, send me!"

I hope you find the courage to go where God calls you! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finding Gratitude

My blog name, Pure Joy, comes from a Bible verse that says to consider everything, even trials, pure joy. 

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).


It's hard to be joyful when you aren't grateful. I've become much more intentional about being grateful in my life these last few months and years. It's funny, because I went on a hike the other day and I thought to myself, I will never stop noticing how beautiful creation is. 

And it's so true. EVERY time I go outside or on a hike or a run, I notice the little things. The wild grass blowing in the wind, the clovers, the artful shape of a tree branch. These things are never lost on me. 

Yet, with other areas of my life, it's so much harder for me to find gratitude. Why is that? I can't really say, but it's something I am acknowledging in an attempt to change. Really, it's not good enough to have gratitude for some things. I need to be grateful for everything, not just creation. I need to be thankful for my house, even when it's not cleaned. My clothes, even when they are old and not so stylish. My long hours at work, because I'm learning a lot. 



I often find it much easier to be aware of the big things I'm thankful for (my health, my family, my faith). It's wonderful to be aware of these things, but I also think it's important to acknowledge all the little things that make up your life. I hope you will join me today in stepping back from it all and finding gratitude.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Following Jesus



In theory, following Jesus is quite easy. He sums up everything he wants us to do in one simple command,

Love God, Love others.

It sounds simple. In fact, it's pretty easy to love God because He is so good. He has given me life and health and created the world. Because I'm so thankful to God, it's not hard for me to feel love for Him. But the way God tells us to show love for Him is to love others. 

Loving others, now that is a little bit harder. Loving people gets messy. Loving people is easy when those people are nice to me. It gets tricky when those people who I am supposed to love (everyone!) are hateful, rude, and just plain unloving. How do I love someone who treats me horribly? How do I love someone I don't even know? How do I love someone I don't even like? 

Jesus hasn't called us to be like everyone else, though. He hasn't called us to only do what we feel like doing or love who we feel like loving. He has called us to love 

Following Jesus doesn't mean that life will always be easy. We are told that we will be blessed for following him, but we are also told that sometimes we will go through trials. Some definitely go through more trials than others. It doesn't seem fair to us and I don't know the answer why. 

Yet, there is such beauty in following Jesus. My life is so full from following Jesus. There are times that it is hard. Sometimes I'd rather not show love. Often, I fail at showing love. But the wonderful news is that following Jesus means that Jesus will help to carry my burdens. What a comfort it is to know that in the hard times, I have someone SO much greater to watch over me. 

I hope you remember that enormous blessing that comes with following Jesus. Have a joy-filled weekend, friends. 

P.S. You can read another post I wrote about following God here

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Race Always Hurts.

In 2010, one of my best friends asked me if I wanted to participate in a mud run. This mud run was 3 miles and I'd never run 3 miles in my life! In fact, I felt like throwing up from running more than a few minutes. I did exercise often, but I was definitely not a runner.

That summer, I ran every day of the week with my mom, until we were able to run 4 miles. Over the next 7 years, I have run a couple 5Ks, a couple 10Ks, and 3 half marathons. I will never be a fast runner (in fact I am a s.l.o.w. runner), but I always finish the race.

I am now training for my 4th half marathon this summer! For us non-runners, training is SUPER important. I found out that not training well can really break me. Are you a novice runner or looking to train for your first run? Here are some tips that have REALLY helped me!



1. Using a training plan. I use Hal Higdon's training plan for novices. I found that I can adjust it to be 12 to 14 weeks long, so that I can be as prepared as possible. Be careful not to train too long though, or your body might get burned out.

2. Make sure you are strengthening your body... your legs are especially important but so is your core! Strengthening your muscles helps them to endure through all the torture (-; It's important to incorporate strengthening and stretching into your workouts. 

3. If you are running more than an hour, make sure you bring along water and some sort of supplement. I use this handheld water bottle (as long as there are places to refill along the way). I always use raisins as my supplement (I eat a handful every 20 minutes of a run longer than 1 hour). There are many supplements out there, but make sure you don't switch them up on the day of your race.

4. Find something to listen to that motivates you. For me, this is podcasts. I'm loving the follow-up to Serial, Undisclosed, or the Jamie Ivey podcasts.

5. Pay attention to the course! My first 1/2 marathon, I dragged two of my friends along. I was so excited to find a nice trail run... which turned out to be the worst mistake ever. This trail run was SO hilly that I thought I was going to keel over. I had been running flat courses for training, so I was not prepared at all. If you are doing a hilly run, make sure you train for it!

6. End your long runs with a recovery food! For me, this is often just a chocolate milk, but there are all kinds of post-workout recovery foods. 

What are your best tips for running a race? I'd love to hear!! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Spring Party Planning

Happy Friday! This April was my mother's birthday and we decided to try to make it extra special by having a surprise party. It turned out to be quite fun and tasty so here are a few tips for spring parties.



Decorations:

I got pretty much all my decorations at Target, either in the decoration section or the dollar spot. I found pretty white luminaries, a cute banner, striped straws, flowered plates and gold napkins. Luckily, my friend Bekka had saved up lots of glass frappucino jars, which made adorable drinking glasses. The party was at my mom's house, so I used a lot of her pretty china to put out the food.

Food:


I didn't have a "theme" with the food because I wanted to pick lots of foods my mom would like.

Pimento cheese sandwiches: You can buy Pimento spread at the grocery store! Make sure to use white bread with the crusts cuff off for the perfect tea party style.



Paleo Thai meatballs: These were yummy and easy to make! However, mine did not turn out nearly as pretty as these pictures!

BLTA wraps: My mom lettuce wraps, which is why I chose these! They were easy to make and tasty to eat. The recipe made a lot, so this is a good one for a crowd.



Sushi: You can't go wrong ordering sushi rolls!

Tomato bisque soup: From Safeway, this soup is thick and creamy!


Cucumber mint fizz: I chose these pretty drink because my mom loves cucumber and mint. I personally didn't like the drink all that much, but hopefully most did. Here are a few other drinks to try instead.



Party punch: I can't find the exact one we used, but this one is very similar!

Lemon tarts: Only two ingredients! Lemon curd can be found in a jar with the jams.


Mini pineapple upside down cake: Only the best dessert ever!! These are a little messy to make, but they are SO good.
.....

The day of the party was almost ruined when my siblings missed their flight, but it all turned out okay! We managed to surprise my mom big time and we had a great evening of food, chatting, and games with friends.

Are you having a party soon? What are your best party ideas?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Welcome, May!

We are one quarter of the way through 2017! This year has been so good to me this far. I feel like I am busy but happy most of the time. I'm even accomplishing some goals I've set for myself! Here's a recap of some of my favorite times from 2017 so far, as told by photos. 

 

Our church hosted a fabulous young people's gathering back in February. I had a great time with friends and with 7 girls crammed into my 600 square foot home! It culminated with Melissa choosing to get baptized!


Bekka and I had such a great time at our first folk dancing performance. Our costumes were a little embarrassing but it's such a fun activity! Every week, we attend dance lessons that are given by a couple in their 80s (wow!) 


 More fantastic news! Colton (my youngest brother) also made the decision to get baptized. We had a fun ski weekend with our friends. I must say, skiing is not for me.


Daniel and I headed down to southern California with friends. I went to Balboa island and got to witness the baptism of my friend Lauren. These are some of my dear sisters and friends.


Birthdays with my BFF are the most fun. We celebrated by going out to dinner, where we were absolutely pampered by our waiter! I got a yummy pizza (mmm... I'm so hungry!). We finished off the celebrations with hot tub time, dancing, and a sleepover. Love my girl time!!


As you probably know, I started my Etsy shop, Stitched with Pure Joy, where I sell handmade embroidery creations. This is one of my favorites, a labor of love by my friend Jess and I. What would you like to see on embroidery?


I'm also super thrilled to fulfill my dream of hosting an online book club. It combines my most favorite things: blogging, reading, inspiration, and friends. I hope you will join for May! 


Here I am getting baby love from my little buddy. Daniel and I hitched a ride with Justin to LA for the weekend. We visited our friends Holly and Forrest, as well as attended a wedding.


At the wedding, wearing our very best (aka my little brother and sister's clothes). I love this guy!!



A friend who is dear to my heart! Enjoyed getting pampered and having girl talk. 


I posted this picture, reveling in the little beauties of the earth. Who would have thought that grass and clovers could be so pretty, but they are!


Here's a great photo of my little bro, who will be super mad if he ever sees this! I guess we shall see if he ever reads my blog... (-; A few weeks ago, he bought the favorite foods of everyone in my family (sushi, pizza, Chinese food, etc) and had a dinner for all of us. It was so much fun to all eat together, play games, read the Bible and sing together! I wish I had a picture. 


I'm so mad that I didn't get any "people" pictures of my mom's surprise birthday party. This is a picture of the food all set up. It was so fun to plan it and surprise my mom! I'll be sharing more about the party with recipes on Friday.

What have been your best times in 2017 so far? I'd love to hear!

Friday, April 28, 2017

April Book Club: Marriage Matters

April was such a good but crazy month! I didn't do much reading this month, but I did manage to finish Marriage Matters. I'm sharing my thoughts below!


Rating: 3/5 

Synopsis from GoodreadsCan Ordinary Marriages Become Extraordinary?

He snapped at her during breakfast. She brought up a past mistake. He walked out angry. She left without saying good-bye. An ordinary day in an ordinary marriage. But what if things could be different? What if the moments that seem the most ordinary moments of annoyance, conflict, pain, or cold indifference could become moments in which you're able to understand God's incredible agenda for love and begin to do something new?

Winston T. Smith, drawing on his extensive experience as a marriage counselor, offers a simple yet powerful prescription for changing your marriage. He shows how examining the everyday disappointments and irritations in your marriage will help you understand yourself, your spouse, and your need for God's love. Change begins with seeing day-to-day interactions from a different perspective, taking simple steps to love one another more effectively, and then learning how to take those steps over and over again. Interactions that used to devolve into pointless annoyances and fights can become an opportunity for God's activity and love to become increasingly evident and powerful.

The principles in this book will take your marriage to extraordinary places and lead you into a deeper relationship with an extraordinary God. Don't settle for an ordinary marriage, learn to live out God's extraordinary love in your most intimate relationship.


My thoughts: First of all, any book about strengthening marriage is a winner. If you are reading a book about marriage with thoughts of genuinely improving it, good for you! This book had a lot of great things to say about marriage from a Biblical perspective.

I love his ideas on how to overcome selfishness in marriage. It's something we probably all struggle with and it's important to remember that it's not okay. I thought it shared a good amount of advice for both men and women in many different situations of marriage. He talks about hard times in marriage, conflicts, fears, emotions and how to deal with these areas. 

This book also had questions at the end of each chapter to use for yourself or together with your spouse. I thought these were really good and helped draw out some wrong attitudes I've been holding.

That being said, the author drew a lot of points from what I consider faulty theology. While I could recognize that they were still important points, I found this off-putting. Overall. however, I could still enjoy the book for all the great advice it had to offer. 

Read this book if: You enjoy reading marriage books or haven't read a lot of marriage books. This book probably doesn't have anything new to offer that I haven't read before, but if you haven't read any marriage books it might be a good place to start. 

Inspiring quotes from the author: 

It's a common mistake to believe that loving others is the same thing as making them happy. And, of course, your gentle, patient, kind, generous moments will undoubtedly contribute to his or her happiness. But, still, you married someone who has the same capacity as you to be unreasonable, selfish, and blinded by the idols of the heart. Truly to love another sinner as Jesus has loved you will mean having difficult conversations, disagreeing, and even saying no to sinful and destructive behavior. If you truly love your spouse as Jesus has loved you, you'll sometimes get the same response Jesus got- conflict and rejection. Marriage Matters, pg 45 

No matter why you married, no matter what sins damaged your marriage, God's restoration will make it beautiful., not by hiding the past or camouflaging the scars but by helping you to see God's faithfulness and love in it and even using it to draw others to himself. Marriage Matters, pg 251

What did you think of Marriage Matters? Don't forget to check out Morgan's post and join us next month for How to Win Friends and Influence People!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

52 Dates for Two

I'm so excited about this date planning guide I bought from the Dating Divas website. It's easy to put together, you just have to print and cut out all the dates. Most of the dates are easy to plan on the spot, although some of them require a little extra prep. We try to have a date night every week (usually Friday), but sometimes the date night might just be collapsing into bed and watching a movie. As long as it's the two of us with no cell phones, it counts in my book. 

All 52 cards fit in a photo album, with a blank space next to them to add a picture from your date. So every week you can flip through these awesome suggestions and have a  pre-planned date! Make sure to take a picture to add to the photo album. 

Here's an example of two we have done: 

Breakfast in bed: It was Daniel's turn to plan the date, so he went to the store the night before. I'd say this is the best way to do it, otherwise you are going to be waiting for breakfast for a long time! He made eggs, toast, hash browns and fruit. It was super tasty and we enjoyed the meal while watching a movie.

A perfectly convincing "just out of bed" look (;
Planning a dream vacation: This was fun because we didn't just pretend to plan a vacation, we planned our trip to Mexico! We've been talking about it for a long time but we finally decide to go to Secrets in Riviera Maya. It's our first all-inclusive trip and I'm super excited!! I can't wait to eat all the food. 

The egg hunt... the last egg was a clue to find my booked reservation for Mexico! Yay!
I hope you'll check this awesome idea out! What are you favorite date ideas?? 

P.S. I receive a small commission for promoting products I love! 

52 Date Night Ideas for Two | thedatingdivas.com

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marriage Isn't Perfect (And Neither Is Anyone Else's)

I recently posted a picture on Instagram that showed a surprise egg hunt my husband planned that ended with me getting a bunch of "coupons" (read massages, dinner, dancing, etc) and a booked reservation to Mexico. I posted this because it was something absolutely loving that Daniel did for me and I want to brag on him. I think we should brag on our spouses and the awesome things they do for us!

Later, I scroll through Instagram myself and think, gosh, that girl has a perfect life and a perfect husband/kids/house/whatever! I wish I had that! 

We all need to remember that what we see on social media is only what others want and choose to post. The perfect couple is not really the perfect couple. The perfect husband isn't perfect, and neither are the perfect kids. These pictures/posts are only a snapshot of reality. Which is good, in my opinion, because I don't want to see people putting down their spouses/kids for the mistakes they make! 

My husband who surprises me with trips to Mexico, makes dinner daily, works crazy hard and teaches at church makes mistakes too. And in case you were under any crazy delusion that I am the perfect wife, let me tell you... I am not! I fail and let Daniel down often. 

We are not the perfect husband and wife, and neither is anyone else. That's because we are sinners. Two sinners combined cannot make perfection. BUT we are perfect for each other, perfectly designed for each other to help each other grow. We both have habits that drive the other one nearly insane. I think God made it that way to help both of us grow in our characters. 


So just remember when you are comparing yourself to others (whether it be a couple or not), the important thing is to compare yourself to you. Are you becoming the person you want to be? Is your marriage heading in the right direction? 

I think it's fantastic when people post about their spouse doing something awesome. I love it when people post about how much they love their spouse. Instead of becoming jealous, I try to see that as a great thing to strive towards. I want to be encouraged rather than begin playing the comparison game. 

I love my husband and my marriage SO much. I will continue to post about how much I love him and brag about the awesome things he does. We don't have the perfect marriage but we are striving to have a wonderful marriage.