Friday, January 18, 2013

James: Pure Joy

This week, I began reading the book of James. In my college's New Testament class, I studied James from a theological point of view, which was nice, but I had never studied it in a way that I could apply it's teachings into daily life. I must say, reading James 1 convicted me in so many ways I was not expecting!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4 (NIV).

First off, pure joy? Are you serious God? I can not recall a time that I had considered a trial "pure joy". I began to read some commentaries by different authors and they all pointed the same direction: God's future. As I read these, I learned that God is calling me to rejoice in trials, not because they are pleasant, per se, but because through these trials I develop perseverance, so that I may be perfect in my Savior's eyes for when his eternal reward for me comes. Pure joy in anticipation of my eternal reward.

My sister and I at a family function. She is probably 1 1/2 -2 and I am probably 3. Happiness.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt...The man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1: 5-8 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

What if we fail to consider difficulties a pure joy? James calls us to ask God for wisdom, or discernment. This wisdom can and will help us live a joyous life committed to God. And you know the best of it all? God "gives generously to all without finding fault"! Pure grace here. However, James writes that we "must believe and not doubt". He even calls us "double-minded". Ok, Mr. James, I am a little confused now. So, I shouldn't doubt whether or not God will provide, right? Actually, this double-minded person is the one who is doing the opposite of trusting in the Lord with all heart, mind and soul and praying to play it safe (Gracepoint Devotions). Playing it safe by praying. Wow. How many times have I done that?

Oh wait, I recall that time I prayed that I would get into that top-university nursing program and I cried, blamed, and cursed God when I didn't. I had prayed, didn't I? Or that time I prayed I would stay and get a job in my beloved college town where my friends and my church were. I also cried and doubted God when I didn't. I had prayed, didn't I, Lord? Instead of considering it a pure joy and asking for wisdom to figure out or discern what God was doing in my life at the time.

Why can't I just lean in who God is and his unfailing promises? My character is truly as unstable as a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1: 6 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

My sister and I at a recent "photoshoot". This picture cracks me up. My huge smile and my sister's lipstick stain on her tooth. Enough said.
And now, His promise:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1: 12 (NIV)

Much Love, 

Yes,  I graduated not to long ago, and citations where of major importance, so I am going to go ahead and insert the link to where I read much of the information: :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lakes

Early in December, I had the opportunity to visit my fiance, who happens to live in Minnesota. St. Paul, to be more exact!

As soon as I arrived, we decided to take a trip to Harriet Island Regional Park. The day was very gloomy. However, we love being outdoors - rain or shine!

Some sort of suspension bridge art

Downtown St. Paul

The second day of the trip, we went to visit downtown St. Paul and try iceskating! Let's say that while living in Texas, you don't have as many opportunities to improve on your iceskating skills. I fell - twice! Thank goodness I left my camera inside the car.

So cheap - $2 for skate rental and no time limit!

Landmark Center

Rice Park

Have I mentioned I am a huge fan of Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts? I am also fond of reading, so I just had to take this picture. 

...and of course, Charlie Brown.

We also went inside the Landmark Center, which served as the US Post Office for the state of Minnesota.

I just had to take a picture of these two.

I am so grateful for modern stethoscopes. These would be fun to use, though!
St. Paul also has a drive-through charity event where animated Christmas lights are displayed.

My favorite!
 Have you ever been to Stillwater, Minnesota? It is a charming, quaint, little town. Greg and I visit Stillwater every time I am in Minnesota. We love it!

Thank you, nearby bench, for taking picture of us - I love it. 

Isn't he gorgeous? I love him.

This "mom n' pop" restaurant had the most unique Christmas lights!

One other day, we went to visit Battle Creek park - the day was so cold.

HUGE tree!


I know, these were a lot of pictures. I have many more. I must say it was very difficult choosing only some to share. Also, I am working more and more on my photography skills, so please excuse the bright ones, blurry ones and not-so-focused ones! I hope you have enjoyed them!

Greg - thank you for making every trip to Minnesota memorable. As I go through the pictures, memories flood my mind and I am reminded of how blessed I am to have you in my life.

"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me." Psalm 13: 5-6 

Much Love,