James 1:1-14

Last week our Bible study was on James 1:1-14 (we’re going through the book of James). James is one of my favorite books of the New Testament. I love how plainly the wisdom is laid out. James was/is thought to be the half brother of Jesus and though he was a stringent follower of Christ growing up, he did become one after the resurrection.

To me, the main theme of James is “faith”. The book lays the premise not just to have faith in God but how our actions should be guided by that faith. James starts out strong by reminding us that even in our toughest times God has His reasons and we will be better people-better Christians-because of them.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,   knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

Then he moves to “praying with faith”.
James 1:5-8 HCSB
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.   But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive  man is unstable in all his ways.
Now, I think that too often we imagine God as some genie in a bottle. Praying “with faith” does NOT mean that we pray believing that God WILL do whatever we ask. Praying with faith means that we believe He can but we trust in Him and accept His answer.

Back in the day Garth Brooks came out with a song Unanswered Prayers. Since then I have heard many people use his phrase “thank God for unanswered prayers”. This is one of my pet peeves. If my four year old comes up to me and asks if she can have a popsicle for breakfast and I say “No” then I have answered her. In the same way God gives us answers but sometimes that answer is “no” or “not now”.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to His father asking God to “take His cup” and ending the request with “not my will but thine”. Does any of us seriously doubt that Jesus prayed with faith or that God didn’t answer His own Son? No! Jesus KNEW God was listening and God answered His Son; He said, “No”. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why God would say no; but the thing about faith is that I don’t have to understand, I just have to trust in God and His reasons and move forward.

Love,
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Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

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How mouth-watering does this look!? I got the idea from a recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it to make it my own. The original directions said to “puree the bacon and make a paste out of it” but that just seemed un-American. Why mess with perfection?

So, you want in on this? Well strap on your best flag-themed apron, turn on your patriotic playlist, and grab your lighter cuz we’re about to do some good, old-fashioned American grilling. Here’s what you are going to need:

1. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2. Mrs. Wright’s bacon (there is no other kind)
3. Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce
4. One of these hammer-thingies

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Ready? Ok, here we go.

1. Take those slimy chicken breasts out of the package, throw them on your cutting board, and beat them (more like a Gibb’s slap to the head than an arch – nemesis butt whooping).
2. Grab a fork and jab some holes in the breast so the glorious bacon juice can seep into the chicken breast.
3. Reverently drape a piece of bacon around each chicken breast.
4. Slap those bad boys on the grill.
5. When each side has slightly browned brush some of that aptly named Sweet Baby Ray’s on each side.

(If you let your grill get hot this should only take about twenty minutes to cook.)

6. Admire your awesome work while the meat rests for a moment.
7. Take a picture and post to fb for all the world to drool over while you enjoy your ever-so-American dinner.

The End.

Love,
2% 

Selfish, Weak, Unfaithful, Immoral, & Just As Forgiven As You Are, My Friend

Mel:

Some poignant thoughts about church today.

Originally posted on Everyone Has A Story...:

funny-church-signs-5I’m having a little spiritual battle in my mind these days about churches. My daughter, Rebekkah, has joined a non-denominational church.

Yikes.

I know all the stuff people are always saying about church…”don’t forsake the gathering”, yada, yada. I agree in theory. In reality, I have had some real issues with churches in my own life, and even after 30 years, I still find myself uneasy about stepping into any of them. So, when my daughter comes home and tells me that a woman has implied that my daughter was not saved because once upon a time she smoked pot, all that anger at the presumptiousness of self-righteous twits comes rushing back to the surface.

It is exchanges like the one Rebekkah had her SECOND week at this church that make me not want to attend any. Why do people think they have a handle on other people’s salvation? You…

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Why I choose Joy

This morning I did my first, bi-weekly devotional at the local Senior Citizen Center.  I was extremely nervous, not only because I am a bit of an introvert but also because I felt inadequate to speak to such a group of people.  I was, after all, taught to respect and honor the elderly.  I was taught that they have wisdom that we should cherish and are often the ones I’ll seek out when I have a problem. Therefore, trying to choose a topic that would be relevant for them yet that I felt “qualified” to speak about was quite daunting.

I prayed about this for weeks and (literally) at the last moment God used my humblest quality to open a doorway.  My ability to find joy in sometimes the bleakest of circumstances.  Now, mind you, I am not perfect at that this.  There are times when I get overwhelmed with the sheer 2%ness of my life, but overall I do my best to look for the humor in situations.  I have this saying that, “life is about the choices you make and the perspectives you take”.  I realized a while back that while there are many things that we cannot control in life, we can control how we respond to life’s situations.

We may not understand why God allows the tragedies of life to occur, but we can choose to have faith in our God and in His plan.  Sometimes I empathize with Mother Theresa when she said, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

James 1:2-3 tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  In other words, whether we see it or not there is a point to everything and our trials will better prepare us for the future.

When we are in those trials, and it seems as if the struggles will never end, remember Psalms 30:5b, “[…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” and Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

We may not be able to change the path we are on, but we can choose how we face it.

Love,

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Christmas at the Hixon’s

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Next to Autumn, Christmas is my favorite season! I love the unique melodies, the cheer in most everyone’s tone, and the baked goodies that so often come along with. I love that we have a whole season centered around giving and based on our Lord. While we embrace the fun of Santa and elves and reindeer; Chuck and I do our best to make sure that this is a season filled with family memories and God’s love.

To start the season off right we all pitch in in the decorating of the house. It is always an event filled with laughter and unique results. While we still want to add a few more things, we’ve pretty much finished adding the physical cheer.

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I think our tree turned out pretty good! We prefer the simplicity of a bare tree enveloped in meaningful ornaments.

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Chuck always does my Christmas village for me.

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Our nativity and family willow statues.

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The stockings are hung by the fireplace, waiting for Santa to fill them.

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Hila Fay insisted upon having her own nativity. When she realized we only had one stable she ran to her room and came out with this. I think it made a beautiful addition.

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Last, but not least, my Alabama gnome wanted to be a part of the good times.

How do you make Christmas Special at your place?

Merry Christmas!
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The Adventures of Puck the Elf

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We awoke to a WONDERFUL surprise this morning! Puck the Elf has returned to watch over us (and get into mischief) until Christmas. We’ll do our best to keep y’all posted on his silly antics.

Love,
2%

P.S. 10 points to whomever knows where Puck gets his name! 

12/4
Oh my wowness! Puck was busy last night! Good thing we woke up when we did!

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What have y’alls elves been up to?

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12/5

I think that Puck is playing the field!

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Does your Elf interact with others?

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12/6

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Puck decided he needed better shoes to weather this #zombieapocalypse #icestorm!

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My Top 10 Rules/Mottos for life (as I see it now)

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1. Life is about the choices you make and the perspectives you take.

2. Break it, buy it

3. Pot/Kettle

4. Dancing in the rain is better than pouting in the dry.

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5. Family is forever; never forget them or push them aside.

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6. Real friendships take as much work as real relationships; neither of which should be cast aside lightly.

7. Divorce is not an option. Never let the thought enter your mind. Just go in the other room, chill out, and then work it out. People don’t go around divorcing their siblings or parents every time they get ticked off. That is proof enough that crap can be worked out….in due time (and with lots of prayer).

8. The moment that your first instinct, when dramatic news comes your way, is to text/call your sweety (instead of your bff or mom) is when junk just hot serious!

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9. If your instinct to call/text your spouse first ever changes you might want to re-evaluate your relationships.

10. Faith in God is not saying that He WILL do something but rather that He can. Praying with faith does not mean praying with the belief that God will answer how you want. It is praying knowing that God can and asking if He would. Jesus showed us this when He asked His Father to take His cup.

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The Life & Times of Mandy & Mel

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This afternoon I attended the wedding shower for my girl Mandy. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. As with any “step” relationship we have had our rocky spots. However, I absolutely love her and cannot help but get a bit sappy at the thought of the impending wedding. So in honor of the blushing bride, and without further to-do, I present “The Life & Times of Mandy & Mel”:

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Our first snow day. We also pre-made about 500 snowballs and had them ready for when Daddy got home from work. It was a battle of epic proportions.

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One of our favorite excursions, the Memphis Zoo.

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Look at that beautiful smile!

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One of my proudest moments, her baptism.

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Stealthy ninjas!!!

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“One small step for man…”

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This is one of my favorite “sissy” photos.

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I love how they had identical expressions.

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I am woman, hear me ROWAR!

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Serenity

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A special memory, just for her.

I love you, Mandy.

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Airing Your Drama in Public is Sin

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It seems that forgiveness and compassion have gone the way of corded phones and VHS tapes. They have been replaced by a desire to air out our dirty laundry in a forum of public opinion. Social media statuses are filled with needless “updates” about “some people” and their sins against us. Friends, let me be honest with you for a moment. Your vague references fool no one. It may feel therapeutic to be able to air out your feelings but in no way is right, good or kind; in fact it is downright un-Biblical.

Even when the subject matter is hidden behind ambiguous references of “some people” and “they” you are still sinning. Whether you sit in the beauty shop and tell all your friends “the situation” or announce it to the world: gossip is gossip is gossip. Our problems with one another should, in fact, remain exactly that way: solely with each other.

Jesus VERY specifically says: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matthew 18:15 NASB) Did you see that part there that said, “in private“?

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I’ve heard, and thought to myself, many reasons as to why one could not possibly go and speak to their offender one on one.
“They won’t listen anyway.”
“It wouldn’t make a difference.”
“I might do/say something that I’d regret.”
I think that if we are ALL honest with ourselves we’d admit that reasoning is probably more closely related to us wanting to avoid a face-to-face confrontation. It’s MUCH easier to sit bravely on the couch and update a tough sounding status than it is to call (or better yet sit down and talk to) a person that we are upset with. I get it, I really do! I hate (this is the point that Hila Fay would say: “We don’t say ‘hate’ Mommy.”) really, really, REALLY dislike confrontation. I go out of my way to avoid unpleasant situations.

However, John is quick to remind us that if we are going to claim Christianity we best walk-the-walk! (“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth”. Revelation 3:16 HCSB) We cannot sugar-coat a sin (“I wasn’t gossiping I was just venting.”) and expect God to be pleased. Jesus very clearly tells us that the only time we are to involve anyone else in our quarrel is when our private conversation yielded no results.
But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. (Matthew 18:16, 17 HCSB)

If we get to the end of the rope and extinguish all means of reconciliation then we are to simply ignore them. We go to bed each night knowing that we tried our dangest but in this case an amicable ending just wasn’t in God’s plan. We do NOT continually make random announcements or involve other people.

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We DO continue to genuinely pray them.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44 HCSB)

God’s truth is sometimes hard to swallow, but that doesn’t change it. We can’t claim to be loving Christians if we are not willing to choose to love everyone.
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. (1 John 4:7-11 HCSB)

Love,
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