Living In The Raw
Well, it's finally here. 2021 has begun and it is a year full of hope and expectation for so many of us. 2020 was something wasn't it? It's definitely one for the history books that's for sure and one we won't soon or ever forget.
For the past few years, as each new year would approach, I have heard God whisper a word or a theme for the new coming year. A theme, a goal that would continue to burn in my mind and at times wake me up in the night. Hindsight being 20/20, (pardon the pun), I can look back and see that God was nudging me in a direction, encouraging me and preparing me with those themes and words. As a result, I've grown to anticipate this, to listen for it and seek it out. With seemingly everyone eager to kick 2020 to the curb and start a fresh year full of hopes and dreams, I have been looking and listening to what theme God would have for me this year. What direction would God lead me in? What is He preparing me for? What does God want to bless me with? I have found that all three of those questions work in symphony together. That's the beauty of God. As He guides, teaches, and instructs us, He simultaneously is blessing and building us up and it's all wrapped up in His love.
The word that has been running through my mind the past few weeks is the word raw. I know it might sound random. Everyone has a word association with this one and it can run the gamut, haha. But raw is what burns in my heart for this year. I want to live in the raw. I want to peel back all the packaging, all the pretense and live a raw existence.
This Christmas as I thought about this it inspired me to do something. To ditch the ribbon. To boycott the bows, haha. It's true. I didn't buy one bow or one piece of ribbon and I did it on purpose. It was somewhat in defiance really and it was symbolic for me. A full boycott of the bows! I just have the desire to remove all the cover up, all the packaging, the smoke screens and smoke machines, fakeness in any and all forms and just reveal true authenticity in all areas of life. Aren't we all so done with the deceit that seems to penetrate so many areas of life? The insane cover ups, and distractions galore that somehow seem to have become a way of life, can make life so murky, giving us a cloudy and distorted view that can potentially rob us from a raw and authentic life that God has for us. I don't know about you but you can go ahead and put a fork in me. I'm done.
The focus of this blog from the beginning has been to run in the freedom God provides in body, soul and spirit, and living in the raw is in such harmony with that. Below are the three areas I feel God calling me to live a real and raw life.
Living In the raw in Body
Don't you just love a fresh start? Even that phrase, "fresh start", it's so positive right? When we think of the word fresh we think new, clean, bright, untainted. I've already spoken about this on the blog so I'll try not to repeat myself but I can't say enough about how transformative choosing a plant based diet was for me. The holidays in all their glory are rough in regards to food. Let's just say I'm glad all the sees candy is gone. Now, we're moving on to a fresh start and jumping back on to that fresh food wagon. I can almost guarantee it'll make you feel 10 years younger. I'll be starting a 30 Day Plants Over Processed Challenge on Monday, January 11th. It's one I've done many many times with Earthy Andy. Will you join me? The goal is to eat more plants. I promise it's doable, will make you healthier on a cellular level, that you'll feel amazing, that it will help your body fight and resist illness, and can be a fun adventure we do together. I'll be posting on my Instagram, @runningfree11932. You can follow the challenge there and I will add some recipes on the blog. Obviously I'm not one of those influencers to look up to, haha. Anyone that knows me is like, "oh girl we know that mm hmm". I am that girl that will jump in the trenches with ya, that enjoys doing things together, and that believes their is power in community. Hope you'll join us!
Living in the Raw in Soul
For me I see living raw in my soul as just being as authentic as possible with people. To put forth no false pretense at all. I want to listen to people more. Like really listen. And I want to bare the deepest parts of me to others because when you do it allows them to feel safe and free to do the same and that's where the deepest, sweetest connections between people happen. I don't want to self preserve myself in those ways or play it safe. I want to be willing to show all of my flaws and not feel compelled to hide them in fear of judgment or being shunned by others. Life is too short for that and connection with others, I mean real, raw, deep connection is too precious. Being vulnerable and fearless; being my raw self for the benefit of others is 2021. There are so many needs out there. Have you ever seen so much fear, stress, and anxiety in your whole life? I have not. I pray 2021 is a year that God reveals and shows us new ways to open ourselves up to people for their benefit. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
Living in the raw in Spirit
I've been thinking about this one a lot and feeling pretty convicted. As I thought about those bows and ribbons at Christmas time I wondered to myself, "is that what I do with the Gospel?" Do I require the perfect themed paper with a matching ribbon and the cutest most sparkly name tag to adorn and address it before I'll send it? Many of us would never dream of giving someone a gift in a brown paper lunch sack or just holding it bare in our hands, price tag still hanging off of it, wrinkled perhaps. We wouldn't dream of it. We would perhaps be horrified at the thought of being so tacky, of potentially looking bad, being in bad form, or being rejected or thought poorly of by the giftee. I realized this Christmas that I often times do that with sharing the Good News of the Gospel and it kind of wrecked me. It wrecked me in the best way. In the conviction way that spurs you onto victory and change in that area. The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. It's THE greatest news of all time ever and it's for everyone. Why would I feel the need to adorn it, to improve its presentation as if it wasn't good enough all by itself? Somehow I find myself in a place where I feel like I have to present it just right, with perfect timing, perfect wrapping. And you know what? Most of the time I don't have the luxury of all of that so I don't share it. I realize that the climate of our society has influenced me in ways I had not noticed. Like a thief in the night it robbed me of simplicity, of freedom and deceived me into thinking I have to present things that are palatable to society or I shouldn't share or speak of it. Can you say political correctness? What a lie from the pit of Hell. I am but a mouth piece. I have no power to convince or save anyone. I am simply called to be an empty vessel, a mouth piece for God to use. Of course we don't want to be rude, pushy or insensitive, but political correctness or societal pressure should not be the deciding factor in when, where and how we share Jesus with others whether they be someone hearing the Gospel for the first time, a prodigal that needs to be loved and encouraged back to Truth, or a young Christian who could use some encouragement, and guidance.
I am so so grateful how God so gently guides and corrects us, leading us in the direction He would have us to go. When we ignore Him or choose to seek our own path leaving Him out of the decision making processes of life we miss out on soooo much goodness, grace, growth and love.
So, living in the raw:
- eating food in it's natural state as much as possible for optimal, power filled living in our body
- living authentic, open lives for the benefit of others leaving self preservation in the past
- sharing the love of Jesus with anyone and everyone He brings on our path through the guidance of the Holy Spirit not through the filter of societal pressures and political correctness.
So, Happy New Year to you friends! I pray this year is filled with love, peace, rest, growth, and simplicity for you. I pray God continues to peel back the layers both on a national and personal level and that you experience a year filled with the rawness of God and His presence in ways you could have never imagined.
So what's God put on your heart for the coming year? What are you sensing, hoping and praying for? I'd love to hear your thoughts, hopes and dreams for 2021
Big hugs and lots of love,
It's A Thirsty World
Well, here we are. It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time for celebration and indulgence where we ditch our usual routines and embrace the holiday season. Thanksgiving comes around and the clock starts ticking. It's that gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the food fest begins. We start indulging on things like turkey, ham, desserts, gravies, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and somehow we forget for those 4 weeks that, "um...we don't eat like this anymore." I'm pretty sure I've eaten more salt in the last 4 weeks than I have all year and I have the puffy eyes to proves it, haha. There's just something about all those traditional dishes that leaves you parched like a stranded hiker out in the middle of the dessert; dry mouth, lips chapped, and energy sapped. It's no wonder we find ourselves chugging every beverage in sight on Thanksgiving like a camel in the Desert. We all know what that something is that leaves us so parched and it's not the l tryptophan in the turkey, haha. It's all that salt.
As I sit here eating the delicious and very salty Moose Munch that my sweet parents gave to me, I find myself once again unable to quench my thirst. Gulping down water like a fish, I can't help but think about what Jesus said regarding salt and what that meant then and what it means for us now. Jesus said that we, His followers, are the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot." That's a pretty bold statement and it's one I don't want to skim over. Jesus says here that we are to be the salt of the earth and that it's possible to lose our saltiness and be thrown out, so it's important to understand what He's talking about here and guard against it right? It matters. I think it matters a lot.
Salt had three primary purposes in the times of Jesus. It was to preserve, to flavor, and to heal. Throughout history salt has been used to preserve meat and other items before refrigeration was a thing. It was and still is used as a healing agent. They would use it to treat wounds and infections. Now we soak in Epsom salt baths to rid our bodies of inflammation and harmful toxins. And lastly, salt was and is used to flavor food. Have you ever eaten unsalted popcorn or unsalted anything for that matter? Salt adds so much flavor and zest to food.
So, how do we take this figurative language of Jesus and become the salt of the earth, and not just become it, but also keep it and retain it? If we are indeed the salt of the earth there should be some tangible evidence of it. Below I share a few things to help us gauge our salty factor.
We should be creating thirst in people -
We all know that salt makes us thirsty. Jesus spoke about thirst many times during His days on earth, both physically and spiritually. In John 7:37-39, Jesus cries out, "if anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of water". Now this He said about the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory ." Jesus is speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and what was to come on the day of Pentecost and what would be for us now. If we are true believers, true followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit is our guide, He gives us wisdom, reveals truth, gives us gifts, and He is working in our lives for a purpose. The results of that work produces the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. This fruit, the work of the Holy Spirit in us, is what I believe creates thirst in others. When people see the love of God at work in a believer, well I believe they were made to receive that love. As we receive these gifts, and grow in the fruits of the Spirit, we are to go out and express these things to whomever God brings across our path. We have the honor and responsibility to represent the Most High to the world around us. Although our relationship with God is and should be personal and intimate it is not meant to be just that. There should be an outpouring of what we receive. It's this beautiful harmony that takes place. God is always working things out in this beautiful symphony where the innerworkings have a ripple effect and the result is a gloriously perfect symphony on display for all to see. To be an instrument in His hands is our greatest honor. I believe God reaches out to others through our very lives. How amazing and beautiful that He would want to include us in this. Have you ever sat back and watched God do this through someone? Sometimes I have to leave the room when I witness these things to hide my tears. It's as if the beauty is too much for my eyes to behold. It's truly the most extraordinary thing to watch the Creator of the universe reach out to someone through another. What people see in our lives should make them thirst for what we have and that is Him. Our lives, our witness should make people thirst for living waters. They should thirst for Jesus. May it be so in our lives.
We should be a purifying influence on our world-
The world we live in is putrefying. Since the fall of mankind there has been death, disease, and moral decay. In this sin infested world, we as followers of Jesus, should look different, act different, we should live and be different. Not on purpose. It's not an effort or a fabricated uniqueness. It comes from being in His presence. It's a natural byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit, of dedicating and giving our lives to Him. It happens naturally and supernaturally. The fruit of the Spirit brings light and life to the world. This is why God says we are to be salt and light. After the verse on being the salt of the earth, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven." Like salt works as a preservative, Christians are meant to have a preserving influence in the world. Living according to Gods laws and attributes brings life and light to the world. We only need to abide in the Vine and continue to grow in our walks with the Lord. He supplies all the goods.
So in a nutshell, I believe if we commit our lives to God, follow the example of Jesus, and put our trust in Him, we will have the saltiness and light exuding from our lives adding flavor to the world around us and will not be in danger of losing our saltiness. Abiding, following, and trusting is the key on our journey of faith.
Can you believe the unprecedented days we are living in? Through all the chaos, fear and confusion, God is on the throne and He is doing a very special work right now. When this season of our lives is done what will we say we did with the times? If we surrender our lives to the Lord and follow Him He will bring about all of these things in and through our lives. What better thing is there for a person? We gain and get everything we need when we commit our ways to God and follow Him. And when we do there is a ripple effect which potentially makes the world around us thirsty for living water.
I pray that we as the Church of Jesus Christ will rise to the occasion. That we will love fiercely, be patient and gracious with everyone. That we will be forgiving and merciful toward others and put others needs above our own. Praying the peace of God will fill you and your homes during this Christmas season and that you find joy during these extraordinary days. Be encouraged friends. God is doing a work. Let's get out there and be a part of it. Let's bring salt and light to the whole world.
Peace, love and big big hugs.
Suit Up And Report For Duty
War...it's waging. Maybe not in the way we generally think of a war where military forces join with its solders lined up prepared to fight. This is a war that is invisible to the eye but more real than the nose on your face. We can see it's effects though can't we? It's like the wind. We can't see the wind but we see those leaves blowing about. Our nation is in such disarray it is surreal, unfamiliar, and disheartening to say the least, and this goes far beyond partisan lines. Friends let's not be duped into thinking this is about Democrats and Republicans, that it's about Liberals vs. Conservatives. My fellow Americans are not my enemy, but our true enemy wants us to believe just that. It's a trap designed for destruction and it is straight outta the gates of Hell.
As we sit here numb in disbelief with what is occurring in our nation while simultaneously asking ourselves what can we do to fix this, we must turn to the One who has all the answers. God is ruler over all. He sees all things and knows all things and if we are found in Him, if we belong to Him we need not fear. We can trust Him and hold onto His promises that all things are working together for our good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
So, does that mean that we sit back and wait it out and leave it in God's hands? Do we find ourselves saying "I've done my duty, I voted, the rest is up to God?" Time and time again throughout the Bible God requires action on the part of His people. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River God required them to take action. As the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant, God told them through Joshua to take a few steps into the river and wait there. Why did He do this? Did God need them to be in the water before He could stop the waters? Does He need us to take action? The answer of course is absolutely not. Were we there when He formed the Universe, when He knit us together in our mothers womb? Certainly God does not need us for anything at all ever. But for reasons only known to God Himself He really likes to use people in His plans. He likes to include us and make us a part of what He is doing and it would seem that He uses these things to teach us, to mold us, to test and perfect our faith. It can be a painful process but don't you find that the best things in life require dedication, pain, and sacrifice? It is truly amazing How God includes us in His plans and weaves His purposes and blessings throughout it all. We go through these journeys, these trials, and come out the other end better, stronger, richer for it when we submit to Him.
Maybe you are finding yourself feeling helpless, defeated, weary, and at a loss of what to do. Sometimes the giant feels just too big to go up against. Or maybe you are frustrated, feeling fired up in full warrior mode wanting to battle. Whatever place you find yourself in the solution is the same. Remember that, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12. We all need to suit up and report for duty. We need to suit up in the full armor of God.
Paul shares this encouragement in Ephesians chapter 6:10-11 - "Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on His mighty power. Put on all of God's armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil's evil plans." These are dark days friends and there is more at work here than meets the eye. God has given us armor to protect and strengthen us for such a time as this. Let's use it all for His glory and for the benefit of one another.
Ephesians 6:13 - "So put on all of God's armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing."
How rad is this promise! That is for us, now. Let's look at how to practically put on this figurative armor.
Ephesians 6:14a - So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist."
In the old King James it refers to having your loins gird about. This speaks of the personal area of one's life. The private life of a believer needs to be surrounded in truth and we need to make sure we are tellers of truth. Oh my that is a tough one right now. It's so easy to be reactive and post something on social media that strikes a nerve. Are we seeking to make sure it's true? Does it edify and help the Body of Christ or does it cause more confusion and division? With all the confusion and lies abounding in society we need now more than ever to be in the Word of God. It is itself Truth and serves as a guide for the life of a believer.
Ephesians 6:13b - "Put on the breastplate of righteousness on your chest."
Putting on the breastplate of righteousness just means we need to be doing what is right. So many people have sad hearts, hard hearts, broken hearts because they did not put on the breastplate of righteousness. There's so much freedom and liberty in living right, knowing that you're not intentionally doing things that are not right. Righteousness, doing what is right protects the heart. This doesn't mean we won't feel convicted when we make mistakes. But there is such a huge difference between feeling convicted which spurs us on to returning to good works and condemnation which causes us to cower and run away from God. Just another reason to be reading the Bible so we are reminded and encouraged to live godly lives.
Ephesians 6:15 - "Put on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace."
Don't let that word peace distract you to what this verse means. Paul is talking about being ready for battle. That we need to have a solid footing prepared to fight against the enemy so we are able to share the Good News of Jesus, the gospel of peace. If we are wishy washy in our beliefs, in what we stand for, then we won't be sure-footed when the battle comes. The battle is here...now. We need to be strong and courageous in our beliefs, ready to go where God calls us, ready with our feet protected able to handle the terrain.
Ephesians 6:16 - Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."
I don't know about you but I have been bombarded as of late with these flaming arrows Paul speaks of here. Social media has been such a thorn lately. Passions have been peaking online and the hate and division stirs up so much strife, hurt feelings and anger. Have you noticed how much projecting and assuming happens on social media? Is it super frustrating, sad and just downright hurtful at times to anyone else besides me? Let's be real, Satan is having a field day with it all. What are we to do when Satan throws those fiery darts of anger, cynicism, envy, or gossip our way? We should do what Paul told Timothy to do...run! Run from them and follow after faith, pursue righteousness, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Be connected to the Lord. Read your Bible, meditate on it, pray, share with Him and listen to Him, and fellowship with other believers. Go to church or find some sort of fellowship where you can be encouraged and built up in your faith. We need each other...now more than ever. Be blessed and be a blessing one to the other in the faith.
Ephesians 6:17a - "Put on the helmet of salvation..."
The hope of our salvation is kind of everything isn't it. I believe this is what Paul is speaking of here. Not just the hope of spending eternity in Heaven but he is also speaking of the hope of the coming of the Lord. So many of the greats of the faith lived their lives with the anticipation of Jesus coming back. Luther, Augustine, Spurgeon, and Paul all lived with the anticipation of the eminent return of Jesus for His church. I think the reference to the helmet is referring to guarding our minds. Can you think of a time where we needed to our guard our minds more than we do now in this present season? I find myself grasping for truth and having to constantly take my thoughts and what enters into my mind to the Lord. Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus has never felt more important or more needed than it does right now.
Ephesian 6:17b ..."and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God."
God's Word is living and breathing. It equips us, comforts us, empowers us. Waving our sword so to speak keeps the enemy at a distance from us. We see in the Bible how the Word of God is used as a defensive weapon against sin. David said, "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you." Also, Jesus himself used the Word of God as His defense against the temptation of the enemy. If it's good enough for Jesus you can bet it's good for us too.
Ephesians 6:18 - "At all times pray by the power of the Spirit."
Prayer is like the long-range artillery in our arsenal. It is literally limitless and can reach anywhere and everywhere. From missionaries in Africa, to the President in the White House, to your prodigal son or daughter. Prayer is our beautiful lifeline to the Father. It has the power to change things, to change us, and to change others. I believe it's where the real beauty in our relationship with the Lord happens. Where we connect and commune with Him. It's where the peace comes, where confidence and reassurance resides. Prayer is water for our souls. We won't survive without it.
I believe God is calling all of us to pray like we have never prayed before by the power of the Spirit. What an honor to have access to the throne room of grace. God through His son Jesus offers us access to cry out to Him 24/7. He never sleeps and He never slumbers. A question that has frequently popped up in my mind lately is "do we post more than we pray?" I find myself getting lost in thought, trying to figure things out, trying to figure people out when I should be bringing those things to the Lord continually. Why would I try to figure it all out when God is there waiting to guide me in all of these things and so much more?
Friends, life is not a playground, it's a battleground. I think the reason why so many of us in the church are weak is because we aren't armed for battle. We need to take advantage of the equipment God has given us to navigate life and negotiate the war that surrounds us. We can stand in this season. We need to stand. We need to change our mindset from victim to victor. We have the victory in Him and that victory is not determined or changed by our circumstances. This is not the time to sit back and be a spectator. This is our time to shine our light to the world around us. Let's get on our knees, armor on, humble in spirit, filled with the love and peace of God. Let's go out and shine the light of peace and love to the world around us. Let's pick up our faith and leave fear and defeat at the door.
Cheers Friends! I'm praying for you all and for this great nation God has blessed us with.
In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. There's a mindbender for ya. Even though there are plenty of dangers and potential for harm when we are out in the elements, there is something so perfect about nature don't ya think? It's almost as if it were made just for us. When I think of nature I imagine the Lord in all of His creative and effortless splendor, preparing and speaking all of this magnificent beauty into existence. I see Him designing it for His masterpiece, made in His image, that He would form and breathe life into. He created nature for us. Ultimately it was made for Him and by Him for sure, but in Revelation 4:11 the Bible says that we were made for His own good pleasure. He wanted us. He wants us still and He loves us, and when we get outside and look around we see so much evidence of that great love. It's in the songs of the birds, the colors of the flowers, the brightness of the rainbows, the fruits and vegetation. It's in the beautiful and refreshing turquoise seas. As the waves crash on the shore they create that soothing, beautiful sound that showcases the mighty power of God and yet simultaneously exudes His gift of peacefulness as well. God loves us, He made us, and He knows what makes us tick, what's best for us and what we need. Nature happens to provide much of what we require physically, mentally and emotionally while providing a peaceful quiet place to commune and connect with God. Nature provides a special place to hear from Him in a way that is free from so many of the distractions of our day. Man, when I put it that way I am left asking myself the question, "why am I not outside more?"
Benefits of getting out in nature -
As we look at God's love and how He created nature for us to dwell in and enjoy, it's no wonder that it has many benefits for our wellbeing both physically, mentally and emotionally. Below I've listed some benefits of getting outside and what being in nature can do for us:
- acts as an antidote for stress
- lowers blood pressure and stress hormone levels
- enhances immune function
- reduces nervous system stimulation
- reduces anxiety
- improves mood
- boosts energy
- the natural sunlight helps mitigate pain
- exposes us to negative ions that neutralize free radicals, purifies our blood, promotes deep sleep
and healthy digestion, and kills and inhibits harmful bacteria and viruses.
I know right?! So friends, I encourage you to find a way to get outside. Whether it be a hike, a walk at the beach or sitting in your backyard and listening to the birds sing their God song, Getting outside is quite literally a breath of fresh air, good for body, mind and soul.
Outdoor Activity Ideas-
Grab the family or go solo and try one or all of these ventures:
- Go explore your outdoor community - walk, ride a bike, or just sit and immerse yourself
- Visit a local Farm
- Do a family or Community Scavenger Hunt
- Plant and grow a garden
- Go to the beach
- Go whale watching
- Go kayaking, Stand Up paddle Boarding, or swimming
My preferred outdoor activity will always include the beach. I enjoy hitting various beach towns and discovering their uniqueness. Every beach town has its own vibe and heartbeat. Last week my daughter and I went to Crystal Cove Beach. Below are some tips and ideas for exploring this charming place for anyone local or even not local. This is a great place to visit whether you live here or are on vacation. I highly recommend spending the day down here. It's a super fun activity to do with the kids, with your significant other, your bff, or if you want to get away from it all and be alone with God.
Crystal Cove Historic District
This charming little hidden gem is a must see in Orange County. You can park off of PCH in the Los Trancos parking lot. Google maps can take you there. You can hike down to the historic district and head to the beach or you can take the tram. I recommend hiking down and taking the tram back up : )
You can grab the tram in the Los Trancos parking Lot. Cost is
$1.50 and kids under 12 are free with a paying adult.
Parking is $5 an hour with a max of $15 for the day.
You can get your ticket validated for 4 hours when you eat at the
Or you can hike down to the beach through this super fun tunnel
that takes you under PCH and down to the Historic District.
Welcome to the cutest little beach village in Orange County. With it's 1930's Beach Resort vibe, this little slice of nostalgia is a sweet little haven that's fun to explore.
At the end of the district where the road finally meets the sand, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Beachcomber Cafe for ocean front dining. Make sure to get your parking pass validated for 4 hours of free parking.
Or you can take a hike up the stairs to the famous Shake Shack and get a treat with the kids for a more budget friendly option.
Once you've explored the District and had your fill at the Beachcomber Cafe and Shake Shack, enjoy exploring the beautiful coastline of Crystal Cove. They are known for their treasure trove of sea glass and colorful rocks along the shore.
Have you ever dreamt of staying in a charming beach cottage built in the 1930's? Yeah me too! Good news...we can! You can go to reservecalifornia.com to reserve a night or two at your dream cottage in Crystal Cove, but beware, it is no easy feat. I have yet to be successful in this endeavor but many of my friends have and it sounds amazing. Below are photos of some of the cottages you can stay in. I am suddenly motivated to try and grab a reservation at one of these beauties again.
So what is your favorite outdoor activity? What's your favorite beach town, outdoor restaurant or place to soak in the sun? Outdoor living is where it's at these days right? Covid pushed us all outside a little more than maybe some of us wanted. I say it's one of the silver linings of 2020. Share in the comments your fav outdoor dwellings.
Cheers to you fellow outdoor adventurers! I pray the Lord blesses you in this coming week with some sweet time in the great outdoors.
Desperate times call for desperate prayers. Haven't you found that to be true? I think now more than ever, people of faith are realizing this premise, that desperate times truly do call for desperate prayers. And it would seem that often times the harder the circumstance is that we find ourselves in, the louder our prayers become.
It was a year ago today that my husband went in for surgery to remove colon cancer. For me personally this was the hardest season of my life. It was the pinnacle of desperate times for me. We all have our story, our apex of rough seasons. I know each one of us have had our share of desperate times. Pain and sorrow eludes no one. But it's not often that we find ourselves all experiencing a season of desperation together, simultaneously. Though we all are experiencing on a personal level our own collateral damage as a result of this crazy season we find ourselves in, we are all in this one together. Together...doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Having each other, my goodness what a blessing. There is power in numbers. There is comfort in togetherness, in unity. Notice how God gives us each other and how the enemy comes in and tries to divide us? To destroy us, one against the other? Truly we are living in unprecedented times.
When I think of desperate times and crying out to the Lord, I think of David. I think the psalmist David is an amazing example, maybe the best ever, of a person crying out to God. David was a man of prayer and worship and he continually cries out to the Lord in the book of Psalms. He faced many many troubles. His life was filled with desperate times. Although He was anointed by God to be the chosen king, he spent years running from Saul who stood in his way. Saul was a maniac, crazed by jealousy and he continually pursued David. But time and time again God allowed David to be rescued and to escape. When God appoints a person for a job nobody is going to take them out till the job is done. David had fears of course, but again and again he cried out to the Lord.
In 2 Samuel 22:7 David says, "but in my distress I cried out to the Lord, yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry reached His ears."
So, like the psalmist David, are we crying out to Him in our distress? If not, what is keeping us from doing so? From election distress to world distress to perhaps personal and family distress, there is much right now that should cause us to cry out to the Lord. But why don't we more often? Here are just a few things that I think can keep us from doing so:
1. Pride and self sufficiency- we think we can handle it on our own and maybe even prefer to do so.
2. Unworthiness - we don't feel worthy to ask God for help
3. Doubt that He cares - we wonder if He even cares about our troubles.
4. Control over the situation - we want to control the situation and don't want to give it over to Him.
Crying out to God requires us to come to Him with open hands and open hearts saying, "Lord not my will but Yours be done." This can be so hard to do. For me this has been the hardest. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I found myself in a gut wrenchingly desperate circumstance. I'm a fixer, a protector, and at times a fierce warrior : ), but in this situation what could I possibly do? How could I possibly fix this? So much was out of my control. Pretty much all of it was out of my control. But where else would I go, and what else would I do than cry out to the Creator, Giver and Sustainer of life. My best friend and confidant. As I cried out to Him, He brought me to a place where I had to let go of the outcome that I wanted and I had to submit and trust Him. I had to trust my husband's life and my whole entire heart to Him and you know what, It was scary. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But, here's the thing. When you know God personally, when you know who He is, you trust Him. Though it might be hard to let go, you trust Him because you know that He is good, that He loves you, that He is sovereign over all things, that He is for you and you hold on to His promises like, "ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28 This is the key to a successful Christian walk that perseveres through the fiery trials of life. We need to know God on a personal level. Not just know about Him, but know Him intimately, know Him personally. And you know what's so amazing? You can never reach the end of Him. His depth goes and goes and we can go as deep as we want with God and never stop pursing that. We'll never reach the end. I remember back in the day when I was a waitress, I would notice on occasion couples that would come in, older couples, that would order their food, sit and eat, and literally never utter a word to each other. I would always think to myself, "How sad. I never want to come to that place where there's just nothing left to say to my loved one." It will never be that with God unless we let it. We can never reach that place where we think to ourselves "yep, nothing new under the sun here. I pretty much know everything there is to know about you. I'm bored." God is anything but boring.
So why if the Bible says He delivered David out of all his troubles do we have all this distress and trouble? To be honest, some of this takes faith that what God says is true, and knowing Him personally helps tremendously in trusting Him. But, scripture does give us some reasons why God might not respond to our cries.
Proverbs 21:13 says, "Whoever shuts their ears to the cries of the poor, will also cry out and not be answered." For those of us who live in California, this can be a difficult one. There are seemingly poor people on just about every corner. I don't think the Bible is speaking of people who are choosing a debased life. But, we need to be sensitive to the poor and eager and willing to listen and help when and where we can. This is the heart of God for sure. According to this verse in Proverbs, if we shut our ears to the needs of the poor then God will not answer our cries.
Malachi 2:13,14, "..you cover the Lord's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure. You cry out, "why doesn't the Lord accept my worship?' I'll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows." Many people are weeping, crying and complaining about their circumstances but are not interested for their heart to change. They want God's gifts and blessings but they turn away from Him. They want the gifts but they don't want the Giver. That makes my heart hurt for God. How sad to be the giver of every good thing and yet be rejected by so many so often. Lord help me to never be that. It isn't about our sin or our actions so much as it is about our heart, our willingness to turn it all over to Him. Honestly, it's the wisest, best thing any of us can ever do.
Hosea 7:14 says, "They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for new wine, and they turn away from me."
Although they cried out to God, their hearts and what came out of their mouths did not match up. They were hypocrites. They pretended to worship God but in actuality, they were carnally minded, self-seeking and were only out for themselves. Kind of makes me think of our nation today. Specifically Christians in America and actually myself. Are we praying and seeking God so we can keep our creature comforts and keep life comfy for ourselves? Are we sitting on our couches watching the news waling and asking God to do something so we don't have to be uncomfortable? Are we truly seeking God on the matters of the nation and the world with sincere hearts, wanting His will to be done above all else? That doesn't mean we don't ask Him for what we need and even what we want. He is a giver of good gifts and He knows what we need. But, at the core of it all, where are our hearts at? Are we as Christians coming at this carnally minded? Is this God's wake up call to the Church? These are all questions that I am asking myself.
God does not always deliver us on our timetable or in the way we had hoped. Ever notice how there are lots of occasions when you pray and cry out and it doesn't seem like God is doing anything? At least in the immediate timeframe. Maybe because God wants us to keep crying out. If we were to pray just once and poof all is fixed that would be great. But maybe God is wanting us to keep crying out for as long as it takes - to be persistent and persevering in prayer when it's hard, when it takes faith, when it looks like He's not doing anything.
In Exodus 2:24 it says, "God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." The Israelites cried out to God from Egypt in their slavery and it says that God heard them. But God didn't deliver the Israelites right away. They couldn't possibly know what He was going to do. During that time of crying and waiting, for all they knew God wasn't listening. They didn't have the whole story like we do. They didn't have the book of Exodus. They were living it.
Just because God doesn't answer and deliver right away doesn't mean He doesn't hear. Things got a lot worse before they got better for the Israelites. Their bondage became more intense until finally they were set free from Egypt. But then soon after God sent them into the desert for 40 years. He kept them in this state of needing God. They were continually brought to a place where they knew they needed God and cried out to Him. They were under pressure and needed to keep crying out to the Lord all the days of their lives.
When we find ourselves in troubling seasons we become more conscious of our need for Him. The more conscious we are of our need for Him the more we will cry out. Our Father in Heaven is not like an unjust judge. He longs to answer us. He is hearing, but He wants us to keep coming and to keep crying out to Him day and night for however long it takes.
Habakkuk 1:2 says, "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you "Violence!", but you do not save." So, was God hearing? Absolutely, yes! Could Habakkuk tell that God was hearing? No, so he cried out. God had a plan, He heard and was answering Habakkuk's prayers, just not in the way that he was hoping. Habakkuk had to come to the place of being willing and ready for God to do things His way.
You know who understands this more than anyone? Jesus. He prayed to the Father, He cried out in the Garden, He cried out on the cross. From a human perspective, it would've seemed that God the Father did not hear the cries of His son Jesus. That He didn't care. That He didn't save Him.
But, we all know that God did hear, He did save His son. Not in the way that I'm sure many were hoping. But, God had a grand plan in it all and aren't we grateful that He didn't answer in the way I'm sure the disciples must've wished for? He is the Grand Weaver. His plans and purposes are perfect and they are working out for our good.
These are trying days. They are desperate days for sure. But, God has allowed us to be here in this season, at this specific time. So I have to ask myself, "what would He have us to do?" As His ambassador, what is He wanting from me right now? As we read scripture and we look to our Bible Heroes for wisdom and guidance, we see that they cried out to the Lord continually. They actively sought the Lord. They pursued Him. And they trusted Him. They kept the faith. They committed themselves to Him and to His service. They were about their Father's business.
No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in today. Whether it be fear of - the upcoming election, social upheaval, Covid, finances, family issues, illness, loneliness, or just the unknown future itself, God is on the throne friends and when we cry out to Him with hands and hearts wide open, He is faithful in hearing us. He has allowed us to be in this season to remind us of our need for Him. We are not alone. We have Him and we have each other.
Cheers to you friends! Keep the faith, shine your light, and be encouraged. If God is for us who can be against us?
Lots of love,
Chasing and Embracing Change
"The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new"
Hi Friends! Are you ready for an adventure? Are you ready for a shift, for change, for new freshness? Is that even a phrase? Redundant perhaps, haha, but I like it. I want fresh! I want new! I want excitement, and adventure! And I want it all with Jesus. He is doing a new thing. Can you feel it? He is doing a fresh work. It's an exciting time that's for sure, and I don't want to miss out on any of it. I want to report for duty ready to go where He wants me to go and do what He wants me to do, but man, is anyone feeling a little lackluster and just blah physically and mentally during this Covid crazy season? Staying home so much these past 6 months, or however long it's been, well, it's not healthy. Not in any way.
I really love the premise of the quote above. When it comes to change there are two ways we can approach it. We can fight the old and strive for it, or we can build the new and embrace it. Change is tough. There's a reason for that old saying, "old habits die hard". The longer we practice something, the harder it is to break free from its grip. But, all things are possible with God, and although we don't always get to choose what comes our way in life (Corona Virus, The Great Toilet paper Shortage of 2020...) we do get to choose how we look at it, how we approach it.
As we run after God and all He has for us, I have found that it is vitally important to seek it out in the whole of the person, Body, Mind, and Spirit. If we are nourishing our Spirit but neglecting our body we will struggle to accomplish what He has planned for us. It inevitably will inhibit our abilities; brain fog, fatigue, mood swings, depression, just to name a few, can be a result from poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and just a plain ol' lack of essential, life giving vitamins and minerals that we find in whole foods that God created for our bodies to energize us and to cause us to thrive.
Although there is much uncertainty in our nation right now, it's important for us to remember that God is sovereign, that He is on the throne, and He is doing a new work. Like an athlete trains for competition, and like a soldier prepares for battle, let's prepare ourselves by fueling our bodies with whole, natural, life giving food. For sure we will be better off for it and will be more fired up to serve the Most High during this unprecedented season.
Below you will find a new recipe that is a great and tasty way to add more veggies into your diet. You guys, this one is a keeper. So good! Have fun with it. Add whatever veggies you love. The more the merrier and healthier too. Chicken sausage crumbled or chicken breast would be a great addition to this dish. If you make it let me know in the comments and tell me what you think.
This is a modified version of the Minimalist Bakers recipe. If you haven't been to their website I recommend it, minimalistbaker.com
Creamy White Vegetable Pasta
Photo by @minimalistbaker
GF - Gluten-Free
VG - Vegan
DF - Dairy-Free NS - Naturally sweetened
FOR SERVING optional
Running Toward Freedom
Happy Fall Ya'll
I love this time of year! Change is in the air. It's when the beaches finally clear out as vacationers go back home and kids go back to school. It's that time of year where the oceans and weather of Southern Cal are simultaneously their warmest and the sun starts to hit the earth from a different angle, giving it a special glow. It's when suddenly all things turn pumpkin; coffee, ice cream, muffins, and breads, giving us all the feels. It's when we move those chunky sweaters and hoodies to the forefront of our closet in eagerness to cuddle up in their warmth.
Although I am usually one who grieves the end of Summer and grips her tight with all my might to stay and linger as long as possible, I am embracing the shift of season a little early this year. Well, early for me which is right on time, haha. I guess it's only fitting seeing that it's the oddest year of my life, of all of our lives no doubt. Why wouldn't this be different too? Everything else this year has been.
With a new season upon us, and our country, and our world for that matter, seemingly in upheaval, isn't it a perfect and primed time for a change of direction? To recalibrate what we are living for? For what we are filling our days with? As our country watches and waits to see what the future holds, what's going to become of life as we know it, don't you just have a longing to rise above it all? To pull yourself out of this swirling vortex that we somehow seemed to have been pulled into unwantedly? Are we all longing for freedom from it all, from life as we currently know it? Anyone out there feeling that? Can I get an "amen sista!"
Freedom is an age old pursuit, one that people throughout history have longed for, fought for, and sometimes died for. Freedom in this world can be elusive, and once attained it's something we must protect and fight to keep. And It seems that there is always a threat looming about where freedom resides, to steal her away. Why is that and what can we do to keep her, treasure her, and run free in her beauty?
Although the climate in our country is intense these days and things seem confusing with great divide among many of its citizens; and though we may find ourselves in a place where we have to take a stand for what is right. to fight for our rights and for the rights of others; there is a freedom offered to all that no man, no circumstance, can steal, rob or destroy. Unlike the physical freedoms we enjoy and often times lose in this world, there is a freedom that dwells deep within the heart and spirit of a person and it comes from one source and one source only, that is the Lord Jesus Christ. When the world around us and when our own personal lives are in disarray, the freedom that we can have in Christ helps us rise above our circumstances. Like a tornado whirling about us, God is able and faithful to pull us above the vortex when we run after His commands, when we run to Him. That's where we find true peace, joy and freedom even in the most dire circumstances. We find it in Him.
In Psalm 119:32, the psalmist says, "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." What he speaks of here is not just keeping God's commands, he is actually saying I will quicken myself and do it. I will run after you with briskness and joy with cheerful readiness. That he will devote all his energies of his life to running after His commands, because God has set his heart free. When we run after God He sets our hearts free. And this is true freedom. It's the freedom our hearts long for, it's where peace and joy reside. This is where I want to reside! This is where I want to be! Running to God, running after Him with all I've got, with a heart of gratitude and love. I want to give Him my all. I want to give Him my everything.
So, who's with me? Who's ready and eager to kick it into gear? To run in the beautiful freedom that God offers us day by day, minute by minute? The blessings that flow from running in His freedom are so far reaching and go beyond our wildest dreams. There is much vying for our undivided attention, and there are many things we can fret over, but God has so much more for us if we will run to Him. We need not fear and can have joy and a free heart no matter the circumstances that surround us. I hope and pray you'll join me as we pursue God in a deeper way, seeking after Him and what He has for us in this season of our lives.
Cheers to you friends. I pray you experience God's freedom, His peace, and His great love that He has for you. Here's to adventures with Him and with each other.
Love you guys!
"But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
Lisa Gresham is married to her husband Marty, and is currently in her 12th year homeschooling their youngest daughter Bailey. She is a grandma, and is currently working with the Youth at her Church. She is a retired High School Teacher and Coach, is an avid Writer and has her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development. You will frequently find her on the beaches of Orange County in Southern California, her favorite dwelling place.