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.