Some of our good friends from church have to be in Denmark for about three months for business, so my friend Steph and I decided to visit them recently. So glad we did! It’s officially my favorite vacation ever. It was the perfect blend of relaxing, sightseeing, traveling and spending time with our friends. Plus lots of great shopping and eating! Here’s a taste of our trip:
I recently read a great book called The Lion’s Gate. It’s about the Six Day War – when Israel was attacked by several surrounding countries in 1967. One day I was reading in it about a situation where Israeli forces entered an area surrounded by enemy soldiers hidden in trenches. The enemy began firing at their tanks. They were like sitting ducks. Staying where they were meant certain death for those soldiers. They had to move. The orders were given to enter the trenches and attack on foot. It sounds insane to attack on foot, but it was the only option, and the Israelis were able to overcome the enemy and keep advancing.
I had been battling discouragement the day I was reading this and wasn’t sure how to get past it. I was frustrated about still waiting for certain things in my life, not knowing how or when they’re going to happen. Frustrated over what can seem like a never-ending string of disappointments. And because all I could see before me was more of the same, I just began to feel paralyzed and overwhelmed, unable to fight off the looming despair. I began praying and asked God what to do.
His answer to me was “Keep moving forward.”
Now, this is not the answer I wanted! It doesn’t tell me how long I have to keep going. It doesn’t even tell me where to go beyond the next step. But then I remembered what I’d just been reading in The Lion’s Gate. It would have been terrifying to leave the tanks and attack those enemy trenches. But staying in the tanks was only going to get them killed. To achieve victory, they had to move forward. And I realized that moving forward was the only way to avoid being swallowed by fear and despair. And even if I didn’t have any answers beyond the next step, my God is with me and He is guiding me and He can see far beyond what I see. If I will trust Him, then He will lead me to victory.
What is required to keep moving forward? Hope. Hope that things can change. Hope that victory is possible. Hope that the waiting will one day end. Hope is what enables me to take the next step. When I’ve faced another disappointment, it can feel like the hardest thing to keep hoping. But Romans 8:24 says we are “saved by hope.” Why are we saved by hope? Because if we choose not to hope, there is nothing left but despair and destruction. Those Israeli soldiers moved forward out of necessity. They had to choose to hope and believe they could defeat their enemies because the only other alternative was death.
God encouraged me that when I feel surrounded by the enemies of my soul – despair, doubt, fear, bitterness, and whatever else – that the way to achieve victory is to keep moving forward toward Him, to refuse to give up. That day, I chose to hope and to take the next step forward – toward God as opposed to a step of retreat into doubt and unbelief. And as soon as I took that step of faith toward God, He met me. He renewed my strength and filled me once again with joy and confidence. And what had been a very hard point in time for me became a time full of unexpected blessings and new things!
So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by doubt and discouragement, keep moving forward and keep your eyes on the Lord. Do not retreat into bitterness and despair. Keep hoping! And when we do, the Lord will provide for every one of our needs, fill us with the fruit of His Spirit, and move mightily on our behalf. And we will not be ashamed of our hope!
About three weeks ago, I joined some friends on a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s a huge amusement park built on a Lake Erie peninsula with some of the most exciting and fun rides I’ve ever experienced. We spent two full days at the park going from ride to ride, taking a few breaks to eat and sit down – but not many! We had great weather, and I rode enough thrill rides to last me quite awhile. Other highlights were walking along the beach as the sun was starting to go down and staying at a really neat cabin near the amusement park. I was exhausted when I got home, but it was so fun. Lots of laughs and great memories from this trip!
I love this kind of dressing. Sometimes I buy a pre-made salad at one of the local grocery stores, and am always disappointed when they don’t have one with the Honey French dressing. To solve this problem, I realized I should just make my own. I tried not to get my hopes up, thinking it might not taste as good. No worries there! I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I CAN take credit for passing it along!
3/4 cup raw honey
1 Tbsp tomato paste or 1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp natural salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery seed
3/4 cup oil
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients EXCEPT oil. While machine is on low, slowly add oil in a steady stream to help it mix properly. Store in fridge.
*recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com
This past weekend, some friends and I drove into the mountains of Colorado to hike to the top of Mt. Quandary near Breckenridge. We started our ascent at 5:45 am and reached the summit around 10:30 am. It’s a beautiful view from 14,000 feet! The hike was definitely strenuous during the last leg, but after having gone so far, it gives you the motivation to keep going. And it felt so good to make it to the top! It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time.
Are you trying to achieve something in your life and have felt like quitting? Good! Why is that a good thing? Well, here’s a quote I’ve read that I really like:
“If you haven’t felt like quitting, your dreams aren’t big enough.”
If you’re trying to do something significant – raise great kids, start your own business, get in shape, learn a new skill – and are often tempted to give up, that’s okay! Achieving a big goal is not easy. It takes an ongoing investment of time and effort, and that means you’ll feel like to quitting along the way. When you want to give up, take a step back to look at the big picture. Remember why you’re trying to achieve this goal. And remember that accomplishing things of significance does not come easy. So keep going and keep dreaming big!
I love the story of Joseph. When he was seventeen years old, God gave him a vision signifying that Joseph would one day reign over his family members and beyond. Being hated by his brothers, he was sold by them into slavery and later found himself in prison after being wrongfully accused. During this time, Joseph continued to do the right thing and to trust the Lord, despite the most hopeless of circumstances, and despite it looking like God had forgotten him.
But our God is faithful, and He was preparing to do a mighty work through Joseph’s life, and to bring to pass that vision from years ago. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt due to the famine, and they found that Joseph had become a ruler in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. God did what He told Joseph He would do. But His timing is not our timing. Joseph was thirty when he was made a ruler, which means he waited thirteen years to see the vision fulfilled.
Pharaoh had also given him a wife, and Joseph named their firstborn son Manasseh, which means ‘causing to forget’. “For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house” (Genesis 41:51). And Joseph named their second child Ephraim, which means ‘I shall be doubly fruitful’. “For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).
God never wastes our toil and affliction! And if we will remain faithful and obedient, and continue to trust Him, our God will give us Manasseh and Ephraim. He will do wonderful things in our lives. He will produce strength of character and great faith in us. He will bless us. We will forget the pain as we see what He can do through those years of waiting, of hardship, all for His glory! He will make us fruitful in the very places that have seemed the most hopeless. The hardest trials will produce the greatest fruit, in our lives and beyond.
May we develop the faith and character of Joseph, and thereby see God do the impossible, and bring about Manasseh and Ephraim in our lives.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
It’s been a while since I posted about a favorite product of mine, so here goes! I’m a big fan of hydrogen peroxide. It’s cheap, all-natural and can be used in many ways. I’m guessing most of you have a bottle of this in your home already. But there are so many uses for it that maybe you’ll discover some new ones!
Whiten teeth (*use caution w/ amalgam fillings)
Relieve ear infections
Clean counters, tubs, glass
Disinfect cutting boards
Fruit and vegetable wash
Whiten and brighten laundry
Wound care and antiseptic
Treat various fungal & bacterial infections
Has anyone found other uses for hydrogen peroxide?
So thankful for all the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
-‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA!