The Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This quote is from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

I want to live my life as the man in the arena, not the critic on the sideline!

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

We have a Kitchen Aid mixer at our house, including the fancy ice cream-making accessory. It should be simple to make a yummy frozen concoction, but I’ve managed to mess up on a different step each time, including my latest attempt at making frozen yogurt. One of these days, Kitchen Aid, I will achieve ice cream success with you! For Plan B, I just put the mixture in a glass dish in the freezer to let it harden. It still tastes good, so I recommend giving this easy recipe a try!

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
32 oz. full-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup sugar
Toppings

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Directions

Blend cream, yogurt, vanilla and sugar until completely combined. Pour mixture into dish and freeze for about two hours. OR, unlike me, you can correctly follow the instructions for your ice cream maker and have it ready sooner! 🙂
Top with berries or peanut butter cups or whatever sounds good!

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Adapted from:
http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/simple-vanilla-frozen-yogurt/

Perfect Peace

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

                        – Isaiah 26:3

So often I’m filled with nothing resembling perfect peace. Instead I am filled with doubt, fear and anxiety. But I know it doesn’t have to be this way, and this verse gives me the answer to having peace – my mind must be focused on the Lord. I must remember who He is and that He is capable of taking care of my needs. When I truly put my hope and trust in His Word and His character, that perfect peace begins to grow. A peace that passes understanding. Thank You, Lord!

Granola Bars

These granola bars are so yummy! I’ve made them several times. To make mine, I used almonds, cashews, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins. I’m sure they’d be good with a variety of other things – experiment!

granola bars 1

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups mixed nuts and seeds
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup coconut or other oil
1/3 cup peanut/nut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

Place nuts and seeds in food processor, pulsing until roughly chopped. In large bowl, combine nuts and seeds, coconut, dried fruit and chocolate chips.

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In a large saucepan, warm and mix remaining ingredients. Turn off heat and pour nut mixture into saucepan and combine. Pour mixture into an 8 X 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press firmly and evenly into pan. Freeze for two hours. Store in the fridge or freezer.

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*adapted from http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/

The one who steals our joy

In  John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The devil never stops, and one of his tactics is that he tries to steal my joy. I so often find myself struggling to walk in joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so by seeking God’s face consistently, I will find myself full of His life and therefore full of joy. But it’s so easy to let some minor thing annoy or worry me, and if I don’t recognize this as a point of attack, I’ll soon be consumed by it. This just happened to me this morning. I found myself becoming overwhelmed and distracted by something that was not even a real issue – nothing that I needed to repent of, nothing that truly needed to change. But I couldn’t get past it, and instead of focusing on God, I found myself unable to stop thinking about this “issue.” And my joy was soon replaced with fretting and unprofitable thoughts.

I am thankful I’m getting better at stopping in these moments and realizing what is going on. When God is the one bringing conviction, He always brings hope and direction with it. He shows me what’s wrong and what I need to do. When it’s the devil bringing something to my attention, I just feel overwhelmed and confused. It steals my joy and brings discouragement and despair.

I’m so thankful Jesus died to give us victory, freedom and power over our thoughts and emotions. Through the enabling power of God’s Spirit, I don’t have to let the enemy steal my joy! As soon as I recognized the lie I was believing and that I didn’t have to give into it, the enemy began to lose this battle. I simply looked to God and asked Him to help me believe the truth and focus on Him. And before I knew it, peace and joy returned and I was no longer worried about that non-issue. Thank You, Lord! Now, on with life and life more abundant!

 

Lemon Curd

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This lemon curd recipe is wonderful. It’s incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way. Try it with berries and whipped cream, in crepes, or simply by the spoonful!

Ingredients
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup low-carb sweetener or sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled for five minutes

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Directions
In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and sweetener until mixture is very smooth.
Add melted butter and whisk until smooth.
Using a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, cook mixture over very low heat, stirring regularly, until mixture thickens – about 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings

Choosing Joy

Recently, I found myself battling a severe case of discouragement and weariness, and a need for direction from the Lord. Often times, I am able to pray and ask God to give me what I need, and I soon find that He has given me joy and strength in place of discouragement and weariness, and has given me things to encourage me. This time, however, it wasn’t happening as quickly as I wanted. As I was expressing my frustration about this to God, I felt like He said “Choose joy.”

I immediately felt my spirit resist and bristle. “No, Lord!” was my initial reaction. I was still waiting for Him to give me clear direction. And, I actually wanted Him to just give me joy without requiring any step of faith on my part. Choosing joy right there in that moment sounded like too much for Him to ask of me. The real problem was that I felt entitled to a little self-pity and a little frustration. I felt I had the right to avoid choosing joy, and instead wanted to wait until God gave me answers before I let my heart be joyful.

This time He was asking me to choose joy before He answered my prayers for guidance and practical encouragement. And I didn’t think that sounded fair or easy. But I knew if He was asking me to do it, then it wasn’t impossible, and it was the best thing for me to do. Nothing in me felt joyful or wanted to feel joyful. But when it comes to obeying God, our feelings can’t be the determining factor. So, I took a step of faith and told God I would choose to be joyful right in that moment, and I asked Him to help me do it.

And as soon as I took that step of obedience, guess what came? Joy. The hard part is that something like choosing joy when we don’t feel like it isn’t a one-time choice. The waves of doubt and discouragement didn’t stop trying to overwhelm me, and I found myself having to choose joy over and over again. But “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). That’s not just a flowery phrase. That’s a promise from the throne room of heaven, a promise backed by the blood of Jesus Christ for those who truly put their trust in Him.

Choosing joy when nothing in me wants to choose joy is included in “all things” – just like every other thing God calls me to do. Not by my own effort or power, but through faith in Christ and in His power. “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

I’ve learned that I can choose joy regardless of my circumstances, and regardless of whether or not I’ve gotten an answer to my prayer yet. And God did give me the guidance I needed and the practical encouragement for which I asked. He is so good!