Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Hanging Lake Hike–The Best Mother’s Day Gift EVER!!!!

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.   You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.       –Psalm 36:5-9

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Know any mothers who chose to celebrate Mother’s Day without their kids?  This girl!  Was there a little bit of guilt about this? Yes, but I’ve made my peace with it since then…

This year when Ryan asked what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, I told him I wanted to hike Hanging Lake with my Mom sans kids.  And being the awesome husband he is, he was up for it.  This was the most selfless, amazing gift I’ve received.  It meant Ryan would take care of our kids all day on a Saturday because Hanging Lake was about three hours away which meant my mom and I would be gone for at least six hours plus hiking time.  I tried to arrange for a babysitter to give Ryan a break for a few hours but all the sitters I contacted already had plans that Saturday.  Luckily, Ryan’s dad and stepmom offered to take the kids for a few hours so Ryan got a break in his long day of childcare.  To me, Ryan’s gift to me this Mother’s Day was lavish, abundant love.  A gift that spoke right to my heart that he cared enough to give me a gift that he knew I would treasure.

104_4134So why Hanging Lake? Over the years I’ve lived in Colorado, Hanging Lake always comes up as an amazing place to visit.  Its located outside of Glenwood Springs just off the scenic I-70 and is a serene and beautiful lake high up in the mountains.  The main website labeled the hike as “strenuous” and the signs at the trailhead described it as “difficult” (most of the hike is at a decent incline, you climb up a lot of rock “steps”).   Surprisingly, these descriptors did not deter me!  I love to go for walks and hike but couldn’t say that I was in the best shape at this time.  But I was going to hike to Hanging Lake, even if it kicked my butt!  Even if I was red-faced and taking frequent breaks on the side of the trail, I was going to get up to that lake! (for those who are concerned about this hike being difficult, it really wasn’t that bad.  I was definitely not the worst hiker on this trail and when I did need to stop for a break, there were plenty of spots to relax without impeding other hikers and it gave me more time to soak in the beauty all around me!) 

Another challenge, we had also heard that parking at the trailhead was really difficult to get, especially on weekends and during the summer.  There were only so many spots and because it was just off the interstate, you could not “creatively” park just off the lot if it was full.  Websites recommended bringing a bike and biking in from other points near Glenwood Springs.  So my mom and I decided we’d try to get there super early (meaning we’d leave around 5am or 6am from our place) AND we’d bring a bike in case we had to park elsewhere (one of us would drop the other off at the trailhead and wait for the other to bike in).

The morning of our hike, I slept through my alarm but we still made it out the door at a decent time.  The drive towards Glenwood Springs was amazing.  I hadn’t realized how little time my mom and I have had to talk with each other, uninterrupted.  Usually there are two kids bouncing around near us which we love but it means we don’t always get to finish a sentence much less have a coherent conversation!  Having time to talk and just “do life” with my mom was priceless.  It made me feel so blessed all over again that she and my dad had taken the leap and moved out to Colorado.  To me, this time with her was a very tangible picture not just of Ryan’s selfless gift to me but also of God’s abundant goodness and lavish generosity in giving me time in person with my wonderful Mom.

When we exited I-70 and pulled into the parking lot, we were speechless!  The parking lot we expected to be full was 75% empty and even better, when we drove through it, the truck in the parking spot closest to the trailhead, backed out giving us the best possible parking spot ever!  We just wanted a parking spot in the lot, to give us the best one there, icing on the cake!  Someone was looking down and smiling!  Could it get better than this? The fact that it was the day before Mother’s Day and the forecast called for rain could have played into this blessing but we’ll take it!!!

So could it get better than this?  Definitely, and it did.  See for yourself.  A picture can speak a thousand words.

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Beautiful trees, gorgeous rocks, and a bubbling mountain river that meandered alongside the trail the entire way up to Hanging Lake.

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Inhaling fresh and crisp pine- scented mountain air while listening to rushing water as we ascended.

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Here’s the lake itself and the waterfall that provides mountain water to it…

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The trail wasn’t busy and when we did encounter other hikers, there was an easy camaraderie. In case you’re curious, it did start to rain as we ventured back down.  But it was a light, misty rain.  Even it was beautiful…

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104_4164As we hiked, my mom and I both pondered how Hanging Lake was just one place on earth that was so unbelievably beautiful that God created and experienced all day, every day…even more, how only He sees breathtakingly beautiful deep sea fish, how He sees every wave, every sunrise and sunset, every beautiful aspect of our planet even if we don’t.  He is lavish about beauty, abundant in goodness.  He does not just create functional or practical things.  He delights in blowing our mind with beauty!  Why do we doubt His heart?

God has been teaching me lately about His generosity, lavish love, and abundance.  I guess I’ve known that He’d provide for our needs, but so many verses speak to Him wanting to not just stop there but going above and beyond.  His heart is good.

And my day at Hanging Lake was a reminder that God delights in blessing us in small and in big ways. Why do I doubt so often?  Why do my expectations of God pale in comparison to what He actually is all about?  Ephesians 3:20 has challenged me lately, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

I’ll close with an excerpt from Jesus Calling.  Sarah Young speaks often about our God being a God of abundance.  Here is one excerpt that spoke straight to my heart and resonates with how I felt about my Hanging Lake day—that God was a God of details throughout it all:

I am a God of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance. When you entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how thoroughly I answer your petitions. I take pleasure in hearing your prayers, so feel free to bring Me all your requests. The more you pray, the more answers you can receive. Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers.

Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I AM. Come to Me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need—and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on My beloved children. Come to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you.

Psalm 36:7-9, Psalm 132:15, John 6:12-13, John 10:10

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The Power of Prayer

A few months ago, God gave me a special blessing.  I was at a fundraiser for a ministry that works with high-risk youth, the very youth I’ve worked with over the years.  When a video came on highlighting some of the youth who had been touched by God through this ministry, two of the three kids on the video were ones I had worked with in years past and ones who God had burdened me to pray a lot for even after they had moved on to other facilities.  I had no clue at the time that they had reached out to a faith-based ministry, I just felt called to pray for them.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear how God had been at work in these kids’ lives and how prayer, not just mine but many prayers by many believers for these kids, had made a difference.  I love it when God gives us a glimpse of what He’s doing in our world and that night has changed me!

I don’t “get” how prayer works but over the last year to year and a half, I’ve become such a believer that it is where our power lies.  The power is there because it is God who moves, God who works, God who heals, changes, and does miracles.  Prayer is a way He invites us to be involved in the process.  I don’t exactly know how it all works together, but I know it does, and I’m committed to becoming more of a prayer warrior than I used to be.

One of my MOPs leaders shared the following thought with our group.  I’m not sure if it’s her words or if she was quoting someone else but it stuck with me so I don’t know who to give credit to:

“We need to be intentional about our prayer life.  If Satan can get us not to pray, he has a victory.  Getting us not to pray is often our enemy’s biggest target.  It is the stealthiest way to quench our relationship with Christ rendering our lives powerless.  We need to have a plan and be intentional.”

Another quote about prayer that touched my heart is:

“The power of prayer has overcome the strength of fire; it has checked the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, quenched wars, calmed the atmosphere, exorcised demons, broken off the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, curbed diseases, prevented frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stopped the sun in its course, and arrested the momentum of thunderbolts.  Prayer is an all-sufficient exercise, a treasure that does not fade, a mine which is never depleted, a sky not hidden by clouds, a heaven undisturbed by the storm.  It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings.”  -Chrysosom

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If you believe in the power of prayer, how have you interwoven it into your daily life?  I used to keep a prayer journal but have tried something new lately and have found it pretty useful.  An idea I got from our winter MOPs retreat was to create a list of the people or issues you want to pray regularly for and divide them by seven.  Then assign a day of the week to each of the seven groupings.  I’ve done this and hung it in my shower and it’s helped me pray consistently for what’s important to me.

What else have you done to incorporate prayer into your daily life?  Comment below!

Wet Paint: Giada’s Apricot & Cranberry Chewy Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love granola bars.  Well, I stumbled upon another AWESOME version that may even replace my regular ones (see this link for my old favorite homemade granola bar recipe: Homemade Chocolate Oatmeal Granola Bars).

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So this new granola bar recipe comes out of Giada De Laurentiis’s “Giada’s Feel Good Food” cookbook.  Giada is a regular on the Food Network but not someone I’ve watched regularly.  I was drawn to her cookbook because her focus seemed to be yummy but healthy food.  The recipes also haven’t required a lot of ingredients I had never heard of before.  So far, I’ve made 3 or 4 of her recipes, all of them have been hits which was surprising as I have some opinionated eaters!  Ryan liked these along with both kids.  After their first bite, the kids kept clamoring for more of the bars.  It actually cracked me up!

Back to these granola bars, I know I’ll be making them often as I can’t get enough of them and they’re a great snack or breakfast option.  I LOVE, love, LoVe that there is no sugar in this recipe (she utilizes honey) and that flaxseed meal is included (extra Omegas anyone?).  This recipe also made me realize how amazing walnuts are!  And the granola bar recipe requires parchment paper, which I’ve had in my kitchen FOREVER, and rarely use.  I love that I can use it up making something YUMMY!  Ah, it’s the little joys in life…

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Giada’s Apricot & Cranberry Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

Ingredients:

¾ cup of honey

1 tsp. salt

½ cup of grapeseed oil *

½ cup chopped almonds

½ cup walnuts

3 lg. egg whites at room temperature

½ tsp. vanilla

2 cups rolled oats

½ cups flaxseed meal

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup raisins

½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries

6 dried apricots—cut into ½ inch pieces (I used dried mangos I had on hand)

*Ever since I started cooking with Wildtree products, I’ve become a fan of grapeseed oil. The first time I made these bars, I only had Wildtree’s Lemon Zesty Grapeseed Oil in my pantry so I used it.  It was absolutely DELICIOUS.  The second time I made these bars, I did half lemon grapeseed oil and half coconut oil and the bars stayed together better.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 and ensure oven rack is in the middle of oven. Spray baking dish.  Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray too.  104_4080

In a large bowl, whisk together honey, oil, egg whites, and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Pour oat mixture into the honey mixture and stir until coated. 

 

Stir in the nuts and fruit. 104_4066

 

 

 

 

Transfer mixture to the baking dish.  Press the bars down.  Bake until light golden, about 35 minutes.  Put baking dish on wire rack to cool for about a half hour.  Cut into one inch square bars.

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Jesus Calling…Moment by Moment…

book_JesusCalling_MDYou are on the path of my choosing.  There is no randomness about your life.  Here and now comprise the coordinate of your daily life.  Most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived.  They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place.  They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space.  They forget their Creator, who walks with them only in the present.

Every moment is alive with My glorious Presence, to those whose hearts are intimately connected with Mine.  As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have no time for worry.  Thus, you are freed to let My Spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of peace.

Luke 12:25-26; Luke 1:79

“Pray Big” by Will Davis, Jr.

Our local MOPs sends out different resources to the moms occasionally via email.  The other day I received a moving prayer that I decided to share here.  It’s from “Pray Big” by Will Davis, Jr.20140408_171610

Holy Father, we ask you to pour out your favor on our sweet children.  Jesus, we bring them to you through holy intercession, asking you to place your hands on them and intercede for them.

We pray for their hands.  Let them be engaged in acts of giving, ministry, and service.  Keep them free from acts of sin.  Teach them to raise their hands to you in worship and surrender.  More importantly, teach them to live in a posture of worship and surrender.

We pray for our children’s feet.  O Lord, keep them clean and pure.  May our children be quick to run toward ministry and opportunities to serve others.  May they also be quick to flee from temptation.  May their feet be accustomed to traveling the high road.  Teach them to walk firmly in your ways.  Make them surefooted; let them not be tripped up by sin.  

Father, we pray for their mouths. Let them speak only what is true. Keep our children free from all forms of spoken sin–exaggeration, boasting, lying, gossip, slander, cursing, overpromising, criticism, and inauthenticity. May they be fully committed to the truth. Train them by your Spirit to always speak truth in love. We pray also that our kids would be hungry and thirsty for your Word. Let them pant and long for the promises of your holy Scriptures.

O Father, protect their eyes. Protect them from the many vile and worthless images that assault them every day. Teach them to turn away from looking at wickedness. Please protect them from seeing violence and carnality that would wound their souls. Bombard their eyes with that which is true, holy, pure, and worthy of praise.

And finally, Father, we pray for our children’s hearts. Expand their hearts. Make them soft soil. Please use your Word to grow and strengthen them. Teach our children to run the way of your holy commands. Help them see that life and freedom are found in the blessed commands of you Word. O Father, let them run in freedom and joy because they are committed to your teachings.

We pray all this for our sweet kids. Please cover them from head to toe.

In Jesus’s awesome name.

Amen.

Wet Paint: Costco Sweet Kale Salad & KIND Bars

Wow, I have not written anything on this blog since last October.  Crazy!  Life got so busy and since I was writing reports for work, I was not motivated to write on the blog too.  How’ve you been? I absolutely cannot believe it’s May already.  Summer is around the corner.

Speaking of summer, today I wanted to share two foods I absolutely love that are perfect for spring and summer eating.  One is a super easy salad that will travel really well–for a picnic or a get-together with friends.  The other works well as a snack to eat on the go or something you can toss in your backpack when going to the park with the kids or on a long hike.

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The first one is Costco’s Sweet Kale Salad, one of my all-time favorite salads.  It was actually the reason I got a Costco membership, it was that good!  I originally experienced the awesomeness of this salad when a friend brought it to our small group at church.  Over the coming months, she’d bring it again and again when we had dinner together because everyone would rave about it.  And every time she’d bring the salad, I’d ask for the recipe.  Yep, now that I’m a mom, my memory is shot!!!!  Any other mothers out there that can relate?  Anyway, every time I’d ask, she’d remind me that it was a pre-made salad kit she got at Costco.  So I tried to get my friends who did the Costco thing to buy it for me when they went, but because I wanted it so often, this was not a good solution!  So I decided to go directly to the source and have been enjoying a Costco membership ever since!  One more note about the salad itself, not only is it delicious, it also contains SEVEN super foods!  Check it out!

The second food I’ve fallen in love with in the past six months is KIND Bars.  I was first introduced to them through Evan’s feeding therapist.  She had a friend at the KIND company who would give her samples to share with others.  I loved KIND bars from the first time I tried them and pretty soon I was not just looking forward to Evan’s feeding therapy appointments for the practical help but also for the KIND bars the therapist would bring along!  : )

What’s the deal with KIND bars?  Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they are a healthier alternative to typical granola bars out there.  KIND bars are made mostly of nuts and do not have much sugar which is opposite of most other store-bought granola bars.  And they have so many creative flavors, so many that I’m not going to list them all here but I’ll give a few examples: Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Cranberry Almond, Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew, Apple Cinnamon & Pecan, and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan.

I’m a chocolate-aholic so imagine my surprise when my favorite KIND bars were non-chocolate ones.  The one that first got me hooked was Cranberry Almond, but I have also fallen in love with the Maple Glazed and the Blueberry ones.

Where can you get KIND Bars?  I originally started buying them at our local natural food store, Natural Grocers-Vitamin Cottage, but have also seen them at Sprouts and Target.  They’re located in the nutritional bar/nutrition supplements section at most stores.  I’m going to warn you, they’re more expensive than a typical granola bar but they’re so much better for you too!  You can also purchase them through Amazon in mass quantities and if you utilize Amazon Prime to get free shipping, the cost per bar is significantly cheaper than buying it in a store.

Evan’s feeding therapist passed my info onto her contact at KIND and imagine my awe when I opened our front door one day to find a huge box FULL of boxes of KIND bars.  I didn’t keep them all for myself, I was KIND and shared the love.  I almost felt like I was a KIND bar dealer, trying to get people hooked with free ones so they would go out and buy more.  Go out and get yourself one….or a box of them.  I guarantee you that you won’t regret it!