Posted in Food + Such

Simple & Wonderful

It is almost SUMMER TIME! My favorite time of year. Summers in North Texas are hot, hot, hot and sometimes humid, so that usually makes me crave bright, fresh, mostly raw, whole foods. Here are some of my favorite (fairly easy) summer-time meals that are full of nutrients and good flavor!


LIGHT ASIAN RICE SALAD

  • Jasmine rice (1/2 frozen bag from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • handful of radicchio
  • 1 can of corn (no salt added)
  • 1 stalk green onion (chive)
  • small bunch of cilantro (for taste)
  • 1-2 mangos
  • handful of cashews (unroasted, unsalted)
  • 1 lime

COLD ASIAN NOODLE SALAD

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  • homemade noodle sauce:
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1/2 stalk of green onion (chive)
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • sprinkle of black sesame seeds
  • 1 pack of soba or udon noodles (after strained, rinse with cold water)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 stalk of green onion (chive)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • top with roasted peanuts

 


HOMEMADE VEGGIE SUSHI 

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  • sushi nori (vegan, organic)
  • white sticky rice
  • 2 limes
  • sliced mango
  • sliced bell peppers
  • ribboned kale/cabbage
  • sliced cucumbers
  • sliced green onion
  • sliced avocado
  • Whole Foods pre-made pineapple salsa
  • Kimchi Sweet & Sour sauce (no oil)
  • soy sauce (optional)

 


LOADED KALE SALAD 

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  • washed, ribboned kale
  • washed, ribboned arugula
  • shredded carrots
  • shredded radicchio
  • broccoli
  • avocado
  • diced bell pepper
  • diced red onion
  • quinoa
  • Whole Foods | No Oil dressing
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Posted in Food + Such

Building a Mason Jar Salad

MASON JAR SALADS!

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This is the best invention EVER for those trying to eat well while keeping up with a busy schedule! Typically, they stay fresh for about a week, just know — angry greens + any types of beans will smell a bit rank after a short few days, but don’t be afraid!

They are still edible + nutrient dense!

 

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The best way to avoid your lettuce + other soft veggies getting soggy is to put the hard/wet things at the bottom, i.e. dressing, broccoli, cabbage, chickpeas, etc, so you end up stacking leaves/peas/peppers/fruit at the top of the jar. 

A 44 oz Mason jar is enough for a full lunch amount, but I typically end up adding extra leaves/greens once I dump it into a bowl because I literally can never get enough!


As far as dressings go, I like to change mine up. I don’t eat any/all oils, but Whole Foods has a few bottled dressings with no oil + they are DELISH!

The sesame ginger + pomegranate balsamic are my two favorites. Often times I’ll just mix in an avocado + drizzle lemon juice with a dash of pepper.

Once you develop your palette further + further, you will discover the amazing + unbelievable layers of flavor in vegetables + fruits! I’m sure I sound like a dork,

BUT I DON’T CARE!

THAT is how awesome plants are.


 

I’ve covered a few ingredients, but below is a full list of things to make sure you are getting a full rainbow of nutrients each day. And, the best part is, you can play around with different styles + flavors! Plants provide endless options!

Get creative!


 

And just look how pretty they can make your fridge look… Ugh. I just love ‘em.

 

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GREENS:

 

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (purple/green)
  • Green onion
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Spring mix
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Edamame  
  • Celery
  • Brussel sprouts

 

BEANS:

 

  • Chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • Kidney
  • Black
  • Cannellini
  • Navy
  • Black eyed peas
  • Pinto

 

GRAINS:

 

  • Quinoa (color blend)
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Ground chia

 

VEGGIES/FRUIT/MISC:

 

  • Bell peppers (all colors)
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Apple
  • Red onion
  • Bokchoy

 

NUTS:

 

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pine
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts

 

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The food is amazing, yes, but the best part about it is having friends to enjoy it with you.

Culture + community have more to do with diet than I realized, + WOW! Jill Hawkins was the one to inspire me to make this transition, + has been the one who’s encouraged + (patiently) helped me get to where I am now!  

Find someone in your life who urges you on to greatness in all areas…you never know where you could end up! God has big plans for YOU!

Enjoy the ride, friends! 

Posted in Food + Such

Super Fun Super Foods

Think plant-based eaters can’t enjoy a good party or have fun eating at all? WRONG!! Our options are endless!!!

Hummus + ranch with veggies, Texas caviar + dipping peppers, chili, potato soup…the list goes on!

The saddest thing I hear way too often is that once you go plant-based, life gets boring + you can’t have fun anymore. DON’T BELIEVE IT! This simply isn’t just a diet or a fad or a craze; it’s a true lifestyle change.

I truly believe this is how we were created (in God’s image) to eat. Walking in the cool of the day, through the garden, yielding the fruit of the seeds He planted. He gave all of this to us TO EAT + prosper from (Gen. 1:29).

Ok, I won’t go too far into that, but you get the gist. Veggies are great. Plants are great. God is great.

So, here’s the deal – don’t be afraid!! I’ll say it again — don’t be afraid! Working with whole foods is not a scary thing. We have not been told for too long about how truly good the “good foods” really are for us! There are thousands of unidentified + undiscovered phytochemicals + nutrients in veggies + fruits…but just think about the ones we already know of!?! How crazy amazing is God!?!?!

Down to business…

I’m sure some out there are, so, if you’re concerned about, say, desserts and having to work with dates or anything that doesn’t come out of a box, don’t worry! Forks Over Kives’ (along with hundreds of other resources + magazines) website offers an easy + YUMMY Brownie recipe. I topped mine off with walnuts, + tastes even better served with a side of fruit!

That’s what’s fun about this—you can be CREATIVE! There are few vegetables or fruits or plants that I’ve put together and gone, “Meh, not so good.” But, you’ve gotta be willing to fail…you’re not gonna nail it every time, but that’s okay! Don’t give up!!

Today I decided to use up what I had in my fridge + pantry which was: 2 carrots, 1/2 white onion, 1 bunch bok choy, 2 green bell peppers, 1 hannah yam, and micro greens.

Instructions:

  • Pour 2 cups of veggie broth (Whole Foods brand) into pan with 1/2 tbsp of thyme until it’s warm. Then dump cubed potato + sliced carrots, simmer on med-high heat for roughly 10 min, covered.
  • Once soft, dump onion + green bell pepper in with a 1/4 cup more of broth, simmer on med heat for roughly 5-10 min, covered.

  • Then throw bok choy in with 3/4 cups veggie broth + a dash of black pepper.

  • Let that all sit for about 10 minutes on low heat, covered.

  • Serve hot + top it off with a small bunch of fresh broccoli micro greens.

This recipe took me about an hour to prepare + cook. Super easy, super yummy—who doesn’t want that!?! I had no recipe to follow but just threw everything into a pot + hoped for the best.

I really, really, really, really, REALLY love food. Like, really. So I hope this is helpful + encouraging to you! Just don’t give up…keep trying! You can do it!!

Posted in Food + Such

How to Eat Well On-the-Go

Over time I have noticed that the hardest hill to climb in achieving a consistent, healthy diet is the inconvenience of not having pre-packaged, on-the-go options. I know we all live so fast and busy, which can bump eating well down on the list of priorities, but I hope my tips and experiences are helpful and maybe even spark new ideas!

 


 

HOW TO GET YOUR VEGGIES IN: 

I looove my veggies (and I hope you do, too!!!). One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make sure I’m eating enough of them is prepping at the beginning of the week. I pre-wash everything so I don’t have to worry about doing so each time I have to leave my house and throw things in a Ziploc or get home late from work and need to eat as quick as possible so I can get to bed at a decent hour.

I typically will have carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, or celery, and a tub of hummus (I like Cedar’s but my family’s homemade recipe is my favorite) as a snack. I also throw blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries into a big tupperware bowl so they’re ready to scoop out and take with you wherever and whenever you need to go!

As for meals on the go, I make a big pot of either quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice to throw underneath some yummy roasted veggies or mix with spaghetti squash at any time of the week. Also having pre-cooked lentils, black beans, or garbanzos are a good option to have available to add to any meal.

Some favorite pairings of mine are:

  • asparagus, sweet potato, and red onion
  • bell peppers, brussel sprouts, and yellow squash
  • zucchini, sweet potato, and bell peppers
  • broccoli, bell peppers, and red onion

Oh, and mushrooms with EVERYTHING!!!

My all-time favorite seasoning is ‘Slap-Ya-Mama’s’. It. Is. The. BOMB-DIGGITY. Also, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar while sautéing your meals is life-changing. I promise. If you’re feeling Italian, though, Dave’s gourmet pasta sauce (sold only at Sprouts, I’ve found) is like heaven for your tastebuds. I haven’t ever been a huge spaghetti sauce fan, but this stuff is DELICIOUS!!! I will usually just chop up a lot of veggies (to make sure I get those nutrients in), sauté, and then dump on top of my spaghetti squash. It is YUMMY!

Whenever I’m prepping a fresh meal at home, I typically throw about 3 big handfuls of spinach or kale into a saute pan with other veggies. Health professionals say we need to be eating leafy greens 6 TIMES a day. YES- 6!!! That is a lot, I hear you, but you will feel so different due to the amount of fiber and nutrients you’re receiving. (If you are skeptical, you can find more information here)

 

FINDING WAYS TO GET THOSE GREENS IN: 

It may seem weird, but it honestly isn’t as bad as you might think…. Some mornings, I boil some kale and mix it into my oatmeal. Once I’ve added berries, nuts, flaxseed, and maybe some almond milk or coconut sugar, I can hardly even notice those greens!


 

PACKAGED OPTIONS THAT ARE NOT FILLED WITH CRAP:

I love, love, love Lenny + Larry’s Protein Cookies. Snicker doodle + Lemon Poppyseed are my favorites, but they are all verrrry tasty! Lärabars are also a great option if you only have time to run in whole foods and snag something off the shelf.

The things about those products is that they are not only protein dense, but also have a great amount of fiber. Our issue these days is NOT getting enough protein in our diet (we have WAY too much, to be honest). Our dilemma is that we simply do not get enough fiber. So, my main recommendation would be to ALWAYS have whole, fresh fruit available to take with you everywhere. It’s a great source of vitamins and nutrients to keep around.


I’m not gonna lie and say it will be easy at first but, with a little effort and elbow grease, YOU CAN DO IT!!!


Well, friends, that’s all I got for today….BUT STAY TUNED!!! Much, much more (along with pictures) to come!!!!!

Hope this information is helpful to y’all!

EAT MORE PLANTS!

 

 

 

Posted in Traveling Tips

Why I Don’t Have Favorites Or Least Favorites

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Massai Market, Nairobi, Kenya ’16

Usually after I return home from traveling, the question that’s never lacking is “What’s next?” But not so much this round. “What was the best and what was the worst” is what I keep hearing. I suppose since I’ve explored not one, not two, but three continents in the seven months I was away, folks are curious about which location offered better memories + sweeter reminiscing.

To be frank, I think my answer is pretty unpredictable.

As if it were my profession, I make it my aim to never travel with expectations, good or bad. I’ve come to terms with the fact that things will not always go my way while internationally traveling. But if I go on expecting that unrealistic reality, I’d be miserable…and where’s the fun in that?


“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

― Alexander Pope


 

Were some days brighter than others? Of course; life is what it is, even across the pond. But when your focus is not on you getting what you wants and expectations are not set, the journey, I find, is far more enjoyable.

Folks travel for a plethora of reasons: work; vacation; specialty food + beverage; searching for a more extraordinary life than the one they currently lead. Why do I do it? Mostly because God, thankfully, has peeled back a layer that only He in His natural mercy can. Though I was brought up to believe this, I now realize that life in the states (or any first-world country for that matter) is not paramount, nor the “American Dream” an actual dream.

Wandering anxiously with blurred vision and a tired mind throughout airports, train and bus stations, running into hardly anyone who speaks your mother-tongue, then somehow miraculously plopping down in the seat at your departure gate is beyond satisfying. (A big-bad-wolf-like inhale and exhale usually ensues for me at this moment.)

As I’ve mentioned before, the life of a middle-class-traveler is far from glamorous. I don’t really have the resources to judge the “bests and worsts” because when you live in a big world on a small budget, everything is a gift. Despite what Instagram or Facebook might deceivingly show, my meals were actually seldom “post-worthy”. There was a week in Papua New Guinea where my team and I ate chicken/beef flavored biscuits, known as SNAX, for nearly every meal; and Coke was typically more trustworthy and accessible than water. But  like my momma always told me, “Ya get whatcha get and ya don’t throw a fit.” Paul would even teach me to count it all joy, and even give thanks.

The challenge I’m trying to relay is the boycotting of expectations; to just go with the flow. I know that’s not the Western World’s M.O., but it’s a helpful one; and I think you should try it out.

This philosophy won’t magically make your problems disintegrate or circumstances change course, but if you remember eternity, your attitude in them will be much more bearable for you…and others around you.

 


“I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.”

― Bill Watterson


 

Posted in Life In Kenya

Life + True Fulfillment

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8 

Lately I’ve been at an immense loss for words because there’s a lot of stuff racking my brain. But today I feel led to spit something out. Bear with me. 
In my experience, when one decides to live overseas + make foreign lands their home, two things happen: 1, you realize that life continues for everyone everywhere (no matter how hard you try to pause the clock); 2, your life is doing the same, just in ways that are unfamiliar. 
God mentions several times in scripture how every day spent in His presence is a time of transformation, despite us not being presently aware of it (as He reveals things to us rightly in His timing). And if, though it may be simple, the most pressing realization from my time overseas is His omnipresence, I don’t consider it redundant, as this truth slips my mind far too often. 
Here’s my point: While I’ve had many peaceful mornings watching the sun rise over the pacific shoreline, ridden horseback in the backwoods of New Zealand, and eaten more passion fruit than I knew existed, there are still days that I’m left empty. Now, I’d consider myself to be a fairly easy-to-please type of gal; I enjoy the rural, bush life + simplicity. But then a friend gets engaged, one (or five) have a baby, Tanya Tucker performs at Billy Bob’s, and I am jarred by my aloneness + distance. 
Living overseas is a great joy to me, but it is not magic. 
If you ever want to truly know how He goes about using every instance to stretch and grow a person, travel. I promise you—it will rock your world. I’m not insinuating that leaving home makes you a better you, but you’ll sure learn a lot about yourself and what areas of your life are lacking. 
For example, humility. If you want to successfully travel + make friends in foreign places, you can’t be offendable. I noticed my need for growth in this characteristic the other day when my Kenyan housemates kept bugging me about how and what I needed to eat for breakfast. In my head I was thinking, “I’m 21 years old…I ain’t gonna let myself starve. I got this! Get off my case.” But dang, that’s not how Christ would’ve responded. 
If you’re interested in becoming like Christ, give community-living a shot. 
With the encounters I’ve had over the past year, His creativity only becomes more evident in the way He [kindly] showcases, through each circumstance, my state of humanness (I often forget it). Although I’ve had the time of my life, He’s still holding up the mirror of accountability to me that says, “Oh, Han, remember…” 
Coming “home” will be hard. Not just because of the hullabaloo in the U.S., but because of cultural hang-ups and people needing to always know what’s next in my life when, honestly, I haven’t a clue. I’ve lived the last 12 months knowing not much more than where I would lay my head at night. I realize this can’t be a reality for most, but it has been mine, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 
God, in His sweet superiority, has continued to reveal to me the truths of His word that says, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) 
The consensus of that verse is not to wait around for Him to purchase a plane ticket + ship you overseas, but to be bold; take a step of faith; and forget worldly certainty. Open your hands; get em dirty. Forsake the misleading promises of the world for a greater mission: His kingdom being furthered in whatever ways that may pan out (don’t worry; He knows what He’s doing). 
My hope rests in Him and the fact that He doesn’t waste time. A big pet-peeve of mine (probably the biggest, actually) is lallygagging. But, of course, there are uneventful days; and even then, I can’t doubt His plans. He is never late, never off. 
We were created to be taught + glean from Someone greater than us. 
If your heart, will, + spirit are bridled to His, you won’t believe the things He can orchestrate. 

Posted in Life

From Simple To Extravagant

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

 John 12:25-26

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View of Queenstown, New Zealand

Life has increasingly become more and more surreal every day. I have not had  a steady job or worked for a pay check in nearly a year, but He has provided abundantly. I’ve lived in Europe, Australia, on a south pacific island, and am now in New Zealand, shortly heading to Kenya. Who’da thought a small-town, country-bumpkin like me would end up like this? I can assure you the thought never crossed my mind.

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Taking a nap on Lake Wakatipu
I’m sitting on the shorefront of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, trying to find words that justly express my current mental state, unfortunately I can’t quite seem to fit any together that adequately describe where my thoughts are at the moment.
I truly can’t explain it, this mystery of a life I’m living.
As a kid, I hated exploring. Intentionally going into the unknown and having no expectations to be met or unmet wasn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, God changes hearts; and delving into uncharted adventures is my life-anthem.
Do I get homesick? Well, depends on which home you’re referring to.
Was I born where I was, grew up where I did, and become who I am for no reason or by chance? Certainly not, but I am positive, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wasn’t meant to just stay put and comfortable, disobeying the great commands of scripture.
“Where’s she going with this?” — Bare with me.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12
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Me at age 7 in one of many dance recitals in Lewisville, TX
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Me at age 21, preaching to about 1,000 children at a primary school in Wabag, Papua New Guinea
What I’m trying to say is that my life—every breath I’m given—is not mine to do with whatever my small-minded-self wills.
Scripture says He lives in me, and He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. So why the heck would I not open my hands, my mind, and loose my reservations, which only bind the gift of freedom, when the word that cannot return void states His great desire to use me in mighty, heavenly ways?

Think of it this way: It’s your 16th birthday; your dad buys you your fantasy car; hands you the keys. Along with that, he then includes that you have no limited distance in which to remain. Knowing this, you, instead, keep within a 10 mile radius, moving at no higher than 35 MPH. I think, personally, that your dad would be a little disappointed or, at least, a little confused as to why you wouldn’t enjoy and delight in the great freedom he’s gifted you. Helpful illustration? I hope so.

Is it healthy to keep on the safe side? Sure, if you don’t have heavenly security and trust from the giver of the gift. But, if you are a child of the King, the mere illusion of earthly safety is unnecessary, and you’re missing out on one heck of a journey. The Lord entrusts us, His children, with much because there is nothing that we can so badly screw up that He can’t repair. So, my friend, if you have not taken advantage of the liberated life He’s cheerfully allotted you, my heart hurts for you.
For the children of God, our home is a heavenly, sure place so that we may, with the time we have on earth, fearlessly venture as far and wide for the edification of His name and furtherance of His kingdom. The western-world-fast-pace-small-living lifestyle is a deceivingly lacking one. My soul aches for the son or daughter who’s been adopted in to the house of the Lord but lives as if they weren’t.
It really stems from a lack of obedience to His voice. Hebrews 13:8 says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and if He spoke in ancient days, how could anyone believe that He, who cannot lie, wouldn’t speak today? Truth is: He spoke, and He is speaking now. Satan has managed to find the easiest vessel of distraction for the children of Yahweh by convincing us that He simply has nothing more to say than that which is written—not that it is insufficient, but more so the heinous idea that He doesn’t want much to do with us insignificants. How are we meant to earnestly seek spiritual gifts like words of knowledge or wisdom or discernment if His Spirit isn’t still communicating to us what is needed?
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Me at age 18, three years ago at Naomi’s Village in Maai Mahiu, Kenya
Five years ago He began whispering ‘Africa & Missions’ to me. I thought I knew that was not from God because, surely, He couldn’t possibly want me to give up my dream of becoming a principle ballerina in a world-renowned dance company and have to get uncomfortable: Wrong. Via my parents’ encouraging and admonishment, getting uncomfortable was the best decision of my life; obedience always ushers joy.
People from every country I’ve been to ask how I get to do the things I do. My answer: I never say no.
I’m in a stage of life where it is rare that I face a shut door, where options are limited. Some times it incurs stress due to the fact that I can’t choose one option over the other, but I suppose that’s a good problem to have. My daddy always told me to dream big knowing I serve a big God. I can honestly say, in my wildest dreams, I never thought He would do what He’s done with me thus far, and it is only because I have said ‘Yes’ to, not just His plans, but Him.
If 16-year-old-me would’ve told God ’no’ or ‘that’s too risky’, I surely wouldn’t be where I am right now, locationally and spiritually.
Christ doesn’t share specifics as to what life will look like once one is adopted into the family of God, but I keep learning that that is, in itself, a gift.
If you keep yourself dead to you, He has much more room to flourish through you the fullness of life. Of course He is powerful enough to do what He pleases in whomever, whenever, but if you will not empty yourself of your own ideas and desires, what has He to fill?
Here is my charge and plea to you, reader: Start doing things that seem crazy, even a little ridiculously risky. I’m not just talking bungee-jumping and parasailing, but making new friends from foreign countries, hiking up a mountain to watch the sun rise, singing worship songs at the top of your lungs at the beach, or taking a 2.5 hour horse ride in a country you’ve yet to visit. Additionally, believer: As one of my favorite Kiwi’s and DTS lecturers eloquently said to us students (at least 10 times a day), “STOP IT.” Stop moping around and waiting for God to move powerfully in your life. He has given YOU-yes, YOU-a mind and a heart and the ability to respond to the wonderful and miraculous ways He has already changed your life’s trajectory.
Open your ears and listen. Quit leaning on your own understanding and hopes and dreams, and wake up. God is a good Creator and His creation was meant to reflect that. For the sake of kingdom growth, please ask yourself, “What am I shut off to?” “Where am I holding back because of fear?”
He commands us not to fear time and time again throughout scripture. Proverbs 12:25 explains it best by stating that, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” It can’t be said any clearer. Growing up (ask my poor mother) I was quite the indecisive kid. At one of the malls in my home town, there was once a train that children could ride. One day my sister and some friends who had joined us wanted to take a ride. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why I was so afraid to step foot into it, but for whatever reason I was completely terror-stricken. The worst part? I stood there glaring at the horrific thing for about 20 minutes and then, finally, came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t a good idea. I missed out on all the fun due to fear.
I’m not telling you that you should take up bear-wrestling (unless God tells you to), but please seize doing things that you can make sense of within your human brain and understanding. I promise, if you just simply say, ‘Yes, Lord. What now?’, He will not waste His time.
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Me on a trail ride over the Rees River with High Country Horses in Glenorchy, New Zealand where Tswift, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and many other greats filmed videos and movie footage

I have not ridden since the end of last year, and the fact that I got the opportunity to ride through the most beautiful country in the world on this amazing boy still takes my breath away and has left me speechless and grateful.If you think your life isn’t going to be momentous, it probably won’t. So stop thinking that, and ask God where He wants to take you, what He wants to show you. And most of all, trust Him.