Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Vacation: Destination Yosemite

(This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own)

I admit it - I'm a bit high-maintenance when it comes to family vacations - namely, camping.

I grew up camping with my family, and each year I have a yearning in my bones to be in nature for awhile.  I love sleeping under the sequoias or redwoods- in a tent, of course- and smelling the fresh air and trees.   The experience was only sweetened after we had kids, and now camping is our boys' favorite thing to do - ever.

One day we hope to own a camper or RV, but for now we use a plain ole' tent.  We cook our meals and do our dishes outside, and sometimes even have a visitor come by:

There are a few things I need to make camping enjoyable for me that my boys could probably do without.  I need a nice air mattress to sleep on. I need some way to take a shower.  I need a tent big enough to move around in (enter our 10 man tent):

But one of the things that makes camping more enjoyable for all of us is when we rent a vehicle that is big enough to hold all of our stuff.

Let me back up:  we own two cars that are on the smaller side. We don't have car payments.  Our cars are not new, and likely need some major repairs - so taking a 7-8 hour roadtrip in one of our vehicles makes me a little nervous.

Last year we went to Yosemite and rented an SUV from Hertz.  It was a beautiful GMC Acadia, and I fell in love with it. While we drove through 107 degree heat, our vehicle kept us at a cool 73 degrees the whole way.  We invested some money in that rental, and probably could have stayed in a hotel for 2 nights for the cost of it, but it was so worth it.

This year we knew we wanted to rent another SUV for our trip to Yosemite. We had a lot of camping gear and also wanted to take our bikes with us.  Our current car would not accommodate my high-maintenance camping needs (i.e. the shower, the camping cots, the two air mattresses - you know, in case one went flat, etc...)  I reached out to Hertz and let them know that we were interested in renting from them again, and they once again gave us a GREAT rate.

Did you know that you can find online codes to save money through Hertz?  You can also save money through them if you are an AAA member.  They also have a "Pay Now" option that saves you even more money!

Within 20 minutes of arriving at our local Hertz office, we were driving away in a beautiful Chevy Equinox.  The car was in mint condition and allowed us to thoroughly enjoy our long drive.  We had no problems with the car, but if we did, Hertz offers roadside assistance.

When it was time to return our car, it was a holiday weekend and there was a long line ahead of me.  My Hertz local office allowed me to drop my key off with no hassle, and I was out of the office in 2 minutes.

If you are considering going on a vacation soon, don't hesitate to contact Hertz for your rental car needs. They are one of the easier and most reasonably priced rental companies I have worked with.
I'd like to personally thank Amanda Solch from the Hertz Corporation for all of her help, as well as my local Hertz office in Torrance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. This means that I received goods, services, or discounts on products in exchange for an honest review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is God Good?

It was February of 2002, and I was having an argument with God.  You see, my husband felt that God was calling us to a new city to live and to minister, but I didn't want to go.  I dug my heels in and tried to run the other direction.  The way He was leading us did not seem good enough to me, and the other way looked much, much more appealing.  I begged God not to make me go.

It was late that night, about 10pm, and I escaped from our tiny apartment and the heated discussions about this potential move, and drove to my office.  I cried on the way; I prayed, "God, please show me what to do. I don't want to go; please don't make me."  I parked in the empty parking lot of my office building and walked inside. Nobody was there, it was eerily quiet. I walked to my desk, and a post-it note was sitting there - right in the middle where I couldn't miss it.

"I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see 
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."  Psalm 27

I knew who left it - it was the handwriting of my student worker.  She didn't know what I was going through; what huge life-changing decision was before me.  Yet the minute I saw that note, I knew what God was telling me to do: Go.  I drove back home and told my husband that I knew what we were supposed to do (what he knew all along).

Even though I knew what God was saying, I still fought and kicked and tried to run.  We made the move, and I struggled.  I didn't feel God's goodness; in fact, I felt like He left me there to die.  The job I was offered - it was rough.  I dreaded going to work.  I was lonely. The neighborhood we lived in was not what I had pictured.  The church we were in - I felt like my husband's shadow, like a nobody.

That post-it note stayed in my Bible, but I learned to turn past it, to pretend it wasn't there. God's goodness?  Yeah right.  He had forgotten about me.

Six years and two children later, we made another big move. We moved into a better neighborhood, a nicer home, and things began to change. I started to emerge from the valley I had been lost in.  We moved on my birthday, and my new house was filled with over 30 people singing their hearts out and welcoming us into our new home.

We moved into this house 4 years ago today. Today I saw that post-it note in my Bible, the one that I had learned to flip right by because I didn't really believe it.

And I remembered.  I remembered that maybe God had not forgotten about me, even though I felt that way... that it was a long and hard season, but He was there the whole time.

Today was the day I also came across a new song by Audrey Assad, and as I listened to it, I was hit hard.  Please take a moment to listen to this and see why:

I do know the answer to that question, "Is God Good?" And I'm so sorry I ever doubted.  It was just a season, but He is still good.

He is good enough to remind me of this, on my 37th birthday, on the anniversary of the day we moved into this house - another gift from Him - that He never forgot about me...

And He has not forgotten about you either.