Wednesday, October 17, 2018

App Rupture


One of my goals for 2018 is to use less of my phone in the presence of others. It hasn't been perfect but I can see my progress has been steady.

Recently, Apple created a way for iPhone users to measure their screen time. I cringed when I looked at my stats. It was that same feeling I had when I was overweight and I needed to do something about the number I saw on the scale. I immediately gained some extra motivation to reach my goal.

Everyone has excuses why they need to have their eyes glued on their phone. Mine are very noble: "it's part of my job." The truth is that even as a professional, I can make better use of the time I spend on social media apps.

So I decided to let go of "my darlings." Personally, I love certain apps yet they are not loving me back. Simple stats are helping me see that the time I spend on "my darlings" need to be redirected somewhere else.

The reason why I wanted to decrease my phone usage in the presence of others is because I want to teach my children how to properly manage technology. It is hard to teach if I am not giving them my full and complete attention.

Once I made progress on my goal, I noticed I had extra time to do a lot of things such as:

• Use my DSLR camera;
• Listen to audio books;
• Read;
• Write;
• Chores;
• Work on my business goals;
• See, hear and interact with the people right in front of me.

I only have one chance to live the life God has given me. I don't want to be found by Him starring at a little screen.

All of the reasons I gave you to decrease phone usage can be noble. The key thing that motivated me to rupture with my apps was the Word of God.

Moses, in Psalm 90:12, writes: "So teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom." I took this quite literally as one should.

I only have a dedicated amount of time with my kids as little kids. There's a lot of teaching happening right now. I can't effectively parent them while starring at a screen. Multitasking is costing us effectiveness in key relationships. Don't you believe that lie. Your family needs all of your attention. Give it to them.

A heart of wisdom is the gift I gain when I follow God's plan for my life. I know you didn't see this one coming. Neither did I, but I'm glad wisdom is part of God's gift to me.

James writes that our conduct should display God's wisdom (see James 3:13-18). He goes on to tell us that the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

You and I cannot get wisdom apart from God. Starring at your phone will not get you any wisdom.

Am I advocating a mass exit from social media? No. I am encouraging you to take a look at your app usage and the fruit you are displaying because of it. I am daring you to seek God for guidance in your phone usage. He will always lead you into all truth. His truth is His Word.

I believe God wants us to walk in the Spirit all of the time. I believe He wants us to display the fruit of the Spirit even in our phone usage. Self-control is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as the fruit of the Spirit. God has given us self-control. It is up to us to ask His guidance as we display such amazing gift in our lives.

This message is not intended to cause you to feel guilty. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. This message is intended to encourage you to freedom.

God wants us to use our apps in His freedom. The process to get there is different for everyone. God might lead you to take a sabbatical so you can recalibrate. He may lead you to stop for a season (or forever if it's really toxic). I don't know how the process will be for you. Here's what I do know: there's freedom be the people God called us to be.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free my dear friend. Let's enjoy this gift today in Jesus' name.

Oh, there's also health benefits in decreasing app usage. My health has improved. My stress level has decreased tremendously. There's science behind that and there is the reality of the healthier life I am living.

Today is the day to pray for guidance, make adjustments and walk in freedom. There's wisdom in following God's word.

Prayer: God, teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom. We repent from depending on technology more than we depend on You and Your word. Set us free from bondage, give us a heart of wisdom so we may serve You in this world. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Podcast 5: Speak out of your Wisdom




We are all looking for peace, we just don't know it.
Today, I encourage you to speak out of your wisdom.

My blog post "don't speak out of your wound, speak out of your wisdom" blog post was one of your favorites. I decided to record a podcast about it. Enjoy it!

You can support me by listening to the Podcast, giving me a 5-star review, spreading the word and making a donation. Thank you!

• Subscribe on iTunes
• Subscribe on Google Play

Friday, October 12, 2018

Chores without Tears

My youngest was in preschool when I heard of the concept of handwriting without tears. Humans have a way of showing their dislike for things that need to get done. While handwriting was never our problem, chores certainly were.

I felt like crying just thinking about the amount of work that needed to be done. I have a full-time job, a business of my own, church and community commitments. How can I possibly add chores to this list without shedding many tears?

I learned to work smarter so I don't have to cry every week. Here are my strategies:


Work with family • Every little bit helps. The kids can pick up toys, clothes and put their shoes in the right place. Helping with chores around the home is a way of learning. They learn what it takes to have a clean home. They learn how to do different chores themselves. Let's be honest, I don’t know a lot of kids (or adults) who are excited about any type of cleaning. I learned that if I ask them to do a 5-minute pickup, everyone is glad to know there will be an end to the activity. Remember to give the kids grace is needed when they are helping with housework. They're not adults so don't expect the same results. Remember, the house will get dirty again because you live there. They key is to be consistent and have a lot of flexibility when involving kids. Also, never abandon kids while they are cleaning. Supervision is needed and encouragement is welcome. 

Work Multiple Days • I can’t get all the cleaning done in one day. I learned to be happy with working multiple days to accomplish most of the cleaning. The key is to focus on the most important chores you need to accomplish. Picking three works for me. I usually go for dishes, laundry, and bathrooms. I start the laundry, do the dishes and clean the bathroom (light cleaning). I learned to identify what a good stopping point is for laundry. It might take a couple of days but I get the chores done if I accept they will not get done all at once.

I had to give up on the idea that my home will look like the cover of a magazine at all times. There will be dusty spots. There will be laundry and dishes to be done. Happy families live in homes that get messy.

I have learned that even when I work slowly to reach my housekeeping goals, it is worth it.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Flexible Running Goals

The end of a 12-mile run the other day.
I’ve been a runner for 10 years, a marathoner for almost 5. I love long distance running and all the challenges it entails. One of the challenges of being a runner includes setting realistic goals and reaching them.

When I started running, I was so happy about being able to complete my runs that I didn’t really set any performance goals. My goals were attendance goals, for example, I set a goal of running four 5Ks one summer. Once I accomplished that, I moved on to training for a 10K. I started marathon training shortly after. Oh, please don’t be like me and go from a 10K to 42K. I recommend you increase your mileage slowly.

In those days, I would get to the start line and people would ask me, “what is your goal?” And I’d tell them, I just want to finish and have fun. They would give me get the craziest looks! I have now learned to ignore outsider's opinions about my running. There's wisdom in knowing myself and accepting my own goals.

A few years after that, I strayed away from my “run for the joy of it goals.” I paid quite the high price for that mistake. Setting unrealistic, time based goals does not work for me at all. I’m glad to report, I’m back on the “run for fun plan.” What a joy!

My first marathon was perfect. I had no clue what I was getting myself into so I couldn’t back off. My personal best happened at my first marathon and I am still to run a marathon that fast. I'm okay with that.

No one tells you that life happens while you are reaching your long distance running goals. I’ve suffered losses, I ran through grief, worries, sickness, pain (as in feelings), you name it. I clearly remember being so stressed out one season that all I could manage was to run, drink plenty water and get enough sleep. Nutrition was out of the picture for me. I kept running but it was very difficult because my weight was on the heavier side. Persistence was the key during those years.

God was good to me nonetheless. I was able to do some cool things only He could provide. I’m eternally thankful that at my lowest, I learned that my value did not come from how fast I can run. God established my value a long time when He sent my Savior Jesus to save me and give me abundance of life.

Life kept happening and I kept running. I never gave up on getting back to that "run for joy place." I knew I had to adjust a lot of things in life. I can’t control when problems come into my life but I can control how I react to them.

Last year, I decided it was time to take control of my nutrition. Losing 20 pounds took a lot of weight off my joints. Running is easier, joyful.

I decided I wasn’t going to be selfish about my goals but I was going to open my arms to embrace others runners who like me, wanted encouragement to run. I lead a neighborhood running group a few times a week. The goal is to provide a place for people to run during the week and reach their goals.

I learned that I find joy in helping others reach their goals. I had no idea of the great joy that comes from seeing others accomplish their goals. This entire process has blessed me tremendously.

I have reached my running goal for the year before I thought I would reach it. My friends keep pushing me towards excellence and I hope I am doing the same for them.

Running is not about bragging about how fast I am. I am well aware that there will be always someone faster or slower than me out there.

Running is for joy. Running is for God, who gave me this gift can be glorified. Running is for friends. I treasure the bond we created over years of training, sweat and support. Running is for health. I appreciate all the benefits I enjoy.

My flexible running goal is to run for a long time. But let it be for joy and fun. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Putting all the pieces together when you feel overwhelmed


My mother was visiting me from Brazil this summer. She helped me a lot by doing a lot of small things. Doing small things with love amount to big things.

The reality is, I'm not an only child. I'm one of five. The reality is, mom had to go back to her life and I, to mine. So we parted ways at the airport and I moved on with life.

As I was watering the plants tonight, I remembered how afraid I was of managing my schedule this Fall.

I was nervous about making all the pieces fit together. I learned a long time ago that I am not supposed to take on a lot. I am supposed to listen to God and follow His plan for my life. His plan includes taking care of my family. If any activities interfere with that, they has to go.

This Fall, I am learning that I can do small things with love. I am discovering that I can take my time to get tasks accomplished, even if it takes me a week.

My mom left a bunch of meals cooked for me when she left. We ate the last of it this week. I called her and told her that in a sad yet thankful tone of voice. In her determined fashion, she responded, "time for you to cook another batch."

She's right, life goes on and we keep moving with it. The way to put all the pieces of my life together is the way of simplicity and humility. Simplicity because I can't afford the side effects of a complex life. Busyness is a side effect of a complex life. Busyness is a complex lie. We think that an impossible schedule is a reflection of our sense of importance. Our health and close relationships always suffer. Ask me how I know.

Humility because that's what it takes to recognize that I'm not self-sufficient. My sufficiency comes from God who has a plan for my life this season. I humbled myself before God and I confessed I didn't have what it takes to lead my own life in the Fall. God blessed me with strategy, help and peace. Humility is a gift.

I know that in the life of a young family, there's always work to do. The key thing is to remember what's really important.

God comes first. Family and health are priorities.

There's grace to do what God has called me to do this season. I am encouraged to keep doing small things with love, simplicity, and humility.