Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bible in a Year: half way to Goal

Last year I failed in reading the Bible in a Year. Yep friends, I don't succeed in everything I set out to do. I decided I'd give it another try which makes it the third time I try to succeed in this thing. Here's a recap:

Year 1: I started late, got late with the reading several times and succeeded. I used an App.
Year 2: I started late, got derailed in the Spring and failed. I never abandoned the Bible itself, I just didn't read the whole thing in a year. I used a mix of the App and my own Bible. 
Year 3: I started January 1 and I was able to keep up with the reading. I've gotten late but I've been able to catch up. I'm suing the One Year Bible book which gives you the actual dates and readings arranged in 365 readings. 

Today, June 20 we are in 1 Kings 22:1-53; Acts 13:16-41; Psalm 138:1-8; Provebs 17:17-18. All of this reading takes around 15 minutes. 

Here's what've learned over these past 3 years:

This is JUST Bible reading. Reading takes 15 minutes. While I get something out of it, reading is very different from studying. I study the Bible by myself (remember that Bible Study Methods class I took? I use the good info I learned from there to study) and also with my sweet Merry Ministries sisters. I study to show myself approved.  I study because I'm fascinated with the God of the Bible. I study because the truths found in the Bible make my life make total sense, even with senseless stuff happens to me. So, why do I keep reading? I find that every time I read, the entirety of the message makes more sense to me. I also find that my brain is becoming quite the Bible concordance. Super fun and exciting. 

When I get late, I know just what to do. I try not to get chronically late to start with. I've read ahead but that's not my style. If I get really late, I just plan on catching up slowly. I also learned that God understands my life (He created it and He's all knowing) and He understands that this is not about perfection but it is totally about seeking the perfect One. 

I like this book format. I like it for many reasons. When I was using the App, the kids didn't quite know what I was doing. The book form gives them a better idea of my habit. I do want them to see what I'm doing. I ocassionally read what I'm reading to them so reading from a physical book works better. 
The book format with the dates also help me physically see my progression. The app doesn't give my brain the same sense of satisfaction and progress. If the app is all you have (that was me on year 1), go for it. 

I'm learning new things from old stories. We are currently parked in Elijah/Elisha. I love, love, LOVE First Kings because of my boy Elijah. While historically I felt dread about reading the prophets (mostly because I never studied them and I lacked a structure such as Merry Ministries to help me along) I never feared reading about Elijah. He's weird, he's human, he's abrupt, he's fascinating. Oh, my dad had a band in the 80s and the cover of the LP is a drawing of Elijah in his chariot going to heaven. Yep, me and Elijah have history! In 2017 I can say that while I still love Elijah, I've been interested in the family line of King Ahab. I learned a lot about his dad (I might write about it) and I've learned about the influence Jezebel had on King Ahab. It made me think of the influence I have in the King that lives in my house (Zeke). Basically, as a wife, I want to influence my husband to worship God. 

Friends, I'm half way there. If I can start late, get delayed several times, fail and then succeed (all while juggling a super full schedule), you too can invest 15 minutes in something that has eternal value. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

You have an interesting story

You may not think you have an interesting story but you do. 
Sure, you are never going to be in the news. A documentary may never be dedicated to your life. The thing is, God still wants you to share your experiences with others. 

I'm not talking about those super long Facebook posts I personally do not read. 
I am talking about sharing your story with others as you listen to their heart and you can totally relate because you have been where they are. 

The time you worked hard and finished your degree: you need to share that with a discouraged student. 
Your experience moving to a new town. When you hear about isolation and sadness for leaving home and welcoming the new, you need to share your experience. 

Friend, you are the expert in your own life and it is time others benefit from your wisdom. 

Wisdom is such a big word but it is exactly what you gain when you live life and you learn to keep walking with dignity. 

Even stories of failures can be used to help others. The truth about failure is that what you learn about yourself is the redeeming part of failing. There are many people who can learn from your failures. Do not deny them the wisdom you carry inside.

I'm not proposing for all of us to go on Live video and air out our dirty laundry. I am proposing that we start listening closely to the hearts around us. I am proposing we pay attention to that twig in the heart when they share their current challenge. I am encouraging us to go ahead and empatheticly give them hope because we have been there too and we out of people know, it's going to be alright. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Things I've learned from VBS

Year 4 of VBS for these little ones
VBS means Vacation Bible School. Kids learn about the Bible in a fun and interactive way. Here's what I've learned so far as a parent:

1. VBS is worth the effort. Our kids started when they were tiny little kids. It is a lot of work to get there, but it is totally worth the effort. VBS is totally age appropriate as far as the activities but the message behind the method is eternal.

2. The music is awesome. The kids love the songs and they sing them for years. So much so that one of my friends and I were talking about how our kids now have their favorite CDs because we've been doing this for so long. The message is clear and impactful and the songs are super interactive. 

3. It is good to volunteer. Vacation Bible School is something the church does for the community but as a community member, I choose to embrace the church and help their efforts. I understand not everyone has time. I understand not everyone wants to hang out with the kids for 3 out of 24 hours of their day. Still, there is always something you can do. For example, you can feed the volunteers. You can to decorate or to do any pre-VBS (or post for that matter) work. You have what it takes to contribute and yes, you have a talent that's much needed.

4. VBS is a great place to people watch. My favorite? Seeing the kids respond to the Gospel through singing. They sing loud, with enthusiasm and they dance so freely. If and when I have a chance, I ask them never to lose that unashamed love for God. 

5. Moms need VBS too. I have learned that a lot of moms do not feel equipped to take on the Bible teacher they need to be to their kids. I have seen them being quick to find answers to most questions, except for the faith ones. When mom learns about the Bible, their kids benefit. I'm not saying that every mom needs to be a theologian. I am saying that we need to learn more about the faith we confess. My Bible study (Merry Ministries) has a 6-week summer session. We also have a full archive of Bible books you can enjoy at your own convenience (I listen to it while doing chores and I love it!). Mom, you can't give what you don't have. Think about investing in your own Bible knowledge which will bear fruit for eternal life!  

We're smack in the middle of our VBS and we are loving every minute of it. Vacation Bible School has become one of our favorite summer traditions. My prayer is that the Gospel will be solidly planted in the kids' hearts when they are too old to be part of Vacation Bible School. What have you learned from VBS?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Reinvention of Me

It took a good fall to get me here.
My objective was to get in shape after having my third sweet baby. I got that accomplished. Then I fell in love with Running. I had the dream of running a marathon for many years. I could no longer wait, it was time to run long.
5 marathons later, I was 30 pounds heavier than when I first started.
It took me a good fall to get me here and now it is time to get up.
I could list all my excuses but they wouldn’t help me get up. Even if they were really good. I could list all my shame, guilt and remorse. The fact is that those feelings are heavy and they only weigh heavy on me.
It took me a good fall to get here but I’m getting up stronger.

Practice habits that will get me to my goal.  
Once I got up, I decided to practice the habits that are getting me to my goal.
It was extremely difficult at first. The worse part was to hear about all the blessed people who get results way quicker than I did. I had to stop comparing myself and really stick with the daily habits. What habits are these?
Exercising has never been a problem for me. Eating the appropriate amounts of food, yes. That was truly my greatest frustration. I decided to solve my greatest frustration by keeping a food journal.
The goal was to write in my food journal every day. Everything I ate went there. It was that simple.
I also realized that without motivation, I would not be able to stick with the habits that would get me to my goal. I found some positive voices that would encourage me to stay the course. I found podcasts that helped me remain motivated to achieve my goal. Motivation really is like taking a bath: we can all use at least one once a day.
The habits will get me there. It’s simple yet, I still needed to reinvent myself.

Reinvention through Reshaping tastes and habits
The most surprising part of life is that every few years I get to reinvent myself. Losing weight as a teen was not that difficult. Losing weight in school was a bit more challenging. Motherhood was a game changer and somehow, I managed to lose everything I gained 3 times.
You’d think I learned my lesson. It took a good fall for me to get here but I am up again, practicing the habits that will get me to my goal.

Reinvention requires humility. I say things because what worked for teenager Cintia does not work for 37-year-old Cintia. What worked for Cintia, mother of two, two and under does not work now. So I humble myself and I reshape my tastes and habits. Which tastes? I tell myself most desserts are not worth having. I reshape the habit of eating after dinner. It takes a while to stick but I persevere because you can’t argue with results. I reshape my taste of accepting caulirice instead of rice. Results come. Slow but very steady. All I need is the courage to stick with the reinvention of me.

A reinvention that worked well was of how I deal with stress. I used to eat to deal with stress. 2 years ago I convinced myself that sleeping well at night was my way of managing stress. It worked and it sticked. Dealing with stress is not perfect science but I can smile when my reinvention is helping me become healthier as I navigate through life.

I wish I could show you a very impressive before and after photo. I can show you a bruised knee that’s healing because it took me a good fall to get here. Good thing I got up.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Summer Goals 2017

Setting goals for the summer can be a good way to make sure the season doesn't go to waste. It is also a great time to reassess the goals you and I set in January. Here are my summer goals. 

1 • Kick stress’ behind - this is a constant battle and I can honestly say I’ve been winning for 10 years. I didn’t realize that one can evolve in their approach to stress management. I am constantly learning different tools to add to my tool box. I use walking, running, swimming (this one has been awesome), writing in my journal, listening to podcasts, washing my car (I know, it works), sitting outside and reading, going on a picnic and sleeping just to name a few. I also say different things to myself and those things are not mantras because you can honestly find them in the Bible. I say things that God agrees with and that is very comforting. Managing stress will stop when I see Jesus. Till that happens, I’ll be kicking stress’ behind with my tools. 

2 • Run for Fun - I enjoy running. My best runs are the ones practice for the fun of it. There is also benefit in running to manage stress but the fun runs are the most enjoyable of all. Just like most things in life, my runs need to be scheduled so I will be faithful to do that. Summer runs are way more enjoyable before the sun is so hot we can fry eggs in the sidewalk. Anywho, running for fun is something I look forward to doing every season. 

3 • Write to your heart’s content - writers write. Good writers write good content that can be used for serious projects. That’s what I want to do. I also practice different types of writing. I write in two, well, three different journals. I write on this blog. I write books and I write devotionals. I also write secret projects. I want to do a lot of writing this summer. I also know that I need to live in order to make my writing content richer. 

4 • Solidify good health habits - I realized this Spring that I had the opportunity (yet again) to reinvent myself. I gained some health habits I’d love to solidify. One of them was the habit of not eating after dinner. Most of us would agree that breaking good habits is easy and sliding back into bad habits seems inevitable. If I solidify my good health habits, I will not have that problem. Even if I get it right 80% of the time, I will still benefit from these good health habits. Another good health habit I want to solidify is to manage stress in a healthy way that works for me. I recently told myself that getting enough rest at night is a formidable way of managing stress. I want to solidify that good health habit so that my health will benefit from managing stress. My health habits are not taking a vacation for the summer, that’s for sure.  

5 • Have fun - yes, it needs to be a bullet point. I’m not naturally fit to have fun because I’m quite type A. Thank God for my husband and our kids. They remind me that fun is essential for an abundant life. Some might say that if you have to add ‘have fun’ to your schedule is not fun at all but whatever works right?
I’m reminded of the time I went to the doctor in 2007 and she told me that I needed to change my habits or I’d die young of a preventable disease. One year later, I figured out all the keys I needed in order to make that happen. Fun is a key because it directly affects my stress level. I also know that God created us for recreation and children are the best at this. I need to be more recreation minded always. If writing it down as a goal gets me there, so be it. 

Do you set goals for the summer? What are they?