Friday, September 22, 2017

Celebrating Grandparents Day when they live out of Town

Today was Grandparents Day at the kids school. Out of all days we celebrate, this one is quite sad when you don't have family nearby. One of my friends on Facebook was sharing recently how sad her son was because his grandparents were not going to be able to be at Grandparents day. I sent her virtual hugs and the affirmation that I can totally understand. 

In the past, when the kids were too little we just didn't do anything about it. When they grew up a bit more, we asked different friends to step in and celebrate this day with the kids. We are always thankful to God for people who love us like family and step in to love on the kids. I'm always reminded of Matthew 19:29 when God blesses us with grandparents for the kids. It says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life." 

When my first one was born, our family was not in town, so God sent me Roma to walk up and down the hospital hallway with me, pray for me and hold Zion before I did (the anesthesia was strong, I couldn't feel my arms). I see her as my "hundredfold." God has sent many others and I praise God for these awesome servants of His. 

This year, I decided to go to Grandparents' Day myself because since I went back to work and school's been back (for the second time), I haven't been to the school yet. I somehow, had the brilliant idea to call my mom from the school's cafeteria so the kids could talk to her. She was available and so happy to hear from her grandkids! Win win! 

I want to send some special encouragement to my friends out there whose parents live far away from them. Special school celebrations can be tough but with God's help we can creatively enjoy them with our sweet kids. 

Today is the first day of Fall and while it is hot as summer, I have decorated the house to celebrate. Next time I will share our favorite Fall traditions here at the Listenbee Household. 

Have an amazing day my friend!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Do the Small Thing

"It is the small things we do every day that make the biggest different, not to big things we do every once in a while." I heard someone say this in some Podcast and I agree with it. Here's my experience.

I tried to do the big Spring Cleaning thing but somehow, it never worked for me. I come from a (Brazilian) people who clean often so there's no such thing as Spring Cleaning. Saturday is the big cleaning day but every day we clean and we scrub and we straighten things. I also thought about carefully choosing things that bring me joy and make a big deal out of the whole thing but the whole concept does not agree with me. I decided to do the small thing instead.

Doing the small thing means finishing what I started:
• Washing the dishes.
• Wiping the counters.
• Cleaning the toilets.

It's not about making my home "magazine cover perfect" but simply an enjoyable place.

This morning I noticed my island was filled with papers from school - already. I learned that stuffing them under the island only makes it worse for me in the future.
I also know that my tendency is to keep everything, times 3, times 9 months of paper.
Doing the small thing means taking that small pile and recycling it. I know that the keepsakes will come in time. I also know that I have a special place for that.

What does "doing the small thing" mean in your life? Think about it and take that super small step. It will be worth it. My encouragement to all of us, starting with myself, is to do the small thing. Finish the job you started and remember that one year from now, you will be so glad. You will see that it was those small things that ultimately made the biggest difference.

Do the Small Thing: 
• Decide on small steps that will lead you to your goal towards: a cleaner home, a healthier body, a stronger spirit, deeper relationships.
• Don't judge your Small Thing by the first day you start on your new habit.
• Persevere and wait because results will come.
• You have what it takes my friend. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today is the next yesterday

Today is the next yesterday
Yesterday can bring a lot of guilt, shame and regret. Here’s the thing we often forget: today is next yesterday.
We can’t do anything about the yesterday that passed, but we can make a difference today.
Today is a gift wrapped in 1,440 minutes. As we choose to look ahead, we can see the possibilities to do good.
We can be influential to others today.
We can reconnect and encourage today.
We can also rest and recharge our batteries today.
Today is the next yesterday.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to get to tomorrow and say, I made a difference and I will do it again for today is next yesterday.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

How to Find a Church for your Family

Finding a church for your family can be tough. I want to offer you some advice from someone who have to change churches a few times in my life. My family and I have had a small window into the lives of people who do not go to church on a regular basis. Let me give you my church visiting resume so you can understand my perspective.
When my dad became a pastor in the 90s my family and I left our home church and we began going wherever my father was pastoring. I was able to be at my home church for a few extra Sundays cause my grandma was a member there but then my dad changed his mind and I joined the family in the new church. My dad pastored in different churches on an average of 4 years. We moved around quite a bit and the way we joined the church was unique. Because we’re the minister’s family, you basically roll up your sleaves and get to serving. I was taught that regardless of who is in charge, we serve the Lord Jesus. This advice would pay off in my college years.
When I came to the States I joined the denomination of my childhood and remained involved with them until I met the love of my life. Zeke grew up in a different denomination than I and he worked at a different denomination on top of that. Visiting him in his church was always fun. I learned a lot about their culture.
When I moved to North Carolina, I visited a few churches before I landed in the church where Zeke and I would stay for 5 years.
We moved to Texas because of Zeke’s job as a worship pastor and during our Texas years we have visited different churches.

Here are my tips for people who want to visit a church (or a Bible Study):

Go to their website. You have a right to know what you’re getting into. If they have a Podcast, listen to it. Put the address on your GPS of choice and show up to see what you get. I'm a firm believer on this rule.

When you get to the church of your choice, look for the Guest Welcoming area. If you are an introvert who does not have kids, go ahead and blend in. I’m sure there will be a flow of people going to the Sanctuary.

If you have kids and you choose to do so, take them to the kids area. Most places have a place where you can check your kids in. The best places ask for your number so they can call or text in case your kid needs you. Most places have trained staff and they are good about making sure the kids have a good time. I give invisible bonus points to churches who have their check in in a computer or iPad. They know that when you have to manually fill out 6 sheets of paper for 3 kids (true story) takes up A LOT of time. The world has gone digital and when the church effectively helps families in this area, is pretty awesome.

Different churches have a different culture (or vibe) about them. Notice what their vibe is (relaxed, formal, etc) and make that part of your decision making process. Don't go somewhere your family doesn’t feel good about. I also advise you to give a church more than one chance until you make a final decision. I’ve given myself a 2-Sunday policy when I was single. Now that I have a family we all share our experiences and we go from there. Unless you have a terrible experience, give yourself 2 Sundays.

A little bit more on the vibe of a church. I visited a prominent larger church in my community and my kids actually enjoyed their experience in Sunday School. The service was a bit too formal for me. The kids didn’t complain but that vibe was not where I felt I needed to be. Still, great church, amazing ministry but it was not the place for me. Many months later we visited a smaller church in the community. The kids enjoyed their experience (they’re not picky I guess) and I noticed that the vibe was way more relaxed. I’m sure most places don’t do this but when they took a break after worship they told us to go grab strong, free coffee. They had me at Jesus plus coffee. Seriously, I took other things into consideration such as the spiritual part of their worship service and the teaching part. Noticing the vibe of a place is important so don’t bypass that key impression.

God is really good about point me in the right direction when it comes to churches or Bible Studies. I live in a metropolis full of opportunities for religious experiences. The fact is that my family only has 168 hours in a week and we can’t possibly do everything and belong everywhere.
The only way to close on a place that makes you feel at home is to take the big step and give it a try. Give yourself 2 weeks to make the decision to stay or move on. Notice the vibe, but more importantly, notice how your spirit feels after being there. I have felt refreshed every time I go where God has led our family.
Still, visiting a new place is no joke. I understand it can be nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time.

If you are looking for a new place, go confident that God loves you and more than anyone else, He wants you to find a place you can learn more about Him.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Don't Give Up

My jam today has been Hezekiah Walker's Don't Give Up. Things in our area aren't back to normal because you can't get back to normal after a hurricane rips through town. What you can do is persevere towards the new normal. That's where we are folks. 

A lot of folks went back to work this week and traffic has been intense. It's funny to type that sentence because Houston traffic is intense by definition. There are many roads that are still blocked, parking garages still flooded, you get the point. We're all trying to stay positive and push towards the new normal. 

My family and I are well and we are thankful for all God's blessings. We are also thankful that we can be a blessing to others. 

These days I have been thinking a lot about how my grandparents were a blessing to others, no matter how difficult life was for them. They called it "work for Jesus." Whether it meant to give a plate of food to a hungry neighbor or make weekly visits to different church members, their goal was to be as Jesus was in this world. He went around doing good, so my grandparents did the exact same thing. I'm aiming to live such a life: one that reflects the Lord Jesus in my actions.

The temperature was mild FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE JANUARY. Sorry but if you are in our area, this is very significant. I went for a run (duh!) and we all enjoyed walking outside for longer than 5 seconds. We are thankful for the change of seasons. 

I just wanted to give a quick update on how we are doing. There is a lot of good to be done. I'm glad that I have the Lord Jesus as my guide. I'm glad many are sharing of the blessings they have in their hands. 

Have an amazing night my friend.