Saturday, April 30, 2016

Teacher's Appreciation: being thankful year round

I have always been thankful for teachers but now that I'm one, I appreciate them even more. 
I have always know that thanking teachers goes beyond one week per year. I tried to show my thankfulness through each interaction. 

I try to show respect and honor. As the years go by, I have felt freer to verbally look them in the eye and thank them for their excellence in teaching and for educating my children. 

The most important way I show my thankfulness is to pray for my children's teachers by name. We pray for each one of them daily and we ask God empower them to teach "from a heart of peace and wisdom." 

I try to stay in touch with my kids' teachers and collaborate with the work that goes on in the classroom. We also try to know what they like so when we give gifts, we know it will bless them. 

Thank God for teachers!

I become a preschool teacher last Fall and I can tell you that although my students are thankful all the time, there's no way they can beat the thankfulness I have to be a teacher. 

My students daily remind me of God's master genius. Only a masterful Creator could allow human beings to come to the world as children. Children are fascinating! Their constant joy and abiding peace remind me to totally rely on my Heavenly Father and trust that for every need, He makes provision. 

My students remind me that creativity and curiosity are natural and they should be cultivated in adulthood. 

I tell my students that they are creative thinkers and I try to empower them to know how great they are from the inside out. 

My students do not lie. If they give me a hug it's because they really love me. How I treasure the special moments we share. One time, a bilingual, 2-year-old student gave me a tight hug and whispered in my ear, "te quiero mucho." That was a "be still my heart" moment I will forever carry in life. 

The classroom is a place where teachers get to encourage inventive minds to keep exploring, growing and learning. 

Christ makes my experience as a parent and teacher enriching. He reminds me to live what I believe. He gives me strength to do all things. He gives me His joy, which is my strength. 

Don't get me wrong, I will celebrate Teacher's Appreciation Week this week. My hope is that throughout the year, my children's teachers have felt our love. My joy is that I get to teach preschool music to the next generation of world changers. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Summer 2016 with family: 6 things to consider

The summer is almost here! If you have been planning and thinking through many commitments, consider these things I am not planning to do:

I will not overbook my family - I think I have spent close to 3 hours just studying different summer programs and trying to fit it in our schedule. I am aware of the red flag right in front of my eyes that is warning me of overbooking. If I'm gonna become a shuttle service, I'm not signing up. If we are all going to be stretched thin, I am not signing up. I often remind myself that some year round commitments such as church and Bible study do not stop during the summer. It is important to be wise with my precious time.

I will not feel pressured to do all the cool activities - Let's me honest, there are some  summer activities are cooler than others. They're all (supposedly) super important for my child's development. I have learned not to succumb to pressure but to see "pressure" as a warning sign. God doesn't put pressure on me, He gives me choices and He clearly encourages me to choose life.

I will not dread my own schedule - This has happened to me before. Do you know what's worse? I am the master of my own schedule. I dread my schedule when we're out of the house all of the time. I dread my schedule when my kids are overtired. I dread my schedule when I am overtired. I believe that the summer should give us some activities but also the rest we need to recover and actually enjoy the things we sign up to do.

Here are the things I am committed to doing:

I will remember that I need recreation too - You can't give what you don't have. I am determined to enjoy recreational activities so that I too can be refreshed and renewed. Unless I take the time to relax and do something I enjoy, I will run out of patience, joy... you get the point. This doesn't take 40 hours a week, all it takes is doing something you enjoy that can give you a sense of renewal. I encourage my readers to make a list of those things. My list includes running, reading, writing, meeting a friend for coffee and going to an art gallery.

I will remember that this summer will part of my family's memories - if I am to look back at this summer, what type of memories will I want to create? I believe that this perspective is helpful when creating a summer schedule my entire family can enjoy. When the kids were little we focused on bonding and enjoying simple activities we could do in our backyard. When big events came around, we enjoyed them too. I am a believer that the best memories do not revolve around things but people. I am committed to be available, peaceful and joyful so that our summer memories will be supreme (yet real).

I will consider God when creating my family's summer plans - Have you considered that God has something to say about your summer plans? I am convicted that what everyone is doing might not be God's plan for our family. I know that He can lead me and guide in the way I should go. I am fiercely convinced that I need to involve Him in my plans before I say yes to another brain-forming, life-enhancing, academically and fitness beneficial activity. The Maker of the Universe, our God, has something to say about our summer plans. Let's give Him permission, or "Lordship" over our schedules. I believe it will revolutionize our lives. I also believe that while I might want to go for the elaborate, God might want me to keep it simple and leave room in my schedule for human interaction. What do I mean? Instead of committing 12 hours of my week to an activity, God may lead me to be available to sit with a friend and enjoy conversation while the kids play. I just want to plant a seed in your heart my friend. Before you sign up for anything else, consider God and what He has to say.

Before your summer even starts, what are you committed to do or not to do my friend?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Those who Dream

My favorite thing to ask my friends is about their dreams. Not the "last night I had a dream" kind but the ones that exist in our minds all the time. When the answer to "what is your dream?" comes, I see a different light in the eyes. I see a secret hope and joy that accompanies those who dream.

Dreams are magnificent but dreamers, even more. Each one of us one has the capacity to dream.
Dreaming costs absolutely nothing and it makes a huge difference in our lives.
Dreams feed the hope in us so it is important to take the time to dream.

You and I have many dreams. They might be hindered by your daily schedule. Life is so full of demands and those urgencies push dreams to the back of our subconscious.
I'm here to encourage you to dream again.

Dreaming takes virtually no time and it makes an enormous difference in our lives.
I know you have dreams for your children. I know you have dreams for your spouse. I know you have dreams for your department at work. What I really want to know if if you can consider for a moment the dreams you have for yourself.
Consider that dream that looks nothing like what you are currently doing. It may have been a childhood dream or something that recently came into your mind.
I want you to encourage you to keep dreaming.

Dreams not only feed the hope in you but they awaken the joy in you. I'm amazed at how God created us to dream and to find joy in it.

So, you have to do something that's unlike your dream. Don't feel that bad because that's called responsibility. You are also responsible for awakening the hope and the joy that comes when you simply dreaming again.

Take the time to dream: it will enhance your life. What is your dream my friend?

"When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad."
Psalm 126:1-3 (NKJV)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What NOT to say to someone who is getting Married (Português and English)

The day before we got engaged. Mississippi, December of 2004
Assista em Português:

Watch it in English:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to overcome Comparing yourself with others in Social Media or in Real Life

Today as I looked at social media, everyone seemed to be doing something interesting. Yeah, I was comparing myself with others. Here I was, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, nursing kids back to health and everyone else was in fantastic locations, doing fantastic things while eating fantastic food. Comparison is a bad, bad idea, no matter how many times it shows up in my life. 

I realize that I can keep on being defeated by the effects of Comparison (none of them are good) or I can learn how to manage the urge to compare myself to others. Here's how I'm managing it: 

God loves me. It's simple, but this truth impacts the very soul of me. God loves me so much He created me for such a time as this. This is the time to be wife and mother. He created me to clean toilets and wash dishes and to be sure kids stay as germ-free as they can. God gave me this life so I dare not think that the abundance He gave me is "less than." Now friends, we're all affected by bad circumstances (loss, grief, sickness, etc) every now and then. If you are navigating one of those, please know that your Heavenly Father will get you through it. 

Be happy for others. It takes a level of maturity and humility but I believe that this is possible and this is healthy. Here's the way I think: "So, you are living the dream I have? I am going to congratulate you from my heart and I will celebrate you. I am not where you are my friend, but today it's not about me, it's about YOU and your accomplishment." This mindset allows me to be sincerely happy for others as I "rejoice with those who rejoice." I often go ahead and pray that God will bless that person even more. I'd be lying to you if I told you I never experienced jealousy. I quickly realized how ungodly that is, repent and ask God to fill my heart with true joy and love for others.

That social media image might not God's best for me. How many times have you heard "the heart wants what it wants?" We are a people who are driven by emotions. Instead, when I allow God to guide me, I surrender to His perfect plan for my life which is ideal. Take my wedding for example. We planned our dream wedding 11 years ago. In the course of the year we got engaged I got a job offer out of State so things changed drastically. To make a long story short, God gave me everything I needed in the simplicity of a living room wedding with 7 people in attendance. Our marriage journey has had a foundation of Christian love and it has been a blessing. I often think about my "dream" wedding plans. I keep them in a journal and we laugh about it at times. I'm thankful that God gave us what we needed. 

Jealousy and Comparison are not a popular topics and most won't admit to it. I pray that you find tools to manage it. The first step is always to pray, repent and ask God to guide you. He's a very present help in your time of need.