What I learned this Summer 2021

Monday, September 20, 2021

Taking care of my health is and will always be a priority. I embarked on a summer health project that really helped me improve my health. The project gave me much-needed encouragement to lose weight during the summer. You can read (and hear) all about it here

Friendship Culture was birthed this summer. It started as a desire God planted in my heart. Creating a place where women of all racial ethnicities and walks of life can gather to talk about friendships was amazing. I am planning the second event for this Fall. I hope you can attend. The focus of the first one was cross-cultural friendships. We learned so much and delighted in each other's presence. 

Camp Listenbee came and went so quickly. My babies are growing. I am grateful for all the time we spent together. I was especially grateful to steer them towards greater time management while still making room for fun and wonder. You can read about it here

Part of my summer was stressful and downright awful. I learned that when things are out of control, there are a few things I truly can do. You can listen to this podcast here.

Peace and calm are right on the other side of a big decision. I am learning that no one has to understand what I do. Most people around me do not. I am learning that the support of family and close friends is enough. I am learning to cultivate the peace of God in my life. It is a gift worth pursuing. 

My middle child turned 11 this summer. She has the last kid birthday of the three. We celebrated her with gusto. She is a blessing and God was very kind to give our daughter to us. Celebrating life is a pleasure and we do it with all our might. 

My husband and I got away by ourselves for a blissful 48 hours. We went to Chicago, one of my favorite cities. We went there to attend Ricky Dillard & New G's concert. The concert was a dream come true. Zeke has been writing for them for a while and this was the first time we got a chance to hear his song being performed live. We toured Chicago and truly enjoyed seeing and experiencing new things together. We were more thrilled than tired, our memories are more sweet than savory.

A tough lesson to learn was the "not yet" I received when it came to traveling home to Brasil. We had everything planned and ready to go but it wasn't time. I learned to hear God's voice, especially when it is telling that it is not time yet. I am learning to be grateful for the closed doors He clearly places in front of me. 

I'm surrounded by a lot of people who look at me but do not see me. This summer, I learned to be okay with that. I'm not sure why this is happening. Still, I decided once again to stand in my confidence and be everything God created me to be. I refuse to adjust to a culture that ignores people on purpose. I am determined to offer friendship, acceptance, and encouragement everywhere I go. True friendship can be used as an agent of change. The thing is, I need to be willing to be that agent of change.

Read More

How to make progress towards your goals

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

There are 16 weeks until the end of the year. 115 days to be exact. This is plenty of time to make progress towards your goals.  How do you find inspiration to go on, no matter what happened thus far in 2021? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Look ahead. Remember that time you got in your car to drive somewhere but you kept looking at the rearview mirror? You don't, correct? If you proceed to do what I described, you will cause an accident. You can't make progress towards your goals while looking back at your past. I know. 2020 was a difficult year. If you must look back, take time to learn from your hardships. Once you do, make peace with what was and press on to what's ahead. Every time I see my kids distracted while walking, I tell them "pay attention to where you are going." I believe you and I can use the same warning. Look ahead. There's more and you can rise stronger.

2. Defined steps. Each goal requires a next step. When I wrote my 2021 goals, I decided to write down the steps required to achieve them. One of my goals for the year was to redesign my blog. The required step was to find a design I liked. The next step was to buy that design. Once I bought the design, the next step was to install that design. After these three steps, my goal was accomplished. I still have some goals in progress. I am writing a book. My next step today is to schedule 45 minutes to simply write. Each step will get me to my goal of completing the book. Define your steps my friend. What is your next step?

3. Reliable accountability. Let's face it, it is difficult to show up day and after day and do what needs to be done to achieve your goals. You get tired. Things go wrong. You have a bad day, a bad week. Because we were made for community, reliable accountability is the answer. The right accountability group can help you be accountable for your ability. It is not about having someone call you at 6 am to remind you to work out. It is having friends who will walk with you and remind you to develop your potential. The next question I often get is, where do I find these people? They are doing what you want to do. If you want to run, they are part of your town's running group. When I wanted to study the Bible, my accountability partners were members of my community's Bible Study. When I decided to lose weight, I found accountability with WW. I encourage you to find someone to account for your ability to reach your goal.

Read More

Sunday Seven

Sunday, September 5, 2021

1. Life requires flexibility and adjustment. We started and ended our week adapting to the circumstances surrounding us. We tried to show grace and understanding. The result was peace, rest and as life went on, we were able to meet the demands of the day. 
2. Life requires commitment. I said I was going to help someone with a big project. I prepared myself the best I could but I was just not up to the task. I prayed to God for strength, which He graciously gave me. I learned that showing up and doing my part strengthens my character. When I make a commitment, no matter how challenging, I have to show up and follow through. 
3. Life requires prayer. I prayed with a lot of people this week. I learned when my ability to comfort fails, I can rely on prayer. When I combine the word of God with intercessory prayer, my faith is strengthened in the ability of God to intervene. God can do all things. I’m often the one who needs the reminder. Prayer is my daily reminder of God’s magnificence and power. 
4.  Life requires rest. Rest is my superpower. When I rest, I can make better decisions. I feel healthier and I am able to do all the things God called me to do with excellence. I’m done abusing my body by depriving it of enough rest at night. 
5. Life requires self-leadership. This week I thought about how I can lead myself better. I believe in self-leadership. It is a concept that can be misunderstood or seen as some sort of inherited ability. For me, it requires the daily decision to apply grit, strength and resilience to everything. It asks that I am focused and productive. I can always fine tune the skills I have so I can reach my goal. 
6. Life requires nutrition. You can’t give what you don’t have. Therefore, I need excellent nutrition to have an excellent week. The way I define nutrition is simple: foods that God created. This week, I prepped overnight oats, rice and beans, a salad and two proteins so I could have meals ready to go. Instead of wondering what to eat, I had everything ready to go. When I eat well, I feel well. I’m making peace with the fact that my food staples do not have to be fancy in order for me to feel amazingly healthy. 
7. Life requires friends. This week, I started my weekly interdenominal Bible Study. I met a lot of new friends and was happy to see friends I already knew. It was such an exciting first meeting. We are all eager to grow in the knowledge of God’s word as well as in friendship with one another. Yes, I have room for you to join us!
Read More

How to be productive today

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What does productivity mean to you?

I asked myself this question recently. Here are a few thoughts on the subject:

1 • How much do we need to be truly productive? The answer is, whatever time you have. If you have 15 minutes, you can be productive. If you have 45 minutes, you can be productive. You have to be the master of your time and assign it to your goal for the day. If you don't have all day to meal prep, you can set aside 30 minutes to prep your breakfasts for the week. Use the time you have. Do what you can.

2 • Let that perfectionist mindset go. I remember working hard all day but my counters were not clear of clutter. I started to feel guilty. Never mind that I had to go to sleep so I could gain energy to be productive the next day. I told myself to let that perfectionist mindset go and embrace a positive mindset. Progress over perfection reminds you that Rome wasn't built in a day. The clutter in my counters didn't end up there in a day and I would take the time to clean. I was able to sleep well that night. The next day, I set aside time to work on the counters. I cleaned them. When productivity is the long-term goal, we get there with small, incremental steps. 

3 • Productivity is as diverse as the people of the world. I don't believe in cookie-cutter productivity because we all have different dispositions. What productivity means to me is different than what it means to you. Once I accept my individuality, I can find a method that works for me. I remember thinking about emptying my entire bedroom so I could organize it. I stopped after the second sock drawer. I was changing 3 diapers at the time. I had to keep an eye on my little kids who had time to empty an entire room? There was no way to set aside an entire day/weekend to get everything out of my room. So I found a method that works for me. I have practiced this method for the past 7 years. My method has given me a lot of freedom. I know this because when things get out of control (as they often do), I know what to do in order to get back to a functional place. Find what works for you. Do not compare yourself to others, no matter how much a creator wants your money. 

4 • Dealing with distractions is part of being productive. It may be that 'ding' coming from your phone every so often. It might be your neighbor calling you. It may be the dishes in the sink. Distractions only start calling your name when you are focused on doing something important. I am learning to be okay with distractions. Here is what I do. Let's say I am focused on a task and a distraction shows up. I stop what I'm doing and I basically say, "oh hey, I see you there. I will deal with you in 45 minutes." If I'm afraid I will forget something important, I keep a pen and a notepad so I can write it down. You can also negotiate what you will with common distractions. For example, text messages are common distractions when I am writing. I negotiate this common distraction before I sit down to write. Here are the terms: unless it is an emergency phone call, I do not answer text/phone when I am writing/studying. I will answer them after lunch. I bet the same things keep distracting you when you are trying to be productive. Work on your negotiation terms.

5 • Rest and productivity go hand in hand. A few weeks ago, I was closely monitoring how much rest I was getting daily. I wrote down what I discovered. I learned that the more rested I feel, the more productive I am. I tweaked the time I go to bed so I can be refreshed in the morning. I also added a little downtime during the day, if I can afford it. When I am tired, it hurts my productivity. I wonder if you ever thought about this correlation. 

I hope you have a productive week. Be productive on your own terms!

Bible Study starts this Thursday! Even if you can't come this week, I'd love to know you are coming so I can be ready: Register today. 

Read More

My Weight Loss in 60 seconds

Monday, August 30, 2021

I'm still an active member of WW. My weigh-in days have switched a few times but currently, it is Saturday. I didn't know how to feel about a Saturday weigh-in day but now that's the option, I feel it works. It also helps me stay accountable during the weekends.
This week I did a lot of reflection. I took the time to reflect on Bible passages. I also reflected on my schedule. Last week, I learned that if I don't focus on my goals during the day, I truly can't reach them. I wrote down my goals and kept them in front of me. One of my health goals was to exercise 5 days this week. I was able to do it 6 times.  

CrossFit was tough. I managed to finish the workouts and do my best. Most of the workouts required skills I haven't quite master. I was excited that I lost my fear of one of the exercises. I call it a win. I'm learning that in life, you have to show up, listen to instruction and do your best. I know if I keep working hard I will grow in skill and strength.
When life gives you milk... you make ice cream, right? Life is not always predictable, easy, or straight ahead. I took my little one to get ice cream. I enjoyed a small portion with her. We enjoyed our cold treats outside. It was nice to feel the breeze and to think thankful thoughts. God is good and I am grateful for all the blessings He gives us daily.
I have been training for a half marathon. I'm glad I kept my running base pretty much intact so we can build from here. The race is kind of far away but it will be here before we know it. Running is truly for joy. I know activity helps with weight loss but there is so much joy involved. 

The above picture is my before picture. I'm sure there is a "before before" picture I could show you too. I was super excited, I just had delivered my second baby and I was ready to work on my health and strength. I joined Weight Watchers at the time and lost 31 lbs. Money was short, so I had to cancel my subscription. I kept everything I learned from them and finished losing  a little over 50 lbs right before I got pregnant with my third baby, which I delivered 22 months after i took this picture. 

Again, I relied on the things I learned about myself and with WW to lost another 50 lbs by myself. I started training for marathons at that time. Slowly, my weight creped back up. I had the desire to join WW because I wanted their support and accountability. 

Once I found a full-time job, I joined WW online November of 2017. It's taking this long to lose weight. I'm so close. The great news is that in 4 years, I haven't gained anything back. 

I'm learning new skills. I'm enjoying this healthy lifestyle. I am enjoying the fact that I don't consider myself to be on a diet. I am living the life of freedom I want to live. 

I will get there. One pound at a time, one decision at a time, one day at a time. 
Thanks for your encouragement in this journey my friend!
Read More