Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What I learned this Winter

In the morning, as the kids and I are on the way to school we pray. I find myself thanking God for the weather. Winter can be the most hated season of the year (except for its fabulous holidays). I am forcing myself to remember that God, in His brilliant wisdom, gave us winter for our good. I decided to summarize what I learned in quotes I shared on social media.

"You can't change what you tolerate."
• I learned not to tolerate behaviors that only I could change this winter. Oh it was painful. I believe there is so much good on the other side of obedience and surrender. 

"The quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits."
• I took a deep dive in my study of habits. I read about habits, thought about them and changed. I decided to focus on effective habits instead of good and bad ones. I don't want to be a habits geek, I want the results of having effective habits. 

"God specializes in making the impossible possible."

• I am thankful for God's goodness towards me. I faced challenges this winter. Only by God's help I overcame those challenges. My takeaway? Pray and believe God. 

"Never suppress a kind word."
• There is much good in speaking kind words. I don't do it to be popular or to write about it here on the blog. I do it because my Heavenly Father is kind and I need to be like Him. God is an encourager and people out there are thirsty for encouraging words. 

"It is not difficult to recognize one who has spent extended time at a newsstand: his conversation overflows with the drama of current news. And it is not hard to discern a person who has come from a sporting event, as his face reveals the outcome of the game. Likewise, others can tell when an individual has spent extended time seeking God. An imperturbable calm guards their heart, and their countenance is radiant with the morning dew of Heaven." —I Will Be Found by You, Francis Frangipane
I repost this quote year after year. I am the person who wants to spend extended time seeking God. I need that imperturbable calm to guard my heart. I started this process by working on lowering the time I spend browsing mindlessly. I continued this process by focusing on spending more time in spiritual discipline. I have much improvement to do. I can't afford not to seek God while He can be found. 

The winter was a tough season for me but I am glad you cannot stop Spring from coming. 

What did you learn this Winter?

More in this series:
• What I learned this Summer
• What I learned this Spring
What I learned this Fall

Monday, March 18, 2019

No time for home organization? No problem!

I wish I had 3 days to declutter my entire home. I choose to use my time differently and thus, I'm challenged with organizing my home creatively. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Ignore it until you can do something about it. This may sound bad but it worked for me. The space under my kitchen sink never really had a purpose. I did keep a few cleaning products there. I also kept every plastic bag in the universe. I know, bad for the environment. It wasn't until my third move that I did something about it. Ignored that space for years because the cabinet under my sink was not highly visible. I also did not have a goal in mind for it. I did know I needed to dimish the amount of plastic bags I had. I started to shop with reusable bags. I stuck with it (and I also went to places that offered zero bags) and now we are in a much better place. Last week, I finally decided what to do with the space under my kitchen cabinet. The problem was that it was still a mess but I was going to have family over to help me for a few days. I know it can be frustrating when you want to help someone and you can't find anything in their home. I decided to organize cleaning products, paper towels and trash bags in that space. A quick visit to the thrift store gave me the organization tools I needed. Today, that space looks much better. I'm glad I ignored it until I could do something about it.

2. Hide some stuff. Have you noticed that all the organization/ decoration people don't have a great collection of "stuff" in the rooms they display? While I'm not willing to throw all my things away, I am willing to hide some stuff. At this point, I have successfully hidden everything Christmas, Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. I have also hidden some summer decor things. I also hide kitchen gadgets I don't use every day. I hide my crockpot. I hide my food processor... you get the point. It seems that the less stuff you have on display, the more organized a room looks.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff. There is something beautiful about a family home. The "mess" in multiple rooms is a sign of life. Children will grow, adults will move on to the next great thing. Stressing out about perfection is not the way to go. I find that if I strive for perfection I won't achieve it. I also don't want people to have an impression that we live in a home that could be in the cover of Martha Stewart Living. We live in a home where our family is loved and nurtured. We find renew our strength there and we love one another there. All of this requires quite a bit of "mess." I know one day the kids will grow and the memories will stay. I know one day, they will fly away and be all that God's called them to be. While they are here, I won't sweat the small stuff.

4. Work strictly smarter. I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to cleaning so I need to work smarter. Some days, I ask the kids to help with laundry. Their help is always welcome because it saves a lot of time and effort. I have also learned how long it takes me to complete a task. If I know how long it takes, I can confidently start and finish a project. Working smarter is a great thing.

I'm glad I am always finding ways to stay organized without having to commit enormous amounts of time to each task. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Getting to know you: Mexican American Mural

Houston is amazingly diverse. The Mexican-American community has strong roots here and one of the ways to learn more about it is by visiting the Mexican-American History & Culture in 20th Century Houston mural. Here is a description of this amazing work of art:

"The mural highlights the places, personalities, concepts and events that shaped the Mexican-American community and laid the foundation for the multicultural city we live in today. Set in Connally Plaza against a dramatic backdrop of City Hall and the downtown skyline, the new mural will be a cultural landmark in the historic heart of Houston."

The artwork is a collaboration between highly esteemed artists Jesse Sifuentes and Laura Lopez Cano. I work with Mr. Sifuentes wife, so I was invited to the unveiling of the mural.

It was a joyful occasion. I enjoyed being there with everyone. I enjoyed the live music, the food, and the highlight was the unveiling of the mural. We were so in awe with that work of art. I could have been there for 48 hours straight. I got a little bit more of an insight track because the Sifuentes family gave me a little personal history on the mural. I'm so thankful!

For more information and to visit the mural, please click here.

More from Getting to Know You:
• Great Day Houston
• Fort Bend Children's Discovery Center
• Houston Ballet
• Children's Museum of Houston
• Houston Rodeo
• Galveston Railroad Museum

Monday, March 11, 2019

Big Dill on Pride

The least productive way to tell someone they are prideful is to tell them "hey, you think you're a big dill hum?" If the person is anything like me, they'll say, "no I don't."

Pride is something my parents and grandparents would talk to me about. They told me not to cultivate it in my heart. Somehow, as I grew up, pride made its way to my heart. Thanks to Bible reading, living in Christian community and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I was able to recognize the times I think I'm a "big dill."

The only way I know how to deal with pride is to repent and turn to God's word for guidance. Here are a few Bible verses I am reading on the subject (all ESV) :

"And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

I don't know how I lost sight of the fact that I am supposed to be last and I live to serve. I need to be more like Jesus on this regard.

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight." Romans 12:16

When I'm wise in my own eyes, that's a clear sign that I need an attitude adjustment.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

I don't want to admit it out loud but I sometimes act like I'm more significant than others. This is clearly a mistake on my part that needs to be corrected.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8

There is no great or better example in humility than my Lord Jesus. I really need to meditate on this Bible verse and follow Jesus' example.

"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom." James 3:13

If I get this right, my actions will show that I no longer walk in pride.

• Do you think you're a big dill sometimes? What do you do in order to fix the situation?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

How to turn a Bad Day around

If you are alive, you’ve had a bad day. Here’s what I do:

Choose who you will talk to wisely. This week, my quote is, “I will not talk about a problem with anyone who is not part of the solution.” - Bill Johnson. I get to choose who will be part of the solution I seek. The internet is not part of my solution. Some of my friends are not part of the solution. I am aware that for every problem I face, God has a solution. I try my best to pray about it first and only talk to someone who will be part of the solution.

Choose what goes into your head. Recently, when I had a bad day, I thought, “what should I listen to?” I immediately thought, “today is a good Zig Ziglar day.” I listen to Zig when I need motivation and encouragement. If my purpose is to get out of the bad day, it is wise to listen to media that will elevate me.

Choose to move. Exercises can work wonders when you have a bad day (it works well for good days too). After I exercise, I find a better perspective on my problem. My body and mind benefit from movement. Any movement counts.

Do you have a routine for bad days? What do you tell yourself? Who do you go to?