Not every beginning is good

Friday, January 28, 2022

 Not every beginning is good BUT there is hope! Listen up: 

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Containing Feedback

My feedback is valid. Whether people receive it or not, that's where wisdom resides. 

If people do not want my feedback, it's up to me to decide how to proceed. This week (this season) I am learning that my feedback and wisdom are valid regardless if people receive them or not. 

The world is not going to end. 

I am learning that my opinion is not predicated by someone's option to receive or decline my feedback. 

I am learning to ask myself the following: what will deliver the most good: me giving my feedback and someone clearly not receiving or me withholding my feedback and avoiding frustration and a waste of words? 

Life always teaches, often, not through me. 

Maintaining my peace is better than getting upset. 

I'm learning to remain calm, cool, and collected. 

Sometimes, I see a train wreck coming but the person who could benefit from the information does not want me to tell them so. 

I'm learning to step away and calmly do what I am called to do. 

Some fights are not worth fighting. 

It is not up to me to save someone who clearly does not want to be saved. 

It is up to me to remember what my boundaries are. 

I clearly have no influence or grace with everyone outside of my home. 

There are limited areas and people who welcome my influence and grace. To them, I will joyfully give. To everyone else, I will remain quiet, calm, and definitely prayerful for their well-being.
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Wordle and the Word

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

"Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." 
Psalm 119:18 (NKJV)

The latest craze of the internet is Wordle. I'm sure you've observed your friends posting about it on social media. Wordle is a word-guessing game. Each player has to correctly guess the word of the day by selecting a random five-letter word. 

The game itself is not what's interesting to me but how my friends are talking about it. One friend, said, "it only takes five minutes a day. You can't play more than once." Others, talk about how challenging the game is. 

The inventor of the game told the New York Times, the game is designed to limit the amount of time people spend online gaming. 

“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” he said. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.” 

I have no doubt this game will be a success. I agree that compared to other options, this particular game decreases the time people spend online. Those 3 minutes a day do add up. 

If you started playing Wordle on January 1 for 3 minutes a day, you will spend 1,095 minutes gaming. 18.25 hours of your year will be spent guessing a random word. Can you imagine spending almost an entire day in front of a screen gaming? 18 hours is longer than your workday. 3 minutes a day adds up and it never comes back to us.

I've been writing about the spiritual fight for your mind for years. The fight is intense. It is on purpose and it doesn't always appear to be evil.  

Moses wrote in Psalm 90:12, "teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." 

My friend, you can't get those 3 minutes a day back. You must proceed with wisdom when choosing to engage in a seemingly harmless online game. 

True wisdom comes from the word of God or simply put, the Bible. I believe that everything the word of God touches, changes. Even if all you have to invest is 3 minutes a day. 

The benefits of investing in 3 minutes a day in the Bible are eternal. Investing 3 minutes a day in gaming? You tell me. Personally, it makes my mind numb. It keeps me from accomplishing all the good things God called me to accomplish on earth. For me, it is a distraction. 

I'm sure some of you are calling for temperance. I agree with you. Too bad game designers and the psychologists that work to keep us glued to the internet are going for addiction, not for the God-given gift of self-control. The enemy of your soul doesn't play fair. He's out to steal, kill and destroy.

We need God to teach us to number our days. We need the word of God to completely control every area of our lives. Our screen habits included.

Remember when I told you that if you play Wordle for 3 minutes a day you will spend 18 hours of your life gaming? If you want to read the New Testament, it takes around 18 hours and 20 minutes. Which one of these choices will benefit you the most? I propose that the choice that will give you eternal benefits is the wise one. 

Just for fun, let me present you with some more numbers of eternal benefit. It takes around 70 hours and 40 minutes to read the Bible out loud. If you want to read the Old Testament, you will spend 52 hours and 20 minutes of your time. The longest book of the Bible, Psalms, can be read in just 4 hours and 28 minutes. I'm not sure about you but I've binged on a TV series longer than that (hello Lost!). 

While these are large numbers, you can break them down in smaller portions. My challenge this year is to read the entire Bible twice. When I read it once, I spend around 15 minutes of daily reading. How my life has been transformed in 15 minutes a day! 

I am not here to make you feel bad but to alert you of the possibilities ahead of you. I want to propose that this year, you can be wise about the use of your time. You can be a good steward of the 24 hours God so graciously gave you.

Instead of mimicking the screen habits of the culture, we can be the people God called us to be. We can submit our online habits to Him. We can commit to knowing God better as we open our Bibles for ourselves and say God, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." 

Let it be so.

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Solution for Family Conflict

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Family life is good and it is also challenging. When I face challenges, I often remember the God I serve. I remember His words and His ways. 

God is a great Father. He is an everlasting Father really. He loves well and efficiently. I want to offer both of these qualities in all my family relationships. 

When my family and I experience brokenness or conflict, here are practical things I do:

• Go to God for wisdom - Prayer has to be my starting point. Often, God asks me to recognize where I’m in the wrong. I then repent from my own sin. If I’m still harboring bad feelings, I ask God to help me to be in line with His will. Then I pray for wisdom. 

When I get wisdom, how do I know I am getting it from God? Check out what James has to say:

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

James 3:16-18 (NKJV)

The wisdom God gives is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 

Once I know I got what I asked from God, I give it to my family member. 

Let me be transparent and tell you that all of this is best done when your fleshly pride and frustration are not leading the charge (ask me how I know). When my flesh leads the way, the entire interaction backfires. It is important to truly seek God, recognize where we are wrong, repent and ask for wisdom. 

I applied this recently and yielded beautiful results. I had a few conflicts I was working through. I tried and tried to be patient but it just didn’t work. I closed the night the best I knew how: I fed everyone. The kids went to bed after we read a story and prayed. Then I put myself to sleep. Sometimes, you just need another fresh day. 

I woke up and asked God for mercy and help. I went on with my morning routine: CrossFit, coffee, breakfast for the kids, shower for me, more coffee. In the middle of all of that. I heard a familiar, gentle whisper. 

God told me to remind the particular family members of how important they are to me and how they are even more important to God. 

I circled around the previous night’s conversation. I told them of how important they are to me and even more to God. I gave them a tight hug and a kiss. You could see the conflict and hardness of their heart melt. Thanks be to God for wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 

I went on to take a similar approach to the next family member. A similar thing happened. I felt the conflict fall and unity arise. God is so good and wise.

My human tendency is to let things go, sweep them under the rug, and just hope for things to resolve on their own. The thing is, that’s not how God treats me. He deals with brokenness because He has a better plan for me. He is a good Father. 

If you are dealing with a broken or uneasy family relationship today, I encourage you to give God’s way a try. 

Remember to start with prayer. Recognize where you are wrong. Repent. Ask God for wisdom. Look for the following fruits of wisdom:



willing to yield 

full of mercy and good fruits 

without partiality  

without hypocrisy.

Let me know how God changes your situation because I know He will.

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Sunday Seven

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Seven is all about things someone told me or I heard. Enjoy!

1. "Every day I look for a blessing. Today, you are mine." Ms. Barbara, 82 years old • I've been blessed to meet a lot of good people. Ms. Barbara is my latest new friend. 

2. "Stop denying your systems." Ms. Loretta • Ms. Loretta helped me identify why I wasn't succeeding in my health journey. It was a systems problem. 

3. "This man is a miracle. He shouldn't be alive today." A local pharmacist • I heard an incredible story about a person who was really sick but God had other plans. 

4. "Your words mean nothing. Character protects your words." Myles Munroe • Words without character are empty. 

5. "You deserve to celebrate the steps. Not just when you reach the final destination." Dr. Gary Foster • If you wait to celebrate when you get to the finish line, you may run out of steam.

6. "We don't rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems." James Clear • I had to think about my systems deeply this week. It was a good thing to do. 

7. "I spent my entire life wanting people to like me. Little did I know that God had a wife whose mission was to love me." Zeke Listenbee • I am so blessed to be married to Zeke. Loving him is so easy.
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From weight gain to weight loss

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Last week I had my first in-person weigh-in of the year. It wasn't pretty. After maintaining during thanksgiving and losing around Christmas time, the new year was filled with stressful situations. I did the best I could and went to the meeting. Last week I saw I gained 5 lbs. I left the meeting with a solid plan. I didn't like the gain but there was nothing I could do about the past. All I had was the future so I went to work. Here is what I did. 

I planned for special days. I don't believe in cheat days. I do believe in special days. My wedding anniversary was Monday. We planned to bake an Italian Cream Cake. I added the recipe to my tracker. I tracked ahead. I enjoyed both baking and eating the cake. I didn't eat all of my dinner (a quinoa bowl) so I brought the rest of it home to be enjoyed the next day. Planning for special days work. I ended the week with a bunch of weeklies so I share a cupcake with my daughter. All foods are allowed at WW. The key is to plan for them. 

I planned my weekly menu. I have the habit of writing a menu and developing a shopping list from there. I also plan to cook the foods I buy. Then, I pre-pack whatever I can for easy access. I want to say that I had 3-4 days of pre-made meals. They make eating healthy easy and delicious. 

I planned to sleep the correct amount of hours. Sleeping well makes a difference because when I rest well I can exercise efficiently. My decision-making ability is high when I rest well. I feel much better when I rest well at night. 

My WW coach said, "don't be in denial of your systems." This quote touched me so much because I felt like denial led me to that 5-pound gain. If I am to lose, I can't deny my systems. James Clear says "we don't rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems."

My systems (most of them) were faulty for the first 3 weeks of the year. My coach's comment (You can’t deny your systems) led me to the following questions: 

What are my systems? - Activity, Rest, Tracking, Water. 
How do I implement my systems on a daily basis? I exercise 4-5 days a week; I rest 7 hours per night; I track most days; I drink 40-60 oz of water per day. 
How do I strengthen the weak parts? Each week, I identify each of the 4 areas need improvement and I set a goal to improve them.
How do I uphold the strong parts? I celebrate the strong areas. I set goals to improve them too. I can't stop growing.

I experienced quite a bit of stress. The thing is, I can't control the source of stress nor change a lot of stressful situations. Still, I learned the following from my difficult weeks:

1. I can’t control the cause of my stress. I can control tracking, activity, water intake and sleep.
2. I can move the chocolate chips out of sight. They were completely out of mind once it was an inconvenience to grab them after dinner.
3. I can pre-pack my meals. Just 3 days does the trick. Most of all, don’t give up. Taking care of your health will make a difference. ❤️

All of this led to a 1.4 lb loss. I am excited about reaching my goal for the upcoming week and my overall goal to reach lifetime status at WW. 

Thank you for reading!
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