Monday, December 9, 2019

What I learned this Fall 2019

We moved to our new home in the beginning of Fall. I didn't decorate my previous home for Fall because it would be too much. Once we arrived where we are, we joyfully put all our decorations out.

Now that we are ready for Christmas, I'm thinking about the lessons I learned during these short, formative weeks we've had in our new community.

• The answers to your prayers might be disguised as a new opportunity. If I can just stop putting God on a box, I can see Him at work more often.

• When you move to a new community, you find out who your true friends are. There is nothing wrong with acquaintances. I do appreciate the true friends I left behind.

• When you move to a new community, you find true friends. I am sure I will have acquaintances. I do appreciate the true friends I found already.

• Making new friends can be uncomfortable. Press through the weirdness anyway.

• Even if you make others uncomfortable, stand in your confidence. This is kind of the story of my life. My confidence is in the finished work of Christ on the cross. He has given me so much good, I just want to walk in that abundance.

• In the midst of uncertainty, hold on to what you know for sure. I know that God loves me. I know my family certainly loves me. I also know that no matter what, God's for me.

• It takes a long time to unpack a home. I learned that unpacking is not really a competition. It is about prioritizing my family's wellbeing and gaging how much energy I have to unpack.

• I learned to get over the state of my home when people came over to visit. It did feel a little embarrassing to showcase a home filled with boxes (in the beginning) and recently, it was tough to stand in a kitchen filled with dirty dishes and clutter. I decided right there and then that at least people can see how a real home looks like. I also decided to clean and make sure the other 40 people at least saw clean dishes drying.

• When you feel bad, fill your environment with praise. God encouraged me to do that in our first few weeks in our new community. It really does work.

• Good things coming from God happen. Even in the Fall. I'm thankful.

More in this series:
• Spring 2018
• Summer 2018
• Fall 2018
• Winter 2019
• Spring 2019
Summer 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Seven

1 • When we left NYC early Tuesday morning, I decided not to use my phone. I wanted to keep that last look of Manhattan to myself. Seeing the city that never sleeps quietly getting ready for a busy day was an experience I will always treasure.
2 • We hit the ground running when we arrived in Texas. I find that sometimes, the best part of a trip is coming home. I missed the kids so much.
3 • My MIL is the reason why my husband and I can getaway every now and then. We are incredibly thankful for her help and encouragement.
4 • This week my exercise schedule was shorter than usual. I usual go for 5 days but this week, 3 days it was. We are 41 days away from the big day. I'm keeping the hope alive. I am believing God for my best marathon yet.
5 • I keep telling myself that I need to be more understanding with the results I got from my 2019 goals. I made progress. I am enjoying the progress. So what I didn't achieve every goal on my list?
6 • This week I got another no on my job search. I wasn't discouraged. I did pray that God would close the doors that needed to be closed. A few minutes later I got another job interview. I believe God knows what He's doing.
7 • It is important to be okay with where you are on the way to where you are going. Enjoying where you are is finding contentment. Contentment is Godly and gives good returns to those who embrace it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Focused Action 2020

• What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?  
I made a decision to decrease mindless browsing this year and I made progress in that area. I got mad a lot in 2019. What I want to do is to deal with those unresolved issues. I'm sure you are wondering about what I got mad about. One issue was the role of women in church. Instead of being mad about what I see, I want to have the correct perspective as far as I'm concerned. Getting mad doesn't solve the issue for me. I need to take further steps towards inner peace. 

• For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year? 
The same people from last year plus a few. I'm also going to be more bold about asking people if they want to get saved. 

• What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
Scheduling actual time to do it in my actual calendar. I pray often. I long for longer stretches of time. 

• What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity? 
Spending intentional time with my husband and children. Time goes by so quickly once you have little ones. We want to be sure we build strong Christians who will transform the world for Christ. 

• What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?
Paper clutter. I've been making progress in this area but I want to find a system that will fix the problem for good.

• What habit would you most like to establish this year? 
Journaling. I don't write as often as I'd like. 

• Who do you most want to encourage this year? 
My immediate family.

 What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
Zeke and I have had some growing conversations recently. I am going to take those into consideration when I act on being a blessing to him this upcoming year. I know that encouragement and prayer are always in order.

• What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren? 
I can teach the kids about the Bible and I can live in front of them as a Christian mother should.

• What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year? 
I read quite a bit this year, I plan on keeping that trend going in 2020. I have a running list on my Hoopla app. 

• What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year? 
I regret not embracing change quicker. 

• What's the most important trip you want to take this year? 
Brazil for sure. 

• What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year? 
I want to be a better communicator.

• What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it? 
I'm not so much interested in doctrine as I am interested in motivating people to read the Bible as a habit.

• If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it? 
I think they'd say to focus on God, family and health. Everything else will take care of itself. 

• What's the most important new item you want to buy this year? 
I can always use new pens.

• In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
This is the year to arrive at a normal BMI (and stay there).

Previously in this Series:

Christmas Conflict

Christmas is not easy for every family. Some people will face conflict during family gatherings. Today I want to offer some reflective questions that will help you manage your side of the equation:

• If I know conflict is coming my way, how should I act?

• What have I learned from conflict? Was it really worth it? Did it bring about lasting change?

• Am I interested in winning more than cultivating a good relationship?

• If the relationship is broken, what are some steps towards mending it?

• If fruitless confrontation starts to happen, are there ways I can separate myself from such confrontation? Do I need to physically remove myself from the same room as the person?

• If the conflict needs to happen, will I be ready to hear the other person? Will I be able to understand as I seek to be understood?

It is easy to post memes and give clap backs. Growing as a human being will take reflection, prayer and the courage to know what God requires of you.

Top posts of 2019

I have been blogging since 2003. I'm always thankful to have readers. This year, these are the posts that you read the most. I look forward to writing more in 2020. Thank you for reading and for supporting everything I do here at!

Lessons from a job I didn't land
Which Church should I visit on Easter?
Christmas without the crazy with Abbey Land
Moving to a New Community
Being single, dating and married with kids
Why is keeping friends so difficult?
What I learned this Spring
New Music
The Heart and the Schedule
My Weight Loss in 60 seconds: comeback

More in this series:
Top posts of 2018
• Top posts of 2017
• Top posts of 2016
 Top posts of 2015  

Monday, December 2, 2019

Joy Shop

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing." 
Isaac Watts

I've been singing this hymn for many decades now. I grew up in Brazil so we sang it in Portuguese.  My parents always sang this song with gusto. I can still hear them take that deep breath and sing strongly with joy. 

The message of this hymn, no matter what language you speak, is one of joy. The trick nowadays is not accept counterfeit joy.

The world, outside of the Scriptures, tells us that joy can be purchased. I am pretty sure that like me, you received emails from every store you've ever visited on Black Friday. You and I have been bombarded with advertisements on social media telling you that click to purchase equals joy. 

The truth is that more material things can never give you true joy. Let's face it: most new and shinny things turn into a clutter problem. The solution is to look to God to give us true joy.

The hymn "Joy to the World" reminds me that only Christ can give true joy. 

Isaac Watts was inspired by Psalm 98 when he wrote the first verse of this hymn. Psalm 98 is  encouraging the entire world to make a huge noise because God has done wonderful things. When was the last time you screamed to the top of your lungs because of the wonderful things God has done for you? I know it is a little weird to scream for joy but God is certainly worthy of our wildest praise. 

"Let every heart prepare him room" reminds me of what I need to do between now and Christmas day: make room for Christ in my heart.

The only way to make room for something is to remove or rearrange what's already there. 

I remember making room for a new organ in our home. We had to rearrange chairs. We  sold a small couch because there wasn't enough room for both things. One had to go because the focus of that room was going to be on that new musical instrument. 

When we prepare our heart for Christ, we let go of anything that stops us from focusing on Him. 

What is stopping you from focusing on Christ?

It may be your social media habit. 
It may be your TV watching habit.
It may be the unforgiveness you are harboring for years.
It may be the secret sin you have in your heart. 

I encourage you to let go of anything that impedes you from freely giving your heart to Christ. 

When we prepare room for Christ, true joy has free access to our lives. 

Prayer: Jesus, you are my true joy. I repent from letting sin crowd my heart. I let go of all distractions and I choose to focus on you this season. I prepare my heart with joy as I seek you daily. I will sing of your goodness. I will praise you with my voice. In Jesus' name, amen. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday Seven

This weekend, we are celebrating my husband's 40th birthday in New York City. I'm going to tell you about seven unusual things I appreciate about NYC.

1 • You read this correctly. My hometown is is Rio de Janeiro. The latest estimate of people living in Rio is of 13,374 million people. New York has 8,623 million living in it. Watching masses of people walking everywhere reminds me of my beloved Rio. 

2 • Public transportation. I remember riding on the bus and the metro in Rio. I appreciate the public transportation system in NYC. I also appreciate the ride share apps that can be handy when we get a little tired of waiting for the right bus to come by. 

3 • Food. We can get whatever type of food we want. We enjoy the typical NYC staples. We also like having access to great ethnic foods. 

4 • New Jersey. I spent a summer in Newark so I appreciate the benefits of staying in Jersey while enjoying NYC. I have beloved friends who live in Jersey and we are spending a little time with them this time around. Jersey is cool. It takes staying there for a while to appreciate it.

5 • Music, Literature and Arts. This place has a history of great music, literature and arts. Walking in this old town reminds me of all the greats who were once here. It also reminds me of the many people in this city who have a dream of doing something great artistically.

6 • The church. New York, just like any other city I know, needs the church. People everywhere need help and hope. Jesus, my Lord and Savior can give eternal life and abundance in the present moment. I appreciate the Christians who live in this area and spread the gospel to people who haven't heard about the good news of Christ. 

7 • Good Bagels. I have always loved bagels. Each time I visit the city, I go to a deli and I grab a good bagel. Bagels are the reason why I run marathons. I know it is silly but bagels have motivated for years to run all the miles so I can eat all the bagels. 

I hope we'll have at least one celebrity sighting while we're here. I'm really good at shoving a camera on their face and taking a great photo of whatever celebrity and my husband. Ha!