You are what you...

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "You are what you eat" and realized there is truth to that statement.  Have you continued that thought and realized that you are also...what you think, what  you say, what you do, AND what you pray.  Yes, what you pray is what you are.  When we are trying to change (any change like mine of eating) you start on the inside because the spirit and physical body are inseparably linked and the role of prayer plays an intimate part.  I never thought about how I pray, with doubt or with confidence, would play a part in how my journey of change goes.  If I pray, Lord help me eat better but inside I fully doubt that this will happen - it truly won't.   God calls me to a life of faith and to commitment to pray with certainty..  No matter what I see (the scale not moving, that giant ice cream cone that jumps in front of me in the grocery) happening, I KNOW that GOD IS WORKING! And we remember that its all worked in HIS time, not mine! "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

Now if we think about how our lives change when we pray with confidence and consistently about everything in our lives...how much more could we help to change the lives of others by praying for them.  Friends or family may ask pray for me for this or that and we say sure no problem.  Do we? Do we stop, right then and either pray with them (yes I'm working on that) or stop in our busy days and say a pray that we promised.  What does it take - a minute, two, three, or maybe five minutes? Think about the power of Jesus' name and how we could affect change in that person if we stopped and prayed.  We are what we pray and what we pray for others.

Now I challenge you to think about the goals/changes you are working on in your personal life - write down a confident pray and commit to praying that with faith and consistency.  Then list five people in your life - family, friends, or maybe that single mom struggling at the grocery store with her kids you saw today, or even your boss! - and commit to praying consistently for them for the next month.  Every day.  And it doesn't matter if you don't know any specifics to pray for because God knows and He'll lay it on your heart.

Those are just my thoughts for today.

Dear God: today I come to You in faith, asking for what I fear I may lack - great faith! Help me Lord to understand how I can stand firmly on shaky ground, believe in what I can't see trust in what I can only hope for.  Bathe me in Your faithful love that I might in turn love You more faithfully.  I surrender myself and my body (my finances, my self-worth, my family, my job, me everything) to You right now, along with all my expectations.  In exchange, may I receive from You a confidence that can't be shaken. Make me a person of faith, Lord.  I am not strong enough to create all my own success, but I believe that You will accomplish all the good plans You have for me.  Amen.  (from "the Dieter's pryaer book")


Oikos' leaders and members are encouraged to read the Moravian Daily Text and gather together (physically or by phone) to discuss.  This is text we discussed today:

Matthew 16:5-20New Living Translation (NLT)

Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said,“You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”[a]

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[b] the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John,[c] because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[d] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[e] will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid[f] on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[g] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

I thoroughly enjoy attending devotions because I love to hear my spiritual families individual perceptions or take away's from the reading.  I asked my son, who attended with me today, what stood out for him from the discussion.  "I do not need to get or seek approval from ANYONE but GOD!" The world's approval doesn't matter only God's.   Well, I have to seek your approval, Mom." "No son, you only seek mine when needing permission to do or not do something because of your age."  Loved it!

We also discussed God giving us a new identity when we believe in Him - just like he gave Simon a new name, Peter.  Or branding, labeling from others to us and how we relate with that.  But the one perspective that really made me stop and think and want to ponder more deeply was (paraphrased from Jason) "what were the evil teachings that the Pharisees & Sadducees were doing? I think its about the voices we listen to.  What are the five dominant voices in our lives and if they are from non-Christians how do we allow that to influence our thinking, our decisions, our journey?  Do we let that little bit of negative yeast define us? Or do we use our spiritual family as our dominant voices - praying with us, discussing with us, holding us accountable to our faith, our trust, our belief in Jesus Christ our Lord?"  Have you ever thought about the dominant voices in your life? Who do you allow to influence you? And do you allow yourself a voice? And is it encouraging or demeaning? Are you a positive or a negative influence on yourself? Does it change according to what is happening? (Thanks for that point Sylvia).  I admit, that I have to really think about this and determine who am I listening to? I know that my voice is usually negative or limiting - I'm trying to change that with positive affirmations.

I also like the discussion of jobs.  That my first, and foremost job, is working for God.  Doing His business on a daily basis when He calls me to it.  This made me think and redefine that I know work three jobs! (Thanks Jason).  Seriously, am I ever really unemployed if my first occupation is God's work - there is never a shortage of employment.  Am I ready to take a risk? To realize that I can stand in any job, any where, and BE MY SELF, LIVE MY LIFE FOR CHRIST, and know that God has my back.  That even if I lose that corporate job or whatever, I still have work to do for HIM.  Isn't that neat!

For a fun note and mindboggling teenage perspective, we (my son and I) started talking about death on the way home.  Saw the stats on the signs by the freeways - the ones that give you the lost child or elderly information.  It also gives the current death rate on Texas roads for the year.  As of today, it was 240.  That's like four a day and we aren't even at the end of February.  We talked about death, wearing seatbelts, not driving drunk, etc.  Then it veered to "are their video games in heaven, mom? I mean, seriously, how would that work? Do servers in heaven work like they do here on earth? How does a server work in heaven?"...ahh the mindboggling issues of my video game obssessed son.

I can fly

I've missed two weeks - sorry - I let my negative self take over a little with the "what do I have to say" or "no one wants to hear that"...well if you don't then don't read it!  LOL! The newest adventure in our lives is my son, 14, and I have ventured into the challenging, adventurous world of homeschooling.  Yes, I am beginning this adventure in the high school years.  And you know what, that is perfectly okay.

My son has been asking for a couple of years now to do online or full computer based schooling at home.  I've avoided it because, frankly, it scared me.  How in the world can I teach? I work full time? I'm a single mom? etc. etc.  Well, our journey has changed.  God directed our paths to a different lifestyle this last 18 months and now is a good time to start this adventure.  Do I still work? Yes I do, but I have flexibility in my hours and in the days that I work at home or in the office.  I can flex my work related schedule to mix with our family schedule and now with our homeschool schedule!  Isn't it divine to have those options?

The next item that scared me was what was required, what do I have to do exactly, where are my resources, are they free, are they textbooks, do I have to physically act like a teacher and give a lecture?????  Oh my the questions that fill your head.  Do I have all these answers yet, no.  Do I know if the path we've chosen together is going to be the best one? No.  Yet we have to have faith and trust and take that first step knowing that if I went the wrong direction God will nudge us back to where he wants us.

What did I pick? Alpha Omega Monarch - computer-based, automatic graded except for written assignments (and he's already found out that I won't let anything just slide), work at your own pace, on your own hours, yet has daily assignments (I can move and alter).  It does the basic courses: language arts, math, science, history, and bible studies.  You can add electives.  We added Computer Programming - his interest.

Today was day one of actual work (I only withdrew him middle of last week and we did a few days of Life Skills - helping mom around the house with laundry, cooking, cleaning!).  He's excitedly worked on Algebra I, World Geography, Biology, English I, and New Testament plus the programming.  Yes I understand its only the first day, but I've rarely seen my child so enthused to do school work.  And have I rarely seen him disappointed that he didn't make an A.

I have the feeling, the faith, the trust, that this is going to be a new, rich, full, fantastic, and growing journey for my son and I.  I can't wait to see where God stretches us.

And I want to thank my family and friends who I've talked with over the last week for their support in this new adventure.  I was simply awed that the reaction was totally positive and how can we help.  It warms my heart. tomas-arad-heart

And hey, my son just said "school was fun"!  And that says it all!


What do I say...

This is my problem with blogging - I'm not always sure what to say, even with this being a blog to myself, I was stumped today which is why the post is late. Nevertheless... Can you believe we are already two weeks into the new year?  Seems like it is flying by already and I don't want to miss anything and I need to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N! I find my days are better, smoother, and more memorable when I start my day first with devotions and then with a walk while listening to Christian music.  It just starts my day off on the right foot....and this current week that hasn't happened.  Time to reset and discipline myself to early mornings with God.  Walks after the kids are at school and before work starts.

The next key in living a slower life - is to learn how to use the word NO or the phrase NOT AT THIS TIME.  When an opportunity is given, don't automatically say yes or no based on your initial reaction.  Listen, ask questions, then respond with "I need to think and pray about it before I give you an answer".  Then talk with God, your spouse or significant other, or a mentor and discern if the opportunity is from God or someone else.  Is it an add to your schedule right away, later, or is it to replace something you currently have?  Make decisions on opportunities like you do when making a big purchase - like a house.  Pray, research, understand the effects on different areas of your life and then make a decision.

Preparation is another key.  I don't know how many times my mom told me while growing up (and still today, ha ha) to prepare for tomorrow, today.  Meaning when your day is ending do your preparation work for tomorrow because it makes the day so much smoother.  Hang the clothes you want to wear on the back of the door or the front of the closet.  Gather up and package your lunch items.  Have a meal plan in place.  Look at the calendar and know what activities are scheduled for tomorrow - do you need help with them?  Its a good idea to also do this on Sunday for a full week instead of just the night before.  There may be adjustments through the week but having a head start on what you believe the week will hold is a good way to work in time for those crisis' that arise.  Yes you should work in FREE time.

Tired of making or hearing the excuse of I don't have time to eat healthy or I don't have time to exercise or I never have time for myself?  Why is that? Because we don't think these things important enough to either ADD to our schedule/calendars or if we do, we believe those are the things we can PUSH out when other items push in.  Stop now!  You are important!  Spending time taking care of yourself is important!  You are worthy!  You are loved! Do you have to schedule a pampering bath soak every night? Of course not! But book yourself an hour at least once a week to do something just for you - massage, manicure, pedicure, relaxing bath, uninterrupted reading time - you get the picture.   And schedule in that daily 30 minute exercise or walk - don't have a full 30 minutes at once (really - how long did that Starbucks line take?)  - then do 10 or 15 minute intervals through out the day.  Everyone can find 10 minutes multiple times in the day to take a short walk, do a Tabata workout, stretch, walk in place, etc.  It all adds up.  Plus you will rejuvenate yourself and increase your energy!  And making that healthy dinner at home is actually quicker than the fast food or sit down dinner you just pulled up to - of course, if you worked it in to your schedule then by all means have a dinner out occassionally.  But seriously, it takes little time to roast some chopped up potatoes, broccoli, carrots and add some beans or meat (if you eat animal protein) on the side. (I'm transitioning to a whole-foods plant-based no oil way of eating so you won't see me suggesting much meat in the diet).

And yes sometimes we fall off the wagon of organization.  Yet we have to stop and reset our selves and get back to it.  It really does help make a difference.


Will it affect my life?

I joined a weight loss FB group called SMART Weight Loss - there's a challenge every other month and I thought the accountability and guidance would be helpful.  Wednesdays "exercise" is a 30 minute walk and reflection time.  This weeks reflection question was: How will reaching your goal affect your life?  Now these goals are to be SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.  So my goal for January you ask: Walk 4 miles or 10,000 steps 4x a week.  Seems simple.  It meets the SMART guidelines. Yesterday I looked at the reflection question: How will reaching my goal of walking 4 miles or 10,000 steps 4x a week affect my life? Seems simple enough to answer, right? Maybe.  When you think about it the first thing that comes to mind is with more exercise I'll lose weight.  Yeah, probably. Yet when I go a little deeper and think about how completing one goal would make a big difference in my life I get a more specific answer.  Reaching this goal every week, and continuing it, makes it a habit.  This goal will help me feel stronger, more capable, and confident.  I also realized that pushing through some perceived limitations due to chronic illness I would QUIT defining myself by what I have and instead define myself by what I can do and have done with the help of my God.  Yes I have used the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Polymyositis to limit myself in what I believe I can do.  I have a constant fear of falling and breaking a hip and I avoid activities because of it.

Well, no more.  I'm TAKING ACTION.  I'm pushing through the tiredness and the aches - if I do, then my body will adjust to the extra walking.  Why four days?  Because I do listen to my body and realize that I do need an extra day of recovery than most.  So its walk two days, rest, walk two days, take the weekend off.  Besides the first thought is right, if I exercise a little more I can help take of the weight better and build endurance and muscle and strength and flexibility.  All which help but the RA & myositis to the side.  Walking makes me feel better and when you feel better that reflects in the rest of your life too.

Here's to more walking.  To a stronger me.  To a new identity.  To a redefining of myself.  I AM A CHILD OF GOD!  I AM WORTHY!  I AM LOVED!  I AM BLESSED!