Finally Listening

FaithFueled Friday

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

Not alone

Last year, I had a dinner with women from different Christian denomination and social, cultural backgrounds, we discussed a variety of things but the but the topic of God speaking to the women. Each woman was in different milestones of their faith journey.  Some for decades others (or maybe just me) were only a few years, but each interaction with God was personal and specific. God didn’t speak with each of us the same way; the method was all different event the tone. I being one of the newbies (not walking in the Lord as long as the other women), was fascinated.  I wasn’t the only one who thought I heard God.

Not the First Time

This wasn’t my first time being aware of God communicating to me.  Early in my faith journey, women in my bible study I would talk about it, and it made me think of my experiences. Until that dinner, I only had three divine communications of God speaking to me. As I thought about it more, God is directing me almost daily. Now that I have been truly listening to Him I am finding that He is answering my prayers and guiding me, I just haven’t been listening because my mind has been clutter with other things.

IFGatheringSept

 

John 8:47 (ESV) Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Discovering what was always there

I find it funny because the years I was lost in the world and trials would come I would go to prayer. Some would consider that good but the only time I would pray is when things went wrong. My relationship with God was not a daily conversation admiring and praising His work, praying for others and sometimes my request. I was placing my order on how I wanted Him to fix my life. Only calling on him when I needed or wanted something and was in complete desperation. Even then when I had no adoration, God was still leading and guiding me. Whispering just small enough for me to hear but I wasn’t interested and never paid attention.

Guidance I can use
Now the advice is different; it’s not conversational, but I am hearing Him more and more, and I don’t know because I am listening more or because our relationship has grown that He speaks to me more. It makes me think, has he been there all along? When I ask Him to have discernment, to make right decisions, to honor and serve Him, is He now answering? Has He been the entire time, right there as I ignored Him, still not sure and no, he hasn’t told me? Like I said, I am not having full out conversations with God. I am deep in prayer more often these days than I used to be, and I am in the Word daily, but I am not sitting around sipping tea and chatting with God.

 

listening

Acts 22:14 (ESV) And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth;

How do I hear God?

Before I was consciously seeking His voice, God would have to shout at me to get my attention. Like a mother, warning their child from danger. (Sometimes He still does, but I am getting better). As of lately, He can just talk to me. Do I hear voices? Yes, but it’s consistently the same voice every time, so I hear a voice. It’s usually different from my inner thoughts, often interrupting my on-going unceasing mental to-do list and very efficient and to the point. It’s never been a lengthy explanation more like wisely commanding (and not to do bad things usually directional so I have ruled it out as insanity.) This post is also not a confession of my speculation of some mental illness. I feel like it is God answering my prayers and guiding me.

For months, I kept hearing the same thing during my usual ongoing mind chatter of daily to-do’s; “be still.” Although I would hear it, I intentionally would ignore it for nine months until I was forced to be still. Life circumstances kicked my legs from underneath me and sat me down for a few months. Every time I would get up I’d get knocked back down until I realized, “maybe I should be still.” That’s where I began to get to the place I am today. Staying in God’s word, eliminating outside noise (not all of it that is a daily struggle) and being conscious of God’s direction. (Which I am still trying to “Be still” and again getting better at it but still have not mastered it.)

How often do I hear Him?

Hebrews 2:1 (ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Now, I hear him more frequently and sometimes it is nice because it gives me and idea of what to do next, how to handle a situation and then sometimes it’s not so helpful because it can be something that I do not want to do. His shouting is less often, and my obedience is getting better, but this ongoing relationship is not completely perfected. I think God’s okay with that (although he hasn’t told me) but He loves me unconditional and has the patience of grace like no other, and I am grateful for that.

How does God lead you in situations? Signs, clues, words, inspiration? It’s fascinating how he communicates to each of us differently.

My Kryptonite

FaithFueled Friday

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

The Truth Hurts

like to think of myself quick witted, my husbands says I give out “zingers,” my mother says that I am sarcastic and smarty pants, but the Bible says I must train my tongue.[James 1:26}

Ouch! As I read the words it was like God was talking directly to me; confirming my biggest character flaw. I feel like I wasn’t born with a filter, it pops in my head and out my mouth before I even realize the thought has occurred. Sometimes making people laugh, sometimes taking them down for the count or knocking the wind right out of their sails. No matter what the delivery, it is not how God intended me to use my words. I am not proud of it at all, and honestly, it is one of my daily prayers: Lord, please help me to be mindful of what I say.  

I was reading, “Becoming more than a good Bible Study girl,” by Lysa TerKeurst. I love her realness and ability to admit her flaws and grow from them to teach others to grow too. Lysa said: “Our words can be used to build up or tear down. We can speak words of encouragement or we can speak words of destruction. We can think before we speak or we can react without thinking about the effects of our words.  These are choices we make every time we open our mouths.”

Learning the Right Choices

There are a few suggestions Lysa makes for women who are “filterless” like me. (I thought maybe specifically me, but I don’t know Lysa personally so I am assuming there are more women out there with the same disability).  Some are warnings or things to avoid, and others are words of wisdom. All are just what I need to be mindful of on a day to day basis.  “Guard your tongue to keep out of trouble” Phew!  Talk about eat the frog.

James 3:5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

Since being saved, I have strive to do right by God and also seek truth; meaning just because one of my favorite authors says to do something I am responsible to research for myself and learn.

James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Double blow, so I now had to figure out a way to hold my tongue.  I am not always successful, but I now have that ingrained in my mind.  There are some instances when I lose my senses but God know I am a work in progress and when those times I may have to bit my tongue, say a little prayer and count to 100; sometimes 300, but I am getting better.

Another suggestion, “Limit your words to be wise,” I think that is even harder when you think you are wise and need to speak your wisdom.  Again, guilty! Some may say that I am a bit of a know it all, but I thank God every day for His grace, and I am working on it.

gossiping

Using your words for good
Your words can be used a variety of ways but as a Christian, it is our job to us them to honor God in all things we say or do.  I now make a conscious effort to use a filter even if it wasn’t my instincts.  God has given me one to use. In my research, I have found some wisdom from the Bible when it comes to how to use your words for good. What is your Kryptonite? How do you use it for God’s honor?
Kryptonite

Growing Faith Muscles

 

FaithFueled Friday

Changing old habits

When I first came back to Christ, I was a stressed, worried mess. I worried about everything I had no control over, (which is everything) making myself physically sick. It may even have been the cause of me losing one of my twins in my last pregnancy. I would go over scenarios over and over again in my mind, making things worse each time. Then, after speaking with an excellent friend and mentor about my constant anxiety; She suggested a “God Box.” A “God box” is to place all my worries. First, I would write down my issues, pray, and then deposit it in the box. Anytime I began to worry, or what she likes to call “mentally masturbate” (that’s why I love her so) I would look at my box and acknowledge that I had already given it to God.

Matthew 6:34 (NIV) 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Growing Faith Muscles

This small gesture brought me great peace. At the time it was hard for me to trust completely in the Lord. I still sometimes struggle with this. In the world, you are so used to leaning on yourself for solutions when problems arise. In Christ, He will carry your burdens (Who does that? Not your fellow man!) which are something I am not used too. Breaking old habits is hard. Being a child of God, is just that, a child where you must learn new skills.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Pumping My Muscles

Faith, Grace, and Mercy seem to be a like a muscle you need to grow; You must continually exercise it to see results. My friend’s suggestion of a “God Box”, which I now call my “prayer box” was exactly what I needed to increase my faith and truly understand God’s grace. Constructing my first box was simple. I took a tissue box covered it in shimmery paper and cut a hole in the top. All my worries were placed in it. I would still worry; it wasn’t an instant fix, but instead of continually going over the scenarios the box reminded me to pray.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

 

GrowingYourFaithMuscle

Seeing Results

Eventually, my stomach subsided, things began to get better, prayers were being answered, and I wasn’t worrying.  Months went by, and I continued to exercise my new coping mechanism. One day, in the midst of prayer, God told me to open the box.  First, I didn’t realize how much stuff I worried about.  Secondly, I didn’t know how many prayers God had answered in less than three months.  His grace and mercy brought to fruition in my life.  Rewind two years later, prayer (and of course God) has changed my life, health, and stress.  I still break out the box when I need to release my burdens. I also use it to praise Him when I open it up to see all the things that he has done for me. If only I knew of His sovereignty sooner (not just in theory but actual application) in my adult life.

GrowingYourFaithMuscle.

How do you handle your stress? How do you strengthen your faith?

Music that makes you lift

My B.C. Self

Sometimes, I refer to my B.C. days, my Before Christ days. Some people are ashamed of their past, and others embrace it. I am the latter, I have done some shameful things in the past, but I know that I have been redeemed. I am not proud of this stuff, but they make me who I am today.

In my B.C. days, I used to swear like a sailor (I am a Puerto Rican, New York, US Navy Sailors daughter), so it was somewhat natural. When I had my first daughter I tried to cut back on my language.  It wasn’t until I accepted Jesus into my heart that I completely eradicated it from my vocabulary. It just doesn’t feel right praising God in one breath and then cursing the car in front of me for slamming on their brakes in the next. Those who do that is their choice I am not to judge, but personally I have extended my vocabulary to express myself.

The Same Me just Different

As for music, I was you Gangsta Rap, Hip Hop, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes and yes even Lil Kim type of girl.  Yes, raunchy, vulgar, crass lyrics that even for my B.C. self was not very lady like.  I would be blasting and belting out naughty lyrics to the top of her lungs but that was the old me.  Praise God for grace and redemption, right?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Christian Rap Music

Doing things Differently

I worship God in a variety of ways. Some are private like my daily devotion, prayer time, Bible studies and messages I watch. There is the public woeship that you and Social Media are privy too, and that is my fitness. I use my fitness to worship God. That just doesn’t work out well when you have gangsta rap blaring in your headphones. So, like I changed my language, I changed my music too.

What do I listen to?

Great question! I get asked all the time at the gym, in running groups, with workout buddies. “De, what are you listening to?”  I am usually bobbing my head, tapping my feet and rapping/singing lyrics during my workouts.

Christian Rap Music.

What is Christian Rap?

So, what do I listen to? Gangsta Christian Rap! Haha, I laugh because it’s not gangsta. No one is killing each other, selling drugs, demoralizing women; but if you weren’t listening to the lyrics and just the beat and background music you would assume that it was Gangsta Rap music! A lot of the lyrics are motivating like how God gives them strength, how God has redeemed them from their past, how God is a critical role in their life. So, I always feel funny calling it Gangsta Christian Rap but other people may consider it as such. My husband does tease me saying that I went from a “Gangsta heathen to a Gangsta Christian.”

I also listen to worship music, some gospel and when I mean, “some,” I mean very little. I am not the biggest fan of gospel music. I love worship music but just can’t get into that old time gospel sound.

Do your daughters listen to secular music?

I get this a lot too. My husband and I are trying to raise “Kingdom Kids.” My family does not listen to secular music in the house or car.  My tween daughter is allowed to listen to secular music, but it has to be approved by her father and I.  You think it was bad when I was belting our vulgar lyrics. For me listening to my daughter talk about “shake it, move your hips, blah blah blah,” is grating to my ear drums.  I rather censor her music than restrict it. We try to practice grace-based parenting versus fear based, so some secular music is allowed.
ChristianRapWorkoutMusic

My Playlist

I switch my playlist up, but I have about 50-60+ Christian Rap Songs that I pull.  I am a fan of Spotify and always making a playlist for when I do teach group classes in the future. I use Spotify and share my list all the time.  Right now here are my Top 10 workout song picks:

  1. Startover Flame featuring NF
  2. I wanna know Light Ends Darkness
  3. Sanctuary Flame featuring Mike Real
  4. Weight Music KB
  5. Be Relentless Victory
  6. Insomniac Trip Lee featuring Andy Mineo
  7. Move by Flame
  8. Crown and Thorns (Oceans) KB featuring Hill Song
  9. Good, Bad, and Ugly Lecrae
  10. Hello KB featuring Suzy Rock

There are so many more it was really hard just choosing 10! You can check out my full workout list and choose your faves! What is you Top 3 Workout Songs? What do you look for in your workout music?

 

Lemon Coconut Protein Chia Pudding

Meal Time Monday [Autosaved]

LemonCoconut.ChiaPudding

It sounds good, right? Well it is absolutely amazing! I have been dabbling in Chia Seed flavors lately. One because it is so good; second it is really easy and third it will kill a sugar craving and leave you full and satisfied.  It’s the perfect snack, breakfast!  I’ve made some questionable flavor combinations but this one by far is the yummiest! I had to share.

Chia Seed is also very beneficial it is rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.  Some benefits of Chia seeds are:

  • Great for your Skin and Aging- it contains antioxidants that help accelerate skin repair and also inhibit skin from future damage.
  •  Great for digestion- Chia seed is very-high in fiber it is said to contain about 11 grams per ounce. Meaning one serving of Chia Seed can be your recommended fiber intake for the day! Fiber is critical for your body to help it balance your insulin levels and known as a blood sugar balancer.
  • Great for your Heart Health– Chia Seed has been know to:

    – reverse inflammation,

    – regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure make it extremely beneficial to consume for heart health.

    – reversing oxidative stress

    *according to an article published in the journal Reviews on Recent Clinical Trials:

  • Great for treatment of Diabetes– A study done came to the conclusion that eating chia seeds entirely inhibited the start of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. There has been claims that it can halt or reverse diabetes. (I’m not making them but some researchers have been bold enough to come to that conclusion after laboratory testing.
  • Great for an extra Boost Your Energy & Metabolism- The addition of chia seeds will help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat.  It reduces visceral adipose tissue also known as belly fat tissue which has an effect on your ability to burn calories.
  • Great for Stronger Bones- One ounce of Chia Seeds is 18% of the daily recommended calcium intake.
  • Great to help you Build Muscle & Lose Weight- Chia seed is an excellent plant based protein. It has been recommened for people wanting to burn fat, get lean muscle and balance blood sugar levels.

    Lemon Coconut Protein Chia Pudding

I lift really heavy and have a high protein allocation in my diet so I am always trying new protein based treats.  I also love it for my daughter because it’s a wholesome meal in the morning and they can just grab their jar and go!  I don’t let them take it to school because of the glass but they each have one and just unscrew the lid and eat.  It’s nice for those busy school day mornings.  I don’t know about you but I am prepping for Back To School so testing out new flavors to keep them interested has been fun!  They can even make this on their own which my oldest one loves to do.

I have been going Lemon crazy lately. I am not sure if it’s because its summer time and its refreshing. Citrus is also great for helping absorb iron and it just makes everything taste yummy. From your bowl of fruit to your piece of chicken fresh squeezed lemon juice is always a great addition to a meal.  It’s versatility also allows for a lot of different flavor combinations.  The great thing about this pudding too is the Coconut is not overpowering.  If you don’t like coconut omit it and you have a Lemon “Meringue”ish Chia Pudding.

Lemon Coconut Protein Chia Pudding

Lemon Coconut Protein Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/4c Chia Seed
  • 1/4 c Quinoa (Optional)
  • 1/4 c. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 tsp Stevia
  • 1 serving of Protein Powder (1-2 scoops)
  • 1 1/4 cup of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Instructions

  1. Mix all together well
  2. Let sit overnight
  3. Enjoy!
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