Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I'm leaving on a jet plane

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Today, as a ton of people sit beside a Christmas tree with sleepy eyes and festive pjs to open gifts, I am enjoying one of the best gifts I got this year. I am on an airplane making my way to Orlando, Florida.

You see, my husband and I are Disneymaniacs. We had no difficulty coming up with the destination for our first trip together. Three years later, we went as honeymooners. It was the best experience I ever had in my travels.

The hubby is a travel agent, and most people seem shocked that we choose to keep going back to the same place over and over instead of visiting exotic and far off lands. It's plain and simple, though. There is no place like it. We always reply that we'll get to see all those places. When we grow old. 

This time, it will be extra special, because it is a childhood dream come true. Every since I was a little girl, we've had plans to go as a family. It never worked, but now some of us get to go: Mom, hubby, aunt, cousins and I. A big Johnston Family trip.

It's far from perfect. The uncle is not going. My parents are no longer married. My grandma, who always promised us the trip won't take part. And my brother, with his wife and baby won't join us as well, which would have been the cherry on the top. You can tell that my dream is to have a big Kardashian-style family trip. Minus the Kardashian-ness. I will. Someday.

So I bid you farewell (for now). I thought about scheduling posts, but I'm giving myself a break. I'll be back around the 7th with some new ideas, new look, and same focus: Christ.

May God bless you and your family as we turn the page to yet another year. And may we all learn a little bit more about this cross we carry, and focus a lot more on He who deserves all praise.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

This weekend, do something a bit different

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It's the end of the year. We are close to Christmas. Family members flood in from wherever they live, or we tend to fly their way. 

My hope for you is that you are not trapped inside a mall doing last minute shopping, or stressed out over pre-holiday cooking. Years from now, your loved ones won't really remember what you got them, what you cooked, and honestly, it's just not worth it.

Spend time with those you love. Have long talks and hot cups of tea. Enjoy gingerbread cookies and the look of winter on your backyard. Share meals and prayers. 

And above all, don't forget Jesus. It's easy for us to relax from a long and hard-working year on the job to veg out in front of the TV. Christ is our one true love, whom will never forsake us, whom will always be there for us. And I bet He is waiting for you to set some alone time with him. That's way more important than football, shopping or lounging.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Coming home

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This is part 8 of my spiritual journey, and it is the last one, for now. Start reading here.

I did some research and stumbled upon the church we now call home. It is completely different in many aspects. It's firmer. It's focused on the bible and gives little space for anything that is not biblical. It's baptist, which I always thought was a synonym for 'backwards'. And I love it. I love it all. 

I love the focus on Jesus, and only on Jesus. I love the people. I love the events. I love that we get to be a family. I love the Bible studies. I love the preaching. And my husband loves it too, which is the most important thing. It's not perfect, but it is home. 

I had to go through an adaptation period. I found out my snobbish behavior was due to embarrassment, because I always read, prayed and worshiped in English. Listening to You are holy in Portuguese and being unable to sing anything other than Michael W. Smith's version can be a bit embarrassing during worship. Having to translate Bible verses to make my point makes me sound inarticulate. But I am getting used to it.

For the first time, I started reading my Portuguese Bible. I started talking about my faith. I started listening to awesome Brazilian Christian scholars, reading Brazilian Christian writers and opening up for fellowship with amazing Brazilian Christians.

What's next? I am not sure. But I do know Jesus takes the mainstage in my life, so I don't worry much about it anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Through the desert

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This is part 7 of my spiritual journey. Start reading here.

So I came back home for good. I told people I was fine, but in reality, I was sulking. I felt I didn't deserve to leave the gorgeous peach state. I was frustrated I knew I'd have an easier life there. And I was determined that I would never find a church like Victory in Brazil.

So obviously, I didn't. For every place I went to, I began a mental list of all its flaws. The worship. The pastor. The location. The lack of air conditioning. My mind just kept going next, next, next!

I hung on to podcasts for dear life. I would listen to Joyce Meyer, Jentezen Franklin, Brian Houston and Joel Osteen. There was no way I'd find anything worthwhile, so I just kept re-reading all my Christian books. I was a total Christian snob, unwilling to get involved with Brazilian Christians.

After a couple of years, we actually did make it to one church we enjoyed, but after a stern comment made by the pastor, we left and never went back. 

Looking back, now I know these were the hardest years in my relationship with Andre. I was snappy. He was too comfortable. We went through emotions like a roller coaster. Until, because of lack of financial means, we had to move out of the city, into a suburb. And then, all of a sudden, the desire for fellowship started growing in me once more.

Come back tomorrow for part 8!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Going back

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This is part 6 of my spiritual journey. Start here

On September 2006 I sent a quick message to a childhood friend wishing him happy birthday. He replied immediately and we began catching up. The next day we spend hours online, talking about everything. Three days later I called him up, and we have spoken every day since that one.

He is now my husband, and I knew he was the one, even back then. He knew too. 

He loves the US and we began talking, dreaming and planning about him going over to Atlanta. People kept telling me to keep it real, except for my mom, who kept telling me to go for it. We pretended we were taking it slow, but we really already knew this was it.

During a sermon at Victory, Pastor Dennis started talking about the difference of doing what we ought to and what we want to. The more he talked, the more I cried. God was moving in me, showing me a truth I did not want to accept.

Go back. 

I looked at my mom through blurred eyes and all she said was we'll find a way to get you back to Brazil. She is the greatest

So I went back for Christmas break. Officially, it was to "see if things would work out with Andre". Trully, I had a deal with God. If he opened a door, a job, I'd go back. Not only did he open up a job, but the internship I had in Norcross was supposed to turn into a job in the next term, and all of a sudden it did not. I got the message, and prepared to move back for good.

Come back tomorrow for part 7!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nothing lasts forever

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This is part 5 of my spiritual journey. Start reading here. 

After about 6 months, the church fell apart. The pastor chose not to renew the contract with the building, and I assumed it meant we would keep meeting at his house, but that was not the case. 

I had no idea of what to do, so I began church hopping with them. I was able to go to some services at World Changers and was amazed at how much I learned from Pastor Creflo Dollar's knowledge of the Bible.

We spent one Sunday at Victory World Church, but my pastor did not like it. We then proceeded to spend a couple of weekends at Free Chapel. I was moved by Pastor Jentezen's charisma and love for the gospel. Their worship was amazing as well.

But although my pastor and wife made a home at Free Chapel, I felt it wasn't mine. I was compelled to go back to Victory. So I did, by myself. If you read part 2 of this story, you know I wasn't very fond of attending church by myself. But this time, things were different.

I was immediately welcomed. There are people from every age and every country attending services. They go out of their way to hold events to make the mega-church feel a bit more homey. Like a mother and daughter tea I attended with my mom, which I will never forget. 

At about the same time, I found a school to volunteer just down the road. Everything seemed to be aligning, and point towards Norcross, Georgia. I was sure I had found my home, and was ready to make my life there. God, however, had other plans. 

Come back tomorrow for part 6!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekend links

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By the time you read this, I'll be officially on vacation. Can I get a woohoo???

That would be my hubby, my cousins and I being absolutely silly at a Cirque Du Soleil show. I promise it will make some sense once I tell ya what I am doing during the holidays, but that will be another day!

Resourceful Mommy was blessed enough to be invited to some events for the opening of the new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Resort. She shared some pictures here and here. 

(in)courage shared a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes. 

Desiring God talked about when we don't want to wait. Ahem. That might apply to me. JUst a tad. 

Mindy over @ My Life As... shared her top ten Christmas songs. Y'all, I am so in love with Christmas music, that I probably wouldn't be able to pick ten. Although this might be my all time favorite:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Discovering the first love

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This is part 4 of my spiritual journey. Start reading here. 

When my brother left for Brazil, I was welcomed in by the church group. They'd invite me for dinner. They helped me move. They called often. They made me feel part of their group.

I had to go back to Savannah but they kept pursuing me. Praying for me. And I just felt the love. I began reading the Bible and listening (and taking notes!) during the church service. On Thanksgiving, they went out of their way to welcome me. And while we prayed, I heard God for the second time.

You asked for a family. This is it. 

I immediately broke down. My parents had just been through a painful divorce, and although I never said it out loud, all I wanted was a family. 

On December I officially said out loud that I recognized Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I went to a retreat that changed my life. And then I got baptized on February 5th, 2006. 

I had daily access to the pastor and his wife, my friends were the ones managing the sound system and the collections. There were (maybe) around 30 of us. I was able to truly enjoy the definition of fellowship. It was by no means perfect, but it felt like a family, which was exactly what I needed.

Come back on Monday for part 5!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meeting Christ

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This is part 3 of my spiritual journey. Start reading here

My brother invited me to his church, but I wasn't very interested. I was way too judgmental, that is the truth. Then one day, Robin casually mentioned he would be baptized in the last Sunday he was in the States.

Say what? I couldn't believe it. He had been baptized as a baby, and that just sounded.... rude. He explained to me the differences in babies being baptized for cleansing of the 'original sin', and someone being baptized in Christ. It sounded important enough for me to attend,  because I was the only family he had in Atlanta, and I felt I just had to support him.

Brotherly love. 

The church was in a business center, which seemed odd to me. The amount of people there? A (very) small one. The music was dynamic and the service was radically different that I had ever seen. Everyone seemed way too young, including the pastor. I wasn't interested nor impressed.

At the end of the service they had the baptisms. I remember general nice things being said about my brother, and tearing up with his speech about his path to Christ. And then it happened.

Now, before I tell you what happened, I know it sounds controversial. I know some people don't believe it. But I'll tell you anyway.

I heard God speak. For the first time, ever, I felt in my heart that God was telling me something very specific, and that went against my plans for my own life:

You are next. 

 Come back tomorrow for part 4. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


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This is part 2 of my spiritual journey. Check part 1 here.

Even though I did not have the most solid religious foundation, I was always very interested. I read books like Theo's Voyage to get a broader glimpse. I remember sporadically attending church with my ant and uncle and loving it. My grandma taught me how to pray at night and I would always recite it:

Gentle Jesus
Meek and mild
Look upon a little child
God bless mommy, and daddy
and (then I would add a list of everyone I could think of)

When I went to grad school, as I looked for volunteering opportunities, I stumbled upon an ESL program at a local church. I felt prompted to find out a bit more, signed up as a co-teacher for a class and started attending services on Sundays as well. 

I liked the church, the ESL staff, the students, the service, everything. I was all....nice. But after a whole term there, the feeling stayed the same. I did not feel closer to God. Not one person ever came to talk to me before or after services. I didn't feel a part of it. Maybe it was because I was under 75 years old, which placed me in a very low demographic, but after a while, you kind of get fed up. At least I did. I wanted more.

My brother used to attend an evangelical Brazilian church in Roswell. One day, he asked me if he could come with me to my church. I was just so happy not to sit by myself for once. He was quiet the whole time, and when we left, I asked him how he liked it.

I didn't feel God's presence was all he said. I knew he was right.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The beginning of a journey

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I share quite a lot about my current walk with Christ, but I noticed I haven't shared much about how I got to where I am. This week, I'd like to take you down that road. 

I was raised in a home with no defined religion. There were eventual mentions of God, but never an ' explanation'. The way my parents saw it, we should each choose what to believe, and we should all accept what people decide.

Living in Brazil can be a bit weird when it comes to beliefs. Brazil is technically a Catholic country, so we don't work during our patron saint days and have nationwide parties for some other saint folks. The largest church outside of the Vatican is here. We name cities after those people. It's a big part of the culture.

And yet, it's a mix with everything else. Some people call themselves Catholic but check their star sign. Some join African traditions. It's all a big mess. I don't say that in a judgmental way, it was just all odd for me.

On top of that, I attended Catholic school. Not because I am catholic (because I never was), but because it is a good school. It is also a very politically correct school, if there is such a thing for religious schools. I was never forced to read, learn or accept anything. I left after 13 years with a very limited image of Christ and a fuzzy look at the Bible. I had teachers in high-school who were clearly anti-Christians. My whole Catholic school experience really left me thinking they tend to do a disservice to Christianity. 

It all left me quite confused...

Check back tomorrow for part 2.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sherwood Pictures

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A couple of weeks ago I was made aware of a wonderful film industry company: Sherwood Pictures. It spawned out of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, as a dream shared between the pastor and the media minister. 

First of all, let me say my idea of Christian videos was limited to some really sappy, poorly produced Bible stories from the 70s. When we were at a friend's house and the men got back from the video rental with a Christian film, I figured I was in for a bo-ring night.

Corageous changed my view. It's a story about policemen and their legacy as Christian dads, and by scene one we knew they meant business. Check it out:

This weekend my husband got home with a three-pack from Sherwood Pictures: Fireproof, Flywheel and Facing the Giants. We chose to watch the football action flick, and were not let down. Check out one of its poignant scenes:

Next time you have a movie night, I strongly suggest watching these movies. Their stories are beautiful, the message is based solidly on the Word of God, and the production is at an amazing professional level. Plus, for any Georgia lover, the thick accents and gorgeous landscape adds a comfort known to only those who call the peach state home. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekend links

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This weekend I have my husband's family coming over to our house, and I cannot wait to offer some hospitality to them all. What are your plans?

Marriage has been on my mind for quite a while. This week Joshua M. Hood posted on love, and I beg anyone who is about to get married or get divorced to read it. 

After marriage comes baby in a baby carriage, or so they say. Check out this post by Natalia @ Uncommonplace. Amen, sister!

Through a beautiful post over @ Amanda Medlin I found out about HelloMornings. How awesome does this sound? I'll have to check back later, when there is more info up on their website!

Through Alesha's blog I found Covered in Grace, and the first post I read was a glimpse of how much I loved this addition to my blog roll.

Eat Yourself Skinny wrote such an inspirational post about starting today. It made me want to break out the pots and pans and start on a path to become a Masterchef. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Date night!

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Andre and I have had some attempts of instituting a date night, but they usually ran aground after a couple of weeks. We'd have work, or a family member would invite us for dinner, or we would be plain tired. 

After our retreat, we tried to set a date night once again, and yesterday was the first one! He left it up to me, and I took him to a juicy burguer, which he loves.

Before deciding where to go, I did my homework. I was quite impressed that this seems to be a hot topic online, specially the cheap date ideas. Score! Here are my favorites:

Play putt-putt golf ♥ Cook together ♥ Walk the doggies ♥ Do a DYI project together ♥ Volunteer ♥ Have a board game night ♥ Watch Disney ' Behind the Park' Dvds ♥ Garden ♥ Find a new restaurant ♥ Drive around ♥ Visit an art gallery ♥

What about you, do you have a good idea for an inexpensive date night?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When your heart's desires seem different than your spouse's

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For a while now, God has been moving in my life and changing my heart. Changing the desire of a bigger house to the desire of better hospitality. Changing the need for more money to the need of more dependence on Him. Changing my career plans into missionary plans.

Every time I read His word, listen to worship songs, attend a church service, read a book  or talk to people, it seems He adds a bit more of His will into my heart. 

And yet, when I looked at my husband and when I talked to him, I didn't get that feeling. He seemed comfortable. Secure. Driven. Just not in the same direction that I was heading to. Which broke my heart into a million pieces.

I've been praying a lot about this, and this weekend we had some time to discuss hot topics between husband and wife at our couple's retreat. At the end, we were supposed to bring any issues we did not feel comfortable bringing up. After a long discussion and lots of breakthroughs in different areas of our marriage, Andre told me there was nothing he needed to bring up that he hadn't before.


So, afraid and teary eyed, I began telling him. I firmed my gaze at the laze and talked slowly about how I crave for more. How I am ready for a deeper commitment. How I was made to worship Jesus and how I want to live my life for Him. How I feel like I am wasting my time each day I spend focused on something else. And how I cannot live hiding this from him anymore, putting my husband's comfort above God's calling.

When I was done talking, there was silence, and I expected the worst. So I looked at him bracing myself, only to find him in tears. 

It turns out God has been changing his heart as well (of course he has!) and Andre feels the same way. But he was too scared I wouldn't accept this. That I would think he was crazy. Sound familiar?

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, 
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
1 Corinthians 1:18

So if there is anything that God is pressing upon your heart, I beg you to talk about it with your spouse. God will never have distinct and opposing plans for husband and wife. Thinking that only delays God's plans for His glory.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Even greater

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I mentioned I went on a church couples' retreat, and indeed I learned soo much, I'll have to break it down into a couple of posts. I am still digesting things, so today I leave you with a video. This was sent to me by the pastor who baptized me seven years ago, and sums up what I took from the retreat this weekend:

Have a great day. God bless you!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pinteresting for Christmas

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December is here, which is a legit excuse to start talking about Christmas! Yay!

Yeah, I know it's not the real date of Jesus' birth, Santa is the poster boy for Coca-cola, blah, blah, blah. But no one can argue that things look, smell and taste lovely, people seem to get a bit nicer, and most people who don't bother with God tend to take a moment, even if it is just to watch their kids Christmas School Play. So all in all, I think it is a wonderful time of the year indeed!

So today, I'd like to share with you some Christmas inspiration, as I already have most of my stuff up for display we all will start decorating our homes soon (ahem). For more inspiration, visit my I wish it was Christmas Pinterest Board. Have fun!

Omiyage Blogs shared some brown paper 
packages inspiration. I found them to be so lovely!

Just Crafty Enough shared a tutorial on Felt Gift card holders. 
Christmas tree ornaments, I call them! 
I ain't making something this pretty to give away!

Want your house smelling scrumptious? Check out Make it Do's recipe!

How adorable is this tradition? 

Pinterest also has a special 30 Days of Pinspiration, 
with guest celebrity pinners.

 How about you, do you have any cute stuff for Christmas inspiration?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weekend links

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Yay for weekends!

This weekend promises to be quite special. My husband and I are away in our church's couple's retreat. I'll be posting about it next week, as I am sure I'll soak up a lot!

Here are this week's suggestions:

It's been clear that I am currently devouring everything from Desiring God. I was overjoyed to see a special 2012 advent calendar being released, as always, for free!

Katie Brown posted on (in)courage about saying Yes. This was truly inspiring for me. I've been thinking and praying about New Year's resolutions (yes, already!) and this struck a chord!

Lysa TerKeurst wrote not one, but two posts I could relate to. Both of these are things God has been dealing with on my life: this one and this one.

On a lighter note, if I ever get way ambitious, I should make these. Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I'll just buy them at the grocery store.

Lots of love!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Two hundred moments

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Today is Little Gosh's post #200! I am so happy I listened to God's prompt about this, and the fruits I've been reaping from it have been wonderful. Having an outlet to vent and to digest things has truly helped me be a better person, and I just love all the support and comments I get. Thank you for that!

To celebrate, here are some of my favorite posts:

My favorite Five Minute Friday: Wide

The most accessed post: Project Simplify's Craft room reveal

My favorite 31 days post: On love

The post that changed the direction of this blog: Well, hello there...

Enjoy! And thank you for sticking around!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Resolutions schmolutions

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As we approach the last month of the year, I figured it was time to stop. Smell the flowers. And do some analyzing: how has 2012 been so far? If it has been good, you still have four weeks to make it better.And if it wasn't, you have four weeks to start turning things around.

This has been my first year blogging. And in this sense, blogging has really helped me. You see, I am one of those people who tend to forget New Year's resolutions by mid January. Kid you not. But when you blog, it's all here. I could claim I forgot it, but all I have to do is search. No excuses.

I came up with my list at the end of February. That's when I finally sat down and took it seriously enough to make a list of things I wanted to change. To improve. 

I checked it in May because I tend to get all excited with new stuff and then simply forget it after a while. It was a good thing I did, because I was totally slacking in some of them.

I checked it again in July. It was officially the middle of the year, and it sounded like the right thing to do. Yay, meticulous, organized me.

And then? I never thought about it again. Not once. Oh well...

So today I am taking some time to ponder on it a last time. You see, I am moving on. I've had wonderful and scary things coming up in my mind about what I need to work on for 2013. Or as of today. Why wait for a January 1st anyway?

I won't go through my 2012 list with you guys. That would be boring for you and maybe too much information from me. But I leave you with the thought- how have you been doing with your resolutions this year?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Momentary Marriage Book review

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This past week I just finished reading a book that had a tremendous impact in my life: John Piper's This Momentary Marriage. 

I know it may sound odd, but I didn't really know what marriage was about. I had a wordly view that it was about living together, having babies, sharing a double income. Lately, this topic has been flooding my life. We talked about during a couple's night. I found this wonderful book by John Piper for free. Our church is preparing for a couple's retreat. I've been reading stuff about marriage literally everywhere. 

This book covers pretty much all basic topics in a discussion about marriage. Love. Sex. Patience. Forgiveness. Leadership. Submission. Faith. Divorce.

It would be foolish of me to try to improve on John Piper's words, or attempt to sound as if my 2 1/2 year old marriage has taught me great lessons. There are many heartaches, joys and lessons Andre and I have not yet been through.

Nothing the book talks about is new. It's all there, folks. Right in your bible. But the manner in which John weaves stories, combines cultural beliefs to scripture, and talks about Jesus, it's overwhelming. Especially the Jesus part. I had no idea marriage was so much about Jesus. 

There is a part on singleness as well, which makes the book perfect for single people and those about to get married. There are lots of questions people should ask before saying 'I do', and the truth is that not a lot of us do ask these hard questions. 

For all you kindle users, I urge you to download it for free. For the paperback lovers, it's totally worth the price you'll pay for it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dressed to impress

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This is what I wore for Thanksgiving:

Horrible Iphone picture, I know.
That's my mom and I making 'Puff-a-bellies'
(aka Yorkshire Puddings) for our Thanksgiving feast.

Say what? A What I wore post is so out of character here. I know. It is. So hear me out.
I've always considered myself the ugly duckling of the family (and social circles) when it comes to putting oneself together. I don't own any high heels. I don't really know how to put on fancy makeup. I don't feel comfortable in short skirts. My wardrobe consist of Old Navy, Target and Walmart, and could be mistaken for an 18 year old's closet. 

In my mind, I am up against skinny, glamorous friends and family members who have perfect hair-dos and flawless looking styling that costs more than half my wardrobe and involves way much more time than I am willing to spend in front of the mirror. The result is they look better put together for a barbecue than I do for a wedding. 

Now that I am married, I know why I am this way. I am perfect for my husband. He is all about comfort, and each time I dress up a bit better I can see he feels awkward. He usually decides to change into something nicer when that happens. You may think great, you'll dress up better and he'll dress up better, and you'll be a stylish couple someday. But that's not how things work. That's not me, and that's not him.

So after the third try for a Thanksgiving outfit, I decided to ask myself what would Andre like me to wear? And I immediately knew the answer: my Green Bay Packers shirt, which was a present from him and he comments on every single time I wear it. 

Instantly, I recalled several different conversations with some girl friends. One who mentioned she dressed up to impress other men, so her husband would look good somehow. One who admitted to dressing up to compete with the other women in the room. One who proudly stated that her trademark shoes were so often worn because her husband hated them. Thinking about all of this made me quite sad.

As a wife, I believe I need to ask myself: whose attention do I want to draw with my clothes? Who do I want to dress to impress? What and who am I wearing this for? And as a Christian wife, I believe there is only one answer: I dress to impress, to please and to seduce my husband, and only my husband, for the glory of God. 

(And thank the Lord he loves to see me in comfy jeans and t-shirts more than he does in short dresses and high heels)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend links

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I cannot tell y'all how much I love having internet at home. I am not a big fan of plopping myself in front of a computer screen at home, especially because I spend most of my day in front of one at work. I do, however, love the fact I can go through my bloglovin' roll every night and read some awesomeness that is out there.

Source - I loved her Service advent calendar!

Saved sister wrote about Eve, and I must tell you, it changed the way I look at her. No more of that oh, you know I'd have known better stuff going through my mind!

Although I went back to eating meat sporadically lately, I really appreciate simple Bite's post on welcoming vegetarians to the holiday table. I know what it's like to be left with all sorts of side dishes, and although it sounds ok, it gets old after a couple of dinner dates. 

Edie over @ Life in Grace wrote about poverty in a week of abundance. I was nodding along as I read the whole thing. Can I get an Amen, sisters?

Joshua M. Hood wrote a letter to stay-at-home moms. Even though I am not (yet) a stay at home mom, I loved it. Thanks for doing that, Joshua! I agree 100% and that is the main reason why I know I won't be able to give anything but my all to motherhood.

David Mathis wrote about The True Story of Thanksgiving over @ Desiring God. His points are wonderful! It's a long post, but a very good one!

Have a blessed weekend, filled with turkey leftovers!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Thank You

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Today we are joining Lisa-Jo Baker (am I the only one who still referred to her as The Gypsy Mama?) for her Five Minute Friday. Here is what she has to say about it:

This is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on: THANK YOU

Words cannot begin to express, and five minutes are certainly not enough to whip up all the thankfulness I have for you. You are the bravest woman I know. You love unconditionally. You cheer unconditionally. You give your all.

Over 30 years ago you made the bold choice to put your own dreams aside to immerse yourself with reusable diapers and home made baby formula. You breast fed. You potty trained. You taught us to eat our vegetables and say please. You turned the dining room table into a fort every time we had a sleepover. You cooked meals from scratch and gave us the best birthday parties we could afford, which usually meant doing everything yourself.

And you still do it. You still practice hospitality, even if nowadays it often happens at your kids houses. You are the silent giver, the humble server, the dream instigator. 

I will never be able to repay you. And I know that is not the point. What I can do is pass it forward, and that is my promise to you. I will be the best mother I can possibly be because you are the best mom you can be, and that I could ever ask for.

Obrigada mãe. I love you. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gorgeous, isn't it? The original file is free for download @ The Pretty Bee

My wish for everyone is for a blessed Thanksgiving. 
May you always focus on your blessings instead of your shortcomings. 
And may you always remember that our greatest blessing is Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On reflections

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Last Saturday I intended to add this post to my weekend links. I forgot to do it before it was published, and felt a bit sad because I knew it was something I wanted to share. Actually, I wanted to share it so much, that I kept milling about it, so I decided to write a post on it!

First of all, if you haven't come across Jaime's blog I suggest you do. I found her through the 31 days series as she was creative and cool enough to write on How to seduce your guy in 31 days. I was quite afraid it would be all gross and Fifty shades of greyish, but she kept it clean and sweet, and I loved her for that. 

Anyway, back to reflections...

In my household, we've been discussing them a lot lately. That's probably why her post struck me as it did. And before I go any further, I ask you an honest question: what or who do YOU reflect on your life? Your words, your actions, your feelings, your beliefs...what do they show others?

For me, that is the hardest thing about being a Christian. I don't get to say Oh, I dunno for an answer. The answer is quite clear: We are to reflect God on earth.

Yes, we were made in His image. But it doesn't stop there. There are literaly tons of scripture that talk about what we are doing on earth and why we exist, but they all come down to the same answer: for the glory of God. 

We are born for the glory of God. We go to school and learn everything we do for the glory of God. We get married, or not, for the glory of God. We prosper, or we struggle, for the glory of God. We have kids and raise them for the glory of God. That is the true circle of life.

So how do we know if we are trully doing these things for the glory of God? I think the answer is in 2 Corinthians 3:18:

'And we all who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit'

I think that is the beauty on those little WWJD bracelets, or anything else for that matter, that poses the question: who are you reflecting right now? Because the truth is, it's not easy to reflect Jesus when trouble, conflict and doubt come. It is a daily lesson we need to learn, a daily cross we need to carry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baby steps - Part 5

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Sorry for breaking the groove on story telling yesterday, but I think it was worth it. This is how my Baby steps story ends. Click here to read it from the beginning.

We took the dog to the vet. I named him Tiago, which means James in Portuguese, because that was one of the books we had just looked at during Bible Study. Tiago seemed fine and genuinely thankful as the vet clipped his long hair and got gross bugs out of him. She gave him medicine and flea stuff. The next day the lady who bathes and grooms dogs worked, so he was scheduled for some pampering time and loved it. He had an X-ray of his leg and some blood work done due to the amount of ticks he had, and all results were fine. 

The vet was so impressed with the story that she charged us a fraction of what it should have cost. His stay at the vet overnight alone was a mere US$8 plus bringing his own food, when it should have been US$20. I'm pretty sure that won't even cover his water, light and care cost. God is good.  

After his results were ready, we took him home, which was a big mistake. One dog, Jack, loved him. Delta and Indy? Not so much. Tiago has a bite on his neck to prove Indy's low regards for him, so he is up for adoption. The vet took him again and we have been visiting him and walking him. Once all the medication he is taking is done, we'll give him his shots and get him neutered, hopefully between today and tomorrow. Then he'll be able to go to a lovely home.

And by the way, my hand is fine. I am in the process of taking 5 anti-rabies shots (three down, two to go!), got medication for the pain, and will survive to rescue more dogs (being wiser, from now on). In a way, I kind of hope that this bite leaves a scar. A scar to remind me of what happens when I ignore my husband. What happens when I try to take matters into my own hands. What happens when I try to rush. And how although I may mess it all up, God's grace makes sure I end well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On living vicariously through other people

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I know I am in the middle of telling a story, and I am sorry to say that today you won't know how it ends. However, this interruption is worth it.

Today is one of my cousin's birthday. Happy birthday Natalie! May God bless you today and always!

I don't usually post happy birthdays on the blog, otherwise the blog would end up devoted to that, and forgotten family members would certainly get upset. However, I do want to talk a little bit about her, about me, about us today.

The first thing you need to understand is that Natalie is the baby in the family. And yet she is already in college. I not only remember her as a baby, I remember much of live before her. Which makes me sad and old-feeling.

I wasn't much part of Natalie's life, because when she was seven I went to college in the States, and I only came back when she was sixteen. Then, at eighteen, it was her turn to leave the nest. So although we are family and we love each other, in many aspects, we are still strangers.

My life in Georgia was amazing, and I have fond memories. Therefore, I cannot help but live vicariously through her. I want her to enjoy her free classes. I wish she will have good roommates. I sympathize with her for having to put up with college food. I push her to get involved in student organizations. 

But I've learned that living vicariously through someone is unhealthy. It makes us get frustrated at the things we wish they'd do. It makes us forget about what we are going through. It makes us constantly live looking at our neighbor's grass. And it definitely makes us see them through our distorted glasses, never allowing us to truly know each other. 

So today my birthday present to Natalie is a promise. I promise to stop asking her how is college going. I promise to never again insist that she join a group. I promise to stop giving un-requested advice. 

Within a little over a month, the two of us, along with her sister, mother, my mom and husband will make a life-long family dream come true. We are going to Disney World together. I have waited for that since I was a little girl, and since Natalie was a baby. And I promise to take those short nine days and enjoy as much from her as I can, so I can learn what kind of woman she is. What she enjoys. What makes her laugh. What annoys her. And specially, what kind of shopping she is into ;)