Hi! I'm Sonia. I'm so glad you are here. There's a story in the Bible in John chapter 4 about a woman with a broken past. That's my back story, but then that woman (and this woman) met Jesus. This blog is a glimpse at the"now story". Welcome to John4Four. Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope it blesses you.
My dad was born and raised in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 I have to put the flag here (you know how proud Puerto Ricans are of the flag!). He signed up for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and did two tours in Vietnam. He was in the Marine Corps for twenty years and retired as a Gunnery sergeant (GySgt). I was born on a military base in Twentynine Palms, CA, the oldest of three girls, and we lived on a few military bases while I was growing up.
My dad has been retired from his second career, his second career also in protecting the community. That’s what I know to be true about my dad, serving and protecting his family, community and country.
My dad went through boot camp only speaking Spanish. He was not bilingual then but successfully completed bootcamp and was a US Marine through and through.
I wanted to write this post to let you in a little bit to see a family man, a hero in so many ways, front and center.
He and my mom (who was born and raised in Uruapan, Michoacán in Mexico 🇲🇽 -there’s another flag for you because I have to represent both!) met in Oceanside while my dad was stationed at Camp Pendleton & the rest is history.
There’s lots of life that happened between then and now, but I have to tell you that as a daughter, I am so proud. So proud of all the things my dad has accomplished in his life and instilling a love for this country 🇺🇸 (and that’s another flag we love in our home) and sacrifice, service and the freedom he fought for.
I spoke with my Dad on Friday night, and we did some online shopping for some new baseball caps for him as birthday gifts. The ones he chose said “USMC Vietnam Veteran” and they had to be camo, of course!
So to my dad, this proud daughter says, “Happy birthday, Dad! Thank you for loving all of us and giving us a life we could be proud of! 🙌🏽🇵🇷🇲🇽🇺🇸 God bless you, Dad!“
I’m up at 1:20am unable to sleep and this theme keeps rolling around in my head. Since I can’t sleep I came downstairs to write so here we go.
The title of this blog may bring to mind the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8 or maybe even the woman at the well in John chapter 4.
I was saved on July 30, 2009. I was 35 years old and had lived all my life searching and running and running and searching. I said the sinners prayer around a dinner table that amazing day in 2009, and my life was changed forever in that instant.
I had what some would call a “radical conversion moment” where one minute my life was going the wrong way and the next it was not. What I have found these last 12 years of my Christian life is that everyone’s story is unique. Some people have that “a-ha” moment like I did and for others it is more like a long, slow simmer into their faith life. Either way it is powerful, real, personal and miraculous.
I’ve often wondered about a few women in the Bible, and what their lives looked like after they began to live as Christians. The Bible doesn’t mention the failures and slip ups of either the woman at the well (John 4) nor the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8) after their moment of coming to faith in Jesus, but you’ve got to know that they weren’t perfect from the get go. They probably struggled with old tendencies, and…NEWSFLASH! They probably did sin even after their miraculous encounters with the Messiah Himself! Oh, but His grace covers!
These were women with extremely broken pasts: the woman at the well who’d had five husbands and then the woman caught in the act of adultery. Let me say that again for the people in the back: a woman who’d had five husbands and another woman caught in the act of adultery. Safe to say, they had issues with men, and they probably had a laundry list of lots of other issues as well. I can relate. Let me let you in on a little secret (or maybe not so little of a secret). I was the woman at the well. Let me also confess that some things in my life changed miraculously on that wonderful July day in 2009, and others… well…let’s just say I am a work in progress and thankful for the Lord’s grace and truth in my life. Oh, but His grace covers!
That’s the thing about God that’s so perfect! He is gracious, and He is truthful. Only He can understand the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The trap for us onlookers sometimes is to think that because someone is saved they need to do A, B and C in a timeline that we perceive to be acceptable to the Lord. We become judge and jury without really knowing the heart of God.
I think the reason this theme, this warning is coming to mind is that we are at a critical time in life when we need to come together as the body of Christ and truly be about our Father’s business. He did not call us to police the lives of other Christians and think ourselves superior. He called us to live lives of love in Him and in service to others. The moment you and I become critical and frustrated with others’ lives not looking as holy as we think ours is, we have stepped outside of being of service to others and have entered the futile realm of merely being a spectator. The Bible has something to say about that. I just looked this passage up in The Message:
A Simple Guide for Behavior
Matthew 7 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
At this time there are men, women and children in Afghanistan who profess Christ who are not concerned about how someone else’s faith life looks, of this we can be sure. Their reality is a life and death one. We can be certain their focus is the Lord and not the speck in someone else’s eye – the smudge on their neighbor’s face. This should be a sobering thought, a wake up call that we need to get serious and stop sweating the small stuff or we are going to miss the very thing God wants our attention on. We need to deal with the ugly sneer on our own face and pray. Like the verse above says..”that we might be fit to offer a washcloth to our neighbor.”
Thank you for reading this early morning post. It’s a heavy one for sure, but one I think we all need. It’s time. Time to be humble. Time to be prayerful. Time to grow. Time to change. Time to stop judging. Time to come together. Time to love. Time to be about our Father’s business.
With all my heart,
P.S. If you have been judged, pushed out, demeaned, bullied, left out, ridiculed, misunderstood and even if you’re the judge and jury…this song is for you and for me:
I have been studying a ton as I am in the third week of my classes and am reading about family, marriages and relationships. Good thing because there are lots of real life situations that I can draw from. One of the most incredible truths I have been reading about this week is how we are all designed in God’s image. Let that sink in, “Mario, made in the image of God. “Sonia, made in the image of God.” “Gabbie, made in the image of God.” “Alex, made in the image of God.” And so on and so forth. Even this, “My enemy, made in the image of God.” Oof.
Maybe this isn’t a new concept for you. Maybe you just know that people are made in the image of God. I’ve read this and thought I “knew” it, but something has changed. I don’t know if it is just that this is my birthday week, or my hormones are behaving or if this is just God’s birthday lesson highlighted for me by letting me sit higher on His lap as He takes the wheel so I can see better.
A little something about me (and maybe all of us): my vision and perspective at times has me seeing everything and everyone out of a lens of hurt, trauma, triggers, bitterness, fear…basically the potpourri that makes up PRIDE. So not pretty, let me tell you! Like I said, God has given me a greater view, a higher perspective if you will, and the perspective is this: not only am I created in His image, but everyone I lay eyes on is as well. I’m telling you, it is overwhelming, this feeling of a beautiful crushing of how precious people are. It has softened me, ruined me and made me realize how hard hearted I can be when I feel I have the right to be.
I feel like my birthday gift from God this year is this softening of my heart – not the chiseling or pummeling that I am used to, but a tender melting of the walls I had around my heart. I am seeing His creation, His salvation, His power, His plan, His beauty in other people like never before. Even the bad stuff looks like good stuff right now. I am rooting for us all to see each other with the eyes of the Lord. Jesus showed us the way (Matthew 5:44) and gave us the power (Romans 15:13).
To my precious loved ones, you are made in the image of God.
To my enemies – known and unknown, you are made in the image of God.
I’m back in school, and this is my second week of the term so my blog writing is taking somewhat of a backseat, but I was up this morning at 4:30am knowing I had to put this right here. I am in two classes this summer – one of them being Theology 330 – Theology of the Family and this introduction is from one of the textbooks:
Your family lives in a war zone. With every exploding shell, the house shakes. Your physical body may never feel the shell shocks, and the plaster on your walls may remain intact—but the impacts are present all around you. Long after your children fall asleep and the chaos of the day fades into the quietness of evening, the shelling continues.
To be sure, when you look out your window and survey a suburban backyard, a busy city block, or the rolling hills of a rural landscape, what you see probably doesn’t look like a war zone. But don’t let such serene scenery fool you! Beyond the doors of your household and mine, a battle rages. The battle is about glory, and who will receive it. The battle is about authority, and who will exercise it. [Randy Stinson (2015). (p. 29). Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective. Kregel Publications. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com%5D
I forget this so often, that we are in a daily spiritual battle. With that forgetfulness (or loss of focus) comes the reality that I lose sight of the fact that there is an enemy of my soul and yours that knows our tendencies and triggers and will exploit them in an attempt to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a). Sometimes the attack is full on and you know that you are under attack. Sometimes it’s a million little irritations – you feel like it’s a constant drip of a faucet, and you don’t even realize, that this too, is an attack – a subtle one, for sure, but an attack just the same. Can I just say this to you and me this morning…? DON’T TAKE THE BAIT! Wait. Stop. Breathe. Pause. Think. Give it some time. If you’re like me, this is super hard but it is possible if we know that this is what the enemy wants us to do…to take the bait, hook – line – and sinker.
In the last 24 hours I have had several points of engagement where I could just respond a certain way but 75-80% of the time I just waited through it, and what a difference! Mario helped me too in one particular occasion, reminding me to “just wait – give it time”. My friends, that is one of our greatest assets in winning these big and little battles in our lives…WAITING! Waiting for God to bring to reality what is really going on. Waiting for your emotions to subside and rational thought to take over. Waiting for the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and heart. Waiting, waiting, waiting and WINNING!
I guess that’s today’s theme: Don’t take the bait – wait and win! This is why God got me up early this morning to remind me that we don’t have to take the bait anymore because we are not slaves to fear and sin any longer. Like the song below says, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” That’s all I’ve got today. May we be those who live out the second part of John 10:10 and live that abundant life God has laid out before us.
Ok, one last thing…here’s this special song from Zach Williams Live from Harding Prison Album, “No Longer Slaves” please watch and listen to this (all the songs and interviews are amazing!!):
Ok Wednesday, we see you! Good morning! Here is a short post to encourage you to watch the movie, “Dream Horse.” It is rich with beautiful truths and the best part is – it’s a true story.
I haven’t checked Rotten Tomatoes or any other reviews of this movie, but I don’t care. Okay, I admit I just did and look! Yay, they got it right!!
89% TOMATOMETER and 97% AUDIENCE SCORE
I love all the character stories in this movie, but the main character, Jan Vokes, truly inspires me – especially at this point in my life. I will turn 47 in less than a month and have had some big changes this year and have even more big decisions ahead of me so this movie gave me a glimpse at what living out your dream looks like. I needed to see this now.
It is easy to choose the comfortable, familiar and predictable. People would probably look on and say that is reasonable and understandable, but when I started my walk as a Christian I didn’t sign up for safe or predictable. I said yes to life, the life that He created me to live so I have to be brave and wise in my choices, uncomfortable in the unknown and patient in the process. I don’t want this year to just pass me by. I want to live it to the fullest letting God take my hand – pointing to sunrises, broken paths, sunsets, rainbows, valleys, scary roads, and butterflies all along the way. My life is supposed to wave His banner of miracles and so is yours. Our stories are to point to Him, to impossible possibles, so my prayer today is to live that dream because it is a reality. He made it so.
Please listen to this song called Jireh that says we are already loved, we are already chosen. Like the movie says, “Be brave. Be brilliant. You were born for this.”
So yesterday was one of those days, call it P.M.S. or call it perimenopause, but I will call it no self-control, no energy, not cute and so not okay! I got through work and thankfully we are still working remote because if I had to be seen in public with the outfit I had on yesterday, I would have become a whole other kind of prayer request for anyone who knows me!
Right after work I put heating pads all over my midsection and laid on the couch hoping these cramps would be beat back by the Thermacare heat wraps, I sipped on a glass of wine (did not drink it all, and it did not help anyway!), and I broke down and ordered Baskin Robbins Doordash delivery of Pink Bubblegum Ice Cream, my favorite since I was eight years old. That’s worked in the past, the ice cream trick, some kind of self soothing with the pretty pink frozen delight, but this time it did not and I ended up throwing most of it away!! I took one bite of the ice cream and could feel my teeth screaming at the sugar and my stomach going into panic over this rush of confection it hadn’t seen in a while.
The problem….I have been eating pretty clean for about a month now and my body has been healing up from all the junk I used to eat, and I had been feeling pretty good. I recognized right away the yucky side effects of eating like this. The ice cream that I used to think “helped me” had revealed itself to be nothing more than an eight year old’s fantasy of all things good and fun.
The solution…don’t freaking fall for it next time, Sonia! Seriously though. I know all this, and I still caved. I felt so bad I was willing to try anything (well almost anything), but still. I KNOW BETTER and I STILL WENT FOR IT! I know, that’s life sometimes, but I put this out there as a reminder to not reach back to those things that used to bring us comfort.
I know that if I had just waited it out and fallen asleep I would have been just fine. Maybe I would even feel a little better than I do right now, but sometimes I learn the hard way that the old way of doing things no longer applies. I reach for the familiar, the old tricks, the known stuff to make things okay, but I am thankful that God doesn’t let me go down that road.
He got my attention using the physical and the natural to give me a little nudge in the right direction to keep me off the old path. This is a new path that I am on with Him. The old things no longer apply. Maybe that’s the same for you and if so, I would encourage some summer reading, maybe even a book like the one I just started called, “Girls With Swords” by Lisa Bevere. I just started it this past weekend and on page 12 under a heading that says, “Old Tactics” is this:
Now is not the time to draw back in fear. It is a time when we must rise up and flourish in love. When I became a Christian, I learned that God actually had a plan for my life. It wasn’t merely that I had a new destination in the afterlife. I learned my life mattered now. I had been purchased at great expense, and my life was no longer mine to squander. God wanted me to become all He had created me to be.
Well, I will sign off here for today and ask that we pray for one another that we purpose to do things the new way and live in all He has created us to be. We are not normal ordinary women. We are God’s daughters. Have a blessed Tuesday, lovelies!
Gabbie introduced Mario and me to Chandler Moore’s music and seriously, this singer is anointed! You can listen to Jireh and/or Lean On You for a few more examples. Amazing!
Mario had to work in Irvine all weekend. I tagged along so we could weave in some date time as well and during the drive up & back we usually show each other songs we’ve been listening to so I put on Lean on You and then He Understands came on right after. When Mario heard the first line, “I have a friend. He understands,” he looked stunned and said, “Now there’s a perfect description.” We proceeded to listen to the song without speaking as tears ran down our faces.
Later I asked Mario why this song hit him this way and this was his reply, “It doesn’t matter how much you try to explain to someone what you feel – what you are going through, only Jesus truly understands all of it.” There’s so much truth there! Even though Mario and I share so much of our thoughts and feeling with each other, only Jesus truly understands and that is the most comforting, heart encouraging, heartbreaking. liberating truth that we don’t have to walk around this week misunderstood. He understands. He really does. So let’s not try so hard to get others to understand us. Let’s free themselves up and ourselves up from figuring it all out.
Know this, beautiful person reading this right now, your heart is already tended to because He understands and will never leave you alone in your pain. We are so loved right here and there’s nothing we can do about it. Two truths to hang onto this week: 1) we are loved and 2) He understands.
Happy Friday! We made it & Happy Juneteenth! Mario’s fresh off a fishing trip, and it was a good one. I know he loves fishing, but he also uses that time as his own personal retreat with God. He texted me this before I went to bed on Wednesday night while he was on the ocean: “I can barely see land. It’s beautiful out here. God’s presence for sure.” When he goes fishing he loses reception in international waters so sometimes I get freaked out not being able to reach him. He’s a wild man, and I love that about him. I can’t keep him held back because of my fear. I know this is something I have to GROW through. And grow, we did! Shout out to my faithful friends and family who prayed us up.
At 10:36pm Wednesday night Mario sent me a text of something he had read on a devotional called, My Utmost For His Highest. I have to share it:
Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.
There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
I read each word and was convicted and encouraged at the same time. Only the Holy Spirit can do that! I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I was a little afraid Thursday morning when I hadn’t heard from Mario so I played the “Worst Case Scenario Game” from the TV show This Is Us. Here’s a clip to give you the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utP53SA6HzU
So I played the game and thought to myself, “Worst case scenario is something bad happened out there on the ocean.” Terrible, I know, but that’s the “Worst Case Scenario Game.” My next thought which I know was right from heaven was, “And the last thing Mario would have shared with me was the Word.” I cried. That’s my husband. That’s the growth journey we have been on. He hasn’t always been this way and neither have I. Jesus, in His loving patience, is working things in and out of us by His grace.
Well…Mario got home around 7pm yesterday looking a little sunburnt, exhausted and totally happy! Fiona (our pet pitbull) and I met him with that same happiness that he was back safe and sound. They caught fish (see photo! YAY!) but even if he hadn’t, that little overnight trip gave him time to focus on what God had for Him, for us and the message of criticism. Jesus says, “Don’t” and so we work on that and keep each other accountable.
To end this out I will share what my friend texted me this morning when I sent a photo of the fish Mario caught. She wrote, “He is a fisherman of men too!” I have spent too much time being a critic of my husband in the past so I have to boast in the Lord when I say, yeah, he is a fisher of men, and I am beyond grateful that God made him the man he is.
I had a whole other post planned but just read Ann Voskamp’s post, and I am undone. It blew away whatever post I was going to put up here for Thursday so what we have on the blog today is Ann’s link so you can read for yourself about “Nightbirde” and the video from America’s Got Talent.
Happy Thursday, friends. Like the song says, “It’s ok. It’s alright.”
Here we are, middle of the week, and I admit I slept in an hour longer than I set my alarm for. I have been doing lap swimming in the afternoon to help get the quarantine weight off and believe me when I say, I have been sleeping like a rock! Anyway, life is definitely changing at break neck speed and I could write all day about decisions we have to make and the unknowns and blah, blah, blah, but I don’t want to. I want to put our focus where it should be to face this middle of the week and all that we will contend with. Here is a song that Mario sent me a link to last night:
And here is my journal entry for today while I was listening to the song: Father God, Help me to push everything out of the way and just focus on Your goodness. Whatever I can’t understand or fix, I know You are making a way, so I can just rest today. Thank you for Your goodness. I will live in Your goodness and love.
That’s all I’ve got today, friends, and if that’s all I’ve got and all you’ve got, we are good to go. God’s got us. Believe that!
How are you doing right now? I ask because it is 6:42am, and I woke up with a barrage of junk (when I say junk, I mean JUNK) rolling around in my mind. The theme in my brain this morning, failure. My failures. It was like a video montage of past mistakes, failed relationships, heartbreaks and unfulfilled dreams. Nice, right!? I cried as I journaled my thoughts and prayers. By God’s grace, I had two verses right in front of my face as I was writing that cast light on those thoughts to overshadow them with truth. These are the verses:
With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I don’t ever want to write all my victories or all my struggles. I want to write the real life ebb and flow, ups and downs that happen so that anyone reading this knows that it is normal to have all kinds of internal and external battles and you win some and you lose some, but in it all God is faithful.
So this morning I don’t need to reminded of who I am in my worst state or how scary or how messed up a certain situation is, I need to be reminded of who God is and how much He loves me because at the end of the day, that is the only truth that matters. This, this here is what I need to be reminded of:
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! Psalm 30:11-12 NLT
This morning, as I type, I know I have a choice to either be buried by thoughts of my limitations or I can apprehend the power of God in my weaknesses. I can push aside the thoughts that nothing will ever change and lean into the change by way of what He has spoken over me in all these verses and in my heart and mind these last eleven years of my life as a Christian. He specifically gave me the following words in my heart the first year I started living my life for Him: “I have anointed you for service and you will suffer, Oh! But The Joy!” Now I understand, if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, this is all going to seem weird and strange, but if you do, you know what I am talking about.
Speak this out loud this morning, look in the mirror or go outside and look up at the sky and say these words right to Him:
“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right handhas held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35 NKJV
His gentleness has made us great so let’s be gentle with ourselves today! Have a beautiful rest of the day not believing the hype and walking only in His truth.
Happy Monday morning! I hope you all had a great, full weekend. I’m coming off of a busy one, but it was chock-full of all the good things. Mario worked the majority of the weekend so I was holding down the fort and attending Saturday celebrations all by myself. Thankfully we had a window to attend church yesterday morning and guess what the teaching was on?! The Blessing of Marriage 🙂
At the beginning of the service they did a little game with a few couples they brought on stage called the, Not So Newlywed Game. One of the questions they had to answer was what animal would your spouse say they are most like. Mario and I played along and got it right. He would pick the bear, and I would pick the honey badger.
Bears are extraordinarily intelligent animals. They have far superior navigation skills to humans; excellent memories; large brain to body ratio; and use tools in various contexts from play to hunting.
Bears grieve deeply for others. Cubs are known to moan and cry when separated from their mothers. This can go on for weeks if their mothers are killed by hunters.
Bears have excellent senses of smell, sight and hearing. They can smell food, cubs, a mate or predators from miles away. Their great eyesight allows them to detect when fruits are ripe.
Some species of Asiatic bear build nests in the trees. They can use these for hiding, eating and even sleeping.
Bears care deeply about family members. They will risk their lives and even fight to the death in order to save a cub or sibling from danger.
I have always called Mario “My Bear” because he gives such good hugs and the facts about bears above do describe his personality especially how he cares deeply about his family and his protective nature. I love him for this and so much more.
One of the most interesting honey badger facts is that the Guinness Book of World Records listed honey badgers as the “most fearless animal in the world”. This claim is backed up by actual honey badger behavior. Honey badgers aren’t afraid of facing animals much larger than them, and will fiercely fight to the death if not left alone.
They will also fiercely attack any intruders that come across their dens. Honey badgers have been observed to challenge large mammals into fights, such as Cape buffalos and rhinoceroses.
When Mario first saw a YouTube video about honey badgers he looked at me and said, “That’s you! You don’t turn from a fight and you don’t give up.”
These animals both have one thing in common, they are protective and will fight to protect. I guess that was my take away yesterday among other encouraging marriage reminders, it was the fact that Mario and I are different in many ways, but God reminded us that these characteristics are designed by Him to bring about good in our lives and the lives of those around us.
At the beginning of this year we made a huge decision to push aside all the other competing priorities in our lives and put our marriage first. We pulled back from so many things because God was pointing us in the direction of getting our lives back in the order He created: God first, our spouse and then everyone/everything else. It was SO hard. It still is sometimes. The decision came about by way of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, agonizing circumstances that made it clear we could not go on like that. It was pain and hurt that pushed us in the direction we needed to go. Believe me when I say this decision didn’t come without judgement from onlookers, and it cost us tremendously. I have to say this though, we are now four months into our decision and have never been more fulfilled, balanced and blessed in our marriage. God is teaching us to cherish each other like never before so we are able to apprehend the blessing that is our marriage. It is hard, but we chose to obey God, and He is honoring that obedience.
That’s my encouragement for all of us today. If God is calling you to great change in your life…pray, pray and pray some more and then OBEY. He will multiply that obedience. It may not make sense to anyone and may not even make sense to you but it means peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding, and I don’t know about you but this Monday morning, this girl right here, she wants peace, the peace that only the Lord can give as we trust and follow Him.
Have a great week! Know that I am trusting and obeying right alongside you all!
Happy Weekend, friends! Mario and I have been trying a keto diet for the last six weeks for various health reasons. We’d heard about keto/low carb beforehand from a few friends who’ve had great success in weight loss and management of glucose levels so we started doing our research online and discovered that there is so much out there about keto. So much so that it gave new meaning to TMI 😳 I was on information overload so I got info from a coworker with years of experience in keto. That was a huge help in getting the process started.
We gave away several boxes & bags of groceries full of things on our “avoid” list and purchased some new keto friendly sweeteners, almond flour, coconut flower and lots of proteins and veggies.
We were cutting out all the carbs we could and thought we would see better and quicker results, but it was a slow process. Very slow! Finally, in frustration, my husband reached out to his friend and found out his secret to success with it (he’s lost so much weight that he is now trying to NOT lose more weight! Can you imagine that?!). His friend shared with him that he tracks all his food in an app called Carb Manager BEFORE he eats whatever food he is about to consume.
Well, we started doing that and found we were exceeding our carb allowance each day which was why we weren’t seeing results. We had thought we understood what foods were high in carbs, but we had it wrong. We didn’t have all the information. More importantly, we didn’t have all the information beforehand.
The verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 came to mind as I thought about the spiritual aspect of getting information and input from the correct source before making decisions, and then taking that a step further in filtering it through God’s truth and light.
Assumptions. They’re a killer! When Mario and I were on a walk yesterday evening we talked about this theme, and he said it’s also important in whatever relationships we have not to assume we are better than or have all the answers just because we are Christians. Sometimes that’s our mentality as believers. We can get caught up and think we are actually better than. The danger in this is that we can never be taught by anyone we view as not on our level. We don’t learn. We don’t learn how to love better. We don’t learn how to grow. We don’t learn about ourselves. We don’t learn about God’s love. We don’t learn about others struggles. We stay stuck because we assumed we had all the answers.
Well my friends, I know we all don’t want to stay stuck so my prayer for us is that we get information – we don’t ignore – we don’t lean on our own understanding and we don’t assume. My prayer is that we gain some understanding and ask questions, seek God and step into the opportunities to grow. Yes, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, but that doesn’t mean we can think of ourselves more highly than others. It actually means the opposite, that we kneel down and serve the “least of these” and in the process we get the wonderful growth that God promises – that abundant life we all want, the one that Jesus promises! So, here’s to that abundant life. Let’s go out and live it!
Happy Thursday, Loves! Today’s post will focus on the phrase, “It is what is.” I have found myself using this phrase quite a bit the last few months trying to explain certain things out of my control and then one day I saw something on social media that said “It is what it is util it isn’t.” That caught my attention. I Googled the phrase It is what it is and found this article: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-stupidity-of-it-is-what-it-is.html
It is an awesome read about the phrase and why he feels it is stupid. He quotes Army officer Major Andrew Steadman in the article, ‘”Here’s the problem with It is what it is. It abdicates responsibility, shuts down creative problem solving, and concedes defeat. A leader who uses the expression is a leader who faced a challenge, failed to overcome it, and explained away the episode as an inevitable, unavoidable force of circumstances. Replace It is what it is with “This resulted because I failed to do __________” and you get an entirely different discussion.’
I admit I’ve used that phrase quite often lately, and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve shared in previous blogs that I am in therapy for my mental health, and I am going to share a little bit more about that right now and give you the reason for this blog title today. My therapist suggested EMDR therapy due to certain triggers and responses in my life. I had heard of this therapy before and knew a little bit about it so it didn’t surprise me when she brought it up. I just didn’t know if I was ready (here’s a link with information if you want to read a little bit about the therapy https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/ ). I knew it was a call to action in every way for my mental, physical and spiritual health, a call to change. God was making a way for great change in my life and now it was up to me to either be courageous and brave or stay stuck.
I chose to be brave. I had my first EMDR session yesterday and in the interest of word count and time and the sensitivity of the subject I will leave out all the intimate details, but I will say there was a moment during the appointment where this verse came up in my mind as if God was whispering it over my entire soul,
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3
I am still basking in that reality that God has had His hand on my life always, during every good and bad thing I have experienced. He was there. He is here. He sees it all. I am on the road to healing during this time of therapy, and I needed to know that He is with me. I am writing this to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be It is what it is. You can take His hand, trust Him and let Him walk you through to the other side of dealing with whatever needs to be faced. How it has worked and how it looks in my life is not turning my back on the appointments even when my heart is pounding out of my chest and my throat is closing up at the very thought of whatever is on the other side of healing.
My prayer for all of us is that we don’t settle for the status quo in our lives. We can proclaim a victorious, “It was what it was, but now it is not” over whatever change God wants us to embrace. The only reason why I can even write these words today is because of that verse reminding me that He has loved me with an everlasting love.
Dear reader, know this truth today, He has loved you with an everlasting love. He has called you. You are His and because of this truth our lives don’t need to be It is what it is any longer. He has given us the power to live on the other side of whatever haunts us. He has given us hope.
With all my heart,
P.S. If you have any song suggestions, please send them my way! I love to listen while I write 🙂
This past Sunday, Mario (my husband) purchased the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul boxing event on Showtime. I wasn’t particularly interested in it but had heard a little bit about the hype on the news so I sat down to watch. It was quite the uneventful match. The commentators were doing their very best to keep the hype going throughout the eight rounds of humdrum boxing. One of them quoted Mayweather saying in interviews, “My health is wealth.” That caught my attention, and I have thought about it a lot in the last few days. The equation is simple enough. I think we can all agree that healthy choices equal less money being spent on medicine, treatments and the healthcare that is needed to manage poor health brought on by unhealthy living.
What I wanted to talk about today, though, is spiritual health and the wealth that it brings. Do we ever think about how our spiritual health is doing? I don’t often think about it in those terms. I don’t wake up asking, “How spiritually healthy am I?” Let’s think about it. How spiritually healthy are you and how do we know? I watched a sermon on Sunday from The Rock Church in San Diego and Pastor Miles was talking about prayer, and then yesterday I talked with my daughter & she shared about a Monday prayer group at work that she joined, and finally, this morning a friend of mine called to share what was going on in her life and we prayed. I think there’s some of the answer right there. What does our prayer life look like? I was a part of a Saturday morning prayer group with the church we used to go to, and it was truly amazing – a beautiful gift. I learned so much about “corporate” prayer during that time. My husband and I are in a season of seeking where God is leading us next so I am no longer a part of the Saturday morning prayer call. This was difficult at first, more then I care to share here in this blog, but something has happened the last few months.
Looking back I know that this season was handcrafted by the Lover of my soul to get me spiritually healthy again. I had become so outward facing that I neglected all the healing that was needed in me. I am going to be honest here and tell you that the shift in focus has not been easy. I have felt abandonment, fear, doubt, despair, insecurities, sorrow, loneliness and a myriad of emotions that speak to all the surreal feelings that came with this change. Although I was confident in the direction God was showing us, it meant a drastic life change. At the beginning, my prayer life was nothing more than a simple, “Help me, Lord,” that’s all I could muster up. I still had my list of people to pray for, but I finally started adding my real inner life to that list. I think that’s a big part of being spiritually healthy – getting real with God. Really, really REAL in prayer. No hiding in shame, no holding back, no pretending…just raw truth with God met by a river of love and grace and unbelievable healing.
I think that’s the encouragement for today, the prayer for today, the hope for today: Get real with God – get real in prayer, and we will undoubtedly reap the rewards of a healthy spiritual life. No offense to all the loved ones in my life, but this season is not about you. It isn’t even about me. It is about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s what my aim is, and I’m sure it’s yours too so let’s get healthy. It is all for His glory and our good.
Happy Monday! After a week off of blog writing, I am ready to sit here and type away. It’s 6:01am right now, and I did have a hard time sleeping last night and have been up for a while so I am praying I don’t just ramble here. Ok here we go! There’s been a theme rolling around in my brain for the last few days. This past week I read Proverbs 31:10-31. I just picked up my Bible one morning and read it, and it just perplexed me. Don’t get me wrong – I love the verses. They’re so encouraging and inspiring, but I am just perplexed at this woman. Who is she? Is she real? Do I know her? Am I her? Could I ever be her? So many questions. Here are the verses from the NLT because I think this version helps me the most with this passage right now:
A Wife of Noble Character
10 [a]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. 18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm[b] clothes.
22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. 31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
One of the most powerful lessons from these verses is all the relationships this woman has. We learn she is a wife. She is a mother. She is a homemaker. She is a businesswoman. She is a volunteer. She is a friend. She is an influencer. She believes in self-care. She has a vibrant relationship with her Creator. She is the woman she is because she invests in these relationships and lets them invest in her right back. If there is any encouragement we can take from the demands of being a woman in this time and space, it is that we are surrounded with everything we will ever need to live out the Proverbs 31 life. God provides each and every opportunity for us to step into our glorious, powerful destiny to be that woman.
As I started writing this post I took a break to make a phone call. I am so thankful I did! I could not write this the way I need to without insight from a woman who speaks with wisdom and gives instruction with kindness ~ verse 26 ~ (special shout out to MDG 🙂 ).
During the phone call I shared what I was going to be writing on and why I am perplexed by these verses. Here are the highlights/insights from this wise woman: 1) The Proverbs 31 woman struggles just like us 2) These verses are not an absolute state all the time – we are works in progress 3)The Proverbs 31 woman has to go through hardship to be this kind of woman.
I held back tears hearing these revelations. It was like God was giving me the permission to breathe and be. Maybe, like me, you’ve read these verses and were immediately filled with doubts and insecurities because of everything you think you’re not, but hearing that insight set me free to be okay with rereading about the Proverbs 31 woman and not hating on her nor myself knowing that I am her, and she is me. So today know that, if you are in Christ, YOU are her, and she is you.
That’s my heart for us today, that we would lift up our voices in prayer not only for ourselves, but to intercede for one another to remain steadfast in the glorious “work in progress” that God has set in motion for us. Yes, it takes a village to raise children, but it also takes a village to be the women God created us to be. Disclaimer/Confession: I’m not perfect at this (and I suspect many of you aren’t either) with broken friendships and failed attempts to connect on deeper levels, but I think all women struggle with intimacy in friendships. That’s even more reason to lean into those relationships and let the love of sisterhood (and 6am Monday morning phone calls) change our perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman in each one of us.
“…But a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”
Maybe I’ll write more on these verses this week, but that’s what I’ve got for today. Proverbs 31 Women, unite and get ready for all that God has for us this week! Thank you for reading & sharing ❤
Good morning! I have a little time to write today & I just wanted to say I hope you have a blessed day, whatever you’re doing. I hope you can join me in praying for all those whose loved ones gave the greatest sacrifice for our freedom ❤️
I read this quote right now in searching Memorial Day quotes online ““It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” – Gen. George S. Patton”
Please enjoy this video of Marian Anderson singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”
African American contralto Marian Anderson’s extraordinary musical range spread from lieder, to opera, to spirituals. In 1939, Anderson was painfully denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall because of her colour. Outraged by the decision, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke up and Anderson was eventually permitted to perform at the Lincoln Memorial, where she famously sang ‘My country tis of thee’. When she was 58 she broke the colour barrier by making her debut at the Met, playing Ulrica in Verdi’s A Masked Ball (https://www.npr.org/2014/04/09/298760473/denied-a-stage-she-sang-for-a-nation)
I think it’s important today to think of the words of this song and the sacrifice and be thankful. I don’t think we could ever be thankful enough, but we can sure try 🤍
Happy Friday! The song at the very end of this post (PLEASE LISTEN, you won’t regret it) says, “You take what the enemy meant for evil and You turn it for good!” I don’t know about you, but already I am getting bombarded in my mind over anxious thoughts, and I haven’t even finished my coffee yet so I can’t just write today. I am going to walk you through a playlist that is playing in the background as I type. First up is “Symphony” by Switch because it says, “Even in the madness there is peace, drowning out the voices all around me..through all of this chaos, You are writing a symphony.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_90_NAbv3k
Oof, those words right now hit the spot – the spot that is fixating way too much on the unknowns! Next up is “What If” by Blanca. The lyrics say, “What if You’re making me strong…what if I’m right where You want me.” Those are some better “What If” questions than what was going through my mind 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbVYIZ4nkX8
Then the lyrics change from the “what if’s” to “I know You’re making me strong! I know I’m right where You want me!” I can’t tell you how much I love that truth right now!
Next up is a new song that I heard on the radio while driving in the car, “Joyful” by Dante Bowe. This one has my heart smiling and chair dancing right now! “I got the joy, joy down to my heart, down to my heart, down to my heart…today TODAY!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwvSKPOaQVg
And here’s the reason, the wonderful reason for hope in the midst of the Friday feels….this next song “The Reason” by Travis Cottrell says, “There’s a reason for this life inside me. One name above all names…Jesus, yes it’s Jesus!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i117hEAu5M
I hope you took the time to let those words wash over your heart and mind! I hope you let God sing over you just now through all these songs. My heart feels different then when I sat down and started this post, thank God. It’s the great exchange, exchanging all the junk for His truth. He loves us!
The Lord your God is with you, the Might Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
What are the 7 steps in conflict resolution? Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.
Identify the issues. Be clear about what the problem is. …
Understand everyone’s interests. …
List the possible solutions (options) …
Evaluate the options. …
Select an option or options. …
Document the agreement(s). …
Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation.
Good morning! I just borrowed this list from https://www.mediate.com/articles/thicks.cfm I borrowed it from here because I will confess I am not great at conflict resolution yet. I am willing to admit that, and in the admission comes the realization that I do want to change this, and God, in His infinite wisdom, is giving me plenty of opportunities lately. The term “conflict resolution” is just strange to me: conflict? resolution? That’s like an oxymoron in my book, but I know it’s possible. One of the reasons I know this is because my husband models this for me all the time. For a long time I just thought this was a personality trait and that we are just different people, but I’ve come to learn a little bit more about myself this past year and know that I have some interesting ways of dealing with conflict.
I think first and foremost I need to remember that I have a voice, and that is the reality. The other fact I need to remember is that I have ears to hear, and I should listen. The next thing is that no matter what happens I can pray, I can let go & let God, and finally, I can choose to leave the outcome to Him. I need His wisdom for conflict – it just doesn’t come naturally to me so I need His beautiful supernatural strength that He promises is always available!
I just Googled, “How Did Jesus Deal With Conflict” and found this excerpt, “Responding to conflict with emotional maturity takes intentionality and practice. But as Christians, we can look to Jesus for guidance. Jesus did two key things when he was faced with conflict in the Bible: he stayed defined and connected.” You can read the whole article here, it’s really good: https://www.faithward.org/jesus-and-conflict/
So today, dear friends, my hope is that whatever conflict we find ourselves in WE STAY “DEFINED AND CONNECTED”. It is possible, with God all things are ❤ Stay blessed!
With all my heart, Sonia
P.S. I like to post one of the songs I listen to while writing and this one is so, so perfect for today. Nothing like Your Presence, Lord!
Ok this is going to be a weird post, so let me just say that out of the gate here. Thank you D.C. for helping me with the title of this blog post. Lately I have been hearing stories of young ladies who want to marry a man that can take care of them financially (the words sugar daddy come to mind as I am typing this). There is nothing wrong with wanting to date someone who has goals and is responsible, but I am not sure about this whole expectation of a certain tax bracket! I heard a quote once that says something along the lines of, “Some women want to marry a general but aren’t willing for them to be soldiers first.” I think this is true.
I also know there are more than enough stories of men who were married during their rise in careers only to leave their wives for other women once they reached their success so I am not letting the guys off the hook here either, but I am really wondering what happened to couples putting in the work? What happened to growing together? Why are we an entitled society that expects the perfect insta-worthy house, car, job, spouse at the blink of an eye? How the heck did we get here?
Now, I do love a turn-key house like the next person, but there is something to be said about all those HGTV shows we all love so much that give us a glimpse of the process of building and show what it actually takes to make that beautiful reveal! Basically, I am writing about the “hard work” part of relationships or anything in life, really! Let’s not skip that part! Let’s not fast forward to the pinnacle without the glorious parts of putting in the work. It means so much more that way!
I guess that is what I am trying to say here, that good things take time. It doesn’t have to be perfect at the beginning. I met my husband when he was a full-time musician, and I was going through a Medical Assisting program. We had no idea how to handle our finances (we are still learning), and we had so many things we wanted to accomplish in life, but were nowhere near that when we met. I don’t even think we had a clue where life would take us, but thankfully we did it together. Thankfully we turned our lives to God in 2009 and grew into the fiercely passionate, persevering people we are today. Thankfully we didn’t side step the process to exchange each other for our “ideal” because we would have missed out on all this. Our marriage is so much more valuable because we are growing together, that is the beauty of putting the work in. My life with my husband is NEVER boring, I promise you that, and I love what God has done with our marriage. He has honored the work we have put in & continue to put in!
My prayer for all you singles (and maybe some of us married folk, as well) is that we set aside all our entitlement issues and put in the work, that we get some therapy, some accountability, humble ourselves and most importantly that we do not despise the small beginnings that God brings. We have got to start somewhere! Thank you for reading and sharing! Have a blessed rest of the week 🙂
Yesterday Mario texted this to me, “That’s a sign of life. If you’re struggling it means you’re fighting for a reason. Dead fish float down stream.” I had texted him that I was struggling so much in my walk and where to go to church, struggling with enrolling in my final year of school (starting back up on June 28 – prayers appreciated), struggling with my hormones, struggling in friendships, struggling in my mental health. Struggling! So that reminder from my husband was perfect and timely.
Struggling is a sign of life. I am struggling against my old pattern of throwing in the towel and giving up when it gets too hard. Maybe you’ve got struggles too to which I say to you what Mario said to me, “That’s a sign of life!” Hang in there! Thankfully we can look to God’s Word for the fact that struggling is not unique to us!
Genesis 32: 24-30 24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
27 The man said, “What’s your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”
The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”
Struggling, wrestling, reasoning….all part of the process. Don’t let the struggle scare you, let it encourage you (I am preaching to myself here too!). No pain, no gain! No sacrifice, no winning! No perseverance, no finish line! But think about the other side of these truths: Yes, pain – but all gain! Yes, sacrifice, then the win! Yes, perseverance..then the glorious finish line! Thankfully we get the choice and thankfully we have a faithful God who knows our struggles and gives strength where we are weak!
2 Corinthians 12:9-11NASB9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in [b]insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Let me start out this Friday post with words that start with “DIS”: discourage, disorder distract, disappear, dissimilar, disadvantage. Now let’s look at words that start with “UN”: unwell, unhappy, ungrateful, untrained, unwilling.
Looks like these aren’t great prefixes: ‘dis’ means apart and ‘un’ means not! Ok, why the word lesson for us today, right?! I think it’s because I’ve had the word “discouraged” rolling around in my head since yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful over many, many things, but I’ve been battling discouragement. Maybe you have too!
I’ll just be honest here and list a few of my discouragements (in no particular order): estranged relationships, finances, weight, school, work, hormones, writing (I love it, I’m doing it right now!! It can be discouraging to find time not to mention the feeling that you’re just not a good enough writer & it’s just a waste to put all the time and effort in). Do you see it, the theme, the “dis/un” life going on right now!
So what do we do with this when there is SO much to be thankful for? How do we battle the world and our own minds that tries to keep our focus on the negative?
We can turn to His Word, I promise, we can. I just did to help me write this for my heart and yours and found this verse when I typed in HOPE:
Psalm 61:2-5 The Message
God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, “Guide me up High Rock Mountain!” You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.
We can turn to Him in prayer, anytime – anywhere. It can be a simple, “I need You, Lord!”
You can text/call that friend, those friends, you know those ones that will pray for you at a moments notice!
Bottom line is we have a way out of it, a way into hope, a shift of focus that God gives us. It’s also okay to be patient with yourself if the discouragement is deep and long. God knows!
I just wanted you to know for this “before weekend read” that it’s okay to be discouraged and to be un- whatever because the truth of this hope we find in Jesus is truly unending and that is an “UN” that changes everything. Have a beautiful weekend full of hope. With all my heart, Sonia
This is going to be a short post because I have two blog posts I have already written that say pretty exactly what’s on my heart this morning so I will put those links in this post. Last night I was on the elliptical machine while watching Jeopardy. Mario and I like to make it a game between each other and keep score over how many we each get right (no, we are not competitive LOL!). I was doing well because there were some categories with words, and I love language and words. So final jeopardy last night was, “German settlers in Texas called this animal “panzerschwein.” To which I yelled out. “ARMADILLO!” (For all you Jeopardy connoisseurs, I know I should have said, “What is armadillo!) Well, I was right. I knew something about armadillos since I had written a blog post in 2016 referencing the panzerschwein: https://john4four.com/2016/08/22/yes-this-post-is-about-armadillos/
After my triumphant Jeopardy win (wink wink), Mario and I took our dog, Fiona, for a night stroll. During that walk Mario was being funny about the word, “panzerschwein” using it in all sorts of ways. He had me cracking up, but this word got me thinking. Anytime God has brought to mind the armadillo it means something in my life. You can read about it in the post above. I told Mario, “God is prepping me not to self-protect. He is giving me a heads up to be brave about something.” So I told him that the panzerschwein/armadillo was going to be the title of my post today. I had it all mapped out in my mind, what I would write about, but it took a different direction this morning.
I opened up my phone and read more about the Palestinian/Isreali conflict and basically how Israel is being painted as the bad guy here and, listen, I have been to Israel and felt the tension in the air on the Temple Mount. I know that deep rooted bitterness and conflict exists not just on one side, but as I read more this morning it became apparent that the media is trying to paint one side as the villain and the other as victim. Seriously!? The one thing I don’t want to get caught up in though is the intense emotional reactions that the media are counting on. It just divides us further! So it got me thinking about another post I wrote about being misunderstood/misrepresented: https://john4four.com/2018/07/31/do-you-need-a-lawyer/
My prayer for those being misrepresented in the media, in that relationship, in your workplace, in the financial situation, in your marriage, in your church, in the most difficult places in your life is that you focus on the fight, not on the rhetoric. Ask God, “How do I fight this?” and “How do I respond?” The One with the answer is THE ANSWER. Jesus is the only one in the history of the world who endured all the misrepresentation that humanity could throw at Him, and He still got it right. He was fighting the good fight. Let’s not lose sight of Him in our fight! I am praying for Israel, those affected on both sides and for all of us fighting our own hidden battles.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4
Thank you for reading today! I know you have lots of screen time these days so it is a blessing when I read comments and get feedback. You bless me! With all my heart, Sonia
Here we go, Tuesday! Right now I have this song playing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpuUlPfx0Ow I am doing my very best not to throw this laptop off my lap, leap off the couch and twirl around the living singing, “This is how I fight my battles!” I am praying that these words bless you today as you battle whatever is going on in your life.
Little secret, or maybe not so secret for those of you who know me, I am in therapy. I meet every two weeks with a counselor for lots of reasons, and it has helped me in ways I am probably not even aware of. My therapist is a Christian counselor and before you start judging the qualifications because of the Christian aspect, I must tell you that this counselor is a Doctor of Psychology – and a great one, at that! I am thankful for the balanced approach for my therapy.
So last week I had an appointment (even though I wanted to cancel – this usually happens when something good is coming my way, like a breakthrough or something) and mentioned a big issue I am dealing with. This issue literally makes my blood boil. I feel like I need to come out swinging on this one, and during my appointment I said something like, “Well, God didn’t make me a fighter for nothing.” To which my doctor replied, “Well, actually God does the fighting for you.” I stayed quiet. I mean, I know that God fights for me. There are verses all over the Bible that talk about how He defends, protects and fights seen and unseen battles on our behalf, but I don’t think I have settled into the fact that just because I see myself as a fighter doesn’t mean that I truly understand what that really, REALLY means.
As I was typing that last sentence in the previous paragraph I had these verses pop in my head from Joshua chapter 5:
13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?”
14 He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?”
I honed in on this excerpt from the link above: “Christians want to marshal God’s allegiance for their cause, when they should simply submit and follow wherever He leads. Once Joshua understood this, he fell “on his face” in worship.” (emphasis mine).
I heard someone in prayer recently say, “God works both sides,” and I took that to mean that He sees everything, not just my side or their side. He sees it all and can judge rightly. He fights for us based on truth. We sometimes (maybe even most times) fight for our cause, our rights, our egos, our agenda. When we look at the way Joshua responded it is apparent that he is a born warrior for God’s kingdom, prepared for battle, but He had to do it God’s way and that started with worship.
How do you worship when you are “seeing red” over something, your adrenaline is just pumping and you are primed for a fight? How do you worship then? I am seriously asking here. I guess we have to define worship first, right!? I just typed it into my search engine here and found these words that made sense to me from worshipdeeper.com :
Put simply, worship is declaring the greatness of someone or something. It is the act of giving up your own glory to make sure everyone knows that the thing being worshiped is pretty awesome. To put it even more succinctly, worship is bowing down to lift up.“
For me today, I guess it comes down to shifting my focus, quieting my mind, breathing, taking time to allow the heat of the moment to pass and to look to the greatness of God instead of the issue at hand. I know I am a like Joshua in that I don’t back down from a fight, but I want to also be like Joshua in that I will worship before taking one more step! (I also want to put the disclaimer in here that I am not talking about when you are in physical danger – when you are being threatened with bodily arm, fight, my sister, fight! What I am talking about in this case are those issues that come up in work, friendships, family junk, rude customer service people, wacky church things, etc.).
That’s all the time I have for today. I put this song here for us because the lyrics for the chorus are, “I’m gonna see a victory. I’m gonna see a victory for the battle belongs to You, Lord!” And yes, it does. Stay victorious, my friend. I am singing right there with you!
Here we are, first day of the week, and it’s tax day. Let’s breathe! Whatever this week holds, we know God is already there. I’ve got about half an hour to write so we are off to a good start. I have my Peets pour-over coffee in my “Rise & Shine” mug and am wearing my favorite oversized morning sweater with the softest Target leggings ever, so yeah, I’m feelin’ good. I hope whatever you are doing right now, you take comfort in the simple blessings God has provided. Sometimes that’s all it takes to surrender a bad attitude or a case of the Monday blues.
My daughter has been in New York for the last month and a half with her wife and her wife’s family and just got back this past Friday so to say I missed her is an understatement! She is 28, and I am beyond blessed that she likes to spend time with her parents 🙂 So Mario was working this past Saturday, and we took that opportunity for some long overdue mother-daughter time. I dropped Mario off at work while Gabbie looked for a nearby Saturday morning brunch spot (you just gotta love Yelp these days!). We went to a wonderful cafe with plenty of seating and delicious food.
We started catching up and talking about some of the “drama” the last few months, and I brought up the word “surrender.” I explained that the “drama situation” had me thinking about surrender, and how it is a process. I can’t will it to happen. I can’t just wave a spiritual wand over it, and it will disappear. I have to go through this process of the ebb and flow of the emotions, the reasonings, the questions and the dialogue with God over it. The grip this has had on my emotions is starting to lessen, and I am seeing something else in play: the fact that God does wants us to truly let go and let God in these hard places we face.
I don’t think there is a standard formula for each person, but I do believe that there is a process. There is a point of surrender when you are just tired. It’s the point where you are done with holding it up and hanging on too tight. It’s the point where you “hand it over to God” and say, “Take it please!” It’s at that moment that it’s not about ‘us’ anymore or ‘them’. It’s about the fact that it was weighing us down, and we need to lay it down. And please, please know I know it is not easy to lay down the bitterness, the misunderstanding, the broken heart, the unrequited love, the loss of job, the estranged family relationship, the dream that never came true, the battered reputation, the infertility, the financial mess, the boring job, the shattered friendship, all the heartache but lay it down, we must.
“Laying it down” may look different in your life than mine. In mine right now, it looks like speaking less about the drama and not fixating on figuring it out. It also looks like a change of focus, my mind/my thoughts about it/them are changing. I am softer when I talk about it, gentler when I think about it. The hardness around my heart that felt like it would never go away has given way to a gentleness that shocks me.
The funny thing is that surrender then looks like freedom when before it looked like defeat. Surrender ushers in the beautiful knowledge that it’s not up to you, that there is a bigger plan, but that the plan is no longer your focus. Your focus now is the One who led you through that heartbreak and loss. You follow Him. You let Him lead because once again, He proved Himself faithful with your surrender process.
I was so thankful to God that I could talk this through with Gabbie. I could be honest and share that this process is necessary, hard but good. Like the saying goes, “The struggle is real, but so is God.” As we finished up our delicious meal I told her that that’s why I reposted the “Mansions” blog post I had written 5 years ago because this process of surrender had me looking up once again, knowing there’s more to all this than meets the eye. His will, His plan, His way. SURRENDER. What do you need to surrender?
My prayer for us this week is that we lay it down, but if surrender seems impossible for whatever is concerning you, I just pray a whisper of willingness for you. It can be a whisper, He will hear you.
Thank you for reading! Have a blessed week. With all my heart, Sonia
P.S. Please enjoy this song by Blanca! So so soooo good!
Happy Friday! We made it! I have to tell you I had a rough night of sleep, could be peri-menopause, could be that I was hungry, could be all the things I was thinking about, but it was probably a combo of all those things. So instead of writing a new blog post and risk it being completely incoherent, I wanted to re-share my blog post from five years ago because this movie scene above has been playing through my head again so please take in this reminder that there’s more to life than meets the eye! Have a blessed weekend too. Thank you for reading this week. I hope it blesses you too ❤ With all my heart, Sonia
There’s this movie, The Holiday, that has a scene in it where Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, sees the house in L.A. that she’ll be staying in for her Christmas holiday. She is a woman who lives in a small, simple cottage in England so this place was a far cry from anything she’d ever lived in. Now, I don’t recommend the movie unless you love RomCom’s like I do, but this scene has something in it that hints at something I read in John 14:2.
Jesus says: “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
I don’t about you but I know I don’t live like I remember that truth every day, AND I SHOULD! We should! I’m going to let you in on an ugly secret…I hardly ever think about that wonderful truth about our destiny. I did when I first became a Christian seven years ago. Wow, did I think about it then. That was one of the things that I kept right at the forefront of my thinking, the reality that this world – what we see and live in now – isn’t it, and that Jesus is preparing that place for us.
So I’ve had a couple of rough weeks – some things in my control, others not so much. Things have been pressing in, and I have been reacting badly. It seems like all I’ve been doing is blowing it and then saying, “Sorry, God, I did ______ again!”
Here are some excerpts from yesterday’s journal entry:
Saturday, October 15th 8:35am “I’m sorry. I’m still in a rut. I can’t see my way out. You see me. What’s the answer? Where’s the way out? How long will it be like this? Is this really Your will, God? Let me still cling to You. I can’t feel You anymore, and I’m drowning.”
Quite the “woe is me” journal excerpt, I know. But I also want you to know, it’s not always like this. This walk with Jesus has all kinds of days and seasons. I had bad days/seasons when I wasn’t a Jesus freak so why wouldn’t I have them now? I know God has been trying to get me to stop looking in so much and start looking out, to Him, others, the future, heaven, and maybe that’s why at 5am I had this scene playing in my mind from a movie that has nothing to do with anything really spiritual. I do love the song though. The whole soundtrack is really amazing. It’s Hans Zimmer, so of course!
God woke me up with this movie scene playing in my head as if to say, “It’s going to be better than that!” Better than we could ever imagine here on earth with our limited perspective and no matter the troubles, the days, the emotions, the dangers, the enemies or “frenemies”, failures, woes, the steps backwards, the highs or lows, HE IS PREPARING A PLACE FOR US. Here’s another verse that just jumped out to me just now to tie up this early Sunday morning blog post:
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
The challenge: Live like a woman who believes what God says and looks forward with hope in her heart that she will dwell in a perfect mansion in His house.
It’s all about You, Jesus.
Have a blessed Sunday, Everyone. I hope we worship like never before today!
I was talking on the phone last night with a friend to see how she’s doing during a very stressful week, and we were catching up. We talked a little bit about this blog too. I shared my process – that I really don’t know exactly what I am going to write, but I get an idea for a topic or theme. My goal is to be honest with what I am going through, put the saving grace of Jesus on blast for those who haven’t yet listened to the Good News and to encourage all the saints to hang in there!
Today it is hard to write because I opened up the news on my phone and read what’s going on in Israel. It’s hard to think any of my struggles and issues are anything in comparison to what is going on over there because they’re not. You cannot compare – that is terrifying what is happening in the Gaza Strip! These are the times when I think my “little troubles” are less important to God. Sometimes we don’t just compare the good things in life, we also compare struggles and think ours are less then. Don’t get my wrong, I do think we all have to have a healthy balance of “bigger picture thinking” so we don’t fall into the trap of being self-focused, but I also believe that God knows everything about us and thinks all those things are important too.
He has an infinite supply of care and concern for us. He doesn’t just use it up on catastrophes or those we think have bigger problems, or believers we think are better behaved. His goodness runs after all of us – like the song says! That’s how I am going to end this out today. We are loved, and His goodness is for us in every single detail that concerns us. And because He is concerned for us and surrounds us (Psalm 32:7) we can go through this day not gripped by fear and anxiety. We are freed up to pray for others. I know, for me, I am going to be praying for Israel today and for all of us facing private battles that we may or may not ever talk about.
I am also posting a photo from our trip to Israel about five years ago and a video of me from that trip when I just broke out in song in a church with the most exquisite acoustics ever – just couldn’t help myself LOL 🙂
Thanks for reading today! With all my heart, Sonia
Happy Wednesday, friends. How’s your week so far? Mine’s alright – lots of things swirling around in my brain already, some great and some not so great, but overall this is the them today: HURT. I am Christian. I became a Christian almost eleven years ago. So when I am thinking about how I processed being hurt before I became I Christian, I just remember never dealing with it. I just walked around with the open wounds in my life and my choices led to adding to my pain. I was living my life just trying to survive and functioning out of a constant myriad of pain. Back then, the pain turned into hardness and numbness. I became more and more cynical, more self- sufficient, more unforgiving, more controlling, more selfish and more and more closed off to true relationships. That’s what survival meant for me then. The hurts of unattended heartbreak made me an untrusting woman and eventually led to immense control issues.
I know…this is a heavy topic for a Wednesday morning, but I was reading the news last night and came across the latest headlines about JLo and how she is now with Ben Affleck. I understand that this might be a publicity stunt or something fabricated like that (putting this in here for my husband who constantly reminds me not to believe everything I read in the news – I get it LOL), but just the fact that she has been married three times, engaged four times and has had numerous boyfriends, leads me to believe this former Fly Girl is looking for love in all the wrong places. Seriously, she just got out of a long term relationship with ARod and now she’s with Ben, and it’s “Againiffer”?! She seems like the woman at the well in the Bible in John chapter 4, doesn’t she? (You can read the story here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204%3A1-26&version=NIV).
No judgment here, I promise! I can relate – obviously – my blog’s title should clue you in that I know a thing or two about searching for love and ending up hurt until you find yourself at a well under the scorching sun, filled with shame. So, what I have learned about “hurt” since becoming a Christian? Well, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that there is actual healing that leads to wholeness. There really is, but there’s one catch, and the catch is you have to be willing to admit the hurt and surrender it. I totally get that surrender is a complicated term, especially nowadays, but it is true.
I am in a season where deep hurt is a very present reality – just when I think I have forgotten about it, I am struck with a memory or see a photo or something pops up on social media, and I remember…oh yeah, that’s right -there’s the pain. I got hurt, very badly. Thankfully that’s not the end of this blog post. The very amazing thing about being a Christian is that healing is possible – true healing, not like the little instagram quotes that you read one minute and forget the next. My healing process means that I am honest with God about what I am feeling. I journal about it. I am in therapy over it. I talk about it with my husband and only a few trusted friends (if and when I need a sounding board so I don’t toilet paper anyone’s house). I look to God’s Word over it, and most of all these days, I have hope in it. Hope that God will change me more into the whole version of the Sonia that He created. I already see glimpses of this wholeness. Even though the sting of it will pop up, the solidness that is anchoring me to the truth and love of God is indescribable. I just don’t have words for that part of it. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you what this new found strength and trust in the Lord feels like and looks like, but I will say this: you have to be in it to know it, and I invite you – if have never experienced the healing power of Jesus Christ accept it today. Accept Him today! If you want prayer over this just send me an email: sonialvsJesus@gmail.com, and I promise I will pray (and probably cry) with you.
So to all you former or current FlyGirls, Jesus is standing there at whatever old well (or boyfriend) you are staring at, and He is saying “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:26 NIV) I pray you don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime for the healing of all that hurt.
With all my heart, Sonia
P.S. I put the salsa version of “The Blessing” song here since we are all about the Latinas today with JLo & all. Please enjoy and give yourself some room to dance!
Happy Tuesday! I hope you all had a beautiful time celebrating Mother’s Day this past weekend, but if it is a hard holiday for you, I pray you had peace and comfort! As we all know, holidays can be, well, in a word…COMPLICATED. I am going to share a little bit about our Sunday’s family Mother’s Day dinner. First of all, for those of you who don’t know, we have a 28 year old daughter – she’s my only child. She has been in New York for the past months so she was not in town to celebrate with me which already made it not as great as it could have been, but I get it – she’s 28 (I promise, Gabbs, it is fine!).
My dad had texted me during the week and asked if my husband and I would join him, my mom and my sister at a restaurant in San Marcos at 3pm. 3pm on a Sunday can be tough – the strong urge to just lay on the couch usually hits me around that very time! But of course, I said yes so Sunday afternoon around 2:30ish Mario and I got ready to head out the door, and we made it to the restaurant at 3:03pm. My dad is a retired Marine, needless to say, he’s a stickler for time so I thought we were late. We walked into the restaurant and said we had reservations at 3pm. I gave the hostess my mom’s name and my dad’s name. She checked her list and said that there weren’t any reservation with those names. I then had the sinking suspicion that they hadn’t made reservations. My parents had still not arrived by this time so I called my dad, and when he answered he said they were on their way. I explained we didn’t have reservations, and they weren’t taking walk in’s. My parents had me on speaker phone so they were both talking, trying to figure it out. My dad asked if I had any ideas. And I said, “On Mother’s Day?! No – we probably won’t get in anywhere without a reservation!” To say I was irritated is an understatement. I am not proud to confess here that I am a 47 year old woman, and I basically had a full-on tempter tantrum. In the interest of your time and mine, I will spare you all the reasons why my reaction went from zero to sixty but, yeah, it’s historical.
I was all but ready to just hand my mom her card and flowers in the parking lot and head home. You may be thinking this is an excessive response, and I would agree with you. Believe me when I say I am cringing as I am typing this. Mario saved the day with calling another restaurant down the road that could seat us in 25 minutes – so off we went while I was sulking in the car. When we finally got seated my mom said that when we get to be their age we will understand (the oversight of not making reservations). At this point I was a little less aggravated, and we ordered drinks and our food and had the most amazing time.
It was one of those meals that had everything in it – stories, funny FUNNY stories, love, memories, my dad’s non-PC jokes, updates on life, etc. It was special, and my mom even apologized for something years ago. It hit me that I would have missed out on this all because it wasn’t going my way. I would have forfeited this special time if I told Mario to just take me home. I would have walked away from a beautiful opportunity with my family all because of this 16 year old version of myself that sometimes tries to rear her ugly head and navigate my disappointments. It didn’t go my way that day, and I am glad it didn’t. It was better, way better!
I guess the takeaway/theme for today’s blog are the questions, “What Isn’t Going Your Way?” and “How Will You Respond?” Take a moment to think about, pray about and be about responding differently. Breathe, listen, and press in to the uncomfortable new normal of not letting your emotions dictate what your response will be. Bottom line: DON’T MISS OUT ON WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU! I promise it will be better than you could imagine. (Also read Ephesians 4:32 about being kind and tender-hearted – it will hit you right in the heart in the very best way).
And to my parents, I love you so much. Thank you for being you.
Happy Monday! I just read a devotional right now from Our Daily Bread and because the verse referenced is my life verse AND because it’s a beautiful reminder for the week ahead, I am sharing it here. Let His love sing over you today. Let’s tune our ears to His voice singing love and speaking truth over us. Have a blessed day, friends! Tomorrow I have a Mother’s Day story to share with you so stay tuned 🙂
With all my heart, Sonia
Here’s the devotional:
He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy.
The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.
We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice.Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.
Now more than ever I see the value in living life as bravely and boldly as possible for several reasons but most importantly to be an example to my daughter. Our story as mother and daughter is a long one to tell – too long for a blog post but safe to say, that it is a story of love and grace. I missed the mark quite a bit as a mom, as I was so young when I had her so I pray often for God to show me how to be an example to her now. Things I want to show her:
That God loves us and we are created in His image
That I am proud to be her mom
That true peace is possible
That we need to deal with deep things to go higher
That hurt is terrible but healing from God is beautiful
That doing magnificently brave things is living
That music is life (Zephaniah 3:17)
That emotions don’t have to rule our lives
That God takes away all shame and makes us whole
That she is valued beyond what she could ever think or feel
I know I’m not the only mom in the world who has these desires for their children. Maybe you’ve been the best mom. Maybe you’ve been the worst. Either way, God has given us the most precious of all roles as mother to a daughter and it’s never to late to do brave things to show your daughters how to be brave and show God’s love.
So today I just want to say that I am thankful that I am Gabbie’s mom. I am thankful that I get texts with check in’s and questions and love. I am thankful that God has given me the opportunity of a lifetime to show my daughter how to live the life God created us to….it is not about how you begin the journey, it’s about how you end it.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18
Good morning! It took me a few tries to come up with this title. I don’t know about you, but this week was interesting. Work has been busy, then the cooking, the cleaning, the phone calls – texts, etc. Life, this week, just seemed like it was on super fast forward. All that to say that it felt like so much and so little happened by the end of each day, but I’m thankful it is Friday 🙂
Last night I was talking with some friends, and we were discussing how we are in seasons where we feel God is highlighting things we do in relationships where we worry how we are perceived or if we aren’t going to be liked, accepted – basically, insecurities. Oooh those pesky insecurities! They can choke the very life out of you! Well, anyway the last six months I have felt like I’m on this fast track learning curve to let go of this old survival technique. Relationships are being reshaped, removed and realigned. It seems like I am confronted, on a pretty regular basis, with my own people pleasing tendencies. It has been a stronghold in my life in many more ways than I care to admit.
After my friends left Mario told me a conversation he’d just had on the phone with an old friend of his. His friend told him that someone he had known and considered his friend for 47 years sent him a text telling him to never contact him again because of his political beliefs because they were different from his on every level. The text was full of venom and Mario’s friend was shocked. I have heard of more and more friendships breaking up over vaccine status, political views, racial issues and all the hot topic buttons of the day. People literally hate each other right now. There is definitely an “us” and “them” mentality in every area. What happened to embracing differences, to agreeing to disagree?
Many fans of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg would know that one of her close friends was her conservative colleague Antonin Scalia. Enjoy this article excerpt from the USA Today article, “Supreme friends: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anotnin Scalia“: “
Long before they became federal appeals court judges, Supreme Court justices, travel companions and New Year’s Eve celebrants together, Ruth Bader Ginsburg watched Antonin Scalia speak to the American Bar Association. As she would for decades to come, Ginsburg disagreed with Scalia’s thesis. But, she recalled in 2014, “he said it in an absolutely captivating way. “Thus did the two ideological opposites attract for what became from that day on a close friendship – one their families, friends and colleagues recalled affectionately after Scalia’s death at a Texas ranch in 2016 and again following Ginsburg’s death Friday on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. “What’s not to like?” Scalia said of Ginsburg at that joint appearance six years ago. “Except her views on the law.” Here’s the link to the whole fascinating account of their friendship if you want to check it out:
I love that example of friendship in the here and now with that tension of disagreement. They didn’t back down from their beliefs even though they were obviously vastly different, but they liked each other. We are now a culture that screams diversity, but when presented with it we scream at and shame those who don’t agree with us. Okay, sorry, that’s another post for another day.
Getting back to the brave part….what’s your brave? Obviously Ruth and Antonin were brave in presenting their opposing views to each other personally and professionally. Stepping out in faith to take a stance or speak your view on something is a little scary for people (me) who have cared way too much about others opinions. I just want to share God’s truth and love NOW, and you know what…that might not be popular, but it will be BRAVE.
My prayer for you and me today is that we are brave and courageous in how we communicate who we are to the world. That’s loving God, loving yourself and loving others – speaking truth in love. The only opinion that truly matters at the end of the day is the One who made us, and He sees and knows. Hopefully we can be free in the brave today because He loves us. P.S. I put these songs because they go with the theme today. Please enjoy!
Over six years ago I started working at a community college in their health services department as their admin. I went into the job having had several years of experience with healthcare providers already so please believe me when I say I work with the best of the best. Unfortunately I do not have the time (nor the HIPAA clearance LOL) to share the countless stories of selfless care, courage, strength, phenomenal care and help this team has offered students and the community, but let me tell you this – they are the epitome of grit and grace. On many days, these nurses remind me that there are angels in our midst, heroes always present and sacrificial help always available because they are ready and willing to help in every situation they are called upon for assistance.So this post is dedicated to them, for the many seen and unseen ways they help change lives.
This excerpt of the Bible in Exodus 1:15-20 is an incredible example of how nurses protect their patients:
15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.[a] If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”
19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”
20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.
Clever, capable, courageous….Nurses 🙂 Thank you to the amazing nurses I work with, have worked with and to nurses everywhere. So grateful you chose the vocation of nursing and the calling on your life to help people in need. May continue God bless the work of your hands. Enjoy being celebrated this week! You deserve all that and more!
Good morning! How are you this morning? I’m doing a “sister check-in” right now 🙂 I am tired, another four hour of sleep night. It happens from time to time. I’m on the downside of mid-forties and all the “changes” that comes with, sleep issues being one of them. But I am here and so are you, so I am grateful. The title of this blog is from a post I found on one of the social media sites. I just loved it – so much truth in that statement. We, women, can be shady to each other! God, give us grace!
Mario and I were in the backyard after work yesterday, and I looked up at the trees we planted a year ago along the fence line . I noticed how much the landscape on the embankment behind it has become more vibrant and thick, and I asked if it was because of the trees we planted. There’s a concrete divide between our fence and the embankment behind so they don’t share the drip irrigation we put in for the trees, but I told Mario that I thought they must share something in order to improve so much this past year. Mario mentioned a Radio Lab podcast that he’d heard a while back about that very thing. He sent me the link, and I listened to part of it and was excited to learn there was something to my theory. Here’s that podcast if you want to give it a listen https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/from-tree-to-shining-tree
It got me thinking about this sunshine/shade thing between us women. Maybe it’s because we feel so much, our passion and emotions out in front – whatever it is I hope we learn a thing or two from these trees. Here’s a quote from ecologist Suzanne Simard, “It’s this network, sort of like a below-ground pipeline, that connects one tree root system to another tree root system, so that nutrients and carbon and water can exchange between the trees. In a natural forest of British Columbia, paper birch and Douglas fir grow together in early successional forest communities. They compete with each other, but our work shows that they also cooperate with each other by sending nutrients and carbon back and forth through their mycorrhizal networks.“
I don’t think there is anything wrong with competition. I think it’s necessary to push us further in our potential, but it can get tricky with insecurities, fears, jealousy and the like so we’ve got to keep ourselves in check to not throw shade. If you’re in my age group or above here is the definition of throwing shade according to dictionary.com: it’s “a subtle way of disrespecting someone verbally or nonverbally.” That’s why I was so intrigued to read about these trees and their cooperation and competition. I think that is a perfect balance of challenging and encouraging each other. Something to think about this Wednesday morning. I have to leave this post here just like this because I have to get ready for work now, but I have two videos that I hope you take the time to watch. The first one is a Tiny Desk concert I’m listening to as I type. It’s really good! The second is a scene from the movie Seabiscuit and what competition should look like (notice riders 7 and 9 at about the minute and a half mark of the video clip). That is my hope and prayer for all of us ladies, that we would help and root for one another – win, lose or draw.
Thanks for reading today! With all my heart, Sonia
Good morning! I have about ten minutes because I could not will myself out of bed when I should have. I kept resetting my timer for ten minutes, then ten minutes more, then five minutes and five minutes more. You get it, right? I will get to the point. Last night Mario and I were FaceTiming with our friends and one of them said something to the effect of “Why do we push away what we need?” We were talking about different situations in life where we want what we want but it just isn’t that way. Our “ideals” in our occupation, family relationships, home, church, health are not what we would want them to be, and that’s the point this morning. We push back so often against the change God wants to bring into our lives for no other reason then we want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. As I am typing this out I realize how childish and immature this sounds. It’s true though. It is childish and immature (aka selfish) to push against those things that God wants for us because He knows best!
I have to wrap it up here with this: Last night I knew I should have gone to sleep earlier, much earlier. I was tired. But NO, I had to stay downstairs watching TV way too late (I can’t even remember what I was watching), then on my phone in bed (a no-no, I know!) and next thing I know Mario’s watch was making the “it’s midnight” chirp. I didn’t even fall asleep at that time! I was now consternated because it was past midnight, and I wasn’t yet asleep. I may have gotten four hours of sleep tops last night. My fault, totally my fault. I know that is a small example of this theme, but what’s your thing(s)? What change has God brought to your life that you’re just pushing against or flat out ignoring? Whatever it is, my hope and prayer is that we surrender. We lay down our ideals and are open to His plan, His way, His will for us because it is good because He is good! That’s all I’ve got today. As I was writing this, this verse popped in my head:
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
That verse wraps this up. It is time to grow up. God has more for us!
P.S. Please enjoy this song called, “Count Me In” because we are all in this together!
My friend and I are in stressful seasons for different reasons (didn’t mean to rhyme here lol), and we were texting yesterday and decided to do an early morning call to pray this morning to start off our weeks. 5:58am I get this text. “Good morning Sonia! I am finally awake. Lol.” Props to her! I am usually out of bed by 5:30am, but this morning it was hard not to keep resetting my timer. I don’t have snooze as an option on my phone alarms so if I ever want to get more time in bed I have to set the timer for ten minute increments. That’s what happened today – timer city 😦
Anyway…back to the topic of the day (I haven’t had coffee yet so please bear with me!), the phone call lasted ten minutes. It felt so much longer – in the very best way. She prayed first, and it was powerful, heartfelt and so full of love. Then I prayed to end us out asking for God’s filter for all that we will encounter this week. The filter being this verse in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (from The Message)
Before we hung up I said, ” Ok, well we’re armored up, ready for the week!” She agreed – we both knew what that meant. That ten minute phone call full of prayer gave us the proper outfit of the day (look up the verses in Ephesians 6:10-18 for the breakdown of The Whole Armor of God). Whatever comes our way, we are suited up for it! Nothing like that feeling of assurance, knowing that God is with us in all things great and small this week.
My encouragment for us this week and the weeks to come is to get together with your praying friend(s) on whatever day/time of the week you’d like. Connect with each other and our Father in heaven & let His Spirit fill you up! It took ten minutes this morning and totally changed how the week ahead looked. If you want to pray with me, I’m here and ready in the morning. Just let me know 🙂 I’m down!!!
Lastly, enjoy this arrangement of “How Deep Is Your Love” because it starts out with “I know your eyes in the morning sun“. Thank you for reading. I am praying for our hearts and minds to be fixed on prayer. I am praying for friends to unite in prayer like never before. I am praying for our outfits of the day!
Happy Friday! We made it 🙂 Please bear with me as I take a walk down memory lane with some blog post image highlights starting from 2014 when I started writing.
Thank you for coming along with me on my trip down memory lane with these photos above. These are a few of the images used for the John4Four Blog over the last seven years. So much life happened over that time. In looking at all the posts I am overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness. The reason for the title image today is that I have a situation in my life where I need to pray and move on and this is my life verse. I know, I know, easier said than done. But it’s what I am supposed to do if I am going to finish what I started. I have to, as one friend put it last night over FaceTime, “Pick up my mat and walk.” One foot in front of the other – don’t have to have it all figured out. I’m tired of the futility and anxiousness over the what if’s, aren’t you? It’s time, dear reader friend. Time to finish what we started. For me, it’s going back to school to finish this thing out. What is it for you? I will be praying for you and me as we pick up where we left off, dust ourselves off and run after that dream we pushed aside. Move on, courageous one! Pray and move on.
I received a text yesterday that had this quote, “Beware of people who benefit from your self-neglect, prefer your silence over your truth, liked you better before you started setting boundaries and are intimidated by your growth.” – nakeia homer
A lot to ponder in that little quote. I’ll get back to that later. We live in a time where we scroll through these quotes and the words prompt something from us, some emotion or memory – in all kinds of ways. The words we read strike a chord somewhere, somehow and why is this?
I’ve been reading a book Redeeming Power, Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church by Diane Langberg. So good! Anyone serving or ever interested in ministry in any capacity should be reading this! I’m in the chapter titled “The Power of Culture and the Influence of Words.” Words. Influence. There it is! The reason these little Instagram/Facebook quotes grab us like that is that they’re meant to.
I don’t have much time this morning but I am going to cite two excerpts from pages 54 and 55: “The words we say to ourselves and the words we say aloud to others need to be true and good, or we damage others and ourselves. Our words, both spoken and thought, must always be submitted to the Word made flesh and to God’s written Word. Apart from an ongoing study of God’s Word written and lived, we will have no true way of assessing our own words or the words of others.”
Here’s the next excerpt, “When others label us, we respond by catching the disease and labeling and dismissing them in return. There are many things in our culture that we as Christians must disagree with in both word and deed. But in disagreeing, we must never dismiss or dehumanize another, or we become ungodly.”
Ok, I have got to wrap this up here, but I just wanted to share the warning about words. It’s important for us. They are powerful so like any power – we have to be responsible with what we say and how we live.
So back to the quote. I was glad to receive it – makes sense. And yes, I need to beware of these situations for sure. But one other thing is that I can’t insulate myself against all pain. I have to continue to take the leap of faith in certain relationships, asking God for wisdom every step of the way. God will reveal who stays, who goes and work it all out while I trust Him. He has a plan for it all. We will grow if we let the Lord teach us through these things so when we speak, we speak from a place of more maturity and love. That’s the whole point of us having the gift of words, anyways – to share God’s love and truth.
Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful Thursday – almost Friday, hang in there!!
Good morning! I have about 15 minutes to put these thoughts in this here blog. I wish I had more time, but I wanted to remind us all of something. Yesterday I was talking with a friend after work and made this comment, “I know I’m not perfect.” She stopped what she was doing and looked right at the computer screen (this was on Zoom) and asked, “You do know how God sees you, right?” That question caught me off guard. I know God loves me, but I also know who I can be in my worst moments. I must have just made a face without answering because she continued, “He sees you as perfect because of Jesus living inside of you.” There. There it was – this truth that I set aside, and maybe all of us set this truth aside as we go about our day. She continued to speak of how God already knows everything, absolutely everything about us and sees us as flawless. So I wanted to write about that today. Walk in that truth today. Yes, we still have our skin and all the blemishes that we know about but bigger than that is His perspective and truth about us. Let’s live that out! Live that loud!
Here’s some truth from God’s Word:
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7
Here are some lyrics from Flawless by Mercy Me: (I encourage you to look this song up on YouTube and let the words flow over you and SING ALONG)
There’s got to be more Than going back and forth From doing right to doing wrong ‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are Come on get in line right behind me You along with everybody Thinking there’s worth in what you do. Then like a hero who takes the stage when We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late Well let me introduce you to amazing graceNo matter the bumps No matter the bruises No matter the scars Still the truth is The cross has made The cross has made you flawless No matter the hurt Or how deep the wound is No matter the pain Still the truth is The cross has made The cross has made you flawless. Could it possibly be That we simply can’t believe That this unconditional Kind of love would be enough To take a filthy wretch like this And wrap him up in righteousness But that’s exactly what He did
Well, it is 6:56am! I made it! I will wrap this up letting you know that I have gotten knocked down more times than I can count so far this year, and it’s just April LOL! Guess what, I keep getting back up. By God’s grace I keep pressing on. I just want you to know that, that this is hard, and we will make mistakes, but we are who God says we are! We are flawless.
Last thing before I hit the Publish button on this thing….as I write I put on music in the background. This morning I chose Respond by Travis Greene on YouTube and this song here came on right after. SO GOOD!! Put this on blast and have a beautiful Wednesday, my flawless friend!
As always, I sign off with “All my heart” because it is with all my heart that I write these words to you this morning, Sonia
To my handful of readers, I hope this blesses you whether or not you’ve had a bad day (week/month…) recently or are right in the middle of one. I was at the tail end of my bad day recently when I finally sat down on the couch to watch tv and just try to forget all of it. I couldn’t shake the heaviness that just felt like it was sitting on me – holding me stuck. The replaying of the day and emotions were showing no signs of leaving my mind. I was just flipping through channels on the remote hoping to land on something like The Office or whatever to lighten things up, when I came across the channel that was going to show the movie, I Can Only Imagine next. If you haven’t seen it yet – find it, watch it! Watch it today, please! I was reminded once again about God’s redemptive power no matter what. I can relate to that movie in so many ways so the tears kept falling after I watched it last night, partly because of the movie, partly because of the day and mostly because God is so so good. Afterward Mario and I were talking about the band Mercy Me (since the movie is based on the life of the lead singer and how his song, “I Can Only Imagine” came to be). We looked up their song list on YouTube and were listening to a few of them when I came across this gem:
This testimony was so honest and made sense why this song rocks me to the core every time I hear it. It’s amazing what worship can do to a heavy heart. The tears turn into joy right then and there. It’s literally miraculous.
We listened to this song last night too, just sat and listened and let these words, the beautiful melodies, harmonies lift our hearts up:
We heard this one too, reminding us to press through and remember how His grace has got us:
And to end this playlist out, listen to this one as loud as you can and remember that He made us flawless:
I’m so thankful this morning that everything, everything, everything heartbreaking, soul crushing, aggravating, gut-punching will be used to mend, mold, shape, transform and bring value and ultimate good for my life and point to the glory to God. If you’re having a bad day (or not), I hope you know how much you are loved and seen right there in the heartbreak. God hasn’t turned away and won’t leave you there. I will end out this blog post with my life verse:
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
It’s 5:30am on a dark Monday morning, and although I am trying to switch to tea, I confess I desperately need coffee this morning. For those of you who know me, you know that the better part of this past year I have struggled with insomnia, but thankfully the past few months it subsided quite a bit – until last night. I struggled getting to sleep while this topic of “spinning plates” literally spun around in my mind. I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning praying, reading, avoiding, flat out reasoning myself out of writing this blog post. I’m laughing now because my alarm just went off on my phone, startling me in the middle of typing. It is quite comical that I even had an alarm set today. I am seriously NOT going to get rest until I write, and that is really ok. I think we all need those “motivations” – whatever God uses to put attention on something.
That’s what happened to me and my husband this past year during the Covid pandemic shut down – God got our attention. We didn’t even know it but we were seriously stuck in a spinning plate situation that had only one way out. Looking back on the last year we can see it now, but while we were in it we just kept going. I will seriously spare you all the hints from God that we were not supposed to keep at it like that. We worked tirelessly at all the tasks/demands/jobs/relationships with little regard to how this was affecting our ability to truly connect with God and each other. Let’s face it, it was easier that way, at least for a while. It’s easier to look outward, perform outwardly, get validated from outside sources than to work on intimacy and healthy living within the walls of your home. At least that’s how it was for us – until about two and a half months ago.
After the beginning of 2021 we had lots of talks, prayer and soul searching to make some big changes that ultimately led to stop spinning the plates, sitting down and seeing things for how they really are. And see, did we. We saw once again, like we did at the beginning of our journey with the Lord, His order for our lives. His order, meaning God first and then each other and then everything else. We were out of order, hence the spinning of the plates, and we were in situations and environments that made it all too easy to keep that pace going.
So, we stopped. We made the difficult and scary decision to say no to living out of control. We made the decision to be okay with being misunderstood. We made the choice to rest and trust in the Lord’s faithfulness. We made the choice to choose each other again.
Like any big life change, it will be stepping into the vast unknown. Changes in all areas of your life are pretty much guaranteed. When you let go of all of those plates you were never meant to be spinning, your hands are freed up to receive everything that God has. Don’t get me wrong, it is messy, not perfect and heart wrenching at times since your muscles were so used to working at warp speed to keep everything afloat for so long. Life, as you know it will never be the same, but that is the life giving process of letting go of that control and letting God have His perfect way in your life and mine.
And just know….this is a process. When you stop spinning the plates, things will crash down. Be certain of that. Try, as you may, to avoid the crashing plates, you can’t. You will cringe at the sound. You will agonize over the people staring at the pile of mess. You will cry over the “silence.” But then, God will be right there. You will find He hasn’t gone anywhere, and He will not leave you confused. He will give you wisdom, strength, joy and everything you need to flex the courageous muscles needed for finding joy in the uncertain.
I am encouraged by this Facebook post from Beth Moore on March 17 this year: ‘It’s not too late for a new start. It may be scary as heck. But it’s not too late. I find that, over and over in this pilgrimage home, Jesus finds one way or another to scribble a question in the dirt: Do you trust Me? Then follow Me.” But where are You going, Lord? “Come & see.”‘
I could write and write about shattered plates, mosaics and the like but I’ll stop here and ask for you to listen to this song on blast about our Waymaker but because I am half Mexican, half Puerto Rican, I had to post the salsa version for you all (found at the top of this post). Have a blessed week!
This past Sunday was a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. The day consisted of virtual church in the morning, brunch at home with our daughters, a nasty argument with my husband, a three-hour conversation with friends, a continuation of the nasty argument and finally a home cooked chicken dinner with peace as the main dish. I will spare you all the details of said ugly argument and just tell you that we are dealing with a big change in our lives. I am processing all the emotions of it one way, and he is processing his emotions another way. The difference of how we are dealing with the emotions led to the nasty argument. I read somewhere recently that when someone is sharing their feelings, simply asking the question, “Do you need comfort or solutions?” has solved most of all arguments. I looked up who coined this phrase to give proper credit but just found social media posts about it. A friend of mine said she’d read it or something like it in the book ‘Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs’ by Emerson Eggerichs, which is probably where this came from.
So getting back to Sunday’s events…at the tail end of the second part of the nasty argument, we realized we were both hungry. It was around 8pm, and we hadn’t eaten since midday. I had wanted to make chicken before meeting up with our friends, but we had spent all our time on the first part of the nasty argument that I didn’t get it done. I pulled out my phone and searched “Chicken Thigh Recipe” and just clicked on the first one that popped up. Here it is: https://thesaltymarshmallow.com/crispy-baked-chicken-thighs/#wprm-recipe-container-3611
Seriously sooooo good! I thought it was going to come out tasting as exhausted and angry as I felt, but it was amazing! Mario and I ate our dinner, still feeling the effects of the day, but thankful that we pushed through it all TOGETHER. We received the comfort we both needed right then and, I’m sure, it helped our blood sugar levels come back to normal and gave us a sense of comfort, warmth and the sustenance we needed to put the day to rest. What we both needed was comfort. The solutions will come when they’re supposed to, but it was comfort we were after, and we just blew it in communicating and focusing in on our pain. We forgot that we are in this process together. We are so different, but the need for comfort during this time is the same.
I wanted to write this blog for any and all of us having a few hard days to say, hang in there! God will provide everything we need even when we can’t articulate it or come up with what we need in that very moment. He will provide your very own “Hard Sunday Chicken Recipe” moment, tailored specifically for your heart and what it so needs…comfort from His hand.
Thank you for reading, and special thank you to thesaltymarshmallow.com for that recipe. I will be making this again and maybe next time the blog will be called “Supremely Peaceful Sunday – Chicken Recipe.”
One last thing before I end this: here’s the song Surrender by Natalie Taylor that someone sent me yesterday. I think it goes with this blog theme. Please listen and enjoy 🙂
#valentinesday2021 I just searched this hashtag on Instagram and there are 446,000 posts already and we haven’t even gotten to the day yet! We are an obsessed people with all things love, love, love. I am glad for that. I, too, love love.
Do you remember that book that was turned into a movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo? Here’s the summary from Wikipedia, ‘The book is a “self-help” guide aimed for single women. The premise of the book, as stated in the title, tells women readers that if a man in whom you are interested in is not making the effort to pursue you, he is simply “just not that into you.”’
Then there’s the quote from Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Basically stating that people will show you how they feel about you. We tend to ignore red flags, signs, warnings and that gut-feeling all in the name of getting love from that person(s). We all make these mistakes so this is NOT an, “I’ve got this! Let me tell you all the answers” blog post. (Well, spoiler alert, there is an answer but please just read ‘til the end). And I believe you don’t even reach adulthood before having this type of scenario with at least one, if not a few, relationships.
Side note: I’m sorry for the downer Intro on Presidents’ Day/Valentine’s weekend! Hang in there…I’m going somewhere with this.
We all search for love, long for that special love, the unconditional, never going to leave you, no matter what, thick or thin, “I’m amazed by you“ love. Totally normal! What isn’t normal is what we sacrifice & compromise to get it from those who never intended to love us in the first place. (Cue the Johnny Lee song “Looking for Love in all The Wrong Places”).
So, I’ve been married to the love of my life, by God’s grace, almost 16 years now, and I put that Johnny Lee song to rest quite some time ago – but even now, all that love Mario has to give doesn’t cut it because we are just plain human and fail each other and, at times, flat out break each other’s hearts.
But still , we all need that perfect love and we tend to spend our lives trying to attain it in all sorts of ways, when it exists and is free and readily available if you want to accept it: JESUS, God’s only Son. ❤️
I’m serious! I spent 35 years of my life without accepting His love in my heart because I thought I was too damaged, not good enough and certainly not holy enough. But I’ve been in that relationship with Him for 11 years now, and He has NEVER EVER let me down.
Don’t sell yourself short & believe the hype that love like that doesn’t exist or that it’s for other people, the “put together, well-behaved” people! And don’t miss out because you think you are “a good person” and don’t need “religion.” We all have that longing for the perfect love and the answer is the one and only, the Savior of the World, Jesus.
My Valentine’s prayer for all of us is that no matter where we are, we look up & let that love fill us to overflowing knowing that God sees every part of us and chose us as His own. Most amazing of all, He died for us. He literally laid down His life us to give us something we could never get on our own…everlasting life, everlasting love. Grab your Bible or type in Google, John 3:16 and read it, and then put your hand on your heart. That’s the heart He died for.
N M W B Y B D. This is the tattoo I would get if I ever got one (or maybe I already have one 😉), just those initials listed and in that order. I’ll tell you why and what they stand for in a moment.
On a day when we tend to gather around TVs and food trays and all the like, I think of winning – who will win? Who will be victorious? Who will get that trophy, the ring, the interviews, the hype and the glory that comes with it?
For the last few days, weeks really…I’ll be honest, probably longer (all year!) I’ve been in a mental, spiritual and sometimes even physical wrestling match with none other that yours truly. There is a laundry list of things that are not going my way ,or the way I think they should go, in pretty much every area of my life right now. Before I go any further I will tell you that I am aware that I have so much to be thankful for & I am. This post is about the other things, the estranged relationships, the dreams that haven’t come to pass, the painful memories of the past hurts that don’t seem to go away, the health issues that keep creeping in and so on and so forth. It can get me down, and I mean down 😩!
So in my funk God kept bringing me to this verse: Luke 22:42
42 saying,“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; neverthelessnot My will, but Yours, be done.”
Did you catch it?
It’s the “not My will, but Yours, be done” part of that verse. That’s my tattoo because that is what true victory looks like. That’s winning!
Here are the facts: God loves us. God has a perfect plan for our lives. When we surrender to Him (accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior) we get to experience the great exchange of our will (which is mostly, if not all, limited and selfish) for His will (which is perfect and glorious). We get to have those moments where life gets hard and we shift our focus to sit in the “hard” and let God lead us through to the other side.
On a day when we look at winning through the lens of a tv screen may we also remember a garden scene where the real victory took place when Jesus uttered those words ‘saying,“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; neverthelessnot My will, but Yours, be done.”‘
My prayer today is that we look at the hard stuff in our lives and turn to God uttering those very same words. The garden didn’t look like victory at the time, but you and I know the truth – that garden, those words, our Jesus, made the impossible possible. He won so we could live victoriously.
Have a blessed Super Bowl Sunday!! Thank you for reading!
First of all, it’s okay not to be okay. Let me lead this blog post stating that fact. We can all take a collective sigh of relief to stop trying to fight the obvious in our lives. I had a thought the other morning – or several thoughts actually – it was like a list that wouldn’t end, and it consisted of all that is wrong with me. All my weaknesses were flooding my mind: i eat too much, i cuss too much, i fight too much, i don’t fight enough, i clean too much, i clean too little, i talk too much, i don’t listen enough, i am gullible, i am cynical, i am emotional, i am cold, i am wishy-washy, i don’t have healthy boundaries, i am withdrawn, i am too much, i am not enough no matter what i do…and the list went on. I’d like to say this was an isolated event, but it wasn’t. So I spent the day trying to prove myself wrong. It was exhausting. It is exhausting. Anyone else do this? Then later that night I had another thought about this whole thought process. It was this: all day I spend fighting the fact that I am weak. I spend my day trying to overcompensate for my weaknesses and prove myself wrong about what I know about Sonia. Each day I am just growing weaker and more defeated. It is a vicious and futile fight. Why is that?
I was never made to be strong in the way I understand strong to be. That is why. Simple, really (but hard for me to comprehend!). I was never made to shoulder these weaknesses and magically nor forcefully turn them into something the world can nod their approval at.
So this morning I want us all to give ourselves a break. We are weak. Let’s just admit it, embrace it, own it. And just before you think this couldn’t be true about you, or true about that person with the perfect instagram – let me tell you, we are all weak. All of us. Different weaknesses – yes, but weak, we are, nonetheless. But guess what? Here’s the good part of that confession. We don’t have to stay like that – just a mess of a person. Let this equation roll around in your mind and believe it – this may the bravest thing you have ever done: your weakness = God’s strength in your life on display.
He will do miracles with those weaknesses! You just have to engage in the exchange. It is hard, let me tell you – that daily struggle is tougher than we imagine sometimes, but when you catch that stride and just let go and let God, something amazing happens. Freedom. Freedom from the thoughts of your limitations and freedom from fears that everything depends on you being strong. You don’t have to hold up all the spinning plates knowing you never learned how to juggle. Let the plates fall – and don’t care if the world laughs at the broken plates because God will pick those pieces up and make something incredible out of all the brokenness. He will put that masterpiece (made from your broken pieces put in their proper place) on blast for your good and His Glory!
Here’s a passage on that topic out of The Message (2 Corinthians 12:7-10):
“7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
Let’s respond to those weaknesses today with God’s divine plan to give us His strength. Let’s stop bullying ourselves. We don’t have to worry about what He is going to do with our weaknesses. Just run to Him. Call out to Him. Let His love lift your head. He loves us.
It’s 7:15am on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, and we are in the midst of a global pandemic with mask orders, (partial) beach closures and for some of us, in a remote working world. Amidst all of this there is pressure, stress, all kinds of relationship issues, financial problems, addictions, obsessions and loads and loads of self-medicating mechanisms. So this morning I woke up not looking forward to what the news will say or what awaited me in my email box for work. I have too much laundry to do and I’ve been working from home so I have no excuse. Dishes are in the sink and it’s just me and my husband here. I have relationship issues with some family members and friends and all of this was beating down on me this morning with the overarching theme that my life is a mess. I got out of bed and had to clear my head so I got dressed to go on a run in my neighborhood. God had other plans, and I’m so glad. Let me walk you through my morning walk (not run) with God, if you will 🙂
First it started off with my Apple Music not working on my phone. It wouldn’t load any song so I put on my Beats on and just looked for songs on YouTube the whole walk. Here are those songs. Please Enjoy!
Since I felt so defeated and down it is no wonder that the first song that popped in my head was something completely opposite: Kirk Franklin’s, Love Theory.
Next up as I started on an incline I thought of this song and typed it in, here it is…NF’s, I’ll Keep On. (I love, love, love the words on this. It’s like someone looked in my heart and mind and put this song together!)
Then I went onto this song called Symphony by Switch. My favorite line of this one says, “Even in the madness, there is peace, drowning out the voices all around me. Through all of this chaos, You are writing a symphony.” YES! Amen!!
Next song that popped in my head was Riley Clemmon’s, Fighting For Me. Oh man, does He fight for us. Give this a listen and let those words sink in. He fights for us when we can’t fight for ourselves!!!
And then probably because I still had quite a way to go when I started to head back I pulled up for King and Country’s, It’s Not Over Yet. Like the song says, “Hope is rising! Never give in and never give up. It’s not over.” (I may or may not have been shadowboxing as I was heading home and listening to this one:)
As I rounded the corner onto my street I pulled up this song, Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells, and let me tell you, my hands were up in the air, full on praising God and full of fresh perspective. “In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there.”
Last song for my morning walk was also by Tauren Wells called Known. I walked up to the front door and turned the handle and walked in a different person than when I had left just a half hour earlier, all because I went on this little walk with God and literally let Him sing over me.
I can’t know what you’re going through this morning, maybe you woke up feeling great, maybe, like me, you didn’t. Either way, I know I was supposed to share this with you. I literally asked God, “if you don’t want me to write anything this morning I won’t.” I’m totally content just having this moment with Him and relishing that, but here I am sharing my morning playlist with you and the literal journey God took me on – all because my apple Music wouldn’t work. I think that’s one of the big takeaway’s for me right now. When things aren’t working, GOOD, because God has something better.
Have a beautiful Wednesday and know that if thing’s aren’t working out the way you think they should, hang in there, with God all things are possible! Matthew 19:26
I had to go to a doctor’s appointment yesterday and had to step onto the scale. Disclaimer: I am not all caught up in fitness, but I would put myself into the category of people I have heard described as “Fit-ish.” At times I am more motivated than others, but I have purposed to do cardio at least four times a week along with some other at home exercises sprinkled in here and there – nothing too drastic, but I did commit to this. Some weeks are better than others. More often than not I have kept my commitment and got up on that machine. Now add that to some GI problems in the last year that “inspired” me to make some much-needed diet changes and, “voila!” I have kept some weight off. After I was weighed by the medical assistant I asked her what my weight was. She said that I was ten pounds lighter than last year at this time and thirteen pounds lighter than May 2018! Now I know weight is just a number and muscle weighs more than fat etc., and I believe that, but my clothes fit better, my left knee has stopped hurting me and some of my joints that ached a little before hardly ache at all now, so I know it’s a good thing. This is not a”quick fix -lose weight fast thing” because it’s just been little tweaks to my routine over time. I now have proof that little decisions towards my health when no one is looking & when I am tired and would rather not, are making a world of difference. Taking care of my body is not selfish act – as a matter of fact – I’m called to this, and not just in the way of my physical health, but in every aspect of life. I need to show up for myself & so do you! Whatever little tweaks God has been tugging on your heart to do, do it! Push through the obstacles of old patterns, old ways of thinking and just downright laziness. Invest in yourself! I say this to myself right now as I get ready for the upcoming year and all that God has. I know there will be all kinds of changes and unknowns, but I want to be going in the right direction.
This past year I pushed aside my Bible more often than I care to admit and chose doing things my way in many areas. I still pressed forward – picking up where I left off. God doesn’t leave us behind when we have a cheat day (or cheat week/month/year). He just lets us get up, dust ourselves off and keep walking. That’s what He showed me with this weight thing – He is pressing in perseverance not perfection. Although I want the perfection so badly, perseverance is where the victory is. I want to be more committed to “being” rather than “doing” because I know it’s in the “being” that the doing will be done the right way. Here’s the “being” list: BEING God’s daughter. That’s it. That’s all I am called to do – the rest is up to Him. He just wants me to get out of the way, be ready for Him to lead me and then trust. Will I fail sometimes – yes! Will I get it right sometimes – yes! Will I mature through all this – yes! Will I grow more into the woman God created – yes, and not because it’s up to Sonia, but because it is up to My Lord and My God. He won me over ten years ago, and I look back on that ten year landscape and know I have lost more than these 13 pounds. I’m much lighter in the truest sense of the word. And just so you don’t get it twisted, I am not boasting in my abilities – I am boasting in God’s faithfulness.
The Race of Faith
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Thanks for reading & thanks for running your race!
Yesterday I had an experience that I will never forget. It was a busy Friday afternoon, like any other busy Friday afternoon. I was rushing after work to pick something up from TJ Maxx before heading home to get ready to attend a couples costume event our church was putting on for the Couples/Marriage Group. I had received a text earlier that day that said, “Dress warm!” My costume was warm enough, but I knew my husband’s wouldn’t be so I made it a point to go pick up a long sleeved sweatshirt that would go with his outfit. Before I go on let me back up to Tuesday night – this very past Tuesday night, three days before this story takes place. For weeks now our Pastor’s wife has been making the announcement for donations of small canned goods (the easy-to-open kind, no can opener needed), protein bars, toiletries, socks, blankets and other items to go into big Ziploc bags to hand out to the homeless during these cold months. This is something our church does every year around this time. For the past month or so people have donated items and this past Tuesday night bags were made. Tuesday night is a church night for Refuge, the church I attend. We have services on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights. Sometimes it is hard to get there after a hard day at work or just a plain hard day, but when I show up my heart, my mind gets recalibrated – I see people, they see me. It’s just connection. It’s just God. This particular Tuesday night, our Pastor’s wife gave me two of these bags to have on hand in my car in case I came across someone in need. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would even get the opportunity because I rush around so much and don’t really stop any one place long enough. My life feels like I go straight to work, home, groceries or to church and that’s it. So yesterday as I drove up to park in front of TJ Maxx I could see a rather large man, who looked to be homeless, crouched down in front of the trash can outside the entrance of the store. I got out of my car and as I got closer to the front door I got a better look at him. We locked eyes for a moment. He had piercing blue eyes that kind of shocked me because it was such a contrast to his dirt stained face and brown clothing. I saw a look in his eyes that I will never forget. The only way I could describe it was that he looked as if he felt bad for me that I had to see him doing that, picking through the trash. His face haunted me as I made my way through the store. As I stood in line to buy the sweatshirt, I knew I was going to give him a bag if I saw him outside again. I walked out of the store and saw him down in front of the Rite Aid pharmacy a few stores down. I walked quickly to the car and grabbed one of the ziploc bags seeing socks and other items that I know he could use along with the food. As I walked over he looked frightened that I was making a bee line for him so he grabbed his bags and started walking away fast. As I quickened my pace, I yelled out, “Sir!” He stopped and turned around as I caught up to him holding out the bag. I said, “This is for you. God bless you.” He reached out his hand which looked mangled with arthritis and looked up and said, “God bless you.” He looked relieved and thankful. My heart broke in a million pieces right then. I walked back to my car, called my husband and just sobbed as I told him what just happened. This leads me to the title of my blog post tonight. All this happened in the physical – from the people showing up to church and bringing items, to our Pastor and his wife opening the doors and putting this effort into motion, to all kinds of people taking bags and handing them out all over the surrounding cities. All of this was shared by people who showed up to do their part. In a virtual world, this is what is missed. Now I know there are seasons when you just can’t get to a church, that’s not what I am speaking to right now. This message is for all of us who think online experiences “check the box” and fulfill that “requirement”. Guess what!? We don’t have to go to church, we GET TO! We don’t have to donate items, we GET TO! We don’t have to pass out bags, we GET TO! And to the man out there with the brilliant blue eyes, you are being prayed for and thank you for accepting that bag. God used you in my life more than you’ll ever know.
So, here it is, the ugly truth. I have lied before, and I have been lied to. I am typing this right now because someone just lied to me, and instead of heading into the direction I always do, which is to exact revenge in some manner, I need to sit. Sit and write. Sit and write and pray. Sit and write and pray and confess. Confess this, lying to me makes me want to rip your face off. Sorry, it’s the truth. Even though when I lie or have lied – I want/wanted all the grace in the world – I am out for blood when it happens to me. I may not act out all the things that happen in my mind when I am confronted with this, but rest assured I have thought really bad thoughts about how justice could be delivered in the way I think most fitting for my shattered feelings.
So now what? What do I do as my breathing is still faster than I’d like it to be and my mind is still recalling the recent interaction? I’ve confessed my (MUCH) less than godly thoughts, and I’ve had some time to sit. I’ve prayed, “God help me not rip their face off.” So now what…
Maybe you are not like me and don’t have an anger management problem to contend with so you think you’re better than me with this – good for you. Really, I am not saying this in a mean tone as I type. I sincerely mean it: GOOD FOR YOU. I wouldn’t wish my temper on anyone.
I will say this though. In this weakness of mine, I am growing stronger in God’s grace. Just the fact that I am willing to sit here and type and not give full vent to my feelings towards the person who lied, is growth for me. Just the fact that tears are stinging my eyes instead of bad words being hurled out of my mouth at breakneck speed, is a miracle.
So this awful moment – when lies were flung at me, is just a moment in time where I can see God’s hand steady me as I wait. I don’t have to take the bait this time and walk away a villain once again because of my temper. I can remember that I, too, have lied, and I, too, need grace. All this is possible, even if this person doesn’t apologize and make it right. I can be free. I can honor the Lord.
So here it is…the TRUTH, I need God’s grace. You need God’s grace. We need grace from each other. Grace and grace and grace again and tons of truth – and not just a version of it, but the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us God.
John 8:32 And you shall know thetruth, andthe truth shall make you free.”
That’s all for today. Thank you for reading (and praying for me!).
Confession time. I don’t know about you, but the moment I open my eyes in the morning there’s a war going on in my thoughts. A flood of negative reminders and fears come flooding in such as my weight gain, a nagging issue in my marriage, that friend that just isn’t communicating, that person who lied to me, debts that need to be paid off, that family member who just isn’t getting it, the mundane tasks that need to be tended to but are just so UGH, that friend’s scary health issue, and the list goes on and on until I have to literally just tell my mind to stop and then focus in on one truth, and it’s this one: GOD SAVED ME.
Then I can move on and get out of bed and face the day. Some days are better than others, but today was tough. I am running behind already. I don’t have an outfit picked out for work, and I am pretty sure I am going to have a bad hair day. All that to say that I confess I am a mess, but I believe God when He says, “I know the plans I have for you I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. He has a divine plan for this day. I don’t know what it is yet, but I am trusting Him. Lord knows I can’t control it so I will believe.
I pray that today is another day of believing God for me and you so we can live and move and breathe in the freedom despite the barrage of thoughts and situations that we face today. We are His, and that makes believing Him possible. Thank you for reading today, and away we go…