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Been Lied To? Have You Lied Before?

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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 the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

That’s all for today. Thank you for reading (and praying for me!).

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

45 & Showing Up

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This from one of my favorite Bible teachers, Priscilla Shirer! Perfect insta post for this day!

To say I am blown away to wake up and celebrate this 45th trip around the sun is an understatement. I could fill a book and then some with scenarios that were not the safest nor sanest of things to do in my teens, twenties, thirties. With all of those memories comes this realization, “God kept me alive for a reason, and I don’t want to take that lightly.” I write in a prayer journal every day and this is what I wrote today at 8:45am: 

Dear Father God, Thank you for this beautiful day full of birth and identity in You! I pray I please You even more this year, respect and love my husband more this year and let go of the need of validation from others. Thank you for sustaining, growing me, teaching me and molding me. Steady as I go, Lord. No holding back now. I am brave, bold, beautiful and best of all, Yours. Make me even more effective for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!

There’s that part in my prayer – that secret part, the “Let go of the need of validation from others,” part – that makes me slightly terrified because I know it means that I have asked God to put me in the process of changing this, and He is faithful to do it. So why did I ask Him for this birthday gift? Because the people-pleasing part is killing me…as I know it is a killer for anyone. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, and we were talking about the people-pleasing starts young partly because of not fitting in, like anywhere or with any particular group. She said, “It’s everybody’s story.” I agree. It’s not just my story. We don’t quite fit, and that is a good thing. So this year that is what I am going to do with God’s help: stop making it everyone’s job around me to make me feel accepted, valued and whole. That’s what God has already given me so I can open that up every day and launch out from there and SHOW UP!

To those who have been patient with me through all of these years, “Thank you and forgive me.” To those who will be put off by me putting up some new boundaries #sorrynotsorry, and to those that are in this same boat, “Let’s cheer each other on and point to Jesus!”

That’s all for today, with my whole heart, thank you for reading my b-day post!

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Insecurities. They’re a Killer.

Good morning. Happy Summer. It’s been awhile. It’s about 5:22am on Monday morning, June 24. I have been awake since 4am with a thought in my mind about insecurities – probably because I struggle so much with them. Let me give some insight to what goes in to these blog posts on here. What goes on in my head and heart is like a steady pressing in of a topic – a lingering theme that will keep popping up. When that happens there may be a few discussions with friends, prayer, more ideas and then I will try to talk myself out of writing. This has happened about 40 times with this topic until 4am today came around, and it was like, “That’s it. I really can’t take this anymore. I will write already!”

So here it is. Insecurities…they’re a killer. They kill everything in their path: identity, relationships, families, health, careers, hopes, dreams…everything. I think we know all of that firsthand, but how do we battle this? How do we not let this thing win? Disclaimer: I don’t have the answers for you. This isn’t a self-help blog post. Think of this more as a challenge for us. I, like many of us, love the instagram positive affirmation posts and quick 3 minute videos about how to be an overcomer. All of that is great and has its place but it doesn’t last, I mean, really it’s a 3 minute video, LOL!!

I’ll tell you what…it’s been almost ten years ago now that I started a journey – more like I was invited on a journey. Jesus literally met me in my lowest state of self-esteem and said, “Come follow Me.” And I did. Not knowing anything about anything, really. I knew the God of the Bible in the catechetical sense but thought He gave up on me a long time ago for a laundry list of ungodly acts and unrighteous living. That one act of believing what God says about me every day for the last 3,616 days has led me here to a place where I can say “publicly” that I tremble inside sometimes when I look completely in control on the outside – that I battle negative self-talk and sometimes believe it when I hear that old message in my head, “See, you will never get anything right.” I can admit that I struggle, sometimes greatly, with close relationships – that it’s a battle just to show up.

All that struggle isn’t for just nothing – it leads to amazing change and growth and new life and discovery of who God is and what He created us for. Believe it when I say that the struggle isn’t the killer – letting the insecurities win, however, is. The practical ways I battle this are to not to isolate. I heard somewhere recently that people die from choking sometimes because they’re too embarrassed for people to see them struggle so they find a private place and by the time it’s very serious and they need help, they can’t get it in time. Morbid thought, I know, but it’s true. Hiding and isolation are killers. I also start my day with God’s word most days. I need His words in my head a whole lot more than I need mine. I also serve at my local church where it is safe to have those struggles as people are open about their own. It really is a healing community. Lastly, I pray for perseverance. I pray to hang in there and not run from the hard stuff on the hard days.

Let me reiterate again, I don’t have the answers for you, but I know God does. I just want to share how my journey has been so far. To truly overcome insecurities or at least work past them on our really bad days, we need to have faith in something/Someone bigger than our fear and that is Jesus. He isn’t a bandaid or quick fix. He is a relationship, the one relationship that will truly lead you on a journey of freedom.

To end let me share the verse of my life from Zephaniah 3:17:

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With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race · Seasons

This (insert struggle here) is God’s Love Too

09da8585526a8d8d6938dab0d81eab0b.jpgTonight I have a confession to make here. I’m struggling with change all around me, and I do not like it. Relationships, jobs, schools, finances, family…things look very different than even a few months ago. Not all of it is bad, but it definitely feels like I’m on shaky ground, and I’m gingerly walking each step, holding my breath. I am questioning myself, doubting things I once found solidness in and have this sense that things are completely out of control. I wonder, “Am I just blowing it here?” or “Is everyone heading one direction, and I’m veering off the road?” That’s where I am right now. No concrete answers. No one saying, “Go this way or don’t go that way!” Just sitting here in my struggle against, CHANGE.

Last night Mario and I had a conversation about failure and one of the things we brought up was what real failure looked like. I said, “I think if you’re not growing and changing, you’re failing. If you unplug and disconnect from the hard stuff then you’re failing.” Little did I know how those words would play out real time in my mind the very next night as I sit here in this uncertainty.

This is all I know tonight…this is the only truth I can hang my hat on, “This, too, is God’s love.” Whatever all this is…the feelings, the wonderings, the angst, the worry…God’s love has not gone anywhere. That’s all I’ve got.  That He loves me, and He’s letting me have this time to process and grow out of fear and into faith. I’m a Christian so I do go through that process of trying to pinpoint what I’m doing that is sin so I can just confess it and be done with it. I have to just wait on God to see what He shows me. I have to cry out to Him and let Him know I am afraid and uncertain. I have to open up my heart to whatever truth He wants to reveal. Right now, it’s the “I have to” time because it’s part of growing up. I have to wait until He walks me through this to the other side. I can’t move. I can’t change friends. I can’t change jobs. I can’t change families. I can’t change churches. I can’t change anything, but I can wait for God to change me – because if you’re not growing and changing, you’re failing.

If you’re like me tonight, trust God and His timing. Don’t trust your feelings.

Also tonight in our Women’s Bible study we started “Steadfast Love – A Study of Psalm 107” by Lauren Chandler, and I have to tell you, as hard as it is to just “be” right now, these words we studied tonight really drove it home,

“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Psalm 107:29-30”

God will get us to that desired haven – we can be sure of that. He loves us – we can be sure of that. He will deliver us – we can be sure of that. He is faithful – we can be sure of that.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Dirty Laundry Redefined

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Here are some of the titles I have written down for this blog:

“Fighting & Fixation”

“I Don’t Know Everything and Neither Do You So Let’s Relax Already!”

“OH NO! ‘Ruin is the Road to Transformation’ ”

“God, please help me”

Ummm can you sense a theme? It’s called being at the end of your rope, end of your self, end of the situation…whatever it is, it’s the end, YOU’RE TIRED!”

(Quick side note) About this image, just an FYI, I did try to find out who this “SoulBraille.com” person is to ask if I could use this image, but the website just goes to some GoDaddy account so props to soulbraille.com for creating this image.

Ok, now onto business, this blog format is way to inappropriate of a platform to give you all the nitty gritty details of the last two weeks of my life behind closed doors so let me say this, it was UGLY. Yes, ugly and Terrible. Horrible. Tragic. Unbelievable and yet, here I am wanting to tell you, that, yes I can say this, “God is here!”

You want to know why? Because if you knew me, I mean really knew me, you would know that I wouldn’t be sitting here at the computer, typing away, telling you that it’s gonna be okay. Okay, it might get worse before it gets better, but it is going to be okay God’s way. That’s the motto right now, folks, it’s gonna be okay – God’s way. What I would be doing if this was the old me….you don’t want to know. I promise you. You don’t!

There are messages that can play out in our minds about ourselves, our history and our destiny that just aren’t true anymore. I mean, I became a Christian at 35 years of age and that means 35 years of doing life in complete darkness and sick toxicity. 35 years! That means my elementary school years, teenage years, 20’s and half of my 30’s just jacked up from the floor up, literally. The history lesson that plays out in my head is so strong sometimes that I think this new life with God is just a hoax or a trick being played on me that I can be a new creation. Yet, here I sit in a home that is safe and pretty, with a sweet dog that is sleeping peacefully in her dog bed, with a husband that is working hard right now & we’re still married (!!!), with a daughter who loves to talk with me and see me, with friends a phone call away who will pray with me, with a church family that has real people in it who know God’s power and with a mind that is fixed on God’s promises, pushing through the pain and muscle memory of destructive habits.

I wish we would scream our deficiencies and let people see the ugly sometimes. Social media is so not reality a lot of the time. I know my accounts are too pretty at times. Social media is a good way to PR the heck out of your life when it’s in the toilet, let me tell you, so don’t believe the hype sometimes. I mean, there are times it’s just a good photo capturing a real moment, but when the angles are consistently on point, the color and background are flawless and the plastered smiles are perfect in photo after photo, it’s okay to ask the question, “What about your bad days?” We all have them, and they all suck! Doesn’t matter what filter you choose – it’s a freaking bad day!!

I was talking with a friend Monday night and she’s struggling too. During that conversation I was reminded of the story in Matthew 16 where Jesus was talking to Peter at Caesarea Phillipi and said to him,

18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[a] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[b] will not conquer it.” 

I got to go to that very spot (Caesarea Phillipi) a few years back on an Israel trip with our church. As our pastor taught there my heart just came alive to witness firsthand that this place that Jesus chose to have this conversation with Peter represented such death and darkness. I could relate to that! He was telling Peter that not even that evil would prevail against the work He was going to do.

Oh, how that inspires me right now, and I hope it inspires you too. Whatever darkness or death you are experiencing just breathe and get up tomorrow and scream or whisper to yourself, “God’s got this! God’s got me! God’s got them!” The gates of hell will not prevail against it, against you, against what God is doing in your life.

Air that dirty laundry – it’s time!!! You can be fragile…like a beautiful vase that God guards with His very life. You don’t have to be a ticking time bomb anymore. Let God bring the beauty from those ashes of your own destructive bombs created, and let Him hold your fragile heart. Stand in His safety. I’m standing there with you. From one broken spirit to another, it is well tonight and tomorrow and always. It is well, my friend.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Patience, Grasshopper!

New Years Day I woke up with a title in my mind, and it was this, “The Lost Arts of Subtlety, Discovery and Patience.” Don’t ask me why this title. I don’t know what’s it’s for yet. I’ll just have to be…patient (I know, corny – but true).

So do we talk about resolutions for the year or big plans or great changes for this year? I’m all for that but there are two themes that have been pressing on my heart and swirling around in this mind – and it’s these: bravery and patience. That’s it.

I don’t know what to say about those two words, but I did look up in the back of my Bible verses on patience just now and got stuck on Romans chapter 12 with these verses:

(Starting at verse 9 and going all the way to verse 21):

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. In honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

On the top of that page of my Bible I wrote this (from chapter 12), “I AM TO BE A LIVING SACRIFICE.” That is really tough given all the junk around this world, the brokenness of my past, my control freak ways (sometimes – wink wink), and the overwhelming odds, really.  But I think that’s where these two themes come into play…the bravery & the patience. Both of those things only come through unselfishness. They only come by sacrifice. Do you want to live your best life? I know I do. Well, it can be found right there. God tells us and shows us, it’s in the giving and the sacrificing. Our pastor mentioned that at church yesterday in the first message of the new year: to give. That reminder, along with the first movie I watched this year (“Second Act” – starring JLo and Leah Remini) Leah Remini says to JLo’s character, “No one likes a selfish girl!” I agree. The world around us isn’t inspired by selfishness. It is inspired by those willing to sacrifice.

I think for me this year, I want to take to heart all that Romans 12 lays before me and seek God like never before. I want to let Him blow the lid off of all that is holding me back, and I just want to give in private, unseen ways and also in big ways that shout “FREEDOM” to a world full of people looking to live their best lives.

Thank you for reading, and I pray this year brings you even closer to living the best life that God intended you to live.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Thank you to Gina G. for this Bible she gave me in 2010!

 

 

Seasons

“I Like Big But’s, and I Cannot Lie”

Hi again, I know it’s been a while. So much happens in a day, week, month, year. Life changes in a heartbeat. Well, I am ending out our Fall women’s Bible study through Job by Lisa Harper. AMAZING, if you haven’t done it, please do. It’ll rock your world, in the very best way. I know, you’re thinking…JOB, really? But seriously, do it, if you can.

I was looking for something to read this morning and turned to Proverbs to start reading through it for the month of November so I started with Proverbs chapter one, and it’s heavy. I was reading through it thinking, woah, I am a little scared here and not sure if I want to do this for a month and then I came to the last verse in the chapter, verse 33, which says,

“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely. And they will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Which is when I thought, “I love the BUT’S in the Bible!” They are full of such promise! They say, “It’s not over yet,” even when you think it is.

Let me get personal for a minute. There are young people in our lives that have chosen very hard paths, definitely riddled with pain and struggle and death too. They are doing life on their terms and to look at them, it is SO not freedom. Even though that’s what they thought their choices would bring them. It’s hard to sit back and watch that destruction. It is dark and heavy. I get anxiety just thinking about where these paths lead. Especially with one of our young friends who is so steeped in addiction that I don’t know if they will make it through this week. All around we can see such heartbreaking situations all over the place, in our families, friends, workplaces, schools, country, world. It is dark, but then there’s the BUT.

BUT GOD. 

So whatever’s happening in your life and  mine, we can know that God has the final say on everything on earth and in the heavens. He has the final say for today and for eternity. We turn from our anxiety, from our pain and we TRUST. We BREATHE. We LIVE.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Difficult Relationships & Toxic Relationships

Hi! It’s been awhile. Please forgive me for this lapse. I am back in school & back to work so life is pretty full. However, I am writing today because of my daughter. She asked me to, and I’m so glad. She is  one of my biggest “why’s” for this blog. Since she is 25 years old , and doesn’t live at home anymore, this blog is sometimes my way of having a “virtual cup of coffee” with her and sharing thoughts & stories, ones that she and I can look back on and read and discuss. So here it is, Gabbie, some reading material for you – hopefully before you start this day.

I am not an expert on relationships. I don’t really know anyone who is. I firmly believe we are all trying to figure it out, but one theme keeps rolling around in my head, and it’s the title of today’s blog: Difficult Relationships versus Toxic Relationships. I know for me I can hang in there with the toxic ones so easily because it’s what I “know”. Those are the ones I feel I have control in, but the difficult ones, the ones wrought with struggle and change, those are hard to hang in there with.

I have people in my life that are just difficult at times. I know I am difficult at times too (probably more often than I care to know!). I think those difficult ones where you are challenged just might be those that are meant for you (and them) for monumental (HEALTHY) change in life. Yet it’s easy to run from those relationships because they’re just so uncomfortable and not fun at times. The toxic ones though, those you can find tons of reasons to hang in there and keep at it – at least that’s what I’ve found to be my tendency.

When I look back at certain relationships I think, “Thank God I’m not in that anymore!” But it took circumstances beyond my control to drive a wedge to even see that. Not to say that people can’t grow & change together and establish new depth to the relationship, but I’m referring to the ones that keep you STUCK. So I guess that’s it…that’s the real question. Are you stuck in a pattern of toxicity or are you in a pattern of uncomfortable, yet necessary, growth?

My answer to myself in this regard is this:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

To sum this up, I’ll say this to anyone who needs it (me), “Don’t trust yourself and your fickle emotions, trust God.”

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Do You Need A Lawyer?

Good morning! Okay so the question on the table today is, “Are you okay with being misunderstood?” My answer, in a word, “NO!” Recently I have found myself in a situation where I have put myself out there, done the right thing – only to have it come back to bite me in the butt. Really, it’s a “no good deed goes unpunished” kind of situation here. But before I get too far into this pity party, let me say that this conundrum I find myself in is about something greater. No one likes having their reputation slaughtered or their name tossed about without being able to defend yourself. It’s a terrible feeling, so what do we do when we are faced with being misunderstood? We could take matters into our own hands and scream the facts at anyone who would listen. We could get so fixated in clearing our name that we are riddled with anxiety. We could get bitter and brood…or we could wait and see what happens. We could wait on God. There’s a verse in Exodus that I am thinking about right now, and it’s this one:

“The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

That is easier said than done for me because I can be a fighter. Through this season God is teaching me to sit down, and let Him fight for me. It is tough. Tougher than fighting! In order to do this I need to trust God. Trust that this time of being misunderstood will pass and trust that God is my perfect defense here. Through this, He is teaching me to pray, to love more and to not be consumed with all the “noise.” Oh, and my reputation, that’s in His hands too. He is in charge of that. So in the meantime, while this whole mess swirls around me, I will cling to verses like the ones I read just before I started typing this morning:

Psalm 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 62:2 Truly my soul waits silently for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

So, until further notice, I will stay silent on this subject and keep moving forward looking outward past my own emotions and opinions. I will pray – that’s how I can fight best anyway, and I will keep my mouth shut. It’s better this way, that way it’s not all about me. It’s all about Him.

Have a great day knowing God is fighting for us!

With all my heart,

Sonia

P.S. Please, please listen to this song & enjoy:

Run Your Race

Nine Years and Counting…

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My journal excerpt from 2009…my first day as a Christian

Today is July 30th, and I want to say thank you to God for my ninth spiritual birthday. Despite all that held me back from thinking I could ever have a life full of hope, He pursued me and picked me up and set my feet on safe and solid ground. He’s given me so much, so much. I cannot even come up with the words for the miracles He’s done. I just know this, I love Jesus with my whole heart, and I want to serve Him with my life forever. The part in this journal page that says, “Please help me on my walk and on my journey..” I want you to know He’s done that and more. Well, I don’t have much time to write because I took the time this morning to read all my journal excerpts from July 30 for the past eight years, and let me tell you, it’s been quite a journey. And I’m glad to tell you a life with God is SO worth it. My life is proof of that, that He is faithful and we can trust Him with everything.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Run Your Race

Couch Potato No More

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Halfway through reading as of 7.28.18 🙂

Good morning and Happy Saturday! Thank you for taking the time to read this short blog post today. I picked up a book last night that I started a while ago but forgot (literally forgot) to continue. I got the urge to start reading it again because I love the story of this couple and how they’re bold about their faith in a very public way.

So after a low-key evening of about four hours of Mario and I on the couch watching TV, I started to read and got to the point in the book where Joanna tells a story about a couple who helped guide them before they got married. This couple challenged them to go without TV for the first few weeks of their marriage because, they explained, “that being in the same house and actually interacting with each other are two different things. Sometimes its easy for couples to get lost in their own little worlds at home – to be so focused on other things that they aren’t really together, even when they’re in the same room.” That stuck with me because there was a time when Mario and I didn’t have cable. We had a TV but we opted not to get cable because of finances, and we were just wasting time. We did this for six years, and we did not miss a thing!

The thing about distractions is that once you get rid of them, you have more freedom. And freedom is definitely that ideal that we are always chasing. Yet, it’s right there in the day to day choices of not being a slave to things. I know I’ve gotten very distracted by tv, social media, binge watching, binge eating etc. and I’m kind of over it. I want more. I want my husband and my family to get more of me – the “not distracted” version of me.

So Mario and I discussed this last night after I read him that portion of the book out loud, and we agreed that we are going to cut the chord on the cable again. Not just because the book mentioned it, but because we already knew we had to. That just confirmed it 🙂

Truthfully, half the time we aren’t even watching TV anyway…we are looking at our dang phones. So that’s probably next on the list – boundaries with that too. Not because we want to live these lives in a bubble, but because we want to get out of the bubble.

Well, that’s it for today! Have a great weekend & maybe shut off the TV and/or phone and see what happens.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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This was literally us from 8pm until about midnight last night!
Run Your Race

How Deep Is Your Love?

For today’s blog post I wanted to share a song I listened to last week. It was on Wednesday, and I had taken the day off from work to celebrate my birthday. Mario and I were headed back to the house after eating breakfast at our favorite French bakery. The sun was shining, and I was just happy to be with my husband in the middle of a work day. He put the song on, and I listened to the words and voices. I love the line that says, “How deep is your love, I really mean to learn…”

That part that says, “I really mean to learn.” I do. I think as we start to really learn how much God loves us, it drives out the dark in our lives. How do we start to learn how God loves us? For me, I have to take my eyes off of people, opinions, situations, the world, my bank account, my lack….and I have to purpose to believe something other than all of those things.

I really mean to learn all these things:

Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west – Isaiah 43:4-5

***

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand – Isaiah 41:10

***

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

I’m on a journey and so are you. I’m on a journey to discover, every day, even more of this love that crashed into my hopeless life nine years ago and picked me up out of a pit and washed my soul clean from the shame of the life I led. I’m on a journey to learn more about this very love God put in my heart and to discover, every day, even more of the truth that His perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18).

So this is my TGIF post today, and I wanted to give my husband a shout out for introducing me to this song and for being my music man. I love you!

Thanks for reading.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Your Faith Can Demolish Your Fear

Good morning. So today started out with fresh worries. How about you? Earlier this week someone suggested that I start out the day writing things down that I am grateful for and today I am grateful for that suggestion because it set my mind right just now. What are you grateful for today? There really are so many things, but the world screams at us to be afraid of everything. Fear of the unknown creeps around decisions and situations that causes anxiety. I am well acquainted with fear based decisions. They always end up badly, by the way, and they should. Faith is solid, and when I choose to go in the direction of faith I step out of fear.

This past Tuesday night I was sitting in church and a situation happened that I feared I had failed in. I wanted to run out of the room, literally. I was sitting in my seat fighting the overwhelming physical and emotional pull to flee the scene. My skin was crawling and my heart was racing. I couldn’t hear what the pastor was saying – all other sounds around me were muffled. I could only hear the words in my head. I was physically manifesting this fear that I was exposed for what I really think in my head- that I am just a failure and all my attempts otherwise will end up in the same place…failure. I know – that’s some negative thinking right there, but it’s true. My mind goes there. I hung in there, though. By some amazing miracle of God I stayed put and little by little the feelings washed away, and I was able to hear words coming from the pastor. The moment passed, and I survived it. Better yet, I was stronger for it.

No one saw this battle. No one knew this victory. I think even my husband sitting next to me wouldn’t have known this had gone on had I not told him later that night. And here I am two days later writing about something so private, but it was HUGE! I know now that I exercised faith sitting there, and it literally dispelled and demolished the fear I felt in that moment. I hated being that uncomfortable, but let me tell you this: I am better for it. So I guess that’s what I want to leave on this page today, exercise your faith. Let it happen and don’t shrink back! We are not alone in this, look what David wrote in Psalm 56:

“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:11

We are free to exercise our faith, so let’s do it!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

The Headlines That Shock Us

I was having lunch yesterday when the news notification came through on my Iphone that Demi Lovato had been rushed to the hospital due to a suspected drug overdose https://www.thecut.com/2018/07/demi-lovato-heroin-overdose-tmz-report.html. My heart just sank. I don’t know her personally, but still the news shocked me. My heart broke for her.

I follow her Instagram account so I decided to send her a message that said, “I’m praying for you as you battle. Keep hoping. This is so tough, I know. I attend a recovery meeting on Tuesday’s – it streams live on Facebook from Refuge Christian Fellowship North County Refuge Christian Fellowship North County. Take good care. You are loved.” I think it especially hits home right now because of the movie, “Whitney,” and the revelation that she was severely addicted at a young age and her life ended in tragedy.

Many of us that attend churches and meetings – like the one I do on Tuesday nights – know firsthand that it doesn’t have to end tragically. I don’t struggle with addiction to substances – I do need recovery in other areas, and there is a better way. There is a way out that’s paved with hope. Recovery does look different for everyone but the truly successful ones all have one thing in common, they live for a higher purpose. They discover that purpose as they discover that Jesus died for their sins. The shame, the sickness, the brokenness takes on a different meaning and doesn’t just keep us in a dark pit.

Any kind of addiction is rooted in deep pain. I don’t fault any addict for wanting the pain to stop. Excruciating pain is overwhelming. The problem is that the addiction will never fix what caused the pain, and it will eventually cost us our very lives.

Deep pain needs something more powerful to combat it. We need something more powerful to battle the physical, spiritual and emotional tendencies to destruction. We need someone/something to believe in – other than our broken selves.

If you’ve tried all sorts of things to deal with the pain – drugs, sex, abuse, alcohol, work, shopping, gambling, food, control, etc. Maybe it’s time to stop and reach out for something/someone else. Try this – try the courageous thing of doing something you’ve never done: Trust the true, living God with your life. Don’t trust yourself anymore. It didn’t work. Trust God. Take it from me. He can do anything.

I celebrated my 44th birthday last week, and my mom wrote this in my card:

“You have conquered adversity with grace and resolve. God has given you the strength to strive for better things. He has given you many talents and wisdom. Eres muy admirable, mi hija, and I will always love you! ~ Mom”

Take it from me – God can do anything.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Rut or Roots?

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Israel, March 2016

One of the most powerful scenes on my trip to Israel a few years back was the time spent in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-42 New Living Translation). The trees in the garden were different than other trees I had ever seen. I love trees. Their different leaves, colors and sizes just captivate me – but these trees. This was something else. They had been witness to the greatest decision in history. They stood in company with Jesus as He agonized, in His humanity, over what He was about to do. That account in the Bible has always gripped me, and these trees were present then.

Here’s the story behind the blog title: I am a woman who has been known to run away from all sorts of things in life. I have quit jobs, relationships, school, diets, apartment rentals, gyms, house projects, you name it – once it gets hard, I’m out! And that’s the way it’s been for a long time. This is what I’ve been used to.

The other day Mario (my husband) and I were driving back to our house, and we were talking about how I doubted we would get this house we live in now or the rental before. To which he replied, “That’s because you’re used to ruts not roots.” That phrase rolled around in my head. He wasn’t being mean. He was telling the truth. The minute I sense depth and change through any type of uncomfortable situation, alarms go off, and I think I must be in a rut. I then proceed to change everything I can to maintain some semblance of control. This pattern, like I said, has led to a lifetime of running. The thing about running is you miss it. You miss being there for the miracle. You miss experiencing the garden moments.

Marriage is a prime environment for miracle moments, but it’s also a place that can be riddled with “ruts”. Since the beginning of the month my husband and I have met more than a few people who have been recently divorced. They all have something in common…sadness. We even talked to someone last night at our favorite sushi spot which was good timing because we have been struggling in our marriage recently, and sometimes it can get so exhausting that I think I should just quit. Before you get in my face about how wrong that is. Let me tell you…I know. I’m not going anywhere and neither is Mario, but there are seasons that will just wear you down. The temptation is there to run from the hard stuff.

Last night we went out to eat because we were too exhausted to cook anything. We hadn’t been to our sushi spot in a while and a young man who always helps us there greeted us excitedly. Mario and I both noticed something different about him. He had lost some weight, but there was a sadness to him as well. Finally Mario asked him how he’s doing, and he proceeded to tell us that he is recently divorced and has moved into an apartment. It broke our hearts to hear him say these words. We don’t even know him that well, but that sadness is overwhelming.

When the waiter walked away from our table Mario and I just looked at each other and knew. We can never give up. We will see this thing through no matter what because God wants us to witness something miraculous. We have already been part of miracles in our marriage so it’s not like we aren’t aware of that, but we sure can forget. We forget how much God loves us and loves our marriage.

I pray with all my heart we don’t give up.  Jesus gave us the garden scene so we would know it is going to be hard, but that’s not the end. The trees in the garden have roots that tell a different story. They stood in witness to the greatest victory in humanity and divinity.

So this woman, this former runner, is committed to getting some roots. I want some victory because God’s not done with me yet.

Thank you for reading, and let’s choose to get some roots.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

“You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets”

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The text from yesterday 

Good morning and happy Monday! I use this blog for many reasons – one of them being a form of an online journal – so I will at times use it as a platform for confessing. This is one of those times. At church I often hear our Pastor say the words, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” Over time I have found this to be completely true in my life and the life of others. The times I’ve held things in or kept them hidden are the times I’ve made the biggest mess out of things. I know I’m not the only one so that’s why I am writing this. This story I am to share is recent – as recent as yesterday. Here it goes…after church my husband and I were in the car and started talking about the weekends events and it quickly turned into an argument. I did most of the talking (yelling) unfortunately and when we got home a little later I noticed that my phone had dialed a close relatives phone number by accident, and it looked like it was on for four minutes. I was mortified. I quickly texted this person and asked if they had received a call from us that was “weird.” They said that they hadn’t (HUGE sigh of relief). Instead of just saying, “Ok good,” and moving on, I replied, “I asked because we were arguing…it wasn’t our “cleanest” argument. That’ll teach us.” The text reply was sweet and just said, “We’ve all been there.” Now to some people arguments aren’t a secret but for a lot of they are. They’re not our proudest moment. If people were to have an inside look at our lives 24/7 it would be shocking, I think.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not to say everyone is living hypocritical lives, but I think the things we keep hidden are those things that God is trying to free us from so He will allow circumstances to put us in a direction to face them and bring them out in the open. So as I sat down this morning to read the Bible and then pray about this post, I opened up to Psalm 32 (NLT) and the first two lines were:

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. 

So I hope we all come out with it this week and start to get some freedom here! We are not alone, that’s for sure and if there’s any doubt, read Psalm 32. Have a blessed week enjoying the freedom found in Christ!

Thank you for reading.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Dear Younger Sonia

I wrote this letter to my “15-year-old self” as part of a project I worked on four years ago. Mario and I were talking with family recently about the MercyMe song, “Dear Younger Me,” and it made me go back and reread what I had written. I decided I would share it here today:

Dear 15-year-old Sonia,

Oh, sweet girl! There is so much you want to see and do. There are so many songs swirling around in your heart. I know that you just want to be accepted, loved, appreciated, and you just want to “fit”. I know you feel like you have no footing. I know you’re scared of everything. I know you feel so different from everyone else. There’s so much I wish I could share with you so you don’t go down the path that you will choose, but instead, this 39-year-old woman is writing this letter to share a bit about what will happen since you walked through most of your life your way. You will choose wrong pursuits, and you will compromise on all levels even though you have been given a special gift of music – and the gift of loving others and the gift of compassion. You will chase the wrong guys, the wrong activites and the wrong identity just to feel whole. You will come up empty each time. You will get pregnant at 18, and your daughter will suffer alongside you with all the broken situations and relationships you dragged her through. Instead of remembering a loving childhood, she will remember the fear, heartbreak, and deep suffering. You will look back and want the chance to do it all over again. Jesus was calling you but you never listened. He wanted you to choose life then…to choose the life you were created to live. Instead, you will run the other way for quite some time – twenty more years to be exact. You will have many tears and shame piled up sky high until the age of 35 when you finally accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life. Everything will change from that moment on. You will be alive! For the first time ever, you will have peace in your heart and mind. You will know the love of God like nothing else. You will feel protected and cherished. You will feel valuable. You will know you were created with purpose and care, and that you are needed in this world. He will take all the broken parts of your heart and put them in their proper place. He will open your eyes to the truth of this life – that nothing matters except living a life in His perfect LOVE AND GRACE because you are safe there. You are free there. You know you love freedom. You always have. That’s what you were always chasing, and it was always right there in the arms of God. Oh, how I would love to whisper in your ear, you beautiful 15-year old! You are special! Live for Him! You will not regret that – but you will have lots of regrets for all the things you did instead. I would love to scream at you, “Sing your heart out! Sing for joy! Sing because God loves you!” I am looking back at that life and my heart breaks for you. It aches to tell you how much pain you will endure at your own hand. You will love your daughter, that’s for sure. She is so precious. But it will take you quite some time to actually be a “mom” and by then she will be an adult and out on her own journey…and you will not have the chance to go back. You missed her childhood. You missed her adolescence. You missed seeing her life. You missed out on yours and hers. God will redeem the time, dear girl, but you will have scars. Just grab His Hand. He will be your Everything. He has everything you will ever need. He has the perfect husband for you. He plays trumpet and will make you laugh like never before. It would have been nice to go into this relationship without all the baggage you will have accumulated. It may sound outrageous coming from me, but it is so true – patience is a virtue. Being virtuous is a good thing. Being godly is a good thing! That’s all I have to say to you. I sit here as an almost 40-year-old woman now – the tears still flow down my cheeks for the life that could have been and the mom you could have been, but Jesus saved you and He has and is healing you. LIVE, young girl! LIVE!                 

                                    Love, 39 year old Sonia

 

Thank you for reading this. I hope you have a nice weekend!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

The Recovery

Good morning! This is an older blog post that I’m reposting because I needed to read it again!

Mario and I come from a families of musicians. It’s a beautiful thing. The younger generations are making their own way in their musical journeys now. Recently our nieces had a performance and their drummer, their ten year old sister – insert shameless proud “Titi Sonia” plug here https://www.youtube.com/user/MireyaArianaGmusic  – was receiving a pep talk from her dad and Tio Mario about mistakes and how to recover from them. They were explaining that you will make mistakes, mistakes aren’t the issue. It’s all about the recovery.

How do you recover from a mistake? Mistakes are a guarantee in life so what do we do with them? They are obviously meant to teach us something about ourselves and life, but they are awful. Mistakes stink! There’s that sinking feeling in your stomach that you get when you realize you’ve messed up, and then there’s that voice in your head reminding you over and over about it.

What about when someone makes a mistake and you get hurt because of it? Would you agree that it’s about the recovery then too – that it’s about what they do after the mistake? I think that’s what matters when you mess up, the recovery.

Here’s the Google dictionary definition of recovery: A RETURN TO A NORMAL STATE OF HEALTH, MIND, OR STRENGTH.

Today is a challenge to be freed up to admit our mistakes and then to learn how to recover from them. God calls us to be humble and admit wrongs so we can grow and get up and keep going. If you’re like me and you’ve beaten yourself up for mistakes and then run from the recovery part of it, guess what? We have a better way to handle it now with God.  It is going to feel uncomfortable and strange, but we get to grow. We get to learn how to live this life more fully, more abundant and more free.

Here’s a verse from Ephesians about growth:

 Ephesians 4:14-16  (NLT)

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

 

So hang in there with the real relationships. Don’t jump ship because you think there’s a better ship – there isn’t, and as hard as it may be, be patient with yourself and others.

Have a blessed day!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Enjoy this video from my nieces…G Girls Music 🙂

Run Your Race

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…think

In Spring of 2010 my husband, Mario, was in a near fatal accident. It was at night in the backroads between Vista and San Marcos. A drunk driver had hit an electrical support pole about a few minutes before my husband drove up at full speed, and it hovered slightly above the road with the cable attached to the electrical pole. Mario came upon that part of the road and didn’t see it in time. He hit it full force in our Jeep Liberty and the vehicle ended up being catapulted into the air. He says at one point the Jeep was pointing straight up in the air and the headlights were pointing straight up and fading into the dark sky. At the same time that was happening our daughter and I were waiting for him to join us for dinner at a pizza place in Vista. When I got a call from him as we were sitting there waiting to order our pizza, I thought he would be giving me his dinner order, but when I answered I knew instantly something was wrong. I had never heard his voice sound like that.

As soon as he began to say the words, “I’ve been in an accident…” I grabbed my purse and began to walk toward the exit. The next thing I remember is driving up to the scene where there were police cars, firetrucks and first responders swarming both sides of the street with it blocked off. I pulled to the side of the road and told my daughter to stay in the car because I didn’t know what I was going to see. I frantically ran past police who were trying to shout something at me. I kept yelling, “My husband! Where’s my husband?!” Finally a fireman says, “Ma’am he’s fine,” as I see the jeep turned over on it’s side, looking like a mangled mess. As soon as I saw it I thought that Mario was dead and everyone was lying to me. Then I look over at the side of the road where he was speaking to a crowd gathered around him saying, “Jesus Christ saved me today, and if you don’t believe in Him, you should. He saved me.” As he was speaking he saw me and came over to me. I was crying uncontrollably, and he grabbed my shoulders and said that God had saved him, but if He hadn’t he would be in heaven so I shouldn’t worry.

When one of the firemen heard him speaking about Jesus saving him, he said sarcastically to another firemen standing there, “Well, I believe the car manufacturer had something to do with it also,” to which his colleague responded, “Oh no, the airbag didn’t work.” I was stunned.

I write about this because we were talking about it with family last night, and I woke up this morning once again reminded that God did a miracle that day. He can do anything, and I need to remember that. I had planned a completely different blog post for today, but when I woke up this morning this was on my mind, and it caused me to remember that God can do anything. Believe and trust. Our God is the God of miracles,

Thank you for reading!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Mario’s favorite song:

 

Encouragement for Women · Seasons

Happy “Longest Day of the Year”

Welcome to the first day of Summer 2018! Here we are – the day with the most daylight. I love summer for a lot of reasons but most of all because of how much daylight there is, and if you live near the coast, the possibility of going to the beach at any time. What are your plans this summer? Well for me, I would like to try stand up paddle boarding Whatever your plans are, let’s commit to doing something brave and stepping out of our comfort zones like the young girl in this video below. There’s no better time than the present. Have a great first day of summer & let’s ring in Summer 2018!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

The Value in Facing It

Good morning (or afternoon/evening) dear reader, it is 6:02 a.m., and I am coming fresh off a few good days of soul searching. I don’t have time to give you all the background, but safe to say that there is a reoccuring thing in my life that will rear its ugly head to remind me that it’s still there (here). Let’s call it a…scar.

Do you have a scar? I think if you live on this planet, you have a scar (or many scars). Anyways, I don’t want this to be a pity party for us but hey, sometimes you gotta go there.  You’ve got to look that ugly thing in the face, call it what it is, breathe, look up and get ready to learn about…..YOU.

My recent angst about this particular scar hit me hard and add in a few days of poor sleep and let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t handle it well. I was angry. I was mean. I was unforgiving. I was bitter. And this just happened recently so even as I type those emotions are seething underneath the surface chomping at the bit to take center stage. But I read this just now in a devotional called My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth. 

So this morning I had to tell myself some truth. This scar that’s left isn’t the issue. The way I’m handling it is the real issue. The fact is that I’m still looking at the people who caused the scar and want them to pay for the damages. I don’t want to forgive. I want to judge, and that is not about them. That, unfortunately, is about me.

So this morning as I get ready to put on my headphones and run my heart out, I am leaning on God and wanting to focus on those scars…Jesus’ scars that paid the price for all the things we would ALL do on this planet to cause each other scars.

It’s an ugly process, but there’s beauty at the end. There is immeasurable value in facing it. So let’s face it today. We have scars, but we also have miracle stories because of them. The scars have value. We are valuable. Jesus’ scars tell us that.

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Whitney Houston

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Wiktionary.org states that the etymology of this saying is, “Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution…

I grew up singing and in Junior High wanted to be just like Whitney Houston. I even got a spiral perm so I could copy her look from the video, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” I would write “Whitney Morales (my maiden name)” at the top of papers I would turn in. So imagine my delight when I found out she was pregnant at the same time I was (only I was 18 at the time and she was 28)! For the record, I did not plan to get pregnant just because she was pregnant. I was a huge fan, for sure, but definitely knew to draw the line on that one. Well, lo and behold, she has her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in March of ’93, and I had my daughter, Gabbie, in March of ’93 as well. The similarities did not end there. She was in a troubled relationship, and so was I. She had demons to battle, and so did I. The difference…me and my daughter are alive today, and she and her daughter are not. This, too, could have been my fate. There, but for the grace of God, go I. I cannot explain this. Whitney Houston achieved so much in her career, and I didn’t even scratch the surface of my singing aspirations. She had limos and a glam squad, and I had a barely working Ford Ranger and a fistful of Sav-On cosmetics. I start this blog post with this story not because I have achieved all the success I have ever wanted in my own eyes but because I have not and just maybe that was my saving grace.

It’s not like I made some big decision along the way to get right with God and get my act together – that’s what gets me. I didn’t do anything. I’m sitting here thinking, “How did this all happen? How did this almost 44 year old woman escape the self-sabotage and self-destructive ways of her past to live to see this day?” All these thoughts came flooding to my mind when I was driving to Sprouts and a Whitney Houston song came on. I started crying and thanked God for His mercy  to not only save me from myself but to give me purpose and a hope.

Each day I battle things. Things that could have killed me and still could kill me. Things like: deep insecurities, painful memories, self-centeredness, control-freakiness, gossip-girl tendencies, cynicism, naivety, foolishness, anger…just to name a few. There are days I look at those things in me and think there is no way I am ever going to be anything other than what I am today – a mess. I know that in those very weak spots God shows me His power. Only His power can make me get out of bed, and with faith, put one foot in front of the other believing I have a purpose.

Because I want to live the life God has laid out for me, I wrestle now. I know I mess up every day, but the thing is I know there is nowhere else to turn. I have to turn to God. Turning to God means having the courage to do something you’ve never done before like text someone and say, “Hey I just did this stupid thing, pray for me,” or “Hey, I’m about to do this stupid thing, pray for me.” Or it could mean walking into a church for the first time or finally going to see a counselor or simply being honest with someone when they ask you how you’re doing. For me it means and has meant all these things, but it also means asking God every day to give me what I need to push against this destructive current in my life that tries to pull me back into old habits and toxic ways of thinking. There are moments when the wrestling is fierce, and there are moments when there’s a break in the action, but I want to continue to hope in Jesus – The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

I might be thinking of Whitney’s life so much right now because her movie is coming out this July. I do plan to see it, and I’ll be taking a box of tissues as I know I’ll be bawling my eyes out. Thank you for reading all of this.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Uncategorized

My makeup education 101

Well I was going to post earlier because I had some time to write since I was going to be on the train for about an hour and a half, but I met a really nice couple in the cafe and talked with them for most of the ride (they recommended my new favorite train ride beverage – so thank you for that also!). Her name was Sonja (like my name) also, so this was just meant to be! SIDENOTE: If you’re reading this, Sonja, I really thank the Lord I got to sit with you guys.

Here’s the update to my makeup class as a follow up to my last post. I walked into my appointment ready for anything. I knew it was gong to be a pretty penny for all the products that were being used, but I just wanted to find out about the must-haves and learn about what will work best for daily application.

My beauty teacher’s name was Chama, and she was just the right blend of maturity, relevance, legit-ness and hip-ness (not sure of how many of those are actual words but hey, this is a blog – please give me a break)!  Here are some photos from my time there:

So today was my first day using it all and I’d only remembered a fraction of what Chama said to do, and I’m sure I didn’t do a lot of it right, but just like everything else in life, there’s a learning curve so l will be patient with myself.

Thank you for reading my Friday blog post! I do so enjoy putting these words together. God knows I need this outlet.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women

A Break from the Norm

I am taking a break from writing about the heavy issues that go on in my life to let you in on some of the not-so-heavy things. So here goes! This summer I will be 44, and I have to say, I think I’m losing touch with the latest trends in all kinds of things – one of those things being makeup. In my makeup bag right now several things I don’t use but have been told by various advertisements that I must have them in order to look my very best. So I took the bait and now have two things I don’t really know how to use, but have tried, only to have failed miserably. Here are some of those things: #1 a Loreal Total Cover pallet thing that I thought was a contouring pallet and #2 a Loreal Illuminating Stick.IMG_0720.jpgIMG_0721.jpg

Both things sound wonderful and if they were in the right hands they would be performing beautifully and living up to their name, but sadly, I am the current owner of these two items and they have sat at the bottom of my makeup bag without so much as a thought UNTIL I see another commercial with a model that has flawless makeup using the items I have but don’t use. I admit I haven’t done the YouTube thing where I’m supposed to learn how to make these looks possible, but I have looked at some Instagram videos and follow a few makeup artists, but I am coming to grips with the fact that I am losing touch with these trends. The thing is I used to love makeup. I loved applying it and learning about it, but it’s just not the same anymore. There are SO MANY PRODUCTS out there, and I feel like you have to be a professional makeup artist to even go to the makeup aisles at Target. I don’t want to look 25, but I don’t want to look like a 44 year old stuck in times past with dated makeup and visible bags under her eyes.

So I made an appointment at one of those legit makeup places for a makeup lesson. I am sure whoever the makeup teacher is, she is going to try to sell me $1,000 or more of makeup, but I at least want some first-hand knowledge on what this contouring stuff is all about, and how I’m supposed to do it. And highlighting – let’s not forget the highlighting! If you have any tips for me I am a willing and motivated student, and I will keep you posted on what I learned.

Thank you for allowing me to vent a little tonight about a light-hearted topic. I like that I am going into my mid-forties, I just want to do it with the highlights and contours in the right places 🙂

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Don’t believe the hype…believe God

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…

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

The F Words, Part 2

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To continue the story about my friend I would have to say that she had her own stuff. She had her own junk pile that she had heaped on her husband as well. The kind of junk that destroys a marriage: deceit, unfaithfulness, insecurities, unrealistic expectations, abuse. All things that absolutely obliterate anything good in marriage. But that’s the thing about personal pain and hurt in a relationship…you only see what’s been done to you. So that’s all that she could see. It was hard for her to see that she had a choice because self-inflicted pain and self-sabotage had become a habit.

Well one day she decided not to live that way anymore. Habits had to change. Her mind had to change and most of all her FAITH had to change. Oh she had faith all right, it was just enough to get her to the scary part of really having faith and then she would run the other way and shrink back. FEAR would set in and  coarse through her veins and almost had her convinced not to trust in the Lord. All of this was a vicious cycle that kept its grip on her life until she’d found that she had just gone in circles for five, six, seven, eight years.

If her marriage was going to survive, if she was going to survive, her fear had to go. So she started on that path to deal with her own junk pile and exchange it for the life God created her for. Her faith needed to come to the forefront and blaze the trail for where her heart had never been before. Change is possible. God says so. She is willing, and He is faithful. That is the most important thing.

Sometime down the road on this blog I will post an update of this couple riddled with the ugly F word called failure, and I will let you know where FAITH took them. All I know is, it’s going to be a miracle. Just you wait. Hang in there!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women

The F Words

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For this blog post I will share a story about a friend of mine:

“For years I was married to a ghost. I knew that going in. This was a man who never fessed up to anything, He kept secrets and had a mind that he rarely let anyone really see. On the outside he was perfectly outgoing and fun loving. Everyone wanted to be around him – a real people person. I loved that about him. His confidence in social settings stood in stark contrast to my “faking it ’til I make it” shakiness. The first time I knew he had an issue with pornography was within the first month of dating. I was on his computer and being the sleuth that I can be I hit the history button and there was a massive list of those sites. I confronted him. He assured me it was a thing of his past, part of his bachelor days and that now that we were together he wouldn’t be doing that anymore. I was no saint either so I just chalked it up to one of those “in the past things” we could move on from. Fast forward a few years into the relationship. Things were progressing in our couplehood. We bought a house, moved in together. Our sex life changed. His desire for me grew cold and he didn’t care if I walked around naked or fully clothed. I felt ugly and rejected and not at all like my other friends who were complaining that their husbands/boyfriends wouldn’t leave them alone. I would laugh and say, “Gosh, me too.” But inside I was dying as I lied. I asked him what was wrong with us and if he was up to his old habits looking at porn or if there was something else going on. He assured me that there was nothing going on, worse than that he called me crazy. And then one day I came home from work and he was gone. He’d had to leave in a hurry to take care of a work emergency. I had a strange feeling and started to go check the computer and notice that everything was unplugged. I was confused by this and plugged everything in and up on the screen was an image of a naked woman. My heart sank. I didn’t watch to see what came next. I went into a rage. I threw all of his clothes outside and called him. We were done in my mind. Finished. He had led me to believe that our sex issues and my suspicions were all my fault and here it was that it was his obsession with other women in a virtual reality that was really killing us. My broken heart didn’t allow for sorrow at that time, it only allowed for anger and rage. I’ve forgotten what took place in the months that followed, but we ended up getting passed that, and we got married. Like I said, I knew what I was getting into. I thought, “We are married now. Surely we will have a better sex life and things will change between us!” Not exactly. During our marriage we had seasons where our intimacy was better but mostly the bad was more prevalent. Then a few years into our marriage we started going to a Christian church, and I thought, “For sure now we will be blessed in this area. We will have a passion like never before and things will be right!” Wrong. I began to get more and more bitter while he began to go deeper and deeper into his own mind. We both started serving at our church and going to a marriage group, attending couples counseling. You name it, we were doing it. All the outside stuff looked great. People would look at us and want a marriage like ours – called us “so cute” and “so adorable”. Yet, we were dying inside. Both of us. Fast forward another six years, and things are now so off. I am thinking I am just the most terrible, undesirable wife there ever was. I become more and more demeaning and disrespectful. And then one morning I’d had enough. I prayed for wisdom and for gentleness, I prayed specifically the verse, Matthew 10:16 that says, ” …Therefore be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” I knew my husband would be home all day while I was at work so I hid a recording device and left it recording. He’d dropped me off at work and as per our usual routine we prayed before I got out of the car. I prayed to God that we would both honor Him in all our ways at work and at home. That prayer was an appeal to my husband, I know that now. God was calling him to purity and wholeness and all he had to do was be honest – if not with me, with someone else. We attend a church that makes it safe to come out with our junk. I came home from work and asked if he would go and pick up some groceries for dinner while I stayed behind to work on a computer project. As soon as I heard the car back out of the driveway I grabbed the recorder and began the process of fast forwarding and rewinding to discover what I already knew to be true. He was back into pornography again. But this time as a Christian man, a Christian man that people looked up to and respected. The ghost was no longer a ghost. I saw him for what he was. A porn addict. At first he tried to blame me. My complaints, my ways. I wasn’t having it. This thing in him existed long before I ever came along. This was him, but he was playing on my insecurities, “Maybe it is me. If I wasn’t so nagging. If I wasn’t so old. If my butt was in better shape.” I kicked him out of our bedroom and threatened divorce and meant it. I researched Brazilian Butt Lifts and resolved to put it on his credit card too! The next few days I was walking around with a weight lifted because now I knew the truth, but my heart was completely broken. That old message from long ago raised its banner high once again with these old ugly words, “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. YOU NEVER WILL BE”. My dad had done the same thing to my mom and our family, addicted to porn and dating other women. So here I was thinking if I don’t leave my husband I am just like my mom. I pushed back with the word of God, desperate to have Him use my pain for building instead of destroying. After a few days of my own soul searching I started to ask him questions. Not the ones I’d asked the times before but ones that were,  I know now, from God. The real questions and this time I got real answers. Ones that broke my heart for him. I saw him for what he was, not a ghost, not a villain but a precious and broken man. Compassion welled up in me and gratitude for this mess we found ourselves in. We are in one of those “for worse” seasons in the “better of for worse” commitment we signed up for. God has us and the “F Words” are definitely at the forefront with the choice being will we move forward in fear or in faith. I pray it’s faith because I have had enough of fear. This is the road by which we discover the couple God designed us to be. I have to remember that with God the end is never the end, it is a beginning. So please pray for us and for all Christian marriages because we are not perfect. We just need to be honest and that’s going to take faith. Pray for that.”

Thank you for reading this blog post today. Next blog post is part two of “The F Words”.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Uncategorized

The Toughest Day of 2017

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Photo taken June 29, 2017 Carlsbad, CA

 

I just googled the most middle day of the year, and it is July 2nd. So almost smack dab in the middle of last year my world got rocked. I read a description somewhere about traumatic events and how you start to describe things as before “that” or after “that”.  On New Year’s Eve a few nights ago I glanced over the year of photos in my phone and found that to be true, this photo marks the point of the “after”.  I wrote about it last September in one of the blog posts so I won’t go into the details here. But here’s the thing about 2018 and beyond, we are guaranteed a tough day – maybe even the toughest day ever. My prayer, a resolution if you will, is for the toughest day to drive us to our Great Savior – the  only one equipped to bring answers, healing, restoration, strength, forgiveness, love and grace through the excrutiating process of rebuilding after heartbreak. Let your heart break when it’s supposed to and then trust God to put it back together the way it was intended to be in the first place.

The Snapchat photo here on this page says it all. In the midst of my greatest pain, sitting there at the beach with my heart in shreds and my mind trying to make sense out of everything, God presented me with a command, “Trust Him.” Everything in me wanted to run and handle life with bitterness, revenge even. But I got up from that bench at the beach and took a step and then another one towards my car, and even though I didn’t how to proceed from there, I did. The power that I needed to forgive and forge a new path was there from God. And that event, that toughest day, opened up me up to a new life. A life of more honesty, more depth and more grace.

So here’s the theme for 2018: GRACE and more grace. Your toughest day can be your greatest day.

Thank you for reading!

With all my heart, Sonia

Encouragement for Women

We will overcome

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Mario & me. July 2003

Thank you for reading the next part of “Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife.” With all my heart, Sonia 

My husband and I were sitting at the stoplight to turn onto our street when it struck me how far we have come from the couple we used to be. Things are far from perfect, but I thought about how much we have experienced in our 14 years together and how easy it would have been for either of us to walk away. I looked over at him in the car and said, “You know, our marriage is like the stories we see on TV of people who overcame incredible obstacles, like that man who was born without arms who now works as a Nascar racing engineer.” I went on to tell him that if our marriage was put on display in physical terms like that it would be the same kind of impact, incredible odds being overcome to achieve what looks to be impossible! If I were to read the story of my marriage on paper I would think, “There is no way these two people are going to make it!” I wouldn’t bet on us, just us. But here’s the thing, it’s not just us. My husband and I started living our lives with God a little over halfway through our marriage. Through a series of gut wrenching life events, we came to a place where we were ready to stop doing things our way. We walked into a church in June of 2009 and started to listen and things started to change.

My husband is a trumpet player and started playing when he was 12 years old. He was a very good player so after high school he toured with a band. In his early twenties he decided to go to school and get his degree in music. When he showed up for the first lesson with his college music professor (one of the best classical trumpet players in LA) he was told that he had to relearn how to play the trumpet. He had been playing his instrument for ten years thinking he was great at it, and now he was being told that he learned bad habits along the way. He had to start from the bottom – like he had never played trumpet before. He said he wanted to quit. He had to relearn all the mechanics of breathing and a whole new technique. If he did not go through this process of being broken down, he wouldn’t have survived as a musician but his success depended on it.

That is the story of great change… and it means believing God through the process of being torn down to be built up again the right way. Our marriage is in that process and sometimes we soar and sometimes we crawl inch by inch through another day, another learning experience. If it was just up to us, we would have been done. It is hard. Thankfully we look to God and believe Him when He says, “Behold I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Mario reminds me often that it takes two people committed to making it work. Sometimes one or the other is stronger and pulls the other along but we are both in it for the change God wants to bring. Our story is not the fairy tale like the ones we have read about before. Our story is riddled with brokenness, but that’s where we have found His greatest miracles of redemption. The Nascar engineer story reminds us that the world sits up and takes notice when people overcome. So in these fierce marriages of ours, we too can overcome and be a testimony of our great God with a great plan far beyond what we ever imagined possible.

Here are the verses to meditate on today:

Ephesians 3:17-21 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Day 4 Themes:

1) Believe God & trust Him!

2) Stop looking at our inability & look to God for He is able.

Prayer

Dear Father God,

Thank you that, no matter what, You don’t give up on me. Thank you for the numerous do-over’s and the countless reminders that You are for me and my marriage. I pray for my husband and me to heal from the past hurts we have inflicted on each other and to keep our focus on You. I pray that we see each other with new eyes and that we embrace an even greater passion for each other. I pray we pray together. Only You can remake our lives. We trust in Your power to bring beauty from these ashes. It’s for Your glory we continue on. I love you. In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen!!!

 

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women

“Sonia, you have to start acting like…”

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Thanksgiving 2017

Next excerpt from “Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife”

I found myself on a cold winter evening last year seated at a dining table, my husband next to me, staring across the table at our pastor and his wife. This was no casual meeting for coffee. This was an intense discussion about our marriage and deep issues we were dealing with at the time. If ever I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me, this was one of those times. But before I go into that – let me back up. How did we get here? The few months that had led up to this evening meeting were the hardest my husband and I had encountered in a while. We were dealing with the loss of a family member due to cancer, the purchase of a new home and the end of my husband’s first (grueling) semester teaching full time…all of this in the span of eight weeks. We were emotional, sleep-deprived, disconnected and disgusted with one another by the time we found ourselves at that table each explaining our “side of the story”. My husband recounted, verbatim, some horrible words I had shouted at him during one of our recent fights. I was shocked to hear what I had said to him. I mean, I know I had said them, but to hear them that way caused me such embarrassment and shame – partly because of who we were meeting with and also because they were just so wrong. I’m sure at the time I said them, I felt justified and maybe even proud of myself for having such cutting things to say, but here they were on display for the four of us to behold, and I wanted to run out of there. Our pastor and his wife were patient, offered insight and prayed for us, but there was one thing in that conversation that stuck out to me and pierced my heart. Toward the end of the conversation, our pastor turned to my husband and gave some guidance and direction and then he turned to me and said, “And you, Sonia, you have to start acting like a Christian woman.” He said some other things after that to offer encouragement, but that phrase played out over and over in my head, “start acting like a Christian woman”. Things didn’t magically get easier the days that followed, but I was thinking more and more about what it means to be a Christian woman. I am often so worried about me, consumed with me and want to make sure I am okay that I forget all else. I forget that to be a Christian is to live a life in service of others, and if you’re married, first and foremost, in service to your husband (and lest I forget to add this disclaimer, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives so it’s a mutually giving situation when done the way God intends it to be). My husband is not without fault in our conflict, but a hot-tempered wife is not just hot-tempered for the sake of being difficult, there have been things along the way in life that molded us into a “I will never be hurt again. You will not hurt me. This will not hurt me” kind of person. All that to say, living sacrificially is the exact opposite of everything I know instinctively. So here’s the good part, the part where we get some answers, some of the “how to be a Christian woman” part. Here’s a verse to start thinking about:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

There are a few things going on that are key, one of them being to give (stop being so selfish) and the other is to be changed by the renewing of your mind (humble yourself – you aren’t right all the time, you know).

This journey I am on feels so foreign to me that sometimes I feel like I’ll never get it right, but I know that God says with Him all things are possible. If He says it’s possible to get my mind right, to get control of my emotions, to live selflessly and to have a thriving marriage, then I’ll believe Him.

Day 3 Themes:

1) Get over ourselves. I know, but really, we need to! It’s time.

2) Let’s change our minds to have our minds changed by God’s love and His Word. Enough with the negative self-talk!

Thank you so much for reading & thank you for your patience.

With all my heart, Sonia

P.S. Another extremely HUGE key part of this story is that we let 
people in to help keep us accountable! It is so humbling to deal withyour dirt with others, but it is healthy when done in a safe 
environment! Let’s not give up but instead give in to God’s way of 
doing things (and let others in!).
Encouragement for Women

The unexpected is the best part

Happy Tuesday! Here’s the next part of “Holy Duct for the Hot-Tempered Wife”. Thank you for reading.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My husband and I went on a road trip up the coast for Valentine’s weekend in 2016. We ended up not making good time that first day because we argued badly just trying to get on the road. I almost ended up not going.  We had to stay overnight in a hotel off of the 101 in Morro Bay because we were so late in leaving. I’d wanted to see some of the highway stretch before Big Sur during the day so we made the decision to stay at that particular hotel. We’d never stayed there before but we were definitely led there. Every time I think of this story I want to cry. Here’s why. We pulled into the hotel a little after sundown. Mario and I were in a battle just getting to that place, like I said we’d had a pretty ugly argument right when we were to begin the road trip. It was tough getting into the car and onto the road in North County, San Diego so by the time we were 290 miles north in Morro Bay we were still walking on thin ice, on edge with nerves frayed. The woman at the check in desk was helpful, efficient and there was an ease and a lightness to her that was in stark contrast to my own heavy heart. I did my best to be the sweetest version of myself and said the appropriate polite things while we paid and got keys to our room. I had already made the decision to hit the continental breakfast the next morning for coffee and some sort of inviting carb loaded treat (I felt I’d earned it!). The next morning I did some of a Bible study from Beth Moore called, “Children of the Day, 1 & 2 Thessalonians”. I was on 1 Thessalonians 4:9 “About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” In the study Beth Moore asked, “Do you have a similar example from someone you know or have read about (or perhaps seen in the mirror this morning) who seemed to have learned some biblical truth straight from God without textbook, training, or human teacher?” My answer was YES. I did have a personal experience myself where I felt God taught me something straight from His Word a few years back when I read the account of the ten lepers cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. What I learned from God in that story was that the least likely to be thankful, the Samaritan leper, was the only one who came back to say thank you to Jesus and because of this he gained insight when Jesus said to him, “…your faith has made you well” (vs. 19).  What I learned was since the leper was the only one who was thankful and acted on it, he was the only one who got this piece of information straight from Jesus about how powerful faith was. So, getting back to that morning in the Morro Bay hotel. I recalled the thankful leper and set about to get us packed up and ready to get back on the road. I was still somewhat rocked from the day before because of the big argument, but I was thankful too. I was thankful that God got us this far into the trip even though it was so tough! Mario packed up the car and then we found our way to where the continental breakfast was. In that little breakfast place there was the attendant from last night to greet us with a sweet smile and a quick introduction about how to use the waffle maker (that was the BEST!!). We were her only breakfast customers so far – so it was the three of us there in that room. As I was trying my hand at the waffles I looked over and saw the woman sitting there staring out. She was looking out the window toward the shoreline of Morro Bay at a big rock. I started talking with her asking her questions about where she’d lived before coming here (she was of East Indian descent, and I was curious about her story). She explained that she had come out here from North Carolina last May. She then said something that caught my attention even further. She said, “Every morning I sit here and look outside and thank the Good Lord for bringing me here.” She went on to say that she had been a Hindu and converted to Christianity 15 years ago. She had left an abusive marriage last May which is what brought her out to Morro Bay. I knew then that this was a divine moment. We were supposed to be at that hotel, and I was supposed to hear this reinforced message of thankfulness as a key to my walk – even in my most angriest, most painful moments – and our new friend was supposed to know that God sees her and sends her brothers and sisters to remind her that she is not alone. We took the opportunity to pray together, and then my husband and I drove away with completely different attitudes – in awe of God’s power in spite of our biggest mistakes! That day was such a gift. I cannot explain the sweet scenery that played out before our eyes as we traversed the magnificent Highway 1. I can only say this, there was a moment when I saw these huge trees, fierce and brave meet the shoreline that held back this equally powerful and mesmerizingly bright blue ocean, and I thought, “This is where the forest and the ocean shake hands and decide to be friends forever.” That’s the story of my marriage. We are both so strong, so different, fighting for that shoreline, but God uses that force to change us into a vision of His glory. So hang in there, sister. Be brave, whether you are the ocean or the trees, this fight is a good one. Be thankful for the process.

Day 2 Themes:

1) Thankfulness is key. (Don’t worry if you’re not thankful right now. Hang in there!)

2) Be brave, and don’t be afraid that you’re too strong. There is a purpose!

Prayer

Dear Father God, Thank you for giving me so much, even in my biggest defeats. Thank you that You never give up on me, and that You are always ready to teach me a life giving lesson. Please help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and to obey You. Please help me to hang in there and to not be afraid of how it looks and feels right now. Please help me to not see my husband as an enemy ,and I pray the same for him to not see me as his enemy. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

The Merry-Go-Round – A story about (not) loving my enemies

I’m going to tell you a story this morning about eight year old Sonia. I am the oldest of three girls. My sister, Lorena, is the middle child with a heart of gold. We grew up moving around more than others because my dad was in the military. My sister and I were both in a school in Mountain View, California where she was in first grade and I was in fourth. At this particular school they had two separate playgrounds – one for kinder and first graders and another for second through fifth graders. There was a chain link fence dividing the playgrounds. I’d told my sister to go to the fence and stand there if she ever needed me and sure enough one day she was standing on her side of the fence crying. I ran over there and she proceeded to tell me that a girl in her class was making fun of her because of her lisp. Well, I was good friends with a rather large fourth grade Samoan girl so we went over to where the bully was sitting on the merry-go-round. My friend and I proceeded to spin that merry go round until that little girl got the message that she should never again pick on my sister. It was always like that growing up. If anyone picked on my sisters or my family I saw red and went after them with everything in me.

Fast forward to 43 year old Sonia. Recently a good friend of mine was the recipient of a woman’s petty behavior, and it broke my friend down. I found her in a room crying. Well I saw red and since that day I’ve had a few encounters with this woman and my ice cold attitude coupled with an obvious disgust for her very presence any time she was  near me led up to an encounter yesterday that reminded me of that merry-go-round scenario years ago. I think it’s called “icing someone out.” I ignored this woman when she was talking, passively aggressively speaking to her in condescending tones and just begging her to engage. In my mind I kept thinking, “Say one thing wrong – just one thing. I’m ready.” I was poised to unleash my every opinion of her to make her cry. That was my goal, really, to make her cry – to make her pay for what she did to my friend. Different weapons (no Samoan friend, no merry-go- round) but definitely same goal. At some point this woman did walk away from me unhinged and thankfully I had another thing to attend to or I would have followed her and really let her have it.

This thing in me never bothered me until now. I was fine with it, I liked it about myself until yesterday. I think God has been putting His finger on this thing and saying it’s time to grow up and trust Him to defend. I called my husband and then a good friend yesterday to talk about this, and they both prayed for me. And then last night in church somewhere towards the end of the Bible study I hear these verses: Romans 12:17-19 (NIV) Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I am not perfect and neither are my enemies. I am put in these situations to highlight and expose what’s going on inside me. It still doesn’t make it right what these people did, but I’m not God. It’s His job to teach them just like He’s teaching me. It’s my job to obey God when I hear Him speak and I do hear Him on this…loud and clear: “Love your enemies.”

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)

Love for Enemies

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Yikes! I could NEVER do this if left up to me, but thankfully the Spirit of the Living God lives in me and says I can do all things through Him because He loves me. Have a great day, my friend, knowing that our ugliest parts can be the best parts when we turn them over and commit them to our Loving God.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

Encouragement for Women

Dear Little Miss Control Freak

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

My need to control my environment is strong. That sentence is an understatement. Let me rephrase that. My need to control my environment – if left unchecked – is catastrophic and devastating. Maybe it’s the same for you, and that is why you are reading this. Let me assure you right out of the gate here – we are not alone. In preparing to write “Day 1” I thought of several of my  friends and family who have these same issues with control and overwhelming emotions when either a perceived threat or a very real fear has swept in. Just because we are not alone does not make us a part of some exclusive “Bad Christian Ladies Club” nor it does not exclude us from the “Good Christian Ladies Club” either. It just puts us in a category of women who no longer want to be ruled nor defined by the raging emotions that cause damage and dishonor the Lord. When I was praying about writing this and the topic of my rage and anger, I felt a wave of shame and condemnation come over me. It was almost like I couldn’t pray about this part of me. Even though I know God knows all about this fiery girl of His, I felt like I couldn’t admit the severity of it to God. I wanted to call it a “struggle” and label it something mild and non-threatening, but the fact is that it IS life-threatening.  I knew I didn’t need to hide from God, but somewhere down deep came these thoughts of shame because I felt like it’s just so unladylike to have this harsh and vicious way about me.  It can “feel” exhilarating and powerful when you rage and take back your (false sense of) control, but that feeling of control is a big lie. We have been deceived. This can no longer be my first and last line of defense. If I want to have any shot at the abundant life Jesus talks about then I need to learn how to be a strong woman without the clawing, fighting and hissing of mean words and threats. The enemy of my soul does not want me getting victory in this. My intense anger and explosive emotions have made his job all too easy.

So getting back to that moment of prayer where I felt that shame come over me…I decided right then and there to be honest with myself and God. In the silence of my heart and mind I called it what it was. And then an unexpected thing happened. I felt God say to me, “I love you.” I didn’t hear a voice fall out of the sky, but He said it in a way that felt like it was right from His heart to mine. In my ugliness I felt His love right there. He was there with me in the true confession. I don’t know if it was because I was appropriately convicted over this for once or if it was because God knows how hard this is for me. I don’t quite know how to articulate it, but if I could try to explain what took place, I’d have to say that He was pleased that I would come to Him like that…humbly.  And pleased that I would be willing to deal with this finally. So if there’s any encouragement I can give right here at the starting line, it would be this: He loves you. He loves me.

As difficult as things are right now and as difficult a breed of women we can be, we are created in God’s image to love with power and to have self-control and solidness when we let go of our warped sense of control. God wants us to see His power displayed all over our lives and that happens when we admit our greatest weaknesses – the root ones, the real ones. And if we don’t know yet what those roots are, then at the very least we’d be willing to go through the process to allow Him to discover why we do what we do. I don’t know if there’s a formula, and I doubt there’s a “one-size fits all remedy”, but He guarantees this: HE IS FAITHFUL. His Word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “His grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in weakness”. Our weakness in exchange for His strength – now there’s a formula I want to learn about. Which brings takes me to our meditation verse at the top of the page: Matthew 16:24-25. In order for us to find our lives – the lives we have always wanted, we have to lose our life – the old one- the “control freak” one – the one that rages to protect herself like an injured animal. Time to open up that cracked heart and let Him in to do life-saving and life-giving surgery. Let’s hang in there! It’s worth it.

In summary, Day 1 themes:

1) That He loves us.

2) That it’s time to lose that old life (let go of control) and be willing to live the new one (embrace the weakness).

Prayer

Dear Father God, Thank you that you love me so much that You want me to exchange the lies of my own control for the truth of the power of Your Spirit at work in my life. Please help me to be honest with You and others and to stop trying to hold everything together myself. Please give me a willing spirit, heart and mind for the change You want to bring to my life. I want to honor You in every area. I have kept this pressed down and covered up for so long, and I am exhausted. Please show me how to exchange my weakness for Your strength, for my good and Your glory, I pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

So this is Day 1 of the Holy Duct Tape Devotional. The fact that I’m doing this right now is no accident. Thank you for reading!

With all my heart,

Sonia

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There’s our little Luna watching me type 🙂

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Project: Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife

I’ve been working on a little writing project near and dear to my heart, and tonight I want share it with you. This is the first draft of the forward to “Holy Duct Tape – A Devotional for the Hot Tempered Wife.”

Foreword

Full disclosure: I know I am a tough wife. I know that my expectations can border on the impossible. I know I can have quite the double-standard when it comes to letting each other down in my marriage. All that to say that I am acutely aware that as I go into writing this, God wants to deal with the lady typing on this laptop right now. Do you ever find yourself praying things like, “God, please send an army of angels to harness this mouth of mine.” I know I have, and that’s on a good day. Sometimes I just say things so quick and fierce that there’s no time for a hint of any kind of prayer or even a thought, for that matter. I know there are other wives/fiånces/girlfriends who aren’t quite capable yet of saying sweetly (after a major “husband blow it moment”), ‘It’s okay, my love. I understand. Let’s move past this shall we?’ I have nothing against these patient and demure women, I just haven’t known how to respond in a truly honest and healthy way. I will share a story at the onset of this to give some light to the beginning of my journey. I remember being a brand-new Christian and trying to explain to the Pastor’s wife my intense reactions and the behavior that seemed impossible for me to get a handle on when I’m in an argument with my husband. She seemed ill-equipped to deal with my particular issue. She acted as if I was someone to be quickly dealt with and then avoided because I didn’t have it all together as a wife. To her defense, maybe she was just not used to my kind of attitude problem. I don’t know what her reasons were, but all I knew at the time is that I felt more strange and more alone and well, more evil, than other Christian ladies by the time I left. The one thing the Pastor’s wife left me with was one verse and it was this one:

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)  A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I never went to her for guidance again because she simply pointed out that I was broken but didn’t offer any hope or direction in how I could be rebuilt. I knew I had some broken walls. I just didn’t know how those walls were to be repaired. God wants us to be healthy, strong women. My walls have been broken down for far too long and maybe they have for you too. It’s time to carve out a new way of dealing with our emotions so let’s do some business with God. The repairs can happen, and He is faithful to do it. He says to follow Him. Let’s learn to do that, and watch what He does with our junk. All God wants is for us to be willing and if you are reading this, then that means you are! Get ready for some great change.

So to end tonight’s blog post…I’d like to say thank you for reading this. I plan to post more excerpts here and there. Good night and God bless. 

With all my heart, 

Sonia 

Run Your Race

Mile 18

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“You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, if you run long enough, you’re bound to experience this some day.” – Runner’s World article WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011 

I did a race walking marathon in 1998 in Anchorage, Alaska for the Mayor’s Run during the summer solstice. It is one of the accomplishments that still shocks me that I did. One of the things that seasoned marathoners kept talking about was “The Wall”. It’s that point in the marathon when you feel like what was explained above. I trained for about nine months and when I got to about mile 18 this was when I hit my wall. Thankfully at this point in the course there were so many people with signs cheering us on. One sign cracked me up. It said, “I LOVE SWEATY WOMEN!” I needed a good laugh right about then because I was going to start crying. The cheering was like a shot in the arm. I did finish the race and when I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer call out my name I cried like a baby. I’d made it even though mile 18 threatened this victory.

Last night I was talking with someone who was at their own mile 18…fatigue, discouragement and the doubts were in full effect. I was the one holding the sign and cheering them on. I know today it is for them and one day it will be for me too. We all have our “mile 18 days”, and we need each other to hold up those signs and remind each other that, “WE LOVE SWEATY PEOPLE!” LOL!

We are in the race of our lives, my friend, so let’s be there to cheer each other on and to my sweet Mile 18’er out there facing the day, I love you. God’s got you!

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women

Reminders

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Good morning! It’s been a while, and I don’t have much time. I just have to write this before I head upstairs to get ready for work.

One of the things I beat myself over is that I have a REALLY hard time finishing things. Getting to the end or completion of things I start is very hard for me. This is a very real fact of my personality – for whatever reason. Lately I’ve been thinking about certain things that I haven’t finished, and it got me down until just a moment ago in the women’s Bible study book I am doing with my church. I was in the chapter that talks about Joseph’s life and how it is wrought with twist and turns and the unexpected until he ends up – fully prepared by God -to do what he was created to do. It struck me that not even ME, with my many flaws and, other people’s flaws can stop God from finishing His story for my life.

I was reminded that Mario and I are in our 13th year of marriage and that I am going on my fourth year at Liberty University. I am in my third year of writing this blog. I’ve served at our church for five years. I am on my way, and I needed to be reminded of that and maybe you need that reminder too.

We are on our way because He is at work. If it were up to me – just me – I would be in despair but the thing is, it is not up to me. This life Jesus got a hold of back in 2009 is His, and He will never let me go.

Here are some of the reminders of our divine destiny:

  • Proverbs 16:3 (NIV) Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.
  • Philippians 1:6 (NIV) being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Have a beautiful day and stay cool out there (heat wave is in full effect today)!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women

Thrive in the imperfection

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Card from my niece on Saturday, October 14th

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Sometimes battles are so hidden that the world around you is too bright and laughter too loud. This last week has been a rough and rocky one and all I could think was that I’m failing and nothing’s working. I’d seemed to be “doing” all the right things so what happened?

I am not perfect. That’s what happened/happens. Others aren’t perfect and that’s what happened/happens. Life isn’t perfect and that’s what happened/happens.

I had the strongest urge ever to just give up…writing, school, work, church, people, all of it. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was definitely on a downward spiral to self sabotage. I could feel it, and the snickers and reese’s peanut butter cup wrappers sitting on my desk at work were not helping matters.

I shut down and just became numb sometime around Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Just like a robot, going through the motions without the gift of emotions. I smiled at work, did my job and attended to all the matters of the week, all the while checked out. I barely prayed, read my Bible, didn’t write. I felt God had just up and got frustrated with me so why should I bother.

By Friday I could feel that I was going to crack – thankfully – some feeling.  Throughout the day tears would threaten to spring up and spill out. Friday night came and went with family. And I was pushing through – while the battle waged on within.

Saturday morning I sat down and wrote in my journal, cracked open my Bible study and did the unnatural, supernatural thing of picking up where I left off and God was right there to tell me He loved me. He showed me through that time along with pen and paper and Scripture and then in a phone call and then a little later in the day with this card from our youngest niece.

Little did she know this was the most important message I needed to know. Te recap this imperfect week came the perfect reminder of God’s love. One of the keys to thriving in our imperfect world with our imperfect selves is to remember His great love for us in all things – His never ending, all perfect love.

So from one imperfect person to another, God loves us and His way is the best. We can trust Him through our insecurities, our silent (or not so silent) battles, our fears and our failures. He is faithful. We can trust Him. The “imperfect” is the best backdrop for His perfection. Embrace it!

Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women

the best defense is a good…

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It’s been a while, dear friend. the world has been a crazy mess and with it my heart has had its own battles. My heart beats loudly as i type and fears threaten my fingers to stop. to even sit at my computer right now is a moment of courage and perseverance. i need to focus on that – the good that God is showing me through stepping through the fears with Him. What are your fears today? what will we do with them?

i write today as a woman both in battle and in peace. its weird. i could go down the list of the recent events: conflicts, moments of clarity, great change, calm, friction etc, and they would be relevant and mildly entertaining.

but I want to write about my reactions and natural reflexes to life’s circumstances. i’m a fighter, sometimes out of fear and sometimes out of faith. i recently reacted badly to a surprise situation and found myself holding up an old shield and wielding an old weapon. it felt like the Sonia from years ago – fearful, controlling and hard with a strong desire to just run away.

this feeling has been following me since that day. so this morning as i was gathering up the courage to write something, anything, to step through my fear, i thought of Jesus’ reactions in the Bible. only it seems that He didn’t react..or at least react like the way i understand reactions. it’s more like He responded to needs and pressed through the obvious to the depth of the issue. how does one do that?

as i was thinking about this i recalled what i’d learned and heard taught about Jesus living in the pure confidence in the will of His Father. He has the best defense because He has the best offense. Living forward in love. Living in God’s love is living free even when you’re in the battle of your lifetime.

like i said, i’m in a battle against some deep things and maybe you are too so here’s some truth for us today to live free:

Ephesians 6:13-18 The Message 

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

Encouragement for Women

Doubts, Destiny & “The NOW Factor”

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Happy Sunday night and my apologies for not posting regularly as I had been doing. I have been taking a step back to seek direction on what to write or, better yet, if I am to write anything at all. Today there were a few people in passing who mentioned to keep blogging so here I am. Mario’s in the other room working on some videos for his recording arts students so perfect timing to just sit and write.

This week I read a quote and I searched and searched on the internet to see if I could find it or something similar to it but I can’t. I don’t know if it was on Pinterest or what but here’s basically what I remember it said, “If Christians really knew/believed the power of God living inside of them, they would be the most confident people on earth,” (if you know who said this or have seen the image somewhere, please let me know). When I read it I immediately thought, “Yes, that is so true.” Yet here I sit wondering this and that about what I should or shouldn’t be doing and second guessing a lot and thinking I’m just blowing it and not living up to my potential.

I went to a small meeting with some women from my church on Saturday morning and we were discussing prayer requests and mine was that I have this urgency to get all the answers to the questions about my destiny NOW like “Am I doing the right things to set myself up for what I am created to do” or “Is this what I am supposed to be spending time on” and questions like that. I don’t just want answers, I want them now and that is the problem with my thinking and my doubts.

“The Now Factor” is what’s been feeding these feelings of doubt. If I don’t know now then what? Am I just going to be heading down these rabbit trails only to be discouraged and have to turn around and start from the beginning?!

The truth is I don’t need to know these answers and neither do you. That is where faith is faith – in the daily doubts for our destiny. In the daily question of, “Is this going to be like this forever?” Faith extinguishes doubt like rock breaks scissors in “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. Faith is powerful! But how do I do this when my doubt seems more powerful than my faith?

Well, I think it’s in admitting I can’t. You can’t. And we just can’t. We never could. But God’s very Spirit living inside of us, when we decided to live a life surrendered to Him, CAN. That’s where that quote, about Christians being the most confident people on earth, comes in. Just think for a moment about your life and all the things God has shown you so far? I’m thinking about that too right now…God always had a way that led somewhere greater and deeper and richer than I thought, and it always was HIM. Even my obedience has very little to do with me and more to do with what I know to be true about God.

So what if I can be a doubtful, fearful woman in her 40’s?! God’s Spirit lives inside of me and that is all the confidence He says I need. And with that truth I will end this blog with a line from a song we sang at church this morning, “There is power in the name of Jesus!” Take heart, my friends, and don’t give up. Keep believing even through the doubt.

Jeremiah 17:7New Living Translation 

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

 

Good night and have a great week!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

America · Puerto Rico

Group Settings

This is the blog post message tonight, Representative Scalise’s speech today as he returns to congress. Please watch the whole thing to hear the miracles that took place in his group setting the day when he was shot and then hear the miracle in this group setting as he delivers a powerful message about our Almighty God, the power of prayer and the unmatchable power of love.

As I reflect on this speech it gives me hope in how we, as a group of people committed to serving one another and empowered by the Holy Spirit, can help others in need in Mexico, Puerto Rico and places still in desperate need in the states. Together we can and that’s the power of group settings when the focus is on the greater good for humanity.

Psalm 62:8

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women

rejection IS protection

 

D0448B0C-6527-47CC-9CE4-E2154E2269F5The first time I heard this phrase was from my husband. Mario’s trumpet teacher in college told him that because he would have to go on many auditions and rejection was a certainty in his field. Good advice. I just Googled the phrase “Rejection is protection” and various links with blogs, articles, journals etc. came up about this topic. Good old rejection! So much has been said about it that I don’t even want to write about it right now, but it’s pressing on me so here I go.

Rejection was a huge part of Jesus’ existence. Check out this link and you can read all about it: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Rejection-Of-Christ . And even though it was such a big part of His life it still does not define Him. How do we live like that? How do we embrace rejection, knowing that God has a plan on the other side of it for us because rejection leaves a mark. Jesus bears those marks in His hands, in His sides. So how do we look on the other side of it while we are in it? I’m seriously asking the question because it is very real and sometimes overwhelms everything else. In US History I am also studying Abraham Lincoln and his life was marked by rejection as well, and it paved the way for him to be the kind of president that would abolish slavery. Okay, here’s my thought on this. Rejection is an essential ingredient to walking in our destiny. And if it is an essential ingredient, how do we rise above it while our hearts break in the midst of it.

Here’s one thought. Let’s get over ourselves! I’m laughing as I write this because I, for one, know this is a huge challenge for me and maybe for you too. We don’t know everything. We don’t see the big picture. We can’t know the beginning and the end. All of that belongs to God. And if it belongs to Him, He allowed it. It’s His gift to us in many ways, this rejection. If we let it, it can mature us, move us, inspire us…

Right now I know a lot of people who are facing big rejections in some way. I know I am too. I hope we get over ourselves and get going in this business of trusting God with our rejections because, as it’s been said, it really is His protection.

With all my heart,

Sonia

On the outside
You're free to roam
On the outside
We found a home
On the outside
There's more to see
On the outside
We choose to be



Lyrics "The Outsiders" by needtobreathe
Encouragement for Women

Big Mouth

Happy Sunday night! We had a busy weekend with Mario getting over that stomach bug thing and then all the weekend things: family, church today and a gig at LACMA for Mario. We just got home. I hugged the dog, and here I am at the computer!

So tonight is going to be brief as possible (ok, it might be long), but I wanted to put it out there that it’s occurred to me that I have a pretty big mouth. I had a few conversations this week where I did too much talking and not enough listening and it got me in trouble. And then an argument with my husband on Friday night where I just let my big mouth get out of control. I’m not proud to say these things, and I do know the verse that says, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the man speaks” Luke 6:45b. I don’t know about you, but I feel awful after stuff like this. It’s not all the time that it’s like this but it’s been more frequent in this last week and since I’m in the Bible study, “Discerning the Voice of God” with the women at my church I know it’s God telling me I’ve got something going on in my heart. Now the question is, “Am I willing to let God get in my business?” I will tell you my answer is “Yes!” Because if there’s one thing I know it’s that I need to change. I want to change more into the woman God created me to be. So that means I’ve got to be humble and open my eyes to the things that aren’t great to look at in my character. I know I’m not a malicious person, and I’m not just beating myself up here over my recent failures. But I want to be honest with God, myself and others. It is hard to be wrong, but so is staying stuck and thinking you’re right. Since I started walking with God my perspective is that I’d rather it be hard as long as it gives me more depth and integrity. I believe if you’re not growing as a person, it’s not that you’re just not growing – you’re regressing, and I don’t want that for my life.

Before church started today I was sharing a little bit about my week with my friend, and she said, “We’re in a war and fighter’s train by being hit. They train to build endurance by the blows so they can withstand the whole fight.” That resonated with me that it’s not just about getting knocked down, it’s about the getting up and getting back in there. That’s the overcoming part. So we’ve been knocked down a bit, let’s choose to get back in the fight and keep pressing forward. As God’s children, “We are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us.” Romans 8:37

I also got the opportunity to sing worship today at church. After what I allowed to come out of my mouth this week it occurred to me that it could be used for good too – even if I’d blown it this week. God’s grace is that wonderful. He knows I am sorry and don’t want to dishonor Him. He knows I’m weak and need Him. He knows I fail. But He created me, created us – not failure, but for victory, for overcoming

Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful week!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Puerto Rico

Family

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Barranquitas, Puerto Rico 2008

Good evening! I didn’t get to post last night because one of us in our household had a stomach bug (it was not me), and there was a late night trip to pick up some medicine. Okay, it was Mario. He’s doing a lot better today, but I heard there’s a stomach bug going around so be sure to drink lots of fluids and get rest (I’m talking to myself here too).  On top of that I’ve been texting back and forth with cousins in Puerto Rico and discussing with family here about a trip we had planned for Christmas and New Years to go to Puerto Rico. We had the tickets paid for and plans in place to stay for three weeks. That was before Hurricane Maria. I am not upset about the trip as much as I am heartbroken for my family there. The texts I’m getting are heavy hearted, and I wish I could be there to help pick up the pieces.

I am grateful they are all alive, but my heart aches for them and what they face now. I love my family. I love that island. They have my heart. It struck me how this family of my dad’s across the ocean is such an important part of me. I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night and what little sleep I did get was restless. The island was being pummeled, and I was here safe in my bed. I know they’re a resilient people with a fierce faith in God so I am hopeful for them, but the control freak in me wants to be there so bad, and that is hard.

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With cousins in Puerto Rico, December 2014

With all that said, tonight is about being grateful for family, for having roots and connection throughout life and caring for one another even though you’re miles apart. I am praying for the rebuilding process and for hope to burn in their hearts in the midst of the damage. Here are some photos from the family in Puerto Rico, and as I pray and look at these beautiful memories, I know God is faithful and near and will show Himself mighty to save.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Gabbie and me. Fajardo, Puerto Rico 2008
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New Year’s Eve 2008. Cousins
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Mario and me. El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico 2006
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Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 2006
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Gabbie with cousins 2008
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Titi Toñita’s house. Puerto Rico, December 2014
Encouragement for Women

When enough is enough

First of all I’d like to say thank you for the encouragement and support for those who read the last blog post, “The Great DINNER Exchange.” It was the most read blog post to date, and I received messages from people sharing their heart with me about their situation. It is good to know we are in this together, and we are not alone in these struggles.

Tonight’s blog post is not about marriage or friendships or being a mom, but it is about a relationship. It’s about a relationship with diet and exercise or should I say the lack of healthy commitment in this relationship. The progression to this point of complacency started in the last year and a half. I got comfortable with being lazy and careless and didn’t really see it as a problem until this past Sunday’s photo. Now, I know it’s not that I am extremely overweight or out of shape but I know this is an area that has owned me and caused me shame. Here’s the photo from September 17, 2017:

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This past Sunday

Now this isn’t terrible at first glance but this was a little less than two years ago:

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November 2015

I didn’t quite realize all this had happened until the photo above this one was sent to me. It had several people all lined up for an after church photo and here was this person staring back at me that I didn’t quite recognize. I mean, she looked familiar, she had my clothes on but she wasn’t me. She couldn’t be!! Let me just put it out there that I know this has been an area where God has said to honor Him and His Word, but I didn’t see it as a problem. Until now. Until enough is enough! The laziness and complacency has held me down for almost two years, and I’ve been all to eager to just let it just happen with no conviction. Until now. It’s not just what I see in that photo that bothers me. It’s what it represents to me because I know me. It says that I don’t care about making sacrifices so I can be healthy inside and out. It says I don’t care about being a helper to my husband in his fitness. It says I don’t care about being a good steward of the body God has given me. It says I just do not care. And that is not okay with me because I do care, very much. I do use food for comfort and don’t exercise just because I am too tired or lazy and haven’t been intentional in this area on any consistent basis. So I am going public with this for the accountability and because I want to go on a journey for lifelong change not just a quick fix. I want to give my very best, and I can do that best when I am healthy. So I am embarking on this journey to healthy living and will share updates in the blog from time to time (definitely not putting a true “BEFORE” photo on here just yet) but tonight the challenge for me, maybe for us, is to be intentional with being healthy. Let’s discover what that looks like for us and start pushing the bad stuff away and inviting the good stuff in. Thank you for reading and the feedback. It means more than you know!

Philippians 3:14 The Message 

Focused on the Goal

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

With all my heart, Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Uncategorized

The Great DINNER Exchange

The summer of 2017 (the one that we are just saying goodbye to) was one of the hardest for our marriages. I shared my idea for this blog post with Mario (my husband of 12 years) and asked what his thoughts were. He said, “Be honest. Tell the story.” So here I go. But before I dive in I have to say Mario is the love of my life. I’m the love of his life. It was at the end of June this year that I discovered something I wasn’t quite prepared for (I will spare you and me the intimate details of this discovery) but safe to say it’s one that rocks you to your core. It was one of those times when you don’t know if everything is just a bad dream. I don’t care how many years you’ve been married – there are some heartbreaking moments when you can’t breathe. I mean…really…the person you love most on the planet holds your heart in their hands and you hold theirs. Tell me that they’ve never or you’ve never crushed it?! Well this was one of those crushing moments. And before this becomes a pity party for Sonia I must tell you I have given Mario equal reasons to feel crushed and he has forgiven me (maybe he can write a blog post as a follow up to this one to share his story as well).  So getting back to a few months ago…there was something being unearthed in our marriage and in us that needed to be unearthed. I drove to the beach alone a few days after the “discovery” and went for a walk during sunset. I sat on a bench and looked at the sun as it started to set. I was angry and was doing my best to use that anger as a cloak for my broken heart. As I sat there longer and talked to God in my heart about the “why’s” and the “how’s” I felt Him say to my soul the most absurd thing, “Go home and make him dinner.” I literally shook my head no. But again, there was the message, “Go home and serve him.” Even as I type the tears are coming. It was so clear, but I was so angry. How could I do that? How could I do that through this anguish? But I did. I got up, walked to the car and drove to Trader Joe’s and picked up Brussels sprouts for a recipe I wanted to try. I came home and all that was going through my head was, “Why am I doing this after what happened?” I set the table and motioned to him to sit down to eat. He looked at me in disbelief but sat down. We both ate. Afterwards we had one of the most honest conversations we’ve ever had. I was still hurt, but now truth and love were on the table. We have both hurt each other in this marriage. We are not perfect, but now we weren’t running from our mistakes. We were facing them. Together. In the months that followed we put the pieces back together, put one foot in front of the other, got godly counsel and hung on for dear life. So, fast forward to the theme of “The Great DINNER Exchange.” Two days ago we celebrated our 12th anniversary as husband and wife. Mario surprised me with the most elegant dinner I’ve ever had. It was magical. It was amazing. At the end of the dinner I remembered what God had said to me that day at the beach, and I looked at the exquisite table and tears came to my eyes. It felt as if God was saying to my heart at that table, “This is the exchange…that dinner when you were heartbroken for this one where I put it back together the right way.” I obeyed Him, and He delivered far beyond what I could have asked for. I still love our marriage – flaws and all – because it is a constant reminder that miracles happen, that God is faithful, and HE HAS A PLAN. I trust Him because we fail Him, and He still loves us so much. He loves our marriage. He loves our marriages. So the challenge tonight is to close your eyes and obey God. Push past the feelings, the crushing pain and obey the One who can make sense of all of it.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18 NLT

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT

 

With all my heart, Sonia

P.S. To the man of my life, Mario, you are the hero of my life. I love you with everything I’ve got. Happy, blessed beyond measure, Anniversary!

 

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Notice the “Happy Anniversary” envelope in the corner of photo
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Pre-dinner photo (Mario’s idea) He’s such a romantic and I love it!

 

 

Encouragement for Women

Still

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“A silent 10-minute song is the newest hit on iTunes,” wrote Derek Lawrence in the August 11, 2017 edition of Entertainment Weekly.  He went on to write, ‘”Do you hear that? Probably not, but a 10-minute silent song is climbing the charts. Samir Mezrahi’s track “A a a a a Very Good Song,” which features no sound, costs $0.99, and lasts one-ninth the running time of The Dark Tower, currently sits at No. 51 on iTunes, coming in just behind rap superstar Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”’

Good evening John4four Readers, I am writing this at 10pm on Thursday, September 14th. Thank you for joining me here!

So I heard the story about this song a month ago as I was listening to the news. I found it funny, but totally believable. A song with no sound, and people are buying it. The reason for this nothing song being such a hit is because people are buying it so they can have some silence in the car when their iTunes comes on. They want silence for awhile.

Our worlds are noisy. Our minds are noisy. I fight against silence sometimes. I’ll get up and blog and turn on music. I’ll go to make coffee, breakfast and turn on the news or HGTV. I get in my car and turn the radio on or make call. I’ll get to work just bursting to talk to my coworkers. Then the phones start going at work and people come in and out of the office and talk all day while ambient, office music plays in the background. Noise all day.

I do have this one part of my day that is quiet and still. It is usually sometime between 5am -6am. My husband is not a morning person so I am up before him 99.9% of the time. I head downstairs and let the dog out, grab my coffee and sit at my desk with th Bible. It’s quiet, and I pray. And even though it’s super quiet, my head can be noisy sometimes. To-do lists, reminders of the day, emotions and anxieties can creep up to wrestle the quietness out.

Lately this has been the case. Too. Much. Noise. So this morning as I sat here leafing through the latest women’s study book we are doing with our church, “Discerning The Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer, it occurred that I am afraid of the stillness and silence sometimes. I crave activity. One of the verses Priscilla referenced in the study video from Session 1 tonight was Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” That’s the challenge here tonight. To be still.

I am praying we are brave enough to be still and solid right where He has us so we can hear Him with our whole hearts So I’ll share the prayer I wrote tonight as I get ready for this season of listening for God’s voice and having a soul ready to follow Him wherever He leads:

“I’m scared of this, Lord. I didn’t realize it until now. Please help me to press forward in faith and make me brave. Crack me open for Your purpose and glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen”

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women

I have brave friends

images.jpegThis post is gonna be short and sweet today. I have a big work day ahead, and that means my hair needs to be on point so I can go into it with at least one thing going for me LOL! So no messy bun for me today!

That said, this post is dedicated to the women in life, my friends. I am sitting here at this desk and names are just coming up of women I know battling all kinds of things and pressing forward. Dear brave friend, you know who you are. You're the one staring sickness in the face and rising above it in prayer and in humility and in hope. You're the one battling addiction and feeling defeated yet getting up day after day saying, "I love you, God." You're the one battling an eating disorder and being willing to be honest and ask God for strength for change. You're the one just feeling beat down by life and finances and believing God for miracles and giving even though you have nothing. You're the one who battles a crippling disease that keeps you in bed most days but even then you text others to see how they're doing. You're the one that is full of insecurities yet you push past them to show up and lead the way for others to see Jesus. You're the one who's husband broke your heart yet you still tend to the needs of your family and get up and give "one more day" and then "one more day" and so on. You're the ones who battled all kinds of things each Sunday to show me how to get up and sing to God for real. You're the one who battled cancer that took your hair and taste buds for a time and let me be there during the process and have lunch with you after your appointments. You're the one, despite your own disappointments, shows me how to laugh and persevere in the middle of a work day that can suck the life out of you. You're the one who thinks you have nothing to offer, but you offer yourself anyway and you don't even know how important your love is. You're the one who laughs with me even though life has given you so much to shed many more tears. You're the one who pushes past business and life and comes over mid-week to recap life and sing songs. And finally you're the one who got beat up by people that call themselves "Christian" – you didn't give up, but instead rose up to lead an army of women to take up arms in God's army (you know who you are) and encourage people from all walks of life to get real and get healthy.

This morning as I sit here and type (with tears running down my cheeks)  I realize I am blessed beyond what I deserve. You've been God's hands and feet and heart in my life during crucial, game-changer moments and I want to take a moment to say, "Thank you, a million times over, for being on this journey. You are braver than you could ever imagine. I love you and thank God for you!"

Proverbs 17:17 & Proverbs 27:17

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women

Echoes of the past

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Last night I had a ton of homework in my US History class. I'd waited too long to get started on the mountain of assignments due, but I didn't want to rush. I'm enjoying this class so much so I just took my time knowing that I will get points taken off for turning it in past the 8:59pm deadline. An unexpected thing happened during one of my assignments. Since I am in US History of course one of the portions of study will be the slave trade during the colonial times. I had to watch a video that referenced an account of a man who was taken from his homeland at 12 and taken aboard a slave ship. The horrors described were too much for me although I got through it. But then I had to fill out this sheet to help me with a quiz that I had to take. The sheet was called Slave Trade Database Quiz/Questions/Queries. Basically this sheet gave you a list of scenarios regarding slave vessels and voyages and you had to look up the answer using the database. One of the questions said to look up how many slave voyages were listed for the years 1514-1607, which I did. The list was long and the first one listed was a voyage from 1539 that started in Sengambia and offshore Atlantic and disembarked the slaves in  Puerto Rico. I learned last night that there were numerous slave voyages to Puerto Rico. If I delved further in I'm sure I would come up with a staggering amount of men, women and children taken from Africa to Puerto Rico. The numbers of these slave vessels was staggering.

I broke down crying. My husband was at work and I was just here looking at this database and looking at the color of my skin and thinking of my grandparents on my dad's side and how beautiful their skin color was and how sweet the texture of their hair was. My grandmother had the loveliest caramel color, coarse curly black hair and light green eyes. My grandfather had slightly lighter skin and straighter hair but very strong features.

I don't know why this fact of slave trade to Puerto Rico and the blood that courses through my veins along with my mom's Mexican side from Uruapan, Michoacán, hit me with such force. Maybe its the echoes of the past and things that make me angry or make me cringe today. I had to remind myself that the things my ancestors must have endured was not just tragedy. There's this thing in me that drives me and has these ties to the past. I love how pops of color, the corals and the aquas, call to me and remind me of Puerto Rico as I love the vibrant colors of the serapes from Mexico.

I finally connected the dots. I am always fighting against being dominated in any way or against any perceived threat that my rights are being taken away from me. Staring at the slave trade database I realized that my history is connected to it and my very present self is too. I spoke with Mario while we was on his way home, and we talked about how we are now just slaves to God out of love for Him. I was still upset with the cruelty of humanity and how it played out in my families in Puerto Rico and Mexico. And Mario had to remind me that this is what defines us today – Jesus' blood.  Even though the world or even our own mind wants to make us slaves we can push back and be slaves only to our Creator that made us to love and overcome and run free.

I don't know where to go with this latest information about Puerto Rico is going to take me. I definitely want to know more, but I want to appreciate that the echoes of the past are just that, echoes. I want to mourn the past but then take the good, the gifts and have them be used in my life for the great adventure God has set me on.

Whatever your echoes are and mine are, we are created in His image and He loves us. That's our very present reality.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

With all my heart, Sonia


Gil y Julia, Abuelo y Abuela in Puerto Rico

America

We Remember

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This is one of those days when you think back to exactly where you were when you got the news that the unthinkable had happened. I remember walking my daughter Gabbie to her first day of third grade at a new school. We were walking through the parking lot and I’d briefly heard something on the radio. As I and other parents made our way to the school entrance I remember the light of day felt different and confusion and disbelief were plastered on faces that had already heard the news. I didn’t get the whole story from the news about what had happened because it was a short drive to the school but as I dropped my daughter off and got back in the car I heard more reports. I worked at a bank at the time and there was talk of closing it because we were not sure if our headquarters, a downtown high rise building would be closed because no one knew if there were more attacks lined up. That day at work I lived on the edge of my seat. People came in and withdrew all their money in cash, some made large transfers, others got into their safe deposit boxes and in between helping customers we all watched the news.  It was a day unlike any other. That evening as I washed dishes I heard some more news reports and they were talking about the people who were jumping out of the remaining parts of the towers. I sobbed. I couldn’t believe this. What was happening to this world? Everything felt uncertain and unsafe. Do I even take my daughter to school or go to work the next day? I did go to work, and she did go to school and we kept on. In the days that followed more and more stories of acts of heroism and the unity of the American people began to rise out of the ashes. For every flash on tv of the towers being hit there was a story of someone running up a stairwell to help when everyone was running out or something equally heroic.

So today as I go to work and remember the day that shook our nation to its core I remember the innocent lives lost, the fallen heroes and the amazing resiliency God has built into us as a nation and as a people. We will not fear. We will not shrink back. We will live in the freedom that God has called us to.

9/11/01, I will never forget.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women

Diamonds

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This is from geology.comThe formation of natural diamonds requires very high temperatures and pressures. These conditions occur in limited zones of Earth’s mantle about 90 miles (150 kilometers) below the surface where temperatures are at least 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (1050 degrees Celsius). This critical temperature-pressure environment for diamond formation and stability is not present globally. Instead it is thought to be present primarily in the mantle beneath the stable interiors of continental plates.

Today’s Blog Topic: Women under pressure because we are made to be diamonds. 

This semester for school I am in US History. At first I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having to take a required course because I’ve enjoyed being in all the Biblical studies. Lo and behold, I was in for a treat. For my chosen research project I’ve decided to study the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife to President Abraham Lincoln. I chose her because I’ve always admired what President Lincoln was able to accomplish in his lifetime despite his many obstacles.

Imagine what life must have been like for her as she helped her husband standing by his side as he took a stance against slavery and led the country through its most tumultuos time. She was one of two First Ladies. Her counterpart being that of the wife of the Confederate States of America, Varina Davis.  That must have had its own set of challenges in addition to the pressures of supporting President Lincoln. In Civil War Journals, First Ladies: North & South Mary Todd Lincoln is described as being “highly intelligent, tempestuous, hot-tempered, loyal and loving.” Her brothers all fought for the confederate army yet here she was married to the leader of the Union. She had convictions and was criticized for it one minute and praised for it the next.

The reason why I know this is timely for me is that I am in a season where I need to find my voice and stand up for what I believe in. And not just to prove my point – because believe me, making waves and not going along with the status quo has a cost and most often, it is your reputation and life as you know it. So it would be easier to just go along with the masses and nod and wave and “live and let live.” Why make life hard for myself, right? WRONG. And I know it’s wrong because God has made this clear to me right now, “…The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Hebrews 13:6. 

I need to learn how to do this – how to stand up righteously and selflessly. I need the pressure and the heat of this thing to serve the purpose of God’s master plan for me and so do you. We are made to shine. We are diamonds. So let’s not lay down, play dead nor let the world run us over. It’s not rebellion that I am referring to with regards to not being a “well-behaved woman,” it’s about rejecting a status quo that wants to silence you when God has a message He wants to deliver through you.

Let the pressure and the heat do its job and trust God.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

P.S. Thank you to my sweet friend for introducing this music to me. Please listen and enjoy!