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America Fight the Good Fight Puerto Rico

Happy Birthday, Dad!

My dad, Samuel Morales

My dad was born and raised in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 I have to put the flag here (you know how proud Puerto Ricans are of the flag!). He signed up for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and did two tours in Vietnam. He was in the Marine Corps for twenty years and retired as a Gunnery sergeant (GySgt). I was born on a military base in Twentynine Palms, CA, the oldest of three girls, and we lived on a few military bases while I was growing up.

My dad has been retired from his second career, his second career also in protecting the community. That’s what I know to be true about my dad, serving and protecting his family, community and country.

My dad went through boot camp only speaking Spanish. He was not bilingual then but successfully completed bootcamp and was a US Marine through and through.

I wanted to write this post to let you in a little bit to see a family man, a hero in so many ways, front and center.

He and my mom (who was born and raised in Uruapan, Michoacán in Mexico 🇲🇽 -there’s another flag for you because I have to represent both!) met in Oceanside while my dad was stationed at Camp Pendleton & the rest is history.

There’s lots of life that happened between then and now, but I have to tell you that as a daughter, I am so proud. So proud of all the things my dad has accomplished in his life and instilling a love for this country 🇺🇸 (and that’s another flag we love in our home) and sacrifice, service and the freedom he fought for.

I spoke with my Dad on Friday night, and we did some online shopping for some new baseball caps for him as birthday gifts. The ones he chose said “USMC Vietnam Veteran” and they had to be camo, of course!

So to my dad, this proud daughter says, “Happy birthday, Dad! Thank you for loving all of us and giving us a life we could be proud of! 🙌🏽🇵🇷🇲🇽🇺🇸 God bless you, Dad!“

With all my heart, Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Seasons

Go and Sin No More

I’m up at 1:20am unable to sleep and this theme keeps rolling around in my head. Since I can’t sleep I came downstairs to write so here we go.

The title of this blog may bring to mind the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8 or maybe even the woman at the well in John chapter 4.

I was saved on July 30, 2009. I was 35 years old and had lived all my life searching and running and running and searching. I said the sinners prayer around a dinner table that amazing day in 2009, and my life was changed forever in that instant.

I had what some would call a “radical conversion moment” where one minute my life was going the wrong way and the next it was not. What I have found these last 12 years of my Christian life is that everyone’s story is unique. Some people have that “a-ha” moment like I did and for others it is more like a long, slow simmer into their faith life. Either way it is powerful, real, personal and miraculous.

I’ve often wondered about a few women in the Bible, and what their lives looked like after they began to live as Christians. The Bible doesn’t mention the failures and slip ups of either the woman at the well (John 4) nor the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8) after their moment of coming to faith in Jesus, but you’ve got to know that they weren’t perfect from the get go. They probably struggled with old tendencies, and…NEWSFLASH! They probably did sin even after their miraculous encounters with the Messiah Himself! Oh, but His grace covers!

These were women with extremely broken pasts: the woman at the well who’d had five husbands and then the woman caught in the act of adultery. Let me say that again for the people in the back: a woman who’d had five husbands and another woman caught in the act of adultery. Safe to say, they had issues with men, and they probably had a laundry list of lots of other issues as well. I can relate. Let me let you in on a little secret (or maybe not so little of a secret). I was the woman at the well. Let me also confess that some things in my life changed miraculously on that wonderful July day in 2009, and others… well…let’s just say I am a work in progress and thankful for the Lord’s grace and truth in my life. Oh, but His grace covers!

That’s the thing about God that’s so perfect! He is gracious, and He is truthful. Only He can understand the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The trap for us onlookers sometimes is to think that because someone is saved they need to do A, B and C in a timeline that we perceive to be acceptable to the Lord. We become judge and jury without really knowing the heart of God.

I think the reason this theme, this warning is coming to mind is that we are at a critical time in life when we need to come together as the body of Christ and truly be about our Father’s business. He did not call us to police the lives of other Christians and think ourselves superior. He called us to live lives of love in Him and in service to others. The moment you and I become critical and frustrated with others’ lives not looking as holy as we think ours is, we have stepped outside of being of service to others and have entered the futile realm of merely being a spectator. The Bible has something to say about that. I just looked this passage up in The Message:

A Simple Guide for Behavior

Matthew 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

At this time there are men, women and children in Afghanistan who profess Christ who are not concerned about how someone else’s faith life looks, of this we can be sure. Their reality is a life and death one. We can be certain their focus is the Lord and not the speck in someone else’s eye – the smudge on their neighbor’s face. This should be a sobering thought, a wake up call that we need to get serious and stop sweating the small stuff or we are going to miss the very thing God wants our attention on. We need to deal with the ugly sneer on our own face and pray. Like the verse above says..”that we might be fit to offer a washcloth to our neighbor.”

Thank you for reading this early morning post. It’s a heavy one for sure, but one I think we all need. It’s time. Time to be humble. Time to be prayerful. Time to grow. Time to change. Time to stop judging. Time to come together. Time to love. Time to be about our Father’s business.

With all my heart,

Sonia

P.S. If you have been judged, pushed out, demeaned, bullied, left out, ridiculed, misunderstood and even if you’re the judge and jury…this song is for you and for me:

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Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons

To my enemies

I have been studying a ton as I am in the third week of my classes and am reading about family, marriages and relationships. Good thing because there are lots of real life situations that I can draw from. One of the most incredible truths I have been reading about this week is how we are all designed in God’s image. Let that sink in, “Mario, made in the image of God. “Sonia, made in the image of God.” “Gabbie, made in the image of God.” “Alex, made in the image of God.” And so on and so forth. Even this, “My enemy, made in the image of God.” Oof.

Maybe this isn’t a new concept for you. Maybe you just know that people are made in the image of God. I’ve read this and thought I “knew” it, but something has changed. I don’t know if it is just that this is my birthday week, or my hormones are behaving or if this is just God’s birthday lesson highlighted for me by letting me sit higher on His lap as He takes the wheel so I can see better.

A little something about me (and maybe all of us): my vision and perspective at times has me seeing everything and everyone out of a lens of hurt, trauma, triggers, bitterness, fear…basically the potpourri that makes up PRIDE. So not pretty, let me tell you! Like I said, God has given me a greater view, a higher perspective if you will, and the perspective is this: not only am I created in His image, but everyone I lay eyes on is as well. I’m telling you, it is overwhelming, this feeling of a beautiful crushing of how precious people are. It has softened me, ruined me and made me realize how hard hearted I can be when I feel I have the right to be.

I feel like my birthday gift from God this year is this softening of my heart – not the chiseling or pummeling that I am used to, but a tender melting of the walls I had around my heart. I am seeing His creation, His salvation, His power, His plan, His beauty in other people like never before. Even the bad stuff looks like good stuff right now. I am rooting for us all to see each other with the eyes of the Lord. Jesus showed us the way (Matthew 5:44) and gave us the power (Romans 15:13).

To my precious loved ones, you are made in the image of God.

To my enemies – known and unknown, you are made in the image of God.

I pray we can all live in that truth.

If you need some reminding today, turn this up. This is dedicated to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yV0pu60Uqs

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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Uncategorized

Don’t Take the Bait

I’m back in school, and this is my second week of the term so my blog writing is taking somewhat of a backseat, but I was up this morning at 4:30am knowing I had to put this right here. I am in two classes this summer – one of them being Theology 330 – Theology of the Family and this introduction is from one of the textbooks:

Your family lives in a war zone. With every exploding shell, the house shakes. Your physical body may never feel the shell shocks, and the plaster on your walls may remain intact—but the impacts are present all around you. Long after your children fall asleep and the chaos of the day fades into the quietness of evening, the shelling continues.

To be sure, when you look out your window and survey a suburban backyard, a busy city block, or the rolling hills of a rural landscape, what you see probably doesn’t look like a war zone. But don’t let such serene scenery fool you! Beyond the doors of your household and mine, a battle rages. The battle is about glory, and who will receive it. The battle is about authority, and who will exercise it. [Randy Stinson (2015). (p. 29). Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective. Kregel Publications. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com%5D

I forget this so often, that we are in a daily spiritual battle. With that forgetfulness (or loss of focus) comes the reality that I lose sight of the fact that there is an enemy of my soul and yours that knows our tendencies and triggers and will exploit them in an attempt to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a). Sometimes the attack is full on and you know that you are under attack. Sometimes it’s a million little irritations – you feel like it’s a constant drip of a faucet, and you don’t even realize, that this too, is an attack – a subtle one, for sure, but an attack just the same. Can I just say this to you and me this morning…? DON’T TAKE THE BAIT! Wait. Stop. Breathe. Pause. Think. Give it some time. If you’re like me, this is super hard but it is possible if we know that this is what the enemy wants us to do…to take the bait, hook – line – and sinker.

In the last 24 hours I have had several points of engagement where I could just respond a certain way but 75-80% of the time I just waited through it, and what a difference! Mario helped me too in one particular occasion, reminding me to “just wait – give it time”. My friends, that is one of our greatest assets in winning these big and little battles in our lives…WAITING! Waiting for God to bring to reality what is really going on. Waiting for your emotions to subside and rational thought to take over. Waiting for the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and heart. Waiting, waiting, waiting and WINNING!

I guess that’s today’s theme: Don’t take the bait – wait and win! This is why God got me up early this morning to remind me that we don’t have to take the bait anymore because we are not slaves to fear and sin any longer. Like the song below says, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” That’s all I’ve got today. May we be those who live out the second part of John 10:10 and live that abundant life God has laid out before us.

Ok, one last thing…here’s this special song from Zach Williams Live from Harding Prison Album, “No Longer Slaves” please watch and listen to this (all the songs and interviews are amazing!!):

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race Uncategorized

Dream Horse Movie

Ok Wednesday, we see you! Good morning! Here is a short post to encourage you to watch the movie, “Dream Horse.” It is rich with beautiful truths and the best part is – it’s a true story.

I haven’t checked Rotten Tomatoes or any other reviews of this movie, but I don’t care. Okay, I admit I just did and look! Yay, they got it right!!

89% TOMATOMETER and 97% AUDIENCE SCORE

I love all the character stories in this movie, but the main character, Jan Vokes, truly inspires me – especially at this point in my life. I will turn 47 in less than a month and have had some big changes this year and have even more big decisions ahead of me so this movie gave me a glimpse at what living out your dream looks like. I needed to see this now.

It is easy to choose the comfortable, familiar and predictable. People would probably look on and say that is reasonable and understandable, but when I started my walk as a Christian I didn’t sign up for safe or predictable. I said yes to life, the life that He created me to live so I have to be brave and wise in my choices, uncomfortable in the unknown and patient in the process. I don’t want this year to just pass me by. I want to live it to the fullest letting God take my hand – pointing to sunrises, broken paths, sunsets, rainbows, valleys, scary roads, and butterflies all along the way. My life is supposed to wave His banner of miracles and so is yours. Our stories are to point to Him, to impossible possibles, so my prayer today is to live that dream because it is a reality. He made it so.

Please listen to this song called Jireh that says we are already loved, we are already chosen. Like the movie says, “Be brave. Be brilliant. You were born for this.”

With all my heart,

Sonia

Categories
Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons

P.M.S., Perimenopause & Pink Bubblegum Ice Cream

How was your Monday? Mine was rough, physically. I am going through what is called “perimenopause.” Doesn’t that sound fun? The word pause in there should imply something of a restful state but alas, that is the furthest from my experience thus far. Here’s some more information on that https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause-rocky-road-to-menopause

So yesterday was one of those days, call it P.M.S. or call it perimenopause, but I will call it no self-control, no energy, not cute and so not okay! I got through work and thankfully we are still working remote because if I had to be seen in public with the outfit I had on yesterday, I would have become a whole other kind of prayer request for anyone who knows me!

Right after work I put heating pads all over my midsection and laid on the couch hoping these cramps would be beat back by the Thermacare heat wraps, I sipped on a glass of wine (did not drink it all, and it did not help anyway!), and I broke down and ordered Baskin Robbins Doordash delivery of Pink Bubblegum Ice Cream, my favorite since I was eight years old. That’s worked in the past, the ice cream trick, some kind of self soothing with the pretty pink frozen delight, but this time it did not and I ended up throwing most of it away!! I took one bite of the ice cream and could feel my teeth screaming at the sugar and my stomach going into panic over this rush of confection it hadn’t seen in a while.

The problem….I have been eating pretty clean for about a month now and my body has been healing up from all the junk I used to eat, and I had been feeling pretty good. I recognized right away the yucky side effects of eating like this. The ice cream that I used to think “helped me” had revealed itself to be nothing more than an eight year old’s fantasy of all things good and fun.

The solution…don’t freaking fall for it next time, Sonia! Seriously though. I know all this, and I still caved. I felt so bad I was willing to try anything (well almost anything), but still. I KNOW BETTER and I STILL WENT FOR IT! I know, that’s life sometimes, but I put this out there as a reminder to not reach back to those things that used to bring us comfort.

I know that if I had just waited it out and fallen asleep I would have been just fine. Maybe I would even feel a little better than I do right now, but sometimes I learn the hard way that the old way of doing things no longer applies. I reach for the familiar, the old tricks, the known stuff to make things okay, but I am thankful that God doesn’t let me go down that road.

He got my attention using the physical and the natural to give me a little nudge in the right direction to keep me off the old path. This is a new path that I am on with Him. The old things no longer apply. Maybe that’s the same for you and if so, I would encourage some summer reading, maybe even a book like the one I just started called, “Girls With Swords” by Lisa Bevere. I just started it this past weekend and on page 12 under a heading that says, “Old Tactics” is this:

Now is not the time to draw back in fear. It is a time when we must rise up and flourish in love. When I became a Christian, I learned that God actually had a plan for my life. It wasn’t merely that I had a new destination in the afterlife. I learned my life mattered now. I had been purchased at great expense, and my life was no longer mine to squander. God wanted me to become all He had created me to be.

Well, I will sign off here for today and ask that we pray for one another that we purpose to do things the new way and live in all He has created us to be. We are not normal ordinary women. We are God’s daughters. Have a blessed Tuesday, lovelies!

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons Uncategorized

We Have a Friend, He Understands

Good morning, happy Monday! I hope you had a beautiful Father’s Day weekend, but if you didn’t and even if you did I am dedicating this blog post to you.

Put on your headphones or AirPods or just turn up the volume on your device and listen to this song that starts off with, “I have a friend, he understands…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N97fDmYKrE

Gabbie introduced Mario and me to Chandler Moore’s music and seriously, this singer is anointed! You can listen to Jireh and/or Lean On You for a few more examples. Amazing!

Mario had to work in Irvine all weekend. I tagged along so we could weave in some date time as well and during the drive up & back we usually show each other songs we’ve been listening to so I put on Lean on You and then He Understands came on right after. When Mario heard the first line, “I have a friend. He understands,” he looked stunned and said, “Now there’s a perfect description.” We proceeded to listen to the song without speaking as tears ran down our faces.

Later I asked Mario why this song hit him this way and this was his reply, “It doesn’t matter how much you try to explain to someone what you feel – what you are going through, only Jesus truly understands all of it.” There’s so much truth there! Even though Mario and I share so much of our thoughts and feeling with each other, only Jesus truly understands and that is the most comforting, heart encouraging, heartbreaking. liberating truth that we don’t have to walk around this week misunderstood. He understands. He really does. So let’s not try so hard to get others to understand us. Let’s free themselves up and ourselves up from figuring it all out.

Know this, beautiful person reading this right now, your heart is already tended to because He understands and will never leave you alone in your pain. We are so loved right here and there’s nothing we can do about it. Two truths to hang onto this week: 1) we are loved and 2) He understands.

Well that’s all I’ve got for today! Now that you’ve heard Chandler’s song He Understands, here is Lean On You to end out this blog and kick off this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-pwPyUZmUM

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Husband ❤️🐻 Run Your Race Seasons

Everyone’s A Critic

Happy Friday! We made it & Happy Juneteenth! Mario’s fresh off a fishing trip, and it was a good one. I know he loves fishing, but he also uses that time as his own personal retreat with God. He texted me this before I went to bed on Wednesday night while he was on the ocean: “I can barely see land. It’s beautiful out here. God’s presence for sure.” When he goes fishing he loses reception in international waters so sometimes I get freaked out not being able to reach him. He’s a wild man, and I love that about him. I can’t keep him held back because of my fear. I know this is something I have to GROW through. And grow, we did! Shout out to my faithful friends and family who prayed us up.

At 10:36pm Wednesday night Mario sent me a text of something he had read on a devotional called, My Utmost For His Highest. I have to share it:

Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.

There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.

I read each word and was convicted and encouraged at the same time. Only the Holy Spirit can do that! I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I was a little afraid Thursday morning when I hadn’t heard from Mario so I played the “Worst Case Scenario Game” from the TV show This Is Us. Here’s a clip to give you the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utP53SA6HzU

So I played the game and thought to myself, “Worst case scenario is something bad happened out there on the ocean.” Terrible, I know, but that’s the “Worst Case Scenario Game.” My next thought which I know was right from heaven was, “And the last thing Mario would have shared with me was the Word.” I cried. That’s my husband. That’s the growth journey we have been on. He hasn’t always been this way and neither have I. Jesus, in His loving patience, is working things in and out of us by His grace.

Well…Mario got home around 7pm yesterday looking a little sunburnt, exhausted and totally happy! Fiona (our pet pitbull) and I met him with that same happiness that he was back safe and sound. They caught fish (see photo! YAY!) but even if he hadn’t, that little overnight trip gave him time to focus on what God had for Him, for us and the message of criticism. Jesus says, “Don’t” and so we work on that and keep each other accountable.

To end this out I will share what my friend texted me this morning when I sent a photo of the fish Mario caught. She wrote, “He is a fisherman of men too!” I have spent too much time being a critic of my husband in the past so I have to boast in the Lord when I say, yeah, he is a fisher of men, and I am beyond grateful that God made him the man he is.

Have a blessed Friday, friends and family!

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Uncategorized

“2% is not 0%”

I had a whole other post planned but just read Ann Voskamp’s post, and I am undone. It blew away whatever post I was going to put up here for Thursday so what we have on the blog today is Ann’s link so you can read for yourself about “Nightbirde” and the video from America’s Got Talent.

Happy Thursday, friends. Like the song says, “It’s ok. It’s alright.”

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons Uncategorized

We See You, Hump Day!

Here we are, middle of the week, and I admit I slept in an hour longer than I set my alarm for. I have been doing lap swimming in the afternoon to help get the quarantine weight off and believe me when I say, I have been sleeping like a rock! Anyway, life is definitely changing at break neck speed and I could write all day about decisions we have to make and the unknowns and blah, blah, blah, but I don’t want to. I want to put our focus where it should be to face this middle of the week and all that we will contend with. Here is a song that Mario sent me a link to last night:

And here is my journal entry for today while I was listening to the song: Father God, Help me to push everything out of the way and just focus on Your goodness. Whatever I can’t understand or fix, I know You are making a way, so I can just rest today. Thank you for Your goodness. I will live in Your goodness and love.

That’s all I’ve got today, friends, and if that’s all I’ve got and all you’ve got, we are good to go. God’s got us. Believe that!

With all my heart,

Sonia