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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

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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 broast 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

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

Oh, But the Joy!

How are you doing right now? I ask because it is 6:42am, and I woke up with a barrage of junk (when I say junk, I mean JUNK) rolling around in my mind. The theme in my brain this morning, failure. My failures. It was like a video montage of past mistakes, failed relationships, heartbreaks and unfulfilled dreams. Nice, right!? I cried as I journaled my thoughts and prayers. By God’s grace, I had two verses right in front of my face as I was writing that cast light on those thoughts to overshadow them with truth. These are the verses:

With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

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

I don’t ever want to write all my victories or all my struggles. I want to write the real life ebb and flow, ups and downs that happen so that anyone reading this knows that it is normal to have all kinds of internal and external battles and you win some and you lose some, but in it all God is faithful.

So this morning I don’t need to reminded of who I am in my worst state or how scary or how messed up a certain situation is, I need to be reminded of who God is and how much He loves me because at the end of the day, that is the only truth that matters. This, this here is what I need to be reminded of:

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! Psalm 30:11-12 NLT

This morning, as I type, I know I have a choice to either be buried by thoughts of my limitations or I can apprehend the power of God in my weaknesses. I can push aside the thoughts that nothing will ever change and lean into the change by way of what He has spoken over me in all these verses and in my heart and mind these last eleven years of my life as a Christian. He specifically gave me the following words in my heart the first year I started living my life for Him: “I have anointed you for service and you will suffer, Oh! But The Joy!” Now I understand, if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, this is all going to seem weird and strange, but if you do, you know what I am talking about.

Speak this out loud this morning, look in the mirror or go outside and look up at the sky and say these words right to Him:

“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35 NKJV

His gentleness has made us great so let’s be gentle with ourselves today! Have a beautiful rest of the day not believing the hype and walking only in His truth.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons

The Honey Badger and The Bear

Happy Monday morning! I hope you all had a great, full weekend. I’m coming off of a busy one, but it was chock-full of all the good things. Mario worked the majority of the weekend so I was holding down the fort and attending Saturday celebrations all by myself. Thankfully we had a window to attend church yesterday morning and guess what the teaching was on?! The Blessing of Marriage 🙂

At the beginning of the service they did a little game with a few couples they brought on stage called the, Not So Newlywed Game. One of the questions they had to answer was what animal would your spouse say they are most like. Mario and I played along and got it right. He would pick the bear, and I would pick the honey badger.

Here are some characteristics of the bear from https://onekindplanet.org/animal/bear/

Amazing Facts About the Bear

  • Bears are extraordinarily intelligent animals. They have far superior navigation skills to humans; excellent memories; large brain to body ratio; and use tools in various contexts from play to hunting.
  • Bears grieve deeply for others. Cubs are known to moan and cry when separated from their mothers.  This can go on for weeks if their mothers are killed by hunters.
  • Bears have excellent senses of smell, sight and hearing. They can smell food, cubs, a mate or predators from miles away. Their great eyesight allows them to detect when fruits are ripe.
  • Some species of Asiatic bear build nests in the trees. They can use these for hiding, eating and even sleeping.
  • Bears care deeply about family members. They will risk their lives and even fight to the death in order to save a cub or sibling from danger.

I have always called Mario “My Bear” because he gives such good hugs and the facts about bears above do describe his personality especially how he cares deeply about his family and his protective nature. I love him for this and so much more.

Here’s a little fun fact about honey badgers from https://facts.net/nature/animals/honey-badger-facts/

Honey badgers do not back down.

One of the most interesting honey badger facts is that the Guinness Book of World Records listed honey badgers as the “most fearless animal in the world”. This claim is backed up by actual honey badger behavior. Honey badgers aren’t afraid of facing animals much larger than them, and will fiercely fight to the death if not left alone. 

They will also fiercely attack any intruders that come across their dens. Honey badgers have been observed to challenge large mammals into fights, such as Cape buffalos and rhinoceroses.

When Mario first saw a YouTube video about honey badgers he looked at me and said, “That’s you! You don’t turn from a fight and you don’t give up.”

These animals both have one thing in common, they are protective and will fight to protect. I guess that was my take away yesterday among other encouraging marriage reminders, it was the fact that Mario and I are different in many ways, but God reminded us that these characteristics are designed by Him to bring about good in our lives and the lives of those around us.

At the beginning of this year we made a huge decision to push aside all the other competing priorities in our lives and put our marriage first. We pulled back from so many things because God was pointing us in the direction of getting our lives back in the order He created: God first, our spouse and then everyone/everything else. It was SO hard. It still is sometimes. The decision came about by way of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, agonizing circumstances that made it clear we could not go on like that. It was pain and hurt that pushed us in the direction we needed to go. Believe me when I say this decision didn’t come without judgement from onlookers, and it cost us tremendously. I have to say this though, we are now four months into our decision and have never been more fulfilled, balanced and blessed in our marriage. God is teaching us to cherish each other like never before so we are able to apprehend the blessing that is our marriage. It is hard, but we chose to obey God, and He is honoring that obedience.

That’s my encouragement for all of us today. If God is calling you to great change in your life…pray, pray and pray some more and then OBEY. He will multiply that obedience. It may not make sense to anyone and may not even make sense to you but it means peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding, and I don’t know about you but this Monday morning, this girl right here, she wants peace, the peace that only the Lord can give as we trust and follow Him.

Have a great week! Know that I am trusting and obeying right alongside you all!

With all my heart,

Sonia