Categories
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

Categories
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

Categories
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 life.

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

 

 

Categories
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 holes 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 it 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 have these tendencies to 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 so I keep going. 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 17:7 New 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

 

 

Categories
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
Categories
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

Categories
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 too 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

Categories
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. 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 it all.

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!

 

 

Categories
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 calls. 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% of the time. I head downstairs and let the dog out, grab my coffee and sit at my desk with the 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

Categories
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 then you could ever imagine. I love you and thank God for you!”

Proverbs 17:17 & Proverbs 27:17

With all my heart,

Sonia