Hi! I'm Sonia. I'm so glad you are here. There's a story in the Bible in John chapter 4 about a woman with a broken past. That's my back story, but then that woman (and this woman) met Jesus. This blog is a glimpse at the"now story". Welcome to John4Four. Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope it blesses you.
Here we are, middle of the week, and I admit I slept in an hour longer than I set my alarm for. I have been doing lap swimming in the afternoon to help get the quarantine weight off and believe me when I say, I have been sleeping like a rock! Anyway, life is definitely changing at break neck speed and I could write all day about decisions we have to make and the unknowns and blah, blah, blah, but I don’t want to. I want to put our focus where it should be to face this middle of the week and all that we will contend with. Here is a song that Mario sent me a link to last night:
And here is my journal entry for today while I was listening to the song: Father God, Help me to push everything out of the way and just focus on Your goodness. Whatever I can’t understand or fix, I know You are making a way, so I can just rest today. Thank you for Your goodness. I will live in Your goodness and love.
That’s all I’ve got today, friends, and if that’s all I’ve got and all you’ve got, we are good to go. God’s got us. Believe that!
How are you doing right now? I ask because it is 6:42am, and I woke up with a barrage of junk (when I say junk, I mean JUNK) rolling around in my mind. The theme in my brain this morning, failure. My failures. It was like a video montage of past mistakes, failed relationships, heartbreaks and unfulfilled dreams. Nice, right!? I cried as I journaled my thoughts and prayers. By God’s grace, I had two verses right in front of my face as I was writing that cast light on those thoughts to overshadow them with truth. These are the verses:
With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I don’t ever want to write all my victories or all my struggles. I want to write the real life ebb and flow, ups and downs that happen so that anyone reading this knows that it is normal to have all kinds of internal and external battles and you win some and you lose some, but in it all God is faithful.
So this morning I don’t need to reminded of who I am in my worst state or how scary or how messed up a certain situation is, I need to be reminded of who God is and how much He loves me because at the end of the day, that is the only truth that matters. This, this here is what I need to be reminded of:
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! Psalm 30:11-12 NLT
This morning, as I type, I know I have a choice to either be buried by thoughts of my limitations or I can apprehend the power of God in my weaknesses. I can push aside the thoughts that nothing will ever change and lean into the change by way of what He has spoken over me in all these verses and in my heart and mind these last eleven years of my life as a Christian. He specifically gave me the following words in my heart the first year I started living my life for Him: “I have anointed you for service and you will suffer, Oh! But The Joy!” Now I understand, if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, this is all going to seem weird and strange, but if you do, you know what I am talking about.
Speak this out loud this morning, look in the mirror or go outside and look up at the sky and say these words right to Him:
“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right handhas held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35 NKJV
His gentleness has made us great so let’s be gentle with ourselves today! Have a beautiful rest of the day not believing the hype and walking only in His truth.
Happy Monday morning! I hope you all had a great, full weekend. I’m coming off of a busy one, but it was chock-full of all the good things. Mario worked the majority of the weekend so I was holding down the fort and attending Saturday celebrations all by myself. Thankfully we had a window to attend church yesterday morning and guess what the teaching was on?! The Blessing of Marriage 🙂
At the beginning of the service they did a little game with a few couples they brought on stage called the, Not So Newlywed Game. One of the questions they had to answer was what animal would your spouse say they are most like. Mario and I played along and got it right. He would pick the bear, and I would pick the honey badger.
Bears are extraordinarily intelligent animals. They have far superior navigation skills to humans; excellent memories; large brain to body ratio; and use tools in various contexts from play to hunting.
Bears grieve deeply for others. Cubs are known to moan and cry when separated from their mothers. This can go on for weeks if their mothers are killed by hunters.
Bears have excellent senses of smell, sight and hearing. They can smell food, cubs, a mate or predators from miles away. Their great eyesight allows them to detect when fruits are ripe.
Some species of Asiatic bear build nests in the trees. They can use these for hiding, eating and even sleeping.
Bears care deeply about family members. They will risk their lives and even fight to the death in order to save a cub or sibling from danger.
I have always called Mario “My Bear” because he gives such good hugs and the facts about bears above do describe his personality especially how he cares deeply about his family and his protective nature. I love him for this and so much more.
One of the most interesting honey badger facts is that the Guinness Book of World Records listed honey badgers as the “most fearless animal in the world”. This claim is backed up by actual honey badger behavior. Honey badgers aren’t afraid of facing animals much larger than them, and will fiercely fight to the death if not left alone.
They will also fiercely attack any intruders that come across their dens. Honey badgers have been observed to challenge large mammals into fights, such as Cape buffalos and rhinoceroses.
When Mario first saw a YouTube video about honey badgers he looked at me and said, “That’s you! You don’t turn from a fight and you don’t give up.”
These animals both have one thing in common, they are protective and will fight to protect. I guess that was my take away yesterday among other encouraging marriage reminders, it was the fact that Mario and I are different in many ways, but God reminded us that these characteristics are designed by Him to bring about good in our lives and the lives of those around us.
At the beginning of this year we made a huge decision to push aside all the other competing priorities in our lives and put our marriage first. We pulled back from so many things because God was pointing us in the direction of getting our lives back in the order He created: God first, our spouse and then everyone/everything else. It was SO hard. It still is sometimes. The decision came about by way of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, agonizing circumstances that made it clear we could not go on like that. It was pain and hurt that pushed us in the direction we needed to go. Believe me when I say this decision didn’t come without judgement from onlookers, and it cost us tremendously. I have to say this though, we are now four months into our decision and have never been more fulfilled, balanced and blessed in our marriage. God is teaching us to cherish each other like never before so we are able to apprehend the blessing that is our marriage. It is hard, but we chose to obey God, and He is honoring that obedience.
That’s my encouragement for all of us today. If God is calling you to great change in your life…pray, pray and pray some more and then OBEY. He will multiply that obedience. It may not make sense to anyone and may not even make sense to you but it means peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding, and I don’t know about you but this Monday morning, this girl right here, she wants peace, the peace that only the Lord can give as we trust and follow Him.
Have a great week! Know that I am trusting and obeying right alongside you all!
Happy Weekend, friends! Mario and I have been trying a keto diet for the last six weeks for various health reasons. We’d heard about keto/low carb beforehand from a few friends who’ve had great success in weight loss and management of glucose levels so we started doing our research online and discovered that there is so much out there about keto. So much so that it gave new meaning to TMI 😳 I was on information overload so I got info from a coworker with years of experience in keto. That was a huge help in getting the process started.
We gave away several boxes & bags of groceries full of things on our “avoid” list and purchased some new keto friendly sweeteners, almond flour, coconut flower and lots of proteins and veggies.
We were cutting out all the carbs we could and thought we would see better and quicker results, but it was a slow process. Very slow! Finally, in frustration, my husband reached out to his friend and found out his secret to success with it (he’s lost so much weight that he is now trying to NOT lose more weight! Can you imagine that?!). His friend shared with him that he tracks all his food in an app called Carb Manager BEFORE he eats whatever food he is about to consume.
Well, we started doing that and found we were exceeding our carb allowance each day which was why we weren’t seeing results. We had thought we understood what foods were high in carbs, but we had it wrong. We didn’t have all the information. More importantly, we didn’t have all the information beforehand.
The verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 came to mind as I thought about the spiritual aspect of getting information and input from the correct source before making decisions, and then taking that a step further in filtering it through God’s truth and light.
Assumptions. They’re a killer! When Mario and I were on a walk yesterday evening we talked about this theme, and he said it’s also important in whatever relationships we have not to assume we are better than or have all the answers just because we are Christians. Sometimes that’s our mentality as believers. We can get caught up and think we are actually better than. The danger in this is that we can never be taught by anyone we view as not on our level. We don’t learn. We don’t learn how to love better. We don’t learn how to grow. We don’t learn about ourselves. We don’t learn about God’s love. We don’t learn about others struggles. We stay stuck because we assumed we had all the answers.
Well my friends, I know we all don’t want to stay stuck so my prayer for us is that we get information – we don’t ignore – we don’t lean on our own understanding and we don’t assume. My prayer is that we gain some understanding and ask questions, seek God and step into the opportunities to grow. Yes, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, but that doesn’t mean we can think of ourselves more highly than others. It actually means the opposite, that we kneel down and serve the “least of these” and in the process we get the wonderful growth that God promises – that abundant life we all want, the one that Jesus promises! So, here’s to that abundant life. Let’s go out and live it!
Happy Thursday, Loves! Today’s post will focus on the phrase, “It is what is.” I have found myself using this phrase quite a bit the last few months trying to explain certain things out of my control and then one day I saw something on social media that said “It is what it is util it isn’t.” That caught my attention. I Googled the phrase It is what it is and found this article: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-stupidity-of-it-is-what-it-is.html
It is an awesome read about the phrase and why he feels it is stupid. He quotes Army officer Major Andrew Steadman in the article, ‘”Here’s the problem with It is what it is. It abdicates responsibility, shuts down creative problem solving, and concedes defeat. A leader who uses the expression is a leader who faced a challenge, failed to overcome it, and explained away the episode as an inevitable, unavoidable force of circumstances. Replace It is what it is with “This resulted because I failed to do __________” and you get an entirely different discussion.’
I admit I’ve used that phrase quite often lately, and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve shared in previous blogs that I am in therapy for my mental health, and I am going to share a little bit more about that right now and give you the reason for this blog title today. My therapist suggested EMDR therapy due to certain triggers and responses in my life. I had heard of this therapy before and knew a little bit about it so it didn’t surprise me when she brought it up. I just didn’t know if I was ready (here’s a link with information if you want to read a little bit about the therapy https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/ ). I knew it was a call to action in every way for my mental, physical and spiritual health, a call to change. God was making a way for great change in my life and now it was up to me to either be courageous and brave or stay stuck.
I chose to be brave. I had my first EMDR session yesterday and in the interest of word count and time and the sensitivity of the subject I will leave out all the intimate details, but I will say there was a moment during the appointment where this verse came up in my mind as if God was whispering it over my entire soul,
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3
I am still basking in that reality that God has had His hand on my life always, during every good and bad thing I have experienced. He was there. He is here. He sees it all. I am on the road to healing during this time of therapy, and I needed to know that He is with me. I am writing this to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be It is what it is. You can take His hand, trust Him and let Him walk you through to the other side of dealing with whatever needs to be faced. How it has worked and how it looks in my life is not turning my back on the appointments even when my heart is pounding out of my chest and my throat is closing up at the very thought of whatever is on the other side of healing.
My prayer for all of us is that we don’t settle for the status quo in our lives. We can proclaim a victorious, “It was what it was, but now it is not” over whatever change God wants us to embrace. The only reason why I can even write these words today is because of that verse reminding me that He has loved me with an everlasting love.
Dear reader, know this truth today, He has loved you with an everlasting love. He has called you. You are His and because of this truth our lives don’t need to be It is what it is any longer. He has given us the power to live on the other side of whatever haunts us. He has given us hope.
With all my heart,
P.S. If you have any song suggestions, please send them my way! I love to listen while I write 🙂
Happy Friday! The song at the very end of this post (PLEASE LISTEN, you won’t regret it) says, “You take what the enemy meant for evil and You turn it for good!” I don’t know about you, but already I am getting bombarded in my mind over anxious thoughts, and I haven’t even finished my coffee yet so I can’t just write today. I am going to walk you through a playlist that is playing in the background as I type. First up is “Symphony” by Switch because it says, “Even in the madness there is peace, drowning out the voices all around me..through all of this chaos, You are writing a symphony.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_90_NAbv3k
Oof, those words right now hit the spot – the spot that is fixating way too much on the unknowns! Next up is “What If” by Blanca. The lyrics say, “What if You’re making me strong…what if I’m right where You want me.” Those are some better “What If” questions than what was going through my mind 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbVYIZ4nkX8
Then the lyrics change from the “what if’s” to “I know You’re making me strong! I know I’m right where You want me!” I can’t tell you how much I love that truth right now!
Next up is a new song that I heard on the radio while driving in the car, “Joyful” by Dante Bowe. This one has my heart smiling and chair dancing right now! “I got the joy, joy down to my heart, down to my heart, down to my heart…today TODAY!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwvSKPOaQVg
And here’s the reason, the wonderful reason for hope in the midst of the Friday feels….this next song “The Reason” by Travis Cottrell says, “There’s a reason for this life inside me. One name above all names…Jesus, yes it’s Jesus!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i117hEAu5M
I hope you took the time to let those words wash over your heart and mind! I hope you let God sing over you just now through all these songs. My heart feels different then when I sat down and started this post, thank God. It’s the great exchange, exchanging all the junk for His truth. He loves us!
The Lord your God is with you, the Might Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
What are the 7 steps in conflict resolution? Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.
Identify the issues. Be clear about what the problem is. …
Understand everyone’s interests. …
List the possible solutions (options) …
Evaluate the options. …
Select an option or options. …
Document the agreement(s). …
Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation.
Good morning! I just borrowed this list from https://www.mediate.com/articles/thicks.cfm I borrowed it from here because I will confess I am not great at conflict resolution yet. I am willing to admit that, and in the admission comes the realization that I do want to change this, and God, in His infinite wisdom, is giving me plenty of opportunities lately. The term “conflict resolution” is just strange to me: conflict? resolution? That’s like an oxymoron in my book, but I know it’s possible. One of the reasons I know this is because my husband models this for me all the time. For a long time I just thought this was a personality trait and that we are just different people, but I’ve come to learn a little bit more about myself this past year and know that I have some interesting ways of dealing with conflict.
I think first and foremost I need to remember that I have a voice, and that is the reality. The other fact I need to remember is that I have ears to hear, and I should listen. The next thing is that no matter what happens I can pray, I can let go & let God, and finally, I can choose to leave the outcome to Him. I need His wisdom for conflict – it just doesn’t come naturally to me so I need His beautiful supernatural strength that He promises is always available!
I just Googled, “How Did Jesus Deal With Conflict” and found this excerpt, “Responding to conflict with emotional maturity takes intentionality and practice. But as Christians, we can look to Jesus for guidance. Jesus did two key things when he was faced with conflict in the Bible: he stayed defined and connected.” You can read the whole article here, it’s really good: https://www.faithward.org/jesus-and-conflict/
So today, dear friends, my hope is that whatever conflict we find ourselves in WE STAY “DEFINED AND CONNECTED”. It is possible, with God all things are ❤ Stay blessed!
With all my heart, Sonia
P.S. I like to post one of the songs I listen to while writing and this one is so, so perfect for today. Nothing like Your Presence, Lord!
Ok this is going to be a weird post, so let me just say that out of the gate here. Thank you D.C. for helping me with the title of this blog post. Lately I have been hearing stories of young ladies who want to marry a man that can take care of them financially (the words sugar daddy come to mind as I am typing this). There is nothing wrong with wanting to date someone who has goals and is responsible, but I am not sure about this whole expectation of a certain tax bracket! I heard a quote once that says something along the lines of, “Some women want to marry a general but aren’t willing for them to be soldiers first.” I think this is true.
I also know there are more than enough stories of men who were married during their rise in careers only to leave their wives for other women once they reached their success so I am not letting the guys off the hook here either, but I am really wondering what happened to couples putting in the work? What happened to growing together? Why are we an entitled society that expects the perfect insta-worthy house, car, job, spouse at the blink of an eye? How the heck did we get here?
Now, I do love a turn-key house like the next person, but there is something to be said about all those HGTV shows we all love so much that give us a glimpse of the process of building and show what it actually takes to make that beautiful reveal! Basically, I am writing about the “hard work” part of relationships or anything in life, really! Let’s not skip that part! Let’s not fast forward to the pinnacle without the glorious parts of putting in the work. It means so much more that way!
I guess that is what I am trying to say here, that good things take time. It doesn’t have to be perfect at the beginning. I met my husband when he was a full-time musician, and I was going through a Medical Assisting program. We had no idea how to handle our finances (we are still learning), and we had so many things we wanted to accomplish in life, but were nowhere near that when we met. I don’t even think we had a clue where life would take us, but thankfully we did it together. Thankfully we turned our lives to God in 2009 and grew into the fiercely passionate, persevering people we are today. Thankfully we didn’t side step the process to exchange each other for our “ideal” because we would have missed out on all this. Our marriage is so much more valuable because we are growing together, that is the beauty of putting the work in. My life with my husband is NEVER boring, I promise you that, and I love what God has done with our marriage. He has honored the work we have put in & continue to put in!
My prayer for all you singles (and maybe some of us married folk, as well) is that we set aside all our entitlement issues and put in the work, that we get some therapy, some accountability, humble ourselves and most importantly that we do not despise the small beginnings that God brings. We have got to start somewhere! Thank you for reading and sharing! Have a blessed rest of the week 🙂
Yesterday Mario texted this to me, “That’s a sign of life. If you’re struggling it means you’re fighting for a reason. Dead fish float down stream.” I had texted him that I was struggling so much in my walk and where to go to church, struggling with enrolling in my final year of school (starting back up on June 28 – prayers appreciated), struggling with my hormones, struggling in friendships, struggling in my mental health. Struggling! So that reminder from my husband was perfect and timely.
Struggling is a sign of life. I am struggling against my old pattern of throwing in the towel and giving up when it gets too hard. Maybe you’ve got struggles too to which I say to you what Mario said to me, “That’s a sign of life!” Hang in there! Thankfully we can look to God’s Word for the fact that struggling is not unique to us!
Genesis 32: 24-30 24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
27 The man said, “What’s your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”
The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”
Struggling, wrestling, reasoning….all part of the process. Don’t let the struggle scare you, let it encourage you (I am preaching to myself here too!). No pain, no gain! No sacrifice, no winning! No perseverance, no finish line! But think about the other side of these truths: Yes, pain – but all gain! Yes, sacrifice, then the win! Yes, perseverance..then the glorious finish line! Thankfully we get the choice and thankfully we have a faithful God who knows our struggles and gives strength where we are weak!
2 Corinthians 12:9-11NASB9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in [b]insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
This is going to be a short post because I have two blog posts I have already written that say pretty exactly what’s on my heart this morning so I will put those links in this post. Last night I was on the elliptical machine while watching Jeopardy. Mario and I like to make it a game between each other and keep score over how many we each get right (no, we are not competitive LOL!). I was doing well because there were some categories with words, and I love language and words. So final jeopardy last night was, “German settlers in Texas called this animal “panzerschwein.” To which I yelled out. “ARMADILLO!” (For all you Jeopardy connoisseurs, I know I should have said, “What is armadillo!) Well, I was right. I knew something about armadillos since I had written a blog post in 2016 referencing the panzerschwein: https://john4four.com/2016/08/22/yes-this-post-is-about-armadillos/
After my triumphant Jeopardy win (wink wink), Mario and I took our dog, Fiona, for a night stroll. During that walk Mario was being funny about the word, “panzerschwein” using it in all sorts of ways. He had me cracking up, but this word got me thinking. Anytime God has brought to mind the armadillo it means something in my life. You can read about it in the post above. I told Mario, “God is prepping me not to self-protect. He is giving me a heads up to be brave about something.” So I told him that the panzerschwein/armadillo was going to be the title of my post today. I had it all mapped out in my mind, what I would write about, but it took a different direction this morning.
I opened up my phone and read more about the Palestinian/Isreali conflict and basically how Israel is being painted as the bad guy here and, listen, I have been to Israel and felt the tension in the air on the Temple Mount. I know that deep rooted bitterness and conflict exists not just on one side, but as I read more this morning it became apparent that the media is trying to paint one side as the villain and the other as victim. Seriously!? The one thing I don’t want to get caught up in though is the intense emotional reactions that the media are counting on. It just divides us further! So it got me thinking about another post I wrote about being misunderstood/misrepresented: https://john4four.com/2018/07/31/do-you-need-a-lawyer/
My prayer for those being misrepresented in the media, in that relationship, in your workplace, in the financial situation, in your marriage, in your church, in the most difficult places in your life is that you focus on the fight, not on the rhetoric. Ask God, “How do I fight this?” and “How do I respond?” The One with the answer is THE ANSWER. Jesus is the only one in the history of the world who endured all the misrepresentation that humanity could throw at Him, and He still got it right. He was fighting the good fight. Let’s not lose sight of Him in our fight! I am praying for Israel, those affected on both sides and for all of us fighting our own hidden battles.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4
Thank you for reading today! I know you have lots of screen time these days so it is a blessing when I read comments and get feedback. You bless me! With all my heart, Sonia