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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

“You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets”

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The text from yesterday

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

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

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

Thank you for reading.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

Dear Younger Sonia

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

Dear 15-year-old Sonia,

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

                                    Love, 39 year old Sonia

 

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

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

 

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Run Your Race

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…think

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Philippians 4:8

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

Mario’s favorite song:

 

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

The Value in Facing It

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

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

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

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

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

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

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

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

 

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

Whitney Houston

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

Don’t believe the hype…believe God

Confession time. I don’t know about you, but the moment I open my eyes in the morning there’s a war going on in my thoughts. A flood of negative reminders and fears come flooding in such as my weight gain, a nagging issue in my marriage, that friend that just isn’t communicating, that person who lied to me, debts that need to be paid off, that family member who just isn’t getting it, the mundane tasks that need to be tended to but are just so UGH, that friend’s scary health issue, and the list goes on and on until I have to literally just tell my mind to stop and then focus in on one truth, and it’s this one: GOD SAVED ME.

Then I can move on and get out of bed and face the day. Some days are better than others, but today was tough. I am running behind already. I don’t have an outfit picked out for work, and I am pretty sure I am going to have a bad hair day. All that to say that I confess I am a mess, but I believe God when He says, “I know the plans I have for you I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. He has a divine plan for this day. I don’t know what it is yet, but I am trusting Him. Lord knows I can’t control it so I will believe.

I pray that today is another day of believing God for me and you so we can live and move and breathe in the freedom despite the barrage of thoughts and situations that we face today. We are His, and that makes believing Him possible. Thank you for reading today, and away we go…

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

The F Words, Part 2

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

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

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

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

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)

Love for Enemies

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

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

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

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Encouragement for Women Run Your Race

Project: Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife

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

Foreword

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

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

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

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

With all my heart, 

Sonia 

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Run Your Race

Mile 18

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

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

 

With all my heart,

Sonia