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.
Dear Readers, It’s a little after 9am here, and I just wanted to share a quick Christmas blog to highlight a weekend trip I took with a friend a few weeks back. She invited me along on a trip with the organization Corazon de Vida to visit an orphanage in Baja California and attend a benefit concert. It was a life changing, heart blessing weekend that embodied the Christmas spirit because when I looked around at the children I saw joy, peace, hope in a simple & humble setting. There was a contentment in the children, staff and volunteers that you simply could not manufacture. It was God given, and they were definitely receiving it with open arms. I wanted to share some photos from that weekend and ask that you join with me in praying for the children and the staff and Corazon de Vida as they support these Baja California orphanages. The need is great! If you need more info please visit their website: https://www.corazondevida.org
Merry Christmas and thank you for reading along this journey of the blog.
Happy Tuesday, one day closer to Friday. Just a reminder that there are 10 Tuesdays left this year so some quick math will tell you 2022 will be here before we know it. I took the day off from writing yesterday to get to the truly adult task of cleaning out desk drawers and organizing them. We let it go a little too long this time and the necessary mail got mixed in with the junk mail so it was a bigger job than it needed to be. It feels therapeutic to get rid of junk & since there’s no school for me this week I am committed to getting rid of junk. I’ll let you know on Friday how it went 🙂 Stay tuned…
Today’s blog post was going to be called, “The Girl in the Pink Pajamas” because of a story I told a group of friends about getting my first Bible in catechism and how I thought I had to look my most best and most perfect self so I took a shower, put on the fanciest, silk-like pink pajamas I had and opened up to the book of Genesis and got as far as the genealogies and that was it. I couldn’t go on – just didn’t understand it and thought even my fanciest pink pajamas couldn’t do the trick so that was that. My worst seven-year old fears came true in that moment, “I am just not good enough to read the Word of God.” I believed that for almost 35 years until 2009 when everything changed.
Fast forward to my 47 year old self this year, struggling with hormones, insomnia and all the fun things this time of life throws at women, and I was up in the middle of another sleepless night. I decided, instead of tossing and turning for hours on end, I would be productive and go downstairs and do some Bible study homework. It was right in the middle of reading when I looked at my legs underneath the Bible and study book on my lap.
I WAS WEARING PINK PAJAMAS!
It was like a light bulb moment in the middle of the night with God. He made good on that desire in my seven-year old heart to make the words of the Bible come alive. My insomnia moment turned into one of the sweetest moments of my life (insert all the pink heart emojis here ❤ ).
How does this tie in? Well the book is PINK ❤ and it reminded me of the lovely grace of God and His faithfulness. The powerful words from today’s devotional based on 1 John 2:9-11 reminding us how to treat one another – the purpose of forgiving and giving grace, to live in the light (and if God colors the light pink for you, all the better):
9-11 Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness
My prayer for you today is to have a gentle day, gentle with yourself and with others (as much as it is possible) gentleness, for His gentleness has made you great (Psalm 18:35)
Each day I get more acquainted with my God and, unfortunately & fortunately, more acquainted with myself and my shortcomings which is why this Monday October 11 blog post is about GRACE.
I am intrigued with famous last words. Winston Churchill stated, “I’m bored with it all.” Humphrey Bogart said, “I should have never switched from Scotch to martinis.”
In looking at the Bible and the last written words from Paul in 2 Timothy he states, “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:22
The last verse of the Bible: Revelation 22:21, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
So, this theme of grace has been floating around me, filling my mind, convicting me, encouraging me, bringing to my mind answers and questions. So how do we do this, the grace filled life? In the middle of a flipped upside down and inside out world, estranged relationships, political chaos, frightening world events…how do we do this?
I heard this in church a few years back, “The amount of grace you give is in direct proportion to the amount of grace you allow yourself to receive from God.” There’s a clue to the equation! We have to recognize our need – our desperate, constant need for grace. If we don’t see that part, the part where we need His grace all the time, then we won’t give it. We can’t give out what we don’t possess. We end up in a graceless existence, harsh and cold, unforgiving and unloving.
As I am typing I am reminded of this verse: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Heavy, heavy, heavy truth. That verse is eye-opening! We need grace! I wish I could have a megaphone in my car and ride around shouting that we need the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ every minute, every day! I get it wrong so many times. I need His grace! But I don’t need a megaphone. You don’t need a megaphone. We just need to live it out, humbly recognizing our need for grace and then taking those opportunities to give grace.
Maybe sometimes grace looks like letting go of the shame and allowing God’s forgiveness to set you right. Maybe it looks like letting someone off the hook and softening towards them. Maybe it looks like letting go of the unrealistic expectations and loosening your control. Maybe it looks like forgiving someone else’s wrongdoing against you and letting God sort out the rest. Maybe it looks like saying sorry first. Maybe it looks like letting them say sorry to you.
Maybe it looks like an honest inventory of your life to see where you’ve been living in light of His grace. That’s how it looks for me right now. Honest inventory. And if God has me looking at what the last verse of the Bible says, then I’d better take note, sit up, listen and get to stepping in that direction.
So each day I get more acquainted with my God and thankfully more acquainted with my flesh and in turn, more acquainted with HIS GRACE. Humbling equation but life-saving, life-giving equation.
The only way to live this equation out is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have never put your faith in the Lord, let today be the day: click here to pray
I have to wrap this up now and log in for school. Please forgive me for my long winded blog post today. I haven’t written anything other than school papers for a while and obviously I am rusty and wordy. Thank you for your grace. May we live and move and breathe in His grace. May we be ambassadors of His grace today.
With all my heart,
P.S. This song is for you, Mario. Thank you for sharing it with me. I love you!
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!!):
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Now more than ever I see the value in living life as bravely and boldly as possible for several reasons but most importantly to be an example to my daughter. Our story as mother and daughter is a long one to tell – too long for a blog post but safe to say, that it is a story of love and grace. I missed the mark quite a bit as a mom, as I was so young when I had her so I pray often for God to show me how to be an example to her now. Things I want to show her:
That God loves us and we are created in His image
That I am proud to be her mom
That true peace is possible
That we need to deal with deep things to go higher
That hurt is terrible but healing from God is beautiful
That doing magnificently brave things is living
That music is life (Zephaniah 3:17)
That emotions don’t have to rule our lives
That God takes away all shame and makes us whole
That she is valued beyond what she could ever think or feel
I know I’m not the only mom in the world who has these desires for their children. Maybe you’ve been the best mom. Maybe you’ve been the worst. Either way, God has given us the most precious of all roles as mother to a daughter and it’s never to late to do brave things to show your daughters how to be brave and show God’s love.
So today I just want to say that I am thankful that I am Gabbie’s mom. I am thankful that I get texts with check in’s and questions and love. I am thankful that God has given me the opportunity of a lifetime to show my daughter how to live the life God created us to….it is not about how you begin the journey, it’s about how you end it.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18