Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race · Seasons

This (insert struggle here) is God’s Love Too

09da8585526a8d8d6938dab0d81eab0b.jpgTonight I have a confession to make here. I’m struggling with change all around me, and I do not like it. Relationships, jobs, schools, finances, family…things look very different than even a few months ago. Not all of it is bad, but it definitely feels like I’m on shaky ground, and I’m gingerly walking each step, holding my breath. I am questioning myself, doubting things I once found solidness in and have this sense that things are completely out of control. I wonder, “Am I just blowing it here?” or “Is everyone heading one direction, and I’m veering off the road?” That’s where I am right now. No concrete answers. No one saying, “Go this way or don’t go that way!” Just sitting here in my struggle against, CHANGE.

Last night Mario and I had a conversation about failure and one of the things we brought up was what real failure looked like. I said, “I think if you’re not growing and changing, you’re failing. If you unplug and disconnect from the hard stuff then you’re failing.” Little did I know how those words would play out real time in my mind the very next night as I sit here in this uncertainty.

This is all I know tonight…this is the only truth I can hang my hat on, “This, too, is God’s love.” Whatever all this is…the feelings, the wonderings, the angst, the worry…God’s love has not gone anywhere. That’s all I’ve got.  That He loves me, and He’s letting me have this time to process and grow out of fear and into faith. I’m a Christian so I do go through that process of trying to pinpoint what I’m doing that is sin so I can just confess it and be done with it. I have to just wait on God to see what He shows me. I have to cry out to Him and let Him know I am afraid and uncertain. I have to open up my heart to whatever truth He wants to reveal. Right now, it’s the “I have to” time because it’s part of growing up. I have to wait until He walks me through this to the other side. I can’t move. I can’t change friends. I can’t change jobs. I can’t change families. I can’t change churches. I can’t change anything, but I can wait for God to change me – because if you’re not growing and changing, you’re failing.

If you’re like me tonight, trust God and His timing. Don’t trust your feelings.

Also tonight in our Women’s Bible study we started “Steadfast Love – A Study of Psalm 107” by Lauren Chandler, and I have to tell you, as hard as it is to just “be” right now, these words we studied tonight really drove it home,

“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Psalm 107:29-30”

God will get us to that desired haven – we can be sure of that. He loves us – we can be sure of that. He will deliver us – we can be sure of that. He is faithful – we can be sure of that.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Dirty Laundry Redefined

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Here are some of the titles I have written down for this blog:

“Fighting & Fixation”

“I Don’t Know Everything and Neither Do You So Let’s Relax Already!”

“OH NO! ‘Ruin is the Road to Transformation’ ”

“God, please help me”

Ummm can you sense a theme? It’s called being at the end of your rope, end of your self, end of the situation…whatever it is, it’s the end, YOU’RE TIRED!”

(Quick side note) About this image, just an FYI, I did try to find out who this “SoulBraille.com” person is to ask if I could use this image, but the website just goes to some GoDaddy account so props to soulbraille.com for creating this image.

Ok, now onto business, this blog format is way to inappropriate of a platform to give you all the nitty gritty details of the last two weeks of my life behind closed doors so let me say this, it was UGLY. Yes, ugly and Terrible. Horrible. Tragic. Unbelievable and yet, here I am wanting to tell you, that, yes I can say this, “God is here!”

You want to know why? Because if you knew me, I mean really knew me, you would know that I wouldn’t be sitting here at the computer, typing away, telling you that it’s gonna be okay. Okay, it might get worse before it gets better, but it is going to be okay God’s way. That’s the motto right now, folks, it’s gonna be okay – God’s way. What I would be doing if this was the old me….you don’t want to know. I promise you. You don’t!

There are messages that can play out in our minds about ourselves, our history and our destiny that just aren’t true anymore. I mean, I became a Christian at 35 years of age and that means 35 years of doing life in complete darkness and sick toxicity. 35 years! That means my elementary school years, teenage years, 20’s and half of my 30’s just jacked up from the floor up, literally. The history lesson that plays out in my head is so strong sometimes that I think this new life with God is just a hoax or a trick being played on me that I can be a new creation. Yet, here I sit in a home that is safe and pretty, with a sweet dog that is sleeping peacefully in her dog bed, with a husband that is working hard right now & we’re still married (!!!), with a daughter who loves to talk with me and see me, with friends a phone call away who will pray with me, with a church family that has real people in it who know God’s power and with a mind that is fixed on God’s promises, pushing through the pain and muscle memory of destructive habits.

I wish we would scream our deficiencies and let people see the ugly sometimes. Social media is so not reality a lot of the time. I know my accounts are too pretty at times. Social media is a good way to PR the heck out of your life when it’s in the toilet, let me tell you, so don’t believe the hype sometimes. I mean, there are times it’s just a good photo, capturing a real moment. But when the angles are consistently on point, the color and background are flawless and the plastered smiles are perfect in photo after photo, it’s okay to ask the question, “What about your bad days?” We all have them, and they all suck! Doesn’t matter what filter you choose – it’s a freaking bad day!!

I was talking with a friend Monday night, and she’s struggling too. During that conversation I was reminded of the story in Matthew 16 where Jesus was talking to Peter at Caesarea Phillipi and said to him,

18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[a] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[b] will not conquer it.” 

I got to go to that very spot (Caesarea Phillipi) a few years back on an Israel trip with our church. As our pastor taught there my heart just came alive to witness firsthand that this place that Jesus chose to have this conversation with Peter represented such death and darkness. I could relate to that! He was telling Peter that not even that evil would prevail against the work He was going to do.

That inspires me right now, and I hope it inspires you too. Whatever darkness or death you are experiencing, just breathe and get up tomorrow and scream or whisper to yourself, “God’s got this! God’s got me! God’s got them!” The gates of hell will not prevail against it, against you, against what God is doing in your life.

Air that dirty laundry – it’s time! You can be fragile…like a beautiful vase that God guards with His very life. You don’t have to be a ticking time bomb anymore. Let God bring the beauty from those ashes of your own destructive bombs, and let Him hold your fragile heart. Stand in His safety. I’m standing there with you. From one broken spirit to another, it is well tonight and tomorrow and always. It is well, my friend.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Patience, Grasshopper!

New Years Day I woke up with a title in my mind, and it was this, “The Lost Arts of Subtlety, Discovery and Patience.” Don’t ask me why this title. I don’t know what’s it’s for yet. I’ll just have to be…patient (I know, corny – but true).

So do we talk about resolutions for the year or big plans or great changes for this year? I’m all for that but there are two themes that have been pressing on my heart and swirling around in this mind – and it’s these: bravery and patience. That’s it.

I don’t know what to say about those two words, but I did look up in the back of my Bible verses on patience just now and got stuck on Romans chapter 12 with these verses:

(Starting at verse 9 and going all the way to verse 21):

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. In honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

On the top of that page of my Bible I wrote this (from chapter 12), “I AM TO BE A LIVING SACRIFICE.” That is really tough given all the junk around this world, the brokenness of my past, my control freak ways (sometimes – wink wink), and the overwhelming odds, really.  But I think that’s where these two themes come into play…the bravery & the patience. Both of those things only come through unselfishness. They only come by sacrifice. Do you want to live your best life? I know I do. Well, it can be found right there. God tells us and shows us, it’s in the giving and the sacrificing. Our pastor mentioned that at church yesterday in the first message of the new year: to give. That reminder, along with the first movie I watched this year (“Second Act” – starring JLo and Leah Remini) Leah Remini says to JLo’s character, “No one likes a selfish girl!” I agree. The world around us isn’t inspired by selfishness. It is inspired by those willing to sacrifice.

I think for me this year, I want to take to heart all that Romans 12 lays before me and seek God like never before. I want to let Him blow the lid off of all that is holding me back, and I just want to give in private, unseen ways and also in big ways that shout “FREEDOM” to a world full of people looking to live their best lives.

Thank you for reading, and I pray this year brings you even closer to living the best life that God intended you to live.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Thank you to Gina G. for this Bible she gave me in 2010!

 

 

Seasons

“I Like Big But’s, and I Cannot Lie”

Hi again, I know it’s been a while. So much happens in a day, week, month, year. Life changes in a heartbeat. Well, I am ending out our Fall women’s Bible study through Job by Lisa Harper. AMAZING, if you haven’t done it, please do. It’ll rock your world, in the very best way. I know, you’re thinking…JOB, really? But seriously, do it, if you can.

I was looking for something to read this morning and turned to Proverbs to start reading through it for the month of November so I started with Proverbs chapter one, and it’s heavy. I was reading through it thinking, woah, I am a little scared here and not sure if I want to do this for a month and then I came to the last verse in the chapter, verse 33, which says,

“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely. And they will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Which is when I thought, “I love the BUT’S in the Bible!” They are full of such promise! They say, “It’s not over yet,” even when you think it is.

Let me get personal for a minute. There are young people in our lives that have chosen very hard paths, definitely riddled with pain and struggle and death too. They are doing life on their terms and to look at them, it is SO not freedom. Even though that’s what they thought their choices would bring them. It’s hard to sit back and watch that destruction. It is dark and heavy. I get anxiety just thinking about where these paths lead. Especially with one of our young friends who is so steeped in addiction that I don’t know if they will make it through this week. All around we can see such heartbreaking situations all over the place, in our families, friends, workplaces, schools, country, world. It is dark, but then there’s the BUT.

BUT GOD. 

So whatever’s happening in your life and  mine, we can know that God has the final say on everything on earth and in the heavens. He has the final say for today and for eternity. We turn from our anxiety, from our pain and we TRUST. We BREATHE. We LIVE.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Difficult Relationships & Toxic Relationships

Hi! It’s been awhile. Please forgive me for this lapse. I am back in school & back to work so life is pretty full. However, I am writing today because of my daughter. She asked me to, and I’m so glad. She is  one of my biggest “why’s” for this blog. Since she is 25 years old , and doesn’t live at home anymore, this blog is sometimes my way of having a “virtual cup of coffee” with her and sharing thoughts & stories, ones that she and I can look back on and read and discuss. So here it is, Gabbie, some reading material for you – hopefully before you start this day.

I am not an expert on relationships. I don’t really know anyone who is. I firmly believe we are all trying to figure it out, but one theme keeps rolling around in my head, and it’s the title of today’s blog: Difficult Relationships versus Toxic Relationships. I know for me I can hang in there with the toxic ones so easily because it’s what I “know”. Those are the ones I feel I have control in, but the difficult ones, the ones wrought with struggle and change, those are hard to hang in there with.

I have people in my life that are just difficult at times. I know I am difficult at times too (probably more often than I care to know!). I think those difficult ones where you are challenged just might be those that are meant for you (and them) for monumental (HEALTHY) change in life. Yet it’s easy to run from those relationships because they’re just so uncomfortable and not fun at times. The toxic ones though, those you can find tons of reasons to hang in there and keep at it – at least that’s what I’ve found to be my tendency.

When I look back at certain relationships I think, “Thank God I’m not in that anymore!” But it took circumstances beyond my control to drive a wedge to even see that. Not to say that people can’t grow & change together and establish new depth to the relationship, but I’m referring to the ones that keep you STUCK. So I guess that’s it…that’s the real question. Are you stuck in a pattern of toxicity or are you in a pattern of uncomfortable, yet necessary, growth?

My answer to myself in this regard is this:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

To sum this up, I’ll say this to anyone who needs it (me), “Don’t trust yourself and your fickle emotions, trust God.”

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Do You Need A Lawyer?

Good morning! Okay so the question on the table today is, “Are you okay with being misunderstood?” My answer, in a word, “NO!” Recently I have found myself in a situation where I have put myself out there, done the right thing – only to have it come back to bite me in the butt. Really, it’s a “no good deed goes unpunished” kind of situation here. But before I get too far into this pity party, let me say that this conundrum I find myself in is about something greater. No one likes having their reputation slaughtered or their name tossed about without being able to defend yourself. It’s a terrible feeling, so what do we do when we are faced with being misunderstood? We could take matters into our own hands and scream the facts at anyone who would listen. We could get so fixated in clearing our name that we are riddled with anxiety. We could get bitter and brood…or we could wait and see what happens. We could wait on God. There’s a verse in Exodus that I am thinking about right now, and it’s this one:

“The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

That is easier said than done for me because I can be a fighter. Through this season God is teaching me to sit down, and let Him fight for me. It is tough. Tougher than fighting! In order to do this I need to trust God. Trust that this time of being misunderstood will pass and trust that God is my perfect defense here. Through this, He is teaching me to pray, to love more and to not be consumed with all the “noise.” Oh, and my reputation, that’s in His hands too. He is in charge of that. So in the meantime, while this whole mess swirls around me, I will cling to verses like the ones I read just before I started typing this morning:

Psalm 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 62:2 Truly my soul waits silently for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

So, until further notice, I will stay silent on this subject and keep moving forward looking outward past my own emotions and opinions. I will pray – that’s how I can fight best anyway, and I will keep my mouth shut. It’s better this way, that way it’s not all about me. It’s all about Him.

Have a great day knowing God is fighting for us!

With all my heart,

Sonia

P.S. Please, please listen to this song & enjoy:

Run Your Race

Nine Years and Counting…

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My journal excerpt from 2009…my first day as a Christian

Today is July 30th, and I want to say thank you to God for my ninth spiritual birthday. Despite all that held me back from thinking I could ever have a life full of hope, He pursued me and picked me up and set my feet on safe and solid ground. He’s given me so much, so much. I cannot even come up with the words for the miracles He’s done. I just know this, I love Jesus with my whole heart, and I want to serve Him with my life forever. The part in this journal page that says, “Please help me on my walk and on my journey..” I want you to know He’s done that and more. Well, I don’t have much time to write because I took the time this morning to read all my journal excerpts from July 30 for the past eight years, and let me tell you, it’s been quite a journey. And I’m glad to tell you a life with God is SO worth it. My life is proof of that, that He is faithful and we can trust Him with everything.

With all my heart,

Sonia

Run Your Race

Couch Potato No More

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Halfway through reading as of 7.28.18 🙂

Good morning and Happy Saturday! Thank you for taking the time to read this short blog post today. I picked up a book last night that I started a while ago but forgot (literally forgot) to continue. I got the urge to start reading it again because I love the story of this couple and how they’re bold about their faith in a very public way.

So after a low-key evening of about four hours of Mario and I on the couch watching TV, I started to read and got to the point in the book where Joanna tells a story about a couple who helped guide them before they got married. This couple challenged them to go without TV for the first few weeks of their marriage because, they explained, “that being in the same house and actually interacting with each other are two different things. Sometimes its easy for couples to get lost in their own little worlds at home – to be so focused on other things that they aren’t really together, even when they’re in the same room.” That stuck with me because there was a time when Mario and I didn’t have cable. We had a TV but we opted not to get cable because of finances, and we were just wasting time. We did this for six years, and we did not miss a thing!

The thing about distractions is that once you get rid of them, you have more freedom. And freedom is definitely that ideal that we are always chasing. Yet, it’s right there in the day to day choices of not being a slave to things. I know I’ve gotten very distracted by tv, social media, binge watching, binge eating etc. and I’m kind of over it. I want more. I want my husband and my family to get more of me – the “not distracted” version of me.

So Mario and I discussed this last night after I read him that portion of the book out loud, and we agreed that we are going to cut the chord on the cable again. Not just because the book mentioned it, but because we already knew we had to. That just confirmed it 🙂

Truthfully, half the time we aren’t even watching TV anyway…we are looking at our dang phones. So that’s probably next on the list – boundaries with that too. Not because we want to live these lives in a bubble, but because we want to get out of the bubble.

Well, that’s it for today! Have a great weekend & maybe shut off the TV and/or phone and see what happens.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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This was literally us from 8pm until about midnight last night!
Run Your Race

How Deep Is Your Love?

For today’s blog post I wanted to share a song I listened to last week. It was on Wednesday, and I had taken the day off from work to celebrate my birthday. Mario and I were headed back to the house after eating breakfast at our favorite French bakery. The sun was shining, and I was just happy to be with my husband in the middle of a work day. He put the song on, and I listened to the words and voices. I love the line that says, “How deep is your love, I really mean to learn…”

That part that says, “I really mean to learn.” I do. I think as we start to really learn how much God loves us, it drives out the dark in our lives. How do we start to learn how God loves us? For me, I have to take my eyes off of people, opinions, situations, the world, my bank account, my lack….and I have to purpose to believe something other than all of those things.

I really mean to learn all these things:

Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west – Isaiah 43:4-5

***

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand – Isaiah 41:10

***

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

I’m on a journey and so are you. I’m on a journey to discover, every day, even more of this love that crashed into my hopeless life nine years ago and picked me up out of a pit and washed my soul clean from the shame of the life I led. I’m on a journey to learn more about this very love God put in my heart and to discover, every day, even more of the truth that His perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18).

So this is my TGIF post today, and I wanted to give my husband a shout out for introducing me to this song and for being my music man. I love you!

Thanks for reading.

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

Encouragement for Women · Run Your Race

Your Faith Can Demolish Your Fear

Good morning. So today started out with fresh worries. How about you? Earlier this week someone suggested that I start out the day writing things down that I am grateful for and today I am grateful for that suggestion because it set my mind right just now. What are you grateful for today? There really are so many things, but the world screams at us to be afraid of everything. Fear of the unknown creeps around decisions and situations that causes anxiety. I am well acquainted with fear based decisions. They always end up badly, by the way, and they should. Faith is solid, and when I choose to go in the direction of faith I step out of fear.

This past Tuesday night I was sitting in church and a situation happened that I feared I had failed in. I wanted to run out of the room, literally. I was sitting in my seat fighting the overwhelming physical and emotional pull to flee the scene. My skin was crawling and my heart was racing. I couldn’t hear what the pastor was saying – all other sounds around me were muffled. I could only hear the words in my head. I was physically manifesting this fear that I was exposed for what I really think in my head- that I am just a failure and all my attempts otherwise will end up in the same place…failure. I know – that’s some negative thinking right there, but it’s true. My mind goes there. I hung in there, though. By some amazing miracle of God I stayed put and little by little the feelings washed away, and I was able to hear words coming from the pastor. The moment passed, and I survived it. Better yet, I was stronger for it.

No one saw this battle. No one knew this victory. I think even my husband sitting next to me wouldn’t have known this had gone on had I not told him later that night. And here I am two days later writing about something so private, but it was HUGE! I know now that I exercised faith sitting there, and it literally dispelled and demolished the fear I felt in that moment. I hated being that uncomfortable, but let me tell you this: I am better for it. So I guess that’s what I want to leave on this page today, exercise your faith. Let it happen and don’t shrink back! We are not alone in this, look what David wrote in Psalm 56:

“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:11

We are free to exercise our faith, so let’s do it!

With all my heart,

Sonia