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.
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.
Let me start out this Friday post with words that start with “DIS”: discourage, disorder distract, disappear, dissimilar, disadvantage. Now let’s look at words that start with “UN”: unwell, unhappy, ungrateful, untrained, unwilling.
Looks like these aren’t great prefixes: ‘dis’ means apart and ‘un’ means not! Ok, why the word lesson for us today, right?! I think it’s because I’ve had the word “discouraged” rolling around in my head since yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful over many, many things, but I’ve been battling discouragement. Maybe you have too!
I’ll just be honest here and list a few of my discouragements (in no particular order): estranged relationships, finances, weight, school, work, hormones, writing (I love it, I’m doing it right now!! It can be discouraging to find time not to mention the feeling that you’re just not a good enough writer & it’s just a waste to put all the time and effort in). Do you see it, the theme, the “dis/un” life going on right now!
So what do we do with this when there is SO much to be thankful for? How do we battle the world and our own minds that tries to keep our focus on the negative?
We can turn to His Word, I promise, we can. I just did to help me write this for my heart and yours and found this verse when I typed in HOPE:
Psalm 61:2-5 The Message
God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, “Guide me up High Rock Mountain!” You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.
We can turn to Him in prayer, anytime – anywhere. It can be a simple, “I need You, Lord!”
You can text/call that friend, those friends, you know those ones that will pray for you at a moments notice!
Bottom line is we have a way out of it, a way into hope, a shift of focus that God gives us. It’s also okay to be patient with yourself if the discouragement is deep and long. God knows!
I just wanted you to know for this “before weekend read” that it’s okay to be discouraged and to be un- whatever because the truth of this hope we find in Jesus is truly unending and that is an “UN” that changes everything. Have a beautiful weekend full of hope. With all my heart, Sonia
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
Here we go, Tuesday! Right now I have this song playing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpuUlPfx0Ow I am doing my very best not to throw this laptop off my lap, leap off the couch and twirl around the living singing, “This is how I fight my battles!” I am praying that these words bless you today as you battle whatever is going on in your life.
Little secret, or maybe not so secret for those of you who know me, I am in therapy. I meet every two weeks with a counselor for lots of reasons, and it has helped me in ways I am probably not even aware of. My therapist is a Christian counselor and before you start judging the qualifications because of the Christian aspect, I must tell you that this counselor is a Doctor of Psychology – and a great one, at that! I am thankful for the balanced approach for my therapy.
So last week I had an appointment (even though I wanted to cancel – this usually happens when something good is coming my way, like a breakthrough or something) and mentioned a big issue I am dealing with. This issue literally makes my blood boil. I feel like I need to come out swinging on this one, and during my appointment I said something like, “Well, God didn’t make me a fighter for nothing.” To which my doctor replied, “Well, actually God does the fighting for you.” I stayed quiet. I mean, I know that God fights for me. There are verses all over the Bible that talk about how He defends, protects and fights seen and unseen battles on our behalf, but I don’t think I have settled into the fact that just because I see myself as a fighter doesn’t mean that I truly understand what that really, REALLY means.
As I was typing that last sentence in the previous paragraph I had these verses pop in my head from Joshua chapter 5:
13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?”
14 He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?”
I honed in on this excerpt from the link above: “Christians want to marshal God’s allegiance for their cause, when they should simply submit and follow wherever He leads. Once Joshua understood this, he fell “on his face” in worship.” (emphasis mine).
I heard someone in prayer recently say, “God works both sides,” and I took that to mean that He sees everything, not just my side or their side. He sees it all and can judge rightly. He fights for us based on truth. We sometimes (maybe even most times) fight for our cause, our rights, our egos, our agenda. When we look at the way Joshua responded it is apparent that he is a born warrior for God’s kingdom, prepared for battle, but He had to do it God’s way and that started with worship.
How do you worship when you are “seeing red” over something, your adrenaline is just pumping and you are primed for a fight? How do you worship then? I am seriously asking here. I guess we have to define worship first, right!? I just typed it into my search engine here and found these words that made sense to me from worshipdeeper.com :
Put simply, worship is declaring the greatness of someone or something. It is the act of giving up your own glory to make sure everyone knows that the thing being worshiped is pretty awesome. To put it even more succinctly, worship is bowing down to lift up.“
For me today, I guess it comes down to shifting my focus, quieting my mind, breathing, taking time to allow the heat of the moment to pass and to look to the greatness of God instead of the issue at hand. I know I am a like Joshua in that I don’t back down from a fight, but I want to also be like Joshua in that I will worship before taking one more step! (I also want to put the disclaimer in here that I am not talking about when you are in physical danger – when you are being threatened with bodily arm, fight, my sister, fight! What I am talking about in this case are those issues that come up in work, friendships, family junk, rude customer service people, wacky church things, etc.).
That’s all the time I have for today. I put this song here for us because the lyrics for the chorus are, “I’m gonna see a victory. I’m gonna see a victory for the battle belongs to You, Lord!” And yes, it does. Stay victorious, my friend. I am singing right there with you!
Here we are, first day of the week, and it’s tax day. Let’s breathe! Whatever this week holds, we know God is already there. I’ve got about half an hour to write so we are off to a good start. I have my Peets pour-over coffee in my “Rise & Shine” mug and am wearing my favorite oversized morning sweater with the softest Target leggings ever, so yeah, I’m feelin’ good. I hope whatever you are doing right now, you take comfort in the simple blessings God has provided. Sometimes that’s all it takes to surrender a bad attitude or a case of the Monday blues.
My daughter has been in New York for the last month and a half with her wife and her wife’s family and just got back this past Friday so to say I missed her is an understatement! She is 28, and I am beyond blessed that she likes to spend time with her parents 🙂 So Mario was working this past Saturday, and we took that opportunity for some long overdue mother-daughter time. I dropped Mario off at work while Gabbie looked for a nearby Saturday morning brunch spot (you just gotta love Yelp these days!). We went to a wonderful cafe with plenty of seating and delicious food.
We started catching up and talking about some of the “drama” the last few months, and I brought up the word “surrender.” I explained that the “drama situation” had me thinking about surrender, and how it is a process. I can’t will it to happen. I can’t just wave a spiritual wand over it, and it will disappear. I have to go through this process of the ebb and flow of the emotions, the reasonings, the questions and the dialogue with God over it. The grip this has had on my emotions is starting to lessen, and I am seeing something else in play: the fact that God does wants us to truly let go and let God in these hard places we face.
I don’t think there is a standard formula for each person, but I do believe that there is a process. There is a point of surrender when you are just tired. It’s the point where you are done with holding it up and hanging on too tight. It’s the point where you “hand it over to God” and say, “Take it please!” It’s at that moment that it’s not about ‘us’ anymore or ‘them’. It’s about the fact that it was weighing us down, and we need to lay it down. And please, please know I know it is not easy to lay down the bitterness, the misunderstanding, the broken heart, the unrequited love, the loss of job, the estranged family relationship, the dream that never came true, the battered reputation, the infertility, the financial mess, the boring job, the shattered friendship, all the heartache but lay it down, we must.
“Laying it down” may look different in your life than mine. In mine right now, it looks like speaking less about the drama and not fixating on figuring it out. It also looks like a change of focus, my mind/my thoughts about it/them are changing. I am softer when I talk about it, gentler when I think about it. The hardness around my heart that felt like it would never go away has given way to a gentleness that shocks me.
The funny thing is that surrender then looks like freedom when before it looked like defeat. Surrender ushers in the beautiful knowledge that it’s not up to you, that there is a bigger plan, but that the plan is no longer your focus. Your focus now is the One who led you through that heartbreak and loss. You follow Him. You let Him lead because once again, He proved Himself faithful with your surrender process.
I was so thankful to God that I could talk this through with Gabbie. I could be honest and share that this process is necessary, hard but good. Like the saying goes, “The struggle is real, but so is God.” As we finished up our delicious meal I told her that that’s why I reposted the “Mansions” blog post I had written 5 years ago because this process of surrender had me looking up once again, knowing there’s more to all this than meets the eye. His will, His plan, His way. SURRENDER. What do you need to surrender?
My prayer for us this week is that we lay it down, but if surrender seems impossible for whatever is concerning you, I just pray a whisper of willingness for you. It can be a whisper, He will hear you.
Thank you for reading! Have a blessed week. With all my heart, Sonia
P.S. Please enjoy this song by Blanca! So so soooo good!
Happy Friday! We made it! I have to tell you I had a rough night of sleep, could be peri-menopause, could be that I was hungry, could be all the things I was thinking about, but it was probably a combo of all those things. So instead of writing a new blog post and risk it being completely incoherent, I wanted to re-share my blog post from five years ago because this movie scene above has been playing through my head again so please take in this reminder that there’s more to life than meets the eye! Have a blessed weekend too. Thank you for reading this week. I hope it blesses you too ❤ With all my heart, Sonia
There’s this movie, The Holiday, that has a scene in it where Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, sees the house in L.A. that she’ll be staying in for her Christmas holiday. She is a woman who lives in a small, simple cottage in England so this place was a far cry from anything she’d ever lived in. Now, I don’t recommend the movie unless you love RomCom’s like I do, but this scene has something in it that hints at something I read in John 14:2.
Jesus says: “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
I don’t about you but I know I don’t live like I remember that truth every day, AND I SHOULD! We should! I’m going to let you in on an ugly secret…I hardly ever think about that wonderful truth about our destiny. I did when I first became a Christian seven years ago. Wow, did I think about it then. That was one of the things that I kept right at the forefront of my thinking, the reality that this world – what we see and live in now – isn’t it, and that Jesus is preparing that place for us.
So I’ve had a couple of rough weeks – some things in my control, others not so much. Things have been pressing in, and I have been reacting badly. It seems like all I’ve been doing is blowing it and then saying, “Sorry, God, I did ______ again!”
Here are some excerpts from yesterday’s journal entry:
Saturday, October 15th 8:35am “I’m sorry. I’m still in a rut. I can’t see my way out. You see me. What’s the answer? Where’s the way out? How long will it be like this? Is this really Your will, God? Let me still cling to You. I can’t feel You anymore, and I’m drowning.”
Quite the “woe is me” journal excerpt, I know. But I also want you to know, it’s not always like this. This walk with Jesus has all kinds of days and seasons. I had bad days/seasons when I wasn’t a Jesus freak so why wouldn’t I have them now? I know God has been trying to get me to stop looking in so much and start looking out, to Him, others, the future, heaven, and maybe that’s why at 5am I had this scene playing in my mind from a movie that has nothing to do with anything really spiritual. I do love the song though. The whole soundtrack is really amazing. It’s Hans Zimmer, so of course!
God woke me up with this movie scene playing in my head as if to say, “It’s going to be better than that!” Better than we could ever imagine here on earth with our limited perspective and no matter the troubles, the days, the emotions, the dangers, the enemies or “frenemies”, failures, woes, the steps backwards, the highs or lows, HE IS PREPARING A PLACE FOR US. Here’s another verse that just jumped out to me just now to tie up this early Sunday morning blog post:
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
The challenge: Live like a woman who believes what God says and looks forward with hope in her heart that she will dwell in a perfect mansion in His house.
It’s all about You, Jesus.
Have a blessed Sunday, Everyone. I hope we worship like never before today!
I was talking on the phone last night with a friend to see how she’s doing during a very stressful week, and we were catching up. We talked a little bit about this blog too. I shared my process – that I really don’t know exactly what I am going to write, but I get an idea for a topic or theme. My goal is to be honest with what I am going through, put the saving grace of Jesus on blast for those who haven’t yet listened to the Good News and to encourage all the saints to hang in there!
Today it is hard to write because I opened up the news on my phone and read what’s going on in Israel. It’s hard to think any of my struggles and issues are anything in comparison to what is going on over there because they’re not. You cannot compare – that is terrifying what is happening in the Gaza Strip! These are the times when I think my “little troubles” are less important to God. Sometimes we don’t just compare the good things in life, we also compare struggles and think ours are less then. Don’t get my wrong, I do think we all have to have a healthy balance of “bigger picture thinking” so we don’t fall into the trap of being self-focused, but I also believe that God knows everything about us and thinks all those things are important too.
He has an infinite supply of care and concern for us. He doesn’t just use it up on catastrophes or those we think have bigger problems, or believers we think are better behaved. His goodness runs after all of us – like the song says! That’s how I am going to end this out today. We are loved, and His goodness is for us in every single detail that concerns us. And because He is concerned for us and surrounds us (Psalm 32:7) we can go through this day not gripped by fear and anxiety. We are freed up to pray for others. I know, for me, I am going to be praying for Israel today and for all of us facing private battles that we may or may not ever talk about.
I am also posting a photo from our trip to Israel about five years ago and a video of me from that trip when I just broke out in song in a church with the most exquisite acoustics ever – just couldn’t help myself LOL 🙂
Thanks for reading today! With all my heart, Sonia