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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Uncategorized

Don’t Take the Bait

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!!):

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight

Tuesday = Spiritual Health is Wealth

This past Sunday, Mario (my husband) purchased the Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul boxing event on Showtime. I wasn’t particularly interested in it but had heard a little bit about the hype on the news so I sat down to watch. It was quite the uneventful match. The commentators were doing their very best to keep the hype going throughout the eight rounds of humdrum boxing. One of them quoted Mayweather saying in interviews, “My health is wealth.” That caught my attention, and I have thought about it a lot in the last few days. The equation is simple enough. I think we can all agree that healthy choices equal less money being spent on medicine, treatments and the healthcare that is needed to manage poor health brought on by unhealthy living.

What I wanted to talk about today, though, is spiritual health and the wealth that it brings. Do we ever think about how our spiritual health is doing? I don’t often think about it in those terms. I don’t wake up asking, “How spiritually healthy am I?” Let’s think about it. How spiritually healthy are you and how do we know? I watched a sermon on Sunday from The Rock Church in San Diego and Pastor Miles was talking about prayer, and then yesterday I talked with my daughter & she shared about a Monday prayer group at work that she joined, and finally, this morning a friend of mine called to share what was going on in her life and we prayed. I think there’s some of the answer right there. What does our prayer life look like? I was a part of a Saturday morning prayer group with the church we used to go to, and it was truly amazing – a beautiful gift. I learned so much about “corporate” prayer during that time. My husband and I are in a season of seeking where God is leading us next so I am no longer a part of the Saturday morning prayer call. This was difficult at first, more then I care to share here in this blog, but something has happened the last few months.

Looking back I know that this season was handcrafted by the Lover of my soul to get me spiritually healthy again. I had become so outward facing that I neglected all the healing that was needed in me. I am going to be honest here and tell you that the shift in focus has not been easy. I have felt abandonment, fear, doubt, despair, insecurities, sorrow, loneliness and a myriad of emotions that speak to all the surreal feelings that came with this change. Although I was confident in the direction God was showing us, it meant a drastic life change. At the beginning, my prayer life was nothing more than a simple, “Help me, Lord,” that’s all I could muster up. I still had my list of people to pray for, but I finally started adding my real inner life to that list. I think that’s a big part of being spiritually healthy – getting real with God. Really, really REAL in prayer. No hiding in shame, no holding back, no pretending…just raw truth with God met by a river of love and grace and unbelievable healing.

I think that’s the encouragement for today, the prayer for today, the hope for today: Get real with God – get real in prayer, and we will undoubtedly reap the rewards of a healthy spiritual life. No offense to all the loved ones in my life, but this season is not about you. It isn’t even about me. It is about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s what my aim is, and I’m sure it’s yours too so let’s get healthy. It is all for His glory and our good.

With all my heart,

Sonia

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Encouragement for Women

“Sonia, you have to start acting like…”

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Thanksgiving 2017

Next excerpt from “Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife”

I found myself on a cold winter evening last year seated at a dining table, my husband next to me, staring across the table at our pastor and his wife. This was no casual meeting for coffee. This was an intense discussion about our marriage and deep issues we were dealing with at the time. If ever I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me, this was one of those times. But before I go into that – let me back up. How did we get here? The few months that had led up to this evening meeting were the hardest my husband and I had encountered in a while. We were dealing with the loss of a family member due to cancer, the purchase of a new home and the end of my husband’s first (grueling) semester teaching full time…all of this in the span of eight weeks. We were emotional, sleep-deprived, disconnected and disgusted with one another by the time we found ourselves at that table each explaining our “side of the story”. My husband recounted, verbatim, some horrible words I had shouted at him during one of our recent fights. I was shocked to hear what I had said to him. I mean, I know I had said them, but to hear them that way caused me such embarrassment and shame – partly because of who we were meeting with and also because they were just so wrong. I’m sure at the time I said them, I felt justified and maybe even proud of myself for having such cutting things to say, but here they were on display for the four of us to behold, and I wanted to run out of there. Our pastor and his wife were patient, offered insight and prayed for us, but there was one thing in that conversation that stuck out to me and pierced my heart. Toward the end of the conversation, our pastor turned to my husband and gave some guidance and direction and then he turned to me and said, “And you, Sonia, you have to start acting like a Christian woman.” He said some other things after that to offer encouragement, but that phrase played out over and over in my head, “start acting like a Christian woman”. Things didn’t magically get easier the days that followed, but I was thinking more and more about what it means to be a Christian woman. I am often so worried about me, consumed with me and want to make sure I am okay that I forget all else. I forget that to be a Christian is to live a life in service of others, and if you’re married, first and foremost, in service to your husband (and lest I forget to add this disclaimer, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives so it’s a mutually giving situation when done the way God intends it to be). My husband is not without fault in our conflict, but a hot-tempered wife is not just hot-tempered for the sake of being difficult, there have been things along the way in life that molded us into a “I will never be hurt again. You will not hurt me. This will not hurt me” kind of person. All that to say, living sacrificially is the exact opposite of everything I know instinctively. So here’s the good part, the part where we get some answers, some of the “how to be a Christian woman” part. Here’s a verse to start thinking about:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

There are a few things going on that are key, one of them being to give (stop being so selfish) and the other is to be changed by the renewing of your mind (humble yourself – you aren’t right all the time, you know).

This journey I am on feels so foreign to me that sometimes I feel like I’ll never get it right, but I know that God says with Him all things are possible. If He says it’s possible to get my mind right, to get control of my emotions, to live selflessly and to have a thriving marriage, then I’ll believe Him.

Day 3 Themes:

1) Get over ourselves. I know, but really, we need to! It’s time.

2) Let’s change our minds to have our minds changed by God’s love and His Word. Enough with the negative self-talk!

Thank you so much for reading & thank you for your patience.

With all my heart, Sonia

P.S. Another extremely HUGE key part of this story is that we let 
people in to help keep us accountable! It is so humbling to deal withyour dirt with others, but it is healthy when done in a safe 
environment! Let’s not give up but instead give in to God’s way of 
doing things (and let others in!).
Categories
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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I’ve tried blogging before, but this time my heart is beating wildly and this butterfly keeps following me around too.

Ever have a moment in time – it could last half a day or even a few days…or (gasp) a week or so – of silence. I’m not talking about the background music at work, or the voice(s) in your head, or the normal daily pleasantries exchanged throughout the day. What I am referring to is something entirely different: NO RETURN CALLS OR TEXTS!!! It’s been 72 hours, I think, and my iPhone is eerily silent with the majority of people I have reached out to not responding to my attempts to connect. I don’t know about you, but that messes with me sometimes. Sometimes being messed with that way is a good thing. You get motivated to do something different, and sometimes different is just what was supposed to happen all along, but you were too full of noise to do it. That said, let me back up a bit for those of you who don’t know me (I am hoping that this blog will go beyond the confines of my beautiful circle of peeps so please share, if you feel inclined). I must first introduce myself and include some fun facts, historical info and the reason I am sitting here in a very muggy women’s boutique in beautiful North County, San Diego writing, deleting and writing some more. I turned 40 a few weeks back. I could just end this first blog post right here. LOL! Well, I won’t…I can’t, really because I have made a list of “resolutions’ for this milestone year. Here’s my list: 1) Live fearlessly (no more “people pleasing” – just “God pleasing”). The reason why this is the first of my resolutions probably goes without saying. My fellow “People Pleasers” can we all just breathe a collective sigh and say, “No” for once?!  2) Be more adventurous (I play the “what if” game quite a bit in my head so I usually can talk myself out of most all things associated with fun adventures. I used to be the “play it safe girl”, and although wise, in most cases, it can border on paranoia and party-pooper status).  3) Follow through – no matter how boring or tiresome to see something through to completion, I will now do it. I usually go to the step before the final step in most things – don’t ask me why that is, I don’t know. I hate it. I know that much. That is why this made my resolution list. This blog falls under the “follow through” category. I’ve attempted to do one two times before. It was always weird and had no real direction so I think it was a good thing I didn’t follow through with those and last but not least, 4) Live with an attitude of gratitude – thankfulness always because even the bad is good in God’s Hands. Not like the crazy, smiling, fake Christian lady but a quiet, deep-hearted, thankfulness seeped deep in my soul. This last year has given me plenty of opportunities to dig deep with introspection and get my perspective off what “isn’t” to focus on what actually “is”. The timing is right for my writing, my heart is in it, and hey, I am the “Adventurous, God Pleasing, Follow Through, Thankful Girl” now so why not?! In my 40 years of life I have lived only the last five truly living. You see, five years ago, on July 30, 2009 I gave my life to Jesus Christ and have not looked back. That’s why this blog is called John4four. In the Bible there’s a story in John chapter 4 of this really messed up lady and a beautiful man named Jesus who needed to meet her to change her life that day. She was me, and I was her. If you haven’t read the story of the Samaritan woman, please do. I am crying as I get to this sentence. You see, I am on my third marriage (been married to my current husband for almost ten years and yes, he loves Jesus too – that’s why we’ve been together this long, FOR SURE!) and I could totally relate to the shame and hopelessness she felt that fateful day she went to the well in the heat of the day not knowing that God was chasing after her. I had my daughter when I was 18, and She is now 21. Unfortunately my daughter was dragged through countless failed relationships and left at home with family and friends while I partied, drank and had sex with whoever my latest “boyfriend” was to drown out the reality of my desperation. Before I go down memory lane too far, let me say this…God has turned my ashes to beauty. He has not allowed my pain to be without purpose, and He can do impossible things – like allow me to live to see 40 and actually appreciate my life and all that is in it. In my life I have had a few careers: banking and healthcare, both instrumental in forcing me to talk to many different people and see all kinds of crazy things. I was born in Twentynine Palms, CA into a military household – the firstborn of three girls. My dad is Puerto Rican and my mom is Mexican – yes, please pray for my husband 🙂 I’ve lived in California all my life (minus 6 months when I lived in Arizona – big mistake, not so much the state, but the guy I followed out there). This is a pretty long post so far so I will end here. As this blog progresses, I will be sure to include more historical data relevant to my entries. I am currently working on (in the midst of my messiness sometimes – okay a lot of the time) being a loving wife to my hunk of a husband, being a mom committed to praying, writing a women’s Bible study through 2 Timothy, going to school (online) to get my Bachelor’s in Religious Studies, serving at our awesome church and being a willing vessel to go wherever God, the Lover of my soul, wants me to go. Be blessed, friends, and thank you for reading entry numero uno.