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Encouragement for Women

The unexpected is the best part

Happy Tuesday! Here’s the next part of “Holy Duct for the Hot-Tempered Wife”. Thank you for reading.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My husband and I went on a road trip up the coast for Valentine’s weekend in 2016. We ended up not making good time that first day because we argued badly just trying to get on the road. I almost ended up not going.  We had to stay overnight in a hotel off of the 101 in Morro Bay because we were so late in leaving. I’d wanted to see some of the highway stretch before Big Sur during the day so we made the decision to stay at that particular hotel. We’d never stayed there before but we were definitely led there. Every time I think of this story I want to cry. Here’s why. We pulled into the hotel a little after sundown. Mario and I were in a battle just getting to that place, like I said we’d had a pretty ugly argument right when we were to begin the road trip. It was tough getting into the car and onto the road in North County, San Diego so by the time we were 290 miles north in Morro Bay we were still walking on thin ice, on edge with nerves frayed. The woman at the check in desk was helpful, efficient and there was an ease and a lightness to her that was in stark contrast to my own heavy heart. I did my best to be the sweetest version of myself and said the appropriate polite things while we paid and got keys to our room. I had already made the decision to hit the continental breakfast the next morning for coffee and some sort of inviting carb loaded treat (I felt I’d earned it!). The next morning I did some of a Bible study from Beth Moore called, “Children of the Day, 1 & 2 Thessalonians”. I was on 1 Thessalonians 4:9 “About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” In the study Beth Moore asked, “Do you have a similar example from someone you know or have read about (or perhaps seen in the mirror this morning) who seemed to have learned some biblical truth straight from God without textbook, training, or human teacher?” My answer was YES. I did have a personal experience myself where I felt God taught me something straight from His Word a few years back when I read the account of the ten lepers cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. What I learned from God in that story was that the least likely to be thankful, the Samaritan leper, was the only one who came back to say thank you to Jesus and because of this he gained insight when Jesus said to him, “…your faith has made you well” (vs. 19).  What I learned was since the leper was the only one who was thankful and acted on it, he was the only one who got this piece of information straight from Jesus about how powerful faith was. So, getting back to that morning in the Morro Bay hotel. I recalled the thankful leper and set about to get us packed up and ready to get back on the road. I was still somewhat rocked from the day before because of the big argument, but I was thankful too. I was thankful that God got us this far into the trip even though it was so tough! Mario packed up the car and then we found our way to where the continental breakfast was. In that little breakfast place there was the attendant from last night to greet us with a sweet smile and a quick introduction about how to use the waffle maker (that was the BEST!!). We were her only breakfast customers so far – so it was the three of us there in that room. As I was trying my hand at the waffles I looked over and saw the woman sitting there staring out. She was looking out the window toward the shoreline of Morro Bay at a big rock. I started talking with her asking her questions about where she’d lived before coming here (she was of East Indian descent, and I was curious about her story). She explained that she had come out here from North Carolina last May. She then said something that caught my attention even further. She said, “Every morning I sit here and look outside and thank the Good Lord for bringing me here.” She went on to say that she had been a Hindu and converted to Christianity 15 years ago. She had left an abusive marriage last May which is what brought her out to Morro Bay. I knew then that this was a divine moment. We were supposed to be at that hotel, and I was supposed to hear this reinforced message of thankfulness as a key to my walk – even in my most angriest, most painful moments – and our new friend was supposed to know that God sees her and sends her brothers and sisters to remind her that she is not alone. We took the opportunity to pray together, and then my husband and I drove away with completely different attitudes – in awe of God’s power in spite of our biggest mistakes! That day was such a gift. I cannot explain the sweet scenery that played out before our eyes as we traversed the magnificent Highway 1. I can only say this, there was a moment when I saw these huge trees, fierce and brave meet the shoreline that held back this equally powerful and mesmerizingly bright blue ocean, and I thought, “This is where the forest and the ocean shake hands and decide to be friends forever.” That’s the story of my marriage. We are both so strong, so different, fighting for that shoreline, but God uses that force to change us into a vision of His glory. So hang in there, sister. Be brave, whether you are the ocean or the trees, this fight is a good one. Be thankful for the process.

Day 2 Themes:

1) Thankfulness is key. (Don’t worry if you’re not thankful right now. Hang in there!)

2) Be brave, and don’t be afraid that you’re too strong. There is a purpose!

Prayer

Dear Father God, Thank you for giving me so much, even in my biggest defeats. Thank you that You never give up on me, and that You are always ready to teach me a life giving lesson. Please help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and to obey You. Please help me to hang in there and to not be afraid of how it looks and feels right now. Please help me to not see my husband as an enemy ,and I pray the same for him to not see me as his enemy. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!

With all my heart,

Sonia

 

 

 

Categories
Encouragement for Women

Dear Little Miss Control Freak

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

My need to control my environment is strong. That sentence is an understatement. Let me rephrase that. My need to control my environment – if left unchecked – is catastrophic and devastating. Maybe it’s the same for you, and that is why you are reading this. Let me assure you right out of the gate here – we are not alone. In preparing to write “Day 1” I thought of several of my  friends and family who have these same issues with control and overwhelming emotions when either a perceived threat or a very real fear has swept in. Just because we are not alone does not make us a part of some exclusive “Bad Christian Ladies Club” nor it does not exclude us from the “Good Christian Ladies Club” either. It just puts us in a category of women who no longer want to be ruled nor defined by the raging emotions that cause damage and dishonor the Lord. When I was praying about writing this and the topic of my rage and anger, I felt a wave of shame and condemnation come over me. It was almost like I couldn’t pray about this part of me. Even though I know God knows all about this fiery girl of His, I felt like I couldn’t admit the severity of it to God. I wanted to call it a “struggle” and label it something mild and non-threatening, but the fact is that it IS life-threatening.  I knew I didn’t need to hide from God, but somewhere down deep came these thoughts of shame because I felt like it’s just so unladylike to have this harsh and vicious way about me.  It can “feel” exhilarating and powerful when you rage and take back your (false sense of) control, but that feeling of control is a big lie. We have been deceived. This can no longer be my first and last line of defense. If I want to have any shot at the abundant life Jesus talks about then I need to learn how to be a strong woman without the clawing, fighting and hissing of mean words and threats. The enemy of my soul does not want me getting victory in this. My intense anger and explosive emotions have made his job all too easy.

So getting back to that moment of prayer where I felt that shame come over me…I decided right then and there to be honest with myself and God. In the silence of my heart and mind I called it what it was. And then an unexpected thing happened. I felt God say to me, “I love you.” I didn’t hear a voice fall out of the sky, but He said it in a way that felt like it was right from His heart to mine. In my ugliness I felt His love right there. He was there with me in the true confession. I don’t know if it was because I was appropriately convicted over this for once or if it was because God knows how hard this is for me. I don’t quite know how to articulate it, but if I could try to explain what took place, I’d have to say that He was pleased that I would come to Him like that…humbly.  And pleased that I would be willing to deal with this finally. So if there’s any encouragement I can give right here at the starting line, it would be this: He loves you. He loves me.

As difficult as things are right now and as difficult a breed of women we can be, we are created in God’s image to love with power and to have self-control and solidness when we let go of our warped sense of control. God wants us to see His power displayed all over our lives and that happens when we admit our greatest weaknesses – the root ones, the real ones. And if we don’t know yet what those roots are, then at the very least we’d be willing to go through the process to allow Him to discover why we do what we do. I don’t know if there’s a formula, and I doubt there’s a “one-size fits all remedy”, but He guarantees this: HE IS FAITHFUL. His Word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “His grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in weakness”. Our weakness in exchange for His strength – now there’s a formula I want to learn about. Which brings takes me to our meditation verse at the top of the page: Matthew 16:24-25. In order for us to find our lives – the lives we have always wanted, we have to lose our life – the old one- the “control freak” one – the one that rages to protect herself like an injured animal. Time to open up that cracked heart and let Him in to do life-saving and life-giving surgery. Let’s hang in there! It’s worth it.

In summary, Day 1 themes:

1) That He loves us.

2) That it’s time to lose that old life (let go of control) and be willing to live the new one (embrace the weakness).

Prayer

Dear Father God, Thank you that you love me so much that You want me to exchange the lies of my own control for the truth of the power of Your Spirit at work in my life. Please help me to be honest with You and others and to stop trying to hold everything together myself. Please give me a willing spirit, heart and mind for the change You want to bring to my life. I want to honor You in every area. I have kept this pressed down and covered up for so long, and I am exhausted. Please show me how to exchange my weakness for Your strength, for my good and Your glory, I pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

So this is Day 1 of the Holy Duct Tape Devotional. The fact that I’m doing this right now is no accident. Thank you for reading!

With all my heart,

Sonia

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There’s our little Luna watching me type 🙂