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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

Categories
Husband ❤️🐻 Run Your Race Seasons

Everyone’s A Critic

Happy Friday! We made it & Happy Juneteenth! Mario’s fresh off a fishing trip, and it was a good one. I know he loves fishing, but he also uses that time as his own personal retreat with God. He texted me this before I went to bed on Wednesday night while he was on the ocean: “I can barely see land. It’s beautiful out here. God’s presence for sure.” When he goes fishing he loses reception in international waters so sometimes I get freaked out not being able to reach him. He’s a wild man, and I love that about him. I can’t keep him held back because of my fear. I know this is something I have to GROW through. And grow, we did! Shout out to my faithful friends and family who prayed us up.

At 10:36pm Wednesday night Mario sent me a text of something he had read on a devotional called, My Utmost For His Highest. I have to share it:

Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.

There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.

I read each word and was convicted and encouraged at the same time. Only the Holy Spirit can do that! I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I was a little afraid Thursday morning when I hadn’t heard from Mario so I played the “Worst Case Scenario Game” from the TV show This Is Us. Here’s a clip to give you the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utP53SA6HzU

So I played the game and thought to myself, “Worst case scenario is something bad happened out there on the ocean.” Terrible, I know, but that’s the “Worst Case Scenario Game.” My next thought which I know was right from heaven was, “And the last thing Mario would have shared with me was the Word.” I cried. That’s my husband. That’s the growth journey we have been on. He hasn’t always been this way and neither have I. Jesus, in His loving patience, is working things in and out of us by His grace.

Well…Mario got home around 7pm yesterday looking a little sunburnt, exhausted and totally happy! Fiona (our pet pitbull) and I met him with that same happiness that he was back safe and sound. They caught fish (see photo! YAY!) but even if he hadn’t, that little overnight trip gave him time to focus on what God had for Him, for us and the message of criticism. Jesus says, “Don’t” and so we work on that and keep each other accountable.

To end this out I will share what my friend texted me this morning when I sent a photo of the fish Mario caught. She wrote, “He is a fisherman of men too!” I have spent too much time being a critic of my husband in the past so I have to boast in the Lord when I say, yeah, he is a fisher of men, and I am beyond grateful that God made him the man he is.

Have a blessed Friday, friends and family!

With all my heart,

Sonia

Categories
Encouragement for Women Fight the Good Fight Run Your Race Seasons

I Have Loved You

Happy Thursday, Loves! Today’s post will focus on the phrase, “It is what is.” I have found myself using this phrase quite a bit the last few months trying to explain certain things out of my control and then one day I saw something on social media that said “It is what it is util it isn’t.” That caught my attention. I Googled the phrase It is what it is and found this article: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-stupidity-of-it-is-what-it-is.html

It is an awesome read about the phrase and why he feels it is stupid. He quotes Army officer Major Andrew Steadman in the article, ‘”Here’s the problem with It is what it is. It abdicates responsibility, shuts down creative problem solving, and concedes defeat. A leader who uses the expression is a leader who faced a challenge, failed to overcome it, and explained away the episode as an inevitable, unavoidable force of circumstances. Replace It is what it is with “This resulted because I failed to do __________” and you get an entirely different discussion.’

I admit I’ve used that phrase quite often lately, and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve shared in previous blogs that I am in therapy for my mental health, and I am going to share a little bit more about that right now and give you the reason for this blog title today. My therapist suggested EMDR therapy due to certain triggers and responses in my life. I had heard of this therapy before and knew a little bit about it so it didn’t surprise me when she brought it up. I just didn’t know if I was ready (here’s a link with information if you want to read a little bit about the therapy https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/ ). I knew it was a call to action in every way for my mental, physical and spiritual health, a call to change. God was making a way for great change in my life and now it was up to me to either be courageous and brave or stay stuck.

I chose to be brave. I had my first EMDR session yesterday and in the interest of word count and time and the sensitivity of the subject I will leave out all the intimate details, but I will say there was a moment during the appointment where this verse came up in my mind as if God was whispering it over my entire soul,

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

I am still basking in that reality that God has had His hand on my life always, during every good and bad thing I have experienced. He was there. He is here. He sees it all. I am on the road to healing during this time of therapy, and I needed to know that He is with me. I am writing this to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be It is what it is. You can take His hand, trust Him and let Him walk you through to the other side of dealing with whatever needs to be faced. How it has worked and how it looks in my life is not turning my back on the appointments even when my heart is pounding out of my chest and my throat is closing up at the very thought of whatever is on the other side of healing.

My prayer for all of us is that we don’t settle for the status quo in our lives. We can proclaim a victorious, “It was what it was, but now it is not” over whatever change God wants us to embrace. The only reason why I can even write these words today is because of that verse reminding me that He has loved me with an everlasting love.

Dear reader, know this truth today, He has loved you with an everlasting love. He has called you. You are His and because of this truth our lives don’t need to be It is what it is any longer. He has given us the power to live on the other side of whatever haunts us. He has given us hope.

With all my heart,

Sonia

P.S. If you have any song suggestions, please send them my way! I love to listen while I write 🙂


Categories
Encouragement for Women

We will overcome

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Mario & me. July 2003

Thank you for reading the next part of “Holy Duct Tape for the Hot Tempered Wife.” With all my heart, Sonia 

My husband and I were sitting at the stoplight to turn onto our street when it struck me how far we have come from the couple we used to be. Things are far from perfect, but I thought about how much we have experienced in our 14 years together and how easy it would have been for either of us to walk away. I looked over at him in the car and said, “You know, our marriage is like the stories we see on TV of people who overcame incredible obstacles, like that man who was born without arms who now works as a Nascar racing engineer.” I went on to tell him that if our marriage was put on display in physical terms like that it would be the same kind of impact, incredible odds being overcome to achieve what looks to be impossible! If I were to read the story of my marriage on paper I would think, “There is no way these two people are going to make it!” I wouldn’t bet on us, just us. But here’s the thing, it’s not just us. My husband and I started living our lives with God a little over halfway through our marriage. Through a series of gut wrenching life events, we came to a place where we were ready to stop doing things our way. We walked into a church in June of 2009 and started to listen and things started to change.

My husband is a trumpet player and started playing when he was 12 years old. He was a very good player so after high school he toured with a band. In his early twenties he decided to go to school and get his degree in music. When he showed up for the first lesson with his college music professor (one of the best classical trumpet players in LA) he was told that he had to relearn how to play the trumpet. He had been playing his instrument for ten years thinking he was great at it, and now he was being told that he learned bad habits along the way. He had to start from the bottom – like he had never played trumpet before. He said he wanted to quit. He had to relearn all the mechanics of breathing and a whole new technique. If he did not go through this process of being broken down, he wouldn’t have survived as a musician but his success depended on it.

That is the story of great change… and it means believing God through the process of being torn down to be built up again the right way. Our marriage is in that process and sometimes we soar and sometimes we crawl inch by inch through another day, another learning experience. If it was just up to us, we would have been done. It is hard. Thankfully we look to God and believe Him when He says, “Behold I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Mario reminds me often that it takes two people committed to making it work. Sometimes one or the other is stronger and pulls the other along but we are both in it for the change God wants to bring. Our story is not the fairy tale like the ones we have read about before. Our story is riddled with brokenness, but that’s where we have found His greatest miracles of redemption. The Nascar engineer story reminds us that the world sits up and takes notice when people overcome. So in these fierce marriages of ours, we too can overcome and be a testimony of our great God with a great plan far beyond what we ever imagined possible.

Here are the verses to meditate on today:

Ephesians 3:17-21 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Day 4 Themes:

1) Believe God & trust Him!

2) Stop looking at our inability & look to God for He is able.

Prayer

Dear Father God,

Thank you that, no matter what, You don’t give up on me. Thank you for the numerous do-over’s and the countless reminders that You are for me and my marriage. I pray for my husband and me to heal from the past hurts we have inflicted on each other and to keep our focus on You. I pray that we see each other with new eyes and that we embrace an even greater passion for each other. I pray we pray together. Only You can remake our lives. We trust in Your power to bring beauty from these ashes. It’s for Your glory we continue on. I love you. In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen!!!

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

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.