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Encouragement for Women Seasons

The Bible Excerpt That Perplexed Me Most

Happy Monday! After a week off of blog writing, I am ready to sit here and type away. It’s 6:01am right now, and I did have a hard time sleeping last night and have been up for a while so I am praying I don’t just ramble here. Ok here we go! There’s been a theme rolling around in my brain for the last few days. This past week I read Proverbs 31:10-31. I just picked up my Bible one morning and read it, and it just perplexed me. Don’t get me wrong – I love the verses. They’re so encouraging and inspiring, but I am just perplexed at this woman. Who is she? Is she real? Do I know her? Am I her? Could I ever be her? So many questions. Here are the verses from the NLT because I think this version helps me the most with this passage right now:

A Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm[b] clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

One of the most powerful lessons from these verses is all the relationships this woman has. We learn she is a wife. She is a mother. She is a homemaker. She is a businesswoman. She is a volunteer. She is a friend. She is an influencer. She believes in self-care. She has a vibrant relationship with her Creator. She is the woman she is because she invests in these relationships and lets them invest in her right back. If there is any encouragement we can take from the demands of being a woman in this time and space, it is that we are surrounded with everything we will ever need to live out the Proverbs 31 life. God provides each and every opportunity for us to step into our glorious, powerful destiny to be that woman.

As I started writing this post I took a break to make a phone call. I am so thankful I did! I could not write this the way I need to without insight from a woman who speaks with wisdom and gives instruction with kindness ~ verse 26 ~ (special shout out to MDG 🙂 ).

During the phone call I shared what I was going to be writing on and why I am perplexed by these verses. Here are the highlights/insights from this wise woman: 1) The Proverbs 31 woman struggles just like us 2) These verses are not an absolute state all the time – we are works in progress 3) The Proverbs 31 woman has to go through hardship to be this kind of woman.

I held back tears hearing these revelations. It was like God was giving me the permission to breathe and be. Maybe, like me, you’ve read these verses and were immediately filled with doubts and insecurities because of everything you think you’re not, but hearing that insight set me free to be okay with rereading about the Proverbs 31 woman and not hating on her nor myself knowing that I am her, and she is me. So today know that, if you are in Christ, YOU are her, and she is you.

That’s my heart for us today, that we would lift up our voices in prayer not only for ourselves, but to intercede for one another to remain steadfast in the glorious “work in progress” that God has set in motion for us. Yes, it takes a village to raise children, but it also takes a village to be the women God created us to be. Disclaimer/Confession: I’m not perfect at this (and I suspect many of you aren’t either) with broken friendships and failed attempts to connect on deeper levels, but I think all women struggle with intimacy in friendships. That’s even more reason to lean into those relationships and let the love of sisterhood (and 6am Monday morning phone calls) change our perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman in each one of us.

“…But a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”

Maybe I’ll write more on these verses this week, but that’s what I’ve got for today. Proverbs 31 Women, unite and get ready for all that God has for us this week! Thank you for reading & sharing ❤

With all my heart,

Sonia

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!!!

 

 

 

 

Categories
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!).
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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.