Selflessness Defined

“concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.”

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. Matthew 25:42

I just read a very interesting blog from one of my followers that touched on a character trait that has rapidly disappeared from mainstream society: Selflessness, placing the needs of others above your own.

We are born with and comprised of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of wellness. Who is responsible for the growth and development of these components? More importantly, who is responsible for the development of our character?

If you are familiar with a toddler interacting with their peers, it is a natural instinct for them to selfishly protect their toys. I have seen many children use the “grab and snatch” method while loudly saying “Mine.” If the child’s character is not molded at a very young age and continually refined, then society reflects the result: the maturity of selfish children into selfish adults.

Yes, we live in a society of individuals who possess the “grab and snatch” character. We are unable to place blame on the parents or caregivers for character deficits. Peer pressure affects every age and stage in a person’s life, and when we succumb, the result is the compromise of learned values.

Yesterday, I made two separate purchases involving two separate cashiers at one of our major thrift stores for craft supplies. The first cashier asked me if I would round up my change to the next dollar to help supply Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. Interestingly, the second cashier did not ask any of her customers, including me, to round up to help others. Should I have taken the next step and reported her to management? Obviously, she does not honor the mission or vision of the non-profit organization. But, the real problem cannot and will not be rectified by reporting her behavior; she is one of society’s many individuals who possess “grab and snatch” characteristics.

I was saddened by her actions; however, it is not my place to criticize the actions of others. The concern is only to focus on my behaviors and whether or not I am doing what is right. Fortunately, I was molded as a young child by a loving and selfless Mother, to serve others. It was her ministry to always provide for those in need, and at 85 years of age, she is still blessed and highly favored, and assisting others.

In spite of my upbringing and career as a nurse, there was a period in my life when I utilized my abundance of resources only for myself. I am unable to provide an explanation for the loss of my “selflessness” and the gain of the characteristic of “selfishness”. I can truthfully say that it happened so fast that when I assessed the situation, I had 18 bags of clothing to give away.

From the act of giving my excess clothing away, God caused me to reach a crossroad in my life. I vowed to never place my selfish desires above those who are in need. If not me, then who?

The good great (intended emphasis) news is that there are still many individuals who are committed to and march in God’s “Army of Selflessness”. You can become a soldier at any point and at any time in your life.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I ask you to give me the desire and courage to change my selfish ways. It is my desire for a total makeover of my character. I need to assume the responsibility of giving myself to serve others. Please help me change from selfish to selfless. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Busy, Busy, Busy

“You shall have no other gods before me”. Exodus 20:3

At the end of each day, reflect on your accomplishments. Were you able to achieve everything on your “to do list”? In fact, you may have completed all tasks and tackled a few other things with the additional free time for the day. Certainly, that would bring a sense of satisfaction along with a smile and proclamation of “Yes, I did it.”

There is an important order of priorities in the life of a believer:

1. God

2. Family

3. Job

4. The et cetera…

No matter what is on our daily list of things we need to accomplish, God must be first and last on our list. Morning worship includes a Prayer of Thanksgiving for another day of life; God’s grace and mercy require honoring Him prior to starting any other tasks.

When we fail to honor God, the decisions that we make and the subsequent tasks that we strive to accomplish do not reflect His guidance. Even with God as our Pilot, it does not mean that your day will move forward without obstacles; however, with God leading the way, you can rest assured things are moving in the direction that He has chosen for you.

Evening worship must include every member in your household. It is a time that spouses, children, and other family members have the opportunity to share their daily testimonies for the blessings of the day. This is also a time for spiritual growth and strengthening the family ties. It is the perfect strategy for preventing ungodly behaviors from forming and becoming a permanent part of your children’s character. Satan strives to deceive through the enticement of worldly pleasures.

Incorporate the Spiritual “to-do list” in your home: In addition to your personal worship, have Morning family prayer thanking God for a new day, and asking for His protection, and guidance.

God created us for the primary purpose of worshipping Him. He is just and fair, always ready to assist us in every aspect of our lives.

Go ahead, invite Him into the Busy, Busy, Busy aspect of your life and you will feel the greatest sense of accomplishment that is humanly possible.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for this day. I ask you to forgive me for not placing you at the top of my list. I desperately need you in my life. I love you and thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

With God, victory is mine!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Winter in Finland

The Sting

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26 NIV

A milestone is an event or action that makes a significant impact. I can remember as a student nurse witnessing my first birth of a baby. I was in awe as I watched a strong and healthy baby girl enter the world loudly crying the sweet song of freedom. Even the physician laughed and commented that she had a strong set of lungs. We were elated as we congratulated the young mother on the birth of her precious baby. As we documented our nurse’s notes, the nurse who was my preceptor explained that she would never get tired of the beautiful blessing of life.

For anyone that views life as a precious gift will agree that death delivers a terrible sting. This week our family is saddened by the loss of two of our family members due to natural causes. For me it is the passing of my Cousin and my Aunt; however, for their immediate families, it is the loss of a Father/Husband and a Wife/Mother. They were faithful in their roles as loving spouses, parents, nurturers, providers, and role models.

Nothing in life prepares us for the death of a loved one. Death is always personal; it signifies a finality that we are never emotionally prepared for. With every death, there is a loss which produces grief. There is an abyss connected with the impact of death, and if we are not spiritually connected to God, we will be plummeted deeper and deeper into its void.

The process of grieving is God’s gift to restore us to a place of wholeness. We must endure the journey of grieving in order to receive Restoration and Healing. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us, “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” The period of mourning involves acknowledging our loss, reflecting on the beautiful memories, crying endless tears, praying, and studying the Word of God. Reaching out to a spiritual mentor that God has granted the gift to provide grief support is highly recommended.

It is comfort in hearing the words, “I am sorry for your loss.” Last night, my beautiful cousin (who lost her husband) shared some very humorous memories about his card playing techniques. Who would think that we would be able to have a hearty laugh during our time of grief?

It is God who will guide us through the journey as we push forward to function in our daily lives. It is from the kindness and thoughtfulness of others who share their words and time to aid the healing of our wounds of emptiness.

We will never lose hope. God has promised us better days and a perfect life in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old Order of Things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

The Lord is close to the Brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Prayer for today: Dear God, We call on you to grant us comfort, to grant us hope in the time of our travailing journey to restoration and healing from the loss of our loved ones. We believe that you know the pain of death; after all, it was your only Son, Jesus who died for the remission of sin. Please, God, we need your love, your grace, your mercy, and the blessing of HOPE showered upon us right now. These blessings we ask in the Wonderful name of Jesus. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Mount Moran Sunrise

Fade Away Friends

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

“The Lord can be depended upon, and He desires for us to be just as reliable, determined, and stable. This is simply the meaning of faith.” Today’s Devotional–Streams in the Desert–by L. B. Cowman

There have been many advances in the technological and medical arenas in the United States. And yes, I welcome change, if the change results in positive outcomes. My career allowed exposure to many situations that have led me to the conclusion that society no longer places the value on human life that we once possessed.

When is the last time that you had a great conversation as opposed to sending and receiving text messages? Have you invited friends or family for dinner outside of holiday gatherings? Measure the time spent on your desires with that of helping others. I asked myself these questions and was not pleased with my answers. I tried to blame “time” as my enemy who prevented me from showing others that I care. Hmmm! The truth is that it is the easiest option to distance myself and only get involved by praying.

No, I am not discounting the power of Intercessory prayer. It’s just that Galatians 6:2 tells me that I have to do more than pray; I have to share the burdens of my brothers and Sisters. We listen to the testimonies by other individuals at the church that I attend on a weekly basis. There are many miracles that God has performed, and we readily offer praise and thanksgiving for His wonderful blessings. However, there are also individuals who share their struggles and ask for prayer. For those of you who prefer to take your burdens to the Lord in prayer, please be aware that it takes a lot of courage to share your personal burdens in a corporate/communal environment.

God knew that the human touch would be required in most situations. In fact, He strongly emphasizes our duty to one another as obedience to “the law of Christ.” Perform a self-evaluation: What have I done to alleviate the burdens of others? Did I go beyond offering a prayer? Did I call the individual and ask if I could do anything for them?

Life events can become very overwhelming; we are the tangible reflection of God’s love. He expects us to say, “Here I am, send me.” If we love God, then we must obey His law, and love and care for others. We must strive to be “reliable, determined, and stable.” It is time to change our status as “fade away friends,” who hear and do little to comfort others.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please forgive me for being a fade away friend. Direct me to those who need the human touch which reflects your love for humanity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

“I love you, I love you, I love you, Lord, today because you cared for me in such a special way.”

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Japanese Maple Leaves

Wait for God!

I had to share this Devotional again; when we wait for God, the blessing of His approval is upon our lives.

Today’s Devotional–Experiencing GOD Day-by-Day–by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby

New Strength

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ISAIAH 40:31

At times you may feel so worn out and stressed that you are not sure you can take another step. You may seem to spend all your time running from crisis to crisis and to be constantly giving your time and energy to others. Your Lord wants to renew your strength and enable you to enjoy the abundant life He intends for you. The key is to wait upon Him to do so.

Our generation dos not enjoy waiting. We are harried by all the commitments we have made and the many responsibilities we hold. We rush through our lives without stopping to evaluate our activities. Sometimes in our haste to get on with our work, we race ahead of God. Part of God’s restorative process is to slow us down and make us listen to Him. As we wait on Him, God will remind us of our utter dependence upon His strength. When we slow down and seek His will, He will reveal His plans.

Biblically, waiting on the Lord is never passive; it is always active. Waiting requires us to cease our own pursuits and give God our complete attention. We may have to give up some of the activities we have allowed to inundate our lives. We may need to take an entire day to sit quietly before the Lord. If we ask Him, God will show us the resources He has provided to help with the work we have been attempting on our own. God may address feelings of guilt that have motivated us to do things that He has not asked us to do.

Jesus carried more responsibility than you do. More people needed Him than will ever need you. Yet He was never overwhelmed or inadequate for the task. Now Christ offers to guide you so that you will fulfill your heavenly Father’s will and gain the strength necessary for each day (Matt. 11:28).

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please teach me to always wait for your guidance. I need your strength to be an overcomer and achieve victory in my daily life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Rustic Retreats

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

Good Morning!

I have decided that my Sunday blogs will be dedicated to Rest & Relaxation. It will be my “Mental Health” day to have fun, and to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving.

Since we have experienced a 30 degree drop in temperature for the month of November, we can anticipate a bone-chilling Texas winter. I really wish for a log cabin, and the heat from a fireplace with the smell and sounds of crackling wood. Well at least I can fulfill my wish visually by online (as reflected in this pic) depictions while my cinnamon spice candles carry me away to log cabin dreams.

My plan for today is to relax and make my cinnamon dried flower arrangement.

Have a blessed day and enjoy the remainder of your weekend!

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for another day of life. Please guide my thoughts, my actions, and my behaviors. May I reflect your love and be a blessing to someone today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

The Beauty of Nature

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 1:2

Most of us are experiencing the change in seasons to very cold temperatures. The holiday season is upon us, and it can be a time where feelings of depression can take hold and escalate. Nature provides a reflection of God’s love for humanity. I invite you to place pine cones, cinnamon sticks, dried flowers and orange essence-dried orange rinds-into a bowl for a journey into the wonderful aromas of nature.

God has blessed us with beauty which is evident in all four seasons. Enjoy a blessed and happy Sabbath!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz