Just saying Thank you God

Today I sat in my living room crocheting hats for the homeless. It is my 59th birthday. As I reflected on my life, I felt the tears falling quickly down my face. I thought about the things missing from my life. Since, I never had the privilege of giving birth, who would I leave my legacy to?

Before I could think any further, my husband walked in with the biggest bouquet of flowers, and proclaimed his love by singing “Feliz, feliz en tu dia”- May you have great happiness on your day (loosely translated). At 59 years of age, God has blessed me with a devoted and hardworking husband. I met my “Papito” on Christmas day-nine years ago. There have been ups and downs; however, we are still in love and having plenty of laughs as we grow older, and realize that we cannot always recall the story as it actually happened.

After a prayer of thanksgiving for another year of life, I am comforted and realize that I have nothing missing from my life. God knew exactly what (and who) I would need to complete my life. I have been blessed with my husband, health, happiness, my Mother who is 84, a wonderful family, good friends, and grandchildren from our blended marriage. Above all, God loves me and has excellent plans for my life.

As I mature in age, I pray for spiritual growth. At one of my weakest moments, the Holy Spirit provided comfort and helped me to realize that my life is complete. Nothing has been withheld: God has given me an overabundance of His grace and mercy. Prayer was the key that opened the door to my mind. I was reminded to always contemplate on my blessings. Thank you God for your unconditional love. From this birthday forward, I plan to live with a spirit of gratitude.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God Sees and Knows

Have you ever felt unappreciated? The lack of recognition often leaves us feeling discouraged. If we continue to seek acknowledgment, our mindset changes and the zeal to keep doing what is right will dwindle. Somehow we attach our significance to public recognition. Our fixation on ourselves can even cause us to develop bitter and jealous feelings when others are rewarded. The problem is that we are seeking accolades from the wrong source. “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:4

When we help others or perform our duties above and beyond, then we are doing what us good and lovely in God’s eyes. We are not to determine how we should be rewarded for our Christian duty. When we seek after righteousness, our character changes, and God blesses us in ways that He determines is best for us. If we continue through faith, obedience and servitude, our reward will be far greater than we can ever imagine. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 There is no comparison to the heavenly reward that we will receive for remaining faithful. There is no earthly recognition that supercedes that of our Heavenly Father.

Dear Lord, the next time I feel discouraged, please help me to realize that you see and know all that I do. Help me to continue to do what is right and to strive to please you. Please forgive me for seeking recognition from others. Thank you for loving me. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Never-ending Thirst

Yesterday, I looked at a list of stores that were not only open for Thanksgiving; but, proudly stretched their Black Friday time from 18-24 hours. I pondered on the many individuals who would not mingle with their families due to an extreme work schedule. The amazing part of the blog was the fact that 90% of the comments supported retail openings versus quality family time. The remaining 10% who supported retail closings, and the importance of quality family time were verbally attacked by the majority.

The defiance of society’s former value system is blatant as thousands of dollars are spent online and in retail stores today-Black Friday. We are bombarded with advertisements that encourage us to spend, and purchase our desires without fear. After all, we deserve to be happy, and without an overabundance of material things, our life is mundane.

This week I was faced with the challenge to choose whether an item was a desire versus a necessity. I had already presented the situation to God; but, through the rebellion of my human and sinful nature, I still attempted to manipulate the situation in my favor. Today, I thank God for his grace and mercy that prevented me from making a mistake. I realized that although I maintain some traditional values, I could not pass judgment on the majority. I was also willing to compromise for my materialistic desires.

Often our thirst for material things surpasses our thirst for righteouness. The word of God is ” a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters…” (Song of Solomon 4:15). Once we have experienced the love of God, our prayer should be for God to give us the desire to know more of Him. God delights to do “exceeding and abundantly above all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20. The condition is for us to thirst for more and more righteousness. My value system has been redefined. As society continues to mold and shape their lives around material wealth, I have made the decision to thirst for the love and righteousness of God that is never-ending.

Dear God, thank you for reminding me to value the things that will give me a deeper relationship with you. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Living Stress Free is Still Possible

1. Take all circumstances to Jesus in prayer.

2. Believe in God: He is always victorious.

3. Simplify your lifestyle. You do not need all of those things.

4. Structure your life with discipline.

5. Invest in stewardship-stop spending money. Forget about Black Friday.

6. Explore your creative side of life.

7. Stop eating fast food, and drinking caffeine.

8. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.

9. Exercise by walking everyday.

10. Have fun and laugh.

Suffering gives the Ability to Comfort Others

“The Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble…” 2 Corinthians 1: 3,4

I have often pondered as to why there are so many levels of suffering. I am unable to remember a time in my life where I was not facing a hardship. This morning, as I studied the daily devotional, my question was answered from the Word of God.

1. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

2. …From everyone who has given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

3. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…Psalm 46:1-3

4. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

5. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…2 Corinthians 12:9

There has been a purpose for every trial, and hardship that I have endured. My relationship with Christ is in need of a daily upgrade. I am required to put aside all thoughts of independence. The connection to God is one that provides grace and ongoing spiritual growth. God, I thank you for your love. I thank you for helping me to realize that through my suffering, my relationship with you will enable me to comfort others. Please reveal to me who I can be a blessing to each and everyday. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

A Peaceful Life

Do not let your hearts be troubled…John 14:1 NIV

Yesterday, I eagerly listened to my niece describe the benefits of country life. Recently, she and her husband, along with their three children made the decision to give up the glamour and convenience of the city. As I looked on their relaxed and smiling faces, the change was evident. The benefits of sacrificial obedience spoke more than the words expressed regarding the joy of life in a country setting. With the innocence of a little child, she encouraged me to consider relocating to a serene environment which provided opportunities for a more natural lifestyle. Although, I am unable to make an immediate transition, my husband and I have developed the blueprint for our move in the near future.

As our society moves toward increased violence, racism, natural disasters, and disregard for human life; we are to maintain a peaceful existence which is available only through Christ. We are admonished to rely on the promises that a place which surpasses all earthly serenity is being prepared for us. God knows the plans that he has for every individual who has given their hearts to Him. It is our responsibility to embrace the love, joy, and peace that He offers. What a wonderful and comforting God we serve that cares about our state of mind and our quality of life. God please help us to live a peaceful life; in spite, of our earthly circumstances. Thank you for loving us. Amen

Our Fragile Heart

Come to me, all who have heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

“Leave the past behind”, “Just let go” or “Don’t let the past ruin your future”, and the cliches go on and on. There are many individuals who feel that self-motivation techniques provide healing from brokenness. But, the simple truth is that-it is not possible to let go of your past- without intervention. Your first thought is probably, “oh another advocate for long term therapy.” Yes, therapeutic intervention is available from many sources: God, the right family members, trusted individuals, therapists, support groups, etc. The options are many as we attempt to imagine the painful process which produces the outcomes of letting go and having a brighter future.

Prior to choosing the right resources, we must ask ourselves if the journey is one that we are prepared to take. The willingness to be healed from brokenness begins on a spiritual level. It is the submission of all fears and the expressed desire for our fragile hearts to be given back to God. This is not a sabbatical or a religious revival. It is a private pact with the Creator of all mankind. Once we take the most important step of praying for Divine intervention, we must continue by acknowledging and accepting the past events that have led to our current state of fragility.

Acknowledgement and acceptance are two of the most powerful barriers that prevent us from continuing our journey to healing. Often, our brokenness has occured because we were victims by the words and actions of those who were designated to love and nurture us. It is difficult to accept that our family or caregivers could inflict the physical or emotional pain that has left us with deep, and unhealed wounds. In addition, acknowledgement requires the additional step of forgiveness for the person(s) who hurt us. The walls of hatred and bitterness are not impenetrable. It is the simple act of affirming that we forgive and forget all words and actions of the individuals who committed acts of destruction against us. With the choice to forgive, we have spiritually empowered ourselves to move forward. It is only then that healing of our fragile hearts are possible.

Acceptance of our past circumstances propels us to change roles from victim to victor. The catch phrase of “being a survivor” eliminates the spiritual aspect of healing; and allows the past an opportunity to overshadow our bright future. We are unable to change the past events of our lives. However, if we take the necessary steps to begin our journey, God has promised to provide guidance, and the comfort necessary to heal our fragile hearts.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

What God Values

This morning I read a very interesting devotional which stated that we should be more concerned with having a meek and quiet spirit as opposed to decorating our outward body. In today’s society, the standards of fashion demand concealers, foundations, mascara, vibrant lipsticks, high profile jewelry, and designer clothing and accessories. As we focus on making corrections to our faces, and adding vibrant jewels; our mirrors reflect a painstakingly masterpiece, in which we are well-pleased. The worldly values that we uphold and participate in, provide a stark contrast to the modesty in dress and avoidance of outward adornment mentioned in the Word of God.

In fact, our behaviors indicate that our values are misaligned with God’s values. We are unable to apply as makeup, the intangible qualities of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. We are unable to purchase a meek and quiet spirit that reflect obedience to God. “If we live in the spirit, we are to walk in the spirit.” Galatians 5:25 What are the changes that you need to make to align your values with God’s values? We are guaranteed an ever truthful reflection when we look deeply into the spiritual mirror of the Word of God.

Breaking the Plateau

“Come out from them and be separate says the Lord… 2 Corinthians 6:17

During my career, one of the most challenging days was Wednesday-known as Hump Day. The expectation was to push even harder because there were only two days left in the workweek. Since statistics prove that Friday has the lowest level of productivity; Wednesday’s were quite vicious for catch up work along with the daily goals for that day. I often day-dreamed of how beautiful I would feel on Friday at 5 pm as I struggled to meet the grueling deadlines on Wednesdays.

However, my wishes for better days and a lower standard of productivity for the third workday of the week never came to fruition. Now, as I think about my previous dread of Wednesdays, I have a couple of time management solutions that would have changed my outlook and increased my productivity to coincide with my times of peak energy. Also, I could have collaborated with co-workers to find out their secrets to success in managing the hardship of (relentless-work) Wednesday.

Many times we reach a plateau in our spiritual lives. We just cannot figure out the answer to getting over the hump. We pray, study the Word, attend church, exercise, eat right, and practice kindness; but, still feel as if something is missing. The solution to overcoming our stunted spiritual growth may link to how we utilize our time. We have received the gift of 24 hours to serve God through various activities. With the daily distractions we face, it is easy for our secular activities to overpower our spiritual activities. God admonishes us to separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the world. Also, time with the Creator includes more than praying, studying, and attending church. Have we included helping others in their time of need, or is our time solely devoted to self? The gift of our time is necessary to facilitate spiritual growth. Develop a Spiritual Time Log. Give 1-2 hours a day in the pursuit of a non-self activity. With a few time management changes, we can say good-bye to our “spiritual plateau” and reach our fullest-spiritual potential.