Overcoming

A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. For the despondent, every day brings trouble…Proverbs 15: 13, 15

Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? The simple fact is that we were created to fulfill God’s purpose and His desires. When we live outside of what God intended for our life, it is not possible to for us possess peace or happiness. We begin to search for distractions that can only provide fleeting moments of superficial happiness. As we become bored, our state of mind changes to an overall feeling of dissatisfaction with who we are, and what life has to offer.

So, how are we supposed to transition from a meaningless existence to a purpose driven life? Ask God; pray for God to reveal His divine purpose for your life.

1. Take the time to self-evaluate your gifts and talents. Identify the qualities that make you unique.

2. Open your mind to stepping outside of your comfort zone. Volunteer for organizations that provide assistance to persons in need.

3. Acknowledge your blessings. Develop a spirit of gratitude by recognizing the privilege of having the necessities of life.

4. If you require emotional support; seek assistance through your local churches and other non-profit organizations.

God desires for us to possess a glad heart. When we align our life with His purpose, our happiness is not based on changing circumstances; our happiness is based on His divine will.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Love is a Plant

As long as I can remember, I have possessed a great love for plants. Living in Florida provided the perfect amount of sun and humidity for our plants to flourish. The growth of two of our plants exceeded all of my expectations; an ivy with runners of over 50 feet, and a palm that expanded from 5 inches to 5 feet.

When we relocated, it was necessary to sell all of my precious plants. During our moving sale, the plants sold immediately for prices much higher than I expected. The years of nurturing and cultivation paid off well. However, I was determined to take my prized ivy, and placed a “Not for Sale” sign on the plant stand. On the last day of our sale, my husband inquired as to how comfortable I would be traveling over 1000 miles with a huge plant on my lap. It was a hard reality check. I reluctantly removed the sign, secretly hoping that my plant would remain unsold. I was heartbroken when the individual who purchased my ivy, laughed and expressed that she would be the envy of all of her friends who would finally realize the power of her green thumbs.

In the 12th chapter of Mark, we are reminded that love is the greatest commandment. God’s expectation is for us to cultivate and expand our love to include all individuals; as well as eliminating all conditions that we place on others to receive our love. We are unable to select individuals as we select fruit- only the ripe and unblemished will be purchased. It is our duty to God to be a living example of His love for us.

The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23, lists the attributes of possessing a godly spirit, with love as the first requirement. Love is not an option; nor is it an earned privilege. It is a condition for us to have eternal life. In the new heaven and new earth, former things will have passed away. This includes all malice toward family members, and self-designated enemies. God has given us specific instructions on how to cultivate our character. The awakening to a new day provides us with another opportunity for spiritual growth. Love is a plant whose runners should grow endlessly, and without boundaries.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Good Tidings of Joy

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…Revelation 21:1

As a young girl, one of my greatest passions was reading. It was not unusual for me to complete a carefully chosen book in one to two days. In fact, as I reflect, I was always systematic in my approach to selecting the reading material. It had to be nonfiction with interesting characters whose purpose was to take me on their journey in fulfilling a mysterious plot.

The desire to read has continued throughout my lifespan of five decades, and I am still systematic in my approach. However, there has been a transition in my selection from fiction to nonfiction. There is a book which outranks all of the exciting mysteries that I have embraced. The Word of God is now my greatest source of joy. I eagerly read the precious promises that my journey has a known destination.

I am the character in the book that is written about my life. My journey is personal-God is my Author, my Editor, and my Publisher. The fulfillment of my journey is to live in a new heaven and a new earth. It brings me great joy to know that God guarantees best seller results.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Celebrate inspite of…

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down. Psalm 146:8

The holiday season brings a gamut of emotional feelings for many individuals. Memories of lost loved ones are ever-present; along with the ambivalence of whether to join the majority of individuals celebrating the festivities. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…”

Death is one if the most devastating events that we can experience. It grips the heart and often refuses to let go of the loved ones who remain. However, we serve a loving and caring God who refused to leave us bound by the awful grip of death. ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Revelation 22:13 “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 The reason to celebrate is overwhelming: Jesus Christ died and was resurrected that we may have hope for eternal life.

Please remember, there are many of us who have lost distant loved ones. For various reasons, we may not have had the opportunity to experience the joy of their lives. I encourage the immediate families to make a memory book, full of pictures and joyous events, to share with the extended family members, who also feel the grief of losing our loved one.

The Celebration of Life deserves to be treated with respect, and should be ongoing. Life is a gift from our most wonderful God. Every breath that we take gives us a reason to celebrate on a daily basis, and is not dependent on a “holiday season.”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

A Humble Servant

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:17. Be completely humble and gentle. Ephesians 4:2

On the third Sabbath of every month, the Homeless Ministry branch of our church provides food, clothing, toiletries, and sleeping bags to the indigent population in Ft Worth. On Friday, we experienced a drastic change in the weather-close to freezing temperatures with rain and chilly winds. As we (my husband and cousin) traveled to our destination, I begin to think about the individuals that were facing the wintry conditions without shelter. My mood changed to match the melancholy atmosphere of the weather. I start to pray for God to bless and alleviate the burden that so many men, women, and children are facing every day of their lives.

As we perused the area for a place to park, it appeared that the population had doubled since my last visit. Providing for others has always been a part of my life; however, the prior experience did not prepare me for the level of human suffering that I witnessed from the warm shelter of my vehicle. I immediately lost focus for the purpose of our mission as overwhelming grief replaced rational thought processes. I felt intense remorse for selfishly desiring more than the necessities of life when there are so many individuals who are without.

Due to the harsh weather conditions, the Deacons made the decision for the women to remain in our vehicles while they served the community. As my cousin and I begin to express the gratitude and humility that we should possess, the tears streamed down our faces. God allowed us to reach a crossroads in our lives by opening our eyes to society’s impoverished conditions. We needed a spiritual wake-up call to boost our spiritual growth. For us to develop the character traits that God desires, we had to witness abject suffering. My prayer is that we always retain the moments that we observed and to always use our extra resources to help those in need.

Dear Heavenly Father, please give us the desire to attain the humility and gentleness that you require from your children to see the world through your eyes. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2017

Miracles do Happen

Recently, I read a story regarding the disbelief in modern day miracles. The fact that modern day Christians expressed that God does not perform miracles as He did in biblical times is disconcerting. What possible factors preclude our belief in the Word of God that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”? Hebrews 13:8

The transition from believer to unbeliever occurs gradually. We adapt to current trends such as self-reliability, building financial portfolios, and engaging in pleasure seeking activities. As our newfound independence separates us from the Creator; we begin to question our former belief system. The belief in a single all powerful God diminishes to a belief in multiple gods. Our lifestyle begins to reflect the idols that we value: jobs, money, shopping, cellular devices/electronics, online dating and porn sites, unhealthy relationships, and the list is never-ending.

It is definitely a time for prayer and soul searching when we cease to believe in the Omnipotent God. As we open our minds to explore why God has changed; we now see that it is the Creator’s beings who have changed. If the miracle of a new day does not move you, then think about the last predicament that resolved itself without serious consequences in your life. It was definitely divine intervention that shielded you from all hurt, harm, and danger. Remember when the impossible became a reality?

God is still performing many great and powerful miracles. The secret to recognizing His power is that we must acknowledge that He is the one and only God who has not changed. As a result, a spiritual transformation will occur; and, we will know that our Omnipotent God still performs modern-day miracles on a daily basis.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Free Gift Available

It’s the holiday season. A wonderful time of the year for many of us to enjoy the Christmas carols, home baked cookies, and all of the magnificent displays. I have always felt excitement from the Thanksgiving holiday until the end of January. This year, I am especially enthusiastic, because I am crocheting handmade gifts, and making ornaments.

By nature, I am a giver and do not expect anything in return. (I am certain that the innate traits of giving and nurturing were responsible for my career choice in becoming a nurse). However, it is rare that individuals can process and accept a free gift. We have evolved into a cynical society that questions the act of doing good. “Free?…What do I have to do?…There must be a catch.” I admit that the question of an ulterior motive also crosses my mind when I am offered something for free.

Regardless of the gifts we receive during this season, none can compare to the free gift of God’s grace. The simple act of believing makes us the receiver of salvation. The exciting part is that we do not have to wait for a designated holiday season. Grace is extended to us on a daily basis. Love is the motive behind this wonderful gift. Thank you God for loving us and gift wrapping our lives with your never-ending grace. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8,9 NLT

Unnecessary Consequences

2 Thessalonians 3: 3. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

As a person matures through the aging process, it is a natural tendency to reflect over their life. The mistakes, disappointments, and bitter experiences usually surface as the most prevalent memories. “If I had only known then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.”

The feelings of Regret vs Satisfaction can hinder or promote our present and our future plans. Regardless of your history, if you are reading this article, you have been blessed with a brand new day. Our mindset determines whether we will use the gift to change, and allow God to redefine our pattern of negative decisionmaking. We do not have to suffer consequences from misguided decisions on our part.

Often we mistake trials as negative consequences. Trials usually surface as a circumstance in which we did not have an active part. In fact, we usually feel powerless, and question ourselves or God as to why we are suffering. However, there is a marked difference between trials and consequences. Trials mold our character to reflect Christ’s character. It is our greatest accomplishment to become more like Jesus. God has promised to protect us from the evil one. In order to reap this benefit, we must open the door of our hearts/minds to receive guidance. Prayer, obedience, and faithful study of God’s word are the keys to preventing consequences. It is a relief to know that if we include God in every aspect of our lives; He promises us a positive outcome, according to His will.

Dear God, please give me the desire to include you in all of my decision-making processes. I am tired of experiencing negative consequences. I need your help. Thank you. Amen Sonya Johnson Ruiz

I am always right!

There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25

Amid all of the chatter at my birthday celebration, my husband expressed his disbelief that we (the three women including my Mother) had the skills to hear what was said on the television program while others were talking. My Mother who possesses a quick wit responded that we listen with our ears and not our mouth. We laughed heartily-at his expense-as I offered to teach him this highly desirable skill for a nominal fee. However, there is a serious side to listening.

We are exposed to so much noise on a daily basis that our sense of hearing (and tolerance) has become desensitized. Sensory overload forces us to choose between what we feel is necessary to enhance our lives, and what we actually require to build our knowledge base. Unfortunately, our choices lead us to believe that we are always in the right. Our preference is to use our mouth as we readily defend our viewpoints. We rarely take the time to listen, and reflect on what was said; because, we are in the habit of forming hasty opinions.

Blogging is one of my favorite ways to stay up to date with the latest trends. It is simply amazing the number of respondents that deviate from the issue at hand. I have often reread the topic in order to try to make sense of the answers that were given. Usually, off-handed reponses provide me with the opportunity to seek clarification. It is at that point, that separation of the minds occur; those who read and comprehended versus those who quickly glanced and missed the intended message.

Our sense of hearing provides for the immediate transmission and storage in our memory center. There is a connection between our sense of hearing and our ability to recognize what is amiss. We are not powerless in the ability to choose what we listen to. If I watch movies that are laced with profanity, then I have started the process of acceptance and desensitization for ungodly words. Eventually, I will defend the right to enhance my conversation with the lesser of the curse words. Fact: What we listen to defines who we are.

Why is listening so important from a spiritual perspective?

1. Listening is a humbling act for the receiver. It gives us the opportunity to open our hearts and minds to “the right perspective of the truth.” In the first chapter of James, we are admonished to “be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

2. Listening empowers us through obedience. We are able to put our thoughts aside and replace an off-handed perspective with God given knowledge.

3. Listening provides us with discernment to recognize truth versus untruth. Praying for guidance while faced with the situation enables the Holy Spirit to lead us and always make the correct choice. God cannot make mistakes.

For those of us who are natural talkers, and use our mouths twice as much in comparison to our ears; we can change. First, we must recognize our need to change. Most importantly, our acceptance of the instruction from the Word of God is mandatory. There are benefits to acquiring the skill of listening. God is able to change our wrong into right. Our way of life which appears right in our sight will be molded to what God considers to be right. Through prayer and conscious effort, our hearing will develop to be intune with the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful accomplishment to be guided by the “still and small voice.” Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Jesus is Joy

“Come unto me all of you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Recently, I read a Christian blog on social media where individuals were disclosing that they were depressed, overwhelmed, and/or having suicidal thoughts. Although the moderator of the blog had good intentions, it is simply not enough to say, “we are praying for you. ”  After reading the cries for help, I posted the following response:

I worked as a psych nurse for many years, and I am also a Believer. If you are suicidal or depressed, you need to seek medical attention from a crisis hotline immediately. Blogging on Facebook is a cry for help. You lack the coping skills to deal with your situation. Make the call to a Crisis line and call 911.  Psalms 23 and 27 are promises from God to take care of us.  Read the Bible chapters out loud…over and over again. Pray a simple prayer telling God how you feel…He knows already, but you have to be honest with your words. Please seek therapeutic intervention and spiritual guidance immediately. All of us have experienced a time in our lives when our circumstances were overwhelming. It is not a sin to seek professional assistance. God has provided medical resources because He knows each of us and what we require for deliverance.

God loves imperfect human beings and is waiting to help us. He has given us healthcare professionals that will provide intervention based on our needs. Contrary to popular religious beliefs, we should seek therapeutic intervention when we feel overwhelmed and that our lives are not worth living.

Be alert of abnormal signs of depression for yourself or your family members: https://g.co/kgs/fe6t3v

God loves us! Connect with Him through daily prayer. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Prayer: Dear God, We ask for your healing power to touch the lives of those who are experiencing hopelessness. Please give us the desire to extend ourselves to others and to witness to those who are in need. God, you have promised us “joy,” which does not rely on perfect circumstances. We thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.