Our Thoughts-Our Praise

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is Noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things. Phillipians 4:8 NIV

It’s great to be alive! In fact, it is even greater when we believe that God will and does take care of us. I would even say that the greatest decision that we can make is to become fully dependent on God.

There is a song that I learned as a child: “Turn it over to Jesus and you can smile the rest of your days.”

It takes human effort to make the decision to turn over [your thoughts, your concerns, your financial deficits, your health issues, and your life] to Jesus.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my Victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT

Are you fearful because you are unaware of what God has promised to do for those who believe in Him! When we study the Word of God, Pray, and Believe, we gain inner strength, and then we can live without worries.

Our lives reflect our thoughts: thinking on the love, compassion, grace, mercies, and steadfast promises of God (by now you should be smiling), provide a reassurance that He will do exactly what He says!

God waits for us to invite Him into our tumultuous journey of life.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the Sea, “Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 ESV

The fears and faithlessness of Jesus’ disciples caused them to accuse Jesus of not caring for them. We must not possess the same thoughts. Of course, He cares. The promises have been given; it is up to us to think pure, right, true, lovely, and admirable thoughts. When we truly believe, the raging sea in our lives will become calm.

Challenge for today: Only believe! All things are possible if we only believe.

Verse for today: and, lo, I Am With You Always, even until the end of the world. Amen. [last part] Matthew 28:20

Prayer for today: Dear God, Our thoughts are not on what is right, or pure. We come to you confessing our discouragement, our fears and our unbelief. We invite you into our raging seas of life and ask that you bring the peace and calm that we desperately need. We are ready to accept your love, your grace, and your mercies. We love you and we praise you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Practical Messages for Impractical Times-Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God’s Government

So don’t worry about these things saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?”

These things dominate the thoughts of Unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:31-34 NLT

For many years, I have attended church, studied my Bible, and prayed; but I never really understood what totally trusting in God requires. Simply put, I was not living a faith-based life based on total trust.

When the vicissitudes of life were causing turbulence, I would call on the name of God for deliverance, and I believed that He would safely bring me through. Oh yes, I could quote the promises found in His Word, but something was missing from my relationship with God. My faith was conditional, based on whether things were going well or if tests and trials came knocking on the door.

From personal experience, I know that God is faithful. I am sharing a past experience to encourage those who are impacted by the government shutdown.

When I was in nursing school, I slept on blankets, on the floor in a studio apartment without furniture. I went to the food banks while living off of meager Federal Grants and Student-loan monies. I was 40 years of age at the time. Through His compassionate grace and mercy, God was faithful when I thought that life couldn’t get any worse. No one knew what I was going through at the time; and as promised, our God provided. He brought me through and I graduated as a Registered Nurse with honors.

It is God who is always faithful!

Whatever it takes, I must make a conscious effort to place all of me into God’s hands. I finally believe that it is possible to live a faith-based life 100% of the time.

Challenge for today: Just believe that all things are possible; God has promised to see us through all circumstances.

Verse for today: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3 22:23 NLT

Prayer for today: Dear God, How excellent is your name! I humbly bow before you to thank you for your great faithfulness. I have not trusted you as I should have, and I ask you to forgive me for the times that I was filled with doubt and unbelief. I am striving to live a faith based life by placing my trust in you at all times. Thank you for your love, your mercy, and your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Practical Messages for Impractical Times–Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Safety First

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

This week I am dedicating my blog posts on methods to achieve and maintain an optimal level of health.

I have a strong interest in statistics; especially the growing number of injuries sustained in the 50+ age group.

As a retired nurse, safety has always been a top priority in rendering care to my patients. However, I have also incorporated and applied safe measures to my daily life; and now with the status of being a midlife Baby Boomer, I am fully aware of the physical and cognitive changes that are occurring in my body. I am still alert and oriented with the exception of when my desires are not in sync with my abilities.

As a former Northeasterner, I have dealt with sensory overload from noise pollution, crowded trains and buses from work commute to the adjoining state of New York, a fast-paced life, and hearing the neighbors talk loud enough for all to hear. My schedule included three hours of daily commuting, purchasing prepared meals, working on jobs with high-stress levels, and 5-6 hours of sleep.

I have no complaints about my former life because it is what I loved and enjoyed doing; even so, that was then, and now I am living with a body and mind that has been around for 6+ decades.

Acceptance leads to Adaptation!

Back to the safety aspect of the aging process: Pay close attention to your body’s signals; Identify your limitations and implement the appropriate changes.

Real life: I love fresh herbs, red bell peppers, and baby spinach. The majority of my recipes include a minced version of one or all of these ingredients, which I enjoy cutting by hand (food processor stays on the baker’s rack). Recently I purchased a set of paring knives with blades so sharp that the thumb of my nondominant hand was nicked by the tip and as a result, I sustained a cut similar to a paper cut, superficial and very painful.

Even with precautions, I sustained a minor laceration. As I bandaged my throbbing thumb and placed a vinyl glove on, (had to finish cooking dinner) I thought about how I could prevent a reoccurrence. I researched and purchased a pair of Chef safety gloves from Amazon.

Denial Compromises your Safety!

I must be more attentive to my body cues and care for myself in a tender and loving manner. If I am feeling tired, then I do not push myself until the point of exhaustion; I Stop, Drop, and Roll into my bed for a nap.

I wear corrective glasses because it is important to maintain my current level of visual acuity…and most importantly I need to see where I am going, and what others are doing too.

All of the smaller rugs in our home have been removed and donated. Larger rugs, carpet tape, and slip-proof padding work wonders in preventing falls. In the previous year, three of my close friends including myself have sustained falls with injury. At the age of 20, I would have laughed at myself for being clumsy.

I no longer have to reach productivity levels. Since an early retirement, I am calm, have almost a nonexistent level of stress, and my sense of humor is flourishing.

If you have never really thought about safety as a priority, God thought about it and has provided us with 5 Senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch. These sensory organs work in a most efficient manner to take in information from our environment and transmit it to the brain for processing. The Sympathetic Nervous and Endocrine Systems also participate in keeping us safe with the initiation of the “Fight or Flight” mechanism when we are faced with possible danger.

Furthermore, God protects us from seen and unseen dangers with a host of guardian angels.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them. Psalm 34:7 NASB

Challenge for today: Pray for safety in performing all daily activities, including prior to traveling, yes, for yourself; and do not forget to also include others. Always express thankfulness for the completion of the day without hurt, harm, danger, or prevention of serious effects if you are involved in a mishap of life.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We thank you for keeping us safe, even in the many times that we have taken our safekeeping for granted. Thank you for making us in your image. Thank you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Please help us to realize that all of our help comes from you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Verse for today: Dear Friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

Moving Forward

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

We are approaching the end of the first month of the New Year. Have you evaluated your accomplishments? Are they in sync with your proposed plans for personal growth and development?

Time rapidly moves as if we were caught up in a whirlwind. Are you moving with the winds of time or continuing in an ongoing struggle by standing still and refusing to move forward?

Setting realistic short-term and long-term goals are an integral part of life. We must develop an action plan to be the best that we can be and continue pushing forward. It is our accomplishments that keep us balanced mentally and emotionally when we face defeats.

We were created to grow spiritually as well as to use our natural talents and gifts for the enjoyment of life. Identify your interests by performing a self-evaluation of the things that you are good at, but would like to become skilled in.

Explore your options! It is never too late! Without striving for improvement we become complacent and stagnated. We must continue to soar as the eagle-always pursuing higher heights whether in baby-steps or in leaps and bounds.

Challenge for today: Identify your interests…take a Community/College Class, Self-Improvement course or pursue a Hobby.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I want to be the best that I can be in life. Thank you for gifting me with the ability to learn and grow. Please help me to take the steps to move forward and set goals. As I develop goals for my life, may I present them to you for your blessing. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Verse for today: I can [and I will] do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

He is Coming

“The one being unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous, let him practice righteousness still; and he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11 BSB

There are a select group of Christian individuals who actually believe in the Second Coming of Jesus.

You may disagree with this statement, by thinking there are many Christians who believe in the Second Coming, after all isn’t Jesus’ return one of our basic beliefs?

However I will clarify by addressing the current trend among Believers: Disunity.

There is Disunity in the Home, Disunity in the Workplace, Disunity in Society, and Disunity on a Global level; and we expect this type of dissension based on the Biblical prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.

However, many Christian Believers of the Most High God are also actively involved in Conflict (in some aspect of their life) on a daily basis. Because ongoing conflict is their normal standard, they have brought in and have escalated the level of Disunity in God’s House-His Churches, by initiating “rousing debates.”

Recently I read an article on “How to Argue without Arguing”, written by a Christian husband and wife who are Family counselors. The article reflected therapeutic interventions that I also utilized when working as a nurse in psychiatric settings with my patients. At the end of the article, there was a Bible verse that addressed the importance of harmony and unity.

God has specific guidelines for avoiding all strife among His Believers. If we choose to obey, there are wonderful benefits: Character alignment with Galatians 5:22-23, and we are able to represent Christ’s standards for peace, love, and unity.

Historically dissension has existed since the beginning–Cain against God and Abel. Even the Apostle Paul wrote letters to the Seven Churches regarding Disunity…but He also focused on the amicable and loving relationships that God requires among Believers.

There is an issue with the God relationship when a Believer possesses a Spirit of Strife…Salvation is personal.

There are a select group of Christian individuals who actually believe in and are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, emnity, Strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

“There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this place and I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord. Sweet Holy Spirit, Sweet Heavenly Dove, Stay right here with us, filling us with your love. And for these blessings, we lift our voice in praise, without a doubt we know that we have been revived when we shall leave this place.”

Challenge for today: Pray for change!

Prayer for today: Dear God, Many of us who say we are your followers possess an unholy spirit of strife. We ask you to forgive us of our sins, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and fill us with your Holy Spirit. We desire a complete transformation of our characters, our minds, and our hearts. We look forward to the Second Coming, and Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Verse for today: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the Holiness without, which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Personal Growth and Development

I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Since childhood, I have always loved to learn. Whatever piques my interests sets me off on another adventure to increasing my personal growth and development.

At the age of 10, I learned to crochet and knit, and by the age of 13, with a Singer sewing machine, fabric, pins, scissors, and McCalls and Simplicity patterns, I became a skilled seamstress, making most of my clothing during the teenage-twenties stages in my life. Last year, I designed and handmade most of my Christmas decorations which took my creativity to the moon and back.

Of course, I must confess that I was born with advantages; my ancestry includes a maternal grandmother and mother whose creative skills were so advanced that their handmade items provided a source of income.

Even so, I am so thankful for my Mother and Trinity Temple Church School in Newark, NJ that provided the emotional support and relayed to me: “Yes, you can!” and “Go for your dreams!”

There are many individuals that did not have a positive support system as children. Because of the lack of resources or opportunities, they were unable to identify or develop their talents, in order to see their dreams come into fruition.

Although my childhood was uneventful, at the age of 15, I ended up alone to face life as though I were a mature woman ready to care for myself, picked myself up after a devastating divorce at the age of 25, and traveled a path with many struggles for 25 years as a single provider.

At the age of 56, my nursing career came to an abrupt end. The profession that I had faithfully worked in for 38 years was no more. My body deteriorated to the point that I could no longer practice clinically or reach the productivity standards due to pain from my physical disability.

During the visit to the Orthopedic Doctor, I was given a list of activity restrictions and a diagnosis which required aquatic physical therapy and bilateral knee replacements. As I viewed my xrays, I can remember thinking, “What will I do with my life?”

My faith in God was strong enough to ask the same question to God in prayer. Our God is who is always faithful, provided me with an immediate answer: “Write, and I will provide the words.” Through humility and obedience, I have become a willing vessel to be used by God.

God was not finished with His plan for my life. He used my Physical Therapist to relay to me that weight loss was imperative to take the excess pressure off of my lower joints. I prayed for God to give me the strength to change terrible eating habits and to help me with a total lifestyle makeover. I am excited to share that with a Vegan diet my weight loss is 40+ lbs: I am pain-free, and still living with the knees that I was born with!

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and Earth. Psalm 124:8

Your Start does not have to be your Finish!

or

Your Start may spiral downward, even so, do not be Discouraged!

And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Do not be like the Frog who sat on the tree branch and told the other two frogs that he made the decision to jump, but never moved from the branch.

Make the decision to achieve personal growth and development; Explore your dreams, identify your talents, and start living. Surround yourself with the Movers and Shakers…we do exist!

Challenge for today: Yes, I Can!

Prayer for today: Dear God: I desire to have personal growth and development in all aspects of my life. Please provide me with a support system of individuals who are using their gifts and want to motivate others to do the same. I place my desires before you and ask you to show me how to accomplish positive changes in my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Chapter for today: Romans 8

Sonya Johnson Ruiz