Desires of the Heart

Humanity shares a common trait, and that is to aggressively pursue the desires of the heart. We desire the dream house, career, vehicle, lifestyle, and above all, the forever relationship with the perfect soul-mate who will help us achieve our goals. So what is wrong with wholeheartedly pursuing your dreams? Nothing at all! But there are exceptions.

When I decided to start a tutoring business for nursing students, I had a firm knowledge base of nursing theory and clinical practice. Even so, I had to teach entry-level students critical thinking skills and nursing judgment who were unable to choose the correct nursing action for the given patient scenario. On the exams, they were presented with four possible answers [with two being distractors], yet, they always chose the incorrect answer. Nursing programs are based on guided study, lectures, textbooks, and clinical practice. But the root of the problem was their lack of reasoning skills. Please know that Nurses do not have leeway. The wrong decision always compromises the patient’s safety.

Following the desires of the heart:

The Reality: The primary issue is not our desire to dream or developing strategies to achieve a fulfilling life. What happens when Plan A hits roadblocks? Most of us have not developed Plan B because we never anticipated failure of our initial plans. You may think, “that is a pessimistic outlook to develop short and long-term goals, and also think of developing alternate plans just in case things don’t work out.” Whether we choose to embrace this concept or to disregard it, the uncertainties of life are sure to happen.

Teaching the common sense of nursing was challenging, but I was confident that I could complete the task. However, after extended research, I realized that I was not equipped to tutor anyone but myself. So, I changed my short-term goal of immediately registering my business. I became a full-time student, enrolled in online courses for teaching adult learners and Business Management classes. Plan A was developed with immediately following the desire of my heart, which left me without the necessary skills. Developing Plan B was worth it. I enjoyed 12 years of helping others to reach their goal of becoming a nurse.

Anticipate and prepare for the roadblocks or the detours when pursuing your dreams. Our excitement often prevents us from seeking much-needed professional advice, completing the necessary research, and gaining additional knowledge. We can never know enough! Approaching our goals with the mindset that we are on a life-long learning curve equips us to meet and overcome the challenges of achieving our goals. 

The consequences of following the heart and disregarding professional advice:

One of my worst experiences happened because I did not listen to the physician who told me not to accept the Branch Manager position at a Home Health agency. His main concern was regarding the business operations of that particular company because it was well-known for its shady reputation of cover-ups and manipulation of actual circumstances. I will never forget these words, “Sonya, you are a Christian, I cannot imagine you compromising your belief in God to participate in illegal activity.”

Two months into the job, I knew that I had to get out. After the management conference call with the corporate office, the words of warning echoed in my mind. Divine intervention to the rescue! God helped me in a time of trouble. The regional Nursing Director visited my branch a couple days after the call to relay a corporate decision. Since I was a Registered Nurse, I would have to assume the dual role of Branch Manager and Clinical Director effective immediately. As she walked out of my office, I closed the door, asked a prayer of forgiveness [for disobedience], and gave my resignation letter.

Truthfully, we cannot anticipate most of life’s detours.  But when we refuse to acknowledge that our plans may not work out, then the D’s hit hard: The fruits of Disappointment are Discouragement, Distress, and Defeat. Some individuals are resilient and bounce back by immediately developing new and improved strategies, but that is not typical. Our emotions can easily tilt to an unhealthy place when facing adversity. But we have a solution: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

It has taken most of my life to give in and present my plans to God first. Finally,  I realize that I need to have faith and believe in God’s promises. My prayer has changed to “Not my will, but your will be done” because I have surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. The trials and sorrows still happen, but not due to failed plans. When God reveals His plans for you, there is no Plan B! God can never fail, nor does He change. His Word is Absolute!

Bible verses: Still, I am certain to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD! Psalm 27:13-14

Prayer: Hear our prayer, Oh Lord. We are tired of failed plans and the disappointments that follow because we did not include you in our dreams and goals. We ask for forgiveness. Please reveal the plans you have for our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson

Joy in the Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

I awaken around 5 am every morning and give God a big hug of gratitude by thanking Him for new mercies. As my challenges increase throughout the day, I plead for His strength to enable me to have victorious outcomes. Finally, as the sun rests and the moon emerges, from tired lips, I offer God my song of praise. I love you Lord. Please protect us while we sleep. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

Prayer is a Partnership

Shout the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 4

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

The reason you are a believer is to build a relationship with God whom you believe in. Prayer is a give and take; you call and God answers.

In John 16:33, “Jesus tells us, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Do you believe that God answers prayers and Jesus, along with the Holy Spirit, they help us to live a victorious life even in our most demanding challenges?

Making a renewed covenant with God is just a prayer away. We are not required to do anything strenuous or challenging to serve God. It is a simple commitment to offer ourselves and worship our Creator. God loves us more than we will ever know. Believing (faith) in God requires constant communion with Him. Pray throughout the day and night for spiritual strength.

We cannot live off of yesterday’s worship, praise, or prayers. Diligently seeking God daily places us in a position to build our faith and trust in Him. Whether we are in the mountain highs or the valley lows, God is always here! He is patiently waiting for us to seek Him in prayer.

Bible Study: Matthew 6

Prayer: God, we confess and ask forgiveness for not doing our part in the covenant relationship with you. Please hear our prayer to create a clean heart in us and to teach us the humility of serving you. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

Shout the Cry of Victory 30 days of Prayer

For the next 30 days, we will commune with God through prayer. Our goal is to establish and build an up-close, and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

We will pray individually in our homes every day for 30 days. Try to find a quiet place away from distractions. Sing, study the Bible, or listen to inspirational music to enhance your worship experience. Invite God into your heart and your life.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Prayer is communication with the God of this universe. He loves for us to take the time to approach Him with prayers of gratitude, repentance, intercession, for protection, to request healing, to ask for strength, resolve our challenges, help with big or small decisions, to provide basic necessities, give finances for unpaid bills, complete school assignments, give us a job, and to receive comfort when grieving. The list is endless.

Always thank God throughout your day. Prayers asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and spiritual discernment when studying the Bible prevent us from accepting false teachings and doctrines from deceptive sources. Remember who our greatest enemy is…Get behind us, Satan.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

God, we ask you to hear our prayer and to fill us with your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life for our sins. We acknowledge that we are blessed to be counted as the redeemed of the Lord. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson

The Perfect Life

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

2021 brought so many changes in my life that I could have never imagined. Most of the changes didn’t feel good, nor did I understand God’s plan for me. In January, I received a call regarding the intent to sell the leased property that I had lived in for six years. I prayed, asking God to reveal His plans for my life. As I began to look for new housing, the waiting lists for vacancies were averaging six months. When did small-town life become so appealing? Still, I told God that I trusted in Him, although every door was closed. But those were my thoughts based on my circumstances. 

Because our Heavenly Father knows that we have fragile hearts and often become overwhelmed with our circumstances, He reminds us, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

God pushed the restart button. He revealed His love and plans by relocating me from point A to point B, 1500 miles away from my comfort zone. How did I know it was God? Because when God fulfills His promises, supernatural miracles are revealed that no human can perform. As you witness the blessings from the open windows of heaven (Malachi 3:10), it is evident that God’s divine intervention is at work. God does everything for His glory: And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Never worrying about the future is our gift when we place our lives in the hands of God. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7.

Bible Study: Matthew 6:25-34

Prayer: God, we are weary from the worries and anxieties we have placed on ourselves from not trusting in you. We desire to put our lives in your hands. We come to you with many challenges that are unsolvable without your help. Please help us to overcome our lack of faith and trust in you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Have Great Expectations!

During the last ten years of my nursing career, I transitioned from working in direct patient care facilities to corporate healthcare settings. The culture differed significantly in that the drive to compete against coworkers is the standard and considered a strength. But the most thought-provoking was the interviewing process. I can recall the first time that I was asked, “If you are hired, what are your expectations of the company?”

My answer, “I expect the company to adhere to their policies, provide additional training to increase my knowledge base, and provide me with the ability to independently perform my job within my probationary period.” Yes, I was hired. I was confident in my expectations because a very close friend, a nursing colleague, explained the differences in the culture and goals between clinical nursing positions and non-clinical, corporate positions prior to my interview.

Yesterday, I received a package from Amazon, and the driver’s hat said, “Faith over Fear.” We chatted briefly about the goodness of God. He shared a story with me about a prior delivery where the customer relayed that she was very discouraged in her relationship with God. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

We are allowing our feelings [emotions] and circumstances to overshadow our love relationship with Jesus Christ. The root of the problem? We lack knowledge of God’s promises that are in the Bible. Secondly, we are caught up in the busyness of life, which makes our prayer life nearly nonexistent.

    1. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6
    2. Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Our relationship with God is not thriving because we do not have any expectations of God. Do we know His character? Our Heavenly Father’s precious promises are in the scriptures. It is faith, not overconfidence, when we expect God to keep His promises.For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 

Relationships fail without communication–prayer is essential for spiritual growth. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:6. 

The corporate job was high-stress. But during my lunch hour, I went to my car, ate lunch, listened to music, prayed, and read a few Bible verses. Not only was I spiritually re-energized, but the mid-day worship also provided the physical strength to drive the 60-minute distance home.

Believe that God never intended for us to struggle through life without the help of the Spiritual team, God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the messenger angels. 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

The only way to have complete joy during the peaceful and the dark, stormy times is to have great expectations. We must pray with faith and believe that God will always keep his promises. 

Make a change in your study habits: Utilize a hard copy of the Bible and an audio Bible app to read and hear the scriptures. Consider listening to the song “Great is thy Faithfulness” before having worship. 

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

 Bible Study: Psalm 27

Prayer: God, thank you for being faithful in your promises to us. We desire to strengthen our relationship with you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kristene DiMarco–It is Well (Live)

Our Determination

Throughout Jesus’ life, He stayed close to God by constantly praying for strength. Jesus lived a life having devout love for God and others. The compassion to heal, speak words of hope, and provide for basic needs was evident by the many miracles He performed. Yes, Jesus is our role model for living righteously.

Casting all your care on him, for he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. It takes strong determination to have faith in God. We cannot accomplish this daily task without the strength given by the Holy Spirit. To receive the power to overcome temptation and hardships, we must stay connected to God through constant prayer.

Of the many activities we do in life, prayer is the most important. Our willingness to trust and obey God is reflected by the amount of time we spend with him. Prayer is for our benefit. Through prayer, we experience change. We live a faith-based life having the confidence that God will always provide deliverance. Prayer allows us to redirect our focus from earthly trials and look forward to eternal life. “Do not grieve, because the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

God, we come to you on this Sabbath day acknowledging that you love and care for us. We have the desire to stay connected to you. Please restore the joy and peace that we have lost. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Praying Through the Darkness

Psalm 88 is the one song that King David wrote, which begins in despair and ends in despair. 

Beginning: O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near.

Ending: You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.

The dark times in our lives may feel as if we have been abandoned by God, our family, and friends. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5. We should not attempt to ask “why” or use analytical deduction to figure out the reason for our dark times.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

In my personal experience, God has used the temporary state of darkness to draw me closer to Him, and to build my faith. The reality is that we need the trials and tribulations to stay on the path that leads us to the Light, Jesus Christ. Remember Job and his dark period? God told Satan that Job was a righteous and faithful man. Job faithfully served God, yet, he endured extreme suffering. God is aware of how much each of us can bear. Our Omnipotent God knew that Job would remain faithful, even through an extended period of darkness. It is God who allows our tribulations for the purpose of preparing us for our greatest reward: Eternal life!

Pray through the Darkness

Human beings have fragile hearts, we can only take so much before we are ready to completely give up. But I would like to invite you to change the manner in which you are praying. If you were speaking to your best friend would you repeat the same conversation over and over each time you chatted? God is our Heavenly Father, Jesus is our Savior, and Heavenly Intercessor, and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. Pray with honesty: “God, I am feeling the worst that I have ever felt in my life. Please show me that you are here and that you love me. Jesus, help me!”

There is power in the Name of Jesus!

The darkness places us in the position to desperately look for the Light, who is Jesus Christ. Seeking God through His Son, Jesus is the only way to escape the darkness, and as young children, we must approach God with transparency. God does not require eloquent four-syllable words for us to communicate with Him. He desires that we pray with humility and honesty. 

Praying through the Darkness

Where do we take our anguish? Do we call our family or friends? We can, but only after we take it to God in prayer.

Do not stop praying! Prayer meets our inner need to connect to God, our Heavenly Father.

The benefits of praying in our darkest hour:

    1. Freedom from Fear, Psalm 118:56.
    2. Strengthens Your Soul, Psalm 138:3.
    3. Receive Guidance, Isaiah 58:9-11.
    4. God-given Wisdom and Understanding, Daniel 9:20-27.
    5. Deliverance from Harm, Joel 2:32.
    6. Rewards for being Alone with God,  Matthew 6:6.
    7. Gift of the Holy Spirit, Luke 11:13.
    8. Fullness of Inner Joy, John 16:23-24.
    9. Complete Peace, Philippians 4:6-8.
    10. Freedom from Anxiety, 1 Peter 5:7.

The scriptures for the Benefits of Prayer are from a sermon that I listened to by a powerful, and annointed Woman of God, who believes that our worst problem is not praying enough. I am inclined to agree with the Pastor, “Why is it so hard for us to pray?” The good news is that we can break the habit of ignoring God immediately. I encourage each of you to make a covenant with God in the year 2021 that you will begin to “Pray without ceasing.”

There is a simple but powerful song: God answers prayers in the morning, God answers prayer at noon, God answers prayer in the evening, so keep your heart in tune. 

Bible Study: The 10 verses listed that explain the benefits of prayer.

God, we admit that we have failed in honoring you with our prayers and praise, and for this intentional sin, we ask forgiveness. Thank you for the privilege of prayer and for being our Heavenly Father. As we worship you daily, may we draw closer to you and prepare for the soon coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.