I’m excited to share with you this year’s edition of the “Ruiz Review.” I started writing these on behalf of my family 19 years ago. Now, my 16-year-old son likes to share his year in review in his own words…
If I could talk to myself a year ago, I’d tell that boy he’s got a lot coming his way. In the last month, I’ve gotten my first job as a salesman at a running store called Forward Motion Sports in Danville. I’ve got the best job in the world. I love running, talk a lot, and wanted to work at a family-owned store so I’m pretty happy. I’ll be getting my driver’s license in a couple of weeks as well.
This year was full of change but everything happens for a reason. I’ve played baseball all my life but the last couple of years have been difficult. I felt like I no longer played for the joy of the game but rather for others who watched me play. After a year of varsity baseball, I decided to hang up my cleats and grab the guitar. When I tell you it’s all I do, I mean it. I don’t need to scream anymore because my baby screams for me. I don’t need to cry anymore because she cries for me. The guitar is something in my life that I’ll always have and it’s a gift from the Lord that I’ll never take for granted. If I’m not playing the guitar, I’m either running or working out. I’d love to be totally ripped but running just isn’t about that so I keep it nice and lean. While it’s been a year of blessings, it’s also been a very testing year against my faith and it’s truly grown me as who I am to others and who I am in Christ.
In the midst of a very spiritually challenging year, I’ve found myself strong in my walk with the Lord. I don’t know who will see this but I know someone reading this needs to know that God hears you and He loves you. The goal of following Christ is not to be accepted, but it is to make an impact. We as Christians may live differently but would rather be mistreated for our faith than accepted for hiding it. We are blessed when our commitment to God provokes persecution because guess what? That persecution drives us deeper into God’s kingdom. Our biggest desire as human beings is to be accepted but when you step into a relationship with Jesus, all of these perspectives change. This leads to persecution because the world cannot handle you in Christ and it is easier to laugh at than change. If I could leave you with one thing, please know that there is something greater for you and a God who loves you no matter what you do because there is nothing you can do to escape God’s love. If any of you need prayer or someone to talk to, please reach out to my Mom and she will connect us.
Blessings, Samuel Ruiz
Rob’s highlights for the past year were spending alone time at San Damiano and enjoying time outdoors, most notably going hiking and having beach days with the family. He also enjoyed volunteering at Kids Against Hunger and in the community with family & friends. Some other great memories were made on the golf course (including Cabo) with good friends and even playing with Rica for her first time!
Rob’s travel highlights for the year was our trip to Cabo with friends, a long anticipated trip to Disneyland (we hadn’t been since pre-Covid) and, of course, our annual retreat (just the 2 of us) - this year we went to Carmel! He also enjoyed watching me (Rica) preach again (so sweet!).
Rob also took great delight in watching our son continue to develop & grow, leaning into his own faith, getting his permit and learning to drive, performing and playing his guitar and watching him play varsity baseball and run in cross country meets.
Another highlight for Rob was not only watching our son, Samuel, grow in his faith but also deepening his own faith and relying more on God. Rob continues to participate in his Men’s Group and is engrossed in what has become his favorite book, “Not a Fan” which highlights the difference between a fan and a follower of Jesus.
His favorite experiences this past year included seeing the JoKoy Show, going to Safari Run for my and my mom’s birthday, going to the Stephen Marley concert and watching the Blue Angels at Fleet Week - one of Rob’s favorite traditions from childhood!
Next year Rob is looking forward to celebrating our 20-year wedding anniversary in Antigua!
For me (Rica), as I reflected on 2023, I was reminded of so many blessings, trials, revelations, and emotions - such is the story of all of our lives. The highlights for me was our trip to Cabo and meeting new friends who would later become our Bocce teammates! I got to hang out with my parents more this past year as we enjoyed watching a variety of different plays at the San Francisco Playhouse - it was always a fun adventure! I learned to play golf and played my first 18 holes! I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much (the challenge is having enough time to keep at it).
As a Mom, I got to witness another “first” as my son learned to drive and by the time you read this he will likely have his license! The gifts and talents Samuel has been blessed with never cease to amaze me. He taught himself how to play guitar and it has, truly, become his joy! That being said, the one thing that I wasn’t prepared for this year was Samuel’s decision to stop playing baseball. I’d been a “baseball mom” for nearly 12 years and I didn’t realize how sad I’d be when it was over. If I’d only known his last baseball game was going to be his last, would I have done anything different? Would I have taken more pictures, talked to more parents and soaked it all in One.Last.Time? I’ll never know.
Real estate sales, overall, were down 50% nationwide and we, unfortunately, were not immune to this. We’ve always relied on referrals from friends, family & past clients, and this year, by God’s grace, those referrals were what kept us afloat. THANK YOU to those who have and continue to recommend us. We are, truly, grateful beyond measure! I’m so proud to share that in the midst of all of the uncertainty we were still able to lend support to local small businesses and we continued to volunteer and donate financially to several non-profits & charities, albeit not as much as we’ve been able to donate in the past. Still, I’m so very grateful.
We had some FUN team outings (I laughed the most at the escape room), I got to see the Warriors play in the playoffs, went to Safari West for my birthday, saw Stephen Marley in concert, went to a Jo Koy show, and attended a handful of milestone birthdays. The year, however, wasn’t without some heartbreak & loss - friends' parents passing away, not to mention the brokenness I felt about the fires in Lahaina on Maui, our favorite Hawaiian Island.
One of the most surprising things I experienced was living out my word for 2023 - “gentle.” In business I have always been incredibly hard on myself and this past year I did A LOT of soul searching to come to the realization that all of the time and money spent on real estate coaching was not serving who I am. Everything I was being told/taught was being told to EVERY Realtor and I realized that I am.not.like.every.Realtor. What a smack in the face! I began earnestly seeking a way to do business that was authentic to who I am. Thankfully, I not only found a coaching program that is in more alignment with who I am and how I do business, I am now on track to become a coach to teach others how to run their businesses in a way that is more authentic and more empathetic. I haven’t been this excited about real estate in a very long time! The other “gentle” thing I did for myself this past year was making my physical health a priority and addressing things that I’ve neglected for far too long.
Next year I’m looking forward to cultivating healthier habits, nurturing relationships, taking time to celebrate life more, sharing my love for God’s Word, going on new adventures and growing in wisdom both personally & professionally. Here’s to a spectacular New Year filled with an abundance of love, great health, good fortune and fabulous new memories just waiting to be created!
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