asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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Marriage Retreat

We recently held a marriage retreat in our community.  We had a total of 13 couples attend.  It was an amazing experience.  We spent Saturday and Sunday learning about God’s will for our marriage, ways that we can connect and invest in our marriage, how to deal with strife, and, basically, laughing, singing, and playing.

For lunch on Saturday, we had a picnic.

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For dinner that night, we had a romantic candlelit dinner.

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We played lots of games that required the couples to work together, and learned lots of ways to love on one another in order to put deposits in each other’s love bank.  It was beautiful to watch the couples come together to show that their marriage was important and worth investing the time to make it better.

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Pastor Tomas and Sonia, Pastor Jorge and Arelis, and Mo and I spoke on various topics such as: having Christ centered marriage, the top 5 needs of men and the top 5 needs of women, how to be intentional and make daily connections with your spouse, and how to deal with strife in your marriage. We all learned so much about one another. It was eye opening to see how marriages here have similar challenges as marriages in the US.  IMG_0702

I would also like to give a huge shoutout to Kristi, Jack, and all the jovens for all of their handwork of cooking, babysitting, and serving our couples during the retreat.  We couldn’t have done all of this without them.IMG_0740

 

Often times, we are asked, “How can I help with what you are doing?”

We have an “Ask” now.

All of the couples that attended this retreat have an opportunity to attend a marriage retreat in Punta Cana in October that will be held by missionary friends of ours.  They hold this retreat each year with a different topic to be discussed.  Mo and I were privileged enough to attend last year and were able to share that information in our marriage retreat.  It is a 3 day/2 night retreat held at an all-inclusive resort.

It is a rare opportunity for the couples in our community to be able to get away from the responsibilities of home and work to focus exclusively on one another.  It is a rare opportunity for the couples to be able to stay in an all-inclusive resort as well.  It is a rare opportunity for them to learn from and share with others outside of our community on what they can do to improve their marriages.

The “Ask”

In order for these couples to attend, we need sponsors.  The cost of the retreat is $275.  Each couple must pay $75 and provide their own transportation to and from Punta Cana.  We need individuals, couples, or groups to sponsor a couple for $200.  You will receive a picture of the couple that you are sponsoring so that you can pray for them and their marriage. You will truly be providing a opportunity of a lifetime for these couples.  You will be providing a opportunity for them to focus solely on one another without responsibilities to distract them.  You will be improving our community…one couple at a time!

If you or your small group would be willing to sponsor a couple, please message me at tamaraludlam@gmail.com.  (Please put “Couples Sponsorship” in the subject line.) We need these sponsorship as soon as possible so that we can begin paying deposits.  Deposits are due next week, with the remaining balance to be paid to the resort by October 1st.  The date of the retreat is October 7-9.  Your donation will be tax deductible as well.  Thank you in advance for your partnership!


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I’m a little teapot

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First, I ask that everyone please pray for France and the families of the victims of the horrible attack yesterday.

Second, with all the chaos and pain in the world right now, I would like to share something positive and show the kindness that exists.

A few months back, I commented on a picture that one of my FB friends had posted. I have never met this person personally but “knew” her through a missionary group. She lives in China. Her post was a picture of a little teapot and a description. I love a good cup of tea and thought this looked precious, so I commented something similar to that. Almost immediately, she messaged me and asked for a shipping address because she wanted to send me a set. (For those of you that have asked, we don’t have an address so everything has to be sent to our church)

This simple, selfless act of kindness has touched my heart in more ways than she can imagine. This little teapot put the biggest smile on my face and my heart.

Why do I share this? Maybe…we could ALL be a little teapot to a stranger today! Maybe a simple, selfless act of kindness can put a smile on someone else’s face and heart today.

This is what God asked of His children…

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Matthew 25:40


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Pushing our birdies out of the nest

baby bird kicked out of nest

Motherhood is truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. My daughters fill my heart with love.  I honestly never thought that I would say that about my teenage daughters.  I can remember how they always wanted to be with me when they were little.  My husband would say, “They are both Momma’s Girls.  I want them to be Daddy’s girls”. I would laugh and say, “Please give this to me.  Soon they will be teenage girls.  Teenage girls and mommas don’t mix”!  However, here we are…and we still, not only love each other, but really like one another!

Today is the first Mother’s Day without my daughters.  BOTH of my little cherubs are in a different country than I am. Although my heart is filled with a bit of sadness, it is also filled with knowing…knowing what is coming in the next season of our lives.

I can remember, when they were babies, and seeing other mommas sending their kids off to Kindergarten, and thinking…”Nope, I could never do that. Those mommas are so brave”!

But, I did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that I ever did!

I can remember, when they were primary school aged, and seeing other mommas sending their babies off to middle school, and thinking…”Nope, I could never do that. Those mommas are so brave”!

But, I did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that I ever did!

I can remember, when they were middle school aged, and seeing other mommas seeing their babies walk across the stage to graduate high school, and thinking…”Nope, I can’t do that.  Those mommas are so brave”!

Yet, here I am…in that season of our lives.  I am looking down the path to graduating high schoolers.  I feel like I am spending every day filling them with knowledge to send them off into this world.  “Did I tell you this?” “Did I tell you that?”  “Do you know how much you are loved?”…and so on and so on…

This year, I had to put BOTH of my babies on planes several times to send them to another country for end-of-the-year high school tests. They were scared.  My husband and I were scared. My babies had lots of trepidation and hesitation. This was the time…the season…that we were dreading.  We had to push our babies out of the nest for their own good.  We had to push them beyond what they thought that they could do without parents there to catch them.

But, we did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that we ever did!

Thanks to wonderful in-laws, we have gotten several messages this week telling us how much they are enjoying spending time with our daughters, and that we have pretty awesome kiddos! Those words are music to this momma’s heart.

The point that I am making in all of this is to say…”Mommas of college kids, graduating college kids, getting married kids, having babies kids, and so on…I am watching you!  I am watching your bravery, and I am pulling from that.”  Just the same as I hope those mommas of those babies are watching me and pulling from my bravery!

Motherhood is the greatest blessing that God have ever given us.  It comes with enormous responsibility with the MOST AMAZING rewards!  God equips us along the way.  He helps us to take baby steps forward…

…as He prepares our hearts, give us strength, and helps us not to be fearful to take the next steps…

…even if it means having the courage to push those birdies out of the nest!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


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Dogs of the DR

Written by Lexie Ludlam

Photos by Lauren Ludlam

Lauren and I have been dog lovers our whole lives. When we first visited the DR, our hearts melted for all the strays. We felt God tugging on our hearts to give a voice to the voiceless.

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Toby

When we first started our ministry, it was small. We fostered lots of puppies, but we didn’t really work with the big dogs. While walking around giving food to dogs, we met Mama Bear.

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Mama Bear

Mama Bear was a sweet, homeless dog that lived in La Represa. Every time she went into heat, she got pregnant. She didn’t have the nutrition or proper care to keep these puppies alive, so many of them died. Mama Bear was sick. We feared if she had another litter that she wouldn’t make it. She is one of the sweetest dogs we have ever met. When we called her name, she would come running over to us whimpering for love. We knew we had to do something.

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Her baby bears

Mama Bear and her puppy, Jerry, were in the first picture for our Instagram account @dogsofthedr. Her story inspired us to start helping older dogs. We would go around the community giving dog food and parasite medicine to strays.

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Little Jerry

Then one day, we got a donation to fix Mama Bear and two other dogs. We were overjoyed! We couldn’t be more thankful! So we loaded Mama Bear and two other mama dogs into our car and got them fixed. This was a big breakthrough for us! We wanted to fix the female dogs in the community for so long. The dog population is overwhelming, and many of them are strays who end up dying. 12764419_979567752130698_7861228490936112124_o.jpg

Now, our ministry is to foster dogs and to spay them. We want to reduce the dog population so that every pooch can have a forever home. To help raise money for this program, we designed Dogs of the DR t-shirts.

 

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T-shirt design

T-shirts are $15.00 each (+ $5 for the first shirt for shipping and $2 for each additional shirt). They are printed on gray shirts and are fairly true to fit. If you would like to purchase one, you can send money by clicking on the donate button. When you go to donate, there will be a note section. In this note section, write your shirt size, address, and how many t-shirts you want. Thank you so much!

Also, we are still in search of a forever home for Mariposa (pictured below). The home that we originally thought would work didn’t because the people couldn’t take a dog at this time.  Mariposa is one of the most loving dogs that you will meet.  Her original owner was an elderly lady that had to move out of the community with a family member.  She was unable to take Mariposa with her.  At that point, Mariposa was homeless.  We have taken her in on a temporary basis but my dad says that we need to get rid of her.  We have 6 dogs already.

We really want her to have a forever family.  Would you like to adopt her?  If we are able to raise enough money, we can help with air travel if you live outside of the DR.

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Mariposa

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Coson Bay

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As most of you know, in order for us to get a true day off, we have to leave our community. We often take that opportunity to relax and explore this beautiful island.  One of our most favorite areas to visit is the Las Terrenas/Coson/Samana area.

From January to March, the whales migrate through the warm Caribbean waters of Samana.  There are many companies that offer whale watching tours in which one can see the calving and mating rituals of the humpback whales.  This is a MUST SEE!  We took a group two years ago and were lucky enough to see a mom and baby breach for us, and two males fighting for a female’s attention.

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Whale breaching

Normally, we rent a house in Las Terrenas, which is about a 30 minute car ride outside of Samana.  We like Las Terrenas because it is a small beach town with numerous shops and restaurants.  You can pretty much walk anywhere you want to go.  There are many beaches in the area that are clean and relaxing.  Various excursions are available such as renting 4 wheelers, visiting the Limon waterfalls, zip lining, scuba diving, surf schools, kite surfing, and more.

This year, we decided to visit Playa Coson, which is a 10 minute car ride outside of Las Terrenas. We stayed at the Coson Bay Hotel and Residences.  Were we ever so thankful that we did!

This place is a wonderfully hidden secret!  Seriously, I almost want to keep it to myself to maintain its peace and tranquility. 

Coson Bay Hotel  property sits on approximately 4 acres and offers 42 condominiums.  There are 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms and a penthouse available.  The average cost per night is $250 during high season and $190 during low season. The property offers a large relaxing pool, beachside seating and beverage service, a restaurant and bar, a gym, and a game room. The staff can also assist in scheduling spa services and tours, such as the ones named above.  The accommodations are clean and modern.  Coson Bay is 100% family friendly and safe.  The staff is AMAZING!  We got the opportunity to sit down and talk with Roberto, the general manager, and Carolina, the front desk manager.  The pride that both take in the property is refreshing. The mission of the Coson Bay Hotel is to satisfy the clients, the property, and the staff.  You could definitely tell that the staff loved and took pride and ownership in their work.

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Roberto and Carolina

Each condominium offers a full kitchen, dining room, living room, and patio.  Each bedroom has its own full bathroom.  This gives you the option of cooking your own meals.  If you prefer to let someone else do the cooking, the property offers a open air restaurant facing the ocean.  Their brick oven pizza is cooked on the premises and is the most delicious pizza that I have ever eaten.  We stayed three nights and ate pizza every night!

There is a large pool that overlooks the water, with the ocean just steps away. If you prefer to relax on the beach, there are plenty of seating options.  Lounge chairs to relax and get a tan, or to nap under the shade of a palm tree. This is a great place for surfers to catch some waves while their family can relax on the beach and watch. There is truly something for everyone!

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If you are looking for the excitement and fiesta style atmosphere of an all-inclusive resort, Coson Bay Hotel is not for you.  However, if you are looking for complete peace, tranquility, a place to relax and truly checkout of the hustle and bustle of your daily life, this place is exactly what you are looking for!

If you are sick of the cold weather and need a long weekend getaway, we are able to offer you a 20% discount on all rooms.  Use the code LUDLAM20 when making reservations!


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In this season…

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This morning, I was thinking about how much I love the Christmas season.  I love the lights, all the sweet treats, the time with family and friends, but, most importantly, that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday. This is seriously my most favorite season of the year.  I am all about getting together and celebrating His birth.

That got me thinking about how this season often doesn’t feel the same for everyone.  For some, this time of year is difficult due to loss or loneliness. Depression and suicide is at an all time high.

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As I was studying my devotional the other day, this scripture really stuck out to me:

“In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3

After dissecting the verse a bit, I rewrote it as:

“In a time when you feel lonely or abandoned construct a path for Him; Make a direct route in this time of feeling rejected for God”

Often, when we are feeling confused, lost, lonely, or abandoned, we want to isolate. However, God says to “keep a direct path between Him and us”. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and free of distractions.

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This reminds me of the scene in the Runaway Bride, where Maggie (Julia Roberts) and Ike (Richard Gere) construct a plan to keep her from running from the altar.  She was to keep her eyes on the groom at all times.  Just when we think that she is finally going to make it all the way down the altar, someone takes a photo of her, the flash distracts her, and she takes off.

This often happens during our desolate times. We begin with a great plan to keep our focus on God. Unfortunately, satan does not want that.  He wants to distract us and cause us to run the other way.  We have to remember that God’s plans are to prosper us. Satan only comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He will use whatever means necessary to distract us, and knock us off our path and directly into the wilderness. It is there that he fills us with lies and disables us from doing God’s great works.

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In Priscilla Shirer’s new book, Fervent, she writes:

“If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit-your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me. Because, when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just…fighting. For nothing.”

Satan loves this because we are distracted by focusing on the wrong thing…instead of the right thing- Jesus Christ! So, what is the direct path to God? PRAYER! Plain and simple, it’s prayer. Prayer keeps our focus on God. It keeps us from being distracted.

Also, from Fervent, she writes,

“Prayer is the portal that brings the power of Heaven down to earth. It is the kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you.”

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If you are struggling with depression during this time, reach out for help.  Isolating only gives satan a chance to attack. That is often easier said than done. Pray!  Ask God for help!

If you know someone that is struggling, reach out to them. God has asked His people to care for one another. Go to them and go to battle for them in prayer!

The enemy will find ways to distract or discourage you from praying. He will even put a bad taste in your mouth for it. Fight against that! Put your armor on and keep your path straight! Prayer is the best defense we have against the enemy’s jerk ways. He wants you to focus on your problems. Instead, give them to God, and let Him fight for you. He is your own kickbutt superhero!

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Depression is a real thing that often requires medication and therapy.  If you are struggling with depression this year, reach out to someone.  Below are several numbers that you can call for help:

Samaritans 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (212) 673-3000

Crisis Call Center (775) 784-8090 or text “ANSWER” TO 839863

Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK

National Adolescent Suicide Hotline 1-800-621-4000

 


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On being intentional and your one word…

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Each year, I write about the importance of having one word for the year.  I have written about it —> Here and Here.

Basically, I begin praying in November for God to give me a word that will direct my life, and mold me to be closer to His image the following year.  Each year, my words are spot on.  Typically, it makes no sense when He first sends it to me.  However, by the end of the year, it has helped me in ways that could only be of Him.  He uses this one word to inspire and guide me throughout the year.

My one word for last year was Intentional.  It really served as a reminder to be conscious in so many areas of my life.  God used this word in a big way to draw me closer to him and grow my relationship with him.  He also helped me to be more intentional about the words that I used in many situations in my life.

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I have a challenge for each of you reading this:

  1. Begin praying for God to send your “one word”
  2. Once you get it, write it on something (paper, rock, paint it, etc.)
  3. Post it on social media. (This will give you a reminder and accountability)

It is not always easy to hear what that word is.  Often, I want to decide for myself.  Don’t despair! When you have the one word for the year, you will know because you will have a peace around it.

Here are two wonderful websites that might encourage and help you:

myoneword.org

oneword365.com

I may possibly have my word for 2016 but am continuing to pray over this.  Good luck, and I can’t wait to hear what word God gives you and how He uses it in your life in 2016!