asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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A sudsy experience

sudsy spongeIn 10 days, we will be returning to our passport country.  As expected, we have a million and one emotions surrounding this.  We are closing out and transferring leadership of our ministries, slowly saying goodbyes, and reflecting on our time here.  We have been writing down different experiences that we have had- some good, some bad, some funny, some sad.  Mo suggested that I begin sharing them.

Here is a funny one for you:

When you stop at a red light in this country, you will be bombarded with vendors selling various items- windshield wipers, sunglasses, fruit, water, chicken shaped wooden holders to store your eggs, etc.  The one thing that bothers me the most is the windshield washers.  They sneak up out of nowhere and squirt your windshield with dirty water.  Then, you have no choice but to allow them to wash your windshield, and you have to pay them.  Mind you, it is typically only about 20 pesos (equivalent to about 50 cents US).  However, it happens at every single red light…even if your windshield is already clean.

(In defense of the windshield washers, many of them are homeless teens that are just trying to get enough money to eat. We didn’t know that when we arrived here though.)

So…

In the beginning, we had a friend tell us, “If you don’t want your windshield washed, then turn on your windshield wipers, and they will leave you alone.”

During our very first outing as a family, we decided to venture out of our little community and drive the hour or so to the grocery store.  We were sitting at a red light waiting to turn left into the store when out of nowhere comes a windshield washer.  Mo turns on his wipers and…

…THE GUY LIFTS IT UP SO IT IS FLAPPING IN THE AIR!

We were like…”But she told us they would leave us alone. Now we have a wiper just flapping in the wind, and the guy won’t stop washing our windshield!”

All of our windows are up but Mo starts yelling “No, gracias, No!”

THE GUY CONTINUES…

Mo then bangs on the windshield AND IT CRACKS (because that car was so janky)! And…

THE GUY CONTINUES…

Mo then rolls his window down and tells the guy to stop. And…

THE GUY HITS MO IN THE FACE WITH HIS DIRTY SUDSY SPONGE!!!!

Suds go all over the inside of the car,

on the girls and I,

and…

We just start screaming…

“GO, JUST GO!  WE ARE GOING TO DIE!!!”

Mind you…this is our very first experience out on our own!

We pull into the grocery store parking lot and just sit there for a second.  We are all shaking and so thankful to have NOT DIED!!!

Hahahaha…we laugh so hard about it now though!

So there’s one!


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A Wall of Warriors

warriorOne thing that I hope everyone knows about me is that I am real.  What you see on social media will be the same thing that you see in my “real life”.  You won’t hear spiritual platitudes coming from my mouth.  I won’t say things just to placate you.  That is both a blessing and a curse.

The reason that I am saying this is because I need all of you to know that.  I hope to show as much of the good, bad, and ugly of me that is socially acceptable.  (Let’s all face it…only your closest of friends see it all!) My hope is that by being honest and vulnerable that you can see God at work.  My hope is that through my own personal struggles and angst that you can see God working in and through me.  My hope is that this gives you hope and points you to the one that seeks your heart!

Yesterday, I posted a plea for prayer on FB.  Over the past month, we have been getting attacked from all sides in ways that we have not made public.  The same thing happened when we were entering the mission field.  We have been a bit shocked that it is happening as we are leaving the field to enter a season of rest and healing. We feel that we aren’t much of a threat right now and couldn’t understand why we were under siege.

Hermanas en Cristo has been doing the War Room bible study, and our recent Women’s Retreat’s theme was “This is War!”, with our focus on becoming Prayer Warriors.  For anyone that has not read Priscilla Shirer’s book, Fervent, she talks about how satan attacks us in all areas of our life to distract us so that we will lose our focus on God. He uses problems in our marriage, our relationships and our finances to distract us.  He wants to take away our passion and our energy so we won’t have the strength to fight.  He uses others to remind us of who we were in our past. Once he distracts and weakens us, then he goes in for the kill.

That is where I was yesterday…distracted and depleted!

How can we fight against that?  Through prayer and scripture!!!

I heard God say, “Ask for help!  Surround your family with a Wall of Prayer Warriors!”.

I needed to “practice what I preach”.

As I reached out on FB, I was nervous for laying it out there for all to see.  I was weak, vulnerable, and sinking! I was nervous about being judged for “being weak in my faith” (<—don’t get me started on that! That is for another day, another post).

We were overwhelmed by love and support! We received so many private messages and words of encouragement, and so many people began praying for us. It did feel like we had a Wall of Prayer Warriors all around us.  It gave us strength to refocus on Him.

There are going to be times in our lives where we don’t have strength to fight alone.  God is always with us and always faithful.  I believe that is why He also provides us with Prayer Warriors to surround us and protect us as we refocus on Him.  God also uses these times to grow and mold us.  He will never let our pain occur in vain.  He always uses that for His good.  God is teaching me to be vulnerable, bold, and to live without fear of judgment. He is teaching me not to listen to what others say about who I am, but to believe who He says I am.  He is showing me that I am not the sum of all of my past mistakes and failures. I hope that my moments of weakness can serve as a testament for Him.  I hope that you can see that no one is perfect in their walk with Christ.  Yes, I definitely hope that you do not see a “perfect Christian”, but that you see a broken person that NEEDS Jesus! I hope that you can see the new story that God is beginning to weave into our lives. I hope to continue to focus and rest in Him.  I hope that you can see that He will always turn something beautiful from the ashes to glorify His name!


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When satan is a punk, God shows off!

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.02.22 PM

This transition time is no joke! We are processing through so many different emotions right now. I woke up this morning overwhelmed with emotions that I was struggling to name.  Mostly, I was feeling empty and like a failure. I know that satan is using this time to try to steal my purpose and passion and also to tell me lies.  That’s who he is… he is a liar and a thief whose only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He is such a punk!

Often, when I am empty, I allow satan to put blinders on me to show me all of the ways that I have failed, all of the times that I did not love well, all of the times that I allowed those rough, dark places in my heart to spill out from my mouth (Matthew 15:18).  Even though, I know better because…

GOD!

God is much more powerful than satan.  He is the strength when I am weak (2 Corinthians 12:10), He saved me and delights in me (Psalm 18:19), and He wants to fill me with joy (Psalm 16:11).  The thing is… I have to remember these things!  I have to readjust those blinders so they focus SOLELY ON HIM!

Also…God knows when we need a little push, a little encouragement, and little pep talk to say…”Nope, those lies are not MY truth about you. Allow me to show you”…

and He does because He is God.

THIS is how God encouraged me this morning:

Hermanas en Cristo has been given an amazing opportunity to share our story and sell our jewelry at a group market to support the empowerment of women.  Rosa and I will be attending and staying at a hotel in the Capital tomorrow night. This morning, I went to Rosa’s house to discuss the details of the next few days.

Before I started talking, Rosa said, “I want to tell you something.  Last night, I was laying in bed thinking how you have been an angel and a blessing in my life. The first time that I went to the beach, I went with you.  The first time that I will be staying in a hotel will be with you.  I am going to the university because of you. Most importantly, I have learned so much more about the Bible because of you.  God has used you as a blessing in my life.”

I was speechless.  All I could say was “thank you”!

As we all know, that was not me. That was GOD using ME in HER life…and vice versa!

I say all of this, not to show off, but, hopefully, to show how God can use us in such small ways that we may not see it ourselves.  You may be hearing lies in your own life that are telling you that you are just doing it all wrong.

But God knows better!!!

He created all of us with a purpose!  HIS PURPOSE!

If you are believing that punk satan and struggling to believe God’s truth about you, ask Him to show you!

He will…

Because…

He is so good like that!

 


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Waiting for God’s voice

listeningAs you know, we are studying the book of Esther in Hermanas en Cristo.  We continue to be in amazement and awe of how God used a 14 year old girl for such an important task.  What continues to come up in our weekly study is her character.

We have all agreed that she is patient, obedient, and wise beyond her years. In Chapter 7, THIS was truly her “time such as this” moment. We talked about how it was crucial that her words were perfect. If she said the wrong thing, it could be the death of her. If she spoke the correct words, she would save her Jewish people. We know one thing…

She did not speak before she had prayed about it AND waited for God’s voice.

I asked the women to share any experience they had had in which they prayed before speaking to someone about an important matter, or an experience in which that didn’t pray before speaking to someone. Also, what was the outcome?

One of the women told a story about how she needed to talk to her husband about something important so she prayed about it.  She, then, went to talk to him, and things went horrible wrong.  They ended up in a huge argument.  She was so confused so we went back to God and said “God, I prayed about this before talking to him.  Why did it end like this?”  She laughed and said that she heard God say,

“Yes, you prayed to me but you did not wait for my answer!”

Oh my goodness! What an wonderful example and reminder to us all!

We all need to let Esther be an example to us.  She prays, waits, and LISTENS to God before speaking.  She allowed God to prepare her mind and heart, while He also prepared the path, minds, and hearts of those in His great plan.  When He wants to use us for His purpose, He also wants us to know that it is in HIS strength, knowledge, and wisdom, not ours!

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this!


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Turmeric

a-pile-of-fresh-turmeric-roots

This may seem like a random post but I wanted to share the amazing benefits that I have experienced with Turmeric. Living in the Caribbean, we tend to get various little tropical diseases.  Yay, us!  After the outbreak of chikungunya a few years ago, we are all still feeling the aftereffects. The main symptom that I continue to have is joint pain.  Often, my hands and feet just ache.  I am also struggling with jacked up neck and back issues, which have nothing to do with chikungunya.  My neck and back are so bad now that I wake up throughout the night with numbness in my arms, hands, feet, and legs.

During a recent bout with my back, I began researching natural ways to relieve inflammation. Over and over, my research lead me to turmeric.  I actually already had some ground turmeric that I bought while visiting the states, so I thought that I would try it.  Guys…seriously, it worked miracles.

I mixed up a tea recipe that included turmeric, ginger, lemon, and honey. Within 20 minutes of drinking the tea, much of my pain had gone away.  It truly felt like some of the inflammation was being relieved.  I made a large mason jar of the tea so that I could continue to use it to reduce the inflammation.

Normally, when I throw my back out, I am down for almost a week and wake throughout the night in pain.  I drank the tea twice a day for two days. While using turmeric (as opposed to ibuprofen), I was only down for about a day and half, and I slept well throughout the night.  I am definitely sold on the benefits of using this natural remedy. I will continue to use it for the residual joint pain left from chikungunya as well.

Here are some of the benefits of turmeric:

turmeric

Have you used turmeric?  If so, what benefits have you experienced? Do you have any recipes to share?

Edit:  I have gotten a few requests to share the tea recipe.  I added coconut oil to mine to help with absorption: Turmeric tea for inflammation


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Brave little Esther

esther

Man, sometimes during Hermanas en Cristo, the Word just comes so alive that I cannot contain myself.  The ladies laugh at me because I just get so excited!

We are studying the book of Esther right now.  Let me give a little history on her.  She was born a Jewish exile named Haddasseh.  When her parents died, her uncle, Mordecai, adopted and raised her.  Esther was known to have great beauty, poise, and incredible character.  Because of these traits, she won the favor of King Xerxes and became the queen of Persia. As we will read more into the story, we will learn that God had a incredible plan for her life.

In chapter 4, Mordecai said to her,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?”

No pressure, right? She would save her Jewish people.  And…get this…SHE IS ONLY ABOUT 14 YEARS OLD!

Yesterday, we were in chapter 5.  In this chapter, she is now about to step up to fulfill God’s plan. The chapter begins by saying that she has put on her royal robe and is standing in front of the inner court of the palace.  She is about to go in to talk to her husband, the king, and she was not summoned!  To approach the king without summons is against the law, punishable by death.  YET…

Here is this 14 year old girl standing gallantly in front of the king’s court to approach the king on her own accord, knowing that it could get her killed!  Let that sink in…

It doesn’t say how she is feeling.  However, we were discussing how we would feel and the fear that we would have.  Yet, the way it is stated, it appears that she is standing there with full confidence.

At that point, I asked the ladies to look back at the end of chapter 4. Before she made the decision to go, a few things happened:

  1. She gathered some of her closest girlfriends to discuss the situation at hand
  2. They all decided to fast and pray for 3 days prior to her approaching the king.
  3. Then, she spent those days in silence and praying!

I asked the ladies a few questions:

*How many of you, when you are having a problem or need guidance, go straight to all of your friends and talk and talk and talk about it? Almost all hands went up

*How many of you get stressed and worried, and often lose sleep over it? Almost all hands went up

*How many of you stop and pray first before doing those other two?  Very few of our hands went up.

This opened the door for us to see WHY this young girl of 14 years of age was so confident and strong as she approached the king. She was fearLESS because she had sat, prayed, and heard God’s voice.  She knew what He wanted her to do and knew that He would protect and guide her!  She knew that, in those 3 days prior, that He had prepared the path for His will!

That really helped ALL of us to remember…

In times of distress, or when God is asking you to do that REALLY BIG THING, stop…pray…and listen!  When we are talking and talking and talking (and, oh my word…I love to talk), we cannot hear His voice!  If we cannot hear His voice, we cannot know what His plan is. Sidenote: our closest girlfriends can be amazing prayer warriors and voices of reason for us also.  Get ya some of those girls!  They will fast and pray with you!

That’s good stuff right there!!!

 

 

 


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Let’s hear it for the boy!

mo boys cabarete.jpg

(First of all, the LYRICS of this song crack me up because they describe Mo to a T! For all of you that know him, am I right?  Keely, think “crocs”)

I want to take a few minutes to brag on my man! Besides God and his family, the above picture shows everything that he loves in this world…the ocean and these boys! If you have ever visited here, you have most likely met Golita, Dioni, Seba, and Gaba. Mo truly feels that God did not give him biological sons because He had these boys waiting for him here in La Represa. There isn’t a day that goes by that these boys do not come by our house…usually just in time for dinner!

So many times, Mo questions whether he has done enough here.  I know that there are times where he feels unappreciated or under valued for the work that he has done here.  I can say, with zero hesitation, that Mo has been an amazing servant for God here in La Represa. He heard God’s call on his life, gathered his family, and went. He gave up a lucrative business to follow God’s calling because he simply could not say “No”.

Mo has over 60 boys in the Surf Ministry.  I continue to be in awe of how God has used Mo and surfing to be able share God’s word! Many of the boys don’t even want to surf. However, through this program, he has been able to offer a safe place for the boys to hang out, share a meal, and share the Gospel.  Mo puts it best when he says, “We want to fill their bellies and their souls!” ALL of the boys have added so much to our lives. Mo has literally lost sleep over these boys.  He has had to have difficult conversations with them because, more important than ANYTHING, he wants to help grow God-loving, men of integrity! He has walked alongside them, loved them, and corrected them when they needed it.

So…Mo, yes…you have done a great job!  You have “ran the race that God put before you”…and you have done it with a servant heart.  You have been a father, leader, and great example to all of these boys.

Now, all of you know these things too!