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!

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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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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!

 


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Redeeming Love

I recently reread the book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  I read it many years ago when I was still “doing church”, and, not yet, understanding “true relationship with Christ”.  I enjoyed the book for its love story quality back then, but truly fell in love with its biblical teachings this time around.

(Before I go any further, if you have not read this magnificent book, stop everything right now and go read it!  Yes, now…because this post will have spoilers in it.  Then you will regret not reading it first, and I will feel bad for ruining it for you.  So…save us all this heartache and go read it…then come back here!)

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In this story, Francine writes about a man named Michael Hosea, who truly has a heart for God.  He has been faithful to God and praying for God to send him a wife for many years.  One day, he sees a woman who immediately captivates his heart, and God tells him that this will be his wife.  Come to find out, she is a prostitute.  Michael questions God, “I have been faithful to you, and you send a prostitute to be my wife?”  However, being the man of God that he is, Michael begins to pursue her, and, eventually, he marries her.

His wife’s name is Sarah but she does not reveal this to him right away.  Throughout her life as a prostitute, her name is Angel.  Michael does not think this name suits her so he calls her many different names throughout the  story.

Because of all of the lies that she has been told about herself and the things that she believes about herself, she continues to run back to her old life over and over and over.  Each time, Michael pursues her and brings her back to his (their) home.  Until the final time that she leaves.  At that point, he knows that she must return to him on her own.  He continues to love and pray for her everyday, but he no longer actively pursues her.

Michael’s love for her was pure and faithful without expectations or pretense.  I caught myself falling madly in love with Michael!  Oh, to have someone love me the way that he loved Angel!!! Oh, to have a Michael Hosea!!!

After finishing the book, I began to study the book of Hosea.  I am in absolute adoration of how the Bible continues to come alive to me.  While studying Hosea, everything clicked!  Hosea is all of our stories.  We all tend to “prostitute” ourselves when we trade an intimate part of ourselves to something that is temporary…whether its our time, our thoughts, our love, or our bodies.

The more that I read, the more that I realize how intense God’s love is for us.  When we ‘prostitute’ ourselves to the things of this world, He continues to pursue us and call us home.  He has always wanted us in His arms, in His home, in a reconciled relationship with Him!

When I was searching for my identity through partying and men, He patiently pursued me.

When I searched for my identity in success, approval of others, awards and acknowledgments, and the need to acquire more and more material things, He no longer actively pursued me but did not allow these things to give me peace.

There was always an underlying discontent because I was settling for less than I was worth.  We do this when we allow negative thoughts to overtake us.  We do this when we fill our bodies full of junk food.  We do this when we settle for relationships that do not direct us first to God.

Much like Angel, I would continue to go back to my old life…to my old sins…because I had believed so many lies about who I was. I would go back thinking that, this time, I would find peace because I would finally fill the dark, empty places in my heart.  Each time, much like Angel, I would secretly wish that He would rescue me from myself.  I secretly wished that He would wrap me up in His arms, and I would finally…FINALLY…feel safe in this world.

It wasn’t until I looked my sins straight on that I was able to truly surrender my life to Him!

“Being found isn’t as beautiful if you don’t admit you were once lost” (#shereadstruth)

Then…and only then…was God able to show me where I belonged.  Only then, did I realize that HE was my Michael Hosea…

And HE was offering me true redeeming love!

This is something that He offers to all of us but we must be willing to accept it!

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 (If you would like a really great Hosea bible study, go here —>#shereadstruth )


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One Word 2015

OneWordLast year, I posted about having One Word for the year.  This is a word that God gives you to guide you through the year.  Last year’s word for me was Understanding.  It’s amazing how much God used this word to teach me so much.

I felt that I truly was taught to understand not only myself and my circumstances, but also so much about the world around me.  It was a year of breaking down and building back up of self.  It was a year of taking more time to listen, so that I could truly learn from and about those around me.  It’s amazing how God knows exactly which word that He wants to use to mold and shape me more and more into His image.

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As always, I began praying for my word for this year in November of last year.  I got NOTHING for the longest time!  Finally, close to the end of January, my word came to me.  The word for this year is… Intention!  This year, I want to be more cognitive to “live less out of habit and more out of intent”.  I am focusing on all aspects of my life: spiritually, physically, relationally, and mentally.

Spiritually

It’s amazing how, when I first started focusing on this word, I wondered what this journey would look like. I began by getting up about an hour before the rest of my family to spend very quiet time with the Lord.  I knew that this was going to be tough for me because I love morning sleep-ins!  However, most days, I am able to get up, start the coffee, and study His word.  I now love this time because my house and my community is quiet so I can’t be easily distracted and am able to focus.

In order to be more intentional in this area, I finally submitted to something that God has been pushing me to do…the women’s bible study.  I cannot wait to share more about what God is doing with this small group of women in my community (but that is another blog post).  I am truly in complete admiration of the Lord right now!

Physically

Last year, I packed on an extra 10 pounds to the already too many extra ones that I have have been carrying around!  My goal is to get moving every day in some form or fashion.  I haven’t been completely successful in this so far, but I am going by the 12 step rule…progress, not perfection.  Although my daughters now do online schooling, I still teach them Bible and PE, so I have built-in workout partners that have to do what I tell them to do.  Score!  In all seriousness, we have really enjoyed working out together, and learning new exercises.

I also want to be more intentional about what I put in my body, as well as what I serve my family.  Thanks to Pinterest, I am able to find healthy, yummy recipes that my family likes.

Relationally

As I get older, I realize that I am becoming more and more of an introvert.  It’s not that I don’t like people and crowds.  I actually love them.  It’s just that I need to be alone to recharge afterwards.  I have to be conscious to keep a balance between the two.

This year, I want to intentionally invest in my relationship with my husband and children, and those in my life that love and invest in me.  I want relationships that have meaning and value.  I want to be intentional about loving others.

Mentally

As I mentioned, last year was a huge time of understanding truths in my life.  Many of these lessons were hard to learn but the growth made it all worth it.  I feel like a flower garden that had many weeds interwoven throughout it.  God came along and ripped out weeds that were preventing growth and were slowly killing anything from blooming.  For a long time, it looked bear.  Finally, the flowers are beginning to bloom in so many different and vibrant colors.  With that, comes peace.  I am now so protective over that peace, and want to guard it with all that I have.  I know the things in my life that help me to stay balanced and the things that keep me sane.  I want to intentionally focus on those things.

happiness jar

In our house, we started this “Happiness Jar” to write small things throughout the year that made us happy.  I cannot wait to see what “living more intentionally” will do in all our lives.  My hope is that this intentional living will fill that jar to overflowing!

What is your word for this year?


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You had me at juice…

IMG_4487This has been the best Valentine’s weekend ever!  It began by Mo surprising me with a night away together SIN KIDDOS in Santo Domingo on Friday night.  We don’t get dates very often here, so we get pretty excited when it happens.  I am afraid that we may have offended our kids a bit by peeling out of our driveway so quickly.  In hindsight, maybe we should have been a little more subtle…

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Due to some very kind people and being rewards’ members, we were able to stay at the Marriott in Santo Domingo.  We seriously felt like celebrities!

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We had lunch together and planned to have a nice dinner that night but we didn’t want to leave our room.  It was so luxurious and it smelled SO good and it had this humongous television.  I was having major cognitive dissonance!  Seriously, our two worlds were colliding!

The next day, after breakfast, we worked out at the hotel gym IN AIR CONDITIONING!  I think that I may go back and live there.

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We enjoy spending Valentine’s Day with our kiddos.  It’s just something that we usually do as a family.  In the states, we would cook a nice meal, use the nice china, sit at the formal dining room table, and wear fancy clothes.  Celebrating it here looks a little different.

When Mo and I returned on Saturday, the girls had made us the sweetest Valentine’s surprise.

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Then I made plates of sweet treats to give to my family my bible study ladies, and some of our friends in the community.

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On Sunday, Mo took the boys surfing.  After cleaning the house, the girls and I packed a picnic lunch, and went for a hike into the mountains.

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We also took our books and enos, and spent a couple of hours just relaxing where we were.  Seriously, when it was time to go, none of us wanted to leave!  Definitely something that we need to do again!

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Can you see the girls hanging in the background?

Monday nights are pretty busy in our house.  We moved our women’s bible study to 4:30 on Mondays, instead of Tuesdays.  Then, the Surf Ministry is at 6:30.  Normally, for bible study, I serve coffee/tea and some sort of sweet treat to the ladies.  Tonight, my sweet ladies got together before group and made natural juice and empanadas as a Valentine’s surprise for me.  A few of them brought gifts as well.  I could not believe it and felt so special and honored!

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This week is the week that Mo cooks dinner for the boys.  When he saw what the ladies had done, he jokingly said, “It’s because God loves you more.  My boys show up wondering what I am cooking for them!”  He cracks me up because this is one of his jokes.  Like, we are in competition for God’s love. Like, if something good happens, it’s because God loves that person more.

After the meeting, Mo told me that almost 40 boys came tonight and a couple of new boys joined the group.  One of the boys told him that he didn’t really care about going surfing. He came because he heard that he could learn more about God and the Bible.  Seriously…SUPER COOL!!!

God must love Mo more! :O)