asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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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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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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Moro de guandules

Yesterday, I posted the POLLO GUISADO RECIPE.  Today, I am posting the recipe for the rice dish to accompany your chicken.  It’s very yummy and simple to make.

First, gather these ingredients:

Rice

Ahi verde (see the pic from yesterday’s post –>HERE)

garlic

onion

cilantro (fresh)

oregano (I use the dry kind)

red pepper

water

2 cans of guandules (I like the ones with coconut milk.  I think makes the Moro taste better)

In English, guandules translates to pigeon peas.Here’s what you are looking for:IMG_6405

olives (optional)

Adobo seasoning

“sopita” (Dona Gallina- see yesterday’s post for pic)

Sazon Goya

Sazon Completo

vegetable oil

1) Chop all vegetables, put in a bowl, and set aside.  I typically make Pollo Guisado and Moro together so I chop all the vegetables together EXCEPT THE CILANTRO, divide them into two separate bowls, and set it aside for later.  In the bowl of chopped veggies for Moro, do not add spices/seasoning in it.  You will add them in the pot later.

2) Heat about 5 tablespoons of water until very hot.  You need a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pot.  IMG_4418

3)  Add chopped veggies and cook until tender.IMG_44194) Once veggies are tender, add cans of guandules, about 5 sopita, Adobo seasoning (about 5 shakes), Sazon Goya (one packet), Sazon Completo (about half a capful), oregano, olives (optional but I love them in mine), and water.

For your water, add 1 1/2 cups per every cup of rice.  (For example, 2 cups of rice= 3 cups of water). DO NOT ADD RICE AT THIS TIME THOUGH!

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5) Bring to a boil

6) Add rice and heat on high.  Stir occasionally. You will know if you have the right amount of rice and water if you are able to push your spoon through the mixture and see a little mound of rice, veggies, and guandules, like in the picture below:

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7) Continue cooking on high until the water is mostly cooked down.  Scoop all of the Moro to the center of the pot to create a mound in the middle and a “valley” around it.  This will help with the final cooking step.

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8)  Add the cilantro. Cover your pot with aluminum foil (or a black trash bag) and put the lid over it.  This will create a “steamer” for your rice. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

That’s all there is to it!  Serve with your pollo guisado and a fresh salad.  I typically take some of the juices from the chicken and pour it over the rice.  Once again, if you have any questions, leave a comment below.


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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)


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Dia de Amor!

out of the heartWhen we lived in Oklahoma, I was part of a MOPS group.  In one of the meetings, a woman with more wisdom than myself spoke.  She stated,

“As wives and moms, we get the privilege of setting the tone in our homes.  This can be with our daily moods or our overall attitude.  This is why it is so important to start your day with God and in His word.  We need to fill our hearts daily so that we overflow love and goodness onto our families.  Another way in which we can set the tone is decorating for the holidays.  We get to “create the holiday feel” in our homes that will hopefully leave fond memories for our children.”

Throughout the years, this lady’s words have stuck with me.  I try to decorate for every holiday.  When we moved, I only brought Christmas decorations, because I didn’t think the other ones really mattered.  Our first August here, my girls started asking when I was going to start decorating for Fall.  Not having decorations, I learned to get creative very quickly.

happy valentine's day

I have always LOVED Valentine’s Day.  I love all of the pinks and reds that represent this holiday.  Plus, I love a holiday that celebrates LOVE!  I don’t even care that it’s so commercialized now.  I still love to celebrate LOVE!

I would like to share some of the decoration that I have made for our home on a very small budget:

First, I saw these table runners on Pinterest and fell in love with them:

I love the simplicity of this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

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I love the lettering on this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

love table runner

I absolutely adore this one but lack the talent necessary to make it.  (You can find it–>HERE)

burlap heart table runnerIn the end, this is what I made:

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After that, I repurposed a centerpiece from Lauren’s quinceanera:

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I really love all of the burlap banners that are the “new” fad.  Plus, I had extra burlap in my supplies.

I love this one because it feels so feminine.  (You can find it—>HERE)

heart burlap banner

I like the polka dots on this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

heart polka dot burlap banner

I just combined the two things that I liked about these and came up with this:

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This burlap heart door hanger caught my eye:  (You can find it—>HERE)

burlap heart

Here is mine:

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Let me take a moment to share a fabulous secret that I learned on Pinterest.  I wanted to hot glue this together but didn’t have electricity at the time.  I wanted to get it done then and not wait for the power to come on, so I sewed it.  In order to get the stitches even, I learned a GENIUS trick!  Mark your finger and use it as a guide…like this:

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Lastly, every year I like to bake goodies for the ones that I love.  Last year, I made these for all of my Dominican and “Domerican” friends and family. (FYI: American + Dominican= Domerican)

I took brown paper bags, decorated them, crocheted some hearts and filled them with sweet treats:

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I think that I will make these bags again to share with my Domerican and Dominican family here.  I enjoyed making them and enjoyed spreading some love.

I hope everyone has a very happy and loving Valentine’s Day!!!

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What are your feelings about Valentine’s Day?  What are some craft ideas or traditions that you have enjoyed?