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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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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Punta Cana

IMG_6464We have been planning a vacation for our family, which includes the K’s, for several months now.  We knew that it would be the last time that we would all be able to get away as a family before Keely returned to the states in July.  We had all been setting aside our money and had planned to go the last week of May.

God had an even greater plan for us though!

About a month before our trip, I had lunch with a missionary friend named Jodi.  She asked me if we got an invitation from CHN for the missionary retreat in Punta Cana.  I told her that I knew nothing about it.  She said, “Let me see if I can get you an invitation”.  Long story short, she was able to get us one, and they gave one to the K’s too!

Get this…IT WAS THE EXACT WEEK that we had planned our trip.

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Worship was in this room each night. All of those people in the front in the dark shirts were our angels. Can you see their wings?

Let me explain what the CHN Getaway is, to the best of my knowledge.  CHN (CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY NETWORK) is a group of angels that God sent down to earth to provide a respite to those who are working on the mission field.  Each year, these angels gather at a 4-or-5 star resort and invite all the missionaries from far and wide.  They give them 4 days and 3 nights to relax, rest, and rejuvenate.  During that time, they bring other angels that have names like “Counselor”, “Hair stylist”, “Photographer”, “Chiropractor”, “Masseuse”, “Pastor”, “Worship leader”, “Handmaiden”, “Helper”, and “Babysitter”.  Let’s also not forget all of the angels that stayed back in the States to help coordinate all of this, and those that donate money to make all of this possible.  All of these angels come together, in one form or another, to love and serve all the missionaries! Each night, we are able to worship in ENGLISH!  This year, the members of DALLAS BAY BAPTIST CHURCH came to sponsor and serve at this retreat.

Did I mention…that ALL OF THIS WAS FREE to us?!

IMG_6477 We stayed at the MELIA TROPICAL CARIBE RESORT. It was a beautiful resort with tons of restaurant options and a huge pool right by the beach.  It was so wonderful to sleep in air conditioning, watch cable TV, and shower with water pressure and hot water!  The staff at the Melia was very helpful, and many were able to speak English.  There was a gym available, as well as a spa with a steam room, sauna, and hot tub.  The  food was wonderful.  We loved all of the options available: Thai, Japanese, Italian, American, Dominican, Mexican, and French, as well as several buffets with numerous options. IMG_6503

The main goal of these Getaways is to pour into the missionaries.  Our team had not truly had time away from the community since February.  My family took a two day getaway recently to get logistics together for the Surf Camp in June, which was a working getaway.  The K’s, on the other hand, had not gotten away at all since February, and were running on what little reserve that they had left.  This trip could not have come at a better time.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”  Matthew 25:35

That was us…and so many other missionaries that joined us this week.  We all came thirsty and were given ‘a cold drink of water”.  We were filled to overflowing, so that we are now able to return to our work and fill others with our overflow! All because of these angels that came to show us God’s love!  “Thank you” does not begin to show our gratitude for the love that each of these individuals gave to us!  We left feeling loved and appreciated…and relaxed and rejuvenated!

IMG_6475 God calls us to be His hands and feet here on earth

In Matthew 9, we see Jesus helping others and performing miracles. This was His way of showing us SINCERE LOVE.  His living example taught us how to go out and offer that to others. The Kingdom of God needs more “workers”, and God needs us to be His hands and feet more today than ever before. IMG_6474

For our retreat, the Chik-Fil-A company donated money to hire the team of masseuse at the resort to give daily foot massages.  There were also volunteers that were called “Handmaidens” that gave daily hand massages, while loving on and praying over us.  Seriously, these people have amazing hearts!  I love the imagery of this as well…The hands and feet of Jesus massaging the hands and feet of His children!

If anyone would like to get involved with CHN, click here for their website –>The Christian Hospitality Network.  The work that they are doing, their vision, and their love is truly a blessing for those of us on the mission field.

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That crazy, stressed out peacock at the top looks a little worse for the wear.  I am fearful that we looked a whole lot bit like him when we arrived at the resort.  Now, that fella on the bottom…the one with the beautiful, relaxed feathers…I am certain that we looked a whole lot more like him when we left!

 It’s much easier (and less scary looking) when we are serving our community if we look like the bottom fella than the top one!

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

And He does…because God is faithful to His promises!


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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.

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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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Experiencing God

For months, I have been feeling God pulling pushing me into leading a women’s bible study in our community.  This is something that I would not have felt worthy of doing even in the states…in English.  Now, God was asking me to do it here in the DR..in SPANISH!  Aye, mi Dios!!!  As I have stated before, my Spanish is not quite where I wish it were.  I often compare my Spanish to that of the other Domericans here, and I always fall short.  Of course, we all know…comparison My word for this year is Intention (which I will discuss more about this on another post).  One area that I really want to be intentional is my relationship with Christ and with other women.  A women’s bible study is the perfect place to practice this intentionality!  Although I prayed that God would just bypass me on leading this, He never did.  After finally surrendering, I prayed that He would calm my nerves and give me the courage to pursue this.  Once again, He did not fail me.  (Seriously, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I doubt!  When will I learn?)  My fear of not speaking Spanish well was holding me back.  But God knew better!  He replaced my fear with excitement and expectation.  Not expectation of the ladies that are attending, or even expectation of myself, but of the expectation that God is going to do something wonderful in this!

IMG_4323After praying and seeking counsel, I finally settled on the study by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Experiencing God.  It’s about learning what God’s will is for your life and doing it.  It is also about developing a deeper relationship with Him. This excites me because half of the women that are invited are not currently attending church.  I remember being that woman.  I was lost for so many years.  I remember friends inviting me to church and truly experiencing God’s love for the first time.  I remember finally understanding that it had nothing to do with religion and EVERYTHING to do with a relationship with Him.  I want this for these ladies!  I want them to know how much God truly does love them, and how He has a plan for their lives.

When I first knew which ladies that God wanted me to invited, I was SO nervous to ask them.  Because half of these women are not currently attending church, I had no idea what they would say to me.  Imagine my surprise when each woman immediately said “yes” with a smile!

Yesterday, when I was passing out the workbooks, one of my friends, that is part of the group, asked who else was coming.  As I was telling her, she said “But they don’t go to church”.  I smiled and said, “I know!  Are you still coming?”.  She got so excited and, with a huge smile on her face, said “Claro!”, which means “Of course!”

Here’s another cool thing…when ordering the books, I miscounted and ordered one extra.  Of course, we all know that there are no accidents.  I am not sure, yet, which lady this extra book belongs to, but am waiting for God to point her out!

Tonight is just a meet and greet, and develop a plan.  I am so crazy excited!  I am making coffee and cookies!!!  We will be meeting on Tuesdays at 4:30.  We are on Atlantic time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern time and two hours ahead of Central time.   Could you guys stop and pray the following for us at that time, please?:

1)  That God comes before us and opens minds and hearts to hear His word

2)  That God deafens our ears to satan’s nasty lies so that we will not be discouraged.

3)  That God breaks down any language barrier so that we can all learn from one another

4)  That God fills each of us with the courage to carry out His will for our lives

5)  That God shows us the lady to which this extra book belongs

Thank you!!!


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When it’s overwhelmingly hard…

Often, when we get away from our community for a break, I will post pictures of us relaxing on the beach.  It never fails that someone will make a comment like, “Oh yeah, your life is so hard”!

For the most part, we are incredibly grateful to be living here.  We have wonderful neighbors that genuinely love us.  We have numerous beaches within an hour and a half away.  We get to host so many fascinating people that come here to serve our community.  I love working with the kids in the library at the school.  Plus, we have really cute goats, chickens, and dogs.  Seriously, how can we not be grateful for all of those things…and more?

Yes, all of that is awesome.  And those pics on the beach…well…those don’t tell the whole story.  Those are pics of us relaxing…of us “checking out”…of us recharging.  You typically won’t find photos of our “real” life.  Those photos aren’t always very pretty, like when I am sending photos of goat poop to my goat guru, Arden.  Yeah, those would definitely not make for a nice glossy photo.

The thing about living in the middle of nowhere in a 3rd world country is sometimes…it’s overwhelmingly hard!  This week I have had a sadness that I cannot even put into words.  It has literally been a paralyzing sadness.  Sometimes we forget that we live with poverty.  Poverty is not just a state of one’s bank account.  Poverty is a way of life and a way of thinking.  Almost always…Poverty sucks!  Poverty breaks our hearts.  This week has reminded of us of how our neighbors, who have become like family, have lived their entire lives.

First, we are in one of the worst droughts they have had here in years.  When we are low on rainfall, the community typically does not have water.  For over a week, there has not been water in my neighbors’ houses.  Because our church had the money to put in a cistern, my family was only without water for one day.  My neighbors didn’t have that luxury, and we never heard them complain.  They were bathing and doing laundry in what little water was left in the river.  This is something that, because of poverty, they are accustomed to.  We were very glad that we were able to offer jugs of water to them.  However, it still broke our hearts that this is the 21st century, and people are still living, at times, without running water in their homes.

Then we had a situation with a family in the community.  I really don’t want to go into details to protect their privacy.  I will say that it is a situation that literally hurt our hearts.  Mo and the dad were able to sit down and talk, and, hopefully, find a solution.  So much of this could be different if poverty thinking was not in place.  As the saying goes,

“When you know better, you do better”

Please pray that this will be the outcome for this particular situation because our hearts are aching for them.

Then, we had 2 goats get sick.  One of them was our pregnant momma goat.  We have tried NUMEROUS times to find a vet to come out here.  Due to living in the middle of nowhere, no one wants to come help.  We have gotten by fairly well by using Google, books, and texting pictures of EVERYTHING goat to our goat guru in the states.  That was working fine until yesterday, when I walked into the goat house to see four precious little dead baby goats laying all over the floor, with my momma goat confused and trying to care for them.  Then she started getting sicker and sicker.  We frantically tried to get a vet to come help.  About 9:00 last night, a young man in the community found a vet that could come today around 8:30.  We woke up this morning to a goat that was progressively getting worse and worse…and a vet that never showed up.  We tried to call a few vets but they didn’t answer.  We can’t leave messages because our cell phones only work in certain areas in the community.  In order to receive calls, we have to be in those areas, which are not near our home.  We couldn’t take our goat anywhere because our truck is in the shop AGAIN.  We literally felt helpless.  It made me question how many times have our neighbors felt like this because options are limited when funds are limited as well.

The capital city is about an hour or so away from our house.  I asked Mo and Lauren, “Please go into the city and don’t come back until you have a vet.”.  Literally…that was the only option that we had!  After much begging and pleading by Lauren at the Agrovet, we had a vet at our house around 6:00 pm.  He was wonderful and helpful and kind and understanding.  He was our lifesaver…and quite possibly, Ribo’s lifesaver.  She is not out of the woods yet.  He said that the next 48 hours are crucial.  Had it not been for his willingness to come out here, she definitely would have died.

This entire week has been overwhelmingly hard!  This week I have had a difficult time finding the silver lining in many things.  I know God has a plan for everything.  I know that God carried me through the entire week because, honestly, I could not have made it on my own.  I am definitely a 1st world girl learning how to live through these 3rd world issues.   Along the way, my heart is being broken into a million pieces…not just for my family, but all of those that we are doing life with in this community.  My neighbors and friends that live this life every day of their life inspire me to lean more and more into our Lord and Savior for my strength every single day.  Please pray for our community and that our family continues to see life through their eyes.

Oh…and BOTH of our propane tanks just ran out of gas.

Oh my word…what am I going to do about coffee in the morning?…..