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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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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God, thank you for coffee creamer

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In a bible study that I attended in the states, there was a single lady in the group.  She spoke one day about how much she wanted a husband.  However, she accepted that God was not ready to bless her with The One yet.  It was during this time that she decided that she would allow God to “court” her.  She wanted to be aware of the ways in which God blessed her, loved on her, rubbed salve over those hurt places in her heart, ways in which He comforted her loneliness, and healed her brokenness.  She began to notice beautiful sunrises and sunsets that she shared with Him.  She noticed how He would use a coworker to place a cup of coffee on her desk.  She noticed how He would gently show her broken places in her heart that needed repairing.  In essence, everything was God’s way of delighting in her and preparing her for His plan in her life.  She was so thankful and sang His praises with tears in her eyes.

Her words have come to me many times since then…

“Find ways in which God is courting you”

I have been trying to be conscious of the ways in which He delights in me and ways that He wants to make my heart smile.  The land in which I currently live is stunningly gorgeous so it’s very easy to see the beautiful landscape that He prepared for me.  I noticed when He answered my prayers for rain to coat the dry, dusty terrain from our current drought.  I also noticed how, in the supermarket the other day, Mo found this:

Well, hello, deliciousness!

Well, hello there, deliciousness!

Yes, my husband knows how to still court me too!  Liquid coffee creamer is something that I have missed sooooo much, so my heart feels like it is being kissed every morning when I drink my coffee.

It is so easy for me to see the physical things and say “Thank you so much, God!”

How about the things that are not physical…that I can’t see or touch?  Am I noticing those things also?

This week, I got a call from our women’s minister at our stateside church.  She told me that they had arranged for me to come to the women’s retreat that is taking place in September.  To say that I was overjoyed is an understatement!  Ever since I heard about this retreat, I have been so sad that I wasn’t able to go.

Now…this is a HUGE change from where I once was and, for that, I am thankful…

Alice_fetal_positionPrior to this time in my life, the thought of going to a women’s retreat would cause me to break out in hives, my breathing would become labored, and my palms would sweat!  I would rather sit in the corner in fetal position poking myself in the eyes with a pencil (<–dramatic effect intended there).

Relationships with women have always been very difficult for me.  Quite honestly, I don’t understand them AT ALL.  Women have never been a “safe” place for me.  With all these “mommy wars” going on, relationships with women have always felt like some kind of competition that I did not sign up for and was not equipped for.  It always felt like women were doing life AT me.  (Glennon Melton wrote exactly how I feel in THIS POST .)  

truthGod wanted to heal this in me and has been teaching me differently by sending women into my life that now speak truths to me, instead of the lies that I believed for so long.  They have loved me for being me.  They have guided me through this crazy maze called “girlfriends”, pointing me to His word and sitting patiently with me when I have wanted to run because it’s JUST SO HARD!

Most importantly, when God sits with me in the mornings, He delights in me.  He tells me, through His word, that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14).  God is my friend, my homie, and my heart!  He knew that He was enough for me…but then He added my husband…and then my kids.  God knew what I needed next was girlfriends but He also knew that He needed to prepare my heart for them.  He taught me how to open my heart to relationships with women.  For this,  I am eternally grateful!

I am so thankful that God sent my church to arrange for me to attend this retreat!  I cannot wait to spend this time with all of these ladies while we sink into His word and pour into each other’s lives.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to show me how to love and receive love from others!!!

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IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU NOTICED GOD COURTING YOU LATELY?


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A grateful heart

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Somedays I wake up and have such a grateful heart. I wish that I could say that happens every single day but, to be completely transparent, it doesn’t. Somedays, I wake up and stumble to the kitchen begging for coffee!  On the days that it does, I think about how overwhelming grateful (and undeserving) we are of God asking our family to come here to the DR to be His helpers to this beautiful area

 

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Then I think about ALL of you back in the States that do so much to support God’s plan here. Many of you have covered us in prayers, have given money, and have collected shoes, books, clothes, school supplies, toys, etc. for the community.

 

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We have been working on the library for the past few weeks. I get butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes when I think about seeing it completed, with books in it and the littles reading these books or getting to read books to them. It sometimes just overwhelms me with happiness!

All of this to say….THANK YOU! Thank you to every single person that has prayed for us. We feel them! We NEED them! Spiritual warfare is real, and satan has been attacking us from all angles lately.

Thank you to every single person that has supported our family or our church, New Vision Baptist Church,  financially.  Without these monetary donations, NONE of this could happen!

Thank you to every single person that has sent us gifts, care packages, or notes of support to let us know that SO many of you back in the States are thinking about us and loving us from afar.

Thank you to every single person that saw a need and decided to take action by starting a drive to collect needed items here.

We truly know that ALL of you are God’s hands and feet.  Your mission field in the States is an extension of ours here!

Last, but not least, we want to thank the pastors and staff at New Vision Baptist for ALL that you have done for our family.  So many of you have come to visit us, have prayed with us, listened to us, been a shoulder for me to cry on, and such a strong support system in so many ways.  There have been so many of you that have sent emails, FB messages, text messages, or notes of encouragement.  Thank you!

We would like to personally thank Daniel Koon, our missions’ pastor, for all of the HOURS that he has spent with us on Skype, whether it’s just to listen or pray, or to talk through plans for a project.  Most importantly, your wife, Lara, and you have helped us feel heard and valued.  Thank you, Daniel!


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Care packages

A Panera's bear claw from my sweet friend Regina!

A Panera’s bear claw from my sweet friend Regina!

I used to think that it was so sweet when groups/organizations would put together care packages for soldiers as a way of saying “Thank you” or “Someone is thinking about you”.  I would imagine the soldier, sitting in her camo in a desert somewhere with dust and loneliness covering her, opening the packages and a huge smile covering her face.

But I truly had no idea….

I had no idea how much it made the soldier’s HEART smile!

I had no idea how it filled that lonely place in her heart.

Although I am not a soldier, I now understand what a care package really means.  It means that some selfless person many miles away took a few minutes out of his/her very busy life to pour into her life.  For the sender, it may not seem like much to send a few items from the soldier’s home country that she can’t get her hands onto in her current country (or it cost a gabillion dollars)…but she so desperately misses these things!

Our medical mission team just left…

with them came this…

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Each one of my family members got a box filled with some of our favorite things or things that we can’t get here…as well as a bunch of cards from some of the kids at our church.

I don’t even know WHO to thank.  So I am just going to thank everyone that has ever sent us little goodies, gifts, or cards from “back home”.

Often people ask us what we need.  It’s really hard to ask for stuff that we want or need.  However, one of the members of the medical team put it into perspective for me.   She said,  “Please, let us know what you want.  By doing so, you bless us as well!”

One more lesson that DR living has taught me.

Thank you, sweet people!!!


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Donde he estado?

nsf checkSomeone once told me that our emotions and relationships are like a bank account.  We naturally make withdrawals daily.  However, if we don’t make deposits…then we will get overdrawn.

That’s exactly where I was…I was feeling a tad bit overdrawn.

Living in a country that worships much differently than you do, and in which, there is a language barrier, church can be a difficult place to grow your faith.  I no longer pray to understand what the pastor is saying.  Now I just pray for God to allow me to feel His presence around me.  My relationship with God is much more intentional and purposeful here.  The time with Him is much more valuable and necessary.  I am no longer being fed the way that I was when I went to the church in the states….

…and I have been feeling distant from Him.stressed out woman

I find myself trying not to feel the things that I am feeling.  I find myself trying to fill my time and body with things that distract me and allow me not to feel.

“Love yourself enough to do whatever is needed to care for your soul”

(from Revealing Jesus by Darlene Zschech)

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So…

I am halfway through a 40 Day Fast that ends on February 21st.  This is not a fast in which I don’t eat for 40 days.  This is a fast from things that I was using to numb myself…so that I could be distracted and not feel.  These things also kept me from growing my relationship with Christ.

This is what it looks like:

~No FB/Instagram/Twitter (I am still on Pinterest but she is pressing her luck and may be eliminated as well because I catch myself just wanting to SCROLL SOMETHING!)

*I would like to thank all of my sweet friends that have sent messages of genuine concern for my well-being.  Many of you have noticed that I have not been on FB lately and sent messages asking if everything is OK.  Truly…super sweet…thank you!

**Just so you know, I still get FB messages through Messenger which sends them straight to my phone like a text message.  When I respond to your message, I am not actually on FB, so I am not breaking my fast. AND, my blog post automatically goes to FB/Twitter.

~No sugar (OH, sweet Jesus…what was I thinking???)

~No soda (In the states, I rarely drank Cokes but, here….they put crack in this stuff!  It’s made with real sugar cane and is highly addictive to me.  Don’t try detoxing from this stuff at home, kids…It ain’t pretty!)

Those are the things that I have been eliminating but I have been adding things that are good for me as well…

~Minimum of 4 fruits/veggies a day

~80 oz. of water a day

~Exercise 6 days a week with 3 of those days being running

For my mind, body, and soul to feel strong, I need to spend time with people that love me, time creating beautiful things (that’s why Pinterest is allowed), thinking time, time to read, time to strengthen my body…and, most importantly….time with God.  These are ways that I make deposits.

During this time, I have been trying to reconnect with myself and God.  I have been praying and journalling and reading and spending time with those that I love, at home and in my community. I have been building a strong body, mind, and soul.  I have been listening for God’s voice and asking Him for guidance.  I have been filling myself with things that feel good and are good for me.

I want to remember that I am a child of God…that is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Somewhere along this journey, I forgot that.  I forgot to look at the beauty that God created in me…and have only been seeing the cracks and jagged, broken edges.

During this time, I have been asking God to empty me of me…

…and fill me with Him…

…That seems like a better option than filling myself full of Oreos…

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Please pray with and for me during this time. Have you ever done a fast?  If so, how did it go?