asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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Sum of your mistakes

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“You are the sum of all of your past mistakes”.

This was a lie from satan that I believed about myself for so long.  It was truly something that had kept me in chains for so long.

Today, God spoke the exact same phrase to me, but in the form of a promise.

“Tamara, you are the sum of all of your past mistakes because that is where I grew you and molded you.”

I began to think about all of the biblical figures that messed up royally…and how God used these exact people for His glory.

Take David, for example. Man, what was he even thinking?  He had an affair with a married woman, and she became pregnant.  His solution?  Let’s have her husband killed and then she can come live with me. (Oh my word, how many times has our own best thinking gotten us in an even bigger mess???)

Yet….BECAUSE OF  ALL OF HIS MISTAKES…God continued to refer to him as “a man after my own heart”.  He redeemed him and made him king of Israel.  

Then, there was Gomer.  She was a prostitute.  God sent her a PROPHET for a husband.   She continued to return to her old ways over and over because they were known and comfortable. (Can you even imagine the church gossip that ensued?!)

YET…BECAUSE OF ALL OF HER MISTAKES…God sent Hosea to relentlessly and recklessly pursue her heart!  Because God is a faithful lover of our souls.  He did this as an example to all of us of His unconditional love and his ability to redeem even the most undeserving wanderers.

Then, there was Peter, who betrayed Jesus in His final hours of life.  Peter was part of Jesus’ posse. And, still, Peter denied even knowing Him THREE times the night before Jesus’ death.

YET…BECAUSE OF ALL OF HIS MISTAKES…when the angels descended, Jesus sent a message through them to “his disciples and Peter”.  He named Peter specifically, and continued to use Peter as a disciple to preach of the gospel after His crucifixion. 

I don’t know about any of you but this gives me great hope!

I also know that I don’t learn anything from the mountaintop, where things are good and mistake and problem free. The mountaintop has always been my resting place, where I rejuvenate for my next trek into the valley.  I am thankful that God loves me and sees value in me that He takes me to the valley.  There has never been a time that a mistake or hard time has not taught me a lesson that I would need for the next assignment that God has for me. He promises us this:

“Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:4

 

If God can use David, Gomer, and Peter BECAUSE OF their mistakes, then…

Yes, I am a sum of my past mistakes because they grew me to be the person that I am today.  

A person in which God sees worth and wants to use for His glory!

So, let go of that shame that you are holding onto for saying or doing the wrong thing.  Let go of those feelings of worthlessness because you, too, screwed up royally.  Let go of those hateful or judgmental words of others that play over and over in your head like a broken record. Yeah, you can stop beating yourself up.  (Seriously though, stop that crap!) God will use your mistakes, screw ups, and hard times to mature you and complete you so that you are not lacking anything! God created all of us with a purpose that only we can complete!  YOU were the one specifically created for that purpose that will glorify Him!

Gosh, THAT is some freedom that I can dance in.  Can I get an amen?


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Meet Rosa

IMG_0024This lady is amazing.  There is no way that words can explain all that encompasses what makes her HER. For that reason, I want to share two stories that she often shares.  To me, both show how God has worked in her life to form that blessing that she is.

Rosa was raised by Christian parents. When Rosa was a little girl, there was a time that her father was out of work and having great difficulty finding a job to provide for his family.  It was almost Christmas.  During this time, their main concern was simply having food to feed their large family.  Christmas gifts were not even a thought. Her aunt heard about their struggles and asked Rosa’s dad to come to her house around 10:00 on December 24th.  She remembers that he was gone for over 3 hours.  It took so long because her aunt and her aunt’s friends were busy cooking for Rosa’s family.  When he returned home, he had more food than she had ever seen.  Not only did he return with this delicious Christmas feast, he also had gifts for all of the kids.  She received a dress, shoes, and a baby doll.

She said this was the first time that she truly saw God’s work in action.  She decided from that point forward, she would follow Him and allow Him to be the guide in her life.

Fast forward many years…now she is married and has children.  Her husband had begun drinking a lot.  He was rarely home, and she spent many holidays and family functions without him because he was out in the streets drinking.  Christmas had always been her favorite time of year to share with family and friends.  Suddenly, she dreaded it and felt very lonely.  She would talk to her husband over and over and over without success.  He was not willing to hear her and change his ways.  She stayed with him but was often heartbroken.  One day, she decided that she would no longer nag her husband, and would fully hand him over to God. She began praying for him and asking God to make him stop drinking.  Almost immediately, he began having major problems and pains in his stomach when he would drink.  It got so bad that he finally had no choice but to quit drinking.  She gives all of the glory to God for hearing her pleas.

Although her marriage is not perfect and there are still struggles, she is committed to the promise that she made.

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She finds joy where many would find sorrow.  She finds beauty in most all things. She is steadfast in her love of the Lord.  She is honest and trustworthy.  Whenever I have been sad or struggling with anything in my life, she listens and shows compassion.  She will often leave my house, pray, and return with scripture that God has given her.

She has told me numerous times that I have taught her so much about the Bible.  This puzzles me because I cannot see how I had anything to offer her that she did not already have.  Seriously, she is one of the most solid person that I have ever had the blessing to know.

When I first announced to Hermanas en Cristo that we were leaving, I asked who would like to take over as the leader.  Everyone immediately pointed to Rosa, because we all knew that she was the most likely choice. They also voted to pay her an additional 10% on top of the sales of her own jewelry, as a salary.  That meant they all believed in her enough to reduce their own pay by 10%.  THAT is nothing more that God’s hand at work!

IMG_0025As I have been preparing to leave, we have been training for her to take over Hermanas en Cristo.  She is a natural leader and never knew it.  She didn’t seem to realize her awesomeness and capabilities.  It has been such a blessing to see her confidence grow.  It has been such a blessing to watch her nurture the spiritual growth of some of our newest Christians in the group.

She is also one of our scholarship recipients. She is studying English at the university.  Learning English has always been a dream of hers.  She wants to learn English so that she can become a translator.  Her goal right now is to visit the United States.  She wants to come meet so many of the people that have bought jewelry and supported the ladies of Hermanas en Cristo.  She is using the money from her jewelry sales to pay for her “papers” so that she can get a passport, then a visa.  She wants to hold a jewelry party in the states and practice speaking English with all of you!

Pray for her as she continues to lead Hermanas en Cristo.

Pray that she can get her “papers”, passport, and Visa!

Wouldn’t it be great if she could come to the states during Christmastime?  That time of year seems to have had so much significance in her life.  It would be great to help add one more wonderful memory for her to see how God works in such wonderful ways to “give us the desires of our heart!”


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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!!!