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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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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Christians, please stop running off our sinners!

It’s not a secret that I love Jesus.  In my life, God had surrounded me with so many wonderful people that were patient with me, listened to me, and guided me through His word in ways that has helped all of the chaos in my head make sense.  I am thankful for everyone that God has sent to teach me and help grow my faith.

As I have gotten more involved in religion and began to understand the ins-and-outs of the “rules” of different churches, I have gotten more and more confused.  I once read that Christianity is the only group that defines themselves by what they DON’T do.  For example, “In this religion, we don’t cut our hair or wear makeup”, “In this religion, we don’t play music or dance”, “In this religion, we don’t drink alcohol at all…not even a sip”.  I am not here to change anyone’s religion or change the rules of any church…

I do, however, hope that you stop for just for a moment and think about what this is doing for your sinners

You see, I was once so heavy in my sins (yes, plural) that all of these rules and don’ts just kept me completely away from the church.  My thought was “Who can live up to all of their standards?”

Then I met Shelia.  I worked with her.  She was a Christian but didn’t really call herself that.  She just LOVED Jesus!  Shelia had this calm, peaceful nature that caused my out-of-control, chaotically sinful self to slow down for 5 whole seconds and say…

“I want what she has!”

Shelia wore makeup…and skirts above her knee…and had the cutest little short hairstyles…and even had a glass of wine every now and then.  I wanted to be in her space whenever I got the chance.  I wanted to hear what she had to say.  I hoped that some of that peacefulness would rub off on me.  She never talked about her “religion”.  She never stated any “rules” or “don’t”.  She talked about how much she just loved Jesus and tried to love others the way that Jesus would.  She just lived her life in a way that felt extraordinarily, ordinary!

She never made this great big sinner feel that I had to live up to a set standard in order for me to be loved by her…and, most importantly, Jesus.  She talked about the bible and God’s love as easily as I discussed who got kicked off The Bachelor…

…and sometimes…sometimes…*gasp*…she even did this while enjoying a glass of wine with me…while wearing the cutest little black mini-skirt…and wearing impeccably applied makeup with a perfectly coiffed short bob, although she didn’t seem to worry about those things.

There was no pretense about Shelia.  She wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone or trying to exclude anyone from anything.  She just…was.

Since becoming a “Christian”, many times I have been disheartened with all of these rules telling me what I should not do.  I do understand that a certain amount of guidelines are necessary.

HOWEVER…

…my way of showing people God’s love or discussing salvation may not look the same as yours…

…and it shouldn’t!

If we all looked the same, spoke the same, dressed the same, etc., how does that help?

All of us sinners look differently, speak differently, and definitely dress differently!  When I was heavy in my sin, you would have judged me!  My skirt would have been shorter than you thought it should be.  I definitely dated way too many boys…and drank more than I should have…and smoked cigarettes.  You wouldn’t have had much to do with me…but I wouldn’t have anything to do with you either…

…because I couldn’t meet your standards…

…or at least that was my impression.

The point that I am making is just STOP!  Stop forcing your rules on others!  Sometimes your (self)righteousness is doing more damage than good.  Remember Christians are still sinners too!  Stop defining yourselves by what you “don’t” do…

..and begin defining yourself by what you “do” do (<—hehehe)!

You are running off all of our good sinners!

I am pretty sure that, when Jesus was hanging with the prostitutes, he didn’t say “Yeah, well, if you want my love, then you have to stop wearing those short skirts and looking skanky.  I will only love you if you abide by this list of ‘don’t’.  Once you stop doing those things, then we can talk.”  

No…HE loves us where we are!

As we become more in relationship with him, HE speaks to us and convicts our hearts INDIVIDUALLY.

HE knows that HE needs ALL kinds of Followers to show HIS love to all kinds of Sinners!

So the next time that you, Mr/Mrs Christian, decide to shove your list of “don’t” down someone’s throat…

Please, stop…and just love that person where they are!

God knows where HE needs to work on that person’s heart.  That is HIS job, not yours.