asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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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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When God speaks through peppermint mocha lattes…

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

invisible personThose close to me know that I struggle with invisibility…and now the whole interwebs know as well.  It’s a nagging childhood wound that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  It’s definitely a scar that satan uses to pull me down…to tell me that I don’t matter…and I am not good enough.

Today has been a really rough day for me.  For a few months now, we’ve been going nonstop, entertaining teams and guests, working our ministries, and dealing with numerous illnesses.  Seriously, I feel like this whacked out little peacock:

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Can you say ragged?

I know how important self-care is here on the mission field but have been too busy to slow down.  Satan knows this.  When I get rundown and tired, he wants to isolate me so that he can bully me with his mean ole words. He is such a jerk face!

However, tonight, I didn’t let that happen.  I immediately messaged the people in my life that I  love and trust.  I told them,

“Pray for me!  I am struggling with invisibility tonight and am wallowing in a huge pool of pity!”  

Each one of them sent crazy encouraging words to me, along with lots of prayers.Starbucks_Peppermint_Mocha

Earlier in the day, I had posted on Facebook how I needed someone to bring me a Starbucks peppermint mocha latte STAT…

…because that would cure my pity party and make me visible again. I am quite certain of this!

Right in the middle of the crisis in my mind, I got a message from a childhood friend that said, “I work at Starbucks and I want to send you all the things to make a peppermint mocha anytime that you want to!”

TEARS!!!

It felt like God spoke straight through her to say,

“I see you there, Tamara!  You are not invisible to me!”

God really does love me…

And He kicked satan’s butt with kind words from friends…

…and a Starbucks peppermint mocha!

You go, God!!!


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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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Community Walk

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Lately, in our community, we have experienced numerous deaths of our young people.  Mostly, it’s the young men that have been in motorcycle accidents or dying in their sleep.  When someone dies here, the entire community grieves with the family for 9 days.  They set up a tarp near the house, bring in tons of chair, and serve food to everyone.  It speaks to how closely knit our community is.  They share their happiness and their sadness with one another.

On several occasions, we have discussed how God is using our youth to grow our community.  You can visibly see God’s hand at work!  More and more of our “jovenes” (the word used for the teen to 20-something group) are accepting Christ and living their life for Him.  It’s truly remarkable to experience!

Recently, a young 20-something year old man died in his sleep.  While visiting the family, a group of us were discussing how many young people had passed away or been injured lately.  Our assistant pastor, Jorge, said that it feel like satan was attacking our community. His words really sank in for me.  It’s true…satan was attacking the group that was being used the most by God right now.

Oh, you know...just a random horse coming through

Oh, you know…just a random horse coming through

Pastor Tomas planned a community walk in which we would all pray protection over our community.  I remember doing something similar to this in the states, in which our pastor asked us to go out on a planned night and pray over our neighborhood.  My family walked our neighborhood together, stopped in front of each house, and prayed for the family that lived there.

IMG_3310What we experienced on Saturday in this community was nothing short of awe-inspiring!  The entire community met at a specified point and walked from one end of the community to the other.  Along the way, we sang songs.  We had a “band” set up on a trailer with speakers and a mic system.  We were definitely heard throughout the community and into the heavens!

IMG_3302One of the main songs that we sang stated: “God gave us *insert something here, such as our homes, our spouses, our children, etc*.  They are gifts from God, and you cannot have them satan.  Go away!”  They let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he would not take these things from us and was not welcome here!

IMG_3317At each barrio, we stopped, and Pastor Tomas or Pastor Jorge prayed over that community. They prayed for each individual group in each community…the churches, the jovenes, the children, the men, the women, the elderly, the businesses, the homes, etc!  Our community was covered with a blanket of prayers and protection.

To see everyone come together in such a powerful way showed the love that they have for one another and our community.  The faith that this tiny community has can move mountains.  It definitely should scare satan enough to send him packing his bags and high tailing it out of here!IMG_3309*I challenge each of you to give the best present possible to your neighbors and community this Christmas season:  the give of prayer!  Walk your communities, and pray for each home, business, and family.  I dare ya! 😉

 


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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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Put Down the Stone

“For us to decide what needs to change about another human being is so far above our pay grade.  God uses the love that we give to make whatever changes that He needs to make in that person” ~Glennon

Take a few minutes to watch this video….

…You can thank me later! ;O)