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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That time when God said, “Be still and shut up”….

IMG_8008I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but I have been very quiet lately.  No Facebook, no Instagram, and no blog posts.

“Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10

For quite some time now, I have been vaguely hearing God ask me to “Be Still”.  In fact, we ask our mission teams to come up with one word that describes their trip, or a word that God is speaking to them.  With the last two teams, my word has been “Still”.  I wasn’t exactly sure what He meant because I couldn’t quite hear Him over all of the hullabaloo of my world.  Yes, my current culture is much, much louder than my passport culture.  However, that wasn’t the noise that was preventing me from hearing His voice.  It was too much scrolling, not enough quietude…too much talking, not enough listening…too much doing, not enough being.

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For many years, I have been wanting to do a silent retreat.  I have asked numerous friends to do one with me.  Each time, my lady friends laugh and say, “I don’t think that I could be quiet for that long.”  It’s true…when women get together, we just want to talk and talk, and then talk some more.  It’s one of our favorite things.  We have a love for words that men just can’t seem to understand.

I mentioned all of this to my best missionary friend here, and she thought that it was a fabulous idea.  She had been hearing God telling her to “Be Still” also.  So, we marked a weekend off on our calendars, made a plan, and met up for this interestingly, strange weekend of quiet.  To prepare for that weekend, I decided that it would be good to cut off social media to begin to quiet my mind.

Also, in complete transparency, we decided on 24 hours of silence.  I mean, we were at the beach without husbands, kids, or ministry pulling on us.  We couldn’t NOT talk at all…

We met on Friday at our little resort around lunchtime.  During lunch, we came up with our rules and schedule.  After lunch, there was no talking until lunchtime the next day.IMG_8010

During this time, we could pray and journal.  We agreed to no music (because that was more noise) and no books (because that was still words).  We stayed in the same room, and went for a walk early Saturday morning.  We ate dinner and breakfast together, and even sat beside each other in our lounge chairs on the beach.  ALL of this was done without talking.  FYI, eating with someone without talking is very difficult and awkward!

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We were both happily surprised at all that we were able to experience with God.  Once we cut out all of the distractions and commotion and sat quietly with Him, God spoke into our hearts.  In that short 24 hours period, He healed some wounds, spoke many truths, and showed us how He was molding us closer to His image.  Life is not perfect, and neither are we!  I am so thankful for that truth.  God loves His broken people because they know that they need Him.  I am thankful to be one of those broken people!

He showed me how He has provided for us here in the DR in so many ways. One of those ways was simply being able to go away with a friend that loves God, lives and understands this crazy life we are living, and loves so many of the things that I love. This friendship is so special to me.  I am in complete awe that God cares so much for me that He would send me a friend here in the DR to love.  That seems like such a minute detail in His grande plan. It was important to Him because it was important to me. I fell more in love with Him that weekend!IMG_7993IMG_7994After sitting in silence and coming back together to share what God had spoken to us, we did a craft.  Then we just filled the rest of the time with words.  Neither of us was ready for our time to come to an end, but life was calling.

I still haven’t ventured back into the Facebook or Instagram world yet.  I am sure that I will eventually because I miss seeing all of the people that I love.  I just don’t feel like it’s time yet.

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 Could you do a silent retreat?  We are considering doing another one in the Spring.  If you are interested in attending, let me know!



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Dia de Amor!

out of the heartWhen we lived in Oklahoma, I was part of a MOPS group.  In one of the meetings, a woman with more wisdom than myself spoke.  She stated,

“As wives and moms, we get the privilege of setting the tone in our homes.  This can be with our daily moods or our overall attitude.  This is why it is so important to start your day with God and in His word.  We need to fill our hearts daily so that we overflow love and goodness onto our families.  Another way in which we can set the tone is decorating for the holidays.  We get to “create the holiday feel” in our homes that will hopefully leave fond memories for our children.”

Throughout the years, this lady’s words have stuck with me.  I try to decorate for every holiday.  When we moved, I only brought Christmas decorations, because I didn’t think the other ones really mattered.  Our first August here, my girls started asking when I was going to start decorating for Fall.  Not having decorations, I learned to get creative very quickly.

happy valentine's day

I have always LOVED Valentine’s Day.  I love all of the pinks and reds that represent this holiday.  Plus, I love a holiday that celebrates LOVE!  I don’t even care that it’s so commercialized now.  I still love to celebrate LOVE!

I would like to share some of the decoration that I have made for our home on a very small budget:

First, I saw these table runners on Pinterest and fell in love with them:

I love the simplicity of this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

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I love the lettering on this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

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I absolutely adore this one but lack the talent necessary to make it.  (You can find it–>HERE)

burlap heart table runnerIn the end, this is what I made:

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After that, I repurposed a centerpiece from Lauren’s quinceanera:

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I really love all of the burlap banners that are the “new” fad.  Plus, I had extra burlap in my supplies.

I love this one because it feels so feminine.  (You can find it—>HERE)

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I like the polka dots on this one.  (You can find it—>HERE)

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I just combined the two things that I liked about these and came up with this:

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This burlap heart door hanger caught my eye:  (You can find it—>HERE)

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Here is mine:

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Let me take a moment to share a fabulous secret that I learned on Pinterest.  I wanted to hot glue this together but didn’t have electricity at the time.  I wanted to get it done then and not wait for the power to come on, so I sewed it.  In order to get the stitches even, I learned a GENIUS trick!  Mark your finger and use it as a guide…like this:

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Lastly, every year I like to bake goodies for the ones that I love.  Last year, I made these for all of my Dominican and “Domerican” friends and family. (FYI: American + Dominican= Domerican)

I took brown paper bags, decorated them, crocheted some hearts and filled them with sweet treats:

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I think that I will make these bags again to share with my Domerican and Dominican family here.  I enjoyed making them and enjoyed spreading some love.

I hope everyone has a very happy and loving Valentine’s Day!!!

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What are your feelings about Valentine’s Day?  What are some craft ideas or traditions that you have enjoyed?


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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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Reminders

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2Peter 1:2

andWhen I was in real estate, I went to a seminar where the speaker said, “It’s time to take the word ‘but’ out of our vocabulary and replace it with ‘and’, because ‘but’ usually means something negative is following.  Nothing is either good or bad, but most stuff is both.  The word ‘and’ shows that it’s both.”

That being said….

I have these neighbors.  They are super sweet AND they are driving me crazy.  Here’s why…they play the same song over and over and over for HOURS every. single. day. at full volume.  It’s so annoying!

silence of the lambsIn the beginning, I was concerned that they were holding someone hostage and sewing little jackets out of skin for the kids in the community.  Then I realized that only happened in Silence of the Lambs and wasn’t real life, so I let that theory go…for the most part.

crazy_insane_womanThen I settled on the fact that they wanted my sanity.  Somedays, I think they are winning.  My family thinks it funny.  My kids even walk up to me and start singing it…and laughing!  I have known for years that those two were plotting for my sanity so it’s no big surprise that they are jumping on the bandwagon on this one.

Red bow on fingerThen…I came up with another theory.  *Maybe* God is using this as a reminder to me.  Most days I am sure that He thinks that I am plotting for His sanity…

like on the days when I cannot respond in kindness…for the 150 millionth time…

or when I say all these nasty, negative things to myself….for the 150 millionth time…

or when I harbor anger, resentment, jealousy, etc against others…for the 150 millionth time..

grace*Maybe* He just wants to remind me that I annoy Him on a daily basis as well….AND…AND…AND…He gives me GRACE anyway.

*Maybe* He wants to remind me to give grace to others as well.

So, when you are annoyed because…

your neighbors’ dog poops in your yard for the 150 millionth time…

or your husband breathes too loud for the 150 millionth time…

or your kids lick the glass at the store for the 150 millionth time (maybe that only happened to me when my kids were young)…

or you think that your best friend’s hair/clothes/husband/house/kids/life is better than yours for the 150 millionth time…

or your neighbors are sewing little jackets out of skin playing the same some over and over and over for the 150th millionth time…

Just stop, breathe, and thank God for the reminder…

Give grace because it was first given to you.


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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!!!