asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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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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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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When satan is a punk, God shows off!

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This transition time is no joke! We are processing through so many different emotions right now. I woke up this morning overwhelmed with emotions that I was struggling to name.  Mostly, I was feeling empty and like a failure. I know that satan is using this time to try to steal my purpose and passion and also to tell me lies.  That’s who he is… he is a liar and a thief whose only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He is such a punk!

Often, when I am empty, I allow satan to put blinders on me to show me all of the ways that I have failed, all of the times that I did not love well, all of the times that I allowed those rough, dark places in my heart to spill out from my mouth (Matthew 15:18).  Even though, I know better because…

GOD!

God is much more powerful than satan.  He is the strength when I am weak (2 Corinthians 12:10), He saved me and delights in me (Psalm 18:19), and He wants to fill me with joy (Psalm 16:11).  The thing is… I have to remember these things!  I have to readjust those blinders so they focus SOLELY ON HIM!

Also…God knows when we need a little push, a little encouragement, and little pep talk to say…”Nope, those lies are not MY truth about you. Allow me to show you”…

and He does because He is God.

THIS is how God encouraged me this morning:

Hermanas en Cristo has been given an amazing opportunity to share our story and sell our jewelry at a group market to support the empowerment of women.  Rosa and I will be attending and staying at a hotel in the Capital tomorrow night. This morning, I went to Rosa’s house to discuss the details of the next few days.

Before I started talking, Rosa said, “I want to tell you something.  Last night, I was laying in bed thinking how you have been an angel and a blessing in my life. The first time that I went to the beach, I went with you.  The first time that I will be staying in a hotel will be with you.  I am going to the university because of you. Most importantly, I have learned so much more about the Bible because of you.  God has used you as a blessing in my life.”

I was speechless.  All I could say was “thank you”!

As we all know, that was not me. That was GOD using ME in HER life…and vice versa!

I say all of this, not to show off, but, hopefully, to show how God can use us in such small ways that we may not see it ourselves.  You may be hearing lies in your own life that are telling you that you are just doing it all wrong.

But God knows better!!!

He created all of us with a purpose!  HIS PURPOSE!

If you are believing that punk satan and struggling to believe God’s truth about you, ask Him to show you!

He will…

Because…

He is so good like that!

 


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Christians, please stop running off our sinners!

It’s not a secret that I love Jesus.  I also LOVE my home church in the states.  I have never been spiritually fed the way that I was while attending that church.  God surrounded me with so many wonderful people that were patient with me, listened to me, and guided me through His word in ways that made all of the chaos in my head make sense.  I am extremely blessed that God sent me to that church to be “nurtured and fed” the way that I was.  Eventually, though, I had to go out into this big world, like a Kindergartener starting school for the first time.

As I get more involved in religion and begin to understand the ins-and-outs of the “rules” of different churches, I get 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 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.