asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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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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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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God, thank you for coffee creamer

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In a bible study that I attended in the states, there was a single lady in the group.  She spoke one day about how much she wanted a husband.  However, she accepted that God was not ready to bless her with The One yet.  It was during this time that she decided that she would allow God to “court” her.  She wanted to be aware of the ways in which God blessed her, loved on her, rubbed salve over those hurt places in her heart, ways in which He comforted her loneliness, and healed her brokenness.  She began to notice beautiful sunrises and sunsets that she shared with Him.  She noticed how He would use a coworker to place a cup of coffee on her desk.  She noticed how He would gently show her broken places in her heart that needed repairing.  In essence, everything was God’s way of delighting in her and preparing her for His plan in her life.  She was so thankful and sang His praises with tears in her eyes.

Her words have come to me many times since then…

“Find ways in which God is courting you”

I have been trying to be conscious of the ways in which He delights in me and ways that He wants to make my heart smile.  The land in which I currently live is stunningly gorgeous so it’s very easy to see the beautiful landscape that He prepared for me.  I noticed when He answered my prayers for rain to coat the dry, dusty terrain from our current drought.  I also noticed how, in the supermarket the other day, Mo found this:

Well, hello, deliciousness!

Well, hello there, deliciousness!

Yes, my husband knows how to still court me too!  Liquid coffee creamer is something that I have missed sooooo much, so my heart feels like it is being kissed every morning when I drink my coffee.

It is so easy for me to see the physical things and say “Thank you so much, God!”

How about the things that are not physical…that I can’t see or touch?  Am I noticing those things also?

This week, I got a call from our women’s minister at our stateside church.  She told me that they had arranged for me to come to the women’s retreat that is taking place in September.  To say that I was overjoyed is an understatement!  Ever since I heard about this retreat, I have been so sad that I wasn’t able to go.

Now…this is a HUGE change from where I once was and, for that, I am thankful…

Alice_fetal_positionPrior to this time in my life, the thought of going to a women’s retreat would cause me to break out in hives, my breathing would become labored, and my palms would sweat!  I would rather sit in the corner in fetal position poking myself in the eyes with a pencil (<–dramatic effect intended there).

Relationships with women have always been very difficult for me.  Quite honestly, I don’t understand them AT ALL.  Women have never been a “safe” place for me.  With all these “mommy wars” going on, relationships with women have always felt like some kind of competition that I did not sign up for and was not equipped for.  It always felt like women were doing life AT me.  (Glennon Melton wrote exactly how I feel in THIS POST .)  

truthGod wanted to heal this in me and has been teaching me differently by sending women into my life that now speak truths to me, instead of the lies that I believed for so long.  They have loved me for being me.  They have guided me through this crazy maze called “girlfriends”, pointing me to His word and sitting patiently with me when I have wanted to run because it’s JUST SO HARD!

Most importantly, when God sits with me in the mornings, He delights in me.  He tells me, through His word, that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14).  God is my friend, my homie, and my heart!  He knew that He was enough for me…but then He added my husband…and then my kids.  God knew what I needed next was girlfriends but He also knew that He needed to prepare my heart for them.  He taught me how to open my heart to relationships with women.  For this,  I am eternally grateful!

I am so thankful that God sent my church to arrange for me to attend this retreat!  I cannot wait to spend this time with all of these ladies while we sink into His word and pour into each other’s lives.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to show me how to love and receive love from others!!!

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IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU NOTICED GOD COURTING YOU LATELY?


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Deviled eggs and sweet tea

I haven’t written in quite some time.  I could give numerous reasons why but the truth is…I haven’t been able to find the words.  Life is settling in.  We are experiencing some of the challenges that come from living in a 3rd world country…as well as numerous blessings.  Many times I don’t write because I am not sure that my words can do this experience justice.  Other times…it’s because…I want to keep it to myself…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Recently, my heart was convicted on this thought process. I felt God saying

“I sent your family there to help me serve this community…as well as your community in the US.  Keeping this to yourself does not glorify me and how I am using your family for MY will.”

So…

…here it goes…

Living in a third world country is not easy.  However, we LOVE it here!  God has been using these challenges to show us where we are weak and areas of our hearts that we are not giving to Him.  We cannot imagine being anywhere but here at this time in our lives.

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*Electricity is quite a challenge.  Here is how it works:  city power is only on for a couple of hours during the daytime and usually comes back on at night from 11:00pm or 12:00pm and stays on until around 6:00am or 7:00am.  When city power is off, our electricity is run by an inverter with 8 batteries.  We have a refrigerator that uses a lot of power.  We started here with 4 batteries but were not able to use the refrigerator and lights with only that amount of power.  When that battery power is gone, we have no electricity at all!  The batteries are recharged by the city power.  We have recently been having issues with the “transformer” that brings city power into our house.  Basically, the transformer has blown twice and we have not been receiving city power at all during those times!  No city power means the batteries do not get charged…which means no electricity at all for us.

~The blessing?  WE HAVE 8 BATTERIES AND AN INVERTER!!! Some of the houses around us ONLY rely on city power!  Remember, city power is only on for a couple of hours during the day.  Otherwise, it is only on at night while we sleep.  Can you imagine NEVER having electricity at night while sitting around with your family?  Can you imagine always cooking by candlelight or a lampara?

Yeah, I seriously just put pictures of our festering wounds on our blog! Gross!

Yeah, I seriously just put pictures of our festering wounds on our blog! Gross!

*Clean water is another issue.  The water that comes into our home comes straight from the river.  It has not been purified and none of the little parasites in the water have been zapped with any kind of chemical.  Thus, we are unable to drink our water.  The water that we drink and cook with comes from large bottles of purified water that we buy.  (Luckily, our church helped set up a water purification center a couple of years ago.  Many people in the community have benefited from it!)  About a month after we moved here, we would get an infection any time that we got an open wound.  We were covered with infections all over our bodies because of all of our bug bites. Our water is held in a big tank, called a tanaka, on our roof. Apparently, we were suppose to put bleach in it to kill the parasites.  We didn’t know this at the time, so we were basically bathing in parasites!  Yeah, that’s super nasty, right?

*Note:  We have put bleach in the tanaka and are having NO problems with parasites and festering wounds now.

~The blessing?  WE HAVE RUNNING WATER IN OUR HOME AND *MOST* OF THE TIME HOT WATER!  Many of the homes in this area still do not have running water.  You will see people going down to the river to do their laundry.  You will also see families bringing empty jugs to pipes in the community with water running from them.  They then have to carry these full jugs of water back to their home. That is ALOT of work.  In our home, we only have to turn on the faucet.  Seriously, the fact that we have a hot water heater is unheard of!

Spanish Class

*Understanding the culture and the language is SO. HARD!!!  There are so many people that we want to help.  We know that we can’t and shouldn’t help everyone that wants our help.  We have really been praying for discernment in this area.  Those that have come before us have created a system that is based on relationships, not what Americans can give to them.  We want to be respectful of that and want to build on that, not mess it up.

This language barrier is TOUGH STUFF!  Since Mo spent much of his formative years in the canal zone of Panama, he definitely has a leg up on us in this department.  He is able to sit and have conversations with others.  The girls have been going to Dominican school in the afternoon. I am AMAZED at how much Spanish they are speaking.  And then there’s me…

There were a couple of days a few weeks ago that I was on the verge of depression.  I was discouraged and sad and felt like a failure and didn’t feel accepted.  Yeah, all of that and more.  I would see the ladies sitting on their porches chatting and having coffee.  In the beginning, I would sit with them and attempt to have conversation.   Suddenly, it just felt too frustrating for everyone involved.  I began to listen to Satan’s lies that I was a burden to them and had nothing to offer because I couldn’t speak the language…

…and then, as always, God spoke to my heart…

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

What I heard him say was…“This is hard!  I have called your family here and came ahead of you to prepare this way.  You can do good things, but you will have to rely on me for your strength.  I will bridge this language barrier if you will trust me and rely on me.”

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A few days later, we had two families over for dinner.  We made a traditional American meal to share a bit of our culture with them.  Two of the things that we made were deviled eggs and sweet tea.  These were a HUGE HIT!!!  Mo seriously makes the best sweet tea in the world!!!

All that know me would not use “good cook” as a way to describe me.  However…word has gotten out here in the village that I am a good cook!  Praises and to His name be the glory!!!  I have now shared sweet tea and deviled eggs (aka los hueves a la diabla) with several of the women here…

…and then we sit on their porch and muddle through this crazy language called Spanish!!!

Who would have thought that God would use deviled eggs and sweet tea to bridge this language barrier?


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26 and 43 days…

usa flag mapWe have 26 more days in TN and 43 more days in the US.  So many emotions!!!

Yesterday, when we were leaving church, Mo said “THIS is the hardest part”.  When I asked him how he meant that, he explained that we are ready to go but we are still here.  Our hearts are in another country.  We love the US but are ready to serve the people of the Dominican Republic.  We are ready to see what God wants from us and where He wants to lead us.  We are wrapping up our businesses, selling off our things, and making plans…LOTS of plans, and we are still HERE…and not THERE.

While everyone has been uber supportive throughout this whole journey, we have been feeling resistance, judgement, and naysaying these past couple of weeks. I told someone at church yesterday that I have been wanting to avoid church because it’s difficult to hear some of the things that some of the women have been saying to me.  I told her that I have actually wanted to avoid everyone because I don’t need any negativity right now.  She quickly pointed out that was Satan.  That, in his mean spirit, he wanted to isolate me so that he could whisper lies into me.

I am embarrassed to say that it has been working at times.  I am embarrassed to admit that I feel fragile right now…that I have times that I quietly and secretly in my lowest whisper, so that I can’t even hear it myself, say “What the mess are we doing?”…and “Can we really do this?”…and so many other things…

…because THIS is the hardest times!

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Isaiah 41:10  “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”

When we were talking, I told Mo that I think this was the MOST important time as well.  This was God’ Boot Camp for us.  As a soldier prepares for battle, he must go into intensive training  This is our training.  God has been preparing our hearts on so many things but THIS…THIS IS THE BIGGIE.  This is the time where our hearts ache for Him…where our strength and assurance can ONLY come from Him…where He is here to catch us when we fall and wipe our tears away.  He is here to encourage us and say…

“You are doing the right thing.  I called you to this because I see in you what you don’t see in yourselves.  I called you, and I will be your strength”

Prayers…lot of prayers please!

***I know that I said that I would tell you about some amazing things that have been happening, and I will tomorrow!

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Have you ever had a time that you wondered how you would make it through?  What did God speak into your heart?  What lessons were learned?


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Truths


I was told to expect this.  I was told to be ready…but I wasn’t prepared.  No one gave me a manual on how to do this.  I don’t have anyone to ask…

I think I underestimated…well, everything…about this.

Some days I feel like I am on an island…without a boat…but knowing that I need to leave…

…but not knowing how to do it.

This going…this waiting…this fear…this excitement…this feeling of unworthiness…this feeling of being unprepared…

No on told me…how hard it would be!

It’s easy to feel alone.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  It’s easy to feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

No one prepared me for this spiritual warfare…where Satan’s LIES feel like TRUTHS.  When he tells you that you can’t do this…or that you are unworthy…or that you are too weak…

…and you begin to believe the lies.

When you feel ungrateful for feeling these things…when you feel that you don’t have the strength…when you forget who you are.

No one prepared me to hear HIS voice tell me that those are LIES…

…for Him to put angels in my life to speak HIS words to me…

…for Him to tell me that I am worthy…that He chose me…because He knows that He can use me in all of my mess and brokenness to help make the world a better place…for His glory…

…for Him to love me unconditionally…and forgive me of my doubt

No one prepared me for feeling Him…breaking me down…teaching me how to let go of SELF…

No one prepared me for how it would feel for Him to pick me up…off the floor…dry my tears…and tell me the TRUTH…that I am not alone!

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4


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Fear

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real

I recently posted on Facebook about being scared during my marathon training…scared of all the miles…scared of not being able to finish.  I saw one of my cousins shortly after that post and she said “I couldn’t believe that you said that you were scared.  You aren’t scared of anything!”   I had to laugh because I am scared of ALOT of stuff!  I am also amazed at how these fears have caused me to miss out on some really great experiences and memories!

See…when my dad died in 2004, I went through almost a year of anxiety disorder and panic attacks.  I had lost my rock…the one person that could keep me grounded and that I knew that I could count on for anything!  I was like a helium balloon without someone holding it down on earth.  I felt lost and floating around unable to attach myself to anything to anchor me to reality.  Instead, I had panic attacks and believed some pretty scary thoughts.  Luckily, I was able to heal from this and am forever grateful for that.  However, I held on to one big fear…for all this time…for 8 years!!! My first panic attack happened while driving…on the interstate!!!  Driving on the interstate became my trigger spot…so I just avoided it!  I don’t have panic attacks or generalized anxiety at all anymore but the thought of driving more than 2 hours alone on the interstate would cause my palms to sweat…so I just continued to avoid it.  Until now…

God is asking us to do a VERY BIG, VERY SCARY thing right now!  If He is asking this big thing, then how can I continue to hold on to these small fears?  If I can’t trust that He is going to give me the strength and protect me while overcoming these small fears, how am I going to trust Him to give me strength and protect me during this big thing?

While doing my devotional recently, I felt God nudging me to “just get over these fears”.  Every verse that He was pointing me towards was “Do not fear!” (Deuteronomy 31:6Isaiah 41:10,Psalm 118:6).  I also kept hearing Ephesians 6:11: Put on your armor of God.  I knew that I would be protected!

So…I put on my big girl panties and planned a trip to the beach with my 2 daughters…by myself!  There would be no safety net…there would be no one to drive or come get me!  I got a few scriptures to repeat to myself, packed our bags and away we went!!!  And guess what?  I was fine!  No problems driving at all…and guess what else??? We had a blast!  We made so many amazing memories!  It amazed and saddened me that I have allowed fear to rob me of many fun times and memories.

We even had to sleep in the car the first night because there were no hotels to stay in for an hour’s radius of Destin

Doesn’t this look like fun!!!
My babies and me!

I figured while I was in “dragon slaying mode” that I might as well tackle a few more.  Two others fears that I had were: open water swims (mostly in the lake) and riding my bike with clips (clips attach special shoes to the pedal of your bike).  Well, I am proud to say that I completed a triathlon where the swim was in the lake, and I wore clips on my bike!  Mind you, it sucked…I sucked!  The swim was just short of doggy paddling.  I fell over on my bike right smack on my hip…with the bike still attached to my feet.

What I realized while out slaying dragons was that I will be ok!  I didn’t die and no one got seriously injured (just a bruised hip and bruised pride)!  With the armor of God, we can do great things…we can do really hard things!

What things do you have fear about?  What things have held you back from completely enjoying life?