asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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A place of healing

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When God began to close the door on our season in La Represa, I clearly heard him say,

“I am taking you into a time of rest and healing.

Do not worry. I am preparing a home for you.”

I came to the U.S. for a visit specifically to find a house and purchase furniture. We literally had nothing to start our life over in the U.S. We had sold everything that we owned before moving to the DR.

MY plan had been to find a house early on so that I would know what furniture would fit and purchase what we needed. I was driving around town hoping to find a “For Rent” sign. By the 2nd week, I continued to come up empty.  I was worried and stressed.  I began to cry and thought, “God, you said that you were preparing a home for us.  Where is it???”

At that exact moment, the song, Stillby Hillary Scott, came on.  These lyrics felt like God speaking to my weary, unbelieving soul:

You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see
You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still

Yeah, I hear ya, God! “Being still” for my type A personality is difficult.  I had a mission.  I needed to do something.  Yet…

He asked me to just “Be Still”.

Once again, God was growing and stretching me. He was pointing out that I was still struggling with trust and unbelief.

So, I stopped “doing” and began to “be still”, which, in turn, helped me to thoroughly enjoy my U.S. visit. On the very last day of my visit, I signed a rental agreement on our house.

This home has been more than we could have ever asked for!  It is small (much smaller than the house in which we lived prior to moving to the DR).  We could probably fit 2 1/2 of these homes into our prior house.  However, that’s just it:  That house was just a house.  This house is a home.  We love this home because it is perfect for us!  Rarely does a day go by that I don’t say to Mo or one of the kids, “I just love our home so much!”

It has become a place where I can sit in Jesus’ lap and rest.  In this home, I have wrestled God until my soul felt like it was bleeding. It has become a place where many tears have fallen as I have begun to heal physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  It is a place where God has ask me to “Be still and be quiet”.  It has been another place and another time in which God has taught me to be obedient…where He has taught me humility…where He has broken me in ways that only He could heal me.

He has shown me that He has been moving mountains that I couldn’t see, and He has been answering prayers before I could even speak.

Now, it is time to talk.  Now, it is time to share the physical, emotional, and spiritual fight that I have been fighting….

 


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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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Redeeming Love

I recently reread the book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  I read it many years ago when I was still “doing church”, and, not yet, understanding “true relationship with Christ”.  I enjoyed the book for its love story quality back then, but truly fell in love with its biblical teachings this time around.

(Before I go any further, if you have not read this magnificent book, stop everything right now and go read it!  Yes, now…because this post will have spoilers in it.  Then you will regret not reading it first, and I will feel bad for ruining it for you.  So…save us all this heartache and go read it…then come back here!)

redeeming love

In this story, Francine writes about a man named Michael Hosea, who truly has a heart for God.  He has been faithful to God and praying for God to send him a wife for many years.  One day, he sees a woman who immediately captivates his heart, and God tells him that this will be his wife.  Come to find out, she is a prostitute.  Michael questions God, “I have been faithful to you, and you send a prostitute to be my wife?”  However, being the man of God that he is, Michael begins to pursue her, and, eventually, he marries her.

His wife’s name is Sarah but she does not reveal this to him right away.  Throughout her life as a prostitute, her name is Angel.  Michael does not think this name suits her so he calls her many different names throughout the  story.

Because of all of the lies that she has been told about herself and the things that she believes about herself, she continues to run back to her old life over and over and over.  Each time, Michael pursues her and brings her back to his (their) home.  Until the final time that she leaves.  At that point, he knows that she must return to him on her own.  He continues to love and pray for her everyday, but he no longer actively pursues her.

Michael’s love for her was pure and faithful without expectations or pretense.  I caught myself falling madly in love with Michael!  Oh, to have someone love me the way that he loved Angel!!! Oh, to have a Michael Hosea!!!

After finishing the book, I began to study the book of Hosea.  I am in absolute adoration of how the Bible continues to come alive to me.  While studying Hosea, everything clicked!  Hosea is all of our stories.  We all tend to “prostitute” ourselves when we trade an intimate part of ourselves to something that is temporary…whether its our time, our thoughts, our love, or our bodies.

The more that I read, the more that I realize how intense God’s love is for us.  When we ‘prostitute’ ourselves to the things of this world, He continues to pursue us and call us home.  He has always wanted us in His arms, in His home, in a reconciled relationship with Him!

When I was searching for my identity through partying and men, He patiently pursued me.

When I searched for my identity in success, approval of others, awards and acknowledgments, and the need to acquire more and more material things, He no longer actively pursued me but did not allow these things to give me peace.

There was always an underlying discontent because I was settling for less than I was worth.  We do this when we allow negative thoughts to overtake us.  We do this when we fill our bodies full of junk food.  We do this when we settle for relationships that do not direct us first to God.

Much like Angel, I would continue to go back to my old life…to my old sins…because I had believed so many lies about who I was. I would go back thinking that, this time, I would find peace because I would finally fill the dark, empty places in my heart.  Each time, much like Angel, I would secretly wish that He would rescue me from myself.  I secretly wished that He would wrap me up in His arms, and I would finally…FINALLY…feel safe in this world.

It wasn’t until I looked my sins straight on that I was able to truly surrender my life to Him!

“Being found isn’t as beautiful if you don’t admit you were once lost” (#shereadstruth)

Then…and only then…was God able to show me where I belonged.  Only then, did I realize that HE was my Michael Hosea…

And HE was offering me true redeeming love!

This is something that He offers to all of us but we must be willing to accept it!

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 (If you would like a really great Hosea bible study, go here —>#shereadstruth )


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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.

happiness jar

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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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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Why fast?

Abraham being obedient

Abraham being obedient

You know how God said to Abraham…

“Hey, I need you to pack up your family and all of your stuff and all of your goats and go to this new land.  I can’t really tell you why right now but I just need you to go, ok?”…

…and He went!

Jonah not being obedient

Jonah not being obedient

Then God said to Jonah…

“Hey, I need to you to go to Nineveh and tell all the people there that they are really screwing up and need to do better.”

…and then Jonah fled…….FROM GOD!!!

So God had his friend, The Whale, gobble him up help Jonah change his mind.

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My heart had begun to resemble Jonah’s more than it had Abraham’s.  I kept feeling myself fleeing.

At a women’s conference that I once attended, the speaker was discussing the importance to spending our first minutes of our day with God.  She described it like this…

“Think of God coming to your house every day to chat and have coffee with you.  He shows up everyday, takes a seat beside your favorite chair, and waits for you to sit with him.  You run to the kitchen, get him a cup of coffee, and tell him that you will be right back after you {insert anything here}.  Then, you jump in the shower, make the kids breakfast, start getting ready, etc.  Each time you pass God sitting in the chair drinking the coffee, you say ‘I’ll be right back’.  As you are grabbing your keys to leave for work, you look over and remember that He is waiting for you.  So, you say, ‘As soon as I get home from work, I will sit with you’….except you don’t…because, well, life…”

I saw God sitting there…quietly sipping His coffee…waiting for ME!  But, I knew what He wanted.  He wanted to speak some truths to me that I didn’t want to hear.  So, I was fleeing…

“Hold on, God…I’ll be right back after I (check FB, look on Instagram, numb myself silly with sugar, etc) 

That is why  I chose to fast.

I knew that it was time to spend some serious one-on-one time with God.  In order to do that, I had to remove things that I used to distract or medicate myself.

So, what did I learn?

Evil sugar!

Evil sugar!

1)  I learned that giving up sugar was harder than social media.  The thing about fasting is that is shouldn’t be easy.  It is designed to make you uncomfortable so that you will reach to God for strength…instead of Oreos.  Here’s the thing: Oreos filled the immediate discomfort but then left me empty later.  When I reach for Him, I have to slow down, be purposeful, and BE STILL.  This takes longer but fills empty places in my heart.

scrolling 

2)  I am addicted to….scrolling stuff!  It is what I do to “check out”.  I don’t care what I am scrolling…just, please, let me check out for a bit and  scroll something so I don’t have to engage!  By taking this element out, I spent time with those that I love and that love me back.

you are loved

3) It’s ok to miss out, and FB and Instagram are liars!  Living on a island, FB and Instagram have been my connections to the “outside world”.  I was concerned that I would feel lonely or feel like I was “missing out”.  Quite honestly, FB and Instagram have been lying to me.  I don’t need “likes” to know that I am worthy…to know that I am liked…or loved.  Those that know and love me still found ways to communicate with me and show their love.  However, and this is the biggie, God is showing me that I am worthy in HIS eyes.  God is helping me to understand that my identity and worth need to come from Him.  I am STILL struggling with this.  As someone that has always only wanted to be told that I am worthy, important, and special, I am STILL seeking that from outside sources.  It is a need that I have always yearned to be met.  Slowly, I am trying to understand that it can finally be met by the only one that has ever shown me unconditional love…Jesus Christ. I wish that I could say that I believe this completely, but the lies that I have been told oftentimes speak louder than the truths that I am learning.  I am so vulnerable in this area and am clinging to God’s strength in this.balancing_life

4) Balance!!!  It is so important.  There are many areas of my life that I need to focus on daily, weekly, monthly.  If I forget one, I am out of balance.  During my fast, I realized that I had not been feeding my creative side.  This is an important side of what refuels me.  I have several things that I found on Pinterest and made.  I am hoping to share some of these on future blog posts.  I also spent a lot of time following up on blogs that I read, finishing books that I started, and studying various scriptures.  I did A LOT of journalling.

Weekly Plan

Weekly Plan

I found this fabulous WEEKLY PLANNER  to help me remember to keep my life in balance.  I absolutely love this because it makes me be more intentional about all areas of my life that need to be nurtured.

coke

5) The Coke here is still addictive!  Anyone that has ever visited can attest to this.  It is made with real sugar cane and sold in glass bottles.  CrAzY addictive!  I didn’t even care about Coke in the states and rarely drank it…but here…Oh my!!!

So, in a nutshell, that’s how my fast went.  There were times that I struggled…hard.  Those were the times that I just had to lean into God.  There was never a time, though, that I wanted to quit.  During that time, I had a peace about me.  Because I didn’t hear all the voices of the Internet, I could hear HIS voice more clearly.  I truly had to turn off all of the noises of the Internet so that I could slow down, relax, and hear His voice to help me remember mine.  I was a bit sad when it ended, and even considered extending it for 10 more days…

In the end…it was the Coke’s fault….