October 14, 2016

Blessed To Be a Blessing

Almost a months ago I was blessed to spend the weekend getting to know these incredible women in this photo who are a part of Elvis' new church plant in a rural and impoverished community called San Francisco de Jacagua or more easily referred to as Los Cocos! The new church began as a Bible Study and just 2 and 1/2 months later there are now over 50 people in regular attendance. The people in this community are hungry and thirsty for the word as this is the only church in this community! 

Knowing the women's conference was approaching, Alan and I knew we wanted to help a couple of women be able to come to the conference and we were so glad we did. These women encouraged and inspired me. They are all on different parts of their journey to Christ- one woman Margarita (2nd from left) rededicated her life to Jesus at the conference. Praise Him! Coming to a weekend conference is a really difficult thing for women here in the DR- they don't have easy access to "babysitters" and many of their husbands are absent and wouldn't have any idea how to care for their kids. But these women jumped at the opportunity to come to the conference rounding up family members and neighbors to help care for the kids. They collectively left a total of over 15 kids to come to the conference! They had never been to anything like the women's conference before! 

I so look forward to knowing them better and serving with Elvis and Raysa in Los Cocos! Because of your faithful commitment to partnering with us you played a big part in these women being able to come to the conference! Thank you! Elvis and Raysa live by a very important Biblical principle "we are 'blessed to be a blessing." Thank you for joining us in living this way too! 

October 11, 2016

When It Happens Again...

No one prepared me for the first miscarriage. Yes, I just said the word... first. It's not something anyone ever thinks will happen to them. Until it does. July 8 our lives changed and a piece of me died when I lost my unborn child. They say it's a club no one ever wants to belong to, but once you're in, you are forever grateful for those women also in the club who journey painfully with you.

After six weeks stateside, we rose up and we returned home. Bruised. Beat up. Full of pain. And full of his love. And we began healing and we began walking forward. New season. I was fully focused on being wholly healthy- physically, spiritually, and in ministry. God was breathing new life into us in a season where we needed desperately to tangibly feel his presence, his arms, his love.

On September 19 that changed again. I found out I was pregnant. Shock, anger, and fear were all amongst my first responses.

Shock- we weren't even thinking about expanding our family. We were focused on becoming healthy not pregnant.

Anger- how could my body get over the loss of the last baby so quickly? I thought we were still grieving.

Fear- what if it happens again? Would I be okay?

I called a dear friend the same day I found out I was pregnant. Her voice was a healing balm to my shaky soul. As she prayed for me and spoke words of affirmation over me and this sweet little life she thanked our heavenly father for giving us this good gift and in that moment my entire perspective began to change. My heart filled with gratefulness and joy. My mind filled with thoughts of a good father who was so excited to give us the gift of another pregnancy as soon as he could. I began seeing the pregnancy in another light.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10

I anxiously awaited the days. Once a week had passed from finding out, my doubts of a second miscarriage began to ease. I began pinning, dreaming, planning, decluttering... again.

1 week and 3 days after finding out I was pregnant I saw the first sign of miscarriage. The following day I got to experience something I hadn't with the last pregnancy. I stared at the black and white screen on the machine and watched a tiny little baby with a with a tiny little heartbeat dance around on the monitor. I was in shock- so much so, that I forgot to ask for a printed photo of the ultrasound. I regret not asking for that photo. I regret not having a second ultrasound done right there just so I could have a photo.

With the heavy amount of bleeding I was put on bed rest at home for the next week, and it was in the next days that I would experience the fullness of Christian Community. Within less than 24 hours my room was filled with dear women creating plans for school pickup, homework help, and meals. I don't do "receiving" well, but God showed me so much about the body and community in those moments.

There wasn't enough bedrest that would save this sweet baby and just three days after seeing its heart beating so fast on that monitor I found myself saying goodbye to another baby.

We weren't meant for this much pain and grief and mourning and suffering. It's hard. It sucks actually. But. We are seeking him. His peace. His ways. He mourns with us. We take comfort that this is not what he wanted. He grieves with us. The same way he grieved the death of his son Jesus. The reality of the broken world has been made so real to us in very personal intimate ways in this last season. We cling to the hope that even though he did not want this pain for us, it can be used to bring him glory. That is our desire. To glorify him with our hearts, words, and love for others. We see the joy that comes only from knowing him.

We are in pain, but it will lessen in time and I find great peace and beauty in community that surrounds us as his hands and his love and comfort will meet all of our needs. And so we journey on with the joy of the Lord as our strength.

These lyrics to a song called Glory Baby so beautifully tell of the mix of pain and hope we have.

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…
Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do
Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…

July 20, 2016

Our Joy Story

Our Joy Story. Our beautiful love story of a life so short-lived and yet this love story that has forever changed our family forever.

For years Alan and I have prayed for God’s guidance on growing our family. We prayed, asked friends, family and trusted loved ones. In January, after three years of first discussions of adding to our little tribe, we decided to go all in. We knew in our hearts if it was God’s will it would happen and if it wasn’t- we were completely content in what the Lord has blessed us with. We had not felt lacking in any way, but had these desires to parent again. 

In March I was 6 days late, but I knew I wasn’t pregnant. In June I was 6 days late. I knew before I ever held the stick in my hand what the test would reveal. We found out on Father’s Day that I was indeed pregnant! Oh we celebrated! Alan and I were shocked and then thrilled. We began making plans. It amazed me at how quickly my mind had already begun to dream. And once you start dreaming, you can't undream it. I starting picking out boy and girl names, making future plans for the nursery, and lists upon lists of what we needed to do in our house to be ready. I treasured what the Lord had chosen to do inside me. I downloaded baby apps and pregnancy trackers on my phone- baby was due February 20! I created a secret board on Pinterest for Baby #3. We discussed having the baby in the DR and how our family would adjust to life as a family of 5. We were so in love with this little life already and the joy that had sprung forth in our hearts.

A few days after finding out I was pregnant, it occurred to us that our plans for delivery in the DR might not come to fruition or even remaining in the DR for the pregnancy as we remembered the Zika threat to unborn children. We consulted several doctors who all recommended coming stateside. In the next 3 days, we would tell GO, family and the girls our big news. We also bought plane tickets, packed bags, tied up loose ends on the field and me and the girls flew to Las Vegas just 10 days after finding out I was pregnant.

By far, my favorite part was telling the girls. They threw their heads back in laughter and told me to tell the truth. Later they saw me in a tank top and sweet Amelia remarked that I was “true” and that she could see how big my belly was… bless her! Each morning they woke up singing love to the baby and reading to their future sibling. They would periodically put their hands on my baby and tell “him” how much they loved him. They fell in love too. Alan and the girls both wanted a baby boy. I remained neutral, but I knew 2 things: She was a girl and her middle name would be Joy, for she had brought our family great JOY and we were so grateful!!!

We snapped a quick announcement photo the day before we flew. It was perfect. We didn’t have a clear plan. We didn’t know how long we would stay in Vegas, or where the girls would go to school or if we would see Alan before Christmas. But we went with it. Love does that to you.

Talk ensued when we arrived in Las Vegas- my whole family had baby fever and of course they loved the idea of us being stateside for potentially 10 months.

I scheduled my first Dr.’s appointment. July 5.

In the meantime, we took a trip to Palm Springs to help Opa with his mom who has Alzheimer’s. I was especially tired and took lots of naps, swam, and ate- you know eating for 2 now.

Sunday I was asked if I had any morning sickness. I didn’t. Which was odd because I puked 20 times a day with the girls from weeks 6-19. I knew every pregnancy is different but morning sickness is also a good sign that your body is reacting properly to the hormones created by the pregnancy. That evening was the first sight of blood. It continued to come Monday as we drove back to Vegas. My amazing doctor assured me it could be nothing but shouldn’t be taken lightly. It was no coincidence that I already had an appointment scheduled the following day.

Monday continued with dull back aches and I knew what was impending. In my heart I knew. That night, I crawled into bed and got under the covers, as far away from the world as I could get. It was as if I was keeping the outside world away from me and sweet baby Joy. I held my belly and wept. It was the last night I would ever be able to pretend for just a moment that their was new life inside of me.

I woke up Tuesday fully knowing I wasn’t pregnant. I dressed in black and went to my doctor. The drive was long and some of the most sorrowful 20 minutes I will remember.

They took me back and began asking all the exciting first appointment questions and then transitioned to the details of the possible miscarriage. They took me back and as I stared at my dr’s face as she stared at the monitor looking, hoping for life she couldn’t see anything but an empty placenta measuring at only 5 weeks and 2 days. The baby and the placenta never aged beyond 5 weeks and 2 days. Stunned. I knew what was happening I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I needed to go get blood work and again in 72 hours so she could verify that my levels were dropping.  She asked if I had any questions. I had so many but I couldn’t formulate them. I didn’t know how to ask what would come next.

And then she asked if she could pray for me. Rebecca prayed for Stella and Amelia in the OR when I delivered the twins, also placed her hand on my hands and prayed for me as we discussed what would happen next in losing life. She reminded me of God’s mysteries and that we were in the midst of walking through that.

The girls were with me the whole time and I believe God allowed that for me. I focused on them the rest of the day.  In a way that can only be explained by the mysteries of God, he has used this to thaw a part of me that had begun to freeze over. My calloused heart immediately became soft as I grieved and sucked in death’s hot air and exhaled his grace and mercy and love. I don’t know why God chose this for our family. And I don’t know what we will do next. One foot in front of the next. Dig deep for his mercy and strength. Focus on the children we have. Return home to the DR before school starts. There’s a few things we will do in the immediate weeks.

Grief will do one of two things to you- it will make you bitter or it will make you brave. Brave to face whatever giant is in front of us. Brave to swim deep to the dark parts of the ocean in our souls and enter into our pain and grief. Brave to be okay with not being okay. Brave to take the mask off; to let others see the tears spilling over in our eyes; to see the rough dull edges of life worn down and to bulldoze the walls we have built up over the years keeping others out of our secret pain. Brave to slow down and evaluate what is important in life. Grief can make us brave. Grief can lead us to something new.  Out of the ashes of sorrow, pain, and grief he makes beautiful things. He leads us to praise. That praise leads us to joy. My doctor messaged me the same day I received the heart breaking news with a verse: 

"yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior."

The day I actually miscarried, I will spare you the sad details but it happened in the Old Navy bathroom. I wished a different story a million times. I didn’t have time to grieve. I had someone trying to get in the public restroom I was in.  I had my children with me. I was stunned. I flushed, wiped the tears away and walked out of the restroom. Someone commented on how cute the girls were and I smiled and quickly gave a “thanks!” The checkout lady asked how my day was going, just minutes after I had my miscarriage in their bathroom. We looked like we were having a great day- the girls were in the bathing suits and we had just left the splash pad. I said our day was going GREAT!  I began looking at everyone differently that day. How many arms had I brushed up against that day, all smiley happy people who had real pain brewing just under the surface? Who had just gotten a cancer diagnosis? Found out their spouse was cheating? Lost a loved one? Had a miscarriage? Major illnesses, sickness, loss, pain all around us. Grief also makes us brave to enter into other’s lives and face their pain with them too. Brave to love well, to stand up for others.

Sweet joy. Her short life changed mine forever. She also changed Alan and my girls too. Though we may never know her this side of heaven we hold tightly to the promise of the day when we will see her again.  In the meantime, I will be diving into the deep end of my grief and pain with the promise of coming out made new and into something beautiful. I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior for the gift of Joy he gave me.

"For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy."
Psalm 63:7

October 31, 2015

November Prayer Calendar

Check out our November prayer calendar. Thank you so much in advance for your partnership through prayer!

October 13, 2015


"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

Several years ago I read a book called Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I will admit, it was a hard read and took a lot of concentration. I would actually love to give it a second read! One of the parts that stood out to me the most, was only several pages into the book. The author made the point that Christian Community is something we must work for. We are actually there to add to the community, as opposed to be receivers of community. The beauty is in the giving of ourselves to the community that we receive much in return! It reminded me of so many times I have critiqued a church or ministry where I had perceived it to be lacking in community, because it did not meet my needs, essentially I wasn't receiving what I thought I was due. This book goes on to discuss the beauty when we work to foster a community that honors God and looks out to the interests of others. It also cautions us as believers to not take whatever form of community we have for granted and reminds us of the many brothers and sisters serving around the world in countries where they are being truly persecuted in terms of life and death for their faith in Christ. In certain parts of the world, they may be the only Christian they know. Community is not promised to us, it is a gift and must be thought of as so. We must care for this gift, nurture and pursue it, or we will lose it. 

This group of gals pictured above represent a small part of the larger GO Community we have the blessing to be a part of. These gals are the ones I work with day in and day out. We rejoice together and we mourn together. We know when one of us needs a hug, or prayer, or even chocolate :)

At the end of summer!

And this crazy group of people represent yet a larger but still small part of our GO family here on the island. I have found no matter the circumstances of the trials you face, when you journey into the deep waters with fellow believers it brings true comfort and peace that can only come from Christ. 

I am reminded today of the beautiful gift of friendship and community he has given us and the careful cultivation it requires. When we each fulfill our role in the body of Christ and use the gifts he has given us to minister to one another, we aren't just filled up- we are overflowing with his joy and gratitude. I am honored to journey through life with our GO Community!  

What kind of Christian Community are you involved in? Do you find that it takes work? How have you been blessed recently by pouring into your community?

For His glory,

October 5, 2015

What Does it Mean to be a Good Man, Part 2

In my last blog post, I talked about the journey that I have stared with one the 13-14 years old class from our discipleship program. We had decided, to learn from a biblical perspective, what does it mean to be a good man? In our first time together I taught them the number one thing to do to be a good man is to recognize our problem with sin, a problem that could separate us from God for eternity. 

This past week we got together again, and talked about the second thing that we have to do to become good men. I concluded that we needed someone to help us with our problem. We need a good man as a role model. To which they immediately reply, there are no good men; there are men with one, or two good qualities. But in these times nobody is good 100%. I answered you guys are almost right, and I totally understand where your answers are coming from. But in reality there was a good man. He was so good; that he did not considered self-good. (Luke 18:19).   He is so good. That he is he only one who can help us in our problem with sin. So the second thing to be a good man, is to learn from the only good man that had ever lived, Jesus, we are going to take Jesus as our role model to learn to be good men. We are inviting you to do the same.

-Alan Perez
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