From My Heart to Yours



Who can grasp?

Who can understand?

Who can fathom?

No combination of words can describe this connection. This innate relationship so deeply rooted in compassion, selflessness, and mercy. Like a never-ending waterfall, a mama's love is ever flowing. I totally understand. I received firsthand knowledge of this kind of love through my own children - Luke, Jake, Tate, and Carly Jo. Oh, the blessing of looking in the rearview mirror. I recall the prayers over my children through the years. One in particular lingers forever in my heart and mind...

"Lord, help them to love You with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength."

With hands lifted high and a humble heart I proclaim to Jesus, "Thank You for hearing my hearts cry! Thank You for drawing them to yourself. Thank You for bringing Brianne to Luke and Tara to Jake as their spouses. For they are both our answer to prayer. Thank you that Tate and Carly seek you in their college years. Thank you for answering my plea that they would love you with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. For we as their parents give You All the Glory! Amen."

After three boys, God blessed us with a baby girl - Carly Jo. At her birth God's hand of love, grace and mercy gently lifted us from a near death experience - my uterus ruptured. The doctor said, "Ten more minutes and they both would have been gone." While in ICU one of the surgery nurses stood by my bed and gently grasped my hand and said, "Honey, I must tell you The Holy Spirit was in the surgery room with you. You and your baby were protected. God has a purpose for saving you and your precious baby girl." Then I watched her walk out the door. I kept asking about this nurse and no one could find her for me. I often wonder, if possibly, I received a visit from an angel.

From that moment on God continued to confirm His special calling upon Carly Jo's life. Through the years her love for Jesus strengthened. Not based on us, her parents, but a real, authentic, and genuine relationship with her Savior and Redeemer, Jesus. Taking after her Memom (my Mama), Carly Jo has always journaled her prayers. Her stack of journals date back to kindergarden! As a result, she has a heart and gift for writing. God opened the door for her to begin a blog called, "A Relentless Kind of Love."

Below is Carly Jo's heart-felt post. Please don't miss the paragraph following her article. Why? Because God used her post called "Home" to encourage a woman who was ready to give up on life, church, and God - everything! Be blessed...

[caption id="attachment_54" align="alignright" width="300"] Carly Jo, Memom, and I[/caption]

~A Relentless Kind of Love~

Home - Away From Home


Growing up, I never pictured myself as a long-term missionary (in the sense of moving across the Globe to spread the Gospel). Texas was my home and forever it would be. More importantly, wherever my family and friends were, that was my place of comfort. That was my home. This mindset drastically changed after my last trip to the Dominican Republic. For the past 8 or so years, my church has lead a mission trip to a tiny village outside of Cotui in the Dominican Republic. The trips consist of sharing the Gospel, constructing a school, and doing Vacation Bible School for the kids. These mission trips are so unique because we go back to the same village each summer. So, I get to see how the children have grown over the year and reconnect with the families I love so dearly. I wrote a prayer as I was on the plane back to America from our last mission trip. This prayer has acted as a seal of the radical transformation that occurred in my heart.

January 13, 2014

“Oh Lord,

My heart is overwhelmed. And confused. And scared. And above all, ready. Ready for an adventure.

As You (obviously) know, I have been coming to Cotui on mission trips for years. With each trip here, the “goodbyes” get harder. My heart literally aches as we drive away. But, every year, I do not walk away with just sorrow but also, with new lessons that You, my God, have revealed to refine my character. These life lessons have taught me how to love more richly, experience unending joy, and live with an expectant hope of Your coming Glory.

But, this time, Lord, You did not just teach me some lessons to improve my life. No, this time I am coming home a RADICALLY different person! You allowed me to experience life to the full this week and I never want it to go away. For so long, I have pushed the idea of long-term missions far far away. I have always (and only) wanted the “white picket fence, (super handsome!) husband, and cute kids” kinda life. BUT, God, it’s weird— that dream is gone. Trust me, if that is Your plan for me Lord, I would absolutely love it. But, as I am leaving the Dominican Republic this time, I have realized that Your will is not for me to dwell on what my life is “to become”. But rather, to focus ONLY on the step directly in front of me. In Psalm 119, You claim to be a “lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path”. Never do You claim to be the sun- for if You were the sun, my entire path of life would be exposed. Where is the trust, adventure, and fun in that?

But You, Oh Sovereign Lord, in Your infinite wisdom know far better than I. So, You choose to only reveal the step directly in front of me. Therefore, gently forcing me to trust You completely with my life- not just a portion of it. You want it all, oh Lover of My Soul. In Matthew 14, You called Peter to walk onto the chaos of the sea with You! (What?! THAT’D BE INSANE!) When Peter’s eyes were on You, Jesus, he did not sink. He was secure. But, as his gaze veered toward the scary situation surrounding him, he began to sink. You did not call him to the waters to make a fool of him or be cruel to him. No, You called Peter upon the waters in love. You wanted Peter to experience Your sovereignty in an entirely new way, therefore, expanding his trust in You. This is what You do for me. You call me upon waters of this life so that I may experience You in an new way and release control over every aspect of my life to You. As I lean so far into You, it becomes a testimony to others surrounding me that You are alive and real. In no way could I do these things on my own, but You, give me the power and strength to do out-of-this world things through Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it is hard to see the step in front of me, but I have learned that as I begin to lean more and more into You and Your Word, “the lamp” becomes a tad brighter at my feet. Not because of any works on my part, but as I saturate my soul in Your Word, my prayer life starts to model Yours. Therefore, my desires start to model Yours, as well. Thank You for being so much wiser than I am, Jesus. And for establishing this type of relationship for You and I. In time, maybe the white picket fence will come, but until then, I do not want to miss a moment with You. Through it all, You are with me. You made a promise to satisfy my every need (not want). And that promise is enough.

Father, I long for the people of Cotui to understand Your abounding grace, experience Your steadfast love, and live life aware of Your mercies that are new daily. It is a weird concept but through watching others’ lives be transformed by Your overwhelming Presence, You began to transform my very own life this week. I experienced a new freedom which I never knew existed. A freedom which only comes from You, through Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus broke the chains of sin that wrapped so tightly around my wrists. But, it is so silly because I continue to put the chains back on my wrists, though the prison door is wide open. This week You revealed that when I am daily “delighting myself in You” (Psalm 37:4), Your plans start to become my own. My joy is complete. My soul finds rest. I taste life to the full.

So, Lord, no longer will I be fearful of traveling overseas to share the Gospel long-term because You are with me, You are my God, You satisfy my every need (not want). Maybe You are calling me to live in the Dominican Republic for only a season of my life. But, God, I will follow where you lead me.

So, Jesus, shall we go on an adventure to the Dominican Republic?



Over this semester, I have begun to see that home does not consist of 4 walls and a roof (or even friends and family)- my home is with Jesus. So, no matter where I go, I am home. No longer do I have to be fearful of being away from my place of comfort because God desires for Jesus to be my “home”. Life to the full is a living, breathing, and active relationship with Jesus! Living life with Him is an adventure and if He calls me to travel across seas, or simply across campus, to let others know they can experience life to the full as well- I will do it. I do not ever want to miss out on an experience the Lord has for us- Jesus and me!

And after this prayer and… many more… I am excited to announce that I WILL BE GOING TO LIVE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC for 6 weeks this summer! It is something I NEVER thought I would say but I guess when Jesus calls you upon the water, He will change your heart and He will keep you afloat. Stay tuned for more blog posts as I prepare for my journey!

” I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbor, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.” Valley of Vision

Click on the link to follow Carly Jo's "A Relentless Kind of Love" Blog 

Honestly, this story would not be complete without the next piece to the puzzle. I posted Carly Jo's Blog on my Facebook timeline. Throughout the day people commented on the post. Then the next day I received a message from a friend on Facebook. It totally knocked me off my feet and left me speechless. To God be the glory for ever and ever for using a young college student who has a desire to love the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength!

"Hi Carla, What I have to share below is going to bless the socks right off of you and your sweet daughter. I read Carly Jo's blog the other day when you posted it and was so touched by it. What an incredible young woman of God. I'm not surprised as she is your daughter. After reading it I decided to pass it on to a sweet young single mom that I am close to. She is actually a fairly new believer and is on the mission team I will be leading this summer. She is so in love with Jesus and her response to grace is to pour out her life in so many ways. I just love her. She has been struggling somewhat lately and I thought Carly Jo's blog might speak to her. Well I had no idea just how much she needed it or how much God would use it. I have copied and pasted her text to me this evening. Read and be blessed and of course pass it on to Carly Jo as well...

"Just wanted to say, THANK YOU! For the message on fb about your friends daughters blog. The one about long term mission work. You have no idea how much I needed that. But God knew!! I've had so much coming at me this last week and yesterday was another bad struggle. On my way to pick up one of my children from school I was having a very upset conversation with God. I was angry, tired, frustrated and basically throwing in the towel. I wanted to go to Texas and walk away from everything. I was tired of trying and failing. I was tired of following His plan just to have to be dealing with all this mess ALONE. I wanted to be around my family where I had support. I pretty much told Him I was done. I talked to my friend in Texas and told him I was going to call you and tell you I was withdrawing from the trip. That everything I was doing was wrong and not working. So I cried a lot last night and decided to sleep on it. Then call you today. This morning I saw your email you sent to me, but I was really trying hard to cut the ties and not get involved. I didn't want to read it. I was preparing myself to tell you this evening that I was out. I would help with the egg hunt, and trivia night then I was done with the trip, with outreach, and possibly church all together. I know this sounds extreme, but since my uncles death and the lack of God in their life I have been struggling so hard. And it's not getting better. Then one of the kittens died and the constant drama with my children - it's just piling high and I feel like I am sinking and doing it ALONE. Before I called tonight I finally read Carly Jo's blog.... I sat on my kitchen floor and cried. Still crying writing this. It was God... Talking to my heart through her words... It blows me away as bad as I talked and how I was on the verge of giving up and walking away from it all, that He wasn't letting me go. And you sent that to me last night about 30 mins after I prayed one last time for some kinda help before crying myself to sleep. So with all that said, I am not giving up! No matter what! He isn't giving up on me so I won't give up on Him and His great plans for me!! So I know you don't know, but that email changed everything!! Thank you so much! Love you!! "

So, with a heart of praise I thank God for the answered prayers over Carly Jo's life. For He receives the glory for ever and ever. This is a true picture of the phrase, "Life is not about me, but all about Him - Jesus."

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

Author of My Prayer Chair and Reflecting Him