So you think you can dance?

Oh yah! That’s my boy—the one with all the dance moves! It’s official…this super white family just moved up a notch on the coolness factor. (Seriously, we are so white that even with spray tans we end up white, white and whiter). Our boy Comerson was given our last name this week. Yep, he is officially Comerson Allen!!! We have received our adoption decree.

I cannot even begin to tell you how that has made my heart do somersaults inside.

When you wait for something for a really long time, it is even more meaningful and gratifying. As an adoptive-parent-to-be, there are days…no months…when you seriously have doubts. Doubts that this day will ever come to be. Doubts that anything is happening. Serious doubts about whether or not God has this thing under control.

Throughout scripture, we see God give people new names.

He changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter and so many more. In the Bible, names were weighty and carried deep significance. God often changed a person’s name to remind them who they were in Christ. For example, Saul, a great persecutor of Christians, was renamed Paul, meaning “small.” It served as a reminder to Saul who was once a prominent leader among the Jewish people that he was being called to a life of humility, serving and preaching to the Gentile people. Other times, God renamed a person to encourage them to be the person God had called them to be. He gives them a new name, not because they deserved it, but to the contrary, God sees them for who they will be! Simon was an obstinate, impulsive, easily angered, argumentative, and prideful man. Then Jesus comes along and renames him (see Matthew 18). Our obstinate Simon is renamed Peter, meaning rock. We might have only seen the man who tried to walk on water but failed, who refused to have feet washed by Jesus, who rebuked Jesus, who off the solder’s ear with a sword, who deserted Jesus during his death, and who infamously denied Christ three times. Well, guess whom Jesus saw? He saw a pillar for the church. He saw the man who would bring three thousand souls to Christ on the Day of Pentecost. He saw the man who would someday write Scripture. He saw the man who would courageously give his life as a martyr for Christ.

Jesus sees our potential, not our past! Take a moment and praise God for that!

 So today I am rejoicing. Rejoicing that my boy has a new name! And I confess, Lord, it seemed like this day would never come. I am frail and forget that you got this thing covered. Forgive me for days spent in worry. Worrying whether or not you could handle this. Thank you for reminding me today that you did not forget. You got everything under control!

I John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
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My House is MAD

It’s all out WAR around here.

imagesBrackets are crumbling. Put downs are flying. I have never witnessed anything like this before.  Our daughter has challenged her Daddy to his fullest basketball prowess. I LOVE IT! Pops is in on the action, too. Even though he continues to turn his bracket in one day late year after year, everyone has decided to give him a senior advantage.

It no longer is about the favorite team winning. That ended last week. Now, it’s about winning the bracket. Bragging rights mean a lot around here. However, this year has been such a toss up. Teams that looked like they would advance to the next round ended up losing. Underdogs have stolen the game. It’s no wonder that Warren Buffett placed a safe bet in his $1 Billion Dollar Giveaway.

There’s something to be said about finishing well.

Playing strong all the way to the end. Not giving up or giving in. Leaving everything ya got out there on the court.

In much the same way, we are challenged by the Apostle Paul to finish well. Whether you realize it or not, your life is being poured into something. How do you spend your time? Where do you spend your money? What do you talk about with your friends?

What truly motivates you?

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7

Are you going to finish this thing called life “being poured out? Are you giving God your all? Paul did. He gave God his everything. Rather than pursuing his own interests, his own happiness, his own dreams and desires, he surrendered his all.  He was spent. He gave every ounce he had pursuing and living for the glory of God.

I will end today with one of my husband’s favorite sayings, “I don’t think God put us here to be wasting our time.” Do you?

In Sickness and In Health

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Our family has been beaten down over the past few months, riddled with various illnesses. Our oldest daughter has missed so many school days that I stopped counting after we reached double-digits. As long as I can remember, we’ve never had a year like this. We’ve waded through some pretty weird stuff, like third world diseases from Haiti. Even tropical sprue…who’s even heard of such a thing before!? Giardia, pneumonia, flu, cedar fever…well guess what? We’ve had these bothersome illnesses, too.

Some days…no, lately, numerous days…I struggle to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

When you are not feeling well, life can be a struggle. You begin to see life through a cloudy lens. At these times, it is most difficult to trust and believe that “God is working all things together for our good.” Romans 8:28

There are words we say in our wedding vows, “In sickness and in health.” They mean that no matter how we feel, we will be there, by our spouse’s side. We will not trust our emotions and feelings in the days we lie bedridden, but rather trust that there is a lesson to be learned. We don’t get to pick and choose how we physically feel.

When we take our wedding vow, it has some stick-to-it-iveness.

As written in Ephesians, “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (5:31-32). Throughout scripture, Christians are referred to as “the bride of Christ.”

Likewise, we have made a commitment, or vow, to stick with our faith even when the going gets tough.

It’s much easier to praise God when I’m feeling well. It comes more naturally to worship Him when my life is good. However, the real test of faith comes my way when I don’t feel like it. When the going gets tough. When I’m tired and weary. The question arises, what will I do then?

James 1:12 says: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life.”

In Greek, the word perseverance means “to remain” (hypo) and  “under, endurance.” (meno). In other words, perseverance means to remain under the pressure and difficulty of life until God accomplishes His work in us.

It means submitting to His will, not ours.

There is a greater purpose being accomplished in our suffering, which should give us a glimmer of hope. May we allow God to reveal Himself to us, even when we’re not feeling so swell. For it is in times like these that our light truly does shine!

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Rockstar Sandy

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This is Sandy. She is a rock star, at least in my eyes. She became a missionary full-time two years ago. After her husband passed away, she decided to move to Haiti to work at my son’s orphanage, Three Angels Children’s Relief.

She realized if she still has breath in her lungs, then God is not finished with her yet.

Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” 

Sandy runs the guesthouse and greets visitors to Haiti with open arms. She works joyfully, giving of herself to accommodate her guests and make them feel at home. She makes amazing homemade meals and joyfully plays with all the children in the orphanage. Rather than pursuing recreation and comfort and the American dream of retirement, she gets the true meaning of life. Echoing the words of Paul, I can hear her say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21) Her life displays this idea that as long as we have breath, God has purpose for us. He has work for us to do.

Our lives here on earth are not meant to be futile.

Isaiah 46:4, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”

May we all live each day with purpose, knowing that God wants to include us in His work.

May we live joyfully by serving others, just as Jesus did. It may mean giving up success, fame and fortune in the eyes of this world…to pursue a life of greater contentment. Sandy gave up cushy retirement on the beaches in Florida to work with the orphans in Haiti. She has held my son in her arms, along with many others, when I was unable to. She has stood in the gap—and my adoptive friends and I are forever grateful. Thank you, Sandy, for heeding God’s call. Thank you to all of my missionary friends around the world–truly, all of you are rockstars!!

Psalm 92:14, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”

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Vacation High is Over

Urgh! Laundry!

Urgh! Laundry!

Yep, reality is settling in. Spring Break is over and I find myself steeped in laundry, emails, and tasks to do. I want the restfulness of vacation to linger. However, the stench of sweaty ski coats is winning the battle. Milk needs to be bought. Bills need to be paid. The routine of life is creeping my way.

Human nature has us longing for glorious.

We want bigger and better. Prominent sounds much better than petty, and spectacular is preferred over small. However, God is concerned with our faithfulness in the little things.

Will we bring Him glory even when our task is small?

Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

We can never fully escape the menial responsibilities of life. It should not be a matter of how grand is the task—but rather a question of whether or not it needs to be done.

Jesus came to serve, and so should we.

Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Jesus hung out with despised tax collectors so they could have eternal life. He loved the little children, showing they had value and immeasurable worth. He washed the disciples dirty feet, conveying nothing was beneath Him. Lepers, blind men, prostitutes, beggars—well, they were worth his time, too.

Maybe I should quit complaining about my laundry and instead choose joy that I have laundry to do. I have a family to serve. And for that, I am immensely grateful! Is God asking you to be content with the small? Are you willing to serve doing the mundane?

Faithfulness means remaining loyal and supportive, in both the big and the small.
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Distorted

It is easy to lose perspective if we focus on the things of this world.
Getting Spring Break Cra Cra

Getting Spring Break Cra Cra

God desires that we know Him…not merely know about Him. However, when struggles and difficulty come rolling our way, it is easy for us to lose perspective, focusing on our problems rather than on God. Doubt quickly settles in and steals away from us our desire to do God’s will. We begin asking ourselves, “God, was that really You? How come I all of a sudden feel all alone? If this is where You want me to be, then why in the world is it so hard?”

We have come to correlate God’s will with an easy task at hand.

And when the road is no longer easy but instead is confronted with difficulty and discomfort, we find ourselves longing to turn back and take matters into our hands. For if we choose to live this life with reckless abandon for Him, we no doubt will experience Him like never before. For on one hand, in Matthew 11:30, God promises us that “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Why then, do so few of us follow? We hold back. We give up. We turn away. For on the other hand, Matthew 7:14 says, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Choosing to follow Him each and every day of our lives is certainly not mainstream.

Go ahead, go against the grain. Choose God. Don’t lose perspective. Live a life with no regrets as you cling to Him and find your soul deeply satisfied.

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Taking Risks

Those who do GREAT things for God take GREAT RISKS for Him.

Moses stood up to the Pharaoh of Egypt and said, “Let my people go.”  Abram and Sarai were willing to go to the land where God called them to go. Esther believed she was created for “such a time as this.” Gideon fought the enemy army with only 300 men. Joshua and Caleb went against the grain and chose to conquer the Promised Land. Nehemiah left behind his cushy palace job to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

However, when it comes to Christian living today, we rather pursue those things that are comfortable. We don’t like to go outside our box. We find it easy to get situated doing the samo-samo. Find our Christian huddle and don’t venture far from it.

We don’t want to color outside our lines!

That’s exactly where I found myself just over a year ago. Our two teenage girls were struggling spiritually and my husband suggested that I start a teenage girl’s Bible study. Flat out I told him, “I don’t want to. Girls this age don’t want to listen to their mom!” Somehow he convinced me to pray about it and reluctantly I agreed. Over the next month, my heart began to soften to the idea.

Then, we looked at our crazy family calendar and realized that the only night we consistently had available was Friday night. That’s right, Friday night. Nobody wants to give up Friday night (not me, either)! As ridiculous as it sounded, Coby and I threw the idea out to our girls. I believe their response went something like this, “That is the stupidest idea you have ever had! No one will ever come!”

I guess that’s the “taking up your cross part.”

It’s not always easy. It’s not always what we want to do.

God’s ways are counter-intuitive to our own. My girls were right about one thing—no one would come unless we tried. We have to invite them.

Serving at Moblie Loaves & Fishes, Austin, TX

Serving at Moblie Loaves & Fishes, Austin, TX

Our first week we had 5 girls. That’s the smallest number in attendance that we’ve ever, EVER had. Now that is CRAZY! Two weeks ago we hit a record of over 30! These girls are the real risk takers. They are my heroes. They give up their Friday night. They come to study God’s Word. Then, they take it one step further and they become the hands and feet of Jesus, too. They are learning what it means “to follow Him.”

What is God asking you to do today?

Are you listening? Will you be willing to “take up your cross and follow Him?  Even if it means doing something that you don’t want to do?

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God Appointments

God Appointments are those meetings with another person that are undeniably ordered by God.

God appointments are unplanned. They are bigger than anything we could accomplish on our own. They are supernatural…and we can’t take the credit for the end result. Sometimes, we can miss out on them because we don’t have our radar on. Or, we feel inadequate or unprepared. Lately, Coby and I have been challenging ourselves. If God is opening the doors, what would happen if we got over ourselves and just go there. Go through the open door. Not allowing fear to get in the way of our personal feelings of inadequacy.

What if, instead, we let God lead?

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

Two weeks ago, Coby was influential in persuading Seton Hospital Systems to start an indigent and global health program.  This program will benefit local advocacy projects, as well as, healthcare initiatives around the world. Just a few days later, we find ourselves sitting in the office of the Director-General of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP). About half-way through the meeting she asks the question, “How did you get in here?” Exactly. How did we get in there? Typically she knows the people she is meeting with, or at least has heard their names! It was clearly a God appointment. Through a friend of a friend, we found ourselves sitting there.

Coby was able to share how Dell Children’s Medical Global Outreach program was interested in investing in Haiti by helping with medical training and education. We had no idea that she had met with officials in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago asking for medical help in her country. Click HERE to see the entire story.

The very next day we sat with the Dean of the medical school, the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Pediatrics to begin discussions on goals and implementation ideas. I can’t believe how quickly it all happened!! Thank you God!

Have any of you had a God Appointment lately?

I would love to hear! What if we would regularly walk with our eyes wide open to God’s working all around us?

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Letting Go

Natali, Avery, Anna Claire & Emma

Natali, Avery, Anna Claire & Emma

There’s a piece of me that hates this. My baby growing up. She just turned 17 last week and now she is on a junior class trip to Europe…without me. I can barely remember the new baby smell of holding her in my arms, dropping her off for kindergarten, reading her good night stories or watching her scoot behind a classmate during a school performance. I was warned many times, “They grow up so quickly. Like a blink of the eye.” I didn’t want to believe it.

I didn’t want it to be my last time.

We encounter last times throughout our parenting seasons. The last time they let you tuck them into bed. The last time they ask you to read a bedtime story. The last time they let you kiss them in the drop-off line. The last time they are excited that you unexpectedly dropped by for lunch.

I’ll be honest: some last times were welcomed with open arms. Like the last time I changed a dirty diaper! Or, the last time I stayed up all night with a sick little child. However, today I find myself reflecting and wishing I could turn back time. Some seasons past much too quickly.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1

To all my dear friends (and sister-in-law) who are awaiting a change, be it sending your kiddo to camp for the first time, graduation or a wedding. Let us find comfort in knowing that God’s grace is sufficient. He’s got this thing covered!

We can trust Him to take hold of our child’s hand.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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It Doesn’t Matter

rick_barnesMy husband, Coby, and I are friends with this guy–Rick Barnes, the basketball coach of the University of Texas. However, even though we see Rick fairly consistently, his basketball knowledge has not rubbed off on our 10-year old son. He just completed his basketball season. The only successful accomplishment was this: losing every single game. Although these lil’ dudes gave it their best week after week, they always ended up a few baskets short of a winning score. It doesn’t matter whether or not we know a great coach.

Now I realize that there is a lot to be said about losing.

It can build character, teach perseverance, and help develop life-long teamwork skills. These are all really good things. But let’s not fool ourselves, it sure is a whole lot more fun to win!

It makes sense to us that having a friend that knows the game of basketball well does not translate into us being able to play the game successfully…and/or passing these skills on to our son. I find it interesting, though, that so many people view salvation in this manner. They think that because they know someone who is a Christian..or their mom was a Christian…or they occasionally dust a church pew, then the deduction is made that they, too, have been saved. There is a commonly held notion that our personal salvation can be obtained through the good graces of another–whether it be a family member, colleague or friend.

Romans 14:12, “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “

There is individual responsibility shown here.

It is choice that we each must make for ourselves.

So, don’t be a loser. Make the choice today. Pick up your cross and follow Him.

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