The Story behind the Story

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With my friend, Jamie Ivey

A few years ago, I participated in a women’s Bible study at Second Baptist Church in Pearland, Texas. During our discussion time, a woman shared about her dysfunctional family. She had dreamed of having family birthday celebrations together, family traditions built around holidays and cousins running amok around her home having fun with her children. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out that way. Her family was a mess. She vulnerably shared, “I didn’t want to be that girl!”

Quickly another woman shared that she didn’t want to be that girl either.  She was divorced and didn’t want to be that girl who carried around a big “D” for divorce. A label that she never expected to wear. Within moments, every woman in the room realized that there was something about their lives that wasn’t perfect. Dead silence hit the room when we realized that we, too, had visualized other women bearing such labels. Labels for their sin and their past. Elevating ourselves much higher than we should. A little reminiscent to Dr. Suess‘ wise words,

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.”

As I began to study the story of Eve, I realized that somewhere over the course of time we had slapped a label on this girl too. We only remember her for her sin. However, throughout scripture, we are reminded that God forgives and forgets our sin…as far as the east is from the west. Why then, have we missed part of Eve’s story?

God created her with far more in mind. He created her as His bride, the bride of Christ.

He gave her the name Eve, which means “life.” Her life is a beautiful story of redemption. Please join me in studying God’s Word in a daily devotional style Bible study designed for women.

Mama’s First Kiss

There’s nothing quite like a Mama’s First Kiss!

We started our adoption journey nearly 2 years ago. The first time we met our son face-to-face was last June. To be honest, he was scared to death of my husband, my kids and me. As much as his nanny would try to persuade him to come to us, he was reluctant and scared. I remember leaving the Three Angel’s orphanage feeling completely deflated. I had these unrealistic expectations that he would just run into my arms and instantly bond. Or, at least give me a hug. No pre-adoption videos had prepared me for that moment. Although there may have been plenty of warnings,

I never imagined it would happen to me. But it did.

That was then…but this is now…9 months later. Our son, Comerson, reached out his arms for me today at the moment he saw me. Chills went up and down my spine. He remembers me! He knows I’m his mama! And then out of the pure blue, he puckered his lips to kiss me. Whew–heart pitter patters!

Have you ever thought that God delights in us–because we delight in Him?

That concept makes sense to me today. I took great delight in seeing my child love me and reach out for me. In the same way, God takes great pleasure in us delighting in Him.

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;he will rejoice over you with gladness.”

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Miracles still happen…

You may be wondering why in the world did we start a medical clinic in Haiti? Many assume it’s because Coby took the initiative. Afterall, we were in the process of adopting from there. But he didn’t. It found him. There’s much more to this story…and it’s worth your time to read on.

There was this guy named Brent Rutland and his wife Becky who took their kids to Haiti last year over spring break. It just happened that their son Jordan was injured while playing soccer in this remote, rural village of Neply, Haiti. They drove for hours around the island looking for medical help, only to discover that they were driving in vain. There is lil’ medical help available in this area. After arriving back home in Nashville, Brent felt like they should do more. They should do more to help and make a difference.

Just a few weeks later, this sweet boy named Frantzsky became ill. Really ill. He has special needs and is in the care of myLIFEspeaks. He was found in the village, malnourished and unloved. He was found by missionaries walking through the village one day, lying on a mattress outside his home. It is suspected he remained alive due to a caring sister who would slip him food now and then.

Frantzsky Ducasse

Frantzsky Ducasse

His smile is breathtaking. Incredibly precious and melts your heart within seconds.

He had been sick for 2 weeks or so. High fever of 105 which had worsened with seizures. He had already been treated for malaria. Not once, but twice. The limited medical attention available to him said there’s nothing more they could do. It was clear that if nothing was done, he would die.

Frantzsky wasn’t eating. His caretakers were watching him waste away. Not knowing what else to do–they called Brent Rutland. They remembered that Brent worked with several doctors as an industry bench researcher. Brent said, “I don’t know why–I just called up Coby.” (Coby & Brent had worked together on research projects over the years. But Brent now lived in Nashville and Coby lived in Austin. There really is no explanation other than God as to why Brent made that call.) Coby discovered that there is a resistant form of malaria and the medication is unavailable in Haiti. Here’s the problem: we don’t know how to get the medicine there in time to save Frantzsky’s life. You can’t just write an order for a prescription for someone outside of the U.S. It’s complicated…but it takes time to get medicine to a foreign country!

So we prayed.

And Brent called a doctor that he knew in Florida. The doctor said that there was nothing else that he could do…but he could ask his dad for help. Brent asked, “Well, who’s your dad?” On the other end of the phone, he heard, “My dad is the U.N. ambassador for Haiti.” A phone call later, the necessary medicine was picked up by a U.N. jet and flown to Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti. The medicine was administered to Frantzsky and within a week, this lil’ boy was better. Weeks later, the founders of myLIFEspeaks and Brent Rutland agreed that they should do more. They agreed to start a medical clinic and decided to ask Coby for help.

Brent wrestled with this idea for 2 weeks. He thought for sure that Coby would say “No.” He prayed that if Coby was the one, that he would answer the phone. (But Coby NEVERS answer the phone! It is a very rare occurrence to have him pick up your call). This day was different. Coby just happened to be in his car driving. At the very moment Brent called to ask Coby to be the medical director of their new clinic, Coby was on his way to speak to the Dell Children’s Women’s Trust Fund as one of three finalist for their $100,000 grant. Coby’s Pediatric ER fellowship was submitted because he wanted to pursue international/global medicine opportunities, advocacy projects and research opportunities for his trainees. Little did Brent know that medical missions is something Coby has desired to do his entire life!

Coby won the grant. He said YES to Brent. The medical clinic opened in August 2013. Our first medical team went in January 2014. Frantzsky is well.

And God is good!

If you want to hear more about Franzsky’s story, please click HERE.

Helping Haiti

Click Here: Helping Haiti

This is a link to the FOX News story run on Coby. Oct 16, 2013.

What We Are Up To

Click Here: What We Are Up To

Many have asked what we are up to in Haiti…follow the link to find out more.

Country music star visits Dell Children’s Medical Center

Click Here: Country music star visits Dell Children’s Medical Center.

The day after “A Night Together”…here in Austin we were able to host Hillary Scott at Dell Children’s Hospital, where she visited with 3 precious patients.

Meanwhile, in Haiti, a child came in with appendicitis. Normally, this child would be sent home to die. In Haitian world, it costs 2 1/2 years salary for appendectomy surgery. Although the nurses in the myLIFEspeaks clinic knew that the child’s outcome would be terminal, they did not know what else to do.

Thankfully, we had a resident from Brack Hospital staying at our myLIFEspeaks clinic at the time. He was able to contact Coby and ask for help. Due to our “A Night Together” fundraiser, we now had available funds to send. This child’s life was saved! Surgery was successful!

I love God’s perfect timing!

A Night Together 2014

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Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

In early November, Coby volunteered me to plan a fundraiser for our new medical clinic in Haiti. Sounds simple, right? However, there were many problems with this equation…and the main one was that it included ME. I have no fundraising experience at all. Zip. Zero. Second problem: people in Austin have never heard of myLIFEspeaks. Third problem: It sounds a bit intimidating to plan an event that includes a 7-grammy award winning singer, Hillary Scott (I love you Hillary, if you ever read this…but I’m just saying).

So, knowing that I’m in WAY over my head, I begin emailing every friend that I know to ask for their help. And guess what? They did! They were absolutely amazing! (Yes, I’m talking about the Albrechts, Barnes, Blackburns, Brights, Goldbergs, Hanveys, Iveys, Lambs, Mannings, McDonells, Minters, Prideauxs, Ross’s, Smiths and Teelers). Most had never heard of myLIFEspeaks. Yet, they showed up and dug in to help. And not only that, Dell Children’s Hospital decided to help out too!

Things went wrong–okay REALLY wrong.

Like invitations did not get mailed. (It was the holidays, y’all). Ticket sales were lower than expected. Our AV expert (who, by the way, was President of his High School AV Club) was sick the morning of our event. I’m not just talking a lil’ bit sick. I’m talking high fever and don’t let him out of the bathroom kinda sick. Hillary Scott & Chris Tyrell’s plane was not only delayed, but eventually cancelled. At the time our event was starting, their plane hadn’t even left Denver in order to arrive here in Austin. Should I panic?

For some reason, I didn’t (I am blond after all). I figured this thing was completely OUT OF MY CONTROL way before now! People seemed to be having a good time. And if nothing else, my fundraising history would be one and done.

The concert started 45 minutes late. I had no idea how people would respond to that. Only the live auction would really tell. At the end of the auction, people were asked to donate and guess what!? They did! They really did! We broke a record and raised more than any 1st year fundraiser at Dell Children’s!

Are you kidding me!? That’s freaking AWESOME! Thank you, AUSTIN!!!!
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Avery Allen, Emma McClellan, Hillary Scott, Anna Claire Minter

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Emily Pullen, Hillary Scott, Addie Allen, Sophie May

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Comerson

You Had Me at “Hello”

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This is our son, Comerson. And this is his story….

We were introduced to him in July 2012. I’ll never forget the day…because we had submitted our paperwork to Three Angel’s Children’s Relief and were anxiously awaiting a call. We were clueless about the whole adoption process. We found the orphanage first..and then were connected with our U.S. adoption agency. (That’s sorta how we roll, always a bit backwards).

Comerson was found on the streets of Petionville, Haiti. Abandoned and quite ill. The police discovered him and quickly delivered him to the nearest hospital. He weighed only 2 lbs and was estimated to be between 4 to 6 months old. The odds were certainly stacked high against him surviving.

But God saw…

Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

At this point, he became the custody of the Haitian social services (IBESR). No family members have ever been found. Unable to care for him, IBESR contacted Three Angels Children’s Relief. He was given the name “Comerson,” which means “new beginning” in Creole. He was the first baby that the orphanage received since reopening after the devastating earthquake in 2010. He was little and sick.

But God cared…

Matthew 18:5, “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”

Three Angels wasted no time in asking people to pray. (Thank you to everyone who prayed for him!!) And Comerson began to get better. However, due to his medical condition, Three Angels knew it would be difficult to find him a home. A week prior to receiving our application in the mail, the board members of Three Angels met…and they prayed. They prayed for Comerson to find a forever family. A week later our adoption application came in the mail. My husband, Coby, is a pediatric ER and pediatric Infectious Disease doctor–and sick kids are his specialty 🙂

But God knew…

Psalm 68:5-6a, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”

When Three Angels asked if we would take Comerson, sight unseen, we said “YES”! We knew he was created by God our heavenly Father to be ours.

He is perfect. He is beautiful. And he’s ours!

Is Anything Too Hard for God?

I was slow…real slow…to warm up to the idea of adoption. Because I have wrinkles, y’all! There are days when I can barely keep up with life. I feel tired. And I’m sorta bored with High Ho Cheery O. Been there done that. 

But God wasn’t done with me yet!

Coby didn’t give up either. He continued to pray and pursue God for direction to fill in the blank of who, where & when. He had given me months to sort this thing out with God. And then God started to fill in the puzzle pieces. Coby stayed up late one night praying for God to direct our paths and lead us to the one that was meant to be ours. After praying, he was unable to go to sleep and went to read his email. The first email he read was from a friend (Greg Green) who has 2 adopted boys from Haiti, asking for some medical advice. The next one was the ACL 2012 line-up. He noticed that our worship pastor, Aaron Ivey, was on the schedule to play. Clicking on the link provided, he was directed to the song, “Amos Story.” It seemed pretty clear that there was a theme here–and it was Haiti.

The next morning he shared his new insight with me. I still wasn’t feeling it.

Call me Sarah…I still had doubts.

Genesis 18:12-14, “Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?” God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God?”

But then I had to ask myself…”Is ANYTHING really too hard for God?”

I finally concurred that God was speaking to my husband. I decided to obey and get on board too. Coby and I prayed that morning that God would also stir my heart. After praying together in our kitchen, I called my friend Cara Green who has 2 adopted boys from Haiti. Coby thought it would be a good idea to talk to her about my fears and worries. Look what she was doing moments before I called!!

[From Cara’s fb message on May 31, 2012 ] “Not sure if I made this clear yesterday. While the boys were taking a nap I was looking at the dossier requirements for Three Angels. After a bit it became clear that the only thing I could really do right now without spending any money would be to put a few extra birth certificates aside. So, I thought I’d go on the Three Angels facebook page and just pray for the babies and their one-day-to-be families. Then you called me about a half hour later! I love stuff like that!!!!”

I’m here to confess that NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD! 

Within seconds, I went from a doubting Sarah to a muddled mess. I began filling out our adoption paperwork immediately. Somebody out there needs to hear this…there are times when OBEDIENCE comes first, regardless of our emotion. Our emotions cannot always be trusted.

Putting my Brakes On

On a Sunday in the spring of 2012, my hubby came home from church heavy hearted. I can recall the look on his face as if it were yesterday. He was holding onto something, and I knew it was something SERIOUS and BIG. He said that we needed to “talk.” Instantly my mind began to wander as I searched to recall what in the world had I done to hurt him so. But, little did I know, that his burden had not been caused by me.

With tears in his eyes, he shared with me how he felt that God was calling our family to adopt. He described it as if God had placed a ton of bricks on his heart. We had just come home from church, where we heard a piercing sermon on adoption. I could hear the words from James 1:27 echoing in my brain, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...”

But as soon as his words left his lips, all I could think of was “What about me?”

You see, I’m not the youngest chick on the block. Our youngest child was 8 at the time and I was thinking exit strategy. In just 10 years, we would become empty nesters. No more huge piles of laundry. No more taxi driving. No more responsibilities for lil’ ones. Life could finally be centered around me. Vacations to far away places, beach time, and coffee with friends. So, immediately, with no hesitation, my response back to Coby was “I’m not feeling it hon. My answer is no.”

I didn’t want to be that girl who said “NO” to God, and yet it seemed so easy to set boundaries on Him.

To seek comfort. To be selfish. To choose recreation. That’s what my flesh would choose to do. 

Thankfully, that’s not where I ultimately ended up…so stay tuned for more posts to come.

In the meantime, are any of you putting brakes on God?
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