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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.

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!
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