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Jumping the Hurdle of Anger

Wishing I had these skills!

Wishing I had these skills!

Mamma Bear has been aroused, like interrupted from hibernation in the middle of winter. Angry. Frustrated. Disillusioned. Here’s the skinny: situations arise during this lifetime that make you angry. Angry because you cannot influence the decision. The issue is completely out of your control.

Now, you can react like I did. Mad. And yet, I only end up finding myself frustrated with myself.

I don’t like feeling this way.

I don’t like being upset, turning green like the Incredible Hulk. I know that in the end it is not a benefit to anyone to lose my cool.

We end up feeling upset, frustrated and mad when things do not turn out like we expected or planned.

We don’t like it when we are not in control. Injustices can cause us to unravel. For example, a child bites your baby girl on the playground for no reason, a teacher refuses to give your child an “A”, a coach doesn’t give your child adequate playing time, a boss overlooks you for a raise or a car cuts you off when you’re in a hurry. And what about a child who makes poor choices or a spouse who refuses to do what you want them to!

Anger can disguise itself in various ways.

In some it may smolder beneath the surface, seething like a smoke stake within.  In others, it displays with nagging and constant criticism.  It may come spewing out like a pot of hot water spilling over, leaving burn marks for words said in haste.  I’ve watched anger be hurled at innocent bystanders.  I guess that’s why my momma always said, “Hurting people hurt people.”  Anger is a natural response when things don’t go our way.  Hurts that have sat awhile, festering, can lead the way to anger. Just out of curiosity, what makes you blood boil?

This past week I really struggled with jumping over the hurdle of anger. (If only I had cousin Lindsay’s talent!) The hurdle sat in my room. I tried to ignore its presence, wishing it wasn’t there. I attempted sweeping it under the rug. I even tried jumping over it on my own, but at no avail. The hurdle occupied my thoughts and seemed to linger there. I had to take my anger to the cross and finally leave it there. Here is what God taught me:

No one likes the way they feel when they are angry.

Or how it causes them to lose control.  James 1:19-20 says this, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  One of the greatest battles in life is to “put away anger.”  So, how can we get rid of anger?

  1. Remind yourself that you are a sinner too and would be nothing without Christ.  (Romans 3:23)
  2. Think of Jesus hanging on the cross.  He had every right to be angry, but He made a choice to forgive instead.  (I Peter 2:21)
  3. Be an example to others and take the first step towards reconciliation. (Ephesians 4:32)
  4. Don’t give Satan a foothold by hanging onto anger.  The more you obsess over what happened to you and all the reasons why you have a right to be angry, the more space you allow the Enemy to occupy in your heart.  (Ephesians 4:26-27)
  5. Ask yourself is it really that big of a deal?  Try to uncover why the situation is making you so mad.  (Proverbs 3:7-8)
  6. And finally, confess your sin to a trusted friend.  (James 5:16)
Let me ask you something today—Are you holding on to any anger? Is there someone who really makes you mad?

Maybe they’ve hurt you or made fun of you.  Or maybe it’s a parent or close friend that has wronged you and you are struggling with these feelings of resentment and bitterness.  Take some time and talk to God about it.  He doesn’t want you to harbor these feelings inside.  And I believe that despite all the bad things that have happened to you, Romans 8:28 promises us this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Let’s close with a Big Amen to that!

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A Bit of Heaven

Welcome Ruth! This sweet bundle of joy has come to live with me for the next several weeks. She has a rare birth abnormality and God has worked in mysterious ways to bring her from Haiti to Austin. Dr. Ric Bonnell and my hubby, Dr. Coby Allen, arranged for her treatment at Dell Children’s Hospital.

Her trip has been a year in the making.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11:33

 Welcome Ruth!Yesterday she went through a long procedure, leaving her Papa, translator and I sitting in the hospital waiting room for hours. The time passed slowly, but oh, how much longer it must’ve been for Papa. He has never been outside of his country and I cannot even fathom what thoughts and worries must be going through his mind. He doesn’t speak our language. He’s never even visited a hospital before. Let alone, been surrounded by so many blancs (fair skinned people).

We were told Ruth’s procedure would take 2 to 3 hours, so by hour 4 it was no surprise that nerves were being tested. It had been a long day that began at 5 am. You sit there without words to say, regardless of the language barrier. Facing the unknown is a bit unnerving. But then, out of the silence, I hear a man’s prayer out loud. I could not comprehend a word that he said. However, I knew he was praying. Papa’s eyes were shut and his gaze was a bit upward. The words were beautiful and eloquent to my weary ears.

I sat there awestruck as the peace that surpasses understanding transcended into our waiting room.

At that moment, I was reminded what a great and mighty God we serve. He breaks down language barriers and reaches people in the most remote places. He coordinates a medical visa for a 6-year-old girl residing in the poorest country in the world. He fills medical providers with compassion to provide free care.  He does not forget the cry of Papa, who has steadfastly prayed for six long years.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Isaiah 40:4

Vividly seeing and hearing God answer Papa’s prayer was a bit of heaven.

One day, we will celebrate all together, amazed at all the wonders God has performed. Now that’s gonna be a great day!

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9

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A Lil’ Act of Kindness

Many fall guilty of looking for grandiose ways to serve God.

We want recognition or credit for all the good things we have done. We want others to stand at attention and take notice. I don’t want to downplay the importance of encouraging others in a job well done. However, the praise of others should never be at the root of the matter. It should not be what is driving us to do good and be kind. Rather than desiring the praise of others, God requires us to a “be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

Seeking God first means to obey Him in everything, whether big or small.

It means loving God AND loving others. But how are we doing with the little things? Are we being faithful in the small things that come our way? To live a selfless life requires us to constantly think about the other people in the room. It completely takes the focus off of us. Being the hands and feet of Jesus makes you think differently in your everyday life. What if you said a kind word to the cashier today? How can you be an encouragement to those who cross your path? Could you send some flowers to your child’s teacher? Maybe start closer to home–tell your hubby and kids that you love them?

The Greek word for kindness is chrestotoes, meaning “gentle love” or “goodness in action.” It is a fruit of the Spirit (See Galatians 5:22-23) and is used to describe a person’s inner disposition. One who has a generous temperament that puts others at ease and refrains from doing harm is considered kind. In Matthew 11:30, Christ uses the root of this word, chrestos, when He says His “yoke is easy,” meaning it does not irritate or wear away. The Greeks would use chrestos as a description of good wine, meaning that it’s mellow. It’s clear that the word emphasizes the kind of spirit out of which certain actions flow. It is out of the abundance of being filled with the Holy Spirit that we can perform acts of kindness.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5)

Acts of kindness are undeserved and unmerited.

We bestow God’s mercy to someone else because Christ has done the same for us. Kindness is best shown when the other person has no way to pay you back. You give without any strings attached. There are absolutely no expectations attached along with the act of kindness. Oh, how I love that! That is why this fruit of the Spirit is absolutely divine.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

iHeartRadio Wore Me Out

iHeartRadio Wore Me Out

On Saturday night we went to watch Lady Antebellum perform at the iHeartRadio festival in Austin, TX. We had the privilege of seeing our friends, Hillary Scott and Chris Tyrrell, before the show. We serve alongside them in serving the people of Haiti with an organization called myLIFEspeaks. Minutes before going on to perform, Chris handed my son a pair of autographed drumsticks. He completely made this lil’ guy’s day! This act of kindness was completely unexpected. Although Kade fell asleep during Carrie Underwood’s performance (don’t ask me how!), his lil’ hands had a tight grip on those sticks. Trust me, his sisters tried to sneak them out of his hands during his sleep and he quickly clenched his hands!!

That’s what kindness is all about. Sharing some love in the most unforeseen moments. Making the most of someone else’s day.

Why not share some kindness today?

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

unknown

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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