Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Carson!

Today is Carson's birthday, and we got to help him celebrate turning 4!
Coralyn jumped on one of the many vehicles right away.
She needed a quick lesson in steering, and stopping!
Coralyn riding on the "rollercoaster" they made.
After she rode the rollercoaster, she tried out the slide.
Next, she played in the house with Saba and Sam.
Then, she was on to draw with the sidewalk chalk.
Let's try out this jeep!
She wasn't too sure about the big ball that you could get inside and roll around in.
She was sure, though, that she needed to be right next to Carson while he opened presents.
She also thought it was very important to pick up all the tissue paper, immediately.
Let's eat!
She had to sit right by Carson.
Time for cake!
Apparently, Coralyn couldn't wait to finish singing, "Happy Birthhday, Carson!"
See that finger swipe in the corner?
That would be from my daughter's finger :)
Granted, she did just watch another little girl lick the other side of the cake!
Once she did get her cake and ice cream, I don't think she could shovel in her mouth fast enough.
Pinata time!
Thankfully, Coralyn didn't hit the little boy going after a piece of candy!
Coralyn getting a big hug from Saba and Carson.
We miss Carson so much and are thankful for the 2 years we had with him!
Coralyn wasn't the only one who had fun at the party.
Kellah seemed to enjoy herself quite a bit as well!

Sound of Music

I have been grieving for Brian and Grace all morning. I was praying for them while I was running earlier. I was once again begging God to heal their baby boy.
Little did I know, Baby Samuel was already in the arms of Jesus.
Lawrence got the email and let me know the sad news as I got out of the shower.
Ever since then, it's seems as if every single song that has played on K-Love was meant specificially for me, for all of us who are trying to get our hearts and minds around the plans and purposes that God has in all this, how He is going to work everything out for good, how He is going to bring more glory to His name this way than He would have by healing Baby Samuel here on earth.
Right now I am listening to David Crowder sing, "Oh how He loves us...If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking. Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss. My heart turns violently inside my chest...Oh how He loves us."
In the last hour, I have heard:
Brit Nicole, "All this time from the first tear cry to today's sunrise and every single moment between, You were there. You were always there. It was You, and I You've been walking with me all this time."
Lincoln Brewster, "You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God. You do not faint. You won't grow weary. You're the defender of the weak. You comfort those in need. You lift us up on wings like eagles. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." Brian and Grace kind of adopted this as their theme song these past weeks as they waited for God to act, and heal their baby boy.
Building 429, "So when the walls come falling down on me, and when I'm lost in the current of the raging sea, I have this blessed assurance holding me: All I know is I'm not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus."
Matt Maher remdinded me Your Grace Is Enough.
Aaron Shust encouraged me with My Hope Is in You.
Jeremy Camp helped me look ahead with There Will Be a Day. Right now I am ready more than ever for that day when we are all in Jesus' presence, and there is no more suffering, pain, or loss. No more tears. No more sadness. Just joy and peace. Just Jesus!
I had to stop writing for a bit, so we could go to Carson's birthday party. It was so much fun to see him again and help him celebrate his 4th birthday. Coralyn had a blast driving power wheel of all sorts, swinging, playing in the houses, sliding, and even going on the "rollercoaster" in the backyard! Of course, she had a huge piece of cake, with a generous helping of frosting, not to mention a scoop of ice cream! (Pictures to come.) We are home now, and I am hoping she crashes from her sugar high soon! Though I know the minute -- no, second -- she wakes up she is going to ask for the candy she got from the pinata!
After we got the girls settled in their beds, I turned the radio back on, and it was as if the music picked up right where we had left off a few hours before. All the songs have been speaking to my wounded heart, reassuring me of God's goodness and faithfulness, of His never-ending, unfailing love. Somehow, I can sing along and honestly praise God. There's really nothing better to do. I need Him now more than ever; we all do.
Right now Natalie Grant is singing Held, which she wrote after her friend lost her infant. She says, "This is what it means to be held. How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life. And you survive. This is what it is to be loved and know that the promise was when everything fell, we'd be held."
Mercy Me just finished The Hurt and the Healer. The words of this song are so extremely fitting; I have to include all the lyrics right here:
The question that is never far away
But healing doesn't come from the explained
Jesus, please don't let this go in vain
You're all I have, all that remains
So here I am, what's left of me
When glory meets my suffering
I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide
Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord, take hold and pull me through
So here I am, what's left of me
When glory meets my suffering
It's the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of weakness we must bow
And hear you say "It's over now"
Jesus, come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
Find your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide
Well, that's about sums it up. The songs keep coming, and I can't keep up.
I want to end with one other thought that has been playing over and over in my head all day. Well, ever since Samuel was born really.
When I was in college my good friend Sam Hanson went through a hard time. His mom got cancer. We prayed earnestly for her to be healed. And she was! For awhile. Then the cancer came back. Eventually, Sam's mom went to be with Jesus. At the funeral, Sam's older sister Sarah said something that impacted me greatly, and I have never forgotten her words, nor her perspective during such a difficult period in her life. It's been a few years, so I realize this isn't verbatim, but still the impact is there.
Sarah told us, "I feel blessed and honored that God would count us worthy to go through this, that He thinks we can handle this and bring glory to Him through all this."
Last week, on Friday at our church's Worship Night, I had the opportunity to talk with Grace. I was hoping to encourage her, or at least let her know that I was praying for her, that thousands of people were praying for her and Samuel. But it was Grace who blessed me! Her words, and outlook on her situation, were so similar to Sarah Hanson's. Grace shared with me how she was praising God and thanking Him for using Samuel's story to bring so many people back to Himself, to "wake up" souls that had been asleep spiritually. Here Grace is, not knowing if her baby boy is going to live or die, and she is focused on the good work that God is doing, around the world, through her son. She could have thrown a pity party for herself, but instead she was there at church singing her heart out to Jesus, worshipping Him with her entire being.
May I do the same!
I am writing this with great sadness and sorrow. I don't really know where to begin or what to say once I do. So, I guess I will just get right to the point.

Baby Samuel is at home with Jesus this morning.

Yesterday, Brian and Grace made the decision to take Samuel off all machines, leaving their son completely in the hands of the Lord. They felt like this is what God would have them do at this time, giving their precious baby boy back to Him, however that would play out.

We all prayed for a miracle. We have all been praying for the past 3 and half weeks for God to heal Baby Samuel. We fasted. We cried out to God. We got on our knees and pleaded with God on behalf of this baby boy and his family.

I know God heard our prayers, but why He didn't answer them the way we wanted, I have absolutely no clue. In fact, I am struggling with anger and frustration, confusion and doubt. I have never prayed so hard, with so much faith, for anything ever before. I truly believed God was going to come through and heal Baby Samuel.

I'm not saying that God let us down. I am admitting, though, that I don't understand (or like) His plans and purposes right now. In my little human mind I think that healing Baby Samuel would certainly have brought massive amounts of glory to God's name. He would have shown His power, proving He can do the humanly/medically impossible. All of us who have been praying so fervently for God to act would have burst out in praise, thanking God for His miraclous and wondrous work! Many others, especially skeptics, would have to give credit to God alone and confess that He indeed is Lord.

So, I am left wondering why God sees things differently. He is all about bringing glory to His name, showing His power, drawing people to Him, etc. He never goes against His character, which is one of love and goodness, faithfulness and mercy, justice and truth. Therefore, I must believe, whether I like it or not, that God's plans are better than mine, that His ways are perfect, that He has a reason for acting in this way. What's more, I can't have my praise of God depend on Him doing what I wanted, when I wanted. That would be conditional worship, and not true worship at all.

I can't help but think of the verse/song, "The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Everything within me wants to scream and shout at God. I want to throw some stuff at Him too, heavy stuff like rocks and fifty pound dumb bells. I want to be mad, furious really, at God for not healing this precious baby boy, for allowing his family to experience such sadness and grief as they mourn the loss of their infant son.

BUT, that is exactly what Satan wants. Just like in the case of Job, the devil wants our love of God and obedience to Him to depend on what He does for us, on how much He blesses us. The second something goes wrong or the cost of discipleship gets a little too steep, Satan wants us to throw in the towel.

And so, that is what I will NOT be doing. Instead, I am going to hit Satan in the face with my white towel. I am going to smack him so hard that it stings and leaves a mark. I may not understand or like the fact that God chose to take Baby Samuel home today, but I will praise Jesus all the same. I will trust that His plans are better, by far, than mine. I will wait with expectation to see how God uses all this to bring massive amounts of glory to His name, that is what I prayed so hard for after all.

I don't really know too much else. I don't have any more details. I do want to thank all of you who have prayed so faithfully and earnestly for Baby Samuel and his family. Many of you have never met Brian and Grace, or their kids, but you prayed for them all the same. I know your prayers were a huge encouragement to the Allen family the past 3 and a half weeks. Your faith and love and support were a source of strength and peace to them. I know they would give you each a big hug if they could.

I also know that Grace, and her whole family, will be praising God today, and every day. They are just that amazing, and close to their Savior. Please join them, and of course continue to pray for them. I can't imagine being in their position (nor do I ever want to), but I am sure they would appreciate pray for peace, strength, hope, and even joy. Satan may have thought he won this battle, but oh how wrong he is! May he realize he has messed with the wrong people and stirred within us a spark that will set our faith ablaze and serve to draw us all the closer to our Jesus as we go to Him now for the comfort that only He can give.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Don't Leave Me

Lately, any time I start to get ready to go someplace or simply walk from one room to another in the house, Coralyn is quick to shout out, "Don't leave me, Mommy."

No matter how many times I have reassured her, "I will never leave you, Coralyn," she seems to have gotten it into her head that I just might leave her behind, whether that be in the living room or in the bathroom at the zoo or in the parking lot at Hy-Vee.

Every time Coralyn cries out, "Don't leave me, Mommy!" I think of God's promise to "never leave or forsake us." The thought of me leaving Coralyn is absolutely ridiculous! Of course, I would never intentionally leave my precious little girl anywhere, unless Lawrence (or another adult family member) was with her and I was going on a quick errand or a Girls Night Out type of thing. But still, Coralyn is obviously worried that I will leave her.

It seems silly, but then again, how many times do I get frightened and think that God has left me or might leave me on my own in the future? How ridiculous it must seem to my Heavenly Father when I cry out to Him, "Don't leave me!"

"I would never leave you, my child!"

Thank goodness!

Monday, March 26, 2012

World Impact

I am still reading David Platt's Radical, and have been quite convicted and challenged, to say the least. The last couple of chapters have talked specifically about making an impact, on the world.

Platt focuses on two key points, based on Jesus' final command to His followers:
"Go, and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19)

He criticizes our all-too-common way of thinking that certain people are called to go, to be missionaries, overseas. We limit ourselves and put missions in a box when we do this, though. Jesus didn't tell just a few of the disciples to go; he gave the same order to all of them. He didn't take his main three boys Peter, James, and John off to the side and have a secret little meeting. He didn't make special accomodations for any of His followers. They, WE, are all called to do the exact same thing, "Go, and make disciples of all nations."

But, if we all go, who is going to stay and tell the people right here in the United States about Jesus? Don't Americans need the gospel too? Yes! Aren't there plenty of ministry opportunities all around us? Yes, of course. So, why do we need to go anywhere, if that is the case?

Well, I guess if Christians everywhere are given this same command and actually following through on it, then believers from China and France and Brazil and Tanzania will go to the United States, and those of us here in the United States will go to Indonesia and Mongolia and Syria and Chile and, well you get the idea.

That takes care of part of the problem, if you want to call it that. The second issue Platt raises is that going doesn't always mean leaving the United States, at least not forever. He suggests that going means being aware of opportunities that are right here, in your own neighborhood and community, and getting involved. This requires intentionality. This most likely results in making sacrifices, of various kinds. This might make you uncomfortable. However, this will also bring you great joy and satisfaction, in knowing that you are living in obedience to God and bringing glory to His name.

So, what does going while staying look like? David Platt gives a few examples of people who are doing just that.
*Jim and Cathy are intentional about witnessing at their business, evidently. 16 of their employees were saved last year. Jim and Cathy also do some "foreign" missions in Tanzania, teaching men to run their own small business and women to develop trades they can use in their homes.
*Jeff is an extremely successful businessman, but gave up the American Dream and began a ministry that works with local churches around the world to provide clean water in those communities where many people are dying due to preventable waterborne diseases.
*Ed and Patty are retired, but they spend the majority of their time doing diaster relief in cities and towns here in the United States that have experienced flooding.
*Daniel just graduated from college and had the chance to get his master's and doctorates in engineering, for free. He turned down the offer, however, in order to work with an engineering program designed to help impoverished communities around the world.

Great. I don't work outside of the home or have a huge, successful business such that I can fund diaster relief efforts around the world. I'm certainly not retired, and often my time and resources are limited due to having small children in tow. And I'm not a genius either. So, guess I can't be like Jim and Cathy, or Jeff, or Ed and Patty, or Daniel. Or can I?

What can I do, as a married woman and mother of two small children? Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom with a limited income, but I can still go and make disciples. I can still make an impact, on the world. How?

For starters, Lawrence and I have been licensed as foster parents. We felt like God was calling us to be available to love on these precious kids who may not otherwise experience the security of living in a safe place with people who accept them and cherish them. We couldn't ignore the burden He had placed on our heart for children we don't even know, but realize need the love of Jesus more than anything else. And so, while we may not have the biggest home or a lot of money, we definitely have love to give, the best love of all -- God's love.

Thus, we are technically foster parents, but we don't have any foster kiddos in our home right now. And the idea of taking in another child, or children, scares me to death, or at least makes me want to pee my pants. Especially after we had a negative, and somewhat scary, experience the first time we did take a child into our home. So, I am nervous to open our door, and hearts, again. It's risky. But, it is what God has called us to do. It is how He has asked us to show His love, to make His glory known. Instead of worrying about a possible future placement and all that could go wrong, I should be praying for God to bring the right children to our home, at the right time, and that we can love them with a Christ-like love. I should be asking God to provide just this opportunity so that we can show these boys and girls who Jesus truly is and what a relationship with Him looks like day in and day out, how they can enjoy the security of knowing Him and being His child.

As I write this, all tense and fearful about the phone ringing and getting that call, our friends are considering adopting not one, not two, but FOUR kids through the foster-to-adopt program. Brian and Maggie already have two girls of their own. Sylvia, their oldest, shares a birthday with Coralyn. Naomi, their youngest, will be one year old in a month. So, it's not like they are at a totally different place in life than we are. Their house isn't any bigger than ours. And here they are ready and willing to add four kids to their family, all at once. To prepare for this massive explosion, Brian and Maggie just bought an 8 passenger van. If everything goes through, Brian and Maggie will have kids who are 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 11! Talk about living radically for Jesus!

Yeah, I think David Platt could use Brian and Maggie as examples of those who are staying here in the United States yet going and making disciples. They are living out Jesus' final command. They are making an impact, on the world. One, well actually four children at a time. (Six, if you count their biological daughters!)

They are following the example Jesus gave us when it came to making disciples, and thus impacting the world. Platt points out how all too often we try to establish programs and have conventions or create foundations -- all BIG things -- when we go about "making disciples." Jesus did the exact opposite, though, and focused most of His time and energy pouring into twelve select men. He trained them, taught them, and equipped them to carry out His plans and purposes once He returned to heaven. And His last command to them was for them to go and make disciples. As they did this, they were to teach these disciples everything Jesus had taught them. These new disciples in turn would then go and make more disciples, teaching them what they had learned. It's a ripple effect, but very powerful and effective.

And so, I have been challenged to live out my faith radically, to go and make disciples of all nations. I always pictured myself as a missionary overseas, or if I did stay in the United States, I saw myself in the inner city somewhere. I certainly never imagined living in the suburbs! But, for now, that is where I am. Both Lawrence and I are ready and willing to go, to actually leave the United States and live in a completely different country, and serve God wherever He wants. However, He hasn't presently opened any doors for that to happen, at least not that we know of. That doesn't mean we still can't go and make disciples of all nations, to impact the world, right here, right now.

I'm back where I was before I went off on my foster parenting tagent. Sorry, about that rabbit trail, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

What are some tangible, pratical, and radical ways that I can go and make disciples? How do I go about impacting the world from where I live in comfortable suburbia?

God has been tugging at my heart, challenging me to push myself, to get out of my comfort zone. I could easily make it sound like I am already fulfilling Jesus' last command. I love to bake, and for most holidays I have Coralyn help me make cookies or bread and take treat bags to the neighbors. In fact, she now assumes that if we are going to bake, the goodies are not for us, but our neighbors. She especially likes visiting June, an elderly lady who lives across the street with her little dog Sweetie. We don't just give our neighbors food though, we usually have a little note attached to the goody bag. We write out a Bible verse and have a friendly message related to the holiday at hand. But, seriously, how hard is that? Would you consider that radical? I don't. Really, we can do so much more. In fact, I feel like God is challenging me to do just that. And that scares me.

What specifically does He want me to do? Go sit on June's porch and actually talk with her. Bring a ball with us and Coralyn can play catch with her, as I see June do with another little girl in the neighborhood. That terrifies me? Yep! So, does the idea of inviting Frank and Amy over for supper. It's much easier to wave from the driveway or talk over the fence or even offer to pray for them as Frank battles cancer. But, that's a pathetic, half-hearted attempt at going and making disciples, if you could even begin to call it that. They're not Christians, at least not that I know of, and they have done better than us at being good neighbors. Just recently, they knocked on our door, carrying a huge gift bag. They wanted to make sure Coralyn didn't feel left out as a new big sister, so they got her a book and a stuffed caterpillar that is bigger than she is. She now sleeps with the caterpillar every day, not to mention lugging it around the house wherever she goes. And the book, I think I have it memorized now. If they can do that, then surely we can grill some hamburgers and ask them to join us for a BBQ in the backyard.

So far, I have described sitting on an elderly lady's porch and inviting our next-door neighbors over for supper as radical. Seriously?! While I am being ridiculous, I will mention the other way that God has challenged me to step it up. Our church has a monthly community outreach. One of the options for people to do is go to Cedars of Liberty, an assisted living residence/nursing home, and help with a chapel service. They call it "The Old Time Gospel Hour," which is pretty ironic if you know anything about our church. We wouldn't be in charge of preaching the sermon or leading the worship songs. We would just be part of the congregation, so to speak, and then visit with the residents after the service. Pretty far out there, huh? Um, not exactly.

I remember my mom taking me to visit "the little old ladies" when I was growing up. One of the women, Miss EmmaLee, even taught me how to crochet. I want my girls to grow up feeling comfortable around "old people." I don't want them to squirm and watch the second hand on the clock when they enter a nursing home, like I often do (sadly). I want to teach them, by modeling to them, how to love others, including those who might not remember that you stopped by every week to say hi and drop off a plate of cookies or muffins.

Speaking of teaching by example, David Platt explains that is precisely what Jesus did, and thus what we should do today. Since my primary students are my own two daughters, God has helped me see the great importance of raising our girls to know and love Jesus, with all that they are. They need to see me reading my Bible, hear me memorizing Scripture, watch me praying. They need to know it's okay to sing praise songs even if you can't sing on key. And if they don't learn that from me, they certainly will from my dad :) I did. I vividly remember seeing him on his knees in the mornings, praying fervently. And most days I would also hear him singing his heart, and lungs, out, not caring that he was usually terribly out of tune. He was making a joyful noise to the Lord, and I am confident God was pleased with my dad's act of worship.

Coralyn and Kellah also need to grow up living out the Great Comission. I want them to have a passion for missions, a heart for those around the world and right here in our community. I pray for them to stand up for God in their schools, even when that is hard and they lose friends as a result. I pray they will be sensitive to the needs of those around them, whether that be the need for a hug or a hot meal or simple hello. I pray they will long for people to know Jesus and be head over heels in love with Him, like they are, and that they will do whatever they can to draw people into this close, personal relationship with Him.

So, basically, God is "calling" me to be a good neighbor and an excellent mom. I should be able to do that. So why am I so scared? Why am I hesitating? I don't know! But I am.

But I can't. Not if I truly want to make an impact, on the starting right here in the United States, in my neigborhood, in my very own home.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Will Not Be Moved, I Will Not Be Shaken

I know it's only March and spring has just officially begun, but I can't help but think of Ponca Bible Camp, one of my favorite places in the entire world, especially during the summer. One of my favorite times at camp is the worship/singing part of the daily chapel services. I absolutely love listening to and watching the kids sing their lungs, and hearts, out to God. One of my favorite songs has the line, "I will not be moved, I will not be shaken." The kids wiggle and make all kind of weird, sporadic movements; then, they get to this line and jump up. When they land, they freeze and shout out, "I will not be moved, I will not be shaken." I love the energy and the visual picture of how we are firmly rooted and grounded on Christ, our Rock.

My life verse/passage is Psalm 62. David writes (in verses 5-8),
"I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O, my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge."
After reading Holly's update about Baby Samuel and Grace's special request that we pray for peace and rest, my mind has been returning to these verses and I keep singing the line, "I will not be moved, I will not be shaken," over and over and over again.
I have thought, too, all various other places in Scripture where God speaks of peace and rest.
Philippians 4:6, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Isaiah 26:2-4, "Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace those who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is an eternal rock."
Psalm 4:8, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."
Romans 15:13, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
And being in Romans, I couldn't help but think of another "famous" Ponca song. Romans 16:19 says, "And the God of peace will soon crush Satan." As the song goes, "Yes, God will crush him underneath your feet," and then you jump up, turn around, and come crashing down on Satan. Those are the motions to the song, and as I do them, I have to picture Satan as a little bug who gets squashed and smashed and totally obliterated as our feet come stomping down on his tiny head. And just to "rub it in his face," I like to twist my foot a little, for good measure.
Oh how I pray that God will soon crush Satan and show him who's boss! What better way to do that, at least in part, then by healing Baby Samuel. That's right, Satan, God is in control here. He's the Great Physician, the Mighty Healer, and you can't stop Him, no matter what you try to do. Our God is the God of the Impossible, for nothing is too hard or difficult for Him, not even EEG's that show no sign of brain activity. If God can raise someone from the dead, I am more than sure that He can handle this itty bitty hiccup (sure, it doesn't seem itty bitty to us, but we have to remember that God is in charge and nothing has caught Him off guard or surprised Him in the least).
And as God crushes Satan, He Himself will be magnified, proving to the world who He is and bringing massive amounts of glory to His name. As Psalm 46:10 promises, "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth." While this verse doesn't actually have the word peace in it, I am pretty sure that is what "being still and knowing that God is God" is all about.
Grace mentioned that God has kept brigning this verse to her mind, over and over again. He has also reminded her that this peace should lead her to praise Him. Another passage that has been on her heart is Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory."
If I were in Grace's place, I think I would focus on the "beauty from ashes and mourning turned to joyous blessing" part. BUT, Grace specifically told Holly that she wanted all of us prayer warriors to focus on PRAISING God for what He has already done: her quick recovery, the improvements that Samuel has shown, and for the hearts that are being changed as a result of Samuel's story. This brings me back to Philippians 4:6, "Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done."
And so, I am asking you to do just that: praise God for what He has done thus far. Of course, Brian and Grace would still greatly appreciate prayers for their son's complete and total healing! They continue to wait on the Lord for this miracle and certainly need our prayer support as they do. A song lyric they have been singing over and over again is, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord," taken from Isaiah 40:28-31.
Philippians 4:7 goes on to remind us that after we have thanked God for what He has done, "you will experience God's peace." I think that this peace-that-passes-understanding goes hand in hand with strength, a strength that comes from a God who "never grows weak or weary" and thus enables us to "soar high on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint."
David put it perfectly in Psalm 29:11,
"The Lord gives His people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace."
As we are filled with God's peace and given new strength, may we be reminded that with Christ as our Rock, we will not be moved and we will not be shaken! May God be exalted and Satan crushed to smitherines as we keep on praying for Baby Samuel and praise God for all that He has done and will continue to do!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This past week I began reading David Platt's book Radical, and I couldn't help but smile at how timely his words are for me personally.

He cuts straight to the chase, "Think about it. Would you say that your life is marked right now by desperation for the Spirit of God? Would you say that the church you are a part of is characterized by this sense of desperation?"

I was delighted that I didn't have to hesitate, but could quickly and confidently answer with a big fat, "YES!" Now, more than ever before, I am desperate for God. I am realizing more and more my need for Him, my total and complete dependence on Him, that my life is meaningless and hopeless without Him. I have to have Him come through for me. If not, I am left with the impossible, and even worse without any hope of that changing.

For the past two weeks, I have been praying almost non-stop for Baby Samuel. I am desperate for God to act on behalf of this precious baby boy. This situation, more than any other, has challenged my faith and caused me to question, "Do I really believe God? Do I truly take Him at His Word?" If so, then I need to act like it. I need to pray, in faith, that God can heal this baby boy, that He can make him whole and well, as if there was never anything wrong.

And I have. I keep waiting, with anticipation, to hear the good news that Baby Samuel is "all better." Every day, every ten minutes or so, I want to check facebook and read a post about the miracle God has done. I have been joined by many others in this quest, and that has emboldened me and encouraged me to keep on praying with such faith, with such tenacity before our God.

God hasn't answered our prayers yet, not completely anyway. BUT, He has shown His power and done things that only He can do. He must be given the glory for the fact that Baby Samuel is opening his eyes, grabbing fingers, moving his arms and legs, breathing on his own, and eating his mama's milk through the tube. All those things are medically impossible, BUT God is not limited by our human resources. He is the Great Physican, Jehovah-Rapha (healer). And He is at work in Baby Samuel, no question about it.

And yet, I want more. I am desperate for God to completely and totally heal this baby boy. And so, I keep praying, in faith. I keep anxiously awaiting the news that our prayers have been answered, that our knocks have been heard and the door has been swung wide open!

I think God has been building up my faith, preparing me for this situation perhaps. Granted, I am "just" a prayer warrior in this instance. I am not watching my own child lay in a hospital bed, nor do I want to be, but I am praying as if it were my own son. I know Grace would do the same for me. So, while I am not necessarily on the front lines of this particular battle, I have been there before. Last fall and this winter, our financial situation was such that we were desperate for God. We were certainly at the end of ourselves and HAD to have God come through for us and provide for our needs, which He did -- in abundance. He did the impossible, giving us the money to pay our bills, put food in the fridge and gas in our cars. Not only that, He gave us MORE than we needed, so that we in turn could bless others. And He continues to blow me away with His provision. Right now I am teaching a childbirth class with three couples, two of them drive at least 2 hours, ONE WAY, to get to class. Next month, I am doing a private class with a couple from Springfield! The only explanation for this: God has arranged for these people to get pregnant, find out about my childbirth classes, contact me, and set up the classes. On top of all that, God is working it out for me to watch a couple of awesome kiddos next year, meaning that we will have a consistent income once again.

I am tempted to take a sigh of relief and start thinking, "Ah, we are good to go." But, I am learning that this is NOT what God wants. He wants me to STAY in a state of desperation, a place where I am aware of my total dependence on Him, my complete and utter need for Him. He wants me to keep coming to Him, calling out to Him, desperate for more of Him in every area of my life.

As David Platt writes, "In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts His people in situations where they come face to face with their need for Him. In the process He powerfully demonstrates His ability to provide everything His people need in ways they never could have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, He makes much of His own name."

Well, right now the Allens are certainly in a situation where they are face to face with their need for God. As, as their church family, we too are at that place, as we come before the throne of God on their behalf and plead for Him to heal Baby Samuel. As we get on our knees and cry out to God, we have faith and believe God will hear and respond to our prayers, that He will do a miracle! In doing so, God will bring much glory to His name. Our cries will turn to shouts of joy and praise. We will jump up and down, declaring God's awesome power and telling everyone we know of His wonderous deeds!

Platt's words are both encouraging and challenging, "The power of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, and as a result we have no need to muster up our own might. Our great need is to fall before an almighty Father day and night and to plead for Him to show His radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for His glory what we could never imagine in our own strength. And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of His Spirit."

And so, I pray once more that God, who raised Jesus back to life, will touch Baby Samuel and heal him completely. May His power be made known in a huge way, and may much glory be given to His holy name!

I know that I have posted a lot about Baby Samuel in the past two weeks, but I can't help myself. God is using this baby boy to teach me a lot about faith and prayer and what it really means to be a desperado, a woman who is passionately and earnestly seeking after Jesus as though her life totally and completely depended on Him alone. Because it does...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can I Have a Cookie, Please?

"I want a cookie, Mommy," Coralyn announces first thing this morning when she walks into our bedroom. "We're not going to have a cookie for breakfast, sweetie," I answer, rolling over and rubbing my eyes.

"Mommy, I want a cookie," she bounces right back, obviously not hearing what I just said, or perhaps not wanting to accept my answer.

"Let's wait and have a cookie when we get to the zoo."

"Okay, Mommy, I want a cookie now too."

I don't think she got the idea, as she kept on asking for a cookie, every three seconds. I kept on telling her "not right now," or "at the zoo," or "later, okay." Still, "Mommy, can I have a cookie, please?"

She would not be deterred. She was determined. She was persistent.

I think she must have overheard the sermon last night. Our pastor is going through the book of Luke and last night we were in chapter 11. He told the story of the man who went to his neighbor's house in the middle of the night, asking for bread. The man kept on knocking and knocking and knocking, until his poor neighbor finally got fed up with him and answered the door, just to get the man to go away. The man went away happy, with his much-needed bread, and the groggy, frustrated, annoyed neighbor went back to sleep.

After his humorous rendition of the story, Pastor Michael reminded us that context is crucial when studying the Bible if we are to truly understand what Jesus is telling us through His parables. Just before telling this story, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. He gave them what we now call, "The Lord's Prayer." One of the lines being, "Give us this day our daily bread." How fitting then that Jesus follows this up with a story about a man going to his neighbor in the middle of the night and knocking on his door until he gets the bread he so desperately needs from his neighbor. The point being that we too should be persistent. When we pray, we are to "keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking" until our prayer is answered.

Pastor Michael also shared several other stories of persistent people.

First, there's the time when the widow went to the judge and kept on asking for justice. She didn't give up until the judge granted her request. This judge didn't fear God or care what people thought, but he eventually caved and gave this widow what she wanted, if only to get her off his back and have some peace and quiet.

There's also the Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter who wouldn't take no for an answer. When she asked Jesus to heal her little girl, His response seems quite rude and certainly not politically correct, "I'm here for the Jews." She doesn't seem to have heard Him and replies, "Lord, help me!" Jesus, again, is downright mean, "It's not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." Still, the woman isn't phased and immediately asks Jesus again to heal her daughter, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table." Finally, Jesus seems to have a heart and commends the woman for her faith. AND, He heals her little girl.

Going back to the Old Testament, there's the time when Abraham had the audacity to ask God, not once, not twice, but three times not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God agreed to Abraham's request and promised not to save these cities if He found just 10 righteous men.

I also thought of the time when Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites, who had once again sinned. God was threatening to destroy them, but Moses (who himself had gotten fed up with the Israelites a time or two) stepped in and begged God not to kill off His chosen people. God heard Moses and did as he asked.

Okay, so God wants us to be persistent in our prayers.

Jesus had another point to make though. He wanted us to remember that God is good. He compared God the Father to earthly fathers, who would never give their children a snake if they asked for an egg, or a stone instead of bread. If sinful men are good to their children, then how much more so is our heavenly and perfect Father to us?!!!

Got it: God, who is good, hears and answers prayer.

This passage of Scripture and the principle taught in it couldn't be more fitting for our church family's present situation. As Pastor Michael has said many times before, "Where you are in life is where you are in Scripture." So, so, so true yet again! For the past week and a half we have been desperately crying out to God to heal Baby Samuel. We have fasted, we have cried, we have begged God to act on behalf of this precious little boy. We have asked and pleaded with others, around the world, to join us in our persistent prayers. And we have rejoiced and praised God for the works that He has done so far: Samuel has opened his eyes, he has moved his arms and legs, he has grasped someone's finger, he is eating his mommy's milk through a tube. Yet, the EEG still shows no sign of brain activity in Baby Samuel. So, we keep on praying. We will be persistent in our prayers. God is going to keep on hearing, "Heal Baby Samuel, please!" from the DC family and others everywhere. We will not give up.

I can't help but smile as I write this. Coralyn has evidently caught on to this concept a little too well. In the course of the past thirty minutes, we have conversations of the like:

"Mommy, I want a snack."
"When I'm done feeding Kellah I will get you something to eat."
"I want a granola bar."
"What did I just say? As soon as Kellah is done, I will get it for you."
"Mommy, I'm hungry. I want a granola bar."
And this continued for a good five minutes or more, but you get the idea...

"Mommy, I want a ball."
"Not right now, sweetie. I am working on the computer."
"I want a ball, Mommy."
"Just a second."
"Mommy, I want a ball, please."
"Okay, fine." I get up to get her the ping pong ball.

Kellah, too, has apparently realized that if you ask for something enough times, Mommy will more than likely give in to your demands. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out exactly what the child needs/wants, as I have fed her multiple times in the past thirty minutes, held her, rocked her, put her in the swing, laid her on my lap, and various other things in attempts to soothe her tears.

As I was thinking about being persistent in prayer and parents giving in to their child's pleas, just to get them to be quiet, I realized that telling your child "yes" or letting them have their way isn't always good parenting. Sure, you might be embarrassed if your child throws a fit at Wal-Mart, repeatedly asking for a toy or candy or whatnot and then screaming when you don't grant them their request. Yes, you would rather just go the easy route and let them have whatever it is they so desperately want instead of dealing with a kicking, crying child. Saying yes is much easier, and results in much less gawking from other shoppers, than a dealing with an all out temper tantrum. You certainly don't want to be that parent...

But you also don't want to be the parent who raises a spoiled brat and thinks that if they yell, kick, scream, etc. they will get their way, every time.

Good parenting means that you don't always say yes to your kids. Good parenting means you tell them no, because you know what is best for them. Good parenting means your kids might not like you at times. Like this morning. I didn't let Coralyn have a cookie for breakfast, and she wasn't too happy about it. And I didn't let her have a cookie in the car, even though she asked another good 10-15 times on the way to the zoo, and she wasn't thrilled at all. I stuck to my guns and made her wait, like I had said, until we arrived at the zoo. Sure enough, as soon as we entered the gates, Coralyn asked once more, "Mommy, can I have a cookie, now?" I got the lunch box out and handed her a letter I cookie, just like she wanted.

How do I reconcile this with persistent prayer? Jesus coupled this concept of "keep on asking, seeking, and knocking" with the reminder that God is a good Father, better than an earthly father. And so, despite our consistent pleas for Him to heal Baby Samuel (or whatever else may be on our heart and mind at a particular time of life), He might say, "no, not right now," or, "later," or "wait a little bit," or something of the sort. And I won't like that. That's not what I wanted to hear. BUT, I have to accept it, and remember that God is good. He knows what is best for me and will do that, not whatever it is I want, no matter how many times I ask Him. He does this out of love, in the same way that I told Coralyn she couldn't have a cookie earlier this morning.

I don't know what God's will is in the case of Baby Samuel. But I do know what I, and countless others, want: for God to heal this precious baby boy. And so, I will do as Jesus said and keep on "asking, seeking, and knocking" on behalf of Baby Samuel. My voice may go hoarse, but I will continue to cry out, "Heal Baby Samuel, please!"

Kellah at Three Months

This cannot be! My baby girl is three months old already!

Kellah is quite good at rolling over now. She is also pretty good at pushing herself up, so I know she's gonna be on her knees soon!

She can sit up/lean on the couch as well.

Most nights Kellah sleeps 6-8 hours straight, which is super nice for me! During the day, she eats every 2-4 hours.

I think Kellah's absolute favorite thing to do though is to suck her thumb, or all of her fingers, or sometimes to try to get her entire hand in her mouth.

She's starting to coo and gaa and "talk" more and more, which I absolutely love. She likes to smile and laugh too. The other day we had the best chuckle together!

Kellah's hair is still really red, and crazy as ever, with her little shoot that always sticks up no matter what I do. Usually I just put a bow on that part to make it look cute and like it's supposed to be sticking straight up.

I don't really know what else to say about my baby girl, other than I love her like crazy! She brings such joy to our lives, and I am extremely blessed to be her mommy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Other Way

My heart has been so heavy lately as I have been fervently praying for God to work a miracle in the life of Baby Samuel. I am still earnestly calling out to God to intervene for this precious baby boy, and am waiting with eager anticipation to hear a good report soon. In the mean time, I guess God knew I needed some good laughs. Of course, He used my Coralyn to lighten the mood and bring smiles to my face and fill my heart with joy.

"Read it the other way." When Lawrence reads to Coralyn, he likes to use expression and emotion, like any good teacher would when modeling what great readers do. He tries out his different voices: cowboy, squeaky, hick, deep bass, and so on. For some reason, Coralyn does not find this amusing at all. Every time he tries to do something fun, she stops him and reprimands, "No, read it the other way." So he teases her a bit more and tries out a few more voices. Nope, she won't have any of it. "NO! Read it normal!" And so Lawrence gives in and reads in his plain, old regular boring voice. Coralyn has caught on to the fact that he will always start with the silly voices, and so now before she ever hands him the book she wants him to read, she starts out with, "Read it the other way. Read it normal."

"This pickle died." The other day for lunch, I didn't feel like making anything and so I just gave Coralyn her plate of leftovers from the evening before. Her pickle had kind of shriveled up, but I figured it was still good. I wasn't about to waste food! However, Coralyn didn't seem to agree with my opinion of the pickle's condition. She looked at it, crinkled up her face, and handed me the apparently uneatable pickle. In all seriousness, she explains, "Mommy, this pickle died."

"It's on backwards." Coralyn wanted to watch her afternoon episode of Go! Diego, Go! and so I got the TV on and started the show. I forgot, however, to turn up the volume. I didn't realize my mistake and went into the kitchen to finish up supper. Coralyn promptly called me back into the living room. "It's on backwards, Mommy," she complained and handed me the remote to remedy the problem. Once I adjusted the volume, she was good to go!

"I wanna wake up." As we are eating lunch and I remind Coralyn that when we are done, she and Kellah are both going to take naps, Coralyn informs me, "No, I wanna wake up." Well, my precious child, you haven't even gone to sleep yet, so you might have a hard time waking up. She didn't seem to appreciate my explanation that in order to wake up she first had to go to sleep.

"Big hug." This is my absolute favorite. The other day Coralyn was not interested in taking a nap and came up with multiple reasons to come out of her room: she needed to go potty, she was thirsty, she heard something, her back itched, her head itched, she needed a wet towel (a baby wipe to use to wipe her nose), she needed to take her bow out of her hair, she wanted me to read a story, she wanted me to sing a song, she wanted to give me a big hug. After an hour of excuses, I was getting pretty frustrated, especially since every time she came out of her room, she walked past Kellah's room and made enough noise that Kellah woke up from her nap before she was ready (at least in my opinion). But, how could I get mad at my sweet little girl when she came to the top of the stairs and says with her arms open as wide as she could get them, "Mommy, I want to give you a big hug." I wrapped her up tight, kissed her on the head, and took in the precious kairos moment. Then, I promptly escorted her back to her room and explained that I loved her dearly and she needed to take a nap now. The moment was over. My sweet little girl turned into a mad woman and began screaming and shouting, which of course woke up Kellah, who had just gone back to sleep.

I am so thankful for these memories, even if at the time I wasn't treasuring the moment. I am glad that God has a sense of humor and uses my little girl to make me laugh. I am blessed beyond words to be Coralyn's mommy (and Kellah's too). I am praying for many more smiles and giggles in the future.
How can you not smile at these lovely ladies?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Praying Like Elijah

Ah, I have so many thoughts running through my head right now, so forgive me in advance if this post seems jumbled and mumbled and bumbled and tumbled. I think that is all the umbled words I can come up with off the top of my head. See, I am already talking nonsense.

My life changed (yet again) on Wednesday morning when I ran into a friend from church at Target. Stacey informed me that she had just gotten word that our friend Grace had some complications during labor and both her and the baby had been rushed to the hospital. Immediately, my heart was torn to pieces. Between our tears, we prayed right there in the middle of the aisle. Stacey didn't have much information, but she promised to keep me posted. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I continued to pray for Grace and her baby boy. I had no idea how bad the situation was, but I had faith that God would make everything all better.

A week later, I am still holding on to that hope. I am still praying fervently for Baby Samuel. I now realize the gravity of the situation and how completely dependent we are on God to make everything all better. In fact, without Him there is no way that things will change or improve. We need a miracle, and so I keep on praying. Day and night. Night and day. I have run out of words to say, and so I just keep praying the same thing over and over and over again, "God, please heal Baby Samuel."

As my days have become consumed with praying for this precious baby boy, I can't help but think that time should freeze. Everyone in the world should stop whatever they are doing and pray for Baby Samuel. Don't they realize that his parents have spent the entire last week in a hospital room watching their newborn son get hooked up to wires and undergo medical treatment? Don't they understand how tired and worn out they are, how desperate they are for their son to be healed? Can't they sense the heaviness that is in the air? Why then are people shopping for shoes? How dare people yell and scream at the top of their lungs with giddy excitement as they watch a live performance by the newest boy band? How rude that people take advantage of a sunny day and play at the park or visit the zoo? Wipe that smile off your face! Stop laughing! Don't you know that you should be crying for this little boy and his family, pouring your heart out to God, begging Him to do a miracle?

I have been so torn and confused with my emotions. As I look at Coralyn and Kellah, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, so thankful for two healthy, beautiful girls. When I play with them and read to them, I am blown away with how blessed I am. When we have gone to the park and the zoo this week, I have certainly enjoyed myself. But, at the same time, I can't help but feeling guilty. When Kellah coos at me or gives me one of her priceless smiles, I can't help but think of Baby Samuel. I can't imagine being in Grace's shoes, having waited nine long months to meet your precious baby, to hold and kiss him and cuddle with him and have him look back up at you with those sweet eyes and smile because he knows he is safe in his mama's arms. And then this happens. When Kellah wakes up in the middle of the night to eat, I may be tired and wish that she had given me another hour of sleep, but there is no way I can complain. I am sure that Grace would love to feed her Baby Samuel at 3 am, and 4 am, and 5 am... When Coralyn cries and whines and fights going to bed (or taking a nap), it is so easy for me to get frustrated and annoyed. But I am catching myself. I bet Grace would love to hear her Baby Samuel cry. And so I am left wondering how in the world I am supposed to feel, how I am supposed to act, knowing that my friend is hurting so much and I can't do anything for her or her baby (except to keep on praying!).

Sunday the weather was perfect for my mood. Rainy, dreary, overcast. The past three days have been absolutely gorgeous, in the 70's and 80's, sun shining, birds chirping, etc., etc. This doesn't seem right. On the other hand, it is fitting. It gives us hope that God will shine His light on this dark situation, that He will turn this mourning into laughter, this weeping into dancing.

I read in Psalm 75 this morning,
"We thank You, O God! We give thanks because You are near. People everywhere tell of Your wonderful deeds!"

God is near. He is right here in the midst of us as we pray for Baby Samuel. He knows our pain, our grief, our desperate desire for miraculous healing. Psalm 34:18 says, "God is close to the brokenhearted." Psalm 147:3 is even better, "God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

I don't know who all is praying for Baby Samuel, but I am sure with facebook and twitter and blogs and such that people all around the world have heard his story and joined together to cry out for God to work on this little boy's behalf. And when God does, you better believe that "people everywhere will tell of His wonderful deeds!" It's going to be a global celebration when we get word that Baby Samuel is all better.

This kind of faith is a hard thing for me. Maybe it's because I don't understand how prayer works exactly. I know that God is totally and completely capable of healing Baby Samuel. He wouldn't even break a sweat. I know that countless people are fasting and praying on his behalf. Many, many of these people I regard as prayer warriors who are overflowing with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I consider them to have giant-sized faith. And so I wonder why God hasn't answered our prayers yet? Why hasn't He seemed to respond to our cries for help, our desperate pleas for His mercy? I don't know. I have no answers. And I don't like that, not at all.

But I can't give up. So I will keep on doing the only thing I know to do: pray, pray, and then pray some more. More than that though, I have to keep on believing that God truly can work a miracle here. I can't let doubt creep its way into my heart and mind. I have to read the words of Scripture and trust God to stay true to His promises. I don't know how that will all play out, as I don't know God's timing or fully understand what He is doing in the grand scheme of life. "His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts."

Well, Kellah is waking up from her nap, and so I must finish with these thoughts on prayer:

James wrote, "the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well." He says, "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

He goes on to encourage us, "Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."

Elijah prayed, and fire came down.
Moses prayed, and the people walked across on dry ground.
Peter prayed, and a lame man walked for the first time in his entire life.
Paul prayed, and a woman was raised from the dead.
Hannah prayed, and she had a son. She named him Samuel. She dedicated him to the Lord. His whole life was spent serving God and making His Word known.

Grace, too, had a son and named him Samuel. Grace and her family and friends and complete strangers prayed for Samuel. I have to believe that this boy too will do awesome things for our God, bringing massive amounts of glory to His name.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Calling All Prayer Warriors

I had wanted to write out a sequel to my previous blog post, "Save It for Later." I realized after I finished it, I had more thoughts swimming in my head. Also, Coralyn did a classic "save it for later" move and I wanted to share about that.

However, more pressing things are happening. So, I will just have to save my additional comments for later.

If you are part of the Desperation Community, then you probably know everything I am about to write. You very well might know more than I do about the present situation. This is mainly for those of you know me from high school or college or wherever else and have seen my facebook posts asking for prayer Baby Samuel but don't know exactly who he is or why prayer for him is so urgent and necessary. I thought I would fill you in, and beg you to keep praying for this precious baby boy and his family.

A little background on the Allen family:
Brian and Grace Allen attend my church, and they are special, special people. Brain's nickname is Wolverine, and if you ever met him, you would immediately know why. His looks shouldn't scare you though; he is one of the most amazing men I know. Which is fitting because his wife Grace is one of the most amazing women you will ever meet. When we sing, I love hearing Grace's voice in the back of the room. She is so enthralled with Jesus and that comes out beautifully when she sings. Brian and Grace help in the children's ministry, and if you ask any kid at Desperation they would tell you that they absolutely love Miss Grace!

Two of their boys, Caleb and Joshua, have come to Ponca Bible Camp with us. Caleb is one of the sweetest kiddos, and his brother Joshua is too (although Joshy-poo, as I like to call him, can be a little honery at times). Caleb's dark black hair and Josh's rat-tail are unforgettable, as are their kind hearts and precious smiles. Their little brother Micah is pretty cool too. He just turned 2.

Now for the reason why I am urging, begging, you to join me in prayer:
Grace had Baby Samuel last Wednesday. At some point during the labor, Grace knew something was wrong. I like to say that Grace and the Holy Spirit are pretty tight. In fact, I think Grace has the gift of faith. She is a prayer warrior if there ever was one. So, I truly believe the Holy Spirit told Grace that she needed to have the midwife call 911. Amber, who just so happens to be the wonderful woman who helped us bring Kellah into this world, immediately called 911. By the time Samuel was born, the ambulance was there. During labor, Grace's uterus ruptured. I don't know all the other details, but I do know that Baby Samuel was without oxygen for some time. When the ambulance arrived, the EMT's or firemen or whoever immediately bagged him. Both Grace and Baby Samuel were rushed to the North Kansas City Hospital. Grace had to have surgery for her ruptured uterus, but Baby Samuel needed more help and had to be transferred to Children's Mercy Hospital. He has been there since.
Grace meeting Baby Samuel for the first time

Baby Samuel didn't show signs of brain activity, so the doctors put him on a cooling blanket. This makes his body extremely cold, almost hypothermic.

Yesterday, they began the process of warming him back up to a normal temperature, in hopes that this would activate his brain waves. As of last night, I hadn't heard if the treatment was successful or not.

On facebook today, Brain posted a picture of Grace holding Baby Samuel.
I am not certain what exactly that means for him. Brain did mention that they are not out of the woods and still need a miracle on behalf of their son. That Samuel is still alive is an act of God. Our church family is praying earnestly for God to work again and heal Baby Samuel completely. This would certainly be a miracle, something that God alone can do! Yes, the doctors can try their best, but really it's up to God. We desperately need Him to come through for Baby Samuel and the Allen family.

I pray that like the Samuel of the Bible, this little boy will grow up to love God, hear His voice, and serve Him wholeheartedly all of his days. I pray that Baby Samuel will bring massive amounts of glory to God's name, that his life will showcase the glory and power of God in supernatural ways. When people ask Samuel his life story, there will be no denying that God's mighty hand was at work from beginning to end.

Please join me in praying for this precious baby boy. Spread the word. Tell as many people as possible to pray for Baby Samuel. And then, when he is healed, we can all rejoice together! What a celebration that will be!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Save It for Later

One of Coralyn's infamous sayings lately is, "I want to save it for later" or some variation.

If she doesn't finish all of her food at a meal or snack time, "I'll save it for later."

If she doesn't want to take a bath when I suggest we do so, "No, I want to save it for later."

"Not right now, Mommy. Let's go later," she says when I explain that we need to run an errand.

"I will save my Diego for later. After we get back from Hy-Vee." she states, wanting to be sure that she gets in her daily allotted two episodes of Go, Diego, Go!

If I ask her to put away her toys, "Let's wait and do it later. I want to keep playing."

"Do you need to go potty?" I ask, checking to make sure she doesn't wait to the last minute. "No, I'll go later."

Needless to say, "Save it for later," can be used in multiple situations in our household. Of course, Coralyn doesn't always get her way and can't "save it for later," whatever it may be at the time.

What strikes me as funny is that when she says that she wants to save her food for later, this really means she is done with it all together. I always put her plate or bowl or whatever back in the fridge to save it for later, and when she does ask for a snack or something else to eat, I pull it back out. "No, I'm saving that for later," she rationalizes and requests something totally new and different.

I almost don't even ask anymore when she is done eating part of a snack or meal. I automatically tell myself, "No, let's save it for later." And sure enough, Coralyn comes through and assures me that she wants to save her raisins or peanut butter sandwich or apple or pear or cheese or yogurt or crackers for later. But more often than not, I am the one who finishes eating the food, later, of course. I can't let the food go to waste, you see. I appreciate Coralyn's good intentions of wanting to save it for later, but given that she doesn't typically follow through on that promise, I go ahead and do the job for her.

I wonder how often God feels the same way. He asks me to do something: read my Bible, pray, sit and be still for just a few minutes, tell someone about Him, write a note to a friend who is hurting, or give a friend a call to encourage them. Instead of obeying, I respond, "Not right now. I'll do it later." When it's more convenient for me. When I'm not busy with whatever it is I am doing right that is obviously more important than whatever God has asked me to do. Somehow, later never comes. It always gets pushed back more and more. There's always later, never now. Now is full of folding laundry and unloading the dishwasher and making supper and changing diapers and buying groceries and going to storytime or playgroup. Now is taken, overbooked even. Now is not a good time. Later works better for me.

I'm not telling God, "No." I'm not disobeying or anything like that. I'm not outright defying Him. I'm just going to "do it later." I have good intentions. But in reality those good intentions really mean that I am ignoring God, pushing Him aside, not taking Him seriously, giving Him the shaft, telling Him He's not all that important. And honestly, how often do I actually follow through on my promise and get around to doing what He asked me to do? Sadly, not very often. Just like I typically end up eating Coralyn's food that she has saved for later but never gets around to wanting again, God has to do the job for me.

True, He didn't really need me in the first place, anyway. He can get the job done perfectly well all on His own, but the fact that He invited me to be a part of the work is quite a big deal. I should take it seriously. I should jump at the opportunity to do something for God, no matter how small or ridiculous or scary it may seem at the time. When God asks me to join Him in His kingdom work, why in the world would I respond with a "not right now, maybe later" type of answer?! And yet, I do. All.the.time.

I can laugh at Coralyn's many, "I'll save it for later, Mommy" remarks throughout the day. I highly doubt God does the same with mine.

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