Antsy for Summer

April 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Summer is quickly approaching and I wait in anticipation for the day when I can dip my toes in the cool water of our nearby river. When I can look quizzically at the lightning bugs as they twinkle back at me. With much hope that the craving for ice cream isn’t larger than my resolve to look nice in a swimsuit, I eagerly await summer.

Last summer my friend and I migrated to the warm shores of Outer Banks in North Carolina. The sand squished between my toes and the sea breeze caused ripples through the tall grass. No wonder God created the waters and said, “It is good.” And though my heart jumped in time with the waves as I wondered at all the mysteries its depths might hold, one of the things I cherished the most was unity. The way the waves swept along the shore as crabs scuttled frantically to keep up with the torrent. How the dolphins swam together, never leaving their loved ones. Laughing with my longtime friend, standing side by side, we watched the way the waves formed before falling with tremendous force.

Unity is sometimes found in the little things, but once it’s found, glory to a Creator is necessary. That’s the kind of stuff that leaves me breathless. And although it’s hard to see sometimes, everything has a purpose. Everything. From the smallest ant to the largest rodent. There has to be a reason for God suggesting we be like the ants.

Ants have unity, they have perseverance, and they have the strength it takes to preserve not just their life, but also the lives of others in the colony. Instead of looking out for only themselves, they continue collecting food until there is enough to share. Now instead of pondering why God said that, I’m pondering why we don’t act more like the ants. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6 NIV).

I wish I always acted like an ant. I don’t mean by raiding picnic baskets and biting unsuspecting victims who have dared sit on my anthill. No, I mean by acting on what others need instead of what I want. Unfortunately, my flesh has something to say about that. “Go ahead and wallow in self-pity for how that person hurt you while others around you are suffering from the death of loved ones, nightmares from their past, and the pain it takes just to wake up in the morning and feel okay.” I have it so good, yet my flesh tempts me to view my situation as worse than it is.

So as we approach one of my favorite seasons, I pray that God will give me the endurance it takes to treat others the way I want to be treated. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be less quick to bite the person who tramples on my anthill and quicker to bring forth the food I’ve collected as well. Let’s just hope I don’t start growing antennas after all this talk of being like the ants.

Made New

March 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Another day, another move, it seemed like my life routine. Gazing out at the changing surroundings, watching my home pass by in a blur of different shapes and colors, it felt like everything I’d treasured and enjoyed over the past years was being stolen with every added mile. Tears rolled down my face as I wondered how I’d ever have something even close to my comfortable little life in Mansfield, Ohio. We were moving, again. My dad had gathered my brothers and I together and told us the news that we were moving to Texas, to a small town called Lubbock. After roughly five years of living in Ohio, we were just straight up moving. I’d had my fill already with moving, I was born in Michigan, moved to Wyoming when young, then moved to Ohio in my preteen years. The Lord knew how sick I was of this whole expedition; I’d complained plenty about it. Somehow, He still wasn’t getting it though, my life was way easier when He didn’t move us from state to state. I thought God was supposed to give me joy, instead He decides it might just be fun to move my family and I all around the country. That’s how I saw it, at that point I was determined that if I were in control, life would be a lot better. What I didn’t know is how wrong I really was.

Arriving at our small home in Lubbock, I quickly started to become a hermit of a girl. I figured that if I tried to make friends we’d just move again, causing me more pain. So I stuck with the easy, self-serving plan. How hard could it be right? Just hang out with my bitter thoughts and I. The more mature part of me should have quit the self-pity long before, but I was content to care only about my problems.

Slowly I started bringing my troubles to the Lord. I even made a friend on my tennis team. That’s when I realized: God had my back. My faith seemed to be growing and changing me in ways that have made my character much different than it was. I started to thrive in my community, spiritually and physically. Realizing how wrong I had been for doubting God’s plan for me, I continued to hold fast to His word. While in Texas, I had two dreams that to this day I remember just as clearly as when I had them, both equally meaningful and applicable to my circumstances. They have continued to be of encouragement even still as I continue to walk the road of faith. It was an uplifting experience and made my move all the more character building.

Now I have moved one time since then and am living happily in Michigan. That move brought grief as well, but after a time of sadness and a feeling of loss I began to grow once more. I still struggle with doubt as to God’s plan for my life. However, now I often get excited at the thought of having another struggle present. In my life of sixteen years, one of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that struggles bring healing to a problem you never knew you had. So when you feel the pain of yet another heartache in your life, know that the Lord is making you new. Shaping you into a person who will be strong in faith, mind, and soul.

Oh How He Loves

November 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

When I was little, I didn’t really get the concept of Jesus dying for me. He’s God right? That means He should be able to beat the bad guys, He’s indestructible. What I didn’t realize is that it was a choice. Jesus chose to die for us so we could be clean in the sight of God.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning and knowing you were going to die that day? That your closest friends were going to turn their backs on you and trade you for money? They would deny that they ever knew you and watch as you breathed your last. This was Jesus’ reality. He gave his friends unconditional love, and they turned away from Him. What amazes me about this is that we expect our friends to take our hand and be with us every step of the way, when the God of the universe did not even find that kind of companionship.

Jesus chose to go through complete abandonment, and death, for us. Now I’m sure your thinking, this is just the classic story of Jesus. Not quite. When you think of one of your closest friends, do you think of someone with redeeming qualities? A friend is someone who’s got your back, someone who cares about what’s going on in your life. So what about Judas, or Peter? One handed Him over for crucifixion, the other denied Him. I’ve had friends I look up to, friends that encourage me, friends that I encourage, and friends who aren’t really who I thought they were. But if my friends turned against me I would be devastated. So why is it that Jesus gave in to men He could easily overpower? I wouldn’t want to give up my life for people who did not appreciate me.

Another childhood misconception I had about God was that my parents could protect me better than He could. One night I was in my room, scared from a nightmare. Walking quickly to my parent’s room, I tapped my dad on the shoulder and told him I was afraid.

My mom rolled over to face me and said, “It’s ok, Jesus will protect you.”

My response had been to put my hand on my hip and say, “What’s he gonna do? He’s just a baby away in a manger!”

Since then I’ve come to see Jesus as my protector. I can walk through my faith knowing that God will be the friend who gives me what everyone longs for; love that isn’t contingent on what they’ve done or who they are.

So that’s not the end of the story.

After Jesus’ friends left Him to face crucifixion alone, He conquered death itself and did another remarkable thing. He forgave. Instead of leaving earth immediately to go home to His Father, Jesus went and saw His disciples. These men who rejected Jesus were shown the kind of love everyone talks about and longs for. If only everyone knew that the love they crave is easily given. There are no requirements you have to reach in order to gain the love and support of God.

So yes, I once questioned why Jesus died for us, I once pondered why He protected better than my parents, but I think I’ve found the answer. He loves us enough to die for our sins, and protects us through our greatest fears.

Oh how He loves.

Bind Up Our Wounds

May 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Shopping can be a dangerous thing for all of us. Whether it’s at the mall or in Best Buy, money soon vanishes from our pocket and now resides in the nearest cash register. I admit it; the farm supply store in the spring is what gets me. Dozens of chicks and ducklings are just begging me to take them home. Last spring I got suckered into buying two ducklings. This year I decided to buy five bantam chicks.

Walking downstairs to my room, I peer over the side of my makeshift chicken home. Alarmed, I see blood on the smallest chicken’s back and immediately turn a glare towards the biggest, scrappiest chicken in the bunch. Sure enough, not moments later the larger chick turns towards the runt and picks at it’s bloody back. My amateur instincts guide me towards the nearest google search engine, and I am quickly scanning blog posts for how to take care of my chick’s wound. After researching, I learn that if chickens see blood on a companion they will peck mercilessly at the raw skin. With no special supplies, I run back into my room and lift the runt up. Taking makeup from my bag, I gently apply concealer and some brown eye shadow to my chick’s back. With the blood hidden, the chicks all forget the wound and go back to pecking the wood shavings covering the ground.

Turning my teary eyes to the gymnasium floor, I walk self-consciously towards my waiting basketball team. The hurts I had shoved way down inside came skyrocketing out all in those few moments. It was the night marking an end to my basketball season and as all of the girls on my team lined up waiting to be called out by name, my name somehow was forgotten. Embarrassment clouded me as I waited minutes that seemed like hours for my name to be called and my turn to run out and accept a t-shirt and hug from my coach. As I meet my basketball team it takes everything in me to push out an “It’s okay that you forgot” and a smile.

After my makeup party with the chicks, it struck me how relevant to life that scenario really is. Just as chickens won’t stop pecking at an open wound, experiences continue to scrape at the secret hurts in our hearts. After a season of keeping the bench warm at my basketball games, I tried to suppress feelings of inadequacy yet could not because the pecking would not cease. The night of my teams closing ceremony was an extra large peck, but all the little ones that I brought on myself kept the wound fresh and ready to be struck that night. And I wonder, how do you heal fast enough to erase the blood and ward off the pecking?

It has been a year since I waited on the sidelines for my name to be called and to be recognized as part of a team. It has been fifteen years however, since I have been pulled away from the sidelines and into the body of Christ. God is the only one who can heal feelings of inadequacy, doubts of being loved, times of loneliness, and wounds of the past.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (KJV) Someone once said that Jesus is the only one who will have scars in Heaven. He will and we won’t because only God can cover our bleeding wounds with Jesus’s blood, and heal a wounded heart.

Transparent

By Makenzie Allen-

Opal is a precious stone made from silica, taken mostly from sandstone, and water. This solution runs along cracks and crevices where the water then evaporates and the silica hardens. If repeated many times, this process forms an opal.

I was given an opal ring a few weeks ago from my grandma. It seems that the colors held inside that stone are endless. One moment I will see an electric green and the next it will be a rosy pink. Recently I was marveling at how vibrant it was when my dad gave the best description, “It’s as if there is a light inside the stone causing it to glow like that.” Out of my mouth popped the response; “It reminds me of us as Christians.”

Again and again the Bible establishes that God is light. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to have Him shine fully in me the way an opal shines. He is there all right, a light inside my heart and soul. The problem is not His absence of light, but the overabundant presence of myself. My flesh covers the light inside of me, and I long for those rays to break free. One of my biggest prayers is that I would forget my flesh and remember to glorify God in all things. I want to be transparent so that God can be apparent.

My brother leans forward eagerly, watching as I unwrap his gift. A small jewelry box is revealed, but I am no closer to guessing the contents. I lift the lid, exposing a pair of earrings inlaid with opal stones. Raising my face to share a smile with him, I see his grin and the addition of a dimple. My little brother has the gift of giving. When he exercises that gift, the joy and love of God shines.

Sitting beside my not-so-small brother, I listen as he tells of his desire to preserve a pure mind. It’s never easy striving to live God’s way in a world bent opposite, but my brother is growing into a young man who sees the importance. He has the gift of perseverance. As he uses this gift, the purity and deliberateness of God radiates. God has given us all a gift that we can use to glorify Him. In using our God-given talents we have the opportunity to be a beacon of God’s light.

An opal is made from silica and water, not much, yet multi-colored lights burst throughout its surface; potentially opening blind eyes to see the Creator. A Christian is made from a sinner, saved by a loving God, redeemed every day by the blood of the Lamb. The construction of a Christian has immensely greater components than the construction of an opal, which can only mean one thing; we have all that is necessary to trump an opal’s heavenly light and bring glory to our loving King.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

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