I Am

December 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

I am Makenzie Brook Allen. My name means little warrior of God. I am a daughter, sister, grandchild, niece, and friend. A passion of mine since I craved pacifiers and had a “blanky,” is creation. That’s probably the explanation for why my first word was “woof,” as in dog noises. It’s also most likely why I know for a fact chipmunks have at least three noises when communicating, and the reason I know this is because I confess to having attempted conversation with one. So now that my sanity is in question, I’ll also point out I do in fact have a life and God living in and through me is the only reason I am not too many eggs short of a birthday cake.

My identity, who I am, is all because of what God has placed in my life. Strangely enough, I’m thankful for the rough times in life. The times when I feel alone and broken. Almost as if I’ve built myself one way and the Lord comes and says, “No, we need to start over with this.” And I feel like everything I’ve built my life around comes crashing down. Then, the Lord comes and rebuilds my life for me. He comes and rebuilds my life right.

My memories pull me back to a time and place where I felt desperately alone. So alone, the light in my eyes hardly shone and my laugh was misplaced. I remember the bowed head and the heavy drag to my feet. How does one move on from this solitude?Where has my joy gone? I racked my mind night and day for some hint as to where my joy had departed. Answers to solve my feelings of loneliness and stolen joy had fled like thoroughbreds out of the starting gate. And I was the one left to stand frozen, helpless, as those answers ran around just outside of my reach. One thought reverberated through my mind nonstop, How will I find what I’ve lost?

Time moved on, but my burdened soul could not. It stayed, unwilling to let time take its toll. I acknowledged I was broken and could no longer try to sustain the world I had made for myself. Every last ounce of my determined, structured, goals had been demolished. I felt detached. People had moved on. But I stayed, alone. Except for One. He stayed too, waiting patiently for the day I would relent from my terrible building-and-repair job. When I would hand Him the tool belt, because only He knew how long I had pounded nails with the wrong end of the hammer and measured in centimeters instead of inches. Finally, I saw Him waiting, lovingly holding out His nail-scarred hand for the tool belt.

God’s repairs in my life were hard to swallow at first. But He built me from the ground up. The Lord was giving me a new identity, one built with hands of expertise. My character was no longer attached to what I had done or who I had tried to be, it was ground solidly as my identity in Christ. He is my Lord, and nothing could divide me from that relationship. Neither height nor depth could ever separate me from the love of Jesus Christ. All I can say is thank you Lord for rebuilding my life to be firmly rooted in You.

I am Makenzie Brook Allen, loved by the Maker of things seen and unseen. I am a daughter of the King, cared for by Him who wears scars proclaiming His love for me with pride. My identity is in Him. I am His. Forever.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV).

Beyond a Ballad

October 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

I once heard true love was such a beautiful thing that it’s impossible to write about because it is so full, so complex, and so delicate, words just don’t do justice. That’s why for centuries, people have attempted to portray love’s depth through poetry, music, dialogue, stories, and on the list goes.

I feel like this trying to explain my walk with the Lord. The relationship’s richness is indescribable; when I stay near to Him. I truly want to give God my heart, my full heart, but it’s so hard to do. Add all the distractions found in this world, and giving my life over fully to the Lord can be challenging. Especially with how strong willed I can be.

I picture myself standing on a bank. Shoulders pressed back, chin up, eyes determinedly watching the swirling waters. Today’s the day I prove my strength. I will cross this river. Hair secure? Feels tight ponytail. Check. Warm towel for the return landing? A glance over my shoulder. Check. Last minute fears subdued? Blocks out all possible imagination for a watery death. Check. As I watch the water, my eyes sweep up and suddenly, the distant shore seems a little too distant. The liquid rushing past me looks like the jaws of a lion, taunting me to enter if I dare. Or is that just my imagination? No matter, this should be easy for someone as strong and determined as you. I inhale deeply, having the thought this could be the last time I use my lungs, and take the plunge. Cold, paralyzing, breathless. I’m so petrified my legs are useless, as are my arms. Helplessly, I watch the light fade above me, beautiful light shining like a flare on tiny crests in the water. Down, down, down, my heart sinks along with my body. God was more than willing to help you cross this. Why do you try so hard and fail to accomplish what man cannot do alone? Then, all is black.

“Why do you drown in the watery depths when you could be up here with Me, walking on top of them?”

I open my eyes and there I am, above the adversity I had tried so hard to conquer on my own. Tendrils of water run down my back, reminding me of the cool waters embrace.

“I ask again, why do you turn from My strength to your own weakness?”

In that moment, I cleanse my heart of all prideful notions and let the Lord lead me across, on top of the waters I was unable to overcome on my own.

For me, this is a picture of how real and indescribable God’s mercy and strength is. May I always have a faith so real, so full, and so steadfast, that even the best writers won’t be able to put into words the relationship I have with my Lord. As a sister in Christ, I dare us all to have a love and faith that reaches beyond any language ever taught, any ballad ever sung, any story ever written. What’s your river? Don’t let it pull you down, let God raise you up to walk beside Him.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV).

Take My Hand

September 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

When I was little, the word fear wasn’t in my vocabulary. Fear was nonexistent. Most of my childhood friends remember me as the kid who would crouch along the ground and sniff out snakes, coming home with handfuls of them. I spent my summer days with my buddy, hiding under a blanket, waiting for the squirrels to set off our homemade trap filled with irresistible peanut butter. We caught a grand total of zero squirrels, but that wasn’t what mattered. Sure, I thought it would be cool to finally hold one of those furry little critters, but in the end, I just loved the excitement when I went on adventures.

And sometimes, I wish I could be little again.

I remember when I had my critter cage in hand and grandma right beside me as I scanned my surroundings.

“Do you think this is a good spot for your little mouse friend?” Grandma asks, hope filling her face.

“No, I think we should keep looking. We have to find just the right spot to release him back into the wild,” I say.

Continuing our walk, we come across a little creek, with Indian Paint Brush flowers in bloom everywhere.

“How about here?” Grandma asks after many times of me declining other suggested spots. “He could get water from the creek and there’s plenty of plants for him to nibble on.”

Looking over every detail to make sure the home is just right for my mouse, I finally agree. “I think he’ll like it here.” Stooping down, I open the cage and the furry creature dashes out.

On our way home, I spy a long, scaly tail poking out of the brush. Excitement quickens my pace and I reach down and pull. Out comes a snake large enough to jump rope with.

“Honey, don’t you think that could be poisonous? You better put it down,” my nervous grandma says.

Propping my hand on my hip and holding the snake with the other I say, “Now grandma, there are no poisonous snakes on this side of the Wind River Range, my dad told me so.” And with that, the snake becomes my next resident to occupy the cage.

As my parents and grandparents could testify, that cage never stayed vacant for long. Years have gone by since that experience, but my heart still beats to the same rhythm it did when I was little. I couldn’t imagine life without being able to observe all that God has made.

Now I have the urge to find Never Never Land. So I don’t have to fear for the future, for the “what ifs,” and for my appearance. To be a child again and to act as if no one’s watching but God. I want to live fearless, knowing the Lord will be my rearguard and will take hold of my right hand. It’s time to be a child again, fearing nothing but the Creator, and knowing God’s protection is enough.

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

Goodbye Ordinary

September 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

“You are right that I am also extraordinary, but let me tell you something: No matter how ordinary a person may be, put God in that person, and the ordinary becomes extraordinary” (The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas).

You mean there is a way to fill the increasing gap that’s been forming in my mind about how I’m not good enough? That God could be the missing puzzle piece to my confusing jigsaw life? You really mean to tell me that this push from the world saying that if I act superior and dress immodestly, I will truly be extraordinary is all a hoax?

My soul longs for something with more substance. But as a human, I tend to grasp for things with less importance and reach for fillers that are more artificial. Why? Why do I lean towards the cookie instead of the salad? Because it looks so good in the moment, tastes so good most of the time too—unless there are some menacing raisins in them of course. And then that moment is over and all you have left are some extra calories. I don’t want to be the one who grabs a hold of what the world has to offer because I’m tired of chasing after a righteousness that’s just out of reach. I don’t want to be a hairsbreadth away from a relationship with God only to turn and fall into the temptations that come so naturally to us. I want the healing, not the Band-Aid.

Sitting in church, I watch as the pastor walks back and forth hands in full motion. In the background, I see the Grand Tetons and all the beauty encompassing them. God gave us such a beautiful world to inhabit. It could have been dull and gray, but instead it’s blooming with colors I don’t even know the names for. Refocusing my attention on the speaker, I hear these words, “Justification for God to love me doesn’t come from me, but Jesus.” And instead of that awkward moment I’m going to say that joyful moment. That joyful moment when your inadequacy is suddenly covered by the sacrifice of Jesus.

Yep, I had a moment. And from that moment, instead of extra baggage being added to my hunched shoulders, I had a weight lifted from my conscious as if to say, “God’s got that suitcase taken care of.” God is the essence of a true gentleman, isn’t He? As a girl, I dream of a guy who will put his life at risk because of his love for me, who will be chivalrous even after years of being married, and who will see beauty after all my youth has left. Well, Jesus already died for me. He even takes the oppression from me when it’s unbearable and He sees beauty in me even though His purity should have blocked me out. He is all the love I could have asked for and more.

So, now the question is, am I going to let God’s presence take me over in every way? Or am I going to continue on this road of fake happiness? Am I going to accept the unconditional love or am I going to continue searching for a love on earth that doesn’t exist without the presence of God? I’m tired of my petty life. I want meaning and a goal. Real love, life, and healing, only comes from Jesus. To be extraordinary you have to be filled with Him who is extraordinary.

Impartial Eyes

May 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Sitting beside a rosy-cheeked, bubbly little girl, I listen as she describes things about her room that bring an element of excitement to her childhood. She introduces me to her dolls one by one, who are all tucked in bed. Moving from one thing to another, she reaches her bookshelf and pulls out her favorite book. And there on the cover stands the main character. With a smile she says, “I always pretend she is you.” And in that moment I am struck by the realization that she claimed me as the living, breathing version of her favorite character. I feel a grin spread across my face that beams with happiness at her admission.

Something I’ve noticed recently is how real children are. They don’t plaster on a smile when they are upset, nor do they say things just to gain an alliance. If something is on their mind, they say it without hesitation. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how refreshing that kind of honesty is.

Scary as it can be, she looks up to me. And I wonder how many times I haven’t been the kind of example I should be for her and other children. How can I be worth looking up to? What can I do to be a true and beneficial example?

Walking along the lake with my little cousin, I look down at her tiny hand clutching mine. My heart melts at this small gesture of companionship. Peering up at me through blue eyes, she giggles at the silly face I make. And yet more laughing as I reach down and weave sticks through my hair. In her slowly improving speech, I hear her say, “Makie so silly.” Makie. I love it when she calls me that. And on we walk, everyone thinking I’m the one blessing her when really, it’s just the opposite.

Have you noticed the moment a child accepts you, a day that felt like failure practically shouts with success? For me, not many other things bring more happiness than when a child decides that I seem fun to be with. Maybe it’s because I know that the friendship they give isn’t just for show. They truly want to be with me, not because of what I look like or who I’m associated with, but because they enjoy my company. It’s as if children see things through impartial eyes, worldly qualifications don’t matter to them. And it’s so reviving to see how children look at the heart, just as God does.

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