Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm Bringing 60+ Seconds with Paige to the Blog!

Hi Friends!  I've been away from the blog for quite some time...but thought I'd pop in to introduce you to something I started for the Bloom Women's Ministry at COTR.  I'm making a weekly video with quick thoughts that will hopefully make you think, make you smile, or make you question.  It's not always brilliant, but it IS brief and hopefully encouraging!  I've been posting them on our facebook page, but I've had some who are not on facebook ask to watch them so from here on out I'll try to post them weekly on the blog!

I'll introduce you by posting 2 of the most recent videos!  Enjoy!

Making Waves - 60 Seconds with Paige (10/27) from Paige Allen on Vimeo.
Comfort Vs. Forgiveness - 60+ Seconds with Paige (11/14) from Paige Allen on Vimeo.

Friday, July 18, 2014

On Finishing Heart Projects, Telling Stories, and Needing Your Help

Hey Y'all!

I am so excited about this post that I can hardly contain myself!  My heart project is finally complete.

A few years ago, I fell in love with studying the Bible - especially the stories in the Bible.  There was something comforting in reading about these ordinary & extraordinary people who wrestled with their faith and sometimes did great exploits for God.  As I dove more deeply into studying stories, I found a similar theme that was also prevalent in my own life.

Usually, God was asking people to do one thing - TRUST Him.  This simple request manifested itself in a myriad of tales - "Will you trust me to provide you a child?"  "Will you speak words of truth even if people reject you?"  "Will you go to war when the odds seem stacked against you and trust that I will fight for you?"

The stories were so different, and yet God was relentless in His questions about trust.  In my own life, I feel like I'm constantly in a battle to choose whether or not I really trust God too.  And if I'm honest, my ability to say yes to His beckoning hinges on whether or not I believe that I am genuinely, 100% loved by God.  Some days I feel His love...but other days...if I'm honest, I question it.

It's hard to believe you are loved by a God you can't see when you are facing fear, feelings of inadequacy, and frustration because your life is in a season of waiting.  And yet, God keeps asking for us just to trust Him!

About a year ago, I decided to dive more deeply into these Bible stories and my own journey and as a result, I created a Bible study called Road Signs.  The workbooks have been out for a few months, but the teaching DVDs are now available!  It is my heart's desire that this study would be used by God to work in the hearts of people so that we can more readily say "Yes!" when He asks us to trust Him!

I'm not a great scholar - just an ordinary girl who said yes when God asked, "Will you trust Me and write this study?"


The Road Signs DVDs and the Road Signs Bible study workbooks are available for purchase!

The four DVD's include 8 teachings where I share as transparently as I know how about trusting God on the road of life.  This is a great resource for churches, small groups, college ministries, and even to go through alone in the comfort of your home!

My heart is to get these teachings into as many hands as possible, so we are pricing the entire DVD set at $29.95!  You can CLICK RIGHT HERE to buy one today!

Also, for the remainder of July, we are having a special promotion where you can order a DVD set & get 3 workbooks for $50!  The retail for these would be $90, so it's a great deal and would be an ideal way to kick-off a Bible study with a few friends in the fall.

Would you also consider helping me to get the word out about this great resource?  Here are a few ways you can do this:

1.  Share some Road Signs love on social media!  Everyone who shares sometime this week (ending July 25th) this blog or a link to the Road Signs page on facebook, twitter, or Instagram will be entered into a drawing to win a free DVD set & 1 workbook!

2.  Talk to those in your life who you know like to do Bible studies & tell them about Road Signs.  Maybe it is someone who oversees women's ministry at your church or a friend who hosts Bible studies in her home.  Give them my contact info or send them to the blog!  I have a media kit that I can send out to any church interested with a sample teaching & workbook to look through.

3.  Consider hosting your own Road Signs Bible study this fall.  I've discovered that there is something really powerful about inviting 3-5 friends into your home and studying the Word together.  I know for many of us this is outside our comfort zone, or it feels like we would never have the time, but I want to challenge you to pray about this.  Ask God if you should do it & then trust His leading.

Almost finished...I promise!

But I need to give a shout-out to the COTR media team who helped me so much with these DVDs.  Michael Koontz is the technical director who oversaw all of the DVD shoots & he did a FANTASTIC job.  He is a hard worker & I love that he is as much of a perfectionist as I am!

Others who helped include:
Jason Brandiger - graphic designer genius - I love the cover that he designed SO much!
Leslie Rich - not only is this gal my sister, but she ran cameras & gave me some much needed advice during the video shooting process
Trevor Baldwin, Patti Moulton, Andrea Hamilton, Dusty Joplin, Annie Casas, Kacey Enriquez & everyone else that I'm forgetting - THANK YOU for running cameras, computers, sound, etc.  You are all genius as what you do!

And I'll wrap up this post by sharing the sweet words of two ladies who have gone through the Road Signs Bible study.  What God has done in their lives blows me away, humbles me to no end, and makes me passionate to get Road Signs out of my hands and into yours.

Road Signs is filled with timeless stories from scripture that NEVER grow old!  Paige Allen has such a unique way of bringing the scripture alive and putting them on the 'Big Screen' of your heart in such a way that you are able to see, not only, how God's hand was so involved personally in every aspect of lives portrayed in Biblical days but also His personal involvement and His extravagant love in your life today, as well!  God's love never changes or ever grows old!  Through Paige's teaching you will be able to see scripture come alive and you'll begin to see YOUR life through God's eyes and understand more clearly the Road Signs along the way through the lives of those who have gone before you!      - Terese Holloway

I'd have to say that my overall response to this bible study is that it was very eye opening. Throughout the entire book I was, what felt like, given a chance to see my life in the eyes of another.  Pastor Paige lived through things that at a certain point in my life I was dead set on the fact that I was the only one that ever really struggled with the same issues mentioned in the book. I'm a victim of being caught up in just giving the right answers, even when my heart wasn't feeling it. I guess you could say that this book gave me a new perspective on my problems spiritually, and gave me greater access to ways in dealing with them. Showing me how to live like were supposed to, and obey without second thought. It showed me Gods love for us in an even greater way, and even by just having all of these different women from different age groups and backgrounds come together; it truly showed me that were not alone in our struggles! It really put into perspective that God knows what he has planned for us, and its just a matter of stepping back and waiting for Him to show us the rest. Its a patience kind of thing!      - Justice Ramirez 

Monday, July 14, 2014

On praying simple prayers, falling in love with a new nation, and trusting God with my dad's heart

As you may have noticed, I have yet to blog this summer because I’ve been doing more important things like playing in the pool with my girls, sipping coffee in the backyard in the mornings, and generally being lazy.  I just love summer.

But over the last couple of weeks, my life picked up it’s pace quite a bit, and I wanted to share a few exciting moments, as well as little lessons that the Lord has taught me.

First, can I just tell you that I love traveling to new places in the world!  I’ve had the opportunity to enter many cultures and lands, and just when I think I’ve found my favorite place or met the most delightful people, I travel somewhere new and immediately have a new favorite.  

I encountered the beautiful people of Nicaragua at the end of June, and their smiles and gentle demeanor are still imprinted in my heart.  I think what I loved the most about the precious men and women that I met, was that although they exuded a gentle grace and joy they were equally passionate and fiery!  

Just look at these ladies!  Can you say GORGEOUS?!  But can you also see the passion in their eyes - LOVE IT!!!

These ladies dressed in gold were dancers who truly worshipped with their whole being.  I was mesmerized by these lovely girls!

And you should meet their fearless leaders, Rony & Mayra Coffer.  Rony is a quiet giant of the faith.  His impact is far reaching in this country (literally reaching into church plants, clinics, and feeding programs throughout villages all over this nation), and his wife Mayra is a ball of energy and zeal!  She loves her people and is leading these women into truth!

The lovely Mayra...this girl can PREACH!

And she was a fabulous translator...she seriously worked non-stop this week!

Rony & Mayra were serving as my illustration...and as you can see...I was a little excited about what I was saying - ha!

And  now for the lesson that I learned from the Lord while I was in Nicaragua: 

I’ve heard it said before that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.  And although I agree with the general feelings of this idea, I’ve witnessed over the last couple of years that safety is never really a guarantee when you are where God wants you.  Just ask my friend Matt who was imprisoned while serving in an African nation as a missionary, or ask me to recount my stories from Israel when I entered the country in the middle of a conflict and one day had to take shelter as the incoming missile sirens began to sound.

Safety...not so much.

Comfort...not a chance.

But peace...yes, I do think there is a promise from God that He will grant us His unexplainable peace when we are in the middle of His will.

I got to put this truth to the test as I sat on the plane in Houston awaiting my take-off for Nicaragua.  My dad was scheduled for a heart cath that morning and when he had called to tell me about it he had calmly explained that the doctors were just doing this exploratory procedure to make sure all was well with his heart.  At the most he might need a stint that they would do during the procedure, but he assured me that it was no big deal and to go with confidence...after all, speaking in other nations is my dad's heartbeat and he was excited for me to go to Nicaragua - a nation already deep within his heart.  So imagine my surprise as I texted my sister to find out the verdict of the procedure and received this text in response:

And with these words, I was told to put away all electronic devices and sit back and enjoy my trip to Nicaragua.  I battled in my mind for that entire 3 hour flight.
     How was my dad, really?
     What were the doctors telling my family?
     Why did God orchestrate this trip NOW?
     Would I be back in time for the surgery?
     And how would I focus on ministering to people in Nicaragua when I wanted to be home?

If I'm honest, this battle went on for the rest of the day and late into the night.  I knew all of the right answers to tell myself: 
     He would be fine
     People have this kind of surgery all the time
     What a blessing that they caught it before he had a heart attack
     Focus Paige - you are where you need to be

But I could not get my feelings to line up with these thoughts that I tried to convince myself were the truth.  I tossed and turned that night, and finally awoke at 6am wide awake!  The team was going to meet at 8:30 to prepare for the first day of the conference, so I slipped out of bed and went outside where the Lord and I had it out for the next hour and a half.

I asked quite a few questions with few answers; I vented my frustrations and fears; and then I simply asked that He help.  I needed Him to help my dad.  I needed Him to help my mom.  I needed Him to help me.  I needed Him to help these ladies here in Nicaragua.

Sometimes, the best prayers we can pray are a simple help!

And as my mind began to calm, I opened my Bible and I started to write out Scriptures and prayer.  I wrote Scriptures of faith over my dad's heart and I wrote Scriptures of truth over the women I would soon meet.  I wrote at first unsure if my emotions could believe, but as the time progressed, I discovered that I was writing and praying with a genuine faith.  My emotions were lining up with these Scriptures and the frantic thoughts that had consumed my mind just hours before were now serene and certain.  

My dad would live.  He would live a long and fruitful life.  His heart would beat with a new rhythm that would take him beyond what he has known thus far.

And I was EXACTLY where I should be.  I would speak truth and love and grace and hopefully some revelation to the men and women of Nicaragua.  And I would be more aware than ever before that those words were not from my intellect or greatness because I was truly undone & just clinging to Him.

And as I sat outside in tropical Nicaragua, a peace that truly surpasses all understanding washed over me & reminded me that I was not alone.  I was able to walk confidently in that peace over the next few days. 

I landed back on the tarmac at home, just as my dad was wheeled out of surgery.  I went straight to the hospital & into his room.  He was just beginning to awake from anesthesia, and when I said, "Dad, it's Paige.  I made it home," his eyes fluttered with recognition and KNEW that peace was not just an was a reality.  My dad was going to be stronger than ever, and I was going to know that although it's a battle sometimes - you CAN fight for peace.  And you can ask a simple help from the One who is ready to give it.

I'm happy to report that my dad is recovering really well.  He ended up having a quadruple bypass which is pretty major so his recovery will take some time, but he is up and walking (he walked his block a couple days ago)!  Thank you to everyone who has prayed and is praying for our family.  Your prayers have been felt...even across the ocean.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Mommy! - Did you get her out!"

A couple of weeks ago I took Selah, my 4-year-old daughter, to work with me. She was so excited as it felt very special & we were having a fun time putting some newsletters together & getting ready for our annual Miles for Missions race. She got bored after a couple of hours so I let her play games on my computer while I kept working around the office.

On one of my bookshelves, I have the picture that SOS gave me a couple years ago of a young girl behind bars with a verse about rescuing those who are helpless. I was busy in work mode when all of a sudden Selah says, “Mommy, why is that little girl behind those bars?”

I was shocked that she had noticed this…and I quickly asked the Holy Spirit for guidance on what to say. I said something like, “Well, it’s just a picture that reminds me to pray for kids around the world. There are so many kids who have hard things in their life. That is why we pray for India and other countries at night. Do you remember how you have been praying with me for kids around the world?”

She said yes & I thought our conversation was over.

A couple minutes passed and she said.  “Mom, is that little girl in India?”

“Yes,” I said. That’s why I went to India in November – remember, Mommy’s big trip? I got to meet precious kids that we help!”

She nodded & again I thought we were finished.

About five minutes passed when she said with tears in her eyes, “Mommy, is that girl still trapped behind those bars? Did you get her out?!”

I must have hesitated for a minute because she almost got frantic. “Mommy! Did you get her out?!”
I was in tears at this point, so I just said, “Yes, baby. She is okay. She got out. She is okay.”

As you can imagine, I couldn’t focus much on work for the rest of the day. Today as I’ve been praying the Lord brought that conversation back to my mind. Praying for that same level of urgency to remain in us everyday. May our hearts be plagued with the question “Did we get them out?”
I am thankful to Sower of Seeds for infecting my heart with the desire to do small things to see more girls set free.

“Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:4

Friday, April 11, 2014

4 Truths My Mother Taught Me

This past week Selah and I were having a tea party when she informed me that Gigi had taught her to
always hold out her pinky finger when drinking tea.  And I realized that I was certain this was true…after all, her Gigi (my mother) has taught me so much that has to do with graceful living.

As I reflect this morning on lessons that my mother taught me, these four stand out most in my mind:

1.  Give the gift of your presence and time.  
My mother makes time for people in her life – it is how she shows her love for them.  Love looks like drinking tea and listening or going to Sesame Street Live and dancing. 

My mother is good at listening & I've learned from her that although your body may be in a location, if you are not leaning in and listening to the person you are with, you might as well not even be there.  The gift of your presence means that you are fully engaged in that moment.  You listen to subtle statements, notice expressions, and honor those you love by hearing their heart.  I don't always excel in this area, but I'm trying to grow each day in this arena - it really does exemplify a woman of grace.

2.  Use your gifts to bless others.  
My mother has the gifts of hospitality and making things beautiful (what is the proper name for this gift?), and has never hoarded these abilities.  A few weeks ago she went and decorated the home of a sweet young mother who is pregnant with twins (# 3 & 4)!  This momma has a new home and obviously is TIRED!  My mom felt like God told her to go decorate her house (if she wanted that)…so she took a friend, and when that momma came home from work, her house was transformed.  

This past week, she made a beautiful quilt for our new cousin that will be coming home soon from Uganda.  Most people would never know about these two acts of love in the last few weeks (except her daughter has a big mouth), but she does not love for recognition…she loves because she is loved.  May we all take this lesson to heart and do the same.

3.  Forgive.  
As a pastor’s wife, as a sister, as a friend, as a daughter, and as a mother my mom has had many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  Too many times I’ve taken up her cause and wanted to be offended at people who hurl insults and pain her way, but she has taught me and lived the example that forgiveness is worth it.  She has also taught me that forgiveness means keeping your mouth shut when you really want to let everyone know how noble you are for forgiving J.

Within this same lesson of life, my mother has demonstrated that a true woman of grace also asks for forgiveness.  A turning moment in my life was a phone call in college when my mother called and asked me for forgiveness.  Her humility and willingness to say that she was wrong, set me free to see the situation from a new vantage point.  And her actions taught me that true strength is able to ask for forgiveness.

4.  Laugh until your shoulders shake.  
One of my all time most favorite things is to see my mother TRULY laugh.  Her shoulders shake, her eyes become slits and she cannot make a sound, but it always makes me laugh in copycat fashion.  When I see the two of us laughing so hard we might wet our pants, I always think two things:  We need more of this kind of deep-belly laughter in our world and I'm so thankful that I inherited this trait from her.

My mother has taught me much and her mother (my Mema) taught her much as well.  The older I become the more lessons I am trying to learn from those who have gone before me.  Some lessons seem to be implanted in my heart and life as if they were genetically wired while others definitely take more care and intention to live out.

What life lessons did your mother teach you?  It may be as simple as how to play tea party or as profound as how to walk out in forgiveness, but very likely there are deep lessons etched in your heart from the life of your mother.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Less is More

Several years ago before toddlers and princesses ran circles through our lives, Josh and I visited the lovely city of Paris.  Some Americans give Paris a negative recommendation, but I must tell you that I absolutely LOVED our 4 days in that glorious city.  The food, the majestic buildings, the quaint cafes, the beautiful art…it was all food for my soul and I still remember it with stars in my eyes.

One afternoon we sat at an outdoor cafĂ© to catch our breath after a morning of sightseeing and museum visiting.  We sat down and promptly gobbled up half of our crepes without taking even  the slightest breath to take in the moment.  We were on a mission to EAT…because we live our lives ALWAYS ON A MISSION! 

And then the unexpected occurred.  It was as if we both stopped at the same time, took a deep breath and realized where we were.  I looked at Josh and said…”Do you realize we are in Paris!  And we don’t have to eat like Americans…WHAT IF, we actually slow down and enjoy this moment outdoors in a Parisian Cafe?!”

Josh looked up and agreed that we should stop to savor the moment, and after slowly eating not just our lunch crepe but a couple of dessert crepes and cup after cup of coffee, we started to talk about what life might be like back home if we lived a bit slower.  It felt like we were merely fantasizing.  After all, life is BUSY.  Life is fast-paced.  What if we slowed down and missed out on something?  

And yet at the same time…look at all we would have missed out on had we not slowed down to enjoy that meal…to enjoy the next couple of days in Paris?!

We returned home with a passion to slow down and savor this gift (life) that has been handed to us by God.  And slowing down is a STRUGGLE.  It is hard to balance because we both believe in working hard.  We believe that we are to be good stewards with our lives and to make the most of every day.  But those beliefs don't actually conflict at the core with a more intentional life that savors moments.  You can work hard and still look up to see beauty in the ordinary.  And the best way to make the most of today is to actually SEE today... to live it as fully as possible with focus and trust in the One who granted you today.  

The actual struggle is that the desire to slow down does not line up with lies fed to us by culture.  You know the ones that say worth is equivalent to how busy you are...the lies about needing more...more stuff, more time, more meaning.

Faster is not always better.

More is not always more.

And so, I have asked the Lord to help me to slow down, to love more deeply and to live more intentionally.  Moments like tree swings and bowls of glorious cherries are shining reminders in the midst of the day that He has heard my prayers.

Today, I pray that you live well but that you also have a Parisian moment to savor your gift of life today!  Because so often less really is more.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

6 Myths You May Believe About Prayer

Earlier this week I wrote about Selah’s audacious prayer to become a flower girl & God’s answer literally 2 days later (she is going to be the cutest flower girl this coming June)!  You can read her story here.

This story has propelled me to think about prayer quite a bit this week and I realized that there are a lot of myths surrounding prayer.  Somewhere along the line we buy into a lie that prayer is found in a formula or has to look a certain way…so I wanted to share with you 6 myths that I’ve believed at one time or another.

The 6 Myths of a Good Prayer Life

1.  You have to pray at 5am.

Now granted, Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  And I WANT to be like Jesus, but everytime I have attempted to pray super early I usually end up drifting to sleep.

My husband gets up early to pray and when we first got married I thought I must not have a real prayer life because I preferred to pray when I was actually alert…and so I tried to mimic him and it was a colossal failure!  I now thing that ANYTIME is a good time to pray.  Paul says that we should pray without ceasing…and that includes 9am or 2pm (thank the Lord!)

2.  You have to pray for at least 1 hour
There was a movement in the church world a couple of decades ago that encouraged people to pray for an hour, and the motivation was good.  We need discipline in our prayer life, but for many people an hour is a daunting task so we don’t try at all.

And have you ever really prayed your heart out only to look at the clock & realize it has only been 5 minutes?  If you really pray for 5 minutes – awesome!  Maybe tomorrow you could try praying for 10 minutes…I think that the key is that you pray long enough that you get through your lists and begin slow down so that you actually connect to the heart of God.  Sometimes that connection happens quickly and sometimes my mind is in such a place that I need to pray for a long time before I get my agendas out of the way.  Just pray…forget about the clock.

3.  You have to speak eloquently in the type of language suitable for God
Have you ever prayed with a group of people and marveled at those who’s prayers sound so eloquent?  There was a season in my life where I could make my prayers sound really good…but they were empty.

There is no right or wrong way to pray to God – just talk to Him…and then listen to what He says in return.

4.  You have to be in the perfect environment (prayer closet)
I have a friend who has the ULTIMATE prayer closet.  It has a chair, mood lighting, music…I mean it sounds awesome!  And for a while I would think to myself – well, I’ll really pray when I have an environment like that.  I’ve come to realize I won’t likely have that perfect place for many years.

I’ve discovered that I can make a lot of environments perfect for prayer.  I love to pray on my back porch while my girls run around and play.  I have a chair in my living room that is by a big window and I also love to sit there and read my Bible in the early morning.  I usually get interrupted in both locations (I have a pre-schoolers)…but I realized that if I wait until I have the perfect place I’m never going to pray.

5.  Your prayers don’t count when you lose your train of thought or fall asleep
Let’s be honest - how many times do you pray and all of a sudden find yourself thinking about fantasy football or what you are going to cook for dinner that night?  I know I do that ALL of the time & I used to berate myself when that happened thinking it invalidated all of my previous prayers.  That’s not true!  It happens to us all!

And have you ever been meaning to pray and wind up falling asleep?  Me too!  Oh well – I think God’s cool with it, but we need to stop feeling guilty for all the ways we fail when it comes to prayer.

6.  Your prayers aren’t important when compared to the needs of the world
Yes, there are very real needs in this world – poverty, sex trafficking, and war are all happening at this moment.  And we need to pray for the nations!  At the same time, God cares about what is important to your heart.  He is big enough to see it all and care about it all.  It’s easy to feel like our prayers are unimportant when a friend is battling cancer or has a tragedy in their life, and probably those things are on your mind because you can pray for that friend – you can lift them up…but know too that you don’t have to ignore your own obstacles and needs. 

This is why I shared Selah’s story.  Prayer at it’s essence is relationship!  God wants to connect with you.

I like the way Martha Kilpatrick says it, “Prayer is not an occasion, Prayer is not a set activity, Prayer is a joyful gaze at the Father from a state of utter, childlike need.”

So let’s set aside these myths and come to God as His children – He is waiting and ready to hear what you have to say.
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