Weekend Wisdom with: C.S. Lewis

Alright, guys. This one is going to be short and sweet. I have always loved this quote from C.S. Lewis’s book, “Weight of Glory”. It explains our humanity far too well and I relate to it way more than I would like to admit:

“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

You know the mudpies you might be tempted to mess around in this weekend. Just don’t. Infinite joy awaits for those who would only have hearts to see.

Happy Friday!

Morgan

Everything She Had.

       Yesterday, I knew that Hugh and I would not make it to our regular 6:00 church service, so I attempted to take the girls to the 11:00. Technically, the girls nap around then, and they eat at noon, so I knew that this was going to be a stretch. Keep in mind that a seemingly single mom walking into church with a stroller equivalent to a double wide might as well be a three man circus. Lots of sympathetic smiles, rushing to open the door as if the president is coming in, and oohs and aahs. I knew we wouldn’t make it through the whole service, but I wanted to be able to participate at least for a while. Since we would leave early, I kept the girls with me and we sat in the back. When we are at home, Ally and Bailey Grace tend to be interactive, smiling, and content. For reasons that I don’t know (maybe extra stimulation and new things) they often seem to be frozen when we are out in public. It is like a light switch has turned off at times, and to be honest, it frustrates me at points because I want people to be able to engage with our sweet girls and see them as they truly are. When the service began and the first praise song began playing, I glanced over and saw Ally kicking her legs to the music. God spoke to my heart in this moment with such clarity: This is the kind of praise I desire. She is bringing all she has without reservation. In that moment, Ally wasn’t worried about whether her gift to God was silly, whether she could kick hard enough or to the beat, what her gift was compared to those around her; she just brought what she could. Obviously, movement is a challenge for our girls in the first place; how sweet it was that it was the very thing she chose to offer.

The Gospels give a beautiful account of a widow contributing to the offering plate. Mark 12:41-44 recounts it as follows:

“And He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  (emphasis mine)

      Because of the cross and what Jesus did for those of us who have faith to believe, we no longer have to sacrifice animals for our sins. While God does not need anything from us, for He is ruler over  all, He gives us the privilege of showing Him our love in different ways. Time, money, and the talents He has given us are some of those ways. Romans 14:7 reminds us that we are not our own masters, therefore how we spend our time is not up to us once we have made Christ our Lord. Matthew 6:24 exhorts us that we cannot love God and money; so the way we spend the money God has entrusted to us is up to Him. Romans 12:6-8 states that we have all been given different gifts and talents, and that God desires us to use those for good. Ultimately, we are called to offer the Gospel to all, as 1 Peter 3:15 commands us. These are all great things to offer, but how often do we find ourselves offering up the easiest thing? We have plenty of money, so we give out of our abundance so that someone else can go spend their time in another country. We enjoy serving, so we offer our time and trust that someone who “lives more comfortably than us” will give financially. We find it easy to teach the preschool class, so we do that but feel no need to share the Gospel because “evangelism doesn’t come easily to me”. These are just a few examples, and I would like to encourage us all to give where it is uncomfortable. Do the very thing that doesn’t seem to come naturally to you; because it is there God will meet you and your dependence on Him to show up will grow. This is where faith is stretched and molded.

      Beyond that, I believe that the New Testament reminds us that it is the very things of the heart that He is most pleased with. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name”. Don’t miss the first part. Through Him. When tragedy strikes, whatever that looks like in your life, He gives you the ability to praise Him in the midst. It is Him who turns despair and darkness into light and hope. Praise IS a sacrifice sometimes. When things are all going as we planned, saying, “God is good” is not that difficult and does not require much faith. When everything around appears to be crumbling, when we are absolutely stripped of the comforts of this world, He is most pleased when we choose to praise Him instead of shaking our fists at the sky and asking, “Why”. We offer a sacrifice of praise because we know He can be trusted. Because as we look at generations past, and look at the ways He has loved us and those around us, we know that He is most worthy of our affections and our worship. Sometimes, the sacrifice of our praise, of our trust, of our contentment in the season He has placed us in, is our way of offering up everything we have in that moment.  It is not easy. It can be most painful, in fact. But, isn’t that what a sacrifice is? Offering something precious to us for the sake of something greater? How fitting it is to honor the soldiers both living and not that have risked or given their lives for us as Americans. Even greater, let’s look at the example of our Savior who sacrificed not just His life but gave everything so our imperfect slate could be forever wiped clean and we could have the chance to spend eternity with Him. Why? Because it was worth it to Him. Pleasing His Father in heaven was worth it. You were worth it. Let that sink in today. And, whatever your sacrifice looks like today, whether it is the tiny kicks of your legs to the music or your very life… bring it.

“…And the bread that I will give for the life of this world  is my flesh.”- John 6: 51b

Weekend Wisdom with: Antoinette Wilson

I do not know Antoinette Wilson. I do not know when she was born, or when she died. I did thorough research (aka I googled her!),  and all I could find was the poem I am about to share with you that she wrote in an issue of a magazine publication in 1912. If you google, “Antoinette Wilson” and “1912”, you find numerous people and websites that have posted this poem, however. Regardless of anything else, she shared her heart in a moment’s time and it mattered and has encouraged many, including myself, since. Today’s weekend wisdom is twofold: for those of you who are, in fact, at your wit’s end, I pray you will hold fast and be reminded that He is with you. If the sun is shining and the birds are singing in your little corner of life, look at Antoinette Wilson’s journey and allow your heart to smile. Whatever you do today matters. There is a purpose that was given solely for you, and you never know when God is in the midst of using the gifts He has given you to work in the hearts and lives of others; even the generations not yet present. He is working. He is able. 

                                                             Wit’s End Corner

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,” Christian, with troubled brow? Are you thinking of what is before you, and all you are bearing now? Does all the world seem against you, and you in the battle alone? Remember- at “Wits’ End Corner” is just where God’s power is shown. Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”, blinded with wearying pain, feeling you cannot endure it, you cannot bear the strain, bruised through the constant suffering, dizzy and dazed, and numb? Remember- at “Wits’ End Corner” is where Jesus loves to come. Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”? Your work before you spread, all lying begun, unfinished, and pressing on heart and head, longing for strength to do it, stretching out trembling hands? Remember- at “Wits’ End Corner” the Burden-Bearer stands. Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”? Then you’re just in the very spot to learn the wondrous resources of Him who fails you not: No doubt to a brighter pathway your footsteps will soon be moved, but only at “Wits’ End Corner” is the “God is able” proved.

                                                                                                                                              -Antoinette Wilson

“They…were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love!”- Psalm 107: 27b-28; 31

He is using the fabric of all of our lives to make something beautiful. 

                                                                                                                  Happy Friday!

                                                                                                                          Morgan 

Why the Bible?

 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13, emphasis mine

God gave me a passion for His word at some point in high school. During certain seasons of life, I would sit in my room for hours and read, hungry for the truth the Word offered in the midst of a fleshly identity crisis. At some point, whether it is middle school, high school, or college, or after, we all reach a turning point in which we ask ourselves, “Who am I?” Often, we look to others around us to answer that question. I certainly have been guilty of such at various seasons. The problem was, it seemed as if everyone had a different answer, and many of those answers were associated on performance or works. The Word of God always reminded me of who I was at my core; and it was this truth that I craved.

As Christians, we often do a poor job of explaining certain lingo we use. For instance, if you live in the South for long, you hear people say they had a “quiet time” or their “God time”, but what does that really mean? The purpose of this is not at all to give a detailed, legalistic run-down of what that looks like in a Christian’s life, nor is it to say there is a right or wrong way to spend time with the Lord. I do, however, want to give an imperfect but personal interpretation of WHY I make a divine appointment with Lord the priority of my day; and hopefully give someone who might think it is merely a legalistic, “this is what I should do assignment for someone who has put power in a book that was written in ancient days but has no benefit for today” mindset, a different perspective.

                                                       A Love Letter for My Lord

Here we are again, Father. It is early, and I feel so burdened and tied down by the tasks of the day already; but I want to spend some time first and foremost thanking You. Yes, Lord, there is so very much to thank you for.  David in the Psalms points out that Your ways Lord, are perfect. (Psalm 18:30). My ways are so very far from perfect. I have been awake for yet a few minutes but already have turned my focus onto self and off of You and those You have put before me; yet Lamentations reminds me that Your mercies are new every morning (3:23). And, oh, the next verse: You are my portion. The Lord of the universe is MY portion.  Thank You for reminding me that I do not have to look to anything else to fill me; I need only look to You. Thank You that You have removed my sins as far as east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Reading through the Old Testament it is obvious that the people were burdened by the task of offering up sacrifices in order to have their sins forgiven, Father. Thank you that, today, I do not have to spend time offering unblemished bulls and goats because of Jesus’s death on the cross for me. I praise You that the sacrifices You ask for are a broken spirit (Psalm 51:17). Lord, as I have asked You to break my spirit of anything but You, I have seen You gently do so.  It’s funny; I always think that it will look one way and it ends up looking another. Your Word promises me that, once again, Your ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). If that is the case, then I can trust that the way You have chosen to break me of this imperfect world and cling to You instead is the absolute best way. I have seen that in the past as I take time to reflect back on the choices You have made for me in Your wisdom; even if at the time I didn’t understand them. I am weary, yet I know in my weakness You are strong (2 Cor. 12:10). That’s something to celebrate today! Help me to boast in You and You alone (Galatians 6:14). While my load seems to heavy today, I am so grateful You have asked me to allow You to carry the burden and You promise rest in return (Matthew 11:28-30). I know this to be true as I find You refreshing my inner spirit as I am thrusting these burdens onto You. There are so many things that I feel anxious about concerning the future, but I also know that You command me to not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough in its own (Matthew 6:34). How wise You are Father! I’m smiling as I’m reminded that, after all, these light and momentary afflictions are preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond anything I could imagine (2 Corinthians 4:17). And You are right, as always, Father. They ARE light and momentary in light of eternity! Thank You for providing me a way so that I can be assured of that and participate in Your kingdom in the here and now and forevermore. Lord, thank You for forgiving my sins, for sending Jesus so that I can sit here with the Creator and Sustainer of all and be rejuvenated. Thank You that You have seen everything that is going to happen today, that You have approved and allowed it all, and that You are going to work it all for Your glory and our good. (Romans 8:28). Lord, You never said that there would not be trials or tribulations on this earth, but You have promised You have overcome them all (John 16:33). Jesus, Thank You for loving us enough, for loving the Father enough, to not bail on us at the cross. Holy Spirit within me, I pray that You help me to look to You and not my flesh to love others well today and to fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). After all, why focus on dust when eternity awaits? I love You, Lord. Remind me that You are walking with me each step of today. Help these words to not just be words; help me to live them out each and every moment.

I am not sure what it is like to read these words without believing them; but I do know that God’s word never returns void and so I pray that He might use that glimmer into my heart to open Yours up more to Him. If You are a believer, I pray that as You read them You were connected to His heart and that your intimacy with Him was strengthened. I will tell you that this blog is a direct result of the power of God’s word in my life. Most of the time, I sit down to write one thing and His word challenges me to write another. There is nothing in my flesh that would have chosen to open up our life this much to the public, but when I look to Jesus and His vulnerability at the cross, I know this is what He has called me to do. When Jesus opened up His arms, naked and stripped, He was not concerned with His own dignity, comforts, or desires. He loved the Lord enough to abandon all. The Lord loved us enough to not just tell us, but show us, that we are worth it all. I often remind myself that any authenticity or vulnerability He calls us to is nothing in comparison to that which He did for us. We have an Audience of One, friends. He is worth it. His word is powerful. He will change us all from the inside out if yet we would just ask.

Cry No More.

I have not always considered myself to be a crier. Sure, I cried in a few movies here and there, and there were a couple of break-ups that felt dramatically tearful at the time, but I never really had much to cry about growing up. As sheltered as that sounds, I just was never moved to tears by much. The more I got to know the Lord and what He had done for me, and once I fell in love with my now husband and actually allowed myself to be in a position to hurt, the tears began to flow. Once those walls were broken down, I found myself crying about nearly anything. A commercial, sad or extra-happy story, or really anything that invited emotion brought water to my eyes and passion to my soul. Most of those tears, however, were not brought about by immense pain.

The intensity of the emotions that I have felt during the past year are unlike anything I have ever experienced. For those of you that are parents, you know the reality that is experienced when you hold your child for the first time. I remember being terrified the first time I held Bailey Grace and Ally. I knew in that moment that I wanted to do whatever I could to protect both of them from the pain and brokenness of this world; but the reality was we live on this side of heaven and suffering and hurt abound. And this terrified me. We only had to leave the girls in the NICU alone for one night (something laughable for those of you who have had children in intensive care for extensive time periods) but I bawled and held on to their hands tightly as I told them goodbye that night. It just didn’t feel right to leave them in the hospital by themselves. Already, the paths of their little lives were out of my control.

Since then, the pain that we have experienced has been insurmountable. While I always want to make sure others know that Christ is sustaining us; I never want to portray that it is void of normal human pain and emotion. We are not superhuman. Far from it. We have a super God who is carrying us but at times, our life is heart-wrenching. How do you begin to process walking into a neurology appointment in which you could potentially be told both your children have a life-threatening disease? How do you walk through days of being told that something is “not right” with your children; while also being told they have “no idea what it is or what it will entail”? When our girls get sick, my anxiety reaches the roof. Because we do not know what is causing the girls’ hypotonia and delays, we also are not positive what systems of their bodies are being affected. When they get a cough, their low tone causes them to have a hard time clearing secretions and I often live in fear of all the what-ifs involved. Every day, I look at our almost thirteen month old girls who struggle to grab a toy that isn’t right nearby; and who try as they might to sit up but shake and within seconds fall right back down, and my eyes sting with tears. I sometimes lie awake wondering how in the world I will be able to push two wheelchairs around if that is the Lord’s plan in our girls’ lives; and if there is even a van big enough for two wheelchairs in the first place. While we are hopeful that this will not be our reality, and while I know that the Lord has already seen the future and is planning ahead for us, I am human and this is the reality of where I am some days. I am laughing and crying as I admit that when we go to the gym or nursery (where other kids will be), I make sure the girls are dressed their absolute best. We may not be able to play with the other kids, but we are going to look adorable, dangit. Often, when I leave these places or play dates with other children their age, I hold it together until I get in the car and then the tears fall. Like every parent, I just want to save the girls from any and all hurt I can. The truth is, they could care less. Ally and Bailey Grace embody the fruits of the Spirit unlike any I have met before, and they make it obvious that they think their lives are the absolute greatest. I am the one that, if I am authentic, spends some days feeling as if the reality of our situation sticks a knife in the depths of my heart. I do not tell you these things for a pity party. We have a very full life, supportive family and friends, and most importantly a God that has saved us and is planning for us more than we could possibly imagine. You can’t live on this planet for long without walking through hard things, and I know so many others who live the challenging day to day as well. However, I want to make it clear that just because we know and serve a powerful God who is carrying us, doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling the weight of our circumstances at times.

In a sermon a few weeks ago, our pastor mentioned the verses in Psalms in which the Lord reminds us that he has kept count of our tossings and that He puts our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8). This was comforting to me, and then I remember that in Revelations He also says that there will be no more tears in heaven (Revelation 21:4). So if He has this bottle of my tears, but it is not in heaven, where is it? When Jesus comes back again is He going to make this so-called bottle appear so that I can know it actually existed but make it disappear all at the same time? (These are the things I analyze sometimes in my mind. The struggle is real).

The Lord revealed a beautiful truth to me this morning that I would like to share. I believe that the reason we will never see this bottle is because God in His wisdom and might is making something out of that bottle of tears that is bringing Him the glory and us all things good. As the tears fall, He is collecting them in order to create something precious that far surpasses the emotions that brought about the tears in the first place. The best part to me is this: He doesn’t have a tear-criteria. He doesn’t say only certain tears make the cut. He carefully and intricately cares about each and every one of them. One day in heaven, He will present me, present you, with something that is indescribably beautiful that could have only been crafted with each of the tears that streamed down. Your pain and crying is for a purpose. It is a vital and important piece of your story and one day, will be more than worth it. Whatever you are walking through today, I encourage you to trust Him with the weight of the story He is writing. There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), and sometimes He brings laughter. But when He allows pain, let the tears fall, confident that He is collecting them for something beyond what you could have asked for or dreamed up. He cares. He loves us. He is always working for His glory and our good. Be encouraged today that not one tear will be wasted in the kingdom. Rejoice in that fact that once He calls you home, He promises you an eternity of Cry No More. Thanks be to God and God alone! He alone can turn our mourning into dancing.

Weekend Wisdom with: Hugh Cheek

While the weekend tends to be a time for rest and relaxation, it can often turn into a couple days in which we forget to stay focused on the eternal and fix our eyes on the seen instead. For that very reason, I am going to start a series in which I give random tidbits of wisdom from various people I know or don’t know, but who I admire and look to for inspiration and growth. Who better than to start with than my God-fearing, good-looking hubby?

wedding 390

Trip to Ethiopia 2010

Hugh is leaving to go to Cusco, Peru, to serve with a team from his residency program and a couple of their wives. He will be staying with some missionaries that used to live in Augusta with us, where they will be serving together in a variety of ways. They hope to serve as a source of encouragement for our friends who live there, and they will also be running a triage clinic in a remote village outside of Cusco. While they desire to meet physical needs there, the most important need they want to meet is the one that satisfies eternally; namely sharing the good news about Christ. I am so thrilled that Hugh is going, and have not for a second wished he was staying here with the girls and me. Here is your weekend wisdom straight from Hugh’s heart:

“Because of the challenges that we have been dealing with within our family, one of my fears has been leaving them for a week. However, scripture clearly addresses this. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses  his life for my sake finds it” (Matthew 10:37-39). This is not some brainwashing theology, but Biblical truth. It is not that our love for family, parents, wife, and children is cheapened or unimportant. I cannot begin to tell you the grief that would take place in my heart upon the thought of losing my wife or children. However, these feelings and bonds pale in comparison to the way that our Adoptive Father in heaven loves us and has sacrificed for us.The weight of this truth is what motivates me to go so that, “I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is Your love” (Psalm 57:9-10).  ”

– Hugh Cheek

Friends, whatever your week held or your weekend holds, all pales in comparison to His love. He is worth it. Worth our sacrifices. Worth our surrender. Worth our praise.

Happy Friday!

Morgan

When the Casserole Isn’t Enough and Other Musings.

Most of us have done it at some point. “I’ll pray for you,” we say, when really all we mean is that we are thinking about someone and whatever they are going through. There are probably some of you who wouldn’t even consider yourselves a “praying person”, yet you have said it from time to time simply because it felt like the right thing to do. So why don’t we just tell others, “Thinking of you”? Has it just become a coined phrase such as asking someone how they are doing and getting a quick, “good” response back? And, if we are offering sincere, intentional prayer up on others’ behalf, why? What does praying to an unseen God do for someone who needs immediate comfort or help?
               There have been several incidences in friends’ lives where I have so badly wanted to “do something”; to try to cushion the blow of whatever life has thrown at them so to speak. Whether it is plan a girls’ night for a friend who is walking through a break-up, or bringing a casserole to a family who has gone through a loss, we just want to help ease others’ pain. While an ice cream sundae with an acquaintance or a walk with a peer might be temporarily helpful, it does not get to the core of the problem. It just doesn’t truly help. In fact, there are many instances in which an encouraging text or dropped off meal, however delicious, could seem like salt in the wound. I believe  this is because while these things might serve our own need  to reach and “do our part”, it can sometimes accentuate the truth that no one truly understands what the casserole-receiver (again, just go with it) is going through. After all, if they did, they would be able to do more…to fix things.  At some point in life, we all become all too aware that this just can’t happen no matter how much we wish it could. I am not saying reaching out and offering love and support is irrelevant; not in the least. Community is vital and whether someone empathizes with our situation or not, we need the love, albeit imperfect, of those around us. I AM saying that these things are equivalent to giving a dehydrated person a sip of water- nice in the moment, but often just causes the thirsty to thirst even more. So what can we do? I believe that lifting others up to the throne of God is the only thing that truly assists.
               Think about it: when you send good vibes or thoughts to another, however well intentioned, they are powerless. After all, if you had the power to help what that person was walking through, you might have prevented it all together. So doesn’t it make sense to meet with the One who allowed it to happen in the first place? It is there that we wrestle through the “why’s”. Prayer does not change God, but it does change the one who prays. In talking to God, we are reminded of His sovereignty, of His love, of His goodness. The more we get to know Him, the more we learn to trust Him with our lives and the lives of those around us. Even when it is hard. Even when things don’t make sense to our finite, human minds. In the midst of a broken and heartbreaking world, there is Hope.  Prayer is simply communication with God and we cannot meet with the Creator without being changed for the good. He DOES  care about our needs, both big and small. But how do we know that for sure? We must look to the cross. There, in the place where Love was made perfect. There, where the Holy died for the unholy, the unjustified given justice through God’s own flesh and blood. Oh, friends, how He loves us. How He cares for us. How He longs to be the Meeter of all our needs. Because of the cross, as a Christian, I have been given full access to God’s holy throne. Hebrews 7:25 says it best,
“Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”


He is constantly interceding for those that put their faith in His perfect sacrifice. After the casserole has been eaten, the night out is over, the vacation away ends, and you are once again hit smack in the heart with the reality that didn’t disappear, He remains. Always mediating. Always standing in the gap.  Bearing our burdens for us and offering ourselves and those we love a healing balm whose ingredients are kept in the Secret Place but given limitless to those who will simply ask. The next time someone around you is facing a trial or tribulation, won’t you first offer them the only gift that truly keeps on giving, namely Christ? After all, we can only be the hands and feet of Him whose heart we know. In light of this truth, would you honor me with your prayer requests today? You can contact me in whatever way seems fit. If email is more appropriate, my email is morganbcheek@gmail.com. It would be a privilege. In a world of tragedies, busyness, mysteries, and day to day tasks, He is our Rock. Let’s cling to Him today.