These Bodies.

I remember being in the ultrasound room as the sweet-voiced technician discovered we would be having two little girls. To be truthful, of all the different combinations possible (three to be exact), this was the one that made me the most nervous. After all, as a woman, I knew the struggles that would come along for them. The hardships of a man are real as well; yet, they were foreign to me. The sufferings of a woman hit very close to home, and so many of them are attached to our physicality.

beauty b

This body. I have had a love/hate relationship with it since I can remember. There have been times where I desperately wanted to change it; spending way too many moments calculating and analyzing how I could do just that. Other seasons, I was in awe of it as it crossed a half marathon finish line or birthed and nourished two precious babies. Since God began the freeing process of molding me to be more like Him, it has been somewhat of a battle to distinguish what the world says my body is good for versus what God says my body is good for; so, as I processed the thought of having two little girls, my mind began to race, thinking of the vast responsibility we were going to have in teaching them truths about their bodies versus lies. And while the responsibility has taken a few twists, the matter is equally as great: how do you explain to two little girls who have special needs that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God? How do you teach them that, despite what the world says about mutations or imperfections or atypical or abnormal, that they are absolutely perfect in His eyes? I believe that I answered this question best at a recent question and answer session in which someone asked me something similar. I laughed to myself later, knowing that they might have been expecting something a little more eloquent, but here was how I responded: sloppily yet in grace. Truthfully, this has been my response to many questions that have come along. The terrifying thing as a parent is that we are still human whenever we have our children. I think we somehow think, quite wrongly, that we will gain some sort of super parent power when our children get here. Our sin is just as real; yet our God’s strength and goodness are, too. That is the key. Those of us who have sunk into this truth have found great relief and comfort in the fact that we will never reach a point where we have it all together; yet He has had it all together all along. potter

God’s word is such manna to our souls. For someone who dislikes mysteries and uncertainty, God’s word is what I count on for answers and the realest reality. As I looked at what God’s word tells us about our bodies, one thing was very clear: God speaks about this word, the body, in three different ways. First and foremost, He talks about the body of Christ. This perfect God-man whose temporary body was wrecked in order to permanently free our souls. Secondly, He mentioned the Body of Christ in relation to the church. By the church, I don’t mean First Baptist or Second Presbyterian. No. The church is not a building; rather the church is all of God’s children connected as one. The Body of Christ, now that He has ascended into heaven and entered into the hearts of those of us who call ourselves Christ followers in the form of His Spirit, this body is us. We are truly His hands, His feet, His heart to a dying world. We may not always act like it; we may grief His Spirit in order to please our flesh, but He has made it clear that we are His body on this earth. The third way that He mentions the body is definition we all tend to think of first: this flesh. Our individual, quickly fading, temporary, physical bodies. Christ follower or not, we can all agree on one thing: these bodies are not going to last. I like to think of those of us who are not differently abled as temporarily able-bodied. And, it doesn’t take long to see that this body and it’s abilities can change or be taken away at the blink of an eye.

People always tell us how beautiful our girls are, and as their momma, I could not agree more. Most of the time, they are discussing their physical appearance. Something that God is revealing to me in this journey, maybe more than ever, is the importance of finding the beauty within rather than focusing on the beauty external.

There is nothing wrong with recognizing the beauty of creation. Psalm 19:1 says,

“the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork”. Yes. Creation absolutely speaks of the glory of God; yet may we not lose sight of the fact that the Creator is the One to be praised, not the creation itself. Truthfully, looking to the creation instead of the Creator puts pressure on the thing created that it was never intended to have. Because everything and everyone is slowing fading, our external beauty is passing as well. But God. God has gifted those of us who believe with His Spirit, and we can rest assured that this beauty can never fade. So as women, while this may sound elementary, we have got to encourage and exhort the eternal beauty in one another rather than looking at the fleeting appearance. We have to choose, for ourselves and our children, to not take too much stock in something that could be here today, gone tomorrow. We must model this balance of appreciating the skin God gave us while knowing that it’s not going to last. Our children do what we model, not what we say. Sometimes, it is the things that we don’t verbalize that speak out the strongest.

So, when it comes to our girls and other children in a similar place, I have made it my purpose to speak these truths to them from now until one of us is called home: you are beautiful. You are prized. You matter. You are perfect exactly the way you are. You were knit in my womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. God makes no mistakes. No matter how many people you come across that think you should “get stronger” or “progress” or “be different”, as your mom, I recognize these as nothing but lies. God accepts you exactly as you are and you are, my precious ones, made in His image. You are not Plan B and we are not going to spend your days pushing you to be anything but what God has called you to be. You-exactly the way you are-are a crucial member of the body of Christ. You are irreplaceable. We are not going to be any more proud or less proud of you tomorrow than we are today. Your value is based on whose You are rather than who you are or what you do or do not do.

I love this quote from Michael Beates. In His book Disability and the Gospel, he says this,

“The Patriarchs, far from being ‘heroes of faith,’ are more often stumbling, weak, and broken people whom God uses in their weakness. When God met Jacob and left him wounded, it was a physical wound that was meant to remind him of his spiritual brokenness. He could no longer feign moral strength as he limped through life with this new physical disability….God intentionally brings woundedness to those he loves. And in fact, those God uses the most he breaks, in some manner, for his sovereign purposes…We are all ‘jars of clay’ (2 Cor 3-4). Some of us have cracks, chips, or imperfections that have in some cases been divinely formed and in others cases, divinely allowed through the processes of trimming, glazing, and firing. We are all the work of God’s hands.”

Friends, this is not only true for those who are differently-abled. This is true for each of us. I believe that those with various handicaps can direct each of us to this deeper truth about ourselves: our bodies are fading, yet God is making our spirits stronger and stronger. This world is not our home, and these bodies are not our final destination. And, I believe someone reading this now truly needs to grasp this truth: there is no pressure for you to keep this perishing body looking a certain way. The world may tell you otherwise, but let’s go back to the same truths that I pray over my girls:

Dear reader: you are beautiful. You are prized. You matter. You are perfect exactly the way you are. You were knit in your mother’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. God makes no mistakes. No matter how many people you come across that think you should “get stronger” or “progress” or “be different”, God recognizes these as nothing but lies. God accepts you exactly as you are and you are, my precious one, made in His image. You are not Plan B and you are not called to spend your days being pushed to be anything but what God has called you to be. You-exactly the way you are-are a crucial member of the body of Christ. You are irreplaceable. God is not going to be any more proud or less proud of you tomorrow than He is today. Your value is based on whose You are rather than who you are or what you do or do not do.

Friends, no matter where you are in this body struggle, I want you to hold fast to the truth of who God says you are. I want to encourage us to filter out the external in order to look at the souls of those around us. May we not make the focus something that is changing and fading; may we, instead, fix our eyes on Him and ask Him to give us the ability to see deeper.

“Do not let your adorning be external…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”- 1 Peter 3:3b,4

May we find freedom in knowing that our beauty goes much deeper than what the culture around us preaches. May we speak truth to ourselves, to our friends, to strangers, to loved ones, to our children. May we appreciate the beauty around us, knowing that it is a pale comparison of the beauty that awaits. You are perfect just the way you are, not because of you, but because of Him. Let’s celebrate God’s creativity in the way He molded each of us today!

The Great Adventure.

It has been a couple weeks since we found out that we were going to remain undiagnosed. I have been through a plethora of emotions, and there have been good days and bad days. I think this will remain true forever while I’m in this earthly body. But friends, as I was reflecting on how I thought I would react/feel/handle the news versus how I’m actually reacting/feeling/handling, one thing was clear: When we step out in faith and ask God to make His presence near us known, He absolutely does. I say this because, when we first began this search to what was going on, I remember saying that I would “go crazy” if we could not get answers. I was like a toddler having a tantrum in the grocery store. I wanted the cookie, and if I wasn’t going to get the cookie, I was going to stomp and yell and make a scene until I was given what I wanted. But God. He is the Perfect Parent. He does not get embarrassed of His children and give in hastily, because His hands are never tied. He is always working, and He patiently waits for us to silence our own wants and come to Him for a heart change only He could perform. Which is exactly what He has been doing in my life for the past few months.

I always tell people that I like to think of this blog as “God heavy, family light”. Some of you probably read because you care about our family and want to hear some general news, which I appreciate so very much. But my prayer, even for those of you who read for purposes outside of this, is that in the words of this blog you would meet Jesus in either a new, a fresh, or a deeper way. That being said, I think it’s important, maybe most especially for those of you who read and also know me personally, that I share my inabilities in light of His abilities. I want you to know that I am the same person that you have always known, yet God is changing my heart and mind in radical ways as I look to Him to do so. I stumble in this almost daily. There are moments where you see more Morgan and less Jesus, daily even, but I am so comforted that this relationship is simply about showing up at His throne and asking Him to fill… not based on this fragile jar of clay, but based on The Precious Jewel of Christ. Friend-yes, you specifically- hear me on this: He wants this for you. If you are reading these words, He is calling you out of wherever you are in order to speak to you in your here and now. He’s pursuing you in the most sacred, real way possible. As time goes on, and as I see Him do the impossible in my heart and in the lives of those around us, I am more and more convinced that this is true. It is one thing to say you believe something, and a whole another thing to have it stamped on the depths of who you are.

“God uses plain brown packages like you and me to hold His priceless gem of the gospel of Christ. The container garners no glory. Rather, the inestimable value resides in the contents of the container. How much more so, when the container is characterized by brokenness, does the beauty of God’s grace and the hope of the gospel shine forth in all its glory”. – Michael S. Beates, Disability and the Gospel

I could not say it any better. I am a plain brown package, yet I am finding so much joy in watching God’s priceless gem empty me out in order to show Himself. As a kid, I remember sometimes thinking that the Christian life looking boring. I sometimes called it a, “turtle neck board game” kind of life. But readers, this could not be further from the truth. If you are truly trusting God and having a “blank check” attitude toward your fleeting days, as our friend and former pastor David Platt always says, this Christ following life is one adventure after another. And, sometimes, the biggest adventure is the one that you find going on within your own soul. Those of you who have chosen to trust Him in the midst of tragedies or hard things can attest to what I am about to say: this strength could absolutely, totally, never come from me. Yet, sometimes, His strength is shown most fervently through our utter weakness. So, as Paul says,

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.- 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Sometimes, the things the Lord is doing in a heart are too complex to verbalize, but as I was fumbling for some words the other day, I told a friend, “It’s not that I don’t still have hard emotions about the whole thing. But, the moment we didn’t get a diagnosis, I knew that I had already trusted that decision to God. And, I’ve seen Him faithfully work so much in this season that I was positive His mighty hand could hold our girls much more securely than my clammy, feeble grip. There is nothing left to do but praise Him for the suffering, because I’m trusting it truly is going to be His best.” Yes. And, as I look to the Perfect Parent to give me wisdom on how to be the best mom for our girls in light of this news, I have discovered that diagnosis or not, my job didn’t change. My purpose in our children’s lives has always been the same: to show them God’s love and pray, pray, pray that they will know and experience that all their days. Knowing the simplicity of this gives us the freedom to allow the therapists to be the therapists, the doctors to be the doctors, and lets us love our girls without any doubt that God will keep being God both in our lives and theirs. It takes away pressures and expectations that come from fighting God’s best for their lives. This is not Plan B, He is not withholding, and someone else’s normal is not to be desired. He is our portion. In light of that, I like this. Truly. I like the challenges. I like the lack of milestones. I like the atypical because above all else, I trust Him and His plans. And, as Jim Elliot once said,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Tomorrow, we will have another swallow study to see what is going on with our girls and their feeding. There is a chance that we could find out the swallowing has gotten worse, and that would obviously mean different steps for our girls. But, this plain paper bag is not concerned, because,

“He is not afraid of bad news; His heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”- Psalm 112:7

There is no such thing as bad news with Him. Hard emotions, days, moments, circumstances…they are passing. Our Hope and our Joy will stand forever. If you knew that your football team was going to win the Super Bowl, would you be concerned with a couple of bad passes or fumbles? Jesus. He has already overcome, the victory is His, and these things in between are merely His perfect, detailed provision for our brief stay here on earth. This world is not our home.

Friends, I am in awe of the way God works as we call on Him to do so. Today, instead of focusing on where we are all falling short, I want to ask you this: as you look back on the different seasons or situations of your life, where have you seen God show up, both tangibly and intangibly? How can you praise Him today for the miracles He is performing in your heart? And, if you have never trusted His faithful pattern for your days, who do you know that has and who can do reach out to that can help you begin this great adventure? (If no one else, ME!) Friends, this Gospel, this Good News- it’s real. It’s true. It’s life-changing. My desperate prayer for each of you is that the eyes of your heart would be all the more open to what a life lived in surrender to Him looks like. That you would experience the amazement we have experienced as we have stepped out in faith, handed him “our” story, and left it in His beautiful, scar-filled, loving hands. It is safe with Him. He can be trusted. And, as C.S. Lewis once wrote,

“Safe?…who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Let’s lift open hands to the One who is writing each of our adventures and has nailed each and every obstacle to the cross which He bore. He is worthy.

Deliberate Sin.

Sometimes, I sin on purpose. I have moments in which I am intentionally disobedient. It is in those instances that I am grateful for the image of a child and their parent. As a kid, and then more especially as a teenager, I certainly had some rebellious tendencies. I would even find ways to rationalize my rebellion instead of calling it what it truly was: me wanting to do what I wanted to do instead of trusting God to make those calls. My poor parents often got caught in the mix of this turning away, and I’m sure I am the cause of a few wrinkles or gray hairs (not like those exist mom and dad!) in their lives. But, no matter what I said or did, one thing was clear: their love for me was the same. In the midst of my inconsistencies, their consistency still shined through. I am so thankful that I have parents that I know this to be true about; but even still, I doubted this in my shame and disgust of myself. We can often look at our human relationships, and if we dig a little deeper, discover some deep seated truths (or lies) we have believed about God. So, at the end of the day, here God and I were: Him telling me He loved me and giving me guidelines to best help me experience His love and love others well; me being suspicious that He was just trying to control me or take the fun away and therefore doing my own thing; me coming to Him after doing my own thing and confessing He knew best all along; me then doubting His love altogether because of my own mess-ups. An exhausting way to live for sure. But God. God has gently and patiently lured me back to Him each and every time. And, the more I have gotten to know Him and stepped out in faith to trust Him, the more I have realized this deep seated, never-changing, always giving, always gracing, beautiful, mighty, powerful Love is for real. More real than my own fleeting wants or desires. More true than any human could possibly attempt to muster up. Better than any love story that any movie could ever try to depict. The Greatest Love Story of All. But, still, I sin. And sometimes, I sin on purpose. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this. There are times where, despite thinking a matter through, I turn off the voice of the Spirit and turn toward sin and death. It always seems silly, knowing what I know what I know, but as Paul says,

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…for I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”- Romans 7:15, 18b-19

Sometimes, my flesh wins temporarily. Oh, how I am thankful this victory is short and fleeting, but as I was thinking about a particular area of my life that I straight up having a hard time choosing God in, I was reminded of a steadfast heart and what that, in theory, should look like. Now, in these moments, the Enemy would totally prefer that we go down the path of shame. But, staring at our sin will not lead us to conquering the sin any more than staring at a set of weights will lead us to get physically stronger. That gets us nowhere. Which is why the Enemy would love for us to just keeping staring at it, or even better, keep staring at ourselves and beating ourselves up over and over again. There is absolutely no victory found there. No. Victory is found in staring at God, and, while our sin seems great, knowing that He promises that He is greater. It is finding confidence in the fact that He has already overcome; and falling on our knees in gratitude that we no longer have to be a slave to that which kills, steals, and destroys. So, a steadfast heart. A steadfast heart is not compromised by emotions or circumstances. A heart that is fixed on Him is a heart that stares the difficulty or temptation in the face just long enough to say, “My God is greater”; and then quickly fixes its whole being on the God who made that to be true. And, just like you will never regret picking up those weights, you will never look back and wish you hadn’t chosen God’s ways. The more we make the active choice to trust Him, the more He has room to show His innate faithfulness. True, you might be sore for a bit, for discipline can be painful, but our faith muscles sometimes have to be stretched and pulled for a season in order to bring us God’s ultimate best in our lives.

But how do we do this when the default seems much more appealing? There was a time in my life that I thought I would reach a level of “super-spiritual” in which nothing other than God was appealing to me. While it is true that God sanctifies us and gives us the ability to desire Him more and the world less, the fact is, we will be in the battle until we are able to take off this flesh and put on the new that He is preparing for us. So, I believe that having the faith to believe God’s promises and trust His purposes is the key to not settling in this life. It sounds elementary, but if faith is the focus of what I believe, wouldn’t it make sense that in the moments when it is hard to look to God instead of self or what this world has to offer, faith becomes all the more important? The very nature of the word faith breathes stepping out. The definition in itself calls for our sight being blinded, otherwise it wouldn’t be faith. So often, as I am struggling through giving into sin, I will think of a scripture, pray even, but if I’m honest, I’m not believing in the power of the words I’m reading or saying. While those words are still true and active in those moments, they are dead and passive to my current situation if I am not exercising the faith to believe God in whatever my current reality is. And let us not forget that the temptation to sin is not the sin itself. The feeling, no matter how strong, is not the issue. It’s what we choose to do with the struggle or the emotion that matters.

Friends, when we are tempted to take the easy way out, or to go to our default, or to flat out sin, we are in the midst of a holy opportunity. It is those moments that God can strengthen and grow our faith all the more, if yet we would have the faith to believe. And sometimes, He hides His presence or His purposes in order to develop this faith all the more. Yet when all visible evidence that He is remembering us is withheld, let us not forget that this does not diminish His presence in the least. No. Let us, instead, look to His Word and cry out to Him in faith, trusting our feeble lives to The Eternal One who is working all things together for good. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

What areas of your current reality are you choosing sin instead of choosing God? Where are you becoming impatient with His timing in sanctification and simply going along with your flesh? How can you choose to step out in faith today and do the hard thing, knowing that it is God’s best for your life?

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure”. –Philippians 2:13

Let’s choose to trust Him today. If not today, then when? He is faithful.

Scraps Under the Table: Where is your Default?

I am squirming in my seat even thinking about the words I am about to type. Prepare to be officially uncomfortable during this post.

There is your warning.

As humans, we tend to stray away from those things that make us feel exposed and vulnerable. Oftentimes, we are okay with getting to a certain level of community, and then when someone peels off another layer and goes just a little deeper, we run. I am praying that God would keep each of our hearts fixed today, regardless of the emotions that might be present. Someone wiser than me once told me that she was going to bring up the hard topics, because she knew that the world had found a way to be comfortable with certain aspects of our humanity, and as a Christian, while she didn’t want to be content in the mess, she wanted to bring it to the light instead of letting the world tell me what to do with it. Yes. So today, in complete authenticity, I want to bring to the light some things that I would sometimes, if I’m honest, rather leave in dark.

I sent Hugh the following text yesterday:


One of girls has an atypical behavior that, while it has always been present, seems to be getting more frequent. We have sent videos to several physicians, and the response is always the same, “It could be this. It could be this. We will just have to see”. While it doesn’t appear to be painful, and it doesn’t seem to be harmful, it is taxing to watch and bothersome for this momma’s heart because each time she does it, it is yet another realization that our girls are “different”. It doesn’t change my love for her, of course, but it’s frustrating to watch her do something over and over again that isn’t benefitting her development. As I typed the words to Hugh, and as the Lord and I discussed this behavior, the word default kept coming to mind. We all have them. Those behaviors, habits, guilty pleasures, secret sins; the things that we go to for temporary relief. Now, before we go on, I want to do some clarifying. Some of these things, in themselves, are not bad things: the ice cream sundae, the glass of wine, the work out, social media, time with friends, television, our hobbies, sports, shopping. Then, there are those things, the habits we most often keep secret, that point straight to self and away from God and community: pornography, masturbation, the affair, secret shopping habits, the medicine that was once prescribed but is no longer needed, yet still taken, financial decisions we keep away from our spouse, the text messages with the opposite sex that serve to make us feel more secure, scanning pictures of our ex’s on facebook “just to see what they are up to”, crass emails amongst friends that disrespect our spouses, that extra gaze or thought toward your co-worker that no one else would ever know about, the fantasies we play out in our minds in the midst of boredom, that television show you watch that you are sure isn’t God honoring but you do it anyway, the eating (or not eating) that you do when alone in order to stuff feelings or feel some sense of control…

Uncomfortable yet?

If your answer is yes, I can assure you that you are not alone.

And, I want to address those things, but I don’t want to stay focused on them. You see, anything that points directly to self and self-pleasure, and directly away from God and His purposes, is straight up sin. We can rationalize it all we want, but the fact is, God’s word makes it clear that in order to have the mind of Christ, we have to throw off the flesh and its desires. I would venture to say that none of the things listed above make you want to know God more or want to share His love more with others. No. Our secret sins most always direct us to self-service instead of servanthood. And the fact is, we can rationalize away all we want, but someday, God will, “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, emphasis mine)

This is one of those, “I don’t necessarily like it, but I believe it” statements of the Bible. I would love to keep my secret stuff hidden, but the fact is that nothing is hidden from God. You can fool the people around you, even fool yourselves at times, but God will not be mocked and He absolutely is aware of each and every move we make. Terrifying, unless we remember the sacrifice at the cross. This is one of the most beautiful things about sanctification and community. Instead of keeping these things hidden, we can bring them out into the light, and there, expose them for what they really are: false promises of wholeness and satisfaction that leave us longing all the more. Only seen for what they truly are when brought to the foot of the cross; to the scars on the hands of the One who died for those very things we speak about.

But beyond those things that the Word says are sin, what about those things that are not sin within themselves? What about the temporary things that God has purposed as blessings? Can we simply enjoy them as long as we thank God for them? I believe the answer to this is yes and no. I believe it goes a little deeper than that, and becomes an issue of the heart rather than an issue of legality.

As a Christ follower, I want my default to always be that: Christ. God’s word, communication with Him, intercession for others. And, sometimes, I find myself going to those things. Other times, however, those seemingly harmless “gifts” take His place on the throne of ‘my’ life. It can creep up suddenly, but if I’m honest, it is pretty clear that my “go to” can often become the gifts of the Giver rather than the Giver Himself. As I was pondering this the other night, I realized how hurtful that must be to the Father. The scary thing is that often, no one else would know that a good thing has become a bad thing. In light of this, I believe we all need to do a heart check at times in order to look at who or what we are defaulting to.

What do we go to first whenever we are stressed? Is it a habit? Is it a particular person? Or is it the Problem Solver Himself?

What do we look forward to most in our day? Where do we seek satisfaction?

Friends, it is one thing to enjoy creation and enjoy all the things the Lord has placed in our lives. It is another thing altogether to look to those things for strength, peace, comfort, security, or joy. And, when we do this, we will find that those things often come up short because they were never meant to eternally satisfy. Seeking temporary things to do what the Eternal God was meant to do is like towing a car instead of filling it up with gas. It might get you somewhere initially, but it will leave you exhausted and stuck as soon as you stop pulling.

Sweet readers, Christ is the only One whose love is limitless. He ASKS us to continually seek Him, to continually bring our stuff to Him, and He says this out of pure love, knowing that He is the only One who can make us whole. Sure, these gifts are blessings when enjoyed in their proper place; but left to be our source of anything more and they can become the very thing that takes our joy away.

I have been doing quite the heart check this week, and in love, I want to encourage you to do the same. If you (like me) see some of these good gifts becoming idols, I challenge you to put them aside for a season in order to allow God to fill those empty places. We should come to this world with a full cup that overflows, not with an empty cup begging to be filled. Lights shining in the darkness, not blind beggars searching for flashlights or candles that can sniff out.

This I am confident of: He who promises is able. He will take your heart’s intentions and give you satisfaction and wholeness in those places that so need His loving touch; and in turn, you will be able to spill out this Love all the more. Let’s not settle for scraps under the table when a Holy banquet awaits.

The Call to Endure.

When we left the appointment with the National Institute of Health, I was confirmed of one thing: once the tests that they sent off came back, if an answer did not come from them, it was time to throw up a white flag. It was time for me to surrender this idea of having a diagnosis. To be truthful, I just knew that this would not be the case. For over a year now, I have been praying, begging God, to give us some kind of prognosis. Friends, God always answers our prayers; however, sometimes His answers do not line up with our personal desires. A “no” or “not now” is just as much of an answer as a “yes”. So, when we got the news this week that all the tests they sent off had come back normal, I knew I was left with only one option- to praise Him regardless of my own frustrations, disappointments, and other emotions. A call to endure.

As I sat and listened, even mustering out an, “Are you sure?”, tears welling up in my eyes then streaming down my face, anger began to surface. I hung up, and cried out to God. My question to Him was simple: “God, is an answer really too much to ask for? We have twins- two little girls whose needs are great- and all I am wanting is some kind of direction. Is this really too much to ask?”

Gently, I sensed Him whispering into my heart, “My child. I came down from heaven, died for you, and saved you from that which you could have never done yourself. In light of this, is it too much to ask for you to trust me?”

“Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”- Revelation 13:10b

Nothing within me, outside of God Himself, is okay with this “no news” kind of news. Nothing. But God. He promises that, through Christ, He has equipped us with every good thing we need to do His will. And sometimes, His will is simply this: to endure. He calls us to continue to exist in the same state or condition, to experience pain or suffering for a long time, to deal with or accept something that we would have never chosen for ourselves, to undergo without giving in. But readers, do not miss this truth: He does not call us to endure without giving us the strength to do so. Sometimes, this strength is not felt, but is simply trusted. And in our situation, He has reminded me that I do not have to deal with the struggles and surprises that will come around the corner in the here and now; instead, I can look to Him daily, and believe not in my own ability to handle this calling but in His great ability to take care of that which He planned and detailed out. The raw truth is this: we do not need a diagnosis. We need Him. He has already provided us all that we need in His Son. We don’t have to feel excited about this to believe it wholeheartedly. As Francis Chan once said, “I believe a lot of things that I don’t necessarily like”. And, he’s right. God’s word says a lot of things that my flesh isn’t necessarily giddy about. But, I believe Him and I trust that what He allows is His best for our lives. Unabandoned surrender to the One whose faithfulness is breathed to life each and every day.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Friends, herein lies my weakness, my constant thorn. But, as Paul puts it, in it I will boast. I will proclaim to you that in as much as I desire answers for our girls, I desire God more. I will shout it out, from the rooftops of my soul, that obedience to His purposes is much more satisfying than anything else I desire on this earth. I believe with all my heart that through this weakness of the unknown, His glory is being proclaimed. So, we rejoice. We rejoice and praise, even in the midst of tears and earthly fears. When I am weak-and oh, how weak I am-when I am weak, then His strength is revealed all the more. This is one of the beautiful mysteries of God’s Holy plan for His creation. And, in the big scheme of things? Light and fleeting. All things on this earth, no matter how hard or how painful at the time, are light and fleeting compared to the glory that He is patiently waiting to reveal. ( 2 Corinthians 4:17)

The NIH will continue to seek out answers as science fervently attempts to catch up with God, and we will simply continue to seek Him, letting go of that which we so desired in order to grab on to Him and His purposes in our fleeting lives. He will not be surprised at the trials and joys that appear around the corner, and He will keep doing what He has already been so faithful to do. Beloved, I believe that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). I believe that He has plans to prosper and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11). I know this in our family’s life and I know this in yours. He will continue to do what He has done oh so perfectly since the beginning of time: carry us through that which we could not have carried ourselves through. It was proven on the cross and it is proven in our moments as He continues to do that which I would have deemed impossible.

Friends, what corners of life is He asking you to trust in that you are fighting? Where are you needing to let go and, as the saying goes, let God? I may not feel it today, but I believe He is greater than our emotions, greater than all other things, and I know that He will bring peace and healing to those of us who seek His face. My prayer for each of us today is that we would answer the call to endure, and with the power that only He could produce, that we would keep on keeping on, trusting the God that is bringing good out of all things. All it takes is a mustard seed kind of faith. May we offer our lives today and always; living sacrifices to the One who bought us back with the priceless gift of Himself. He is worthy.

Layered Love.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing with a group of women in Augusta, Georgia. In the days before, as I was praying through what God wanted to say, I was reminded of His gentle leading in our family’s story. I reflected back on the beginning of this journey, almost a year and a half ago, and fell to my knees in gratitude that He, in His wisdom, has unraveled the details of our story in such a tender way. He knew. He knew that this overwhelmed, anxious heart needed time to process the different pieces of His story in our lives. He knew that I could not handle the weight of this story all at once; and so He has continued to reveal, piece by piece, the various plans and details. He still knows. Even in the midst of my tantrums for more knowledge, more answers, He patiently withholds; for His glory and for our good.


If you were able to know all the details of your time on earth, right here, right now, would you want to?

The heartbreak.

The mistakes.

The wreck.

The cancer.

The financial woes.

The wedding.

The babies.

The adoption.

The deaths.

The lives.

The joys.

The pains.

Would you?

A few years back, my answer would have been a resounding, ‘yes’. But, now? Now, I am eternally thankful that He leaves most of it a holy mystery.

“For everything there is a season…”-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Oftentimes, we use this verse at funerals, or in times of sorrow. It is reminder that all things are in God’s hands and under His timetable. However, if we take it a step further, we can see God’s good graces in this in an even deeper way. What if all the seasons were mixed together?

Faithful One

I love winter, summer, spring, fall; all for different reasons. Once the end of one season hits, I am ready and excited for the next. Why? Because, while in ways, I’m uncomfortable with change; there is also something refreshing about starting anew and changing things up. I don’t want snow, rain, hot, cold, autumn leaves and humid, stormy nights, all at once. It would be too much for this finite, human mind to process. So God, in His wisdom, He reveals His creation to us in different times and different ways, all forming a tapestry of His love. So goes our lives. He ordains it that we walk through different circumstances, different joys and trials, within the timing that He sees fit. The thing is this: He knows. He has walked through it all, and His purposes and plans would not be formed in perfection without each and every tiny detail of the whole thing. Yet, in His sheer wisdom and momentous patience, He has plastered it all together in a way in which we could grow and learn to be more like Him in constant, precise layers. And, hear me on this: without each and every layer of your story, however seemingly painful or hard, the story would not be the same; His layered goodness enveloping each and every moment.

“…even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.”- Psalm 139:12

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He shines brighter. He shines brighter than the darkest night. We see the darkness; He sees the Light, blazing brighter than the sun He created. We see the sin, bloodiest of reds, and He sees the robe, whiter than snow. We see the hurt, piercing thick to the soul; He sees the victory, marching quickly to eternity. We see the fleeting emotion; He sees the bigger picture, forming one, glorious canvas of perfect Love. We see the cross; He sees His Son, sitting at the right hand of the Father on His throne. Layers of beauty, glory, and purposed plans from the One who sees all, knows all, and is above all.

I am growing to love the layers of this story. I am being taught to rest in today, letting go of both yesterday and tomorrow, fully convinced that He is working in all things. It is one thing to unclench those hands; it is another thing altogether to raise those hands in praise. A miracle, in fact. His Spirit, doing the impossible, one season at a time.

Friends, the layers of each of our lives are rich and full. But, let us not forget that while we may only see pieces of the puzzle; it is no puzzle to Him. He has not only seen it all; He ordained it all. Oftentimes, we find ourselves overwhelmed in the midst of the complexities of the seasons of life. Could we praise Him in light of that? Could we begin to be thankful that He has walked through it all; yet helps us to climb this life one step at a time, moment by moment, day by day, week by week? Instead of wishing that we “just knew”; or that He would reveal more, or that the plan was laid out, could we breathe a sigh of relief that we are simply called to seek Him right now, in this very moment?

My flesh wants what it wants what it wants; but my soul wants Jesus more. My prayer for us this week is that we would find joy in the fact that He has purposed us to not know all things. That we would humble ourselves to live in this moment, fully convinced that He is above each and every season; and that each and every layer is clothed in His limitless, perfect Love. May we seek Him in all things and praise Him evermore.

Far from Boring.

This past Friday night, Hugh worked well past dinner time. Plans with friends turned into plans at home turned into trying to wait to put the girls in bed so that Hugh could see them for a second; and I was exhausted. Still in sweat pants, hair and heart frazzled, looking as if I popped two babies out a couple months before but quite aware that we had been doing this routine for almost two years now.


Looks like a party, no?

“…I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”- John 10:10

Hm. Abundant life. I hear you Lord, but sometimes, sometimes this life feels far from abundant. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I’m much more interested in escaping my own life than basking in it.

As I was re-reading Katie Davis’s book, “Kisses from Katie”, I flashbacked to Friday night, and then it hit me: the moments my life doesn’t feel abundant are the moments in which I am focused on self: my expectations, my plans, my rights. She says it this way,

“We bend. I bend to sweep crumbs and I bend to wipe vomit and I bend to pick up little ones and wipe away tears… And at the end of these days I bend next to the bed and I ask only that I could bend more, bend lower. Because I serve a Savior who came to be a servant. He lived bent low. And bent down here is where I see His face. He lived, only to die. Could I? Die to self and just break open for love. This Savior, His one purpose to spend Himself on behalf of messy us. Will I spend myself on behalf of those in front of me? And people say, “Don’t you get tired?” and yes, I do. But I’m face to face with Jesus in the dirt, and the more I bend the harder and better and fuller this life gets. And sure, we are tired, but oh we are happy. Because bent down low is where we find fullness of Joy.”

Ah. Yes. On Friday, the reason my life wasn’t feeling abundant was because I was making it just that: ‘my’ life. I was not finding joy in serving two precious souls in the most pure way. I was not thinking about Hugh and how long his day must have felt and how I could love him better when he got home. I was not taking the time to pray for someone who is hurting, reach out and encourage a friend, or get in the Word for reminders of truth. No. Instead, I had jumped on the hamster wheel I like to call, “Pity Party”; and I was running around and around and around.

Friends, the reason we have abundant life in Christ is because in His grace He has given us the opportunity to take our eyes off of ourselves and fix our eyes on Him and His purposes. He has designed us to feel most at peace and most whole when we are serving and loving through a Love that is way outside of our own comfort zones and desires. The Enemy and our flesh tells us the more we focus on “me”, the more satisfied we will be. Lies. The truth is, I am a grain of sand on a vast beach, and while God loved this piece of dust so much that He came down and died for me, He did not die for me so that I could spend the rest of my life feeding my own flesh and blood. No. He gave His own life so that I could spend the rest of my time here giving up my rights, my desires, and my wants; and then spend the rest of eternity face to face in worship with Him. It was out of His love that He designed it this way!

But, we cannot muster up this love in our own strength. No. It has to be a perfect love, a Love that knows no boundaries. A love that, like an ever-flowing stream, bubbles up more and more the more we give. Jesus. The world would tell you that, “you deserve” so many different things; God tells us that we don’t deserve anything but that in Christ, we have been given everything. This is one of the greatest miracles of the Gospel: with Jesus, I already have everything. I am completely filled up and completely whole. But, to whom much has been given, much is required (Luke 12:48). But, this requirement is to simply give others that same love that we have been offered; absolutely and wholly through the Strength of the One who breathed and created all things. Always loving a little more, always giving when we feel like we can give no more, and gaining more joy all the more. Quitting our own lives so that God can take the broken pieces and design something more beautiful than we could have ever planned or imagined. Abundant life.

I don’t know what season of life you are in, but I can guarantee that there are moments that things feel too familiar, too mundane, too common. If this is the case, I want to encourage you to, like me, take a look at where your focus in. And beyond that, examine the places in your life that you are living comfortably instead of living surrendered. Friends, spending our lives for that which matters, namely the God of the universe, is far from boring. And, if we are finding life with Him boring, then I would argue we are not finding Him at all. We are called to deny self, to take up our cross, to turn the other cheek, to do all kinds of things that the world would tell us is completely crazy. Does this sound easy? Of course not. But, far from mundane. But, let us not look at what we are giving up, lest we forget what we have gained. The One who gave us all in His Son deserves our all. And,

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”- Matthew 16:26

Loves, our life is but a breath, and I can promise when we stand at the gates of heaven, we will not look back and think we should have done less for eternal purposes. We will see Jesus face to face and know that every sacrifice, every act of love we did, was rags in light of His Perfect Love.

This week, yet again, holds question of potential diagnosis for our girls. It holds a speaking event for me, typical scheduled appointments, and a handful of other somewhat life-changing, extremely exciting, responses pending. My prayer for myself and for you is that I would not keep my focus on the things above, but I would fix my gaze on the One above instead. That I would give until I cannot give anymore; and in those moments, that I would ask for Him to fill me up yet again, and then keep pouring out. You see, we cannot give that which we do not possess; and the beauty of this truth is that as He fills us up, as we overflow, we too experience this Love so deep, so wide. In the midst of any and all circumstances, this is where true life is found. Friends, let’s abandon ourselves to Him today. I want that abundant, exciting, uncomfortable life for me and for you more than I want my own comforts, luxuries, and fleeting pleasures. Press on, my dear. Press on.


Almost every morning, you will find me in front of the prayer board my husband gave me, Spark or coffee in hand, (okay, often both), worship music in the background, candle lit, God’s word nearby, and heart wide open. I cherish this time of day. It’s my favorite part, in fact. Moments to spend with the Creator and Savior of the universe. No matter what the day before (or night!) held; He faithfully calms my soul and gives me perspective for the hours to come. Eyes wide open, vision cleared.

In theory, I want this time to be only the beginning. In theory, it doesn’t end here. And, some days, this would be true. Yesterday was not one of those days.

The day started out the same as always, but between therapy, throw-up, bills, stressful conversations with doctors and therapists; my vision was more than blurred. God? He was the same. Me? I was on to the next imperfect thing, clenching those fists and attempting to control all that was around me. Last night as I laid down, it hit me that I had not lived out of overflow. No. I had spent the day, living out of fear. Out of frustration. Out of self.

His mercies are new every morning, amen? Today, as I sit here yet again, God’s word and His purposes still standing, I was reminded of these two sweet girls.


The first is a picture of an orphan from Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. It was taken a few years back when I went on my very first mission trip. Vision. Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, this young girl followed me around the clinic for an entire day. She clung to me, a stranger whose skin color was foreign to her, as if she had known me her whole life. I could not speak to her, and even with a translator’s help to share the Gospel, her understanding seemed limited. But God. I remember staring her dead in the eyes and stating in English, “God loves you little one”. She, a little girl who had no idea what I’m saying, took one look at the love overflowing from my eyes and smiled. It was if she could see to the depths of my soul, and I desperately wanted her to be able to pull out the hope of Jesus from me. As the day ended, we said our goodbyes, and I prayed. I prayed for her physical protection; but most of all, I prayed that somehow, in some way, truth would be given to this beautiful child.


A year later, in a remote village in Bangladesh, I met this little child. Do not ask me why, but she immediately reminded me of my sweet Ethiopian friend. I think it was the eyes. So vulnerable; so open and longing for love. She too clung to me throughout the day; and I attempted to spend my time simply showing her the love of Christ, knowing that in a few hours, we would leave. Perspective.

The truth is, the distractions of our day to day lives are vast. It is easier to focus on the temporary tasks at hand instead of gazing and meditating on the eternal. Many of us find ourselves, more often than not, reading a quick devotional in the morning and then moving on to the next thing. We mistaken God as a portion of our life, rather than the Sustainer of the life He’s loan to us.

I believe that when we find ourselves more concerned with our circumstances than our eternity, it’s time to take a step back, take a step forward, or take a step aside, and look into the eyes of those around us. It is then that we can be reminded, whether in a foreign country or right in our own homes, what truly matters. Friends, the souls of those around us are much more important than whatever task is at hand. What is easy is not always right, and what is right is not always easy. But, I think we will all find when we put aside self and lean in to those around us, we will find that we have much more in common with our fellow human beings than we ever knew. And, if this is true in a far off village in Asia, it is true in your life. Perspective.


Our sweet girls’ eyes are just gorgeous. I could truly stare at them all day, and my favorite part about them is that when I look at them, they truly look back. While we are not sure “what is going on up there” as one doctor eloquently put it, what I do know is that the girls are able to connect with the people around them; maybe in a deeper way than most. Today, I am determined to spend more time today loving them and showing them Christ through that love; instead of putting all my energy toward the things that don’t carry eternal significance. Eyes to see.

Friend, where are your eyes fixed today? Are you focused on things that are fading, or are you focused on that which will never perish? This weekend, I encourage us to look those around us in the eyes, and instead of fixing our gaze on what appears to be going on; let’s dig deeper. Let’s help one another to believe and live out the eternal perspective found in Jesus. All glory belongs to Him.

Nourishment for the Soul.

“Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings are appointed by Infinite Wisdom and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him according to his need.”- John Newton, hymnist

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Before I had the girls, I remember praying, pretty fervently, that God would give me the ability to nurse them. Looking back, this was His divine wisdom and insight into what the future held, as the fact that I did end up nursing them is pretty perplexing to physicians in light of their condition; not to mention I had absolutely no idea what that really meant at the time or what I was getting into. For the girls, I believe that the immunity they built up from this time period was a gift; and the fact that I did not have much of a struggle to be able to do this is nothing short of God’s sovereign hand. After months of feeling like a cow and determining that I would be a better wife, mom, and member of society for that matter if I stopped; so we prayerfully made the choice to switch to formula. I remember watching the girls take their first sip of that bottle and crying hot, burdened tears. It sounds silly to those of you who have not walked through motherhood, but at the time, this breastfeeding versus formula feeding feels like a massive deal, and while I should have been grateful I was able to experience this at all, instead I felt like a failure. I felt sad for reasons I was not sure of. The girls, however, didn’t miss a beat. They drank those bottles and moved on to the next thing. It was in those moments that I realized the innocence of a baby in a deeper way: they truly just needed the nourishment. It was me who was mourning the loss of what was, not the girls.

Flash forward to yesterday. I know I have mentioned that feeding the girls is a challenge, but let me give you a glimpse into what that looks like. Outside of Hugh and myself, there really aren’t many people who can feed the girls successfully. (And, Hugh would argue that he struggles at times). It is hard to explain why. As their mom, being with them all day every day, I have been able to manipulate getting food into them for the past twenty months. For a while, it was not as difficult as it is now, but for whatever reason, it is getting harder and harder for myself as well. The girls are on a nutrition plan in which their “vanilla milkshakes”, as we call them, must be finished, and there are only certain baby foods that they do not immediately throw up upon tasting. Their weight gain has been minimal in recent weeks, and to be truthful, I am just plain exhausted with it. Tired of the unexplained throwing up; weary of the time spent attempting to get nutrients in them and not understanding why it has to be so hard.


One of my many fleshly weaknesses is my stubborn nature, and I can tell you that a few months back, when the idea of “other ways of feeding” came up, I nipped it in the bud immediately. I think I even remember saying, “If I have to feed them their bottles and baby food for the rest of my life, I will do that before I do anything else”. Some of you reading this have children who are tube fed; and I know this is offensive to you. I am embarrassed and I am sorry that my mindset has been so narrow; but as you know, in this world of special needs, there are different layers and different things that hit each of us in various ways. The idea of a wheelchair doesn’t currently ruffle my feathers; but this idea of a g-tube absolutely devastates me.


Yesterday was a particularly hard day for us feeding-wise. At one point, as one precious girl was gagging over food she’s eaten a million times; and the other was spitting out the milk I was squirting into her mouth, I lost it. Usually, when I have those moments, I quietly leave the room, give myself a minute to pull it together, and then come back. This time, however, I felt the need to explain. I looked my sweet girls dead in the eyes and told them how sorry I was that this was so hard. I apologized for not being able to help them figure this whole eating thing out. I cried as I talked to them about how much I had loved to feed them up until this point, how it was not their fault, and how I hated everything about this struggle for them. They looked back confused, even giving me a small grin, and I had a flashback to that moment in their nursery where I first gave them that formula bottle. You see, the truth is, yet again, it is me who has the idol here, not them.

We all have these unsaid ideas of what we think life is going to look like. We even have specific details set up in our minds about various situations, some that we don’t even realize. For me, whether I consciously knew it or not, I had a picture of what meals would look like with our girls. Most of these visions go back to how things were when we were children; or, if we had a hard childhood, many of these visions come from our friends’ family lives or what we see on television or in movies. I pictured cut up pieces of peanut butter and jelly, meals out at restaurants as a family, doughnut dates with daddy. Even as I type these words, I would be amiss to not admit the tears that well up in my eyes. I want those things. But God. I want God and His plans for our life more.

I do not know if and when Hugh and I will prayerfully determine the time is right to go to other measures to feed Ally and Bailey Grace. From talking to other parents who have gone that route, I know that it is a decision that only God, Hugh, myself, and our physicians can make; and I know that we will know when it is time or not time. But as I sat there yesterday, I unclenched my hands yet a little more to a God who I believe in my heart knows best. The truth is, none of us have ever been promised our lives would look a certain way, yet deep in my soul, I have determined that God’s plans, while different than ours, not only should play out (and will play out), but are safe to give in to. It is up to Him to choose the details of each of our lives; and it is up to us to step out and faith and give Him praise in the midst, no matter if we understand or if we don’t. Spending our lives attempting to reverse that is futile and spiritually, emotionally, and physically damaging. I can’t tell you the peace I felt as I let the tears flow, raised my hands in the air, and worshipped the God whose purposes for our family are better than I could have possibly imagined. Beyond that, I know He will give us the strength and the peace if and when that time comes. You see, His strength is perfect, most especially when our strength is gone. He is always between us and our difficulty, fighting for us all the way. His word promises us He is an ever-present help in trouble. Ever-present. If we attempt to look forward, of course we are not going to feel like we can handle the future. We can’t. But God- God will give us the ability to endure whatever each moment holds, not with our own strength, but with the Almighty power of the One who breathed life into being and raised His Son from the dead. Supernatural help from the One who defeated sin and death Himself! My soul might be weary with sorrow in the midst, yet He promises to lift me up all the more (Psalm 119:28). And, as Ephesians 3:16 reminds us, this is strength in our inner being. When something is happening internally, we can’t see it from the outside. Yet, faith. Faith gives us the ability to trust that while our weaknesses may be left vulnerable on the surface, He is giving us inner strength to carry on with the peace that passes understanding. Jesus.

Friend, I ask you this. What are you holding on to? What visions do you have for “your” life that are not playing out the way you anticipated? In the wise words of Elsa, I want to encourage you to And remember, you are not letting it go to chance. No. You are letting it go and stepping out in faith, believing that the God of the universe knows how to handle the details of the life that He created and He purposed. I know I say it a lot, but He truly has got this. He knows what He’s doing. His plans are to prosper and not to harm and He is making all things new. May we spend today and every day with a posture of holy reverence, directed toward the One who gave His all so that You might gain all. Only He is worthy.

*If you would like, I would love to hear from you, whether in a comment, a message, or an email on how I can be praying for you to unclench those fists in the coming year. *

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’.”- Lamentations 3:22-24