Category Archives: Christian Life

Things Money Can’t Buy…

During a time when many of us are looking for ways to save money because of job loss, economy, cut in pay or a demotion, I thought it might be nice to look at the things we can have for free.

Love. It doesn’t cost a dollar or even a dime to receive a hug and kiss from my kids. Chocolate smudged lips are free. Small hands wrapped around my middle priceless. A marriage built on mutual love and respect and most importantly God, cannot be bought at the local mall. It is purchased with laughter, tears, and “I’m sorry’s”.

Beauty. I posted before on Free Beauty, but it never hurts to be reminded of all the free things God gives us to enjoy each day. I think my favorite free beauties are cold rainy days where it’s so dark the streetlights come on, the smell of homemade bread, and a clear winter’s night without a moon so you can see every star.

Peace. So many times we can look to our savings accounts or 401k’s for peace and security. We diligently save for those unexpected rainy days. The problem is money can disappear. The market crashes. Unemployment lasts longer than the six months saved up. Cancer strikes and the medical bills strip you down to nothing.

I’m thankful peace doesn’t come from finances. Instead, peace comes from knowing that God is in control and nothing takes him by surprise. He holds us in his hands, even when our bank account gives out 🙂

Salvation. You can’t buy God. You cannot tithe enough, you cannot give enough to missions; you can’t give to God what he does not already have. Instead, his gift of forgiveness and freedom are freely given to anyone who believes in his son Jesus. We can be free from guilt and shame because God provided a way. Salvation is for both the rich and the poor.

There are times I become so focused on the stuff that costs money that I forget how much I have that’s free. Hopefully this post has been a reminder to you as well 🙂

Hurts and Heartache

It comes in the form of a phone call, a letter, the distraught look of the doctor across the desk. You try to prepare yourself. But no matter how the news is delivered, it hits you like a punch in the gut. You reel back from the blow. Shock sets in. You wonder what you’re going to do. Life as you know it will never be the same again.

I know I’m not the only one who is or has gone through something, whether that is the death of a loved one, news that the cancer is back, or the loss of a job. And if you’re like me, you find your confidence shaken. What you once thought you believed you’re not sure about anymore. So what do you do?

As I prepared for this post, I read an article about the five stages of grief. As I read, it hit me: I was experiencing those stages. You do not need to experience death in order to have your world turned upside down. At first I found myself in denial. I kept thinking there had to be some mistake; that this was some kind of strange nightmare and I would eventually wake up, right?

But soon reality set in and I found myself angry. Really angry. I wanted an answer for why my husband had lost his job. But none came.

Then I began to bargain with God. I told God I would do anything if he would just get my family safely through this. Being a planner, I began to make plans after plans of what I would do to keep my family afloat. No matter the cost to myself, I would do what it took to get my family safely to the other side.

More days past and my plans fell to the wayside. Depression set in. I will admit its still here, sapping my heart and mind, clouding my vision. I once heard the Chinese symbol for perseverance was a heart with a dagger in it. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that is what life feels like right now. You hurt so bad you don’t want to move. But you must. Because life goes on.

The last stage of grief is acceptance. I can feel it on the horizon. But I’m scared of it. I’m afraid that if I accept what has happened, then that will make it okay. I know it’s illogical, but many times there is no logic in grief. Only deep intense feelings.

So where is God in all of this? Where is God during the hurts and heartache? I will be honest and say I don’t know why God allowed Dan to lose his job. I do not know what our future holds. And I hurt right now. But one thing I know, that in darkness there is light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

That light is Jesus. No matter how dark life gets, it can never extinguish God. I am clinging to that promise now. And though I can’t see Him through all the pain, I know God is holding me. For if His hands can hold every star in the sky and He cares about even the smallest bird, then I know He will carry me through.


I remember my first hurdle race. I was in seventh grade, near the end of May on a warm spring day. Ahead of me were rows and rows of hurdles. The gun went off and there I went. Right up to the first hurdle…

Pause for a moment. For anyone who has never ran the hurdles, there is nothing like running as fast as you can towards an immovable object with the hope that you will clear it. The only problem is, there is a built in sense of fear of getting over that object.

Resume. I panicked. I was on the outside lane, so I sidestepped the hurdle. Just one hurdle. I found my rhythm again and cleared the next hurdle and the next. I passed all the girls to come in first place. Except… I was disqualified, because I did not clear the first hurdle. In order to win in a hurdle race, you have to clear all the hurdles. Which I did not.

Nice story Morgan, you might be thinking. But what does this have to do with anything? I’ve been thinking about another race that we are in as Christians. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about this race and his efforts to win: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (9:27 NLT).

Paul feared disqualification. Huh? What does that mean? Did he fear losing his salvation? No. Then what? He feared that after he had preached to others, he would be disqualified. Paul goes on to talk about his ancestors and how they tested God by sinning, to stand strong against temptation and that during temptation, God will provide a way for us to stand under it.

Just because we are saved from sin doesn’t mean we are not still tempted by it. And to give in might cost us much. It could disqualify us from the race.

But you just said you couldn’t lose your salvation. True. I believe you cannot lose your salvation. Once you accept Jesus, you are safe in his hands. But you can lose your reputation as a follower of Christ. When people compare your words to your life, your choice to sin can cost you your witness.

No one wakes up one morning and says “Hey, I’m going to fall headlong into sin!” It’s the little choices that move us towards the big choices. Examples: the pastor who chooses to have an affair. The Christian businessman who cheats on his taxes. The youth leader who sleeps with her boyfriend. That’s why Paul says he disciplines himself like an athlete.

Ok, so this is a pretty deep post. But it’s something that has been on my heart. The little choices we make today can make a difference in the big choices we make tomorrow. Is giving in to sin worth the risk? Is it worth blowing our witness? God forgives, absolutely. But he does not promise to repair the damage done by our choices. I know of people who followed God for years to have their witness turn to ash after a choice to sin. A legacy burned to the ground by sin.

This scares me, my friends. Scares me enough to cling to God and ask him to search my heart for anything deceitful. God promises to provide a way under temptation. The question is, will I choose to follow Him? Or my own desires?

We are in a race. And there are people watching. So let us discipline ourselves and run so that those watching will turn their eyes towards Christ.

God, the Author of our Lives

I have been writing for a couple years now (make that seven this up coming spring). During those years I have wrestled with characters, plots, journeys, and climaxes. I have placed obstacles before my main character so that she can grow, become stronger, and ready to face the next set of trials I have for her. Then it hit me one day. These things I do as a writer, God does with us in real life.

As the Author, God is in complete control of our lives. He knows the beginning and He knows how it’s going to end. He knows what needs to be placed in our lives to untangle that knot of sin inside of us, to make us more like His Son. He brings other people (characters) alongside of us. Some of these people help us on our journey; some of them try to hinder us. But God provides a way for us to stay on the right path.

God also knows what lies ahead of us. He will even place trials in our lives to make us stronger and ready to face the next chapter. But through the whole story, the Author (our God) is with us. He isn’t just watching our story unfold; he is guiding it, moving it along. He is intimately a part of it.

Nothing that happens to us takes God by surprise. I’m sure if my own characters could talk to me, they would ask me why all this stuff is happening to them. But I see the end. I know what the villains are planning, and if they were allowed to continue, would bring great suffering to the world. Therefore my characters need to be ready to step up when the time comes.

As a character in God’s story, I find myself asking the same thing: why is all this happening to me? But unlike my characters, I know the Author of my life. He’s writing the entire story. He sees how my life will intersect with the lives of others and how those meetings will change us both. Each thread in the story God is weaving together for the ultimate ending.

Every one of us is an important part of the story of Life. The story would be incomplete if even one of us is absent. So when the dark times come, know this: God sees how it’s all going to work out in the end. He has a plan and we are all a part of it. And when God writes The End, the story will be a masterpiece that will leave us in awe and bring Him glory.

Merry Christmas!

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14 (NLT)

In the darkest of times, Jesus came. He came quietly, without much pomp and celebration. He came to an impoverished couple: a teenage girl and her fiancee. His birth was declared to shepherds. And magi came later with gifts usually given for the dead. God came in a way so that every human in every walk of life could connect with him. He brought light in darkness, freedom from bondage, hope in despair. He came to free us from that which we could not free ourselves: from sin.

In darkness there is light. And his name is Jesus Christ.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)

Merry Christmas my friends!

No Faith, Know Faith Part 3

Faith? Know Faith? No Faith? How do you grow that seed of faith inside of you? The moment I realized I had no faith was a turning point in my relationship with God.  It was the first time I was honest-truly honest, with both God and myself. Honesty in a relationship creates a healthier relationship, as long as the problems brought up are dealt with. The same goes with our relationship with God.

God is big enough to handle our tears, our questions of why, and anger. But we can’t stop there. I know too many Christians who stay in their anger with God. You have to move on. You have to work through those emotions. And through that work, our faith grows.

How do you work out your faith? How do you work through the crisis that brought you to the point that you realize you have no faith?

I have learned I need to first read the Bible. Yep, that age old admonition. There came a crisis in my own life where my family was deeply hurt by a pastor in the church. When confronted and the elders told of this man’s actions, nothing was done about it. I was so mad and asked God why he let this wicked man stay in his position while my family paid heavily for the consequences of his sinful actions.

I started reading the book of Psalms and found David could put into words what I was thinking. David asked the same things I was…why do wicked men prosper and where was God in that. I found comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one who had ever felt this way. I also knew (from reading God’s Word) I needed to give up my anger and let God (in his time) deal with this man. To my knowledge, nothing has ever happened as far as consequences, but I do know that someday he will stand before God for what he did. And if I had held onto my bitterness, I would have also had to stand before God.

But it doesn’t stop with reading your Bible! Reading helps you know what God says, but your faith won’t grow much if you don’t obey what you read. I knew that if I held onto my anger, it would poison me. Was it easy? NO WAY! I struggled daily, sometimes hourly begging God to help me not to hate that man. And you know what? It eventually became easier until the day came when the hurt faded into faint thin emotional scar. I realized I could trust God when he says not to let bitterness dwell in your heart. He was right. And my faith grew.

Lastly, faith is taking a step. It’s a step no one can take for you but yourself. Let me say that again. It’s a step no one can take for you but yourself. It’s making the choice to believe what God says and then do it. Every time the doubts come up, you pray. You plead with God to help you stand firm. You read in the Bible and begin to see how much God cares about you and has a plan that you will never fully see until you reach heaven. But you know that your part is important and you trust that what God throws at you, it’s for a reason.

“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

No Faith, Know Faith Part 2

I shared a couple weeks ago the moment I realized I had no faith.  Later that day I had someone email me and say they were struggling with their faith and asked for advice. What do you do if you find yourself in crisis mode and suddenly realize the faith you thought you had doesn’t exist?

First, I want to make a distinct between “Saving Faith” and the faith I talked about not having a couple weeks ago. Can you truly lose your faith? No. You are saved forever. That faith you had the moment you believed in God’s gift of salvation is there permanently. It’s like a little seed inside you. But that seed has to grow. And you may find in your moment of crisis that your seed of faith is so small it seems nonexistent. That’s one reason trials come into our lives, to grow that seed, to stretch those faith muscles and make them strong, to help us see that God is real and that he can be trusted.

So how do you rediscover (or grow) your faith when you find you have none? The first thing I’ve come to realize about faith is it’s not a light switch. You can’t just flip the switch and tada you have faith (at least I’ve never been able to do that lol). It’s a learning process that starts by making the small choices to trust God.

Secondly, I believe God is big enough to handle our questions. I’m one of those people that needs to know why I believe what I believe. I remember one time wrestling with prayer. If someone wasn’t healed, was it because that was God’s will, did my prayer not “take,” or was prayer just a fluke? (yeah, that’s the question I really had a hard time with for many months).

But even as I wrestled with that prayer issue and if God even heard us, there was something deep inside of me that could not let go of God. He was there, like an anchor inside my soul while up above on the surface I wrestled with the storms in my life. I can’t explain it; I just knew somewhere deep inside of me that God was there. I just needed to work out this issue of my faith.

So how do you work out your faith? What journey did God take me on to grow my own faith?  I’ll share my experience next week.

No Faith, Know Faith

I remember the day when I realized I had no faith in God. We had just moved to Portland a couple weeks earlier and found out we were pregnant. Prior to this pregnancy I had gone through a devastating miscarriage and was still feeling the repercussions from it. I feared I would lose this baby too.

We had no medical insurance and were in the midst of trying to find some. Unfortunately, my status as expecting mother made me an existing condition so no one would take us. I finally went to see a doctor as the second trimester approached just to make sure everything was all right. That’s when we received the big news: you’re having twins!

Now we needed medical insurance more than ever. I knew a twin pregnancy would not be normal. Finally we found someone who could help us out. Then the bomb dropped. We had to get the paperwork in that day in order to get the insurance because our 60 days was about to elapse (for those who have never had to fill out the paperwork for private insurance, they can make doing taxes look easy lol). Of course, we found that out only a couple hours before the deadline.

With Dan busy with his new job and me trying to move into our new house, juggle two toddlers and deal with twin size morning sickness, I felt something snap inside of me. We weren’t going to make the deadline.

Suddenly I saw our future loom in front of us, full of medical bills we couldn’t possibly pay. And in that moment I realized something else: I didn’t believe God would come through for me. I stood there, staring at the wall and felt the truth of that thought shake me to my core. I had no faith in God.

If you had asked me before that moment, I would have said of course I have faith in God. But now I realize that for years I had worked under the subconscious impression that everything happened because of hard work with a little luck thrown in. I had always been able to take care of myself.

But this insurance situation was way out of my hands. I could not work hard enough. Actually, I couldn’t work at all, not with two little ones needing me at home and two more on the way.

I felt deep shame when I realized I had no faith. What kind of Christian was I? Little did I know that moment was the beginning of God tearing away all my securities until all I had left was Him.

God did come through for us. The paperwork made it in minutes before the deadline. And as a cherry on top, we had a pretty uneventful twin pregnancy. But God wasn’t done yet. My faith muscles were weak. They needed to be trained. So a year later, Dan lost his job.

That story is for another day. But during that dark year, my faith muscles were worked out to the max. Everything I had put my security in to save me fell through. We had no home, no close friends, not even a church family. All I had was God. And He showed me he could be trusted. No, He didn’t come through in the way I thought he should. But he always came through.

My faith had grown enough that a year later when my son had to be life flighted to Portland, I had someone ask me how we were going to pay the medical bills. I didn’t even blink when I said God knew this was going to happen and has something planned to take care of those bills. And you know what? He did. Just not in the way I thought he would 😉

I don’t believe faith is the absence of fear but rather the belief in something greater than what you fear. I still fear things all the time. Trust me, I wish I could turn that emotion off. But then I look at God and I see something greater than what I fear.

Or perhaps I should say I feel God. After all, faith is like being blind. We can’t see what’s ahead of us or even around us. But in the dark I can feel God’s hand on my life and I can hear his voice. He won’t let me fall, not if I cling to him.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Working out in God’s Gym

I had a nice happy bunny-fluffy kind of post ready for today. But as I sat down to write this post, I felt bruised, tired, and exhausted inside. I felt like I had worked out in God’s gym this week.

It began with an email that left me feeling as though I had gone through a hurricane. Ever had one of those? But through the torrent of emotions, God spoke to me. And he reminded me that nothing catches him by surprise, including this email. He would take care of it; my job was to love this person. After years of doing this particular rep on the “dumbbell”, it didn’t take me long to turn it over to God and pray for this person.

Then I locked myself out of my house not once, but twice on the same day. That was actually kind of funny. Its like tripping on the mat on my way over to do my power sweeps.

Ah, power sweeps. Anyone who has ever lifted weights knows the power sweeps.

Guess what? I hate them! Back when my version of lifting weights was actually lifting weights (opposed to now which is lifting kids, dogs and boxes of things I need to unpack) the dumbbell would leave bruises along my hipbones because unlike men, I have hips and the dumbbell would catch on its way up. Yeah, ouch!

My power sweeps this week were a broken washing machine and a husband with a pulled muscle in his back. Bad, bad, bad! If I miss one day of laundry, it multiplies like bunnies and the next morning I find the laundry has made its way out of the hamper, eager to take over the rest of the house.

Husband with a pulled back? Feels like the family is gimping along without their fearless leader. No tackling dad, no practical jokes, and no going anywhere 😦

So as I sat down to write my happy post, I could think of nothing to say. All I felt was exhausted. I prayed for God to show me something to say. Then I felt God tell me to share my week. Because we all have those kinds of weeks. A week where it feels like we are working out in God’s gym. But you know the good thing about working out in God’s gym? Its good for us! Our faith muscles grow stronger.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (NLT)

So bring on the dumbbells! Bring on the power sweeps! And don’t forget the Gatorade 🙂


There once was a little deformed creature that lived inside my heart. I rarely saw him; he preferred to live in a tiny out-of-the way hole inside my chest. He was smaller than his other brothers and therefore was usually able to perform his wicked deeds below my radar.

His name was Greed.

He seemed harmless enough. He never bit my hand and he actually made me feel secure. He told me if I had money in my savings, then I could face anything life threw at me. He whispered how nice that new shirt would feel or how cool I would be with that cell phone over there. When money issues were brought up at church, he would remind me that I had responsibilities first and needed to pay the bills at home. Besides, God doesn’t need my money? Right?

I began realize just how dangerous he was when I found my heart attaching to the things around me. My house, my car, the new dishware. He had thrown out ropes from my heart and wrapped them around the objects around me… and I never knew. Until those things were taken away.

And then I felt the pain of Greed.

Have you ever felt that? The roaring inside your heart when something you like is taken away or destroyed? The car gets scratched, the kids draw all over the walls, the dog throws up on the couch. My heartstrings were attached to the things of this world. And it was time for God to get out the scissors.

Snip. Snip. There went the house. Snip. There went the savings account. Snip. Snip. There went the TV, the furniture, the dishware. God took everything away (or put it in a storage shed) those few months my husband was unemployed. I was stripped down to nothing but the clothes I had and my computer (God didn’t take that away lol). But I learned a huge lesson those couple of months:

Greed lied to me. And Greed hurt me.

Nice salaries, a large bank accounts, a hefty retirement (or even being debt free) is not a security in life. God is.

A beautiful home, nice cars, the latest cell phone, designer clothes only bring temporary pleasure. But God brings a fullness to life that nothing in this world can give.

But I don’t have any of those things, you might think. Yeah, actually, neither did I. But you don’t need things in order for Greed to move in and start attaching your heart to this world. You just need to want them, hold them tightly when you finally do, and roar when someone or something takes them away.

The poorest person in the world can still have Greed living in their heart. And the richest person can be free of the bondage of Greed. Why? Greed has nothing to do with possessions or money, it has to do with the heart (where Greed likes to live).

So how do you kick Greed out of its hidey-hole?

Well, you could get rid of everything you have! I wonder if Jesus saw a major infestation of Greed when the rich young man ran up to him and asked how he could inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-27). Greed may be small, but the ropes it uses to tie us to the world can be iron solid. I love how Mark says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him”. God doesn’t want Greed to stay in our hearts. In fact, Greed can keep us from experiencing the true fullness God wants to give us. Mark ends with saying, “At this, the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Getting rid of everything may be a bit farfetched, but here a couple more doable ideas:

1)   Ask God to reveal Greed. Like I said, he’s small and seems relatively harmless. So we need God to shine light on his little hole and expose him for what he really is.

2)   Give away stuff. There is nothing like thinking about giving away something to get Greed to come tearing out of his hole and shouting why you should keep it.

3)   Tithe. Yep, tithe. I have come to believe that tithing is like taking a pill to keep the Greed away. You give to God and his church every week with joy and Greed just can’t stand that. Why? Because I believe giving then trickles into the rest of your life. You start giving stuff away. You give money to other things. And the ropes Greed was using to attach you to this world strain under that weight until they snap and you find yourself free.

And lastly, think about a big fire. When Greed comes knocking on my door, I imagine everything burning up (ok, yeah, there is a bit of a pyro in me). But the truth is, everything is going to burn in the end. And we can’t take the stuff of this world with us when we die. So then why let Greed have his way and tie me to things that are not going to last? I’d rather have the freedom God gives and His fullness and pleasure. So snip away God, snip away. And Greed be gone!