Tag Archives: God

Where is God?

I recently found out some friends of mine just lost their sweet little baby son. When I read the news, I was devastated. Having been through some life shattering events in my own life, my heart broke for them. I know if I was in their place, deep inside my heart I would be asking where was God?

Why didn’t He heal my son? Why didn’t He step in? Where was He? Does He see me now, crying? Does He care? Or am I simply a pawn in His cosmic game of chess where in the end everything turns out for good, but right now all I feel is pain?

How will I go on? Can I go on? Everything around me is so dark I can’t see the way. All I want to do is curl up in a corner and cry. I am drowning from the pain inside.

In a time like this, there are no words that can bring comfort. Platitudes are just empty sayings. Reminders that God is there, or that everything will turn out does not help a devastated heart. All we want is our life, our child, our hope back. But life has been altered, and it will never be the same again.

So where is God in all this? From my own experience, I can say He is there. I wrote a post over a year ago titled Jesus wept. Dan had just been let go from the church we were serving at. Not only did we lose a job, we lost a church, we lost friends, we lost community. It was the darkest time of my life. And nothing anyone said could pull me out of the pit of despair. Until I read John 11:35.

Jesus wept.

Yes, God is working everything for good (Romans 8:28), and yes, God is working everything for His glory. But we are not alone. He is also walking beside us and crying with us. He is not immune to our grieving hearts. Good will come from our hurt. God is in control. Someday, we may see the big picture and know that it was all worth it.

But until then, God will carry us.

How about you? Do you feel like God has abandoned you? Are you facing a devastating loss? What helps you keep going?

 

Just What I Needed to Read

I have been reading one particular Psalm everyday for the last twenty days. Deep inside my heart, I needed to hear these words, over and over again. They have been a balm to me; healing places I did not realize were still broken inside me. Today I want to share them with you. Perhaps you need to be reminded that you can trust God, that He will take care of you, and that He loves you too.

Psalm 37

1 “Do not worry about the wicked.”

I realized how much I was worrying about the wicked: about the way our government is heading, people who walk into schools and shoot kids, and the world my children will soon inherit. But God says do not worry. He is still in control, even if everything seems crazy.

 

2 “Trust in the Lord and do good.”

“But God,” I would say, “what about…?” And He would bring this verse to mind: trust Him. My only job is to do good: to do what I can do, and leave the rest to Him. After weeks of dwelling on this verse, I am finding I am trusting God a lot faster, and looking for what good I can do in a situation, then letting go.

 

4 “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.”

Funny thing, I discovered that some of my heart’s desires have nothing to do in taking delight in the Lord. Rather, they have more to do with me delighting in myself. Yikes! What an eye opener! So I’ve been praying and thinking about what it means to delight in the Lord.

 

5 “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and He will help you.”

My writing, my family, my ministry, my life. It is not my own. And when I trust God (there’s that word again), He will help me.

 

7 “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.”

Anyone else have a hard time waiting? Yeah, me too. It’s hard to be still and wait for God to act. Sometimes I feel like the fidgety kid, glancing at the window, going, “Come on, let’s go!” I usually leap before I have taken the time to be quiet and ask God for wisdom. And most often I regret my hasty actions.

 

8 “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.”

I was angry. I had all these plans for the month of December, then I had to suddenly pack everything and move to a new house while dealing with a sick family. I was very disappointed and mad. Why did this have to happen at Christmas? So I grouched and complained. And it did nothing to help my family. When I read this verse, it really convicted me about hanging on to my anger.

 

16 “It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.”

I will confess, there are times I wish I had a little more money. I have been pinching pennies for as long as I can remember and a break would be nice, just once not to have to think about the impact a purchase will have on my family. But I would rather be poor and follow God the rest of my days, than to turn from Him and have all the wealth in the world. Money will never satisfy the deep places of my heart the way God does.

 

23 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”

Really? Every detail? Yes, God delights in our lives. As a stay at home mom, there are times when I feel small and insignificant. I mean, what’s so amazing about changing diapers, doing laundry, and cleaning house? But God still delights in me, even when no one else notices me.

 

24 “Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

There have been soul-crushing moments where I felt like life had bottomed out on me. Everything was so dark and bleak that I could no longer see God. But I could feel Him, His hand in my hand. He led me through those valleys and never let go, even when I was tempted to. We will suffer, and we will stumble. But God won’t let go of us. And that is a comforting thought.

 

There are so many other verses I would love to share. But instead, I want to encourage you to take a look at Psalm 37 for yourself and soak in what God has to say.

How about you? What verse or chapter from God’s Word has impacted you lately?

 

God Keeps His Promise

When I shared the Christmas story with my Sunday school class this past Sunday, I didn’t start with a baby in a manger, I started back in Genesis when God created the universe. I wanted my students to realize the powerful implication of the Christmas story: that the maker of the entire universe, the all-powerful God, bigger than any of us, came to be a human being.

As I shared the story of creation, I realized something: the world waited thousands of years for God to keep His promise by the time Jesus came. You see, when Adam and Eve sinned, and sinned entered both the world and our very hearts, God made a promise: to come back and make things right.

Fast forward. In the little town of Bethlehem, God finally came as a baby human. The foretold promise. But who knew? Who was watching? When it finally happened, hardly anyone showed up. Angels told shepherds about it. And of course Mary and Joseph knew. And Simon and Anna from the temple. And maybe a couple relatives (Elizabeth knew). And some magi from the Far East started heading that direction.

But where were all the people who had been waiting for God’s promise? Did they think it wouldn’t happen in their lifetime? Had they forgotten? Or perhaps they couldn’t imagine it would happen the way it did: God born to a poor couple in a barn, not to a kind and queen in a palace.

God always keeps His promise, no matter how long it takes. The Christmas story teaches us that. But it doesn’t always happen when we think it will, or where, or even how. That is one thing I’ve definitely learned this year, that God’s ways are not my ways. And the way He goes about keeping His promises are usually not how I would have done it.

How about you? How has God kept His promise to you? Did He surprise you by how He did it?

 

God and Santa Claus

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.

My children were watching the old claymation Santa Claus is Coming to Town the other night. As I listened to the story and heard the song, something struck me. I found myself grateful God isn’t like Santa Claus.

Haha! Funny, right? Look at the lyrics. You better do this. You better not do that. Why? Because Santa is coming!

I have a suspicion that Santa was a means for parents to get their children to behave. “Susie, if you keep throwing a fit, Santa won’t bring you anything this year.” “Tommy, if you hit your sister again, Santa won’t bring you anything.” So for decades children have tried to behave during this time of year in hopes that if they are good enough, they will have presents under the tree.

But have any of us ever been good enough? I know I’ve cried. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve been a little less than loving towards those who cut in front of me in line as I try to get out of the store during the Christmas chaos.

He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! Oops! Santa saw! And now there will be coal for me in the stocking.

God sees too (much more than Santa sees). And He sees all the darkness inside our hearts. But did God leave coal for us on Christmas? Nope. Despite our crying, our pouting, our anger and hateful hearts, He still gave us a gift. The gift of His son Jesus.

Jesus came so that we could be saved from our sin. You see, no amount of being good on our part could ever be good enough. So God himself stepped in, took our place, freed us from the bondage of sin, healed our hearts, and gave us hope. God gives a us a gift apart from how good or bad we are. It is free for the taking. Jesus died for our sins. Will you accept his gift?

“’Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10,11

The Day My Heart Stood Still

It started on Thanksgiving four years ago. My daughters were recovering from croup. Having dealt with croup for a couple years, it didn’t scare me as much. I knew what to do, and my children recovered quickly. So as I fixed Thanksgiving dinner and heard Caleb (my youngest and 2 at the time) start coughing, I knew he had caught it too.

As night came, I stayed with Caleb, making sure to give him medicine and cool mist breathing treatments. Halfway through the night, he seemed to be getting worse and worse. I finally told Dan that he needed to see the doctor in the morning.

By seven in the morning, having stayed up all night with Caleb, I finally dozed off on the hide-a-bed couch I had been sharing with him. Next thing I know, Philip is waking me up and telling me Caleb was blue. I found Caleb on the floor and screamed for Dan.

Dan immediately started CPR on our son while I called 911. We lived in a small town out in the country and were told it would be faster if we could drive our son to the hospital rather than send out an ambulance.

Caleb continued to labor for breath as we climbed into the car. I will never forget looking back and seeing the faces of my other 3 children in the window of our living room as we drove away. We could not reach anyone to stay with them and with our son dying, we had to trust God would take care of them as we raced to the hospital.

Caleb barely breathed as we raced 90mph down the highway. Then he stopped. His eyes went still and his body limp. It’s that look when the soul has left the body. I can’t describe it, and movies do not capture it.  That look in the eyes that there is no life inside.

In that moment, I felt the most helpless I have ever felt. If I could have, I would have breathed for my son. I would have traded places with him and died in his place. But I couldn’t. Instead, all I could do is cry out to God.

Dan talked me through CPR as I tried to administer to it to my son. His skin was pale blue, his lips too. Nothing.

Then I finally screamed in the car, “God I can’t do it! I need a miracle here!”

Before this point, Dan and I had been through one of the toughest years of our lives. We had lost a job, a home, and almost everything we had. I couldn’t bury a son too.

Then Caleb gasped. A flicker of life came back into his eyes and he looked at me. He could only take a breath every few seconds. I told him to keep breathing, to hold on, because we were almost there.

The hospital staff met us at the door and immediately started working on Caleb. They had no idea what was wrong with him. One of the doctors came to me and said he needed to be transferred to a bigger hospital in the town north of us. So Caleb and I got into an ambulance and raced up to the next town.

The staff there started working on Caleb, doing everything they could to keep him breathing. But they could not stabilize his breathing and could not figure out why he was having problems.

Finally, the pediatrician on call pulled me aside and said she had no idea what she was dealing with and the fact that he had went from a healthy boy to dying in less than 12 hours meant it was something serious. She advised that Caleb be flown to the children’s hospital in Portland.

I hate flying. And the smaller the airplane, the scarier. But one look at my little boy and I knew I would get on that plane, if it could save him.

However, his breathing would not stabilize enough to make the flight safely. And it was coming to the point where they would need to hook him up to a machine to breathe for him.

But again God worked, and Caleb stabilized long enough that we could fly.

So to Portland Caleb and I flew while Dan drove. By now we had finally reached people who could take care of our other kids. I found out later that when our friends arrived at the house, they had found Philip had dressed his sisters and fed them breakfast.

In Portland, the doctors began all sorts of tests. Caleb had to stay in the hospital crib, what we dubbed “the cage.” He wouldn’t stop crying, and that made it hard for him to breathe. Finally, the nurse told me I could go into the “cage” with him. So I crawled in, lay down, and placed Caleb on my chest. Immediately he calmed down and just looked around. I stayed there all night.

It took until that morning for Caleb to stabilize. We stayed there 2 additional days. In the end, no one really knows what happened. The doctors hypothesized that it was a mutant strain of croup never seen. I don’t know.

I am a very logical and factual person. Faith has never come easy for me. But I know within my heart that on that day four years ago, God answered the frantic prayer of a mother and worked a miracle on a dying son.

Because of what happened, Thanksgiving took on a new meaning for Dan and I. All we have to do is look across the table at Caleb and know that God still works miracles. And that we have much to be thankful for.

Free Beauty

During this time of year we are bombarded with things we can buy. And if you wake up really early the day after Thanksgiving, you might even buy it for less. But after reading a friend’s blog on consumerism, I was struck with the irony that we forget about all the free stuff we receive everyday.

Free stuff? Yep. These things cost absolutely nothing. In fact, you could never buy them, even if you had all the money in the world. And yet they are available to everyone. What I’m talking about is free beauty.

A sunset that leaves the sky colored in brilliant orange, red, and deep purple. A winter night so cold it takes your breath away and paints the moon in pale white.

The feel of a pet’s soft fur. Warm fleece pants (I could live in those :) ). Hot showers that leave your skin pink.

The smell of a baby just out of the bath (and how soft their skin is). The aroma of baking in the kitchen (cookies, bread, roast in the crockpot). Fresh spring rain.

And speaking of rain, the sound as it falls gently outside an open window. The purring of a cat (or guinea pig :) ). The wind brushing through tall evergreen trees. Songbirds.

The smooth, rich flavor of cheesecake. A bottle of root beer so cold it’s just on the brink of freezing. A peach just picked and still warm from the sun (I can feel the juice running down my chin now).

God has given us the ability to enjoy so many things, many of them we could never buy. But we forget to enjoy what is around us when we focus on the things we want to buy. So how about this season we take a break. Turn off the lights, sit on the couch and watch the Christmas lights twinkle on the tree. Walk outside and look at the stars. Stand in your kitchen for one minute and just enjoy the smell of cookies baking in the oven. And thank God for the amazing things He made and the senses He gave us to enjoy the world around us.

I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite Free Beauty?

The Gift of Thankfulness

This time of year, people start to reflect on what they are thankful for: houses, food, family, etc. I decided to challenge myself and come up with something I am thankful for every day in November. I did not want to just put something down. Instead, I really wanted to think about it, and search deep inside my heart: am I really thankful for this?

It occurred to me a couple days into November: the best definition of thankfulness is seeing everything as a gift, not as something I deserve or am entitled to.

When I began to see everything with this definition in mind, I realized how much I subtly think I deserve. I deserve a house, because my husband has a job and we have earned it.

Um. No.

I deserve a dishwasher for washing dishes because no one washes dishes by hand anymore, especially someone with a family of six.

Nope. Wrong again.

I deserve a car, or how else would I go places?

I deserve my turn to choose out the movie I want.

I deserve a clean house. After all, I don’t make any of the messes ;).

But when I began to see everything as a gift, it turned everything upside down.

I am thankful for a house. There was a time when Dan and I didn’t know where we were going to live. We don’t deserve a house, but God has given us one anyway. Thank you, God.

I currently do not have a dishwasher, and at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to get all those dishes done everyday. Instead, it has become a blessing. Every morning I wash the dishes as the kids eat breakfast and we talk. Wow, who would have thought?

We have a working car. We don’t deserve one and frankly, many people in this world don’t have one and still get by. But God has graciously given us a car. Thank you, God.

I’m thankful I have a family I can snuggle with on a couch and watch movies. We take turns choosing the movie and savor our time together. Love movie nights!

And as for a clean house, eh, it might happen someday. For me, a dirty house means I have life living here in my home: kids, dogs, husband. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

So how about you? What did you once think you deserved that God made you realize is simply a gift to be thankful for?

My Grace is All You Need

This verse has been on my mind and heart the last few weeks:

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Why? Because I have felt weak lately. Burdens, fears, and disappointments fill my thoughts.

My house hasn’t sold yet.

My grace is all you need.

I’m afraid people might not like my book.

My grace is all you need.

I’m struggling with feeling out of place, different from everyone around me.

My grace is all you need.

When Paul penned those words, they were the words given to him by God after he had begged three times for a “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away from him. We do not know if that thorn was a physical ailment, a painful relationship, or a burden he carried. What we do know is that it was placed in his life to keep him from becoming proud.

Through that painful “thorn”, God revealed that all Paul needed was God’s grace. And His power works best in weakness.

Same with us. All we need is God’s grace. So everyday this month I am reading these verses because I need to be reminded of this over and over again:

My grace is all you need.

How about you? What are you feeling needs to be resolved or finished so you can move on in your life? Or what burden/fear are you carrying around? Remember what God is saying to you:

My grace is all you need.

 

Scariest Words

We can’t afford to keep you on.

I don’t love you anymore.

It’s cancer.

We’re not prepared for this kind of emergency.

Mom, I’m pregnant.

Some of these words I have heard, some of them I have not. They are scary words, filling one with the wish that they could go back in time and prevent them from happening. But let me share with you what words, for me, would be the most frightening to hear.

These words came to me a couple weeks before I went to a conference. They were not real, not yet anyway. But they lingered there in the back of my mind. At this conference, I was having dinner with a couple people and someone brought up the question: What is your goal in life? Being creative people with a sense of humor, everyone around the table began to say things like “Become dictator of the world,” and “Go on every roller coaster there is.” I smiled and laughed with the rest until it was my turn. Then I felt God urging me to share those words.

I took a shaky sip from my water, then put down the cup. I looked around the table, took a deep breath and began.

I do not want to get to heaven and have God say, “Morgan, you led a pretty good middle class life. Not many bad things happened to you, you had a nice house, nice car, nice family. But let me show you what your life could have been… if you had let me have my way with it.”

The mood at the table suddenly dropped a couple degrees. People shuffled their silverware around. Someone cleared her throat. I wanted to apologize, but those words were the true goal of my life. I do not want to hear God say those words. Those words would leave me feeling I had done nothing with my life. I lived, I died, and nothing came of it. I want my life to count for more. I want it to mean something.

Now don’t get me wrong. A nice life is not a bad thing. But if in pursuit of that life we miss hearing God’s voice, then we miss out on our lives being something amazing. What good is it to have a nice house, a secure job, a published book if in the end, it was all for me? No, I want my life to count for more. I want it to have maximum impact. And the only way is to hear God’s quiet voice, directing me towards His plans for my life.

And then having the courage to do it.

*I wrote this post almost two years ago and it is still the desire of my life: to be used by God.

 

Marketing for an Audience of One

Many of us Christian writers have heard the term “write for an audience of One.” Our first audience is God. When God is our audience, we seek only to please Him, and to let Him do what He wants with our writing.

Recently, it occurred to me that the same idea applies to book marketing. I am not marketing myself. I am not marketing my book.

I am marketing God.

When I interact with a reviewer, I am connecting with someone who may or may not know God. Through my emails, phone calls, or letters with reviewers, I am displaying God to them, even if I never mention His name.

When I do an interview, the words I write or say go out to a group of people I will probably never meet. But through an interview I have an opportunity to share my life, my passions, and my writing. And through that, whether overtly or covertly, I share God.

And when I am invited to do a blog post, I am sharing God, even if the topic I write about is writing. This is because people are not just reading about how to write a scene, or how the theme of forgiveness is woven into my story. They are also reading me. And when they read me, they are reading God.

When I realized this, marketing took on a whole new perspective. If I am marketing myself or my book to drive up sales, that will only last temporarily. Sure, I might reap the benefit of more money or a higher rating on Amazon. But it will disappear, whether the next day, week, month, or year.

But when I view each thing I do as a chance to share God with this world, then marketing takes on an eternal value. Imagine that. Marketing as a way to be a light in the world :).

This is the passion and goal behind my marketing: to reach as many people as I can. I hope that by my words and actions, the people I interact with will see someone who is different. And that will point them to God, the one I really want people to embrace.