Tag Archives: God

Another Day Older…

And hopefully another day wiser. In other words, its my birthday. I’m now over a third of the way through my life (if I live as long as the average human being… then again, I’m not average ;)).

So today I look at my life, both my future and my past. I have been blessed, I have had sorrow, I have been through fearful dark valleys and I have seen miracles. I’m sure my future has the same forecast. But the one constant between both past and future is God. He was there the day I became me. He will be there the day I take my last breath. And everything in between.

So here’s to a day that brings me closer to finally going home and seeing the invisible God who’s hand I have felt all my life.

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:15-16

 

 

The Hands of God

This was the bunny fluffy post I was going to write about two weeks ago. At the time, I felt more exhausted that anything else, so I wrote about God’s Gym instead.

I decided to write about the hands of God the following week. Life happened and my bunny fluffy post took a decidedly different turn. I personally experienced the hands of God this weekend when I faced the death of a small furry friend.

Let me start off by sharing a story. Two boys came to my home a month ago carrying a pet carrier between them. Inside this carrier was the smallest, skinniest kitten I had ever seen. He had also just peed on himself, which made him appear even more pathetic. These boys were trying to find a home for the little guy.

I am an animal lover and felt instantly sorry for the kitten. But before I would take him, I had to make sure he wasn’t feral. So I took him out of the carrier and immediately the little guy looked up at me with the biggest eyes and began to purr. Love at first sight.

We named him Tiger.

Tiger immediately went to the vet. He had a flea problem and who knew what else. He was small for his age and needed fattening up said the Vet. So we took him home and fed him, loved on him, and gave him everything a growing cat needs. Our dogs loved the little guy and got along great with him. And he was a lover: all he did was find a lap to lie on and purr.

Sometimes when you get a cat, you take a chance on getting a cat with good personality. Tiger was perfect. Except for one thing. He was a very sick kitty and we didn’t know it.

He went in for his next vet visit and had only gained an ounce. The vet was concerned now and wanted to start running some blood tests the following week.

Tiger never made it past the weekend.

I will not go into details, but watching an animal die broke something inside of me. You feel helpless as you try and comfort the little thing. In the end, we had to put Tiger to sleep.

I cried and prayed and cried and prayed. For the first few hours I would find myself expecting to see Tiger come trotting into the kitchen and asking for food. Or jumping up into my lap. Then I would start replaying his last painful hours. Going over and over my helplessness to save him. I couldn’t let Tiger go, even though he was already gone.

I asked God to help me. I couldn’t do this alone. And then I had this picture in my mind: me as a little girl with pigtails clutching her little kitten while God knelt before me, holding his hands out, telling me to let him have Tiger. I was scared to give him Tiger. I felt like letting go of Tiger would mean I would forget him.

But then I realized God could take care of Tiger so much more than I could. And he was asking me to let go. I do not know what happens to animals when they die; I do not believe the Bible is clear enough for us to make a stand one way or another. But the Bible does tell us about God. And what I’ve read about God is that his hands are loving, strong, and gentle. He takes care of this world and everything in it. Including kittens. So I know whatever God has done with Tiger, that Tiger is in good hands now. And so are we.

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 🙂

Investing in True Beauty Part 2

Last week I shared my thoughts on true beauty. This week I would like to share how I put that into practice.

I love to make New Years Resolutions. I may not keep them for long, but the thought of pursuing a goal for an entire year appeals to a checklist person like me :). As I approached the year 2007, I was physically a different person. I had given birth to twins that summer (6lbs, 3oz and 8lbs, 2oz) and let me tell you, having that much baby changes a woman forever!

As you can imagine, the types of resolutions I considered that year were diets, exercise, any method I could follow to get my body back to what it was. Then God spoke. When he speaks, I have learned you better listen up!

He showed me that what I really needed to pursue that year was learn to like myself. But God, I wailed, have you seen what I look like in the mirror? God pointed out that those thoughts were poisoning me. When I complained about what I looked like, I was in essence saying, “God, you made a mistake!”

That sobered me up. And I came up with my New Year’s resolution. I chose for an entire year not to criticize the way I looked. Every time I looked in the mirror and wanted to find fault, I stopped. That was not allowed. Instead I would look at myself and see what God had made.

I also hid the scale. I was not allowed to weigh myself. Too many times I would become obsessed with numbers. Instead, I chose to be fine with my new mommy body.

And lastly, I threw out my pre-pregnancy clothes (I think every woman has a box of them hiding in her closet, hoping one day she might fit them again). They were my past, not my present. I needed to move on.

And my friends, it worked! After about six months, I found I no longer looked in the mirror and found fault. All I found was Morgan. I was not tied to the digital number that registered down at my feet. And I went and bought clothes that fit me right now.

That New Year’s resolution changed my life. I learned that a mommy body was okay. I learned that what I was on the inside mattered more than what I was on the outside. I learned to like the person God had made me.

God’s Forge

I was reading through Psalms this week and ran across this verse: “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19. We all know how Joseph’s story ends (he becomes second in command and reunites with his family), but I had never thought about all those years of his life that pass within the thirty seconds it takes to read in Genesis.

Here is a quick synopsis: Joseph was betrayed by his family. He was sold into slavery. He served as a slave. He was tempted. He was lied about and unjustly imprisoned. He watched others released from prison while he languished in that dark place for years.

As I thought about Joseph more, I put myself in his place: the heartache brought on by the betrayal of his brothers. The fear he might have had as he was handed over to the merchants for gold. Perhaps discouragement, yet a choice to make the best of things as he took his place as a slave in Potipher’s home. The split second decision to run when Potipher’s wife tried to seduce him. The disbelief when Potipher believed his wife’s lies about him. Then the kicker: thrown into prison for doing nothing wrong.

Joseph sat in that prison for years. He was totally surrounded by darkness, both physically and emotionally (at least I would be). All he’s known in his life are lies, betrayal, and hardship. He sits there day in and day out, facing a bleak existence. Perhaps he tries to hold onto the promised visions he’d had that God was going to do something great with his life, but he can’t see how that’s going to happen now as he stares at the dark dungeon walls.

Even darker thoughts may have invaded Joseph’s mind. Should he have given in to Potipher’s wife? He wouldn’t be here now if he had. Or could God be trusted? Why hadn’t God kept his promise? Why had God allowed him to be imprisoned? Maybe jealousy tempted him as he watched Pharoh’s cup-bearer leave prison. The deep, painful depression as he waits for the cup-bearer to keep his word and get Joseph out of prison, only to have days turn into weeks turn into months.

Until the time came…. God tested Joseph’s character.

I feel like I’m in God’s forge right now. When I picture a forge, I see a dark room filled with heat, sweat and pain. I see a hammer slamming down on a heated piece of metal. It takes the heat, sweat, and pain to turn ordinary metal into something extraordinary and useful. But the process can feel dark and painful.

When I read the verse above this week, things clicked for me. I put my name in that verse: “Until the time came to fulfill her dreams, the Lord tested Morgan’s character.” Yikes!

Now unlike Joseph’s dreams (which were prophetic and a promise from God), my dreams are simply aspirations of mine. I am a writer. And like most writers, I would like to be published. But is that God’s plan for my life? Is my “writing in the dark” a time when God is testing my character?

I think so.

I do not know what kind of future God is preparing me for (he certainly has not promised me a book contract). But I do know that he considers my faith “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:7). So into the forge I go so God can shape me into the woman I need to be.

Is Theology Important?

The new thinking in Christianity is to fall in love with Jesus. I totally agree with that. In fact, God agrees with that (“love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” Matthew 22:37). But at the same time, the concept of theology has become a bad word. Love Jesus, shun theology. Don’t talk about it, don’t bring it up. Only love.

My concern with this thinking is if you only love Jesus but never study him (after all, theology is “the study of God”), then you run the risk of falling in love with a Jesus that may not exist.

Without theology, we begin to shape a Jesus after what we want him to be. He is love, he is a good teacher, he is forgiving. Yes, Jesus is all these things. But as part of the Godhead, he is also holy, righteous, and just. I think sometimes those are aspects of God we are not comfortable with, so we choose not to associate them with Jesus.

It’s like saying you love your wife (or husband) very very much. But you don’t know her favorite color, her funniest childhood memory, or her deepest desire. You just love her, right? Can you really love your wife that deeply if you don’t know anything about her? I’d say go take your wife out on a date… nah, make that a month long vacation and get to know her more 🙂

In the same way, can we say we love Jesus if we don’t know who “he” is? Theology helps us understand who Jesus is. And love him as he is (God in all his glory).

Fall in love with Jesus. And through theology, discover him, so that you love him more.

Communion

Communion is a time of reflection and introspection. A time to remember what Jesus did for us and to examine our hearts.  But years ago, something crept into that moment of silence. Guilt and fear.

God is very clear that we are to take communion in a worthy manner. We are to examine our hearts and see if we are living in unrepentant sin or need to make amends with a fellow brother or sister before we participate in communion. This makes sense: if we are remembering the price God paid for sin, should we not make sure there is not a speck of unconfessed sin inside of us before we partake?

As I thought this over, I became burdened every time communion was announced at church. I would carefully look over my life, turning over every “stone”, searching for any sin committed that would make me unworthy to take communion. Even if I could find nothing, I felt there was something I was overlooking and therefore could not take communion. Instead of a celebration, it became a fear. I imagined God looking down with disapproval on his face unless I made sure I was thoroughly “clean” before taking communion.

Then God spoke. As always, his voice is quiet. And he told me “Morgan, you’re not perfect. But I am. That is why I died. That is why there is communion. Because you are not perfect.” In that moment, I realized he was right. I will never know the depravity of my heart. I will never fully understand the darkness of sin that cost Jesus his life. I am not, and will never be, perfect this side of heaven.

The burden of guilt and fear lifted.  I saw communion in a different light. God still says we should come to the table in a worthy manner. We should see if we are choosing our sinful ways over God’s way. And if there is a brother or sister we need to make things right with, we should. But we will never come to God’s table perfect. That’s why there is communion. To remember the price paid for sin. That God paid it willingly and lovingly for us.

The Scariest Words

We just 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.

Lessons learned from a Guinea Pig

Vanilla and Butterscotch

Butterscotch and Vanilla. No, they are not flavors; they are the names of two guinea pigs I own. Vanilla is very vocal, he squeals whenever the refrigerator opens because he thinks I am going to get him carrots. He also loves to be petted and purrs loudly whenever I do so.

Butterscotch on the other hand is a very quiet pig. He looks around with inquisitive pink eyes and never lets his guard down. I can count on one hand how many times he has purred for me (and they were very quiet purrs).

As I was petting them one day, I realized something: how such small creatures had such different personalities. And it made me think of God. God could have made the whole world with only a few varieties of animals and we would never have known. But no, he created a vast amount of life, each unique.

Then I thought about how God could have given each animal a bland personality. You know, all dogs the same, all horses the same, all mice the same. But instead, he infused each animal with its own personality and quirks.  He placed his fingertip on each one and left it unique and special, all for his glory.

I stopped petting Butterscotch and Vanilla. Butterscotch looked at me inquisitively while Vanilla tried to position his body under my hand again.  I looked at them and felt such awe at a God who is so connected with his creation. Even the smallest detail never escapes his eye.

Amazing how God used two little guinea pigs to reveal Himself to me 🙂