Tag Archives: Life

Sometimes it’s more about the Journey…

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. Or camp. Or summer to come. Or for school to start. Long car rides to grandma’s house were excruciating. Or waiting for the bell to ring at 3pm.

As an adult, I haven’t changed much. I couldn’t wait to find out the gender of our first child. Or the second, third, or fourth. Then I couldn’t wait for nine months to be over. Or for my kids to be potty trained. Or to go to school.

I couldn’t wait for nap time so I could write. Or for that highly anticipated conference where I could pitch my novel. Or for that letter of acceptance. For that deadline to pass, or that release date.

I seem to always be waiting for something. But it wasn’t until I started biking a year ago that I realized there can by joy in the journey, not just in reaching the destination.

Bike path
Field along bike path.

Near my house is a paved bike path that meanders through the countryside and follows the river in my hometown. It is a beautiful, calming ride. While biking one day, I realized how much I would miss if I was only  focused on getting home. I would miss the turtles sunning themselves by the river. I would miss the way the wind would blow, moving the fields of wheat in waves like the ocean. I would miss the birds singing, or the bullfrogs croaking. I would be missing the wonders of my ride.

Ever since then, I have looked at areas in my life where I find I am in a hurry to reach the end. For example: I wanted to redeem this summer with my family. In the past, I couldn’t wait for everyone to go back to school, partly because I am an introvert and the chaos brought on by four loud, active children in a tiny house can drain me immensely. But this year, I chose instead to spend as much time as I could with them. It wasn’t easy, and I was tuckered out a lot. But I built memories with my kids: memories of bike rides and feeding the neighbor’s horses, of swimming along lazy rivers, of tea parties and baking cookies. The journey was a joy.

Now my kids are in school and I am looking for other ways to enjoy the journey. I have wasted too much of my past waiting for something to come. I want to enjoy what I have now. I want to enjoy the small rental house we have instead of pining for the day I own my own house. I want to enjoy writing the third book in my series instead of getting it done. I want to enjoy my husband and savor the times I have with him. These are the little joys God gives us, only sometimes we are in such a hurry we miss them.

How about you? Do you hurry toward the next thing, or do you savor what you have now? What small thing have you enjoyed today?

Can Suicide Separate Us From God?

Stormy skyThis week brought shocking news: the son of Rick and Kay Warren (author of the Purpose Driven Life) committed suicide. Within days, this news has spread, raising a lot of questions and discussion about suicide and Christians. I want to share with you two years ago I went through a very dark time in my life, a dark night of the soul. And unless you have experienced this, you have no idea what it is like to be suicidal.

My life was already full of cracks by the time my husband was fired from the church we were serving at. I was like a piece of glass with multiple fractures. We had been laid off from one church, lived on unemployment for almost a year, experienced loss of health and almost the life of our son, burned out by ministry, forced to move every few years, and now this. I remember the shock to this day: walking around in a numb state until my insides shattered into a thousand pieces. I was broken beyond repair and I entered the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Those months after my husband lost his job were the darkest in my life. Even though I was still around people, I felt such intense loneliness it hurt physically. Depression hung on me like a black shroud. At one point, I remember visualizing myself curled up in a ball, naked, laying on a rock in the middle of a raging storm out in the ocean, with the wind and the harsh rain pounding down on me. All alone.

StormI couldn’t hear God anymore. Up to that point, I could always hear God, feel Him near me. But not anymore. I would look up to see only black raging clouds. I knew God was around somewhere up above those clouds, but I couldn’t see Him like I used to. And my spiritual hearing was gone, like being hit by a blast wave that leaves you deaf.

The depression went on for months. I felt like I was drowning. I was still fighting to stay afloat, but there was part of me that wanted to give up and sink down into the waters and be done.

This empty, deathly feeling scared me. I’ve been depressed before, but usually the thought of my husband and kids drew me back. But this time it was not enough. I was afraid that I was going to give in to the desire and kill myself. It’s like standing on an edge, looking down, and having that wild feeling to throw oneself off.

There was only one thing that stopped me: I did not want to meet God that way. I did not want to take my life and stand before God and see the disappointment on His face. I could not take my life… because my life was not mine to take. It belonged to God.

That was the anchor I clung to during that wild tempest in my life. Eventually I dove into God’s word, especially the Psalms, finding comfort in the fact that I was not the only one who had ever felt that way. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!”

And even Paul writes about his discouragement: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves…”

The sentence of death. That is exactly what it feels like. But Paul goes on to say this: “…so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on who we have set our hope…” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-10)

I made a choice that day, a choice that I have stuck with ever since: my life is God’s and God’s alone, for Him to use, and for Him to bring me home when it is time. I still could not see God, could not hear Him when I made this choice. But I chose to trust that He would deliver me someday. And He did, through the prayers and friendship of my husband and two close friends. This is how God delivered Paul as well: “And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers…”

I am blessed to have come through a time like that alive. But what happens to a person who chooses to end it all? Is that person damned? Is his or her salvation no longer valid since the person took his or her own life?

I believe God’s answer is no.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow— not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38

Not even suicide.

But I believe that person will miss out on all that God could have done in his or her life: all the people that person might have touched, all the people that person might have helped or comforted; the view of the rainbow after the storm.

And yet there are many living that are already missing out. A lot of people today are missing out on what God can do in their lives because they are too busy chasing their own dreams. It doesn’t take death to stop God’s work in our lives, just our selfish ambition and belief that our lives are our own to use and pursue what we want to.

I encourage you to love and pray for others. You never know if there is death lurking behind a smiling face. And pray for the Warren family, that they experience grace and peace. Our heart goes out to them with love.



The Problem with Death

DeathA few weeks ago, I read one Christian’s point of view on how the world began. This person laid out the different views out there, ranging from evolution to creation, to God using evolution in His creation, young earth, old Earth, and everything in between. This person concluded that there was not enough evidence to support anything; but what was important was the Maker, not how everything came to be.

I have heard this case before. I have strong Christian friends who believe God used evolution in His creation of the world. And lately, I have been rethinking my views. After all, there is a lot of debate on this issue, each with a valid point. But one thing keeps pulling me back from embracing the view that God used evolution: the problem of death.

My understanding of evolution is that through countless changes in both the world and species, what we see now came to be. And through that process there was a lot of death. Slowly, the genetics of the species changed, evolving to survive. What couldn’t live, died. What did live changed again, then died out so the new level of genetics could survive.

However, the Bible states death came through one man: Adam (Romans 5:12). Before Adam sinned, there was no death. Nothing died. And if there was no death, then there would be many species running around, each of them in a different state of evolution. The world would be filled with half-baked critters that were not done changing yet.

And where did they all go when Adam sinned and death finally entered creation? Did the imperfect die away? Yet that would contradict what God said when He finished creating: that everything was good (Genesis 1:31).

Ultimately though, the problem of death and the creation of the world has to do with our salvation. Through one man’s sin death entered the world, and through one man life came as well. We are all connected to Adam, and therefore we will die. But through Jesus we can have life. But if we are not connected to Adam, then can we be saved?

Imagine Adam and Jesus as doors on either side of a room. All who came through one door may go through the other door. But if you are not even in the same room, can you go through the other door? If mankind really did evolve, then are we all connected? What about those who did not fully evolve into humans, who were not Adam? Are any of us related to those pre-evolved humans? If so, can we be saved?

See the problem?

In the end, both faith and logical thinking are required for any belief about the origins of life. Yes, the Maker is important (if you believe in a Maker). But so is how He created the world. Life and death hinge on that.


We Were Once Zombies

Zombies!I watched an episode of The Walking Dead the other night. The story was absolutely intriguing: what would the world be like if a disease turned almost everyone into zombies? The problem was, I couldn’t stomach the headshots or the body parts trailing behind the corpses. So I only ended up watching one and a half episodes. But it made me start thinking: all of us are zombies.


I work with junior high boys and we always end up talking about interesting things (surprising, right?). One night we talked about this verse: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…” Ephesians 2:1 NASB (emphasis mine). And it hit me: we are all zombies. We are walking around, talking, eating, breathing, living. And yet we are dead. Corpses. Living and dead and the same time.

Our physical bodies are alive, but our souls are dead. The moment Adam sinned, the entire human race was condemned to a zombie existence: shuffling around, searching for life, with no clue how destitute we are. We can no more cure ourselves than those poor wretches on The Walking Dead.

But there was someone who could. “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead… ” Ephesians 2:4 NLT (emphasis mine)

The dead cannot save themselves. They cannot bring life back into their bodies. But God could, and He did. Can you imagine the scene? God walking up to a zombie, touching him or her, and restoring life back into the body and healing away the decay? The way the person would look afterward, with wonder and with thankfulness.

Right now I am picturing all those zombies on The Walking Dead and what that episode would look like if someone finally found a cure (maybe there is a cure on the show, I don’t know). What a happy day that would be, when they could finally become human again.

Words of Life, Words of Death

I stood there and watched my son’s face deflate. In less than a second, my words had shot across the room, hit him in the chest, and let all the joy out of his soul. I wanted to take back what I had said, but there is nothing in this world that can stop a speeding word. All I could do was witness the damage I had done.

Ever done that?

This verse has been on my mind lately: “The tongue can bring life or death…” (Proverbs 18:21a). Am I pouring life into a person through my words? Or am I pouring bitter death?

You know that feeling, when a person pours life into you. Encouraging words, uplifting words, words that give you enough energy to move on, to take that next step. Your soul feels refreshed and ready to face the world again.

And I’m sure you know what deathly words feel like: disheartening, gut wrenching, like you were just stabbed in the chest and left on the ground. Instead of feeling empowered, everything looks dark and discouraging. And you can’t get those words out of your head, because they have been tattooed onto your heart.

Life. Death. All within the power of our tongue. Even the written word brings life or death. Emails, facebook posts, comments left on a blog.

There are times that truth must be told, but even then, the way it is phrased and the setting it is delivered in can bring life or death. Truthful words must come from a loving, humble heart. And delivered in such a way that shows respect to the person receiving it, even if they deserve less.

I am trying to be more careful with my own words. I want to bring life to people, encourage the broken, and speak hope to those in the dark. I don’t want to see a face again, stricken and wounded because I let my tongue fly without restraint.

After all, I may be the only one that speaks life into that person.


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.


Things You may not know about Me

People are fascinating. Behind the face are stories that you would never guess: places they have been, things they have experienced, interesting tidbits about their family. I thought that it would be fun today to share seven things you might not know about me. And it might explain why I am the way I am.

1)   I was in a beauty pageant. Yep. Me 😉 Now before you get any ideas that I’m that kind of person, I entered because there was a scholarship attached. I had no desire to go prancing around in high heels and talk about world peace. But since I had to earn my way to college, I would do almost anything to get a scholarship.

So this is how it happened: two teachers cornered me. They said I should enter the Lilac princess competition. I said no way. But after consideration, I figured there was no way I would make it to the final round. I wasn’t one of the popular girls at school. So most likely I would be voted out during the all school voting. To my surprise, I was voted into the finals.

I had to learn how to wear high heels, cross my ankles, walk a certain way, and give speeches. In the end, I did not win. But it was quite an experience!

2)   And speaking of shoes, this leads into my next disclosure: I wore tennis shoes under my wedding dress. No, it wasn’t so I could make a quick getaway if I needed one. It was because I really don’t like fancy shoes.

So instead of enduring pain by wearing shoes no one would ever see under my wedding dress, I bought a pair of all white tennis shoes, glued silver glitter all over them and replaced the strings with lace. Much more comfortable than high heels ;). My daughters found my shoes a year ago and asked about them. I told them they were my wedding shoes. They were impressed.

3)   I worked as a janitor to pay my way through college. I guess that’s why I’m good at cleaning bathrooms :).

4)   I have been to Europe… twice. I love the European culture and people. I love visiting places that date back to the roman times (something you can’t find here on this side of the ocean). Oh yes, and I climbed the Eiffel Tower just so I could say I did.

5)   I have moved every 1-2 years my entire life. Except in high school. That was the only time I stayed in one place for longer period of time (sometimes I wonder if I’m in the military).

6)   I come from a big family. My grandfather was one of 15, my dad was one of 8, my grandma was one of 10. And I have almost 30 first cousins the last time I counted :).

7)   I used to be a raider. Not in the ark sense, but in the gaming sense. I was the main tank healer for a 10 man raid group. Good times, fun people. But now my free time is taken up by writing and marketing.


So now you know a little bit more about me. How about you? What is an interesting fact about you?




I Hate Roller Coasters

I have always been afraid of heights. As a little girl, I remember one time crying when I was pushed too high in a swing. That and the fact that swinging made me sick. So when I grew older, I could not understand the fascination people had with roller coasters. They wanted them faster, higher, go upside down, you name it. And people thought it was fun.

I decided my senior year to ride a roller coaster. If that many people thought it was fun, then it must be fun, right? I was visiting a college that fall for college view weekend. On Saturday we went to Magic Mountain. Everyone was excited. That’s when I decided I would do it. I would conquer my fear of heights.

I lined up with everyone else for this huge, fast, go upside down, painted in brilliant red roller coaster. As we snaked our way to the front, my stomach began to twist into a knot. The closer we drew, the more my insides coiled. But I was determined to do this. So when it came our time, I belted myself in with everyone else. And off we went.

It was terrible.

I thought I was going to die of shear panic as the roller coaster cranked its way to the top. Then down we went. I closed my eyes and prayed the entire way that I would make it off alive. I didn’t scream, I’m not a screamer. When I’m afraid, my brain shuts off. Maybe that will save me someday if zombies attack. They will think I’m brainless 😛

Anyway, I did survive. I stumbled off the roller coaster, clung to the railing and flung myself onto a bench. It took all my strength not to hurl all over the place. I sat there a good 5 minutes while the other students who were along for the college weekend waited. I finally looked up and gave them a weak smile. I spent the rest of the day watching others have fun on roller coasters and swore I would never ride another one.

Unfortunately, life sometimes feels like a roller coaster. I see the unknown and I panic. I want to get off the ride, but life keeps going, pulling me to the top. Then down I zip, through valleys of darkness and over tops of dreams. Half the time I have my eyes closed, praying I’ll make it through. Other times I feel sick.

But one thing I do know: while careening through life with my lips flapping in the wind, I’m safe. The roller coaster is not going to fall apart. I sometimes think it will. But it won’t. Because God is right next to me. And He oversees the whole thing.

When I remember this, I’m able to relax a little. I open my eyes and watch the sights flash by. And I finally enjoy the ride.


Sometimes there are No Answers

I like answers. I want to know why something works, what happens when you do X, and how can I get the best outcome. I tend to get to the point, whether it has to do with work, solving a problem, or with relationships (about drove my husband mad with this early on :)). So when life doesn’t compute, I want answers.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are no answers to why things happen.

I struggled with this over the past year. Most of the time I can find an explanation on why God allows something to happen. You know, the usual answers: to grow us, to prepare us for a greater blessing, fill in the blank. But none of those answers seemed sufficient for the pain and tears shed over the last several months. I wanted to know why. I wanted a reason so I could close those doors, heal, and move on.

Did God let Dan lose his job because He has something better planned? Why did it feel God was leading us to church plant, to then not have it work out? Why do bad things happen to people who want to follow God’s plan?

I will admit this past year shook my faith down to its very core. I could feel the darkness closing in on me. I cried out to God, but couldn’t seem to hear Him. I felt alone and cold spiritually.

Now some people will say you should never question God. I believe its better to be honest with God. David was honest with God in the Psalms. Jeremiah the prophet was honest with God. God knows my heart and can see the hurt and confusion already inside. Through honesty comes truth. And with truth comes answers.

A couple weeks ago, I had my answer: that sometimes there are no answers. I could feel in my heart that God had been patient with me, but it had come to the point that I needed to let go; I would not have the answers to why things happened the way they did this year. Why? Because God is God and I am me.

In that moment, I caught an awe and terrifying glimpse of God. We, or at least I, forget how much bigger, how much smarter, how much more God knows than I do. He is running this entire universe, watching over lives, creating divine intersections, moving things along on a scale that I can’t even comprehend. So when He says that all things work together for good, even if I can’t see it, He does, and I need to trust that. So I let go.

I may have my answers someday, perhaps in heaven. But I have a feeling that by then, I’m not going to care. Why? I’ll finally be in God’s presence and that will be all I need.

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.