This is the Lords doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. Mark 12:11

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prisoners of Hope

My daughter was taking a bath, playing with plastic cups from the kitchen and giggling; and just generally taking advantage of the bathroom acoustics by squealing as loudly as possible.

I sat on the floor, flipping through her kids Bible that we read before bed. It's a big, illustrated Bible that retells the familiar Bible stories in simple kid-fashion. I was mostly looking at the pictures and not really paying much attention to the words (in simple kid-fashion).

Then I turned the page to this.

It's the space between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

400 years pass, to be exact.

Four. Hundred. Years.

I sat there and stared at the words for a while. Then I closed the book and finished up bath time with a rendition of "this is the way we wash our hair" (in C major).

A few days later I was reading Zechariah. It's one of the last books in the Old Testament, right before that 400-year space between the Testaments. Those last few books of the OT are nothing but prophecy after prophecy and I admit that sometimes I get bogged down with it all...until they start talking about Jesus.

On this particular day I was reading in Zechariah 9 about Jesus coming to us, "humble and...mounted on a colt, the foal of a donkey," and I was thinking about the scene in Mark 11 when Jesus really does ride in mounted on a colt, when I read Zechariah 9:12.
"Return to your stronghold, O prisoner of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double."
O prisoner of hope.

My eyes hovered over those words and I read them over and over again. Prisoner of hope. O, prisoner of hope.

I thought about the people of the Bible in the space between the Old and New Testaments. I thought about the long silence of God and how very hopeless it must have felt at times, to feel far from God and to WANT to hear just one word from Him that would reassure them He is still coming. Just one word to let them know He still sees them. Just one word for them to hold onto, to sustain them, to comfort them.

I know because I've felt like that this all year. It hasn't been 400 years but it has been long, and silent, and  dark and oh so, so frustrating. And I have felt that pit of hopelessness open wide right before my feet so that all I'd have to do is step into it and I would be swallowed.

But I am a prisoner of hope.

I am tied to the promises God has made so that, even when there is silence, I still know He has spoken.

I am tied to what I know of the character of God so that, even when there is silence, I still know who He is.

I don't know why God chose 400 years before He sent Jesus to redeem His people, and I don't know why He chooses to make some of our own seasons of struggle so very long. But I do know that even after those 400 years, He still kept His promise. He sent the Messiah. He was faithful.

They were prisoners of hope as they waited for Jesus, and we are prisoners of hope now, because we have Him.

He came as a man and He left us His Spirit. He is with us, and even when there is silence, He is still with us.

I don't know what season you are in right now, and I don't know how long you've been in it or when it will end. But God sees you. He has already come, and He is coming again, and He is with us now. No matter how long it takes, God is always faithful, always good, always true. Hold onto Him. Even in the silence, He is working.

"Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him." - Proverbs 30:5 
"The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works." - Psalm 145:13
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope." - Psalm 130:5 
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Being Willing Clay

There are 1,000,001 other things I should be doing right now, besides sitting on my porch writing this and serenading the neighbors with my guitar and ukulele like a true Texan.

But, I felt the need to write. I'm so overwhelmed by God's grace. 

I've been learning that JJ Heller song, the one where she sings, "Be gentle with me, Jesus, as You tear me apart." It is kind of a modern prayer of the passage in Job that says, "For He wounds, but He binds up; He shatters, but His hands heal."

What a great God, to care so much about us that He doesn't leave us the way we are.

He could easily leave us as marred, chipped, and broken clay pots, but, the loving Potter that He is, He instead knows that there is so much more for us, so much better for us, if we let Him shape us into something more beautiful.

...but only if we let Him.
It has been my experience that "letting Him" is often so very painful.

... But His hands heal.

I would rather be broken by my precious Savior and healed by His hands than left as the imperfect vessel far from Him. Each time we are broken and put back together we are a little more whole than we were before, a little more like Him, a little nearer to Him. Praise God! There is nothing sweeter than tasting just a little bit more of God's goodness.

He doesn't have to give us the affirmation that He sees us, but He does. He doesn't have to give us the affirmation that He is with us, but He does. He doesn't have to tell us that He is pleased with us, that He delights in us as His beloved and precious, payed for children, and that neither death nor life nor angels nor demons nor past nor present nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation can separate us from His love...but He does.

He tells us all these things while tearing away the things that keep us from knowing Him more. He is just, but He is gentle. I am so grateful that amidst showing me the ugly parts of me that need to go, He holds me close and reminds me of how His blood has beautified me and how precious I am to Him. He doesn't need to do either of those things. But blessed God! He does both.

Sometimes I become so overwhelmed with worry, and with uncertainties, but God says to me, "I am faithful to work in the little crevices of your heart, so trust me to be faithful in working out the bigger details of your life too."

 Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Thanks for sharing in life with me, y'all.
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. - 2 Thessalonians 3:5 NLT

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Thoughts On Discipline

Last week my doctor told me that I should start writing more. Because clearly in those few seconds that they shine that little light into your eyes and ears they discover all your secrets. “If you find yourself writing all the time, maybe you should consider being a writer” he said. I don’t find myself writing all the time, I wanted to say back. I find myself sitting on my porch watching bugs and wondering if they ever sleep. I just write when I feel like it.
At first I was perturbed at Dr.H, whose large glasses and skinny body make him look like a guest star on Saved By the Bell or Full House. "You don't even know me, just make me feel better" I thought. 

But it’s been a week and I  haven't been able to  stop thinking about his words. 

And then this happened...

 I got this fortune in my Chinese fortune cookie

At first I thought, "This is awesome."

But the thought that followed directly afterward was, "Yeah right! No, I won't."  

I would LOVE to be an accomplished writer one day, but, even if I am a talented writer, I may never become an accomplished writer if I'm not disciplined enough. The thought of writing a book can sometimes become overwhelming. I often give up on things when I fail or when I don't feel like I'm as good as "so and so". I give up when things aren't going the way I want them to or the way I think they should. Just because my house is clean almost always doesn't mean I'm disciplined. I just like to clean and be clean. If I hated to clean and my house was always clean, then I'd be a disciplined person. As it is, I'm not great at doing things I do not want to do. I mean, I love writing, but I don't always feel like it. Sometimes I don't want to think or research and sometimes I'm just too tired. It would take a while to finish a book without discipline and without someone holding me accountable to keep at it.

God has been telling me a lot recently about discipline.

The words disciple and discipline come from one Latin word discipulus, which means learner. We are all learners, and our learning never comes to an end. Discipleship and discipline are inseparably connected; Jesus’ ministry exemplifies that over and over. Christ never hesitated to correct His disciples. Christ viewed discipline as part of the church. I wrote a little about that here.

In what areas do you want to grow or improve? Reading more? Praying more? Thinking of others more? Eating healthier? Spending more time in the word? Buying less? Working out more? Being more generous? Being less selfish?

Discipline becomes a habit of life when there are clearly defined goals and steps to achieve those goals. Discipline also comes easier when we have someone to hold us accountable.

Need some encouragement to get started? 

Fill out this calendar. You pick just three things you want to do better. For 100 days, each day you check off the same three habits (or disciplines) you really want to be a part of your life. Even if it's just for a few minutes. I picked one spiritual goal, physical/healthy goal, and one thing I enjoy as an outlet... because I think that is important too. 

One of the things I'm working on is spending more time in prayer for others, so each week I've committed to jotting down the inicials (for their privacy) of those I want to pray for that week. I have a list on my bathroom mirror, and one on the inside of my laptop to remind me every time I see it.  If your list is long, great, split it up and  commit to pray for a few each day. It's less overwhelming that way and therefor you are more likely to hit your goal.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blessed Pain

To those of you in pain, I've learned something pretty important. 

Time does not heal.

Ignoring your pain and burring it deep inside does not heal.

Entering another relationship does not heal.

Finding new friends, picking up a new hobby, shopping (and I love shopping) does not heal.

Perhaps these things are aids, just as Medicine doesn't take a chronic illness away, although I hate thinking about facing one without the temporary relief it can bring.

"I am sad and hurting. God, save me and protect me. I will praise God in a song and will honor him by giving thanks". - Psalm 69:29-30 

Praising God in pain does not change the situation, it changes who we are.
Praising God in pain acknowledges that God is good, God is faithful, God is wise, and God is strong, despite all circumstances. 
Praising God in pain professes that we trust Him; it affirms 
that our hope is in Him and Him alone. 
And hope in God is the only hope that will never disappoint (Isaiah 49:23).

Praising God in pain reveals a deeper level of gratitude, one that is built on who God is and His sovereignty.

It is here that we are refined, sometimes disciplined, and overall tested in the purifying fires of God. Oh, how painful these fires can be!

It has never ceased to amaze me how often we pray away any discomfort... we pray for happy situations that spur on good feelings...

good weather for a trip
financial situations to be stress free
clarity in a decision needing to be made
a "yes" for being hired for a dream job
healthy babies
absence of conflict among family/friends...

While all of these things are well and good, it's not often in these times that we as humans have our eyes and ears open spiritually to our constant need of God Almighty. In times of sorrow, hurt, illness, grief, loss, misfortune, being betrayed, confusion, darkness, drought... We seek Him who is life and we learn and we grow in Him.

Dear Lord, Help me do better!! 
A heart that is grateful is much quicker to heal than a heart that is bitter.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold, though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

More later when my hands can type....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Choosing to feed on truth

I've taken a ridiculously long hiatus from blogging. For many different reasons, one being that I forgot my password. A LOT has happened since 2011!! Like a BABY!! Haha!! 

 I don't usually sleep well so I often lay in bed thinking about anything and everything. Actually, I do this during the day too. Last night I started wondering about whether Satan has access to our dreams. Then I started thinking about the lies that Satan feeds us. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!

A few weeks ago I distinctly remember kneeling facedown in my bedroom, sobbing. Begging God to make my heart to stop hurting. My friend, who had been praying for me faithfully ended up calling me in that moment. I pulled myself together and pretended that everything was fine. I was NOT "fine". Maybe if I pretended I was then I would actually believe I was? After getting off the phone with her and breaking down even more. I decided I would call her back and pour my heart out to her. I did and I remember her saying to me "Morgan, these are lies from Satan. You are believing lies". Thank God for friends who speak truth!

I struggle against believing lies constantly. My mind is a rarely-inactive battleground. Mostly the lies I believe center around the word "enough." I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. Creative enough. Strong enough. Talented enough. I don't have enough to offer. Also, things like: They'd be better off without me. I'll never overcome this. I'm not needed... And many more.

Sometimes it's so much easier to just believe lies rather than to believe truth. For whatever reason.  Maybe because we have a hard time distinguishing between what we feel and what truth is. Or maybe because sometimes the circumstances seem truer than what the truth really is. Or maybe it's just easier to have a pity-party and go outside and eat some worms than to be challenged and grow in spite (or because) of it.  I don't know. I know what the bible says, and I suppose believing that it doesn't apply to me is doubting His promises for my life.

Psalm 37:3 (NCV) uses the phrase "feed on truth." I like to imagine God's truth as our sustenance; the fuel that makes us go, gives us energy, faith and hope, feeds our brains, strengthens our hearts and our bodies.

But you know what? I don't think Satan is ever going to stop feeding us lies. He's never going to get tired and say, "Well, I've told her enough falsehoods for the month of May, so I think I'll give her a little break."

In Psalm 23, God prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies. Satan may never stop telling us lies, but God will also never stop speaking and being Truth. It's up to us to choose which we feed on.

What lies are you believing? And how can you choose to feed on truth?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women in the Word Wednesday with Good Morning Girls

(I wrote this a few months ago, but is seems fitting.)

Joel 2:28 ..."I will pour out my Spirit on all people"

In Acts 2 God brings his spirit. The first after picture in Acts is community.

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, the the brekaing of bread and to prayer.

I've been thinking a lot lately on mentors and fellowship in the church.Here is what I came up with.

Fellowship (Koinonia)is when Christ's followers come together for something deeper. For those of you who have not grown up in a southern baptist church and are unfamiliar with the word fellowship,just think casserole.Just kidding that's not what I'm talking about.
Fellowship is about regularly experiencing deep relationships with people who will lift each other up and encourage one another. Is spiriual relationship even necesary? I know several people will say "I have 500 facebook friends,I have 300 people on my cell phone contact list,and people at work I see everyday"
C.S. Lewis wrote in "The Four Loves "many people seem to view friendship as something quite marginal, not a main course in lifes banquet but a diversion,something that fills up the chinks in ones times" Are we really investing?Is it enough? I noticed in a recent collumn in Today several Texas cities were rated the most friendliest places to live. San Antonio and Austin were at the top of the list. I wonder if those people only go to Austin during South by Southwest!!Ha!They noted the live music,the great places to party,the food,the shopping and did I mention the great places to party? I think Texas as a whole is pretty friendly in comparison to other states. In Texas you can actually know your neighbors.You can wave to people on the street and have conversations in the check out line with complete strangers.That doesn't happen everywhere. We use our car horns as a salutation.In New York City it's a death threat. Undoubtedly your network of "friends" and cowaorkers is probably in the dozens or the hundreds,maybe even the thousands. We live in a friendly place.So why is it that we feel so alone?There usually comes a day in most of our lives when we realize who our real friends are.Usually it's during a storm or maybe it's at an exciting moment in your life.We realize we don't have as many friends as we used to. Last week I had "one of those days" .I really needed help with something I couldn't do on my own and James was out of town.There was ONE person I was able to call and even then I felt a little guilty. It seems too much to ask for someones help.Last week someone confided in me.She was shocked to find out she may have some cancerous cells in her body.She was devistated.I asked her who was beside her through this and she said "I haven't been able to bring myself to tell anyone".I talked to another girl a couple weeks ago who was pumped about missions only because "there is nobody around to share dreams with".
This is all happening In "the friendliest places in America". On average Americans have 2 people they can turn to, 25% have NOBODY to talk to. Who is encouraging you to grow spiritually and make good decisions?

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another....honor one another...
Romans 12:16 and 1 Peter 3:8 Live in harmony with one another...
Romans 15:7 Accept one another...
Galations 5:13 serve one another
Ephesians 4:32 and Col. 3:13 Forgive one another
I Thess. 4:18 Comfort one another

Again and again it says to love one another.

Moses was mentored by his father in law Jethro about leadership and Moses mentored Joshua.

Naomi was a spiritual leader for her faithful daughter in law Ruth and Elizabeth mentored Mary.

In the NT Bartemius takes Paul under his wing to teach him about ministry.
It is clear throughout scripture that God calls us to learn from people who are wiser than us.This is what He invisioned for the church,that wise people would pour out their knowlege and wisdom throughout the church body.With no slack,humbly and giving up all pride.
Paul writes many years later after he was mentored to his mentee Timothy.

Those who are spiritually mature see a need in someone whow is growing in their faith.They come along side of them with encouragement and encite. A pay it forward mentality.
Christians can get desperate for mentores though. They say "I just need someone who can tell me this or teach me that." They try to get it all in one person. Sometimes we need different people to help us through different things. Paul says "Be ready to receive teaching"We all need someone wiser than us. God is so great but,sometimes we need someone more human to hang out with and I think God loves that prayer.
C.S. Lewis writes in the Four loves "Nature cannot satisfy the desires she(that's nature) arouses nor answer theological questions nor sanctify us.Our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on her (nature) and passing from the dawn-lit-fields into some pokey little church". All churches in some way act small and pokey.He is saying in all the short comingings of church (the musics is too loud,the drummer is off beat,the people behind us won't stop talking...)despite all that the church is to be the place you grow spiritually.That's what God wants. In Hebrews 10(speaking to christians who used to be jews and are thinking about going back to being jews because they are being persecuted) He tells us how to do it.Getting with people who are more human to laugh,to grow and talk about what is really going on in your heart. Some people will say "if I'm going to grow spiritually,God is enough for me"He challenges us.We all need community.We all need a core group of people.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Senior Year

I'm not short, I just had tall friends ;-)
L-R Jennifer, Me, Tara, and Stacy

Two post in one day?? What??

1. Did you date someone from your school? negative

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? nope

3. Did you car pool to school? I picked up a sophomore.

4. What kind of car did you have? an old one with no AC....the defrost didn't work either so when it rained I had to roll my windows down. haha!!

5. What kind of car do you have now? 2008 Dodge Nitro

6. Its Friday night. Football games or Party? Football games

7. It is Saturday night? sleepovers

8. What kind of job did you have in high school? I worked at Target for like 2 months months. I was a busy girl, spoiled maybe, but busy!

9. What kind of job do you have now? Child care

10. Were you a party animal? No way! I was never able to get away with ANYTHING!!

11. Were you considered a flirt? Not that I know of??

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? none of the above

13. Were you a nerd? looks like we all were. At the time I thought I was pretty cool.

14. Did you get suspended or expelled? No, I did go to detention a few times. HAHA!! Ask me about it sometime. It was NEVER my fault!

15. Can you sing the fight song? Of course!!! Dear old Brewer High....We love your gleaming halls.....yada yada!!

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher? senior year? Mrs. Tenius. Don't know why. I don't think she liked me very much.

17. Where did you sit during lunch? commons

18. What was your school’s full name? C.F. Brewer High School

19. When did you graduate? 2004

20. What was your school mascot? Bears

21. If you could go back and do it again, would you?sure...I loved high school. I could do without the drama though.

22. Did you have fun at Prom? oh yes!!

23. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with? sometimes. We grew up together. Our parents still live on the same street.

24. Are you planning on going to your next reunion?absolutely

25. Do you still talk to people from school? only one aside from facebook