*This is a collaboration of what the Lord has been teaching me this week. Ally is still in the hospital, and will be staying again overnight for sure. I have not really slept since Bailey Grace was hospitalized, so I anticipate a very raw, layered post.

Pain. We cannot avoid it, and we all dislike it. Whether physical or emotional, pain takes a toil on not only us, but those around us. I have always been told God whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pain (C.S. Lewis), and this became such a reality for me this week. When we brought Bailey Grace to the after hours clinic, I had no idea where our week was headed. I am so thankful, for I think I might have crumbled at the thought of it all. There is always such a fine line on what information I post here on our girls. I want to give enough information where you, as the reader, can feel connected to them and their story; but I also don’t want to give so many details that it becomes more about them than the Healer Himself. When it became clear that Bailey Grace needed to be admitted to Special Care, there were a lot of logistics to figure out. We needed one of us to stay at the house, and one of us to stay at the hospital. The suggestion that I was going to go home was absolutely bogus to me and out of the question. Why? Because my child was in pain and she needed me. I obviously love Ally as much as I do Bailey Grace, but in that moment, my hurt was drawn to Bailey Grace because she was hurting the most. He whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pain.  It hit me in an, “it’s 3am and I haven’t slept and I’m at the hospital with my baby” kind of way and left me speechless in room 750. This is what God does for me, for you. We always wonder where God is in our deepest pain and suffering. I have to admit, this week seemed to go from a bad dream to a nightmare. It is always, always relative; and I don’t have to walk too far down the hall to see that, but I just felt, continue to feel, that I’m going to be crushed by the weight of our reality; but, you know what? That is a lie.  For you see, 2 Corinthians 4:8 says it best,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.”

Not crushed. Not in despair. This is His promise. Even when we feel like we are being smothered by the circumstance, His word promises we are not and that He will lift up our eyes to the hills once again. He is where our help comes from. So many times this week I began to doubt this truth. When Bailey Grace began to cough up blood in the middle of the night and I was alone in the room. When she moaned, coughed, and cried for two days straight. When every nurse on the floor could not find a vain because she was so dehydrated and she was looking over at me, too exhausted to cry but writhing in pain. When we finally got her home only to be up all night with her coughing and a listless, febrile Ally. When we took Ally to the E.R. and they determined she needed to be admitted. When they continue to have to suction the mucus out of Ally’s throat because she chokes on it, unable to cough it up. When I sit here right now with her still in the hospital, unable to take in fluids. I doubted. I doubt. But you know what? That’s okay. He is not concerned with my wavering faith, because He knows His own strength. Friends, in our deepest pain and suffering, God is so very near. Let’s not view Him through the eyes of our own frailty. Do not boil Him down to your own ever-changing, sometimes deceptive emotions. He is The Rescuer. The Savior. The Maker of all things. He is always acting, always working, never tiring. He is absolutely right there with you. Even when you don’t have the strength to cry out.  As I sat in our room, exhausted and unable to think after not sleeping at all the first night of Bailey Grace’s stay, my head was pounded, and I was point blank unable to focus on the Word. It wasn’t up to me to make the Word come alive and He did so for me even in the midst of my flesh and emotions absolutely failing me. Psalm 119:175 says, “Let my soul live and praise You, and let Your rules help me”. In this life we do not have to set the standard of our hearts and our emotions in order to find life…in so many things, they will absolutely leave us lacking (Psalm 73:25). We must remember that our ultimate prayer is for our SOUL to know life. For the depths of who we are to trust His life to be lived out in ours. This is the only place that life truly lives. I have been so weak in my flesh all week long; honestly, who wouldn’t be? Little to no sleep, emotionally drained, miserably sick babies, lots of unknowns, roller coaster of health, helplessness in taking care of my little ones, out of the hospital for one night to only be admitted again the next…but God. God has shouted to my soul to come alive and friends: It is well with my soul. Truly. He has continued to shout in the midst of gut-wrenching pain, and I know that no matter what you are walking through today, He is willing to do the same for you. He will fight for you, you need only be still (Exodus 14:14). No matter if the reality of your week has been more or less challenging than ours, the good news is this: He does not compare His children, and the strength and grace He offers to each of us is limitless and not based on another.  He wants to be your wisdom. He desires to be your strength. He simply loves you in all the brokenness and all the mess because you are His child. The presence of pain does not lessen the reality of His love for us, it strengthens it.

I do not know what the rest of this week, much less this life, holds for our family. I could look to the fact that a simple cold put us in danger to the point of hospitalization, and wonder what that means now. But this I know: the circumstances of this week do not change might of my God. He is the same, always. He was not surprised by any of it. And, He promises that He is working all things out for the kingdom, the one that truly matters. Friends,this world is not our home. This world is not our home. This world is NOT our home. One day, He will not have to shout in our pain because pain will no longer exist when we see Him face to face. Whatever you are going through, He will give you what you need for the day as you look to Him to do so. What a mighty God we serve.



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What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? Is it a person? A place? A moment? We are all drawn to beauty. We love to watch a sunset or rise, to see a waterfall at the top of a mountain, or marvel at the starlit sky. Our country spends millions of dollars on products that promise to make us more beautiful. Society places such a strong emphasis on women being beautiful; on the priority of doing all we can to successfully be attractive. My definition of beauty has changed throughout the years. During my middle school, high school, and a portion of college, I would spend hours and money (thanks dad) on buying products and clothes that would make me beautiful. I would look in the mirror over and over again just to double check that I was satisfied enough with the reflection I saw.  Let’s not even start on the hundreds of Dairy Queen blizzards and hamburgers that I missed out on all in the name of beauty. At the time, my definition revolved around being thin and fashionable. The problem was, there was always someone thinner, always someone trendier. This was in a time before selfies and instagrams, and I am thankful for this because I cringe when I think about the egotistical, self-focused things I would have posted. The problem with basing our beauty on the external is that not only is it fleeting, it is also subjective. What you think is beautiful might be totally different than what I do. This season of life left me feeling insecure and totally consumed with self. Sadly, if we are honest, this is the reality of so many of our minds. We are so obsessed with being beautiful without realizing we are fighting a losing battle. The thing is, external beauty absolutely fades. Money can buy us all the surgery, make up, anti-aging products, and outfits this world has to offer, but time always wins and when all those things are stripped away, our  external appearance is always left desiring. We are fighting a losing battle.

Fast forward to today. Sweat pants, not an ounce of make-up on my face, and a big cup of creamer with a splash of coffee sits in front of me. I feel beautiful. The reflection may say otherwise, and if you looked at a before and after picture from a few years past, the damage certainly has been done. God has freed me up to know that my beauty is absolutely not based on me. For you see, there is a kind of beauty that surpasses what others think of us and what the mirror reflects. There is something within us that is given room to bubble up when all else is stripped. I had a friend describe this season of life in that way and I could not agree more. I have been stripped. Of comfort. Of control. Of my own selfish desires. Of expectations. And, I feel beautiful. And free. And oh so very loved. Don’t you see friends? Beauty is not dependent on that which we see. Our beauty is absolutely connected to how intimately tied we are with our Maker. I am learning to see beauty in the imperfection, beauty in the mess, because I see all the more room for God to bring beauty from the ashes. I have seen it in my own life and I have seen it in the lives of those around me.

At the end of the day, we all prefer the real thing. We don’t want a generic, fake version of the truth. We want authenticity. In fact, we could all agree that we find someone or something beautiful when it appears effortless. When anything is forced, it is awkward and undesirable. That’s the thing about beauty. What is beautiful in you is going to be different than what is beautiful in me, but one thing I can promise you is this: it has to come from the inside out. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality; no. This is us all being made in the image of God and creatively designed by our Maker, therefore possessing much, much, worth. In Mark 14, Jesus and some of his friends were eating dinner when a woman came and  poured a costly jar of ointment on Jesus’ head. Some people at the table were appalled that she had done such a thing, claiming that she should have sold the ointment to give to the poor and that it had been a waste. Jesus could not disagree more. He said,

“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me…she has done what she could.” (portions of verses 7 and 8).

Jesus found beauty in the woman, not based on what she looked like but rather on her heart towards Him. After all, if God thought external beauty was important, don’t you think He would have made  Jesus Himself attractive? Isaiah 53:2 reminds us that there was no beauty in Jesus’ appearance that should make Him desirable. The beauty people saw in Jesus was based solely on who He was, not what He looked like.

I can promise you this: you will never be comfortable in your own skin until you are comfortable in your own soul. There you will find a beauty that is unfading, that has nothing to do with you but all to do with the One whose image you were created in. My encouragement to you today is this: find what is beautiful in you and look for what is beautiful in those around you. It won’t be found in your clothes, your body, your make-up, your job, your abilities, or your performance. Dig deeper.  You might be surprised that it is often in the broken, messy, and wounded places that beauty is most magnificently displayed. You are made in His image and He has made you oh so beautiful. Only He can make beautiful things out of dust.Sunset


I walked into her trailer for what could have been the 50th time in the past few years, but this time, her eyes were inverted down. I quickly looked around to see if there was something I was missing in her home- a new man, perhaps, that I had caught her in the act with, or some kind of afternoon substance fix  she forgot to cover up. I saw nothing; and then, she looked up. The bruises on her arms, she could cover up. The black eye, she could not. I knew right then and there, Juan* had come back. Layers of pain and hurt from years of protecting herself from feeling anything prevented her from letting even a single tear flow, but the hurt in my heart caused me to blink mine back in an effort to stay somewhat professional.

“Pamela*”, I started to say, searching for some kind of words, “You know,”…. I didn’t finish. Pamela cut in. “Ms. Morgan. You can stop. You don’t understand what my life has been like. You don’t get what I go through every day. So just don’t even try to give me some positive soap box because I already have enough bullsh*t in my life, okay?”

As  Hugh and I walked back to the car after dinner, car seats in our hands, a man rolled down his window. “Twins?” He questioned. What a dumb question, I thought to myself. “Yes, sir,” I enthusiastically responded back. “I have twins!” He proudly stated back,  “How old are yours?” “14 months!” I said quickly, putting Ally into the car in hopes he would get the hint and drive off. “Walking yet?” He responded. Hugh and I looked at each other with the same look we always do. “Not yet”, Hugh responded, before I could give my non-filtered response. “Lucky you!” Mr. Man said, “Once they start that, it gets even crazier. But don’t worry, it gets easier and easier.”

Hugh and I fake laughed and got in our car, both of us silent for a few minutes. “You know, it makes me so mad when people give us that line.  He has no idea what we are going through. He has no idea that for us, it’s not going to get easier. He just doesn’t get it.” As these words came out of my mouth, I flashed back to my conversation with Pamela. Such different pains, but such a similar response. Both of us, so caught up in our own stuff, so consumed, that we could not see outside of our own circumstances.

What consumes you? Consumed essentially means completely filling one’s mind and attention, whatever absorbs you. In different seasons of my life, I can look back and recognize different things that took the utmost of my attention. There have been varying degrees of consumption, but theone common thread that ties them together is self. Self-consumption. Self-centeredness. The truth is, the more wrapped up I have gotten in myself, the more miserable I have become. In a practical sense, does  thinking about your own problems and feeling sorry for yourself ever get you anywhere new? I have found that the more I think about myself, my life, me, I never feel better. It only makes my own trials look bigger. But, what do we do when it seems as if our own problems are glaring us in the face and we can’t seem to get past it? What do we do when as hard as we try, our own stuff just won’t seem to get off the forefront of our brains? Jesus.

As I was reading the Word this morning, my mind got fixated on this verse from the book of Psalms,

“My soul is consumed with longing for Your rules at all times.” (119:20).

David was consumed alright, but what consumed him did not bring him to despair, but rather, hope.  You see, because of the Lord’s great love for us, He promises us we are not consumed by the afflictions and present sufferings of this world (Lamentations 3). This frees us up to be consumed with the things of heaven; but what are those things? The things of God; which are the things that don’t  perish, that don’t fade.  You see, that’s the risk of being consumed with self: not only is it futile, but it is passing. The troubles of yesterday may or may not be the troubles of today. They aren’t worth our time because at some point, no matter what you believe, they are going away. The things of God, His word and His love, last. When I get so fixated on comparing how hard our life is in light of someone else’s, I  am brought to despair. When I think of Christ and the hope and purpose He brings, the fog is lifted and I feel free. The thing is this: we are right in  thinking that there may be other people around us suffering less; but for every person that suffers less, you can find someone who has suffered more. Beyond that, in comparison to Christ and how He suffered for us, all our trials are rags.  Because of His death on the cross, we are promised that all trials are light and momentary but serve an eternal purpose. Further more, the purpose of our suffering is to make us more like Christ, not more likely to be bitter at the cup in our hands. It is to make us more compassionate with others, not to formulate our own measuring stick of comparison in which we determine who is suffering more.   The relieving part is this: we are not left in our own strength to follow through with this. We have Christ as the example who said, “Yet not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is not some altruistic, “You will feel better if you get your mind off yourself and on others” kind of thinking. That may work sometimes, but in times of immense pain and heartache, we need something tried and true; something that lasts. Christ has freed us up for all time to look not to our own lot, but to put it in His hands and trust Him to do the rest. To fix our eyes on the unseen rather than the seen. This is true freedom.

So, friends, I ask you again. What consumes you? Is it that nagging health problem that just won’t go away? That name brand dress you don’t have the money for but just have to have? “Your team” in the World Cup that just has to win? The thing your spouse does that drives you crazy? The things you feel you lack? Work? Politics? Your children? Singleness? Alcohol? Food? The list goes on and on, and only you and the Lord know what truly fills your mind. My encouragement to us all today is that we would choose to be consumed with God Himself. That we would look to heaven with an attitude of trust and gratitude, confident that whatever He has given us is His absolute best. He is worthy.

*Names changed for privacy.

Weekend Wisdom with: Joni Eareckson Tada.

Joni Eareckson Tada. I have loved reading some quotes from her heart for years, but it was not until this new season the Lord has brought us to that her words were made so powerful. If you don’t know much about her, you should most definitely look  up her story and be inspired. Essentially, she is a woman who through suffering (an accident that caused her to become a quadriplegic, breast cancer, and bouts of depression), has become more and more  like Christ and has encouraged others through her story. I could  post a million things she writes, but I wanted to give you all something that EVERYONE could relate to, not just the disability aspect of her writings. Please don’t miss this.

““The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20).The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his brow…“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warrior’s continued existence. The man swings. As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe. But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot. His Father! He must face his Father like this! From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held a razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who moles young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath? Of course the Son is innocent He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed. The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply. The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.”

Truly, this is one of the most poignant explanations of the Gospel I have ever come across. Don’t you see? The worst part of the cross was not the physical suffering. The horrendous task at hand was that in that moment, Jesus took on every sin, every disguisting act that has ever existed. Yours, mine. All. Your worst enemy’s and your best friend’s. As you are walking through varying degrees of suffering or sin today, whether self-inflicted or not, my prayer is that you would  live in gratitude of the One who took it all upon Himself. Let it bring out an attitude of thanksgiving and forgiveness in all that you  say and all that you do. May it also spur us  on  to not avoid the uncomfortable, the broken, the dirty in which  we see. We are the uncomfortable, broken, and dirty without Christ.  With Him, white as snow. We have much to  celebrate today,my friends.

Happy Friday!


Lessons Learned in “Meth City”.

Life has all kinds of twists and turns, and it is always interesting to me how “urgent” is a relative term. On Sunday morning, while my most urgent needs started out being coffee and to get home to the two best dads I know (my husband and my own), God’s sense of humor led me elsewhere. He seems to always find a way to make us recognize that our most urgent need is always Him.

My friend Liz and I were headed home from the beach after having a relaxing weekend celebrating a friend’s upcoming marriage. I was so grateful for supportive family that gave me a chance to go away for a few days, worry-free. As Liz and I were chatting it up about all sorts of things, the GPS gave us a quick reminder that we needed to turn in 300 feet. Now, I don’t know about you but 300 feet becomes very gray when you don’t know where you are going, and suddenly we were no longer on a county road, but instead, on a dirt one. I will save you the humbling details (yes, we should have turned around when all we saw was a desert-like scene) but essentially, we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a valley.

If you are going to read this blog, one thing that is pertinent to understand about the way the Lord created me is this: He always seems to take what is going on in the seen and make it into a lesson learned about the unseen.  I am so grateful for this, although I am sure it is exhausting for those that are around me a lot and have to hear “blog worthy” analogies about ice cream and birds all the time. That being said, my question for you today is this: What do you do when you are stuck?

There is a lot of talk about the psychology of everyone either being a fighter, a fleer, or a freezer; and I would most definitely consider myself a fleer.  So, when we realized we were in fact stuck, I did what any fleer would do… I tried to find every possible way for us to get out ourselves. Some of this was pride (how am I ever going to explain to Hugh that we got stuck on a sandy back road?), and some of it was simply a panicked response to a situation that was out of my control. I would love to tell you that I was super spiritual in that moment and began to pray and thank God for the surprise divine appointment we had with that sandy valley, but to be truthful, that was not on the forefront of my brain or my heart. Praise God for His grace. Praise God that when we are faithless, He is still faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). It became very clear after an hour of trying hunger game-like tricks with our surrounding environment that we weren’t getting out of there on our own. We both just kept saying, “Let’s give that one more try”…and isn’t that what we do when we are stuck in something, whether it’s a specific sin or a negative emotion? We keep trying the same thing, over and over, expecting a different result. The definition of insanity! The thing is this: we were stuck; and when you are stuck, you need something bigger than yourself to pull you out. After all, the very definition of stuck implies that you do not have the power to get out of it by yourself! The beauty of it is this: God knows this about us. (Shocking I know; that the God who created us would know us to our cores!) He is so aware of our inability to get out that He says it this way in Romans 5:8,

“But God shows His own love for us in that while we were still yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

While we were still eternally stuck, God made a way. Believing this to be true, can I not trust Him with the smaller, more temporary “stucks” along the way?

When the police department finally arrived, they came over to us and casually, yet somewhat defensively, asked, “Why are you here? Don’t you know this is meth city?”

No, friendly police lady. No, we did not. We had no idea that we were in a dangerous area.  It didn’t appear dangerous. We were in a valley that was off-set by two sandy (might I add, extremely sandy) hills, and there was a pond on one side. If it hadn’t been an unexpected turn, I would have thought it was a decently beautiful place. It was such a great reminder to me of how deceived we can all be by the seeming beauty around us. Satan Himself was exceedingly beautiful, as described in Ezekiel 28:12-15.  The focus on his own beauty was the very reason he was sent to Hell. There have been so many times that my emotions have failed me into thinking a certain situation, a certain relationship, a certain activity, was beautiful; simply because it felt or looked okay. Looks and emotions can always be deceiving, and we need to be careful to take heed to this truth. Temporary pleasures can quickly turn into meth city if we do not regard them in their appropriate light.

Prior to giving in and calling local authorities, we had a moment where we said a prayer asking God to get us out of our current position. “Lord”, we prayed fervently, “You know we are stuck but we know You can do anything and so we are asking in faith that You help us get out of here safely”. Liz confidently revved the engine (okay, she started the car. I realize we weren’t at an Indy race and in fact in a Honda CRV but revved sounded better), and I fully anticipated her to be able to drive briskly out of the valley. Nothing. Nothing but more sand spraying all around. It would seem as if God had chosen to not answer the prayer in the way we asked, right? Wrong. It occurred to me later on (after the beach police truck had pulled us out onto the main road), that God had in fact gotten us out of our stuck state, and that He had protected us in the midst. That’s the thing. So often, I expect an answer right there, right then. God in His wisdom, however, chose to answer it in His perfect timing; but that does not mean it was left void in the least.

Who knows why we ended up straying off the main road; but I can promise you one thing: It wasn’t random. Nothing is. God promises us that He cares about all the details of our lives, and that He is using it all for His glory and our good (Acts 17:11, Luke 12:7, Romans 8:28 are a few references to this). God wants us to use all our moments to see Him; He desires us to ask for eyes that look through Christ’s lenses and not our own. The same God that chose to hang on the cross and bear the weight of all our sin  and sorrow is the God that will give us His eyes to see if yet we would ask. The question you cannot ask yourself is if you would have done it in His place; because the answer to that is even if you chose “yes”, you couldn’t. Your death on the cross would not have gotten everyone unstuck because you are not a sinless God-man, you are a human. Jesus was the only answer. The only way out.  I learned many lessons through that morning’s twists and turns, and my prayer continues to be that in moments of surprise, we would all lean on and trust that He is not surprised and that He desires to teach us something through seemingly big and little occurrences. Whatever you are stuck in today, I pray that you would trust Him to get you out of it or guide you safely through it. He is good in all things.

Weekend wisdom with: John Piper

Our church has been reading through the psalms recently, and I have loved the focus of worshiping God as our Creator. While this Might seem obvious, all too often I struggle with worshipping the creation rather than the Creator Himself. John Piper wrote it well when he said this:

“It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself.”

This weekend, there might be beautiful sunsets and starlit nights. There might also be storm clouds and wind. Embracing it all as God’s good Grace is freedom indeed. Let’s worship our Creator this weekend and peacefully accept all he chooses to bring our way.

Happy Friday!


A New DNA.

There is some level of tension that comes whenever we discuss whatever is going on with our girls as genetic, some level of shame. I feel this whenever we have conversations with others about the genetic aspect of it all. It is as if people want to rationalize alongside us that it was something that happened at random, that couldn’t happen again, that is separate from Hugh and me. In a sense, openly talking about the girls having a genetic disorder feels as if Hugh and I are admitting that something within us is defective. This is not at all saying that we do not believe our girls are anything less than perfectly created and formed. We love them exactly how they are, without doubts, and are so proud of everything about them. But if we are getting gut-wrenchingly honest here, we all know that Hugh and I would have chosen a more “normal” for them if we had been given the choice.

In the beginning of all this, I had to fight thoughts that continued to sneak in. This “something wrong” that they keep speaking of…this is a direct product of the love Hugh and I have for each other. How? And why? You see, I can get all bent out of shape when physicians say that particular phrase, and while yes I certainly know and believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with our girls, if I step off my politically correct horse for a minute, I know what they mean by what they say. While our girls are made in God’s image and intricately formed exactly how He intended, there is something wrong. There are literally pieces of me in my girls, and some of the frustration I feel in all this has a lot to do with the fact that it causes me to face my own disabilities each and every day.  And you know what? There is something gravely wrong in all of us.

We pass a lot of things on to our children. Genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of characteristics involved, but you don’t have to look at a strand of DNA to see pieces of yourself in your children or your parents in yourself. Some of them are seemingly good, some of them not so good.  The most dangerous genes we all pass onto our children have nothing to do with physical ability, disease, or development. We have all passed sin on to our children and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s a  part of our fleshly make-up.  You don’t have to go to a genetics appointment to see that played out in lives all around us, including your own. Generation after generation of sin, pouring out and injuring the lives of those we love and those around us. The thing is, if Hugh and I were to have another child, even if we didn’t pass on the same disease, we would ultimately pass on something to them that we wish we could erase. As Paul says in Romans, the things we want to do we do not do, and the things we don’t want to do we do. Sometimes, the reflection of us in our children’s lives is just too painful to bear. We see our own brokenness and mistakes in our children and we cringe because we see ourselves in it all and feel responsible in some way. Sometimes, we have already learned a lesson, albeit painfully, and we frantically try to get our children to not have to learn the hard way.

From another view, many of you have had broken relationships with one or both of your parents and the thought of seeing any tiny part of them in yourself makes you sick. If you are honest with yourself, you know that there are parts of them there; and you hate it. You would do anything to change it. For others, you never knew your biological parents. You don’t know the genes that make up who you are, and it often makes you feel as if a piece of you is missing because of it. If you are still reading at this point, you are most likely feeling burdened by the weight of it all.  You are right in assuming that it all seems so broken. We all seem so mutated, so defective. And we are. But Jesus.

Before Christ came, Jewish people were asked to take care of each sin in a particular way, even the sins they did not know they had committed. They would bring sacrifices to God as a payment for their sins, a payment for the broken parts of them that did not meet up to God’s perfect standard. Before Christ came, Jewish people were the only ones considered God’s chosen people. It was all about genetics. But Jesus.

God promises us that He came not to heal the healthy, but the sick (Matthew 9:12). He is The Great Physician, and He came to heal that which was most broken, namely our souls, through the medicine of His blood on the cross. We are sick, but He took our illnesses and bore all our diseases (Matthew 8:17). Christ became a curse for us. In Him, all our frailty and humanity was nailed to the cross (Galatians 3:13). Yes, even that. Even that thing that you saw in your mother and you swore you would never do but find yourself drowning in. Even that fear you have that one day, you too will be burdened by mental illness and overtaken by the disease that stricken so many within your family. The tendency toward anger, control, bitterness, defeat. The propensity for whatever kind of cancer or disorder. No matter what happens on this side of heaven, He nailed that to the cross. Yes, even that.  While all hell seems to rage within us or around us, He promises that if we are in Him, if we have accepted in faith what He did for us on the cross, we are a new creation for all eternity. What’s more, this offer is no longer just for those whose DNA matches up as God’s chosen; this offer is for all who would yet believe and accept it as truth (Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 3:6).

If Hugh and I lived in the BC times, we would be having to make sacrifice day after day for our children, out of the cultural belief that their unique needs were “bad” or “wrong”. But Jesus. In John 9, Jesus absolutely smashes that false thinking to the ground whenever a blind man is brought to Him. His disciples ask Jesus who did wrong in the situation, the man or his parents. Jesus responds with this,

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in Him”.

AHA! Because of Christ, none of our genes are relevant anymore. The only thing that is relevant is God and His glory. Anything in us, the things we would have chosen and the things that we wish we could have done without, can be used for His glory and our good. Generational addictions? He died for that. Gluttonous tendencies? Nailed to the cross. Social anxieties, infertility, physicial disability….the list goes on and on. The thing is this: I am not saying that these things don’t exist on this side of heaven. They do. We live in a broken world and pain and suffering are present everywhere we go. But, it is for freedom that Christ set us free and that freedom comes from knowing that one day, He is going to redeem our bodies just as He has already promised He has redeemed our souls.  You are a child without blemish in Christ! (Phil. 2:15). Total healing will not occur until we meet our Maker; but some of these things He is sanctifying day by day. Even if you cannot see it, trust that He is making you more and more like Himself as you look to Him to do so.

But today. Today we feel broken. Today, the sin around and within us lurks and we need something that will encourage us until that day we see Him face to face. My friends, be encouraged that when Jesus came down to earth, He was made like us in every respect, except sin. He truly and fully understands your now, and He is in it with you. Knowing that, we can trust that He has overcome that which we face. He has overcome all the things in you and those around you that you wish you could erase in the here and now, and He promises us that one day, we will see Him fully and know that it is, in fact, finished. He is the only one that matters and He has given His perfect genes to you. Surely, this is a God we can trust.

Chosen in wisdom.

Hugh and I could do this We love hearing Bailey Grace laugh, and I feel grateful each time she gets in a silly mood because I know that some people will never hear their baby laugh. To most of you, this is a cute video and goes no deeper than face value. To some, I recognize that even this makes your heart drop in light of the season you Are in. While I know I cannot understand, I do realize that for those of you that have lost a child, many times you might read posts like these and hurt. You must certainly think that I have no idea the challenges that come from losing a baby, and for that you would be absolutely right. My struggles, while real, are just different.

I cringe each time I think of the post I typed on September 25, 2012:

“Still in disbelief that God is blessing us with not one-but TWO- Yes, Hugh and I are pregnant…with TWINS!”

True, yes. But as I have watched some closest to me walk through fertility, and I know the wounds that those, like me, unknowingly cause from seemingly innocent posts like this one, I am sure that I put some salt in a wound or two without meaning to do so.
While social media has exasperated the truth I am about to share, I believe it has existed for all time in one form or another. And, I believe it is time to have an open and honest conversation about it: while we are always happy for our friends when they receive something we have not yet received, there is a part of us that cannot help but feel like it is a slap in the face in light of our own life. Your co-worker gets a promotion, and all you can think about is why it wasn’t you. A close friend gets engaged, and your thoughts go straight to what she could possibly offer someone that you don’t. A family member calls to let you know they are pregnant, and tears brim up in your eyes as it is yet another reminder that a baby has been seemingly withheld from you. All your friend’s children are getting married, and you don’t understand why your child hasn’t found someone. A friend of a friend gets healed from their cancer, while you wallow in yours. For me, I watch baby after baby meet milestones with ease, and I can’t seem to understand while neither of mine are able to do so. I made a casual joke about reading statuses about a mom’s two week old rolling over, but in all honesty, each time I read a post or have a conversation with someone concerning their child’s ease of meeting some developmental skill, it feels as if they are directly stabbing at my heart. It feels like a direct attack. The thing is, it is so hard to figure out where to draw the line. It is so relative in the sense that what is hurtful to one person is not at all to another. After all, we are all walking through such different seasons that it would be almost impossible to not offend someone in light of what we have or do not have. In some parts of the world, casually discussing grabbing a cup of clean water would be offensive. While I think we are called to be sensitive to those around us, I think it goes deeper than that. I believe that it is actually a heart issue within those of us that feel like the victim in light of the lives of those around us. I also firmly believe that the enemy of our souls loves nothing more than to make us feel disconnected to those around us, especially in times of hurting. That being said, it would be just like him to try and get us to sense that people are actually purposely trying to hurt us with their words when they are actually just focused on what is going on in their own lives at the moment.

This week, we got news that our physicians feel it is time to do a muscle biopsy. I do not feel it is wise to share exactly why at this point, but they certainly feel like we are headed in the direction of a diagnosis (interestingly enough this happened the day after my post on not waiting on a diagnosis, ha!). We believe this is a wise decision, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I dread every second of it. Here is the hardest part: they are asking us to choose one of the twins to do it on, instead of doing it on both. If they find that which they are suspecting, they will then do a simple blood test of the twin that did not have the biopsy. This morning as I was praying about how in the world we are supposed to make that “choice”, the Lord brought a wonderful truth to my mind. He is constantly picking and choosing, in His wisdom, which of His children are to walk through various trials and tribulations. What He allows in my life, He may not believe is necessary in yours and vice versa. But don’t miss this part: if He allows it, He promises it is good (Psalm 84:11). If He allows it, rest assured that it is a vital part of this journey you are on and a lesson you could not learn any other way. Our God is not only creative, He is also perfectly intentional. As we discussed in my bible study last week, He is not up in heaven randomly throwing bombs without purpose or power in where they land. That is chaos, and we are promised that He is NOT the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). No, friends. He is absolutely in control and rest assured that if He makes a choice for your life, it is essential in your growth and His plans for you. So, tying this together, this is why we do not have to believe the lie that others are out to get us with their joys and easy-breezy moments of life. This is why we can have genuine happiness for those around us in their triumphs and smiles. God choosing something for someone else’s life has nothing to do with that which He has chosen for you. Whatever He has put as your lot is His absolute best for you. Believe it! Think about Christ Himself. A sinless God-man walking on this earth, watching others around Him sin knowing He was about to carry the weight of it all, knowing He was about to die a horrendous death for that which He did not do; and He still trusted the Father enough to know this was God’s best. The beauty is that it was! He now sits at the right-hand of the Father because of it all. As we are praying about who to choose for the biopsy, I am relieved to remember that as we bring it to Him, He will ultimately decide who is the best for the test and it will be another link added to her testimony. His best in her life, always.

Friends, whatever God chose in your life today, it is good. It is His best for you. While I do believe that we are called to be sensitive to one another, let’s not get carried away into thinking that others’ joys are our own misery. That’s not how this whole thing works. He gives grace without limit to all who would but ask. All is grace in our lives and the lives of those around us because of Christ and His ultimate decision to obey the Father. So, whether you are up high on the mountaintop or down low in the valley today, be assured that He is right there with you and that His best is not around the bend… His best is enveloping you now. He has chosen these moments and they are nothing short of exactly what you need. Let’s not feel the need to look to our neighbor’s best and mistrust that it should be ours. Let’s trust Him with that which He has given. He is faithful in all things.

Weekend Wisdom with: Brennan Manning

While I don’t necessarily agree with all the theological views of Brennan Manning, I do believe his an authentic believer in Christ and in the grace He offers. I love many of his books, and was particularly encouraged by them during my college years. Today’s Weekend Wisdom comes from his book, “The Ragamuffin Gospel”. It spoke to my heart today in so many ways, and I pray it does the same to yours: “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games…to live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shallow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.” This weekend, whatever the days may hold that you know and do not yet grasp, I pray that you would hold fast to the truth that all is grace. Look for the goodness of God in the seemingly good and the seemingly bad and you will see Him all around you. Happy Friday! Morgan

Waiting on One.

Waiting does not tend to have great connotations. To say we are waiting on something tends to imply that the condition or state we are in is going to improve once said thing arrives. We don’t like to wait to be seated in a restaurant, sometimes because we are hungry and other times simply because it’s annoying to not get a table immediately. If we are stopped in traffic, we don’t like to wait to move. Sometimes, this is because we have somewhere we need to be. Other times, it just bothers us. Why? We want what we want, when we want it. Taking it a step further, many of us might verbalize that we are in a season of waiting. Often, this is correlated with season of life. It seems as if we are always in anticipation for the next season of life, whatever that season might be. In singleness, for dating. In dating, for engagement. In engagement, for marriage. In  marriage, for children. With children, we are either waiting until they get out of the house so we can be “empty-nesters” again; or we are wondering what we will do once we finally reach that destination. Other times, we are a people who wait for the next thing on our calendar. Whether it’s a friend’s wedding, tax season to be over, residency to be finished, the chemo to stop, five more pounds to come off, our husband to come back from Afghanistan, more money to come in, the results to come back….we wait. But for what?

Waiting can be defined as this: to stay where one is or delay action until something else happens or a particular time occurs. I have done this in so many different ways in different seasons of life, and I would certainly describe this time in the same way. I am waiting. Waiting for a diagnosis is what I would tell you. But for what?

Here is the thing: the feeling in our hearts that urges us to look for something else, something better, is absolutely a God thing. We were not meant to be satisfied in the here and now, and so the desire for something more is not wrong in the least. The problem with how we tend to wait is that we wait on something temporary that is going to continue to leave us longing.  I love my husband, and cannot imagine a better partner to walk through this life beside. However, I wish I could have told my single, dating, and engaged self this concrete truth: Stop waiting for the next thing to come. Enjoy where you are because you are going to look back and realize how wonderful it actually was. To my single readers: marriage is great. There are many perks, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, it is not where life is found. Particularly as women, I think we idolize marriage as finally settling, finally feeling secure. I remember thinking that so much of sin and temptation would disappear once I got married…haha! It is quite the opposite. As a married person, I know it is easy to give out words of wisdom after the fact, but I truly exhort you to trust me that whether you ever get married or not, you will not reach some different level of satisfaction once you do. I digress.

Concerning other matters, I think experience is in fact the best teacher. Think about all the things you have spent time waiting on. I remember thinking as a child that if I could only get a dog, life would be perfect. (I miss those days of simplistic naivety!) I gave my parents a serious binder, filled with pages on why it was reasonable for us to get a dog (maybe I should have been a lawyer?). Finally, they agreed. Guess what? Having a dog was great for a while, but it didn’t take long for the luster to wear off (And we had to get rid of him fairly quickly but that’s another story for another day!). Isn’t that how everything tends to work? As teenagers, we look forward to prom, only to have an “okay” time. We all spend time preparing for holidays, celebrations, parties, and other events; and no matter how great of a time we have, in the blink of an eye it is over and we are left the same as before. Waiting for the next thing.

I know that even as I write this, a part of me feels like once we receive a diagnosis, closure and relief will be experienced. While this is partially true, I beg my heart to process the truth that a diagnosis is not going to change anything. If there is a day on this side of heaven that we find out what is going on  with our sweet girls, that day will start out and end just like any other. Still left wanting for something more. The Word of God talks a lot about waiting, but it only fixes our souls on one thing: waiting for the Lord. Why? God Himself knows that when we put our hope in anything else, we will not be filled.  Psalm 130:5 puts it this way,

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

Isaiah 30:18, Romans 8:23, Hebrews 9:28, and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 echo a similar cry. If there is anything worth waiting for, it is Him. All other things will pass and fade away. Anything else that we are waiting for, however glorious, is rags in comparison to what will happen to our souls and bodies when we see Him face to face. I recognize that this doesn’t change the emotions or hardships that come when we are waiting on something, albeit temporary, that we desire. And, Morgan, some of you are thinking; God promises me He will give me the desires of the heart, and He has not yet. Yes, friend, this is a promise in His word. But do not miss this part: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). The amazing thing about life is this: when we are delighting in the Lord, His desires become our desires. So, if He does not grant us the thing we “wish” for, we recognize this not as a desire unmet but as a prayer answered from God in His wisdom who knows best and who will withhold no good thing from those who love Him (Psalm 84:11). As we delight ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our heart change and we simply desire that which He places in our hands. No more waiting. As we spend our time focused on Him and the things He HAS placed in front of us, a beautiful thing happens: He puts a NEW song in our mouths while we wait! A NEW song that doesn’t demand its own wants but that trusts in Him and praises Him for whatever lies behind, presently, and ahead (Psalm 40:1). But this cannot happen if we are constantly fixated on the next big thing or the thing we think we should have, now.

So friends, I have decided I am done waiting. Yes, I will be grateful if God chooses to give us a diagnosis. I will be thankful if His plan includes us gaining that knowledge, and I pray for it every single day. But today, I choose to trust that there is nothing He is withholding from me therefore waiting for anything less that Jesus Christ Himself is futile, fruitless, and fleeting.  Life is not found in a diagnosis. Life is not found in ANYTHING outside of Him. I want to spend my life living, not waiting. I don’t know what you are walking through exactly, but I do know that chances are, you are waiting on something. Whether it is as seemingly simple as a ring on your finger, or as heavy as a lab result that could change what you thought the future looked like, I urge you to stop waiting. The plan is His regardless of if we choose to let go or not. Let’s live in the present, focus on what makes our heart’s happy today, and choose to wait expectantly on Him alone.