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.

The Same.

Have you ever watched a friend or family member walk through trial after trial and thought to yourself, “I don’t see how they do it. If I were them, I would crumble under it all.” At an even deeper level, have you yourself been walking through a season in which you feel like if one more thing is added to the weight of it all, you are going to fall apart? It seems that in recent months, I have heard more stories or watched people I love walk through just plain hard things. The wreck that killed the innocent. The cancer that keeps coming back. The child that died suddenly. The assault that came out of nowhere. The miscarriages that keep coming, one after another. Life after life being wrecked by tragedies that just won’t stop appearing. Sometimes, even, it’s the little things that keep piling up and leaving us overwhelmed. One more assignment at work that’s due. One more tee ball practice in a line of other activities. One more unexpected bill that we aren’t sure how we are going to pay. Stress over stress over stress that leaves us anxious and wondering when we will just get a break. For once, when will things just come easy?

We had a test done last week to make sure that our girls were swallowing properly. Long story short, they aren’t. It wasn’t the worst case scenario (they are not constantly aspirating, thankfully), but it wasn’t the best. We now have to thicken their liquids for an indefinite amount of time. It’s not a huge deal; but it’s just one more thing on top of a list of many. I found myself complaining to the Lord most of the weekend. Last night, I just simply asked Him, “Lord, for once can I just take a breath? For once, can one thing just come easy?” Suddenly, my vision became less blurry and I looked around. I have a roof over my head. Food on the table. Clothes to wear. Family and friends abundant. An incredible church community. A God-fearing, hard-working, might I add very good-looking husband that loves me to the moon and back. Two beautiful, precious girls that teach me more about God’s love for me every day and have given more weight to the word servant than anything I have ever done in my life. Most importantly, a Savior, a God who rescued me on the cross and rescues me from myself each and every day. The thing is, I have gotten a break and there is a list that could go on for days where things have come easy. “But, Lord”, I said. “You know my heart so You know what I mean. I am  just tired. I am drained, God.” As He so often heard, I sensed Him whispering to my heart, “Morgan, whose strength are you relying on? Look to me. I am the One who has always stayed the same. Don’t look to the world around you, to your circumstances or your own ever-changing emotions on the current situations. Look to the One who doesn’t change.” Deep breath in, deep breath out. Deep breath in, deep breath out. A beautiful truth for our weary souls today: No matter what is going on within us or around us, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Yesterday. If you would have told me that I would have walked through a year with special needs twins, filled with all the hardships and unknowns we have already experienced, I would have said no way. I would have honestly thought I was too weak. But, He is strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), and not only has He walked us through this time, but He has made us stronger because of it. Sometimes, He calms the storm and sometimes He calms the child, and He has chosen to not take away this trial but to gracefully walk us through it. He has been the graceful One might I add. There have been days where faith and peace have felt far from me, where I didn’t want to see Him in the midst because I was just plain mad about it, but He has stayed the same. I have often thought that He brings really tough things to those of us who are the weakest because there is that much more room to show His strength. In all our yesterdays, He has stayed the same. Beyond my own life, I can look through the Scriptures and see this to be true. Think about Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-30, He writes:

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at seas; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure…who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (emphasis mine)

If he must boast, he will boast in his weakness. Why? Because in His weakness, He knows Christ is making Himself known as strong. This is a man who in his flesh must have felt beyond pushed. He had to have thought that the pressures were piling up, yet his faith stayed firm because He saw the Lord making him strong in the midst. The greatest news is this: The same God who strengthened Paul is the God who has promised to strengthen us, if yet we would ask. I have found that with Christ, we can smile at the storms because He is the One making this empty vessel strong. Stop and think about that for a minute. With Christ, we have the option to allow the God of the universe steer our ship. The school of sorrow can become a school of faith for us. Our connection to the throne becomes more powerful than ever in times of trial, if yet we would look not in fear at our emptiness and weakness; but look to Him in the midst of our own emptiness and weakness and ask Him to fill us. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the power that He offers us, no matter what we are going through (Ephesians 1:19). He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak every. Single. Time. (Isaiah 40:29).

Friends, I do not know what you or your loved ones are walking through. The television screams of tragedy after tragedy, and it often seems as if all around us is broken. However, what I do know is this: God is the same. His power is the same. His offer to us that believe is the same. He desires to use whatever you are going through or have gone through in the past for His glory and your good. Whatever it is, whatever your worst nightmare or worst case scenario might be: With Him, you could get through it. Not only could you get through it, at the end of it all, you could be better from it. We have always been told that trials can make us bitter or they can make us better. He desires to use it for the better, but we cannot do that on our own. That requires supernatural power and the best part is this: His power is the same as it was yesterday and it is limitless. As long as you are breathing, it is never too late to place it all in His hands and watch Him work. Today, trust that He is a God that never changes and that He is also an ever-present help in whatever this day holds (Psalm 46:1). Always working, never changing. A beautiful combination! Our strength and our song yesterday, today, and forever. No matter what is piled on top of seemingly little or seemingly mountainous tasks and circumstances today, He’s got this. If you are reading, I know that He desires that you connect with this truth at the deepest level. My prayer for you today, whoever you are, is that, “according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19). To Him who is able to do far abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine, to Him be the glory forever and ever (vs. 20).