In light of Hugh’s Birthday: Ramblings of a Grateful Wife.

Laying in bed last night, Hugh and I had a conversation that went as follows:

Me: Babe, the fact that you are only turning 29 tomorrow makes us sound really young. I know we never know the Lord’s plans, but if things happen the traditional way, you’ve still got a long way to go.”

Hugh: Morgan…nothing in our life has ever gone the traditional way so I probably wouldn’t plan on that one.

We laughed, and I knew it to be true; but as I lay awake in the middle of the night, I began to think about that statement even more; and I began to feel oh so grateful that God continues to wreck the plans that we assumed would be true. As it says in James 4:13-14,

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”.

I believe these verses are there for two reasons. The first being to remind us that God is Lord and that He has the authority and the right to determine what all of our moments bring. The second, so that we are saved from these false expectations of what we wanted life to look like; and can instead, embrace the life that God has chosen for us, knowing that it is His best.

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This is a picture of Hugh doing what he has grown to love best, serving others. It was a picture he sent me while doing medical missions in Peru, and I love the joy I see in his face. It is Hugh’s birthday today. If you know Hugh, he doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention, and is probably already embarrassed that I noted this fact in the blog. But, as I have been thinking about his life, his leadership in our family, and all that the Lord has brought us through and to, I wanted to remind those of us who are mothers a little something: we are not married to our children.

This seems so obvious; and those of you who are not parents might wonder how this truth could ever be mistaken. But, I want to speak specifically to women in these moments because I think it is a gentle truth that needs to be highlighted.

When I met Hugh, I literally could not believe a man like him existed. I magnified his strengths and was blinded to his weaknesses, and I thought he was the best thing to have ever hit the planet. I can remember getting butterflies each and every time he walked through the door, and I could not wait to get married to him. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. In the months after we got married, I can remember getting excited whenever he pulled into the driveway. Excited to see him, to give him a kiss, and to simply be around him. When we found out we were pregnant, the whole idea of having a baby (or two) with him seemed so glamorous. I fully anticipated our love for one another to grow deeper as we brought new life into this world, side by side.

Fast forward some time. Pregnancy was spent vomiting and being so tired I could barely function, and then the newborn trenches were all a blur. I remember people telling me to be careful to guard our marriage, and that children changed everything, but just like every other season of life, you never think you are going to be the person affected by that truth because your emotions don’t line up to it in the moment it is told to you. Oh, how we would be wise to listen to those a step ahead. The truth is, those people were absolutely right. Children do change everything, and if we are not careful, our priorities can become completely misaligned in the midst of it. I could go on and on but here is what I want to say to us today: as a father, your life is certainly changed when a little one comes along. But, as a mother, your entire being is changed. Your body, your day to day life, everything. And, while this may not always reign true for every situation, I think men tend to do a much better job of continuing to put marriage above kids than women do. It makes sense, and believe me, I get it as much as anyone. I was once told that there was a statistic that says that 90% of marriages of couples that lose a child end up divorced; and that 75% of couples who have children with special needs do. I believe this is a direct result of misaligned priorities that God intends for our families. Ladies, it is hard. We are called to nurture and invest fully in our children, and there are days where the thought of being needed by anyone else at the end of the day is exhausting. We are tired, we are drained, and often, it is hard to feel close to sexy after the stickiness and bodily fluid-filled moments we walk through. I get it, believe me. However, we must be cautious, for we are not in a covenant relationship with our children. We are in a covenant with our husbands, and they deserve to be right behind God in our list of priorities. It’s a part of what we promised them on that day that dirty diapers and toddler messes were far from our minds. We should not tolerate finding more comfort from the touch of our babies’ hand than the embrace of our husbands. You feel me on this?

I could go on and on, but in light of that, I want to spend a couple moments honoring Hugh and who he is; for I spent an entire blog doing that for Ally and Bailey Grace.

I celebrate Hugh today, and all the qualities that make him who he is. Yes, he is a wonderful, loving father. He is quick to celebrate the beauty in our girls, and spends most of his time simply loving on them. He comes straight home from work most days, ready to help with baths and bedtime stories and nighttime duty. But, outside of that, going back to the basics, Hugh is a man of God who authentically seeks the Lord in everything he does. He desires to share the Gospel with everyone he comes in contact with, and is quick to lead me back to what the Word says if I ever speak otherwise. Simply put, he wants to be more like Jesus in all that he does and all that he is. He works hard at loving me well, and is tough on himself when he does not feel like he has done that. He is quick to repent, and patient with those around him in all things. He strives to be the man that God has called him to be; and goes against the grain when necessary. He refuses to be legalistic, and refuses to set up legalistic standards for those around him. He believes the best in both his family, co-workers, and patients. He is intelligent, good-looking, ambitious, and just plain funny. He is not perfect, and he will never be. He is a man worthy of respect. As time goes on, we may argue less, but those arguments still occur and once they are over, he does not keep a file of them on record, as he knows Jesus does not do that either. He is not exactly what I always thought I wanted; but he is exactly what the Lord knew I needed in a husband. Hugh is not my Savior; never has been and never will be. Hugh will never completely satisfy me, and for that I am so grateful because I know the One who will and when all else fails, Hugh will always remind me of just that. He is much more than I would ever deserve in a husband, and while the butterflies might not always be there, I still can’t believe that I get to call him mine.

In honor of Hugh’s birthday, if you are married, would you spend today honoring your husband for who God made him to be? Let’s prayerfully celebrate their strengths instead of looking at their weaknesses; and if you have children, let’s remember to always put them third in line. Happy Birthday Hugh! I love you, and I pray to be the wife God has called me to be for all the days He chooses to give to us. I am so thankful to walk through this non-traditional adventure that we call life together.

The Broken Pieces of our Lives.

“…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”- 1 Corinthians 11:24

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I have broken three things within the past week: a coffee mug, a wipe warmer container, and this ornament. The coffee mug was shattered; and I immediately threw it away. The wipe warmer has been broken off and on, and so we are still using it, even though it’s not in its original condition. This ornament, however, we are sitting in a safe place and we are going to attempt to fix the broken pieces. Why? Because it is from our first year of marriage and has special meaning. Although it is not hanging shiny on the tree at the moment, the plan is to glue the pieces back together so it appears whole again. The problem is, no matter how sticky or magical this glue is, the ornament will never be the same. Broken forever.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”- Psalm 51:17

Throughout the Old Testament, sacrifice after sacrifice was made in order to try and be clean before God. Bulls, goats, calves, all given in a feeble attempt to be whole again. But, just like the ornament, at the end of the day, these sacrifices were just temporary offers for a permanent problem. You see, we needed something more. We needed much more than glue or an animal could offer; we needed an eternal answer. Jesus.

“For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”- Hebrews 10:14

Him. No more temporary fixes for our sins. A final, forever sacrifice made that exchanged our soiled record for His, once and for all. But, let’s not forget the brokenness that had to occur for this to happen; His body broken for us.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”- Vance Havner

Sharing the messed up pieces of ourselves can be uncomfortable. As I shared over the weekend, I have my share of junk. And, it didn’t stop at 16. Even today, I struggle to let Christ reign in my moments. This is just plain part of being human. But, because of Christ and what He did for us, we can be sure of two things: first off, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God makes the broken things beautiful. Beauty out of ashes. Triumph over death through death. Secondly, because of what God did for us on that cross, we can find freedom in letting others in on our messes, with confidence that God is not finished with us. We don’t have to hide. The One who created us sees us fully, and He loves us.

The truth is, we live in a world of appearances; yet, reality lies beyond the appearance itself. When we are broken, the true fragrance of who we are seeps out and we are left standing in the truth of who we are. Without Christ, we would be left in our messes. But Love. Love chose to take on our junk in order to bring us out of it. He didn’t run from the grossness of our humanity. By embracing us, He embraced all that we were and He has called us to do the same with those around us. Only God has the power to replace the stench, the brokenness that is now apparent but had always been there, and give us Himself in its place. The face that we have the ability to be so broken proves the fragile nature of who we all are. But in Christ, we have been given the liberty to use all these things for good. When we are broken, we discover, sometimes for the first time, what is inside of us. And without Jesus, that would be terrifying. But God in His wisdom knows that only in breaking us can we break free of that within us in order to be filled by something else- God Himself. To be broken would feel weak until we remember who is putting the pieces back together; and that He is alive within us and promises to work on our behalf. But, to share our stories, we must first accept them. We must own them as the story being written for us. To share it, we can no longer run from it or cover it up when company comes over. This is where true community begins: when we learn to wrap our arms around one another in love, no matter what junk is being put on the table. Because, in the midst of all that mess, Jesus’s victory still reigns true. He is much, much bigger than any mistake or any struggle that you or I could ever walk through. Yes, it pains Him to watch us choose death instead of life. His way is always best, and true peace is always found in walking in the direction He has called us to walk. But, rest assured, there is no where you could go that His love cannot reach. Friends, He wraps up our brokenness in His grace if yet we would have the faith to let Him. He takes us just the way we are and loves us. How beautiful is that?

About a month ago, ¾ of our family caught the stomach bug. The beginning of a very long 48 hours started at a restaurant nearby, in which one of our daughters vomited more than I thought was humanly possible. It was all over her, all over the car seat, and obvious to those sitting around us. We left the restaurant, got home, and attempted to clean both her and the seat itself. In that moment, I realized something: I could care less what others thought at the pizza place; I wasn’t concerned with getting her germs on me. She was helpless to help herself, and I just wanted to make her clean again. I mentioned this to Hugh, how God sees us in our mess but doesn’t just leave us there, and he said this to me, “Yes. And you know what? I think I might even love her more in these moments.” A father’s heart. Our Father’s heart toward us. This is how He deals with His children; and it’s how He has asked us to deal with one another. Friends, He desires us to meet each other in the midst of the mess. We are all so very broken without Christ. My junk may look different than yours, but it is all the same. There is freedom in being able to air it all out, knowing that God Himself already overcame it at the cross. Yes, we are all broken; but He is making beauty from each and every one of our ashes.

This Christmas season, I want to encourage each of us to celebrate Jesus’s birthday by celebrating the things that He has done. Let’s rejoice with one another, let’s mourn with one another, and above all, let’s love one another, brokenness and all. Only He has the power to pick up the pieces of our bruised and wounded lives and make us whole. Let’s place those broken pieces in His hands, knowing that they are safe with Him.