Faith that Brings Joy.

“Why don’t people prize and pursue the pearl of wisdom above everything else? The reason is that the gaining of wisdom requires the total sacrifice of our single most precious possession: ourselves. More specifically, what is required is the surrender of our wills. To gain wisdom we must part with the very thing which, to part with, means our annihilation. And we must do this not fatalistically, not in grim resignation, but with the joyful abandonment of faith. It is no good praying, ‘Thy will be done’ if all we mean by it is, ‘Lord, I know You are going to go ahead and do whatever You want anyway, whether I like it or not.’ No; if the Lord’s will is really going to be done on earth, let us add our approval to it. For our approval is, in a sense, the essential missing ingredient, the one thing that is lacking to make the Lord’s will complete.” – Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, emphasis mine

Ouch. Those words above have been stinging me to the core this week. After all, it is one thing to believe that God’s will is going to come into fruition; that what will be will be. However, it is a whole new thing altogether to be authentically joyful about that plan. We are always quick to say that are feelings are just feelings; and that belief is bigger than our emotions. While I know this to be true in my head, my heart also whispers the truth that if I truly believed that God’s plans and the way He was laying out my life was best-if it was sewn into my soul in the truest way possible- would I not be happy about the blueprints of our life at all times and in all things? Grace.

Friends, this I know to be true: the filter of grace over the filter of pain can only be used when we ask and pray, fervently, for the ability to see God and His goodness in all things. This is never going to come naturally to us on this side of heaven. It is something that is going to have to be fought for, especially in seasons of intense suffering. And, let’s be honest: when I say “seasons of intense suffering” what I really mean is, “seasons of faith-growing or faith wounding”. In the moments where the pain and hurt take our breath away, where it seems as if we are receiving one blow after another, there are only two options: we are going to trust God more, lean harder into His breast, or we are going to curse His name. It may not feel that dramatic in our minds, but when we are choosing to look to the temporary or the human to ease our hurts, what we are really doing is spitting in the face of the God who has promised us that while His ways are not our own, they are good. The God who has assured us that while there will be tribulations on this earth, He is a stranger not to one, and He is working in all things.


“At present we do not see everything subject to man. But we see Jesus…”- Hebrews 2:8-9

Is that enough? No, really. Is seeing Jesus in this moment, in these hards, is it enough? My Sunday School answer is yes; yet from the Lord I am aware I can hide no thing, and there are corners of my being that struggle with confidence in His “enoughness”. These past two weeks have been beyond challenging. They have been emotionally draining, and have brought more questions than answers. Our sweet Bailey Grace has begun to show signs of a new medical issue, and it brought us to the lab again yesterday. More tests, more unknown, more discomfort. If I’m honest, it’s nauseating to watch my daughter when she is in this new “state”. Her eyes, they roll upward. Her hands brought to her mouth without consciousness, her jaw locked open despite her intentional desire to do otherwise. Her fever spiked high for no black and white reason. And still, as we sat in the waiting room yesterday, in the midst of the chaos her little body was displaying, she (attempted) to look in my direction and give me a smile. Tears stung my eyes, and truthfully, her smile made me feel more angry than not. My inner dialogue shouted, “Lord, look at her. Look at this joy that she is mustering up in the midst of this mystery You have allowed. Why, God. Why?”


By faith, not by sight. We live by this. By faith- we see Jesus. By faith- we determine that it is enough, and we wait in anticipation for our emotions to line up with the promises we are trusting to be true.

In this season, my faith muscles are being stretched unlike anything I could imagine. He is assuring me in the depths of who I am that, “For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then- face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”- 1 Corinthians 13:12. Fully known. You, me, Ally, Bailey Grace. Fully known. A mystery to man yet intimately designed by our Creator. And, before we get upset with Him, before we spit yet again in His face, what has He promised us?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”- Ephesians 1:3

“…in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33


Spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Tribulation in this world. If anything, He has promised us that troubles will come much more than this prosperity gospel that is rampant around us. Yet along with that claim- God equally assures us that He has overcome this world in that we live. He has promised us blessing on top of blessing on top of blessing in the heavenly realms. Faith beyond sight.

So, we pray. We pray in our distress. We pray in our doubt. We pray in our weakness. We pray in our hurt. We pray in our confusion. We pray in our frustration. We pray- not truly understanding-and not expecting to “get” this God who is so “other”- but simply leaning into the goodness of who our faith knows He is. As David so eloquently words it in Psalm 37 (verse 3), we feed on His faithfulness.

Friends, faith is choosing to not know anything but the Father’s voice. Faith is choosing, despite any circumstance or any hardship, to say, “Yes” to God’s purposes and God’s plans… and to strive to find joy in His choices. Faith is choosing to believe that God is always working (John 5:17) and that in Christ, we are able to stand (1 Corinthians 15:1). And, as He is teaching me in the here and now, faith is struggling to find true, authentic joy in the very things He is doing, knowing that His ways and His decisions are truly good and wholly perfect. In your today, what is faith asking you to say, “yes” to? What is God calling you to joyfully abandon in order to step into His perfect purposes? Where are you struggling to find joy when God has called you to do so? These questions are not easy, and at times, feel impossible. Yet God. As He whispers in our pleasure and shouts in our pain (C.S. Lewis), He reminds us that He is with us and His strength is made perfect in the middle of sheer weakness. May we look to Him to give us joy, bubbling up and overflowing from a heart that seeks His face.

“For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.”- Psalm 18:28

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”- Habakkuk 3:17-19

Letting Go of the Check-List.


That list. You know the one. The one that you have to finish and if you don’t finish it then, well, you aren’t sure what will happen but it won’t be good.When I was in college, I had a subconscious check-list I wrote out in my head. Every day, there was a list of things that made me feel successful or unsuccessful, depending on whether or not I did them. In a sense, my identity was based on this list. While some of the items on there were important, there is quite a difference in productivity and identity. When we begin to determine our worth as a direct result of what we do or do not do, we are teetering not only on the ways of the Pharisees; we are also leaning toward a self-sufficient life… a dangerous and futile place to roam.

These days, I fight the battle of this to-do list:


Now, this list is not conclusive, and does not include the obvious things like baths, feeding (which takes over an hour at times), and naptime (which we have been encouraged is extremely vital to the girls development). I do not say this as a, ‘Look at how much we have to do’; for I know there are many of you who have lists much, much longer and much more strenuous. I point this out to say that even now, I am tempted to base my self-worth on this list. It is easy to finish the day, sit down, and if I haven’t done at least ¾ of the check-list, to feel defeated, like a failure, or even like a bad mom. But God.

“For freedom Christ as set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”.-Galatians 5:1

For freedom. These lists, they can sometimes constrain us and make us feel like we are slaves to the schedule, slaves to the day. Yet God. He reminds us that if we are binding our worth to a check-list, we are seeking to please man instead of seeking to please God.

People desire performance.

God desires love.

People desire perfection.

God desires a heart after the only Perfect One.

People put up guidelines and rules.

God takes the burden and load for us.

People pleasing. It is so easy to fall into this trap of pleasing man. The problem is, we cannot please everyone. Items on the to-do list will go unchecked, and then what? If we are basing our identity on completing these so-called lists, we will find ourselves falling short more often than not. However, If we put our worth in and base who we are on God and who He says we are, we find freedom. For you see, our God is not a God of checklists, but a God of love.

We cannot please everyone. We get stressed and even defensive when we try. What we are really saying behind these walls we put up is this: Don’t you know how hard I’m trying to do it all right?

I don’t know what it is like to parent a typically developing child, but I do know that as the parent of two children with special needs, the moment I wake up, I am already fighting this battle of performance- both of the girls and my own. I am immediately battling the lies that say we must do more, try more, perform more, in order to be more. The lies that say if I’m just allowing my children to be themselves and enjoy the day without “working hard” or “doing therapy” that I am failing them. Oftentimes even well-intentioned family members or friends encourage this, “We are proud of you if you do something” mentality. But God. He says that before the sun came up, my worth and identity was already secured in Him. He claims that who I am, who Ally and Bailey Grace are, who YOU are, is based on whose we are- His. No checks on the checklists required.

So these days, Hugh and I have determined to focus on teaching the girls about the important things in life, mainly the things after this life. These are not the “normal” things of development, but the deeper things. The things that will last. Point blank, we are not going to make development an idol in our family’s life. This is unbelievably challenging in a world that pushes otherwise, yet the truth is this: whether our girls had special needs or they did not, the way we parent them really hasn’t changed much. We are still striving to help them to know God, see God in all things, glorify Him, and live out the purposes He has called them to. And, the beautiful thing is that they can do this whether they meet another milestone or not! He has equipped us each with all the things we need to do His will in each of our lives (Hebrews 13:20-21). Our praise pleases Him most (Psalm 69:30-31, Psalm 104:34). He has called us to not get caught up in the things of this world, for our aim is to please Him (2 Timothy 2:4). What sweet relief this gives me as a mom! The truth is, if you are in Christ, He is already well pleased with you (Matthew 3:17). While doing things for His glory is a fruit of the love He has placed in our hearts, it is not the very thing that determines our worth.


In the journey of disability, illness, and the like, I believe people are called to different things. I also believe that through transforming our minds and looking to Him instead of the culture around us, He gives us the ability to see His will more clearly (Romans 12:1-2). Some people will make His glory known through being healed, and we can see this both in His Word and in modern-day stories around us. As I have said before, at this time, He has not called me to pray for healing for our girls. This is just not how the Spirit in me has asked me to pray, regardless of what my flesh would sometimes want in the present. And, regardless of how crazy this may sound to some, I want to be a woman who looks for God’s glory over man’s praise (John 12:43). While this may change tomorrow, for now, we must balance this fine art of going to therapy, “working” on some things at home, and helping the girls’ development; while also living life, enjoying our family, and not obsessing about the things that at the end of the day have no eternal significance. (After all, did anyone’s tombstone ever read, ‘Could sit unassisted?’) The truth is, all of our days are planned out, numbered, seen, and known… and I don’t want to spend a single one of them thinking I know what’s best over the One who created and designed us. Not only is this futile, it is miserable. Hugh is always quick to remind me that more than anything else, our girls need a mom who is confident in whose she is and joyful…not another physical therapist!

So, we play. And, we giggle, and watch movies, and go on stroller walks, and visit friends, and read His Word, and listen to praise songs, and we love, and love, and love some more. We remember that man’s nostrils simply have breath for a moment, and then they are gone; yet God breathed and in that very breath created all that has ever been and all that will ever be (Isaiah 2:22). We strive to grasp that regardless of how weary we may be, despite how little checks have been marked off for the day, what we are doing matters because it is bringing glory to the very One who instills hope for something more in each of us (Colossians 3:23).


Friends, your identity is found in Him. It is not found in the checklist, or the constraints the people around you have put on you, however well-meaning they are. Today, may we seek to be a people who rely on Him to tell us what to do, instead of looking to the culture around us to determine our schedule. May we rest easy in the fact that no matter what, we are safe in Him. May we find joy in the little things, knowing that little love is BIG in His eyes. The only thing to check off today is fixing our eyes on Him, love, and He’s always been faithful. Let’s rejoice in this today!

The Little Things.


I woke up Monday morning feeling undeniably burdened. As I sat with the Lord, praying and soaking in His Word, I just could not feel peaceful.


Hugh and I have only been able to leave the girls two (now three) times overnight. Because of their feeding difficulties, even those who have been around them the most struggle to keep them nourished well. Their unusual sleep patterns are also hard to understand how to handle unless you have been around them for days at a time. My mom has become quite the servant in our lives, and my dad has sacrificed having his wife around during the week as much. They lay down their normal routine and mom comes and simply serves in whatever way Hugh and I ask her to. She doesn’t come with an agenda; she comes with an open heart to love on our family in the ways that we need most. A seemingly little thing turned big in our hearts.


That being said, when Hugh planned a surprise night away, excited was an understatement. As I was packing on Friday night, Bailey Grace began to have some unusual neurological behavior. I wanted to ignore it, but it was undeniable. I called Hugh, and he simply said, “We are going”.

So, go we did. I prayed the whole way there that she would begin to act normally, because I knew we would not leave her unless she was; and when we woke up Saturday morning, she was herself once again. A little thing turned big in my heart.

Hugh and I had an absolute blast. He had planned so many of my favorite things; and the outdoors brought a unique refreshment to my soul. When we arrived home on Sunday, Bailey Grace was back to “something’s wrong” mode. We drove back to Birmingham, and by Monday morning, it was clear this unrest in my heart was a mother’s intuition.


“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”- 1 Corinthians 4:1

Oftentimes, there are seasons of life where we become needier than usual. Those around us love us well, and then the season is over. In our situation, the love and serving is needed more often than not. At times, it is uncomfortable to be loved this big. When we were admitted, a part of me did not even want to let anyone know. It was like I was determining that our family had been loved on enough and that we needed to do this one on our own. But God.

He always makes sure His children are cared for. And, in our situation, it is all those seemingly small things that add up to something really big.

The texts.

The visits.

The snacks.

The meals.

The coffees.

The sweatshirt.

The prayers.

All these things matter immensely. When you are walking through an unexpected twist in the story, it is those things that are the very hands, feet, and heart of the Father. Today, I want to encourage you that what you are doing matters. The love you are sharing, the little things you are doing, it is all adding up to something big in someone’s weary soul.


We are home today, and the lack of sleep combined with the emotional turmoil of the hospital always leaves me feeling fuzzy. Yet God. He continues to leave me little love notes; reminders that His love never runs dry and that He will never stop providing and carrying our family. I am a steward of the mysteries of God , yet the mysteries themselves are His. So, we trust. And, we move forward  with open hands and open hearts to whatever He sees fit for the day; bodies and minds weary yet souls being renewed each day.

Friends: the love you share matters. Whatever you are walking through today matters. These trials will one day be revealed as little; yet the love we give will be known as the big. May we pray to have eyes to see with eternal eyes, loving large all the way. He is faithful.

Playing Games.


In the weeks since the Lord has asked me to pry open my hands and let go of the concept of getting a diagnosis for our girls, I have experienced nothing short of a miracle. God has truly taken away the desire to “know” and replaced it with a desire, much deeper than knowing, to simply trust Him.

And then this happened.

Last week, when we were already in bed, Hugh got a message from a particular neurologist at the hospital. A known neuro guru was going to be in town, and he wanted to know if we could be at the hospital the next day to be presented as a case study. Suddenly, I was back in the trenches of the diagnosis. I looked up the doctor, began to feel hopeful, and thought to myself, “You know, maybe I needed to let go in order to actually find out. Maybe that was the key all along!” I tried to keep myself protected from assuming we would get more information, but I tried in vain.

We went to the meeting, explained the details for the millionth time, and were given back a long, wordy speech that basically ended in the same thing we have heard for months: I don’t know either. I may never know. You may never know.

The all too familiar feeling of balancing trusting the Lord in His goodness and feeling disappointed came back, but I tried to think bigger picture and moved on.

At the beginning of the week, a particular clinic we have visited before called to tell us that the physician at that clinic needed to see us again, as he had information to talk to us about.

<cue familiar emotions about getting answers>

Try as I might, I could not help but feel, yet again, the hope that he was on to something. We got to the appointment, and you can tell where this is going. He had no valuable reason for calling us back in, except to lay eyes on the girls once more. He gave us some paperwork for our records, and sent us on our way. (But not without adding some unsolicited thoughts or opinions to the mix). If you can’t sense it already, I will just lay it out there: I was mad. After already having a long day at the hospital the day prior, getting some news that we expected but was not necessarily fun to confirm, I could not understand why God had allowed this appointment to be. I felt more than defeated, and as we drove home it was very clear to me that I was not upset with man; I was mad at God Himself. I turned the music up, hot, heavy tears streaming down my face, and said out loud, “God- is this how you treat your child? Your child who, at the very least, is trying so very hard to be faithful to You in all this? I am depending on You God, and it feels like you are playing games with me.”

Playing games. That was the phrase I needed to articulate. At once, l had an image of His Son up on the cross, and the mystery became all the more great.

Is this how He treats His child?

Without the bigger picture, it seems like much more than playing a game. It seems cruel, if that was the end of the story. But God. Thanks be to God that it’s not.

“But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”- Hebrews 2:9

You know, I am still in the thick of this hard, and there are so many lessons that I am typing as I go, per say. Yet, yesterday was such a beautiful reminder for me that God’s ways are so mysterious, so much bigger, so much more complex, than I will ever understand. In His Word, we see Abraham, called to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on the mountain. I cannot imagine what that trek to Moriah felt like. God steps in right before the sacrifice is made, and a glorious depiction of Him offering another sacrifice instead of Isaac is shown, yet the details of the story are still the same and it’s easy for us to relate to Abraham in the times that we feel as if we are walking through test after test after test. When we are stripped of comforts and relationships and health, in these seasons in which we relate to the Jobs of the world, it is tempting to wonder how there is goodness in it all. But God. One of the most precious things about this relationship is that on the days that I do ask, ‘Why?’ and feel Him come up silent; I am reminded that His answering my ‘why’ is much less important than His walking me through it.

Friends, God is not playing games with us. These trials, these details that seem utterly pointless at best and cruel at worst, are the very pieces that are crucial to our faith. We may never know the reasons behind why God does certain things in our lives, yet the point is not to know all but to trust Him IN all. Understanding that God is God includes the notion that we are not going to fathom everything He does in the midst of our own humanity. We may gather bits and pieces of it, but as His Word says,

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or, who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?”- Romans 11:34-35

He has given us not only our physical breath and life; He has given us Himself and the free offer of eternal life. This is the greatest mystery of all.

Yesterday did not make sense to me. I do not know why God saw it fit to bring us to two situations where a diagnosis was sought after we had already fought so very hard to lay that at His feet. Yet, this I know for sure: He was not dangling it in front of us, laughing at my pain. He is for us. He is for me. He is for you. All the details of our lives serve purpose, and He is working in all things. He is entitled to do that which He chooses; and that which He chooses is always a part of a glorious, bigger plan. He does not enjoy seeing His children in pain; so if He permits the pain to come, we can be assured it will one day be worth it. It may not ever make sense on this side of heaven, but it will make sense for all of eternity. He carries us through those moments we do not understand and He comforts us in our weakness. He gives us the grace to put one foot in front of the other in any and all circumstances. This is our God. May we fix our eyes not on what is seen today, but what is unseen. May we ask for the grace to be able to trust Him even when all surroundings contradict that trust. As Mike Mason puts it,

“Divine contradiction is like an exotic food or music: one must acquire a taste for it. Many people, even the very religious, have no real stomach for mysterium tremendum. They are fine when gazing up into a starry sky, but when they encounter the infinite abyss of Christ on the human level, it turns their stomachs…the greatest test of genuine faith comes in situations where God seems to us to be contradicting Himself or playing games…it is right here, in the turbulent waters of divine contradiction, that faith must perform its strange navigation.”

May we rely on His faithfulness in the midst of all the hard; and may we sense His goodness in the divine contradictions at hand. All is grace, my friends. All is grace.

Why Fifty Shades of Grey is not the Problem.

*There is a trend of “shock-factor” blogs going around the internet these days. While many are well-written, they tend to heavy on the judgment light on the love (or vice versa). My hope and prayer is that this is not one of those blogs; although I know I will fail in this on many levels.

**If you are someone in my life who is uncomfortable with hearing my thoughts on sex (hi, dad!) now might be the time to stop reading.

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do I plan to do so. I will not be seeing the movie. That, while not the focus of this blog, certainly plays a role in what the Lord put on my heart to write. The Christian community has rallied our troops and spoken outright disgust of this film, and while I agree with not condoning these types of pornographic displays; I want to make something clear: the writers of this film are not the problem. The actors in this movie are not the problem. Fifty Shades of Grey is not the problem.

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”- Romans 1:22-28

These verses speak of a time years before television, years before media, years before pornographic movies. We are so quick to think that the times are getting worse and worse, but the truth is, the heart has been the same all along. The reality and crudeness of our sin may be more magnified; yet the deceit and consequence has been the same.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were both naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”- Genesis 3:1-10

One night on our honeymoon, as Hugh and I were loving on one another and listening to music, a praise and worship song came on the IPOD. Immediately, without thinking, in a “naked so I hid” kind of way, I asked Hugh to change the song. When he asked why, I casually replied, “It just doesn’t seem to go together.” Oh, how much more wrong could I have been. You see, years of hearing, “sex is bad” or “wrong” or “dirty” combined with some baggage of my own physical messes and regrets had left me with a complete backwards view of what sex truly was intended to be. Instead of viewing it as a way to serve my husband and my God all at the same time (win, win!) I was viewing it as a physical act of pleasuring another human- no spiritual context involved. Sex had been seen as something I should avoid; and if it was something I should avoid, then surely it wasn’t something that God wanted to be a part of.

Friends: the world is more than open about talking about sex, and if we don’t make the conversation open and begin to model true sexuality as God (the Creator of sex Himself!) intended it to be, how are they going to know otherwise? I believe the fact that society and the culture around us is seeped in oversexualized actions and media is further proof that at the end of the day, we are all just looking to be satisfied. The problem with looking to simply sex to satisfy us is that even the most fantastic, incredible, tantalizing sexual experience is not going to bring us everlasting joy. When we are looking to a well filled with temporary things, we are going to have to go back again and again and again and again in order to get the same feeling or effect that it gave us before. When we are looking to the Eternal God, we have a limitless resource for complete wholeness. It is only then that we can fully enjoy the temporary things such as sex. We can celebrate the good gifts God has given us without making the gift itself the focus. And, as a married woman, I believe the consequence of that is better human relationships all together. Don’t you think the God who created sex knows the most about it? If you had the choice to speak to the Artist of a painting about the painting, or just a random customer walking around, wouldn’t you choose the Artist if you wanted to learn the most? When we acknowledge God as the rightful Creator and Expert about sex, and when we trust the confines He has set up for those relationships, we are not going to need to look to the latest movie to “spice up our marriage”… we have access to The Professional Himself!

I want you to know I get it. I get that circumstances and years (and babies!) sometimes make that easier said than done. The sweatpants become more familiar than the lingerie, and it’s hard to feel anything sexy when you are covered in vomit, or poop, or even work and the day to day stressors. There’s the part I find so twisted: when you are not married, the Enemy tries to convince you to have sex outside of the confines God set up. When you are married, however, he does the opposite and tries to convince you to NOT have sex the way God intended. For the person who isn’t married, who is in love even, and who doesn’t get why the whole “premarital sex” thing is a big deal: I get it. I get it that it’s easy to rationalize and draw lines and boundaries in subtle not okay ways. I get it that right now, you aren’t sure how this is going to make a difference in your future marriage. Just trust me on this: it does. It will. The friends I have that compromised themselves the least seem to have the most vibrant sex lives today. There goes the mystery of God. I guess, just like in our relationship with Him, it is much easier to have a one woman/one man (one God!) kind of mindset when you have only truly known one man to begin with. Now, hear me on this: is sexual purity the main focus? The biggest deal of all? NO! God Himself is the focus. His righteousness in your life is the grace. His plans for you can never be thwarted, and no matter what your sex life has looked like before marriage, in Christ, you are white as snow. You can start over right now, today, in this moment. He is the Great Redeemer and He heals all things. Your future marriage isn’t messed up just because you have. Anytime we make the sin itself the focus, or any area of our life the focus, we are in danger of forgetting that God is greater than it all. Yet, there are consequences for sin, and if I can help another brother or sister out and make sure you are aware of that, coming from someone who is on the other side, than I want to do just that.

And finally, to the ones of us who are married as we read this. I believe that God intends that we have incredible, fulfilling intimate sex lives. I believe that just like our lives are made to reflect His glory and His image, the covenant we have made should do just that as well. The bride and her groom. The church and Christ. A beautiful reflection of the Oneness and wholeness He has brought us through His Son. Yet, just like everything, the Enemy, the world, our flesh… they are going to do what they can to mess this whole design up. If he can’t get us for all eternity, he will at least try to make our lives miserable while we are here. We must fight. We must fight to model to a watching world, a world so focused on sex and so saturated in fleeting pleasures, what true sexuality should look like. We must pray about our intimacy with our spouses just as much as we pray about our children or our friend’s prayer requests. It matters. We must never over exaggerate the importance of sex in marriage nor marginalize it. A gift to be treasured; not a god to be worshipped. We must keep the conversation open, keep looking to God to learn how to love our spouses best, and study His Word in order to figure out how best to navigate the tainted views around and within us. And, when this movie hits the big screen this week, instead of focusing on the grossness and twistedness at hand; let’s spend all the more time focusing on the God above who is over all these things. Let’s work on our own sexual purity, whatever that looks like, and show the world how truly exciting and attractive God’s original intent for sex is. All good gifts are from Him, my friends.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”- Psalm 16:11

Disabilities, Abilities, and the Throne.

“And whenever the living creatures (in heaven) give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”- Revelations 4:9-11, in heaven added for clarification

Faithful One

He is seated on the throne in all His glory and all His wonder. Lightening thrashes around Him; thunder blazes before and behind. The most beautiful, rare, intricate jewels encompass His very being. All the colors of the rainbow surround the throne, and before the throne sits burning torches of fire and a sea of glass like crystal. Yet, the brilliance is found in Him, the One seated there, His mere presence combining the glitter of fresh snow lying in the fields and the brightness and beauty of the rising sun as it blazes in the sky. The beauty is indescribable through mere human words; yet the magnitude and glory of Him that sits is clear. All around Him, at all times and in all ways, you hear the elders and living creatures crying out, “Holy, holy, holy…”; the prayers of the people still on earth rising like incense through the air and landing at His feet.

She kneels before His throne, head down in shame and fear. She is ghastly in appearance, the weight of the baggage she carries giving her a maimed look at best. She is covered in scars, many of them still bleeding, most of them infected and festering with disease. The woman is crippled, a leper without a cure. She is the type of person that, if seen on earth, most of us would look away in discomfort. For us, it would just be too messy. Too broken. Too hopeless. She does not even glance up to the One on the throne, not sure why she is there but knowing she is undeserving.

The Enemy comes behind her and begins to taunt, “What are you doing here? Why do you think you even come close to deserving to come before His throne? You are disgusting, and broken, and messed up all together. You will never be worthy of laying at His feet. You should just go. In fact, you should just come with me, where you and others like you belong.”

As the woman begins to bow down even more, filled with more hurt and more humiliation, the One on the throne cries out, “Away with you, Satan! This is my child, my beloved, the one I love. She is the one I want.”

Satan looks up, appalled. “Her? Don’t you see her? She’s helpless! She is crippled. Disabled at best, dependent and needy for sure.”

“Yes,” He on the throne replied. It is true that she is helpless. It is true that she is crippled, and that she is unable to save herself or clean herself up. Yet, when I look at her, I don’t see these things. I see her. The real her. The her that I created and the her that is underneath all the sin, all the baggage, all the mess. I loved her so much that I sent my perfect Son to die for those things. He nailed it all to the cross. So now, while you may see the disability, I simply see the child whom I love.”

The woman, feeling strangely less held down, glances up. At once, the Enemy flees. She sees Him, and in an instance, she is drawn to Him. As she begins to worship, knowing she has nothing to offer but praise and thanksgiving, He leans down, touches her, and, at once, all the mess and the blood and the stench and the pain is replaced with a garment that is as white as snow. A garment that she is sure will never have to be washed again, for it is clear: It has been washed in His blood and that is more than enough.

The woman wakes up, and realizes that it was just a dream. Yet, in her heart, she knows that the truths within the message of it reign true. While she is in her human skin, she recognizes that if the truth of her flesh and her life were visible, she would be crippled, bloody, and maimed. She sees, more than ever before, that only He on the throne can take away those things; and she knows that if He, in all His glory and wisdom, says that He has freed her from the mess of what she has made herself, that He can be trusted. Beyond that, she knows that only He that has the power to do just that is worthy of her worship. She knows she will fail, every day, to give Him the glory He fully deserves. But, because of this dream, she now sees that the One who accepted her in all her mess and inability has the ability to love her in the here and now. She will never be the same.


Several people have implied, or outrightly said, this to me:

“Morgan, you have a great attitude about all this, and it’s wonderful that you are able to bring the positive out. But let’s be honest, if you had the choice, you would not choose to have two daughters with special needs. You would choose differently if there was a way to do so”.

I have a really hard time with this on a lot of different levels, and it’s difficult to portray the thoughts that I have, yet as I pondered it, the vision above is what He gave me. Friends, the truth is this: we are all that woman. I am that woman. We may have physical abilities or intellect or physical beauty or success or material things or relationships or popularity or fame or credentials that make us “feel” otherwise; yet, the truth is that without Christ, we have nothing to offer to eternity. Yet, because of Him and His sacrifice, we can step out in faith and be confident that His perfect record is now ours. We can know that while the world may see the disability, God sees the ability, found only in His Son. I love this quote from Walter Wink that says,

“The gospel teaches, not that we are all equal, but that we are all incomparable. Each person is unique in the eyes of God. All people, regardless of how they score on the popularity ratings of, ‘normalcy’, are of infinite value, are infinitely treasured, and are infinitely interesting… so the problem is not with people with disabilities. We are all disabled in significant ways, and who is to say what is the more severe disability… the problem is rather with the idea of normalcy itself. Those with disabilities are a continual accusation to those who have sold their souls to normalcy. No wonder people with disabilities are sometimes hated, shamed, or ignored. They are an ultimate threat to a “normal’ person’s very self-definition. Their very existence is a mute reminder that the ‘normal’ person has lost what is most precious, most incomparable, about themselves in their very anxiety to fit in. So the world is divided into two groups after all. Not, however, the normal and the abnormal, or the able and the disabled. Rather, the line is drawn between those who are aware of their disabilities and those who are blind to them.” (emphasis mine)


Friends, each of us has a disabled soul that only God can fix. Our girls have taught me less about their own dependence and, instead, more about my own helplessness, my own disabilities, my own weaknesses. In turn, they have caused me to lean even harder on the cross and on His promises to take my messes and make me whole. I am aware more than ever before of how God takes the very things the world would call weak in order to show His sheer strength and power.

So, when it is assumed that I am having a good attitude, or that the Gospel is a cop-out or a bandaid, this would be my response. God has given me eyes to see what it means to be truly handicapped, and it has nothing to do with what the culture around us would define it as. No. We all have souls that are unable to see the things that truly matter without the miraculous trade-off God performed for us on the cross. He performed that which we could never do in order to give us the freedom to stop striving and start worshipping. To stop trying to change how He created us and those around us, and instead, start loving all the more. And, when it comes to our girls, I am forever indebted to Him for giving me the privilege of having a permanent reminder to fix my eyes on all things eternal during my time on earth. Is it always fun? Of course not. Is it always comfortable? Definitely not. Do my emotions always line up with this truth? A million times no. Yet, I have found that most of the greatest things ever accomplished or the most beautiful truths realized in our hearts did not stem from comfortable or fun. It is in the wrestling, in the clinging, in the keep on keeping on, that growth happens and something more magnificent than we could possibly imagine blooms from within us.

new pics march 2014 042

Friends, you are that woman before the cross. You are, in fact, more disabled than you could possibly realize. Yet, in Christ, your robe is permanently stained white with the power of His blood. All it takes is faith to believe this. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. You do not have to hide. You do not have to believe the lies that you have messed up too great or that your weakness is too big. Don’t look to your own stuff. Look to Him. My prayer for you today is that you would fall authentic and naked before Him, knowing that He sees you and knows you fully and loves you more than you could ever fathom. That you would trust in Him to use the weakest things around and within in order to portray His mighty strength. He is able, He is able, He is able.

Songs in the Desert.

“He (God) turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground…He (God) turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.”- Psalm 107:33, 35


The deserts of our soul. Think back on a time, maybe now, maybe years ago, in which you felt like you were being dried up from the inside out. Oftentimes, these seasons come right after a time in which springs were overflowing. Suddenly, without warning, we are thrown into the wilderness, and if we are not careful, we are left to wonder who is responsible for the whole thing. We are left crying out, “Why me? Why now?” Why does the pain so often follow the joy?

“And when He (Jesus) came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’”-Mark 1:10-11


Children love receiving praise from their fathers. In this moment, Jesus was being given the reassurance and the affirmation that God Almighty was well pleased with Him. The Spirit descended down from heaven onto Jesus, like a dove, symbolizing peace, and then,

“The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness.” (verse 12)

Wait, what? After such overflowing, bursting joy, the Spirit immediately drives Jesus out into the desert? A place where, we find out in further verses, Jesus is tempted for forty days? Seems kind of cruel. What kind of God brings refreshment only to bring hardship?

It is much, much easier to focus on the ways that we are being tested and tried instead of focusing on the provision surrounding us. And, I confess, there have been seasons of life where I have totally missed the goodness of God in these passages. Yet, if we look closely, we can fix our eyes on the beauty of it all: Jesus did not go alone. God provided His very Spirit for the journey to come. And, if we believe that because of what Jesus did on the cross, His life breathes and lives within us, then we can know and trust that this same truth applies to us. God never, ever leaves us in desert alone. Beyond that, God never sends us out into the desert unless He knows that glory awaits. The very nature of the word, desert, or wilderness, is based on the word ‘wildness’, which literally means, “that which is not controlled by people”. In a world in which control is encouraged and people spend their days, their lives, attempting to control the circumstances and details around them, do we not think there is value in stepping out into the places in which control is void? It is in those wilderness days that we are forced to look at the One controlling it all and remind ourselves, and others, that we may not understand but we know the One who does. Instead of focusing on the pain, let’s fix our eyes on the provision. The natural reaction in difficult times is to look at the difficulty. God gives us a way to, instead, look at His ability in light of the difficulty. His abilities in light of our disabilities. Furthermore, we can take heart, knowing that the same God that turns rivers into deserts also turns deserts into springs of water overflowing. It all serves purpose. Herein lies the biggest challenge of all: to praise Him for both the overflowing streams and the parched land; to literally thank Him for the deserts and wilderness times of our lives, and to trust Him that they are His best. Impossible, until we remember that just as His Spirit descended on Jesus and gave Him the peace and power of God; so He has given us that same, powerful, holy offer. And, He not only goes with us, He goes before and behind us. In all places, at all times, in all things. Only God.


I have jumped from desert to springs to wilderness to rivers in this journey we are on. This week, I have been in the desert, desperately attempting to see Him in the barren lands. Yet, I know that He is building my faith muscles all the more as I look to Him instead of looking at the circumstances surrounding me or the emotions within me. I know that I will not be here forever, and even if it is fleeting, those moments of relief and refreshment come even in the midst of the hard.

Friends, we must fight to see the relief and the refreshment. We must trust the God of the deserts just as much as we trust the God of the springs of water, knowing that He is the same in all things. We must call on the community around us to speak truth into our lives whenever we doubt those things. We must read the living and active pages of God’s word and breathe healing life into our hearts, minds, souls, and beings. He is faithful in all things.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”- Psalm 30:5b (thanks, Sarah, for sharing with me last night!)