It’s not ALL about me….

Have you ever stopped to think that some of the stuff GOD puts you through may not ACTUALLY be about or even FOR you?  Seriously, I took a couple of days away from the laptop and the phone..to THINK.  I’ve got much to write about, it’ll take FOREVER to relay it all to you.  But, here’s the first thing that struck a real chord in my heart.

For the first time in my half century life, I spent THANKSGIVING alone.  Like the other crazy events going on in our lives now, it was par for the course and I was perfectly fine with it! 😀

Let me say this. MUCH LESS is sometimes FAR MORE valuable than we can comprehend.  GOD spoke volumes to my spirit this Thanksgiving and it goes down in my journal as one of the BEST THANKSGIVINGS ever!

So you’re saying to yourself..Okay, you just told us that you were alone for a FAMILY holiday. Well, yeah…but, that’s what made it so special.

I had heaps of flashpoint moments..don’t you love that word? I don’t think it’s a real word, but if you’re looking for a good read, consider FLASHPOINTS by Stephen Arterburn(Tyndale).  I’ve read it at least half a dozen times from cover to cover and refer to sections of it ALL the time.

So, the hook line of the book is..When GOD ignites the passion in your soul to make a difference—no matter what the cost

As my soon to be son, Scott, often says..that’s monumental.  Why not zero in on the very trial you find yourself in at this moment in time. Proverbs 27:17 says:  As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (amplified; to show rage or worthy purpose).

I knew what countenance meant, but I looked up the official definition given by The American Heritage College Edition..Appearance,esp. an expression of the face or facial features. A look or expression of apparent encouragement, support or approval in general.  Showing full and confident composure.

Follow me and I can almost guarantee you that this shorter than usual post will transform the way you look at your current state of affairs. So, what if ..what you’re going through isn’t so much about you? Suppose that GOD may be using you to refine someone else. It’s quite possible that HE is using your problems to speak hope or confidence into the life of another person!

WOW! THAT is SOOOOOO cool!

I’ve spent A LOT of time analyzing why our lives take drastic turns sometimes when we least expect them and I’ve decided that it’s not always meant to be a downward spiral.  Why?  Because I believe that what happens in my own life, good or bad, IS part of the PURPOSE that GOD has designed for me. FULL STOP.

When you read Proverbs 17:17…It explains my thoughts greater than I ever could.  A friend LOVES at all times and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.

WHOA! Back up that train of thought slowly! FLASHPOINT: A brother and/or a friend can be put in our lives for ADVERSITY and not only to rejoice in our HAPPY or TRIUMPHANT moments? That’s what the WORD says!  Well that sure sends the PROSPERITY PROPHETS packing! If you’re a believer..you’re going to have some rough times.  You’re going to have needs that GOD meets through other people! Sometimes, HE will use me (or you) to do the same for another believer.  That’s how GOD works through and in HIS people!

Do you see just how monumental THAT really is? There’s a reason many are called fair weather friends. At the first sign of trouble, look around you and the FRIENDSHIP line greatly diminishes.  In general, we humans don’t like to endure hardships of our own..let alone somebody else’s!  But, THE WORD says that we…are BORN to help one another THROUGH the adversity.

It’d take forever to cover the depth of such a thought. It’s like an onion..paper thin layers of meaning..but, for now..let me peel off an outer layer.

What if my (or your) current situation has very little to do with me (or you) and is far more important in the life of somebody else? What if I’ve been looking at this thing…thinking that I’M THE STAR….when in reality, I’ve only got a supporting role?

What if GOD looked down at me (or you) and while I (or you) was feeling at my lowest..vulnerable, weak, unsuccessful, a miserable failure..and maybe GOD was seeing someone TOTALLY opposite of that. What if HE saw a faithful servant, who like JOB, could and would..STAND strong and firm in faith and trust..NO MATTER how grim our circumstances look to everyone else?

What if GOD looked at me (or you) and whispered..I need somebody who I know can withstand the heat, the fire, the storms, the battering, the ridicule, the judgment of others

because a brother or a sister needs an opportunity to PRACTICE walking with another brother or sister through adversity.

What if GOD chose me (or you) to travel through the valley or to climb the mountain or to set sail on the rough seas..not JUST FOR OUR BENEFIT..to grow our dependence on HIM…but…to also help John or Sally or James or Carol..

Now that’s an exciting, positive, alternative way to look at our problems isn’t it? If GOD can use me (and you) to GROW another brother or sister’s faith..we should celebrate in the honor.  By golly, I do believe the BOOK of JAMES beat me to that discovery…

REMEMBER? Consider it wholly joyful, my brothers, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations!

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience(with no defects), lacking in nothing.

Seriously..you should read the first chapter of James. I say go for the WHOLE thing..it’ll take you all of fifteen minutes to go through the five chapters. Then again, you could spend ALL day on those five chapters. If you get it..I mean, if you REALLY get it..you’ll gain insight about troubles and problems that are so contrary to what the rest of the family wants you to believe.

Got problems? Well then, YOU, my friend, are SPECIAL..chosen by our LORD as worthy..STRONG & FAITHFUL..you’ve been deemed a spirit warrior who can withstand whatever is hurled your way because YOU have GOD’S FAVOR on your life!

Tell your GOLIATH to give it up because you aren’t going anywhere! My GOD wants you to understand and to fully believe that you’ve GOT THIS BATTLE no matter how ridiculously slim your chances of victory seem.

GOD is using you because you’re MIGHTY…and you’ve got what it TAKES to WIN! Remember..when we are at our weakest…HE is at HIS STRONGEST!

You’re being used to give another HOPE and COURAGE. They (those in your circle of influence) are watching you..they want to see how you handle your troubles.  DON’T give in to Satan’s lies and deceptions!  Don’t listen to those who allow the ENEMY to speak discouragement and ridicule through them!

And don’t you be deceived. THOSE inside the church are more apt to be used by the ENEMY than those on the outside! It’s a brilliant scheme Satan uses, but, I’m on to him and so are you!

We’ve SO got this..IF GOD be for us..who can stand against us? Get out your sword and show them what you’re made of and I guarantee you that HE will reward your willingness to be used in the most dire of situations! You’re a winner and so am I!

HE FAVORS YOU…and HE FAVORS ME!

Not Mine to say…

If you’re around my Chipper and me very long, you’ll hear one of us attempt to rap the line..NOT MINE TO SAY…WE FAIL miserably…fifty year old white people just ought not attempt to rap! 😀

Years ago, I was emceeing a beauty pageant and the guy who gave me a break in the show to change my clothes was a singer..er..yup, that’s what they said.

So..the guy gets on stage and for five minutes he says that line..over and over and over..AND OVER.  No really..that’s it.  That’s the song. THE WHOLE song.

Well, here I am twenty five years later, still rapping his…um…song? 😀

There’s a lot of truth in that statement

It’s NOT MINE TO SAY…who’s righteous and who’s not…that’s GOD’S privilege as the creator of the universe and everything in it.  We say that we aren’t here to judge when in reality, we gag at gnats and swallow camels (Hey, where did that saying come from? :D)

It’s my choice to say..GOOD job…when someone does a good thing..stranger or friend. The BIBLE encourages us to ENCOURAGE one another. I’m not just talking church lingo. I’m saying if you’re at the restaurant and the waitress or waiter is doing a good job…say so..to their face and watch the happy spread!

As a parent..what happens when somebody BRAGS on your son or daughter?  Do you refute the compliment? Of course not! Parents love to hear the words GOOD JOB..it’s doubly delicious when said about our kids!

GOD enjoys hearing HIS CHILDREN bragged on..if they deserve a pat on the back.  How do I know? Of ALL the things HE COULD say when I stand before HIS THRONE…GOD ALMIGHTY will say WELL DONE, GOOD and FAITHFUL servant. Imagine GOD complimenting YOU! That should fill our hearts with so much joy we can’t help but SHOUT!

GOD reads my heart and KNOWS that I have but ONE MASTER..HE sees my every thought and reads every motive. If I’m living for HIM, I know that and so does HE.  When I tell another person, great job..I’m in NO way minimizing MY ADORATION for MY SAVIOR.  I’m PLEASING HIM when I BLESS others.

It’s NOT MINE TO SAY…who’s carrying the LIGHT the best way because I’m convinced HE made us all different for a reason.  There are as many ways to share JESUS..as there are people.

It is my choice to let another person know that I’m inspired by their life and how they live it. In a day and age where role models are a thing of the past, I thank GOD for those godly women who I esteem. They make me want to be a BETTER me..which only makes GOD shine brighter.  I hope I leave behind a significant mark for some other lives..the way my personal heroes have left their footprints on mine.

The year I turned forty, I made a pledge to myself and the LORD that literally transformed my way of doing ministry and how I looked at people in general. I decided to BE ME..flaws and all. I was DONE playing church and pretending to be somebody I wasn’t..just to impress other people. I’d been in church my whole LIFE and was TIRED of seeing people wearing masks. I took mine off and never picked it back up.

Micah 6: 8...HE has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your GOD.

That verse helps me keep my focus..I’m not here to judge another person’s behavior. I can only TREAT others the way I want to be TREATED..that’s how I interpret do justly and love kindness and mercy..

One day as I pondered this verse, it suddenly occurred to me that the verse says we must HUMBLE OURSELVES BEFORE we can walk humbly with HIM.  GOD was making a point..until you’re humble, you can’t walk WITH ME.

If someone’s bringing shame to the name of JESUS, then we BETTER stand up for our LORD! But, it never hurts to CHECK YOURSELF and get the beam from your own eye before you start clawing out anyone else’s.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to speak to fellow CHRISTIANS. We don’t have to like them..as far as that goes, we don’t have to respect them..but we are to conduct ourselves with dignity..especially in how we interact with our brothers and sisters who are doing the same thing we’re doing..taking JESUS to the world wherever we’ve been placed.

GOD forgive me when I’m quick to judge another person’s way of sharing YOU with the world. If you’re pleased with their life..then it’s NOT MINE TO SAY.

WHY I BLOG

My mom is seventy one years old…she looks sixty one..which is a good thing and a bad thing. People are not as apt to treat her as a Senior Adult because of her youthful looks..again a good thing and a bad thing.  She has to pull out her I.D. to prove that she deserves that free coffee at Hardees!

So, one day last week, we were chatting away and she was telling me about a lady who told her that she had read my blog. Then she asked..What is a blog and what is a tweet?

I KNOW! Is that not too precious?

So, I explained that a blog was basically a person’s journal..they put on the web…it means web log. I explained that a tweet was in essence a facebook status on your phone.

Got me to thinking…maybe you’re wondering why I’m putting MY journal on the internet?  GOOD question…let me see if I can explain.

I’ve been writing my life since I was four..my mom taught me how to write early! She would spell the words and I’d write the letters to my Mimi and Pa..

I wrote my first song when I was eight…sang and played the piano for a little talent show at my elementary school..

I wrote stories..and Christmas plays..I wrote about my parents, my three little sister, our animals..I wrote about everything.

When I was in eighth grade I wrote a poem about Mark Fenters, a friend from Hemingway, who died in a car accident. My English teacher, Mrs. Cribb, liked it enough to publish it in our yearly annual..it was called, That Smile.

I have my first journal that I started at fourteen and I’ve kept one ever since then. My journals are my PRIZED possessions because they HOLD my life in those pages.  I can tell you how I was feeling on November 21st, 1981 when my Chipper and I got married. I can tell you how I felt on March 28th, 1983 and August 22nd, 1985..the days my son and daughter were born.

I can tell you when I had my bridges put in and my gall bladder removed. I can tell you about the time we slid down a mountain in our new Suburban.  I can tell you about my son’s salvation day and my daughter’s, too. I can tell you about ALMOST anything..simply by looking back over my journals.

I guess what I’m saying is..I didn’t JUST START writing this year for the sake of outing my business.  I’ve been doing this a long time.

WordPress alone has about 367,000 bloggers..that’s like a bazillion words being pinged out a day..ask any of us why we do it..because it’s what we like to do! We love to write, we love to put the thoughts in our head on paper and it’s just really cool when other people get something out of what we have to say.

A BLOG isn’t FACEBOOK..it’s not a public forum up to discussion and scrutiny. It’s not a place where I have to be politically correct. I own this little slice of the internet and anybody who wants to get to know me is welcomed to open my journals and read who I am, what I feel and how I think. I don’t have to give anybody equal time ON MY PAPER..it’s my notebook.  You have to come to this journal specifically to read my thoughts..I don’t EMAIL them out! 😀

I don’t lock my diary, but please understand..it’s MY diary. As long as you’re cool with that, I really don’t mind if you snoop at all.. 😀

you CAN go home again…

Friday morning, I randomly packed my bags@9:45am..I was swollen like a basketball(anybody who’s known me for more than two days, can SIZE up my statement.) My wardrobe is LIMITED.  I hate to shop, unless it’s GOODWILL where rich women donate to poor soul like…me. GOODWILL treasure hunting is my all time favorite outing with my mother in law, Mary Lou. She and I can stay in the store for hours; we don’t  need a food court or a Gloria Jean’s white mocha Cappuccino, to make our day complete.

The main problem is this alien baby that’s been camping out in my stomach for twenty years now. I never know which days it will decide to show itself..as far as that goes, I don’t know from hour to hour..so I have MATERNITY wear for a SENIOR ADULT…and regular clothes that are worn VERY irregularly!

SO to get back to my first statement..we were pulling out at 10:30 for a weekend in Savannah and I grabbed a couple of both kind. I had hopes for wearing REGULAR clothes-though I’d been in my mommy wear all week.

I have a super doctor in Savannah who gives me a combo of intramuscular injections..shots in BOTH cheeks 😀 Those two shots hurt like crazy going in..but they usually work magic..like Cinderella going to the ball..the swelling subsides a few weeks and I wear my size fours again. It only lasts til the clock strikes midnight (MORE surgery to cut them OUT again) but I enjoy the brief times I get my body back before the adhesion creature comes out of hiding.

I walked in and the doctor’s office was PACKED..no worries..I’m one of their best customers. I was greeted by the receptionist who calls me by my first name (I know she does that for everyone..marketing 101 but, it makes me feel special ANYWAY). She glanced up awkwardly. Do you have your insurance card with you?

I thought nothing of it..just said, It’s the same as it’s been for the three years that I’ve been coming to see you.

Can I see it? I got it out of my wallet and handed it to her. As humiliated as I was, I felt worse for her. She hesitantly handed it back. Lis, my system says it’s been deactivated.

Now I was thinking about it. Do you mean as in I don’t have insurance anymore de-activated? She nodded..the wrong way.

As humiliated as I was for the receptionist and myself, I was MOST humiliated for my husband. GOD only knows how this man has done his best to take care of us since our tragedy.  He’s had to borrow money from parents and siblings, call and rearrange billing schedules, cancel things we’ve had for years. It’s not easy being unemployed..I saw puzzlement in his eyes before I got to the car.

I got in and strapped in, Sweetie, insurance is over..it’s been six months. As long as the ordeal has seemed to drag on..having our health insurance continue with the Southern Baptist Convention in light of our debacle-was a huge blessing. Even in that, we praise GOD because the state had been involved with this church’s history and knew of the troubles that had been going on for years.

When it happened, six months sounded like a long time & we were so relieved-not having to worry about insurance-that we didn’t worry about it. We didn’t factor in how long the search process takes-had we’d done so-we would’ve been more calender minded, I suppose-but, it would’ve been unnecessary worry since GOD’S plan was not to place us someplace else within that time span.

Faking happy for our daughter & friends who were waiting on us to begin a three day CELEBRATION centered around her upcoming wedding seemed a daunting task. Suddenly a wave of panic swallowed me. Questions thrashed against my brain-my heart began to race. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? WE HAVE NO INSURANCE! IF WE HAVE A WRECK, WE HAVE NO INSURANCE, IF I CONTRACT A LUNG INFECTION, WE HAVE NO INSURANCE..I began to panic

GOD whispered to my spirit ..You live in a beautiful home FREE-you’re not behind on the car payments or insurance-you’ve had gas to get you to and from the places you’ve needed to go.  Your electricity, internet or cable haven’t been disconnected, nor have you gone hungry. Joshua and Nikki, had a lovely wedding and Jena will  have the fairytale wedding of her dreams, too–Lis, need I remind you that I love your children FAR GREATER than you can imagine?  I know that you are weary, dear daughter, but your lack of confidence grieves MY HEART. I will not FORSAKE you- I never have and never will. Don’t you trust me, my child?

There’s nothing quite like that peace that goes beyond all human understanding. Father-I do trust you-but, please help my unbelief. I so identify with that request

When we arrived at friend, Denise’s house, there were hugs, kisses, laughs and heaps of memory swapping going on. It had been six months since we’d all been together yet.. it was like yesterday. Friends are among GOD’S most valuable gifts-that’s why my Chipper and I have always been so adamant about importance of church fellowship & outside activities that promote team building. You can not put a price on genuine bonds of friendship with fellow believers. When the church body is united, Satan has a much harder time tearing it apart. If only we could see through this age old technique!  Talking about tried and true methods!

Anyway, eight of us went to see Harry Potter for my BIRTHDAY and as we exited the bathroom before the movie started,precious Tammy said to me-it didn’t take long for you to forget how sad you were and remember how happy you are. I put my arm around her and gave her a squeeze..no sweetie, it didn’t..that’s what friends are for.

Saturday afternoon we had the bridal shower and our pals outdid themselves. Jen got heaps of cool stuff-Mama Nancy even threw in a skimpy do in for the grand finale. Oh yeah! We took a picture of it & sent it to her daddy’s phone. GOOD TIMES.

When the shower was over, our former praise team got together to do a sound check as we’d been asked to do the opening number for Sunday worship at Immanuel Baptist. We decided on Friend of GOD followed by What a Friend we have in Jesus.

That’s when the HOLY GHOST party rolled in like a thunder storm..it was an unrelenting drenching-the kind you get when you least expect it. We experienced a fresh anointing–that Saturday afternoon worship experience as one of my all-time best. Saturday night forty plus of our CLOSEST friends gathered at Necie’s house  for a lowcountry boil. We sat around two firepits outside and did a lot of laughing..even a little singing, as the kids played. Food, fellowship & fun is the best medicine for whatever ails you!

What I learned is this; GOD puts you in places HE wants you and even when it doesn’t end the way you’d planned or hoped, there are REASONS for HIS every MOVE in our lives. All I had to do was look around and see these people who became..OUR family..

I hope you enjoy a snippet from the opening of that Sunday morning service. I was swollen that weekend  short and of breath-but, that’s okay because I had additional backup from more than the girls on stage and the choir. When we get to the chorus-listen as my TANGY sings along! She  was beside the video camera and the microphone picked her up BIG TIME. The girl can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but, it’s one of the sweetest things that I’ve ever heard. Listen as she offers a JOYFUL NOISE unto the LORD-I’m sure that it will make your heart smile like it did mine!

Secret Lives of PASTORS’ WIVES

Once upon a time there was a boy and there was a girl and the two fell in love.  He told her about his call to be a minister and she agreed to faithfully stand at his side, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, til death did they part.

But, had the naive girl known then what it would cost to keep that vow..how she would have to forfeit many of her own dreams and opportunities for the greater purpose of helping her husband’s ministry to flourish, I can’t help but wonder how many would have said I will….NOT.

Saying I will to being a pastor’s wife assures that your heart will get bruised, broken and battered, time after time after time. Contrary to how it appears, a pastor’s wife’s life isn’t that glamorous. Many fellow PW sorority sistas went through boot camp like me..a petty officer aka-preacher’s offspring. Then, between eighteen & thirty, we made a choice..discharge or re-enlist for LIFE.

Those who chose like me, were either extremely stupid or extremely strong! Nah, we’re combo packs, strong enough to be stupid! I wouldn’t trade places with anyone, I love my LIFE & what I do..but..it ain’t always easy bein’ me

For the newbies in our elite sisterhood, welcome! I’m an avid reader who has learned from many inspiring writers like Ann Graham Lotz, Beth Moore, Gloria Gaither, Carol Cymbala, Joyce Meyer, Priscilla Shirer and Lisa Bevere.

But, I thought you were Baptist? SHOCKING that I admit reading anything written by a Charismatic female, isn’t it? 😀

I’m also a fifty year old, Harry Potter & Twilight fan (Team JACOB all the way, babYY).  I’m a bona fide word GEEK, who curls up with a coffee, a dictionary or thesaurus for hours and finds sheer, unadulterated bliss, perusing synonyms, origins, antonyms and definitions.

I’m starting a BLOG SERIES about PW’s and exercising my female prerogative. PW may also stand for..say…Pretty Woman, Pouting Witch, Prison Warden, Party Wrecker, Pitiful Wretch, Pesky Warrior, Playful Wench..however I feel on any given day.

You gals have plenty of role models out there you can look up to, so I thought you’d appreciate someone who catered to your more sinful nature.

Want my philosophy on being a pastor’s wife in a two short sentences?

PUTTIN on my BRAKES>>SKID MARKS>>SLIDING>>STOP..I do NOT stick to basic words. I’ll tell you straight up, I LOVE words and those of ALMIGHTY GOD can literally put me on the edge of my seat, make me gasp, cry, laugh. I believe that GOD wanted us to visualize when we read it-HE had to want that because HIS words are SO descriptive and clear. For instance, when HE says that HIS WORD is sharper than a two edged sword-HE wanted us to picture the magnitude of TRUTH-it cuts sharp and deep.

Words are a powerful tool of the DEVIL..but a FAR MORE POWERFUL TOOL of THE ALMIGHTY. My suggested reading for some is the entire book of JEREMIAH. I’m certain this GLOOM & DOOM dude had a number of haters in his audience branding him, a liar and a fraud–he must have longed for another message to deliver besides the one GOD called him specifically to spread among hostile, ill minded, people. Still, he could not escape the call on his life.

What Jeremiah’s ministry tells me is:  NOT everybody is called to give only the GOOD news..somebody has to DELIVER that other stuff, like there’s a place called HELL-if you haven’t accepted CHRIST, that’s where you’ll go unless you change the way that you live. Somebody has to be brave enough to tell the HYPOCRITES polluting our churches to CLEAN up their act or get out so that we CAN do the job we’ve been commanded to do. Yes, I said it. If you choose to claim the name of CHRIST, you have an obligation to your brothers and sisters and most of all, the SAVIOR of your SOUL-to keep whining & evil out of our midst. It’s dangerously distracting!

PEOPLE don’t relish having their ugly exposed, never have & never will-so if GOD calls you to shine the spotlight, be prepared to get smacked.  I’d be worried if my blogs hadn’t ruffled a few feathers here & there-but, I’ve gotten 2, 800 hits so far this month and more emails than I can count. Only one person was negative..that excites me! There’s still fiery PASSION about BUILDING the KINGDOM, we just need more MOUTHS. Well, I’ve raised my hand and offered-Here I am LORD, send ME! Wanna raise yours? 😀

Dig in THE WORD of TRUTH and you find that GOD uses woe for you messengers like JEREMIAH, AMOS, JOHN BAPTIST..a lot.

John Baptist lost his head, LITERALLY, for speaking the truth to those who didn’t like what he had to say. Visualize Herod and Herodias sitting smugly, when his bloody head was brought on a platter. (My British, Aussie, Samoan & Kiwi friends got a chuckle out of that.) They thought they were so all that! I picture them taunting, spearing his tongue, smirking-What’s wrong Johnny Boy? Cat got your tongue? After he read this post, Chipper told me that history actually reports that Herodias DID keep John’s head for a long time and that she periodically STABBED it with a dagger. The she-devil thought that she had shut him up AND good.

You want to know the magnitude and longevity of WORDS? That event happened around 32AD in ancient Jerusalem-I’m in South Carolina, November 16th, 2010 bringing it up again! I hear Nelly & Tim McGraw rapping out their tune..AND it’s all in my head, I think about it over & over again, I just keep picturing you with him & it’s all in my head, I think about it over & over again, I think about it over & over again.

My parents didn’t have material things to give me as a child. I didn’t play golf, go on cruises or wear designer clothes. But, my godly role models instilled in me from the time that I was old enough to understand YES & NO-that who I am when nobody’s watching is what matters most to GOD. They made sure that I understood that HE hears my words before I even speak them. I don’t know about you, but I must discipline my tongue 24/7- it has a MIND of its own! 😀

I’m so thankful that my parents were rich in BIBLE truths and passed a desire to PLEASE HIM on to my sisters and me. I don’t want to just KNOW the WORD, I want to LOVE it, LIVE it and never be afraid to SPEAK the TRUTH.

GOD has been commander & chief of my life since I was a six year old child. HE’S commanded me to deliver an urgent message to HIS people. As much as I fear the ridicule of man, I have a GREATER FEAR of failing my LORD; therefore-I’ll spread the message of HIS love, HIS grace and HIS sovereignty. I won’t UN-HEAR the LORD; I will speak THE MESSAGE even if it puts me in harm’s way.

MATTHEW 10:27-28 Whatever I tell you in the dark, SPEAK it in the LIGHT; what you HEAR in the EAR, PREACH it from the HOUSETOPS.  Don’t you FEAR those who kill the BODY but CANNOT kill the SOUL. BUT rather, FEAR HIM who’s ABLE to DESTROY both SOUL and BODY in HELL.

34-39 DO NOT think that I came TO BRING PEACE on earth.  I Did NOT come to bring peace, BUT a sword. I have COME to set a man against his FATHER, a daughter AGAINST her MOTHER and a daughter-in-law against her Mother-in Law; a man’s enemies will be THOSE in HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD. He who LOVES his FATHER or his MOTHER more than ME isn’t WORTHY of me. AND HE who LOVES his SON or his DAUGHTER more than ME is not worthy of ME. HE who does not TAKE UP HIS CROSS to FOLLOW after ME is NOT WORTHY of ME. HE who finds HIS LIFE will lose it and he who LOSES his life FOR MY SAKE will find it.

The world’s in CHAOS and I wholeheartedly believe that we are LIVING in the LAST DAYS. We can’t sit in a GRAVEYARD MANSION- acting as if that alone merits a seat right next to GOD’S THRONE. We’re LOSING opportunities to BRING people to JESUS because of our arrogant, self righteous PRIDE! It puts a stench in the nostrils of fellow Christians, LOST PEOPLE and GOD, HIMSELF. HE says HE will SPEW you out of HIS MOUTH, be hot or be cold…but don’t STRADDLE THE FENCE!

In the words of a dear man who I don’t believe graduated from high school, wore overalls and didn’t speak perfectly dictated ENGLISH..but, B.B. Cantley had it right! ANYWHERE you saw him, he was talking to somebody and you KNEW what he was asking. It didn’t matter one bit to him if they were black, white, mixed, Mexican, young, old, man, woman or child. All he cared about was this:  JESUS IS COMING BACK, IS YOU SAVED or IS YOU LOST?

DISCLAIMER: Lis Morgan can’t be held liable if language is offensive!

Michael Vick Should’ve Been Here Today!

Posted: November 13, 2010 http://www.chipmorgan.org

Well, today was THE day!  That long anticipated match took place and the only true ringside seat was held by the chihuahua, (must be said with a Latin accent) “DESMOND – The GREAT Squirt”.  Lis and I have held different views on this one, and if I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t be sharing the story.

We have 3 purebreds and one mutt.  Desmond is the instigator of whatever trouble may be happening at the time, we should’ve named him Barney Fife, but, you must cut him a break (there’s a female Lassie, female Boxer & female German Shepherd/Husky mix). Once again with the accent,  “All da women here are SOOO BIG!” Between that and his neuter job…he’s been forced to find different ways to prove his manhood.

Bindi Sue, is content to climb high mountains and seek out orphan children in dire straits to lovingly rescue out of cliffhanger predicaments (a true Lassie).  She and Bristol, the mutt, who’s extremely lovable (Bindi’s influence rubs off) live together in the barn paddock, 2 acres where the fence is reinforced with chicken wire. There is NO POSSIBLE escape (so we think) and they’re content because they’ve been friends a long time.

The new kid on the block as of 6 months ago is Cassie, the ferocious BOXER, (sort of the Ivan Drago type).  She’s no doubt the smartest one (that is most of the time). Lassie is Lassie, but the other two are ALPHA females, and they’ve vied for QUEEN ALPHA status since they first sniffed each other. I forgot to mention that Cassie came here to stay out in the yard..but somehow made her way into the house half the time once Darcy, the original QUEEN ALPHA, moved out with Jena.

The good side – we have no salesman, or random visitors, (matter of fact as I write this, I promise, I had to go rescue a couple of Jehovah Witnesses who came to talk about contentment & happiness. They were just content getting back to their car. The first words the guy said to me were, Thanks for saving our lives!

There has been a fight brewing between Cassie and Bristol, who live on the other side of the fence from one another, for months. Enter Desmond, if the cows are in the closest pasture, it’s Desmond’s idea to chase cows.  If there are no cows, he gets all hyped up about a possible cat fight (well actually girl dogs). He ags it on and plays Mr. “I DON’T KNOW why these two senoritas do dis! It must be me…Don Juan!!!”

Lis has always said about the boxer, “She’d kill her (Bristol)!”  I’ve said, “Don’t underestimate the power of a mutt..Bristol could hold her own!” There have been major televised “press conferences” where they both meet at the fence and trash talk each other and do the ol’ lunge thing, but, they know the fence is there.  I’ve always said, “NOPE…Bristol’s got that “eye of the tiger” (cue the Rocky music)!

At the end of the last face-off, Bristol must’ve confided in Bindi Sue, “I’m bout good and sick of that @#&%!”  RELAX…she said it, not ME, & THEY can say that! “Next time she comes down here…(well just come here a minute and let me show you)…THIS is where I’m busting out and “BABY..IT IS GONNA BE ON THEN!!!”  “I WILL CUT HER!”

Well, TODAY, I won the bet!!!

Desmond led Cassie to the fence and Bristol barked with a confident attitude, “You best BACK up OFF me & get outta my face, DAWG!”  Well, she didn’t. Bristol ran to the escape hatch (while Bindi was running in slow motion, hair blowing in the wind, “I MUST…SAVE THE DAY” then she stopped “on second thought … nahTHIS has got to be good!”)

I just finished cleaning a lot of slobber off of Bristol..the bad news..I’ve just finished figuring out where the blood COVERING Cassie’s face.. especially her right eye, originated. The boxer must have taken a cut over the eye, lost her confidence, and panicked…because she was screaming – “Throw in the towel, throw in the towel” – while Lis and I rushed to break it up.

I felt so sorry for Cassie.  Lis and I took her into the locker room and patched her up and gave her a good talking to about REAL LIFE. Just because you are a purebred, doesn’t mean you can necessarily back up ALL of your trash talk.  Girl, you’ve got to LEARN YOUR LIMITS..and never pick a fight that you are not 100% sure you can win.

I had to go out and wipe the slobber off of Bristol.  And I DID whisper, “Good girl, you stand up for yourself and don’t let “BIG BERTHA” think she rules this roost.  Sometimes you just gotta DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO!!!

The last word that was uttered…from Desi…”Senoritas, senoritas, there’s still plenty enough of me to go around…for everybody”.

OH SHUT UP DESI…you started this.

I’ll ALWAYS BE YOUR LITTLE GIRL

My parents were twenty and nineteen, when they became husband and wife. Legend has it, they married on Saturday and started a revival that following Wednesday. That’s been the life of Themos and Frances Cribb since. This morning, they’re guests at RINGEL HEIGHTS BAPTIST CHURCH, for homecoming Sunday, where I’d love to be, but, it didn’t work out for my Chipper and me to go. Upgrading my status from daughter to wife to worship leader myself prevents me from being able to spend most Sunday holidays with my folks.  Daddy was the pastor there for twenty three years and it will always be my home church.

I am the fruit of two unbelievably extraordinary people. It’s hard to write about one without including the other because my parents are a team. Through their examples, I learned most of what I know about God, life, and people. I want to tell you about them separately though. Daddy is the oldest, so he gets to go first, Mama, not partiality, Seniority! 😀

My daddy was a polio victim, his left leg is 6″ shorter than the right one and he has a distinct limp, with or without his built up shoe. Daddy has dreadful memories of growing up with that fatal disease. It was the era of the iron lung and quarantined wards..Daddy’s stories about his many hospitalizations are like nightmares.

He was three when he contracted polio and doctors told my grandparents if he survived, their son would never walk. I had a praying grandmother who refused to accept that her boy would have useless legs so she went to work to keep Daddy’s leg from wasting away.  Everyday Grandma Susie would bend and contort his leg; the excruciating pain would cause her little boy to scream and cry, begging her to stop!  If daddy were telling the story, he’d be wiping tears from his eyes like I am; I never hear it that it doesn’t give me goose bumps. She was a farm wife in the 1930’s; she knew how to do what she had to do.

In Pleasant Hill, S.C., Granddaddy Ronnie(ROWN-NEY) and Grandma Susie Cribb, were Christian celebrities! You did NOT want to compete with either of them for Man & Woman of the year at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church!

Daddy pulled through and when he did, his special treatment was over! He wasn’t catered to because he was sick. He was in and out of hospitals during his childhood, but when he wasn’t, he worked in the tobacco fields exactly like the rest of his eight siblings; he sat down and scooted along the rows instead of walking!

He played baseball with his brothers and school friends and though he couldn’t run the bases, he could slam the ball WAaaY further than anybody else, so they altered the rules and made him a batter for both teams.

Daddy wore braces and had to use crutches, but he was never allowed to use Polio as a crutch to get out of his chores, playing, going to school or church, or whatever else the rest of his family was doing. His iron will strength, is what made him who he is today.

I had my first severe asthma attack when I was four years old; my parents were told how I would suffer from it the rest of my life. Daddy raised me the way he was raised. Being a scrawny little girl with asthma didn’t exempt me from working in the garden, building dog pens, learning to shoot, bait my own hook, catch and clean fish-you know-things girls don’t usually do! I wasn’t relieved of my duties even after my three sisters came along. I carried my weight as he had carried his.

One of my WORST memories is the day daddy told me that I needed to ride to my grandparents’ farm with him. I was twelve. ONLY after we got there, did he tell me why I was needed. Since I didn’t have a license, I couldn’t drive his truck from Pleasant Hill community through the town of Hemingway, South Carolina, where I went to school. Apparently the police don’t require you to possess a driver’s license to drive a tractor down Main Street! Some friends still tease me about that ordeal. And, by the way! I wasn’t steering a JOHN DEERE, I was on an old jalopy like Oliver Wendell Douglas had on Green Acres! SHAME!

My love for nature and animals, I got from Daddy. Days spent following him through the woods, feeding the hunting dogs, looking for squirrels, shooting squirrels, skinning squirrels, eating squirrels! It’s funny; I didn’t want to see an animal hurt..because daddy didn’t. We picked up mangy dogs and nursed ailing critters back to health.  But, I loved me some squirrel brains! I ate’em as fast as daddy picked’em. Mama’s squirrel gravy is the best ever!

I tried for years to pick my own brain to come up with a philosophical explanation about what I learned from that. About the best I surmised was, you do what you need to do, but don’t go around hurting animals or people just to be mean.  We ate squirrel, rabbit, dove, quail, deer and lots of fish. He pastored country churches who paid him a small salary. Hunting and fishing kept our family fed.

Daddy was a disciplinarian and I’m not saying anything behind his back that I haven’t said to his face. He expected a lot out of me from the very beginning. I was the firstborn and prototype for my sisters. Four & half years later came Lori, two years later, Amy, and I was ten when Kelly was born. Daddy never pushed or expected from the other three like he did me so to be dangerously transparent, I didn’t understand why. If brought home six A’s and one B, he was bothered more about the B than he seemed to be proud of those six A’s. If I got second place in a spelling bee or essay contest, the bottom line..I DIDN’T win. My sisters got by with more than I did, although I tried twice as hard to be the best at everything I put my mind to and it didn’t seem my daddy realized that. I knew he was proud of me and that he loved me..I’m not talking about a parent who belittles and abuses..I’m saying the expectations he placed were way above what he placed on the other girls and I struggled with why.

In my late twenties, the dark years I referenced briefly in another post, caught up with me and I spent time going through a healing process with a professional. Part of therapy was dissecting my life and defining the roles each of my parents played in my childhood and in my adulthood.

During one session, as if a light bulb went off in my head, I understood why Daddy had been so hard on me. Because of his illness, he always had to go above and beyond to gain acceptance and credibility. I don’t think Daddy  comprehended what he was doing completely-while I was growing up but, it doesn’t matter-GOD DID.  Daddy bent me when it hurt. And, I’m so glad that he did!

Not to whine.. I HATE whiny…but, it’s important for you know this about me. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t sick.

From the first asthma attack, I stayed sick. I had to have allergy shots every two weeks and tubes in my ears.  I had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was six. I began my periods at ten and by fifteen, my left ovary was removed with an orange sized cyst.  My pelvis was covered in Endometriosis.

At nineteen another cyst formed on the right ovary and I lost half of it.  The evening my Chipper asked me to marry him, I told him that I would probably never be able to have children. I only had a piece of my right ovary. He said we’d adopt….GOD SAID…you’ll have a son and a daughter who will grow up and make you very proud! I had a complete hysterectomy at twenty nine after six surgeries to prevent having to do something that drastic at my age.  I feared becoming old before my time, having to be on estrogen for decades….GOD SAID…you’ll survive!

All those surgeries led to my abdomen being covered with adhesions. From my diaphragm down, over my intestines, my liver..everywhere.  We’ve seen pictures and my insides look like a giant spider web; the more they clean it out, the thicker those things come back.

Eleven years ago after YEARS and YEARS of endless tests, diagnosis, new medications for this and that…I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Wheat and gluten had been poisoning my body for years. It was good to know what had wreaked such havoc on my immune system, but it’s a rigorous lifestyle.

I have progressive degenerative spine, multiple herniated disks, a bone spur on the sciatic nerve that resulted from my tailbone being broken twice in my twenties and it is inoperable. Spinal stenosis, widespread osteoarthritis and an abnormally shaped pelvis, causing my spine to slowly collapse onto itself..but, wait, there’s more! I snapped both bones in my left leg in 2007(no half way..all or nothing, baby!) We waited three days for one of Charlotte’s best trauma surgeons to built a bionic leg for me! I don’t wobble because I’m drunk or drugged!   My asthma advanced to COPD in my mid fortiesI’ve lived my life being afraid of suffocating so living with a disease that suffocates..not cool.  I don’t bring this up to sound pitiful.

SEE…that’s where MY DADDY comes back into the picture.

Daddy knew I could sing, he recognized that I could pick up about any instrument and play it. He realized I could write songs, create stories, had a gift of gab and a way with people. He believed in me all along, but he knew from his own experience that life would be harder for me because I was sick.  He didn’t want me to do things half way, because for sick people, half way doesn’t cut it. I’m an overachiever because I was raised by an overachieving Daddy.

When Daddy was in the yard, building dog pens with me, taking me fishing, planting our gardens, hauling me around from church to church, city to city, he was teaching me..just because I was sick, I did not get a pass to sit and watch the world go by.  He expected more from me because it requires MORE for ME to do what I want to do.  What I realize in my fifties as opposed to five, fifteen, twenty five, thirty five, forty–I have lived all the way! I’ve climbed  mountains a lot of people would’ve said, no you can’t. I’ve pushed myself to walk through valleys that sure would have been easier… to sit out.

Can’t was a word I just wasn’t allowed to use. Daddy did what he did..NOT TO BE MEAN but to give me the courage and tenacity to accomplish all he believed that I could achieve.

I understand because of my illnesses, the sacrifices Daddy made physically as I was growing up. The world said he was a CRIPPLE, but, I didn’t think of him that way because he didn’t act like one. Daddy is the soldier who could opt for honorable discharge, but chooses to retain his active duty status on the front lines instead of peeling potatoes in the safe zone.

Daddy has mellowed out a lot. I tell him all the time, you ARE NOT the man who raised me..when the grandchildren (including my son & daughter) get away with anything. But you know..I’m glad he was who he was back then because had he not been who he was..I WOULDN’T BE WHO I AM today.

My best selling poem of all time is I’ll Always Be Your Little Girl. I have  no idea how many daddies have received the poem since it I wrote it in 1994, but it’s safe to say that it sits on many desks and nightstands. We had multiple mall locations and contracts with LifeWay, Hallmark and even a Walmart, so it made its way around.

Not long after our family moved to New Zealand, we were searching for a house and as we toured one on our list, I spotted one of my frames on the TV. Sure enough..Lisa C. Morgan was stamped at the bottom. I was 10,000 miles away from South Carolina and there my daddy and I sat. I walked to where it was, picked it up and began to weep.

I asked where they’d gotten it and the man’s eyes welled with tears. He told me his little girl had grown up and married an AMERICAN (actually, he said a bloody American stole her heart…tehee) they were living in New Mexico, I believe it was. She mailed it to him for Father’s Day. He said it was one of the most precious things his little girl had ever given him.

I produced my “bloody” AMERICAN Driver’s License..LISA C. MORGAN and to prove I was SHE..I recited it..word for word, through my tears and theirs.

It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Had Daddy not loved me enough to push me to excel and overcome those obstacles hurled at me early in life, I would never have believed that I could ever sell a poem, let alone have a business that enabled me to share my thoughts and touch a man’s heart all the way in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On days when Spiriva and Advair aren’t doing their job and my worn out lungs beg me to stop..I think of Daddy and his shriveled leg. In his seventies now, he still preaches, visits folks in hospitals and nursing homes..he hasn’t slowed down much at all.

I’m a WARRIOR, a SOLDIER a girl turned woman who’s never been satisfied doing anything half way I’LL ALWAYS BE MY DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL!

Daddy, I’ll always be your little girl…somewhere deep inside, even though I’m all grown up and living my own life. I still depend on you, like I did back when.. you would pick me up in your arms and swing me in the wind.

Sometimes I find myself, just longing for those days, when you could take all my problems and make them go away. You’re still my hero, Daddy, like you were right from the start and I’ll always be your little girl…I love you with all my HEART ❤

KY. MISSIONS & FANCY’S FARM

The summer of 2008, I went on a ten day missions trip that changed my life. Our youth group participated in Kentucky Missions, a yearly event sponsored by First Baptist Church,Spartanburg, S.C. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things, but this experience stands alone for many reasons.

I wasn’t scheduled to go and to be dangerously transparent, I didn’t want to go.  A few days before they were to leave, our female chaperone backed out and there wasn’t time to get anyone else. My Chipper & I were coming back from a convention in Indianapolis on the day we found out. I was ready go home and sleep in my bed, but as the pastor’s wife, I felt obligated. I’m glad GOD knew my heart better than I did!  I wanted to go, I just didn’t know it until after I got there!

We ministered in a very poor area. I’m talking poor. I don’t consider myself anything close to froufrou (sisters, Lori & Kelly, take after Mama in that area and sister, Amy and I are like daddy. Sweats and a ponytail holder, all good) but, to these children, I came across as FANCY and that’s what they called me from day one, FANCY.  To say it the way they did, drag it out, FAN-CEE 😀

The picture above is me with four year old, Landon.  The classroom we’re in was beneath the church.  It had a dirt floor. I’m seriously scared of mice, so I was petrified when we’d go down there to make crafts and tell stories.  But to them, it was normal.

We took our own supplies and the state of Kentucky provided a meal for them that Kentucky Missions staff picked up.  We’re talking tractor trailers going all over the place. Youth Pastor Seth Buckley, could run a corporation…this operation is huge and unbelievably professional and it’s a SHAME that MORE CHURCHES aren’t following their example!  Dr. Don Wilton, the Pastor with an awesome South African accent, wouldn’t be offended if your church wanted t0 play copy cat I’m sure!

It makes me smile to think about those unforgettable children. They wanted to be in your arms and they all wanted to hear you say that you loved them. The girls took turns wearing my watch, wedding rings and brushing my hair. The boys wanted time, too! I served as official referee of the dirt basketball court with one hoop only.

Second, I witnessed Hannah, Dustin,Victoria, Cody, Clay, Miranda, Tabitha, and Timmy, investing in the lives of those kids. Each one of our youth led at least one to Christ.  Our teenagers were “my kids” and I was one proud mama!

I was asked to share my testimony of childhood sexual abuse to a full house of teens one night and when the service was over, they stood in line to talk. Many..needed to talk…THAT opened my eyes to HOME MISSIONS.  My family spent 5 years in a foreign country;  I needed a reminder that we have people in AMERICA who need Jesus just like every place else!

I met awesome teenagers who were part of the missions team and many who lived in Kentucky. I spent every evening ministering with the parents of HANNAH SOBESKI, a beautiful, seventeen year old from Spartanburg, who lost her life to cancer, but not before she inspired thousands of others. It was emotional, seeing Coach and Debbie, there after such a devastating loss, but the Sobeski family has spent ten days every summer in the mountains of Kentucky for many years.  Her parents and brothers were carrying on what Hannah loved doing.

The night Hannah went to see Jesus, she was at home with family and friends singing HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.  When I think of a courageous girl making sure everyone knew she wanted to enter Heaven  singing HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD, my eyes water.  What a poignant portrait of  unwavering faith!

The night I gave my testimony, I’ll never forget her parents seated in the back of that small church..their hearts broken in a way I cannot fathom and yet, they had a purpose and desire to be there.  I remember Debbie sitting in a metal chair outside peeling mountains of oranges for the children while we played.  We played a lot.  They got good food and we gave them surprises.  We picked them up and carried them home…van load after van load.

LISTEN! Those children aren’t just in KENTUCKY…they’re in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Utah, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa, Delaware..children who need love are living EVERYWHERE.

In honor of the children in Kentucky and the time I was blessed to have with them, I created this book series called; FANCY’S FARM.  The setting is that of a pioneer village on fifty three acres with log cabins, livestock, pet animals, vegetable and flower gardens, a general mercantile, blacksmith, chapel and a one room schoolhouse.

Teens must be seventeen to apply and should come highly recommended by a pastor, youth pastor and one other character reference such as a teacher, principal or coach. They volunteer six weeks during the summer, mentoring troubled and underprivileged kids between the ages of 8-12.

Now, while all of my characters are fictitious…I can almost guarantee that I got my inspiration from watching our girls swoon over the ranch hand, who I have to say, was quite the charmer when he came riding up on his horse 😀 or our boys when they met one of the girls from the other church. Ahhh..young love..it’s just sweet.

It just so happens that the teens who work at Fancy’s Farm, have things going on at home that your teenagers are familiar with, too. Who knows, maybe one day, there will be a FANCY’S FARM right here at Morgan Meadows.  Hey, with GOD, it’s possible…..HE FAVORS ME just like HE FAVORS YOU!

My Chipper’s Blog (You WILL weep)

The Worst Day of My Life – Chip Morgan

November 15th marks the 3rd year anniversary of the most horrific experience of my entire life, and NO… it has nothing to do with internal church problems…but then again it’s the worst INTERNAL church problem I’ve  ever experienced.

From my early childhood I have ALWAYS viewed life as being simply too short.  I remember dreading to go to sleep, not because I didn’t enjoy rest & leisure.  I was just afraid I’d MISS something FUN or important.  I have even daydreamed about being CLONED somehow, so I could do 3 or 4 lives all at one time.  My problem with graduating high school – I knew I could technically do ANYTHING…but not EVERYTHING.

When the Holy Spirit got through to me in 1976, I realized how many “church” people are actually NOT Christian people.  I prayed and was baptized in 1972 but made it REAL in 76.  Who knows, maybe I’ll stand before God and hear Him say…no son, I actually redeemed you in 72 and you just got serious in 76.  Either way, what came with getting serious was a literal “counting of how many days I have left”.  I still hated sleep but now it had as much to do with possible “wasted hours”, as the missing out on fun.

Just last week I looked at my dad after he and I took a trip to town to let an auto mechanic walk around my car only to say “Naw, I can’t possibly see how it could have bent the struts, but bring it back Monday and we’ll put her up on the rack.”  “Well”, I said as we returned to the road, “there went an hour of our life that we’ll NEVER get back”.  My dad who is definitely the rock from whence this chip was hewn said “Ain’t that the truth.  STUPID, why didn’t you just tell us that on the phone and save us a trip.”

At 18, when I knew God wanted me to preach and presumably pastor as my vocation, I saw it as a race… not a slow paced marathon, but a very, very, VERY long hard sprint.  Seriously, consider that if you are old enough to read this and understand it, you only have at best some 3000 weeks left?  If you have $5.00 you’ve got 3000 weeks.  If you have $5 billion, you have 3000 weeks.  Point is…3000 weeks.  Of course you might only have ONE.  But even at that, my request to God is to go out in a blaze of glory.

So my ministry has always been one of urgency.  I have a sign in my office that reads “Thou Shalt Not Whine.”  And, to exponentially multiply this, I married a perfectionist who happens to have more talent in her little pinky than me or most people I know.  SO…our quest together is to GET IT DONE, get it done RIGHT, get it done FAIRLY, and get it done YESTERDAY.

Quick synopsis of our ministry – youth minister – couldn’t wait everyday to get off of my mail route to get to our REAL job – youth.  Church of @150 – we had 25-30 youth.  But, that wasn’t enough.  We started a para-church city ministry in 2 neighboring towns – saw 100+ young “spirit warriors” give their lives to Christ within months.  If their parents went to a church we directed them to attend THAT church.  25 years later this “Spirit Warrior Youth” thing is well into its second generation and there’s no telling how many people these “warriors” have influenced for Christ.

LISTEN:  If your initial response to that just now was … YEAH… but how many of them FELL AWAY and QUIT.  Seriously…FOLLOW my directions closely… CLICK BACK to Face Book, GO BACK TO FARMVILLE and harvest some collards, because you wouldn’t understand any of this … at all.

Seminary – I prayed God, “I’ve got two kids and a good job…if you can work out a transfer with the post office, I can go.”  Weeks later I was working in the Gretna, Louisiana post office.  Second year a classmate said, “I know a church that you need to talk to.”  Weeks later, I became a full time youth minister of around 75 youth (church avg. 700) – we maxed out at 152 before we got the call back home to come and pastor a small country church in SC…a “GREAT” small country church, ran about 50-60, and we saw over 40 baptisms the first year.  Then we got the call to a big city church – big city church where half the deacons & leaders were having affairs and two were having an affair with each other (& all our deacons were men).

We did 6 years of evangelism (conferences & revivals), and 5 years as foreign missionaries, six if you count deputation.  There have been many life lessons that we have gained along the way.  And many great experiences worth mentioning, but I won’t bog you down or hold you up.

Lis and I both have always been serious soldiers, showing up first in line …for the Captain.   Lord…you SAY it…we’ll DO it.  One day in 1987 during Spirit Warriors, I felt the Lord saying, “If you really want THIS building…walk around it 7 times (like Joshua) and claim it as yours.”  I know…I’m a NUT.  Well, after my seventh time around, I felt good.  Lesson learned – the Lord just wanted ME to realize that I WOULD DO IT.  No, we didn’t get the building…but I DID exactly what I was TOLD.  I’m almost positive God laughed for AGES.  Glad to bring you a smile… SIR.  I still laugh over that because I can imagine all of heaven laughing.  There would come many more examples to follow.  The overwhelming GOD message – “Chip, I don’t need you to FIGURE IT out…I just need you to keep your eyes HERE ON ME.  I’ve got this.  When I say move…you just MOVE.”

So, now I am downright obsessive about the days that I have left.  I figure statistically, if you stand before the Lord (in that day) without having had SOMETHING to do with at least 5000 coming to Christ, you’ve wasted your life.  THINK…If you interact with 3 people a week and let your light shine and your words be heard, 5000 is a minimum over a lifetime.  It’s like Amway, you influence one who influences one, who influences one.  The absolute best feeling in the world for Lisa and me has been recently finding out that our old youth have stayed active for 25 years influencing new converts.  I got a Facebook from MY old youth pastor – Mike Catt – of “FIREPROOF” fame.  He said what “40 yr old youth” were you referring to for prayer.  I returned the note, “Mike, NOT one of YOUR youth.  I HAVE 40 yr old youth…YOU now have 50 yr old youth.”  BUT… if I have them … HE ALSO has them … because of his influence on me.  Think Amway circles.

NOW MY TRAGEDY!!!  I thank God that my family was there for me and a handful of real f-r-i-e-n-d-s.  The reason that it remains a tragedy to a large degree today … is the disgust, STILL stuck in my mind, concerning the support and understanding (rather the lack of) that I received during the weeks and months that followed by those “brothers & sisters” all around me who claimed to be “The Sweetest Fellowship, This Side of Heaven”.  I always hated that saying on our sign!  As a matter of fact, soon after I came… IT came down.  It sounds like something you might hope someone else might think… BUT not as YOUR OWN tag line.  It’s like if I had advertised “World’s Hottest Pastor” (don’t laugh – my wife says that’s true…thank you very much).

Now, I don’t share the following with you for your pity…your pity and $5 will buy a venti cup of Star Bucks.  I do (honestly) hope that some that I used to consider friends, may just by chance,  FINALLY understand… BUT, mainly, as Barney Fife would say, “It’s therapedic” just for me.  I just told Lis last week that “I really MISS working with the military” mainly because somehow I felt connected to their psyche after this event…sort of the brotherhood of the affected.

My wife and I had just gotten to the new church – a church that had been written off by most.  The people promised, after I BEGGED over & over …DON’T call me unless you are ready to REACH THIS COMMUNITY like you’ve NEVER done before.  I am NOT AT ALL interested in maintaining your church.  There was an Army base next door (tattoos, no way) and a housing project (poor, unruly, kids of different races, you’re kidding)

We began to head in the right direction with a great unified attitude as we started to renovate a 1970’s church into a state of the art 21st century place of worship.  Instead of putting the jailhouse industrial look back into the bathrooms we created “a beautiful Tuscan tiled bathroom that people actually came out talking about – $5000+ instead of $2000 or less.  We…excuse me (I) … yes I … insisted that the wallpaper from the Brady Bunch’s split level come out of the 30 ft high sanctuary and throughout all the halls.  Also the children’s building needed to be “themed,” as well as our nurseries.  OF COURSE, it was only the idea that originated from me.  It took my wife and some wonderful ARTISTS and some strong construction minded people to make it happen.  We also wanted to turn our youth house into the most cutting edge hang-out that it could possibly be … on our budget.  To take another phrase which I later came to despise – “we were blowing and going”.

Lisa and I were in our office area like we were on most late afternoons.  Everyone else had gone home and we were getting ready ourselves.  We had hired a wonderful Christian man who sang Southern Gospel with his family group on the weekends and worked as a painter by trade during the week.  He was the low bid and we knew him & his ministry so he got the contract.

They were in the process of repainting our two-story, 30 ft tall, fan shaped sanctuary from top to bottom.  It was Bruce, his son, and two workers that had been with him, like forever.  Bruce had borrowed a scaffold from a dry wall guy in our church and had his extension ladder braced on top of the double scaffold.  We had enjoyed him singing “I’m winging my way back home” all day while he worked away.

I’m going to take a break here and actually BEG…if you KNOW Bruce or you are his family…DO NOT READ ANY MORE OF THIS POST.  I write these details for ME and for those who I really, really NEEDED then to reach out with a hug… instead of a pointed finger or fist.

I repeat…please don’t remind yourself of this day.

Lisa and I were in the office wing…some 100 yds away, I’d guess.  All of a sudden we heard a “traffic accident”, a fallen power pole, maybe the wall of our church crumbling … SOMETHING … something loud and NOT good.  Time sort of went into slow motion when we realized that it was very close, like INSIDE.  I moved fast, then I ran.  When I swung the sanctuary doors open I caught first glance of a pile of scaffolding and ladder at the back of our church.

I have always known that I was a leader because in any tragedy I go into “Survivor” mode.  Yep, I’m the one they send home first – I automatically & very sternly instruct … YOU call 911, YOU get a blanket, and YOU come help me with this.

Only this time it was WAY worse. The 3 workers/son actually SAW it happen, so just one look at the result and (instant shock) it petrified them to such a degree that they absolutely could NOT come back inside.  Three grown men almost crying, “I CAN’T!”  I guess I went into three stages – 1.shock – 2.protect my wife – and 3. you’re IT buddy… whether you want to be IT or not.  When I approached what I thought would be, at least somehow, a fixable situation… it was anything BUT.

My first words were, “LISA   DO  NOT come over here!!!  DO     NOT – he IS alive – so call 911.  What my eyes were gazing on was straight out of anything but REALITY.  Oh…God…oh…God…oh God and I was not taking His name in vain.  Bruce had been painting the very tip of the peak of the wall when the ladder pushed the scaffold completely over causing him to plunge head first off the top of the ladder into the tangled scaffold and onto the concrete floor.  Claw marks were visible on the freshly painted wall.  The scaffolding sprawled onto the rear 3 pews and in the middle of it all was the contorted body of this gentleman who had brought a smile to us all morning with his singing.

When I got to him, he was inverted at about 30 degrees, his right leg twisted so far back that his foot was up close to his shoulder.  I couldn’t tell or I don’t really remember the other leg.  His back was no doubt broken because of the extreme bend.  Both of his arms were obviously broken, his left sort of parallel with his body, back just enough to be snapped.  And his right arm was not even describable.  It was exactly like an arm is NEVER supposed to be.  It was bent behind his back straight up, with 4-5 inches of a raw jagged bloody bone sticking out the end with the hand and wrist dangling below like a piece of rubber.  The worst part is that I knew I shouldn’t – I couldn’t possibly – move him, and the problem was … his face was slammed, nose first into the thinly carpeted concrete.  (We would later dig nose bone fragments out of the concrete.)

He was still breathing and all I could do was keep calling his name and trying to encourage him if he could hear me.  I wanted to KEEP MY WIFE AWAY from the horror and make sure HIS SON didn’t come back in.  The ONLY constructive thing I could do for him was to keep the blood away from his nose and mouth, so he wouldn’t asphyxiate.  And for what seemed like an eternity I scraped a quart of blood at a time away from his face, each swipe would only make room for the next quart to gush out.  I simply could NOT get ahead of the flow, but I knew he’d drown if I didn’t keep it up.  It started to GET TO ME and I don’t know if I cried out loud … or just inside.  But when the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedics came in, took one look and couldn’t have cared less about any damage that might take place by moving him.  They moved as much metal that could be moved and one of the two guys said to me “OK…now grab his legs and let’s flip him over as evenly as we can.”

He was immediately intubated and before long they were gone and there we sat…tired, clueless, helpless, SPENT.  My precious wife … (some of ya’ll … SOOOO don’t know my wife) she began to console the workers and son (she is the most compassionate person I know) and we got them to just sit & wait there until the family could arrive from 30 minutes away.  Bruce lived in ICU for several days but he never regained consciousness.  He was basically dead when I was in his face, urging him to hang on.

I left the church that day, NEVER to be the same.  For months all I can remember hearing from MY congregation was the scaffold guy (deacon) worrying about getting sued, and everybody talking about how tragic the accident was.  I was numb.  But I had a job to do and that job was to be the PASTOR, the counselor, the encourager.  Life became EVEN MORE URGENT for me.  Some  people  just went back to their normal belly aching about spending money, or whatever else they could find wrong (heartless).  The chairman of deacons had helped me and Lis clean up the blood with a carpet cleaner (over & over & over & over & over…foamy blood).  I think if anyone understood he did.  We replaced the carpet squares in the middle aisle at the back under the clock next to the sound booth.  If you go into that church today you can see exactly where it happened (as clear as day) because the carpet doesn’t match.  Week after week, I stood in the pulpit staring back at the war zone that I had NOT yet come to grips with, as a reminder every week.  The “leaders” questioned why my preaching changed – more urgent – not quite as funny – more serious.  He has never preached fluff, but now he’s down right getting into our business…down where the rubber hits the pavement.

For months, there was not one single solitary HOUR that passed that I didn’t think about it.  I woke up one morning weeks later at 3 am throwing up, numb, really hurting in the chest, dizzy, head pounding, I could NOT move – a sure heart attack.  I told Lisa that she had best call 911, I thought it was bad.  When the ambulance got there and got me to the hospital I found out for the first time what a “panic attack” is and how it mimics a heart attack.  Weeks later, again I just randomly passed out in our hall bathroom and knocked a hole in the wall.  It scared the girls to death.  I told a few close friends, but by this time everybody was back to their normal lives .  The funeral was way past.

BUT, finally the breaking point came.  One day I was driving home and I heard an ad on the radio about this man’s family singing, still ministering, and I started to literally sob– they were going to be at such & such church.  I remember as vividly as if it were today…I SAID IT OUT LOUD to myself.  THE LORD NEEDED ME … TO HEAR IT.  I seriously said through a stream of tears, “IF I HADN’T KILLED THEIR DADDY…he’d be singing with them tonight ”.  It was then that I knew I needed help…real help.  You see…with leadership comes responsibility, and down deep in my soul I reasoned that “if I had not insisted that our church look its best to welcome guests” Bruce would still be here.  I WAS GUILTY.

Thank God for doctors in a military town who deal with PTSD everyday!  It’s been three years now and I don’t think about it as much…probably once every week or two…and I don’t dwell on it as long.  I generally have a terrible memory, but I can reenact every microsecond of that event.  But my worst haunting of all is the fact that, in a time when I needed MY PEOPLE the most … the only ones that were there was my family and that faithful handful of die hard friends who had taken the time to get to know and LOVE their pastor and his family.

I HAVE changed.  Don’t we ALL change as we go through STUFF?  I DO take life more seriously than I EVER have.  I abhor “posers” more than ever.  I just don’t have time for it.  They are Christ’s worst enemy.  I have very little patience with those who SHOULD be teachers and yet are still babies, whining and demanding to always be the CENTER of everyone’s universe.  I have no patience for blatant racists, self proclaimed heroes, self appointed (exclusive) scripture interpreters and just general experts in their own minds.

I HAVE changed – I’ll never be the SAME person.  I’m glad God is actively molding and changing me (and Lisa) for new and exciting challenges.  And we will proudly approach the next challenge with just as much ZEAL as we have faced prior ones.

I pray that I will continue to CHANGE – to grow and learn, and that God will correct me and/or reward me.  And I pray that November 15, 2007 will always remain “the worst day of my life”.

Lord have MERCY !!!

My daughter, Jena, moved three hours away a few months ago to take a job at Roper Hospital in Charleston.  I miss her, but she is twenty five, and stayed in our nest longer that most chicks (didn’t think I’d pass that one up, did you?)

I find traces of her around the house daily. That black skirt of mine she swore  never to have worn? I guess a kleptomaniac monster was camping out in her closet and forgot to return it.  Apparently, it treated itself to a mani/pedi; I  found pink stained, cotton balls stuck to the floor along with a half used bottle of baby blue polish. I believe she wore that hideous color just to annoy me.

My daughter has so many admirable virtues, but cleanliness probably won’t be the one that brings her closest to godliness.

Of all these things however, it’s the menagerie of animals residing on the farm that screams….JENA WAS HERE!

When she moved, she took only Darcy, the six years old, Yorkshire Terrier. Jensi would have loaded her Equinox with the whole barnyard, because, like me, she loves animals.  But, she had problems.  #1…Scott is allergic to animals and part of his weekly salary goes to the ZYRTEC company..#2 There’s a $300.00 PER pet fee in that fancy apartment she calls home! Darcy barely made it in!

After Darcy, came Bindi Sue, a Lassie look alike Jena rescued from an abandoned house.  Her daddy had mentioned a few times that he might enjoy owning a border collie, so she figured a rough coat collie was a reasonable substitute.  Bindi Sue was named in honor of The Crocodile Hunter’s, daughter.  My Chipper really does loves her a lot.

Next, in line is Desmond.  Bindi outgrew Darcy and the house, so Jen wanted another playmate for Darcy.  I wasn’t excited about having two inside dogs, but, being an animal junkie, I agreed..with two explicitly clear stipulations. I’m not keen on short haired dogs, especially chihuahuas, it’s those big ears on a tiny head..no chihuahua. Number 2, girl dogs successfully use wee pads, boy dogs hike their leg and shoot, no boy.  To further emphasize, a boy dog will like our girl dog..and we know where that leads.

I went to Florida for surgery (not plastic surgery!) and on our way back to Ga. a week later, Jena called her dad’s phone. I surmised that she bought the playmate. What kind? I asked the second time and the third.  Chipper said, I’ll let you tell her that. You got a stinkin’ boy chihuahua?”  Before you chihuahua owners get miffed..Desmond, that stinkin’ boy chihuahua, is curled up in my lap as I write.  It’s downright embarrassing, but I’ve been heard saying;  Desmond George Morgan! You’re about to get a spanking, son! My Chipper clarifies that he’s never nor will he ever…sire a dog.  : D

Bristol…  Jena’s co-worker bred champion German Shepherds and sold the puppies for, like a million and one dollars. A Husky jumped the fence and we know where that leads. She re-homed all but a runt.  She sent a picture and just look at her!  Chipper said no, but, Jen and I went into female hysteria and we know where that leads. Bristol Palin was in the news and the name fit.

We moved from 2 acres in Savannah to 53 acres in Hickory Grove, with a barn and seven paddocks. That’s where the boxer comes into the picture. Remember, I’m not a short haired dog fan and Boxers were one of my least favorite breeds;  they slobber, shed, they get green goobers in their eyes and they’re too aggressive.  That’s how I felt until I met Cassie, who was dumped in my son’s yard.  Joshua, like his father, doesn’t dislike animals, but, he’s not Dr. Doolittle, either.  He called Animal Control, but, she was  starving so they fed her and we know where that leads.  He and Nikki got attached. They took her to the vet, got her a bed, expensive food and six months worth of Frontline.  After she gained her strength back, they realized Cassie needed a fence. 

Joshua called my phone and asked if we could keep her on the farm until they put up a fence.  Six months later; Cassie’s still here.  I never allowed big dogs in the house until Cassie I wipe her slobber and clean her eye goobers. I’ve seen her fend off strangers who approached the house and she chases coyotes and bobcats out of the yard.  I’m in no hurry for the kids to get a fence at all.

Remember my post about cats?  We gained another. Jena and Tammy came upon what is undoubtedly, the scrawniest, ugliest feline that I’ve ever seen! Roberta was wandering on the road by her smushed up mom. I feed her tuna, eggs, bacon, cream but she won’t gain an ounce!  She’s black which makes her look even skinnier! Taking Bertie to a humane society would be anything but humane! Nobody would ever choose this pathetic cat!

The week prior to Jen moving, she called from work.  She was too cheerful. Honey, we can’t take another dog…but, I gave permission to bring it home if she put it on Craigslist. As our chat ended, my Chipper walked in. When he asked what PENZU wanted, I stuck to basics and told him she was just calling to check in. Sidenote:  When she was a toddler, her pronunciation of daddy’s princess was daddy’s penzu.  😀

If you could have seen my Chipper’s face when Jena came in with a dog in her arms… I was tempted to roll over and play dead, but, she ratted me out as she walked in the door.  “I called Mommy. She said it was okay. ”  I assured him the dog would be gone in a few days…unlike a stray, this one was fed and groomed which indicated that she belonged to someone.  As we sought to calm his nerves, Tammy asked ,  “What are we going to name her?”  My Chipper’s eyes widened.  “We’re NOT NAMING that dog!” 

Jena posted the ad on Craigslist.  Your dog’s fine but wants to come home.  Call to describe.  Lots of folks called to describe, but no description fit Dawg.

After a month, it was obvious nobody was going to claim Dawg, so I told Chip to take her to the shelter.  I didn’t think much of it the first time or two he left without Dawg, but I began to suspect that he was forgetting her on purpose.

A few days later, he was taking the trash to the dump so I reminded him the shelter was on the same road.  When he got ready to leave, I yelled again, “Take DAWG with you!”  He stood at the barn and hollered back.”You’ll have to put the leash on, she’s scared of me.” I trotted to the barn, took the leash, huffing. “Geez, how hard is it to put a leash around the dog’s neck, Chipper?”

My Chipper didn’t bite back…he watched.  As I approached, poor Dawg was shivering behind the gate.  The closer I got to her, the more she cowered.  At that moment, I understood why Chipper hadn’t taken her.  She looked at me, panting wildly as if to say, “Can’t I stay with you? I don’t eat much and I’m not causing trouble. I don’t have anywhere to go.  Please don’t make me leave.”

I knew firsthand what it felt like to be homeless and at the mercy of someone else, and I couldn’t bring myself to put the leash around her neck.

My Chipper could’ve made me feel like a dawg, but, no matter what you hear, he’s not that kind of man.  He usually chooses his words carefully and rarely says anything he’ll later regret.  “She IS a pretty dog.” He said to  me softly.

I picked her ears up and tugged them. “Lord, have Mercy!”  I yelped. Her tail wagged faster.  “Lord have MERCY?”  I glanced over at my Chipper. “Dog says Mercy… is a fine name.”

Got me to thinkin….

Mercy is defined as the kind and compassionate treatment of a person under one’s power.  A disposition to be kind and forgiving.  An alleviation of distress that offers relief to another.

One of my favorite quotes is from The Merchant of Venice:  The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

One of the parables that molded my character is found in Matthew 18:21-35

21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”22Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.  23-25“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.  26-27“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.  28“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’  29-31“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.  32-35“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

If you didn’t read the text, I’ll paraphrase.  A man begs his master for mercy and after he receives it, goes out and demands from another what he’s owed.

The moral of MY story.  When dog came to our house, it happened because my sweet Jena has a huge heart and did something she didn’t have to do.  She picked that dog up and with her actions said, I’ll see that you’re safe.

Each day that we’re blessed to live here on this beautiful farm, I’m thankful for the unmerited  favor given to us by the owners. We were strangers when we moved in but, their hearts and our trial…turned us into friends.

Greater still, I see the HAND of OUR FATHER, though we have done nothing worthy enough to obtain it, HE never grows weary of extending HIS MERCY!

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