your COMMENTS are gifts!

I wanted to say thanks to all who have left beautiful comments on my blog. Tonight as I sifted through my piled up emails, I shed tears of joy over the  many uplifting and kind words of encouragement.

This has been a unique Christmas for our family..more than ever before I’ve been focused solely on the TRUE reason of the season.

Can I be dangerously transparent? I’ve missed the shopping, the baking and wrapping those presents..but..I’ve enjoyed looking at the CHRISTMAS tree with NO presents beneath it and realizing..the material THINGS are wonderful and I’ll look forward to doing all those things NEXT YEAR… was a good year..a year for me to remember-THINGS are not what makes Christmas.. our SAVIOR is CHRISTMAS!

I wish for you-the best CHRISTMAS ever..I pray for your happiness, health and that 2011 will be filled with the never-ending HOPE that our FATHER holds us safely in HIS HANDS! It doesn’t matter what we’ve been through, what we’re facing now or what we have yet to confidently assured..

HE IS all we need to survive and thrive..because HE FAVORS you and me!



our way to have CHRISTMAS

This year, we will be spending Christmas Eve with my parents, my sisters and their husbands and kids. Mama makes the best Turkey and dressing and my daddy ritualistically makes the fruit ambrosia. When we girls add our dishes, we end up with a true feast.

We’ll have dinner, open gifts and end the evening gathered around the family room with Daddy reading the Christmas Story. It’s the same thing we’ve done since Lori, Amy, Kelly and I were little the grandkids would almost skip opening presents before foregoing the tender moment of this tradition.

My Chipper and I will drive an hour to Florence, where we’ll spend the night with Joshua and Nikki and Scott and Jena..Tammy, too. Our Christmas Eve nights are so nostalgic..that’s what I love most..KNOWING what your family will be doing.

No matter where you can do the things that make the season ..yours. Josh, Jensi, and Tang always slept in the same room and had a STAR WARS marathon. Three years ago, we were able to spend CHRISTMAS EVE at our house together and my two seemed over-anxious to camp out in Jen’s room and relive their childhood. I remember going to the door in the wee hours of the morning and peeking in. There were my grown babies (in their twenties) sprawled out on the floor with their comforters-Josh’s mouth open with a trickle of drool and Jen’s familiar snoring sound-a Kodak memory indeed.

My Chipper and I never had a lot of money when our children were growing up..but like our parents had done when we were growing up, we made sure CHRISTMAS was magical and that we had a reason to anticipate the magic.

Another tradition we have that I cherish most is-when my Chipper and I have made sure Santa has come, we sit on the couch with the tree and firelight only and don’t really talk..we enjoy the Silent Night-the beauty of pure peace.

Of course, Christmas Eve will be different this year. We have married children or nearly married children! Joshua and Nikki have to work until 3am & 7am, but, we’ll be ready to celebrate as soon as our son pulls into the drive.

I’ll start up our scratchy recording of BEHOLD THAT STAR, so the rest of our kids will know that Santa’s been and Josh has made it home from the hospital.

When I was growing up, mama played Jingle Bells and had hot cocoa waiting on us when we entered the wonderland of make believe..funny how we carry on traditions..though we sometimes add our own twist. Our family song came about because when the kids were about ten and eight, we had an old budget cd with this BEHOLD that STAR song on it. Tammy hated it and she’d SKIP to the next one. For our little pranksters, it was prime get on your nerves stuff. They’d all but tie Tangy up and FORCE her to listen over & over-eventually, BEHOLD took over as our Christmas morning song.

Christmas morning after we’ve opened all the presents, we’ll have original Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls shaped like a Christmas tree (I put candles on it & we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus) Fancy Ham Biscuits, cheese omelets, bacon, & strawberries and bananas and apple julep.

After Breakfast we’ll PLAY..we ALWAYS get toys to try out and break in! ūüėÄ

Christmas Dinner

Rosemary and Garlic roasted Leg of Lamb

Roasted Potatoes, Onions, Celery and Carrots

Broccoli Casserole (Nikki’s favorite)

Creamed Corn

Sweet Potato Souffle

Mushroom Rice (Tammy’s favorite)

Cranberry Chutney

Homemade  Bread


Pavlova with fresh fruit and whipping cream (mine and Chipper’s favorite)

Pumpkin Yule Log (Scott loves anything pumpkin, hopefully he’ll love this)

Egg Custard Pie (Josh’s favorite)

Hershey Bar Pie (Jena’s favorite)

I’ll post the recipes for most of these over the next couple of days and tell you what’s gluten free and what’s not, too.


a CHILD’S Christmas wish list

A Child’s Wish List

I’d like to have a lot of brand new toys this year,
maybe a new bike or a talking teddy bear.
I’d like to wake up early on Christmas day to
lots of shiny new things waiting for me to play.


But the toys always get broken and the batteries
all wear down, and then it seems that
Christmas is no where to be found.

So I’ve been giving it some thought and this
is what I’ve decided on, I’d like to have the
following please, when Christmas Day finally comes.
If my mommy could stay happy like she is
at Christmastime, on the days that I’m not
at my best, maybe she wouldn’t mind.

And, if my daddy would hurry home like
he does on holidays, it sure would give him
lots more time to spend with me each day.

If we could keep the laughter
that fills our home right now,
I don’t think my parents would
want to scream and shout.

Maybe it’s the Christmas tree or perhaps
the fireplace, but our house sure seems
warmer around the holidays.

Jesus I hope you will work this out
with Santa Claus some way.
This is my Christmas Wish List…
Amen-oh Lord, I pray.


copyright: Lis Morgan 1995

O’FEAR-my best Christmas nightmare!

Ask Josh and Jena to share a Christmas memory and more than likely they’ll mention something that happened in a mall. Our kids and Tammy, grew up spending Thanksgiving through the day after CHRISTMAS helping us run our business in various malls across three or four states.

Because we home-schooled during this period, our kids came to the mall with daily schoolwork. Mall employees often stopped by their work table to offer assistance. It was sweet to see a security guard spend their break tutoring our kids. (No offense..but REALLY? Great grandma dragging down the mall halls in a police costume with NO GUN, NO STICK..I reckon her best defense would be threatening a shot of granny PANTIES if they don’t hand over THEIR guns)

So, anyways..doing what we did enabled us to do church evangelism for the rest of the year. I also believe it was our greatest mission field training prior to being foreign missionaries. LIFE in the SECULAR CHURCH as we called it. For years we received hands on experiences-dealing with non church people.

I want to share one of MY best memories about one such Christmas. During our time in New Zealand, we ran our business there two seasons, skipped a season and then came to America for our allotted furlough time during the Christmas season so we could bolster our support. After 09/11, church finances, like everything else, suffered. Fortunately, we had a sideline to rely on so we set up in two malls to offset our dwindling financial support.

HE was just downright annoying. The big oaf hawked and squawked from the time the mall walkers came in until the last patron sauntered out. Of all places for the mall to put me, I was beside an overzealous, irritating foreigner.¬† Our carts were just fifteen feet apart…yep, it would be a LONG four weeks.

He was selling CHEAP, radio controlled cars..that he couldn’t CONTROL. The guy was oblivious to the dangers of an electronic mouse zooming in and out of mall traffic. More than once, I pointed out that if he caused anyone to fall, he’d be liable. Did he heed my advise?¬† ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM..heck no!

The guy was the same age as my son, though he looked older. At 6′ 5″ inches, his lanky frame made him look odd. When he opened his mouth and spoke with REALLY broken English..he other way to put it..a bit off.

For the first thee weeks, I tolerated him..barely but, by the time the week of Christmas rolled around, I was tired, stressed about the lack of sales and just ready to think about a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Not O’FEAR. Whilst EVERYONE else chalked that year up to a bad season..he wasn’t ready to surrender. One evening as I read a mall bulletin advising that an ice storm was about to hit the area, it was so SAD that I had to laugh.¬† For a retail business owner-having the mall close during that last three day span, you can bank on losing thousands. There’s no making those days up and in an already lean’s a devastating loss.

As I finished the memo, a young couple walked up to read my poems. They had a three year old in a stroller and a one year old eager to escape Daddy’s arms.¬† Shopping for grandparents. YES! Easy $25 sale..a double frame with verses on each side for MeMaw & PaPaw. I was already working around two restless boys, the last thing I needed was a NEEDLESS distraction.

Thanks to O’FEAR’s DEMON cars, my customers migrated to his cart BEFORE I could make a sale. They didn’t buy anything from him either and when they walked on, I headed to his cart..let me tell you, I wasn’t happy.

Look, man, I’ve tried to be’s unacceptable for you to cross that line (I pointed as if there really was a line between our carts) I would’ve had a sale had you not interrupted.¬† Don’t send your toys to my side whenever I have customers. Understand? He flashed a grin and bobbed his head up and down. Pardon, Wis.¬† Didn’t mean to do dat. I p-thromise.

O’FEAR, I realize you aren’t from here..but you’re getting on a lot of¬† nerves, the way you flag people down…Americans don’t like to be pressured. If they want to buy something from you, they will.¬† Stop being so pushy..I’m telling you for your own good. (and mine!)

It went right over his head! While he did adhere to the imaginary line, it didn’t stop the peddling behavior in the slightest.

That night I drove the ten minutes to our temporary apartment fuming. I was convinced that my sales would’ve definitely been higher if I hadn’t been stuck beside O’FEAR.¬† Some seasons were better than others-this one hadn’t shaped up to be one of the better ones..that was for sure.

Snow was¬† falling as I wheeled into the parking space outside of our unit and¬† about the time I got inside, Jena called to say there was no way she’d be able to drive the thirty miles from the mall she and her dad were running. To make matters more complicated, Chip was stuck on the other side of the interstate and couldn’t get through until the morning. They’d worked out a plan for her to spend the night at a hotel with a couple running a cart beside of ours.

I went to bed, exhausted mentally and physically..worried about my Chipper driving in bad conditions and my daughter, who at nineteen, was in a strange city and hotel-alone with people we’d only known for three weeks.

I got up that morning to a winter wonderland indeed.¬† SNOW everywhere.¬† No doubt the mall would be closed..but, because we’d be getting that final load a day late, I knew I’d have no time to reshuffle frames prior to Christmas Eve. I decided that I could do more good at the mall, rearranging my merchandise than sitting in an apartment by myself all day.

There was hardly anyone on the roads as I made my way to the mall. All the way, I calculated our loss..two locations..two days before Christmas, easily $3,000 was gone with NO days to make it up.

When I got to the mall, I parked at the loading dock and hurried inside. The security guards were there and we chatted about the bad timing of the snow before I made my way to my cart. Sounds eerie, but, there’s a sense of family in a mall..much like a hospital or any other business. You get close to people.

In fact, my Chipper once married a couple in center court.¬† Honest truth!¬† We worked two seasons with a couple who sold toy helicopters.¬† He surprised her with a diamond and they decided being married in the mall was a novel idea, so Tim and Cindy asked Chipper if he’d perform their ceremony.¬† A local news team showed up and did we ever have a crowd!¬† How many pastors can add that to their resume? ūüėÄ

I had just rolled up my tarps when I heard a familiar shuffle coming towards me.¬† EVEN ON an “OFF DAY”…I couldn’t escape MY CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARE!

Wis! Did you see snow?¬† I smiled and waved to be nice.¬† Mornin, O’FEAR.¬† I’m here doofus … of course I saw the snow. DUH! Both of his arms were loaded as he approached the cart.

He dropped it to the floor and went back out. Five minutes later, he came in with another arm load..went out and returned that way a couple more times.

I can’t tell you how ashamed I am that this was the first time I’d noticed this man-child was COATLESS, HATLESS, GLOVELESS, and SOCKLESS. About his third or fourth trip in, his nose was so cold that it was glowing like Rudolph’s.¬† His hands were blood red, too.

He dumped the boxes from his arms and headed back down the corridor.  This time, I followed him quietly.  Outside, he burrowed his hands in his pockets & jogged across the slippery, empty parking lot to an old rusty compact jalopy with plastic taped around the back window.  He propped a board against the trunk hatch and removed the last two boxes.  I hurried back inside before he caught sight of me.

Suddenly, the sight of O’FEAR melted the ice around my heart.¬† Had nobody told him that he could pull to the door to unload or that there were carts in the storage area that he could use to bring boxes in on at one time?

When he put the last of his product down, he blew feverishly into his hands, this overgrown boy was shivering wildly. O’FEAR, why don’t you have on a pair of gloves?¬† You’ll get frostbite! He grinned. And, why aren’t you wearing your coat? He grinned even bigger.¬† No have one.

As he put his toys away, I studied him.¬† The khakis he had on were the ONLY pair of pants I could recall him wearing.¬† The thin, blue shirt..the one that the long sleeves were way too short..I couldn’t remember him having anything on but that shirt..for the first time in three weeks, I got the idea that he wasn’t going sockless in freezing temperatures just to make a fashion statement.

You decided to use the day to clean up, too, huh? He shook his head. I come to make sales.¬† At first I thought he was joking with a sarcastic comment.¬† But, you had to know O’FEAR to know that he wasn’t joking at all.

O’FEAR..that memo they sent out last night was to let us know that if we got snow, the stores would be closed.

In true form, he grinned widely.¬† Dats good news for us, Wis.¬† Customer won’t know de mall closed-dey come and we here to sell.¬† If nobody got anyting for dem, den dey get from you and me, aye? Bless his heart, he thought this was going to be a selling point.

O’FEAR..people who live here know the mall closes in bad weather.¬† I didn’t come to sell..I came to get ready for tomorrow and Christmas Eve.¬† We’ve only got two days left to sell, if we don’t get more snow!

I have to sell today.. to meet my daily quota or I don’t have enough to send home. Suddenly, my Nightmare didn’t seem all that frightening.¬† You’re from Israel, right?

He smiled. Yes.¬† Near the Gaza Strip. I come to America with work visa to make money for my family.¬† I hope I can go to college in this country so I can help my parents, brother and sister when I return.¬† It’s harder dan I believed, but, I can do it. I’m a tough Israeli. He flexed his bony arms and snickered at himself..drawing me into his charm.

Writing this brings a flood of emotions..O’FEAR impacted my life..GOD used this unlikely person to teach me to SEE with HIS eyes and to HEAR with HIS ears.¬† His Jewish name means means deer..and he was a deer and a DEAR who I’m proud to have known.

You really don’t have a coat? His welfare had became instant priority. Not yet, but, I get one when I make quota and hand warmers, too! He held up his gigantic hands..they were still purply red.

Picture what I saw that day as I put on my coat, gloves, scarf and prepared to leave.  A twenty one year old Israeli, standing in a mall ALONE, driving his toy up and down the aisle..waiting.  Tears are rolling from my eyes..a scene seared forever in my thoughts.

Going back to the apartment, I noticed that KMART (THANKS to WALMART) was open. I think I was probably the only person shopping..but it was one of the happiest shopping excursions of my life! I got a coat, gloves, a scarf and a beanie, socks, tee shirts, underwear. YES I DID buy the boy UNDERWEAR! I was fairly sure that they were most definitely on the must have list as well! ūüėÄ

I headed back to the mall an hour or so later and floated inside. By this time, O’FEAR had realized that nobody was coming..he was sitting on his chair, no smile anymore.

Hey, you! Aren’t you ready to give it up for the day? He looked at me sadly. You were right. Dey not come today. I set the bags at his feet. Well, you’ll be all the more ready for them tomorrow! You need to dress properly! You can’t drive those silly cars with frozen fingers!

He pulled the stuff out of the bags..NO JOKE..jumped out of his seat- picked me up and whirled me around in the middle of the mall like a rag doll. FOR ME? You bought all dis for only me?

He put the coat on, the gloves, the beanie, I’ve never given anything that was so appreciated in my life. I stood there and cried as I watched him. We left together that afternoon, O’FEAR and me. I gave him a ten dollar McDonalds card and told him to go get himself a BIG MAC.

Let me tell you the BEST part of this story. The next morning when I got to the mall, O’FEAR’S status had drastically changed. He was no longer a pesky CHRISTMAS nightmare–not to just me..but to everyone who’d been working around him. He REALLY was annoying with those cars! Overnight, he became the object of much affection!

Come to find out, the security guards had spied on us the day before and the details of his situation quickly spread. All day long, he got gifts- pants, shirts, a few employees at Things Remembered chipped in and bought him a pair of weather resistant shoes! It’s a CHRISTMAS I’ll never forget..being there with a group of strangers who adopted a young man and made CHRISTMAS one that he’d always remember!

Christmas EVE about an hour before closing time, he asked me to watch his cart so that he could go to the restroom. About fifteen minutes later (back to his OLD TRICKS again, I thought as the minutes ticked on) he returned with a small gift box. He put it on my register like a child, giddy for me to open the gift right then and there.

As I lifted the lid, he beamed. I tell jewel man dey must not be too big..they for tiny, tiny woman with gigantic heart.

Those earrings are one of my all time most treasured gifts..not because of the monetary value..but because GOD reminds me each time I look at them, how important it is that I allow HIM to be my VISION.

I don’t know what became of O’FEAR..but, I’ll never forget him or the people at that Tennessee Mall. Together, we experienced the true joy of giving! ūüėÄ


I don’t agree with ALL programs that the Salvation Army sponsors..but when I drop money in that red bucket-it makes me HAPPY. I like it that the ringers wish everybody a MERRY CHRISTMAS whether they drop anything in or not. They represent nostalgic Christmas- as I recall my own childhood- when my parents or grandparents gave my sisters and me coins to drop in the buckets.

This week, a dear friend of mine put out a note that simply said..the kids and I want to help a family this Christmas- if you know of anyone, let me know. I knew of a GREAT family and responded on their behalf. My friend was thrilled to do something for them.

Tonight a single dad friend of ours is on a date with his daughters..buying gifts for kids on the angel tree. It made me proud..he’s a guy and guys aren’t really into that kind of thing.

And, I thought about myself. Yesterday, when I got out of my car at Walmart, I heard the bell ringer. It’s embarrassing, but I contemplated whether or not I could spare anything. I knew exactly how much was in my wallet and what bills had to be paid. For the first time in a long time, I don’t have a closet full of gifts wrapped for our kids, family and friends.

Our situation makes me appreciate the good years..but I’ve decided that it’s not been a bad thing to have a refresher about the hardships that people face. I’m more thankful than ever for what we DO have.

The closer I got-the more excited I became about dropping my normal dollar going in the door and a dollar on the way out. The way I saw it, that may be all I can do this year-but GOD WILLING, I’ll make it up next year!

Be an angel for your friends like me..who can’t do as much for others as we’d like to do this year. Look for ways to bless someone. If we all do what we can, GOD will do the rest. I know because we’ve received unexpected CHRISTMAS gifts ourselves over the past year. I can tell you with certainty..GOD is GOOD and FAITHFUL. Like they can’t OUT GIVE our FATHER!

Love me some Patrick Jayne

HAHA…ladies I figured that might grab your attention! ūüėÄ If you don’t watch the show THE MENTALIST, you won’t¬† recognize that name..but if I said the guy from AUSTRALIA with the gorgeous smile and wavy sandy blond hair, you’d all probably say..OH, SIMON BAKER! ūüėÄ

Well, I’m not telling you anything my Chipper doesn’t already know so relax. We lived on that side of the SIMON has been a name in our house for a lot of years now, aye my Jensi?

Seriously, I thought my readers would really enjoy CHIPPER’S latest post about Simon Baker’s character and why we ALL enjoy the show. If you don’t watch it, definitely should..just sayin… ūüėÄ

I’m Moving on…

I hope that my posts were inspiring and enlightening to you who wanted the FULL story. It’s been a hosts of mixed emotions to write..but I’m glad that I followed GOD’S leading and did what HE wanted me to do. The response was overwhelming; I’m in awe of how our life path has been propelled by a blog.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite holiday stories with you..a few of our family traditions and several of the recipes that we¬† can’t go without every Christmas. It is high time to pull out the HAPPY and celebrate the BIRTH of our LORD!

I sincerely appreciate your displays of love and support. The comments have been priceless. GOD has used your dedication to my site as I’ll join the 5,000 hit club this month. It’s amazing to see GOD work in ALL things for HIS glory.

Don’t wander off just because the DRAMA is coming to a close..oh, if it’s MY life..DRAMA won’t go me! As soon as Christmas is over, we’ll have five weeks to finish preparations for Jena and Scott’s wedding-February 5th. What a wonderful way to ring in the NEW YEAR!¬† When the wedding is over, my Chipper and I will launch into a major life change for 2011. It’s going to be AWESOME -I look forward to telling you about what’s ahead for the Morgans.

Once again, thanks for making Dangerously Transparent– such a¬† success. I NEEDED you more than you know!


EXTREME makeover:CHURCH edition

I woke up in the wee hours this morning with the title of today’s blog clearly on my mind.¬† I’d planned to share a previously drafted post..but GOD steered my thoughts away from that and to this as I lay in the darkness. Should I get up and write this stuff down? HE gave me permission to go back to sleep for a while and assured me that I’d remember it when the sun rose.

Want to know why I’m not apt to judge someone’s way of communicating with GOD?¬† Because my way probably seems insane and unorthodox. I usually talk to HIM out loud and believe wholeheartedly in TWILIGHT ZONE happenings often labeled as mere coincidences. They’re GOD-INCIDENCES..just sayin..

When I come across something that I wouldn’t typically stumble upon, I just acknowledge that GOD led me there. HE uses CREATIVITY a lot, because it takes SHOCK & AWE tactics to penetrate my choatic brain for the most part!

As naturally as if I’d taken an AMBIEN, I drifted back to sleep, GOD’S way of letting me know that HE had indeed woken me to plant the idea for this blog. we go!

Last month, Jensi’s maid of honor, best friend, Hannah, hosted a baby..whoa.. WHOOAA..BRIDAL shower for my-wife to be-daughter in Savannah. Do ya think I might be secretly obsessed with being a grandmother? ūüėÄ

EXTREME MAKEOVER, HOME EDITION was in Savannah to film an upcoming episode and a few of our friends were on the volunteer crew. It was awesome to hear how they do the show-whisking a needy family to an exotic place for a week while their dilapidated home is torn down and rebuilt!

Hannah’s mom, Nancy, who is one of my best friends, was a part of that crew. To be honest, when Nancy and I met, we really didn’t particularly care for each other..personality conflict, so to speak. But as Jena and Hannah became sister friends, our own relationship changed and today, I’d trust Nancy with my deepest secrets. She’s a rare gem of a friend.


GOD knows how to pick our friends better than we do. At times, I’ve chosen women who I thought were perfect candidates for lifelong friendship status, and they turned out to be those who hurt me most. And then, there are those who I thought weren’t friendship material,¬† who would later become one of my best friends. I’m sure a few would say the same of me; fair enough. I more than likely didn’t turn out to be what they expected in a pastor’s wife.

So, Nancy is on this crew team and she’s telling us how the show works, but it was a sideline parody that GRABBED my attention more than anything else.

Three chicks showed up one afternoon wearing HIGH HEELS. When handed a broom, they nonchalantly replied..we’re only here for the free shirts. And, there’s nothing but extra large and 2x large over there and we wear EXTRA smalls..can you STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING and get us the right size?


Every time I remember Nancy acting this scene out, I laugh. I knew I’d find a way to tell you about it one way or another!

A percentage of church people come to GOD’S HOUSE every week in their HIGH HEELS & NECK TIES for one reason and one reason only; the free shirt. They don’t come to worship, or encourage their brothers and sisters or offer hope to the lost or carry JESUS to the community where they live..they are there FOR THE FREE SHIRT!

Okay, so I’m judging..WELL, it’s my thoughts that get published here, so if you don’t want to read my thoughts, thanks for stopping by! Have a GREAT day!

I don’t care where you’s the same in EVERY church across EVERY state throughout EVERY country and EVERY denomination..there’s always going to be a few who do everything.

That STATEMENT works BOTH ways..pros & cons..and you know by now that I’m going to cover both..

So the question I cover the good-then the bad or visa versa and more importantly, have I earned my readers’ trust to the degree that I can truly be¬† DANGEROUSLY TRANSPARENT and tell you what I believe GOD would have us..the CHURCH..hear?

I hope so because I’m struggling with this one. GOD’S impressing things on my heart to say that I know won’t be popular. I’m going to follow through on this that I’ve been called to do..but posts like this one unnerve me because some of my own thinking has changed and is a bit UNCOMFORTABLE for me still. I know that I’m opening myself to ridicule and can understand the skepticism to a certain extent.

I’m going to take a break and let this introduction sink in and we’ll go from there. PROCEED with CAUTION and try not to judge what I write until you’ve read the entire post. Then, it’s yours to ponder or throw in the rubbish! After all, this is just my journal and who really cares what I think anyways? ūüėÄ

the day I met Marilyn Manson’s family (from last year)

While we lived in New Zealand, I ran my writing business¬†at Christmas to aid our¬†income¬†when the dollar¬†weakened¬†against the Kiwi.¬† Holidays¬†in New Zealand¬†are so different.¬†Being it’s¬†summertime, Kiwis have a barbie at the beach so we¬†usually¬†went to the beach in the afternoon to fish¬†and swim, but I refused to grill hamburgers on Christmas Day! Buying a turkey was possible but, $75 wasn’t feasible for missionaries, so¬†I substituted with chicken and dressing¬†and added a new tradition,¬† leg of lamb.¬†¬†Funny now-we have turkey for Thanksgiving but, splurge¬†on for leg of lamb for Christmas since we came back to the states. ūüôā

Our kiosk was across from the main escalator and¬†I had mirrors placed in each corner to¬†see who needed help¬†or¬†was copying poems without my permission. One morning, I caught a glimpse of a couple coming down the escalator and they¬†had to get right up on me¬†in order for me to determine that they were male and female. In between¬†the two, was¬†a girl who looked to be five or six and if I’m honest, ¬†I was surprised to see this carefree, happy acting child-given the appearance of the pair she was accompanying.¬†I assumed that they¬†were her¬†parents but,¬†I couldn’t tell who she resembled, with their¬†faces veiled in pale white, lips dyed black and both had their eyes encircled heavily in black eyeliner.¬†Oh and¬†each had a teardrop¬†tattooed on the cheek.¬† They were garbed in nothing BUT black, dog collars, chains, the whole nine yards. The girl’s¬†hair was light and curly, but theirs was straight and¬†you got it, BLACK. I was about to tell Jen to have a peek at the Marilyn Manson impersonators but didn’t have a chance to when they stepped off of the escalator and directly towards our kiosk!

I instructed my 16 year old daughter to stay inside of the kiosk and walked out to greet them, but before I could say a word, the girl extended her hand to me! With a big smile and lighthearted tone she offered up a typical, Kia Ora! ( hello) I’m Fiona. What’s your name, Miss? I couldn’t help but note that this was quite possibly the most polite child I had ever met!¬† Kia Ora. My name is Lis.

You’ve got really beautiful hair, Lis. Okay clearly this angelic child has been abducted by these two demons. Maybe it’s time to call security, my¬†mind instructed. We came to buy Christmas prezzies for my Nana and Papa at The Warehouse, but they aren’t open yet. (The Warehouse is NZ’s Walmart a¬†merge of Dollar General & Big Lots) .¬† I responded-I’m glad you came to visit me instead! I lied- what I really thought was-the dude has a pentagram tattooed on his hand and¬†dudette has a matching one¬†on her neck. My shelves are full of GOD POEMS so anytime THE WAREHOUSE wants to open their doors, I’m cool with that!

Would you like a¬†lolly? I don’t think you’d fancy anything else I have. (I doubted Mummy & Dad would be thrilled at much of what I had to offer¬†either.) If you’ve not read my blogs, lolly is the New Zealand word for candy- that’s how I got my¬† nickname¬†Lolly. When we moved to NZ, I kept my purse full of¬†lollies to bribe the kids and one of the toddlers in our church who¬†was learning¬†to talk thought the other kids were calling me Lolly.¬†One Sunday she came running to me calling Lolly, Lolly! Several people heard her, thought it was cute, so the name stuck.

Mummy, it’s American lollies!¬†May I have one please? Mummy came around the corner sporting fanged teeth! I’ve never tried it, but I suppose if you wear black lipstick, your teeth would appear super duper white. Can you believe that MUMMY¬†had the gall to size ME up, took the candy from the basket and¬†inspected it before allowing Fiona to take it? I was all about taking care of Fiona. The way I SIZED up this situation, I would not be above using¬†their kid as a human shield if it came down to it!¬†As every¬†store opened,¬†it became painfully apparent to me that¬†they were in no hurry. What’s more, they¬†allowed me to entertain Fiona while they read all four sides of my kiosk. ¬†Uh huh. ALL FOUR sides.

After what felt like an eternity,¬†Mr. Marilyn¬†handed me two frames. You wanna buy these? Jena teased me about my BILL ENGVALL moment. Naw, we just wanted to hold them for a few minutes! HEEre‘s your sign!

They’d picked out something¬†for Fiona’s Nana and Papa. Now don’t laugh! I’ve got a guy and gal in front of me whose eyes made Tammy Faye’s look like VIRGIN EYES.¬† I wanted to be a responsible sales person & point out the line in BOLD letters that read,¬†I thank GOD for you, but I’d seen them read EVERYTHING; so there was NO way they had overlooked the spiritual nature of my work. I opted to ring up the sale and gave Fiona a parting lolly and goodbye hug. She took them by the hand.¬†I’m glad I got that American friend. She talks really¬†REALLY weeeirrd..but her lollies are yummy!

The next morning I looked up¬†to see Mr. MARILYN traveling ALONE¬†down the escalator. Jensi, I muttered between my teeth, Marilyn’s back and he’s coming over here. Stay in the kiosk & grab your mobile–we may need security.¬†

Without FIONA between us, I felt vulnerable and wondered why he was there to pay a second visit so early the very next day. Kia Ora, mate. How’d you manage leaving both your girls at home? The dude was genuinely surprised. You remember me? Sweeet.

HEEre’s YOUR sign, bro. I’m used to seeing a grown man¬†in the mall dressed like Lucifer at Christmas. ūüôā I held in¬†my chuckle and responded with a grin. Give Fiona this lolly¬†and make sure to tell her it’s from¬†me. The look in his eyes- I will¬†never¬†forget. It was¬†obvious he wasn’t used to having ordinary¬†chats¬†with a middle aged, American woman,¬†not openly¬†disgusted or¬†threatened by his appearance.

He picked up a frame within a minute or two¬†and brought it to the cash wrap. I saw my partner reading it yesterday. I acted like I didn’t so I’d have her a surprise to open for Christmas. Just got off graveyard (dude was killing my life!¬†He¬†worked graveyard. Seriously?) I’m knackered!¬†¬†Glad I didn’t have to look¬†around for it again. You got a lot of stuff¬†to read. ¬†He handed Jena the oval frame that read…TO MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE.

This¬†young man¬†was as normal¬†acting and talking as most¬†of¬†our customers. He just looked like a freak! We¬†chatted¬†about his wife, daughter, job and a bit about life¬†while Jena rang up the sale. When she handed him the bag, he looked me¬†directly¬†in the eye and with a genuineness that grabbed my soul, he said; Thanks for being nice to my family¬†yesterday.¬†We don’t get that¬†kind of reaction very often¬†and it means a lot. Fiona says you’re her best American friend.

If my story ended would be among my MOST TREASURED memories, but it was to be another YEAR before it ended happily ever after.

The next CHRISTMAS, I opened my business in the same mall and got my same space across from the escalator. I hadn’t been opened long when I spotted a young family coming down the escalator. They had to get VERY¬†close before I recognized them.

Mummy said you might be in this same¬†place. Where’s your girl? A familiar voice peeked inside the kiosk¬†while reaching into my lolly basket. She only looked at Mum for an okay nod this time.¬† FIONA! You’re almost as tall as me!¬†My girl is¬†away at church camp this week but, she’ll be gutted that she didn’t get to see you!

Although¬†she’d grown taller as¬†kids do,¬†it wasn’t FIONA who was barely recognizable. Had she not been with her parents, I would not have known them.¬† Well, Mummy and Dad¬†sure look different from¬†last year. They blushed. We decided it was time for us to grow up and let her be the kid for a change and besides, we couldn’t¬†afford to keep¬†buying our own¬†makeup with the way she’s growing!¬†¬† I¬†whelped¬†up in the middle of the mall as we hugged¬†one other. It’s good to see you guys! I’ve thought about you often and prayed that you were doing well.

They told me how much the frames had meant to her parents, so they wanted to pick out verses to give their siblings. This year, they¬†didn’t pay, but it wasn’t because I felt a need to be charitable. I¬†WANTED to repay them for the joy they’d given me. When they protested, I insisted. ¬†I want to-because you cared enough to bring Fiona by to say hello and¬†I don’t get that too much being American over here and it means a lot. ¬†When our eyes met, he let me know- he knew that I was repeating the words he’d said to me the year before. ¬†After a¬†few moments of chatter, I tucked a frame in¬†the¬†bag¬†with a note that it was a gift from me. It read-PEOPLE come. PEOPLE go, a fact of LIFE it’s true. But every now and then¬†some STAY¬†to become special FRIENDS like you.

GOD used that family to teach me some valuable lessons and all these years later, I think of them often.

Don’t judge a book by its COVER, I don’t know what’s on the inside of anyone.

Don’t assume GOD can’t use me to witness even when a person is my opposite.

CHILDREN are the most likely key to unlock parents’ hearts. If I can REACH the child with kindness, chances are that I’ll reach the parent.¬†When I connect with the¬†parent, I can share Jesus.

BE KIND to people who look different than me. They get an ample amount of¬†self righteous, JUDGMENTAL stares…a friendly hello…not so much.

I try (though I confess it’s hard for a people pleaser) not to worry about what other CHRISTIANS think about me when¬†they witness¬†me¬†interacting with¬†those who don’t¬†have a HALO. I haven’t always been as comfortable with it as I am at this point in life. You know-I missed sharing the LOVE of GOD with so many because of¬†a¬†warped, ignorant view about what being unspotted by the world & unequally yoked with unbelievers means. I’ve wrestled with what GOD meant by abstaining from the appearance of evil and I’m still seeking to understand how to be in the world and not of it. But, I do know one thing. You can’t REACH what you’re not willing to touch!

Those verses¬†that we love to¬†serve up¬†are an¬†arrogant, pious excuse not to associate with people who look, talk or live differently than¬†we do and I am telling you without reservation. GOD will hold us accountable¬†for that when we stand before¬†HIS throne.¬† And if it helps some of you to relax a little about this controversial topic, I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to go to a bar, alley, ghetto or crack house to find those who are DIFFERENT than you are.¬†They live on¬†our streets, shop in ¬†same¬†malls we do, have kids¬†who go to school with our¬†kids’ and sometimes they visit our church when we LEAST expect them. SO when that happens….

I want to BE the one who SPEAKS to them..NOT..WHISPERS about them.

I want to BE the one who sits beside them..NOT..gets up and moves as far away as possible.

I want to BE the one who ACCEPTS them where they are..NOT..the one who says- you’re not WELCOME until you clean up your act. Lose the ponytail, erase those tattoos, filter your language, no ripped jeans in the sanctuary, no drinking, no smoking, no foul language! NO, NO, NO!!

I want to BE the one who LOVES those people, regardless of where they are! Contrary to what many¬†may say, that is not condoning a sinful lifestyle. It’s just¬†doing¬†what JESUS¬†told us to do. LOVE one ANOTHER. ¬†I’ve been doing ministry a long, long time now and I hope you’ll trust me on this. We can’t win¬†the lost¬†to CHRIST if¬†we eek out bigotry, self righteousness, prejudice, hatred or CONDEMNATION .

I don’t have to make them presentable¬†to enter GOD’S PRESENCE. I’m called to¬†LOVE them as HE¬†LOVED me and¬†let¬†HIM take it from there! I’m to help them grow¬†in their walk but THAT part¬†happens¬†AFTER HE SAVES!

Do yourself a favor and actually listen to the SONG…you won’t be sorry!

why I choose to be REAL–the Horror of HELL

The past year has been more than a learning curve-more like a neverending LEARNING HIGHWAY/instruction manual. I’ve found out a lot about a few people that I wished I’d never learned..but in the process discovered much about myself, my husband, my kids and the value of true friendship, too.

I’ve grown up hearing that as Christians, we’re to be examples for the worldmy views about that haven’t changed. What’s changed is how I think we’re supposed to let the world see JESUS in our lives. I thank GOD for allowing our family to live & belong to another culture for several years because HE used it to reshape and hone our views on sharing the gospel of CHRIST.

The WORD indeed says, Let your light so shine before men, abstain from the very appearance of evil, be ye doers of the WORD, not hearers only, and on and on. I’m a PK turned PW-I use church lingo fluently. I’ve done it in ways I’m not proud-to be transparent. IT says: Lay aside ALL filthiness & overflow of wickedness-receive with meekness the implanted WORD which is able to save your souls-IT also says; If anyone among you thinks he’s religious-but doesn’t BRIDLE his tongue-but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is USELESS.

Pure & undefiled religion before GOD and the Father is this: to visit orphans & widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted by the world.

My favorite misrepresented verse is: 1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from EVERY form of evil. Let me be clear; it wasn’t put in GOD’S WORD for us to pull out & sling at a brother we see having a beer or a sister filing for divorce. We can’t pick & choose based on how we feel about drinking or divorce. In the south, especially- people think nothing about smoking a cigarette, but drinking is a big sin. But-there are equally as many Christians, who will not smoke or drink (but are themselves extremely overweight) believing that nicotine is a drug-the same as alcohol. You go there and you’re going to hear THE WORD states that we are not to be gluttons, too.

I’m not saying who’s right or who’s wrongJesus said in Matthew 11:18-John came neither eating nor drinking & they say, He has a demon. The Son of Man (referring to Himself) came eating & drinking, and they say, Look, a glutton & a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But WISDOM is justified by her children. Based on HIS words, personal convictions vary, which leaves it up to you and me to identify ours without¬†unnecessarily judging someone else.

Why do so many church people feel they have a GOD GIVEN mandate to dictate what their Pastor should teach? Spiritual leaders do not get the respect that they once did and baby boomer experts say that it’s because the baby boomers want to be in charge of it all; who..ME?

I don’t expect that church people bow down before any man-please DO NOT misunderstand me. GOD is the only one worthy of any praise and I’m disgusted by arrogant men or women in pastoral leadership who abuse their position. I just read about a well known pastor in New Zealand-who demands that those in his & his wife’s presence, don’t begin eating until AFTER he and she do. I haven’t been in their company-so I’m repeating REPORTS-but, if it’s true, that is insane! I’m not talking about that kind of IDOL worship-I’m saying..a man called by GOD should be allowed to preach what’s on his heart, as long as it matches up with GOD’S WORD. It’s VITAL that all of us STUDY to SHOW ourselves approved-so that we can rightly divide the WORD of GOD. Chipper spends more hours than you can imagine every week preparing his sermons. Granted-some pastors take too much leeway with internet sermon packages, but most are serious about their messages and spend ample time preparing them.

The BIBLE gives instruction to the church: Therefore, we urge you brethren, to recognize those who labor among you & are over you in the LORD and admonish you, and to esteem them VERY highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. We exhort you, brethren, to warn the unruly and comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. REJOICE always. Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of GOD in CHRIST JESUS for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Don’t despise prophesies but TEST all things, hold fast to what is good…

Pastors are being forced to leave their pulpits every week because a few don’t like the content of the pastor’s messages. We need to abide by the WORD-a man called to preach is obligated to proclaim the WORD..the good & bad, the comforting bits & searing bits. THAT is the charge on his life and when the church forbids it, they will be held accountable sooner or later.

It’s true-people can’t stand before GOD and use anyone else as an excuse for not accepting CHRIST. But, I don’t want my entrance spoiled by someone claiming that I didn’t do my part. Just to hear it said Depart from¬† ME, I never Knew You is horrible-but, what if that person were screaming out..Lis! Lis Morgan! ÔĽŅWhy didn’t you act like it was more important? TELL GOD you didn’t DO YOUR JOB, beg HIM to give me one last chance. I don’t want to go to HELL!

We will be held ACCOUNTABLE for those we turn away from the faith. THE WORD says that we’d be better off with a millstone hung around our neck and dropped to the bottom of the ocean. For me, that’s perfect imagery from the WORD MASTER! It takes a while to sink to the bottom of the ocean; you can only hold your breath for so long..I have COPD, so I know how petrifying it is not being able to breathe. It’s impossible to FATHOM the HORROR of HELL.

Our church is different. Well, it’s great if a church takes blankets to a hospital while the news films it. But, I wonder if the kids living in the projects around the church feel snubbed-because they aren’t loved & welcomed with opened arms. My guess? They’re treated that way because they’re poor or the wrong color.

I’ll never forget seeing a church member grab a six year old boy roughly one Wednesday evening because the kid didn’t have a pair of clean pants to come to church in-so he wore some of his older brother’s. The man was convinced that this boy was demonstrating gangsta behavior & influencing the good kids the wrong way. He tied a rope around the kid’s waist and sent him across the fence-sobbing. Even though that was NOT the case..WHAT if it had been? Isn’t the church to be a SHINING light–the city on a hill?

THE WORD defines PURE & UNDEFILED religion so I don’t need to add my two cents worth, other than to say that I do not want to be associated with that style of Christianity and make no apologies for it. I’m a missionary, so nobody believes in GLOBAL missions more than me, but, if you aren’t willing to reach out to those living next door, why not save your cash for another plaque to honor somebody. GOD knows our hearts better than we know them and one day we’ll answer about how we treat one another on this earth.

Pure & undefiled religion gives us freedom to do whatever HE leads us to do in order to share HIS LOVE with this world. It helps to remind ourselves of that responsibility and to realize that the goal is not to impress each other with charitable deeds-it’s all about bringing glory and honor to HIM!

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