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.

SO..here 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? 😀

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 go..it’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 is..do 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? 😀

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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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 there..it 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! Why 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!

LOSING much to FIND more

This past May, my Chipper and I thought our world had crumbled around us in one nasty heap. What we assumed was to be our promised land turned out to be anything but…I typed something else…but I decided it was best not to be quite that dangerously transparent! 😀

We were fifty year olds who had done a lot of living for the first half century, but were ready to grow up & settle down. With all of our hearts, we believed this was the place, and life had never been better.

Nine short eye-opening weeks later, our dreams shattered and for seven months, we’ve been unemployed.  What savings we had has been used up and our health insurance ended this month..but, this THANKSGIVING is the one that I’ll remember most because I have MORE to be thankful for than ever before.

By LOSING everything..I’ve SEEN up close and personal where my HELP comes from! Never have I been more in awe of the way our FATHER provides for those who live by faith.

For SEVEN MONTHS we’ve lived in a gorgeous home on the most beautiful property in South Carolina.  Every morning I watch the sun come up over the hills and in the evening I watch it set behind the trees over the Broad River.

Who BUT GOD could lead strangers to have compassion towards people they don’t know..to the point of giving us the keys and insisting that we stay until GOD moves us.. for FREE. Tell me WHO but GOD could do that?

FOR SEVEN MONTHS we’ve been blessed with food that we didn’t pay a dime for because of the ongoing generosity of friends and family. We don’t have a freezer full of food..we have THREE freezers full! Who BUT GOD could do that?

FOR SEVEN MONTHS we’ve had electricity, internet, cable, phone service, medicine, water, a car and insurance. WHO but GOD could do that?

FOR SEVEN MONTHS we’ve been surprised with gifts from unlikely givers..in amounts from $10 to $1000 at one time.  Who BUT GOD could do that?

Our son got married and we (with a lot of help from family and friends) hosted a lovely rehearsal dinner and reception…who BUT GOD could do that?

Jena’s wedding is in February and our precious daughter (with the help of our family & friends) will have the wedding of her dreams. Think about that, two weddings in four months & we’re unemployed! Who BUT GOD could do that?

FOR SEVEN MONTHS my Chipper and I have not had an argument during the most stressful time of our thirty years of marriage. Tammy who lives with us will verify- I’m not exaggerating. Who BUT GOD could do that?

HE FAVORS ME-HIS DAUGHTER..just as HE does ALL of HIS sons and daughters! I’m a broken girl turned woman with poor self esteem and yucky issues from my past. My mother scolds that I’m too honest about my past!  But, the way I see it..if knowing what I’ve been through offers HOPE to someone else-if revealing how my broken life was put together by my GOD, I’m all ABOUT that; I want people to understand JUST how big HIS challenge is when it comes to Lis’s life-HE hasn’t got much to work with let me tell ya!!

HE Favors Me is a special song GOD used to get my Chipper and me through this storm. My own NAME is engraved on the palm of GOD’S HAND, as is yours if you belong to HIM (a verse tucked in the Old Testament..I’d give you the reference, but-there might be something GOD wants to whisper to you as you search. When you find it, let me know!) If HE loves us enough to carve our names in HIS hand, HE FAVORS us! 😀

I won’t walk around in sack cloth and ashes!  Sometimes I feel like it, but when I think of what MY SAVIOR has DONE for me, my heart overflows with gratitude, joy, excitement and love.  I stand AWE STRUCK  of how SUPERNATURAL our GOD is!

I’ll be REALLY glad when the call comes for our next adventure and we get back to doing what we love to do…but, I’ll tell you this..

NEVER EVER AGAIN will I doubt the POWER of MY FATHER. NO FORCES of EVIL will sway me to DOUBT the LOVE that THE GREAT I AM has for me!  HE IS  all I NEED…HE IS all you need.

I don’t spew church talk for the heck of it.  I’m talking from first hand experience.  I can vouch for HIS POWER and TESTIFY to HIS GOODNESS because I have RECEIVED unmerited favor and love through every storm in my life and I’ve had some major storms! To say that my faith has been stretched would be an understatement..it has been PULLED beyond what I could endure..but HE forged HIS strength into my being. The feeling of COMPLETE confidence in GOD is surely worth every moment of pain and I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything!

My favorite hymn has never been more cherished or brought greater peace…

Great is thy faithfulness..o GOD my Father..there is no shadow of turning with THEE..THOU changest not, THY compassion it fails not…as YOU have been, YOU forever will be!

Great is THY faithfulness, Great is THY faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see! All I have needed THY HAND hath provideth!  Great is THY faithfulness, LORD unto me!

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