Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The day that completely changed my convictions

The day that completely changed the way I approach my convictions

January 6th, 2015

This past weekend, I drove to Barnesville GA to meet up with my church family I served with while attending Gordon state. We all hopped in the van and headed to Atlanta, as we were just 10 of 20,000+ people gathering together for the Passion 2015 conference. (Let me tell you... to see that many people gathered together in the name of Jesus... Man... Overwhelming!)

Let me tell you a little about what God has been laying on my heart!


My junior year of high-school, I traveled to Ethiopia Africa with Celebration Baptist Church. It was a medical mission trip, and it completely opened my eyes to what being a Christian is all about. Strangely though, and unlike most peoples' experience to a foreign country, I did not come back on a great hype to go back. (Possibly because I got sick, and literally almost puked my guts up for half a day. Maybe because we went ten days with no running water. Maybe because I was hungry and dirty and smelly and miserable... Or maybe all of the above.)

However, I did come back with open eyes to what God was doing in places other than the United States. I was not eager to return, but the faces engraved in my heart were never far from my mind.

Fast forward to June of 2014. I was attending a holiness camp that I have gone to my entire life (Suwannee Holiness Camp.) One of the speakers said something I will never forget that sounded much like this:

"If something is of God, it will turn into a conviction. If it is not of God, it will fade."

This was so simply, yet so life changing for me. Immediately God laid Africa on my heart again. I literally told Him "You are not calling me there Lord. I know you aren't. No way!" Though I realized the importance of the above quote, and I laid that calling into Jesus' hands.

Fast forward again to August of 2014. I had just moved up to Gordon State to play ball, and my new life was full of new desires and new surroundings. But the little subtle hints of Africa never let up. One that hit me hard was my invitation to submit a work application for a girls summer camp. My friend informed me that what made this camp so unique was its focus on missions. Guess which continent they are focusing on in 2015?! Africa!!!!

I felt certain that God wanted me there. Or, I at least justified the calling to actually go with the fact that this camp would be a wonderful place to be involved in learning and praying for Africa. If you haven't by now, you will soon realize that God doesn't always settle for justified decisions.

Anyway, after filling out the application, I did not feel at peace when the time came to turn it in. So I didn't. Then I decided I would look for other summer camps to work at. I began applications with other ministries as well, but I did not feel at peace when submitting any of them.

Finally, I was invited to apply for full time mission work in New Orleans, and I had total peace about that! Needless to say, that application is in the system.

Crazy turn right? Like, how do I go from Africa to pursuing New Orleans?!

WELL... This weekend I was getting very discouraged about my trip back to Ethiopia. I knew the calling to go back was a conviction, but I had no idea how it was ever going to happen. (We could save ourselves so much stress if we just lived like we believe God will always work out the details.) However, yesterday I got a message that I was not expecting so soon. My dear friend from Africa is getting married in October of 2015. She wants ME to be a bridesmaid! How wonderful, and what an honor!!!

God has totally worked out a time and place for me to return!

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:9


I have worked with the homeless before. I have often given money and/or food to the homeless. I have been burned by fakes, and blessed by those in humble need.

These past few months, there has been a man walking up and down my street, pushing everything he owns in a plastic barrel. God has SINCERELY laid him on my heart... I mean, big time!

I have not stopped to speak with him out of respect for my father. I am a single woman, and I knew he would just about kill me if he knew I stopped alone to speak with a homeless man.

But after attending Passion this weekend, I decided that my convictions could not justifiably be set aside for fear of something that might not actually happen (ie: a homeless man being unsafe, me getting hurt, etc.)

Today as I was driving to go pick a friend up from school, I saw him right in front of my neighborhood. I KNEW God was telling my to stop. This time, I had an obligation on the other side of town and could not stop right away. So I asked God, "please keep him there until I get back, because if he is there, I will stop."

Sure enough, as my friend and I returned to this side of town, he was still sitting there. I parked my car, and we began walking his direction.

Let me tell you about this man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He used to be a drug addict. Used to sleep with hookers. Used to be an alcoholic, along with any other bad thing you can associate with such behavior. At the age of 28, he got radically saved. He picked up the Bible, and never laid it down.

He worked with some ministry teams, but no church ever supported him.

So he felt God leading him to be a street preacher.

He is now in his late 50's, and he has traveled to 44 states. The other states he cannot reach because he knows the cold weather will kill him. He preaches and teaches to anyone who will listen. He baptizes, though he realizes that is not what saves you.

He opened up his Bible, handed it to me, and told me to ask him ANYTHING from ANYWHERE in the Bible. He knows it better than the hands he has used his entire life. This man KNOW the Word of God (better than any pastor or professing minister I have ever met).

After almost two hours of conversation, he had not asked me for a single dime. I offered to buy him lunch, and he graciously accepted my offer. He set the two cans he had been heating on the grass in the sun all day aside for dinner instead of lunch. So my friend and I set out to get him some Moe's!
After we returned to him, he talked more of God's Word. I asked him of some physical needs, which included these:
New wheels for his cart (Tractor Supply Co)
New tarps (because his have holes, and this Tallahassee rain destroyed much of his stuff these past few weeks)
Sleeping gear (I do believe he said that)
And that's about it. He didn't ask for money. He didn't ask for anything!!!
He chose to preach the Word of God, and because no one funded him in his early years, he now lives homeless, but still praises God for EVERYTHING!
The most amazing thing I have ever done was finally give into my conviction and speak with this man.

A Widower in Chick-Fil-A

After an amazing afternoon with my friend and Chris, I met my buddy at Chick-Fil-A to get his kids fed and then off to evening activities. While they were playing on the playground, an older man (in his 70's) spoke up in regards to me not having a ring. (This always makes me laugh, though it is very common!)

I responded with something regarding love towards the kids, and he responded with something encouraging me to love them every single day.

My response is usually "Life is too short and eternity is too long not to."

After a brief exchange, I shifted tables and began to talk to this man. He informed me that he lost his daughter when she was in her 40's, his first wife literally just a couple months after, and his second wife of 12 years just this past year.

He teared up speaking about it! But throughout the whole entire conversation, he encouraged me to love the Lord, seek Him always, and always look for people who are alone and in need of love.

After shaking his hand multiple times, I turned for just a second to grab something off the table, and when I turned around to say goodbye one last time, the man was gone...

Not like outside gone (I checked). Not like bathroom gone (there was not enough time for that). Not like getting a refill gone (he wasn't there)!

Though I do not believe this man was an angel, I do believe we come across them all the time. I sure hope to keep my eyes open when that happens, just as God opened my eyes today.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

I cannot describe to you the overwhelming sense of GOD I had today.

Two men, both strangers, completely changed my entire life within the span of just two hours.
May your eyes be opened as well to the life God really calls us to. Not the American Church dream we all like to think we are pleasing God by living in.  Let us WAKE UP to the reality of the physical and spiritual needs of everyone around us. Let us get out of our comfort zones and be Christ's hands and feet.
Needless to say, the way I approach my convictions will forever change after today.
Just a month or so ago, my mom told me that her dear friends son needed a kidney transplant. He was sick growing up, but had been doing well. He was in his last semester of music school in college, and he got really sick.
He came home to the doctors, and he was then put on dialysis 3x a week.
Immediately, I knew I wanted to donate mine.
I thought "God, you gave me two, so I will absolutely give mine away!"
I was set on that even before I started any research.
Some people were happy when I began to share my intentions, and others were absolutely in disbelief that I made such an "impulsive" decision. As you can imagine, those who were in disbelief were not too happy.
But not once did I question it. After much reasoning, those who were not a fan slowly started to view it from my eyes.
I texted his mom, and then he texted me back that evening.
It was the first of many conversations I know we will soon exchange.
I have stored more prayers up for him that he will ever know.
I desperately hope that the two of us are compatible. Should we not be, then I plan to cross donate. Meaning I give to a stranger in his honor, so that a stranger will give to him in return. They call this a chain!
Either way, I know the two of us have quite a journey ahead, and I am sooooo anxiously excited to see what God is going to do through it.
Here are a few statistics regarding organ donation. Most of us have the power to give life.
Why aren't we?
  • As of August 31, 2012:
  • There are currently 115,193 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S.
  • Of these, 93,148 await kidney transplants.
  • Last year, 16,812 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of these, 11,043 kidney transplants came from deceased donors and 5,769 came from living donors....
  • On average:
  • Nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.
  • 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving transplant
  • Every 10 minutes someone is added to the transplant list
  • Last year, 4,903 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant.
The Change

I have come to realize that God is always going to have His way with those who love Him. No matter what plans I make, He always changes them, and He always uses it for His glory. I have no idea how this kidney adventure is going to pan out. I have no idea where I will be this summer. I have no idea what my trip to Africa will look like, or how God is going to get me there. I have no idea what all God is going to do with what He taught me today when I stopped to speak to Chris, but I know that his story will not be forgotten. I have no idea what is in store for my future, but I do know this:

God has my hand. God holds time in His hands. God knows my heart. He breathed life into my lungs. The world has no hold on me. God created me from the dirt, and nothing I have on this earth is going with me when I die anyway. Satan will do everything in his power to keep me from seeking the one true King. The battle has already been won, and Satan has no authority over me. Jesus Christ Himself will guide my every step. He took my place and promised me eternity by His side, so I never have to fear death or what tomorrow brings.

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

"His timing is perfect, and He never forsakes."

I thank Him for all He is doing in my life.
What is He asking you to do?!
With a lot of Jesus love,

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Becoming More Like Christ: What Does That Look Like?


If we are called to turn from sin and become more like Christ, what does that look like?

Galatians 5
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
·        Our freedom in Christ is not a license to sin. Nor does it give us permission to take control of our lives, return to the way we used to live, and live the way “we” choose apart from His perfect and Holy plan
·        “Called to be free”: God didn’t save us so that we could live lazy, comfortable lives doing only the things that bring us the most satisfaction.
·         Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
·        He looked beyond our faults, saw our needs, and that is exactly what He calls us to do for the people around us
1 John 4:16-17,19-21
            16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
·        We rely on God’s love. We cannot love apart from Him.
Personal Reflection! ↓
     I don't know about you, but I RELY on my phone and my car more than almost any other man made thing. Daily, my phone tells me exactly who I need to communicate with, allows for that communication, and then shows me the exact time and place as to where I need to meet with that person. All day, every day, I rely on my phone. My car gets me where I need to go. Rain or shine, I rely on it for transportation. I treat them both with care because I KNOW how vital they are to my everyday plans.
     If I chose not to carry my phone on any given day, I would miss many phone calls and many text messages from people I work for, daily keep up with, and love. I might miss a call from someone whom I have never met, and once I got back home to my phone with the chance to respond, the opportunity to meet that person may have be gone. If I chose not to put gas in my tank or change my oil, my car would simply not run. I wouldn't make it to work, school, or any other place that may accompany my plans.
     My point is this: In a way much more profound and eternal than the way I rely on my phone or my car, I rely on The One True God. He created me, sustains me, and there is nothing I can do apart from His knowing.
      He created you, sustains you, and there is nothing you can do apart from His knowing.  
What are some ways in which we can rely on God and know Him more?
PRAY. Talk to Him anytime, all the time, anywhere, about everything.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
Read HIS WORD. Anytime, all the time, anywhere, in search of anything.
Joshua 1:8
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
·         Our love may be the only “Jesus” people ever see. We love with HIS love because we want others to come to know Him
·        The Holy Spirit loves through us. We are His hands and feet
Galatians 5
 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
·        When we are walking towards Holiness, walking towards Christ, He IS going to have His way with us. Oh, what a beautiful sight!
·        We must submit to being transformed into the son/daughter God wants us to be
Galatians 5
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
·        This is who we are apart from Christ. We are wretched people who love our sin
·        Thank God He makes us a new creation when we choose His grace and mercy over our own sinful desires
·         2 Corinthians 5
13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
o   If people think we are crazy (“out of our mind”) by the way we love, we are doing exactly what we are called to do. We are being exactly who Christ calls us to be
o   If people think we are “in our right mind”, looking just as they do, than we are completely missing the calling God has for our lives.
o   The gospel IS the reason we love
o   He looked beyond our faults and saw our needs
o   The old is only gone because HE, in His strength, cast it away. He made us new with His grace and His mercy
o   Now our ministry is reconciliation. We have a calling on our life
o    Reconcile: 1) To reestablish a close relationship between 2) To settle or resolve.  3) To bring (oneself) to accept
o   Our entire life’s goal is to point others towards Christ in everything we say and do
o   Developing a Christ like character is contagious
Galatians 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
·        These things do not come from good morals, or simply being a good, disciplined person
·        The fruits of the spirit come only when the Holy Spirit dwells inside a believer’s heart. They are tools from the Holy Spirit to bring glory to God the Father
·        1 Timothy 1:8-17 (In reference to the Law in Galatians 5:23)
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
·        Romans 7:5-6
     5For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
·        Christ changed who we are for eternity. We MUST live for Him!
Philippians 1:12-13
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Test me in this," says the Lord

"Test me in this," says the Lord

I have watched God OVER provide time and time again. I want to encourage you in giving, as well as share just a few stories of how God has blessed me in giving these past few years. I began to write this post last week, but surely did not come close to finishing. I am just finding the time to sit down again and write, so here it goes! 

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10

  There is one thing that God tells us to "test" Him in. That one thing is tithing. As you begin to grow in your walk with Christ, you begin to realize that there is JOY in giving. Joy in serving. Everything we have comes from God. Everything we have belongs to God. God deserves all the credit in all we do. He wakes us up each morning and breathes life into us daily. If you are alive, He is sustaining you, and He is the one to be praised!

If the God of the universe (the God who created the Heavens and the earth, the sun and the caterpillars, the elephants and the oceans, the trees and the mountains) is telling us to TEST Him, I think it is our best interest to do so! 

 Here are just a few situations where He blessed me far beyond what I could ever ask or imagine after surrendering to His will with "my" possessions and/or "hard earned money". 

  1. A concert whose performer I cannot even recall

    I remember being in middle school while my brother Mitchell and his wife Lisa were not yet "a thing". I have memories of them when they were just friends, then when they were talking... when they started dating, and then when they got engaged. They are now married, and I wouldn't trade those memories for the world!

    I remember one of those evenings, they let me tag along to a christian concert. We were in a group with other friends from church, and it was an exciting night of wonderful, clean, fellowship. 

    (Here is what changed my heart forever that evening!).

     I love T-shirts. I really love music, and sporting things I love on my chest or back always makes me proud! That night I decided I was going to buy one, and my heart was set on it! However, when I reached in my pocket, my wallet told me otherwise. I was so bummed when I realized I didn't have enough money to purchase a T-shirt (or anything else I thought was worth buying). 

    I am very independent, and I DO NOT like to ask for help; especially when it comes to financial anything! However, I REALLY wanted a T-Shirt from this concert. After tossing the idea around of asking for a lend out, I finally decided that I would ask my brother for a little extra cash. I knew that I had the money at home to pay him back, so I didn't feel quite as needy in asking him, and being the wonderful big brother he always has been, he (acted like he) was fine helping me out. 

    There I was! I had enough money in my hand to go buy the T-shirt I so desperately wanted, and I was completely at ease with blowing that money away on a single article of clothing. Until... the offering call.

    Often times when christian musicians perform, they set aside time for offering towards ministries or other non-profit Christian organizations. At this concert, that is exactly what went down. They slowed the music, explained what the offering money was going to go towards, and the profound impact our obedience in giving would have on the lives of so many others around the world. 

    I do not remember the name of the bands playing that night, nor do I remember who the offering was to go toward, but I can promise you this: I had never before felt the Holy Spirit stir in my heart to give all I had like He did in the civic center that evening. 

    I had a tug on my heart that I still cannot explain! People were starving and dying from preventable causes all around the world, and the money in my hand that I had to BORROW was about to be wasted on a cotton piece of cloth! How selfish? How foolish? 

    I handed my brother his money back so that all I had left in my hand was mine to give. (God doesn't desire for you to give away things that do not belong to you, and that are not yours to give away). When the volunteers began passing buckets around, I knew that every dollar in my hand belonged to God, and if stepped out on faith, I was not going home with a T-shirt.

    When I dropped all the money I had in that offering plate, knowing full well it was going to save lives and that I was not going home with a cool souvenir, a weight of 1,000,000 pounds was lifted of of my shoulders! 

    I never got the "money back" from that offering. God instead opened the floodgates in an indescribable,eternal way! God changed my heart in a way money will NEVER equate to! Far beyond any satisfaction money could bring about.

    From that moment on, I never question whether God will use my tithes and offering for His glory. 

    After all,

    Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

    2. The Guitar that found its home in Africa and never came back

     Last March, I had the opportunity to go with Celebration Baptist Church to Ethiopia! We flew into Addis Ababa for a medical mission trip. We drove about 4 hours into a truck stop town called Gedo, where we stayed in a hotel whose price was the equivalent of <$4.00 American dollars per night. This town has NO running water, and the people there live in poverty that I cannot even attempt to explain.  (Read about this trip in my blog post here). 

    After reading the blog I mentioned above, you will have a better understanding of why "Testing God" in giving is so near and dear to me!

     Before a trip to the other side of the world, packing is an extremely important part of 
     preparing. On one of the days leading up to our departure, my mom, dad, and I were all in my room making certain that our check list was checked off and ready to go. (My mom and I went to Africa, but my dad stayed home). As I was putting my guitar in the case for the trip, my dad stopped me in my tracks.

    Dad: "Morgan, why don't you take one of the other guitars? That is your nice, expensive one and you know if you take it with you it is not coming back!"
    Me: "DAD, it IS COMING back! I am NOT leaving my guitar in Africa! I worked hard for the money to buy it, it was expensive, and it IS coming back with me!". 
    Dad: "Morgan, you know you are gonna meet someone special and leave it. If you take it, this house will never see it again."

    We drove to Atlanta as a mission team, and flew out from there. We stopped in North (or South?) Carolina, then flew from there to DC. From DC, we boarded Ethiopian Airlines and headed across the ocean to Africa! 

    As a team, we had A LOT of luggage. My guitar was a checked bag, and it was supposed to be under the plane all the way until we reached Addis. However, a nice man at the airport allowed me to take it as a carry on, not counting towards the bag I already had on my shoulder. This was perfect!

    We had a lot of trouble every time we tried to board the plane. The workers did not like the fact that I had two carry on's, and often times tried to force me to leave my guitar. (Where in the world did they expect me to put it?!) Luckily, my dear friend Courtney was able to clam it as her one and only carry on, and the guitar made the trip with us in eye sight :)

    Well, here is the God part! Our first 30 minutes in the Addis airport, we were informed that our luggage was lost. ALL of it. So here we are in a foreign country with none of our personal stuff, and none of our supplies for the mission trip. BUT... guess what!?!?!

    I had my GUITAR!!!! God saved the day on that one! 

    As we got on the bus to head towards Gedo (4 hour ride), I sat with my guitar case in the middle isle. At this point, we were only riding the bus with our interpreters, we did not yet know their names or who they were. A man from the front walked over to me, pointed towards my guitar, and asked if he could play it. (In all honesty, I told him to go ahead because I did not think he was capable of playing anything at all. "Why would I assume that a man from Africa could play a guitar?" was my mindset.).

    He proved me wrong! He grabbed my guitar, turned to face his two friends, and played the most beautiful song I have ever hear... in his own language!

     Sabekelf worshiping OUR Father on the way to Gedo.What a wonderful sound it
     is to hear God praised in a language and country other than my own!

    At this point, I was not completely convinced that leaving my guitar was what God wanted me to do. (My mom would say that at that very moment, she knew my guitar was not coming home). I did however know for certain that I was going to leave money for him to buy one.

    As the week went on, I found myself placing the guitar in his hands more often than my own. I saw the way he worshiped, and I couldn't help but stand in awe every time his fingers touched the fret board, and every time his lips sang with praise. 

    Toward the end of the week, he actually asked if he could buy it from me. 

    In Ethiopia, they don't have access to much. In this case, Sabe had no access to an electric acoustic guitar.  He had a guitar that he used to lead worship at the church, but he didn't have an electric acoustic that he could plug in. So, for him to lay his hands on one is pretty unheard of. 

    I had decided just the night before that I was going to leave it with him. I was not going to tell him, in hopes of making it a surprise when I left it at the end of the week. However, he asked, and I made sure he knew in that moment it was his. I told him that I didn't want anything in return... except that he ALWAYS use it to honor God, and that he give Hana (another interpreter) lessons when I leave. He promised both!

    Hana picked it up well with my instruction too!!!

     All this to say, I left my guitar in Ethiopia. I never second guessed it, and I gave it away without even thinking about what that meant for myself.

    1. I went home with no guitar and no case
    2. I had no guitar to lead worship with at my own church, and no guitar to record in the studio with
    3. No guitar to write songs on, and no guitar to take with me to Camp Electric

    It was not until a months later, when my dear friend asked about my guitar, did I even realize that I was "guitar-less". Anytime I thought of my strings, I prayed for Sabe and his family and the work he was doing in Africa. When she approached me at church saying "I heard you left your guitar in Ethiopia", I immediately got to tell her about my trip. When she asked "What are you going to take with you to Camp Electric?", I did not know how to respond. The thought of not having an instrument at such an important camp had not once crossed my mind. I am sure I probably said something along the lines of "I don't know. But God's will will be done in that".  

    Little did I know she was prying for information. Laugh out loud! She is such an encouragement and loves to place others before herself. She sent out a secret email to some of the ladies she knew, and then without telling me about it, invited me to lunch. After a wonderful chat at Moe's, she handed me a few envelopes and sent me home anxious to open them!

    When I got home, I was literally speechless as I broke the seals. I opened them to find letters from many different people who had pitched in to "Help Morgan get a new guitar". They wrote me notes of encouragement, and enclosed more than enough money to buy a new guitar. I was so overwhelmed that I could not even breathe! The tears began to roll and all I could do was thank the Lord for holding me in His arms... always!

    There was not enough room to store the overwhelming joy I felt that day! God is never slow in keeping His promises.

    "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10

     3. Take off your turfs, for this is holy ground

     "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5

     Do you have something that you just LOVE to look at? Love to own? Love to collect?
    I LOVE watches and tennis shoes! I do not have a lot of money, so I also LOVE to buy clearance, but there is just something about a new pair of kicks or a nice fitting watch that makes my heart skip a beat! (I also have a thing for race/tri bikes, but they are way out of reach as far as my wallet is concerned!)

    Well, for YEARS I wanted a pair of Nike turfs. All my ball coaches wore them, all my ball friends owned them, and it seemed that I was the only ball player around that didn't sport a pair on my feet!

    For fun, this is what they look like!

    Before it was time to start preparing for Africa, my friend bought me a pair! I was so excited! I am pretty sure that I even wore them to bed the first night! I am also pretty sure that I wore them with every out fit I put on as well; at least until they got dirty and I could no longer cuddle with them!

    I decided to wear them to Africa because I was down with a knee injury at the time and needed good "walking" shoes. 

    Now, we went overseas with the anticipation that almost everything we took over we were going to leave behind. My guitar and my shoes were the exception with my luggage! I was going to wear my turfs home on the plane , guitar in hand, and I was going to leave everything else behind. (Laughing now because I should have known all along... “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9)

    My plan for the shoes was working perfectly.. wear them all the time and that way they don't have a chance to be given away. Until...

    On the mission trip we were doing medical clinics. One day, a young teenage boy came to us for help. (He looked to be about 10, as most people there are malnourished and do not grow to the standards we do in country's with simple food and water). We knew immediately that he was very sick even before he told us what was wrong. 

    He had diabetes. He had been going from home to home, church to church... begging and pleading for money to get treatments. But no one had access to or was willing to lend this young man anything. He came to us looking like death warmed over. I cannot put into words the way his face touched my heart. 

    (Can you imagine your own child dying from a disease that only costs $60.00!!!!!!!!!!!! American dollars per YEAR to fix?!?! Heartbreaking to say the least.)

    It is very hard to give money to poor family over there because the simplest hand out can change their social class instantly. As a mission team, we offered to leave money with the church to help him for many years... but knowing that the boy might not last through the current year, they would not accept.

    So, we put him on our bus and took him with us back to Gedo. 

    On the way, my mom cuddled him in her seat. Kids don't get a loving touch over there, so I am certain he felt for the first time what it truly means to be "safe in a mothers arms". As his feet hung over the seat, I noticed he had on the same shoes I had seen all over town. Rubber elf looking shoes that he out grew probably ten years ago, and soles that exposed almost his entire foot! My first thought was to take the shoes off my own feet, but I knew I needed to ask our team leader if that was appropriate. 

    I did, and was given a "yes". I figured if I was going to leave my shoes, it may as well be to a young man whose face was already forever engraved in my head. I took his shoes off, and I could tell he was not comfortable with that. (I wouldn't be either if that was the only pair I owned). I began to unlace mine, and he looked up at me with eyes that I will never forget...

    I placed them on his feet, let him tie them, and watched as he admired his newest priced possession. We got off the bus, and my bare feet caught the eye of everyone around. 

    "The American girl is bare foot! Where are her shoes? The white girl is walking in the mud, why does she not buy a pair of shoes to put on her feet? When that girl left, she was covered... why is she shoeless now? Look at that little boy! He has a new pair of shoes! He doesn't deserve that!". I can only imagine these were some of the thoughts going through all these onlookers heads. 

    As I walked into the hotel shoeless, I watched that boy walk away, never to see him again. A friend from the team came up to me and put a whole new perspective on what I had just done...

    She reminded me of the horrible affects diabetes has on circulation, legs, and feet. She reminded me that not only did I give away a simple pair of shoes, but I made an incredible difference in the health of this young man. Tears began to flow again, and I was left overwhelmed by God's goodness and perfect timing. 

    My ways were not His ways, and I am so thankful that God reminded me of that in my giving. What I intended to use in vain, God used to humble me like never before. 

    When I got back to the states, not once did I miss my guitar or my beloved turfs. God put a joy in me from those two moments that nothing will ever quench. (Sitting here now typing this brings tears to my eyes, even a year later). 

    Just as a friend blessed me without permission in getting a new guitar, I also had a friend (may as well be my sister) bless me in giving me shoes. This friend has no idea that I ever left shoes in Africa, and the shoes that she gave me upon returning home came completely out of her own desire to bless me. I cannot pretend like that was anything other than God using her to show me that His timing is perfect and He never forsakes. 

    Since coming home from Africa, my friend has given me 4 pairs of shoes (she did not know then and does not know now that I left my own pair in Ethiopia). I love to run, as does she. When she put a fair amount of miles on her shoes, she gave them to me to use as brand new! I cannot afford these, and to have nice "running shoes" is something I am very thankful for. So Sister, thank you!

     The Lord loves to bless His people!

    "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10

    I am in NO way saying that God will always give us back what we give away in obedience. Again, His ways are not our ways! I AM saying that He has never failed me, and He will not fail you. He says to test Him in giving, and He promises to bless us in HIS perfect and all- knowing way! Whether He gives us back what we gave away, multiples what we gave and again chooses to give it back, or simply decides to give us only a still peace within our hearts, He will always come through. Even if we never see the return of our work until we meet Jesus face to face, every step taken in faith will be worth it! He welcomes our praise and our obedience!

    How does this apply to you?

    I don't know! Ask God what it is in your life that you are not allowing Him to have His hand in. (I have to do this daily). Do you really believe that He gave you everything you have, or do you just like to say that because it makes you "feel" more thankful? Do you trust Him with your money and fiances? Is He the FIRST one your stroke the check to every month, or the last one you give to in the event you have left overs? 
     Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; Proverbs 3:9
    What about your time? Do you make time to serve others, or do you kick and scream at the thought of laboring over people that cannot pay you back? If you DO serve, are you serving for an earthly reward or an eternal reward?
    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:21
     Are you aiming to please men or the One that created all men? Are you angry because you have given to "The Kingdom" and feel God has not returned what you thought He would return? Or are you humbly and perfectly content with knowing we are not to store up treasures here, but in Heaven?

    The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.Deuteronomy 28:12

    For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

    Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;  not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3

    If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Deuteronomy 15:7

    Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
    "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.Matthew 6:1-4
    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24

    Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.Luke 12:33

    Take a look at this video called "Do Something" by Matthew West
     Are you ready to answer a call?!

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that it has encouraged or motivated you in someway today. 
Love to all,