Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being "Mama Morgan"...

I've been sitting on this post for a few days now. Most of the reason for that is I've been trying to figure out how to express the deepest parts of me while protecting those involved. I will probably have a raw and honest version of this that will only be available by email for a smaller group. But in the meantime, I have to be able to off load some of my thoughts that are racing before I can sleep tonight.

"Mama Morgan."  This was a title given to me about a year and a half ago when Glenn and I started teaching the middle school class at Rescue Atlanta. One of the girls who is now like my adopted daughter referred to me by this title along with calling Glenn, "Papa Glenn." As a result...we got to refer to this group as "our kids." Little did I know that this title would come with real joys and struggles of being a parent.

I have made comments before about wanting to be a mother someday...and the more time goes by, I'm learning to accept that I may never be a "biological mom" to anyone, but I sure am an adopted mom to many. I am "Mama Morgan."

When I hear those words roll off the lips of these precious does something to my heart. It kind of brings that added sense of purpose and new found love that only those words carry. When so many of our kids have a warped understanding of what a parent is or miss out on things because of a parents actions, it puts an entirely different type of weight on those words. I have wiped away the tears of a child who was heartbroken because they felt like their parent didn't even like them more less want to talk to them. When I get an extra tight bear hug and I wonder when the last time their parent embraced them like that or when they ever will again it makes me never want to let go. When we provide a room and a bed for a child who does not even have a room in their own home anymore or is sharing it with 9 other people, it makes me want to let them move in a decorate it the way they want enjoying their own space. I am "Mama Morgan."

This week we were blessed to have three of our kids with us. I experienced every emotion under the sun and so often caught myself saying..."so this is what it feels like." We have had 3 teenagers with us and they have done everything  to live up to that title of teenager. We have dealt with calling them out, chores, mood swings, pouting, fighting with each other, being stubborn, etc. To moments of incredible joy, laughing til we cried, hugs in the morning and at night, opportunities to teach life lessons, dinner, games, movies, late night adventures, seeing them thrive, seeing them lead. We have even had the "I'm the favorite" argument coupled with "who do you love most?"

We have done everything we can to give these kids a week of love and memories. We have made decisions much like parents to set boundaries, and have sacrificed both physically and financially for their well being and happiness this week. I have felt the tension this week of trying to be a good "mom" and a good "wife." I have done their laundry and stayed up late cleaning making sure they had what they needed for the next day.

I am "Mama Morgan," yet at the end of the day, I am not their mother. I do not hold the legal rights to make decisions for them. I can't take take them to the dentist, the doctor, move them in or change their circumstances. This is where I struggle. I wrestle in the deepest part of me.

I love them as if they were my own. I may never rock my own child, hear their first words, take them to their first day of school, get them ready for prom, send them off to college. I may be the adopted  parent to hundreds of kids in my lifetime. I will wipe away tears of pain, hug til my arms hurt, exhaust myself for a smile, strive to provide positive childhood experiences, spend my own money on their physical needs and more. But I will also be blessed to feel that sigh of relief when they feel arms wrapped around them in an embrace they may have longed for. I will get to experience some of their firsts: baseball games, basketball games, etc. I will be there in the stands when there is no one there to cheer them on. I will play Candyland 100 times over. I will be at their graduation. I will encourage them to dream. I will pray and plead with God over their life and decisions. I will call them out when they do wrong but will pour blessing and encouragement at the same time. I will love them...but I will also let them go....entrusting them to God..who sees them, knows them and cares for them more deeply than I ever could.

I will live in this tension of undeniable joy and intense heartbreak.

I will grow in a deeper way, love in a deeper way, pray in a deeper way.

I will be a better person because of them.

I am so humbled that God has allowed me to have a part in their story because it is an incredible part of mine.

I am "Mama Morgan."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Devastating Beauty.

I've probably typed a blog with this title before....but it's how I'm feeling tonight. The contradiction of the phrase seems like those two things should not be able to exist together but so often I find myself right in the middle of that heart torn feeling.

When I first started going into the strip clubs with the Sunshine Girls, I did not know what to expect. My first couple of experiences were the complete opposite of what I anticipated. I did not feel judgement or anger or anything except love and compassion. I look forward to my turn on the schedule to go in and bring a meal to the girls and just hang out for awhile. I'm starting to see the same faces over and over and getting to actually build relationships and learn people's stories. Tonight I was caught off guard with the feeling of anger I had as I left the club. I wasn't angry AT anyone, I was just angry at the circumstances surrounding so many of the beautiful daughters of God in that club.

Tonight in particular was heart wrenching because I learned that one of the girls works 3 other jobs in addition to dancing and she takes every penny she makes in the clubs and saves it so that she can put her 2 younger siblings through college because their dad isn't around.  She grew up in foster care and She said, "I may never make it in this world, but I will make sure that they have the opportunity." When her little sister said, "I'll just do what you do," she replied, " will not do what I do. You will do so much better than what I do." If that doesn't describe devastating beauty...I don't know what does. Devastating circumstances, beautiful compassion and strength.

I left tonight with such a heavy heart to pray for these girls and their families. To pray for the young new girl who seemed so terrified, probably battling within herself why she had decided to do it in the first place. For the other young new girl who checked her hair and make up every 5 minutes, walking around jittery and full of nerves probably wondering if she was going to be good enough.

When I was in Vancouver, the pastor whose family I lived with instilled in me the idea..."What you see is not what you discover is...."
So often we judge a book by it's cover. We assume that if a person holds a certain profession they must be a certain way. Here is what I can tell you from my experience..... Every one of the girls I encounter is an amazing and beautiful soul. They are someone's daughter, sister, mother, aunt.  For whatever reason they have found that dancing is a means to quickly provide in ways that a 9-5 won't. And for many of is for children or siblings. I'm not saying it is for all...but for many. Many of these women will get 2-3 hours of sleep and get up to go to their "normal" job tomorrow.

We all make choices and we all deal with the consequences of those choices, but tonight, I'm praying that God provides another option to them.  That the beauty of their stories will become the forefront and that the devastation becomes less. And more than anything, I pray they know their Abba Father.....The Daddy....who sees them and loves them and who is enough. I pray that somehow,  despite the view they have of most men, God will become everything that every other man has not been. That they will experience a depth, height, width and love of a Father who knows every detail of their lives.

I'm thankful that I get to call these precious women friends and I get to see their true beauty and hear their stories. I believe Jesus is there and smiling every Thursday night to see His daughters from all walks of life gather for a few brief moments of true community.

It is a beautiful picture of the church being sent out.

I covet your prayers for my friends.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pressing Pause

I am a "Do-er." I struggle with sitting still. I REALLY struggle with sitting still when we are in the middle of a major life event like moving and starting a new non profit. Add to it the fact that we are on a time table and my mind does not stop. So what happens when you get really sick and things suddenly feel completely out of your control? You  God presses the pause button.

For people like me, who have the Martha syndrome, doing instead of being, we often find that we go go go until we can't go anymore. We think we are the energizer bunny whose batteries never run out and rather than stop and replenish, we will run them til the last bit of juice flows and we find ourselves completely empty.....exhausted and sometimes sick as a result. 

Last night we went to a friend of ours home to get a respite in the AC until my Mom's was replaced. When we arrived, we went up on the top floor balcony where there was a breeze and a view of the beach. She treated us to a nice dinner and when we came home she told us goodnight. It was only 7 pm but we got in bed and watched TV until we fell asleep. We slept in this morning and she took us to lunch. When we got back she told us to take a nap. I NEVER nap. I can never shut my body down. I feel like I'm wasting valuable time. But with being sick, I felt exhausted and I decided to try. We laid down and did not get up again until 4 pm. It was an amazing feeling to wake up feeling more rested. When we went upstairs she said, "If you didn't need it, you wouldn't be able to do it."  

Recently a good friend asked Glenn and I, "How are you doing at taking a Sabbath?" Uh...Errr......Umm.....
It really kinda hit me between the eyes. Do I not think that God is capable of accomplishing what He needs to accomplish in the amount of time given? Does running myself in the ground really help the process or only ultimately hurt me? 

As I'm on this new journey to set better boundaries, I'm learning to have to say no and let go. I am learning to call it a day and trust that tomorrow carries enough time to contain all that we need to accomplish for that day. If I will stop and rest and be still, I will know that I am walking WITH God, not ahead of God. I will know that I I

I am thankful for the friends who say "Take a Nap" and for friends who ask "How are you doing with taking a Sabbath?" I think these are valuable questions to ask. Next time you see me.....ask me. I could use the accountability.

How will you press pause today?


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rough Roads Worth The Journey

Have you ever been on a road like this? I have. They were some rough, windy and narrow roads. There were moments of feeling car sick where I had the split second thought to turn around, but the view in the distance kept me going.

If  you have been following our story of our latest adventures of getting into our new "House of Dreams" with The Dream Campaign, you know it has been a quick development with lots of exciting twists and turns.

Last week was filled with one big dose of exciting news back to back. It definitely was that week where so many answered prayers were answered at one time.  It was overwhelmingly joyful. I know Satan hates when things are going well and often tries to disrupt the plan. He has already been defeated in the end but it definitely causes for some rough roads on the journey. I think this makes us have to seek the Lord even more, dig into a strength that only comes from God, appreciate the journey,  look for God is ways that don't seem obvious and when victory comes through trial, God gets the glory.

Here is how that has played out this week for us:

Last week we got a rental house in a prime location for The Dream Location, a donated SUV, found out one of the community projects in new neighborhood is being headed up by a girl I went to high school with (small world). The possibilities are endless. God is blowing open doors of ministry and opportunity.  This week we went to Atlanta, had a awesome time with my sister on the way there, lunch with amazing friends, fellowship with the amazing family who donated the SUV to us. We meet 1/5 of our fundraising goal in 6 days.

Right after we picked up the SUV I got extremely sick, fever, exhausted, sinus, coughing etc. When we went to pick up our stuff from our old house we discovered that they had stored some of it outside under a covered porch. Our mattress was nasty, everything covered in pollen, many things broken. It was extremely disheartening. I was so incredibly sick but we had to make it home. Half way back we stopped to get gas and when we cranked it back up and nothing. While I'm on the phone with Triple A someone backs into our Uhaul trailer and drives off. (Glenn met them on the other side of the store much to their surprise). As soon as we got home I went straight to urgent care where it was discovered I had a high fever, ear infection and tonsilitis. I was grounded from our cleaning day/work day to get us moved into the house. Saturday morning I drove Glenn and the trailer filled with our stuff to the new house. We walked in and were covered in fleas. We had bombed the house twice before we left. The previous tenant had 5 dogs. Had to cancel work day and no cleaning or moving in. I was at my end...physically which affects everything.

We were able to put our stuff in storage for one month free at the uhaul. The pest control guy came and sprayed the house professionally, a local cleaning service is coming by to see what they can do to help us get in faster at little to no cost.

Then last night we came  home to a broken AC at my moms...exhausted, sick, sleepless.

As you can see......our road has definitely been full of twists and turns and definitely rough. My friend and mentor called us after the SUV broke down (it just needed a jump after not being driven for year and pulling a trailer) and told Glenn, "You are obviously on a road Satan doesn't want you on....keep traveling that road." That thought has brought us so much comfort and given us the extra energy when we may have felt like throwing our hands up.

In the midst of trials and tribulations...there is that view in the distance of things to come. While Glenn was at the house yesterday, a neighborhood man brought his 13 year old grandson over to meet  us and taught him how to cut grass for the first time on our yard. A little third grade boy stopped by 4 different times to talk to Glenn and ask if he could help us move in.

Even on a road that God has carved....He never said it would be easy or without trials. In John 16:33 we are told that we find peace IN Him and that we will face many trials and troubles. However, we should take heart because He has overcome the world.

It brings comfort to see how God works things reminds us that this is HIS, not ours. But we do need help. We believe this is a joint effort. God is already preparing the hearts of the people in the neighborhood and bringing them into our path. If you would like to invest in the future of this ministry, please visit our fundraising page: Help Us Dream

Everyone hits rough spots in the road. Sometimes we are given caution sign of warning. Sometimes it's only for a few miles. Regardless of the intensity or length we can trust that in the's worth the journey. Our peace is in Him and the result is He has overcome.

If you find yourself tempted to pull off the road or turn around from a path that you KNOW in your heart is a path God has you on.....I pass on the advice of my friend...."Keep traveling that road."