True love

Free Valentine printable from

Free Valentine printable from

I love Valentine’s Day. Though I never had a boyfriend until my senior year in college, I always thought it was fun to make special treat for friends and enjoy a more low-key school day. When I started following Jesus in college, I realized that this just might be my favorite holiday- a whole day to celebrate love? And now I knew what true love was and had an eternal Valentine whom I could share with others!? This was just too good to be true!

“this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”                1 John 3:16

Valentine’s Day is a culturally acceptable day to love people, make them feel special, and point them to true love, displayed on the cross. I know that it’s important for married couples to carve out time for one another. And that is so great. But I also feel like this day, for whatever reasons, is a day of brokenness for many. This is an amazing opportunity to love the single, widowed, divorced,hurting people in our lives. This commercialized holiday can be redeemed and used as a chance to bless our loved ones, our neighbors, and those we don’t even know.

I am super excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my family. Tomorrow, Finn, Piper and I have some errands to run. I saw the idea online to take valentines out and about with you to give to people you encounter. Finn is at the perfect age for this- he is going to have a blast. And lest you think you can’t do something similar because it’s last minute, you can! Even if you just print something cute from pinterest, it could totally make someone’s day. It also teaches your little about loving others and being others-focused. (another sweet idea, which I would love to do in the future, is visit a nursing home or hospital). Even better- is there a neighbor or someone in your life that you’ve talked with a little but would love to get to know better? Grab your adorable little kiddo and a flower or something sweet or whatever and seize this day!

Maybe the idea of giving a stranger or neighbor a valentine really scares you. Can I double-dog dare you to give it a try? And, in the midst of heart-shaped pancakes and a date with your spouse, keeping an open eye and an open heart to who could really use some true love? Maybe it even means forgoing a fancy meal and as a family blessing another couple a gift card or having friends over (or maybe visiting and buying someone a much needed item from the gift catalogue?) My point is this: it doesn’t matter how big or how small the gesture is, but let’s be pro-active to love someone in a special way this Valentine’s Day. With pinterest and social media the way it is it’s tempting to think that any thing we do has to be super cute and original and handmade and on and on. Thankfully, it actually just needs to be done with love. Here are some other ideas:

-take this opportunity to write an affirming note to someone: a coworker, friend, parent, missionary, sibling, spouse, etc.

-if you sponsor a child, take time to make them a valentine with your kids

-send flowers to your grandmother (or maybe someone who has lost a spouse recently

Please don’t read this post and then feel guilty for whatever. The last thing any of us needs in our life is more guilt. What we all need is more Jesus. Let’s let him saturate our hearts, our lives, and this Hallmark holiday and turn it all into a sweet offering unto Him. As you love your hubby, your kids, your single sister, the cashier at the grocery store, may it all be the overflow of a heart that is loved, cherished, and captivated by our One True Love.

P.S. one more idea for making this an extra special Valentine’s Day? Write a love letter to your Savior. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent or written on parchment paper with a quill or something crazy… Just a few words of love, just loving the One who loved you first.

What are some ways that you like to celebrate True Love on Valentine’s Day? Would love to hear stories and ideas or ways that you’ve been loved!


Great parenting books (at great prices)

Don't Make Me Count to Three

 We refer to Finn as “the little tyrant” when it comes to bedtime. First he demands a song… Then another. Then some water. Then he says “I’m cold.” He’s getting crafty. I share this to say that parenting is an area I need to grow in! I’ve said before, I believe that the Bible is our go-to and only ultimately Authoritative book in our library. However, I also think reading books written by people who are loving Jesus and drawing their practices from His Word and the example of other godly people is a great practice for growing as a parent. It will challenge you, get you thinking, encourage you…but it can be pricey! I love my Kindle, and I thought I’d search out some great priced parenting books for Kindle and share with you here. I think I need to read them again myself….

The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle. Ryle’s writing reminds me of Spurgeon’s in that it makes me want to underline every single sentence! A short, but rich book. This is my favorite parenting book so far. At $.99: buy it and then buy one for every other parent you know!

Instructing A Child’s Heart, Tedd and Margy Tripp. One of the most-read and referred-to parenting books by many Christians, and not without good reason. The focus on the gospel, the heart, and being a proactive parent will challenge and bless you. $1.99 (Also by the Tripps; Shepherding A Child’s Heart, also $1.99)

Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Ginger Plowman. I loved this book. I especially loved it’s emphasis on using the actual Bible as our means of correcting and teaching our children. I felt challenged that in order to be a better parent, I needed to get more of His Word into my heart! She gives great examples, and for $1.99 (versus over $10 for paperback) this is a steal.

10 Gifts of Wisdom, Sally Clarkson. I haven’t finished this book, but I loved her book The Ministry of Motherhood. I have heard her speak on a podcast I like as well and appreciate her wisdom and heart for the Lord and for her children (and for the lost). She, her husband, and her four grown children almost stumbled upon this book as one evening her children shared with her things that they were grateful she had focused on and taught them well. A lot of food for thought at only $4.99 (way more long lasting than a frappucino!)

Hints on Child-Training, Henry Clay Trumbill. I am new to this book, but it looks good and the reviews are great. It was written over a hundred years ago by the man who campaigned for children to have Sunday school. Can’t wait to read it, $.99.

**note: these book prices are the same for a Nook, minus 10 Gifts of Wisdom, which is not available for Nook**

*book prices can be subject to change, these were the prices when this post was written*

Hope these help serve you as your love Jesus through loving your kids!

Mama Mondays

Being a mama is such a blessing. It’s also pretty consuming- taking care of another human being is quite a task! God loves mamas, and he cares not only about the souls of your little nuggets, but your own soul as well. The Bible actually doesn’t say TONS specifically to my moms, but I thought that it would be really encouraging to my heart (and maybe yours?) to read through some of the Bible as though it’s being written to and taught specifically to mamas.

Holy Spirit, please stir in our hearts to love God and worship Jesus more, with everything, with our whole hearts. Please open the eyes of our hearts to your Word.

Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God–the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow God- only You can pack that much power, beauty, promise and weightiness into 4 sentences!

Thought for today: We are servants of Christ (not our children)

Paul says in verse 1 that he is a servant of Christ Jesus, and I think the same is true of us. “Morgan, a servant of Christ Jesus.” Go ahead, try it! “___, a servant of Christ Jesus.” The word for servant here is “doulos”, or bondservant-“one who gives himself up to another’s will”; “devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests” (Strong’s G1401). “Yes!”, you might say, “I am the Lord’s servant!” But if you’re like me, at times this seems almost in conflict with our role a mamas- maybe you have dreams of reaching the world for Him, maybe you miss spending long periods of quiet time at His feet, maybe you feel much less sanctified now that you on this motherhood journey than when you began.

In Matthew 25 we catch Jesus in the middle of a long teaching session with his disciples. He gives them a glimpse into his second coming: “When the Son of man comes in glory” (verse 31) and describes that everyone will be accountable for the way they treat the hungry, thirsty, clothes-less, etc. He then goes on to say, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdomprepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (verses 34-36).

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (38-40)

Do you see what the King said? He said that when we feed the least of these, we’re feeding him. When we clothe the least of these, we clothe him. When we comfort, love, invite, include the least of these, we serve him. I don’t think that these verses are just talking about children, or just talking to mamas- I think it’s important that we as Christians feed hungry people, welcome strangers, look after the sick… but elsewhere Jesus refers to children as “the least of these” and says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. When we serve our kids, we serve Jesus.

Why is this important? Well, for one, all the things that go unnoticed every day, are noticed by Him. The faithful instruction of your children, the laundry folding, the snuggles before naps, the diapers…He sees it all. And He is blessed by your sacrifice of worship, as you “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

But way more important than the acknowledgement of your hard work, the realization that we’re serving Jesus and not just our children is amazing because: Jesus is wonderfully, perfectly, amazingly worthy of being served.

He is our big brother.

He is our high priest.

He is our King.

He is our Lord.

He is trustworthy.

He is God.

And He is not a removed Master, cruel when we make mistakes or don’t do enough and indifferent to our victories. Jesus loves you, dear mama. He is the best Master, and my prayer for you today is that as you go to serve Him (through serving your children), you will have the sweet sense of His nearness, goodness, and utter love for you.

My 10 Favorite Books of 2013

I have always loved to read. And now, as a Christian, I’m more grateful than ever for the gift of books. Whether you’re looking for instruction, edification, adventure, learning from someone else’s experience, education, a good laugh or inspiration…pick up a good book and you’re off! Of course, the Bible is the only perfect book, but books are a sweet gift from the Lord.

The following is a collection of reviews of my favorite 10 books that I read in 2013 (not of books written in 2013). In no particular order…

1. Fit to Burst.  Ever since her first book, Loving the Little Years, I have so appreciated Lizzie Jankovich’s wisdom, humor and insight. She frequently posts at Desiring God and the blog that she has with her mom and sisters, This book didn’t disappoint- it’s the kind that you know you should read frequently, and it’s an easy and quick read–perfect, indeed, for a mama with little ones. However, quick does not mean that it lacks depth, which is exactly what I like about Lizzie. She has a clearly tender heart toward her kids, she’s super down to earth, and she is wise. The book, like Loving the Little Years, is a collection of short thoughts and exhortations for moms.

2. Stepping Heavenward: One Woman’s Journey to Godliness. This is the only book on the list that I had read previously, and it’s one I’ll probably read every year for the rest of my life. This gem was given to me by a friend in East Asia and is truly a treasured read. It is the fictional story of one woman’s journey through life as she grows in sanctification through her teenage years, to being a wife, a mother, etc. The main character is such an inspiration, as are many of the women woven into the book. Read it and be challenged and encouraged to love Jesus as your first love, your greatest love, and the love that will enable you to live a life for others.

3-5. The Wingfeather Saga (3 books), by Andrew Peterson. I laughed. I cried. I’m pretty sure at some point I hugged my Kindle. Oh I loved these! I love good fiction- good, creative, wholesome, fun, interesting, and, ideally, Jesus-minded fiction. These books follow the Wingfeather family in their adventure from being an average family, living life under the rule of the Fangs (of Dang) to discovering that there is much more to them than originally met the eye. I loved many things about these books, but one is that the heart of the story is the family as a unit. So many books in this genre follow one main character, often an orphan, or who at the very least whose family just is part of the background in their life. But this family stays together, and it is a huge part of their strength. Can’t wait for the final book in the series to come out in April!

6-8. The King Raven Trilogy, Stephen Lawhead. Sometimes I get nervous that I’ll run out of good fiction to read. Like I said, I’m a little bit picky about what I classify as “good”- I’m not into that dystopian stuff, I don’t love science fiction, I don’t like violent or sexual or whatever and at the same time I don’t like books that are too childish… so after I read a great book or series I get nervous that that’s it, I’ve read them all. But the Lord is gracious and continues to give me new good books to read 😉 Dave and I finished these books right before the new year ended and both loved them. Their biggest problem, like any good fiction, was that they were a little bit addictive. The books follow the story of Robin Hood, but add such depth and character to his story and the story surrounding him that it feels like you’re discovering it for the first time. Each book is written primarily surrounding a different main character’s perspective, and the writing’s good, the plot’s good, the books are GOOD!

9. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, Ann Voskamp. This much anticipated book is a beautified version of Ann’s Jesse tree collection. I love her heart for Jesus and know that this book will be a part of my Christmas season for years to come. The insight and depth in each reflection really caused my heart to love and worship Jesus more.

10. Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, Jennifer Worth. I watched seasons 1 and 2 of Call the Midwife and cried (and laughed) during at some point during every episode. The books were wonderful, too! But I loved the first one most. The books differ from the show in that they provide more of the history and background of London in the 50s. Life is precious and this book really highlights that.

How about you? What was your favorite read in 2013?

Happy New Year!

Somehow, it always seems to sneak up on you. Starting with Thanksgiving: “Can you believe it’s already Thanksgiving!?” And then Christmas: “It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Christmas!”

And then comes the remembering. The sweet memories. The regrets. The joys, the sorrows….the failings. The things you should have done but didn’t… the things you shouldn’t have done but did… the New Year’s resolutions that apparently you weren’t very resolved about, after all.

And with the New Year dawns the temptation to do. To strive. To be better. To make up for all of the mistakes and failures and things you lack and fill in the gaps and prove that you be better and make your best life now.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that Holy Spirit-driven sanctification is precious and important. And I think New Years is a great opportunity to take stock and evaluate so that moving forward you can live the life you want to live for Jesus.

But it will never be enough. You’re not going to be skinny enough AND nice enough AND memorize enough scripture AND make homemade cookies every day PLUS work out every day WHILE solving world hunger AND eating only whole-real-organic-etc etc and on and on….well, maybe YOU will. But I know I can’t. Or even if I can, there will be a million other things that I’m not going to do well enough.

This year, I NEED A SAVIOR. I need Jesus. And so do you. I want to encourage you, today, January 1 (insert year here)– let Jesus be your enough. Be grateful for the gospel. Thank him for the blessings of last year and thank him for dying for your sins that would crush you without the blood of the Lamb. Look forward to the next year and be thrilled that no matter what changes, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

I don’t know what this year holds for you but I know Who holds you.

I hope that many of you find the time to evaluate, to think about your priorities and to make New Year’s resolutions. But I hope most of all that looking forward this year, and every year, your heart looks heavenward and sees the Son, interceding for you, loving you, being your brother. And that as you seek to love and honor Him, God gives you grace to know that in Christ, He’s your Abba Daddy who loves you and delights in you.

And it will be a Happy New Year, indeed.