Goodreads to Muse

Click to read my reviews

The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

Gigi's favorite books »

Entries in wholeness (5)


pain, the professor

Pain is the great professor.

After I fell skiing, my knee pain hurt like nothing I have ever experienced. From the time my ski went wonky and I fell, the pain shoved out everything else from my mind. By the time I hobbled into our condo, the pain had escalated to unbearable. The next morning I quickly asked to go to the ER. What did I want? Relief!

This journey began five weeks ago. Pain has been my companion off and on. Now the discomfort of being on crutches and limiting activities teach me more than pain. I am not a patient patient.

No doubt looking back over my life, the common denominator in growth is pain. My favorite passage in the New Testament is Hebrews 12. Verse 7 says to endure hardship as discipline. It encourages us saying that all God's children are disciplined. It promises a harvest of peace and righteousness.

I don't like to be in pain. I don't even like to be uncomfortable. And yet, I want to grow.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May Your unfailing love be my comfort according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75-77.

These verses instruct me. When I am in pain, I don't usually reach for my Bible first. I think of all the other things that could bring comfort first. David knew that the only comfort in his suffering would be God's law. He states that he delights in it and looks to it to bring him life.

Today my pastor asked me (all of the congregation) how much did I crave God's word. I have not thought about my appetite for the Word in a while. I am thankful to be reminded of the only source of true comfort in the Universe.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. Psalm 119:92


my mamaw

Mamaw hand needle-pointed the pillow I am holding... Sunflowers.Today I told someone this of my grandmothers and my childhood: “They were like two pillars on either side of us... holding us up.” 

One the town side: Momice. She had CIA instincts. The first sniff of trouble, she appeared at our door. 

On the country side about a mile and a half down the road: Mamaw. Preaching the Word to us.

I have written a tribute to Momice aka Zelda Bernice Williams Morgan. Read it as posted on 4/8/10 and tagged under “heroes.”

Mamaw holds a power over our lives. Growing up at times I felt like her presence could hold my world together. And on a number of occasions, it did. 

The Sunflower River bordered her back yard. An azure pool separated her house from the river and entrapped all the water moccasins. I remember the snow-ball bushes, aka hydrangeas, lining the back of her house. A lover of roses, she grows a garden of them wherever she lives. She seems to carry a bunch with her whenever they are in bloom.

As an adult, I’ve sometimes thought that I possessed a similar power. Like a quintessential jewish matriarch, I have hoped that I possessed some mo-jo that could ward off evil. If I took communion, confessed sin, read (even memorized) the Bible; wouldn’t that protect me from evil? 

That is not the way of Calvary.

God dunks me headfirst into the world, at times being laid waste by the effects of the fall. For a believer, the power of the cross means that God uses even evil to polish our souls so that we can reflect more accurately the image of our nail-scarred Savior. Broken and healed. Resurrected on our behalf.

We show our Father’s power, His omnipotence, when we walk in our broken places willing to be known. We resemble Jesus more and more as our brokenness is healed in His presence.

We walk with scars. We walk with glory radiating from our faces. Jesus bore our shame in His Body. Our abuse. Our perpetrations. Our sorrows. He bore them, so we don’t have to.

Momice is in Heaven with Jesus. Singing in the choir like she used to belt out praises from the back row. I’ve never felt safer than right under her wing in that back pew. I know for a fact that she is up to a lot more than that, though. Her mischievousness must be a delight to Jesus. 

Mamaw, still with us, is recovering from a fall. She still holds a mysterious power over her family although not in the way I thought of as a child. She is a beloved woman and those she loves are blessed.



One morning last week as I walked on the beach, I kept finding the most beautiful pieces of shells and sand-dollars. I thought, “Imagine how gorgeous that one was when it was whole!” In my mind’s eye, I filled in the gaps and missing spaces. Some of the shells looked lacy where time had worn through the hardness. Some looked beaten and weathered.

I can relate.

Life comes at you fast to quote an advertisement on tv. Seldom do we feel ready. Rarely do we feel whole. 

My small group of women decided to study James. I really like these ladies a lot so I went along. Well, ok, I voted to study James too. So I asked for it. James keeps the barrage of commands coming like the waves of a rough surf. He talks a lot about perfection. And as a recovering perfectionist, this makes me shudder.

I’ve learned that the word for “perfect” that James uses means mature or complete. Whole. When God looks at me, He says, “Imagine how beautiful she is! She is whole!” Of course, He saw me in my mother’s womb. Before I was formed, He knew me. His eyes saw my unformed body. 

I will not know a day on this earth free from sin. It boggles my mind that my Father sees me as perfect through the lens of His Son’s Blood. The work for my salvation is complete. Jesus finished it on the cross some 2,000 years ago. 

I’m growing up. James calls me to. Wholeness does not mean external perfection. It has a lot more to do with internal completion. When I was 10 and asked Christ into my heart, I was completed at that moment. Perfect. But not mature. That takes place over time. 

Even the gaps and spaces are beautiful. Time wears us down and certainly our bodies are degenerating. But our souls are growing toward wholeness. The souls that are weathered by trials are gorgeous and unique. 

I dare say the reflection of our Father is clearest in the souls most pocked by trials. As hardships erode away our external facade, the soul’s gleaming light of rest in the work of the cross shines brightest.


believe truth

Matthew stands in front of JAWS in Costa Rica.We fight a defeated foe. Our enemy, Satan, has no more real power than the teeth above Matthew’s head. Here me now, he has power, but it is limited. The victory is won.

It’s the tension of the now and the not yet. While our enemy is defeated, he can sure wreak some havoc on our lives by spreading lies. One of his favorites is that we are all alone. 

I woke up at 5:30 this morning so Franklin could get to work by 6. Side note: Franklin, our oldest son from Honduras, is here in the US! He arrived Labor Day weekend. It is  dream come true to have him here in our home. You will hear more about his visit very soon! Back to today’s post: Matt took Franklin to work so I went upstairs to enjoy the quiet house and avoid waking Sam and Joshua downstairs.

Sam got up and before I knew he was looking for me, he tried to go outside. He frantically searched the house and thought we were outside... or maybe that we weren’t here at all. By the time I got to him, tears streamed down his face and his breath came in sobs. I enveloped him in my arms and whispered, “I’m here.” In a few seconds, he calmed.

Devastating choices can result from believing the lie that we are all alone. Recently, I saw a young believer in our clinic. He just experienced a terrible break-up and found himself on a downward spiral. He had begun to believe he was all alone. He had depression and intrusive obsessive thoughts. When I told him that our pastor also struggled with depression and co-dependency, his eyes brightened with hope. His countenance said: You mean I am not alone! 

Sam’s fear grew up from a lie that no one was home. My client’s depression related to his belief at least in part that he was all alone. Reality had little to do with either of their fears. Our task is to sift through the lies, to tune our ears to hear our God, and to combat the lies with the truth. 

David wrote of a time he believed he was all alone. Hear his process as he came to understand the lie and replace it with truth.

Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Then later, “Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.”

Yes, Lord, set us free. Let the truth set us free.



Matt found this little nest in a fern hanging on our front porch. He said he went to water it and two eyes looked back at him. We actually discerned two little birds in the nest. They flew away but left one egg.con-verg-ence: noun \kən-ˈvər-jən(t)s\
: the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity; especially : coordinated movement of the two eyes so that the image of a single point is formed on corresponding retinal areas

The reason I want convergence in my life is my desire for my life to point to ONE THING. The one egg in the little nest on the masthead of this blog is symbolic of that ONE THING. It is captured in the psalmist’s heart in Psalm 27:

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. verse 4

One way I seek this one thing is to bring all the parts of me to the bountiful table of grace. Early on in my life and walk with Christ, I only allowed the parts of myself that were “together” to come feast hiding those more unattractive, needy parts. The Pharisee in me ruled this table. Through pain and suffering, God has allowed me to become more grace-filled to invite all of me there. Sometimes when I see a particular area of sin or a “me” that I don’t much like, I visually invite that version of me to the table of grace. 

Before you freak out, this is not a Sybil-like experience, but the realization that I am made up of various parts. There is the part of me that is so terrified of snakes that I left a toddler (safe in a pack n play, ok) and ran for my life when one flopped out in front of me.  Matthew (now 20) played while I cleaned up the yard. About 15 yards away, I unwrapped the spigot that had been covered tightly for winter so that it did not freeze. As I unwound the wrapping, a snake fell out of it. No conscious decisions were made, I just fled. I looked back after about 30 seconds and saw my toddler in the pack n play and ran back and grabbed him. Screaming. Flailing. Crying. In that moment, I had to face the facts that given life-threatening situations, I may or may not protect my children first. Scary. True.

So that scared mother who had failed her baby... she has to come to the table of grace. The ugly parts of me that love to gossip. The liar. The manipulator. The smart aleck. The cynic. These parts must partake. In fact, the pharisee must come and eat. 

As these parts converge at the table of grace, I experience wholeness in Christ.