Jennifer Morgan and Kathie Lee Gifford Come to the Garden by Jennifer Wilder Morgan is a story about a woman’s journey with a mysterious angel that encourages readers to believe heaven is closer than they think.

Years ago, Morgan served as a hospital volunteer, visiting critically ill patients - praying with them and listening to their stories. As she created a safe space for those of all faiths and backgrounds, patients began confiding in Morgan about the mysterious ways God speaks to them - including encounters with angels, visions of loved ones who've passed on, and messages of comfort spoken in dreams. She witnessed the profound healing that occurs when people are permitted to talk about these experiences, and as a result, Morgan was inspired to share her own personal encounters with God in a novel.

In Come to the Garden, the main character Jenn wakes up on her birthday to find an angel introducing herself as Margaret in the backyard garden. Lately Jenn has been struggling to make sense of the mysterious ways God has been speaking to her and is trying to understand what he wants her to know. The angel takes Jenn back through her memories and life experiences, revealing how God has been connecting with her all along. Under the angel’s guidance, Jenn finally understands the messages God has been speaking to her, in her dreams, divine promptings, and unexplained coincidences. It becomes clear that God is a faithful and persistent pursuer of the human heart.

Framed as a series of conversations between Jenn and her guardian angel, this unconventional and charming narrative will strike deep into the hearts of anyone seeking a greater understanding of God. Come to the Garden is an inspirational fictional story about the surprising ways God works in our lives and affirms that heaven is truly closer than we think. Morgan discussed the novel, advice she has for others and the message she would like readers to receive.

What advice can you lend to others on listening? Are there any specific tips the everyday person can incorporate into their life to be more in tuned?

On the surface, listening appears to be a passive activity, but in reality, I have found the act of listening to be a powerful force that creates an active exchange. As hearts are unburdened to listening and accepting ears, a space is created for hope and healing to flow back in. 

Hearing and listening are different.  We hear all sorts of things as we busily go about our day lives. But to really listen means to stop and pay attention to what we are hearing. That takes focus—an effort on our part to put away our busyness and our own thoughts in order to fully engage with whatever is asking for our attention. 

Practical tips: When someone is speaking to you—confiding in you—the most precious gift you can give them is your time and undivided, nonjudgemental attention. Be still. Stop, quiet yourself, empty your mind of your own thoughts, to-do-lists, time schedule, and be fully in the moment with this other person. To share deeply held feelings with an accepting listener is an incredibly healing and uplifting experience. When we practice this act of listening, we will also be able to hear, recognize and listen to, that still, small voice … the voice of God who is always speaking.

How did you first meet Kathie Lee Gifford? And where did the idea to collaborate on this project begin?

As I shared my book with the ministries at our church, I led many book discussions. One day I was asked to speak to a men’s bible study group about Come to the Garden. It was a fun session, and at the end of the discussion a man introduced himself to me. He was Frank Eakin of Eakin Films and Publishing. Frank, a member of our church, was the producer of the best-selling audiobook 12 Years A Slave, narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr., and his grandfather had been Religion Editor for Macmillan and a best-selling author of faith books in the 1930’s and 40’s. Engaged by my book and story, Frank offered to help make my dream of publishing Come to the Garden a reality. The first thing he did was to facilitate the introduction of my manuscript to Kathie Lee Gifford, who loved the story and agreed to narrate an audiobook. Soon, this wide-eyed Texas homemaker-turned-author was on a plane to New York City to sit in on the recording session of my audiobook! It truly was an emotional experience to listen as she narrated my story with the same love and deep faith that I put into the writing of it. Kathie has a beautiful heart and spirit and I could not have had a more perfect person to put a voice to my story. Frank went on negotiate a deal with Simon & Schuster for the print book, Audible for the audiobook, and produce a special event to be presented by Fathom Events in movie theaters on May 3rd called COME TO THE GARDEN – ON STAGE!

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