Becoming

Just recently my husband’s beloved uncle passed away, and with his passing, I had a much needed refresher on some basic truths about God and His love for us in our “becoming.”

For quite some time, I had been struggling in my faith walk. It had been a struggle for me to write because of it. I felt like, “How could I, when I feel this way?” However, God, was faithful to speak to me through the passing of Uncle Kenny, some truths I hope to share with you.

I had been walking through what seemed like a long season of great losses and pain in the past year when Uncle Kenny’s health began to take a turn for the worse.

I am not going to pretend that I knew him as well as his sister, immediate family, or others did.

Did I know him? Yes.

In his last months to days it would seem I began to see glimpses of Uncle Kenny through the conversations that I had with his sister, and my precious mother-in-law, Helen.

I know the “why” now, but I became very inquisitive about him and his life, and would often have conversations with Helen about it. I only knew the bits and pieces. But, through conversations with my mother-in-law, I knew he had also experienced great loss and great pain in his life. I questioned her further about it, to which she had shared that an older sibling had been diagnosed with leukemia at 3 years of age, and died at the age of 13. She was 6 years older than Helen, 7 years older than Uncle Kenny at the time. When Helen and Uncle Kenny were 18 and 17, their mother had fell sick and died. Uncle Kenny’s firstborn child had also died. Helen and Uncle Kenny knew great loss coupled with great pain.

I realized that life is a series of becoming stages; a becoming of ourselves.

We have all experienced suffering and loss. Some experience loss like Helen and Uncle Kenny. Some experience loss of dashed hopes and dreams in their marriages, families, and/or careers. Some experience loss through failing health and physical restrictions. And, some experience loss of their faith and hope in God for themselves due to a variety of the above.

The latter was me.

I could believe and encourage others in their seasons of loss and trial, but I struggled with seeing it or believing it for myself in my season of trials.  I had been struggling with expecting the other shoe was going to drop at any moment. The feeling of dread with anxiety as its constant companion was how I felt for a long time.

Each time I would speak with my mother-in-law about Uncle Kenny prior to his last couple of months, I would hear of how he struggled with the pain of his condition and anger. She would explain that she wouldn’t let his reactions get to her because she knew he was reacting out of hurt.

If we could only realize that a person’s anger and frustration often stems from a deep and unresolved hurt in their lives, in their “becoming.” There were countless times that the deep hurt I carried within manifested with those closest to me and with me the most, my children and loved ones. As well, I struggled with self love. I didn’t know how to let go of the hurt and pain I felt.

In several conversations, Helen had expressed her desire to have Uncle Kenny receive God in his heart. She wanted him to have the peace that came with knowing he would have eternal peace. I remember the day that she shared when he finally accepted Him in his heart. She was crying, her heart full with such gratitude and joy. I felt like a dried up plant soaking in the living waters that overflowed from his experience, through her, and into me. I cried tears of joy with her, allowing the living water to reach the cracks and crevices of the broken places of my heart and spirit.

Helen shared how his countenance had changed. His heart had been softened; peace, love, and joy replaced the space where anger, fear, and despair had once been. In the coming weeks she would share about how God had opened doors for him to be cared for not just by her, but by a hospice facility, a close friend, family, and how his children would find the time, funds, and ways to see him on such short notice.

His testimony would shout its truths for me to hear, see, and grasp from afar,

  • God never stops working on us.
  • He is faithful to the end.
  • His love will never fail us.

Uncle Kenny suffered great loss and God, in His mercy, never removed His sister from his life. They were a constant support and love for one another through the thick and thin of their lives. He was never alone in his trials. Although he had gone through trials, he was never forsaken by God. Though he worried and feared, God was faithful to see him through to the end and restore to him peace and joy.

Uncle Kenny, like many of us, wear battle scars. These scars, when shared with others, become someone else’s signs of hope. His scars became that for me. As I began to meditate on these truths of Uncle Kenny’s life, I began to be filled with hope again. God’s love chased Uncle Kenny down to the very end. He was faithful to the work He began in Uncle Kenny to the end.

God was not finished with me, yet; and He’s not finished with you either. He’s not finished with your loved ones. We are all still becoming.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~1 Cor. 5:17

My mind is drawn to the vision of a butterfly that was once a caterpillar; it had gone through the “becoming” stages and seasons of life.

Like the caterpillar in the cocoon, life is a blend of the hard and ugly with the raw and beautiful.

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Therefore, I had to begin to impart to myself a powerful word in my becoming, GRACE. I hope that it resonates with you too.

It’s okay to be mad,

to hurt,

to fear,

to doubt,

to grieve,

to acknowledge one’s flaws,

to accept help when needed,

to cry when life gets too hard or when you feel betrayed,

to give yourself space and time, 

to be human and imperfect and say and do things that often get misunderstood or, because your heart is struggling with the season you are walking through at the moment;

to not be okay,

But, it’s even more okay to love,

to forgive,

to have faith,

to hope,

to be vulnerable again,

to acknowledge other’s weaknesses and love them anyway,

to try again,

to want to feel hope, and love, and joy;

to be wholly and imperfectly you,

It’s called GRACE, and I have learned that it’s good to give ourselves some because we are human, we are “becoming new.” 

We are becoming, little by little. The measure by which we do this in love for ourselves is called GRACE.

I am grateful for God’s constant love, acceptance, and grace in my becoming.  May we all learn to love ourselves, accept ourselves, and give ourselves more grace as we become more and more in Him.

Because of Him,

Laurie

 

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Let the New Chapter Begin!

John 20:16 “Yeshua said to her, ‘Miriam!’ She turned to Him & said, ‘Rabboni!’” In the previous verses Yeshua had been buried, the tomb was open and empty. Miriam wept outside the tomb because her Master had been taken away and she didn’t know where He was (11-13). Yeshua spoke with her and then called out her name, ‘Miriam!’

Sometimes we go through trials, and while I can’t tell you the length of time it takes to heal from a loss, a deep hurt/pain, a financial or physical tragedy; what I do know is that you can’t sit in it. A chapter of Miriam’s life was closed. She can no longer fellowship with Him like she used to, in the physical. This was a great loss for her. But, all was not lost. Hope and a future was not dead.
I can remember going through a trial with my husband and I was so depressed. I battled suicidal thoughts. As I was weeping in my bathroom, a child of ours slipped a note underneath the door and it read, “Mom, I am praying for you. I love you. You will be okay.” In that moment, God was shouting my name like Miriam. Like Miriam, my heart began to fill with hope. Like Miriam, my lungs began to be filled with the breath of life by the One speaking my name. For the first time in a while, I awaited to see what my future held because of Him, because He was and is always in it with me. I needed to take action. One chapter of my life may have been ending, but with God, a new one was beginning. I didn’t need to focus on what was, but on what will be.

 
John 20:17 “Yeshua said to her, ‘Do NOT hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But GO to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

There’s a time in our trial that we may feel like we are crying out for months, years even. Some people have been in a perpetual state of depression and/or self-pity for years. They can’t see the hope and future ahead. Why? Because they have to move from their location; like Miriam, like I had to.

“Miriam, you can’t sit here by the tomb forever. You have to move. You’ve got a life to live!” And, “Laurie, you can’t sit here in your bathroom day after day, weeping and worrying. You have to move in faith and not let worry and fear grip you. You’ve got children who need you. You’ve got a life to live. I haven’t called you home, yet.”

Weeping and worrying is a life of choice. Worry means to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts. Just like you may not like a certain song on the radio and you get to change the station, you can do the same with your thoughts. You just purpose to change your physical state and your mental state will soon follow. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. God has a plan for my life and it is for peace and not evil, to give me a future and a hope. God will work out all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Say them out loud if you have to, but say them because it is your fuel to get you out of your rut. It’s what you and I truly run on to overcome in this life.

When we finally move our position, it puts Him in the position to do what you can’t do in your situation. He’s the resurrector of life. He’s your Father. He’s your God and nothing is impossible with Him. All is not lost. Trust me, He knows what He is doing and it is far better than anything you could ever dream up or strive to do for yourself.

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When God closed the old chapter of my life, He opened up a better chapter. New chapters in Him are always for the greater good.

Beloved, it may not seem like there’s no way out of your situation, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Like Miriam, a chapter may have closed, but God is doing a new, better thing with you.

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

May you have the boldness to pray in faith and stay in faith as your God and Father begins a new chapter in your life.

You are dearly and wholly loved,

 

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Our Path to the Garden

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There’s a narrow, rocky, unstable path that leads to the garden. The believer must walk the path to this familiar and, oftentimes, garden of suffering in their life’s journey; for it was a garden once visited and braved by our Savior.

Matthew 26:36-38 “Then Yeshua came to a place called Gethsemane and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be grieved and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My being is exceedingly grieved, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’”

We will all visit this garden several times in our journey here. The garden where we agonize in prayer, we grieve, we become deeply distressed over a trial we are about to walk through. The path to this garden hasn’t been easy. It’s been laden with discouragements, failures, and riddled with growing fears. It’s been made up of several or more mini trials that have brought us here. This journey has humbled us.  It’s made us realize that there are things out of our control, and we don’t like it.

Things like…

medical conditions that leave us in the throes of anxiety and despair;

 short or long hospital stays that yield no answers;

 a loved one receiving a death sentence;

oppression and heaviness that seems too much to bear;

financial situations in which “the light at the end of the tunnel” is incomprehensible;

getting older is wreaking havoc on the mind and body;

marriages weighing hearts down with betrayal and bitterness;

children that have lost their way.

I am sure there are many more that can be added to this list, but these are the ones we have received prayer requests for in the past couple of weeks. Grieving hearts and many tears have been shed in the garden of Gethsemane. This garden takes us outside of the world we have become comfortable with and leads us down a single, deserted path, with seemingly no way out. If we find ourselves walking the path to this garden, we soon realize that that we will need help.

Messiah was the Son of God. He did countless miracles. He made the lame walk, the deaf hear, the mute talk, the sick were healed, the possessed were set free, the hungry were fed, the dead were brought to life again; and yet, He humbled Himself and asked for help. I can remember so clearly how I walked this narrow path to the garden before. I dared not believe that I can do this alone. I could barely get through a routine task. We needed those who so carefully watched over our children, our home, our needs, while we reluctantly made our way to the garden. I am so grateful for the countless that came alongside us and lifted our family up in prayers that strengthened, encouraged, and reminded us of God’s goodness and faithfulness amidst the trial we were about to face.

In the garden we pray because there is no other way that will get us close to the truth about ourselves. We cannot hide who we are in the garden. We pray prayers like our Savior, but not ones we would say aloud in front of others, “Father, please let there be another way.” But, we relent and realize, like He did, that the only way out is through. We realize, like He does, if God brings you to it, He is faithful to bring you through it. So we submit, as He did, “Father, not my will be done, but Yours.” The garden then is a place of shedding the old, dead skin that was mostly composed of self serving ways. It is the place where the new, life-giving skin has submitted to His hands. The garden is the place where the raw meets the real; the weakness of our humanity encounters the true power and strength of the Divine.

Beloved, I don’t know where this season in your life may find you. Perhaps you are headed down the narrow, rocky path to the garden. Perhaps you are in the garden shedding your skin. But, remember to share your burden that others may watch over and pray for you as you make your way to the garden that will not leave you the same. When we open ourselves up to others about our path to the garden, we are building a bridge for others to cross in their time. When I look back, I see His hand being used in every person that was put in our path because He uses willing vessels to demonstrate His love and faithfulness to us. You can rest assure that God has not abandoned you. He is with you and strengthening you every step of the way; many times through familiar and not so familiar faces.

To our beloved friends and family walking their path to the garden in this season, we love you and we are grateful to be able to come alongside you to watch and pray as you shed your skins in the garden.

You are dearly and wholly loved,

Laurie

 

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In God We Trust

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We woke up a different country yesterday. While many awoke in grief, others in relief, the unshakable thought comes to mind; “I hope we can get through this.” Our country has been in crisis mode for a long time. As a mother and believer, I turn to Him to find my truth, my way.

“Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses. Therefore, whatever they say to you to guard, guard and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do…’” ~Matthew 23:1-3

On election night we watched many “crowds” gather before the candidates running for office. Some of these candidates had “seats” of authority while others were the competition to replace the current seated authority. The results came in and we heard the same message and pledges from the winners and their respective opponents, a mandate for unity in our best effort to “make America great again.” Promises are made and hope is shared for a better future. Sadly, the fruition of these promises and hopes are hard to imagine because of the vulnerable and damaged state in which our country and world is today.

Messiah’s words still ring true in our country today, “whatever they say to you to guard, guard and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do…’”. We all witnessed an election that mercilessly tore all sides apart. As a result, we felt the divisions running deep and often painfully messy in our country. The fruits of these truths left us, the people; feeling unstable, concerned, and fearing for our future. How do we get through all the hate, all the division?

“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their t’fillen wide and lengthen the tzit tzit of their garments, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the congregations, and greetings in market places and to be called by the people,‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ (Teacher, Teacher).” ~Matthew 23:4-7

People who are running for seats of power will say the things that our itching ears want to hear and our hearts want to believe for our future. They try to convince us with their words, but their actions have proven different. It is no wonder why so many feel shaken and insecure in these troubled times. It is a heavy burden to pick up all of the broken pieces and put them together, better than it was before. The problem lies in who we are placing our trust. People may have run for a seat or office, but there’s a Higher seat and office in which the believer is to put their trust.

“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ for One is your Teacher, the Messiah, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who is in the heavens. Neither be called leaders, for One is your Leader, the Messiah.” ~Matthew 23:8-10

God is lovingly grabbing our chin and redirecting our focus. Our trust is in our Savior and Our Father in heaven. We guard and do the words of the hope we want to see not just for man, but for Him. Not for just this country, but in preparation for the world in which we want to live, the world to come. He has given us the mandate in how to think, speak, and act:

Think

We cannot be used to do more of the same. If we continue to fill our minds with the cares and worries of this world, if we let the evil be our focus then, we will not be able to accomplish His will for us in our pockets of the world. In order to be a living testimony for Him, we must think like Him. “Where the mind goes, the feet will soon follow.” Set your mind on Him

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2

Speak

Words have been spoken before, during, and after these elections and we are eating the very fruit of those words. We are reaping what many have sown with their words.  When God created the world, He spoke it into existence. His words have power to create. Our words have power to create.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.” ~ Proverbs 18:21

Many are hurting, confused, and fearful. It is not the time to boast and be unkind.  We must choose to use our words to unite people unto Him by bringing them the truth, hope, and healing power of His word.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” ~Proverbs 16:24

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” ~Proverbs 15:4

Act

Love – it’s not just a word. It’s a choice. It’s intentional. It’s an action. We make Him believable through our love for others. People who really know God can love people that many would label unforgivable and impossible to love. If we truly want to be peacemakers and unite others unto Him then, we must bring His love down on a level that allows God to connect to the heart of each person.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God also forgave you in Messiah.” ~Ephesians 4:32

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.”  ~1 Corinthians 13:3-8

In these trying times, we must seek to understand the valid fears of others that may be causing them to act out of those fears as a result. It is easy to get offended when we don’t take the time to find out what their need is. The biggest obstacle we face in communication with others in this day and age is that we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply. As a true Leader, Messiah heard the cries and needs of the hearts of people. It is my hope and prayer, that all believers can step up to the example and challenge He left for us, for people to leave us better than they came when they first crossed our path.

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” ~Matthew 23:11

May we fulfill this blessed call to be His servant and not a division-maker; to do what “they” say and not as they do. May we be the evidence and power of His great love to a world that is clearly suffering from a famine of God, His love, His hope, and His truth. May our feet be used to bring the gospel of peace that is so needed in this hurting world. For, in the end, it’s not in governments, it’s not in others, it’s not in us -it’s in God that we trust.

In Him,

Laurie

 

 

 

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His Plan, the Best Plan

Wedding day speech to our daughter, Aniyah…

I know you have heard me share the story many times. I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought that I had the good plans laid out for my future, our future, when we first got married. But, plans are a funny thing that oftentimes, are redirected into a better and more divine plan that begins to unfold.

Oh, you have heard me tell it, and I will tell it yet again because your father and I hadn’t realized that the plans that unfolded, were the plans that ultimately saved us both, and our little family. It all began with you, the heart of a little girl who clung to the hope for a better future for us all.

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Flashback to a time when the reality of you came on scene, but you weren’t supposed to be a realized truth until much later…

I stood there in disbelief. My young husband, your father, stood before me perplexed for he thought this news would bring me joy as it did him. But, inside I ached with fear because I knew this news not only meant that I was pregnant, but that I was pregnant with a baby girl. Being pregnant, to me, meant that she too might have to learn to be a survivor much too young. It meant that she would not have an older brother protecting her from the bad things that could happen to her. That was my thought process back then. I was 19 and we had just married the year before. THIS wasn’t part of the plan. I KNEW the plan for I had mapped it out for the first 10 years of our lives together and kept it all in a binder. According to my calculations, having our first child came 7 years after marriage, not one year. I was 20 when I first became a mother, and little did I know that this plan, was what God would use to ground me and reveal His pure and unadulterated love.

I wish I could say I fully embraced this plan at the time. As I have shared before, your father and I went astray and sought our own way, our own plans, and you were caught in the middle of our mess. As you know, God wasn’t a realized truth for us until much later though as I look back now, I see He was there all along – even when I was a little girl going through my trials and making messes. He was faithful and made your father’s and I’s mess into a message. He answered the prayers and needs of our little girl which; ultimately, became ours.

We never planned for all the things that happened in our lives, but as we look back, we have found that they led us both to the best plan.

I can vividly remember the day in which Joel contacted me to meet with us. I was standing in our bedroom looking at out our back window. It hit me. Time. It passes so fast. I knew why he wanted to meet and that this time would come, but I wasn’t ready to let go just yet. I had an underlying fear that would be revealed and dealt with soon.

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Your 21st birthday dinner with us, and a couple of days before Joel had asked us for your hand in marriage.

Plans and our true needs, they are what God knows most about for each of us. I did not know when I was pregnant with you how much I needed you in my life. I didn’t know that you were the best plan for me. But, I do remember when I realized that truth…

My head and chest were thrust off the cold metal table as I gasped for air. I awoke to find my shirt had been filleted open and a defribillator was affixed to my bare chest. My worst fear had been confirmed. I died. After a 3 month wreckless stint of drugs and alcohol, I lie there, my body unaffixed to the table as if to tell me, “It’s not yet time.” I turn my head to the right to find you, my daughter, 4 years old at the time, with tears slowly trickling down, staring back at me.

It wasn’t a nightmare. It was real life. Your father and I had already been separated and divorced at the time. Selfishly and wrecklessly we both went on with our own lives, our own weak plans. It was a dark time in my life, but in that moment, when our eyes met, Light was present and compelling me to come to. This precious child had seen us both in many shades of gray to jet black; yet, she believed by faith in the hope of a better future for us all. God used a child to love us unconditionally and to teach us what that meant. By God’s amazing grace and mercy, I walked away with yet another chance at life, having shed the empty armor of the person I had become and I was finally ready to embrace His plan, the plan He equipped me for, being the young mother and, once again, wife to your father soon afterwards.

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You at 4 years old soon after being blessed to walk away with life again.

That day marked much more than the equipping of this call on my life, it was when I began to heal from a troubled past. You were the first to teach me to see others not with a clenched fist when hurt would come, but with an open heart.  Your two front teeth had been kicked in by a mean and troubled little girl and I wanted her to feel the hurt as you did, while you wanted to forgive and continue to love on her. This further opened up my ability to forgive others who had mistreated me and your father and I were reconciled back to God, to each other, and to our little family. Your prayers had been answered. I have never looked back and second guessed my decision to become a stay-at-home mother and wife. There wasn’t a price tag you could put on the wisdom, healing, and love that came through this call on our lives.

Through you God taught us how to become better parents. Through you He changed the way we decided to communicate with our children and to not fear being raw and messy because through you, He loved and accepted us in the messiest of states. That day, when you were eleven years old, marked the true gift of parenthood to me. It opened the door to the healing of our past and began what would soon follow the tradition of our mother daughter times away. You saw me as your best friend and oftentimes just longed to spend quality time, a love language we both share in common. I have treasured each of those memories: our love of nature, hikes, camping together, movies with ice cream when we need a good laugh, cry, or when all men just needed to die! We had many “shoes for Tal” moments, our coffee breaks and adventures on the whim, our countless bible studies, the lessons and victories we all shared and prayed with each other as we walked through the many trials that were not part of “our plan.” We learned that family is stronger together as one unit, like God has planned all along. But, that lesson began a long time ago in the heart of a little girl, and was realized countless times since then.

Your accident was not part of the plan, but I knew it would open up a much bigger plan for you. God was not through with you yet, and for good reason, you have much to teach and offer the world wherever you go. We know and stand on this promise for each of you.

I asked you a question, that day we first drove together to find your wedding dress. I asked you, “Do you remember the prayer that I have always prayed for you all, my children?” Your reply was correct. You said, “Yes, that we would all know God and maintain a strong relationship in Him.” That day was confirmation that God had answered my prayer. My underlying fear had been erased. I knew that once you grabbed hold of that truth, God could and would get you through anything and everything in life like He did for us. That’s when God had given me peace to finally let you go. We may not have gotten it right all the time. It may have been messy, raw, and challenging at times, but God took it all; the good and the bad, and worked it all out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Your father and I realize now that the best plan has truly unfolded for each of us in staying married and being parents to all of you. He has faithfully answered our prayers in providing a man that would further take you closer to the heart of God. We give you both our blessing on this new, exciting, and blessed adventure of yours. Our lives were forever changed when God hand-picked us to be joined as husband and wife. More importantly, our lives were forever changed because God was a part of it. We have survived countless trials, some too challenging to comprehend. But, like the lesson of life I have always shared with our family, “If God brings you to it, He will be faithful to bring you through it.” We continue to stand strong and praise Him as He has taught us through this calling the true meaning of a future and hope in Him. Without Him, none of this, none of you and your siblings, could have happened. Meet each day with hope, you taught us that through your prayers for our family and I adopted it as my life verse that has been the backbone of our family countless times:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ says Yahweh, ‘plans for peace and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.”

Stand on the promise of the calling that He has equipped and chosen you for on this day as husband and wife. This is the peace that we pray becomes the heart and core of His best plan for you as it has been for us.

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We embrace you, Joel, and welcome you into our family. It has been an exciting and challenging ride at times, but we are confident that you will only serve to be an added blessing and strength to our family, and more importantly, to our daughter, Aniyah (“AJ”).

All our love,

Mom and Dad

 

 

 

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Soldier On!

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I remember when AJ took this picture. AJ and I took some time to celebrate her graduation and my birthday by going to the state of Washington for over a week. We fell in love with its various forms of beauty in nature. In this particular picture, we had visited the peninsula and were on the beaches by the rain forest. I can remember recognizing the strong winds and the storm rolling in, but feeling safe in its midst. For it’s our Father and Creator we serve. He would never hurt His people. Though the storms are a fact of life, we remain safe in His presence, in His will.

I know, it’s been a while. I would like to liken it to a regrouping of sorts.

Last year was a challenging year, and we needed to grow as a family and know that Who we serve is much bigger than the bumps and bruises we receive in life. There were times that I thought to put my thoughts into words as we continued on in our journey; however, there was some solidifying in Whose we were before that took place. As well, for it to be effective for the glory of Yahweh our Father in Heaven.

Some have asked how our son, Tal, and our daughter, AJ, were doing since last year’s trials. They are doing well and thriving. They have some battle scars, but He has been faithful to strengthen their inner man and use them and each of us for His glory. As a family we felt very strongly about not putting a label of an anniversary on the defeats that the enemy has encountered with Yahweh, on our behalf. We saw no need to magnify him and the acts that he and his kingdom have brought against us in any way. Yahweh has been faithful to walk us through many trials in life, but in our own form of Psalm 107, we recount them only to praise His deliverance and healing. We refuse to look at the days and trials as a form of pity or regret. We seek to declare what Yahweh has done and continues to do in our lives for He is the One deserving to be glorified, for His mercies and faithful deliverance of His people.

Psalm 107: 1-2 “Give thanks to Yahweh for He is good and His loving-commitment is everlasting. Let the redeemed of Yahweh say so, for He has redeemed us from the hand of the adversary.”

I share the following story for the purpose of upbuilding and encouraging His people.

Yesterday was another trial that our faithful Father delivered our family from yet again. My hero husband was involved in a bizarre wreck in his city in which the woman seemed to willingly and knowingly want to hurt him in his police vehicle with her vehicle fashioned as the weapon of choice. As her car spun in doughnuts in an intersection, she took aim at him and in the third and last hit he took, he recalled witnessing her eyes and body language to be coming straight for him with great purpose of hurting him. But, Yahweh delivered him and protected him from great harm.

We were reminded yet again that we are in a war. It’s not just physical, it’s spiritual. The enemy and his kingdom knows who are the Father’s children. When we choose to step out in boldness and faith against the enemy and his kingdom, when we choose to confront a trial in the face of fear, He is faithful to deliver us.

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After yesterday’s incident, we came together as a family and prayed. We praised Yahweh for His faithfulness and reminded our children all that He has brought us through. Tal drew this picture (on the left) and he placed it on daddy’s dresser. It was yet another confirmation that even though we don’t have control over situations, He does. Even though life has its ups and downs, He is faithful to watch over us and deliver us from all evil.

There are so many wrongs playing out in this world. We don’t need to search very far. It’s playing out on the news, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our families, etc. We have never witnessed the amount of fear that has overcome the family of God more than we have living in this country, in this day and age. For the believer who reads this, we exhort you to remember that you are in a war:

Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”

When you choose to stand for Him, to stand for truth, you have chosen to be a marked threat to the enemy and his kingdom. These “incidents” and “trials” are not happenstances or coincidences. They are to discourage you and weaken your faith in Him. The enemy and his kingdom would love nothing more than to have you chalk it up to, “It’s life!” But, our Savior, Yahshua, did not die so that you can live a defeated life, but that you live an abundant one! (John 10:10). Our Father has already awarded us the victory in Him, but we must still be willing to go into battle. We must be willing to soldier on with Him at the forefront.

We have a choice daily. We get to choose life and death, the blessing or the curse. We get to choose whose kingdom we are going to uphold in our thoughts and through our vessels, our bodies. Yahweh asks that we choose life and live because in Him is true life.

Do not fear, beloved ones. It is with great excitement that we declare that we know there is a war against us. But, it’s because we have chosen who our Master is and our Master is faithful to deliver us each time even if we walk away with some bumps and bruises. No soldier has ever fought in a war without having some battle scars or wounds. We are on the winning team every time because we are His. HalleluYah!

Soldier on, mighty soldier!

You are dearly loved and powerfully used in Him,

Laurie for the PopTribe

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Don’t Fit in, Stand Out!

In the times that we now live, you are being asked to change your morality by accepting the immorality of the current world’s standards.

You are being asked to compromise God’s mind, His nature and character, by NOT obeying what He says in His word for fear of man, fear of evil (ISIS, Ebola, riots, etc.) fear of government, fear of what others think of you and your beliefs. There very well may be more fears.

You are being asked to destroy the planet by your actions, believers and children of God. And, this happens when the enemy and his evil kingdom tempts us to hold onto bitterness, accusations, jealousies, etc. within the family of God.

You are being asked to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”) A “woe” is not a good thing. A woe is defined as: misery, troubles, trials, misfortunes, gloom, cursed. Is it really worth it to fit in?

Romans 1:16 “For I am NOT ashamed of the Good News of Messiah, for it’s the power of God for deliverance/salvation to EVERYONE who believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

In our nation today, if I stand for what is right, I am biblically normal; but I am abnormal to the world.

In our families, churches/congregations, and relationships; if I stand for what is right, I am biblically normal; but to the world I am abnormal.

If you find yourself more worried about about “fitting in” with the mindset of the world and their “normal” then, you are ashamed of the Good News of Messiah and that should not be as children of God; as kings and priests. Why? Because that means you are overthrowing the power and authority of God and His kingdom by your very actions. It contradicts who He is; His nature, His character, His kingdom.

Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ALL wickedness, (including compromises for fear of man, evil, etc.) and unrighteous men (those who refuse to walk in the righteousness of God), who suppress (hide, water down, or weaken) truth in righteousness.”

Choose this day whom you will serve. If God, then you should reflect abnormal to the world.

If men, then you should fit in and look just like the world.

Matthew 10:33 “But whosoever denies Me before men, I shall deny before My Father in heaven.”

Don’t fit in. Stand out in God’s mighty power and faith!

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