Our Christmas Morning Family Picture

Christmas morning was so amazing that I wanted to capture the moment “as we were,” which included no teeth.

Christmas Morning of 2014
Christmas Morning of 2014

I posted this on Facebook and had no idea of how it would affect me. Well, now, I know.

Evidently, I have found my identity in the way I “look,” instead of who I am in the Cross, so as I post this picture on this website, I’m letting go of my physical identity and grabbing hold of every truth of Jesus.

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Jehovah Jireh

Every year, my ex-husband helps me out financially to buy the kids gifts (and pay bills). This year, I had the feeling I spent a little extra. See, I don’t balance a checkbook because there isn’t much to balance. I don’t have any debt. I don’t have any credit cards. I own my car, so all of my income goes for the general bills, rent, food, gas, and what I bring in is less than what I pay out. That’s why I make and sell worship flags.

…back to overspending. The first is just around the corner, so I should’ve really been checking my bank account balance, but you know…sometimes it’s easier NOT to look. When I look, fear seems to creep in. When I don’t look, trust keeps a hold of me, so I hadn’t looked. Here was my plan: I’ll look AFTER the dump; that way, whatever money I had would seem like a fortune. Well, I decided not to look.

On Friday, I came home to give Katie a ride to work. As she sat down to drive, I asked, “Did the mail come?” She said, “Yeah.” I asked, “Was there a check?” She said, “No. Were you expecting one?” I said, “No. I NEED one though.” …no comment.

Yesterday, Katie brings the mail up, hands me an envelope, and says, “Maybe it’s your check.” I opened it, and guess what was inside? …A CHECK FOR $300!! It was a gift from a woman in Florida whom I had eaten breakfast with earlier in the year. I’ve only met her once, but we’ve kept in contact. This was the second time her and her husband had sent me money in response to God’s beckoning: Jehovah Jireh!

Do you know what the neatest part is? Now, the kids expect it. I love that they are growing up seeing God provide for us over and over again. Now, we’ll have enough for rent, and I just ordered more material to make more flags. God is so amazing! Jesus is so personal! Holy Ghost is always listening! Yay, God!

Paralyzing Love

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear? On Christmas Eve, I found myself paralyzed by love.

As most of you know, throughout the years, God has been restoring a beautiful bond between me and my kids. This year, there has been an acceleration. One very important holiday to my kids is Christmas, especially Christmas Eve.

When Katie, my twenty-two year old, heard me talking about taking Christmas to the people of the dump in Mexico, she said (in anger), “We’ll just have Christmas Eve without you!” I said, “Katie, I’ll be back in time for us to be together in the evening.” That seemed to diffuse the bomb, so it was VERY important for me to get back in time.

It’s not that we DO anything special. We’re just together, so I was needing to be back in the evening, the earlier the better. And this is the best part: we all go to sleep at the same time in the same room. We fall asleep giggling, talking, laughing, planning out our morning, etc. And we all wake up in the same way: talking, giggling, laughing…it’s the earliest my kids EVER wake up together. We walk out into the living room together. We’re just “together.”

So, I “thought” I trusted God and headed to Mexico. The plan was to leave the dump at 3:30 pm. Well, the plan changed. The Tecate border wouldn’t let our bus pass through. The Otay border wouldn’t let our bus pass through. Each time took hours because once we heard we couldn’t get through, we had to turn around and go through customs to enter back into America. The third border, San Ysidro, let us through. This was a great joy to everyone but me.

By this time, it was 2 pm. We would barely make it to the dump by 3 pm, so our 3:30 departure was out of the question. Now, it was a play-it-by-ear schedule. I had a decision to make: I would either cross the border on foot back into America, grab the trolley, and make it back to my kids, or I would board the bus and head to the dump. I was literally standing at the ramp. All of me wanted to turn around and be love for my kids, and all of me wanted to journey forward and be love to the lost. I wept. I was, without a doubt, paralyzed by love.

Janel grabbed hold of me and began to pray. She promised to get me back to the border. She wanted me to go forward to the dump. As she prayed, I wept. Just remembering it is bringing me to tears. I made a choice and stepped onto the bus.

God had a plan, and I was in it. I enjoyed serving Him at the dump and made it back in time for my kids. That night, we all went to bed at the same time in the same room and talked, giggled, laughed. Even Nathan said, “I wish we could talk all night.” It was so precious. I love these moments because they remind me that there isn’t any room for a man in my life. The coolest part is that we all woke up at the same time but were all lying there because we didn’t know if the others were awake. Then, Kyle spoke…then Katie…then Nathan…then me…and then Carolyn.

I love my God. I love my kids. I love my life. I love my story. I love that God is holding the pen and doesn’t have any reason to set it down. I am yielded to Him. At times, I experience loneliness, but I have my prayer warriors who lift me out of that.

There for One

On Christmas Eve, a bunch of us went to Mexico to take some Christmas joy to the residents of one of the dumps. It was quite amazing. The place was full of people, but I believe God had me there for one in particular.

When the bus unloaded and we headed down towards the Christmas tree with all our bags, I heard the distant sound of mariachi music, and my heart began to dance. I couldn’t wait to let my body join in with my heart.

As I approached, I saw Phillip, dropped my bags, and ran to give him a hug. He was excited to see me. (Not many people smile there. I’m not sure if it’s because they are without joy or if it’s because they have bad teeth. We should probably take them some toothbrushes and toothpaste.) We hugged. I spoke a little in English. He spoke a little in Spanish, and then, I ate. What do you know! The trash can was next to the mariachi band. That was SO God. I threw away my plate and started dancing with the only man out there.

10403054_10203623588889898_2401755518315701031_nHis name was Ezekiel. The bus had arrived AFTER the mariachi band, and apparently, this gentleman had already been dancing. As it turns out, God had me there to be his partner.

We danced and danced. He really “knew” what he was doing. I was just hopping around. It was so fun to watch him enjoy this moment in life. It seemed like he had stopped dancing years ago and had been waiting to let it out, which he did! After dancing a few songs, we talked.

He spoke pretty good English. He told me, “I don’t know what’s wrong with everybody. Nobody wants to dance, except you. Thank you for dancing with me.” I prayed over him and spoke a prophetic word into his heart. God revealed that he had the anointing of a lion. Actually, his home was at the top of the hill. He said he protects everyone, watches over them, because there are bad people that try to come after them to take their belongings…very neat man. He’s been there three years.

Near the end of praying, he said, “Can I give you something?” I said, “YOU want to give ME something?” For a moment, I was baffled. What could he want to give me. He asked again, “Can I give you something? If I give you something, will you take it?” I said, “Yes, I will take it.”

He took off his cross necklace and placed it over my head and set it around my neck. AMAZING!10403054_10203623588889898_2401755518315701031_n (2)

To me, this was so HUGE: a man who had very little gave me something so valuable. I will keep it forever. He told me that the greatest Christmas gift he could have ever received was someone to dance with him. It was funny: at one point, he tried to dance with me as a partner. Then, he let go to dance solo and said, “It’s better this way.” That made me laugh.

Do you know how huge all of this is? There’s a past that existed where I was a stripper and used my dancing to get what I wanted. Now, that past is dead, and every moment, God is creating a new past. This one is full of Him using my dancing to bless people. Ezekiel was blessed, and I was glad that God was able to use me to dance.

Christmas Eve at the Beach

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Before I went with a group to take Christmas to the dump, I followed God’s voice to the beach. Let me explain.

On Tuesday (12/23/14), I was thinking about our trip to take Christmas to the people at the dump in Mexico, and I thought, “What about taking Christmas to people here?” That was the beginning of thoughts. Eventually, I had the idea of taking donuts to the homeless people on the beach in Ocean Beach, but I wasn’t sure if it was “my” idea or God’s.

As I was telling a friend at work, he said, “Even if you don’t do it, it’s a good idea.” Well, a good idea should be followed by action, so I told God, “If You want me to go, wake me up early in the morning, and I’ll go.” I carried on with my day, my night, set my alarm for almost 5 am, and went to sleep. Sure enough…God had a plan!

He woke me up at 4:07 am. I looked at the time and said, “Okay. I’ll go.” I made my coffee, enjoyed my time with Him, and got ready. When I walked into the donut shop, they had all these Christmas donuts, so I asked for two dozen. They looked so pretty and festive. 141224_0000

When I arrived at the beach, I didn’t see any homeless people, but I “knew” I was supposed to be there because I “knew” I heard God’s heart. I decided to sit on the wall where we normally do outreach and wait to see if someone would come by. As I approached the wall to set the donuts down, there they were. They were huddled in the sand down behind the wall, all snuggled up, trying to stay warm. I said, “Merry Christmas! I have Christmas donuts for you!” They were so happy.

A couple of them arose immediately to enjoy the donuts. A couple of them didn’t want to disturb the warmth they had obtained. I sat down with them and started to get to know them. God is so good!

Aries: she traveled from Portland Oregon to engage in “Black Sheep” and has been sleeping outside wherever she goes. She’s so young. Evidently, “Black Sheep” is a week long celebration in the woods where hippies gather to do drugs. It’s in Yuma. I had never heard of it. Following it is a “Rainbow” celebration where the drug-fest continues on. She had a sore throat. God healed her.

Robert: he was so blown away and so happy that someone thought of them to bring them donuts. He kept saying, “Thank you” with the happiest eyes and the biggest grin.

Matthew: at first, he was skeptical, but as I sat and talked with everyone, he softened up. He stayed in his sleeping bag and shared about parts of his life. He allowed me to pray over him. (In the end, he got up to hug me.)

Will: he stayed wrapped in his blanket for awhile but liked talking about our Savior. He was an older gentleman, whose eyes were blue at times.

After eating a donut, Robert went to the restroom and came back with others.

Simon: he’s been on the beach for awhile, scavenges for food and is often given drugs. He showed me his box of special necklaces, rocks, yarn, etc. It was his treasure box. He even played music for us. (You can imagine the type of music it was.)

Panda: he calls himself the original “Panda.” He’s been around at OB for a long time and is well known. He loved the donuts and sat and talked with me for a little bit.

Jacob: he likes to be called “Jake.” He was so happy to have Christmas donuts. He kept saying thanks and hugging me. Actually, there was a lot of hugging going on.

The whole time that we were all sitting around, talking, laughing…there was a grumpy looking man watching us, walking by at a distance, sneering. He never came over for a donut…just watched.

As we were talking, I asked them, “If I could gather up a donation of food, what would be best food to give you, while living on the beach. Cereal?” In unison, they all said, “Yes! Cereal! We love cereal.” The girl hollered out “Lucky Charms!” Which brings me to my next thought: collecting boxes of cereal for these precious ones.

It came time for me to leave, so I headed for the car. On my way, I came near the grumpy looking guy. I stopped and asked his name.

Larry: he was watching to see if I was being for real, what were my motives. He shook my hand, hugged me, and said, “Thank you.”

God is SO Good! He has the BEST plans.

A “Project” or a Friend

A few months ago, I made friends with a man that is TOTALLY opposite of me: I’m a Raider fan – he’s a Charger fan; I love Jesus – he does not; I love the supernatural – he loves science fiction; I don’t watch TV – he does; I’m waiting for a husband – he has a husband…do you get the picture? We’re opposite, but we’ve become friends.

A few weeks ago, we were joking around about being friends, and he said, “Laura, I’m not a PROJECT to you, am I?” I said, “Of course not! You’re my friend.” Since then, it’s made me think.

Have I ever made people “projects” instead of friends? Is that what “Christians” do sometimes? I loved hearing from God through my friend!

Jesus didn’t die for “some” people. He died for ALL! When you hear about a pedophile, do you become angry, or do you remember that that person has so much value that Jesus died for them? When you read about ISIS, do you remember that Jesus died for them and pray for their souls, or do you fuel those around you with hate, disgust, revenge? When a parent if beating their child on film, do you feed anger, go out to lunch with it, make it your friend, or does your heart fill with compassion because there’s one more lost soul?

Jesus died for ALL. I want to spread HIS Love, not my anger. I want to live through HIS Heart, not my opinion. I want to stand on HIS Truth, not the media. There’s so much life to be lived, so much love to be spread, so much truth to behold, and so much God to go around!!

A Moment of Value

A little while ago, I met a very grumpy homeless person at the bus stop outside of work. We would talk here and there. I would pray for him, bless him. He mentioned he didn’t believe in God but would “humor” me by letting me pray. Then, he met God.

A couple months back, he collapsed, was rushed to the hospital, and returned back to the bus stop with a pacemaker and a walker. (He was not a fan of either one, especially the walker. When he sits, he uses it as a head rest. When he walks, he carries it.) When he had returned to the bus stop and I had seen him, he said, “Laura, after almost dying, everything looks different now.” And it was only the beginning.

I had prayed for him that day, and when he returned (like a week later), he said he was freaked out because after I had prayed, “things happened.” Anyway, a couple weeks ago, he gave me an envelope with papers in it to show the kids. It was about model airplanes. His passion. (When a homeless person loans you something, that’s huge because they don’t have much to lend out.) I really wanted to return this to him but stopped seeing him.

The past two weeks, I have been checking almost daily at the same time he’s usually there and haven’t seen him. He always caught the 10:08 am bus. I wouldn’t see him every day, maybe once or twice a week. Yesterday, he wasn’t there again, so I told God, “Alright! Where is he? Will you let me know if he’s okay?” He answered.

Around 11:30 am, I went outside to deliver mail, and there he was! I said, “Emil! Where have you been?” He was happy to see me and had been blessed with a temporary place to sleep (if he’s early enough). We only had a couple minutes to talk, and the bus approached. He got up, and I pointed at him and said, “YOU have VALUE!” He looked up toward heaven and yelled, “Do you hear that, Ma?!” Then he looked at me, smiled, and got on the bus.

I love God, how He moves, how He loves, how He waits, how He protects! He’s so awesome!

The Beauty of Friendship

Throughout my life, I had never like women. To me, they were backstabbing, manipulative, not trustworthy. And then I sobered up but still kept women at arm’s length away from me. That was all part of the enemy’s plan, but now, I live through victory!

The majority of phone numbers in my phone are of women I know. They have blessed me beyond belief in so many different ways and in so many different areas of my life. I can’t even imagine living life apart from my lady friends, and this morning, I enjoyed time with one of them.

Every few weeks, this girlfriend of mine and I make time for each other in the early morning hours and go walking together. This morning, she came over at 6:30 am, and we ended back at my place a little after eight. What an incredible time we had!

When we walk, we talk about life, relationships, God, healing, issues, torment…everything, but at the moment something comes to light that needs the attention of heaven, we stop and pray. It is such a blessing! We laugh. We cry. We rejoice. It’s just amazing!

Life is too good to be lived alone. God is too big to be hidden. Love is too strong to be kept inside. Relationships – friendships – are so amazingly important! Today, isolation has no place in my life. Hallelujah!!

True Repentance

The other day, I posted about the date of July 21st meaning something in my life, so I wanted to explore the actual “day” that that was because I knew that true repentance happened on a Friday, but guess what? July 21, 2009 was a Tuesday. Hmm…I began to wonder why that date stuck in my head. Let me explain.

In 2009, I was desperately seeking God and found Him but had been living a “Christian” life that involved ignoring my kids, cussing, sex, etc. In seeking God’s heart, I was discovering how I wanted to be and had the conviction to prove it. I wasn’t “in” a relationship. I was merely a “booty call” to some men…hoping to find someone to fall in love with me. (I had it so backwards.) I was reaching out for prayer to stop having sex, and God answered in the most peculiar way.

I had responded to a “booty call” on a Monday (the twenty-first). A few days later, on a Thursday, I walked (barely) into the emergency room. I could not stand up straight. I was in excruciating pain and had no idea what was wrong with me. I had my bible on my lap and was reading in the waiting room and, later, in the exam room. They ran tests, took blood, took x-rays and found nothing wrong, but I was in horrible pain. And then, it happened.

The exam doctor came in, looking at my chart, and asked me when the last time I had sex was. I looked at my bible and, I kid you not, looked at my heart and thought, “What type of example am I being.” Then, I replied, “Monday.”

They gave me pain meds and sent me home. I was humiliated, embarrassed. I wanted there to be something wrong with me. I wanted there to be an answer (and not the one I was given). JC’s Girls had bible study that night, and of course, I wouldn’t be able to make it, and they were going to be filming us. I went home and kept quiet.

The following day, it hit me: the pain, the doctor’s question, the answer was all part of God bringing darkness to light, all part of turning my heart towards repentance. See, after every sexual encounter, when I told God I was “sorry,” I had thought that that was repentance, but repentance happens when you change your mind to match your heart, so the twenty-first was just the day after I had had sex, but the twenty-fourth is when true repentance reached the heavens.

Psalm 38:5,6 “My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.”

Thank God for forgiveness!