It’s Not Fireworks – Be Vigilant, Be Prepared, Have A Plan

When I first sat down to write this article, it was August 3rd, 2019, a horrible day when two mass shootings took place in two different US cities, El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Since then, there was a new type of mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, one that was mobile. The shooter traveled on a highway randomly killing 7 and injuring 22, including a 17-month-old baby girl. Some of the information in this blog will hopefully be helpful but given the fact that evil is continuously on the move and changing methods of attack, I want to remind readers that the best form of defense we have in this darkening world, is through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, Jehovah, keeping His hand upon us, memorizing and speaking scriptures from the ‘Sword of the Spirit’, the Word of God, and praying over ourselves and our loved ones all throughout our days.

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This Saturday, August 3, 2019, we turned on the tv to learn there was yet, another mass public shooting in our nation. It took place in El Paso, TX. Twenty people were killed, and many were injured. My heart was still broken for the victims of the Garlic Festival shooting in CA that happened the Sunday prior. I had been praying for the families of the victims all week and was still grieving that one… then came another… and then that night, another.

I would like to make it very clear before I go on, that I belong to no political party. I am a registered independent voter. I am a Christian Humanitarian and minister to children internationally. This is not a political blog, so for those who have given so graciously of your time to read it, please do not turn it into one.

For those of you who don’t know me, my family has a nonprofit organization called
The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. Our full mission statement can be found on our website at huggabears.org Our mission is to listen for those who cry out in need, speak for those who have no voice, protect and help those who cannot protect and help themselves, and take the love, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know how much He loves them.

I felt very led to put forth to those in the world–especially those who live in America, that we need to make a change in how we go about our daily lives publicly.  We must change the way we think and act when we go out now. It is very sad but very true.

For a normal, healthy mind, that has respect for others and would never dream of causing injury or death to their fellow man, it is difficult for us to think that each time we walk out the door we are stepping into a world where we honestly do not know if we will come home or not. We are living in a different time and age, an age that grows darker with each passing day. An age where public shootings are becoming more and more common, in schools… churches… synagogues… mosques… movie theaters… public parks… shopping malls… night clubs…  concerts… city streets… neighborhoods… restaurants… grocery stores… libraries… workplaces… sporting events… bars… have I left anything out? I’m quite sure I have, but hopefully, you get the point. (I now am adding highways and freeways to the ever-growing list.)

Whenever I see interviews being conducted with those who survived the horrors of public shootings, there is usually one person who says, “I heard a sound and I thought it was fireworks.” This is a very true statement and many people speak it because that is what they really think is happening. Why?

In my opinion, there are a couple of reasons for this. I believe that one of the reasons “fireworks” is a thought, is because a person with a healthy mind and good heart that has respect for others doesn’t think about going into a public place and taking people’s lives with a gun. It isn’t the way normal minds and good hearts function. Those of us in the world who are not filled with evil thoughts cannot relate to a mind that is.  In essence, healthy-minded, good-hearted people associate the popping sound they hear with fireworks because our minds can’t process why anyone would be firing a gun in a public place.

The other reason was given to me by my husband, Josh. He said he believed people thought the sound they heard was fireworks, for those of us in the world who do not fire guns or are around others who do, was because we have not had enough personal experience with gunfire to recognize what they really sound like.

Although I am not putting blame on Hollywood for this, I think it is important to state that many of us have only heard guns being fired in movies or television programs, and the sounds being portrayed are not always the same. While there may be some that are similar, many commonly used guns have a popping sound, more like the smaller fireworks that give a short sudden blast of sound that is a bit higher in pitch, as opposed to a thunderous, exploding sound that is deeper in pitch and timbre like what is  portrayed in movies and tv shows. I believe this is an important reason why people who survive public shootings could become confused as to what they are hearing. I would like to encourage readers to find some YouTube videos that demonstrate various sounds of gunfire so you can learn the difference and retrain your ears and minds to what actual gunfire sounds like.

I had the honor of sitting next to Marine Veteran, Rich Karren, who has served our country diligently for decades, on a plane ride to Texas after the El Paso and Dayton shootings. I discussed this theory with him about the differences in sound that people hear in movies or television programs. Since artillery and weapons are one of his specialties, he agreed, there are differences in what is portrayed in movies and television, for the sound of gunfire. He also agreed it would be beneficial for people to gain more understanding of what real gunfire sounds like, so they can quickly identify it and help protect themselves and their families.

I want to try and help people change their mindset so that their first reaction is not, “What is that? Fireworks?” Which takes time away from their escape. Therefore, I felt led to write this blog and start a special project for the HCP Inc. nonprofit children’s organization. The Project is called “Huggabear Cub Care” and is designed to provide parents information on a variety of safety topics for their children which will hopefully assist them in living safer lives in our increasingly dangerous world.

In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus told us that as time went on and we drew closer to the end of days, things would get worse, not better in the world. Friends, I think we’re there. I encourage you to not take my word for it, but get into God’s Word, the Bible, and read the 24th chapter of Matthew, to enlighten your heart and mind.

So, here we go, for my first article on Huggabear Cub Care, this is what I would like to share with you.

FIRST…

PRAY.

Hebrews 4:16  “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Before you walk out the door to start your day, whether it be to get the kids to school, for you to go to work, run errands, or any time you walk out the front door of your home, take the time to PRAY.
I’m sure for those who do not believe or understand in the power of prayer, you might want to quit reading about now, or maybe you are still reading but with an eye roll and a sigh. I would like to gently say to you, there truly is power in prayer. Jesus is always there, loving us, longing to live in our hearts and have a close walk and relationship with us. I encourage you to pray over yourselves, your family members and friends, every – single – day. Ask God to keep His hand of protection upon you all and place His angels around you all while in the car, in school, at the office, the store, anywhere you go. Every single time you go out into the world, ask God, JEHOVAH SABAOTH – The LORD our Protector, for His protector. I pray Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against me shall prosper!” and I pray it in the Name of Jesus.

There are dozens of scriptures that cry out to God for His protection and one of those that I recommend reading and praying over your family is Psalm 86, again, I encourage you to take the time to look it up and read it through. It is very easy to find the right scriptures for what you are you looking for, Google is an excellent tool to do that. Just type in: Bible verses for_____________ … and fill in the blank for what you are looking for, in this case, protection.

SECOND…

Be PREPARED Ephesians 6:10-18Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

I am not a lover of cell phones. Still, I am very thankful to have such a device when I am out so that I can call for help in case of emergencies. Keeping pepper spray is a good idea and try to keep a tight grip on your keys when in a parking lot so that if you were to need them, you could at least have something to use to defend yourself. I know that doesn’t really apply to a public shooting situation, but it is good overall safety advice.

Another phrase that I hear constantly in personal interviews is: “I never thought something like this would happen here…” or “I never thought something like this would happen to me…”  We must stop thinking like that, period. Evil is what is ultimately behind all these hideous acts of violence and murder. The Bible tells us in
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, prowls around, as a roaring lion, seeking some he may devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” That means anytime, anywhere, be prepared which brings me to my next point.

THIRD…

BE VIGILANT.  Luke 21:36 “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

When our children were small, vigilance was the responsibility of my husband and myself. As our children grew, my husband would say, “Keep your head on a swivel. Don’t live in fear but stay alert and attentive to your surroundings.” This is also good advice for people when they are out and about on their own, especially young ladies. This is also very important when you are at an outdoor event. (And now, even when you are driving) I tell my children, “Have a good time when you are out, but think like a pirate and ‘keep a weathered eye open’ because we honestly never know when or where evil will strike next.”
While speaking with Marine Veteran, Rich Karren, he gave some tips about this. He explained that he always sits in a public place where he is facing the main entrance and although he is able to spend time engaging with his family and friends, he is also keeping watch over their protection.
While this kind of ability was certainly something Rich mastered while serving in the Marine Corps, this is something that we civilians need to start practicing and mastering so that we improve our tactics of keeping ourselves and our families safe.

FOURTH…

KNOW YOUR AREA AND HAVE A PLAN. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.”

Wherever it is that you are going, whether it is a location that you have been to a dozen times or are visiting for the first time, learn where the exits are. If you are in a store, know where the exit doors and the employee doors are located. Employee doors lead to storage rooms and there are usually back exits where the stores receive their merchandise. In a life and death situation, forget the formalities and utilize these doors for your escape. Restrooms are not always the answer, they are not usually connected to exits and you could become trapped. So, when you go to a public establishment, take a moment to get to know the place you are in and have a plan in place to get out should you need it. Rich Karren had an additional safety tip that I wanted to add and that is to know what uniforms employees wear in an establishment, this helps you be able to quickly identify who is who. It would also be helpful for parents to teach their children who security guards are, what they wear, and how they can be of help in case of a crisis.

When they are of the right age, and you know your child best, include them in on your plans. You may be thinking, “How could I do this without making my child feel scared?”
I can tell you from years of experience with raising and teaching children, when you are giving them information, how you speak, the tone of your voice, the words you chose, what your facial expressions are, how you act, and the feelings you convey will be how your children will react. Your confidence becomes their confidence. Your fears can become their fears. Don’t put this information into them fearfully, but with gentleness and with the assurance that you love them and just want to always keep them safe.
I have done this with my children since they were small. I would tell them when we were getting into the car to leave, “Let’s pray and ask Jesus to keep us safe while we are driving and all those who will be driving around us.” We pray and then are on our way. I do not make them feel afraid to ride in the car. At the same time, I teach them that accidents in cars can happen, so we must pray, always wear our seat belts and pay close attention to the road.

When we would go into an establishment, I would not present my plan in fear, but I let them see that I respected their intelligence and strength. Never underestimate your children, they are like little sponges absorbing everything that is around them and they have a greater understanding of things than we give them credit for.
When I would speak to my children of my plan to leave if necessary, I did not present it to them with fear, but with wisdom and a calm spirit. They were not afraid. I simply told them there are some people in the world who are not good and should one of them come where we are and we need to leave, these are the ways we can do that. They understood.

FIFTH…

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN WITH YOU. Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

I believe that the first miraculous gift from our Heavenly Father is the gift of salvation and eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. The second miraculous gift we receive from God is our children. They must be cherished and valued as the irreplaceable treasures that they are. From the moment that you are in the parking lot, you should have a hold of a young child’s hand or have them buckled in a shopping cart. I have had times when I was walking through a grocery store parking lot with my children and someone started backing up without checking their mirror. If I had not been holding my children’s hand, I would not have been able to pull them to safety in time. Also, the shooter in El Paso started in a Walmart parking lot, so start being vigilant as soon as you pull into an establishment’s parking lot. Again, don’t become complacent, thinking “It will never happen here or to me”. It can. Once inside the location, keep your children with you. Gone are the days of childhood when children could visit the toy sections of a store while the parent would shop. The world has changed, and to keep our families safe, we must change along with it.

Do not allow your children to go to a restroom by themselves, there are too many stories and videos of predators following children and women into public restrooms and attacking or killing them. It is the same for dressing rooms where people can try on clothing. If you need to check my facts, please feel free to do so. I encourage people to learn what is happening in the world their children live in so they can take precautions for their safety.

If you are in a grocery store, take the time to park the shopping cart or stop what you are doing and go with them to the restroom. The items you are purchasing or whatever it is you are doing is never more important than the safety and lives of your children. Keeping your children close to you is one of the best ways to make sure you can all move to safety quickly if a public shooting occurs. Good parents would never leave without their child(ren), so if the parent has their children with them, the moments of time they have in a shooting situation won’t be spent looking for their children, it will be in protecting them and getting them to safety.

SIXTH…

KEEP AS CALM AS POSSIBLE. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I know this is easier said than done, but remember, should a shooter come where you are, YOU are your immediate rescuer and, of course, the rescuer of your children. Police officers need time to travel and time will not be on your side. The shooter in Dayton, Ohio was able to shoot 26 people in 32 seconds. Try to keep calm and follow the plan that you already had in place IF it is possible to do so. Keeping yourself together will help you be able to think more clearly and if you have children with you, they will be kept calm too. Keeping calm also helps you keep QUIET which is vital. In the past, we would hear videos of people running and crying, a normal reaction for certain, but if the shooter hasn’t seen you, and doesn’t hear you, it will be a great help to your escape and survival if you are quiet.

SEVENTH….

RUN! HIDE! FIGHT! TELL! Instructions from Officers of the Law

If you are in a public place and can run, try to stay as low to the ground as possible so that you are not in the eye line of the shooter. If you have small children who cannot keep up, carry them. Do not worry about anything else. Purses, bags, phones, or whatever else you may have with you are replaceable. You and your family members are not. As you run, pray again and ask God, Jehovah Sabaoth, to shelter you, your family and those around you so that you can escape without injury.

If you are not able to run and can hide, police officers say that this is the second act of defense you have. For example, the shooter who went inside the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado had many people trapped. Some were able to run and escape, but some could not. Some of those who could not run said that they tried to hide or laid on the ground very still, as if dead, not making any sound and being very still. If by chance you find yourself in this horror with your child or children, lay down on top of the child to protect them. The shooter in El Paso shot and killed a beautiful, young mother and father and when the police moved the mother’s body, they found she was laying on top of her two-month-old son, who survived.

I will say it again if you ever find yourself in this kind of hell on earth, pray. If you are not a believer, it might be a good time to try Jesus and call out to Him for help. Jesus didn’t say that we wouldn’t have any trouble in the earth He told us directly in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Many schools are also teaching children to fight. If they are trapped inside a classroom and cannot escape or hide, they should find whatever items they possible could use to throw at their attacker: books, desks, chairs, if they were close to the shooter, to use a sharpened pencil or pen. They should look for anything that could possibly defend them from the shooter to bring him injury or distraction. Again, praying to Jesus Christ and calling out His name for help is always the most powerful thing a person can do.

If you were able to run outside of the location where the shooter is, then you can call 911 for help, but do not waste your time making that call until after you are out. Establishments are making great strides in how they keep their patrons safe. Many establishments now have systems in place which will notify the police to come. It is important that you get yourself, your children and influence as many others to follow you to safety as possible and get OUT. Do not delay. As soon as you hear shots, DO NOT ASSUME IT’S FIREWORKSDO NOT HESITATE to get you and your children out to safety.

As I sit here writing this blog, I am overwhelmed that I have spent so much time writing instructions to parents on how to try and keep their children safe in a public shooting. It is unfathomable for me. I remember when the shooting at Columbine shook the nation and we hoped we would never see the likes of it again. What once was an unbelievable incident of horror has now become a monthly, sometimes weekly occurrence in our country. An evil epidemic plaguing our nation that I am battling with the power of prayer. I wish my children could have known the world that I grew up in. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t this.

I know this blog won’t change the evil that is out there. My hope is that you will take to heart my only intention is to help keep you and your family safe. My hope is that you will talk to your children, who have probably already had as many training drills on how to handle a school shooter as they have had fire drills in their classrooms. My hope is you will teach your children the love of Jesus, the power of prayer, and how to speak God’s Word to battle against spirits of darkness that will certainly arise in the world they live in. My hope is you will teach them how to live on this beautiful earth that unfortunately has some very dark and evil people living in it. My hope is you will teach them to pray for the police officers, first responders and security guards who serve with their lives to protect our lives. My hope is you will teach your children to live vigilantly, to know their areas, make game plans, to run, hide, fight and be brave. For when you do the things you are most afraid of, especially to protect the life of someone else, you are very, very brave.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”

 

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40 Years of Preparation for 40 Years of Ministry

The time as I begin to write this blog is 11:00pm. Yes, I planned it that way. 😉

The date is August, 25th, 2019. At midnight, it will be August 26th, my 48th birthday.

Ever since my 27th birthday, when my Papa, Samuel Boone, passed away, I have had a bittersweet taste for the day, but tonight, I await it with great anticipation, which is why I wanted to write this blog.

Last year, as soon as I got up on the morning of my birthday, I started making my bed and was thanking God. Thanking God for the day, for my family, for a strong healthy body and mind, for all of the blessings upon my life, and I was very thankful that I had been blessed with 47 years, especially since I had three near-death experiences– but that’s a blog for another time.

While I was making my bed and giving thanks to God for allowing me to live 47 years, He spoke to me. It wasn’t an audible voice that anyone else could hear, it was gentle and sweet. The still soft voice I know so well, which guides and directs me along my way. The voice said, “I have prepared you for forty years for the ministry you will do for forty years.”

I have had God speak to me before through ideas, visions, and dreams, but there was definitely something different about this experience. It overwhelmed me in a beautiful way and I stopped making the bed and sat down upon it, taking in the presence of God and thanking Him for giving me a direct word first thing in my new year.

As the days went on in my 47th year, I learned that in the Bible, the number seven represents completion. There are many examples of scripture where this is taught. I think most people know about the seven days of creation, and the walls of Jericho falling after Joshua (I love that name!) led the Israelites to march around the city seven times along with seven blasts of their trumpets, and the book of Revelation is filled with significant sevens.

Once I learned the significance of the number seven and the meaning it held, I thought again about the Word God spoke to me on the morning of August 26, 2018. I realized the work He had begun to prepare me for the ministry I was to do for the next forty years actually began when I was seven years old. When I realized that, I had goosebumps quickly spread from head to toe because there was a very important moment of significance that took place when I was seven.

When I was born, my parents were divorced and my mother and I lived with my grandparents until I was seven years old. A very unexpected move took place and in the matter of one night, I had to leave the only home I had ever known, my grandparents, my neighborhood friends, my school and all of my school friends. Needless to say, the changes and transitions were difficult for me. Thank You, Father God, for giving me Jesus to get me through it all.

I went to a church youth camp for the first time that year in June. I was seven years old and would turn eight that August. The girl’s dorm was one long corridor with a single hallway that held rooms from one end to the other. Every night we would have a devotional time in our rooms with our counselors. On this particular night, after the devotional, our counselors told us to find a place where we could pray by ourselves. I could take you right to the place where I knelt upon the cool concrete floor in the corner of the room, by my bunk. The cover on my mattress was olive green and I had a Smokey the Bear sleeping bag laid on top of it.  I folded my hands and leaned my face down to the mattress, closing my eyes to pray.

I poured out my sorrows and struggles to Jesus, who already knew what was I was going through. God was allowing it to happen to me so that He could use my circumstances to mold and shape me into the person I am today. Back then, of course, I had no idea why all these things were happening and I just needed help.

I was praying quietly, along with the other girls in my dorm, when I felt a gentle hand upon my head. As soon as I felt it, I began to weep uncontrollably, releasing all of my sorrows, confusion, and frustration, yet, at the same time, I also began to feel a beautiful peace and calming strength. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and I remember it now, forty years later with perfect clarity.

The Holy Spirit of God had moved through the entire dormitory and all of the girls in all of the rooms wanted to share what they had experienced. Our counselors had us come out of our rooms and sit down in the long hallway.  Room by room, girl by girl, we spoke about what we had experienced.

When it was my turn to talk, I said, “I just want to thank whoever it was that prayed with me. I’ve had a lot of sad changes in my life and when you prayed for me, I started feeling happier.”

My counselor smiled, gave me a little side hug and looked around at the girls in our room, “Who prayed with Angel?” (that’s what they called me then)

No one raised their hand.

“Someone did pray for me,” I said, “They put their hand on my head. I felt it.”

Again, the counselor asked the girls in our room and other girls, “Did anyone pray for Angel?” Everyone shook their head no and began to tell where they were and that none of them had prayed for me or touched my head.

I was confused, “I know I felt someone’s hand on my head. I felt it. I did. And when I did, I started crying, but I also started feeling better,” I protested.

My counselor hugged me again and smiled, “Sweetheart, that was the Hand of Jesus that touched you on the head. He wanted you to know He is with you.”

I was amazed and I believed her with my whole heart. I believe her still. I know it was Jesus who touched me on the head and I felt it. As I have grown, I realized, no human could possibly touch me and release my pain and bring my heart healing like what happened that night. Only the touch of Jesus has the power to do that.

It was this memory that came to me when I was covered from head to toe with goosebumps. God knew that in order for Him to be able to use me for the work that He created me to do for children, I had to be prepared for it. He began when I was seven and spent the next forty years preparing me.

I’ll admit, it didn’t tickle. Jesus didn’t tell us that we wouldn’t have pain, suffering or trials in this life, but He did promise throughout the New Testament that He would be with us through everything, the good and the hard times. I think one of my favorite scriptures where Jesus teaches that is John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I spent my entire 47th year with the understanding that I needed to learn all that I could from my good and hard circumstances, relationships, and experiences. Not just those that I had at 47, but starting from as far back as I can remember. I can’t say, yet, that I am thankful for all of the experiences, but I am thankful for the majority of them and I am completely thankful that I know Jesus was with me every step of the way. 47 was a good year and I am grateful for every day of it–even the hard ones. They made me stronger in Christ.

I am also very grateful, especially in this day and age, to be alive and well! I am not ashamed of my age and will celebrate my life with every coming year! Every day of life is a GIFT and every year that a person ages is a TESTIMONY and I don’t want to take any of them for granted!

Jesus touched my head when I was seven years old and has spent 40 years preparing me for the ministry work that I will do for the next 40 years. I felt it and I know He spoke it to me directly. There is no one who will ever convince me otherwise. As I sit here writing this blog and I am just minutes away from the completion of my 47th year, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see all that God is going to do in my 48th year! I can’t wait to be who He says I am in my 48th year as His servant, a wife, mother, singer, author, and minister to children in need.

I know who I am. My name decrees it. I am His messenger and I am ready to go forward and get started on my next forty years of service for my Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ!

LET IT BEGIN!!!!

Snappin’ Beans With Mema on the Porch Swing

Today I was washing the dishes when I came upon an old familiar friend. A colander.
I have a couple colanders in my kitchen, but this one is special. It is no ordinary colander. It belonged to my grandmother, Reba, whom I called Mema.

Mema passed away on April 1, 2009, but all of the beautiful memories I had with her remain fresh in my mind and heart. I can still hear her singing to Jesus as she did her yard work in the yard. I can see her cooking in the kitchen tasting things and calling for my Papa, “Sam! Come and make some sweet-tea.” I remember the touch of her silky fingertips that had no fingerprints. I remember the smell of Oil of Olay that surrounded her at night and the way she would curl up her front lip to give me a kiss.

My Mema poured so much love and encouragement into my life and she did it every chance she got; on long walks through the woods, while snuggling in her cabin during a rainstorm, while hunting Native American pottery shards in the wash down the hill, while cooking or baking together in her kitchen and while snappin’ beans on the porch swing.

As I held the colander in my hands, running the warm water over it, I remembered how she would prepare the beans by washing them in the colander, then taking a few paper towels and an empty bowl for the bean ends, we would go sit out on her porch swing, snap the ends off the beans and talk.

As I have grown older and developed more relationships, I have learned a very important thing… not too many people listen to me. There is only a handful, a beautiful handful, of people who have truly listened to me through the days of my life and my Mema, was one of them.

Not only did Mema listen to me, she couldn’t wait to hear what I had to say and wanted to know everything about my day. We could talk about anything, school, work, family matters, boys, vacations, I Love Lucy episodes, the latest book that she or I were reading, anything at all. But what we talked about the most was the love of Jesus.

While sitting on the front porch, the sounds of the steady creaking of the swing combined in a somewhat awkward rhythm with the snapping of the beans, Mema would pour the love of Jesus into my heart. “God has something special planned for your life, honey. Never forget that,” she would always say, “Jesus loves you so much and He is going to do great things with you. Always follow Him and you will find joy, peace, and wisdom for your life.”

I never grew tired of my talks with Mema and I cherished the moments I had. I remember as I grew older and would stop by for a visit, I loved it when I walked in the door to see she had a bag of beans ready for snapping and we would head out to the front porch.

We didn’t go out to dinner very often and she really hated shopping. I don’t have any memories of her taking me to movies or the library, amusement or public parks. We didn’t visit the zoo together or the art museum. I didn’t attend any professional sporting games with her or go to any concerts, no places like that. We did take many trips together, which were all amazing. We spent many an hour playing Yahtzee, Chinese Checkers, Scrabble and Triominos, and every Thanksgiving that she cooked, I made the time to get over to help her and she would teach me how to cook and bake–from scratch, of course.

I did have many a moment with my grandpa, Samuel Boone, whom I called Papa  (Paw Paw), and those moments are for another blog. But when I think about some of my most precious memories with Mema, it was the simple things. The quiet things, like snapping beans on the porch swing that I remember the most. Moments that I will always hold dear to my heart, moments that no one can take away. Moments that impacted my life in a beautiful, loving way, forever and that I hope will give to my children and grandchildren.

I want to tell my readers–if there are any of you out there, let me encourage you to slow down and find contentment in the simple things of life with your loved ones. Make time in this fast-paced world to enjoy slower-paced things. The quiet things, without a phone in your hand or a tv turned on, where you can sit and take in some good old fashioned conversation. Take a walk in nature, play a board game, snap beans together and just talk. Connect. Because even though those things may not seem adventurous or exciting, they are the precious memories that will linger and can matter the most in a person’s life.

“From Praise On a Stage to Worship While I Work – The Importance of Pure Worship”

I have been singing for Jesus ever since I was a little baby.

The first memory of singing a solo that I have was, I believe at the age of four.
I remember wearing a long light blue dress, my mother curled my hair and I sang while holding my favorite teddy bear, a panda named Strapper. I have never stopped singing for Jesus since that day.

During my twenties, I was hired as a music director for a church. I directed the choir and children’s choir did seasonal programs and led the praise and worship. When I reached my early thirties and was blessed with two baby girls, I wanted to be home and resigned my position at the church.

When I started my new job as a stay at home mommy, I was in complete heaven. I loved every day of it and never regretted my decision to lay down my ministry at the church and pick up my new and most important ministry of raising a family. Still, I struggled a bit with my singing for the Lord.  I hadn’t stopped singing, but I wasn’t out anywhere. I wasn’t up on a stage or leading and teaching others. Although I sang in the churches I attended, I felt as if I was robbing the Lord of using my talent properly for Him.

When I was at home I would sing all through the day. I would sing to my babies, I would sing with my babies, I would sing while I would cook, sing while doing the laundry, or the dishes or the dusting. Still, there was a part of me that felt as if I wasn’t doing enough because I wasn’t leading others in musical praise to God.

Then one day while vacuuming the floor I began singing,
“Without Him, I would be nothing. Without Him, I’d surely fail. Without Him, I would be drifting, like a ship, without a sail.”

And while I was working, vacuuming up Cheerio crumbs, dirt from little shoes and doll hair off my rug, the sweetest presence of the Lord filled the room and I was blessed to tears.

God spoke to my heart that day and asked me, “Do you really think your praise is more sweet to me when you sing on a stage leading others than it is right now when it is just you and Me?”

I sat down and began to laugh and cry joyful tears all at the same time. All those days I had been singing to the Lord, I was placing guilt on myself because I wasn’t up on a church platform leading others. I knew that when I worked at the church I was doing God’s will at that time in my life, and striving to please Him. But when I was singing at home I was missing the fact that I was pleasing Him even more now.

I wasn’t singing for Him because it was a Sunday. I wasn’t singing for Him because it was my job. I was singing for Him because I love Him and I was thankful for all that He had done (and does) for me and my family. I was singing because He is a magnificent God that is worthy of my praise and deserves my worship! I wanted to bring glory to His name while I was vacuuming. I wanted to exalt Him while I did the dishes and the laundry and all of my other work! I did this because it made my work time more pleasant and I love to praise my Savior, all the day long. But what I learned that day was that stages or platforms have their time and place, but when you make the time to just sing to the Lord from your heart, especially when it is just you and God, those are the times when you can experience Him in ways like never before.

God also spoke something else into my heart. Although I didn’t think I was leading others in worship or teaching others how to worship because I wasn’t in the church… I still was. I was teaching my babies who sat listening to me sing all throughout the day.
Now, they sing praise to the Lord with me, another incredible gift that I will cherish forever.

I have come to the place now, where I personally prefer to just sing for Jesus while working in my home. I will always use the talent God gave me on stages, platforms, or any other opportunity He brings me. But the experiences and blessing I have had while singing for the Lord day to day while doing the mundane things in my home is something I will never stop doing. As long I have breath, I will praise You, Lord, no matter where I am.

So friends, please remember, God doesn’t care if we are on a stage or platform, on the radio, in a movie or anywhere big and important. He wants to hear your praise and worship when it is just the two of you–and you don’t have to have a wonderful voice either! This is why the Bible tells us in Psalm 100:1 ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!” God hears differently than we humans do, He hears the purity of a heart much louder than the purity of a vocal chord. When you can learn to do that it will draw you closer to Him than you can imagine and bring the sweetest peace and joy to your life that you cannot find from anywhere or anyone else.

Thank you for reading! Jesus loves you!

The End and the Beginning– At the Same Time

The other day I was cleaning out my children’s stuffies to find bears to add to our Huggabear inventory for children in need during the upcoming holiday season. I found several beautiful bears in excellent condition and tossed them in a box, but as I tossed one special bear, I heard what I believe was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to me. It wasn’t an audible voice speaking like as a person does, it was like a statement that came into my mind that said, “You can’t give that one, it is the transition bear.”

Transition bear? What did that mean?

I had to stop and think why something like that would come to my mind.
I sat down and held the bear, staring at its cuddly, cute face to try and figure it out.

The memory of the bear was crystal clear.

When Aven was about 17 months old, I resigned my position as a music director of a church I had served in for many years. This was a decision that was one of the hardest I’ve ever made because I had attended that church my entire life as did my mother before me. I knew that God had instructed me in a dream that it was time to go quietly, and so I obeyed and left.

The last work that I did at this church was a Christmas program, a ministry performance that lasted for three days. At the end of the performance, I had a cast/crew party at the home of two dear friends, Dan, and Donna Maye, for all the volunteers who labored so hard for so many days and late hours for the program. I wanted to come together, share one more meal, allow me to give my thanks, say goodbye and have one more memorable moment of love and joy with them.

Before the party, I had gone shopping to look for a gift for all of the choir members and the children of the group. I came across some lovely white winter themed bears wearing snowflake covered hats and scarves, some wore pink and some wore blue. I knew they were perfect for the kids so I bought them, bagged them up and the last thing that I did at this party, after giving my choir members their gifts, I gave the children the bears, including my daughter Aven whose bear I was holding in my arms.

It was then that it hit me, and I had chills.

I ended my ministry work with the church by giving children bears, which was also the beginning of my new work that I would do for children. Founding our nonprofit organization The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and creating The Huggabears book series was the very next ministry work I would do. The ministry that I have been doing ever since and hope to do for the rest of my life.

I was thrilled to discover this! I thanked God for revealing this beautiful message to me. I hugged Aven’s sweet snow bear and placed him on my bed so that I will see it every day and never forget what God did for me in transitioning me from my former work to my new one. A work that I cherish with all of my heart and always want to do.

Although I have never regretted the decision to leave the church, as I knew it was the Lord’s will for our family, it was a difficult and painful decision, which at the time I didn’t understand.

I thought upon the scripture John 13:7 “Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

God’s timing is always perfect and so is His wisdom. He’s always right. At that time I didn’t understand what was happening or why, but now I do and I couldn’t be more grateful. I praise God for the work that I was able to do at the church and I praise God for the work that I am now doing. I know that our family is walking upon the road that God planned for us, and for the rest of the days that we travel that road, we will be giving children bears!

20+ Pounds for 20+ Years – A Letter of Love to Women with PCOS

To the Reader…

Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. I hope it might be of some help to bring some knowledge about PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrom) that you may not have known before.

I want to make sure that all who are reading this know that I am not a medical professional nor am I trying to recommend or convince anyone to make the same decisions I made regarding their health. I know there are many who believe in the care of doctors and many who don’t. Please do not think I am trying to persuade anyone for any type of treatment. I am simply giving you the facts of my story in the hopes that there may be someone out there who can benefit from my personal experience and what I have learned. Thank you and I hope you will continue reading on!

I have always been grateful for my life and for the body that I have. I have never been upset that I wasn’t taller, being short (5′ 3.5″) makes wearing heels more fun! I don’t compare myself to other women. I have not been jealous or intimidated by other women’s sizes or figures, or beauty, nor do I judge other women for their size. In fact, I can enjoy looking at a woman and appreciate her beauty as a creation of God with no qualms or insecurities on my part. I try very hard not to judge a person by their outside “cover” or outward appearance. I keep my focus upon as much of the person’s heart as they will allow and know them by the fruit they produce.

Until I was 30 years old, I never weighed more than 110 pounds. I don’t say this to brag, just to pass along information so you will have a better understanding of my story. When my husband, Josh, and I began trying to start our family with no success for a year, I knew something was wrong. I then began going through the ever humiliating, emotionally draining, mentally exhausting and highly expensive testing of infertility. Through that process, I learned that there were a few things wrong with me, one of them being that I was diagnosed with PCOS or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is actually quite common among women.

After almost four years of treatment with various doctors and having a near death experience, I went to an amazing infertility doctor, Dr. Jay Nemiro, who did more testing and discovered I had even more things wrong with me and was not able to get pregnant at all without extreme medication and surgery. Dr. Nemiro then put me on an extensive–and expensive, treatment plan. During this time, I went up to 120 pounds and really liked the way I looked. I had a bit of shape to me and didn’t look so much like a “stick person”.

After another year of treatment and another near-death experience, (which Dr. Nemiro saved me from and is a story in the infertility blog I’m working on) God richly blessed us with our precious baby girl, Aven Salei. Thank You, Jesus! After that, I was told by my doctor that my body did a “reset” and all which was once wrong with me was wrong no more. Of course, I knew that it was the healing power of Jesus Christ setting me free from infertility and making it possible for me to have more children without the costs and pains of infertility treatments.

After having Aven, I had no trouble getting pregnant–none at all. I got pregnant with MaCaedyn “a-naturelle” and was even using birth control when I got pregnant with Samuel! The Lord had completely healed me of my infertility—again, that is part of my infertility blog, still yet to come.

With each blessed pregnancy, I gained 50 pounds and would lose all but about ten pounds after Samuel was born. (Nursing, good diet and exercise do the trick ladies!)

When I reached 40 years of age, my metabolism came to a screeching halt. Though it was a new challenge for me, it taught me to be more disciplined with what I ate and to work out harder than I used to.

When I turned 43 I had a few other things change within my body. First of all, I turned positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. From what I was told by my RA, I have no levels of that particular arthritis, but I do have the auto-immune complication and problems with my hands functioning properly. There is pain in my hands, wrists, and toes, and there are days when I hurt from head to toe, but that can improve from day to day depending upon what I do. The biggest challenge I deal with is the tremendous weakness in my hands and wrists. I have learned how to function differently and what to do to help my hands, so all in all–in my opinion, having no levels of RA was God’s way of intervening for me so the situation wasn’t worse.

You will never hear me say, “I have arthritis.” This is a condition that God did not create me to have and therefore I do not claim it. I always state that “I am battling arthritis” and to be honest, I am grateful that is all I have when there are so many people out there battling life-threatening conditions.

In addition to having this new battle for my body, I also became “Perimenopausal”, which means I was in the early stages of menopause. Now, I know you are probably thinking, “Wait, she said she was 43 years old, isn’t that too young for starting menopause?” I would answer that you would be correct, though ages for women beginning that process can vary. For me, I think that my female organs were always so confused and pathetic at functioning they decided to just go ahead and give up.

At 43 I began battling RA and started “The Change” as some call it, again, thankful that was all I had to battle. I was determined to handle all of it with the healing help of Jesus Christ, education, good diet, and exercise. I tightened up my regiment and really started studying more about the different foods out there which could assist me with handling both conditions.

It was about this time that I got into juicing. I love the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” with Joe Cross, and I was given the lovely gift of a fantastic juicer. I began juicing fresh fruits and veggies daily, giving it to my family… accept my girl, MaCaedyn, I am still praying for the tastebuds of MaCaedyn, and I was loving every juice I made.

For two years I kept up with my healthy diet and tried to keep my exercise regiment strong. I was able to stop taking meds for the RA and only take an ibuprofen occasionally when needed, which made me very happy, but when I turned 45, I started to gain weight.

At first, I didn’t panic. I knew that I was in the beginning stages of menopause, so I visited my doctor to see if there was anything I could do to help the situation. Tests were done and I learned that my hormones were going pretty crazy and hormone therapy was recommended.

I prayed and thought about it for a period of time and decided to give it a try for a period of time. I began treatment, but after a year I didn’t see any improvement in my weight loss.

I then turned 46 and the battle with the mysterious weight gain continued–only it was getting worse. My husband and I planned a trip to celebrate my daughter MaCaedyn’s birthday at Disneyland and while we were there we would be celebrating our 19th anniversary of married bliss! That day we went to the beach and I remember being so sad because my swimsuit barely fit me and I did everything I could to keep myself covered up. I calculated that I had gained fifteen pounds over the course of the past year but I could not figure out why.

If I was eating poorly or not taking care of myself by exercising then I would have had a better understanding as to what was happening, plus due to the battle with RA, I was very careful about not eating gluten, sugars, starches, nightshade veggies, etc. But my doctor assured me that the hormone therapy was supposed to be helping my weight to balance. If that was the case, why was I constantly gaining weight and not able to shed a pound of it?

The situation was now beginning to affect me mentally and emotionally. I was frustrated, confused, tired, embarrassed and all of it was bringing me into depression. What I was doing was not working for me and I knew that something had to change. I went back to the doctor and after more tests and discussions I decided to stop the hormone therapy as I had read that can sometimes cause weight gain in some women. Even after six months had passed without the hormone therapy, there was no change. The weight did not go away, in fact, it kept coming.

I for one believe that God can heal us instantly (I’ve had that happen several times) and I also believe that God can heal us over a course of time. So, instead of just trying to push this situation away from me, I wanted to see what it was God wanted me to learn from it.

As I said before, weight for me with myself or with other people was not an issue. I never judged anyone for their weight, looked upon them poorly or with disrespect. I like to look at the heart of a person and not keep my focus on the outside. Having said that, I have never experienced what it was like for people who battle their weight. I never understood how hard it was to lose weight. I never knew what it was like to dread opening the closet or the drawer and get dressed. I never knew their private pain or understood their personal struggle.

When I looked at my situation as a lesson from the Lord instead of a problem, my spirit became quiet about it. I turned my eyes from myself and placed them upon others who I knew were going the through the same thing or had been battling their weight for years.
When I did, God filled my heart with great compassion. Although I didn’t know all that they might have gone through with their weight, I felt that I wanted to treat them with some extra special care and love and make sure I let them know that they were beautiful, important and loved.

This brought me great joy and although I didn’t give up trying to lose my weight, I was not angry about it.

Now, if you are anything like me, you know your body very well. I’ve lived with mine for quite some time and I know when there is something not quite right. Although I had come to a more peaceful place with this particular situation, still, I knew I wasn’t done trying to figure it out. I kept praying for help and felt led to go back to the doctor, only this time, I couldn’t see my usual doctor so I chose to see someone different.

When the doctor arrived, she had with her a nurse practitioner who was shadowing that day. They asked if she could visit with me and of course, I welcomed her to do so. While discussing the situation, the nurse practitioner was looking over my doctor’s shoulder and quietly said, “I see that she has PCOS.”

This caught my attention, “I was diagnosed with that years ago,” I replied.

“Well, that can cause insulin resistance in some women,” the nurse practitioner replied.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that instead of your sugars being burned, they are being stored as fat,” she explained.

I paused to take this information and process it, then asked, “What can be done for that?”

“If you chose, you can take Metformin, it is the same medication–”

“Taken for diabetes,” I interrupted. I knew this well as many of my extended relatives, including my mother, are diabetic and take Metformin.

It was not a hard decision for me to take the medication as I knew I had prayed for so long, asking God for help with my weight and to figure out what was wrong. As I said before, I believe God can heal us without any help from anyone, as I have had it happen many times, and I also believe that God gives us help through doctors who He has given the knowledge to help us.

I began taking the Metformin that week and the weight started coming off! The next week I set a goal for myself. My twentieth anniversary was ahead of me on May 13th and my husband had planned an incredible beach vacation for our family in Oceanside to celebrate our beautiful love and marriage and I was going to lose twenty pounds by that time.

Long story shorter (too late), I did lose those twenty pounds and so I pressed on with the weight loss, deciding that I was going to be happily married for as many years as the Lord blessed me with and so I would keep working to lose weight and get myself strong in body, mind, and spirit so that I can be with my husband, children and someday grandchildren for as long as possible. Twenty plus pounds for twenty plus years is what I decided to do and I am happily still walking that healthy road.

I am grateful for this experience for several reasons. It taught me so much more compassion for others who struggle with their weight. It taught me to never think that I have all of the answers for people and their weight loss–not that I ever thought I did, but I have had experiences with people like that and though I’m sure they mean well, their words can sometimes bring shame or embarrassment to the situation instead of support. A person who is struggling to find help for themselves should not feel shamed but encouraged. It also taught me more about the PCOS condition that I battle, and that it can cause unwanted weight gain– but there is hope!

Before closing, I would like to say—and I say this with much respect and kindness, please, if you are a person who does not believe in doctors or taking medication, please do not send me your anti-doctor or anti-medication comments. Everyone is different and people must make the choices for themselves that they feel are best. I am not trying to influence anyone to make any choices for themselves. I simply wanted to write this blog to share what I experienced and learned because I thought it might help someone else who might be experiencing the same thing and is also searching for answers. I just want to help anyone who is out there living with the same confusion and frustration that I had to know they are not alone.

I also want to encourage women out there to never quit trying to find answers if you think there is something wrong with your body. You know yourself best, so listen to your body! It also doesn’t hurt to get that second opinion. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes upon your records and a different mind of ideas can be a good thing! And always know, above everything else, God looks at your heart, (1 Samuel 16:7) not the physical heart, (which is also important to take care of for your life and family!) but the spiritual heart. In time, the outside beauty will fade away and grow old, but the beauty of the heart can last forever!

God bless you and thank you for reading!

 

Becoming Angelique Jacqueline La Fon-Cox – The Journey to my Name

On April 13, 2018, I took my three children and with my marriage license of almost twenty-one years in hand, I went to the local Social Security office to change my name legally, to Angelique La Fon-Cox.

You may think that has always been my name, but it wasn’t. Legally, until now, I was Angelique La Fon.

What took me so long to do this? Well… it’s kind of a long story.

When I was born, my mother named me Angelique La Fon Sims.

Most of my life, I thought that the name Angelique came from my grandfather’s reading. He loved books by  Louis L’Amour who had a daughter named Angelique. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I learned my mother actually got my name from the old vampire soap opera series “Dark Shadows”. There was a character that she liked on that show named Angelique. God had a big plan for this to be my first name and so He used a soap opera about a vampire to make sure my mother found it. We all know He works in mysterious ways, and that was one of them.

My middle name, La Fon, was my mother’s maiden name. Though the rest of her family spells it Lafon with a small “f” and no space in between, my mother had done some research on the family history and learned that it could also have the French spelling with a capital “F” and space in-between. So, she chose to set me apart and spelled my name that way– much to the dismay of some of my relatives who still claim that “I am not a true Lafon” because my name is spelled La Fon. Which is fine because I love it that way and I am creating something new.

My last name, Sims, was after my father, who had an interesting tale involving his name. According to his mother, birth, and death certificates, he was legally Robert Sims. For whatever reasons that will remain unknown to us, he told my mother his name was Michael Sims. Sims was put on my birth certificate for my last name–at least he told the truth on that one! Even though my parents divorced when I was a baby, Sims remained my last name.

Skip ahead to age 5. When I began kindergarten, the teacher thought the name Angelique was “too difficult for the other children to say” so she took it upon herself to teach the other students to just call me “Angel”. At the time, I did not like this. I loved my name Angelique and didn’t think it was too hard to say, but I had no power to stop it, and so at school and then later on everywhere else, I became known as “Angel Sims”.

After a while, I got used to this and accepted it. The only time I heard the name Angelique was when I was in trouble, so I learned to appreciate the name Angel.

When I was 9 years old, my mother married a man that I did not like… ever. His last name was hideous and I hated it with a passion. The name was “Crull”. My apologies to anyone out there who is named Crull. I do not mean to offend you, I just associated the name with the man— and the man wasn’t good. From what I was told, it was pronounced (Kr- uhll) but most people, upon seeing it, would pronounce it like the word Cruel.

My mother had a son with this man and I was thrilled for that. My little brother was the joy of my life and his name is Nathan. So because three out of the four family members were Crull, my mother thought I should be adopted and have the same name as the rest of the family. So again, my name was changed for me and I became known as Angel Crull.  Bleh.  Yuck!!

Having this name was so much fun. (sarcasm) I was constantly asked, “How come you are a cruel angel? Aren’t angels supposed to be good?” Then even better, in 1984 a movie came out called “Angel”. The catchphrase: “High school honor student by day. Hollywood hooker by night.” This one was a big hit for kids with my name. So much fun. Then there was one of my relatives that would tell me “Mexican men are the ones who are named Angel. You have the name of a Mexican man”. At the time, I didn’t understand why that was a bad thing because I am not a racist or prejudiced person, but that was also because I was young and didn’t understand the racism that some of my relatives possess, something I clearly understand and detest now.

It wasn’t until I made it to high-school that I took back the reigns on my name and started going by Angelique which thrilled my mother and confused the rest of the world who knew me as “Angel”. I’ll never forget the story my husband told me about my name. I am six years older than he is and we grew up together in church. He always knew me as “Angel” and one day someone said something about Angelique and he was like, “Who’s Angelique?”.  It took some time, but most people finally began to know who Angelique was, though there are still a few out there who call me Angel, and that’s okay. I actually am more used to them calling me Angel than Angelique so it sounds natural when they say it. You have my blessing to carry on. 🙂

Now we skip ahead to when I am twenty-four years old and my mother and her husband get a divorce. I know this sounds horrible, but if you knew the man, you would understand… I was relieved. As I said before, he was not a good man. He was very abusive, especially to my brother, and I was so relieved when he left and was not part of our lives anymore. That is another story in itself, but the bottom line for me? The very week he left, I went down and got the paperwork done to change my name.

I didn’t know what to do for a middle name, so I left it as La Fon, but instead of going back to my father’s name of Sims, I chose La Fon for my last name. I did this because I did not ever know my father. As I said, he and my mother divorced when I was a baby. I saw him once when I was 7 years old for just a few minutes and then he died when I was 22 years old. So the only father that I ever had in my life was that of my grandfather, my “Papa”, Samuel Boone Lafon. So I chose to make his last name my last name… only with a space… and a capital “F”, which didn’t bother him or my grandmother at all. They were thrilled that La Fon was legally my last name… and also my middle name.

At this point, I was legally Angelique La Fon La Fon. A little redundant, but I loved it none the less and vowed that I was never going to change it again, even when I got married, my name would remain. Never say never!

Skip ahead to 1997, one year after I change my name. I am 25 years old and fall head over heels in love with Joshua Bryant Cox; the love of my life, the man of my dreams and future father of my children. When we got married, he was sad that I wasn’t going to take his name. I remember his question verbatim. He said, “How will people know that you are mine?” I then assured him that my love for him would be evident enough that I belonged to him and that his ring would not leave my finger (which it has not). I explained everything to him about all of the name changes and frustration I had with my identity through the years and he understood. There were some who did not understand this and actually thought that I was just against his last name or family. This wasn’t the case at all. I had just had enough of having name changes through the years and didn’t want to go through it all again.

Josh then asked me, “Since you are not taking my last name, can I give you a new middle name?” Since my middle name was a bit repetitive, I happily agreed and was pleasantly surprised to learn he had selected the name Jacqueline for me. He thought that it fit well with the fluidity of my French name and he also knew that I was an admirer of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I loved it and the next time I had to have my picture taken for my Driver’s License, I put it down. This was interesting because I later learned that I was supposed to have proof of that name on a birth certificate or something. I did not, but they put it on there anyway!

At age 25, I was a very happily married Angelique Jacqueline La Fon. It had a good ring to it. Josh chose well for me and I loved it.

Move forward a couple years ahead and I am now going through infertility treatments so Josh and I can have a baby. I have a sometimes rebellious body that doesn’t always do what it is supposed to do and having babies at that point in time was one of them. After all that I went through to have our first child (which is another story for another time) and almost died twice in the process, I thought, by George, I am going to have my name for this baby’s last name too! I knew some families by this time that were hyphenating their last names, the men too! So our baby girl, Aven, became the first
La Fon-Cox of our family. We were creating something new and beautiful from our two family names and we loved the sound of it.

Aven Salei La Fon-Cox was the first, then MaCaedyn Janei La Fon-Cox came and finally, Samuel Braeden La Fon-Cox. Wherever we go we tell people, Mama is the La Fon and Daddy is the Cox. But what was so surprising to me was that people loved the sound of the two names together. We were told that many times. Once, an Awana instructor even announced to the whole assembly during a graduation that she loved the name La Fon-Cox.

It was right after MaCaedyn was born in 2005 that I started writing books and decided to use La Fon-Cox as my pen name. All of my Huggabear books, Intercessors series, other stories, and musicals all had the name of Angelique La Fon-Cox. Even my Facebook page had Angelique La Fon-Cox on it… but it was not my legal name.

I also had another amazing experience involving my name which I write about in detail in my blog titled “Messenger of Jehovah – How the Intercessor Series Began”. A dear friend, Marilyn Leininger, who was then a complete stranger, came up at church and told me that God told her I needed to know the meaning of my name. She had it all written down for me in Greek and Latin. Angelique means the messenger.
Knowing this changed everything for me and confirmed that I was on the right path with the books I was writing and that God did have plans for me to take His message, through my stories, to His children. It was a happy and powerful moment in my life where my name was concerned (for a change… no pun intended) and I will remember it forever.

During the past few years, God has really been dealing with me and my name… again.
I have been working very hard to build a ministry of books, music, performing arts and our nonprofit organization The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. www.huggabears.org
I have a million dreams of things we can do and build in the near future (Huggabear Farm!) and I have spent countless hours in prayer and fasting for this ministry to expand and for these dreams to come to fruition. I want to do it all with my children, who are legally La Fon-Cox. I also knew that in order to prevent confusion for matters in the future, it would be easier if my pen name matched my surname.

When 2018 came, I had a list of things to accomplish written down and changing my name–again, was one of the items listed. So, I went down on April 13, 2018, and finally had my name changed. Everyone kept wishing me congratulations on my marriage which was kind and made me smile, even though I have been happily married almost 21 years (May 13, 2018).

I had planned to post this blog and give Josh my new driver’s license and social security cards all wrapped up to surprise him for our 21st anniversary to show him that I was now legally La Fon-Cox and people would always know I belonged to him. But… Josh’s curiosities killed that plan. I don’t think he cares that curiosity killed the cat either. 😉
Although I didn’t get to tell him personally as I planned, I at least get to share it with the world now that I have officially and legally changed my name. There is still a lot of legal work to do to complete this process, but that’s okay. It will be the last time I do this!

I am not Angelique La Fon. I am not Angelique Cox. ‘

I am Mrs. Angelique Jacqueline La Fon-Cox…. the first!