Covid 19 Pandemic Entry 7 – The Road from Infertility to Motherhood

Reflection. That is something that I have been able to spend a lot more time doing lately. During the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020 one of the things that I have been so very grateful for is my family. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing children that God blessed us with, Aven, who is currently 17, MaCaedyn, who is currently 15, and Samuel who is currently 13. You might think, “Wow! That must be rough! Being quarantined with three teenagers!” Honestly, it has been a blessing. Though I admit teenagers are an entirely different being of their own, I love being with my children and I try to soak up every moment I can with them while they are with me. I know that on the timeline of life, the days of my children living at home are fleeting and so I am thankful for every day.

This past Mother’s Day 2020 was an interesting one. “Normal” plans of attending church and lunching publicly or with extended family members is not on the agenda due to the quarantine. Still, my crew had all kinds of wonderful plans for me! First, we all slept in, which was lovely. Then, I was showered with hugs, kisses, “I love you’s” and sweet gifts. I get hugs, kisses and “I love you’s” everyday, but on Mother’s Day, Christmas and my birthday, I get extra! Next, my husband packed a fantastic picnic and then, we drove to northern Arizona and spent the day at Christopher Creek. For me, there is nothing better than getting out to God’s great nature with my family. I appreciate all the marvels that humans can build, but there is nothing compared to the beauty of the natural world that God spoke into existence.

Being in nature cleanses me. Whether it be the beach, the mountains and woods, lakeside or hiking a desert trail. I love being outside with my family. But I admit, my favorite places of nature are where I can hear water flowing. I remember my Mema and Papa taking me to different places in the wilderness and whenever we were by a river, stream, or babbling creek, Mema would say, “Listen, it’s singing a little song!”

So there I was, wading through Christopher creek and laughing as Josh would teeter upon an unstable rock he stepped on and yell “Bad rock! Bad rock!” or watching my son Samuel fall into the creek time after time, after time, until he looked more like he had been swimming, and I I began reflecting upon how blessed I am to be a mother.

I am truly a blessed woman to have the family I do and be a mother, I know that and it is something I have never taken for granted. I have reflected upon it thousands of times in the seventeen years that I have been a mama, but this particular Mother’s Day during the pandemic, gave me an even grater perspective on how richly I am blessed.

The road for me to become a mother was not an easy one and that is the story I will tell you.

I have always had a very special love for children in my heart. I was an only child until I was almost ten years old. I remember the day my baby brother was born. It was one of the happiest in my life. I loved helping take care of him and watching him grow up. I remember it so well. His coming into my life lifted the love I already had for other children in my heart to a higher level. I began teaching and directing children’s choirs at my church at the age of twelve and fell in love with the sweet, innocent, sincerity that can only be produced through the vocal chords of a child. I am happy to say I have never stopped teaching and directing children to sing since and I never plan to.

I love children’s curiosities and laughter, to see their eyes sparkle with wonder and excitement and, of course, I personally believe the sound of their giggles are like seeds of healing joy that when heard can plant and grow happiness in even the most sorrowful heart.

I loved having children in my life as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult. They made me feel happy, young and they always gave me the opportunity to be silly, playful and imaginative.

I was twenty-five when Josh and I first got married and he wanted a baby right away. He told me that one of his greatest goals for his life was to be happily married and have children. I love that about him.

We were married in May and it was in the following month of June that I thought I had a miscarriage. I had missed my regular cycle date and then later on there came a day where I had horrible abdominal pain that was different from regular cramps. Sharp, cutting like knives, not dull, heavy and pulling. Though the pain spread through my abdominal area, it seemed to stem from one certain location on my left side. I went to the doctor and she thought that I was having an “early miscarriage”. Since this was different than anything else I had experienced through menstruation, I had no reason not to believe her.

At the time we were sad, but then it also helped us to understand that we were not actually ready for a baby. We were living in a one room apartment and I was working three different jobs while attending college. I was the director of the Arizona Girl’s Choir, the Music Minister of Parkway Community Church, and I had my own voice and piano studio and had over 40 private students. Josh was working and still going to college, so the experience helped us see the reality was it wasn’t time.

We decided to wait. We wanted to travel, buy a house, finish up what we planned to with school and have more financial stability.

We married in 1997 and by 1998 I was working full time at the church, Josh finished his two year degree, and we had bought a four bedroom, two and half bath condo. We had also done some traveling during that time, so we threw caution to the wind and decided to start our family.

After several months I felt something was wrong. I began reflecting over my bodies history remembering how things had been for me before marriage. I had never really had a regular menstrual cycle during my teen years. One of my doctors even had put me on birth control pills to try and regulate me. That didn’t fix the problem either, though it did help my skin through those challenging acne years!

As Josh and I moved along in life together we took steps of faith that someday we would have our own family together. We began creating a nursery. A room of hope where someday we would rock our babies, play with them, dress them, sing to them, cherish them. There were times when I thought I was pregnant as I would skip over a month or so at a time. But I would learn I wasn’t. I remembered that I would sometimes skip months in my teen and premarital years too. Remembering this led me to believe there was something going on.

During this time there were people around us at the church who were getting married and starting their families. We were able to enjoy learning a little bit of what life with a baby was like through them. We were very happy for them and loved all the children we were blessed to be around very much. They were all so precious and beautiful. Those were very blessed days that helped prepare our hearts for our own family. As time went on, I knew we were ready for our own baby. We had the home, had done even more traveling and were financially stable to care for a child. The longing I had to have my own baby was growing deeper within my heart.

I went to my gynecologist and had a conversation about my history. After asking many questions she believed I needed some testing. The first round of testing revealed that I didn’t produce hardly progesterone, only a very tiny bit, but nothing close to what would be considered normal.

That doctor referred me to an infertility doctor who worked with insurance companies. He put me through more tests, tests which not only tested my female organs and their fertility but also my patience and pain tolerance. Tests that leave a person in total and complete humility, which at the time I didn’t realize, but God was using to build great character and strength for our parenting skills in the days to come. Let me just say it like this, and for those women out there who have gone through the testing they will agree with me, you know a woman is really desperate to have a baby to endure it! Infertility testing is not easy–or cheap!

For Josh it was a bit easier, maybe even more enjoyable. ūüėČ
We learned that he was strong (like bull) for his sperm counts. In fact, the day the doctor received his test results she literally opened the door to call her nurses in to see them.
For some reason she thought his name was Johnson and kept saying, “Johnson is Gold!”
I guess an average sperm count for a man is anywhere between 15 million to 200 million.
Johnson aka Josh’s count was over 260 million. Something that still makes him walk tall with pride to this day.

When my test results came in, we learned that I did not have any blocked tubes, but that I did have a common condition among women called PCOS, which stands for Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.

I have another blog for women with PCOS and symptoms it can cause with weight gain, but for this story I want to focus on the complications it caused me with infertility. In addition to the regular occurrence of cysts being present on the ovaries, PCOS can affect the levels of progesterone produced. Hmm, now we are getting somewhere.

Progesterone is a hormone which helps regulate a woman’s monthly cycles. BINGO! We have a winner! There was one answer to one of my problems! Progesterone also thickens the wall of the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant. If there is no fertilized egg, the progesterone drops. If there is a fertilized egg, the progesterone helps keep the lining of the uterus thick and strong to support the growing fetus.

I guess I should have warned you ahead of time that this would also be like a mini-class in reproduction. Just be glad I’m not taking the time to explain in detail what some of the tests for women are like or involve!

The doctor put me on progesterone supplements and also a prescription called “Clomid”. I can’t get too technical with this because there are things I still didn’t quite understand about it. I do know it was to raise my FSH and LH levels to help me with ovulation to produce more eggs… I believe.

The problem was that in order to take the drug, I had to make sure I didn’t have any cysts of threatening size on my ovaries. Clomid can add cysts on ovaries and it can also cause ovaries to swell. So if ovarian cysts are present, the medication cannot be taken so as not to cause the woman any harm or damage.

Month after month we tried this process and I was now in the third year since beginning my infertility treatments. I was becoming more and more desperate. I was trying my hardest not to covet the beautiful families which were blossoming all around me. In my heart, I wasn’t angry or jealous of the women who were having their own babies, I loved them and I loved their children dearly. It was that my heart was longing deeply to pour love into my own children. My arms longed to embrace my own babies. The nursery that Josh and worked on creating off an on in our home was silent and patiently waiting for the children to come and live there. We both were longing for that day to come.

The doctor knew I was depressed and asked me if I would like to try something new. I agree and he said we could double the amount of Clomid that I was taking.¬† After taking the meds for a few days I knew something wasn’t right when I could literally point to where my ovaries were located because of the pain they were in. They were on fire and so I stopped taking the medication. I was out of town when this happened so I didn’t get into the doctor. Then one night after I came home from my trip, the result of the double dose of medication hit me. I remember the night it happened vividly. I thought I had food poisoning because I had horrific pain in my abdomen and kept throwing up. One moment I was burning hot, nauseous and vomiting, in the next moment I was shivering violently and cold all over. My husband got me to the hospital and on the way a new pain began. Now, there were stabbing, sharp pains in my shoulders. I had no idea what was happening but knew that it could not be food poisoning.

The doctors at the hospital told me that my ovary had erupted. The double dose of medication either caused a large cyst to form and explode or there was one on the ovary that the doctor didn’t catch in the ultra-sound. Either way, it landed me in emergency surgery to cauterize the ovary. By the time the bleeding was stopped I had bled out over 60% of my body’s blood into my abdomen. It was the blood gases which were building up¬† in my abdominal region that were causing my shoulders to feel like they were being stabbed. Crazy right?

After all this happened and I was back on my feet, the infertility doctor, whom I will just refer to as Dr. AlmostKilledMe, told me that he wanted to try the medication again…

(crickets)

The exact same treatment which exploded my ovary, he wanted to do again.
Needless to say, I walked out of that office and never went back.

I began searching for new doctors that were covered on my insurance, but for our particular insurance program, the list was slim and the other doctors on the list were not taking new patients at the time. I had to be put on a waiting list.

More waiting. For women who are waiting to have their own child, waiting is depressing.

I kept quoting the scripture during this time, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and be weary, they shall run and not faint.”¬†Isaiah 40:31. At the time, I didn’t understand this verse and how the waiting would be good for me, just like another verse where Jesus said in John 13:7 “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”¬†There is truth in both those verses that I didn’t realize at the time. I would understand on many levels later on what God was doing through this infertility and the patience of waiting that I learned during this time of was the strength of patience that I would use later on as a mother.

It was at this time that my mother decided to take out a loan on a home that she owned free and clear. She wanted to do somethings for herself and my brother, but also wanted me to go to one of the best doctors in the nation. His name is Dr. Jay Nemiro and at the time he was one the of top four infertility doctors in the U.S.

My mother, Bonnie LaFon, graciously and generously gave Josh and I $55K, no strings attached, to go to Dr. Nemiro because he did not work with insurance companies. It was a gift from God and an answer to our prayers.

Although Josh and I had a new awakening to our hope, the gift of the infertility funds didn’t come without challenges. There were some who thought it was completely ridiculous that my mother would do such a thing. Some said she was enabling us to “Go against God” in taking conception and creation into our own hands. Some said, “If it’s God’s will for Josh and Angelique to have a baby, they will without spending $55k.” We had a variety of things spoken to us, mostly by those we loved and cared about which made it all the more painful.

Comments like these from people are all part of the test.
Before Josh and I started the infertility treatments we had dealt with people giving us their advice and opinions on the matter. Sometimes it was put forth gently and with love, but sometimes it wasn’t. Some would say I was “causing my own infertility by stressing out over it.” That we just needed “to relax”, or “have a lot of sex” or “just let nature take its course.”

When you can forgive others for making hurtful comments about a circumstance that you are involved in and they are not, it builds your character. We did forgive all those who made their remarks and did not respond back to them in frustration or anger. The reason why I write about it now is because I want all those who read this blog who are going through infertility treatments to know, if you have heard comments like these or others and just need a shoulder to lean on, you can reach out to me. This is a place of understanding. A safe place where you will not be judged, mocked or ridiculed. But instead a place of prayer and support.

You will hear all kinds of things on this journey, but just listen to God. I fully believe that God gave us doctors and nurses, not to replace Him, but to be His hands extended to help one another. I also believe this was why Jesus asked Luke to be one of His disciples so that we would not be afraid to utilize the help that doctors have to offer. After all, God created the men and women who are the doctors and God is the one who gave them the knowledge they obtained to help us.

If a person had some other ailment and felt led through prayer to go to a doctor to learn more about their condition and possibly help it, that does not mean they do not have faith in God, it means they are using the resources God has given them for help. The danger of a person’s faith being hindered is when they put all their hope and trust in the doctor or science and not in God. A person must always take their situation of their health to the Lord first, and if they feel led to go to a doctor that should not be a judgement upon their faith. Even though I came across a doctor that made a poor decision which led me to a critical life and death moment, I fully believe that doctors and nurses are blessings from the Lord. God is the one who gave them the very special gift and heart they have to serve and help others. Not everyone can do it, that’s for sure. It is a special gift placed in their hearts by the Lord and when they go to work everyday, they are fulfilling the purpose God has for their lives. I felt God was in this 100%. It was His perfect timing and the movement of His hand which made it all possible.

We took the funds my mother gave us and went to see Dr. Nemiro. During our very first visit I learned that there were several tests which had not been conducted on me by other doctors in the past. This was probably because of insurance restrictions, but one of those tests proved to be the main reason I could not get pregnant the good old fashioned way. I had ASA or, Anti-Sperm Antibodies. Basically what that means is that my body produced antibodies that saw sperm as an enemy and would attack and kill them instead of allow them to do their thing.

No matter how many times I had taken the other medication, at that time without a miracle of God which I know was possible, I wouldn’t been able to conceive a baby without the assistance of surgery. So, that’s what we did. We knew that my Fallopian tubes were not blocked and were healthy so we elected to try the ZIFT procedure. ZIFT stands for Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer.

With this procedure, the eggs are extracted surgically from the ovary and fertilized in a dish. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are placed surgically into the Fallopian tube. The theory behind this treatment is that by placing the fertilized egg back into the Fallopian tube so it can travel and find it’s place of implanting on it’s own, it provides the fertilized egg a more natural process.

The first time that we went to extract the eggs all went well and we ended up with 2 fertilized eggs to place into the Fallopian tube. Before and after the surgery, I spent much time in prayer and I knew that it did not work. We grieved the loss of those two fertilized eggs and after some rest physically and mentally, I was ready to try again.

I will never forget the second day I went to have the eggs extracted… or should I say eggstracted. ūüôā

The anesthesiologist did not show up.

I had the choice. Go ahead and do the procedure with a little bit of “twilight” meds which would not knock me out, just maybe take the edge off, or I could miss the chance at extracting the eggs and wait another month which meant going through all the medications and treatments to prepare for the extraction again.

My longing heart chose to go forward with the procedure and I can tell you I felt and remember it all. Even as I write this, I can remember the pain of it.
First, they clean you with a pretty decent sized sponge. They do this on the outside… and on the inside. That seriously was torture. Next, came the nice, long, sharp instrument that went up inside, punctured through the wall of the uterus and then into the ovary to extract the eggs. This was done on both sides. Nice huh?

The whole time I just kept thinking about the baby or babies that I would hold and love. The joy they would bring and the fulfillment I would finally feel as a mommy.

Once the procedure was completed, we learned we had 5 fertilized eggs to transfer, and this time after praying, I knew it had worked.  I felt different. I felt the surge of hormones in my body and I felt a spring of joy well up in my soul.

When we got the official word that THIS test was positive, we celebrated like we have never celebrated. All our friends and loved ones were so happy for our success and were rejoicing with us. Everyday felt like Christmas morning. I felt wonderful. Such happiness. I had no pain, no sickness, nothing but complete and total joy, joy, JOY!

I remember sharing this once with a woman who was pregnant and having a terrible time with illness. I felt so badly for her. She asked if I ever had experienced illness during pregnancy and I explained that I had not and that I attributed it to the incredible, constant oil of joy that the Lord had anointed me with. She rolled her eyes, laughed and mocked me, “Experiencing illness during pregnancy has nothing to do with how happy you are.”

Maybe for some, but not for me. I knew not ever experiencing illness during pregnancy was God’s way of blessing me for all the other pain and suffering that I had endured. The Bible tells us in Neh. 8:10 “The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!” And it was the great joy of the Lord that filled my heart and soul!

My dream had come true and I knew that God was the one who made that happen!! God spared my life from the first doctor’s treatment. God brought the gift of the funds to my mother and placed it in her heart to give it to us. God led us to find Dr. Nemiro and God made it possible for me to see him right away and not be placed on a waiting list. God revealed through Dr. Nemiro what my problem was and God was the one who created the incredibly amazing baby that we were going to have. Absolutely, positively everything that happened to us, the lessons we learned, the strength which was built inside us, the compassion we gained for others going through this, God used to work for our goodness and I give God the glory for it all!¬† I rejoiced in the coming of our baby through praise to my mighty, compassionate and giving God. Josh and I were finally going to have our own child and nothing that happened around us or even to us was able to penetrate that joy!!

There was never a moment, not in all these years, when I have not been totally and completely grateful for God answering my prayer in the way I had hoped. I would have loved to adopt a baby, I just had it in my heart to strive for my own and felt led to pursue it. I know several women who spent many years striving to have a biological child, but God had another plan for them. Some adopted beautiful, precious children who God knew needed them as their mother and they are totally and completely their children. I remember a beautiful song I once heard Marie Osmond sing called “From God’s Arms, to Your Arms, to Mine.” I firmly believe that people who open their hearts to adopt or foster children are examples of unconditional love and acceptance that whole world can learn from.

Then there are some I know who decided to just have furry babies in their lives and they do a great work caring for unloved animals in the world that God told us to care for. I know all these women to be very happy and consider them to be pillars of strength who looked upon God’s answer and choose to embrace it. I do not know them to be bitter or envious. They are very happy and consider themselves richly blessed. I must also give my public thanks to some of these women who walked down the road of infertility with me, especially one in particular named Becky Merryman. The Lord sent her as my own personal infertility angel and, Becky, I am forever thankful for the help, education, support and encouragement you poured into my life during that time. God knew I needed you because you understood what I was going through like no one else. I only hope that I can be for someone else what you once were for me.

I was almost at the end of my first trimester when I got up for my second trip one night to the bathroom. It was then I felt it. The ovary erupted again. Within seconds I was feeling the same pain that I had felt just over a year ago when it happened the first time.

I woke Josh and he got me to the hospital. This time, I asked him to take me to a different hospital. After the ovary had erupted the first time I was sent to Good Samaritan in Phoenix. They did help me by cauterizing the erupted ovary, but then sent me home with a blood hemoglobin count of 6. For those who might not know what that means, a healthy blood hemoglobin count is between 13.5 to 17.5 and for women it is from 12 to 15.5. Needless to say, I crashed and crashed hard. I had to be hospitalized a few days later and receive two more blood transfusions to go along with the first one I had after surgery.

This time I asked to go to St. Lukes Hospital. Big mistake. If I had gone back to Good Sam they would at least have had my records on file for having an erupted ovary the first time and they would have believed me. Instead, St. Luke’s decided not to believe me and just pumped me up with Demerol and morphine. They kept me in the emergency room for seven hours and did nothing but an ultra-sound. When the results from the ultra-sound came back we learned I was pregnant with twins… but for how long? The doctor told Josh, “We see there is some fluid in her abdominal area but we are just going to give her pain meds and send her home.”

Now, keep in mind, I’m pretty crocked from all the meds they were giving me, I am in unbelievable pain, pain that I never knew existed, and every few minutes I am hot and throwing up or freezing cold and shivering. This time the pain is not just in my abdominal area and shoulders like before, this time it is also all over my back. I can’t even lie down and different ones are taking turns holding me up. I remember my uncle holding my back in an upright position and then holding my head up in the front because I lacked the strength to do this on my own.

I knew I was dying. I literally could feel my life drifting out of me. I looked at Josh and with as much cohesiveness as I could muster I said, “I am dying. Please get me some help.”

Josh called Dr. Nemiro who did not hesitate for a moment but had me transferred by ambulance to Scottsdale Shea Hospital where I was taken into emergency surgery. Once inside we learned that the ovary had erupted again, as I knew, and had bled into itself so much the ovary was the size of a Nerf Football. Normally, an ovary is the size of a thumb, so this was significantly bigger, yet no one at St. Luke’s hospital did anything at all to try and help me.

Normally, when I write something I don’t like to call people out for their mistakes and if it is important to the story, I don’t name names. This situation was about life and death and boy did I come close to death. We also had to pay a significant amount of money because Dr. Nemiro did not work with insurance companies. So his fees were out of pocket. It was all a mess... but Jesus was with us.

Dr. Nemiro tried to perform laparoscopy surgery but I had too much blood in my abdomen to see anything. They had to cut me like a cesarean, all the while they had a scope to monitor the babies’ heartbeats. One baby kept struggling. Dr. Nemiro said it’s heart beat kept stopping during the procedure. Once again, I had lost over 60% of my bodies blood and my ovary had to be removed. We were told after it all was over and done with that 20 more minutes and I would have gone into irreversible shock.

I have to take a moment and just process that… twenty more minutes. That was it. Seven hours I was kept in an ER room and had Josh listened to the doctors there and just taken me home, I… we, the babies and I would have died. Thank You Jesus for being with us and for Josh’s obedience to act when he did.

After the surgery I had to have ultrasounds every other day to check on the babies. After about two weeks we did lose one of them. I knew it before the ultra-sound technician said it but I didn’t want to speak it out loud. After having as many ultrasounds as I had, I grew pretty good at identifying everything.

We went home that day and grieved the loss of our little one. I wondered if I had done too much too soon and contributed to it’s death, but the doctor reassured me I had not. It was just not strong enough to endure all that we had been through together.

For the next two weeks I still had to have ultrasounds every other day to monitor the other baby and see if she would live. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it was a she, but she did live. She was strong– and she still is… incredibly strong in will, spirit and body. God made her that way so that she would survive with me. I praise God for her life and I know that someday, we will see her twin, whom we named Skylar Reagan, in the glories of heaven.

After I healed from the surgery, the rest of my pregnancy went back to being just as perfect as it was before the ovary episode. Our sweet little baby made it and on March 3, 2005 our first baby, Aven Salei La Fon-Cox was born. It was  of the happiest days of my life. Josh and I cherished every single moment of being parents and having Aven in our lives was all that we had hoped and dreamed for and so much more!

Aven was a month premature I might add, but very healthy and beautiful. She was a footling breech baby and danced her way out. I remember every time I went in for an ultrasound they said, “She’s doing great, she looks healthy and normal, but her legs are measuring almost two weeks ahead of schedule.” Ha! That’s because she’s got her daddies long legs! I went back to work two weeks after having Aven do direct an Easter Musical production. Aven was brought into this world through cesarean and although I still had an incredible amount of healing that needed to take place, I felt nothing but the JOY of the Lord!

Although I loved the work that I was doing for the Lord at the time serving as Music Minister and Administrative Assistant, I was beginning to grieve my time away from Aven. I didn’t want to leave her everyday. I wanted to be with her every moment that I could. It was also hard for me to leave her because she had something called “torticollis” which involves the muscles of the neck. Because Aven was in the footling or standing breech position for so long, her head was pressed up into my diaphragm. This kept her neck in a bent position and caused her to have not only a weak, crooked neck, but her little face was also crooked. Something that straightened out as she grew and nothing that hindered her beauty! But she would choke easily and often. The doctors we saw gave us instructions on how to care for her which involved constant attention. Even when she was sleeping, for the first six months while she went through therapy, we had to allow her to sleep upright in a vertical position either propped up or held on our chest because she choked so easily when asleep. The doctors also were concerned about her being in a day care where workers caring for many children might not notice right away if she were choking.

All of this just made me want more and more to be a stay at home mama and not work outside of the home. The joy of being a mother was the greatest experience of my life and I didn’t want anything coming between me and the precious and fleeting time with my baby.

There were so many wonderful changes that came to my life from being a mother and I embraced them all. I became very thankful for my infertility treatment because I knew it had prepared me for being a mother. And then, God revealed something else to me which was incredibly significant and took me back to the scripture of John 13:7 when Jesus said, ‚ÄúYou do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.‚Ä̬† A moment had come for Jesus to reveal to me something which helped give me great understanding my infertility. I can’t remember the exact date I learned this, but sometime after Aven was born I remember Josh had a strange memory come to him. Something that he had forgotten about for years but suddenly remembered. He said that he had been told a story about me by one of his family members. It was told to him many years ago back when he was a kid and I was a very young adult, maybe still a teen myself. The rumor was that I had an abortion.

When I first heard this it took me a moment to process. Did I hear that right? That I had an abortion??? Me? A person who has loved, taught and worked with children for the majority of my life? Are you kidding?? Once I had a hold of the information an explosion of feelings shot through my mind, body and spirit. Pain, anger, confusion, bewilderment all went roaring through me. Why on earth would someone say something so cruel about me?

At first, I couldn’t understand it and I wasn’t angry that he told me or that he had been told by one of his family members. I honestly felt that God put that information to his family so that I could learn it. I had never heard it before, not from anyone. Who told it didn’t really matter. What mattered was it wasn’t true. I was never pregnant before I was pregnant with Aven. Not even in the times I thought I was or thought I had a miscarriage when Josh and I were first married. Dr. Nemiro explained that when a cyst on an ovary erupts, it can cause pain and bleeding, and so sometimes the symptoms can be mistaken for early miscarriages, especially if a monthly cycle had been skipped.

I don’t believe that God placed infertility upon me anymore than I would believe God placing illness on someone else. That is not how God works. He doesn’t punish us, Jesus took all the punishment needed for sin and GIVES us healing! Our troubles come from our enemy who seeks to destroy us in every way possible. We live in the world where sadly bad things often happen. I believe that God works through those circumstances to help us, teach us, mold and shape us, to bring us into a closer relationship with Him and to bring something beautiful from the ashes. Just like it is written in Romans 8:28 ‚ÄúAnd we know that¬†all things work together for good¬†to those who love¬†God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.‚ÄĚ After spending time in prayer about this painful rumor, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. I began to see how God used the circumstances of my infertility to prove that rumor to be false. I don’t know how many people heard and repeated it but for those who heard the story of my infertility it should bring up some important questions. How could a woman who could not conceive a child without the help of extreme tests, shots, medications, and surgeries to get pregnant, spending over the $55k given for treatment possibly have had an abortion? The answer… she couldn’t. The truth is… I didn’t.

I prayed and thanked God for revealing to me the story. I did not know of it until Josh spoke it and I thought, how amazing that of all the people in the world, the man who would one day be my husband and father of my children heard it. Why? So he could let me know that it was out there and so that I could find more understanding about my road of infertility.

Now,¬† in a world where abortions are common and in some places even celebrated into legislature, there may be some reading this who may wonder why is it important that I learned such a story was out there about myself and why it would bother me so much. I can answer that with three words: ¬†my children’s ministry. My life’s work is in serving and protecting children. This is part of God’s plan for my life and He knew that story could rise up and come against me in the future if it kept going. Again, and always, God was and is with me, working for my good. Even when I didn’t see it, even when I didn’t understand. He was there. Now, I do see it and I do understand and I am so thankful for everything I went through because it not only killed out that wicked story, it also transformed me into the mother and child advocate that I am today. The only thing I wish could have been different is that Josh and I could have paid for the treatments and my mother could have kept all that money for herself. Other than that, I know every circumstance taught me something I needed to learn and brought me closer to God, and I would never trade that for anything. I also feel it is important to say that I personally do not cast judgement on anyone woman out there who has had an abortion and

Never was I pregnant before Aven, and never have I had an abortion. I love children dearly and have devoted my life to serving, protecting, providing for, caring for, educating and hoping to make them happy. I firmly believe that outside of the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, our children are the greatest gifts our Heavenly Father God can bestow upon our lives.

I have learned that God does work in mysterious ways and I could see how my journey through infertility would not only help me become more compassionate and understanding of others who walk that road, it would make me so grateful for every moment I got to be a mother and also set my name and reputation of serving children free from any wickedness that was spoken to try and destroy it. God can use anything, including infertility for something good.

Fast forward about eighteen months after Aven was born and I started feeling strange. I told Josh, “You know, if I didn’t know better, I would think I was pregnant.” But of course, in our minds that was impossible, right? I had all these things wrong with me, I couldn’t possibly get pregnant without surgery and medication. But…

With God ALL things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I was right, I was pregnant. God blessed us richly by healing me so that I could conceive a baby the good old fashioned way, which is so much more fun than infertility treatments. ūüėȬ† And FREE!

I learned the wonderful news of our new precious baby the week of Thanksgiving 2004 and oh my goodness we were beyond grateful! When I learned that I was pregnant with another precious child, I resigned from my job. I wanted to be home and not miss a moment.

(I began writing this blog after Mother’s Day in May 2020 and worked on it off and on. Today is June 17, 2020 one of the happiest days of my life!)

On June 17, 2005 Josh and I were blessed yet again with our beautiful, sweet, loving MaCaedyn Janei La Fon-Cox whom we loving call our Kooshla bear. I was in baby heaven and was never happier. After two months, MaCaedyn was involved in a crazy accident which is another blog for another time, but again, and always, God was with us and protected her life.

Aven loved being a “Big Sissy” and always wanted to hold and take of “her baby”.
We were so in love with these two precious girls and thought we were richly blessed when God decided to pour out even more blessings upon us. MaCaedyn is a beautiful child, not just on the outside but also on the inside. She gifted musically and has a tenderness, love and compassion that runs deep within her. She works with me constantly for our family’s organization for children in need, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and I see her working in ministry with children with me for many years to come.

Eighteen months after I had MaCaedyn, even though we were using birth control, I got pregnant again!!! This time with our beautiful boy, our “brother bear”, Samuel Braeden La Fon-Cox. He was an early Christmas gift for me coming into the world on December 12, 2006. I know I am partial, but he seriously was one of the most beautiful baby boys this world has even seen and he is growing into a beautiful young man. The girls are definitely going to be swooning in the years ahead!

The joy of being able to have my own children is something I honestly didn’t know I would ever experience. I asked God and He answered me. The joy that these three children have brought into Josh and I’s lives is absolutely irreplaceable, priceless and constant. I know that my life would never be as full and rich if I didn’t have them. Yes, they are all three firecrackers, we don’t have an easy one in the bunch. But I know God has a plan for all of them.

This past Mother’s Day and today with MaCaedyn’s birthday, I reflected upon all these things more than I usually do. This is a strange time for the world. The Covid19 Pandemic has changed things greatly, some for the good and some for the worse. But for me, these days with my family being so cozily secluded in our home have been priceless and precious. I know that there are so many others out there in the world who are not as blessed as we are. Many are alone, many are with empty nests and cannot have their children or grandchildren with them. Many have lost loved ones due to this crazy killing Covid. So I am extra thankful and know I am extra blessed.

God is so good to me. I could thank Him every minute of the rest of my life and it still wouldn’t be enough for all that He has done for me. So, I write my stories and share them with others who might need encouragement.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus or our Heavenly Father God, Jehovah and would like to learn more about them, please never hesitate to contact me. My personal email is thehuggabears@gmail.com

I always want to talk about Jesus and the goodness of God and will be happy to help you.
If you are walking on the road of infertility and just need a safe place to talk, I am here for that too.

Always remember that Jesus loves you, no matter what and He told us 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!‚ÄĚ

Jesus knew we would have trouble in this world, that’s why He promised to never leave us. In closing I just want to say a prayer of thanks…

Thank You Father God for answering my prayer to make me a mother.
Thank You, Father God, for giving me the father for my children that You have and
Thank You, thank You, THANK YOU for the children that you blessed me with!
I love them with all my heart and soul and will always be so grateful that You made me
a mother!

Amen!

Covid19 Pandemic – Entry 6 “Thank God for Chris Wood”

My name is Angelique La Fon-Cox and today is April 26, 2020. Right now our world is in a quarantine due to the Covid19 Pandemic. It is a time of suffering for thousands all over the planet, but today, my husband, Josh, and I have a reason to be joyful.

Today was our friend, Chris Wood’s birthday. He would have been 53 years old today. As I write that number it is hard for me to fathom that so many years have passed since he left us.

I am thankful to have had Chris as a friend, as I know hundred of others are as well. He was a special guy. He had a great gift of joy and was always wanting to make you laugh. The boy could dress and had style, but everyone knew his greatest gift was music. His voice was powerful and anointed and he could play a bass guitar with the best of them. I loved how he chose to always use his gifts for music for glorifying the Lord, perhaps with the exception of the original song he wrote “There’ll Be No Beans Up in Heaven”.¬† I’m just kidding, that one was Classic Chris.

I first met Chris when I graduated from my elementary Sunday School class to the Jr. High/High School Sunday School class at the 44th Street Church of God. I was really nervous my first day there. Most of my church friends were younger than me. But by the end of the class, Chris had me giggling and made me feel like I was part of the group.

From that time on we were friends. We sang together, hung out with mutual friends together, traveled together, ate out, saw movies, shopped, and always laughed our heads off.

I can’t quite remember how old he was when he became ill. He had been traveling with a family Gospel singing group The Brashears¬†and had to come home from being on tour.

After much time of extensive testing, pain and suffering, he finally had the diagnoses of
Myelodysplastic Syndrome, which is a pre-leukemia condition. His brother, Scott, was a perfect match for bone marrow donation and they went through the process four times to try and help Chris get well. Chris’ condition continued to deteriorate. His skin became tight and hard, he had to walk with a walker, he lost so much weight that he looked thin and frail. These were just the symptoms would could see, although he wouldn’t share it publicly, his pain was great.

Yet, though it all. Chris’s spirit was strong and his desire to sing, play his bass, and use his talent for the glorification of the Lord only grew stronger.

It was during this time that he was having trouble sleeping and since I am a night owl by nature, I had no problem in staying up til 2am most nights to be there for him to talk to when he couldn’t rest.

I tried not to call him because I knew he needed the rest, but I have to admit, when I heard the phone ring around midnight, it made me happy. I loved our talks.

There were some things that had been going on in my life during this time that I had not shared with Chris. Another mutual friend of ours, Josh Cox, who was also good friends with my brother, Nathan, was at my house on a weekly basis. Actually, once Josh got his truck, he quite often spent weekends at our house. He would come over Friday night, watch movies or play video games with my brother and another mutual church friend, Brandon Cecil, who lived on our street. On Saturday they would all play basketball or go hang out, then Sunday they would all go to church and after that Josh would go home.

This had been going on for quite a while. It hadn’t bothered me in anyway, our home had always been a popular place for friends and cousins to hang out, but things were changing. Josh was interacting more with me and I was seeing a new side of him I hadn’t seen before.

At this time I was a full time college student, I was working between my private voice/piano music studio at home and working as the music director of our church among other small jobs I kept. Josh had asked if I had a spot for him to take piano lessons. I did and so we had been spending time weekly together as I taught him how to play.

It was during this time that I began seeing something new in Josh that I hadn’t seen before. Yes, he was an attractive young man on the outside, but it was his heart that I began to see on the inside that changed how I felt about him. Although what I was seeing in Josh were good and beautiful,¬† I was struggling with how I was feeling about him because… I was started to like him… you know like him like him.

Now let me help you understand the struggles I was having.

First of all, he was six years younger than I was. I was twenty-five and Josh was nineteen.

Nineteen.

I remember the first day I met him. I was seven and he was a year old baby.

BABY.

As we grew up  together in the same church there were actually times when I taught Josh. Once, I was a helper in his Sunday School class and before I was the music director, I was the teen drama group director of which Josh was  a member.

Then there was the fact that he was close friends with my brother who is almost ten years younger than I am. Josh, my brother, and Brandon were always together and had grown up together in the same church and youth group. The same church that I was now the music director of… do you see my struggle here?

Then on top of all that, Josh and I were asked to be in Chris’ brother’s wedding. Some of the wedding party were taking ballroom dance classes together and because I had already been studying ballroom dance for school, Josh and I also started taking classes together.

So there is even more time being spent together, but now, instead of me sitting in a chair next to him on a piano bench, he is holding me in his arms.

Swoon! Yes, the word is swoon. Josh made me swoon.

Now, back to Chris. Our talks at night had been wonderful. We had talked about how good God is, old times together and new dreams, SNL skits, struggles and challenges, girls he had crushes on then… he asks me about my current love life.

I was quiet. I really had nothing to say because I wasn’t seeing anyone, but instead of saying that I said nothing.

I should have been prepared with something quick to say because Chris paid attention well and when I paused and didn’t answer he knew something was up.

After about a thirty minutes of him coaxing me to tell him who I was now interested in, I finally decided to suck it up and deal with the consequences. I told him that I was a cradle robbing, almost cougar-like lady who was crushing on my little brother’s buddy, Josh, who was almost like my younger brother that I had known since he wore diapers. Diapers.

But Chris didn’t freak out… not badly anyway. Much to my surprise he freaked out in a good way! He was thrilled and told me, “No! Don’t think like that! This is great! You and Josh would be perfect together!”

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. Really? Me liking Josh wasn’t something weird?
It was a good thing?

Chris spent the rest of that night and almost every night after that building my confidence that Josh and I would make a great couple. He had formed a friendship many years previously with Josh and knew him pretty well. He too had seen the “diamond in the rough” that was Josh and because he knew us both so well, he just kept filling me with reasons why it was a good thing and why it would work.

These talks with Chris only made me start liking Josh more and I was really enjoying just liking him secretly with only Chris knowing about it until… April 26, 1997.
It was Chris’ 31st birthday.

I had him a gift and called to sing to him and ask if he would be at church the next day but he said he didn’t think so. He wasn’t doing well. I was very sad to hear it and since Nathan and Josh were in the living room watching tv and laughing, I went in my room to talk to him quietly.

He asked me, “I hear Josh in the background. Is he staying the night?”

“Yeah, that’s usually the Saturday night plan,” I replied with a laugh.

Chris then told me that while he was touched that I got him a birthday gift, there was only one thing that he wanted for his birthday, “I want you to tell Josh that you like him.”

My eyes bugged out of my head, my heart started racing and I stopped breathing,
“I CANNOT do that! NO WAY! You’re crazy!”

He chuckled but calmly said, “I really want you to do this. You and Josh should be together and I want to know that I had something to do with bringing you two together.”

I then began my long list of why I couldn’t tell Josh my feelings, when he gently interrupted me.

“Ang, I’m serious. I think this will be my last birthday and this is what I want you to do for me.”

I can’t quite describe the emotions that flooded over me after hearing him say those words. There was sadness to know he was suffering so much and in so much pain that he couldn’t see life continuing. Then there was fear. First, the fear of losing him. Fear for his family who adored him to be without him and for the rest of us too. I was completely afraid of not having him in my life. I couldn’t imagine it.

Then there was the fear of telling Josh.

I sighed, “Chris, please don’t say that.”

“I know it isn’t something you want to hear, but I really think it is the truth,” he said.

“I just… I don’t know how to tell him. I have no idea how to begin or conduct that conversation,” I said.

He then began to give me advice on things I could say to Josh, of which I noted and of course, he added his mischievous humor to the ideas which then lightened things back up– but only a little.

“You’re a big meany,” I said, “I can’t believe you went there just to get me to tell Josh how I feel about him.”

He said, “I know, but you wouldn’t have me any other way. I just really know that you and Josh need to be together and I really want to be part of this while I can. I need you to promise me that you will do this for me for my birthday.”

“Okay,” I said softly, “I promise.”

That night, after everyone else was asleep, I told Josh that I liked him.

That conversation and how we got married are a blog for another time. But this blog is about Chris.

Twenty-three years ago today, on a Sunday like today, I had this conversation with my best friend. A friend I loved with all my heart. A friend I still love and miss today. A friend who gave me one of the best gifts I have ever received in my life, he brought me together with My Love, my husband, Josh. I am the one who got the gift and it was on Chris’ birthday.

Chris was thrilled that I told Josh my feelings and even more thrilled when we married!! I give all the credit to Chris for being obedient to share what God showed him about Josh and I being together and for being so persistent for me to share my feelings with Josh. He truly did bring us together.

So here we are twenty-three years later right smack dab in the middle of a Covid19 Pandemic and we are celebrating and not just celebrating that we have been together for twenty three amazing years, but celebrating the blessing that we were able to be friends with an amazing guy named Chris Wood.

Happy birthday in heaven Chris! You left us far too soon. We love and miss you always!!!

 

Covid19 Pandemic – Entry 5 “The Soldiers of World War C”

World War C has begun. It is a war between Covid19 and citizens of the world.

The virus has no racism, prejudices, or preferences. If you are alive, that’s reason enough for it to attack you.

Those who are on “The Front” are not soldiers of the Army or Marines, they are not sailors in the Navy or the Coast Guard, and they are not pilots in the Air Force.

They do not carry rifles, they carry stethoscopes and thermometers.
They do not defend with tanks, but with ventilators.

They cannot order an airstrike before they send in boots on the ground, because they cannot see their foe.

These soldiers do not wear helmets or armor. They wear “P.P.E.”, masks, rubber gloves, and protective robes–and there is not enough of what they need. Still, united together and standing strong, they gather the defenses they have and engage in battle.

They have no refuge, no bunkers, no forts. There is no place they can retreat because their enemy is everywhere all over the world. For these soldiers there is no rest, there is no pause, and at present it seems as if there is no end. The battles rage on every minute, every hour, every day on a global scale.

The attack of the enemy crept in slowly at first. Many didn’t believe it was real… some still don’t. But these soldiers, even though they are afraid and even when they know they are outnumbered, have boldly answered the call for help and have stepped forward in courage to the front as their enemy spreads like wildfire.

Acting while scared displays the greatest form of courage. These soldiers are all the best of us, willingly putting their own lives at risk and displaying through their diligence the very definitions of bravery, compassion, and giving.

Right before our eyes “World War C” against Covid 19 is taking place. It is a new type of war, and a new type of soldier who says, “I am here to help you.” These soldiers don’t stop fighting because our enemy is invisible and constantly attacking, showing no mercy to any it encounters.

Covid 19 has been called “The Great Equalizer” taking old and young, rich and poor,
weak and strong, in people of every nation, of every race, of every faith and gender. All are prey to its destruction.

This enemy does not sleep. It does not stop. It shows no mercy and seeks to devour all that it encounters. But these soldiers will not quit. They know there is no military leave during this war, and they know the troop numbers are limited.

These soldiers are fighting the good fight with what resources of weaponry they have…
but the demand is greater than the supply and the weapons of warfare are scarce.

Though these soldiers are constantly calling for reinforcements for their kind of ammunition, production is gradual and some cannot be rushed.  Every weapon of defense must be created and tested with perfect functionality. There is no margin for error. All weapons must suffice the needs of the soldiers or else the fatalities will continue to increase.

As they days pass by and the numbers of those attacked by the enemy rise, it seems as if these soldiers will never see an end to World War C. I am quite sure they all feel totally overwhelmed, exhausted and scared.

They need our help.

Our doctors, nurses, first-responders, medical workers, care givers, hospital staff, all those who are facing the deadly Covid19 virus have been transformed overnight into soldiers and they are all facing it with courage, compassion, intelligence, creativity and excellence.

Every night after I tuck my kids in bed, yes, I am tucking in my teenagers with hugs and kisses on the head, I think of how blessed we are to be living in a place that is safe and peaceful. Yet, as I lay my head down to rest, all I can think about are these amazing soldiers on the front and what battles of hell they are constantly engaging in while the rest of us sleep.

So what I can I do to help them?

I don’t have funds to send.
I don’t have the medical equipment they need nor can I produce any.
I don’t have any knowledge that I can pass along to anyone trying to find a cure.
I don’t have the ability protect them.
I don’t have the means to give them any professional or sufficient hands on assistance.

So what can I do?

The best that I can do is stay home and pray.

I have a relationship and a direct line to the throne room of an incredible, powerful, loving, giving God who is still on His throne.

I have had dozens of personal miracles from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! His power has not changed.

I can go to the Bible, the Word of God, the truth of God, and I can read the scriptures aloud, calling out for help.

I can read them out to Jehovah Jireh, our provider, Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”, to provide all the needs of these soldiers.

Jehovah Shammah, God with us, and know, without doubt that He will fulfill His promises. Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”

There is power in prayer and those of us who understand that, and know how to boldly enter into the throne room of God, need to be calling out day, night and the minutes in between (1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without Ceasing”) for these soldiers, these incredible, amazing, courageous doctors, nurses and care givers. John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

We can intercede for them everyday and take their requests to Yahweh, our Mighty God.
We can ask the Holy Spirit to bring them strength, wisdom, and peace that passes all understanding.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We can pray and ask the Lord Jesus to pour out His power of healing that He gave us through the stripes He bore upon His back.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

Prayer and staying home are the best we can do to help these troops as they battle
World War C.

Intercessors. Prayer warriors. They need us. Let’s not fail them.

 

 

 

 

 

Covid 19 Pandemic – Entry 4 “Covid19 and the Ten Plagues. A Timing Observation.”

As I sit down to write this blog, my first thought, as is every thought right now, is upon all those in the world who are battling the Covid19 virus. Whether that be as patients, doctors, nurses (soldiers), medical or post death care workers, government leaders, whoever you are, our family’s constant thoughts and constant prayers are with you every single day.

Quarantine Life has brought a few changes for our family, but not like most. I home school my three children so we were not affected in the least in that way. I also work from home, so again, I wasn’t affected in that way either.

Right now, we are healthy, strong, and grateful. How we have been affected by Covid19 is in the same way as millions of people all over the globe. We are staying home. Quarantined. No basketball games. No outside lessons. No church or youth events. No Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. events. No concerts or performances anywhere. No (regular) shopping. No dining out. No libraries. No movies. No parties or social events of any kind… you understand. BUT! We are thankful to be healthy and alive and not suffering like so many hundreds of thousands of people in our world today. May God bless them all.

While I have had this time without any extra running around or activities, I have had more time to read, study, write, sing, and create–which I love doing.

In order for you to get a better understanding of what I am going to write in this post, I need to explain a few things. First, one of my favorite nonfiction authors is Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who is a Christian Rabbi of New Jersey and founder of Hope of the World ministries.  www.HopeOfTheWorld.org

Rabbi Cahn has a church in New Jersey and is a New York Times best selling author. He has written several books and I, ironically, got the last one and am working my way backward to the first! His other works include, The Harbinger, The Mystery of the Shemitah, The Book of Mysteries, The Paradigm, and then most recently, The Oracle.

I highly recommend these books to anyone who is a believer in God and His Holy Word, the Bible. They will enlighten you in ways that I can’t describe well enough in written words. What reading his books has done for me is opened my eyes to see that God is still doing miraculous works of mystery all around us everyday. Prophesies are coming true all around us even though we don’t always see it as it is happening or even understand it. Rabbi Cahn has been given a gift of understanding and his works have inspired me to look deeper into the timings of events that occur in my life. For example, the Pandemic of Covid 19.

I learned from Rabbi Cahn’s books that our calendar, the “Gregorian Calendar” or Christian (western) Calendar, is not the calendar that God uses. While we are recording and tracking our days, weeks, months and years by the sun, God uses the moon to track and calculate time. Upon learning this I bought a calendar that has both the dates of the western world and the dates according to God; the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish calendar differs from ours in many ways. Let’s begin with the days and how a day begins and ends. Genesis 1 says, In the beginning¬†God created¬†the heavens¬†and the earth.¬†2¬†Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.3¬†And God said,¬†‚ÄúLet there be light,‚ÄĚ and there was light.¬†4¬†God saw that the light was good,¬†and he separated the light from the darkness.¬†5¬†God called the light ‚Äúday,‚ÄĚ and the darkness He called ‚Äúnight.‚ÄĚ And there was evening, and there was morning‚ÄĒthe first day.

What is key here is that first, there was darkness. Then God spoke and there was light.
So God doesn’t count days beginning and ending at midnight like we do. He counts the ending of the day when the sun goes down and at sunset that is the start of the next day. Let me explain it this way. Today is Thursday, March 26th and the time is 4:23 pm. When the sun goes down this evening at let’s say 6:45 pm, according to God’s clock, Thursday is over and Friday has begun during the evening of March 26th. I hope that makes sense!

Knowing this helped me understand many key points in the Bible and I hope it will help you too. In addition to how God tracks the timing of days, it is also interesting how He tracks the months.

According to God’s calendar, the beginning of a new year is not January 1st like we recognize and celebrate it. On God’s calendar, the first month of the new year is called Elul and it takes place during the month of September.

With every new moon there comes a new month which makes the Jewish calendar lose about 11.25 days from the western calendar. For the purposes of this blog I am not going to delve further into the understanding of how the days and months are distributed, you can Google that and find all kinds of excellent information on how that part of it works. For this article, I just needed to explain the basic timing of the days and months and how they differ from the calendar that the western world uses.

Our family has daily devotionals and Bible studies with our children, once in the morning at the beginning of school and once at night before we go to bed. Before the new year of 2020 came, I felt led by the Holy Spirit of God to have our nightly Bible reading start from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. We were entering a new year, a new decade, and it made sense to start it with the beginning of God’s Word.

There have been some nights we missed or some nights we re-read something, so the timing of us reading a chapter of God’s Word since the beginning of the new year has landed us, at present, in the book of Exodus and the ten plagues of Egypt.

One night this week while my husband, Josh, was reading, I started thinking about when the plagues began. I knew that next month, April 12, 2020 would be Easter, Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus rose from the grave after being crucified on the cross and Passover, which is the celebration of God “passing over the Hebrew nation” and protecting them from the angel death, would begin on April 8, 2020. This made me think, we are experiencing the Covid19 Pandemic, which some might call a “plague”, at the same time as the plagues took place during the days of Moses.

Here is the definition of the word plague according to Dictionary.com
Plague: a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of buboes (bubonic plague ) and sometimes infection of the lungs (pneumonic plague). “an outbreak of plague”

The Biblical definition of a plague is a bit broader and is defined as anything that afflicts or troubles; calamity; scourge. Any contagious epidemic disease that is deadly. 

I began my research and according to AskMoses.com (and other sites) I found “The plague of blood began on the first of Av 2447, and continued at the rate of one plague per month.”

The month of Av is during the end of July and beginning of August.

I then broke out my Christian/Jewish calendar and charted what the time frame looked like when comparing the two calendars and events side by side. If the first plague of blood began in Av and each month there was another plague, this is how it breaks down:

Plague                                     Jewish Month                                      Gregorian Month

1. Blood                                      Av                                                           July/August
2. Frogs                                      Elul                                                         August/September
3. Lice                                         Tishri                                                     September/October
4. Flies                                        Cheshvan                                              October/November
5. Pestilence                              Kislev                                                     November/December
6. Boils                                        Tevet                                                      December/January
7. Hail/Fire                                 Shevat                                                   January/February
8. Locusts                                   Adar                                                       February/March
9. Darkness                                Nisan                                                     March/April
10.Death of 1st Born                 Iyar                                                       April/May

Credible websites such as, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, all list the beginning of Covid19 from Wuhan, China during the month of December 2019. 

When compared with the time frame of when the plague of pestilence (a fatal epidemic, disease) was cast upon the Egyptians as written in the book of Exodus, it would have been during the Jewish month of Kislev, which falls within the same time frame of the Covid19 emergence in December.

I want to make it very clear I do not believe that God placed the Covid19 virus into the world to punish us. NO. According to the scriptures, when Jesus Christ gave His life for all the sins of humanity upon the cross, He nullified the old covenant that sins must be paid for with other blood. His blood was enough to cover all the sins of all mankind for all time. He paid the price in full. The blood Jesus shed fulfilled the plan of salvation for the new covenant (promise), that mankind, when we humbled ourselves, repented of our sins, asked Jesus to forgive us, and to live in our heart as our Lord and Savior, would not have to die as a punishment, nor would God any longer place punishments upon us. Jesus took all our punishment.

I hope that makes it clear that I do not believe our good and loving God is punishing us with the Covid19 virus. Because of what is written in His Word and knowing His Word is truth, God is truth, I can trust that Jesus paid it all and God no longer send punishments to His children for their sins. God is for us. He wants to bring us to redemption, forgiveness, and healing, He does not want to destroy us.

After getting into the Word of God and reading about the ten plagues during the time of Moses, and confirming they were taking place during the same time as what we are experiencing in this world with the plague of Covid19, I found this verse:

Exodus 9:15-16 “Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

While I do not believe that Covid19 is a punishment of God, He is allowing it. Perhaps what He speaks to us in the verse above is why, to show His power in us and so we will declare His name.

My mind travels to John 13:7 “Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”¬† Again, just to be clear, I do not believe Jesus is placing this virus on people. Not at all. But for whatever reasons that we don’t understand at this time, He is allowing it to happen. I believe it is so that we will turn and cry out to Him.

My mind then goes to 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If¬†my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Perhaps this is another reason why it is being allowed. So that people of all nations, especially America whose foundation was built upon God, Jehovah, will turn back to Him, the God who loves them more than they will ever imagine.

Is it too hard to believe that when we push God out of our nations, tell Him we don’t believe in Him, we don’t want to believe or obey His Word and instruction, and literally slap His beloved and mighty hand of protection away from us, that something like this could happen?

I have heard it taught that to fear God doesn’t mean that you are afraid of Who He is. God, Jehovah, Yahweh, calls us His children, His friends. He freely gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us whether we accepted His gift or not. He loves us more than we can possibly comprehend and wants to have a close relationship with us. There is no need to have fear of Him. The expression “to fear God”, means to revere Him, to respect Him, to trust, and believe what He teaches us in His Word. His Word is truth and to follow His path and direction is the way we can live a wonderful life!

The fear of God is not be afraid of Him, but to be afraid of living in this world without Him and the covering protection of His loving hand.

If ever there was ever a time for prayer–this is it. This is a time to humble ourselves and turn from the ways of the world to the ways of God and welcome His Holy Spirit to dwell in our lands and nations. I believe that God wants to do exactly as He has told us in Exodus 9:16: “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

I believe that is why God revealed the connection to the timing of the ten plagues and Covid19. What He said to the people then is what He is saying to the people now. He is the same and His Word remains true throughout all time.

Although I am a writer of Christian books, I am not a writer that is gifted for the task of discovering God’s mysteries like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. That is not my calling. It is his. But I know that I was led to this information and to the verse above for this purpose, for this blog, for this time. Although I don’t know Rabbi Cahn personally, I believe that God is revealing things to him during this pandemic and I’m quite sure we will see it come forth in a future book!

I do want to encourage you to get into your Bibles and if you don’t have one, jump online! You can listen or read God’s Word in several different translations all over the internet. Listen to what it is God is trying to speak to your heart during this time. Heaven knows we have lots of it right now!

I also encourage you to pray.¬†I already wrote a blog about prayer tips which you can find at “Daily Life During a Pandemic – Entry 2 A Call to Prayer.” Our family also created a display for the children of our neighborhood to reach out from our nonprofit children’s organization, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. to let the world know WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU every single day!

If you would like to see the display we created, you can find it on YouTube here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_1DZB3h_Gc

There is power in prayer! I say this from many, many years of personal experiences of miracles and answered prayers. Call out to Jesus. He will hear you and He will answer.

I also encourage you to get all of the books by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn! https://www.amazon.com/s?k=rabbi+jonathan+cahn+books&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
They are excellent and will shake you up–in a great way! They are mind blowing and proof that God is still on His throne! He is, was and always will be in control of all things!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you would like any of my books, I am giving away FREE ebooks of all my titles for children, tweens, teens, and adults! Visit mastersmessengers.net for the list of titles. You can message me at that site or any of the other sites listed below to request free ebooks.

May God richly bless and keep you, your family, and your friends! Hold strong to God’s unchanging hand! HE WILL NOT FAIL US!!

huggabears.org
thehuggabears.com
theintercessors.org
mastersmessengers.net

 

 

 

Covid19 Pandemic – Entry 3 “Reality, Wisdom, Compassion, Thankfulness… Are We Lacking?”

Today is March 19, 2020 and the world is learning to live within a new reality, the reality of the Covid19 Pandemic.

But not everyone is believing this reality.

Although we have medical professionals from all over the globe teaching us about the Covid19 virus, what the symptoms are, how to stay healthy, and what we all need to do to protect one another, there are those out there who still claim this to be “not that serious” or “this is the media just creating fear and panic” or “this is the deep state going after President Trump”–just to name a few.

It’s hard for me to process how anyone could possibly believe, speak or write words like this when there are people in nations all over this world suffering and dying with this virus.

As I have said many times, I am not a political person and I am a registered Independent voter. This is not a political blog. It is a place for me to write out my feelings during this time, document what I see and hear so that when we pass through this time I can look back upon all that I have learned.

What I am learning is that there are many people out there who refuse to accept reality and the reality is, people are dying.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) has been on the frontline for months trying to teach people all over the world the seriousness of Covid19 and what it can lead to if strong actions not taken.

Yet, there are those who will not accept this reality and want to pretend the virus is the vindictive action of a political party or that it is being “blown out of proportion” as one college student on spring break in Florida spoke today on the news.

It bewilders the mind that anyone would speak words like these when there are countries all over the world battling the same disease. Do these people believe that the same politicians went and released the virus in those countries too?

Just in case you don’t follow the news or online sources for updates on Covid19, here are some sobering realities. These are the numbers of countries that are currently battling Covid19. This was copied directly from the¬† website of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as of today, 3/19/20, at 6:52 pm

Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, by
WHO Region (World Health Organization)

Africa

  • Algeria
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eswatini
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Ivory Coast (C√īte d‚ÄôIvoire)
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Mauritania
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Zambia

Americas

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadalupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay
  • United States

Eastern Mediterranean

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates

Europe

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Holy See (Vatican City)
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

South-East Asia

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Maldives
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand

Western Pacific

  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Fiji
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
World Health Organization, on 3/19/20, at 6:52pm 
These are the numbers of those infected, worldwide as of 3/19/20 at 6:54 pm
245,612 current cases
10,048 deaths
88, 437 recoveries
147,127 active cases
98,485 closed cases which had an outcome (including the death toll)
Of course, by the time I finish writing this, all the numbers above will change.
This is our reality right now. No, it isn’t the reality we want to have. We all want the freedom of our regular lives, to worship, work, school, shop, play, celebrate, and explore. But that isn’t possible or wise right now. Which brings me to my next point.
Wisdom.
I am a God-fearing, Jesus loving, Bible-believing mama and I believe that God gives us help directly from His divine hand. I also believe that God uses His children to help one another.
We can trust these good medical professionals and their wisdom of this virus. We can trust all that God has shown them about this virus and all that we need to do to keep ourselves and our families safe. God tells us in Proverbs 2:11 “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”¬†
The entire book of Proverbs is full of God’s teachings for us to be wise. I encourage you to get a Bible or look up the book of Proverbs online to learn for yourself what God’s Word says about obtaining and using wisdom. We must be wise during this time. We must be vigilant and diligent during this time to keep our families safe and do what we are being told.
I was in a Walmart when I heard a lady say aloud “I don’t understand all of this stupidity. It’s just like the flu.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci (who I wish I could nominate for the Nobel Peace Prize and should be!) has been teaching us for months that this is not like the flu. He has told us time and time again, it is ten times more lethal.
Respecting the quarantines that are being put in place because of the studies which have been done and the examples of what we have seen in other countries is not just about you. It is about others whom you might infect. Have we forgotten that freedom is a blessing and a privilege? Has our freedom made us totally selfish and self-centered that we cannot show compassion for others? Which brings me to my next point.
Compassion.
As the founder/director of The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc, 501c3 organization for children in need which is run by my family, we strive to serve children all over this world without bias. In our work, we see both sides of people’s hearts every day. We see those who live open-handed with open hearts full of compassion and we see those who live with their hands clutched tight and their hearts are not open so they are not being filled with compassion.
We do not judge them. We do not ridicule or scold them. We do not mock them. No. We pray for them and hope they can learn to open their hearts to others because it’s a wonderful way to live.
Every time I hear someone speak or read posted words as I have listed above, my heart immediately thinks of those who have already lost loved ones to Covid 19. The photo that I have at the top of this blog was taken from Bergamo, Italy.
I watched a video diary of an American woman whose family was living in Italy and she has given daily accounts of what has taken place there. My heart broke when she described how because this is such a contagious disease, people are dying alone. Doctors and nurses are with them, but none of the family or friends are by their beds as they pass on.
The lady explained that there are so many coffins waiting their turn for cremation that they have to stack them in churches and other areas. It is absolutely heartbreaking and my prayers have been with all of the thousands who are mourning lost loved ones that Jesus would pour out on them His peace that passes all understanding.
This triggered the memory of the night my Mema passed away. She was placed in hospice because she had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and then contracted pneumonia. It was very late at night and all of the family had come to visit during the days before to give their love and last hugs good-bye. My Aunt Cookie and Uncle Sam were watching tv and I had laid at the end of her bed by her feet. This was something I would always do when I went to visit her after school or work. My mom was sitting by her side, holding her hand and the nurse was talking with us. We began telling funny stories of Mema’s life and were laughing when the nurse said, “She’s about to take her last breaths.”
The four of us all gathered around her, holding her hands, stroking her hair. Thanking her for being such a wonderful mother and grandmother as she passed. I told my husband it was like we just gently handed her to Jesus and knew that my grandpa was close by waiting for her too.
I also watched an interview with two sisters who had lost their mother, their oldest sister, and two older brothers and still have three siblings on life support. The loss is real. The suffering is real.
I cannot imagine how tragic and painful it would be to lose so many family members within the same couple of days. I cannot imagine knowing one of my loved ones was dying and I had to be kept out and away from them so I would not get sick and they had to die without being held, or kissed good-bye.
This is what led me to write this blog today. We need to have a perspective check to stop only thinking about ourselves and how this inconveniences us. Let your hearts go beyond your doorstep and let’s start looking at the bigger picture toward those out there who are walking under the shadow of Covid19.

We all need to work together and do it with love, respect, and compassion for others.

Would anyone dare to speak harsh or ignorant words to the face of a person who is currently battling this virus? Would they say such things to the doctors and nurses, our new soldiers battling a new kind of war? Would they dare say such things to a person who just lost their wife… husband… father… mother… sister… brother… or child to this virus?
I certainly hope not.
I know my words might not reach very far, but all I know to do during this time to help others is to pray, post scriptures and write. And I felt led to write and ask anyone who may read this who isn’t taking this virus and it’s destruction seriously, please, watch your words. Please, open your hearts to be filled with compassion for others who are suffering from this virus or who have already lost loved ones. Covid19 is real. It is not being blown out of proportion. It has no preferences. It will take anyone it can get.
In closing, I want to address my last point.
Thankfulness.
Tomorrow night I will be preparing for my family’s dinner a turkey, with all the fixings! It was the only meat I could find in the grocery store the other day. So we are going to have 2nd Thanksgiving.
We have so much to be thankful for!
If you, your children, family, and friends are healthy-BE THANKFUL!
If you have a home to be quarantined in with all of your personal comforts and family members- BE THANKFUL!
If you have food in your refrigerator and pantry–BE THANKFUL!
If you have toilet paper! BE THANKFUL! ūüôā
If you have a job, even if you can’t work it right now–BE THANKFUL! Jehovah Jirah, God our Provider will supply your needs–and I can say that from experience!
If you live in the USA and have access to amazing doctors and nurses in case of need–
BE THANKFUL!
If you and your family have a warm bed to sleep in–BE THANKFUL!
If you have clean water to drink, bathe in and wash clothes and household items–BE THANKFUL!
The list goes on and on. Just look around you and everything you see that is good is from GOD! SO BE THANKFUL!
Let’s deal with this temporary new reality with WISDOM, COMPASSION, and THANKFULNESS. It will make it a bit easier and it will make our Heavenly Father smile.
If we put our trust in Him, He will bring us through this and we will be wiser on the other side. We are all in this together, let’s get through it with love!
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6
(Emphasis added)

Covid 19 Pandemic – Entry 2 “A Call to Prayer”

Calling all Intercessors: Warriors of God! The world needs YOU!

This is one of the greatest tests of faith that generations collectively have seen in a long time. It is not a war with people, it is a war with a microscopic enemy and one that has no particular requirements. If you’re human that’s good enough.

While we will show wisdom, respect and compassion to follow the recommendations for care that we are being told by the health experts, those of us who pray will place the supernatural power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into this situation like no one else can.

For those of you who don’t know me well, I am a Christian author and one of my book series is called The Intercessors, which I describe as Warriors of God. Why? Because there is power in prayer! Power to defeat all enemies, especially unseen ones. When you pray, whether you close yourself off in your room, kneel and bow your head, or drive around the city in your car, no matter where you are, Jesus hears you and He begins to work. Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”

There is supernatural power in prayer. Never doubt that. When you pray, sincerely speaking from your heart to God, He will move on your behalf against the forces of darkness that come against you and your family and friends.

In the book of Mark 3:22-30 Jesus teaches about “binding of strongman spirits”. What is a strongman spirit? In this parable Jesus is teaching us that strongman spirits are demons and evil spirits, and He teaches us how to bind them and cast them away so they cannot afflict you. In my second book, The Intercessors – Sword of Miracles, I list every single strongman spirit found in the scriptures and the specific scriptures on how to pray to bind them and also how to release or “loose” help from God. I am giving away free copies of all my books in the ebook format at this time. If you would like one, please email me at: thehuggabears@gmail.com

So how should we be praying right now against the Covid19 virus? By using the verses Jesus gave us in Matthew 16:18-19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”, and again He taught us in Matthew 18:18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”¬†I firmly believe if something is taught to us even once in the Bible we need to pay attention to it, so for Jesus to teach this to us twice shows the emphasis on the importance of praying this way and the power that it holds.

What does it mean to “bind” something and “loose” something? When we are in prayer, and are asking, for this case specifically, to bring healing to our world, we say, “Jesus, I ask You to bind with Your power and the promises in God’s Word that this virus which has come to us in the form of the “spirit of infirmity” is bound in Jesus Name and sent back to the pits of hell where it came from.”

Once the spirit is bound, then we pray, “Jesus, I ask You to set forth loose the power of healing that You so willing gave us when You bore the stripes on Your back, in the name of Jesus.

When you are praying and asking for God to do something specific, praying in the “Name of Jesus” is very important. Jesus tells us in John 16:23 ¬†‚ÄúAmen Amen I say to¬†you,¬†whatever you ask¬†from the Father, He will give it to¬†you¬†in¬†My name‚ÄĚ.¬†This is why we end all prayers of request “In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.” Or however you wish to speak to the Lord, just remember to ask your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus and believe it will be done.

After we have bound the strongman spirit of infirmity, or whatever spirit you may be binding (there are many of them and I have them all listed in the book mentioned above),¬†the next step is to set forth “loose” the power of God, and we can request that power to be specific. In the case of this pandemic, we are asking to set forth loose the power of healing, the power of protection, the power of God’s wisdom and guidance, the power of peace, the power of strength, and the oil of joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength! Neh. 8:10.

I hope that gives you a better understanding of how you can pray directly for requests during this time. It is also important that we remember to not just focus our prayers on ourselves. God loves a heart that seeks blessings for others first. So here is a list of needs that my family is praying daily during this time. I encourage you to speak your prayers out loud. Go boldly into the throne-room of God and lift up His children and their needs, then keep your faith in Jesus Christ that He has heard you and will act. 

  1. Pray for the healing power of Jesus to cover all those who are infected and battling the virus in every nation of the world.
  2. Pray for the families around the world who are grieving the loss of their loved ones from the virus.
  3. Pray for all medical personnel around the world who are working so hard to care for those who are ill and working to keep others healthy who do not have the virus.
  4. Pray for hospital staff/public safety workers in every nation who are not direct caregivers, that they are given wisdom during times of crisis.
  5. Pray for all those administering tests to be kept safe and testing to be provided and producing accurate results.
  6. Pray for all those who are working so hard to create the vaccine for Covid19 that God gives them His divine wisdom and victory.
  7. Pray for our President, Senators, Congressmen/women, Governors, all state government officials, etc. Whether you like or voted for them or not, they are the people who are in charge in this moment of time and they need strength, wisdom and direction from God.
  8. Pray for all the children who are in need of meals and cannot get them at school that all their needs are met and their care and shelter is provided.
  9. Pray for all those who are homeless and battling this on their own while living on the streets.
  10. Pray for all those who are out of work or are trying to keep their businesses alive that God meets their financial means, and provides all their needs, and removes from them anxiety and panic.

Of course, I could list more, but this gives you a good place to start. Something else that I encourage you to do, if when and if you go outside or even if you don’t, pray for your neighborhood directly. If you walk it, pray for every home you pass. If you drive, pray on every street. While you are home, pray for your city and state. Saturate your community with prayer. I can promise you this, you will feel so much peace while you pray for others that through your prayers you will gain strength and God promises you through His Word that He will hear you. He loves every single one of us and He will help us as His Word declares.

Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Jesus gave us POWER through PRAYER people! Now it is a great time to use it!
God bless you, stay safe and healthy, you are in MY prayers and again, if you would like any of my books in ebook form, I am happy to send them out to anyone all over the world for FREE! We’re all in this together, let’s love our way through it!
thehuggabears@gmail.com

 

Covid 19 Pandemic – Entry 1 “The Beauty of Human Hearts”

I guess using the phrase “It’s the talk of all the land” would not be an exaggeration when it comes to the constant discussions swarming the globe right now about the Coronavirus aka Covid19 Pandemic. Although this blog which might be a series of posts yet to come are going to be completely about life while dealing with the virus, the blog is not exactly what you might think. I urge you, read on, this is meant to uplift you!

I was thinking yesterday that this is my first experience with a pandemic. It is the first pandemic for most of us, and since it is all so new and we are experiencing things we haven’t ever seen before, I wanted to document my personal perspectives so that in the years to come I can look back to remember and see all that I have learned.

Today is March 15, 2020.

As of today, my family, friends, myself and my relatives are all in good health–and I pray it stays that way!

I live in Phoenix, Arizona in the northern part of the city close to the Paradise Valley boundaries. (Unfortunately I live too close to PV because the PV courts for people like me, who sometimes get speeding tickets, are higher than anywhere else in the state! bleh)

I am pretty much a news junkie. I watch all the stations I can that will give me fresh stories, briefings on current events, and updates on world issues. I also like to read articles, though to be honest, I don’t have as much time for that as I would like, so I often catch up on topics from my husband, Josh, who loves to read breaking news articles off the little rectangle clutched in his hand known as a cell phone. We have been following the Covid19 story for months now while it was storming through China.

We have stayed current on the locations of the virus, the symptoms, how it is spread, how to prevent it and although we are not living in fear of it, we are living sensibly and responsibly to avoid it.

Last week, our refrigerator broke down and we had to throw out all our frozen foods and a great deal of our perishables. Although we are hoping to get that taken care of week, for the time being we have to go out to stores daily to get just enough things that our family needs but not too much so that it would spoil. Fun, right? Seriously though, if that is the worst thing we have going on, we are MORE than blessed.

Yesterday I visited a few stores to get some supplies for my family and a couple items for my new Huggabear book for Easter. I went to the 99 Cent Only store (which is NOT 99 Cents only!), Sprouts, Walmart and Hobby Lobby.

As I went from place to place I saw such beautiful examples of human hearts living at their best and I thought, “I want to go home and write about all that I am seeing.”

I think when the world has moments of darkness there are those whom God uses to shine His light the brightest. I always hope to be one of those lights of the world and I certainly did see many of them yesterday.

Just so that you have a better understanding of why I was so deeply impacted by what I saw in my community, I need to explain that I do a LOT of shopping.¬† For those of you who don’t know me, my family has a nonprofit organization for children in need and we also do projects to serve our amazing Veterans. There are months, like November and December, where I am out shopping daily for weeks at a time. I enjoy using Amazon and online stores here and there, but I was raised with my grandfather, Samuel Boone, who was a man that loved to shop and taught me well how to do it!

I love to get out, find items I need, support my local businesses, and interact with people. It’s how I’m made and when I go out, I like to watch people. I’m not a person who loves my cell phone, I do not regularly keep a small rectangle clutched in my hand. I only use my phone to make calls and take and post photos. I try to text but get too frustrated with the time it takes me. I keep thinking, “I could have sent 10 messages on my laptop in the time that it is taking me to peck out this message on a tiny keyboard!” Now don’t get me wrong, for those of you who love your phones, I am not against them and it doesn’t bother me at all if you love your phone. I actually have stronger feelings in my life toward a larger technical rectangle that is often found upon my lap. So please do not think that I am judging you because you love your phone. I believe phones and laptops have their time and place… I just don’t think that time is all of the time or in every single place. Right now, at this very moment, I honestly have no idea where my cell phone is. Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care.

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand human interaction is important to me. When I stand in line at at store, or walk through a store or a store parking lot, I am usually looking around at people and sometimes I talk to them, say perhaps if we are in the same line and there was a great sale on honey-crisp apples that we are happy to have discovered, casual things like that. I like this kind of interaction with people because I love people.

Yesterday, I set out on my quest and knowing that there is a strong urgency in our nation to keep safe social distancing I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I would probably see the small rectangles clutched in people’s hands that hold their attention captive, but I didn’t know how other people were going to interpret what social distancing was.

I also didn’t know what items I would find to purchase due to people stocking up on supplies for the next few weeks. This honestly did not bother me at all. If I had a working fridge, I would be totally stocked up too. And the toilet people crisis makes sense to me! After all, if people who are used to being in offices or places of employment, and children who are usually at school all day suddenly have to stay at home for two weeks, those tushies must be cleaned! So none of those things bothered me or my family. It became like a quest.

“What? No toilet paper at Walmart? Let’s try Frys! None there? Try Home Depot!
What? None THERE? How about Office Max? No wait! I know! Let’s try the mini mart on the corner that no one ever goes to unless they are buying cigarettes and beer.
YES! Victory is ours!” (
That, by the way, is a true story!)

Our toilet paper stashing experience was actually quite comical and fun. We laughed the whole time and invested in packages of napkins too–just in case. ūüėČ

When I went into the first store yesterday, I saw some shelves and normal stacks of products cleared, but it overall it wasn’t bad. But what struck me the most were the people.¬†In every store I visited, people had their heads up, smiling and were being so kind to one another. I didn’t see anyone clutching a little rectangle in their hand. I didn’t hear anything but kind words, people being patient and tolerant with one another. In fact, in two stores, the 99 Cent Store and Walmart, there were times when I was surrounded by the sound of laughter. Healthy, hearty laughter.

I kid you not, even as I sit writing this blog outside on my Huggabear porch, I am hearing the sounds of laughter coming from children in the neighborhood who are tickled pink that our Gov. Doug Duecy has cancelled school next week. To me, one of the greatest sounds that can be found in this world is the sound of giggling children.

I didn’t hear anyone making jokes about the seriousness of the pandemic, no. But they were making light of the shopping situations of there being no toilet paper… or paper towels… or Lysol… or bleach… or–you get the picture.

There was no fighting. There was no frustration. If it was there, I didn’t see it. I didn’t hear it. I only saw goodness, kindness, patience and respect for one another, even with keeping their distances. They weren’t touching each other’s skin, but they were touching each others hearts. They touched my heart. I was so proud that I lived in such a community. It was a beautiful thing.

Again, for those of you who don’t know me, I have the blessing and privilege of home schooling my kids… which you also might be doing for the next few weeks! When we first started studying Covid19, I told them I just knew that through this terrible virus, God was going to do something great. That God could take anything horrible and use it to do something beautiful. So far, that is what I have experienced personally in the various places of town that I have gone. The demonstration of beautiful human hearts. People telling each other, “Stay safe!” “Stay healthy!” and showing kindness is a remarkable thing! The people that I encountered understood that we are all in this together (Cue Zac Efron). Because this is affecting every nation it is bringing us closer together, even though we have to stay a safe distance apart for now. The closeness is coming from our compassion.

I told my children that we would see the beauty of humanity during this time and I was blessed enough to see a glimpse of it yesterday.

I have loved watching the videos from Italy of people stepping out onto their balconies to sing to one another or play their national anthem to keep their spirits boosted. We need to lift one another up during this time. This virus has no politics. It has no racism and it has no prejudices. It will take hold anyone it can get. It is real and it is serious, but we don’t have to be afraid. We have to be wise.

If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I can tell you, He has never failed me yet. He has healed me time and time again. He has protected me and my family over and over and we are putting all our hope and trust in Him. God’s Word is truth and¬† Jesus told us that this would happen in Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”¬†and He also teaches us 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.”

I love that verse so much! It brings me peace because I know Jesus loves me and my family. I also know, without any doubt whatsoever that Jesus loves YOU.

2 Chronicles 20:9 says ‘Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.’

As I traveled from place to place yesterday I turned my radio off and everywhere I went I prayed for the people of my community. Every street full of cars, every store, every person on the street, every home I passed by. People probably thought I was a crazy lady walking around mumbling. MUMBLER! But that’s okay. I’m not ashamed. I love to pray because I know there is power in it!

This is what Christians need to be doing to battle this virus. If you haven’t already, I encourage to turn to Jesus. Please don’t let past experiences with people who may not have represented Him well stop you from knowing the greatest love you will ever find. He is with you even now as you read this, quietly waiting for you to turn to Him. I encourage you to do that. Because when you walk with Jesus, He gives you strength beyond measure, wisdom beyond knowledge, and peace that passes all understanding. And then there is His love, never-ending, unconditional, powerful, merciful, forgiving love.

If you ever would like to talk with me more about Jesus, message me and we will definitely make that happen! Email me at thehuggabears@gmail.com
I can’t promise you that a life with Jesus is nothing but a bed of roses, but it is greater than anything this world has to offer. In times like these it gives you the confidence and courage you need to stand strong in the darkness and know that He is with you.

There are people out there who might not take Covid 19 seriously, but for those who do, I thank you. Your respect for not just your health but the health of others shows that you are a person of compassion and have regard overall for the betterment of humankind.

I don’t know that all my blog posts about Covid 19 will be this long. I just wanted to share with you tonight what was in my heart and encourage you not to be afraid.

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified to not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!”

Thank you for reading! If you would like any of my book s as a FREE ebook, please email me at thehuggabears@gmail.com

I am giving ALL my book away for free during this time! mastersmessengers.net

May the Lord God bless you and keep you and your family safe!

The Last Twenty Dollars – A Story of Obedience, Faith and Trust

I have had many miracles performed by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, throughout my life and it has been laid upon my heart to write them down for others to read. I know that faith lies within the heart of the believer, but I am hoping that through my family’s testimonies of miracles, people will learn that God, Jehovah, is real. He is alive. His only Son, Jesus Christ is real and He is alive. And the Holy Spirit of God is real and with us, helping and comforting us.

This is a true story that happened many years ago.

The year was 2007. Josh had just been laid off from Countrywide Financial. When the housing market crashed in 2006 and Josh had no work as a home appraiser, we tried to do our best to stay afloat and keep all we had… but that wasn’t part of God’s plan. We ended up losing our home, selling a truck, and declaring bankruptcy. It was a tough time for sure, but we would have rather lost those kinds of things as opposed to losing one of our babies or each other.

At this time we had three babies, Aven was almost five, MaCaedyn was two and Samuel Braeden was about a year old. We were living with my mom. She had a two-bedroom condo and we arranged all five of us in one of the rooms, which was (thank God!) a second master bedroom with a walk-in closet. It wasn’t what we dreamed of, but since the children were babies, they loved it and we were safe, had shelter, comfy beds, warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer–which in Phoenix is a great blessing!

Josh had been doing everything he could to find work, but the country was in a recession and there wasn’t much work to be found. Still, he got up every day and searched for a job, putting applications anywhere and everywhere he could. He took any day job he could find, big or small, no matter how much it paid.

There were some who thought we were a little bit crazy because during this time God had spoken to us to start a 501c3 nonprofit organization for children, which we did. It is called The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. www.huggabears.org

Although this work took a lot of time for both of us, we felt very strongly led by God that we would never take a salary for doing it and we never have. Doing the work for children in need brings us so much joy and taught us that even in the circumstances we were in, we were not poor. We serve children in other nations who live in poverty, children who are orphans or their parents have put them in orphanages because they can’t afford to care for them. In America we serve children who don’t have proper clothing, shoes, have medical or educational needs, children that don’t have proper housing or even a bed. We know what poverty is because of the work that we do. We have experienced financial struggles, but we have never poor.

We always had a place to live where we were sheltered and safe.
We always had electricity, running water and indoor plumbing.
We always had food and clean water to drink and bathe in.
We always had clothes, shoes, medical care, and warm beds to sleep in.
We had toys and educational tools for our children.
No. We have never poor.

Still, the Lord tests us from time to time, and I’m very thankful we had this test.

Although we had applied for different assistance programs, we received cards that had nothing on them. While Josh was trying to work this out, we had help from my family members and friends, but Josh wanted a job. He is a hard and dedicated worker and wanted to provide for his family again, just like so many millions of other Americans at that time.

Josh had done a day job one week that helped us along for several days, but when you have babies, there is a constant need for diapers, wipes, pullups, and milk–especially a big baby boy like Samuel B.!

We went to church one night to hear a special speaker who had come in to teach people about the power of giving and being obedient to God’s Word where our finances were concerned. It was a pretty full house that night. After church, we were going to stop by a Walmart and buy some diapers and milk. We had $20.

Sometimes when I say that people think $20 was all we had in our wallet.
No. Let me be very clear, that was all Рwe Рhad. The savings was gone, the home was gone, there was no income. The $20 bill that Josh had in his wallet was it.

During the sermon, the pastor taught that “When God tells you to do or give something, don’t put it off. Obedience is immediate, and if you delay in your obedience, you delay or completely miss the blessing God has for you.”

Then it was time to pray. We prayed for the people of our church and for so many others in the country who were struggling like we were. We prayed for the children of our organization and all the needs that we knew they had, and we prayed for Josh’s job.

When the prayer was over, I felt Josh grab hold of my hand. I looked at his face, and without saying one word, I knew was he was telling me. Tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I have to give it,” he whispered, “God told me to.”

I nodded and squeezed his hand. There has never been a time that I have experienced when Josh did not give when he was told to. I have been there when he jumped out of a car at an intersection with an umbrella in his hand to give to an old woman crossing the street, “Pick me up over there!” was all I heard as he took off. I have seen him jump out of our car to take off his coat, not checking the pockets or anything, and give it to a homeless man on the street who only had a small blanket during one of our coldest January days. I know his heart. It is beautiful, strong and giving. So when he told me that he had to give our last $20, I didn’t say one word. That was between God and Josh and I had nothing to speak to it.

When the offering plate came, I watched as Josh placed the crinkled, tattered $20 bill into the plate. As it passed by me, it was like it was moving in slow motion and all I could do was cry. I trusted God. I trusted Josh. Still, it was a hard moment. Obedience sometimes is.

After the service was over, the pastor’s wife came to me and said, “The Evangelist told me that I was to give this some families in the congregation that are in need. I know your situation and wanted to give this to you.”

She then handed me $220 in cash.

I’ll let that sink into your heart for a moment.

God tested us with something that might have seemed small to many, but for us, it was huge. God knew it was our last $20, no one else did, but He knew and He wanted to see if we would be obedient to give it when asked. Josh was obedient and I supported him.

Our God, Jehovah Jirah, blessed us ten times¬†what we gave because we were obedient to Him. He turned our mourning into dancing– and danced we did! All through the Walmart as we stocked up on diapers, wipes, pullups, and milk! People were literally staring at us as we happily filled up our shopping cart with baby supplies, but we didn’t care. We were as giddy as kids going to Disneyland!

God not only blessed our family with a great gift that helped sustain our children and our needs during that time, He showed us that obedience brings great blessings. God loves us always. He wants to bless us always, but just like all children, we have to be obedient to what He says. If Josh had disobeyed and not given that money, we would had have enough to buy a little. But because he was obedient, we were sustained in baby needs for a few weeks… all because of God’s unending love.

God also wanted to let us know He hadn’t forgotten us. We were in the “Carpenter’s Shop” as one of my characters, Obadiah O’Sullivan, teaches about in The Intercessors books. The “Carpenter’s Shop” is a place where Jesus builds and shapes our lives to be beautiful and prepare us to do magnificent things for His Kingdom. Still, being shaped, cut, hammered on, sanded and stained can sometimes be a painful process. It is sometimes harder to understand why God allows the trial you are in, while you are in the midst of the trial. It is easier to see why He allowed it once the storm has passed.

If we hadn’t walked this road we would never have known what it is like for so many people out there who are in need of assistance and during this time, there were millions of people all over the world experiencing trials just like we were. This experience, along with many others, is an example of how God taught us to live with open hands. He wanted to teach us to be better givers and to trust Him completely and always be obedient–immediately.

God loves all of His children, whether they love Him or not. Jesus loves and died for everyone whether they believe in Him or not. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16. Nothing can change the love Jesus, and Jehovah, our Heavenly Father God have for you. I hope to encourage you with this story and other stories that I write that having a relationship with the God who created you and His Son, Jesus who both adore you more than you will ever understand, is a decision you will not regret. My hope is that you will and when you do, always obey God’s Word and heed to the still small whisper of His Holy Spirit. If you do, your life will be filled with the sweet goodness and blessings of the Lord that you will never find anywhere else!

 

Goodbye Old Friend – My Tribute to the Parkway Community Church Building

This past November I received a phone call from my husband, Josh, that brought instant tears to my eyes.

“I think the church is gone, Babe,” he said softly, “I just went by and couldn’t see the steeple anymore.”

Although we knew this day was coming and had been driving by the church as often as we could to take photos and reflect upon the beautiful memories there, still, knowing that it was now officially gone felt like a punch in the heart.

I have heard many stories over the years regarding myself and my relationship with the Parkway Community Church and I felt to write a tribute to the building and the dream of it, and to also write the truth, the whole truth and nothing be the truth so help me God about my days there. Since I know that I will stand before my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as the judge of my soul and He will hold me accountable for all I say, do and think, I write this confidently.

In order for anyone to have a complete understanding of my relationship with the Parkway Community Church building and all those who loved it, I must start at the beginning, which actually took place at an amazing church called the 44th Street Church of God.

For those of us in the world who were blessed to attend the 44th Street Church of God under our shepherd, Senior Pastor Bro. Hurschel Diffie, and his precious wife, Hazel, we understand exactly what the Parkway Community Church building was; a beautiful vision from God poured into the hearts of Bro. Diffie and those in the church who wanted to expand the ministry. For all those who were there at the beginning of the dream, I hope that I do this beautiful church and its story the justice it deserves.

The 44th Street Church was located on the corner of McKinley and 44th Street (which once was called Chicago Ave). For those who live in Phoenix, there is now an office building there and it is located directly across the street from the Chinese Cultural Center.

The 44th Street Church was a picturesque structure like something you would see in a quaint, small town. Its architecture would best be described as Early American, painted all white, with a lovely steeple and stained glass windows. There were a couple of small little houses beside it that had been converted into Children’s Church rooms and Sunday School classrooms, and later on, a double-wide trailer was added to the property for multi-purposes. I have much more to say about my treasured days at the 44th Street Church but will leave some of that for blogs yet to come.

I can’t really remember the first time I heard about the “new church building”. It was just something I grew up hearing about, kind of like Mickey Mouse or McDonald’s, it was just always a part of my life that moved through the conversations and prayers of the good people of the congregation and surrounded me.

The need for the new church building was clear, Bro. Diffie’s ministry was constantly growing and the 44th Street Church sanctuary just wasn’t able to meet the needs for more space. If you knew Bro. Diffie, you knew his work was never done. Although he loved his “sheep”, the people of his church dearly, his eyes were constantly focused on the “harvest” of God, those who didn’t know the good news of the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ. Bro. Diffie desired that everyone who wanted to attend the 44th Street Church could have a place in it, so there was a need for more space.

Though Bro. Diffie’s spiritual heart was one of the strongest and most beautiful I have ever witnessed in a man, as time went on, his physical heart began to trouble him and he had to retire from full-time pastoral work— though he never¬†stopped serving as a minister for the congregation and to all that he met, not until the day he went to heaven.¬† Another Senior Pastor was brought in, Bro. Donald Logan and he served there for several years, continuing on the good work Bro. Diffie had started. After a period of time, Bro. Logan was called by God to another position and a third pastor was brought to the congregation. His name was Bro. Robert Blazier.

I think the most prominent memory for me where the “new church building” was concerned was the day that Bro. Blazier asked my mother, who was the administrative assistant for the church if I would design a bulletin board in the foyer of the 44th Street Church to display the architect’s painting of the new building’s design. The new church was going to be beautiful.

I was twelve, maybe eleven years old, when I happily took the task given me and designed the bulletin board to display the painting. I remember watching the people who came in the doors on Sunday morning to see the look on their faces when they saw the painting for the first time. All of those I remember expressed nothing but great joy and excitement. While looking at it, their eyes would sparkle and it seemed as if their hearts began beating faster from their joy. Some even had tears of happiness well up in their eyes as they now saw before them what they had only imagined. The dream of the “new church building” was carried and cherished by all who attended the 44th Street Church and their enthusiasm grew tremendously once they saw the design of it depicted in the painting.

This was an important moment for the people because until then, everyone had their own ideas in their minds and imaginations of what the building would actually look like. Mostly, it had just been described in words.¬† Now, with the painting before them, it bonded them together. They all were able to see the shapes of the structures, the layout of the campus, and seeing the little cars and people depicted in the design made me think, “Someday, that will be us parking our cars and walking inside the doors!” The painting brought the dream to life and with it hope for the future ministries that would take place there.

The main design plans for the new church would include an octagon-shaped sanctuary that would hold classrooms all around the outer edge, an administrative office structure,¬† a children’s preschool with a playground, a reception hall, and the Diffie Family Life Center which would have a gymnasium, other classrooms, and activity rooms. It was an amazing vision that the congregation members held in their hearts with great pride, and they were fully supporting it with their faithful prayers and finances.

Once everyone saw the architect’s painting of the entire structure, it was like a bolt of lightning struck the church with a new energy that sizzled throughout the congregation. Everyone wanted to do whatever they could to help make the dream a reality, and they trusted that God would bless their efforts and provide every need to build it.

Things began to move rapidly after that. The board began praying and searching for the perfect location. A decorating board was formed to choose the colors of the bricks, the tiles, the carpet, the chandeliers, and the style and color of the pews. With every decision that was made and presented to the people of the church, the excitement grew. If there were members who did not like anything that was being chosen, I didn’t know about it. All I remember were words of happiness and great anticipation.

When I looked at all of the selections the decorating committee had made, I thought it would be one of the loveliest churches I had ever seen. The bricks which were chosen were to not only be durable for construction but also would never have a need for paint, which would save the church having to spend money for any outside cosmetic upkeep in the years to come. The tiles in the foyer were a light gray and the carpet was to be lavender with slightly darker lavender pew cushions. I couldn’t wait to see everything put together; to walk in it, sit in it, and worship in it. It was a beautiful dream and I was thankful to be part of it. Everyone was.

Then came the decision about the location. Some wanted it to be built on a piece of land that wasn’t very far from the location of the 44th Street building on McDowell. Some wanted it to be built on a piece of land that was where the new Parkway 51 Freeway was going to be constructed. The final decision was made that the church would be built by the new freeway. The address would be 1751 E. Maryland in Phoenix, Arizona.

One day my mother came home and told me to quickly get my little brother ready because she was taking us to the 44th Street Church property. I did as instructed and she drove us to the church. When we got there, my young heart was filled will great sorrow.

My mother had discovered that the 44th Street Church was going to be torn down that day and as hard as it was, we wanted to be there with it to say good-bye. The wrecking ball had already started it’s destructive work and most of the church was lying in ruins. A thousand memories of days spent inside that building, singing, serving, praying, listening and learning about Jesus with precious people washed over me and my mother. All we could do was watch and cry. Although my brother was only a baby, he sensed the seriousness of the moment and stared quietly at the ruins of the once beautiful, powerful house of God.

My mother asked one of the workers if we could please take some bricks and the workers happily obliged. We gathered several for family and friends and especially for Bro. and Sister Diffie, who were both out of town when the church was torn down. My mother only found out because as she was driving home she saw the wrecking ball going down the street toward the church property. I am quite sure if more people had known what was happening, they would have come to be with it too. The Diffie’s found out that it was gone when they came home. It was quite a terrible shock to both of them.

As we drove home from the rubble, I remember thinking to myself, “Why did we have to build a new church? Why couldn’t we just stay in the old one? It was a beautiful, happy, church full of wonderful memories, miracles and the powerful Spirit of God. To me, it was perfect. My grief of seeing 44th Street in ruins clouded my ability to feel joy for the new building. In fact, while writing this, it still brings me to that place of sorrow for the loss of the 44th Street Church. If I had my way, it would be rebuilt just as it was and I would have my family there serving and worshipping. There never was and I doubt ever will be again, a church quite like 44th Street. I am proud and blessed to have been part of it. Though it was hard, I am thankful that my mother took me there to say goodbye and be there with it when it was torn down. I know it may sound silly, but we just didn’t want it to be alone at its end.

As we moved forward in the building process for the new church, it helped me to regain the vision and once again be part of the dream. I remember the day when we “broke ground” on the new land location. The congregation gathered together on the land, many taking the time to pick oranges as the land was once an orange grove. I remember all the women in their nylons and heels kept sinking in the dirt, and we sang several songs, read scriptures and prayed over the land and the new building to come. The pastor then took a shovel that had been painted gold and dug the first hole. We all clapped and cheered and looked forward to the days ahead. The excitement of seeing this brought a new feeling of joy to my heart, though I was still missing the 44th Street building, I was refreshed with new hope for new beginnings in the new church which had been given the name Parkway Community Church of God.

The congregation held services at Madison School, which was located just down the street while the “new church” was being built. It was a transition to learn how to manage the services each week in a facility that wasn’t our own. But it all went well.¬† I remember the sound men, Ralph White and James Stokes arriving early every Sunday morning and staying late every Sunday evening to unload, and set up the entire sound system for the services and then break it all backdown and load it back into Ralph’s van. These giving and dedicated servants did this with happy hearts every single Sunday for over a year.

The church office was moved into a double-wide that was placed on the northeast corner of the property. Every day that my mother worked there, she took my little brother who was now four years old. He had a special place behind her desk in the corner where he had toys, books, puzzles, and blankets so he could take a nap during the day. My brother, Nathan, was the easiest child I have ever known and so taking him to work was something that the pastor didn’t mind my mother doing. Nathan was friends with all the staff members including the construction foreman, Clyde, who gave Nathan his own hard hat and would take him for walks daily on the property.

I remember the rainy days when my mother went to work. The double-wide sat in an open dirt area and her shoes would sink in the mud while trying to get inside the trailer. Although this did not make her happy, it was something that never bothered my little brother who, like most little boys, enjoyed mud.

During the week, my mother often took her break, picked me up from school and then took me back to the property while she finished her work. I would walk the property with Clyde or sometimes by myself as long as I stayed out of the work zones so that I could see the daily progress.

My mother, brother and I watched as the land was transformed from tagged stakes in the ground and rebar, to cement foundations, plumbing, wooden wall frames, electrical, every detail all the way up to the support beams for the sanctuary roof which were put in place with a large crane. I remember thinking the beams looked like giant hockey sticks as they were unloaded from the trucks and slowly hoisted into the supports. Once the beams were in place, the work on the roof began. It all was a thrilling experience to watch and we weren’t the only ones who have those precious memories. Everyone who loved the church came to watch it be built. Congregation members made the time each week, sometimes several times a week, to come and visit the property and see the progress being made. We were watching our dream come to life!

I remember there was a woman construction worker there who was thin and not very tall and kept up with the men every step of the way. I marveled as I watched her throw wood planks upon her shoulder, then trotted up to the roof of the church, hard hat on, tool belt around her waist, to lay the planks down and go to work hammering them in place.

A beautiful memory that stands out in my mind was the day the piano arrived. A deal had been made and the church was going to get a brand new, satin black finish, eight-foot concert grand. I had never seen an instrument like it in my life. It literally took my breath away to see it as they brought it in and I couldn’t wait to hear it. The church pianist at the time was Pat White, and my mother made sure she was called so she could be there to see it arrive. As soon as it was ready, we all sat down on the stage steps and listened as she played. Pat never read musical notes, but plays with an anointed gift from God.¬† The melodic sounds of her music gloriously filled the sanctuary giving us chills, urging us to sing. We were all rejoicing. That was my first memory of worshiping inside the Parkway Community Church. It pains my heart to say that I was the one who made the decision to sell that piano. It no longer met the needs of the music department and took up far too much space. But I found it a wonderful home with a retired concert pianist who fell in love with it the moment she saw it. I’m sure it is still enjoying a happy life with her.

I remember the fundraising dinners that took place throughout this time and still have some of the placemats with the churches design upon them in the colors of lavender. I remember the pew sponsoring fundraiser held where people could donate the money for a pew. This was something my Papa, Samuel Boone, took very seriously. When the pews arrived, he went in, sat in several different ones and when he found the spot that he liked best, that pew is where he sat until his dying day.

When they finished the stage inside the sanctuary, everyone was excited. The entire church floor was concrete and so was the initial stage. (I say initial because, after one of my Christmas programs that included a live donkey who had a very upset stomach during the program, we extended the stage out an additional three feet all the way around to help cover the stains!)  I remember the chandeliers and wall sconces being set in place, and the carpet guys doing their magnificent work. Bit by bit, day by day, the building started to feel the warmth a house of God. For me, it felt just like home.

The day when the large copper cross for the back wall and the matching copper pulpit arrived was also exciting. The light green glass of the cross was outlined with copper and there was a light inside that had an adjustment switch so the cross could be brightened or dimmed. The pulpit was also made of copper with a wooden top and the same light green glass in the front that had an etching of a dove upon it could also light up like the cross. There was so much thought and love put into the choices for every detail of the church and with every piece added to it, the joy and anticipation grew in everyone’s hearts for the day when it would all be finished and ready for us to move in.

There were some changes along the way, one of them being the Diffie Family Life Center didn’t get built and was deemed to be a project for the future. Though there were many people who were disappointed that it had to wait, the people of the church were still very thankful to the Lord for the stunningly beautiful new sanctuary and couldn’t wait to start holding services in it.

Finally, that day came. For me, it was just as exciting as Christmas morning. I could hardly sleep the night before and couldn’t wait to get there and have the first service in the new church. It was no longer a dream. It was a reality and it was beautiful! That first Sunday, everyone was smiling and laughing so much. We all sat there with hearts full of thanksgiving. God had blessed us and through Him, the church was completed. We were ready to let the ministry begin!

I think the best way to describe us overall would be like a beautiful, big family of a few hundred of God’s children who loved each other and loved worshipping together. All were bound together with cords of love to carry on the vision of their original shepherd, Bro. Diffie, to build a new home. A house of God for all who wanted to come. A house full of the miraculous power of the Spirit of God. A house that we all believed would stand the tests of time.

The joy of the congregation members was evident every Sunday as they entered the house with rejoicing. The church began to grow, drawing in people of all ages and the services were all that we dreamed, full of the blessings of God. The first year of holidays was very special, full of celebrations, special programs, music, great sermons, and praying together at the altar.

As time went on there came a few more changes to the position of Senior Pastor which sometimes happens in the Church of God organization and Bro. Blazier went to another position. After his departure, there would be four more Senior Pastors over the course of a couple of decades who would hold the position as pastor of the church.

I always served at the church as a volunteer in the choir, helper in children’s church and of course, whenever my mother needed a hand making copies in the office. But my first work done there where I was given a specific task, was as a teenager. I was asked to direct the children’s Christmas musical, something I had been given the opportunity to do when I was twelve and the congregation was meeting at the Madison School. I was thrilled to be able to have another opportunity to direct a Christmas musical as I had written a few and wanted to see how people responded to them.

The first year went very well and I was asked to direct the children the next year, which I happily did. That program went well and before I knew it, I was being asked to pray about taking the position of Music Minister for Parkway Community Church. This was an honor I hadn’t even dreamed of having.

The history of the choir that once filled the Parkway Church with song went all the back to the early 44th Street years when Bro. Diffie started a choir. As time went on and the choir grew a director named Dorothy Brooks was given the position and she served the church diligently for decades. The 44th Street Choir recorded several records, took tours and even had their own radio show. Once the choir had begun, there had always been a choir, even in the days while the church was in the Madison School. So to be asked to fill this position was not just a wonderful opportunity for me, it was an honor to be part of the choir’s history and legacy.

Although I happily took the position, while I was there, I never took the title of “Music Minister” because I believed I needed to go to school to earn the title of “minister”. Now that I am older, I realize that I didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I was a minister. That title was earned through the work and experiences I gained by serving in that position.

I learned a lot about myself while working at the church. I learned that I have a great love for people, especially children, and I learned that in addition to being a musician, I am also a writer. I also learned that I loved giving and I don’t mean just my regular tithes and offerings but on a much larger scale.

I took my work at the church very seriously and allowed God to keep control of my hands and my ideas. I had been called into service by God one night in a dream. My personal goals were set on Broadway and I had been working toward that goal as a Music Theater major in college. But God had the right plan for my life and He told me in the dream, “What you are doing is fun and people will have a moment that will bring them joy, but if you use the gifts I have given you to serve Me and reach the hearts My children, you could give them more than a moment of joy, you could change their eternities.”

I woke up instantly from that dream and went to my knees. I asked God to forgive me for being so selfish to seek my glory with my gifts instead of His and I immediately knew that for the rest of my life, no matter what, I would use the gifts God had given me in music, performance, art, theater, and dance for His glory.

When I began the work at the Parkway Community Church, I had a lot of support and people came happily to join the music department. I loved the people in that group so much. They were all family to me and together we built something beautiful, something good that God blessed.

Every time God gave me a dream of a musical production, whether it be for Christmas, Easter, 4th of¬† July, etc. I did exactly as He showed me in the dream. I remember my husband, Josh, asking me, “How do you remember your dreams so vividly?” I replied, “I don’t. Only the dreams God gives me.” Whenever I did as God showed me, He blessed the production and anointed it. Lives were changed through the performances of the good people of Parkway. God used all their talents for His glory and people came to Jesus because of their faithfulness and trust to do what was asked of them.

It was through writing the musicals that I began to understand God had also given me the gift of storytelling. I wouldn’t consider myself a writer for many more years as I lacked proper training and knowledge in the field, but to just be able to tell the story God gave me, that was something I was able to do and I loved to do it with music.

As the years passed the music department grew. We had an adult choir, a children’s choir, praise, and worship leaders and teams, and our musician’s area grew so much we had to build an extra extension for the stage, and we had an excellent audio/visual team.

When we did the Christmas and Easter musicals, we opened up the productions to anyone who wanted to participate in them and just reserved the solos to be sung for the choir members. As far as I knew, it all worked well. Yes, there were a lot of hours required of the people to rehearse but I never heard anyone complain about it. I tried to be as flexible and understanding as possible because I knew these people were all volunteers, every single one of them and I wanted to be respectful of their time and lives.

In my opinion, it all worked beautifully and I felt that we had a beautiful music department family. One that was rich in talent, open-hearted and welcoming to newcomers, loving and supportive of one another and extremely hard working.

Serving as Music Minister of the Parkway Community Church was one of the greatest honors of my life. I was blessed to work with all of the people that I did and I loved the work we did together.

I was also blessed to be part of the great legacy of the choir that was started (at this point in time) over fifty years ago by Bro. Diffie. When I stepped into that role, I did not try and tear down what once was. I did not destroy the foundation the choir was built upon. I just took the baton and kept going with it. I didn’t throw out a single song for the worship choruses or the choir’s repertoire that was chosen by other directors. I kept all that was done previously and just began adding some new to it. I understood that you cannot take something that has been blessed with success for decades, throw it out, start over and expect those blessings to continue to flow. When you see something successful that you are handed to run, you pay attention to why it was successful and you build upon that. I tried very hard to also keep a balance with the music at the church. I tried to provide something for every age from the oldest of the elders to the youngest of the members. This was the vision of the pastor and the pastors before him and I was obedient to that vision. My service at the Parkway Community Church was something that I will always look upon with great joy. Knowing that I got to be part of a musical legacy that was so richly anointed by God for such a long period of time will always make me smile.

Then there came a shift. A false accusation was spoken against me that had spread through a certain group in the congregation. The accusation was that I did not forgive a member of the church when they asked for forgiveness, but instead, I scoffed at their request.

This was not true. This event never happened nor have I ever rejected anyone who asked me to forgive them.

Because the accusation was not true, I did not know that this story was being told about me for several months. The time the story had to simmer damaged these people’s hearts and minds where my leadership was concerned. My character, my being fit for ministry and even worse, my heart and soul were judged.

Even though my husband was present when this event took place and testified that no forgiveness was ever asked for and no forgiveness was ever rejected, it didn’t matter. We were told, “Well, they thought they asked for it.”

That was the moment I learned the life lesson that no matter how much truth you put before a person, even if you have another to testify on your behalf, people will believe what they choose to believe.

I entered a period where Josh and I were engulfed in complete confusion and chaos. I kept thinking, why is this happening? I sometimes had the usual conflicts in the music department that came from time to time, wherever you have groups of people, that’s bound to happen, but nothing like this. So why now? I had just come back from a trip with the choir to California to learn how to do two-morning services and we were making plans to record our first Parkway Choir album. I was also working on a new Christmas musical for the following year. In my mind, there was so much good work yet to do with so many wonderful people, I couldn’t understand why God was allowing this to take place. Still, I trusted Him.

Then, amidst the pain and confusion that Josh and I were dealing with came a tremendous miraculous blessing. I learned that I was pregnant with our second baby. All babies are precious miracles from God, and for us, this baby was an extra special miracle because I was not supposed to be able to get pregnant without extreme medication and surgery (that is another blog for another time!). Our first baby was a test-tube baby. Josh and I had gone through 5 years of infertility, which is a drop in the bucket compared to some, so we could have a family. I had many things wrong with me and could not conceive the natural way. We did the ZIFT procedure two times and were blessed with our first child, a beautiful girl we named Aven Salei. Then, one day before Thanksgiving 2004, I felt different and I remember telling Josh, “If I didn’t know better, I would think I was pregnant!” The next day I took a test and learned I was right. In the midst of a storm, God gave us one of the three greatest blessings of our lives, our second baby!!!

This changed everything for me.

I was already struggling with being away from Aven who had some development issues with her neck when she was born and couldn’t be left unattended until the neck was corrected. I had been seriously thinking about having more time with her than I was able to have. I hadn’t even taken proper maternity leave after Aven was born. I directed and sang in a full Easter production only two weeks after having a cesarean. Now that I knew God had given us this new miracle child, an unexpected blessing that brought us tremendous joy, I knew the timing had to be for a powerful reason… and I wondered if God wanted me to remain in the position I held in the church or to resign.

A conflict began to arise in my heart. I loved Josh and my children more than anything, still, I had loved the Parkway Community Church most of my life and had been part of the congregation that began at 44th Street my entire life. I was born into the church as was my mother before me. How could I possibly leave it? How could I possibly leave all that I have ever known? I still had so much to do, so many dreams that God had given me for future programs and projects, how could I leave?

We were right in the middle of presenting to the public a Christmas musical called “Give Him Your Heart” when all this was taking place and I remember one night before going to bed, I knelt to pray and told God, “Jesus, I gave You my heart when I was seven years old, and I gave You all of my talents almost a ten years ago, now, I give you my ministry. I know that You gave me this work to do, but You also gave me this beautiful family that I prayed so hard to have. What is Your perfect will? What do You want me to do?”

That night as I slept, I had a dream. I was walking inside the throne room of God, the Father. It was glorious. Everything around me was glistening white, and there was a brilliant light shining all around. God was on His throne and was so big, I could hardly take Him in. Bigger than the Twin Towers, bigger than a mountain, and I trembled with fear. I remember looking up at Him, He was completely white, glowing like lightning and I could not speak. I could barely breathe. I kept my gaze upon Him and placed my hand on my heart and thought what I wanted to say, “God, You know my thoughts and what I came to ask. What is Your will? What do You want me to do?”

I was standing on his left side at the edge of his feet. I still remember it as if it were yesterday, God looked down at me for a moment, then He looked out in the distance toward His right side and pointed. He didn’t speak, He just pointed.
When I woke up I didn’t know what my dream meant. I called my dear friend, Rhona Mullins, a prayer warrior with a powerful love for God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit. She is wise and has always given me good counsel ever since I have known her.

I told Rhona the dream. While I was talking to her I kept saying, “I just feel like I should go quietly.” After Rhona heard me say this for the third time she stopped me, “Angelique,” she said, “That is the third time you have said that.”
“Said what?” I asked.
“Go quietly. That is your answer. That is what God was telling you to do. He didn’t speak, He just pointed. He wants you to go quietly.”

I knew at the moment that she said it, she was right. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me through her to give me a confirmation for the answer to the question that I asked God in the dream. God did want me to leave, and to do it quietly and from the moment I had the confirmation that was what God communicated to me, I wanted it to. I did want to go quietly. I didn’t want to hurt the church. I loved it too much. I loved Bro. Diffie too much and I didn’t want to do anything that would destroy his precious work and legacy.

I talked to Josh and the rest of my family. We all cried and talked it through, but the Holy Spirit had already prepared their hearts and they knew that it was time for me to go. I then spoke to my godfather, Myron Jones, who has always been there for me and has always given me good counsel. I set it up while still in the midst of the Christmas program performances and on Saturday, December 11, 2004, I resigned from the Parkway Community Church as the Music Minister.

I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t vengeful. I just wanted to be obedient to what God instructed me to do; gently lay the work down and leave as quietly and quickly as I could. And I did. I had witnesses present when I did this and those were the exact words I used, “I want to gently lay this down and be done.”¬† I constructed a letter to the congregation explaining how blessed Josh and I were and that my heart was being called to stay home with my children. All of that was true. I chose not to tell the entire story because I did not want to bring the confusion, chaos, and pain that Josh and I had experienced, to the church body. Everything I said in that letter was the truth. I told the people that I loved them and the church with all of my heart, and explained that God had given me a new ministry through my family, little did I know at the time all that God has planned for us!

The night the letter went out, I went home and went right to sleep. I had another dream. I dreamt that I was carrying a huge boulder, like something that was even bigger than the ball chasing Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was a burden and I was trying to carry it upon my back. Then, I looked up and the burden began to float upward. I stood and watched as it slowly floated up through the sky, into space and then into heaven to the mighty hand of God. When the boulder reached His hand, I saw that what was so huge and burdensome to me, was nothing bigger than a grain of sand to God. I watched as it slowly floated into the palm of His hand, then disappeared.

When I woke up, I had total peace. And not just peace, but also joy. Because I knew that God had a new work for me to do and that work would surround my babies.

The hard part was saying goodbye to the choir, musicians, children and tech crew members that I dearly loved. Truly, like family, some for the length of my entire life.
We had a party at the home of two dear friends, Dan and Donna Maye, and something happened there that I wouldn’t realize for several years later, but the very last act that I did for the children members of my music department would be the first act of my new ministry– and it involved teddy bears. It was nothing but the mysterious and miraculous hand of God in action. You can read that story here: https://angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/2018/10/

I was packed up and gone before the next Sunday in December and my family and I took a trip to Disneyland, which for me is always a good thing and the best place I could go after saying goodbye to the church I loved.

I have learned through the teachings of Christian Rabbi, Jonathan Caan, that in the Bible, the number 7 stands for completion and that the number 8 stands for new beginnings.

On June 17, 2005, Josh and I were blessed beyond measure with the birth of our new baby girl, MaCaedyn Janei. She was then and is now a precious child with a beautiful heart for Jesus. She is full of love, laughter, and song. We were all elated and so thankful! Aven was too, she was such a wonderful big sister and she loved to play with “her baby” every moment she had. These playtimes were so creative that I began journaling them down so that I wouldn’t forget them.

It was in the seventh month that I had another dream from God.

I was writing a children’s book series about a family of bears, a bear family-based upon my family, and the stories were about my children’s imaginative adventures. The family was named The Huggabears. The day I woke up from the dream I told Josh about it and began writing the stories. That was in the seventh month of the year, July 2005. Seven months had been completed between my last work of ministry and my new one, but it would be years before I would learn that!

The next month, in August, God spoke to my heart yet again and told me that I needed to start an organization for children in need and I was to call it The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc.¬†I admit I was a bit concerned. I was a musician, not a business person and I didn’t know how to begin. I believe that’s why God chose us for this task. He knew that I would have to rely completely upon Him for all that I did, which gave Him the control He needed to build exactly what He wanted. He will always have that control too because I know that I am nothing without Him and I want His perfect will first. Josh feels the same.

Josh and I had gone to a service at Phoenix First Assembly of God and that Sunday, Pastor Tommy Barnett gave a sermon titled “The Power of One”. It was for us, plain and simple. I bought the CD of the sermon and still have it to this day. When the service was over, I told Josh, that it was for me and Josh said he knew it was too. God was telling us to start the children’s organization. Josh agreed, he knew it was for us and our very first project came at the end of that month after Hurricane Katrina ripped its way through the communities of Louisiana and Mississippi. We didn’t have the 501c3 in place at that time, but we still raised hundreds of dollars for churches in need and continued to do so for months to come.

This all took place in the eight-month, August. According to Rabbi Jonathan Caan, eight represents new beginnings and we were beginning our new work!¬†It was then that I began to understand why God wanted me to resign from the Parkway Community Church. I kept thinking about John 13:7 “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'”¬†

At the time, I did not understand why God allowed the things to happen to Josh and I at the Parkway Community Church that He did, but now that I saw the path before me and the work that I would be doing, I was so thankful.

It has still been said of us that we have not given forgiveness because we no longer maintain a relationship with some who were against us. They say, “Forgiveness means relationship.” I would just have to revert back to the teachings of Bro. Diffie when he would say, “Let’s agree to disagree agreeably” on that. I have found nowhere in the Bible that instructs forgiveness means relationship.

Josh and I made a pact when we left Parkway. God would always come first and our children would always come second. Everything in our world would surround that. That we strive to protect our family and never allow the kind of confusion, chaos, and pain that we had experienced to infest our hearts, home or family again. That I would never allow my work to come before caring for our children. They were the main focus of my ministry and I would stay with them, teach them and pour the love of Jesus Christ into them daily. There are some I do not trust to have a relationship with and do not wish to walk my journey of life with, but that doesn’t mean that I have not forgiven them, or that I am angry with them, or harbor any ill will toward them in any way. I honestly don’t. I just want peace. Josh and I have found that peace by keeping to the path God placed us on fifteen years ago and I do not wish to part from it.

Another life lesson Josh and I learned through all of this is that there are going to be people that come into your life that you will never be able to please. There will always be those out there who will be looking for ways to find fault with you no matter what it is you do. You can either keep that kind of constant frustration and confusion in your life, and keep spending good energy and time trying to please them, or you can say, God bless you, I wish nothing but the best for you and your life, I look forward to spending eternity with together with you and Jesus, and then go on about your way. Having had three near-death experiences in my time, I believe life is too short to spend it trying to please those you never will. Don’t hold grudges, don’t hate, don’t be cruel or unkind in any way. Forgive others, pray for them and put your focus upon pleasing God! In all things, put Jesus first and I can promise you, He will do great things with your life! There will always come trials and tribulations, but Jesus will never leave you, nor forsake you! (Deut. 31.6)
John 16:33 ¬†‚ÄúI 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.‚ÄĚ

Josh and I truly hold no grudges, no anger, no revenge, no strongholds, no ill will of any kind toward anyone. We do as Christ instructed us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39) for these people through sincere prayer. We pray for all those who were against us, and we pray sincerely. We pray for their protection, their health, their joy, their relationships and families, their finances, every element of their lives to be richly blessed by the hand of Almighty God. We will look forward to the day when we are changed to be like Jesus and we will all be together in harmony in the realms of glory. Until then, Josh and I cherish the peace and joy that we live in daily and are so thankful that God brought us to this place. We live wonderful, happy lives and we wouldn’t trade what God has given us for anything else.

I will say publicly for all to read, forgiveness always was given to those who have asked me and forgiveness will always be given for those in the future. I am capable of forgiving great things. I had much worse things happen to me as a child that, through the love and power of Jesus Christ, I was able to overcome and forgive. Forgiveness is something I embrace for I know that it is more for me and my heart to heal than it is for the person asking for it. Forgiveness is also obedience so that I am able to receive forgiveness from my Savior as it is written in Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” I devote an entire lesson to the power of forgiveness in my second Intercessors book “Sword of Miracles”. Pretty much, the entire theme of the book is about forgiveness. It is a beautiful thing to forgive, it brings healing and strength. I am thankful Jesus gave us all the gift of forgiveness.

I even became thankful for the group that was against me. All they did was drive me farther into the arms of Jesus, and I strengthened my relationship with Him and His Word. The helped strengthen the bonds of love and trust that Josh and I already had. It was like we had a brand new marriage! One that we could put so much more time into daily. They helped me learn how to spiritually and prayerfully protect my children whom I am totally, completely and helplessly in love with!!! I also am doing the work that I want to do for the rest of my life and I will do it. There is no work greater than what I am blessed to do now. I absolutely love it! So for all those out there who thought you had victory over me, I have to thank you. All your actions ended up doing was blessing me with a life that was richer than I could have ever dreamed!

If I hadn’t left the Parkway Community Church I would never be writing the books, songs, musicals and movie scripts that I am now. I would never have started The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and all of the projects under it. I would never have been so blessed to serve so many thousands of children through the years–and I am believing for millions yet to come! This is the work that I will do for the rest of my life!!!

There was never a time when I have regretted the decision to leave Parkway and the bottom line for the reason why I left, plain and simple was because God told me to.
He told me to “Go quietly”. I trusted Him and am so thankful I did!

Once I left, I never felt that it was God’s will for me to go back. There were only three times in which I did, for three funerals, John Weik, Bro. Diffie and Linda Knauss. Josh and I were asked to sing a song that I gave Linda to sing with the choir, “So You Would Know” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I had not stepped on that stage to sing in years and when it was our turn I knew there were some in the audience who were watching us closely. I also felt a bit strange in the sanctuary. The look of it had changed so drastically. The carpet was all gray, the stage walls were covered with large black drapes and the lights were kept down very low. It no longer looked and felt like the bright, beautiful and cheery church I once knew. It felt… sad and heavy. I whispered a prayer to the Lord for His strength and anointing and as I placed my foot upon that stage He spoke so clearly to me, “I taught you to sing for Me on this stage.” Upon hearing this my heart was overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord. I knew He was with us and He gave His anointing upon our song for Linda’s family. I was so thankful and honored to be able to be part of Linda’s service and to have God speak those words to my heart.

I have so many precious memories of that place. Memories of healings, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I fell in love with my husband there and we had our wedding celebration there. Memories of my grandfather’s funeral and partings of other loved ones took place there. I went through my first pregnancy and dedicated our first baby there. All of the music we created and the amazing people we worked with, of the people whose hearts we won to Jesus, and the children we blessed and who blessed us that happened there. The list goes on and on and on.

The church felt like my home when I watched it being built and when I worked there I spent more time in it than I did my home. In fact, I had a futon in my office and sometimes, during holiday programs when the workdays were long and the hours were late, we would just stay the night in my office. It felt like home because it was home. Though it was hard to leave, God knew what was best. Always.

I am thankful for all of the memories that I have there, the good and the bad. Though I admit, it was hard to learn that I didn’t have as many close friends as I thought I did because I really did love them all. I think some of the people who were my friends while I was there were people that God wanted me to have in my life for that time, for that “season”. I’m good with it now because I know that the friends I have in my life love me and my family for who we are, not for what I do or the position I have. I wouldn’t trade a single one of them for anything in the world!

The days that Josh and I had at Parkway Community Church helped train us for what we are doing now. Our work there was within the walls of the church and those who came there. Now, we are working on a global scale with all kinds of people in countries all over the world. I am very thankful for all that I learned while there, through the trials and the victories God was teaching us, molding us, shaping and teaching us–and He is still not done. I don’t expect He ever will be until I leave this earth and go to Him in glory. Everything that happened at Parkway Community Church was according to His perfect will and plan and I wouldn’t trade any of it at all because it helped make me who I am today.

One of the main reasons why I felt led to write this blog after so many years and why I had to explain what happened to me while I was there, was because I needed to speak the truth about a matter of great importance to me and you couldn’t understand this without knowing a little about the past.

When I left Parkway, there were people who would often call me and tell me what was happening in the church. I found the negative stories painful because I loved my friends and didn’t want them suffering, especially since there was nothing I could to change it. But I also found the positive stories painful because some of the stories sounded like the people didn’t care that I was gone, like I had just been erased from the church completely which was also painful. So I had to stop allowing the calls to come and the stories to be told.

I knew that in order for my heart to have healing, I needed to remove myself from anything which would cause me more pain. Those who understood my position on this are my dear friends to this day, those who didn’t are not. Again, I trust God for all the relationships that He wants me to have and I am grateful for them.

But there came a story which I could not ignore and have felt led after these fifteen years and seeing the church lie in ruins to address. I was told by a dear friend, who I consider family, that there was a conversation which took place among some of the church leaders after my departure, who were casting blame upon myself and my husband, Josh, for influencing people to leave the church.

This – never – happened.

I never once influenced anyone to leave the Parkway Community Church, as God is my judge of all I say and do, neither Josh, nor myself, nor any member of my extended family encouraged anyone else to leave the congregation there.

It is true that there were some families that did leave and they came to where I was. I spoke with them seriously and directly asking them to please not leave because of me, and their response to me was that they were at the church to be part of my music department and now the music department I ran was gone and they wanted to come where I was. While this touched me to hear, I still was concerned that others would think I was an instigating force behind the departure of some of the members, but I was not. None of us were.

I heard that some people believed that because Josh and I experienced some hardships and trials after we left the church that we were being punished by God, but I know that is not true. God chooses the lessons He allows us to have so that He can teach us and shape us through each and every experience. Everything that Josh and I experienced while at the church and after we left the church was to prepare us for the ministry that we are doing now; to teach us not to be judgemental, to have more compassion for others, especially children, and to become better givers. Again, I wouldn’t trade any of the lessons God has allowed us to learn for an easier route. He has made us stronger, wiser, kinder, more obedient and definitely more trusting of Him and all of that is a very good thing!

I don’t know all the details about what happened to the Parkway Community Church after we left and I don’t need to. It won’t change anything and it won’t bring the church back. All I know is, I never wanted anything bad to happen to it. I loved the church very much and I had the hope that it would be able to grow and return to the thriving life it once had. When I first heard it was up for sale, I hoped a congregation would get it that would make it great again and use it to minister to the people of Phoenix,¬† just as
Bro. Diffie dreamed so many years ago.

When I heard that it was to be torn down, my heart grieved and so did the hearts of hundreds. I couldn’t believe it or imagine life without it. All my life the dream of that building was spoken into so many hearts, not just mine and my families, but hundreds of families who came together to pray, give, work and make building it possible. The dream of the church was so powerful, so strong. I never thought that one day it could or would be removed from the earth.

After I received Josh’s call that morning telling me that the church was gone, I went there alone. As I pulled up to the property I could see fencing that had been put up by the construction company and when I turned in and saw what was once one of the most beautiful churches in this world lying in rubble, I cried. It was a shock to my heart.

I took out my camera and recorded what was before me because I knew, though it would be painful for all who loved it to see, that there were so many people who probably had no idea that it was gone and because they loved the church too, I felt they should know.

As I filmed it, thousands of memories washed over me. Memories of healings that I and others received in the altars of the church. I could hear the voices singing and could see the dancing, and the musicians playing their rich melodies, their worship heaven-bound. I could see the faces of children as they ran around the fountain and of people as they hugged one another. I can still see their smiles and their laughter. I can still taste the amazing “pot luck” dinners that the people would cook and feel the warmth I used to feel when I walked into the sanctuary. All of us who loved the Parkway Church and were part of it’s beginning and it’s life will always have these wonderful, beautiful, memories that we will always treasure and that is something that can never be destroyed or taken away.

For those who will read this and try to imply something to my story other than what it is, or might say if I and so many other people loved the church so much why didn’t we stay to help rebuild it? My response to that would be, I had to be obedient to the direction God gave me and He told me to leave. I cannot speak for anyone else, but just because a person doesn’t attend a church, doesn’t mean that they don’t still have love in their heart for it. If I had been so blessed to have the money to save it, I surely would have. In fact, I had a friend who works for a women’s ministry and wanted to buy it and turn it into a church and home for single Veteran mothers, but they never could find anyone to talk to about buying it or even find a listing for it. Still, though it is very, very hard to accept, I believe God had to have a reason for allowing it to be torn down. Again, I trust in Him.

As I stood there, the memory of standing on the same grounds as a teenage girl watching it being “born” washed over me. I would stand in the same spot and watch it being built, coming to life, and now, I was watching it lay in rubble at its end.

While I looked at the remains of the church I felt it pressing upon my heart so strongly that I had to write this blog just to let the world know that I did not have a hand in the destruction of the Parkway Community Church. I loved it far too much to ever do it any harm.

Standing on the grounds reminded me of the memory of watching the 44th Street Church being taken down. I thought to myself, “How many people have seen two of the churches of their lives that they loved torn down?” It is a sad thing for sure. But the memory of standing on the 44th Street property with my mother and baby brother and asking the workers there if we could please take something to remember it by came pounding into my heart. So I asked one of the workers at the Parkway property if I could please gather some of the pieces of the church to take home with me. The gentleman, whose name was Kevin, was so kind and understanding. He helped me and as he did he said, “I often remind my crew that for us, taking a building down is a job, but for the people connected to these buildings, they hold precious memories and we always need to be compassionate for them.” God placed Kevin there for me that day, and I thanked him for his kindness and help.

I gathered several bricks from the main building, pieces of beams and wood, some tile fragments from the bathroom, some rocks from the rock beds and a large strip of the copper roofing. In the new year, Josh and I are going to take these “Pieces of Parkway” and turn them into a cross that will be placed on our Huggabear Farm for all to see as a tribute to the beautiful dream of Bro. Hurschel Diffie and the 44th Street congregation members that once was the Parkway Community Church of God.

The memories of it will live on in our hearts and the memory of the dream that Bro. Diffie had to reach the harvest for the people of Arizona will live on in all of us who had the blessing of being his sheep. We will keep his dream alive by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ just as he did and he taught us to do.

There are so many stories that could be told by so many people and how much they loved the church through the years. Although we cannot understand it, God had a reason for allowing the church to be removed and in its place, homes to be built. One thing for sure, those homes will be built upon Holy Ground that still holds the anointing of God’s power.

Today is December 31, 2019. Tomorrow will begin a new year and a new decade. I will enter the new year having spoken truth that I needed to speak for fifteeen years and as Jesus teaches us in John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” With this truth, I am setting myself free, and I bring this story to an end by saying, “Goodbye Old Friend, Parkway Community Church of God, and thank you for being such a beautiful, significant, and powerful part of my life. I am a better person for having known you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Kite, An 80-Year-Old Prayer, and Three Christmas Blessings”

In December 2019, I received a wonderful gift from one of my dear friends, Marci Prevital. Along with the gift, she thanked me for being a blessing to her family. These words touched my heart and I told her that I didn’t feel like I did much, but she hugged me and encouraged me that I did. I then explained that because I have so many dreams of things that I want to do with our ministry in music, through my books, movies and with our Huggabear Farm, big dreams that I haven’t been able to do quite yet, it doesn’t feel as if I do much to bless others right now.

In years past, I have been able to present musicals and performing arts programs on large scales in front of large audiences, but as of the past few years, we have put our focus primarily on those in need of some personal love and appreciation.
Our Huggabear Children’s Project Performing Arts Team is the official entertainment group for Honor Flight Arizona and performs four shows a year for World War II, Korean and now Vietnam War Veterans. We have sung for children’s shelters, amusement parks, charitable fundraisers, and several times a year, we sing for seniors at a retirement community.

Marci’s grandchildren, Ashlyn and Kinsley, are very talented singers and have performed with me for several years. Everywhere we go the audiences are so grateful for our performances, still, I don’t always hear individual stories from people in the audience and how our shows impact their hearts. On December 9, 2019, I did.

My family and students had been working throughout the fall season to prepare a Christmas program for the people of Park Terrace Retirement Community. We had a lovely audience and my students and family all did a fantastic job. It was a great way to begin our holiday season.

The program was called “The Blessings of Christma” and before each student performed, I had them tell something that blesses their heart and life during the Christma season. This was very special and everyone enjoyed hearing the children’s stories.

After the program, my mother came with a lovely woman named Francis who told me that she wanted to share a story with me. I was happy to listen.

Francis had been in attendance on September 7, 2019, when the HCP Performing Arts Team had performed our show “A Night of Disney and Friends”. I hosted that show as Mary Poppins and had a few “Sing-a-long” songs from Mary Poppins throughout the program. Our finale was “Let’s Go Fly a Kite!”, the Sherman Brothers classic masterpiece from the original “Mary Poppins” movie.

I had an idea for this song to make small paper kites with tails in a variety of colors and attach them to a piece of baling wire so that when held up, the kite would appear to bob and weave in the air, just like a real kite would while being flown. I wanted all of the children in the show to have a kite, and because we love audience participation in our shows, I wanted to have some extras so that anyone in the audience who wanted a kite could also “fly” one and sing along with us.

My beautiful friend, Marci, graciously volunteered to make the kites for the show and I was more than thankful for the help! On the day of the show, Marci, along with her family, had made dozens of the prettiest paper kites and when the end of the show came, she distributed them to the children and audience members who wanted one.
Francis was given the last one.

This was the story that Francis shared with us about her and the kite.

When Francis was a little girl about 5 years of age, her father, who was a minister, made her and her brother a homemade kite out of paper. She described how beautiful she thought it was and she could remember every detail about it including the long, flowing tail that her father attached to it. Francis said she had never seen a kite before and as her father soared it into the sky, she was amazed. She thought her daddy was extra special because he was able to make out of paper and string something so spectacular.

While they were flying the kite and having a marvelous time, a gust of wind blew strong and the string of the kite broke. Francis watched with sad little eyes as the magnificent kite that her daddy made, flew away. She was heartbroken.

While she told me the story, she became a bit emotional as the described the memory of losing the kite and how it made her feel. She then explained that her daddy consoled her and told her that if she prayed and asked God to bring her kite to her, He surely would.

“I began to pray for my kite,” Francis said, “and I prayed and prayed. Every day I prayed.”

The days began to pass and then turned into years which also began to pass by. Still, Francis prayed for her kite, asking God to bring it back to her. As she grew older, this prayer for her kite began to test her faith. She wondered if God really did answer prayers, after all, her daddy had told her with great confidence that if she prayed and believed, God would restore her kite to her.

All throughout her life Francis never stopped praying for her kite. The years passing turned into decades and she found herself still praying for the kite in the latter part of her life in her eighties. Then, a tremendous blessing came to her from God. As she sat in the audience on September 7, 2019, for the “Night of Disney and Friends” show. Francis listened to me announce that we were going to end our show with the song
“Let’s Go Fly a Kite”. Upon hearing the song title her mind traveled back to the day when she, as a five-year-old girl, lost the precious kite her father made for her. She said, “I watched as they passed out the kites to the audience, and I prayed, ‘Please God, let me get a kite'”.

Even though she didn’t raise her hand to receive a kite, God directed Marci to give Francis the very last one she had made. Francis said when she took the kite and held it in her hands, floods of joy washed over her. As she began to sing with us the lyrics to the treasured song ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, God spoke to her heart and told her, “This is the kite you have been praying for.” Francis said she started to argue, “But, God, that kite was handmade.” God reminded her, “This kite was handmade,” He told her, “This is your kite. It has been restored to you.”

Francis was overwhelmed with joy and began thanking God for His wonderful gift. After 80 years of praying and dreaming about her kite, it was restored to her!

As Marci and I listened to Francis tell us her story on December 9, 2019, we were covered with chills.

The three of us received a great blessing that night to begin the Christmas season.
I had no clue the idea to give kites to the audience was part of God’s plan. I just thought it would be something cute for the show.

Marci had no idea when she made the kites how powerful the impact would be upon this lovely lady. Nor did she know when she gave her the last one, that too was the direction of God’s hand.

The three of us each received a great Christmas blessing the night of the Christmas program, which was appropriately titled “The Blessings of Christmas”.

Marci’s blessing was to learn that something she had taken the time to make, though small and simple, could be used by God to do something big and beautiful.

I learned that even though I may not be doing the big works I dream about doing for God, He still needs me to keep doing the smaller works that He whispers to me because there are so many people out there He wants to bless through them. God also showed me that all the ideas I have are from Him and that even though I may not see how it could be used for His glory, I need to be obedient to do everything He shows me when He tells me because He can use anything and everything to bring blessings to others.

God also reminded me that being obedient to act upon the ideas He gives us is key. If I hadn’t been obedient to sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and have kites for the audience to fly, and if Marci hadn’t hand made the kites like she did, this event would not have taken place.

And Francis, well, Francis was blessed to be able to share her testimony of faith with us and the miracle that God did for her heart through a little paper kite. She told us that she has placed it up on her wall in her apartment where she can look at it every day and thank God for restoring her faith and answering a prayer she prayed for eighty years.

If you would like to watch the video of the HCP Performing Arts Team sing
“Let’s Go Fly a Kite” click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M99Cp8Iditw
You can see Francis in the video during the song after she received her kite. She is the lovely white-headed lady wearing a purple blouse in the second to the last row waving her kite proudly!