40 Years of Preparation for 40 Years of Ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one raised their hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll admit, it didn’t tickle. Jesus didn’t tell us that we wouldn’t have pain, suffering or trials in this life, but He did promise throughout the New Testament that He would be with us through everything, the good and the hard times. I think one of my favorite scriptures where Jesus teaches that is John 16:33 ‚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

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

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

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

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


Snappin’ Beans With Mema on the Porch Swing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading! Jesus loves you!

The End and the Beginning– At the Same Time

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

Transition bear? What did that mean?

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

The memory of the bear was crystal clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Reader…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What does that mean?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you and thank you for reading!


Becoming Angelique Jacqueline LaFonCox – The Long Journey to my Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Not long after writing this blog I had a great lesson on ‘branding’ and learned that my name would serve me, my children and our ministry work much better if we took out the hyphen… which we have!)

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

I am Mrs. Angelique Jacqueline LaFonCox…. the first!

Heartbreak and Perspective – A Reflection of Aven’s Gymnastics Career

When my oldest child, Aven Salei, was 4 years old she wanted to take ballet classes. We found a great local school and she happily began. She danced beautifully for 4 years until we began to notice her tumbling every day in the backyard and flipping around the bars of the swing set. I remember my mother watching her one day and confirming what we already thought by saying, “Honey, you’ve got to get that little thing in gymnastics. She is a gymnast.”¬† So just before she turned 9 we enrolled her in the beginning class at the Arizona Sunray’s gym and discovered we were right, Aven was a natural born gymnast, with no fear to try anything the coaches taught her.

I remember the coaches coming and talking to Josh or myself at different times, before the class seasons were over, “Aven needs to move up. Aven has already learned all of the skills for this level and needs to go on.” This happened until the only place she could go was to a team. We attended an orientation and decided that the best fit for our family financially was to have her go into the Excel program. This program gave students the ability to choreograph their own routines, choose their own music and advance at their pace.

The Excel program works upon levels of bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and diamond. When Aven started her bronze season we were so excited. We didn’t know anything about¬†the sport except what we heard being spoken when watching it on tv. Aven loved every minute of it and we loved watching her. We were learning a lot about the sport and enjoyed seeing her so happy, so strong, and so beautiful. She had many dreams of what she wanted to do with her gymnastics.

At the end of that year we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the coaches wanted to move Aven from bronze to gold and skip the silver level altogether. She was so excited and so were we, but after her very first day of training for the gold level, my husband, Josh, got laid off from his job. This was the third time this had happened to Josh over the course of the past ten years so we knew how to handle this situation: by claiming the promises made in God’s Word, the power of prayer,¬†strong faith, and constant trust. We immediately went to prayer for Josh to find a new job and for God to provide for our family. I remember the prayer I prayed about Aven’s gymnastics. It was short, direct and full of trust.

“Heavenly Father, You know the current situation that our family is in financially. You also know how hard Aven has worked to get to where she is with her gymnastics. Right now, there is no possible way for us to pay for her to continue, so if this is Your will, you will make a way for her and provide all of the funds for her gold season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Now, keep in mind, paying for a gymnastics season is not like investing in your average sport. It is a serious financial commitment, but we knew that if God wanted her to continue, He would make a way.

The very next day I received word from an extremely generous person who loves our family very much. We learned that they wanted to not only pay for Aven’s classes so she could press on with her gymnastics dreams while Josh hunted for a job, but they were also going to pay for our other two children, Samuel and MaCaedyn, who were working diligently on becoming black belts in Tae Kwon Do and were not too far away from their goal.

We were overwhelmed. The joy of knowing our children didn’t have to quit pursuing their dreams, the gratitude we felt for such incredible generosity which was given for our children and the compassion this person had for our situation was amazing. The blessing that God gave us of providing for the children was wonderful enough, but we also were blessed to know that God had answered us directly to confirm that it was His will for Aven to continue in her gymnastics. And so she did. Because of the loving generosity of this individual which was extended to our children for almost an entire year while Josh desperately looked for a job. It is a debt I hope that someday we can repay, if not back to the person directly, through giving to others in situations of need.

Aven went on to have a wonderful gold season, placing in several events in various meets. But before she was to compete in the state meet, I noticed her hiding her hand from me. I learned that she had broken her middle finger in a practice and didn’t tell me because she was afraid that I wouldn’t let her compete. She did compete and went on to place 2nd on floor and 4th on vault. Proving that her love for the sport and her tolerance for pain were both very great.

When Aven began her platinum season she started with some new challenges. She had a growth spurt and had grown 5 inches in less than a year. She went from being 5′ to 5’5″, with 39″ of that being in her legs. She began having some serious lower back pain and could no longer perform some of the skills which she had easily done before, such as standing back handsprings, and back walkovers. We began physical therapy for her back troubles and learned from the doctor that because of her height and leg length, her center of gravity had shifted greatly. He told her that she needed to try and stay away from the skills where she had no momentum to flip her legs over. That would help take away the stress from her lower back. Aven listened, pressed on and persevered.

Next, she began having feet woe. Her father, Josh, suffers terribly from Plantar’s Fasciitis and Aven was diagnosed with the same problem. She began experiencing pain while performing on the beam and her landings on the floor event were becoming more and more painful. But, again, she pressed on and persevered. Her platinum season didn’t bring as many places in events as in previous years, but she learned that winning didn’t always involve receiving medals or trophies. If you read my other blog titled “The Dignity and Grace of Aven Salei on Her 14th Birthday” you will understand what I mean.

Each summer, Aven would get up 4 days a week and train from 7:30am to 11:30am, then in the fall, her schedule would shift to 4 evenings a week. Not as much as some train, but still, a commitment which demanded hard work and determination. During these days, Josh and I had our reflections upon those who went on to compete on college levels or the Olympics. We caught a glimpse of the kinds of sacrifices these athletes and their families make, both in time, finances and determination. It gave us a great respect for these families and their dedication to their dreams.

As Aven began her last year as a diamond competitor she had several different thoughts and emotions. She was excited to have made it to the highest level in the Xcel program and she was so happy to have made all the friends she had through the years. This was another blessing to our family. The coaches Aven has had and the girls on her teams have been incredible. We never saw any kind of jealousy or unhealthy competition among any of the girls at the gym. They all sincerely express love for each other and support one another, displaying what true teammates are supposed to be. They have built strong and happy, healthy friendships that I’m sure will last into the years to come. The friends Aven has won are the real prizes of gold.

Aven started training for the diamond season in May and she trained diligently until January for it. We couldn’t wait to see what all she had learned and how she had grown as every day she excelled more and more. Her season began with an Intrasquad meet, which is held by her own gym for her coaches to judge and review her skills and make sure she was set for the season. That was followed by another judges critique meet that did not have recorded scores. There was another meet in California that we couldn’t make, but on February 11, 2018, she had her favorite meet of the season, The Classic Rock, one of the largest meets in the country and the one which was hosted by her gym Arizona Sunrays.¬† Josh and I couldn’t wait to watch her. She had a beautiful warm up and then her team moved to the vault. She did three beautiful practice vaults (which I sadly did not video) and then the team began competing.

A few girls on the team had vaulted and we were cheering them on when Josh said, “Aven’s hurt.” What? How? She just ran by us and was fine, how did she get hurt?

Apparently, while waiting her turn to vault, she was doing a drill and somehow she rolled her ankle. She said she felt it pop and it began to swell immediately. Yet, she was trying to walk it off so she could still vault. Her coach took one look at it and upon seeing the swelling, immediately made her scratch and sent her to the medic. The medic told me to go get it x-rayed, which we immediately did. I took her to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Urgent Care on Shea Road. They told me that it wasn’t fractured, only sprained and full of fluid which would absorb back into her system, but that she could not resume her activities until she had seen an orthopedic doctor. We were extremely sad that she missed her favorite meet and also would miss her Winterfest meet in Flagstaff that next weekend. Still, we tried to be positive and were so thankful that it wasn’t broken and she would still have two meets left that season where she could compete for her last year so we could see her.

Josh made the appointment with the orthopedic doctor for February 14, 2018.

I woke up on that morning full of excitement for the day. Throughout my life I have always loved Valentine’s Day, even when I was single, I enjoyed having an excuse to enjoy some dark chocolate and watch romantic movies.

I had planned all kinds of fun things for my children and husband, starting with heart shaped biscuits for breakfast and enjoying a special Valentine’s show of¬†The Price is Right with my kids. I had planned a special lesson for homeschool on St. Valentine with a some French, the language of love, then we did a study on our state of Arizona whose birthday is on Valentine’s Day. Josh was going to help me out by taking Aven to the doctor so I could keep working with our two youngest children, Samuel and MaCaedyn, on their school studies.

It was a rainy day in Phoenix and I was curious how long it would last… because rain in Phoenix is a rarity. I flipped on the news to catch the weather report but instead, I caught the breaking news: another shooting was taking place, this time in a high school in Parkland, Florida. I held my breath as I listened and watched the scene unfold for the world. The shooter was still at large and there was no information on how many kids or teachers had been shot.

After watching and praying for several minutes, I turned the tv off and went back to working with Samuel and MaCaedyn, but my mind was very distracted by what was taking place for so many terrified families in Florida. I couldn’t imagine what they were going through and was so thankful that I had the blessing of being able to homeschool my children.

When we heard Josh pull up in the driveway later that afternoon, I immediately got out his Valentine’s Day gift to surprise him. Josh loves cheese, rare and foreign. He calls them “cheeses of the world”, so I bought him a couple for his Valentine gift. I heard them come in the door followed by a shriek from MaCaedyn. I turned around and saw Aven was wearing a bright blue cast from her knee down.

My heart broke. I couldn’t believe it. I knew in that moment, her competitive season was over. I hugged her and began to cry. I thought about all of the hours, all of the pain she endured and fought thro was frustrated. Three different times I have taken my children to an urgent care facility for x-rays and three times I was told there was no break when in fact, they¬†were broken. Once for Aven’s finger, once for MaCaedyn’s thumb and now this. Word to the wise, in my opinion, if you are in an emergency situation and need x-rays go to a hospital over an urgent care.

Aven immediately sat down and tried to do something positive with her situation, so she began painting her cast. Since Tom Holland, aka Spiderman, is her dream of a true love, she made herself a Spiderman cast. We were all very sad, but I told Josh, “Since we knew her doing gymnastics was God’s will, and He allowed this to happen, there has to be a reason. We have to¬†keep our trust in Him. I hate this for her, but I have to trust in Him.”

Learning to trust God has not been an easy lesson for me to learn. For years through Josh’s layoffs, illnesses or other trials, I always had great faith that God could change the circumstance, but I did¬†not¬†always trust Him. I learned that having faith that God could do something was easy, but to trust Him was much harder because it meant you have to completely leave the situation at the feet of the Lord and keep your hands off. Sometimes trusting requires waiting, and sometimes, like in this case, you are just left with no clear answer as to why the trial happened and you just have to accept it. Thank God, we finally learned to trust Him or else this would have been much harder for us.

My mind then went back to the families in Parkland, FL. I turned the news back on and sank into the chair behind me when I read the words across the bottom of the screen: “17 dead, 14 injured”. In that moment, my perspective changed. Yes, Aven’s injury was real and her situation was something to be grieved, but her leg would heal and this time would pass. Aven was alive.

My heart broke for all of the families who had sent their children to school that day as they had for so many years and learned they would never be coming home. My mind went even farther, to parents who were still grieving the loss of their children due to other shootings, and even my mind went beyond the deaths that made the news to all of the parents in the world who had lost their children that day from illness, or accidents or something other unforeseen tragedy. Suddenly, I was thankful for our situation. Aven was injured, but Aven was alive. I was thankful for all of the days that I got to see her compete when so many parents never get the chance to see their child play a sport due to illness or handicaps. I was thankful that a fractured ankle was all she had and while her dreams of competitive gymnastics had ended, there were still many other dreams she had left to fulfill.

Instead of giving their children Valentine’s hearts that day, the Parkland parents were trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered hearts. Instead of planning out their children’s college days, they were going to be planning funerals. Instead of living their lives as they had with their children, they were faced with the horrifying truth that they would never see them smile again, be able to hug them, hear their voice, their laugh, their ideas, their dreams.¬†Their time together was over.

I dried my eyes and went in to hug and kiss Aven and my other two children. I was so thankful. I knew that Aven’s dreams of gymnastics were not over, just the competing part. She still has big dreams of going on to learn more skills, becoming a coach and teaching children in need who cannot afford such a luxury. She is so wonderful with other children and loves to spend time teaching them. I know she will make a wonderful coach someday.

I joked with Aven telling her that we knew the door was closing this year to her competitive gymnastics career, it just got slammed shut more quickly… and on her ankle. She laughed.

Aven’s attitude and courage have helped us all. She has her moments with it from time to time, but those who have reached out to us during this time have brought her tremendous support and joy and the girls, coaches and staff members of Arizona sunrays have been wonderful. They have already offered her a part-time job teaching little children which she will be happy to accept when she is well. Her cast comes off on March 14th and she is determined to still try and compete in the state meet on March 22nd. We’ll have to see what the doctor says, but are inspired by her determination to never give up.

I wanted to write this story so that others can see how good God has been to our family and hopefully, if there is anyone out there who is in the same situation, if you haven’t tried Jesus to help you in your trial, I would highly recommend Him to you. I hope that other kids will also see that just because one door closes where your dreams are concerned, if you keep your head up high, trust in God and keep believing in your dreams, other great things can still happen for you.

We are so thankful to the Lord for blessing us with the strong, beautiful, courageous girl and we are more than¬†thankful that she is alive, well and with us. Our thoughts and daily prayers will always be with the Parkland families and all of the other families who have lost children before their time, for their lives will never be the same again. May our wonderful God, Jehovah, pour out His love, strength, and peace that passes understanding upon them all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wicked: A Personal Description of American Health Insurance & Pharmaceutical Companies

The definition of wicked, according to Google, is:
evil or morally wrong. Synonyms: sinful, immoral, wrong, morally wrong, bad, iniquitous, corrupt, base, mean, vile.–and that’s just the¬†first¬†definition, there were still two more, but for this piece, we can stop there.

For me to use the word wicked when I describe American healthcare companies and pharmaceutical companies with how they conduct their business these days, is plausible.

I would consider our family to be pretty average when it comes to healthcare needs. I praise God for that. We have children with allergies, the occasional injury now and then, I battle asthma and arthritis and my husband does suffer terribly with feet and Achilles troubles, but when compared to many other American families out there who battle chronic or critical illnesses or injuries, our needs for medical treatment are far and few between. Our children’s allergy treatments involve over the counter meds, very inexpensive, and they have gone through allergy treatments which have transformed their lives and were worth every penny. I have two prescriptions that I take and my husband has a few as well. There have been times, however, when the unexpected ailment or injury pops up and we are forcibly plunged back into the seemingly endless fathoms of medical debt. The only debt that we have, that we have battled for the past ten years, is for medical. True there have been times when my husband was laid off, but during those times we had state assistance for health care. It has only been while he¬†has¬†had a job that we have accrued this constant debt. Sounds backward, doesn’t it?
So you may ask, “Do you have health insurance?”
Yes, and we pay through the nose for it. So then why do we have so much medical debt? Because although we shell out the overwhelming premiums (which rise higher and higher every year) the insurance covers very little, as I’m sure it is the same for millions of other Americans out there.¬† For example, I need to get a rescue inhaler for asthma struggles. Granted this is not something I need to purchase every month, mainly bi-monthly unless I am in the spring or fall season. Still, the cost of the inhaler¬†with¬†insurance is $71.00. My doctor couldn’t believe it and tried to give me other options… they were all the same, some were even higher in cost.
What is the cost of the same inhaler without insurance?
I’m so glad to see that the insurance, which is robbing us monthly and jacking up our premiums annually, covers that extra dollar. Thanks, guys. You’re a great help.
The reason for my rant right now comes from my most recent bout of frustration from trying to help my daughter. She injured her foot and I wanted to take her to the doctor to see if I could get it x-rayed. To walk in the door of the pediatrician costs us $35. Okay, that’s feasible in this day and age, but the doctor is overloaded today and everyone was completely filled up (I’m writing this in flu season).¬† I knew I didn’t have the funds to pay the copayment expected for our insurance to take her to the hospital emergency room, that co-pay is $150 to walk in the door then the treatments are added on up from there. My girl’s injury is not really an emergency either, so I decided to take her to urgent care.
I tried three different Urgent Cares and ended up coming home. Why? Because,¬†again, even¬†with insurance, I couldn’t afford to get her in the door. So, we came home and I am giving the matter to the Lord in prayer to help her. But I needed to do what I do best to vent my feelings:¬†write.

I am a person who fully believes in the power of prayer and I believe that Jesus can and does heal us. I know this to be true because I have personally experienced the healing power of the Lord many times and know that it is alive and well. I also believe that God gives man knowledge to help one another. I believe this is why he chose Luke to not only be one of His disciples but also write one of the Gospels of the New Testament. Luke was a physician and was gifted by God to help others in need of getting well. So it is with doctors and nurses today. I know that not everyone is called into the medical field, it is a gift from God and a very special gift at that. I also want to pause and make it clear that this rant against health insurances and pharmaceutical companies is not connected to those who work in the medical field. It is not their fault what these companies are doing and many times, they are also victims of these companies and their greed. My point is, that while I believe firmly in the power of healing miracles, in addition to that, I also believe that God has blessed mankind with the knowledge, compassion, and ability to help us get well.  All of the wellness still comes from the blessings and power of God.

So then, why does it cost so much to get the help we need? In a word: greed.
I have seen nothing from insurance companies to prove they have compassion for people. I have seen nothing to prove that they have the good of the commonwealth as a top priority. What I have experienced is harshness to pay and when you can’t pay it, they constantly harass and badger you, calling you every day and sending threatening letters.

I have seen nothing from pharmaceutical companies of compassion for those in need of medication to function or in some cases live. All I see is greed, greed, greed. Their purpose is to make money while claiming to provide health care for people who are suffering. Yet, I hear it all the time from family, friends, and others, they all pay– or struggle to pay, unfair, outrageous amounts of money just to try and get well. Does anyone else see how wrong this is? Maybe not. But in my opinion, it is morally wrong to charge people thousands and thousands of dollars all because they want to live a healthy life. Which brings me back to my original definition: wicked.

Health Insurance companies are draining the good people our nation today and many of them suffer in silence without a voice to do anything about it. I am not the first to write, rant or cry about this matter. I also know that our complaints don’t even hold a candle when compared to some of the poor souls of there who are suffering terribly with this problem. So, I am writing for all of us. We¬†must¬†see this changed! A parent struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t have to watch their child suffer because they can’t afford to take them to a doctor. An elderly person living on a fixed income shouldn’t have to suffer because they can’t afford to go to a doctor. My mother recently had a friend at her retirement center who had the paramedics called for her because she had to make a choice, pay her rent? Or pay for her insulin? That is a choice no one should have to make A young, healthy person who doesn’t have much income yet should not have to suffer because they can’t afford to go a doctor.¬† NO ONE should have to suffer, not when we live in a country that has the finest doctors in the world at our fingertips.
Don’t even get me started on pre-existing conditions. I loved my children’s reaction to that when I explained what pre-existing conditions are and how health insurance companies use that excuse to deny a person coverage. They asked, “How would anyone be able to get insurance anywhere?”¬†Right. How would they?
I have heard people complain who live in the upper-income financial brackets about the costs, and I am sure that it is frustrating for them, but their situations are greatly different and cannot be compared because people who have the higher income can¬†afford it. They may not like it and the treatment costs are still not fair, but they have no complaints like those of who live day in and day out, pay-check to pay-check in lower incomes or fixed incomes. How are families who barely make $25 or $30k a year or less who do not qualify for government aid, supposed to constantly pay out these insurance premiums… on top of co-payments… on top of prescription costs and still be able to pay their rent, food, gas, and other needs?
So then what is the only other option? No treatment or help. They suffer.
What is has been going on in our country with health insurance and pharmaceutical companies for so many decades is morally wrong, corrupt, mean, vile, or back to my original word: wicked.
My line of work is in assisting others in need and I hear the cry for help among those we serve. I am not a politician, I do not work for the government and I would not know the first thing about getting new legislation passed to fix this… even the pros have proven they don’t know how to do that. The best thing that I know to do is pray. Prayer changes things. I pray for those in government who can bring a change. I pray for these companies to be regulated and I pray for those in need of the treatment that God will bring them the healing and help they so desperately need, whether it be through His miracles or through the help of the good physicians in the world.
All I can think of to say to conclude this rant is, God, help us and thank You Lord for a place called heaven where we will never be sick, injured or in need of a doctor. A place where wickedness and greed cannot abide… which means there will be no healthcare or pharmaceutical companies.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with My Children

Today, January 15, 2018, was the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Because I homeschool my children, I had already taught them years ago who this courageous man was, what all he did for Civil Rights and why we still must respect and repeat his message to the world today.

In the past, I have read to them from books or watched videos of his speeches, but today I felt led to let them watch the movie “Selma”. This was actually a difficult decision for me. Not because I didn’t want them to see and learn all that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March of 1965, of course, I did. My hesitation came because, up to this point in their lives, they have never heard the “N” word. Now, I know what you might be thinking, “That’s not possible, of course, they have heard that somewhere.”
My reply is a strong, honest, “NO. They have not.”

Because we homeschool, our kids have been sheltered from a lot of things the world has to offer and hearing that atrocious word is one of them. I’m sure that nowadays, there are many kids who are not homeschooled who have never heard that word, at least I hope so. But I know that kids like to repeat what they hear and teach other kids… sometimes on school playgrounds… sometimes at public parks… and yes, sometimes at church events (which is where my son learned the “F” word).

I am not so unrealistic as to think that I can protect them from everything, nor should I, that is not my goal. I am also not so delusional as to think that I could protect them from never hearing the “N” word. What I loved was the innocence they still had. Aven is 14, MaCaedyn is 12 and Samuel is 11 and they had no idea that there even was an “N” word. I have read to them about Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas and several others and we have done studies on the Civil War since they were little, but I never read that word aloud to them. Josh and I also don’t keep company with people who do. I loved their innocence so much and just wanted to hold onto it as long as I possibly could. However, the sad truth is, in order to truly and effectively teach my children about the suffering, torment, and despair of the African America people throughout our nation’s history, and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that word and it’s degrading meaning, was, unfortunately, something they had to learn.

My husband, Josh, told me that it was better for me to put it into them with the proper teachings and proper understandings, than for them to hear it from someone else. I agreed. So, this morning, before we started school, I told them that I was going to show them a very powerful, important movie of true events that took place in March 1965. I then explained to them that they were going to hear a word that started with an “N” that was the worst word they had ever heard. Worse than any cuss word, worse than any adjective or description they could find and that it should never be spoken or even thought about a person. I explained it’s origin and it’s meaning to them carefully and that to speak this word about someone would break my heart, but it would also break the heart of the God they serve, Who created all of the beautiful people of this world and loves them so much He would die for them.

They understood.

I put the movie on and we began. As my children watched the story of Dr. King and how he bravely led the people in their cause, with wisdom, and with peace, I watched them. I loved that their eyes were filled with tears and tissues were needed. I loved that they were angered by the actions of those who were so viciously brutal to those with Dr. King and I also loved their confusion. “Why?” They asked. “Why do they hate them so much because they are black?”

Unfortunately, that is an answer I can’t really give them as I don’t understand it myself.

When the movie was over, the conversation we had together was powerful. Their hearts and minds were deeply impacted by the film and they held a much greater understanding of why we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I told them that the movie “Selma” didn’t even scratch the service of the issues that have plagued our nation for decades where race is concerned. Now, they are eager to do more to show their love for others, which thrills me. Their hearts were enlarged for more love and more compassion and I feel that the more I teach them that love and compassion for others will only grow stronger.

Samuel asked me, “Mama? Why is it that some white people think they are better than everyone else?”

My reply was, “I don’t know baby, but we are not. God created us all, loves us all and Jesus died for us all, so it doesn’t make any sense to me. But we are thankful that God created people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead us to a better place of peace and understanding.”

The Inspiring People of Texas and the Faith of Three “Huggabear” Children

The Hurricane Season of 2017 brought to the areas of Texas,
Florida, the Carribean Islands and Puerto Rico, historic devastation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all who survived and are working to
rebuild their lives and communities.

On September 5, 2017, while home schooling my three children, Aven 14, MaCaedyn 12, and Samuel Braeden 10, I turned on the news to have them watch the historic happenings with Hurricane Harvey and the devastating destruction it was causing in the southern part of Texas.

“There has never been anything like this before,” I said, “This is even worse than what happened after Hurricane Katrina.”

Even though Aven was only two, MaCaedyn was two months and Samuel wasn’t even born when Hurricane Katrina struck, my children all knew the significance of that storm. It was after that storm that I started our family’s nonprofit organization The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and over the years, I had taught them well about the crippling destruction Katrina left behind. So now, ¬†for me to say that Hurricane Harvey was even worse was shocking to them.

As they all sat watching the stories of people being rescued from their flooded homes, their hearts were deeply impacted.

“Mama, why aren’t we going down there to help those children?” they asked.

My pathetic reply, which was heavily lacking faith was, “Because we don’t have a trailer or truck to take everything we would need to. We also don’t have the traveling funds right now.”

They looked at me with confident eyes, but expressions that seemed to show how silly my answer was. “Then we’ll pray for them,” they said.

In that moment I realized that my reply had not taught them confident, strong faith. My eyes were fixed upon my lacking circumstances instead of keeping my focus upon the One who supplies ALL of my needs; Jehovah Jireh.

My children sat on the living room rug, grabbed hands and began to pray a very simple but powerful prayer of faith. “Jesus, we want to go to Texas to take things to children who have lost everything they had. If You want us to go do this, we need You to get us a trailer to pack, a truck to pull it and the money to get it all there. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

By the end of that night, they had their truck and twenty foot trailer, along with donations for gas, lodging and meals for the trip. From that moment on, our time was spent in one fast paced, non-stopping effort to gather as many items as possible for the children and babies of Texas… and my three children loved every minute of it.

In addition to promoting the project, collecting donations, shopping for items or picking them up, I had to find the place for us to go. I knew it couldn’t be just any place, it had to be the exact spot where God wanted us to be.

My first call to Houston City Hall directed me to a shelter that was being set up in San Antonio, TX. The reason I was being sent there was because, at that time, the roads in Houston were undrivable.  I spoke with a lovely lady in San Antonio named Melody who worked with the San Antonio County Medical Society. She was thrilled to find out what we wanted to do and was going to help us arrange it to come to their shelter on the 14th of Sept. We had hoped to be able to play with the children and my kids were going to dress up in superhero and Star Wars costumes and teach them gymnastics and tae kwon do.

A few days later I received a call from Melody telling me that the people who were supposed to be transported to their shelter couldn’t make it due to bad road conditions. She suggested that I try to find another shelter to take our donations to.

My first call was back to the Houston City Hall. I explained the situation with San Antonio and this lady put me in touch with a church in Houston that was working round the clock to help people in need. It was called the Memorial Church of Christ. I spoke with a wonderful woman named Lavee Sherwin who was so happy to hear of what we wanted to do. She told me she would try to help me find a place to go and that she would contact me again soon.

The next day, after spending time in prayer, I felt led to press on with my search. I knew that Lovee was working to help me, but I also knew that she was right in the midst of the heart of the destruction and already had so much to do on her plate. So I called the Austin County Medical Society. They told me that they had heard the people of La Grange, Texas had a terrible time with flooding due to the river overflowing in their community. It didn’t make the national news, but the town lost over 500 homes and 37 businesses.

I then called the people of La Grange and left many messages. I didn’t hear back from anyone until the next day. When I did, they were very grateful for our desire to come, but told us that they had been extremely blessed and that I should contact the town of Smithville.

I contacted Smithville and left messages. The next day, I learned that they too had been greatly blessed with supplies and they told me to contact a town called Refugio.

The process of calling repeated. I contacted Refugio and left messages, but heard nothing back that day.

I was getting nervous. I am not the type of person who likes to do a project without a plan. I like adventure and from time to time the element of surprise, but when I am on a mission, I like to know where that mission is.

My husband, Josh, who normally also likes to have a plan, was not concerned. “God will tell us where He wants us to go. He has proven that us going is His will. He will work it out.”

The next day was Tuesday, September 12th, the day we were supposed to leave. I once again called the people of Refugio, only to learn that they too had been blessed with supplies. They referred me to Rock Port, but when I tried to call Rock Port, I learned their phone lines were still down, at least for the numbers that I was given to call. I called back to Refugio and they directed me to contact a small town called Woodsboro that had 1,484 people in it and was twenty miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. I was told they had been hit hard and no one knew if they had received much help.

At this point I was exhausted. We were supposed to leave in less than two hours and I was still trying to find a place to go. I called the Woodsboro Town Hall and was told that there was a children’s community center that would be interested in what we had to bring. Before I called, I prayed, “God, I have no idea where you want us to go, but this is the last phone call I am going to make today. I want to do Your will and I want to follow Your path, so I need You to show it to me. I will make this call and if this isn’t the place, we will just be driving by faith to Texas.”

I called the community center which was named The Eagle’s Next and left a message. Then I finished up my packing and left the location of where we were to go at the feet of Jesus. While I was packing I started thinking about the situation. Yes, for me it was a constant effort, very time consuming and had become a bit frustrating in not finding a location to go. But then God showed me the bigger picture of what was really happening; an outpouring of ‘loving thy neighbor’ was taking place.

I had my eyes focused on my side of it, which was in trying to find a place to take our donations. But when I looked at it from the people of Texas’ point of view, I saw that they were just taking care of each other. When a community had what they needed, they were not selfishly taking more, they were making sure the other people of their great state were also taken care of; it was a beautiful chain reaction of love, care, kindness and giving.

My husband called that he was on his way to pick us up and hit the road. He hoped we would be leaving by 2:30pm. I looked at the clock. It was about 1:30pm.

The children and I were ready, so we started locking up the house and taking our bags outside to load when Josh got home.

At 1:50pm the phone rang.

On the other end was a young man named Drew Strong, who was taking all of the donations for the Eagle’s Nest,which is a nonprofit children’s community center. Drew was thrilled to have us come and said “Ma’am, we will take all that you have!” He then explained that he and other volunteers were taking items door to door in the community of Woodsboro to help them along while they recovered from Harvey and he told me, “there are kids here who lost all that they had.” I thanked him for calling me back and began rejoicing for God’s answer to my prayer for the¬†perfect place; Woodsboro, Texas. God knew all that we had and He knew where it would most be needed. My heart was completely overjoyed! I was literally jumping up and down! It had taken a lot of time and a lot of effort, but God had led me to the location which was His will for The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. to go!

By 2:30pm we were on the road and headed for Texas! Our first day of travel was to make it to El Paso. We arrived safe and sound and singing the Marty Robbin’s song that takes place in El Paso with that “wicked Felina”, and could only find a Walmart open where we could get something to eat. Josh, having just received a smoker for his 40th birthday, was stunned to see that brisket cost about $30 less in Texas than in Phoenix and made plans to get one on the way back home… yum!

The next day, September 13th we headed out for San Antonio, this leg of the trip was over 500 miles –YIKES! Because of the weight of the trailer we were hauling we had to stop for gas (and a leg stretch) about every two hours. We arrived, once again, safe and sound in the beautiful, historic and charming city of San Antonio. I had been there three times previously, once with Josh, but this was our children’s first time there so, even though it was almost midnight, we had to drive them by the Alamo.

September 14th was delivery day! After a good night’s rest, we hit the road once again and headed south for Woodsboro. This trip would only take us about two and half hours, which when compared to traveling 8-9 hours a day would be a piece of cake.

As we drew closer, we saw the homes on the outskirts of town which had been affected by the storm. Nothing too devastating, fences torn down, many broken trees, some completely toppled, a roof top missing a section here and there, but as we drove farther south to Woodsboro the destruction became more evident. Now, the reality of the power of the storm set in. Almost every home was damaged and in much more serious ways. In some places there were only large piles of rubble which we knew were the leveled remains of a person’s home.

We arrived at the Eagle’s Nest Children’s Community Center to warm, welcoming, smiling, happy people. They were amazing! The volunteers there were hard at work at rebuilding their town and so thankful to be alive. I will never forget their strength. They greeted us with tremendous gratitude and expressed over and over again how much they appreciated our coming to bring things for their children. We began to unload the items we had collected in the back room of the children’s community center and then they took us inside. The center was being used as a collection spot for items for the town. Inside, they had power and air conditioning, which many residents there still did not have. Some did not even have running water.

There was a section of the center that was full of cots, which were being used by the selfless volunteers who had come there to help the good people of Woodsboro. We met a beautiful nurse from Austin who had come that week with her children to help, two men were from Kingman, Arizona, there was another lady who had been working there from Las Vegas and we also met a young man who was a volunteer firefighter from Fairfield, CT. For those of you who read my Intercessors books, you will know that was a treat for me, as my stories take place in Fairfield!

After we were finished unloading our trailer and spent time at the community center, we took a little tour of the town. Most of the businesses were closed down, but there was one store open, a quaint general store called Tuttle’s where we found great souvenirs and our kids found ice cream and other snacks.¬†We could not drive through all of the streets as so many of them were lined with cut tree branches, items which were destroyed by the storm and also debris from homes. The roads were not blocked by these things, but some of the streets were too narrow for us to pull the trailer through. Every road we traveled down told the ravaging tale of Hurricane Harvey.

The photos and the videos we took can show the undoing of the Woodsboro community, but they cannot depict the experiences of being there. The smell of it, the rotten odor of decaying wood, stagnate water, and still marshy lands stewing in the humid heat and the bugs which are attracted by such things are not something you can understand from a photograph or video.

Being natives of Phoenix, my children had never experienced humidity. True, they knew scorching, blazing heat, the kind that can punch you in the face when you walk outside, but it is a dry heat–a phrase they never appreciated until experiencing the humidity in Woodsboro. When they would talk about how hot and sticky it was, their thoughts and minds then went to the good people of Woodsboro and so many other thousands of people in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean Islands which had been rampaged by hurricanes this season and who were still without water and power– which meant no air conditioning.

We left the quaint and inspiring town of Woodsboro that day deeply impacted. As we drove home we talked with our children about their feelings. They spoke about seeing all of the damage to the town and expressed their sorrow for all the work they had ahead of them to repair it. They talked about the joy they felt from giving all they had collected for the children there and how they wanted to continue to give to help rebuild the community center and also to give at Christmas to make sure the children there had a good one. They also talked about how kind everyone in the town was, how thankful they were to be alive even though the storm had torn their buildings apart, the people were determined to rebuild their homes and town. All in all, my children, along with Josh and myself, were tremendously inspired by the people of Woodsboro. Not just that, but also by the people of Texas in general. To have made as many phone calls as I did and hear how the people of each town wanted to take care of the next town in need was a beautiful thing to witness

The entire experience was a beautiful one. It was a perfect example of God turning mourning into dancing and creating something beautiful from ashes. It made my children so grateful for all that they had, and to understand how quickly life can change in the twinkling of an eye, or in this case, 5 hours of a massive hurricane. We have a great love for the people of Woodsboro, along with all of the other thousands of hurricane survivors from Texas, to Florida to the islands in the Atlantic who are and will be suffering for quite sometime with the pains of rebuilding their homes and their communities.

After returning to the hotel from Woodsboro, I did, as promised, receive a letter from sweet Lovee Sherwin of the Memorial Church of Christ. She was referring me to a place to take our donations. I wrote her and told her about what we did in Woodsboro and she was thrilled. Once again, I was so impressed. The resolve of the people of Texas is truly inspiring. They understand the power of love, compassion and taking care of each other in that state!

On the way home, I had a lot of time to reflect upon my personal experience in Texas. When I was 19 my family lost a home to a house fire. I know what it is like to have your home and possessions take away by a disaster, but I did not know what it looked like to lose an entire town. Now I know. As long as the people of that community are alive, the community lives on. The people of Woodsboro showed us that buildings can be rebuilt, perhaps even stronger than before. Their sense of community to look out for one another, love thy neighbor, lend a helping hand and be thankful to just be alive is an example for all of us to learn from and live by.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the hurricane victims and our family will be continuing to work with the town of Woodsboro, through the help of their lovely mayor Ms. Kay Roach, to help rebuild their children’s community center and also do what we can to help the families during Christmas time. If you would like to join us in this work, please visit out website at: www.huggabears.org

It was one of our family’s most beautiful experiences in our ministry work to go to Woodsboro, TX. The blessings of joy that we received were priceless and irreplaceable. It truly was an honor for us all. If you would like to watch our family’s “thank you” video compilation of our trip, please visit:

I would like to extend a sincere, heart felt thank you all those who gave so liberally foor this project. It is because of all of you that this trip was possible and I know without doubt that you brought incredible joy to all of the children of Woodsboro who were struggling through this trial in their life. You are a blessing and you are changing the world by loving those children! May God bless you richly for your obedience to give to others in need.

Thank you for taking the time to read this story. I hope that it will bless your heart and that you will share it with others as well! We hope you will keep the families who have been so devastated by Hurricanes Harvy, Irma and Maria in your prayers for the next year or so, they are going to be in need of our support for a long time to come.

Angelique La Fon-Cox
The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc.