Monday, May 24, 2010

10 Years Later

While I'm on the topic of college dating, I thought I'd share another story, a shot in the arm of sorts, before the Lord brought the real deal into my life... Mr. Wike.

In my final semester of undergrad, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "I'm going to bring someone into your life this summer, but I want you to do a couple of things to prepare yourself." My initial thought was, "Really? Was that really You, Lord? Cause if it is, I'm down... but..." Anyways, I decided to do the two assignments just in case.

The first was to read the book, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Great book, that I would definitely recommend. I had that one completed fairly quickly, and felt far more educated on the topic of the uniquenesses of men and women.

The second was inspired by something I'd read in the book, "Celebration of Discipline." It was written by a Pastor named Richard Foster. One of the chapters was on Confession, and Pastor Foster wrote of how in his early days as a pastor, he felt that he lacked power in his ministry. As he began to study historical spiritual leaders, he realized that the practice of confession to another human being was a discipline that has largely been lost in the Protestant Church. As a result, he chose to sit down and write out detailed lists of his sins from childhood, young adulthood and adulthood. He then confessed them all to a trusted friend. This became my second task.

One of my closest friends flew through California on her way to China for the summer, and we had the oppotunity to take a short trip to Catalina Island. Ten years earlier, I had prayed to receive Christ on this Island, and hadn't been back since, so it was a significant trip for me. She and I returned to the little man-made beach in Avalon where I gave my heart to the Lord, and there I confessed my sins to her. When we were done, I prayed, "Alright, Lord. If that was You, my parts done!"

That night my friend and I visited the young adults ministry at my church for the first time since I'd been back in California, and I met Daniel. It wasn't till the next week that I realized he was interested in me. I had spent the majority of that first evening telling him all about the screenplay I was writing. He apparently was intrigued.

We spent the majority of the summer hanging out, and a few weeks into it he asked, "So did you think you were going to meet someone this summer?" Through a smile, I said yes, and told him my story. He laughed and said, "Do you want to hear my story?"

About 5 months earlier, Daniel had been praying with one of our prophetic pastors about his future spouse. He was in his late 20's, and definitely had marriage on the mind. As they prayed, the pastor said, "Do you know anyone named Laura, Laurie, Laur... I'm just getting that name for you." Daniel did not, so they moved on. Then, about a week before we met, they were praying again, and the pastor said, "I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think the Lord's going to bring someone into your life pretty soon." And what do you know.

Normally I'm not really fond of of prophetic words that speak to romantic relationships, but in this case things seemed to line up. We both thought immediately that this type of meeting automatically meant that we were destined to be married. But that is not what the Lord had said. We drew our own little conclusions. ;) By the end of that summer we had figured out that destiny was not winding our paths together, and we parted on good terms.

So what was this all about? I definitely asked myself that question. No doubt it was a blessing to feel encouraged in the fact that I was desirable and someone could feel this way about me after a long season of not much dating at good old Wheaton. I also think there's value in just getting to know people even if something serious doesn't come of it. That leads me back to my philosophy on dating, which is significantly influenced by Henry Cloud's book, "How to Find a Date Worth Keeping." Maybe I'll touch on that at some point. We'll see. ;)

Ring That Bell

This is the Tower at Wheaton College where all the engaged couples go to proclaim their joy to the world through the ringing of the tower bell. The top floor looks like a cultic worship site from all those who have climbed the stairs, rung the bell, and left something behind to commemorate the big event. :) I have visited the Tower with friends, but am only now considering actually ringing it when I return for my 10 year reunion in 2011 with my husband who came along a little later in life.

Dating at Wheaton was weird. I guess that's no surprise, since dating among Christians can be weird anywhere. But if you throw in the "Ring by Spring or your money back!" mentality, it gets even more complicated. You understand. I was one who refused to participate in this mind set, though of course would not have been opposed to something great if it presented itself along the way. My greatness came later... about 7 years later, to be exact. But I was thankful for my single years, and milked them for all they were worth when it came to investing in the Kingdom!

Nonetheless, I am a woman, and my heart did yearn for relationship. There was a period in time while at Wheaton where I prayed, "Lord, I would like to go on more dates, but I don't want to initiate! Can you help me out with that?" I could hardly believe it when He did!

That week I was asked out 4 times. This was very unusual. The first invitation came from a young man named Matt. He called and left a message on my answering machine to see if I'd like to go to the Mongolian Bar-B-Q that week. I called him back and let him know that was my favorite restaurant! "I know," came his reply. :) We had a great time.

Another young man name Andy walked up from behind me as we were heading towards the Billy Graham Center to class. He said, "How come I don't know you yet? We have all the same friends in common! I think we should know each other." He proceded to invite me out to lunch.

Two other young men invited me to meals that week as well. None of these guys had particularly serious intentions, which was actually nice, but I was still taken-aback that this type of prayer was answered! God cared about these needs of my heart! Later I tried praying this prayer again, and nothing happened, which made me laugh, but I always have this experience to look back to. God knows how He made us, and even if His best isn't planned for the immediate, he wants His kids to know that they are loved. I felt loved and blessed, and encouraged that God had this part of my life in His hands.

This Is My Body, Part II

I was always a tom boy growing up, and an athlete for as long as I can remember. I have also been a Christian since I was 12, and was mentored in my early years by a man, so my feminine attributes were never of utmost importance to me. I really don't think I started wearing make-up consistently until college, and didn't realize that something might seriously need to change until long after that!

I think it was when I was a youth pastor in Malibu, CA (age 25/26) that I began to understand that my physical appearance could actually make a difference in the Kingdom of God. I started realizing that my personal presentation made a difference in how seriously people took the spiritual things I had to say... at least in Malibu. :) I don't think this realization fully hit me until after I'd gone through my "Makeover" and I saw how involved God was in the process.

This transformation in my life started when I read Henry Cloud's book called, "How To Find a Date Worth Keeping." Great book, btw! I was visiting Louisiana with my good friend Kim, when I read Dr. Clouds suggestion to ask a friend to be honest with you about something that was not attractive about you. Kim was all to willing! "The hair," she said! "We've got to do something about the hair!" Of all the things she could have said, it's funny to me that she started with my hair, but it did at least get the ball rolling.

We made general plans to go see our friend Kristin's hair-dresser, cause she really like him and thought he would be great for me, but he just kept not being available.

During this time, I was working at a gym, but was going to be starting at another position shortly, where I would have to dress up to go to work. Also during this time, I went to a conference at a church in Pasadena. I went to a seminar for youth leaders, and had two young gentlemen, whom I'd never met before, pray prophetically over me at the end of the session. Mind you, we were there for youth ministry, but this is what they prayed! One said, "I'm getting this picture of you taking off a sweatsuit and putting on a dress." The other said, "I believe you're going to start dressing differently and doing your hair differently." REALLY??!! Come on, God! I didn't know you cared about that stuff! A prophetic word about how I dress and what I look like?! You really are bigger than my little human brain has conceived.

So I started my new job, incidentally at a company called "Chrysalis." This is the name of the cocoon that a caterpillar hides-out in while it's transformed into a butterfly! I was only there for one month, but during that time received an email from an acquaintance at church. She explained that she and her family owned a company called Body Beautiful, and they were looking for people who might be interested in a "Makeover" with $1500 worth of free consulting, etc. All I'd need to provide was money for new clothes, and they'd go shopping with me, do a full style analysis, hair-cut/color, etc. They wanted to use the before & after pictures for their company's website. I could hardly believe what I was reading!! One of the high school students that I mentored at the time was actually with me at work that day, and I remember showing her the email and staring at each other in disbelief! Could this be anymore perfect!! I couldn't respond fast enough!

We got started soon thereafter, and met several times throughout the course of a couple weeks. If you want to see more pictures and read about the process, check out their website at We completed the process on a Friday afternoon, just in time for our young adults group that night. When I got there, I kid you not, a guy I'd known for many years, saw me across the room. When I said hi, he responded in kind, but racked his brain trying to figure out how in the world he knew me!

After the makeover was complete, my friends came over to my house, and helped me go through my closet and figure out how to sustain these new changes that I was already loving! I still prefer going shopping with friends who are a little more naturally gifted in this area than I am, and am thankful for a husband who has a great sense of style! :) But I've come a long way, baby!! And I'm so thankful.

My favorite comment at the end of this process came from my friend Sharon Rhodes. She said, "Now your outsides match your insides!" And the Kingdom of God is advancing in ways I never thought about before! Just a few months ago, I went shopping with several girlfriends, one who'd come out of a homosexual lifestyle. She wanted to be more feminine, but really just didn't know how to get there herself. I wasn't the one picking out clothes for her, per say, but I was there for moral / "Laurel" support, as an encouragement that transformation is possible.

Some people may not want to change or be called to change in this way, but I am thankful that this was part of the grace the Lord had in store for me. This experience has opened my eyes to see that God cares about things that I would naturally judge as unspiritual. I've found, and hope I never forget, that the spiritual world touches a lot more of the natural world than might be percieved at first glance. Come open our eyes, Lord Jesus, that we might see You in the hidden places.

In Loving Memory

I don't feel like I have closure in my writing on this topic of my Dad's life and death, until I include the poem/song that I wrote, which was also a part of his Memorial Service Bulletin. I read it at his first service, then put it to music with some friends, and played the recording at his boat memorial.

In Loving Memory

"Where do I begin? There's so much to remember.
This time alone brings back a flood of memories.
The questions that you asked, the stories that you told,
The things you did, few men could be so bold.

Your memory's so real inside,
It's something that I cannot hide.
I look around and see traces of you.
In "J" and me our mom can see,
The life from you that's still to be.
Your spirit lives, your memory will too.
Our hearts will never be without you.

I was gone all summer, you sent me on my way.
I loved my time in Israel, you must have worried every day.
I got home safe to say goodbye, with just one day to spare.
I'm glad God let you wait for me, I guess He found it fair.

Dad, we know you loved us; and mom, she knew it too.
She'd never doubt your faithfulness, there was no reason to.
You died at home right in her arms, you'd have wanted it that way.
She cried to you, but we both knew that you had gone away."

Dr. Charles Justin Swigert - a.k.a. "Dad"

So no, this is not a picture of my Dad... as you may know, it is Albert Einstein. I do, thankfully have pictures of my Father, but none electronically accessible at the moment. And I think Mr. Einstein is a fair representation of my Dad's heart and mind. Fun-loving, brilliant, and a bit eccentric! Dad always thought if it weren't for the family he would have turned into a mad scientist, and we never doubted it a bit!

After my last post, I thought I'd include a copy of what my girlfriend read from Dad's Memorial Service Bulletin. He was pretty impressive, and I'm really proud of him. Though my children will never get to meet him, I still want them to know him.

Dr. Charles Justin Swigert

"C.J. was clearly destined for a scientist's life ever since he built his own wind tunnel in the family basement. Graduating from Evanston Township High School in the top 10 percent of his class, C.J. continued his education at Princeton University. He graduate Cum Laude in Electrical Engineering in 1961, after which he earned his M.A. degree in Aeronautical Engineering (with a minor in Linguistics) from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in Biomedical/Electronic Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

C.J. lectured at Berkeley for several years before entering the private sector as a research scientist and became one of the architects of the govenment Star Wars strategy and technology. In addition to working on government contracts, he also worked out of his home office after moving to the Palisades in 1975. As president of Electromag, he held several patents for his inventions.

C.J. was active in the community, volunteering his time to work with his son Justin's Boy Scout troop and his daughter Laurel's Indian Princess tribe. He worked closely with potential Eagle candidates from Troop 223, seeing them through the complicated process of obtaining the highest rank in scouting. He and the other Indian Princess fathers became such good friends they continued their meetings long after the girls were too old to participate in the program. When his children were younger, C.J. was active at Palisades Elementary School, serving as PEP board President and was a driving force behind the implementation of the school's first computer class.

In addition to his loving wife, Karen, C.J. is survived by his two children, Justin (a senior at UC Santa Barbara) and Laurel (who attends Wheaton College in Illinois); his mother, Marjorie Helm Swigert; his brother, Thomas (wife Sue); and his sister, Margaretta. He was preceded in death by his faterh, Dr. Verne Swigert, and his brother, Stevenson."

The Lighter Side of Death

When my Dad passed away, we realized quickly that we couldn't cry all the time, so we decided to laugh too. We remembered stories about my Dad that were entertaining, to say the least, and even created a few new stories that made us chuckle in the midst of our days of sadness.

One of my favorite stories is from when my brother and I were discussing Dad's laptop computer, after his passing, before I returned to college. I wanted to take it with me, as there were at least 5 others at the house that Mom could use if she had need (Dad was an Electrical Engineer, and loved his computers!). Justin was strongly opposed to this idea, as Dad hated the thought of laptops at college. This was due to the fact that they were too easy for someone to pick up and walk away with. After several minutes of heated discussion, I got frustrated. Without thinking, I vented, "So who died and left you in charge!?!?!" Justin paused for a second with a look on his face that seemed to say, "Are you serious?" When he finally pushed words out of his mouth, he said, "Ummmm, Dad?" It wasn't till then that I realized what I had said. It was a moment of decision... we could laugh or cry. We laughed... really hard!

In September of that year, a good friend of mine from college just happened to be home in Califormia the same weekend that I flew home for my Dad's Boat Memorial. As a result, she joined us on the boat, and we flew back to Illinois together. On the plane ride home she was reading the tribute to his life from the service bulletin, and exclaimed enthusiastically: "You're Dad's like the smartest man alive!!!!" I laughed internally and responded wittingly, "Yes, except for one thing... the alive part!" She felt horrible, but my light-heartedness quickly disarmed her. We got a good laugh, and I'm sure Dad was smiling in Heaven.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Is My Body, Part I

My Dad was 59 when he passed away. For his 60th birthday we had a special family memorial to scatter his ashes to the sea. I flew back to California for the weekend and we took out a small boat into the Marina, where he used to frequent in his younger days. His body had been cremated, and his ashes were contained in a plastic bag in a wicker basket with rose petals placed over the top. Before we left the harbor, my Mom offered me the opportunity to touch/feel his remains. I was nervous, but knew I would regret it if I didn't. I moved the flower petals aside and dipped my fingers into the ashes. I rubbed them together between my fingers. It was a sensation I knew I'd never forget.

Several months later I was back at school. It was a Campus Wide Day of Prayer, and we had an All School Communion in the evening. For some reason that night I just felt that I had to go... like there was some sort of Divine appointment waiting for me. I've learned to follow these promtings.

That evening our Chaplin shared a brief message, and then called us forward to take the bread and the wine. Communion can be served in different ways, but this night there were people positioned around the chapel who held held full loaves of bread & chalises of grape juice. I went to one of them and broke off a small piece to dip in the juice. When I took the bread to my mouth, the grape juice dripped down my arm, and gave me a sensation of the blood of Christ. In the moments that followed, I rubbed my fingers together to remove the bread flour from my fingers. I was immediately taken back in time. The last time I felt this feeling, it was my Dad's body. This time it was what represents the Body of Christ. Communion has never been the same for me since.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Latter Glory

I returned home to California on July 7, 1999 after touring the Holy Land for 5 1/2 weeks with my college. I was 20 years old. My Mom picked me up from the airport by herself. This was unusual, especially after a trip of this magnitude. I hadn't seen my parents since Christmas time, and I knew they would be eager to reconnect. My Mom explained that my Dad was sick and was home resting. I figured he must have had more than a head cold to miss an airport pick-up, and as Mom spoke, I realized I was right. She described his condition, trying to make light of it, but concluded by saying cautiously, "I haven't really seen him this bad in 25 years of marriage." That caught my attention, and I remember thinking, "What if Dad dies?" but quickly brushed this thought off as an elementary school notion.

When we got home, Dad came downstairs to say hello. I could tell he was weak, and he looked incredibly pale. I encouraged him to go back upstairs, suggesting we speak the next day. I was shaken.

The next day I made him lunch, which he barely touch, and then he laid down on the living room floor. Later he took a bath to get ready for a doctors appointment originally scheduled for my Mom, but swapped out for him at the last minute. Whatever this was, it had overtaken him quickly.

My Dad called to me from the bathroom, asking me to get my Mom. When she came I stayed close-by, sensing something was wrong. I heard her say, "C.J. I need you to help me. I can't support your full weight by myself." A moment later she called for me to dial 911.

The ambulence was there in a matter of moments, and as they carried him out of the bathroom, they said, "We're trying to get him back." My Mom & I followed them to the hospital, singing, "It Is Well With My Soul" all the way. The paramedics were never able to revive my Dad. Instead, they invited us into his hospital room to say our last goodbyes. I remember laying my hand on his stomach with an amplified awareness that it was no longer moving up and down.

Ten days later we had my Dad's Memorial Service. It was a wonderful celebration of his life, and I watch the video every year, often on the anniversary of his passing. On that day, before we left for the service, I spent some time reading in the Biblical book of Haggai. I was reading through portions of the Old Testament after my trip to Israel. I was about to close my Bible when I was impressed to read it again. This is what I read:

Haggai 2

3'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? 4'But now take courage, Zerubbabel,' declares the LORD, 'take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,' declares the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,' declares the LORD of hosts. 5'As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' 6"For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 7'I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. 8'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts. 9'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts."

My heart was quickened on this 2nd read, and I could hardly believe I'd missed it the first time. Virtually everything in this passage applied to us! I received it as a promise from the Lord.

Later that week I shared this passage with my Mom, specifically emphasizing verse 9: "'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the Lord of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace.'" My Mom said, "Laurel, I need you to keep sharing this with me." So I wood-burned a plaque that she kept on the window sill in the kitchen. After several weeks she said, "I'm almost starting to get excited! What's the Lord going to do?!"


It was about 2 months later that Todd Riddell came back on the scene. We had known him growing up as one of Mom's childhood friends, but she assured us he was never an old boyfriend. He had retired from the military at age 40, and lived in Arizona. He heard what happened with my Dad via the mother's grapevine, and called to see if he could help. Being retired, he was free to travel the country at will, and began coming out for week-long trips to fix everything that had ever been broken in our house. Mom said if it ever made my brother and me uncomfortable, to let her know and he'd be gone in a moment. But she was so cautious that we never felt we had to be! He was, after all, an incredible help.

During this time I returned to college, with a healthy scholarship provided through a family friend's "coincidental" connection with a woman at my school who "owed him a favor." All was done properly and in good order, and it worked out as a major blessing for us. ("The gold is Mine and the silver is Mine," declares the Lord.)

One day, back in California, Mom and Todd were having lunch on one of his monthly visits. He said, "You know, you can talk to me about C.J. if you want too." She proceeded to ask him how he had felt years ago when she sent him a letter at his Korean military base letting him know she was getting married. Her marriage was, after all, a farily quick decision, and she wanted to know what he thought. He choked for a moment, which she didn't understand, and she pressed to hear his answer.

After moments of mental deliberation, Todd replied, "You broke my heart. I loved you and was planning on coming home to marry you." Now it was my Mom's turn to choke. She had no idea. Todd said that within 15 minutes of being back in her presence he knew he still wanted to marry her. Each month he conveniently left several jobs undone, so he would have a necessary reason to return. He hadn't intended on sharing this information so close after my Dad's passing, but Mom left him virtually no choice.


Years before my Dad passed away, now and again my folks discussed if they would remarry if something happened to either of them. Dad had always said no, as he didn't think he'd have the energy to date again. I don't recall ever hearing an answer from my Mom. As it turns out, she didn't really date, as she and Todd entered into what might be considered a courtship. They were married 2 years later on June 23, 2001.

Todd has been an unexpected blessing in our lives. I never expected to have a step-parent, as my parents marriage was strong, and divorce was never discussed. However, the Lord knew that in the future, I myself would become a step-mom, and would need a good example. Todd gave me a car when I graduated from college, moved me cross country twice, and paid in full for my wedding, just to give the short list of his incredible generosity towards me. On my wedding day I toasted him, in part by saying, "Todd has never tried to replace my Father, but he has always done everything for me that my Dad would have wanted to do if he had been here to do it." While I spoke, Kiera stood by my side holding my hand. If I can be half the step-parent to her that Todd has been to me, I will count myself a success.

What is the Latter Glory? I believe the fullness is yet to be revealed, but Todd and Kiera are most definitely a large part!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How We Met

I moved to Texas in 2006 to be a part of a youth ministry in Fort Worth. Right around the same time, Jason moved to Dallas to help with a church plant. At my going away party in California, the consistent message I heard from my girlfriends was, "Girl, go find yourself a man!" Happily, my man found me. :)

I was in Texas for almost a year when I had my first breakup. I had been dating a young man for about 2 months, when he decided we needed to "take a break" so he could focus on work for awhile. He planned on getting back together later, but I knew in my heart that would not be happening. Despite my sadness at the breakup, I knew it was the right thing, and I shouldn't allow the relationship to reformulate after time.

This same month, I visited a small group and asked a woman who was known for her prophetic gifting to pray for me regarding the whole situation. She prayed what might be considered an unusual prayer, but one that really resonated with my spirit as being inspired by the Holy Spirit. She prayed, "Lord, as Laurel's leaving here today, I pray that she'll see a sign, a literal street sign, that You would use to encourage her spirit and speak to her." My heart was filled with a strange expectancy as I drove home that evening.

As I pulled out of the cul de sac, the first sign I saw read: "Single?" I laughed out loud, thinking, "That most certainly is not the Lord!" As I drove home, I saw another sign that said, "Business," and still another sign that said, "Family." I felt encouraged that both of these things were a part of my future, and I was on the right track.

The next night I attended a prayer meeting where I saw the prophetic woman again. I shared with her what had happened as I left the cul de sac, laughing all the while. Her response surprised me, to say the least, and peaked my curiousity. She was thoughtful and reflective, and left me with the feeling that that first sign just might have been the Lord after all! I went home and pulled up the website, and made an appointment to go to their Fort Worth office and find out more.

Around the same time, on the other side of town, Jason heard the Lord speak to his heart, "Now's the time for you for the right relationship that I have for you." Jason hadn't really dated for several years, and worked in an environment with all men. Also, the church plant he was a part of was made up of all married people and one single mom of three, which wasn't really what he was looking for. That said, he somehow heard about the same singles group I did and signed up as well!

This singles group had two dimensions to it: 1) They planned events in the city for people to attend and hang out, which I loved! and 2) There was the online dimension where you could view profiles and send invitations to people you would be interested in meeting personally. Not gonna lie, that part was fun too. :)

Jason found my profile and sent me an invitation. I saw right off the bat that he had a daughter and had been divorced, so I almost deleted him immediately, but then I went on to read what he had written. I could tell there was spiritual depth to him like I hadn't really expected to find in this group, so I thought I'd be a fool if I didn't at least give him a chance. Apparently that was a good choice!

Jason called me the next weekend and invited me out to lunch after church. That was a 2-3 hour lunch with much potential. He called again the next day and invited me to go to a football game the following Thursday of one of the students from his church. That was refreshing, as normally I was the one inviting others to youth events! I almost didn't go, as it seemed like a lot for one week, and we already had plans for the following Saturday, but I did end up going. I didn't want to discourage his initiative, which I found very refreshing.

The next Saturday we attended a picnic being put on by his church, and he cooked for me for the first time! That was definitely a hook, but was only one piece of what ultiamtely pushed me over the edge. We also talked for several more hours, and he told stories of movies he'd seen and books he read. I immensely enjoyed his fascination with the intricacies of plot lines!

Then came the kicker... He walked me to my car at the end of the picnic and said, "Well, I guess it's time for the big question." To be honest, I had no idea what he was talking about. :) He followed up by asking, "So, do you maybe want to go inactive?" It was awesome! He of course was referring to taking our names out of the mix for other people to contact within the singles group and give our relationship a try. I had never been asked so creatively to be someone's girlfriend! I obviously thought it would be worth a try, and as the proverbial "they" say, "The rest is history!"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

To Honor My Husband

With all this talk about jobs, it brings me back to one of the key reasons we are going to be able to move to Missouri... Jason's new job!! I am very proud of him, and wanted to post this video that our friend Ty Walsworth, from "Marriage Fight Club," made for me for Jason.

Atlanta from Ashes

In all my enthusiasm about the jobs the Lord provided for me in California and Texas, I almost forgot that there is an equally cool story about my job in Atlanta.

I received a phone call just before Thanksgiving in 2002, which was my final year in Grad School. I was told that a mistake had been made and I could actually graduate in December instead of waiting until the Spring! This was great news on many levels, but did leave me feeling a little directionless at first. I went ahead and graduated and moved in with some friends from church. I got a job on campus and began praying more pointedly about the future. My Undergrad Degree was in Christian Education & Biblical Studies, and my Master's Degree was in Education Ministries. Despite this, I did not technically have a teaching degree or any formal teaching experience outside of the youth ministries I'd served for many years. I had been offered a job in Atlanta to teach at a small Christian School geared towards at-risk youth, but was cautioned against this by some, due to my lack of experience. I didn't know what to do, and was a bit torn up about it. I was struggling with a fairly serious bout of depression at the time, and found myself significantly paralyzed.

I began taking medication to help clear my head. Fortunately my body responded quickly and rays of hope seeped into my heart again. I went to the library and checked out the 7th edition of the Frommer's Travel Guide for Atlanta. On the first line of the first page it talked about the statue that is pictured above called, "Atlanta from Ashes." It is a woman holding a Phoenix, the bird that rises up out of it's own ashes, and is symbolic of Atlanta being rebuilt after the civil war. As I was reading about this statue the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "I want you to move to Atlanta. This is what I'm going to do in your life. I'm going to rise you up out of your own ashes." And that is exactly what happened!

When I got to Atlanta and started working, I realized that there was a tattoo parlor half way between my house and the school, so I passed it twice daily. I started asking myself what indelible image I might want permanently imbedded into my flesh, and what story it might represent that I never wanted to forget. I remembered "Atlanta from Ashes," and now have the continual reminder on the right side of the small of my back that God will give beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3) when we lay our ashes at His feet.

1 Destiny Way

When I moved to Texas I didn't have a job. I did, however, have some money in the bank, friends to stay with, and a lot of enthusiasm. I dove head first into youth ministry, and had a pretty full summer planned. At the end of the summer I had a trip scheduled to Austin to visit my cousin, and felt like the Lord said to not worry about looking for a job until I got back from there. This was a little nerve-racking for "she-who-likes-to-feel-responsible," but it was freeing at the same time.

During the summer months I prayed about what I was looking for in a job here, and once again came up with a list. This time I was praying for: 1) The opportunity to learn a new skill; 2) $30k annually; and 3) Full Benefits.

It was July when I first heard about Fidelity and what a great company it was to work for. I put a note in my calendar for the day after I'd be getting back from Austin to look into it. Before I left I met a girl name Nicole, who through small talk I found out actually worked there. As she told me about Fidelity, I realized it sounded like a great match for what I had been praying for. She said she thought they were having a job fair soon, and would look into it and call me back. Nicole called while I was in Austin and told me about the job fair taking place the Thursday after I was getting back. I showed up with 2 resumes in hand, interviewed, and was starting work one month later!

When I was given the offer, I was told the starting salary would be $28k. I was working in a different department than Nicole, and the base range was a little lower. That was ok with me, as I knew this job was from the Lord, but I still really felt the $30k amount was a prayer He has put on my heart to pray. I took it back to Him and just said, "Lord, I thought You had $30k for me. Is there something You can do about that?" I kid you not, the next day I got a call from the HR Department. I was told that all the phone associates were being given raises in the next couple of months and they wanted to start all the new hires at the new rate. So, effective my first day, my salary would be $30k instead of $28k. I'll take it, Lord! Thank You!

I spent my first 6 weeks in training, learning all about 401ks, and later transitioned to Pensions, learning again much more. Fidelity paid me to study for and take the Series 6 & 63 licensing exams, and I can most certainly say these have been new skills added to my repertoire! As we move to Missouri I am looking for positions in the banking industry, but am keeping my knees bent, as I never know what new surprises the Lord has up His sleeve!

My Move to Texas

It was Christmas 2005 that some very good friends of mine left Malibu to move to Texas. And when they did, I felt the Lord speak to my heart and say, "You will be together again." I had no idea how quickly that would be!

It was that same Christmas that I felt the Lord wooing me for the first time to a 40 day liquid fast. I had thought about the idea before, but to be honest, it scared me to death. This time, when the Lord brought it up, it was actually encouraging and exciting. He posed it to me this way: "Remember that 40 day fast we've talked about before? What do you think about now? You don't have to, but if you want to, I can speed some things up in your life for you." On the back of that word, I actually found myself eagerly anticipating going without solid food for 40 days! Crazy! :)

I started January 1, and on January 31st, Jil, my friend who had move to Texas (pictured above) called to let me know that they didn't have a Jr. High youth pastor there, and maybe I should consider coming. My heart immediately said yes, and I began considering the logistics. I was still the youth pastor at my current church, and did not want to leave without bringing proper closure for my students there. After a little time had passed, I told Jil I could come at the end of the summer.

A few months later, just before Easter, I was sitting in a Wednesday morning prayer meeting and heard the Lord speak and say, "Easter will be your last Sunday at this church." I didn't fully understand, since I had another youth event planned a couple weeks after Easter, and didn't want to back out on the kids. I figured the Lord knew, and time would tell. When I got to work that morning I had a message from Jil. She said, "You came up in staff meeting here yesterday. Jack [the senior pastor at her church] thinks your heart is great for wanting to stay with the kids through the summer, but he just thinks your move is going to happen faster than that. No pressure, but just thought I'd let you know." I called her back that day and shared with her what the Lord has spoken to my heart. Then, wouldn't you know it, the deadline came and went for the youth event, and for the first time ever, no kids signed up!! I started preparing for my move to Texas.

As I prayed about my departure date, June 15th is what came to mind. About 2 1/2 weeks prior to this date, I got in an accident with a semi-truck that crushed in the right side of my car. I had the car in the shop getting repaired while I took a week long preparatory trip to Texas to "look for a job." In retrospect, I think the real reason I was there was to be present for the launching of the Jr. High ministry, although I hadn't even heard it was going to be that week! When I flew back to L.A., the plan was to pack up and leave the following Thursday, three days after I'd come home. The trouble was, when my step-dad picked up my car and drove it home from the shop, it was making strange noises. He informed me that I would not be able to drive it cross country until I had it looked at and further repaired.

So Tuesday we took the car to the shop again and had it diagnosed. There was a problem with the stick shift. Normally for that car it could have taken up to 2 weeks for the part to be ordered, but "coincidentally" my step-dad had the part in his office! He owned 2 of the same car, and gave me this one for graduation from college. He was always prepared for work that might come up on his own car, and he graciously shard his supplies with me. Once again we were on track for a Thursday departure! I made it to Texas by Saturday, and didn't miss even one Sunday of the Jr. High ministry that I had moved there to serve!

Were all of these things coincidences? I for one would be hard pressed to believe it. I think it takes much less faith to believe that the Lord is living and active, speaking to the hearts, and working through the lives of His people.