Speechless

 Don’t ever put it past God! Tonight I witnessed the unbelievable. He is working on a canvas beyond my wildest imagine. Tonight the Lord paid for a flight. Tonight He provided the way to go raise money for widows and orphans in New York City.

I’m shocked to even say that just two weeks ago at a Chi O Christmas party was where this journey began. My sweet momma was talking with another fellow LRCA mom, Melody Taylor. Melody shared a prayer request with my mom. Go Near Ministry, a non-profit organization she and her husband started to serve widows and orphans, greatest need was for someone to do marketing and Public Relations for them. My mom jumped to tell her I’m studying Public Relations at Baylor and could possibly help.

The next conversation radically impacted the trajectory of my Christmas break and beyond. I felt the presence of Jesus’ excitement as Melody and I collaborated over this opportunity. My heart was captivated as Melody shared the ministry of caring for widows and orphans in Nairobi, Kenya. A tad overwhelmed at first, I left my hands open to see what God had in store.

Filled with unexplainable joy and enthusiasm that could only come from the Lord, I walked away pumped for the next phase. Ooh I got that “eeeek!” feeling in my stomach I was so excited!

It was this beautiful experience I had been begging God for- an answer to prayer. Crying out saying: “Lord please show me how to combine these passions? Show me where you want me to walk!” The idea of using writing, PR, and creativity created a thrilling passion that I’ve never experienced before!

Following Christmas, Melody Taylor and I met at her sweet home as I listened to her describe her beautiful passion for the people of Africa and the compassionate ones  involved with Go Near Ministry. She and her husband Lewis established Go Near Ministry as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2005 to respond to God’s call to care for widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). Their passion led to transporting the family of six across the globe to Niarobi, Kenya to serve in 2007. Even after returning to the states, Melody continues to vibrantly engage people in participating in sharing the Gospel to widows and orphans in Africa. Today the ministry has expanded to a supportive role of raising funds for, and bringing volunteers to help with, the expansion of schools, churches, feeding programs and vocational training programs for men and women in the slums and prisons.

After being educated on the ministry I began rapidly working on a new website to clearly communicate their vision staying up till (mom don’t read this part) 3 a.m. a couple nights in a row to wake up for work at 8 a.m, but I just couldn’t stop. I was hooked- addicted to helping in any way I could.

Go Near Ministry

Allowing my creativity to run wild, I presented the design to Melody and the Go Near Ministries board of directors, who loved it.  With their approval, Melody sent me onto my next opportunity to meet with VP of James127 Foundation, Hannah King.

j127 intern

As I walked into the new Starbucks on Chenal Parkway, I met the joyful and passionate Hannah King, who began to explain James127 Foundation to me. James127 Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that brings hope to widows and orphans by providing free sewing and jewelry training to vulnerable women in Kenya. Instantly we were spring boarding ideas off each other-allowing dreams to flourish. Then she offered me the opportunity to be the first-ever James127 Foundation intern!

After hearing about James127 Foundation, I learned more about what Anna Taylor is currently doing. Wow! The Lord has created such a passion and infused Anna Taylor with amazing talents! Anna (Melody Taylor’s daughter) and her siblings left Little Rock Christian Academy when I was in middle school there to serve widows and orphans as a family in Niarobi, Kenya. I remember hearing their story, but did not really know the Taylor family. Wow I was missing out!

Immersed in the African culture, Anna’s heart for the Kenyan people trapped in poverty expanded. Anna returned to Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas (WPS!.. if you’re from Arkansas you’ll understand) to study apparel design, but on a trip back to Kenya, the Lord presented an idea for Anna to revive a sewing school project that had failed due to lack of market. Anna seized the opportunity to combine her passions for design and empowering the women. With a goal in mind she returned back to Arkansas to finish her degree.

anna-taylor

Anna interned under two other African clothing lines before opening her own, Judith & James, a high-end fashion line produced for a sophisticated audience dedicated to alleviating poverty and infusing hope in third world communities.

judith

The name of the company comes from Anna’s first seamstress and graduate of the sewing program, Judith.

“When I met Judith she was dirty and her clothes were torn. She would not lift her eyes off the ground to even look at me,” Taylor said. “She had no hope, no job, no money.”

Now infused with purpose, Judith’s eyes radiate confidence as the new supervisor of the expanding Judith & James team. Seeing the difference employment made in Judith’s life is the pulse behind Anna’s work.

In September 2013, Anna debuted the Judith & James Spring/Summer 2014 Collection in New York Fashion Week at the Helen Mills Event Space and is gearing up for her second appearance in February to showcase her 2014 fall collection.

anna-taylor-shirt

That’s when Melody Taylor told me I needed to go to NY Fashion Week to promote James127 Foundation. I was floored, excited, but had no idea financially how that would happen. If you’ve read my previous blog posts you know Mary Catherine (my sister) and I are both at Baylor on scholarship and with the assistance of extended family members. Looking at the flight, hotel, etc… it just didn’t seem impossible. And so I began to pray:

Lord what an opportunity. I just want to serve. I just want to be used to help give these women employment to feed their families.”

Tonight, the Lord paid for my flight.

Tonight, the Lord gave me a free place to stay in New York!

Tonight, the Lord provided the way for me to go!

Speechless.

Shocked, my mom and I both just froze in awe of the grace extended to us by one of Melody’s friends who donated their frequent flier miles and another friend of Melody’s who is allowing me to stay with them at the hotel.

I am speechless!

LOOK HOW BIG I AM! LOOK AND SEE HOW POWERFUL I AM LB! LOOK AT HOW I AM IN CONTROL AND LOVE YOU!” I hear God shouting!

I am overwhelmed, grateful, thankful, ecstatic, and blown away by the power of the Lord! I’ve watched Him answer prayers like this and then not answer others. But I trust and rest knowing He knows best. He knows and can see the full picture. He has the PERFECT timing, the PERFECT plan, and it’s all for His glory! I believe He cares about those widows and orphans. He cares and wants to see them cared for, empowered, and more than that to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior! Will you please join me in supporting the mission the Lord is carrying out through James127?

J127

www.J127foundation.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/James127Foundation

Twitter: @J127Foundation

Instagram:  @J127Foundation

To learn more about Judith & James, Anna Taylor, James127 Foundation, and more check out the links below to KATV-7 3 part series on “The Spirit of Arkansas- Africa”

Part 1: Young Arkansan brings hope to widows in Africa

Part 2- The gift that saves lives

Part 3- Arkansans teach love to orphans

Posting His Faithfulness

Never thought I would say this, but I just had a worship service praising Jesus over Facebook.. and I’ll explain.

If you read Amidst the Fiery Test of Failure then you know I was freaking out about trying to pay for Baylor next spring. Last night, I received an email from the the Department chair of Journalism letting me know I am the recipient of a gift of Frank E. Burkhalter Memorial Scholarship. Since 1978 family and friends in memory of Mr. Frank E. Burkhalte have remained committed to assisting Journalism students, like me, in pursuing their education at Baylor. If you happen to see this Burkhalte family and friends, thank you for the opportunity to return to Baylor in the spring and continue my education!!

After posting the exciting news on Facebook, it was literally insane to watch the notification box pop up with “(Insert name) liked, ‘Wow! The Lord is so faithful!’” Repeatedly,I just sat and watched the screen constantly flashing the message “Wow! The Lord is so faithful!” Tears began to stream as I sat at my computer praising the Lord! Every time the notification would appear I would praise and thank the Lord. Not only that, but how Facebook can be used as such a great tool to proclaim what the Lord has done and is doing! It’s an incredible way to reach and tell thousands of people about the Lord in a couple of seconds. To Him be the Glory!

Maybe your the same way, but it’s extremely encouraging when others post about what the Lord is doing in their life. It’s the 21st century version of connecting the body like in the Acts 2 church. Can you just picture Paul or Barnabas with a Facebook…They would constantly be posting and proclaiming the name of Jesus on there. So my encouragement is to use Facebook as a tool to shout and proclaim what He has done in your life and around you!

Amidst the Fiery Test of Failure

The wrenching pain tears away like someone just kicked my whole tower of Legos down. Defeated. Bawling as tears not streaming, but rushing down creating puddles on my desk. Where the “light at the end of the tunnel?” Where’s the “new horizon up ahead?” When’s the “new chapter” going to begin?

If you read the Room 349 post, you know that my sister, Mary Catherine, and I were not financially able to come back to Baylor until the Lord provided a week before school started. And praise be to Him for working a miracle! He didn’t have to do that. He would still be God, still be perfect and Lord of the Universe whether we were in Arkansas or Waco. All that to say, today we went to discuss next spring with a Financial Aid counselor at Baylor. As it turns out there is a sum of money we thought might be taken care of, but we now are not sure where that will be. The personable counselor gave us great resources to work with, but now becomes the time of applying, being proactive, but also waiting.

As we drove home I just let it out. With the semester winding down I’ve been tempted to wipe this semester from my memory. I have never felt more hopeless. I have felt abandoned, lonely, and forgotten. With that said, the Lord heard my cry and gracious sent an abundance of support and love through friends here at Baylor. They have gone above and beyond from making me lunch, drawing me a bath, taking care of my laundry, bringing me dinner, and more.

Yet in the midst of their giving the devil was whispering, “Be reminded of how hopeless you are. You’re almost 21 and you can’t take care of yourself? That’s pitiful. You’re like a 2-year-old. Grow up. They can see you’re hopeless, spinning out of control. Let this remind you you’re a failure and can’t accomplish anything!

In the midst of the stress instead of clinging to Scripture I left it on my bedside table, buried my head, pulled myself up by my boot straps and kept truckin’.

I worked. I tried hard and when hard wasn’t good enough I pushed harder. I began to loose steam quickly. With my defenses down, relying on myself I became an easy target for Satan.

Really LB you spread the gospel, ministered to families, watched him miraculously bring you to Baylor and now look at you. Failure. You don’t really love Jesus. If you did you would be in His Word, but you don’t have time for that look at your awful grades. Just go bury yourself in the library.

Clearly I was not listening to the Lord, but instead to the Father of Lies. He’s not very innovative. Think back to Genesis 3:1 when he was trying to tempt Eve in the garden. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’” I felt like such a Peter denying the Lord after having walked with him and seen Him at work. I was a coward. A failure.

It got to the point where I not only heard the lie, but believed it. With believing, it only spun faster like a tetherball. The harder and more frequently you hit, the faster it spins until it eventually chokes the pole. (#PineCoveStafferProbz when you use camp games as similes…in a blog post #ThisIsPineCove) While before I might have been embarrassed to say it out loud, I didn’t hold back in flat out calling myself a failure, out loud. At first MC gently said, “no your not” but I didn’t believe her. I had already bought into the lie.

James 1:14-15

“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

I had allowed the evil desire to grow and give birth to sin, which was leading to mental death and depression. With time and my increased vocalization of failure, MC’s demeanor changed from gently into belatedly calling out the lie. How did I really get to this point?

In October I had wanted to go to a leadership conference in Washington D.C. While I wanted to go, I looked at the price tag and decided to not even apply. The Lord had different plans by using Baylor to help provide the way for me to go. Even boarding the plane with Jean (which was more like rushing to get on because we almost missed it) the Lord bestowed a gift to me, the chance of escape. No it wasn’t technically a Christian conference, but the Lord is used this trip to remind me how Big He is. I had been in my tiny little world too long with my sob story and forgotten truly how beautiful life is. I met other college students from Seattle. BYU, the Naval Academy, Pepperdine, Kansas, Columbia, and more, each with their own unique experiences, passions, dreams, and views. I was reminded of how creative the Lord is in designing us. How in Psalm 139 He says, “knit us together in our mother’s womb…that we are fearfully and wonderfully made because His works are wonderful!” So many different and unique combinations each with a unique purpose.

There’s something about walking around D.C. that unleashes your freedom to dream for a better tomorrow. I’ve always been a dreamer, but this semester had felt chained to the harsh realities of life’s demands. It sparked hope within me for sunnier days while enduring the bitter gray skies. But that’s the beauty of perspective. Some people like my friend from Seattle enjoys gray skies, while others find it gloomy and depressing. That kind of perspective I think is what James is getting at in James 1 when he says to “consider it all joy” as in remaining optimistic despite hardships. See the glass half-full instead of half-empty. Not put on a happy face and fake it till you make it, but instead to count it a blessing. Say what? Yep count the hard times, the screw ups, the failures as opportunity for growth. Most are afraid of failing due to the embarrassing repercussions that follow, but it is those who prize the diamonds of wisdom and learning that consider the fiery test of failure “all joy.”

It’s all in perspective. He will give and He will take away, but He remains the same. His love, devotion, power over all is unchanging!

Psalm 73:25-26

25″Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

What a novel concept to accept that “my flesh and my heart may fail.” We are human! For too long I believed I the lie that I was invincible, capable of achieving anything and everything; if I worked at it with every ounce of my being. Even in trying to give “110%” to everyone and everything I failed. Yep I fail.

(Insert ding ding ding game show bell here) THAT’s THE POINT!

Oh how it turns me to praise Him when I reminded how limited I am and how great and perfect He is! I believe we are taken through these trials so that we in our “it’s all about me” world decreases so His glory and greatness is magnified. After all the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways.” So amid the fiery tests of failures, heartaches, and brokenness “consider it” a joy, an opportunity of growth, a learning experience. Let it “run it’s full course” (James 1:4) to enhance your awe of God.

Abide

Maybe you’re like me and want that regular early morning routine: wake up, run, shower, coffee, Jesus Time, breakfast. Really I wish every morning was this was because it sets me in a good rhythm to start the day. Last week I was still trying (and have been for the past 3 weeks) to implement this routine. If I snoozed in (which last week was every morning except Friday..) I would spend the rest of my day beating myself up over it.

One of my best friends, Allie Hess, put it best yesterday, “It’s about worshiping Him throughout the little moments, like us walking to class together and talking about what He’s doing in our lives.”

She is SO right! I get caught up too often with reserving Jesus for just my morning quiet time. I will spend precious time with him and then so easily set him aside, as I place my Bible and journal onto my nightstand and leave for the day. It’s the busyness trap that quickly entangles me and like the thorns in the garden will choke the life out of me. But Jesus said:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

1. “Abide in me”- Abide is not a word I frequently use, but I picture snuggling up in a warm blanket on the couch and resting inside its security and comfort. You remain wrapped inside the soft fabric as long as you can. Now hang with me (because I am notorious for picking the most random analogies) because when you spend time abiding in Christ it’s so good you want to stay in it the entire day. Wrap yourself in His protection. Wrap yourself in His majesty. Rest in His forgiveness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Chris Boggus, the college pastor at First Baptist Woodway, says, “We read the Word and spend time with Jesus just to merely reap the benefits he has.” We love Jesus to get more of Jesus. My ambition should not be to get more people to think I’m a good person, but to simply want more of Jesus. That’s it.

2. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5

The key is “apart from me you can do nothing.” Last week I was so frustrated, emotional, angry at times all because I was depending on myself to figure everything out. If you read the Room 329 blog post you know there’s been several drastic changes in my life over the past month. Everyone kept saying, “you just need time to process and heal.” So I tried to figure it out. On my own. By myself. And I couldn’t. Instead I fell into this inward focused mindset with my attention focused on myself.  But, I deserved to be selfish and figure this stuff out right? Writing it down now it seems so clear, but before I just felt lost. I felt like I couldn’t figure anything out. I couldn’t adjust. I could do nothing.

“EXACTLY LB!” I could hear the Lord shouting. “Laura Beth, like an Israelite you are so quick to forget my promises and what I have done. You can do nothing apart from me remember?”

So how were my quiet times that week.. well honestly they didn’t happen. I was so inwardly focused that I wasn’t filling my mind with the Truth of Scripture. The Lord through Joshua said it best, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 Day and night without ceasing I should be meditating on the precious written Word of the Lord while driving, walking to class, etc.

It was literally like I had a V8 moment (if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

In summary: If I’m not consistently abiding in Christ, I can do nothing! So please hold me accountable and ask me, “LB, are you abiding in Christ? What have you been learning?”

Room 329

Great adventure awaited me this summer as I embarked on the position as director of the Wild Kids program (5 to 6-year-old kids) at Pine Cove’s Bluffs family camp. The third weekend of camp my parents told my sister, Mary Catherine, and I they were coming to visit. After the closing ceremony of week 3 we headed to the Marriott Hotel in Tyler, TX.

Door

Exhausted we both took a good 3 hour nap, but when we woke up my dad was sitting in the maroon hotel desk chair bent over with his hands in a clasp. Looking at the floor he said, “Girls there is something your mother and I need to tell you.” After a long pause, I noticed my dad’s eyes were fixated on the patterned carpet to assist in pulling his composure together.

“Girls, 2 things…1 we are selling the house and moving to an apartment.”  Okay so we lived in a very large and nice house. Previously I had made comments that it didn’t make sense for 4 small people to live in such a huge house, but after all this was my mom’s Barbie Dream House. The one she spent months it seemed like trying to choose between one shade of tan and another only to combine the 2 colors and make her own. The Cinderella staircase she implemented so her girls could walk down and greet their dates to formals and proms. But, after all it’s only wood, walls, and furniture. Home is the place you gather with the people you love.

The second one hit closer to home. “There’s not enough money to send you girls back to Baylor in the fall.” My eyes were in freeze frame for a few seconds as my brain tried to keep up with what I just had heard. Then it was like someone had snapped their fingers as a calm and confident, “okay” spit out of my mouth. Why did I suddenly feel so at peace and calm about leaving my favorite place, my home, my friends, my future?

With heart and mind in sync (which doesn’t happen often for me) my mind flooded with ideas for all that I could do in Little Rock. Of course I switched into planner mode. The Notes app on my iPhone was opened with a new note entitled “Little Rock.” I began to list ideas of where I felt the Lord calling me. My sister and I both looked at each other in shock that we were excited to go to Little Rock. In the spring I had been struggling to figure out my major and career path. By going to community college this would buy me time to figure this thing called life out right? I began to see why the Lord had asked me to not tryout for Baylor Spirit Squads again in the spring. He was already preparing me for this step before I ever knew.

Joy and excitement overwhelmed me as I saw the Lord answering some of my biggest prayers in room 329.  My dad was broken over what was going on. He was humbled and receptive. I watched him praise my for coming alongside him in this decision. My mom blew me away as she spoke of the house only being a material thing that we can’t take with us to heaven anyway. It was amazing to see her humility and selfless attitude. Even looking at how the Lord orchestrated for the Wild Kid’s Bible Study to be on the topic of Jesus being our treasure.

“For where you’re treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.  

Now the Lord was calling me to treasure Him above my wants, my desires to be at Baylor, and my plans. Resting and knowing that He is all that I need. No other object, achievement, or dream home can begin to satisfy my heart like Jesus can. We left and headed into week 4 of camp. Overtime reality set in: no more homecomings, giving tours of Baylor, Chi Omega sisterhood,  football games, but most importantly I had no idea when or if I would be able to see my friends.

I began reading through Genesis and came to the Tower of Babel in chapter 11. The Lord quickly revealed to me that I had wasted so much time building my Tower of Babel  at Baylor. I often would make lists of all that I wanted to accomplish and achieve while I was at Baylor. What would my “Baylor Legacy” look like? How could I do it all in 4 years?

Genesis 11: 4 says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”

The Lord was basically saying, “Laura Beth look you spent so much time trying to build up your own kingdom for your glory and your fame, but look I have now torn it down until it has all passed away. You have no more tower, no more Baylor because I desire for you to not waste your time on that kingdom that will rot and fade away, but be building my Kingdom which will last forever. Be focused on telling others about me more than you are on your plans and agenda. Just like you teach those little kids the only 2 things that will last are God’s Word and the souls of men. So now embark on building my kingdom.”

Building by Francois Sylvain

Building by Francois Sylvain

With that I had a purpose, a calling, and a passion to carry out His will. There I was at camp hadn’t told my close friends yet and knew I would be leaving at the end of summer heading back to Little Rock for the fall. One of the first questions parents ask at family camp is, “where do you go to school?” It took me a couple of weeks to get my script answer down, “well I use to go to Baylor..” and would continue by telling them what the Lord was currently doing in my life. Each time I had an opportunity to talk with people about it an indescribable joy and energy would surge through me. I would honestly tell them: “I have no idea how this fall is going to look.” Some looked at me while I was crazy. Others were incredibly encouraged. I just loved being a mouth piece for the Lord proclaiming what He was doing. When we sang worship songs about surrendering it all to Him, I meant it with every molecule of my being. 

Throughout the summer my sister talked with Financial Aid trying to work something out. We planned to stay in Little Rock, sign up to take classes at UALR, and possibly return back to Baylor in the spring, but we had no idea. I was quickly informed I would also need to find a job, which was hard to do with only 24 hours off on the weekend to use Internet and my iPhone. I quickly shoot a Facebook message to my girl’s youth minister, Melissa Spooner, asking if I could help out in the youth group now that I would be back in Little Rock. I almost fell out of my chair at Panera when I read her response: Facebook message Not only was it a job, it was the perfect job for me! I would get to pour into and disciple young girls for Christ as my job! If that’s not freakin’ awesome, I don’t know what is. Earlier I wanted to be caught up in all the things I needed to take care of the Lord was already lining it all up. Again the Lord was showing me, “Look I am your provider!”

PROVISION 2: After letting my roommates know the situation I asked if they could help me find a girl to take my spot in the house for just the fall semester. One of my best friends, Ali Mosser, needed a place to live after deciding not to study abroad in the spring. We had decided to share my room in the spring. My prayer was to find a girl just for the fall so Ali wouldn’t get kicked out. Literally the NEXT week Abbey Thiel calls me saying she found a girl to live there for the fall! Again the Lord saying, “See just wait on me, and I will take care of it all.”

The TEST

Week 6 I shared my story with a sweet mom from Waco at the front gate who wanted me to talk with her husband about it. At the dinner table Mr. Wallace said, “I’d like to talk with you about your situation.”  “Great, okay!” I replied in my cheerful camp counselor voice. On the inside I was nervous. His wife, Mrs. Wallace, had mentioned that her husband worked in the Endowment Office at Baylor University.

Snapshot into my thoughts at the time:

-What’s going on?

-I though the Lord was taking us to Little Rock?

-Could there be another way?

-Did I need to turn down an offer to come back to be obedient to the Lord’s calling?

I felt so excited and filled with joy by the Lord to go to Little Rock, so why was I so confused? There was a constant battle raging in my heart and mind to know what to do and how to respond. On Friday Mr. Wallace met with me to discuss my situation. He opened by explaining that throughout the week he had been reminded of Oswald Chambers book My Utmost for His Highest. In the devotional book one talks about being an amateur providence, meaning if someone is in a difficult time we quickly step into help without asking the Lord what He wants. We have good intentions, but maybe the Lord wants them to go through that trial to draw nearer to Him.

After Mr. Wallace opens the meeting with that explanation, I break down and tears are streaming down my face at the Carabeaner Cafe. As gracious and polite as I could be I thanked Mr. Wallace for his compassion in trying to help us get back to Baylor, but that I needed to be obedient to the Lord and walk into Little Rock. I could not deny that the Lord had placed a new fiery passion in my heart to go back and minister in Little Rock, but most importantly for our family to walk through this together. Had I just turned down my opportunity to go back to Baylor? Why did I do that? These thoughts were swarming around my head constantly.

A whole new perspective came with the story of Abraham and Isaac, which came up frequently. In Genesis 22 the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, his heir, his legacy, and the one he had been waiting on. We read the story now in hindsight and know that the Lord provides a ram in the thicket for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac. For the first time I could relate to Abraham on a whole new level. Baylor had been and was my Isaac, my future, my home, my comfort, my joy, and much more. The Lord was asking us to sacrifice it all because He said to. As Abraham journeyed to Mount Moriah and up to the top what was he thinking? Wow I am really about to sacrifice my one and only son. I know it hit me hard when I realized all that the Lord was taking away and asking us to sacrifice.

Camp ended at the begging of August as Mary Catherine and I drove to Waco to pack up my Mazda Tribute with as much of my storage unit stuff I could. Eyes puffy from crying, emotionally exhausted from saying good bye, we clasp hands over the stick shift and began the 7 hour drive home to Little Rock where we would be for the fall.  2 hours after we arrived in Little Rock our phone rang. It was Jerry from Baylor Financial Aid informing Mary Catherine and I that Baylor offered each of us a large gift. Is this the ram caught in the thicket? Tuesday morning I opened up an excel spreadsheet as we began to crunch the numbers for tuition, gas, groceries, rent, etc for the next four months. In disbelief we both looked at each other like WHAT THE HECK?!! Even our uncle who’s an accountant looked it over and helped us create monthly budgets. It was possible for us to go back to Baylor! We re-registered for classes, paid our bill, and began repacking everything to leave on Saturday.

Within less than a week of classes starting the Lord provided. Our Jehovah-Jireh, the one who provides! Abraham had his hand raised to sacrifice Isaac when the angel of the Lord said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  (Gen 22:10-14)

Wow and here we are as I type this post in our living room, at Baylor, in Texas… I’m sorry WHAT?! The Lord continually shows us his faithfulness. It’s been especially beautiful and humbling to experience the power of the body of Christ coming together to serve and aid each other. Mary Catherine and I both have been beyond blessed by family and friends, which the Lord has used to make this opportunity available.

LONG story Short: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

PLEASE do not DOUBT what the Lord, God Almighty can do in and through you if you’ll surrender your life to Him. He is everything! He is all that will last!  “If any of you lacks wisdom let Him ask God who gives it generously, without criticizing. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For a doubter is like a surging sea driven and tossed by the wind, that man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7)

He is Faithful! May all the Praise and Glory be to Him for what He has done in my life and in Mary Catherine’s lives. We are just open vessels for Him to use. My prayer is that by reading this story your view of God has been expanded. If you have any questions or comments please email me at: Laura_B_Moore@baylor.edu First Day of Class walking under God's Provision! Link to Anmature Providence Devotional: http://utmost.org/learning-about-his-ways/

Broken to share a story

Written March 2011

As my neighbor Regan Daniel says the story begins when I was 5 years old. I was in Dr. John (my orthodontist and neighbor) and Mrs. Amy Daniel’s Sunday school class. At the end of Dr. John telling the bible story he asked us if we had any questions. Mrs. Amy says that this small girl waved her hand high and proud. Then she stood up put both hands on her hips and rocked from side to side saying in a high loud voice, “when I grow up I’m going to be a Baylor cheerleader.” Dr. John said “ok you do that then.” Little did I know that several years later I would be neighbors with the sweet Daniel family?

Fast forward to the days of Spirt Kid I did spirit kids and fell in love with the Varsity cheerleaders. Then I started cheering for the first time in seventh grade. Sweet Kali Sparks’ big smile and loving spirit grabbed my attention. I knew that I wanted to be LRCA Varsity cheer captain one day. Then to watch the amazing friendships that sprung from LRCA cheer. My second mothers Mrs. Tracie Allred and Mrs. Diana Smith have been my cheer mom’s motivating me to always push myself to reach my full potential.

Then came senior year as cheer captain it was a blast. I knew I needed to start preparing for Baylor cheer tryouts. It just so happened that I was going to need to come up with $30 a month beginning in January of this year to pay for a 30 minutes stunting and tumbling lesson every week. I needed a back tuck for Baylor cheer and was determined to get it! I didn’t know how I was going to come up with $30 every week. I prayed so hard and just told God “ok if you want it to happen you will provide.” A sweet family the Richard’s had just moved into Little Rock and needed a sitter. I began babysitting for them weekly and each Sunday night they would pay me exactly $30. I’ll never forget the times I was dumping out my “change box” and rolling every penny, dime, nickel, and quarter I could find to make $30. Each time I went to the gym I was dedicated and determined to getting my back tuck. I had 4 months to get this. I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

As I tumbled my ankle started flaring up again because I had sprained it last year coming down from a stunt. People were telling me I shouldn’t be tumbling to protect my ankle, but I couldn’t stop I was determined to get my tuck.

On Sunday April 3rd my coach Blake told me ok it’s time do it on your own. Normally I would be freaking out and like I don’t know if I can do this, but this was different. I had been waiting for so long to do my back tuck and today was the day! Half of me was scared out of my mind of doing it, but I knew that with the power of the Lord we could do anything. I just prayed and asked that God would just hold my hand and tumble with me. As I ran I did my tuck landed it and shoot up like a rocket with a scream of Joy and excitement. Then I was hooked J I started doing my running tuck over and over.

Tuesday April 5th was the same day my sweet friend Helen surrendered her life to Christ!! Also Tuesday after school I went to go tumble. As we drove up I realized I had forgotten to grab my shoes. So already it was starting out not so great. I just tumbled bare foot. It felt so weird. I started going for my tuck and did two or three. Then I went for the fourth one and something was weird about my take off for the tuck. I didn’t quite rotate all the way around. I opened my eyes and saw the ground in front of my face. I stuck out my hands to keep my neck from breaking. When I did all my weight when onto my left hand. Pain was shooting through my hand and I knew something was wrong. I told my coach and I could still move my fingers but my thumb hurt like crazy. He wrapped it up and I kept tumbling, but every time I put my hands down it hurt so bad. I left the gym disappointed. We iced it when I got home, but then it started swelling up.

The next day I got our school trainer to look at it and he said it was just bruised. I thought ok this is great because I’ve got to get back to tumbling. Well then we went to the doctor who looked at the x-ray and said “ya it’s definitely broken.” After she said those words I was just overwhelmed with Joy and a reassurance that God was in control. The nurse walked in and said “awh are you so bummed that it’s broken.” The light bulb clicked on in my head. I responded by talking about how it comes at bad timing because I was in the middle of trying out for Baylor cheer, but that I am confident that God has a plan for my life and just wants to use me somewhere else. She paused for a second with a kinda of confused look on her face as I smiled. It probably wasn’t the answer she was expecting.

After the appointment I headed to youth group to sing and began telling everyone about the news. Seriously it became good news to share with everyone. Not bad news, but good. Good because I serve a good and faithful God who is in control. He often changes my plans, but they always turn out better than I ever could have planned them to be. My purple hand became the perfect opportunity to share with people about the beautiful Lord that I serve. That hand is not mine. It is only there because the God of the universe fashioned it that exact way. He molded me and made me. I am His! He can use me however He would like. We sang my favorite song called Restoration. One of the verses says “You take my mourning and turn it into dancing. You take my weeping and turn it into laughing. You take my sadness and turn it into Joy.” I just lifted my hand to the Lord as I sang, because it was living proof of this. I knew I was seriously sad in my heart because my chances of becoming a Baylor cheerleader were gone, but I was so overwhelmed with joy and laughter from the Lord that I didn’t mourn. I didn’t have time to cry or mourn because I was too busy sharing about the good news with everyone. I sat down in my seat took a pen and tattooed “You take my sadness and turn it into Joy” on my hand. Looking down right now two weeks later it’s still there!

Thursday I went to the orthopedic hand surgeon to look at my hand. He told me I broke my metacarpal bone, but that I would not have surgery basically that I would wear a splint for 2 to 3 weeks. Then as I asked him about cheer he said “yes no cheering or tumbling for 10 weeks. We’re talking mid way into June.” My heart sank, but as I looked at my mom who was sad for me the Holy Spirit reminded me “hey God just wants to use you in big ways somewhere else.” That became my motto to everyone I spoke to. I then called the Baylor cheer coach to inform her about what had happened. She said she was so sorry to hear that. I did mention that I have video of me tumbling and stunting and that I had been at the February clinic and stunted with the Baylor guys. She said she would sleep on it and call me back.

Friday I was waiting all day to get the call to know if I could still tryout or not. But, obviously everyone I mean everyone that saw me noticed I had a big cast looking thing on my hand. I was filled with excitement each time they asked me “what happened?” I smiled big and in my head I was saying “oh boy let me tell you about what God has been doing.” And I would tell them the whole story and how I know that God just wants to use me somewhere else and how excited I am to see where that is. Again just like the nurse there would be a pause and then kind of a confused look. I was a walking talking testimony of the Lord’s unfailing love. See when I surrendered my life to Christ I gave Him complete control. My life is only His to use to bring glory to Himself!

I still hadn’t heard from the coach so I decided to stay in Little Rock which was totally God’s plan. See revival had broken out that week in Little Rock. Every night of the week people were worshiping, singing, praying for one another, reading scripture open mic, walking up to the front and saying I want to give my life to Christ and I need to know how, and getting baptized. It was amazing!! It felt like Little Rock was on fire!

Friday night at 8pm when most teenagers are out having fun at the movies whatever 80 of us students gathered to pray outside. With our faces on the ground in humble adoration of our King we prayed that the Holy Spirit would continue to be so present and felt. Chris Tuttle asked “hey does anyone want to share what God has done in their life this week.” I raised up my little “casty” and said “I’ve got a story.” I sat down in front of 80 students most of whom I didn’t know and shared the whole story. Tears of pure joy streamed down my face as I said “and even though Baylor cheer is gone. I am thrilled…thrilled to see what God has in store for me.” I continued to constantly share with people about what God was doing and how sovereign He is. So many students and adults that night were encouraged by my story. If I hadn’t broken my thumb and the cheer coach hadn’t waited to call me then I wouldn’t have been in Little Rock to share with those 80 students at all. It’s pretty crazy how God works J

 

Monday I get a call from the Baylor cheer coach who says “ya I talked to the girls at the clinic this weekend and they remembered you. Hey if you will send me video of you stunting, tumbling, and performing before Friday we’re going to make an exception and still let you tryout!” I was in complete shock when I heard her say this. I had thought all weekend that the door was shut, but God was just opening it back up. I loved the way my Journalism teacher Mrs. Hendren put it. “Ya know it’s like the story of Abraham and Isaac. God asked Abraham to sacrifice literally kill his one and only son just because God told him to. I mean Isaac was the son that Abraham had waited 26 years for! Baylor cheer was my Isaac and God was asking me if I would put Baylor cheer (what I want) over what God wants. Even before the accident I had been preparing myself mentally and emotionally: if I don’t make it then God wants to use me somewhere else and if I do then that’s where He wants me to be. And so the minute I heard that it was broken I knew that God was saying let me have it I’m taking control. And in obedience I gave it to God saying “I don’t understand, but you know best Lord.”

 

So we began the technological process of downloading the videos of me tumbling from the last 3 tumbling lessons that my mom had taken on her phone. God totally planted those videos there. Little did we know when we took those videos that we would be using them to make a tryout video for Baylor. Sweet sister Mary Cate spent hours learning how to transfer the videos from the phone, to a CD, to a computer, to iTunes, to a Mac computer. Then amazing David (Mr. Mac genius) helped me make my tryout video J we finished it and sent it to her.

Wednesday I got an email saying got the video and that I could come down to tryout. I was floored that God was opening up the door. At tryouts I loved meeting everyone and watching. I was able to make friendships. Since I couldn’t tumble I saw opportunities to pray with girls who were nervous before they went. Again if I hadn’t broken my thumb I wouldn’t have been able to encourage and pray for them. Then Sunday I found out I made the first cut for all girl and was floored! How did a girl who had a broken thumb and didn’t tumble make the cut? (I mean my tumbling was on the video but still!) It was the hand of God. He was walking before me the entire time. I came home from all girl and felt like I just connected so well with those girls. I’ve always had a heart for ministering to girls. I had been praying that God would show me where my ministry at Baylor would be. Then the waiting process came.

Monday night before results God gave me this verse Proverbs 19:21 “People may try to plan their ways, but it is the Lord’s will that prevails.” I knew that I was going to be rejoicing the next day whether I made it or not. Rejoicing because no matter what that lists says I am a child of the King and will spend eternity with Him. That is something to rejoice over. Also because that means He again wants to use me in a mighty way in a different area at Baylor.

Tuesday I was sitting in health class and David had the Baylor Spirit squads page on his iPhone and was refreshing it constantly J “There up” he said. I couldn’t believe it!!! I looked at the coed page and was thrilled to see so many of my new friends names: Kendel, Ellie, and Christine. Then I went to the All-Girl page. This is one of those moments I’m thankful my mom gave me a double name because it makes my name stick out and easy to find on lists J And when I saw it I screamed!! The whole class started cheering. I was shocked and amazed and overwhelmed!! Ahh God is soo amazing! God has overwhelmingly blessed me with so many encouraging supported. My school family especially ministered to me. I had several teachers tearing up with joy and jumping up and down when they heard the news. Friends were screaming with excitement in the hallway. The LORD seriously flooded my heart with Joy! What an amazing story that I will tell for the rest of my life!

My story could easily have been I worked real hard and made cheer. Period the end. But, I praise the Lord that I can take NO credit for all that has happened. Obviously it was literally all in God’s hands. People have said well you just have great faith. No my faith is still so small. I have so much more to learn and grow and work on. I just know without a doubt in my mind that I serve a loving, faithful, just, holy, beautiful, all powerful, all knowing, amazing God. He knows what’s best for me. What I love is that I had been praying for so long that I would know that I was in the will of the Lord. I felt through this whole thing I was walking beside the Lord and it felt so AMAZING! To God be all the Glory and HONOR! I am beyond thrilled to see how He will work among the Baylor cheer teams. I am humbled that the God of the universe listens to my little requests and wants like Baylor cheer. Ahh I can’t wait to put on the Baylor bear green and gold cheer uniform what a dream come true by God and God alone.

Even now after Baylor cheer and Songleaders are over, I know the Lord designed me to be a cheerleader. He created me to be an encourager to believers and non-believers around me, with the purpose to lead them to pursue Christ. What a journey, what a ride!

Baylor Spirit Squad