We Will Remember – Lauren
I grew up Catholic, but, by the time college rolled around, I lost my relationship with Him and the college days ruled my life. However, God is great and He was still guiding my life, and do so right into the hands of my soulmate, James. We met at 19 at UF and were inseparable. Still are today. We married after college, then traveled a lot and got to enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
When it was time, I had an ectopic pregnancy. It rocked my world, I was so saddened. I said to God, “We did everything right, I don’t understand,” but it made me seek Him. I read the Bible, prayed, and listened to sermons.
They spoke of real life, a broken world, and troubles, but God’s got your hand. They talked about having a relationship with Jesus.
I knew I loved God growing up, but I now understood Him in a different way.
A friend asked me to a group at First Naples called Holding onto Hope – the fertility issues ministry – supporting each other in Christ. So, we started going to First Naples and saw what an amazing church it was. In January 2014, I was hopeful for a positive pregnancy test, but it was negative. The next day, we went to a sermon at church on the miracles surrounding the cruxifixction and my eyes were opened. I completely trusted Him and I said, “Jesus, you can do anything, you can do the impossible, I trust in you. You could even make us pregnant” The next day the test was positive, with our baby Jameson (9 years now!).
Our second child, Wyatt, came a little early. My water broke at 28 weeks, and I was in the hospital on bedrest until he was born at 31 weeks. He was in the NICU for 2 months, but it wasn’t as scary because of what God had led me to do previously.
Before Jameson, I spent a few years as a volunteer snuggler in the NICU – helping the nurses, feeding and holding babies – so God comforted me and I knew we were in good hands. God said, “This too will pass and he will be running around with his brother in no time.” Sure enough, you would never know to this day he was ever a premie.
We were a little nervous to have another baby after the complications with Wyatt, but we knew God was with us. A little miracle was in my tummy, and, trusting that He would bless us with a full term baby, we named her Autumn, as my due date was in the fall season. She was born at 39 weeks in October!!
God is a miracle worker and even in the troubled times, if you have Him in your life, He is holding your hand.
James and I were on fire for Him, and, with all 3 kids watching at the beach, we were baptized in 2018 showing our love and trust in Him. A friend from church, Jennifer Patterson, came too! Jesus was in our hearts and fast forward to today, all 3 babies have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior! Praise God! They know God loves them so much that He sent His son to die for us and rose, so if we believe we will have eternal life. And they too would like to be baptized at the beach!
This whole time we have been involved in Preschool Ministry. The leaders there have such hearts for children and I have loved serving alongside them. Being able to be in my children’s classes has been a blessing. I remember the first time Jameson was a baby and handing him over to Joanne when she served in the baby’s room. As nervous as I was, leaving my first baby, I knew she would take good care of him with her comforting smile! It allowed me to learn more about Jesus with other moms through Refresher and MOPS.
These ministries allowed us to have fellowship and we did book studies. When anyone had a troubled time, as Jesus said we would, they came alongside for support and help always. I am so grateful for First Naples, it is such a blessing.
In August 2022, I was on a plane to my hometown Dallas. I was reading my Bible, then put my head back and fell asleep. Well, apparently, it was more than that. I had a seizure, but had no clue it happened. I woke up 10 minutes later, went to the hospital, had an MRI, and a brain tumor was discovered on the left side. They wouldn’t be able to tell what it was until surgery and pathology. We were devastated. This couldn’t happen to me, we had the perfect life, family, and so much love… and we had Jesus.
But, sometimes we suffer and make sacrifices trusting Him, for His Glory.
So many miracles have become apparent, that I won’t list them all, but instead my top 2. #1 – I was on a plane, not driving my kids. It could have been devastating for our family or others. #2 – The doctor said the tumor could be 10 years old… I have a bump on the right side of my head that I noticed in my 20s (now I know it’s just fatty tissue), but if I did as I usually do, we wouldn’t have found the real issue, and God protected my precious babies, and He has a plan for them.
God’s timing is perfect, and He is for you and for your good (Romans 8:28)
AMEN I PRAISE YOU LORD! Before we left for Houston for my surgery, Joanne brought Wyatt his 1st grade Bible, as we wouldn’t be able to make the Bible ceremony in the worship service. It was so sweet and we are grateful for that.
My story is long with God in the lead, so I’lll make it quick. The Lord led us to Dr. Lang at MD Anderson in Houston. After some precious time with family, I had a 14 hour awake craniotomy in Houston with the best doctor – using God’s hands and praying in the surgery room. After a week in the ICU, pathology came back as an Oligodendroglioma – a slow growing brain tumor, but I believe God has healed me. We feel so loved and so grateful for the church during this time. They had a special prayer meeting to intercede for me during my surgery time. God hears our prayers, and He loves us all so much. Following surgery, was radiation in Houston. Then, on Christmas Eve, we got to come home. At home, I did Chemo January through June. I still have focal seizures on the right side of my body, but I am grateful it isn’t often. Now I am on a monitoring status. Every 4 months I have an MRI here, then 4 months later one in Houston – alternating back and forth. I haven’t been able to get off some meds, but it may take some time, and we are praying for it.
After God’s gift of homeschooling for a few years, He guided us back to FBA. I know every teacher is partnering with us in a Christ centered, biblical world teaching and loving on our children. Amen, Thank you Lord!
He is a God of wonders and miracles, and He is our great Healer, our greatest Physician.
I am so grateful for our family, friends, and church family during this time. Thank you for being Jesus’ hands and feet, and thank you for helping with meals for our family. Huge help! Thank you for the love and support through your cards sent, they are so thoughtful.
During chemo we weren’t able to make it to VBS which we all LOVE, so Joanne and Sarah brought me all the crafts and the paperwork of what they were learning each day to do. We got to see Hannah as we learned all the dances for Launching into God’s Love! Friends from church even made me a huge birthday yard sign, which made me feel so special. God has His angel armies in Heaven and on Earth, guarding me, protecting me, helping me, and guiding me because my work is not done yet. Sharing the love of Christ with others, my children, and others’ children is what I will do the rest of my life – praising Him and sharing His Word to the world. I love our Children’s ministry with Joanne and Jess. They are amazing leaders and are helping us serve and share the good news with the children.
A few years ago, when my Mom went through a surgery, God gave her a mission to share little angel stones she makes. During my surgery, God revealed to me that they are Ebenezer angel stones, a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness, and that God charges His angels to protect us and be with us.
Ebenezer in the Bible means Stone of Help. When the Israelites crossed over to the promised land, and God parted the Jordan river, they collected 12 stones to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness, and to share the testimony to their children.
This journey won’t be easy, but it will be another Ebenezer stone for our family.
We will remember His love, goodness, and faithfulness to us, and our children will see and know His (and our) never ending love for them.
We are trusting Him every step of the way, no matter what.
The song Faithfully by TobyMac recently hit my heart. God is always there for me, no matter what. There are, of course, moments or seasons, and you may not be the same person because of a hardship. But, we still believe and know He is with us. We sometimes feel like Peter in different seasons; we are walking out to Jesus on the water, but then things don’t go the way we expect, or we experience troubles. We can feel like we’re drowning, but when we call to Him, He lifts us up and loves us unconditionally. God loves us, is with us, and hears us.
Pastor Alan’s sermons are so knowledgeable and rooted in the Truth of the Bible, and sharing Jesus’ love. His sermons point to real things we deal with in this broken world, and make them understandable through God’s heart. Just recently he spoke of how God has a plan and good purpose for our lives, as it says in the Bible. It may not be what you thought, or “perfect”, but it is for your good and for His glory.
God’s got this.
I am grateful God guided us to a relationship with Jesus. We are blessed to have our family at First Naples and FBA! For His Glory (4HG)!
God is good, All the Time. All The Time, God is good.
Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”