"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Through a dear friendship, God has recently shown me that He continues to follow through with His plans for my life in awesome ways, but in doing so, He used my own life to complete His plans in the life of another.
God's plans are miraculous, they are complex, they are much more than our "mere mortal lives" can comprehend. God has shown me this in a way that has amazed me and filled me with "awe" for Him!
An acquaintance from the church we used to attend contacted me a few months ago about a picture I had taken and placed on Facebook. It was an unusually pretty picture of a cardinal perched outside my office window.
My husband knew Laurie better than I did because he sang in the church choir with her for several years, and on more than one occasion, sang duets with her.
For quite a while I had been drawn to Laurie in some mysterious way… to her witness… her life… and her story. I had even felt led to call and talk to her at different times when life "got me down". And, as a matter of fact, one of the last times we attended this church, she came up to my husband and we saying we were in her thoughts and her prayers and if we needed anything to just call – she was there.
For some reason, I had an intuition or a feeling that her sweet, inviting spirit which could only be from God could soothe my heart. I never got up the nerve to make that call on my own. God was leading me to take a step that I could not or did not take, so he took charge and made that first step for me.
"For I know the plans I have for you…"
One day, only a few months ago, Laurie sent a private message through Facebook that amazed me. And I also had this feeling that God's plans for me were at work. Through several messages back and forth, we immediately became fast friends, and then just as quickly, became prayer partners.
Within 2 weeks, I was sitting at Laurie's comfortable kitchen table laughing, talking, sharing, and praying with a "friend" I felt I had known my entire life. The sun shining through her window gave my body a warmth and comfort that "all" was right in my world! Now, I know…our friendship has grown so fast, it could only have been a gift from God.
We have now laughed, giggled, prayed, and cried together on many occasions. My day is not complete without a "PM" (private message) from Laurie's Facebook page. She has a way of making laughter jump out of the printed words that make my heart giggle! The closeness and prayers we send back and forth in our PM’s speak through the printed words making me feel all IS right within this world!
…"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
God turned the tables and amazed us both. His plans were two-fold. Silly me… to have thought God brought Laurie into "my" life to help "me" rise above situations I couldn't handle alone. Do you see? Did you get this? Me… me… I was thinking only of me and my pain! It is so very easy to think "me" when the problems of life attack and we don't feel strong enough to attack them back.
Now, I want to tell you more about Laurie Thompson, my friend, and why I felt she could make a difference in my life. Laurie had something I needed and desperately wanted — Joy, Peace, and a very strong Faith! I had seen it shining through her life like a beacon with her amazing smile, laughter that drew you in, making you laugh until you cried, and her unending care and concern for others.
Laurie had been in a tragic accident when she was only fourteen years old. She had been a strong young woman who loved riding her horses and playing basketball. Laurie did all the things a normal girl her age loved to do.
After a horrific accident, she was told she would be permanently paralyzed from the waist down, and that she would never be able to see out of one eye. On top of that she was also told she would certainly never be able to have children. That accident was almost too much for a fourteen year old to have to deal with. She wouldn't have made it if she had not called out to God to help her — to save her.
Laurie never reveals the pain she is always in. She uses a cane to balance herself as she walks with an “unsure” gate. The paralysis did improve some after the accident and is now from her knees down instead of from her waist down. She can drive her car with hand controls instead of gas and brake pedals. And she and her husband Kevin have three beautiful children.
Laurie has an amazing ministry. She is a singer/songwriter, accomplished speaker, and a published author. Laurie writes her own songs, and now has three CDs available for purchase.
A book was just finished and signed with a publisher: Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity. Her book will be in all of the major book stores for sale in September.
She never gives a moment's thought to herself when anyone else is in need. She did face such pain and adversity in those young years and came out on the other side with JOY shining through her heart and her life that could only have come from God himself!
NOW, back to why "I" was brought into Laurie Thompson's life!
As we quickly became friends, I noticed she only had a small blog as a website. It was just a regular blog that anyone could get with the template already made, but it contained her speaking engagements, along with all her other pertinent information. She had a short version of her life story, which would touch any heart.
I noticed one day that she had changed her picture. It was such a pretty picture of her face, and as I was looking, I noticed there were streaks on her black jacket. So, one day I suggested that maybe we could do something about that. She died laughing, as she does so often, telling me that she took a picture of a picture already in a frame on her desk to put it on her website.
Ah….. lights came on in my mind. Here is something I can finally do to help my new friend who has helped me so much.
I love photography, and had been blessed to be able to purchase a very nice NIKON camera several years ago. I love to take pictures, and although they are not by any means professional, I learned a lot on my own by taking thousands upon thousands of pictures. I have always wanted to take photography classes, and hopefully will get around to that one day.
I sent Laurie a message on a Wednesday after looking at the weather forecast. “It is supposed to be a pretty weekend; why don't we get together and take a few pictures", I suggested. She seemed a little surprised, but said she would check with her husband and let me know. Another message on Friday confirmed they had a short time Saturday afternoon inbetween taking children all the places they needed to go. Laurie suggested going to her parent's farm, saying she loved the rustic setting. She thought that would make good "ministry" photos. So, we were set to meet on Saturday to take a "few" pictures!
Now, if you are a novice photographer like me, you know that setting the camera on "rapid" fire and taking 6 to 10 pictures of each pose is always best. I had found that I was usually pretty lucky to end up with one or two which were not blurry.
Oh, but God had GREAT plans for us that day!
It was warm – much warmer than expected, but not hot. The sky was so blue and the first glimpses of spring were in the air. The farm was absolutely beautiful with weathered rustic barns, cedar split-rail fencing, and horses in the pastures. Bradford pear trees in full bloom lined the long winding driveway. "What a perfect setting," I thought as I was praying that I could get some really good pictures that day.
I took picture after picture after picture. The setting was perfect, the lighting was perfect, and Laurie looked beautiful. God was present at our photo-shoot! I took 850 pictures that day, and those were the best pictures I had ever taken. I know it was because God's hands were steadying my hands that day.
I came home that day and mentioned the pictures of my friend Laurie to my business associate, Linda, who lives in Connecticut. I also sent Linda a link to a newspaper article that had been written about Laurie in our local newspaper on the 25th anniversary of her accident.
A short while later, Linda sent me a note saying: "We need to talk about Laurie!" So the next day as Linda and I were talking about our business plans, she suggested I ask Laurie a question.
The question was: "If the sky was the limit, what kind of website would you like to have?" I smiled, I think I even cried because Linda charges thousands of dollars for web design. I asked, "Are you serious?" and she said; “of course”. Now, I need to say that my friend, Linda, is an exceptional webmaster! She has changed the whole scope of my business.
I create products, and she plans how they should be sold. She designs websites, and is one of the most talented people I know when it comes to the technical aspect of selling on the Internet.
Now, I am going to give you a link to Laurie's new website! It is http://LaurieThompsonMinistries.com. I took the pictures, and put together a video of Laurie's pictures with a song she wrote playing in the background. Linda designed and created a wonderful website, and Linda's daughter, Kelsey (19 years old) designed Laurie's exceptional header!
So, as you can see, God used me to help Laurie in her ministry as he used Laurie to help me in my pain. Now, on any given Tuesday morning, you can find Laurie and I sitting in my office talking, laughing, praying, and planning with Linda as to what comes next for each of our websites.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Isn’t God Good?