- Pete Morgan, Executive Vice President, MDA - Retired
Laurie was a smart, witty, persistent, caring, sassy, funny, team player whose smile was only bettered by her contagious laugh. A loving and proud mother who gave it her all at home and at work. Having the privilege of working with her closely on my travel schedule, coordinating meetings, working on budgets, etc. — she was queen of the detail, was wicked fast and flexible and most of all took care of her crazy flock at MDA. She will be forever missed but never forgotten.
- Pete Morgan, Executive Vice President, MDA - Retired
Laurie has been a really beautiful part of a year that our family experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Laurie messaged me out of the blue this time last year as my husband and I were trying to adopt a baby. She explained that God woke her up in the middle of night and wouldn’t let her go back to sleep until she prayed for my baby. And God was apparently telling her cryptic messages about the circumstances of the baby we were to adopt - so she reached out to me needing to know more about what was happening in our lives at that point. Laurie had this uncanny way of just knowing things and had a direct line to the Lord. The situation we were in was complicated, but Laurie was steadfast in her support, love and prayers and even rallied 6 others to pray for us alongside her - she challenged me to have a real conversation with God and to listen closely for his guidance. She said “Sometimes the Spirit intercedes and sends a friend. I am humbled and blessed to be a prayer partner for you.” In the end, that situation did not lead us to our baby, but we could feel Laurie’s prayers holding us up every step of the way. She was a beautiful woman who felt called to bring us all closer to the Lord and she did it with grace, faith, and love. I only wish she could have met the baby that did end up being our child.
- Jodi Wolff, PhD, former MDA VP
Hello Friends and Readers
My mind was wondering this morning, and I was remembering that Laurie always talked about the woman at the well. In my thoughts I was observing the evidence that this encounter was Jesus going after that one sheep. Jesus came for the lost the broken and the outcast. She was all of those things. Picture this you have a Jewish man talking to a Samaritan women in the heat of the day. When ever would we go seeking out conversations in the heat of day with a group of people who we do not get along with? I'd say almost never! Jesus did! Jesus saw value in the women at the well, even though she was not living right. Jesus went after the one, that lost sheep trapped in sin, as we all have been or are at one time or another. If we would just put our identity in Jesus we could be freed from so many traps that this world is gorged with. Below My Late Wife and Bestest Friend LT writes about some of these traps. She was so transparent and honest at times, may the Lord help us be more open about our troubles, because honestly when we see others struggles it makes us realize we are just merely human, and being brutally honest with people we create relationships in which people can relate and do not feel alone.
I wander like a lost sheep, seek your servant Ps 119:176
“What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance. Luke 15:4-8
Complete transparency here. I have always struggled with my identity. Struggled with not being enough. Good enough, smart enough, kind enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, worthy enough and it's always taken that one loud voice, that one condemming voice, that one unkind voice, and that one exlusive voice to convince me that my thoughts to those words were correct. The symptoms of those words manifest in belief, self-doubt, isolation and self harm. I began to believe those words. I began to think that great things only come from other people. I began to treat myself that way. When I began to believe it, I began looking for the double meaning in things people would say and gave birth to a vicious cycle.
I realize these sound like the ramblings of a person who's lost touch with reality and there were and still are days I really need to reign it in. There are days when I really need the encouragers, you know who you are... the world needs more of you.
Self-harm can come in various ways. It can be as simple as what you say and think about yourself. It can be stress/depression eating, binge eating, starvation, cutting, it can be so many things... so many things that were never meant to be a part of the live we were created to live.
It's not just my issue, I am not alone here. I know there are other women who fall into this trap. I know, because I have journeyed with them. It's not a woman's issue either... it's a human-kind issue. It's men and women, it's our sons and daughters. It's what's out there, it's how were taught, the value placed on the wrong things or incorrectly on the right things. We've lost sight of absolute truths. It's not going to get better until someone is brave enough to call it what it is... lies... stand... however freeibly and speak truth.
She's not wrong on that last sentence! Are we going to be brave enough and love like Jesus to be in search of the one who falls into life traps or are we going to hang with the flock and not seek truth speak truth. I encourage to seek the ones in you life that need truth spoken to them without judgement, support them guide them, or even just be that listening ear for them. The one who will sit quietly and be there for them. Stand up to the lies that come from this dark world. Be a light a beacon of hope for someone. Let's love like Jesus, because he loved us first.
My Dear Late Wife Wrote These Following Words I Can Only Image Who They Were Written For A Few Names Come To Mind, But Who Knew Her Story Would Soon Follow These Words She Wrote:
I am angry tonight and I have been trying to avoid this topic. I am not sure if it will be posted, it’s too soon but I had to give into the words that have been bouncing around in my head. What do you do when bad things happen to really good people? There is no shortage of sadness in the world that is for sure; no shortage of unspeakable acts on TV, crimes against humanity – too much I can’t keep up. Too much that I am desensitized to it – I just cannot follow it. No news in this house anymore, that’s just the way it is.
But when it hits close to home… when the bad, unspeakable stuff happens to your friends, colleagues… people you love… When you have faith… what do you do?
I see their faces as I type this… I cannot even type out the words of their struggles. Yesterday, as I was hearing for the first time of news, of another struggle… I just sat in disbelief and thought to myself. “Seriously God, like really? Surely you could not have allowed this”. The faith in me knows, that he allows all things… according to his great plan. I don’t see the great in this, I may never see the great in this… So before my own faith could waiver, before I would shake my fist at the sky… before… before I could dishonor Him more. I prayed and then I encircled my Women’s Group and we prayed some more.
Today was much more of the same. I don’t have answers. I won’t even pretend to. Sometimes there are just no words. Nothing to say.
I Now Must Say That I At Times Question God Of Why He Took LT Home, Unlike Her I Have Not Been Angry. I Have Asked For Peace And Comfort From The Only One Who Can Provide Such A Request And That Is Our One And Only Creator, God Himself And He Has Provided Such, But Even My Son Has Questioned At Times To Me, Why Would God Take Such A Strong Player Out Of The Game. I Told Him I Ask God The Same Thing From Time To Time. Some Of Her Story I UnderStand Very Well God Has Reviled Those Things To Me, And There Are Just Times I Asked God Just As LT Did Above "Surely God You Could Not Have Allowed This". I Ask Him How Do You Expect Me To Properly Raise My Kids In Your Spirit, To Have Proper Balance Without Her. Things Are For Sure Out Of Balance Without My Life Partner. So Many Things Have Come To A Halt With Her Not Here Is One Of The Reasons I Question God on His Will, But Here Again I Have Used The Same Words As Her. "I Don't Have Answers, I Won't Even Pretend Too. And As I Have Written In Recent Past, "Sometimes There Are Just No Words. Nothing To Say", But I will Say This I Will Still Love Like Jesus Just As She Did To All That She Surrounded And All That Surrounded Her. My Mind May Question, But My Faith Will Be Stedfast In Him. So I Will Love Like Jesus, Because He Loved Us First.
Laurie was one of a kind, a bright light that brought sunshine to everyone she met. The love for her family - especially Dan, Hailey and Brandon - was always evident.
And during her years at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, her love for the families served by MDA was ever present. She was caring, personable, professional, fun-loving. and had a wonderful laugh. She took each day as gift, put others first and strived to do her best no matter what the circumstances.
I always loved working with Laurie and appreciated how attentive she was to the special needs, requests and accommodations of our MDA families traveling on behalf of the Association for a meeting, event or the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. She went above and beyond the call of duty, always made sure they had what they needed and were comfortable traveling and in their new surroundings - just like she would do for her own family!
Laurie was a combination of strength and grace contained in a gentle soul. Someone once wrote, “a life well-lived is a precious gift.” May we all keep the precious gift of Laurie and her family close in our hearts today and always.
- Mike Blishak, Senior Vice President Community Programs, MDA - Retired
When my husband left for a year long deployment in 2019 I went to church. He picked leaving on Sunday so that day I would be surrounded by love. I was 30 weeks pregnant with our third baby and I was terrified for so many reasons. My heart hurt so deeply that he was gone would miss so much of the babies first year and that I would be alone for all of it. The song “Goodness of God” came on. It is about how faithful God is. As I cried Laurie came over and just put her arm around me. She just loved me right there. As I cried deeper or a new sob came she just put her arm back around me. After worship was over she whispered “you don’t have to sit alone ever again”. My hardest day in Tucson she was my strongest comforter and she was what I needed. I will never ever forget her. And I cry every time I here that song because I am reminded how faithful God has been to me in so many ways. She was the literal hands of Jesus around me when I desperately needed them.
One Sunday morning the sound system was making LOUD screeching noises. It was too much for Mikey's ears. I took him out to the foyer and who was there? Laurie. She said she'd be happy to sit with him out there were it was quiet and peaceful until the songs were over.
Jesus himself said, "bring the little children to me." Laurie took my son under her wing so I could enjoy the worship songs.
Laurie knew how to console someone who was hurting whether physically or emotionally, she consoled people around her. May we look for those opportunities in our day to day life to act as Jesus would. May we live and be a little more like Jesus everyday.
It’s was amazing to me how Laurie could sense the needs of people, whether it was prayer or, a hug that included a shoulder to lean on with a listening ear she knew. This testimony written below shows just that, she had an intuition of others in need. Whether we have intuition or not may we be intentional of looking and listening to others and identifying their needs. In this story you also see someone being loved on out of the blue which in turn teaches one to know how to love that person back in the time of need. This is such a beautiful account of how two people can love on each other and be there in times of lost hope and despair even when miles away. We can make an impact on someone’s life. Let’s live more like Jesus, lets love more like Jesus.
I worked with Laurie at MDA for about 7 years, and I drove her crazy with travel plans and requests. She was a loving friend and amazing colleague. Laurie sent me a 6-page hand-written note this summer while I was in the hospital going through a bone marrow transplant during the months of July and August. The note was written on July 13; ironically, the time I felt that I would never feel normal again. It was lowest point during my treatment, and I was so sick that I can barely remember that time. Somehow - even across the country - Laurie sensed that. How did she know? She prayed for me and assured me that I would heal.
The irony that beautiful, sweet Laurie was praying for ME and that she took the time (at 4 am) to think about me and assure me that I'd be alright - when it was SHE who would later need my thoughts and prayers.
And don't think for one moment that Laurie's note didn't include a little bit of her twinkling sense of humor! She concluded her note with this last line:
P.S. Should you need specific prayers, any hour day or night, call or text me - just like when you'd call me to change your hotel in the middle of the night.
I'll never forget Laurie's loving sense of humor, selflessness or her twinkling smile that lit up every room.
- Scarlett Marchman, Vice President, Development
She sat there, on the corner of the street… her sign requesting help facing the passers-by but she didn’t turn to meet them. Perhaps she couldn’t bear their unmet gaze, perhaps she was ashamed at what her life has become, or perhaps she has grown accustomed to feeling nothing at all.
I was already running a few minutes late for prayer, that’s how we start our Thursday’s and then after I needed to set up for a conference call - I was already too late to stop and answer this need but… I pulled into a parking lot just across her corner and got out, walked to her and said hello.
I thought I would see evidence of substances that led to this life she was now living but I didn’t see that. I thought I would hear lies and the script of usual things homeless say but I didn’t. I believe I saw her and heard her as God did. She was young, more clean than I thought she would be, pretty, and soft spoken. I felt bold questions bubble up:
“Why are you out here and why do you stay?”
“Your sign says you have needs, what are they?”
”It seems to me, as I saw you sitting there that you are accustomed to not being seen.”
She was honest with me so I met her with the same. She did not want what I offered, she just needed cash. She shared with me that her family fell apart and she could no longer live with them. She said she left with no ID, no social security number, no birth certificate and she said that every attempt to improve her life has been a struggle since she has no identity.
I listened to her, she was shifty-eyed with me and only once or twice to meet my gaze. When I realized the only thing I was suppose to do was pray. I asked her if I could she said yes and so I did. And then I felt words again, not mine, but His… He said, “Tell her she has intrinsic value to me.” I touched her slender arm and looked into her eyes as I did.
I have since looked up the definition of intrinsic value, which is typically a financial term and found this: “Intrinsic value is a way of describing the perceived or true value of an asset. This is not always identical to the current market price because assets can be over- or undervalued.” What she needed was money… that is what she would accept… and the Lord wanted me to tell her that she had intrinsic value. Value to Him… that He, the God of all the universe thought to create her, thought to put her on earth in this time and space. And, not only that… He then came to this earth to die for her, to redeem her and bring her everlasting life.
Intrinsic Value…. Priceless to God. Undervalued by the world.
I shared with her that I was not there to give her money. I offered to take her to lunch, buy her food - she declined and stayed on the corner. I touched her arm and told her that I hope to see her again. I left, looking back a few times, she never turned back around.
The conversation has stayed with me and I cannot get her out of my heart. Today I went to look for her… I cannot help but think about so many things - she is someone’s daughter... she was once a baby in someone’s arms… has she run away... is she on the streets tonight… is she selling herself… why did I only share the sentence… is she ok?
Today Dan and I went shopping and breakfast, we took time to catch-up from the week we have had and I shared with him about my interaction with this homeless girl. I told him that I realized the enemy did a number on her life, somehow succeeding to break up a home, cause her to beg on the streets and literally robbed her of her identity. But the God of the universe knew her when she was being “knit together in her mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13). He knows her laying down and her rising up (Psalm 139:2). He knows that when she goes to the pit, He is right there (Psalm 139:8)… and He knew her yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And for a moment He asked someone else to go meet her, speak with her, share a prayer and remind her that He values her… She is His… She has intrinsic value (Matthew 10:29-31).
Her name biblically translates to “clothed with salvation” and the name means eternal beauty... Very fitting considering. Her name is Taylor.
The title screen just flashed "Welcome Back" and I have to smile a little, the corners of my mouth are turning up. I speak to the keys at my fingers, "Hello old friends, maybe I remember how to do this." My last post was in 2018, March to be exact and I didn't take a moment to read it. I know I am being called back to this, have been for some time. The Lord keeps speaking it to me but... Oh, with sorrow I remember the writers block that stunted me as the bricks slowly built the wall between me and the words; built the wall between Me and the Lord.
18 months. That is how long it has been.
I can set the time-machine back to a small handful of situations that cast me into the darkness of self-doubt. I remember the moment I re-read a very early piece of writing, a piece where I mishandled scripture, instead of taking it to the Lord and asking what He'd have me do-I picked it up and tucked it deep inside so that I could pull it out later and use it against myself. Then there was the time when life was getting a little too raw and I felt like I could not share the real me, the hard and vulnerable situation because of external influences and I, again, picked that up and tucked it in thinking I was protecting myself, my family and others. In moments of silence, self-doubt and despair one can be really hard on themselves. That's where I was plus a bunch of life heaped on top of that... but something in me has given way, I cannot explain it.
So much changes in 18 months.
I have been pruned and plucked. I have been stripped and re-clothed. I have watched people go and have let them go. I have been blessed with restoration and the old made new. I have gotten mad at God and I have surrendered. I have laid offerings at His feet, only to pick them up again. Like the good Father that He is, I have felt the whisper of His still soft voice as He as asked me to lay it down again. There is a lot of I in this scenario and I have discovered that is okay because at some point I turned into we and the Lord met with me each and every time.
This may have been a season of silence, of trial, and of growth for which I am grateful. The season is not over... it may have only just begun.
i am a Jesus follower. i am a wife, mother, home-maker and event planner. life is crazy most of the time but i wouldn't trade one minute.