When I was 12, my mom’s friend bet her $25 that I wouldn’t make it past 16 without getting pregnant. I told him to pay up when I saw him 10 years later after I graduated from college. I should have been another statistic because I of where I started – a city that became renown for crime.
We moved from Stockton, considered one of the cities with the highest homicide rates to Hawaii. The weather and scenery were dreamlike and there wasn’t a lot of crime. But marijuana was an underground industry in the islands.
Despite the crime and drugs around me and the celebration of promiscuity, I made a decision that I believed set the course for my life. That one decision led to more which created a pattern that built an amazing life. I wanted to go to college. Even though I was a C-student and moved a lot while growing up, I dreamed of attending college. I took the G.E.D. test and was accepted into college even though I got kicked out of high school at 16 for fighting.
When I look back on it all while celebrating my birthday today, I see the careful hand of God at work in my life. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but I had a hunger for God from the time I was a child. I had a hunger for righteousness and for a better life.
I became a Christian at 18-years-old after seeing the amazing change in my mom’s life. She became a Christian when I was 16-years-old and I remember when she called me and told me she got baptized in the Holy Spirit. “I was praying and felt a warmth all over me Lani,” she said. “I started speaking in another language!” She felt so good from that experience that she flushed her cigarettes down the toilet.
On this day I want to thank God for the people I got to meet and the moments that only He could bring…
The moment I met my future husband, Jerome when were on a missions trip in Boston, MA.
The moment that Jerome asked me to marry him in a rose garden in Columbia, MO.
The moment the dean of the journalism department, the late George Luter, told me that I had received a scholarship that I didn’t apply for so I could pursue my dream
The moment I got to stand next to Barbara Bush, the wife of the former President George Bush, at a youth rally in Hawaii
The moment that my editor called me to tell me that I won a journalism award for excellence on one of the worst days of my life
The moment that I heard my son, Alex, at 11-years-old singing his heart out to God downstairs in worship
The moment that I heard Chris, who was 16-years-old at the time, sing in the musical, South Pacific
The moment that I saw my daughter DÁndra after she had been born. She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever held in my arms!
The moment that I first met Pastor Steve & Kathy Gray in their tiny narrow office at Smithton Community Church were we talked about their dream of spreading the message of the kingdom to the world.
The moment I had an awkward lunch of Taco Salad with Steve Strang where I shared with him my passion to bring God’s word through video and publishing.
The moment that Lee Grady told me that my article had a lot of great information but no anointing. “You need to spend some time in prayer and get the heart of God on this issue.”
The moment that my 13-year-old niece, Erin Lynn, said she wanted to be a follower of Christ.
The moment that God convicted me the night I became of Christian that I needed to forgive my father. “You can’t go on until you do this.”
The moment I came out of the ocean water speaking in tongues when I got baptized on the beach.
The moment I met my half-brother, Leonardo at my father’s wake and discovered what an amazing musician and all around guy that I’ve missed out on.
The moment that the woman my father left in the Philippines with two little kids embraced me as her own.
All those moments created a tapestry that only He could weave from small everyday choices that brought me in front of people that no girl from where I came from would ever hope to meet. Today I want to thank God for those moments of goodness, kindness and blessing. You have treated me better than I deserve! Thank You for the moments and the many moments ahead on this journey that wait for me.