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My Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden–a beautiful story.  I also love the song “I come to the Garden alone while the dew is still on the roses…He walks with me and He talks with me.  He tells me I am His own….”  It was one of my Grandpa Doden’s favorites.

Every morning as I sit in my chair with tea and chocolate with Jesus, I sit looking out into my “secret garden.”  Jesus gave me my own “secret garden” here in Joburg…right outside my door–literally.

Though it might seem insignificant to some, to me it is love.  My Father knows what ministers to and refreshes my soul, and He gave me a unexpected, lavish gift in this new world where He has put me, knowing that it would bring life to my soul.

“I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.”  There’s something so amazing about the character of God in that phrase.  He’s intentional and personal in preparing a home for us, knowing us intimately…caring about the details of where He will bring us to live with Him forever.

Though Jesus was talking about heavenly homes with those words, I think He was also expressing the nature of our Father God.  Our Father prepares intimately and provides abundantly in the places where He puts us–South Africa included.

Pictures of His provision in my new world:

From a beautiful, gifted hairstylist…to my favorite and only perfume (which I have never seen in any other country)…to some wonderful new friends…to a car…to an incredible host family…to a secret garden–all gifts from my Father’s hand.  Sometimes the small gifts mean even more than the big ones because it shows that He really KNOWS me…intimately.

“My God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  He provides according to His “riches” and not His “discount coupon book”–how I love that!!”  Each and every need of my heart is met lavishly–those spoken, those unspoken, and even those unknown to me…but known fully by Him.

My Secret Garden–“the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

Abraham must have had bad days too…

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January of this year started one of the greatest adventures of my life….

Though adventures of faith and travel have seemed to be a part of the Lord’s plan for me for a long time now, it’s never been quite like this…believing God for big and impossible things…for individuals, for nations and for the kingdom…all while living in a country that is not my birth country….DRIVING on the other side of the road…only getting direction one little step at a time…flying “blind” so often…faith…”the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things NOT SEEN!”

Abraham is so esteemed for his faith.  I have looked at his life often over these months/years.  He was 75 when he first received a promise.  By 85 there had still been no movement on God’s promise, though he had moved to the land that God promised to give him.  At 85, a “substitute” plan was introduced by Sarah, and Abraham accepted it–causing strife for centuries.  Abraham seemed content to receive Ishmael as God’s promised son until God came again when he was 99, assuring him that the promise of a son was STILL active–24 years later–and would happen in a year.  And…it did…and Sarah laughed…I have to believe Abraham did too.

Romans 4 says, “Against ALL HOPE, Abraham in hope believed…without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”   I wish I had more details of the daily struggle of the 24 year lapse between the promise and the fulfillment, but, alas, not much information on that front.  I bet it was hard.  I bet he struggled.  All God tells us about, though, is that he had faith–he believed GOD and not what he saw!

So, in the midst of impossible situations, I choose to stand with Abraham, with Hebrews 11 people, with my Grandpa, a man of great faith.  It sometimes feels crazy, but I face the facts, and I choose faith…I am FULLY PERSUADED that God has the power to do what he has promised (Can you hear me preaching to myself?  A necessity for this journey! :-).
My faith pleases Him, and I want to please Him.  He is worthy of…my love, my faith, and my life,

Signature :: Laurie

Two life-changing jogs…

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I love going for a run!  Over the years, I have received many things while jogging–brilliant ideas, problem-solving wisdom, intercession for people, soul-refreshment, and even great friendship time with others!  I have run in African villages followed by laughing kids, in Chinese streets with “acid rain”(as I affectionately called the polluted rain there), in vineyards in South Africa, in my neighborhood in Indiana and many other adventurous places in-between.

There are two jogs recently that have been life-changing–for very different reasons.

The first one is actually a “JOG”–a Journey of Generosity–a facilitated 24 hour small-group experience to encounter God’s generosity. The experience itself is often a generous gift provided by a those who are hosting it.  During our time together, we experience incredible stories of generosity (of all different types), small group interactions, excerpts of readings, Bible study, and meaningful conversations over meals.  It’s a transformational heart journey.

Over the last year and half, I have had the privilege of participating in catalyzing the first JOGs in South Africa.  A month ago, we had our second round of JOGs in Capetown and our first JOGs ever in the Johannesburg area.  It has been a joy to be with different groups of amazing people and to encounter God’s generosity in a way that has marked us all.

Here are some photos from our times together!

Here’s some more information for the curious and interested that want to see, as it’s an experience I would highly recommend for anyone:  http://generousgiving.org/small-gatherings

The 2nd life-changing jog was an actual run–in Delta park in the middle of Johannesburg.  To back up a little bit…as I left the USA in January, I had really felt led to bring Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study materials, as the Lord seemed to have an agenda for that study during my stay here.   Fast forward 2 months…a good South African friend in the US wanted me to meet a childhood friend of hers from Johannesburg, which I was delighted to do.  We met for coffee and had a wonderful time together!  A few days later she invited me to go for a jog in the park with her and one of her friends who, as it turns out, leads a Bible study for women in this area.  In chatting on our run, this woman mentioned that their current study was finishing and that they were looking for something new.  Immediately I had a strong sense that this was the reason that I had brought Breaking Free with me to SA.

In March, we started a Breaking Free Bible study with 15+ women, and it’s been amazing to watch the Lord “proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” in different ways among this group of women.

Two JOGs/jogs…unique and life-changing.  Our King and His kingdom…there really is no greater joy than being about His business and watching Him work.