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Dancing with the Beast…

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A while ago, the Lord gave me a picture…Beauty and the Beast dancing–the Beast (Him) in his blue tuxedo and Beauty (me) in her beautiful yellow dress…It is the picture from which dreams are made….

The Beast, in all of his ferocity, frightening strength, and majesty has singled me out and asked me to dance.  He calls me “Belle”…His “beauty.” I accept the dance because I am mesmerized and awed by his presence.

He leads me out onto the dance floor, and I can hear the beautiful music of the orchestra fill the air, stirring my senses. He takes my hand and we start to dance. He begins leading me in a beautiful, graceful waltz, but instead of following His lead, I stop, stomp my foot and insist that he lead me in a fox trot. I am sure that He intended to dance a foxtrot with me. After all, I was right there when I consented to the dance and heard the music start.

So, instead of being the picture of beauty and grace for everyone around to see, I end up tripping all over the floor as he faithfully leads me in a waltz while I still try to dance a fox trot, convinced that the fox trot is REALLY what He wants me to dance. The picture loses the “dream” like quality it had at the beginning. I start to get angry and upset and begin to even question His ability to lead.

With the gentleness that He alone has, He cups my face in both of His hands, looks me right in the eye, gently reminding me that my beauty and grace come with my submission to His lead. He specifically designed the dance to show off my beauty, but even more importantly to display His own majesty and power. Everyone around witnesses His glory and the joy of the dance when I follow in step with Him.

This picture has marked my life…

One of the dances He initiated with me was a “single” dance, and it was a LONG one. I spent some time stomping my foot on the dance floor because of some of the painful, hard steps in that dance, sacrificing some moments of potential beauty and grace. Now though, as I look back, I am so very grateful for the lessons, the sorrows and the joys in that dance. My leader knows…

These days, our dances have a different rhythm–marriage, living in a foreign country, challenges, joys. There are times when I still stop and question, when he holds me tighter to keep me from running into others or when I try to anticipate the next dance and get ahead of His lead. With each of my false moves, He patiently and lovingly embraces me in my questions and stumbling…His grace….

I am sure of only two things in this season–the dance of this moment and the Leader of my dance. My beauty and His glory are brightest when I submit to being led into new, unexpected places by One who alone knows how to get me there.

Warfare and Orphans…

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We were cleaning out storerooms in the US, and I came across a box of books. Dressed to Kill was a gift given to me at least 10 years ago.  I put it on a shelf, and never read it.  However, having just come through an incredible season of spiritual warfare in South Africa, my desire to learn was significant.  WOW!!!  I cannot recommend this book enough. It is biblical, practical and very insightful with pictured illustrations of the Roman armor that Paul saw everyday while writing Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. An incredible tool!  Here’s a brief description…

“Rick Renner’s book Dressed To Kill is considered by many to be a true classic on the subject of scriptural warfare. The original version, which sold more than 400,000 copies, is a curriculum staple in Bible schools worldwide. Now, in this new, beautifully bound hardback volume you will find: * 512 pages of reedited text * 16 pages of full-color illustrations (exclusively available in the print version. Not available in eBook). * Questions at the end of each chapter to guide you into deeper study In Dressed To Kill, Rick explains with exacting detail the purpose and function of each piece of Roman armor. In the process, he describes the significance of our spiritual armor not only to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and but also to overturn the tendencies of the carnal mind. Furthermore, Rick delivers a clear, scriptural presentation on the biblical definition of spiritual warfare – what it is and what it is not. He stresses, “Your unbroken, ongoing fellowship with God is your absolute guarantee that you are constantly and habitually dressed in the whole armor of God.” When you walk with God in deliberate, continual fellowship, He will enrobe you with Himself. Armed with the knowledge of who you are in Him, you will be dressed and dangerous to the works of darkness, unflinching in the face of conflict, and fully equipped to take the offensive and gain mastery over any opposition from your spiritual foe.”
 
I have a shelf of “favorites”–books that have impacted my life that I want to reread from time to time.  The Autobiography of George Muller is one of those. His faith and perseverance demonstrated over YEARS while working with orphans as well as other kingdom endeavors is truly mind-blowing.  I was inspired all over again to trust my Father, to walk by faith, and to believe and ask Him for BIG things.  Another highly recommended read.  Here’s a brief description…

“What can be accomplished in an ordinary man who trusts in an extraordinary God? George Müller discovered the endless possibilities!
These excerpts from his diary allow Müller to tell his own story. Join him on his journey from a life of sin and rebellion to his glorious conversion. Share his struggles and triumphs as he establishes orphan homes to care for thousands of English children, depending on God’s response to his prayer of faith to supply all things. You will learn how to:

  • Pray in faith and receive answers
  • Seek God for direction
  • Find the ultimate purpose for your life
  • Rest in God’s loving care 

George Müller’s unwavering, childlike dependence upon his heavenly Father will inspire you to confidently trust the God of the impossible in every area of your life.”
 

 

A Divine Tale…

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Once upon a time there were two women…two countries…and one BIG God…
 
Michelle (middle top) came into my life through my friend Celeste (left top). Michelle was hungry to see more of God, as is Celeste.  So, four of us started meeting together, seeking God for things He alone can do–healing and transformation.

On a Thursday morning last November we witnessed firsthand the redemptive nature and power of our Jesus as we heard Michelle’s story…

Michelle had been a practicing New Age Medium for years.  As she rose higher and higher in the New Age movement, she started channeling spirits and sharing that channeling with others.  She was studying one of the “spirits” on the internet when she saw the word “demon” and “demonic” in association with that spirit.  She thought her work in the New Age was her service to God, so the fact that her activities had any association with the demonic was a complete surprise and shock to her.

In September 2018, in the midst of her confusion and questioning, she bought a Bible with the intent of proving false what she had just read about New Age and the demonic.  She studied, read, researched and prayed, trying to prove that New Age was really of God,  In the midst of her Bible search, she met Jesus, changing everything for her.  Though no person was there to teach her or lead her to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God were her teachers. Michelle KNOWS Jesus in ways that many people don’t know Him after a lifetime of discipleship and teaching.  I was blown away by her wisdom, maturity and knowledge of our Jesus.  Her Bible was one of the most well-worn Bibles I have ever seen.

As a New Age Medium, Michelle had an international following of about 150 people, and she began sharing what she was learning from the Bible with these followers. Thirty of these people decided to become followers of Jesus as well.  It sounded like New Testament times!!  

One of theses “followers” was Mateja (bottom right) from Ljubijana, Slovenia.  Just like Michelle, Mateja wanted to be discipled and learn more of Jesus. As Michelle shared this with us, I thought of my dear friends Josh and Kristi Patty (bottom left) who serve with Josiah Venture in Ljubljana.

We contacted Josh and Kristi, and it turned out that they lived 15 minutes away from Mateja!  Mateja only knows 1 person in South Africa.  Josh and Kristi only know 2 people in South Africa, but God’s amazing plan was to connect them through  South Africa, and they are all experiencing the incredible joy of God’s power and a kingdom work as they meet together.

The things that Mateja and Michelle are learning are being passed on to the others that have come to Jesus out of the New Age Movement–some in South Africa, some in Slovenia, and some in places all over the world, types of people that would never have a chance to meet or share Jesus with.  

God’s stories, His plans, His connections and His ways are just AMAZING…How I love Him and His incredible “Divine Tale.”

Dealers of Hope…

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Returning home after Christmas, the desperate condition of South Africa hit us all over again–no electricity hours a day, corruption at the highest levels of government, incompetency in state owned enterprises, a suffering economy, and crime, just for a start.That was even before we add in the Corona virus

For me personally, the beginning of the year has held significant health challenges, relational challenges, business challenges, and other challenges of life. Many different things that, if I let them, can cause fear, hopelessness and despair

In it all, Jesus keeps repeating to me,  “I HAVE NOT given you a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind.” II Tim. 1:7

He has called me to be a “dealer of hope.”  Fear comes from my flesh, the enemy or the world, but NEVER from my Father, the King who reigns and rules over ALL things.  Whether it’s fear of a virus, fear for kids, fear with safety, fear in health, fear with finances…it NEVER comes from Him.  God’s currency is faith, never fear.  

Fear, though sometimes obvious, is at other times disguised.  I find my self using “nice” words like: “being concerned,” “using wisdom,”  “worrying just a little,” “wanting the best,” “being safe,” or “being prudent.”  Jesus is rooting these disguised fears out of me, one by one, replacing them with His peace.  

His peace is a clear measures of my base of operation–fear or faith.  Fear never brings peace, but trusting in the Prince of PEACE and His leading always does.  

I also am asking for greater understanding of His love these days, as “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  I John 4:18

One of the exercises that we did at our women’s Bible study in January was to read outloud together every verse in the Bible on hope.  I have included it here for those of you who need encouragement like we do.  “Our hope is built on Nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

In the midst of all that is happening in our world these days, I pray that we who know Jesus will be “dealers of hope,” grounded in His word and presence, coming with a spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind, even when the world all around me is freaking out!

Negotiations…at home…at work…

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If you are like me, you might think that this book has very little to do with you, but…we might want to think again! 

My husband (who is in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions) has been reading this book and talking about it for months, and after watching his enthusiasm, I finally decided to pick it up.

I’ve only just started the book, but I’m already hooked.

Starting with real stories of an incredible FBI hostage negotiator, the book unpacks how to truly understand people in order to enter into effective negotiations (or discussions about things that need mutual agreement)–at home or at work. 

Worth a read 😀…

A Gift…

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In this new season of marriage (to an amazing man, I might add 🤗), the Lord is stretching and growing me in significant ways, and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Though I could share many different facets of “learning,” the one that is top of mind is the recent gift that my Father gave me on Easter Sunday morning….

Over the last month, I wrestled with a lack of peace and some uncharacteristic agitation in both my thinking and actions.  I was tired on a regular basis (thinking it was jet lag from a trip back to the US) and I truly couldn’t seem to get to the bottom of it.  In that place of confusion it seemed to me that circumstances and interactions with certain people were causing my agitation. However, the truth was that I needed a revelation from Jesus of my own heart–the part of my heart that I could not clearly see.

The Saturday before Easter, I was so discouraged that I finally started asking Jesus to help.  I know He was just waiting for me to ask so He could pour His grace over me.  I went to sleep that night, and about 2:00 am he woke me up.  As I was laying there, I received a revelation of two words–“scorn and disdain.”  He told me that I was fighting a spirit of “scorn and disdain” and that they were rooted in pride and that I needed to repent.  Wow!!  I knew I didn’t come up with that!  

I cannot tell you how grateful I was (and still am) for the gift of repentance.  I truly didn’t know what to do or where to turn, and in His absolute love for me, He showed up with the gift of His conviction and repentance. I almost couldn’t wait until morning to confess, repent and be done with this thing!  

Easter Sunday morning dawned clear and bright and I had the amazing gift of celebrating the reality of the cross and the power of repentance that was bought through Jesus’ blood as I kneeled with my husband before my Father the King and repented, receiving grace…His amazing and unlimited grace.  

Joy, energy, clarity of thought and peace returned instantly after my repentance, and it was only then that I realized how much energy had been wasted in living with the sinful mindset that I was operating in.   

Repentance…what a gift…one that I want to receive and embrace every time as an amazing gift from my Father who loves me more than I can even imagine.

Blessing to Share?

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During my time at Master Works Foundation while visiting leaders all over the world, I quickly learned that leadership is lonely and tough.  It’s a high and challenging calling, especially the way Jesus asks us to do it.

Because the life of a leader always determines the life of a ministry/organization, the emotional, spiritual and relational health of any leader is vital.  To cultivate personal vibrancy as a leader takes time and intentionality.

The heart of En Gedi Blessing is to facilitate the use of beautiful private vacation homes for leaders to create, explore, refresh and dream–building into healthy leaders who in turn can lead healthy organizations.  

Do you have a vacation home that you would be willing to make available for 2 weeks a year to bless ministry leaders?  If so, please contact Laurie!

From Dry Bones to an Army

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South Africa–a place of incredible beauty, wildness, adventure, and challenges.  From animals, to terrain, to core racial/ethnic groups, to history, to politics, South Africa has more diversity in a relatively small land space than any other country I know.

Corruption and violence have plagued the top levels of leadership in this country for a number of years, bringing destruction and devastation of every kind imaginable.  With a national election coming on May 8th, South Africa is at a crisis point.  We need a miraculous intervention by our GREAT God.  

NOTHING is impossible with Him.

Will you stand with us and pray for a kingdom miracle on May 8th?  We need the power of the united body of Christ.

In 2013 God called me to pray and prophesy Ezekiel 37:1-14 over this nation.  I believe this is the heart of God for South Africa, and I continue to prophesy and pray, along with many others, for the “vast army” of the kingdom to arise in this beautiful land.

Pray with us that for the May 8th elections that “Those who oppose the LORD will be broken.  The Most High will thunder from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.  He will give strength to His King and exalt the horn of His anointed.”  (I Sam. 2:1)

The name of Jesus has the power to change things–ANYTHING.  He is…The KING!

“All Hail King Jesus…”,

Our Miracle Wedding…

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OUR MIRACLE WEDDING…
This is one of the most unusual and Special update letters I have had the privilege of sending to you all!

Some of you know this, and others may not.  In a crazy turn of events and answer to many years of general prayer and 5 1/2 years of specific prayer, I married a wonderful South African man named Daniel Edward Nell on September 8th, 2018!

Our Love Story…(as Originally Printed in our Wedding Program)

Though we initially met at a board meeting in Kenya of
Afmin (now Emit), a ministry we both were involved with, our story together began 6 1/2 years ago.  After being counseled by a friend and ministry leader Chris DeWet, to invite Daniel to go on the first En Gedi Experience to Israel (which he declined), Laurie was making a trip for En Gedi to South Africa in September 2012.  To follow up with the En Gedi invitation, Laurie met with Daniel for an afternoon coffee, which turned into a late and delightful dinner.

Laurie and Daniel enjoyed each other, conversation and time together from the start.  After 3 months of talking by Skype and  a month of officially dating, Daniel came to visit Laurie in the US to meet her family in March 2013.  Though it was a wonderful visit in every way, Daniel was not ready to enter into a relationship and shortly after the visit, he broke off the relationship.  

In the aftermath of that breakup, Laurie was heartbroken with a lot of questions, especially for God, and she went through one of the darkest seasons of her life.  In prayer and counsel in community, Laurie believed she was led to continue to pray that the Lord would restore and bring resurrection to the relationship with Daniel.  This continued to be her place of faith for the next 5 1/2 years.

In a series of events not connected at all to Daniel, Laurie was called to engage in a ministry called Generosity Path in expanding “Journeys of Generosity” in South Africa, eventually including a move to South Africa in January 2016.

Laurie and Daniel did not see each other at all between April 2016 and January 2018.  Toward the end of that time, the Lord had been speaking to Daniel separately about Laurie and after a series of  “divine appointments” where they “ran into” each other several times, Daniel contacted Laurie on May 1st, 2018 for coffee.  That coffee turned into lunch, which turned into dinner, which turned into today, September 8, 2018, our wedding day.

There are many incredible details that make up our story, and we are unable to share all of those in this short note,  but our Love Story is a series of miracles and a living testament to the glory of our God and Father the King!!  

Our wedding and marriage is proof that NOTHING is impossible with our God! 

Here is a link to our relationship  photo album online for any of you who might want to see pictures.

Here are two short wedding videos that capture the absolute joy, miracle and fun of our celebration:
Wedding Video #1
Wedding Video #2 

Stories of faith breed faith, and my prayer is that our story of God’s work in the “impossible” brings fuel to your own faith journey.  

With great joy, celebration and increasing faith,

Laurie

Nike and Rethinking Sexuality

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I always enjoy passing along resources that have inspired or impacted me. These two books are recent reads, and they did both!  

Shoe Dog is an AMAZING business tale–the true story of Phil Knight and his business journey with Nike.  A hard core and determined entrepreneur, Phil Knight shares the joys, sorrows, challenges, failures of starting Nike as well as poignant end of life reflections in a down-to-earth and inspirational way.   

Rethinking Sexuality by Juli Slattery is a book about sexual discipleship in the church.  One of the BEST books I have ever seen or encountered on the subject.  Full of truth and full of grace–a rare combination around the explosive topics facing us today in regards to sexuality.  Whether you are a parent, a discipler, a person needing healing, a learner, or a curious person, this book is SOLID and such a breath of fresh air!  I highly recommend it.

READ MORE HERE:  Shoe Dog
READ MORE HERE:  Rethinking Sexuality