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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.”

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.

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

Faith Book…

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These last 6 years have been a school of faith in a deeper way than I have ever known before.  In my journey with Daniel, the Lord spoke to me repeatedly so many different ways, asking me to continue to pray, believing that He had Daniel for kingdom work and for me even though there was absolutely NO INDICATION that this would ever happen.  In fact, there was every indication that it would NEVER happen!

In 2013 (right after Daniel walked away and broke my heart) the Lord prompted me to keep a picture “journal” of God’s revelations to me, affirming my stand of faith every step of the way.  Little did I know that it would be a collection over 6 years.  If I would have known, it would have led to despair, I think.  SO many times, I thought I was out of my mind to continue on with this journal, but every time I would pray, I just knew that I didn’t have the freedom to walk away.

The week before our wedding, I finished our book of faith–a collection of @ 475 photos in my picture faith journal–each one with an explanation of God’s speaking to me during the 6 years of my faith journey.  What an amazing “Divine Review” with Jesus I had leading up to our wedding as I finished this book.

Here is a sample of the faith book pages…

He is SO faithful.  He keeps His promises. His word to me never changed.  He is the “promise maker and the promise keeper and He finishes what He began.”

What a joy to present this book to Daniel on our wedding day.  It will forever be a “stone of remembrance”–of our God, His word, His faithfulness, and my/our school of faith.  

There is great value in keeping record of our God, His word to us, and His journey to fulfillment of that word.  Journals (of all sorts) have generational power to testify of the greatness of our God and inspire faith in others!!  If you have never kept a faith journal individually or as a family before, it’s always a great time to start!

“How great is our God…sing with me how great is our God.  How great, how great is our God!!!” 

“Out of Africa”–Friends, Gifts and Joy

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On January 23, 2016, I showed up in Johannesburg, South Africa with a vision from the Lord (at least I sure hoped it was!), two suitcases, a place to stay for two months, and not a single friend in a city of 10 million.  Wow!!  Am I crazy or what??

I had no idea what kind of ride this would be, but looking back now, two years later, the Lord has surprised and amazed me…

He brought me here with a picture–a picture of light emanating from South Africa into the rest of Africa, changing the foundations.

As I have walked with Him in the midst of this picture, I have watched Him change hearts here in South Africa through the Journeys of Generosity (JOG)–an experiential encounter with God’s generosity toward us over a weekend of stories, small group discussion, Biblical readings and times alone with the Spirit of God.   People have encountered the Father’s love and generosity in a way that is transformational.  It’s amazing to watch.  JOGs are being done in other parts of Africa now, with South Africans leading the charge!  Light–His light emanating from South Africa into the rest of Africa.

Part of the “light” picture that I felt like He gave me was that there was going to be a strong movement of business people (and even specifically men) who are FULLY surrendered to the Lord and will take His kingdom through business into Africa in transformational ways.  I have seen some of this start to happen as well, and I continue to pray for this “band of brothers” that the Lord will raise them up in POWER to change foundations of culture through business.

In the midst of the joy of watching Jesus at work in the big picture of this country and continent, there have also been gifts–incredible gifts from my Father.  I have a community of friends that I love, pray with, laugh with, and even invite myself over to dinner at their home(s).  I have a beautiful place to live that faces a garden and feeds my soul every single day.  I found a wonderful hairdresser (Girls, you know what a miracle that is!! :-).  I have opportunities to go on safari and WORSHIP (Honestly, I don’t know that there is a greater worship experience for me than watching the majesty and intricacy of His creation as seen on a safari drive.  He’s magnificent, our Creator God).  I have experienced the body of Christ in different cultures and expressions every Sunday.  I had a visit from my family to share my world here with them.  Joy…gifts…friends…Jesus….

All in all, in my two year “review” this month, I am celebrating…GREAT is Your faithfulness, O God, my Father….

His “Songbird”….

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I LOVE to sing, not because I am good at it, but because the Lord constantly seems to be giving me a song…

Growing up at home, we only listened to Christian radio (A shout out for Evie, Amy Grant, Steve Green, Larnell Harris, and Sandy Patti! 😀) and classical music.  Friends laugh at my limited music repertoire including only two genres–except for Barry Mantalo’s “Feelings” and “You write the songs that make the young girls cry.”  Those were on the 8 track demo that came with our stations wagon.  I secretly listened to it while Mom and Dad were gone. 😂”

I laugh, but I am actually grateful.  The Lord speaks to me in song–in prayer times, in the morning, in the middle of a conversation.  There’s a lot of music He has put in to draw from and very little “interference” music.  I even found out a couple years ago, that my middle name “Linnette” means “songbird.”

In the last few years, I have seen Him speak to people in transformational ways through song.  Last year on several occasions I sang something He brought to mind, and someone cried, another received a picture, or a sense of God’s love.

It’s not like I have a great voice.  I don’t.  There’s nothing to take credit for.  It’s HIM!

Right before Christmas, I was at my church and a woman I have never met before from our prophetic team (people trained and tested by mature believers who have the gift of prophecy) gave me a “word.”

She said she saw me with a guitar, asking me if I sang.  She continued by saying that she sensed that I was called not just to sing but to change atmospheres.  😳 WOW!!!  Jesus has the power to change hearts/atmospheres, and He can do it through His songs!!

Shortly after that, I felt prompted to try out for our church worship team–for the first time in my life.  Last Sunday was my first Sunday.  What an incredible joy it was to look out over His body and sing–sing because He has called me to, because He wants to change atmospheres.

Our team in unity felt called to “sing” in the first service for healing.  My friend with cancer and pain was at that service.  She texted me Monday afternoon to say she had her first night of no pain on Sunday night, and it has continued.

That’s just one example, but praise Jesus that He has the power to change things–ANYTHING.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  He is my Father…The KING!

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name…”,

Pete and Deb Ochs

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This next month is FULL of events.

I have been asked to serve over this next year as a “mentor” in an “Accelerator” program for non-profit and for-profit promising entrepreneurs. Our first event is happening next week.

Early February, we are hosting a week with Pete and Deb Ochs—an amazing business couple from Wichita, KS.   God has both humbled and used this couple to build his kingdom in unique ways, including starting a successful business in a maximum security prison in the US while also discipling and investing in the inmate employees.  You can see their story here.

While here, Pete and Deb will be intersecting with the South African business community in many different venues/settings around personal humility and living His kingdom in business settings.  We will also be facilitating two Journeys of Generosity during that week.

The Lord recently reminded me that the next month has NOTHING to do with events but everything to do with Breakthroughs.

South Africa has been at a point of crisis, and other countries in Africa are as well.  There is such a profound need for the children of the King and citizens of His kingdom to rise up in this country and continent, and bring His kingdom in Africa as it is in heaven.

I ask you to pray with me for—TRANSFORMATIONAL BREAKTHROUGHS!!

Two Worlds…

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Living between two worlds…both a joy and a challenge…

This season of my life has served as an incredible reminder of what it is to live between two worlds.  As a follower of Jesus, I am always an “alien and stranger” on earth, but some seasons highlight this truth more than others.

While in the US, I fully give myself to the joys of family, friends, familiar surroundings, and known activities/traditions.  Even in the midst of that joy, there is sometimes an ache that a whole realm of my life is unknown to those around me while still very, very present in my heart and mind…South African friends, new traditions and activities that I have grown to love, new experiences that have broadened my sense of the King and His world.

On the flip side, while in South Africa, I give myself fully to wonderful friends, new experiences, and kingdom work that brings great joy.  However, there can sometimes be an ache at the lack of a sense of history, the knowing of my “roots”, and the familiarity that can only come with time.

One world often excludes the other and yet also enriches the other in unseen ways.  It is both a strange and beautiful experience.

In a fresh way I am realizing all over again that I am not a citizen of earth.  My true citizenship  is secure in heaven and doesn’t change.  I am known there FOREVER and fully, and there is a shared history with friends that dates back to the foundations of the earth and has everything in common through Jesus.

There is one King.  He is eternal and doesn’t ever get elected or dethroned.  I have a home that has been built with my specific desires and being in mind from which I will never have to move…built by One who knows exactly what I need.

He has visited and been a citizen of both places, and He knows all aspects of my current worlds.

In this season, I am so grateful that Jesus is “the sure foundation of my times.  A rich storehouse of wisdom, salvation and knowledge….”  He is my source of joy and hope as I transfer from one world to another, belonging totally to each in different ways, but often feeling a bit abnormal in both because I really belong to another world all together–an eternal one!!

Signature :: Laurie