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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!!!” 

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…”,

Russians and Intimate Relationships…

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What in the world Russians have to do with intimate relationships?  Well, not much, except that they have them!  😀

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

Red Notice is a book of business intrigue, unbelievable corruption and amazing perseverance, and not only that, it reads like a first class novel, but it’s all TRUE!  Higly recommend it!

Scary Close challenges treasured paradigms of relationships and self-protection.  His style may be a stretch for some at first, but it is well worth persevering!  Don’s vulnerability inspires others to take a closer look at the things that may hinder the type of relationship(s) we so desire.  If you are a couple, you might want to consider reading it together as it is worth discussing.

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

Spring and Michael Phelps

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Though in the US, we are headed into fall at the moment, in South Africa, we are in the midst of Spring which means Jacaranda trees here in South Africa (the beautiful purple that you see in this photo).

Spring is a yearly reminder that the way things are does not mean it is the way things will be.  Resurrection is possible.  No matter how long “death” has reigned, life can break through and change EVERYTHING–forever.

I love the picture of “spring” in the story of Michael Phelps that Louie Giglio recently painted during a message at Passion City Church.  This story and Louie’s message both inspired and touched me.

I’m including it here for any of you who might want to listen or watch too!

Listen 8/14/16: “Past Forward”
Watch 8/14/16: “Past Forward”

It Smelled Like You…

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I just returned to South Africa recently after taking part in the Gathering, an event I have attended since 1998.  The Gathering is a group of friends who invest in the kingdom of Christ all over the world.  The richness of relationships, wisdom and knowledge that I have gained over the years from this weekend cannot be quantified.  I am blessed each and every year.

During a courtyard breakfast this year, one of my long time Gathering friends came up and enthusiastically asked me if I had been on “such and such” an elevator a few minutes previously.  Having no idea what he was talking about, I looked at him as if he had lost his mind, but he continued by saying, “I got on that elevator, and I knew that you had been there because it smelled like you!”

My mom was right (as she so often is) when she told me in high school that I should choose a fragrance and stick with it, as people remember you by your scent.

Perfume aside, that whole interaction with my friend got me me thinking about “the fragrance of Christ.”

What “scent” do I leave–on an elevator…when I’m traveling, bone tired and in one of those pressurized situations (I recently had to apologize to a Hertz woman in one such situation)…at my condo association–a challenge for the last 20 years…

When I walk away, what “scent” remains…do people know, in some way, that Jesus has been there because His “fragrance” still lingers?

I read an article just today where, in the most tragic and horrible situation from any human perspective, there was a group of people who left a STRONG fragrance of Christ.  Isis Crucifies 11 Christian Missionaries.  A sweet smelling fragrance that wafted to the throne in heaven…

May my fragrance be Him:  Let it be Jesus by Christy Nockels

Let it be Jesus…when all is said and done…For me to live is Christ,
,

Signature :: Laurie

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

Love…

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Love…

I have been learning about love lately…His love…a love that never fails, never gives up and never runs out.  This lesson is long, hard…and rich.  Truth lessons worth holding on to often are…

A favorite refrain of our God seems to be, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.”  This phrase reverberates in the Psalms, was proclaimed morning and night in the temple, is a battle cry in II Chronicles, is prophetically proclaimed in Jeremiah, and will reverberate around His throne at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

“FOREVER” is a very long time for love to endure, with LOTS of patience in it (#1 in I Corinthians 13–God’s love list).  My own love endures…until I get tired…until I am rejected…until I am not treated well….

In my journey lately, I am realizing again how much I need Him to infuse me with His love.  HIS love ENDURES forever…it never fails, never gives up and never runs out…not ever….  HIS [perfect] love also casts out FEAR… fear of rejection, fear of tedious and indefinite repetition, fear of death to self….

This life of love is impossible without Him, I must say.  Pride wants to come to all my “love” parties accompanied by the rigid bodyguard of Self-Protection!  Part of my sharing in the sufferings of Christ is to love like He loves me–sacrificially and completely.  No pride.  No self-protection….Freely I have received and freely I can give.

Hosea experienced that.  Paul experienced that.  Jesus IS that.  We share in the sufferings of Jesus so that we can also share in the glory of His resurrection.

His “forever,” enduring love brings resurrection (I Cor. 5:17) …makes things new…makes me new…makes others new.

So today, in the same Spirit of David’s appointees Heman and Jeduthun at the gates of the temple (I Chron 16:39-42), I give thanks to the Lord, proclaiming with my life that:

“He is good and His love endures FOREVER!”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lPdtqgouCc

Signature :: Laurie