The Story of The Book
I can't believe I've never shared this story on here! It's been almost two years since this happened and somehow I never sat myself down to write out exactly how amazing of an experience it was. But, in any case, here we go:
In November of 2017, when I was struggling with where I was placed and what I was meant to be doing in South Africa, I did the only thing I've ever known to do that actually helps... I started praying. Shortly after praying and asking God for direction, I started having dreams about a place I didn't recognize. I don't know that I'd ever seen the view I kept seeing in my dreams. And they were so vivid and clear dreams. I just knew it was something that I needed to pay attention to. But, as I often do with God things, I kept it between Him and me until I knew what was going on. I had a total of three of these dreams, all exactly the same and all without any explanation.
After the third one I knew it was God. I started asking Him to help me find this place. I just knew I needed to be where ever this place was, even if it was just for a visit. Something was there for me and I had to find it. About a week after the last dream I found myself walking around Plettenberg Bay doing some normal errands when I bumped into a woman from my church. She was an auntie that I had had a few interactions with, but not many. She and I chatted briefly, and then she stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, "Have you ever been to Jeffreys Bay?" It was so out of the blue that I wasn't sure where she was going with it. I told her I had visited the surf shops with a friend, but that's about it, and then I asked her why. "I don't really know. But I think you should go to Jbay." She had no idea what had been running through my head for days on end and yet... God knew.
The following Sunday, another auntie at church asked me the same question, "Have you ever been to Jbay?" followed by "I think you should go." And, yet again, for a third time, a friend of mine stopped dead in the conversation and said, "I don't know why, but I think you should go to Jbay." Needless to say, it was time to go to Jeffreys Bay.
I contacted all of the people who shared a car with me and asked to borrow it for the day. I took off, without telling anyone where I was going, and drove the 2 hour drive to Jbay. The whole way there I prayed that God would explain what on earth was going on! I was so confused and yet so at peace at the same time. I just knew there was something there for me on that day.
As I drove down the main street of Jbay, I didn't really understand why I was there. But I made a turn, followed by another turn, and another, until I was thoroughly confused on where I was. Suddenly, I saw it. I saw the exact view I had seen in my dreams. I tell you, I wanted to freak out when I saw it! I froze at the stop sign and just stared until someone pulled up behind me. I really didn't know what to do. I drove forward and headed to the local mall and I just praised God for letting me follow Him to this spot. I told Him, whatever He wanted to teach me that day, I was ready and willing! "Whatever You want to say, Lord, I'm listening."
This short prayer opened a flood gate of messages from God. I sat in a restaurant at the mall and listened to what seemed like a never ending flow of love, encouragement, correction, wisdom, and understanding that I was so desperately craving. For hours I heard His voice: it was as if no other sound existed. He spoke, I listened, and I wrote. Whatever He told me, I wrote it down.
Then, it stopped, just as suddenly as it had began. I didn't know what to do. I had a list of several messages from God that were so full of love and compassion. And I knew in my heart that this was God's way of helping me, but also helping those that I care about as well. I knew the messages were pointed at me, but they were also pointed at the people around me who also needed to hear Him. I had figured out what He was doing... He was writing a book for me and with me (something I used to ask Him to do with me when I was learning how to express myself in writing class). But, when the messages stopped coming, I felt stuck. I knew He wasn't done, but something had changed.
"Where did You go, Lord?"
"What do I do now?"
One word answered me: "Move."
I got back in my car and started driving, having absolutely NO idea where I was going. I made my way back towards the N2 highway and felt released to head back towards Plett, back towards home. But as I came into a small town called Storms River Village I had an yearning to go back to a small coffee shop there that I had visited with a friend on my birthday just a few weeks prior. As I pulled into the driveway, the owners were standing at the door, smiling.
"We were wondering when you'd get here."
Taken aback, I honestly didn't know what to say. "What?"
They smiled and Dean, the husband and a former pastor, continued to explain.
"We've got lunch for you and we've been wondering when you'd get here."
"You knew I was coming?" "Yep."
"How? I didn't even know I was coming."
I was stunned by Dean's reply. "I saw you in my dream last night. God told me you'd be coming and that you needed a place to finish writing. Come on in. Michelle's working on your coffee now."
They led me to the back in the open garden section where I found a table marked "reserved" just for me. Michelle brought me a cappaccino and a plate of curry and patted me on the back. Then Dean asked me what I was writing. He said he'd been waiting all day to figure out what God was up to. When I explained that I wasn't really sure what I was writing, I was just copying down the things I heard God say, he smiled, nodded, and said, "Carry on."
It honestly took me several minutes before I could wrap my brain around what was going on with this crazy day! But as soon as I gave up the fight to comprehend, and simply said, "Whatever You want to do, Lord..." the words started flowing again! I wrote as fast as I could to keep up with the messages, stopping every so often to take a bite, a drink, or just give my hand a rest.
And then, they stopped again. I had an idea of what God was asking me to write down next, but the words weren't coming like they had with the others. So I just paused. I asked God if I needed to move again, but I had no response. So I just sat, drank the last of my coffee, and stared out at the beautiful mountain beyond the garden. Within minutes I heard Dean's voice calling me.
"I know what you're supposed to say," he said. He came out of the kitchen, leaned on the chair directly across from me, and spit out about four sentences of wisdom, all of which were exactly what I was trying to make sense of moments before. He winked and walked away. Just like that I was off and writing again. By the time the sun began to set, I had over twenty messages from the Lord that I had no idea what to do with. Michelle and Dean seemed to know I was done at the same time that I did. They came out, hugged me, thanked me for coming, refused to let me pay for anything, and prayed a blessing over me and the words God had given me. It was truly a God-ordained moment that I hope I never forget.
I pulled out of Storms River Village with a full heart and a curious mind. What was God up to? What was I supposed to do with these messages? As I continued my drive back to Plett, I felt led to make one more stop. I pulled off in a small, touristy town called Keurboomstrand. I had been here several times as it was one of my favorite hiding places to go when I needed a break from ministry, a break from Plett, a break from myself. I pulled into the parking lot of a closed restaurant and I sat on a bench overlooking the rocks on the sea shore. I continued to pray, asking God what I must do with this notebook full of ramblings. As I sat there, a man came by walking his dog. He saw me wearing a baseball hat from my favorite US team, the Atlanta Braves, and asked me if I was American. We struck up a conversation while his beautiful dog chased a tennis ball into the sands and back. He discovered quickly that I was a Christian and told me he couldn't believe that God existed because if He did, why did it feel like He didn't care about him? I did my best to encourage him to keep asking questions and keep seeking, but I could tell this man wasn't really looking for answers that day. So we carried on talking about sports and cultural differences until he had to go. After he left, however, I realized that God had used him, a nonbeliever, to answer my question. What must I do with these notes? Share them! They were meant for more than just me.
As I finally made my way back to my flat, I was inspired to compile the messages, along with some of the photos I had taken in Plett over the year (all hand-picked by God as I typed each message), and send it all to a friend that I thought might have more wisdom than I did. She read it and quickly replied, "We HAVE to get this published, girl! It's powerful!" Still fighting my own doubts and insecurities, I pushed back. But, luckily, she is more stubborn than I am and immediately started editing it for me. She even set it up in a better format for quick publishing. She researched different publishing options, and set me up an account with a US company to try self-publishing. It all happened so fast that I honestly don't remember what all it took to get this little book published. But I know this:
God wrote it all in one day --- It was edited in one week --- published in one month --- and it sold enough copies in it's first two months to pay for me to move to my new home and new ministry opportunities... in Jeffreys Bay.
Since then, I've seen God do some amazing things with this little book of prayer messages! I've heard of people giving it as gifts all over the world and I've heard of hearts being turned for God! I could not be more honored to be used by Him in such an intimate way. And I am forever grateful for any impact this book may have on people's hearts and minds. I have only ever wanted to know more of this God that has amazed me my whole life. And now, more than ever, I am seeing how wonderful it is to watch others hunger after Him as well!
PS: If you've read this story this far, I think you deserve a treat. Just between you and me, God has been busy speaking in a very similar way again these past few week (ever since a large church conference I was blessed to work at). And, if all goes well, He may have a second book to bring Him even more glory very soon.