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Jo 23It is a great source of fascination to me how I get to speak at some places. I’ve decided God has a sense of humour and sometimes just seems to want to surprise me with interesting experiences and to enjoy my delight in the journey.

One day last week, I found myself in the gracious, 1920s heritage listed Castlereagh Boutique Hotel in the centre of Sydney, having been invited to speak at a women’s social club that meets there. I had travelled in by train, and, after walking in a massive, unnecessary loop from Town Hall Station, carrying my heavy bags of books, finally found the hotel and tottered inside, feeling like some decrepit, old bag lady.

Instantly, I was in another much grander world that seemed to belong in an Agatha Christie movie. I was soon whisked upstairs to Cello’s Restaurant in the beautifully restored main dining room and invited to set out my books on an expensive looking mahogany table. I was so glad I had brought my special Turkish tablecloth and a good number of books—a shoddy display in such surroundings would have been sacrilege.

When the necessary business meeting concluded, I was invited to come forward. How would my input be received? These women all spoke in a very polished manner and seemed expensively dressed. Taking a deep breath, I launched into my talk. Yes, they seemed to be responding well—I could see some smiles as I shared about my journey of becoming a published author. Encouraged, I risked a few more comments about my faith in God and reasons for writing.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a truly fine dining experience at the club’s expense. A few books were sold and then it was time to pack up. I trundled back to Town Hall station, carrying my now slightly lighter bags of books. Had all my time and effort been worth it?

Then I remembered my conversation with a lady over lunch, an artist and writer so interested in my writing journey, and how others at our table had also joined in. I suspect none of them had met anyone quite like me from Christian ministry circles. I then remembered sensing the longing in another lady who had had some church contact in the past as I later signed a copy of my book Soul Friend for her. And I reflected too on how many women showed such curiosity about my church connections. Had I perhaps given them a more positive image of what it means to be a committed Christian woman and author? I hoped so.

The following day, I received an email from my contact at that club:

We all enjoyed your talk—very inspiring. …  We did appreciate your efforts of carrying books and displaying them so beautifully, especially on your lovely cloth. I have had much feedback and would like to thank you once again for coming along.

Yes, it was a different world. But God had gone before me, even inspiring me, I believe, to take some effort with that book display. God was there, in the beauty of that building and the warmth of the women. And I pray God’s Spirit will continue to work in the lives of those who heard me speak and bought my books.

What a privilege to step into that different world with God—even for a brief time!

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