#GoingWildElopement (sort of…)

I am so excited to share some of the photos taken from our e-shoot (usually Engagement… but we did a semi-Elopement one instead).  I feel I need to leave a little disclaimer that I am definitely more comfortable behind the camera… so please understand I totally get the nerves during a photoshoot!? A HUGE thank you to Kristin Swan for blessing me with my hair and make up and Rezana for being our photographer (and friend who we love dearly and are so grateful for!)

Any way, here are some photos of our time together on the beach…

Isn’t my hubby a hottie???

Advertisements

Going Wild

changed my surname and relationship status yesterday.

IMG_8023

According to the South African government and Home Affairs, I am legally Mrs Wild. It was a simple process: we met in the church office with our two witnesses, answered two simple questions and were pronounced husband and wife.  And yet, we do not consider 20 December to be our Wedding Day – that’s happening next week Friday, the 28th.  Why? Because as Christians, we believe that marriage is not a legal piece of paper declaring my name change, but rather a covenant between ourselves and God – it is a holy commitment to love each other, be faithful to one another and keep God at the centre of our relationship.  And until that covenant has been made and celebrated with friends, we are spending the week ‘un-married’.

But that didn’t stop us from enjoying yesterday…

Before the meeting (we use this word deliberately, because it was not a ceremony or special event), we went for a walk on the beach – yip, the same beach where it all began.  We had to marvel at how much has changed in 8 months; how many tough challenges we have had to face, how much we have grown – both relationally and spiritually… its been a season of huge acceleration for both of us.  We then got married, enjoyed coffee with friends and went home – to wash dishes and pack away my laundry.  You know, married people things… and then I was blessed abundantly by Kristin Swan, a super lovely make up artist in the city: she did my hair and make up as a ‘blessing from Jesus because He wants you to celebrate’. I cannot adequately express how special that was or how much I needed it – that in the midst of our unconventional and difficult engagement, I would be given such an amazing gift.  And obviously, G loved the transformation… which we embraced with a photoshoot on the beach (photos to hopefully come soon once they’ve been edited etc). And then we got to celebrate with a couple who God has blessed us with – we love our new friendship with them and have been able to share the highs and lows and lessons learnt through our season of marriage prep; it made sense to get to share our celebrations with them last night.  God is so good.

Instead of focusing on the change of relationship status, Holy Spirit reminded me of something else – the significance of a name change. I’ve always loved my name and God has used it time and time again to remind me of my Identity in Him – that no matter how much credit my parents may take, He named me. And the meaning of my name has had such significance for me.

Lauren Joy Vercoe.

Lauren means ‘crowned with laurels; victorious’ and well, Joy is pretty obvious.  My surname, apparently coming from French heritage can be split into two french words: Verite (truth) and Coeur (heart).  I’ve always loved that – ‘being true to one’s heart’.  And for me, it meant being true to my heart after God.  On the way home from my SOZA session last month, Holy Spirit explained how I was stepping into a new season and how significant my name change would be.  Although my ‘foundation’ will always be ‘true to my heart’, a new season of Freedom and Reckless Abandonment (in God) was on its way – that I have been granted permission to be Wildly, Joyfully Victorious – living in the Fullness of Jesus’ Victory, Freedom and Healing – His Grace.

I don’t know the details of this New Season, but I am expectant of God doing great things – to His glory.

Showers of Blessing

I have been blessed with the most amazing women in my life – I am literally surrounded by faith-filled, joy-filled, friends who have sown seeds of Joy and Celebration into my wedding (when G and I were unable to do so ourselves).  And for this, I am grateful. Extremely so.

I am also a bit of a brat – but we all know this – and with all the storms we’ve had to weather over the past several weeks, couldn’t risk any unplanned events (and by that I mean anything I have not had sufficient time to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for – I have a very bad habit of not always being suitably ‘ready for public appearances’ if you know what I mean…)  and as an introvert who has been stretched thin recently, social engagements exhaust me at the best (worst?) of times. So… being the brat that we know I am, I asked that my bridal shower not be kept a secret – at least, allow me to know the date and be vaguely prepared (as in, make sure my hair is washed).  I didn’t need to know the details, but appreciated time to prepare myself for a potentially exhausting event (and save everybody from a not so pleasant version of me if surprised at a really, really bad time).

On Friday, my bridesmaids arrived with a rather big box – my Celebration Count Down Box.  Inside, were envelopes for each day leading up to the wedding.  Some days include a letter, others are instructions and a gift.  Its amazing.  Each morning I get to experience another seed being sown towards the Celebration of our Love Story.

IMG_7983

And of course, most appropriately: there are unicorns everywhere.  (At the start of 2017, Holy Spirit took me through a process of trusting Him for Unicorns – prayers that were almost mythical they seemed so far from possible.  Read blog.) One of those ‘unicorns’ was my future husband and I always find it funny how G simply associates me with ‘sparkles and unicorns’ but doesn’t realise that he, in fact, is my unicorn… the evidence of God’s faithfulness to His promises.

But I digress.

Saturday was filled with an amazing day of celebration – spending time with precious friends who have walked an incredible path with me over the years. Each of us have stories and memories that range from sitting on couches (or counters) drinking tea and sharing hearts, to adventure-day road trips, to moments of extreme joy and extreme sorrow – we have shared Life together. It was truly an incredible experience to take time out and simply appreciate each one of them; to be grateful for the role they have played in my life and how God surrounds us with people who speak Love and Life (but also don’t shy away from the occasional Rebuke and ‘Toughen Up, cupcake’).  So many wedding sites push the concept of Bride Tribes, but honestly, I think they’ve gotten it wrong: we need more that that – we need to surround ourselves with Women of Faith (and Courage and Joy and Wisdom and Passion and Silliness and Prayer) who will continually hold up our arms when we no longer have the strength to do it ourselves – women who remind us of our Identity in Christ and the Freedom (and Healing) which He died for.  Women who will speak Truth and Encouragement.

If one counts wealth by the value of relationships in one’s life, truly I must be one of the richest people alive.  Its good to be reminded of what matters most and how blessed I am. Thank you ladies.

Choosing Celebration

I never release a blog post until I feel the timing is right – that I feel a ‘permission’ has been granted and I can bear witness from a place of authority and ‘overcoming’.  Consequently, I have been a little quiet lately while we have had to deal with (yet more) ‘stuff’…

Firstly, let me share several key factors:

Before we were even engaged (but definitely dating ‘with intention of marriage’), we received a prophetic word regarding our relationship – that God had a purpose for our marriage beyond ourselves; that He would use it as a platform to minister to others.  This was nothing new to us, and in fact, it merely confirmed what we already had felt Holy Spirit say. Fast forward a few months and an engagement ring later, I felt Holy Spirit say we needed to prepare spiritually for our marriage, and go for a SOZA session. SOZA is an amazing healing ministry where a facilitator leads one in a prayer session – in a nutshell: its a personal and very intimate conversation with Jesus, Holy Spirit and Daddy God. My session was incredible. Through the course of this session, I received several prophetic words regarding my relationship with Garth – that (again), our relationship has a higher calling and will be used to minister to and encourage others; that there is a Redemptive Grace upon us and God will use our story to bring healing. (Again) this was not news to me, but merely confirmation of what I had already felt Holy Spirit say weeks earlier.

I shared a photo on the Facebook group the other day of the accessories Holy Spirit had lead me to choose for the ceremony, as well as the unusual choice of gold for my nail polish.  The colour gold has begun featuring strongly in my current walk with Holy Spirit (He uses colour to minister to me on a regular basis).  Obviously it is known for its Biblical connotations of faith being refined like pure gold, as well as the associations of Victory and God’s Righteousness. When looking to create my veil, I asked Holy Spirit to help me pick out hair pins and he did: two beautiful golden leaves.  It was only a little later when I made the connection: my name literally means ‘crowned with laurel’ – laurel being the leaves worn by victors.  And now my veil too, will be a golden crown of laurels. Once again, Holy Spirit has reminded me of the Victory we walk in, in Jesus’ Grace and Glory.

IMG_7892

So what’s been the problem?

Through the course of our (fairly short) engagement, neither Garth nor myself have been particularly focused on the wedding planning.  Instead, we have approached this season as preparation for our marriage; seeking to grow as a couple and work though as much spiritual preparation as we can.  As we have grown stronger spiritually (and relationally) together, we have faced the predictable spiritual opposition. I have been accused of being pregnant, Garth has been asked whether he was being forced into the wedding (if I had THAT measure of influence I would have used it on a man years ago?!) and we were both recently challenged on whether we were even ready for marriage.

Ready for marriage? You bet we are!

Having struggled through a fog of anxiety and stress caused by this negativity and many, many tears later – Garth and I are stronger than ever.  When faced with such opposition, we chose to draw closer together in Unity and grow together in Strength.  Today, Holy Spirit gave me this revelation: the Bride of Christ does not need to distract herself with inconsequential irritants – she simply locks her eyes on her Groom, Jesus, and stands glorious in His Victory. The enemy has already been defeated, and as Christians, we’re called to walk in that Freedom and Victory established at the cross. Its an incredible honour.  The Bride does not give way to Fear.  I do not need to give way to Fear – and I have been doing that for too long; its time to end it.

Two things I am fully convinced of: one, this relationship and marriage is a God-thing covered in His Grace and Redemption and two, Garth and I love eachother unconditionally, having made a commitment to do so for the rest of our lives, hoping that God may be glorified through us. We have withstood the storms, chosen to honour and extend grace and compassion, remained firm on the convictions placed in our hearts and been obedient in everything Holy Spirit has said we need do – we have been faithful through the Season of Fire; our faith and relationship has survived the Refining.

And now… for the next two weeks, we intend to Celebrate: we plan on embracing the Victory Christ has bestowed upon us, walk in His Redemption and Celebrate the Love Story He is busy writing. Every other ‘distraction’ or ‘opposition’ will now be laid aside as we focus on Jesus. This is no longer a time for Fear, but a Time for adjusting my crown, realising whose daughter I am and walking in that Identity – crowned not only with (golden) laurels, but with His Righteousness and Deliverance.