Say YES

About this time last year, I began dancing.

At the time it was a major Step Out from my comfort zone of hibernating on the couch and avoiding people under the excuse of being an ‘introvert’. And even then I knew it was about being obedient to Holy Spirit’s leading me out from my (comfortable and potentially harmful) Habitual Lifestyle.  I had become stuck in a social rut and while complaining about being lonely and not meeting new people, I was, well, still sitting on the same couch and only venturing out of the house for the same routine activities.

At the start of last year, Holy Spirit told me, 2018 would be the year of me saying Yes, Lord – and I would find the consequences of my obedience would lead to great change. It honestly did. And it all began with Saying Yes to Holy Spirit’s prompting me to start dancing (you can read the original post HERE). Was it scary? YES. Were there times when I questioned what I was doing? YES. Did I ever want to climb back on the couch and hide there? YES. Did I realise that was not the best solution to overcoming my loneliness and isolation? Yes… But. Through taking a bold step of faith-filled obedience, it opened a door to my life honestly being changed.

Because I began dancing, I met Garth. 8 months later we were engaged. Another 3 months and we were married.  I cannot begin to explain how much better life is because I dared to Trust Holy Spirit and obediently said Yes, Lord. Getting married is not the Fulfillment of every promise God has for me, but rather, it is simply the Start of a new chapter filled with other adventures and callings that require a Yes, Lord response. Every step we take further into God’s plans for our lives, is another opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship with God – overcoming Fear and finding Faith in His Love.

I don’t know where God is leading you, or what He is asking of you at the moment – but if you can be honest with yourself and identify a comfort zone or two which may not be as helpful or healthy in your life as you like to think… well, maybe Holy Spirit is asking you to trust Him and overcome some fears, so that He can lead you out into the More that He has in store for you.  God’s plans for you are always for your good, to grow you and help you experience Life in Abundance. Trust Him. Recognise the Invitation.

Say YES.

Advertisements

#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???

The moment I removed my ring

To say the past week has been challenging, is an understatement. Its been rough. Hell, its felt like a hurricane of emotions and struggles. But the worst has past and we’ve caught our breath.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our wedding planning has had a few potholes and despite it being a very Holy Spirit inspired and co-ordinated event, we have had to face just a little human interference… and although I sought to respect and honour and make amendments where I could, eventually it became too much and I began to realise how ‘not well’ I was coping.  Every time I drove my car on a route out of my normal routine, I began experiencing mini panic attacks.  They weren’t major and I brushed it off and carried on. On Thursday, things happened that caused me to have a somewhat more noticeable (and public) attack in the staffroom at work. I finally took notice and realised we needed to address the issues. On seeing Garth later that day, I had another attack in front of him and it opened the door for a necessary conversation… and if I ever doubted how perfectly God times things – we had our final Q&A session of marriage prep sprung upon us for that evening. I arrived raw and a little apprehensive.

We won’t lie, the evening was tough and we’re both really grateful that we’ve had these honest conversations between ourselves, before having to address the issues with Chris and Louise. I think Garth took the worst of it, and was given some pretty direct instructions of things he needed to do – for the sake of our relationship.

By Saturday, I was beginning to struggle again.  He had not appeared to have done any of the things Chris had suggested and his silence on the matter was suffocating. Saturday afternoon we addressed the issue and it was tough; he was unhappy and I was anxious. I went to lie down and have only experienced that kind of crying once or twice in my life before – when the tears come from your spirit and no longer just an emotional reaction. I broke. And he watched me. It was painful to say the least.

And then Holy Spirit began to minister: He reminded me of a passage from a book I had actually asked my friend to lend Garth (Wild at Heart by John Eldridge; phenomenal read!).  In this passage, it explains how just as every man’s underlying question is ‘does he have what it takes?’, so every woman’s question is ‘am I worth fighting for?’.  And in that moment I realised we were both facing those very questions – I desperately needed my future husband to fight for me and his hesitancy looked like reluctance.  My continued meltdowns made him question his own strength. We were facing a battle that suddenly seemed very important – for each of us. And then Holy Spirit told me to remove my ring – not break up or even pause the wedding, but make a symbolic gesture of stepping out of the situation while He did the necessary healing.  I knew I would wear it again once Garth had been obedient and stepped into everything God had instructed, but I had no idea how long that would take. If removing it hurt, watching Garth’s face as I did so, was so much worse.

But we both had something to fight for.

Sunday morning I saw the book sitting beside my bed and noticed the sleeve was being used as a bookmark. Curious to see where Gabi had apparently stopped ready, I opened it. It was the exact chapter referring to the question with which every woman struggles. I read it and Holy Spirit once again began to minister: I thought I had found healing in this area years ago… only I hadn’t; I had simply learnt to live with the pain. I asked Garth to read the chapter and he graciously did, while holding my hand.  It was a long, vulnerable (for me) experience. When he was done, there was a new understanding of my pain in his eyes – but he still struggled with being obedient.

And that in turn made me struggle. I have lived by the principle that ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’ – that if you hear God give you an instruction: do it. Don’t delay and try ‘process’ or consider the potential consequences – obey the Father. While delaying obedience, one is simply being disobedient. And it concerned me seeing that in my future husband. So I brought the issue into the light and we began to communicate.

And something incredible happened.

As we became deliberate in establishing unity between us and reaffirming the connection in our relationship, suddenly we found ourselves encouraging one another to face the challenges ahead, even finding creative strategies to tackle the issues. It would take me a series of posts to begin explaining what happened yesterday – and maybe one day when everything is truly in the past and resolved, I will – but all I can say is I love a God who values Redemption; He alone can redeem the ugliest mess and turn things around for His good and glory. We didn’t do anything special. We simply focused our attention on Him, sought His heart in the battle and positioned ourselves under His covering – He did the rest.

What I have learnt is this: when a couple is unified under Christ, the enemy (in whatever shape or form) has no foothold. And the storms pass – and we find ourselves stronger, together. I’m wearing my ring – and don’t intend on removing it again. We’ve learnt the answers to both of our questions: God has given me a man who considers me worthy of fighting for, and he has the strength to step into the battle, with Holy Spirit (and me) beside him.

Breaking Ground

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love; and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.’ – Hosea 10:12

We started our marriage preparation course on Saturday. I had anticipated it being quite hectic (G was as usual, totally calm), but I honestly was not prepared for the revelation of its significance. Yes, we were given anologies of ‘when you want to drive a car, you first go for lessons… and when you want to operate in surgery, you get trained… why should marriage be different?’ I agree completely: being the nerd that I am, (if I can help it), I only step into things after I have prepared for them (being called to live by faith doesnt always allow for that, but in this case, thankfully God has given us a season to prepare).

This morning I sat with Holy Spirit (yay for school holidays) and ‘randomly’ found this scripture in Hosea. Wow. It really spoke so clearly to me regarding this Season of Preparation. Like a farmer prepares the land in the season before wanting to sow seed and hope for a subsequent harvest, so too do we need to prepare ourselves for marriage – and seed can only be sown into ground ready to receive. This morning I realised how much ‘land’ in my heart, mind and life has been allowed to grow wild – untendered and well, possibly just a little feral. Without having anyone to really consider (or keep me in check), I have allowed unhelpful habits and ways of thinking and doing things to creep in like weeds. That ground is definitely not suitable for sowing any kind of seed, let alone hoping to reap a good harvest! And so, the season of breaking ground has begun.

And it is uncomfortable.

Saturday’s session was Communication. An important foundation, but not totally ‘sensitive issue’ stuff, right? Oh, so wrong… my little field was filled with roots and rocks that need removing. The revelation that life is no longer about me or simply doing things as I have always (unquestioningly) done hit home; if I am going to be the best wife for G – the one he needs me to be in order to help him lead us well, and to encourage the best out of him… well, I have some work to do. Yes, the significance of this season lies in the Forever Future ahead of us, but more so, the next 87 days will require me to be more vulnerable, open and humble than I have ever been. And it requires an incredible depth of trust; revealing both the good and bad parts of myself to G, (hoping and praying) and trusting that he will not only accept them and extend grace towards me, but will cover those areas in love (Colossians 3). I am continually in awe and so very grateful that God would give me someone who is not only the most patient man I have ever known, but so kind and gentle in how he draws me out from my fears, insecurities and overthinking head. He leads me well.

So excuse me while I go hunt for some wellies and dungarees and a garden fork… or maybe a tractor and plow may be more useful… there is work to be done – and it doesnt involve colour schemes, flower choices or picking dresses…

( significance of photo: its the view from our venue – and symbolic of looking into the future…)

 

The Battles we face

Before I write this excruciatingly personal post, may I begin by saying: I am simply sharing my story, the journey I have walked and the personal decisions I have made in my life – I realise these may be vastly different from anyone reading this, and respect that you may have a different point of view.  My intention is not to judge or assert that my beliefs are somehow ‘right’ or ‘better’… they’re simply the ones I chose to live my life by and have lead me to this point.

{Also, possibly a necessary disclaimer if my mom or dad is reading this… sex may be mentioned during the course of this post – you may want to think about whether you want to continue reading this or not… yip, single Christian girl is talking about sexual desire; can you feel the religious spirits twitch??}

Okay, now that I have your attention…

When I was young, I made a decision to ‘wait for my husband’ in the sense that I wanted to get married as a virgin, in a white dress.  How archaic right? Let me explain my choice: I knew that on my wedding day, standing before the man God had chosen for me, I wouldn’t be able to give him my heart and say he had been the only man I had ever loved. I would be lying. I have given my heart away – wow, I have basically thrown it at men who have either misused it, rejected it or simply been none the wiser; I’ve had my share of heart ache.  No, I knew I couldn’t say I had honoured him alone with my heart… but I could present my body to him and say I had chosen to keep that pure, choosing at times to die to self and all those very human desires (and strangely, creepy offers from both dodgy and slightly appealing men alike) and wait for The One. Yeah, those kind of ideals are great when you meet the love of your life at 18 and get married at 19… but wait I did.

Because I was so resolute in that decision, I believe God really did protect me in many ways. I look back on various situations and relationships and can only explain it as God must have kept me in a protective bubble and shielded me from a lot of temptation. So honestly, I have never really struggled with physical temptations in relationships and the concept of lust was always just slightly well, abstract.  The battle I faced always centered around my heart. I was continually walking a fine line between being content in Jesus and desperately wanting someone to love me; the need for affirmation that I was vaguely lovable was at times incredibly difficult.  And its not often spoken about in church circles, other than very twee comments about Contentment (usually spoken by happily married women who had no clue what it was like to be facing those questions of inadequacy and apparent rejection or worthlessness).

The morning I sent G that PM on Facebook, had begun with my usual ‘tea with Holy Spirit’ on the couch.  As I was spending time with Him, I read a prophetic word Lana Vawser had released that morning, focusing on 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 where the king was facing a battle that he could not win.  Because he chose to honour God and trust Him, he was victorious and reaped incredible rewards.  Lana’s word continued saying that people were entering a season of incredible breakthrough, and that in the very area where God intended ‘spoils’ (treasures), the enemy was trying to steal and destroy.  I heard Holy Spirit say very clearly that the battle I was (and always had been) facing was over my heart… and hence, my finding the courage to obey and send that PM…

What amazed me was the moment I stepped into relationship with G, there seemed to be an acceleration that should have terrified my over-analytical mind – and yet, because I knew this was such a ‘God-thing’, I had the most inexpiable peace. I didn’t have to ‘guard my heart’ (such a well-used Christian phrase) with G – because it was completely lost (found) in Jesus.  I had nothing to fear. I think we had been dating for two weeks when G revealed the depths of his feelings for me – that he was in this for marriage. From that moment onwards, my heart was completely and utterly safe – I had found Home.

And the battle shifted focus. And I realised how the battle for my heart had been child’s play in comparison to what lay ahead of us: the battle for my purity.

Years ago I had highlighted a seemingly random verse in my Bible – Song of Solomons 3:5

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

This verse has often found its way into my thoughts and guided me through many could-be relationships.  But it was only in really ‘relating’ with G, that I was suddenly realizing the wisdom in this verse… awakening love is a very dangerous thing to do – love is powerful and at times, uncontrollable; its a force that can (at times) be overwhelming (I am still referring to the emotion here), and demands a response or physical demonstration – and that’s where, well, the arousal, suddenly became very evident. I will be honest, I was probably just a little smug and over-confident stepping into this relationship; I mean, I had this self-control of physical aspects down right? Oh, so wrong… with Love’s awakening, came the natural desire to express that emotion and suddenly boundaries were being established, pushed, redefined and discussed – continually. And I will admit, I was the one to push the boundaries that bit harder than G ever would – his need to protect me clearly exceeds my own!

May I just throw in a little side-note: we have not lost the battle, but I am constantly aware that we really are in a battle against an enemy who would love to see me and my precious testimony of trusting God with this relationship be destroyed. I am in no way saying we have this boundary/ physical restraint thing sorted – I’m not even claiming I have complete victory in this area.  We struggle on a daily basis.  I am simply speaking what Holy Spirit says to share… and I cringe at the thought that someone is actually possibly reading this?! But the thing is, wanting to express love physically is such a natural desire and I don’t believe its got anything to do with lust (within our context) – we love eachother deeply and it only seems to make sense to me that I would want to give G every possible aspect of my heart, soul and body as an expression of my love for him… but, we are not married.  Yet.

It has become our most repeated saying, that ‘One Day…’ we will enjoy this or that, but not now.  That one moment of instant gratification (even as an expression of honest, pure love) may be amazing in that moment, but when compared to the blessing of Forever beyond marriage, it seems so silly and insignificant.  Together, we have made a commitment to ourselves and to God that we would choose to honour each other (and Him) and our future marriage by waiting for One Day. Is it easy? Definitely not.  Will it be worth it? I really hope so… so, how do we cope?  We communicate: with eachother, with people we walk in accountability with… it never ceases to amaze me that every time something is brought out into the open, it suddenly loses its hold over a person.  Walking in purity means walking in the Light; and constantly being aware that none of this is possible without Holy Spirit’s protection, strength and redemptive grace.

Battle for purity (3 of 3)