Doing Singleness Well

Up until my little revelation 5 minutes ago, I have always hated the question, “what’s your greatest achievement?” I never knew what to say – I managed to complete a 12km run? How lame. So want to know my new answer? Here it is:

I did Singleness well.

Thrilling, right? It may not be as exciting as climbing mountains or completing epic races, but believe me, in my new season of Married – it has served me better than any mountain top ever could. I used the time I had during my Season of Single, well.

I got married in my mid-thirties, so believe me, I had plenty of time and opportunity to get it wrong.  Never one to back off from a challenge worth facing, I chose Purity.  Not just of my body, but my heart too.

While others were chasing after the things of the world – or in Christian circles: giftings, callings and the things of His Kingdom, I chose to seek His Heart. I wanted to be Lost and Found in the King’s heart. I wanted to know what pleased Him – what He loved and what He didn’t.  I wanted both my life and my very being to be pleasing to Him. But that meant I had to change inwardly. Lots. I invited Jesus into my heart and asked Holy Spirit to do all that was necessary to work wholeness and healing within me. Was it easy? No… more like having open heart surgery wide awake and fully conscious. It was tough and sore – and felt like a continual cycle of victories and failures. But every victory brought me spoils and every failure was an opportunity to crawl back onto Daddy God’s lap and try again. I don’t just bear fruit from that season; I stand upon a solid foundation of roots sunk deep into Him.

Every step of my daily walk is determined by the unshakable certainty of my Identity in Jesus Christ and the Freedom (and Victory) He has bestowed upon me. I live in the very real, life-changing Truth of God’s Word and Spirit. If anything I face is not in alignment with those two, it must either be repented of and cast aside, or overcome.  I am single-minded in pursuing His Best for me. This isn’t me boasting; this is just me describing my approach to life – I am a freak, I know. But after a conversation with my husband this morning, I was reminded of how passionate I am about seeing Christians walk in the Fullness offered to them in Christ. Nothing infuriates me and breaks my heart like seeing Christians walk in brokenness. Our very healing and freedom should set us apart as God’s Redeemed!

So where am I going with this? If you find yourself in a season of Single; embrace it. Make a choice to use this time well – ask Holy Spirit to do a new working in your heart, mind and spirit. Be deliberate about finding Healing, and find someone to help you walk that healing out in your daily life. Bringing Brokenness into marriage makes a tough task that much harder.  You may not know your future spouse yet, but one day when you’re married you will face a moment when you can either say “I loved you enough to ask Holy Spirit to deal with my brokenness so that you wouldn’t have to” or…. you’re going to have to face your loved one and ask for mercy.  I pray they be gracious.

Loving well within marriage means preparing your heart – before you even meet the person. So what if you haven’t made the same life choices as me? Is it all too late? Not a chance.  God is loving and gracious, quick to forgive and restore.  There is nothing more powerful than God’s Redeeming Love. I pray your path on the Single Track may have more Victories and Adventures with Jesus than ever before; who knows what lies around the next corner?

Advertisements

Loving within Boundaries

“Love her, but leave her wild” – Atticus

53268275_10156850666691413_7236758600834613248_n

I have loved that quote, long before I met Mr Wild (and became Mrs Wild) – the sense of freedom it promises in a kind of love that does not impose itself upon another… well, I am pretty sure I am not the only person to want to be loved in such a way.

I’ve begun reading a book, “Boundaries in Marriage” by Dr’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Wow.  I love it when Holy Spirit brings a seasonal word for a timely revelation! I’ve always had fairly negative associations when it came to the concept of Boundaries – either it was a restriction enforced upon you by another, or it felt like a selfish and manipulative way to gain control… both are so dangerous and well, untrue.  Boundaries are important in all relationships, and especially within the context of marriage. Yes, in a spiritual sense, we become one person, but in reality we are still two individuals carving a life together.  Boundaries protect our individuality while nurturing our relationship.

After two evenings of eye-opening revelation, this is what I have learnt –

Boundaries require Ownership. We each need to take ownership of our own thoughts, attitudes, feelings, words and behaviour.  They’re ours. A sign of a healthy, mature person is their ability to ‘own’ both their triumphs and their mistakes – not to blame others or find excuses, but simply ‘own it’.  (And what I had to learn is I cannot ‘own’ my husband’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions… nor could I change them.)

Boundaries create Freedom (and Responsibility).  As Christians, we have been Redeemed by Jesus’ blood and have been free’ed from the power of sin and death.  We are called to live lives that testify of His freedom.  Boundaries protect that freedom and remind us to continually remove any thought, habit, attitude (etc) that infringes upon or denies both our own and our partner’s freedom.  We have a Responsibility to protect the Freedom Jesus has given us.  What I learnt was that I do not need to take Responsibility for my husband’s choices or actions – and I also do not need to allow his choices or actions to infringe upon my Freedom in Christ.  I am not a victim of his choices or actions.  While he will face the consequences of his choices, I can choose whether I allow them to impact me.  It may be my responsibility to lovingly bring fears/ lies/ inappropriate thoughts or actions into the light – but it is not my responsibility to change them.  That’s between him and Holy Spirit.

Boundaries allow us to Love, freely.  Because we take ownership of our selves, and continually seek to dwell in the Freedom found in Jesus, we have an amazing ability to ‘Love, Regardless’ – loving the other person regardless of how they love us back; loving the other person regardless of their attitudes/ actions being worthy of love… we don’t become doormats.  Rather, by being seated in Heavenly places with Christ, we can freely extend Love and Compasssion and Grace without needing to have it returned in the same measure.

There’s a Liberty that comes when we walk closely in Jesus’ presence.  And this liberty only evokes a greater understanding of the need to take Ownership, fight for our Freedom, and consequently extend deeper Love… its a cycle that draws two people into a greater depth of relationship.  Boundaries allow for this to happen.

Boundaries are becoming my new favourite ‘thing’ – created within a pure heart, seeking God’s best for our relationship.

 

Create a new, clean heart within me.[a]
Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you.” – Psalm 51:10 TPT

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you.” – Psalm 139: 23-24 TPT

Beyond the Happily Ever After…

Seven weeks ago today we said our ‘I do’s’ and walked off into the sunset…

49213129_2478938265480726_8823842659878567936_n

So now what?

We have been incredibly lucky – the adjustment to married life has been a fairly effortless one. Sharing our space and finding the balance of daily life routines (and negotiating the toothpaste cap, toilet seat and other petty issues) hasn’t proven difficult at all. As I say, we’re lucky in that way… so to make things interesting we decided to throw our lives upside down and start not one, but TWO new businesses – because why not? What else do newly weds do with all their spare time..?  Oh, and Garth has enrolled at UNISA to take on a short course for 2019.  Its quite exciting.

But what’s closest to my heart is Hello Love Events.  I have had the idea brewing in my spirit for well over six months and we put it off to focus on getting the wedding organised, but now that that’s over, we felt the new challenge could be faced.

As a single in her 30s, I found it exceptionally hard to meet new people and even easier to stay cocooned on the couch at home.  It was an unhealthy cycle.  And to be honest, as much as I loved my married friends, many spoke to me about meeting single men but none ever actually did anything about it… sorry to those reading this… yes, I know God had a plan and Holy Spirit has written our Love Story quite clearly, but. The more I have thought and prayed about this issue, the more Holy Spirit has laid on my heart the deep loneliness of Christian singles in churches across the city.  Hello?? If we preach ‘family’ why are there so many desperately lonely single 30-somethings sitting on couches over weekends with nothing to do? Not okay. And that’s the need I felt Holy Spirit lay on my heart: create opportunities for singles to meet, have fun in a relaxed environment and simply build relationships with other Christians, outside of their usual church circle… and so, Hello Love Events stepped out in faith, developing a Facebook page (because if its on Facebook, its Official…) and arranged our first Singles event in February.

We kept the event simple and fun and were amazed at the response – people were so grateful that somebody cared enough to arrange something.  It was a small step, but we are looking at building slowly and surely, trusting Holy Spirit to lead – as He has every step of our relationship so far… I don’t know where this will lead, but am trusting it forms part of a bigger picture that Holy Spirit occasionally gives me glimpses of.  Its not much, but its a start and we’re both hoping that as we step out and share our own Love Story, we will start hearing other Holy Spirit written Love Stories too…

The focus of it all…

We are back from honeymoon and now that 2019 has begun to find its groove, I have some spare time to blog again… and finally get to share some of the significance of the details and elements of the Big Day.

Honestly, we planned the wedding in 2 weeks and I think what surprised most people was how easily I delegated the creative aspects to people I trust wholeheartedly – but more about that in the next blog. So, for the majority of the engagement process, we focused on preparing for Marriage – and not just any marriage, we wanted a Kingdom Marriage: a marriage that was God-created and could be used to encourage others and further His Kingdom. That’s how I have always lived my life, and I couldn’t imagine not expecting the same for my marriage. So as much as weddings are fun and filled with pretty things, that was never our focus. We were looking beyond at living out the covenant between us as husband and wife, with God at the centre.

Just as He has done throughout our Love Story, Holy Spirit lead Chris along our path. Chris and his wife Louise oversaw our marriage prep and have become so special to us and we really value their input in our lives. So when our original ‘choice’ for marriage officiant fell through, I knew it was Holy Spirit opening the door for Chris to not only preach (as originally intended), but do the entire service.  It was his first wedding, which was great because we were doing it for the first time too and could be newbies together! He asked if there was something we wanted specifically mentioned in the sermon and again, I felt Holy Spirit say, nope He would give Chris the message.

And wow, did Holy Spirit speak to Chris! Below is Chris’ sermon – he knocked it out of the park and honestly captured so much of what Garth and I had spoken about during our engagement (at home on the couch with tea) and what we aspired to and even the challenges and battles we had faced. It was such a beautiful confirmation from God that this marriage is His Plan and His Best for both of us – and His fingerprints are all over this.

 

There are lots of people who state they know Christ and live a life for him and with him that are in fact not really doing so… When Jesus is Lord of your life there is an order and a pattern that is seen… Fruits appear. Not rotten, disgusting fruits like fear, deception or irritability but life, patience, self control and kindness.. the gifts found in Galatians 5
When Jesus is Lord of our life we have purpose and passion.. we see this world as an interlude to our eternal destines and make decisions which have a reach far outside of this temporary time..
Matthew 28 we are told to make disciples – our life’s work is to help others see and feel and know what we have experienced so that eternity is set of them
When Jesus is Lord of our life we are changed / we think differently, act differently and look at the world differently as we read in Romans 12. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬
When Jesus is Lord of our life we speak the word of God and live what we say.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:22-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬
When we live as kingdom people we have a king – we are obedient to His ways even when we don’t agree, we follow His decrees even if our flesh desperately wants a different answer and acknowledge that our life is not our own but we are owned by Him whom created us and forms us.
Zechariah and many Old Testament words prophesy Jesus coming and they even mention his donkey that he rides in Matthew. 21… Jesus is the long awaited messiah and king who will lead us into glory
Lauren and Garth – many of us have walked with you for years or months but we all witness two people who love God and honour Him as I have described above today. It is the journey you made as single people that qualifies you for today. Two people who do  not know God or love according to His pattern would not be able to build the kind of kingdom marriage that God is looking for or desires.
You still have a responsibility to each other to do the work that has been described today – your salvation and walking it out remains yours to do but now you have to include and acknowledge each others spiritual journey. Your past and single life whilst coming to an end today has equipped you for what is to come..
So what are you doing today?
You are making the second biggest decision of your life after following Christ. This is the only decision and relationship that you take with you for the whole of your life apart from Christ. Many people in this room will come and go over the next 60 years but the person standing in front of you and the person of Jesus in your heart remains.
Today is a decision to give up the ability to say “me”, “mine “ and replace with “we”, and “ours”.
Today is a covenant that states you will be with each other until the end of your lives.. it’s not a contract of obligation which has terms and an end date and get out clauses. This is a total surrender of privilege, rights and independence to pledge a lifetime to each other. It is a covenant that God ordains and joins together. Your old life and person dies today and is replaced by this new creation of Mr and Mrs Wild.
Today is a decision which states who will be with you until the end / regardless of difficulties, pain, heartache or joy – until the end of days it will remain the two of you joined together that only God can separate.
Today begins your kingdom marriage so what does that look like?
Firstly – A kingdom marriage Has a King – that is our Lord Jesus
  • he is the ruler of your marriage and it’s ways and purposes
  • He is the ultimate ruler and determines your steps
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
  • ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
A kingdom marriage has a heirachy
  • Jesus is the King of your lives and marriage
  • Garth is the head of the home as he submits to Jesus
  • Lauren submits to Garth as he submits to Christ
  • Children shall follow
This is the pattern that God ordained in Ephesians 5 and is the pattern of a kingdom marriage. Everything flows from God and His kingship. For wives this does not mean that they can’t work, will have every decision made for them or must be silent – but rather it says follow your husband as He follows Christ. Husbands our mandate is clear – love our wives as Christ loved the church… sacrificial, all encompassing, removing all self interest and without condition.
Submitting to a man like that is simple.
The king decides the purpose
  • To bring God glory and live in unity as one
  • As man and woman we were created in his image to multiply the earth and take care of it to give him glory
  • Our great commission still stands to both raise disciples and to make disciples to advance his kingdom
The king decides the rules
  • Just as with our relationship with him he has given us clarity in living for him
  • The bible gives clarity on how to live and love for him on the earth
  • Read the road together, pray together and grow in wisdom so that your lives are in tune with his commands
The kingdom has an enemy
  • The battle you have to build and have a kingdom marriage is not a natural one but spiritual – fight in the spirit
  • “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
  • ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NLT‬
The king equips his people
  • just as in kingdoms the kings would have armies and spike train and equip
  • In 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, we read that we are given gifts inside each one of us..
  • you see marriage of two sinful people trying to make a life together is impossible but two redeemed, sanctified and equipped people bonded in marriage can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine..
So Lauren and Garth the covenant you make today is ordained by God and only made possible to do by Him. Hold onto your God. Listen to Him and obey His voice as you do married life together..
Then at the end you will hear “well done my good and faithful servant”
 – Chris Berry

#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???

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.

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.