God of details: the ring

Does it really surprise anyone that there should be a testimony of God’s goodness around my engagement ring?? I love how God reveals Himself in such special, personal ways.

A few month back, around June, G and I first seriously discussed getting engaged and the details of a ring. At the time, finances just didnt seem to stretch that far and I felt lead to remind him that Daddy God had promised to cover the costs of my wedding (even asking me to set a budget – in January. Before I had even met G). And, being the faith-filled presumptious brat that I am, I told G we were going to trust Him for a ring too. I’m cheeky like that. I also know God delights in our outrageous faith.

The next day, I was on school holidays, I was enjoying a morning at Canal Walk, when my bestie Gabi sent me a text message and suggested we go for coffee. We did. After ordering, she pulled out a ring she had bought in India – a beautiful aquamarine – and gave it to me, saying she felt she needed to give me this and I could do with it as I chose. She had been so encouraged by how God had been writing my Love story, that she wanted to sow into it, trusting that she would reap her own Beautiful Story. And in the space of 12 hours, I had the centre stone of my engagement ring. Tell me God doesnt love leaving his daughters speechless?? Needless to say, when I told Gabi of the previous night’s conversation, there were tears on both sides…

And because He never does anything in half measures, He provided G with the finances that allowed me to visit the most amazing and talented jeweller, Hettie from Wainwright Jewellers. Initially I thought I knew what I wanted, but I am so grateful she didnt accept my idea and encouraged me to play with other ideas… and so we designed a very personal ring, capturing our unique love story.

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As far as the ring is concerned, G took it from there… and the next time I saw it, was when he knelt before me asking me to be his wife.

I feel like I need to extend thanks in so many directions… and I am beyond grateful for the absolute love and generosity in this little aspect of our Story. And I pray huge blessings upon both Gabi and Hettie; that Gabi will have a God-written Love Story way better than mine and that Hettie’s business will prosper beyond her greatest expectations.

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I said Yeah, Why Not…

We have news… and the details aren’t too bad either…

On Wednesday evening I was taking a bit of strain with a whole bunch of things needing my attention, and simply not being able to make any difference in my own strength anyway – and G was lucky enough to face the frustrations. I was quite direct and he patiently took my shots fired in a loving silence that only bugged me further.

I have been working through Esther and knew Holy Spirit was going to ask me to fast at some point; I just didnt realise he meant today until Friday lunch. I generally use teaching as an excuse to soften fasting to a Daniel fast, but no, all food was out – only liquids allowed. I approached the day with the attitude of laying down food as a symbolic gesture of my laying down my fears and frustrations regarding the future, especially the financial provision for the wedding… my practical brain was clashing with my more idealistic faith-filled heart. I needed Daddy God to draw me back into alignment with His Story.

For the most part, school was fine. I had way too many grade 8 classes to face, then break duty, then matric invigilation… I literally did not have 5 mins to go pee. Then I get this message from G saying he was at school. Say what?? At break time?? The poor man must have been terrified as I marched him into my classroom (in silence) shocked that he would think visiting me at school was a good idea. I may have been a little harsh. And then he hands me a flask of hot chocolate, a rose and chocolates. Just a little bewildering.

I got home to find more chocolate, another rose, card and the kettle boiling. At that point I started to wonder if something was going on, but when he simply made me tea and didnt say (or ask) anything… well, I was slightly uncertain. We were meeting with the function manager of a venue (story for another blog post!), so went to meet her… chatted, met the pet sheep (who thinks he is a dog) and then strolled around the farm with Jonah, the bull mastiff farm dog. Looking at the donkey shed, I suddenly realised G wasn’t beside me… turning around, I found him with another rose and card. I saw words like Wife and Smile and looked up to find him kneeling in front of me, simply asking me to be his wife.

I really do think I said, “yeah, why not?”

 

 

 

A Significant Moment {before Forever}

Something significant happened today.  I wasn’t there and I have no idea what went down… but I am at the centre of it: G asked my dad for his blessing, for us to get married.  I say blessing, because honestly, we don’t need permission – living in today’s world, in our thirties and planning on covering the costs of the wedding ourselves… well, permission isn’t really the issue.  But blessing is – especially for G.  From the start, he was adamant that we ‘do things properly’ and he insisted we meet parents and ask for their blessing before taking the next step.

My impatient heart struggled with this – even up until a moment ago, when I instinctively knew ‘it had happened’; something shifted in the spirit for me and initially I didn’t quite get it. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who speaks so clearly and helps a fairly dim girl out (even while making tea in the staff kitchen!).

When G had arranged the meeting with my dad, yes I knew about it, but was not involved or invited.  In a sneaky behind the scenes type phone call home, it was agreed that even my mom would not be involved: this was a matter to be dealt with between men.  How misogynistic right? Wrong. And this is what Holy Spirit revealed to me.  While I have been unmarried, I have lived under my father’s authority – as a child in his home, as a student financially dependant and even once working, I have always looked to my father for advice in decisions big or small.  He has always been my go to for advice, wisdom and insight.  And this is not just a natural familial concept – its spiritual in nature. He has been my covering.   As an unmarried woman, I remained under my father’s spiritual covering (as per Biblical teachings) and I did my best to honour that state of submission because 1) the Bible promises blessing for doing so and 2) I understand and respect the protection of being submitted to spiritual authority.

The significance of today’s meeting was spiritual in nature; G was not simply asking if Daddy minded if I exchange his surname for G’s… he was asking to take on the responsibility of becoming my spiritual covering, as my (future) husband. He was asking for my father’s blessing to allow G to take the lead in my life: not only caring for me, but guiding me in future decisions, leading me further into the plans God has for both of us – covering me spiritually by becoming the Head of our (future) family.  Yeah, the depth and weight of that revelation hit me as I was pouring the milk… and I could tangibly feel the shift in the spiritual atmosphere around me. There is an incredible significance to asking for a father’s blessing before proposing marriage to a woman – both for ‘him’ and ‘her’.

Don’t get me wrong: I do not believe I am inferior or a second-class citizen because I am a woman (good job to all those women in the past who fought for our equality – I appreciate it and relish my independence).  But I love the idea of submitting (first to my father and now) to my (future) husband.  Why wouldn’t I?  I have been blessed with not only the most patient man alive, but with a man who continually has laid down his own comforts and ‘died to self’ in order to show his love and take care of me.  How can I not want to do the same and allow him to lead our relationship when he has shown time and again that he has my best interests at the centre of each of his decisions and actions? Whether its getting off the couch to make me tea (because he knows I’ve been eying the kettle but am just too lazy or cold to get out from under the blanket); or facing a freezing trip home at midnight on a motorbike in the rain; or taking giant steps of faith to start a new business so he can provide for me financially; or submitting himself to leaders at church asking them to speak into his life to help him grow spiritually to then lead me… when someone has your back like that and proves themselves unconditionally trustworthy, there comes an incredible peace and safety in knowing that he carries the responsibility of our relationship before God.  And I can relax and enjoy the security of not having to control anything.

It brings an amazing, inexplicable freedom.

(I now just pray for the patience to actually wait for the proposal… he better not bend to tie shoe laces around me this week…)

 

The Heart of the matter

I’ve been a little quiet lately. Its been an odd place of trusting in God’s promises for the future, but also guarding against the frustrations of reality seeming so very, vastly far from where we want to be… a strange tension builds into a sort of vacuum. This week has probably been the worst, resulting in lots of comfort eating yesterday and much vulnerability.

My struggle has been a heart issue and having to face that truth has been tough.  Its never comfortable facing the ugliness inside of oneself or realising just how imperfect you really are, beyond the social facades of pleasantries I’ve become so good at.  To be very vulnerable: I felt like a fraud – that I had had the audacity to begin a blog that testified of pursuing a godly relationship… and yet, in the depths of my heart was an icky mess.  What do I know of godliness or living up to the standards I speak so casually about?  More days than not, I do not get it right.  There.  I said it. I am a selfish, pride-filled mess of a person and left to my own devices, would destroy the absolute gift of a relationship that God has given me with G.  I have no righteousness, no sense of holiness or purity in my own being.

It sometimes feels like we live in a society that tolerates everything with reckless abandon, terrified we offend anyone.  And sometimes in the church, it feels the opposite; judgement comes quickly and easily.  I realise both statements are far extremes and equally unhealthy and incorrect.  But that’s the two extremes that have fought it out in my head over the past few days: the extreme liberal tolerance of all things waging war against the pharisee-like religious spirit of condemnation. Its exhausting.

Having said all of that, Today is a New Day.

I live by God’s Grace alone. At my weakest and my worst, His Grace and Redemption is most apparent. Does this mean I continue in my bad attitudes, mindsets and behaviours? Not at all… the revelation of His Grace only draws me closer to His Heart; wanting more than ever to change my ickiness for His goodness. If I really do want a relationship that not only testifies of God’s Goodness, but also extends His Kingdom, I need to be prepared to do things differently.  Having acknowledged my failings and brokenness, I choose to leave those past habits (even the ones only a few hours old) behind me – dead in the past – and step into a New Day.  I love that as I write this, the rain is pounding on the roof above my head, reminding me that God’s Grace washes away everything I release into His Redemption. My faith says I get a fresh start; I get to try again. This time, I choose to do it with God’s help. Beyond all the external behaviours and attitudes, God looks at our hearts – He examines the core of our being and draws out the broken pieces, healing those areas and replacing them with His Love.

Relationships are hard.  They have the potential to bring out the best in you, but also an incredible ability to draw out the worst, with the purpose of removing the filth for the benefit of healing… much like a drawing ointment pulls out a splinter in your finger.  Its both sore and liberating at the same time.  I guess that’s where I am at the moment: having thorns (there seem like so many of them this week) pulled out and its a little eina… but I am trusting that its a good thing. That as G and I prepare for pre-marital courses and me moving across to his church to begin growing together under the same spiritual teachings and authority, I know God is busy refining us – testing our foundations and the way we have begun to build this relationship.  We both desperately desire a relationship that has Him as our foundation, but we’re also human – and so, as the foundations are shaken, we can only hope that what remains will be strengthened in the next few weeks as big changes loom.

The fine line between Faith & Fear

So things are definitely heading towards the “serious” side and we have done the Meeting of the Parents, the dreamy conversation of ring design and the more scary (but necessary) finance Life Budget talk… and managed to survive it all mostly unscathed.

I was chatting to a friend yesterday and mentioned how challenging relationships can be, especially when it goes beyond the “I really really like you” stage and heads towards the “lets plan Forever together” direction… and the line between living by Faith and wobbling by Fear becomes very fine. Don’t get me wrong; I have no doubt that G is the man God has planned for me, but with him starting a new business, us beginning a creative collaboration and me already trying to run two sideline business projects (above teaching, because we all know that is such an undemanding career) its easy to become distracted by the circumstances and just a little overwhelmed.

I have been reading the gospel of Mark as part of my daily devotions and in chapter 4, it speaks of a man who sowed seed, returned to his daily business and the seed grew unseen until a harvest was ready. Isn’t that a picture of how we should approach a prayer-filled life? Now, when the Fears threaten, I sow my seed by laying it down before God and (like the man in Mark), I return to the daily “business” of remaining in the Present Moment with Holy Spirit. I know that Jehovah Jireh (one of God’s Hebrew names) is my ultimate provider; G and I both look to Him for our provision (of opportunities and simply the wisdom to make good decisions). We trust Him with our seed. We also trust Him to know better with our lives: that the bad seed may fall away and come to nothing, while the good, God-honouring seed may provide a rich harvest.

Well, that’s been my revelation this week, and so far its helped. Just thought I would share it with you all…

 

Ps. The cookie in the photo says “mine”

 

Growing (closer) together

For as long as I can remember, my heart’s desire for my future marriage was to find someone who (after loving Jesus and dancing) would approach life as an Adventure – someone who stepped out in faith with courage and boldness, holding my hand tightly as together, we faced the Unknown, secure in our trust that God provides.  Its how I’ve always lived my life and knew I needed someone who would adventure alongside me…

What I didn’t realise when Holy Spirit drew G and I together was that is exactly what He had in store for me – a man who looked to God first, and who was willing to step out in faith when called to do so. And what’s more: God gave me an Encourager. G has this effortless ability to speak encouragement into any and every situation. Most of the time he doesn’t even realise how incredible his gift is – it comes to him so naturally. I stand amazed on an almost daily occurrence.

We’ve both started new businesses in the past couple of weeks, so we are very much stepping out of our little comfort zones and trusting God to lead us along these paths. [Quick shameless plug: please go LIKE G’s FB page – Selah and check out his online ordering system while you’re there… and yeah, happy stalking??]  On Saturday, I had to do an engagement shoot for a couple and on a whim, I invited G to come along… it was amazing having him with me, helping me climb rocks, holding me in place while I leaned over ledges to get ‘that shot’ – supporting me not only physically, but emotionally too. And I think for the first time I appreciated the extent of what (who) God has blessed me with: when joining our hearts together, Holy Spirit also joined our paths – our personal Adventures – to include one another. Although our businesses are very much our own things to grow and build, the other is always included and shares both the highs and the lows. We do happy dances for each step of faith the other takes (there was whooping when G began his FB page and there is oohing and aahing for every baby romper I sew).  But what’s more: when the one is lagging in faith or has a confidence wobble, the other is there to speak Life and Encouragement – to believe enough for both. We’re in it together. And its drawing us closer together every day; we’re learning not just how compatible we are, but how we have been created to complement eachother and bring out the best in one another – I guess we’re becoming a team.

I honestly do not know how my business is going to grow or what’s around the corner for either of us, but I am fully convinced that this relationship is from God and will be used not only for His purposes, but to His glory.  And I know that He will provide for both of us, every step of the way.  And every step we both take towards God, draws us closer to one another. Together, we have been called to a Life of Faith-filled Adventure and yes, I will admit there are moments when I feel completely overwhelmed at everything that seems to stand against our chances of success… but those moments fade in comparison to the awe I stand in when reminded of God’s greatness and faithfulness.  If he can create and co-ordinate our Love Story right in front of us (without us even noticing), I know He will continue to write it with as much Joy.

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Facing the Past

This is probably not the easiest post to write – and one I kinda hope G doesn’t read because I know it will probably upset him a little… but its something we have had to face as a couple and I felt it needs to be shared.

From the start, both G and I were upfront with eachother about our pasts – the path we’ve walked, the mistakes we’ve made… his openness initially helped me to be equally as vulnerable and the shared transparency in turn built an almost immediate Trust. This blog in itself has also opened us up for several conversations… so at this point, there is little we don’t know about the other in terms of ‘mistakes’ and previous relationships.

I’ve been asked several times whether G is as squeaky clean as I profess to be – and without airing his dirty laundry, the simple answer is no. Make your own assumptions with that… last night after church we were once again talking about our pasts and G shared details from his previous relationships. I am not going to lie: it was tough listening to him speak about girls who he had had such strong feelings for… the selfish part of me was… well, jealous for want of a better word. Suddenly I was faced with the reality that although he is pretty much the only man I have ever really loved (the few infatuations and temporary crushes seem so insignificant in comparison), I am not the only woman to have had his heart.  And that’s a really tough thought to face. A vague concept of ‘past relationships’ is very different to hearing how much someone was loved or the future he had considered with them… and yet, the other less selfish part of my heart was left astonished that these girls didn’t recognise the absolute gem of a man they had had – that they had rejected him so easily and consequently missed out on what could have been theirs for the taking. And then the fierce protective part of me rises up, getting indignant at the hurt that he went through and the scars that I’ve been left to love. Despite all of it, I’m the lucky one. I’ve been able to know and love the man made stronger from his past hurts; I’ve been given the privilege to walk beside him as he steps out in faith (not only in learning to lead our relationship, but in starting his new business too) and I know I get to share not only his present, but his future too.

And yet. Isn’t that the very picture of Grace? That no matter how messed up our pasts, Jesus somehow takes all that hurt and bad choices and loves us beyond that – that despite the past, we find redemption in His death and resurrection. And then its Done; the past is behind us and we move forward into the Hope and Future that we find in Him… much like G and I: our pasts are behind us and right now we celebrate the Present Moment together (3 months today whoop whoop), looking towards  the Adventure that Jesus is leading us on, together.