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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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…)

 

Speak about it…

So I have been a little quiet lately… don’t worry, nothing has happened without you all hearing about it – I’ve just been kept busy with end of term exam craziness and some good ol’ Time Out courtesy of school vacations (one of the few perks of being a teacher!). G and I are doing just fine… 😉

In the midst of us ‘finding our stride’ and just kinda settling as a couple, I’ve realised how different life as part of an ‘Us’ is, in comparison to just being ‘Me’.  Nobody prepares you for this kind of change?? I have honestly been humbled at realizing how selfish I have been – not in a bad, self-centred way, but just… well, I’ve never really had to take someone else’s needs or opinion into account before: I could do as I pleased and go wherever I wanted without having to explain myself. Now, there’s this other person who doesn’t necessarily ‘expect’ it, but definitely appreciates getting those little explanations – I have someone who actually cares about the way I spend my time. Apparently it all comes down to a very simple concept: Communication.

And apparently I am really bad at it.

Obviously I will never use this blog to expose G’s faults or use it as a platform to air our petty issues (no, we’ll just go straight to the heavy personal stuff??), so please forgive me for sometimes being a little vague on details… but anyway. We were facing an issue a few days back and it was really playing with my head – no matter what I did or how I tried reasoning my thoughts, I couldn’t rationalise it away and began fretting about it. I knew it was something that needed to be faced, but something (a little like fear) kept me trying to push it away and pretend it wasn’t a problem.  Denial is nobody’s friend.

I spent the whole of Monday in silence. G has the morning off work and with me being on holiday, we were together – and it was a tough morning. I process problems inwardly, meaning I need to wrestle with my thoughts, allow them to simmer, climb into my metaphorical Nothing Box and have plenty of Time Out until I have either exhausted myself mentally or worked through all the possible outcomes, dealt with my insecurities and have ‘overcome’ enough to move on… this strategy has always worked wonders for me. When I was single and able to sit on the couch alone, without someone looking anxiously at me from the other side… Praise the Lord for giving me the most patient man on the planet!  I don’t think he realised how close he came to being snapped at several times that day, when in hindsight, all he was doing was showing he cared (copious cups of tea quietly made, chocolate bought…), expressing his concern and trying desperately to draw me out of my head.  In essence: he was communicating. I was not.

The brave man came back after work to check in on me. Having had the entire day to mull things over, I was ready – bring on the tears. And a vague but humble and heartfelt apology… and then an explanation of how I had been trying desperately to make sense of the ‘issue’ and that by keeping quiet I was trying to protect him from the irrational and potentially dangerous unfiltered thoughts flying about my head – thoughts that if spoken would have hurt him terribly, especially as they weren’t true. As much as that effort to protect him was appreciated, we learnt something even more valuable: we have different communication styles and well, that needs to be um, communicated to the other person. Who knew?? As a couple we have to talk about how we talk..?? What an eye-opener???

But you know what was amazing? The moment that ‘monstrous issue’ was spoken and brought out from Thought into Word: it seemed so trivial. And instead of it pushing us apart, by speaking about it, we drew closer together as we shared our hearts and thoughts – we found a way through as a couple. Communication is such a necessary aspect of sharing life with someone else: having the courage to be vulnerable about the things that scare you, and extending the grace to another when they do the same. Isn’t effective prayer meant to be like that? Pouring your heart out to the Lover of your soul, no matter how icky or silly it may seem, to know He listens attentively and lovingly – and then in turn, to wait for His response, which is always filled with Mercy and Kindness. And the result is always the same: its draws you closer in relationship.

So lesson learnt. And our new strategy: being that we are both self proclaimed ‘over-thinkers’, we have made a deal… when one of us is struggling with an issue and needs Time to Over-think it, they’re allowed that freedom and space to do so. However, they also have the responsibility to Reach Out to the other person at various moments throughout the Over-thinking, simply to re-establish Contact; whether its a hug, kiss on the cheek, holding their hand… its just a silent signal of appreciation and love.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

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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)

The start of Us…

I started dance classes at the start of the year after I felt Holy Spirit prompt me to ‘start dancing again’. Despite my mother hoping I would meet someone there, it really never crossed my mind that it would actually happen… or what a little rom-com movie cliche I would become…

Initially dancing was just a sub-plot for the amazing adventure I was having with Jesus: learning to dream again, learning to trust and follow His lead, learning to open my heart again to Him and simply fall in love with Him all over again. I felt like I was waking up from a very long sleep… and dancing became a physical expression of what was going on in my life spiritually. I honestly felt like I was blossoming.

Several weeks in and even I noticed the change in me: the joy I experienced through dancing was physically noticable. After dancing one evening, a taxi stopped in front of me and looking at me, smiled and waved me on. People walking past waved. It was crazy. We did the tango one week and being that it was very much in my personal space, I felt I needed to start praying for my instructor… if we were going to be this close, he needed to know Jesus. God gave me a glimpse into the future He had for him, to pray into it on his behalf. Speaking to one of my besties about it later, she smiled and paused before speaking, remarking how I resembled someone who was falling in love. I laughed it off as yes, I was falling in love with Jesus… but couldn’t help but notice how often I caught myself thinking about G, my dance partner…

I dismissed it as a little crush. I have had plenty of those before and figured it would pass soon enough. I mean, come on, it was my dance partner??? A week or two went by and I couldn’t shake the crush. I prayed about it and even asked Holy Spirit to take this silly distraction away; it was getting in the way of my adventure with Jesus. He didn’t. I was going home for the Easter weekend, so decided the roadtrip home would be a good opportunity to hash this out with Holy Spirit… as I even began to broach the topic, I heard Holy Spirit ask me why I thought G couldn’t be God’s choice for me… did I not think him good enough for me? I felt the rebuke but continued to push through the reasons why: he didn’t fit the image of what I thought I wanted in a partner – his job was unconventional, his education so vastly different to my own experience… and then I realised (in a moment of horrible humility) how much importance I had placed in man-made qualifications. I was the materialistic little princess I had judged others for being. I had so much to repent for… the rest of the trip was spent with Holy Spirit reminding me of all my friends (who I would consider to be living God’s best for their lives) and how few (if any) of them had fancy degrees or other man-made titles and fancy jobs. Maybe two of them.

While all of this was taking place, I was smugly holding onto my little trump card: because if he didn’t love Jesus, it was a non-starter. And being the cheeky brat that I am, I told Holy Spirit there was no way I could find that out so oh well…  Facebook stalk him, I heard Holy Spirit say. How unspiritual?? No worries, (I really do argue with God) I don’t know his surname. In that very moment Holy Spirit gave me a word of knowledge  like I had never experienced before… and just a little to my disgust. I hate the idea of stalking people on facebook. But I did… his profile picture was a cross. That says nothing I thought, it could mean anything. A scroll down his page and I saw several very christian looking posts. Never in all my life have I been more disappointed in finding out someone loves Jesus!

After a weekend of grappling with God and my own pride, I had peace in opening my heart to at least a possibility of “something”, should Holy Spirit lead that way… so keeping my heart and mind open, I went to our group dancing class on Wednesday, hoping to see if there really was something between us or if I was just dreaming. He spent the entire evening on the other side of the studio with his back towards me. Once the social had begun, he disappeared completely. My only friend wasnt there and having worked myself up into a nervous panic, I fled. Once in my car, the tears came. Why had I allowed myself to even allow hope in my heart when disappointment was inevitable; I mean wasnt that the story of my life? The worst part was I saw the pity in Jesus’ eyes and felt so dumb, that He had known it would result in this? I sobbed and went to bed feeling utterly foolish.

The next morning I had some repenting to do for my mildly tantrum-like behaviour… while sitting on the floor cutting out a pattern for a new dress, Holy Spirit reminded me of the glimpse He had shown me of G’s future and the word He had given me when I had prayed into it. Share it with him I heard Holy Spirit say. Uh…no?? Going into super spiritual mode, I happily said that would be my deceitful heart and not a good idea. Holy Spirit just laughed at me and said it sounded a lot like me giving way to fear; I needed to overcome that by stepping into that place to find victory. I had no way of contacting G other than possibly sending him a PM via facebook (which would mean admitting that I had stalked him… how humiliating!?). I stalled. I balked. I found any reason not to do it… until I realised it was a matter of obedience and how could any encouragement that pointed someone to Jesus be a bad thing? Even if it meant having to die to my own foolish pride and risk looking a little weird.

I sent the message. I wanted to cry. No reply. For over an hour: no reply. Then… a thumbs up. Hello??? That was probably worse than nothing… and then a longer message came through thanking me for the message and even opening up about its relevance.  Phew. I wasnt about to lose a dance partner?!  And then… we kept chatting… about random stuff via messenger. My car was being serviced, so I was home waiting for the phonecall to tell me to collect it, so when my phone rang, I assumed it was them… until the voice was wrong… it was G, phoning to discuss the competition he had signed us up for… he proceded to sign us up for seven dances. I had prepared myself for three. At the end of the call, he casually asked my age for the competition; my heart stopped. My age has always been an issue so when he laughed and said “wow, you’re almost an old person.” I panicked, babbled something embarrassing and hung up.  On the way to collect my car I had plenty of time to overthink and cringe. Challenging Holy Spirit, I told Him I wanted to know three things: how old he was, what church he went to and if he was single… and I wasnt going to ask. When I arrived at VW, not only did I have a FB friend request, but also a text message, giving me his number to make chatting easier… hmm… so we chatted. For three days straight. Initially it was the easy, getting to know each other type questions… by Friday he had invited himself to visit my church and by the time I had to go to dancing Friday evening, it felt like I knew him a whole lot better – and that there really could be something between us… when I got home, I found a message on my phone “what do you look for in a guy?”

I am not the kind of girl to have a “list” and yet, ironically thats exactly what Holy Spirit had made me compile in January?? So I sent it to him… laughing at how it included “must love dancing” (a month before I even began dancing lessons). He didnt reply. I didnt sleep, overthinking everything. The next morning I eventually received a text message which sounded more like wedding vows than an actual response, speaking about his vision for us as a couple… okay..? We continued to chat and by that evening we had got to the gritty stuff: our pasts and the things we had done. It amazed me at how open he was… and how open I was in return. I am not usually this vulnerable with friends, let alone almost strangers!? By 1am, I knew he was interested when he agreed to do an online personality test for me (I swear by these!) And he was so candid with the results…

Sunday morning he (eventually!!) Invited me to join him for a walk on the beach. I accepted and met him before church. We took a very awkward walk along the beach and sat chatting for a while, and by that I mean he talked and I overthought my entire reason for being there and even questioned how one makes conversation. With time running out, we headed back… one thing lead to the next and before I knew what was going on, he had pulled me towards the waves, spun me around and kissed me. The move was so epic, that I actually laughed at him! But give him credit for a job well done… having left him at the beach, I got to church and promptly freaked out: how unchristian to just allow this guy to kiss me like that?? Wasnt he supposed to pray about our relationship, seek my leaders permission, fast for several weeks, have 3 scriptural confirmations, a prophetic word and some supernatural sign…?? (I joke, but you know what I mean…)

What amazed me was in the moment of freaking out and questioning everything, he remained calm and constant – promising to give me the space I needed, while also promising to draw me back, out of my own fears… I knew beyond doubt, that God had given me an exceptional match.

[Little side-note about how much God loves His little details in writing Love Stories: Dirty Dancing was probably my favourite movie (from the time I was old enough to watch it!), it was the first CD I bought, the theme song has always been one of my favourites (and for a long time accepted as my future First Dance choice)… I watched it shortly after G and I began dating and giggled my way through the similarities.]

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