God of the details: The Venue

I had my heart set on a venue I had never actually been to… I had seen photos, heard about it, seen their menu (foodtrucks included) and just loved its unconventional quirkiness. Apparently, God had a better plan.

I was chatting to a friend at school a few weeks ago about the idea of the wedding and we were discussing venues and costs etc. She suggested I visit a venue just up the road from my house. I smiled and said I would make a plan; having a Plan B seemed like a good idea.

The Sunday before we got engaged, G and I had some spare time in the afternoon, so we decided to go visit Plan B. What harm could it do? We could enjoy a hot chocolate (and I would have something to compare my venue to when I finally visited it on Thursday). From the moment we arrived, there was something different about Plan B… initially I couldn’t quite define it. We had hot chocolate in the deli and casually asked if we could go look at the venue. Immediately the owner grinned, pulled up a chair and asked if a wedding was being planned. And so we spent the next half hour chatting to him and another couple about weddings and ideas etc. He wouldn’t hear of us paying and gave us directions to the venue, warned us about the cranky donkey and said he would see us in December.

We took the shortcut through the back garden, warily kept an eye out for cranky donkey and found our way to the venue. We peered through the windows and stood in the parking lot, so aware of the silence and sense of space… and the earthy farm smells of chicken poop. In that moment, saying absolutely nothing, but knowing beyond a doubt that God had brought us here to see His choice… I turned to look at G, who simply looked down at me, took my hand and said what I was already thinking: “this is it. This feels like home.”

 

And like that, Plan B became Best.

 

Oh, and the farm has llamas. And a sheep that thinks he is a dog. God knows how to make my heart flutter with happiness.

(When we returned the next week to speak to the event manager, we walked in to hear Christian worship music playing and realised it was Holy Spirit’s presence we had felt on our first visit. “Beulah” is Hebrew for “married; or to claim as a wife.” It seems doubly appropriate that G asked me to be his wife there, and we will get married in the same place.)

Advertisements

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.

1537370932534_FullSizeRender

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.

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)

Me before G…

Its a little difficult to know where to begin with this post, because where does one start in introducing themselves? I’m just me

Being a bit of an idealist, I was one of those girls who loved the idea of love – the idea that there was someone out there who God had created with me in mind.  When I was a teenager and it seemed like everybody was falling in love and finding boyfriends, I didn’t quite get it.  What was the point of dating someone if you knew inevitably you would end up with a broken heart at the age of 16? I wanted more; I wanted God’s best for me.  I prayed a seemingly harmless prayer that every aspect of my life (including my future relationship) be extra-ordinary, covered with His fingerprints… I wanted people to look at my life and know there was no way that I could have achieved that in my own strength – it had to be the God that I loved. I had no idea the cost of that prayer!

God is faithful.  And He hears our heart’s desires.  And sometimes it means we have to wait for His perfect timing.  And wow, did I wait. When all my friends seemed to be getting married and moving into the next ‘stage’ of life, I felt like I had been forgotten.  I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say being single was easy and I just embraced the season and loved Jesus (I did.  But there was also a lot of heart struggles and facing many, many insecurities.).  It was tough.  And lonely.  But yes, I did love Jesus and I knew I had trusted Him with this matter and no matter the cost, I was willing to wait for His Best, rather than chase after second-best… believe me, there were times when even I questioned my decision! So by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had kissed one guy (a moment of boredom one New Year’s Eve which sadly meant absolutely nothing to me) and began dating a man through a set-up by friends.  The relationship was short and possibly borderline unhealthy, but what amazes me (in hindsight) is how protected I was; the most we did (physically) was hold hands – that’s unheard of in adult relationships… especially as he didn’t share my Christian values.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was again single, in my 30s and once again facing all those Identity issues at Jesus’ feet.  I fell into the same trap as many people: I threw myself into my work and church activities.  In many ways, I lost myself to good Christian ‘expectations’. In October last year, God began to speak to me about saying goodbye to old things in order to enter a new season.  Obviously I hoped it would include relationship, but being content in where I was, I simply followed Jesus’ leading and was prepared to go and do what He said.  He spoke to me about living ‘Simply, Slowly, Softly’ – to step back from several unhealthy lifestyle choices which had seen me running about trying to achieve acceptance from the ‘world’ and losing myself in the process.  By stepping back, I was being re-introduced to myself – as God had created me.

At the start of 2018, Jesus spoke quite clearly about hitting a re-set button; that He was going to make changes in my life that would see it vastly different by the end of the year.  The three areas He spoke about quite specifically were church, work and relationships.  I had no idea what that would look like or how He would make it happen, I simply chose to open my heart to His lead, and trust that He would lead me forward.  In spending some time simply sitting at His feet, I asked for insight into the year ahead.  He told me I would dance again – initially I had laughed because although I loved dancing, I had stopped years ago (despite having several prophetic words which always seemed to include the image of Dance).  It took my mother randomly suggesting it for me to really consider the idea.

So the first several weeks of 2018 was a time of Acceleration in Jesus; I felt like I was falling crazily in love with Him and on a massive spiritual growth-spurt.    In the midst of this, I prayed that before God allowed me to experience the love of a man, He would first help me to experience a greater fullness of His perfect love for me – that that would always be my foundation and First Love… that I would never turn to a man for affirmation and love, over Jesus. And that’s what He did. It was amazing.

And then I met G…

IMG_6906