Loving within Boundaries

“Love her, but leave her wild” – Atticus

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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

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Beyond the Happily Ever After…

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

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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…

#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.

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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.

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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.

 

When wedding planning sucks…

I am so very tired of people telling me to enjoy my engagement and wedding planning, like its meant to be the best time of my life. It isnt. There,I said it: I have not enjoyed this season. In fact, I have reached the point of no longer trying to hold back the tears. They just pitch up at the most random and inconvenient of times and I have learnt to be okay with that.

Everybody describes one’s wedding as “your big day” but to be honest, it hasn’t felt like my day in quite a while and its not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it out to be; I haven’t drunk copious amounts of bubbly or gone for cake tastings or any of that stuff. In fact, all it has really been is one big spreadsheet with budgets and schedules and vendor details… how much fun can admin really be?? And just when I finally thought I had this planning thing nailed, I was suddenly made aware that there are Others who have opinions and “concerns” (aka requests) that feel need to be taken into account. I tried to embrace the concept of compromise and respect… but walking the painfully thin line between accommodating and revoking their invite has left me an anxious mess. I love Jesus, but am really struggling to love people… and have a whole new level of respect for girls who go full on bridezilla (way to go girl!) Wedding planning has not been fun…

So in the middle of it, Garth and I climbed Table Mountain. To the top. There’s a reason they built a cable car… what was meant to be a 3 hour hike turned into 6+ hours, with 1km being a vertical climb of steps too high for my little legs. I struggled. And yet, throughout, I had a hand extended in my direction, literally pulling me up the side of the mountain and then being a support on the way down when my balance was wobbly. He was consistently supportive, never once complaining or speaking a word of negativity. It was only when he got me safely down, that he admitted how tough the experience had been for him. It was in that moment that everything shifted for me (once again): I was once again in awe of the man God has chosen for me to do Life with… that no matter whether he walks before-beside-behind me, his hand is always there and no matter how steep the ups (or downs), I know I can make it through anything when we face them together.

One of the things I have appreciated in this season is how my relationship with my mom has shifted. She has not only opened her heart to Garth, but has begun sharing her own experiences of being a young wife and has been sharing insights and wisdom. I have learnt so much and value each lesson. The most precious is this: always keep Garth number 1; especially when there is interference and manipulation. There are so many trivial things that can be compromised (and bigger battles that require standing your ground), but at the end of the day, when you’re facing a mountainous challenge, the only thing that matters is the hand you’re holding.

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Introducing G…

When we first began dating (and soon after, this blog), several people questioned me on all the secrecy.  Some even went as far as telling me we would be building our relationship on a foundation of deception… I did what I know to do best: take it to Jesus.  I asked him what he thought and Holy Spirit gave me the response; ‘Moses’. Um, okay… and it was with a bit more prayer and pondering that he explained how Moses began his life hidden in the bulrushes, kept a secret – for a season. At the right time, he was revealed and used for God’s purposes.  I felt Holy Spirit say, that that would be a significant image for our relationship, initially. That although God had called me to speak openly about our Love Story, some of the details of ‘Us’ would need to remain hidden – not because there was anything to be ashamed of or ungodly, but simply to obey God’s word and instruction over our lives.

I always felt we would ‘step out’ more publicly when we got engaged, but its only been in the past week where I have had a sense that the season of hiding in the bulrushes is over. The initial reason for our ‘secrecy’ was to honour G’s dance studio – its frowned upon (but not legally restricted) for instructors to have relationships with students.  We didn’t want the studio to be brought into disrepute and chose to remain as professional as possible at the studio – something I believe we achieved when even our closest friends who we dance with twice a week were amazed to find out we were engaged… and to further honour the studio, I no longer dance with G; I have a new instructor.

But as we begin planning our future together and seeking God’s calling upon our relationship, I have felt prompted to step fully into the witness that God has entrusted me with… and felt its time to introduce you to my fiance, Garth.

We are complete opposites – in almost every way – and yet, together, we bring out the best in eachother.  It never ceases to amaze me at just how different we are; from choice of movies and food and music and pretty much anything… we will choose the opposite. But we complement eachother. Well. Where I am an introvert who needs to overthink every detail before communicating my thoughts, Garth is the extrovert who processes ideas verbally… and eventually comes to a conclusion. We’re both ‘creatives’, but I have a more disciplined approach to strategies and developing systems – which he is better at actually implementing.  Although we’re both dreamers, I am usually the little fire-cracker initiating the plans, but once he gets started, Garth usually sees them through (because I’ve moved on to the next visionary plan). I tend to be more impulsive – when I hear God’s voice, I often jump into obedience a little too quickly, where Garth has the wisdom to take a moment, process the details and then walk fully in the plan.  I live for finding a greater purpose in everything; while Garth lives to love and take care of those he loves – I tell him constantly that his ability to love is a superpower that I cannot begin to fathom…

The complementary nature of ‘Us’ means we make a really effective team, allowing the other to lead in areas where they’re naturally stronger. We’ve both begun businesses –  that although they’re technically each of our own – will only succeed if we work as a team on both of them. I’m extending the Hello Love ‘ministry’ to events; creating Date Night opportunities for couples to have a fun evening out, learning to dance and having dinner together, as well as (something very close to my heart), an evening for Singles to meet other singles in the city – I know how hard it was being in my late twenties and early thirties, watching my friends get married and have kids… and somehow be unable to meet anyone because my usual church social circle was well, limited and it seemed impossible to step out of my weekly social cycle. There are so many lonely Christian single people desperately desiring marriage, and if I can provide an opportunity for them to meet people with the same values… well, the idea makes me very happy. [Please like and follow my FB page – and invite people to do the same!?] And being that the events are mostly centred around dance… well, it helps that Garth has some expertise in that area…

Garth is stepping out in faith with his massage and natural products company, SELAH. The name means ‘stop, pause and reflect’ and is often found in the Psalms. In so many ways, this concept has begun to define how we approach our lives – the TV has been turned off and disconnected; we pause often to reflect and connect. And he has made me a borderline-hippie fan of essential oils! I love them.  I love the combination of aromas and the natural benefits they provide. As part of SELAH, we have launched natural bath products (lotions and scrubs… and are in the process of learning to make soap).  You can follow his progress on Facebook too…

Getting to create, together, has brought us so much joy in sharing the Adventures God is leading us on.

And because you’re probably tired of seeing his face in part or knowing his shadow more than is normal… here we are…