Why wait?

waiting

Why would God give us something that feels as good as sex and then ask us to wait? Once we get our first good hit, we’re hooked and looking for the next one. Reminds me of when my brother took his first bite of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. He said: “What do they put in these things? Heroin?” They’re good!

Our bodies go through all kinds of changes as we grow up. Sexual desires and feelings are natural in this process. And, when puberty ends, that’s just the beginning. God created sex for us to not just be fruitful and multiply, but to enjoy. To come together as husband and wife over and over and over again. Each time we do, we honor God with our bodies and our marriage.

But, what about before? Before I got married, one of my favorite things about a committed relationship was consistent sex. I enjoyed it with my boyfriend and felt little shame. We were “committed” after all. But, is that the commitment God desires? Our boyfriend is not our husband. Our boyfriend has not pledged his life to us. Boyfriends come and go. Husbands are supposed to stay. I realize now that this is God’s desire and definition of commitment.

Covenant love gets to enjoy sexual relations free of shame and free from the fear of parting ways. Sex is a gift that God intends and promotes for true commitment. These days divorce is so common, I can understand how even marriage can feel iffy in the “not parting ways” department. Mine was. This fact makes it that much more important to me to know how committed my future mate is.

In my mid 30s and back in the dating pool, the Lord spoke to my heart and I had the question for the first time in my life: “How do I date without sex?” “How do I have a relationship without it?” Is it even possible? I mean, what do we do instead? How far is too far? What’s ok, what’s not? How will we connect? How will our love grow? To me, that was all part of being and growing in a relationship. And, once I’d crossed that line, what was the point in not crossing again?

Then, the questions: How would I want my daughters to date? Wouldn’t I want them to know it’s possible? What example do I want to set? How does grace play in? I hadn’t held back since my teens. So, I thought I’d write to share my struggle with you. If it’s hard for you, I get it. I’m living it. And, I’d love your tips if you have any. This is new and very difficult territory here.

My best tips are communication and peace. Communicate with God. Ask Him for help and guidance. Have the “talk”. Let your dates know up front that it’s your desire to wait. If they bail, you know early! If they have the same desire, Hallelujah! They can and should help you. If they don’t, they’ll go elsewhere. Don’t expect it to be easy for them either. You will both struggle. But, it will be together.

Keep talking as your relationship progresses. It will grow in a completely different way. Let peace be your guide. If you have it, you’ll know. If you don’t, you may be going too far. Communicate again with God and each other. Because, there is so much more to it…

You are not alone. There are Christian singles out there with the same desire to honor God with their lives, hearts, and bodies. Both men and women. They are out there, but few and far between. It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. It’s so difficult in fact, that it may prohibit some from dating at all.

If you find someone who is willing to battle this with you, they are willing to fight for you. They know, like you, that in order to get to the other side with someone who respects themselves and desires to honor God is worth that wait.

Your willingness to communicate your desire to wait has to be stronger than the fear of embarrassment or rejection. In this case, you have to look at rejection as a blessing. The man who honors you, honors his Father in heaven. And, that’s the kind of guy you’d want for your daughters, right? A man who knows how to cherish, protect, and wait for what he wants most too. And, that’s you. A woman who knows her worth and God’s definition of commitment.

Your heart is the ultimate benefit after the ring. Add that to the other benefits and that’s a marriage to cherish!

 

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I’d Choose Love

choose

Love and money are great, but if I have to choose, I choose love. Love and sex are great, but if I have to choose, I choose love. Love and handyman abilities are great, but if I have to choose, I choose love. Love and great looks are great, but if I have to choose, I choose love. Love and a great time are great, but if I have to choose, I choose love.

What’s interesting to me is that so many of us confuse money, sex, skills, looks, and fun for love. They can all come WITH love. But, they can also very easily come without. They can counterfeit the real thing. I think they even sometimes keep us from finding the real thing. We want money. We want physical pleasure. We want the perfect face and body. We want to have a great time. In and of themselves, none of these are bad. But, to be loved. Truly loved. Is better than them all. If you’ve never had this, you’d never know. If you have and lost it, no doubt, you know. Real love is a rare find. If you have it, nourish it, be thankful for it, enjoy it.

Great sex doesn’t equal love. But, real love will lead to great sex. If you have real love, then communication is already in place. If you have real love, you’ve already proven that you can talk about anything. Hang-ups, likes, dislikes, previous issues, fears. There will be a mutual respect and concern for each others hearts. There will be an openness that takes shame out of the picture. The person making real love to you will honor you. Your pleasure will be their greatest desire, not their own. Before marriage, this comes in the form of waiting or going only as far as you’re both comfortable with. After marriage, this comes in the form of giving. I was physically rejected countless times in my marriage and then immediately desired in that way when dating. This made it very hard for me to refrain in order to decipher real love. My self esteem was shot and I had been starved in so many ways. If your desire is to wait and a man honors you in this way, your heart will swell with so much love for him. He will be making love to you in a way you’ve never known, to your heart. This is beautiful. This is pure. This is real.

Money without love will feel empty. Things cannot replace love. They are nice. Vacations are nice. Designer clothes are nice. But, without the love, they feel like extremely fake imitations. Without the love, a Gucci purse has as much worth as the knock off. I’ve had nice things given to me when all I wanted was personal time spent together. I liked the purse, but felt shunned. I carried the purse, but knew in my heart, that it was given as an after thought in hopes to replace my desire for time spent. If I had known I was loved, I would have felt much warmer carrying the purse. Instead, I felt like it was a lousy substitute. A pacifier. A gift given out of convenience and requirement. Looking back, I wish I had had the courage to say “Keep it, it’s not what I want.”

We love our kids regardless of what they have, what they look like, what they can do, or how they are feeling. This is true love. Love trumps. If they were to become disfigured or injured, our love would not waver. Love never fails. If you have a rich, attractive, fun, handy spouse who loves you, ENJOY! The “who loves you” part is the hardest to come by. The “who loves you” part is something not to be taken for granted.  The “who loves you” part is the most important. There’s a reason wedding vows say “for richer for poorer”, “in sickness and in health”. Because all those things can change. To love and to honor through them all is something nothing else can buy.

Cherish your spouse. Love them like no other. Show them the best humanly love possible. Your spouse is given to you by God to love you through life and we all know life isn’t easy. They are supposed to be your helper, not your hurter. Let us never intentionally hurt each other. Let us ask forgiveness when we do. Let us forgive. Let us cherish. And, let us always choose love.

What are My Chains?

chains

If we haven’t battled the demons of drug, alcohol, or sex addictions, we may not be aware of our own personal chains. We all compensate our pain one way or another. All of these compulsions start as an escape. Escape from neglect, pain, or sheer boredom. Escape to feel better in the moment. Then the next time, the next, the next, and eventually we feel dropped into the pit of despair with no idea how to function without them. Affecting children, marriages, friends, careers, a downward spiral. We’ve all heard the stories if we haven’t lived them. These testimonies are powerful, they get our attention, they warn us, and they open our eyes to what a powerful work Jesus truly can do in a life. Praise God for each and every one! But, if we don’t fall into these categories, it can leave us to wonder….what about me? What are my chains?

What are you dependent on? For comfort? For “normalcy”? What or who do you go to? What makes you feel better? If it is destructive, these are chains. We all have quirks, preferences, and interests, but at what point do they become destructive? This is a chain. We all need to eat, but food can be a chain. Overeating and anorexia. We all need to clean, but then there’s obsessive cleaning. We should all exercise, but there is also exercise addiction. We all need rest, but laziness can also turn into a chain. Relationships, friends, spouses, parents, and children are all wonderful, but if we turn these gifts into idols, they can become chains.

We all want to be loved, but people pleasing is a chain. The more I seek Jesus, the more He shines the light on this chain of mine. The chain of speaking up. The chain that my opinion doesn’t matter or is always wrong, just because it’s mine. The hardest concept for me to wrap my mind around is that it is possible to love others without pleasing them. My fear has always been that if I disagree, they will feel unloved by me or stop loving me altogether. So I freeze. I keep my opinions to myself. I feel like a don’t have a voice. After all, my thoughts on the subject must be wrong, so why voice them anyway?

Then, He reminds me that I am His daughter. Then, He reminds me that He died for me. Then, He reminds me that His love is greater than anyone else’s that I’m afraid of losing or hurting. And, it breaks. And, I’m free. Free to be me. Free to speak. Free to make choices. Free to admit how hard this is for me. Free. And, you know what I’ve also noticed? The ones who’s opinions I tend to fret about the most don’t seem to care one iota about mine. You see the chain?

This may not be a testimony that includes drug rehab, loss of custody, or Alcoholics Anonymous…but, to me, it’s powerful. Jesus is personal. There are some things only you and Jesus know that you struggle with. He will shine a light on your chains if you ask Him to. This is life changing, because once you begin to see His progress, you will be amazed as to how tied down you were.

Now, every time I speak my personal opinion or verbally disagree with someone else’s, I’m actually surprised. I still get scared of their reaction and don’t want to hurt feelings, but I realize more and more that my feelings and opinions are just as valid. This a chain that once broken, doesn’t stay that way. This is a heavy chain. My weakness. My struggle. My thorn. Oh, how I wish it would go away completely.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV)

Paul pleaded for his thorn to be removed, but He said the Lord didn’t remove it in order to keep him from being conceited (verse 7). To keep him humbled. To keep him dependent. To keep him face down in awe of His Savior. If our thorns keep us at the feet of Jesus, then praise God for them. And, Paul did just that.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)

Making us aware of our thorns (crutches, tendencies), the damage they cause, and the relief available through Him alone is breaking our chains. It’s interesting to me that broken people know the weight of these chains. Once broken, we look to Him in our weakness. We go to Him with our problems. We appreciate others who do. We recognize His power. We request prayer. We want Him first. Once broken, He becomes the light and love of our lives. Once our chains are broken, we want to help others feel the release of theirs. Only Jesus.

 

 

Born to Pursue…

rubies

I’d like to share some information that I’ve learned through the trial and error, excitement and disappointment, joy and pain of dating….things I wish I’d known the first time around. Better late than never.

A man will pursue what he wants most. Career, marriage, sex, power, God, hobbies, family, money. It’s a God given trait. You can tell what is most important to a man by what he prioritizes.

When he’s looking for a woman, he will pursue. When he’s looking for a wife, he will pursue. And, these can be two very different things. Same goes for us. What we may want in a man and what we need in a husband are two different things. Be aware, guard your heart, and date accordingly.

When a man catches your scent and starts to pursue, what is he picking up? Sex appeal? You may have a plethora of pursuers. But, be aware that sex may be all he’s hunting. The only way to know is to take it out of the equation. Money? A different type of pursuit. There are plenty of men who will spend and live off your money too. He needs to work. Looks? They will fade. We all age, even him. A good time? We all have bad days, sick days, sad days, hard days…..Will he help (love) you through them or bail?

How about spiritual fruit? A man drawn to the sweet smell of the fruits of the Spirit will be looking for yours. That’s a beautiful pursuit.

Work on your insides while you take care of your outsides. Outer beauty may attract initially, but inner beauty will become more attractive over time. To us too. Most of what we desire in a husband, they also desire in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Ask God for a character that grows more beautiful by the year.

If you have the desire to marry, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for talking about it or looking for it. Not everyone has this desire, but for those of us who do, it is not wrong nor does it make you any less spiritual when you feel or express physical loneliness. That’s a healthy, God-given desire.

A huge part of what makes a husband a great husband is his awareness of how special his wife is. His treatment of her reflects that. These are my favorite marriages to witness. You’ll want a man who continues to pursue you, even married. One who gives, serves, plans, and thanks God for you. One who truly loves you for you. If you are the one chasing him and wearing him down to spend time with you or commit while dating, this is the precedent you are setting. Wait for the man who pursues you. Treasures you. Who views being committed to you as the privilege that it is.

When the dating crickets chirp, take comfort in the fact that you are released from the temporaries and more prepared for your permanent. It may feel lonely. You may think something is wrong with you. But, God is working in you and your future mate. Pray for them and know that you are already loved, already beautiful, and already being actively pursued. Jesus woos us. He waits for us. He is the perfect gentleman. That being said, Jesus doesn’t take the place of a living breathing physical partner. I know this. But, He does love you more than any living breathing partner will. Cry out in your physical loneliness and know that He loves you.

Love is sacrifice. Love is patient, love is kind……(1 Corinthians 13). Learn what real love is so that you can recognize healthy and unhealthy love when it shows up. Learn so that you can give and receive it. Grow in your relationship with God so that your fruits will flourish. This will not only help with future romantic relationships, but also with your kids, family, and friends.

The man who is pursuing a wife will pursue you differently. He knows what he wants too…and he knows it’s hard to find.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. Proverbs 31:10-11 (NIV)

There are no guarantees in marriage. Uniting two imperfect people in holy matrimony is always a risk. I have learned the hard way and experienced much pain in the process. If I can help anyone avoid pain, that would be a huge blessing. I pray for wisdom this time. I pray for fruit this time. I pray for the courage to take the risk….again. Because I believe love is worth the risk. I plan to keep learning from and leaning on the One guarantee I am certain of and that is Jesus, my Rock.

 

 

Twisted

twisted

Don’t get it twisted. Each one of us are here because of sexual intercourse. As much as we may not like thinking about our parents in that way, it’s the truth. God designed each of us (the apples of His eyes, the ones He died for) to develop and be brought into this world through the act of sex. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 (NIV)

We forget that it is a Godly design, a gift. Not only for procreation, but for pleasure. God is not a prude, sex was His idea.

The enemy twists our sexuality in different ways. One way is to make us think it’s okay whenever we feel like it with whomever also happens to feel like it at the time. Two consenting adults with a physical need that needs quenched. This cheapens it. It may feel good in the moment, but that is not His design. We really do give a part of ourselves away each and every time. The more you give it away, the less it will mean to you. And, that’s just sad. Sex is not just a natural act, there is much more to it. Why else would infidelity hurt so much? Why else do we withhold when we are upset or hurt? Sex matters. You matter.

Another way it gets twisted is we think we need to have sex in order to feel loved or show love. This can definitely help in marriage, but outside marriage, we run the risk of falling for someone who’s just dating us for physical pleasure with no intention of permanency. This one’s very tricky, because we think we need to have sex in order for love to grow. We wonder if a man can really fall in love, or if we can, without it. When you’re used to it as part of a relationship, it’s very difficult to imagine one without it. You wonder how on earth a bond can develop and grow without this aspect, but God can and will send someone who agrees with this viewpoint if you have it. Pray for that.

As far as what’s okay and what’s not, communication and peace are key. Talk about it. Yes, it’s a hard conversation to have. But, if you have this conviction, ignoring or denying it will not lead to peace. Share what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. This should be respected by both parties. It either works for them or it doesn’t. This is why it’s so helpful to date someone with similar convictions so you don’t always have to be the “strong one”. It’s already agreed upon. Set your boundaries and follow your peace. If you mess up, talk about it and regroup. Pray some more and show yourself and each other grace.

Another way the enemy twists our sexuality is with shame. He wants us to think that we’ve messed up too many times, are used goods, and/or our desires are bad. Nope, like I said, we are the apple of His eyes. “Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” Zechariah 2:8b (GW) The (NLT) version says “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.”

He made us sexual human beings. Our sexual desires are not from the enemy, they are from God. He made us to desire it and enjoy it….at the right time, with the person we love and who loves us, for a lifetime. I wouldn’t want my daughters to think their desires are wrong or shameful. They need to be addressed and brought to the light as normal, healthy, and God given. It tends to get watered down too much or used as a personal shame sledge hammer in our minds by the enemy. He wants us to stay twisted, suffer, and question in silence. I share because I’ve been personally twisted.

Let’s iron it out and bring it to the light. God is good. The enemy is not. Sex is good. The enemy is not. God loves us. The enemy does not. Don’t let complacency or condemnation keep you twisted.

He Touched Me

touch

I believe God touches us so that we can touch others. My relationship with God has come more and more to the forefront of my life from the time I had my first daughter to now. He has moved to the top spot in my life because I’ve relied on Him so much. He’s been tender, patient, and authoritative in my life and I have been receptive. I needed to be. I knew I needed Him, there was no other way.

I am also so thankful I learned who God is to ME. It took a personal encounter with Him to change my heart forever. He touched me in the midst of my brokenness, literally. I felt Him wrap His presence around me lying in bed one night after silently crying out to Him. I asked Him to wrap His arms around me and He did. In that moment, no one else would or could. With His touch, He reaffirmed His love for me. I will never forget it and I will share it with anyone who will listen. He is real. He is with us. He hears us. He protects us. And, He speaks our personal love language.

I know, in my head, that He’s been with me my whole life. I just didn’t pay much attention. My relationship with Him didn’t alter or affect the choices that I made. It wasn’t until I had daughters of my own and the pain of a husband’s rejection that my eyes were opened to His relentless love. Now, my knowledge of Him has moved to my heart and I pray that He always stays right there. His touch changed me.

I would never want to go back to the “old me” who lived unaware, unobservant, and unappreciative of His love. The “new me” wants to comfort and encourage others, longs to be in His presence, and wants to conquer fear in His name. I just want to do what He wants me to do….and that brings me true joy. I want to because of what He’s done for me.

He didn’t just die for me, He touched me when I needed it the most.

 

 

Sex is the Icing…

icing

The more I learn about and dabble in the current singles scene, the more I have come to this conclusion. God meant sex to be the icing on the cake. Sex is a beautiful gift. It was His design and He did not design it to be accompanied with shame, regret, or remorse. If it is, we’re not doing it right! Plain and simple.

Sex IN marriage is designed to bond committed spouses, enhance intimacy, release stress, make up after disagreements, and many other wonderful and constructive things. When it’s had outside of marriage, the physical pleasure alone doesn’t fulfill the rest of what sex is intended to do. It may feel good physically, but it hurts our hearts because the mental, emotional, and spiritual components are lacking. So….the fulfillment isn’t what God intended it to be. We are left with more questions than warm and fuzzy feelings. Sex should be the ultimate commitment between two people. It’s designed to affect our hearts and if it doesn’t affect our hearts anymore, there is a bigger problem going on.

I’m also blatantly aware that this opinion is not shared by the majority of people these days, especially now. I know from personal experience how much sex can bond you to someone regardless of how they treat you outside the bedroom. I think that for women, we tend to put up with a lot more from a man we are sleeping with than men that we are not. Outside of marriage, we confuse sex for love. We think they love us when we have sex even when their actions speak completely differently at other times. Be careful ladies!! I don’t just write this for myself. I’m writing for my daughters, my nieces, and my other single friends. I want us all to know that when God asks us to wait, it’s not to deprive us of a good thing…it’s to prepare us for His BETTER thing in it’s most fulfilling form, completely free of shame. Just as He intended it to be.

I’m also not writing in judgement, I’m as guilty as anyone and still struggle. I haven’t always had this conviction. This is new to me since my divorce, probably as a byproduct of having daughters to think about and my stronger relationship with Jesus. Now, I trust His love for me enough to know that He only asks me to do or not do things for my best interest. Dating is much harder with this conviction. My biggest fear in writing and sharing this entry, is that it will deny me the icing forever! But, I feel like it’s a topic that God has asked me to share. So I will. Perfect love casts out all fear and He is with me regardless of the consequences. I’m trusting Him with all that I have and am….

We all want the total package and that includes sex. But….if we have it before the cake is fully baked and cooled, we risk not enjoying it to it’s fullest potential. Or worse, staying in a relationship we aren’t supposed to stay in and committing to a counterfeit. When sex enters a relationship, all other aspects seem to cease growing and it becomes the main focus. If you break up, the heartbreak and regret lasts longer and if you do marry, the other aspects of the relationship may be lacking.

How do you know if you are mentally, spiritually, and emotionally compatible based on physical compatibility alone? How will you know if he’s in it just for the physical benefits if you don’t gather enough information on the other stuff first? Commitment is so much more than physical pleasure. How do you two mesh the rest of the time? Now, THAT is the question. And that question is very difficult to assess when sex is involved.

He who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 14:22

Women, we are the treasure. If we are giving ourselves away to every guy we date, what’s in it for our husbands? What makes marriage important? What motivates a man to get down on his knee and ask for our hand in marriage if he’s already getting what he’ll get from us married? What honors God? The world wants us to think…who cares? It’s just a physical act. We were told to “wait till marriage” growing up mostly to avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. While those are both good reasons to refrain, birth control and condoms don’t protect our hearts. God wants us to respect His gift of sex and marriage. Wouldn’t it be an awesome feeling to know that your future spouse is already thinking about you enough to wait for you? That goes both ways.

Moral of my story today is when a new relationship comes along, take the time to really get to know each other (gather ingredients), if it proceeds and you decide to be exclusive (mix the ingredients), enjoy each other and pray for direction (bake the cake), if it proceeds and you get engaged (let the cake cool), and if you get all the way to the altar….ice that cake and enjoy!! God wants you to 🙂 If you don’t make it to the altar, at least you tried and you’ll have much less to regret. Prayerfully moving on….