Why This Teenage Girl Doesn’t Kiss Her Boyfriend

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I couldn’t help but share this post a senior friend of Trevor’s posted on Facebook. We all know how our society has become so sexually promiscuous. When it’s time for my second and third child to get married, I want them to have someone to choose from who has saved themselves for marriage. I’m not belittling those who have already chosen to have sex, and there is a very real concept called “reclaimed virginity.” It’s not to late to change your lifestyle because God is a forgiving and merciful God. By dying on the cross he’s already overcome all of our sins. But if you can know God’s intentions for sex before you are in a serious relationship, it will make life much easier, and you’ll be honoring God above all else.

If you are a teenager, read this. If you have a teenager, have them read this or read it to them. What Ashley is writing here is from her heart…the heart of a 17-year-old girl. I know she has one proud mama! It takes an huge amount of courage to not just hold tight to your beliefs, but to profess them on the world wide webb for all to see. Incredibly brave.


“God has really been placing this on my heart to talk about and discuss
lately. As many of my friends know, I have been dating Brandon for over a
year now. Early on in our relationship, we decided that we wanted to set
“guardrails” and “boundaries” in our relationship as far as physical stuff
goes. Now, we had these set, but honestly, neither of us really understood why.

We thought “Well, we aren’t having sex, so what’s the big deal?” I’ve found that this is the mindset that many of my friends have towards their relationship. After Brandon and I had been dating for about 6 months or so we sat down and discussed our relationship. I had been doing a bible student called, “The 7 Lies of Teen Dating”, and through the whole study, the same question kept popping up in my head, “Why am I asking the question ‘how far is too far?’ When I should be asking ‘how far is not honoring God?”

A verse that Brandon and I really looked at and prayed about was 1 Corinthians 6:20 “God owns the whole works.So let people see God in and through your body.” We both decided that we wanted our bodies and physical aspects of our relationship to demonstrate our love for God.”

I’m jumping into the middle of her post here to share the entire passage of scripture from 1 Corinthians:

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

Now back to Ashley:

“Originally, we decided that the only physical contact we would have is a peck, and only once on an hour. Now being a teenager in a world where that is the complete opposite of the social norm, we were definitely laughed at. Now a little over 95 days ago me and Brandon decided that we wanted to eliminate kissing all together. As far as physical aspects in our relationship, we wanted to limit ourselves to hugging and kissing on the cheek. We wanted to go 95 days with no distractions, and we spent those 95 days getting closer to God and building our relationship on a God foundation. Obviously, this was not something that was easy to just tell my friends or classmates about at school, and when people found out, it was usually just laughs and side comments.

I want to address some of the questions and statements people say to me in regards to what me and Brandon do. Keep in mind I’m only 17 years old, and Brandon is my first serious relationship, so I am definitely not a relationship expert by any means, and I’m still learning from my mentors how I can better and build my relationship on a God foundation. Hopefully, this will give people some light on the subject or give someone the courage to make changes in their current or future relationship.ashleyavila

1. “Do you really love Brandon if you don’t kiss him? And does he really love you?”
The answer to this question is really simple to me. Yes, I love him, and
yes he loves me. I didn’t wake up one day and say “kissing is gross, I
don’t want to do that anymore.” It took a lot of strength and courage from
God for us to make this decision. But I promise you girls, it’s one thing for a guy to say “I love you” and it’s another for him to say, “I love you, but I love God more so I’m putting him at the center of our relationship, and I will put him before you.”
2. “Are you even in a relationship if you don’t kiss?”
Yes. A relationship isn’t suppose to be about physicality. My dad has told me ever since I was a little girl that dating is just an interview before marriage. Somewhere down the line our society has gotten this social norm that relationships should be based on physical things and that’s just normal and “being a teeanger”, and those who chose other wise are viewed as weird. But honestly building a relationship on physicality is one of the most unsturdy foundations. The only sturdy foundation to build a relationship on is God, so you should honor God in your relationship.
3. “You’re only a teenager once, and you’re wasting it.”
Again, I have a simple response. I may only be a teenager once, but I only get to live my life for God once. Nuff said.

(What an awesome perspective for everyone!)

4. “If you’re gonna marry Brandon, then why does it matter how far you go?”

Well, as much as I love Brandon and hope that I will marry him one day, I don’t know who I will marry. Only God knows who I will end up marrying, and until I am at my wedding saying “I do,” I don’t know who my husband will be. But as a christian, it is my job to stay as pure as possible for my future husband.”

Incredible post Ashley. Thanks for letting me share. Ashley has started her own blog now on Christian Dating and I wanted to share that link with you: https://heleadsifollowweb.wordpress.com/

Please share this with anyone you know who has teenagers…let’s make her post go viral!


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Not All is Lost! {Guest Post on Marriage and Addiction}


Today I have a guest post on dealing with addiction in the marriage relationship from Saint Jude Retreats. Hope you enjoy!

Not all is lost!

By Annie Kochneva (Saint Jude Retreats)

When thinking about marriage, more often than not, people would first recall the beginning stages of how their family came to be. The proposal, the excitement, the wedding preparation, the vows, the respect and appreciation, the general care for the other person, their feelings and their well-being, the pure love that started it all.  Everyone and anyone would like to think at that beginning stage that people, feelings and things stay the same and they can live in that frozen moment in time, when everything was well… just perfect.wedding

In reality, people, feelings and things change. Sometimes these changes are for the better- people build loving relationships, stronger marriages, unbreakable bonds, mutual respect and understanding.

Sometimes, things don’t work out quite that way. It is an uncomfortable topic for many to discuss, but it is vital to share it with as many people as possible, because realizing that we are not alone sometimes might make the difference between “to repair” or “ to break” a marriage. There are so many factors in a marriage that can affect it in a way to make it more challenging for the people who are trying to make it work; however, substance use, whether it is alcohol or drug or both, is one of the top reasons for divorce in our society.

The reason behind this is perhaps because it is one of the few reasons that affect not only the couple, but the whole family- children and relatives included. It is completely understandable that the stronger the feelings between the spouses prior the substance use, the bigger impact can such an external factor have on their relationship. When that is the case, it is that much harder, because the bigger the expectations are- the bigger the disappointment is at the end. To make things even worse, usually the extended family and friends not only do not support, but sometimes even discourage the spouse, who is not involved in substance use, to continue the relationship and rebuild the marriage. And the loss of support in such a moment can be crucial for some couples, making it a tipping point in the direction of a divorce.shadow couple

Therefore, it is vital for spouses to understand that there are alternatives and there are support channels to help rebuilding relationships that have been affected by substance use, but most of all, that there is hope. Many couples manage not only to rebuild their marriages but to actually make them stronger. No matter which side of the equation you are on- the substance user or the spouse, you can actively participate in the process of saving your marriage, instead of silently observing its ruin. How can you do this?

–        Talk the talk

 In order to rebuild, you have to open up to each other first and that is valid for both sides. Let the other person know how you feel, share your fears and expectations and rebuild your trust.

–        Own up to it

To be able to move on, you first have to admit to your choices, decisions and actions that affected your marriage or your partner in a negative way. Then, you have to accept the consequences that come with them. That applies for both partners.

–        Seek support

Some couples manage to rebuild their lives together and avoid divorce on their own, so it is not impossible. However, there are many alcohol programs that can actively support you in that process and it will be that much easier to let them guide you through that process, there is no need to rediscover the wheel.

–        Put in the work-

After you talk the talk, this is the stage where you have to walk the walk. Nobody can do it for you, but many have done it before you.

And remember, nobody else can do it for you, but you can do it.

{Annie Kochneva is with St. Jude Retreats~ a non-12 step alternative program to conventional alcohol and drug rehab.}







Thought #2: In marriage, you’re on the same team

, a

There’s just no two ways about it, marriage is a tricky business.  I just gave my daughter a book to read by Gary Chapman—Things I Wish We’d Known Before We Got Married. I would have loved to had that book before I got married, but honestly, I doubt I would have read it.
Young, head-over-heels in love, with nothing but marital bliss in my future, I knew nothing bad could happen. I mean, we’d dated for almost six years, and we were in LOVE. It didn’t matter that we would have petty little things to deal with like jobs, money, decisions about home and church, people of the opposite sex invading our territory, raising kids, family in-law issues, etc… LOVE CONQUERS ALL, RIGHT???
You’d think the divorce rate alone would make people realize that marriage can be a bit harrowing at times. Your spouse is the one you come home to every night that hasn’t done the dishes or made supper and left all the laundry in the floor in the hallway. Your spouse is the one who leaves the toilet paper roll empty. Your spouse is the one who never picks up his socks from the floor beside the bed. Petty little things, right? But those are the starting points for the bigger arguments. Before you know it, those socks in the floor have turned into an entire closet full of clothes thrown out the upstairs bedroom window onto the lawn! That’s not what you
signed up for, is it?
It’s a fact that living with someone requires compromise. Overlooking a sock or hopping with your pants down to get to the toilet paper just might be necessary every once in a while.
My husband and I both do things that get on each others nerves. But after 23 years of marriage, I think we’ve finally figured a few things out…things we had forgotten since we first said ,”I do.”
  • We are a team. The day we said “I do” we made a commitment to spend life together as husband and wife—”one flesh.” We both wanted the same things in life, but somehow “life” keeps getting in the way. We must remember teamwork.
  • It’s natural to think about all of the hard work you do every day. Try honestly putting yourself in your spouses shoes. Talk to them and try to understand what they have to go through every day. My hubby deals with business finances all day every day, in addition to employee/staffing problems, thousands of e-mails, and so much more I’m not even aware of. Yet he makes it a point to spend time with his family every day. Maybe because I’m an only child, or I’m just plain selfish, but this one I have to work on daily. I’m quite sure I don’t work nearly as hard as he does and I need to find more to alleviate some of his responsibility.
  • Communicate your feelings/frustrations before you act on them. Watchout…here come that “a” word…affair. When frustrations build inside a marriage, other options can look very appealing. I’ve seen some second marriages work better than the first, only because they learned some valuable lessons the first time around. But you can bet that a new spouse will bring on a whole new set of frustrations to deal with, plus the baggage from the first marriage. So you might as well do it right the first time!


Goodness knows David and I have been through some tough stuff. Yet in every situation, we tried to seek God’s will. But in the midst of a difficult relationship, God can seem very far away because we turn inward to the “poor, pitiful me” mentality. Once we were on the other side of whatever the situation was, we could clearly see God’s hand in the situation. And let me tell you, there were some seriously bad situations. But we made it through them stronger, and our marriage is better than it’s ever been.


Love is definitely a decision. Marriage is a commitment. If you put God at the head of your marriage and remember that you began and plan to end this journey as a team, marriage can be a life of unparalleled happiness.



A Little Beachy Goodness

Our marriage verse. 
Our life verse. 

Has it always been easy? 

Have we served none the less? 

When I ponder our lives and see where we are now, 
the choice was always clear. 

We will serve the Lord

And he has rewarded us abundantly. 

Enjoy a little beachy goodness from our vacation 😉
The fancy

and the fun…
Hope you enjoyed the…

From my heart,


Make-a-change Monday~Marriage Menders

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it,
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
~Ogden Nash, Marriage Lines: Notes of a Student Husband

Such a simple poem, but so hard to do! No one can get under our skin quite like the one we live with every day, wake up with every morning, go to bed with every night, pay bills with…you know. And Satan loves to keep us too busy to really communicate, so things we thought we said, we might not have; things we do say may not come across the right way. Yep, that can be marriage sometimes.

Busy has been the state of our household this summer, so communication has suffered. It seems like sometimes it’s easier not to say anything at all than “start” something. We have found ourselves going to bed too late, getting up earlier than we’d like, with too much to do, and not enough time to do it in.

I think as couples we often forget we are a team—two individuals with the same goals in mind. Really! Don’t we forget sometimes that we both want to enjoy some fun; we both want the best for our kids; we both want to get the bills paid with a little money left over; we both want to go on a great summer vacation. Why is it so hard to remember we are working together toward the same goals?

I think it all comes down to the word “love.” 

If you look up the word “love” in the dictionary, here’s what you get:


love |ləv|nounan intense feeling of deep affection babies fill parents with intense feelings of love their love for their country.• a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone it was love at first sight they were both in love with her we were slowly falling in love.• ( Love) a personified figure of love, often represented as Cupid.• a great interest and pleasure in something his love for football we share a love of music.• affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one’s behalf.• a formula for ending an affectionate letter take care, lots of love, Judy.a person or thing that one loves she was the love of his life 

Cupid? Really? 
Now here’s just a little the Bible says about love:

So A)”>we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. B)”>God is love, and C)”>whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
 (1 John 4:16 ESV)

And then there’s the little matter of the greatest commandments: 

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: D)”>‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment E)”>greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Now go back and read today’s prescription verses from what we know as the love chapter of the Bible. If God is love, we can substitute his name every time the word “love” appears: 

[God] is patient and kind; [God] does not envy or boast; [God] is not arrogant or rude; [God] does not insist on his own way; [God] is not irritable or resentful; [God] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. [God] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

Kind of opens your eyes doesn’t it? If God is love, reading these verses in this way makes me realize how much he really must love us—his children. 

Now comes the hard part. If we are to love our neighbors (and our spouse) as ourselves as God commands us, and we are to love God with everything we have, should we not strive to put our own name as a substitution for the word “love?” Get your steel toed boots on people…this one hurts: 

_____________ is patient and kind;
______________does not envy or boast;
_______________is not arrogant or rude; 
_______________does not insist on his or her own way; 
_______________is not irritable or resentful; {OUCH!}
______________does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. 
_____________bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What easy marriages we would all have if we could fill in those blanks with our name! Unfortunately, we are human. But so was Jesus. I don’t believe God would express such a genuine love for us if we were not capable of it as well. Easy? No. Worth trying? YES!

Maybe for the {make-a-change} Monday, we could just take one blank at a time…

From my heart, 

Mars and Venus

This time of year brings so much of everything, and for many it means busy, busier, and busiest.  That’s sure what it means for me. So earlier this week when I ended up waiting two hours for a doctor’s appointment, I was a little frustrated. It just so happened that I had a book in my purse I’d won in a drawing, Eden Derailed, so I pulled it out to read. Well, the Mars and Venus authors have nothing on Matt Williams. He speaks to everyone—singles, married, men, women, divorced, and teens—on the plan God laid out for sex. He did create it, and he did have a specific plan in mind when he did.
If you have any question marks in your mind concerning the way your significant other thinks regarding sex, read this book. If you want to know what on earth God was thinking when he made men and women so different, read this book. If you want to better teach your children about sex—what it should be rather than what it should not be—read this book.
Sometimes God uses unusual circumstances for very specific purposes. There are a few people in my life right now that could really benefit from this book, and I will pass it along to them. But it also made me look at my marriage. I have an awesome husband whom I’m sure I’ve never given nearly enough credit. So every day from now until Christmas, I’m challenging myself to write down five things about David that I’m thankful for. One month, no repeats.
Often in a marriage, we take our spouse for granted. We are so busy in our own shoes; we forget what it might be like to be in theirs.
During this month from now til Christmas, spend some time this month on your marriage? Go to Amazon and check out Eden Derailed . Here’s the link: 

Will you do this with me? Just get a small notebook and jot down the date and five things about your spouse you’re thankful for. Then, give the notebook to your spouse for Christmas. Who knows? You might score some big brownie points!
Hopefully this exercise will result in a happier, richer relationship to begin the New Year!
From my heart,


The Trulywed Game~Episode Four: Achieving the “Big O”

You have to watch the podcast. If you are married, have a boyfriend, have children, or are still in the planning phase, this sermon will change your way of thinking. I am only going to highlight Perry’s main points and give you some of my thoughts (his points are in blue). I’ll bet you’ve never heard a sermon like this before!

Here is the link. If you cannot access it directly from here, just copy and paste it into your browser…


Over the last 4 weeks, Perry has preached a sermon series on God’s plan for marriage. He has discussed emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and this week is physical intimacy. Glad you can’t see me…my face is red just typing this! 

I grew up as a “good little Southern Baptist,” and knew my list of “thou shalt not’s.” Of course sex was high on that list. In my mind, it was forbidden, so it must be bad. On television, the only time sex is “shown” is between two people who are not married. It’s either teenagers having premarital sex, or it’s a married man or woman in an affair. Hollywood only portrays a worldly view of sex. We never see it portrayed as the wonderful God-given gift that it is. 

Physical intimacy results from becoming one sexually with my spouse. 

1) Appreciate the spiritual nature of intercourse. He designed it to be a supernatural encounter, never intended to be experienced without a spiritual dimension. (See 1 Corinthians 6:13-20) 

Now I don’t know about you, but I am rarely praying during sex! We have been so programmed to see sex as a physical act; we forget that God actually created it! When we have “the talk” with our kids, we explain sex physically, not spiritually. Not long ago, Marlee (my 8-year-old) asked me, “What is sex?” I truly believe that God gave me the answer. First, I asked her what she thought it was so I wouldn’t give her information she wasn’t ready for. Her reply was “when a married couple lays in the bed together naked.” 
So I explained it to her like this…

“You know when a mommy breastfeeds her baby? Well, God designed us that way. During that ‘skin to skin’ contact, a bond is formed between and a mommy and her baby that no one else would ever have. God intended for a man and woman to have a similar bond when they are married. They have that ‘skin to skin’ contact they never share with anyone else. It’s a bond they have together for life. They become one.”

2) Act according to God’s direction. 

Honor marriage, and guard against the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex. Hebrews 13:4 (Msg)

Sex has taken the place of kissing from a few decades ago. Sex should grow from a permanently committed love. It should not be depended on to stimulate love. 

When David and I first had talk to our kids about sex, we even had the thought, “In this day and time, the best we can probably do is make them wait at least until after high school, when they are in a serious relationship that might be forever.” Now of course we want them to wait until marriage, but we were trying to be realistic. SHAME ON US! God created sex, and has a purpose for it. Are we to believe that he made us incapable of waiting until we’re married? NO. The “true love waits” road may not make us popular, but it will be what allows us to experience the real intimacy of sex inside marriage. 

There is no freedom without restraints. Think about that statement. It applies to everything that is good in our lives. Without boundaries, there would be no such thing as freedom. 

3) Accommodate my spouse’s needs. Read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. 

Does this mean we have to do anything our spouse wants? No. Does it mean we need to have open communication? Yes. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled. Inside marriage there is room to try new things. Continue discovering each other as long as you are in agreement. 

4) Attempt to attain oneness. That’s the “Big O”~ Oneness. 

Read Genesis 2:18, 22-25. The end of that passage says …a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. 

True intimacy grows from a relationship where your body and your heart must be naked. The relationship must be one of complete acceptance. The goal of sex is unification, not just pleasure. It is a soul-deep bond that develops when people in a committed marriage love and serve each other. 

As Christians, it’s time we quit letting the world determine what sex is or what it can be. As parents, we need to teach our children about the awesome gift of sex God gave us, and how amazing it can be when we use it as God planned. As spouses, we need to stick with God’s plan.

When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees. Song of Solomon 8:10

Sunday morning (before hearing this sermon), David and I were laying in the bed talking, and he looked over at me and said, “You know, seeing you laying there on that pillow, you look exactly the same as you did when we got married.” Now of course he was just looking at my head, not the extra bulges that have appeared in the last 22 years, but my first thought was, “Okay, what does he want.” But believe it or not, he just wanted to tell me. 

I’m sure we have the same problems and arguments that any married couple does, but when this area of our life is good, we can handle those problems together. We are one. 
From my heart, 


The Trulywed Game~Episode Three

Spiritual intimacy includes submitting to Jesus Christ and sacrificing for our spouses. 

I think one of the key words here is “spiritual.” True intimacy cannot exist without a spiritual component. God created man and wife…marriage, the closest tangible example of a Christian’s relationship with Christ. 

Marriages have such a hard time these days. We are bombarded by the media with Hollywood’s definition if intimacy…sex. Sex is most definitely necessary for intimacy in a marriage, but certainly does not stand alone as a formula for intimacy. The way Jesus treats the church is the best example of how we should treat our spouse. 

Essentials for spiritual intimacy:

1) Similar convictions ~First things first: We’ve all heard that as couples, we should not be “unequally yoked.” That has taken on so many meanings, but it all boils down to being matched with someone with similar beliefs. 

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)

Taking the step from love into marriage is a step of faith. It’s hard to keep a marriage happy and growing. So many people marry unbelievers thinking they will be the one to change them…to save them. But once inside marriage, difference in beliefs will not diminish over time, they will be magnified. 

Okay, if you’re thinking, “Oh crap, it’s too late,” don’t worry and don’t try to hit your spouse over the head with a bible or put it under his pillow hoping osmosis will do the trick. God tells us the best way to handle an unbelieving spouse.  

Fit in with your [spouses] plans; for then if they refuse to listen when you talk to them about the Lord, they will be won by your respectful, pure behavior. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. 1 Peter 3:1-2 (TLB)

2) Spiritual Leadership~ Ephesians 5:21-25 is the well know scripture about “submission.” I’ll let you look that one up for yourself, but basically, the husband should be the spiritual leader in the home by loving and cherishing his wife…going “all out,” for her. Just as Christ did for the church. And in turn, the wife should support her husband in ways that show love for him and for Christ. How could you not resist the leadership of a man who would be willing to die for you? Or even more, give up his every Saturday golf or football game? 

…Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She…is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (NLT)

As spouses, we are equal partners in life. A team. Husbands will not always be the one that’s best to lead everything, but as a good leader, he will realize that and let his wife take the lead when that’s best. God made us to complement each other. Where the wife is weak, the husband is strong, and vice versa. This parallels with our relationship with Christ. 

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

We are marriage partners. Not to be too cliché, we complete each other. 

3) Surrender Self~ A Christ centered marriage is willingness of both spouses willing to die to self-centered desires. Closeness comes at the loss of yourself. “But I shouldn’t have to lose who I am!” If you are committing yourself to a Christ centered marriage, God will make you the person he created you to be. 

Husbands, go all out in love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church–love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in a dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor–since they’re already “one” in marriage. Ephesians 5:25-28 (Msg)

4) Scriptural Obedience~ As we are obedient to God, and growing closer to God, the intimacy with our spouse will increase. As married couples and as families, we must build our foundation on solid rock. 

…All those who come and listen and obey me are like a man who builds his house upon a strong foundation laid upon underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm, for it is strongly built. But those who listen and don’t obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation. When the floodwaters sweep down against that house, it crumbles into a heap of ruins. Luke 6:46-49 (TLB)

Look at today’s prescription. Husband and wife can pull together across the bottom of the triangle, without God, and they may be together, but they will have no foundation. If a husband and wife draw close to God first, they will grow together at the same time, and land on a firm foundation. 

Marriage is tough. Believe me, I know. I have had the blessing of a godly husband who is a spiritual leader in our family, although I know I haven’t always allowed him to be. Life is much smoother and happier in our home when I do. 

From my heart,

If you would like to view these sermons from Brookwood Church, here is the link. The production of their very own “Trulywed Game” is definitely worth watching. It will make you smile =o) Just copy and paste into your browser.


The Trulywed Game~Episode Two

Well, let me first be honest about this post. I had a hard time getting into Perry’s sermon this week…not because it wasn’t great, but because I was so frustrated with David! He fussed at me Sunday morning about being on my computer. I admit, I am on my computer a lot these days, but writing and photography require much computer time. So that being said, here’s part two of The Trulywed Game.

The title for this sermon was “Communicating to Encourage Closeness.” I found this title rather ironic considering our communication on the way to church!

“To develop emotional intimacy, I must display trustworthy character and deliver encouraging communication.”

Now being the proud and stubborn people David and I are, I don’t know which one of was communicating badly. David says I’m on the computer way too much and not being part of the family (even if I’m just doing mindless things like deleting bad pictures). I, however, think David is not supporting me in my photography and writing since he is fussing at me about being on the computer! Don’t get me wrong, he does support me, but I don’t know how I can possibly get everything done without spending some time around the family with my laptop. Suggestions here are welcome by the way!

How to Communicate to Encourage Closeness:

1) Display trustworthy character by demonstrating integrity, deciding to be faithful, and dealing with tasks. 

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! Song of Songs 2:15 (NLT)

I can honestly say I’ve never read that verse in the Bible. But the metaphor is so very true. How many little foxes do we let into our homes and lives every day? One little fox may not do too much damage, but before long, they can take over and a marriage and home can be destroyed. 

Nothing is more damaging to intimacy than when that little seed of doubt is planted. You know as well as I do that one little doubt put into our mind about our spouse being unfaithful is all it takes to make us see inconsistencies everywhere. We should have no secrets between each other. And yes…we should allow access to email, text, Facebook, or whatever communication we have with other people, especially if they’re of the opposite sex. We tend to want to argue, “If he trusted me, he wouldn’t need to see my text messages!” Yes, but if we are being completely trustworthy, we won’t care!

Those little “foxes” can be anything that gets in the way of intimacy–anything that causes your spouse for feel like you don’t care what they think…like spending money when you know you have it; or conveniently forgetting tasks that they’ve asked you to do that you really hate. Satan will send lots of foxes into our dens. We must be ready to trap them!  

We should never put ourselves in tempting situations, and if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll know exactly when they are. 

2) Deliver encouraging communication by recognizing our spouse’s insecurity, refusing to speak harshly, and repeating words of praise. 

After a full day at work, or wherever you are with people who take your time and energy, you come home exhausted without much left. 

…Treat your [spouse] with understanding as you live together. 1 Peter 3:7 (NLT)

If we stay in a constant state of frustration, intimacy cannot grow. We had a perfect example on Sunday! While David and I should have been listening to this sermon together and learning from it, it went more like this. David’s thinking, “I hope she’s listening to this so she can see I was right,” while I was thinking, “I really hope he heard that part about encouraging words and communication!”

Our culture today constantly hits us with outer beauty…the way we “should” look. As a spouse, if you are looking at health and fitness or beauty magazines, it will eventually make your spouse feel like they are being compared. We should always make our spouse feel nothing but secure…however we can. We know where our spouses are weak, and it’s our job to help them feel strong and secure in those areas. 

Intimacy should be protected as your greatest treasure.

In his “song,” Solomon expresses his love and adoration in a most sincere way…although I think standards have probably changed a little since then. But nevertheless, his love and adoration were sincere. Just for fun, enjoy this little presentation of “Solomon’s Beloved” by Vonda Skelton…It’s a must see. I promise you will have your laugh for the day! 

…discover beauty in everyone. Romans 12:17 (Msg)

From my heart, 

You Reap What You Sow. But Skunk Stink? Really?

Last Friday, I had a horrible, funny, but not horribly funny beginning to my day. When I was telling my friend Tonya what happened, she said, “I bet I’ll be reading about that in your blog soon!”
Also last week, I was listening to an audio class on speaking by Vonda Skelton (long time friend and now mentor). In her suggestions, she says to keep track of stories in your life that you might be able to find lessons in. 
So here goes…
I woke up Friday morning to my usual routine of letting the dogs out, getting the kids up, breakfast, lunch boxes, etc. I smelled something that seemed like it was coming from the bedroom. It was horrible! It kept working it’s way through the house toward the kitchen. It smelled like a skunk, and we often see them up on a road near our house, so I didn’t think much about it. As usual, we were in a hurry and needed to get out the door, so I rushed the kids out (they were gagging at this point, so for once they were in a hurry to get out), and went to the back door to let the dogs in. That’s when I realized…
Now just in case you don’t know me, my dogs are not just any dogs, they are Great Danes. Benji, at 130lbs, and Sofie, at 120lbs, reside inside with us at all times except to eat and potty. They are huge, spoiled rotten, babies. 
I look out the back door to let Benji in, and he looks like he has ants in his pants, prancing up and down on all four paws. His face, though, really told the story. He had three loooonng strands of drool hanging from his jowls like spaghetti noodles, and the white fur on his face and neck had sort of an ash gray tint to it. Hesitantly, I opened the door and thought I’d walked into my pharmacy school organic chemistry lab following a sulfur experiment gone wrong. For those who can’t identify, imagine jumping into the dump at your local convenience center. He’d been sprayed right in the face by a skunk! And Sofie, who is normally attached to Benji at the hip, was outside of her fence area at another door looking freaked out to say the least. 
We had to get out the door or we’d be late for school, so I reluctantly put them in their room and left. The car smelled like skunk too by this point, I guess from my clothes. I got the kids to school, stocked up supplies from the pet store and Publix, and headed home, armed and ready. When I returned home, I swear I could see green peppy-le-pew fumes seeping from the pores of my house. For five hours I scrubbed, sprayed, rinsed and washed everything that came in contact with skunk odor. Then, I put the dogs and me in the shower for a dawn dishwashing detergent shampoo, a white vinegar conditioner, and a de-skunking spray mousse. Rinse and repeat. 
After getting rid of every towel and rag I used and leaving the windows open all day, the kids were able to come home and not gag. It did take a full 24 hours to completely get rid of the skunk smell, but it did finally disappear. I am now a de-skunking expert, though I’m not sure it’s something I want to be known for. 
There is no way for me to prevent this from happening again. I can be there for cleanup, but I cannot prevent it. The dogs tangled with a skunk and got burned…sprayed. They had to reap what they had sown, and unfortunately, so did I! 
How often do we engage in some type of sin and have to reap the consequences? While we are doing whatever it is we shouldn’t be, we might think, “This is my decision, it’s my body, my money…I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” I’d be stretching it to say that Benji had those thoughts when he decided to pursue a skunk, but I am sure he was just thinking, “Oooohhhh, that’s a cool cat. Wonder if it wants to play?”…as he bounces towards it like Tigger. But while he was doing something he shouldn’t and got sprayed, it affected me as much, if not more, as it did him. 
Let me give you a “worst case scenario” here just to make you think. Let’s say I went out with some friends and decided to have a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. I don’t often drink, and all of my friends were drinking glass after glass and seemed fine. When it was time to go home, we all got in our cars and left. I felt a little funny, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Besides, all of my friends were drinking anyway and they were all driving. On my way home, my husband calls to see how close I am, and if I can stop by the grocery store for milk. As I pull into the grocery store, I really need to use the bathroom (from the wine I guess), so as I pull into my parking space, I reach over to grab my wallet from my purse so I can get inside quickly. Then I heard a “thud.” I immediately look up and see a woman frantically running toward the front of my car. Her little boy was retuning her buggy to the stall as I pulled in the space and I never saw him. His family and friends never got to see him alive again. 
I get goose bumps just writing such a story, even though it’s just an example, but how often are we in a hurry and do such things? Who’s to say that it wouldn’t have happened even if I’d never drank any of the wine? But now, no one would make that assumption. The police record would show my blood alcohol level and I would be charged with manslaughter with the involvement of alcohol. I could end up in prison. All for what? 
I could have made the decision to drink tea instead of the wine, or I could have ridden home with someone who had not been drinking. But instead, that one little instant decision cost the life of a little boy, and his family and friends lives would be changed forever. My life would be changed forever, whether I actually went to prison or not, just from having to live with what I’d done. My family would be changed, especially if I went to prison, but also having to deal with the guilt and grief I would endure for who knows how long. 
I’m sure you are getting the point here. We must reap what we sow. Yes, God can forgive our sins and make them as far as the east is from the west, but that does not take away the earthly consequences; for you and for others. 
I could just as easily have used another example. I’ve seen this one come to life more than I want to think about. Let’s say David and I are having marital problems. A co-worker of mine is having similar problems with his wife. So we go for a drink after work one night to have someone to talk to and “compare notes.” I’m not saying men and women cannot be friends, but we know in our heart when there is something more to it. This seemingly innocent situation can lead to broken families and divorce, financial problems, loss of jobs, depression, or even suicide. When we take part in a situation we know in our hearts to be wrong, there will eventually be consequences…sometimes an avalanche of consequences. Not just for us, but for anyone remotely attached to the situation. 
You might argue, “Bad things always happen to good people, who’s to say it was my fault and wouldn’t have happened anyway?” In a sense, I agree, and I know that God uses all things for his good, no matter what they originated from. But do you want to go through life wondering? Knowing that something you did could be the thing that began the destruction of someone else’s life?
Romans 8:28 tells us that God does use all things for his good, but he also tells us in Hebrews 9:27, And just as it is appointed for a man to die once, after that comes judgment. We will all certainly have to stand before God in judgment one day, and I know my list will be long. But I am working very hard to sow good seeds for the rest of my life so my harvest can produce good things for many. 
I have a friend who always says to her daughter, “make good choices!” as she’s running out the door. The girls think it’s funny sometimes, but if we all had that little voice in our head saying, “make good choices!” maybe we’d think twice about getting ourselves in precarious situations. 
…So let’s all MAKE GOOD CHOICES!
From my heart, 

The Trulywed Game~Episode One

Remember “The Newlywed Game?” Well, we just started a series at our church this week called “The Trulywed Game.” All in the spirit of fun, they actually produced a mock video of the show, complete with hippie clothes and wigs. It was hilarious to watch, but the subject matter is not one to laugh about.

Did you know that 50% of all marriages end in divorce?

Perry, our pastor, challenged everyone in the church to spend just five weeks…the length of this series…working on our marriage. I wish you could all hear his sermons, but I’ve decided to recap them here for you for the next five weeks in hopes that you will come away with a stronger marriage when this series is over.

Marriages and families are being attacked harder than ever. Satan uses jealousy, busy schedules, finances, kids, parents, sex, abuse…and the list goes on and on. David and I have had difficult times in our marriage for sure, and we have learned so much from our 22 years, but it’s a never-ending journey.

When God created man, he realized that man needed a helper, so he created woman from Adam’s rib. From his side. Not his foot or his head, but his side. God provided a woman for a man to complete him. Where a man is weak, a woman can fill that weakness. If we just look at the anatomy of a man and a woman, it’s obvious they were meant to complete each other!

Here are the three points Perry laid out in explaining God’s plan for marriage: 

1) Departing from home. 
    …a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife. Matthew 19:5

    God intends for us to leave our families and create a new family with our spouse. This doesn’t mean move away never to return, but it does mean to put our spouse above everyone else from now on. For the husband, it means making decisions for his new family, not letting his old family control him. Listening to advice, yes…control, no. I have a friend who’s been married for a while, and she often feels “second fiddle” to her mother-in-law. Her husband has had a difficult time leaving his father and mother and putting his wife on the pedestal now instead of his mother.

2) Developing oneness. 
    “…and the two are united into one.” Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split what God has joined together. Matthew 19:5-6

    Oneness is physical, yes, but it’s so much more than that. I have an old post “1+1=1” that you might wish to read if you haven’t. It’s about the sexual oneness that Christ intends (and how to explain that to a child). Here’s the link if you want to read it:

    But again, oneness is so much more than sex. There is really nothing that compares to the intimacy between an husband and wife when they keep talking, keep growing, and stay connected…together…as a team. Perry used the following formula: 

Intimacy = an ever-increasing closeness resulting from unending discovery

That is how husbands should treat their wives, loving them as parts of themselves. For since a man and his wife are now as one, a man is really doing himself a favor and loving himself when he loves his wife! Ephesians 5:28 (TLB)

As married couples living together, we cannot stop communicating with one another. Believe me, David and I have tried it and it does not work! Satan loves to keep us too busy, too frustrated, and too tired to put the effort into communicating, but before you know it, your marriage will slip into a coma, and you will be nothing but room mates trying to tolerate each other. You know when you find out about someone you know getting a divorce and they say, “we just grew apart,” or “we got married too young, and when we grew up we were too different?” Anyone who does not communicate and make a concentrated effort at a relationship will grow apart. The relationship will die. We are all changing throughout our entire life. It is impossible not to! We can make the choice…CHOICE…to grow together, or to grow separately. God’s intention is for us to grow together. 

When I look back on my marriage, there are so many things I wish I’d known. I believe that David and I got married too young, and if we’d waited five years later, I don’t know if we would have. When troubles came, I could have gotten all wrapped up in the thoughts that maybe we weren’t right for each other. Maybe he wasn’t that one perfect person I was destined to marry. But I don’t believe that there is necessarily one specific person for everyone. We made a choice. We made a commitment. Yes, we’ve had difficult times and fought through feelings that we made the wrong choice. But as we’ve grown, we’ve grown together. We’ve fought the fights together; we’ve celebrated the victories together. We do our very best to remember that we are on the same team. We have the same goals. When you live with someone day in and day out, that’s hard to remember sometimes. I have to remind myself every day that we are rooting for each other and working together to make our family and our lives the best they can be.

A quote from Perry here…The fatal fall is not that you choose the wrong person, the fault is within.” 

3) Demonstrating acceptance.
    Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25 (NLT)

I’ve posted blogs about this before, including the one I referenced above. But the attitude of premarital sex among teens and adults, both Christian and non-Christian is scary. I believe it is one of the main reasons the divorce rate is so high. It’s not so much about what we may be doing outside of marriage, but what we are NOT doing inside of marriage. Let me explain that statement. If we are communicating with our spouses, giving unconditional love to them, and keeping them happy in the bedroom 😉 they won’t even be interested in anything outside the marriage! 

Men and women obviously think very differently, which is why God created us to complete each other. We just have to try and put ourselves in each other’s shoes. Women, you know how badly you’d like for the house to be clean and dinner to be cooked? Well, your hubby wants sex about four times that much! Try, try, and try to put yourself in his shoes. Talk to him and get him to explain to you what he is dealing with, whatever it is, and try to imagine how you would begin to handle it. I promise if you do this, you will begin to feel differently, and realize that you really are both on the same team! 

“The result of intimacy is that you can stop pretending to be somebody you’re not.” That is the best feeling in the world. When you can be completely comfortable with your spouse, physically and emotionally, it’s a bond that cannot be broken. That’s the marriage that God intended. If we have a past that includes other partners, it’s much harder to get to that point of intimacy in a marriage because it is difficult to get past the thought that we are being compared to someone else. That’s where God is so amazing. No matter where we are in life or what our past is, God can take us forward. Don’t put limitations on God by thinking that the past is too much to overcome.I have overcome the world, he says. 

I’ll leave you with one last quote from Perry,“If your spouse if really damaged [if they have a lot to overcome], it means that God knew you were really capable of endurance.”

During my seven years of hell as I call it, David had to put up with a lot. Now I’ve had to put up with a lot too, but he got it all concentrated into seven straight years with no break. But he endured, and he will tell you that the miracle I received on September 25th of last year was really his miracle. Maybe it was. I just know that our endurance, our persistence, our struggling together, and our celebrating together have landed us in a wonderful marriage, which would not have been possible without God. 

From my heart, 

Intercourse…an adventure or a destination?

Be honest. Did the title make you want to read this? I’m sure this one will catch my hubby’s eye…and I can’t get him to read hardly anything I write! It’s not very long, but you have to read to the end to get the title…
If you have read my recent posts, you know my hubby and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. See my posts titled, “Its time for….” and “Do you get it?” to be up to date to understand this post…
This last year has been an incredible year for me…and us.  My new life in Christ has been the most incredible year of my life. I never thought that a close, personal connection with my Savior could outdo everything else! And while it outshines everything else in my life, my relationship with Christ makes everything in my life so much more special than ever before.
I thought nothing could top getting married.
I thought nothing could top giving birth to three beautiful children.
I thought nothing could top building my dream house with my husband and kids.  Until…
After seven years of the hell I went through, God reached down with his arms of comfort, peace, grace, and mercy and brought me to a place better than anything I could have imagined. Better than marriage, better than motherhood, better than my “American dream.” He brought me to a place of complete rest and contentment in him. He brought me to a new level of understanding with an eternal perspective. He freed me from all of the prisons I’d been keeping myself in. And now, all of those other things that I gave such high value to are better than they ever were before. I appreciate and love my family on a whole new level, and my dream house is just a house, with my “American dream” residing inside the house…and inside my heart.  If you ask me how, I can only explain with one word…miracle.
Ok, this was supposed to be a fun post, so I’ll get back to the “fun” part.
When my miracle is brought up in conversation, my hubby will be the first to say that it wasn’t MY miracle, but HIS. Sometimes I agree when I look back at what he had to deal with for seven years. I don’t know how he was able to handle a depressed wife, the responsibility of three kids, work, the house, and finances…and the list goes on and on. So while we were on our anniversary trip–the first anniversary we have looked forward to in quite a long time–we ended up traveling through Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Well, if you know David (or any man for that matter), he could not pass up the photo opportunity.  And he joked, “It only took us twenty-two years to make it to Intercourse, and I guess it took my second wife to get me here!”
So now, after my miracle, David loving refers to me as his “second” wife.
…And it’s amazing.