Perspective

I am going to be vulnerable in this post. Let’s be honest, if you have ever read any of my posts, you know I am pretty candid. I recently had a moment of really bad and even incorrect perspective. A dear friend of mine, that I served as a bridesmaid for, posted her wedding photos online. The wedding was a few months ago. I felt glamorous the day of the wedding despite some dress malfunctions. At the same time, personally I was going through some really rough things, all of which I tried to keep from the bride so not to worry her during the wedding week. I was in a wedding and visiting home single after a rough breakup with the man I had started to plan my life with. Financially I was hit with a few rough things. Physically, I was struggling with the dress just not fitting right because my body decided to do its own thing despite my efforts. Outwardly, I felt glamorous…like 1950s classic glamor. Inwardly, I was struggling to hold myself together. Before you ask, that bride and I discussed this after the wedding. I was honest with her in my struggle. Since that week, three months ago, I’ve slowly but surely been recovering from the many things I was facing during that week. None of those problems have been completely fixed, but God has most certainly been bringing healing to my broken heart, discipline to my lifestyle in areas needed, financial breakthrough in areas of worry. Then I saw the pictures and those feelings came rushing back in force. It was actually only two of the pictures. Two pictures that, in my opinion, were bad angles paired with a dress that didn’t fit right and some resurfaced self-image issues. In those two pictures my arms and face looked fat, I look easily 30-40 pounds heavier than I actually am, my smile was weird (I was unfortunately faking a lot of my smiles that week due to my being emotionally a wreck yet trying to be solid and strong for my friend). My tan lines were showing. My hair looked like a bird’s nest. Those pictures brought back to me the terrible feelings I was struggling with not just that week, but the last 6 months. Those pictures were a reminder for me of the many times I have faked a smile so people wouldn’t ask me if I was okay which prevented me from crying. Those pictures were a reminder for me of the fact that I was single at that wedding without the date I was planning on showing off to my friends because we were wanting to get married. Those pictures were a reminder that there are still days that I feel like I’m getting nowhere with weight control/loss, strength training, and overall being healthy. Those pictures were a reminder for me of the many many lies that the devil (who I absolutely, wholeheartedly believe is real) has been telling me since my breakup. Those pictures were all encompassing of every flaw I see in myself, every bit of hurt, every bit of heartache, every bit of doubt, every moment I battled the feelings of rejection. Every tear, every hurt, every lie.

Its the wrong perspective. The Devil loves helping you see things with poor vision and bad perspective. Sometimes our vision can be skewed by whatever we face and we forget the truth.

Honestly it is probably more than just sometimes. We need a reminder of something else, something greater, something far better than we can imagine. There is no denying that crap happens that we cannot control. After seeing those pictures, I was struggling a bit, feeling as though everything was so fresh and raw again. I finally sat and prayed that night and the next morning…for so many things. I reached out to a few friends. I got some advice I needed, some I didn’t. But I definitely got prayer. After having some time praying, my prayer on Thanksgiving morning was to really embrace everything God has for me. To be the woman he has created me to be. I was reminded that morning to ignore the lies that devil whispers and to listen to God’s voice. I was reminded that God has redeemed me and everything the Devil likes to bring up against me. I was reminded that we can choose to view things as destructive and continue to let them have a hold on us. I was reminded that I am my own worst critic; I am a perfectionist and I think OCD as well. Those two pictures were not perfect. They are ones I don’t want to see on a wall anywhere. But what was funny, later in the day, the bride posted a few more pictures, this time, I felt differently. The angles were better, I felt like I looked beautiful. It was redeeming. For me, it was God’s way of affirming his deep love for me. It was the same dress, same location, same photographer. Basically everything was the same, I just felt better about those pictures. You may be reading this and think its stupid, and thats fine. For me, it was a big deal. I re-gained the right perspective in a way that I was able to see myself in a better light. I was able to see past everything I had felt that week, and the last 6 months, and see myself through fresh eyes. Though it was as if my vision was only blurry temporarily, my vision now is ever clear.

Whatever you face, whatever your struggle, allow God to be alongside you. His whisper will drown out the Devil’s. His voice will overreach the other noises. He will show you his plans for your life. He will restore and redeem you not only from your past, but from yourself. Like I said, we are often our own worst offender. He will give us eyes to see everything in not just a new way, but his way.

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Standby, 4 strangers, and the highways of Texas

My life lately seems to be full of many moments that I can choose to see as awkward or as anointed. I choose the latter.

On Thursday, I arrived to Orlando airport to make my journey to Dallas, Texas. I had just been at the convention center in town to be a part of a large ministry conference for pastors, specifically, it is the General Council of the Assemblies of God. While there, ministers and lay pastors, along with missionaries, get to see what is going on in our fellowship and community both nationally and abroad. It is so inspiring to see some of the amazing things people are doing all over the world. Some of the less fun stuff included sitting in business meetings where we voted on various things that would affect the next steps of our churches and ministries. One of the things I realized during my days in Orlando, and especially on Thursday, is that God has us where we are for a reason.

You see, I have felt somewhat nomadic lately, borderline lost. I haven’t a had a clear picture of what I am doing for a few years now. I have been searching and praying for the next thing God has for me, the thing he has been preparing me for…you know, the thing you were born to do. Applying job after job, receiving rejection after rejection, I have found myself going to General Council with a whole lot of uncertainty, lack of clarity and no direction. Most of the people go to this conference represent their church or ministry, or in missionary’s cases, their mission field. They vote to represent where they work. The whole week is basically surrounded on the premise that we know where we are….except I don’t. I wasn’t voting for my church. I’m not on staff at a church. I’m not a missionary. My job right now has nothing to do with what I want to do; it simply pays my bills (barely).

Then I had a crazy revelation on Thursday after my flight had made it to Houston. I was connecting to get a flight from Houston to Dallas. When I landed, I barely made the time for boarding for my flight. But that wouldn’t have even mattered. You see, part of my nomadic feel of life is that I fly standby. I don’t by tickets; I instead fly standby as a non-revenue passenger because my dad is a retired pilot with the airline. I only get a seat if there is room by unsold seats or no-shows. And on Thursday, there was not a chance that I’d get a seat…all day. I stood there at the gate trying to figure out what to do, knowing flying from Houston to Dallas was not an option anymore. I had to get to Dallas by 9am the next morning. Standing there at the gate among a few dozen other standby passengers (yes dozens!) also in the same boat as me, I silently prayed to myself for God to lead me. In spite of feeling lost in basically every other area of my life, I felt like I couldn’t handle another lost moment of not knowing what to do.

Within a second it seemed that my prayer was answered in the strangest of ways. Two other young women, seemingly around my age, perked up and said “We’re renting a car and driving to Dallas. Want to join us?” Any other people, I probably would have said no to simply for the reason of safety and stupidity. But being that it was two women asking me, I quickly said I’d join them and split the cost. They then asked another woman standing there with us if she’d like to join. What started off as crazy chaos and traveling impossibility turned into a hilarious adventure among four strangers.

We found our way to the rental car desks and decided to play the field for the best price using pilot discounts, AAA, whatever we could do to save money and get a car fast. Within a few minutes we had a rental and were about to be on our way. Before leaving, the rental company decided to upgrade us to a brand new (10 miles on it) black GMC Acadia. Holy comfort! It was such a simple thing, but what a blessing in the midst of insanity. And we were off…four strangers from four very different backgrounds headed to Dallas for four very different reasons. Two of us were pilots’ daughters. Another was a pilot’s wife. The other was an employee’s daughter. I was headed to a porn convention (try that one for an icebreaker!). One girl was going to her Advocare convention. The pilot’s wife was headed to her class reunion. And the other employee’s daughter was going to a job interview. Over the course of our 5ish hours together, we learned each other’s stories. We learned some of the brokenness within our lives. Ultimately what I realized in that car ride is that I was not surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I have always loved hearing people share their story and learning about what got them to where they are now. What was a surprise to me, was that while I felt lost and stuck, God provided a literal way of showing me that he cares for me and has a plan. Sometimes that plan doesn’t look the way we plan. Sometimes that plan comes at a different cost than we were expecting. Sometimes, it involves being around other people, and doing life together, than trying to do it alone. God showed me in such a real way that he has such a deep, deep love for me, along with a love for those three other amazing women I got to know.

You might find yourself in some difficulty, lack of direction, frustration with your life, or an array of other feelings. Believe me, I can sympathize with you. Don’t give up. Try to see God working in the everyday and the normal. See God working in things you would least expect. On the highways of Texas, God showed me he was faithful and still doing something in me.

 

*Vanessa, Danielle and Lizz…It was amazing getting to know you. I believe it was with purpose that God brought us together. What I do know, is that he loves you all very much.**

Cancer…the story isn’t over.

No one ever really thinks it could happen to them. No one ever wants tragedy, difficulty, or struggle to be a part of their story. However we don’t always choose the chapters that come out int our stories, do we?

In May of this year, my family got some news. After months of increased body aches, soreness, difficulty with working out, and a variation of other problems, my dad was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma. Myeloma is fairly common…except for the kind my dad has. He has the rare one. There is plenty I don’t understand or know about cancer, but what I have learned is that no matter how healthy someone can be, cancer can choose whoever it wants. My dad is a marathoner, regularly works out, a busy pastor, and getting his Doctorate. Yeah, sure, my dad has had other health issues over the years, but we never expected this

I have known so many people to have lost someone to the battle of cancer. I have known plenty who have had victory in their battle. For my family, for my dad, the fight continues on.

My heart is saddened this morning, as it was last night, when I learned of the death of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year old girl who “died with dignity” according to state law that allowed her assisted suicide. This is not a discussion on Brittany and her suicide. [please respect the fact that this blog is not here for debate…I will delete any inappropriate or rude comments regarding her death]. This is simply me saying how proud I am of my dad for being courageous with staying in the fight. It would break my family’s heart if he ended his life on purpose. And I am saddened for her family.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, my dad goes into the hospital for several weeks. He will first get chemo that will destroy his immune system. Once that part of the process is over, the doctors will begin a stem cell transplant [stem cells from his own body]. This next month will look very different for us. Honestly, we don’t really know what it will look like, but we know its part of our new normal. That’s what I was told by a few of my dear friends who have loved and sometimes lost someone to cancer: this is our new normal. For now, for however long we have to, this is part of our story. It is something that God will get us through.

I firmly believe that God can give us strength, perseverance, and steadfast faith through this entire process, regardless of the outcome. I also believe that if God wanted to make it part of this story, he could absolutely heal my dad- I have no doubt in my mind. However, sometimes our stories become ones that, when we face them, we are made stronger, we are pushed, we might be broken, we might stretched, but we can overcome. I can’t explain why God doesn’t heal everyone. I can’t explain why cancer happens or why bad things happen to good people. But I believe and love God with all my heart, and I believe that God will be with my family during this new normal. I have seen God give me a strange peace since day one of finding out about my dad. Yes I love my dad and this makes me sad, but I have a peace that I cannot explain and can only give credit to God.

Yeah, so my family didn’t choose cancer. Yes, we didn’t want this to be a part of our story. But in the light of the things we cannot choose, we still have choices left. When faced with difficulty, struggle, frustrating circumstance, unexplainable, even painful things, we- you and I- can choose to smile. We can choose to fight. We can choose to not be destroyed by these things. We can choose to still love people despite what others might do to us. We can choose to forgive. Choose to have compassion. We can choose to see the brighter side of the story. I believe God has purpose for things. I believe that God is a part of this story. I may not understand it, but I trust him and love him with all of my heart. So with my love, I choose to hope and believe that everything is alright. The story isn’t over.

Beheadings and persecution…

My heart is broken.

The evil in this world is sometimes far too great to bear. The pain, the suffering, the tribulation…just evil.

If you are keeping up with the news, than you will know how much evil is in this world. Specifically, in the Middle East, the evil seems to be rising making the news around the world. So far two American journalists have been beheaded, with videos having gone viral, with messages directed to President Obama. So far thousands of Christians all over Iraq, not counting other areas of the Middle East, are fleeing for their lives however, with imminent threat of death. I watched the news, hearing how various countries and organizations are wanting to help but unable without risk. Still others are pulling out their organizations and their citizens to save their lives. Still others, argue that no one should get involved at all. On social media and in the news, I have seen many people write or post about ISIS and how we [America] need to go in and kill them all. Genocide is never an easy fix or solution. Genocide never is met with peace without sacrifice. And genocide always leaves a wake of destruction for all parties.

This is why my heart breaks.

My heart breaks because my fellow Christians- brothers and sisters of the faith- are being murdered, beaten, tortured, raped and/or imprisoned [like Pastor Saeed in Iran]. My heart breaks because, for people in the Middle East to convert to Christianity, it means that they have counted the cost of faith and serving Jesus Christ. It means that they understand that, if they truly love Jesus, it may very well cost them their life. Alongside the Christians being persecuted, there are still Muslims in the Middle East that have nothing to do with the terrorism, genocide, or hatred, yet fall as bystanders in a cruel and evil fight. These Muslims are the ones that get the bad rep for their faith- though I don’t believe the same faith as them- they are people nonetheless and deserve the right to life. Even still, there are people from countries all over the world that are remaining in the lands of this evil because they are trying to help those caught in the destruction.

There is no peace in the Middle East. How can there be with this evil?

But I know a Peace that can bring healing, hope, restoration, and redemption. The problem is that we limit the reach of this Peace- the peace that comes through Jesus Christ. We, as American Christians, want to pray for the persecuted Church for safety, for protection, for a way out of the madness. We want to pray for them to overcome the physical, tangible hell they are in. We want to have punishment placed on the evil men and women bringing these atrocities. We want to have a perfect outcome in a completely imperfect and broken world.

For you reading this, especially if you claim to have faith and love in Jesus Christ, this is my plea to you: stop treating the evils in the Middle East and pretty much every other part of the world as something we can fix and mend. Only Jesus Christ can restore. I do not belittle the problems in this world by asking you not pray for them. I do ask that your prayers are bold prayers that rely on the power of Jesus Christ, not on our own ability. I ask that you stop praying for protection [only] for the persecuted Church, and instead, pray for their continued devotion and steadfast faith that will remain unshaken regardless of the trials they face. Like the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before the fiery furnace- God can free them from it BUT even if he does not, they can remain faithful to Him to the end. Our God is more than able to deliver us from evil, no matter what that evil looks like. But I also believe, that even if we do not understand why, he can help us through whatever it is that we face.

For you reading this, regardless of your beliefs, do not watch any videos these terrorists post. It only fuels their fear and fire. They want attention. Instead, be aware of what they are doing without continuing to watch the final gruesome moments of someone’s life. Give them- the murdered- respect, please.

And for you Church, I plead with you for this: pray for the members of ISIS, as well as other terror groups. Not for their success. Not for their continued evil. Not for their destruction either. Pray for God to show up in their lives. God can meet ANYONE where they are at, and no one is too far outside of God’s grace and mercy. We all want grace and mercy…until its for the terrorist or murdered or rapist or molestor. Church, pray for the salvation of those that you find to be most evil. Pray for the salvation of these men and women committing these crimes. What if we prayed for them and actually believed that their lives, like the Apostle Paul, could be changed? I’m not saying consequences for their actions shouldn’t come into play, but I have to believe that if Jesus died for the salvation of the world, that includes those that are evil. He desires for the wicked to be saved, not to perish [Ezekiel 33:11]. I am not one to say whether or not any of those members would actually change their lives, but I can at least pray for God to speak to them- to give them the chance at redemption.

That goes for anyone.

No matter who you are, whether you are a person of any faith, my faith, or no faith, I believe Jesus Christ loves you and he died so you could have restoration and redemption. He died so you could have the choice to love him or not. His resurrection offers us a hope and eternity with Him. When I see the evil throughout this world, I break because I see the brokenness that comes when this world lacks Jesus. I see the destruction that is led by selfishness, greed, and hate. I see that for many Christians in this world, to be a Christian, is more than a name or a religion but a literal death sentence for choosing Jesus. I see that we are fortunate in America, for now, to not have the same kind of evil. But I challenge you, don’t take it for granted. If you choose to follow Jesus, make it real, make it known, make it count. Be steadfast and unwavering. Don’t sit on the fence between partial care and obedience. If you are not someone who follows Jesus, or maybe doesn’t even want to because of some of things I wrote in this post… this world will continue to have evil present. It will continue to have destruction. You can choose to go through life with or without a true hope, which I believe, only comes through Jesus Christ.

This world is evil. I choose Jesus either way.

 

My last six months…Dangerous prayers.

Ever go driving down a country or wooded road late at night? You’re surrounded by darkness. You might see some houses, stores, and slight hints at civilization, but you are mostly surrounded by trees or fields with the only light coming from your headlights and the starry night sky. Those moments of driving like that are among my favorite moments to think. They are my favorite moments to just let what is going on in my life resonate within me. As of late, I feel that these very moments are metaphorically my life.

I feel like my life is surrounded by unknown. I’m traveling down a road with limited signage. Its dimly lit. But amidst the darkness and lack of direction, there is such beauty.

That is exactly my life in this moment.

Six months ago, I felt that not only did I need change, I desperately needed it. I was ending my third year as a youth pastor at church. I’m going to be honest. I liked the church, loved getting to invest in the students, but it was not for me. My parents were my senior pastors. There was a severe lack of young adult presence. Every one and quite literally their mother, including my own, made it their mission to tell me of every single male they knew of and how perfect we could be together. Granted the experience was one full of learning and gaining of understanding, and for that I am so completely grateful. I got to meet and work with some great people and awesome students. During my years there, I was faced with many challenges, moments that made me want to quit, days that made me want to leave ministry. And to be even more honest, that is ministry pretty much anywhere. Within those three years at the church, I felt as though I was made for something else. Something different. I always thought it was missions. I always assumed that was the direction God was taking me because it made sense. Working in a church did not make any sense to me. Living in the crazy madness of some foreign culture made sense.

God has a funny way of showing us different.

In August of last summer, I made the decision to officially resign. It was a decision I had been praying about for a while, but never felt peace about completely leaving yet. I was worried for my youth. I loved them and had invested so much into their lives. I did not want to walk away to quickly. But by August, I knew it was time. I actually put in my resignation believing completely that I would be hired at a job in Florida that was certain, only it turned out that was seemed like a sure thing, completely failed. By that point I was now with a job prospect and was fully in my resignation. I felt like I needed to move forward with my resignation and see what God wanted to do in my life. It was completely dangerous, risky faith…faith trusting God knowing full well my life was about to shaken. I was certain that this, this time, was God opening the opportunity for missions or non-profit work [hopefully] overseas. But job rejection after rejection proved otherwise. It proved that my plan was not working. It proved that my idea of what my life looked like did not match God’s desire for my life. I told God I did not want to work in a church again. I told God I wanted missions work or work with anti-trafficking efforts. I told God I wanted a job that paid “x” amount of dollars. I told God… and it did not happen that way.

In fact, I found myself in December, having moved back in with my parents- relinquishing my lovely apartment, without a career, working 40 hours a week at Starbucks, barely making ends meet to pay loans, and without a single bit of direction. Four months of this and I was done. I was sick and tired of job rejections of jobs that I should have gotten without a doubt. But then I remembered something I had prayed back in August…I basically had prayed “God, if this job or any other job are not what you want for me, make it very clear and make no sense as to why I do not get hired”. Talk about not making sense. I told God [yes, very firmly actually] in December that I was done looking for a job. I was done trying to make it happen. I was done trying to figure out. I told him that he needed to give me a job. Period.

Sometimes, us getting out of the way is exactly what needs to happen for God to actually move in our lives.

Within two weeks of my demanding a job and basically being in a place of broken desperation for God to “do something” [another dangerous and risky prayer], my friend- a youth pastor/interim senior pastor- called me with a job offer to temporarily help run the youth program at the church. Not what I expected. Not what I wanted…six months ago. But when we get out of the way, God really does something. Sometimes we block with our own best intentions God’s best intentions. Immediately I felt a peace about telling my friend yes. I couldn’t explain it; I just knew that it was right. I knew that it was God’s way of saying he had not forgotten me or my desires and needs.

I know, two months into this job at the church, still face much uncertainty. But this time, its different. This time its a faith that is new to me. This church is where I need to be because its where God wants me. I didn’t want to work in another church. God had a different plan. I’m glad I listened. I wanted a job in missions or non-profit. I’m glad God is directing me in that while leading me at this church. Honestly, even just one month from now, my may look different. I don’t have answers to my own questions. I don’t have direction. A new senior pastor could be voted in, and I then become with my job. They may want to hire someone else. They may want to reformat the structure of the staff. They may want to do a lot of things, all of which I cannot worry about right now.  Right here, right now, this is where I am because this is where I feel God has placed me. I don’t have the certainty of knowing what will happen with my job at the church. I don’t have the answer as to how long I’ll continue to be a barista.

I have a ton of questions. I have a ton of things that I would LOVE to know what is happening or knowing God’s plan. There are some things personally [non-ministry] that I would love to happen but I need to be patient and trust God even in these areas. I keep praying “God surprise me!” and he does. I have unknown before me- like the unknown, dimly lit country roads I drive on a lot. But there is still beauty in all of this. Just like the starry night sky, there is beauty in not seeing everything in God’s plan right now. There is beauty in letting the stars be exposed throughout the course of the night. There is beauty in seeing from a perspective of faith and trust. I have been praying some dangerous risky prayers…prayers that shake me, challenge me, and strengthen me. Prayers that say to God that he can do whatever he wants. I dare you to try it and see what he will do.

Christians don’t wait for “I do” anymore…

Let me just preface what I’m about to discuss by saying that I sincerely do not mean any of this in judgment, legalism, bitterness, or whatever else could be labeled. Simply, this is my heart, one that is burdened, broken, and sad for Christians today.

I have noticed something over the past few years and frankly I’m increasingly getting more and more broken by this… I know its a touchy subject. I know that many of my friends fall into this category. But I have to believe God’s intent is completely different for us….

Sex. The one word so many churches refuse to speak about yet so many Christians in their 20’s and younger not only joke about it like its nothing, but also for many have no conviction about acting out sexually. Just a decade or so ago was the major movement of the “True Love Waits” push. I know so many people that took the pledge, either “True Love Waits” or another, to remain pure until marriage by abstaining from sex until their long awaited wedding night. Now that a generation of teenagers that took the pledge for purity have reached the 20’s something category, I am beginning to see that so many aren’t waiting. This isn’t to bash on movements to promote abstinence, purity, etc. but I think something huge has been missing: God’s heart and intent for his Creation.  For so long the Church has pushed for purity [meaning no sex] and have, in the process, made sex look dirty, bad, and something to be fearful and ashamed of. But even more I am now seeing a trend with Christians in their 20’s that are no long not waiting for marriage to have sex, but they’re living together, justifying pornography, and other sexual deviations. I’m not getting into the entirety of sexuality. Honestly, I just wanted to share why this makes me so sad.

I think what triggered this burden more lately is that several friends of mine, close Christian friends of mine, have justified sleeping with their boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, and even justifying “friends with benefits” and hook-ups. Despite the stigma that has been labeled by the Church on a lot of things, I do believe that sex is still a something worth waiting for because I believe that is how God designed it. I have to believe that this is far from God’s intention for us sexually. Not because sexual acts outside of marriage make us horrible people, but because God’s intention was sexuality for marriage alone. He understands the fragility that comes with sex, the attachment that comes even just kissing. He understands the shame that come from it. He also understands the joy and passion and beauty. And I will say this, he knows that even unmarried sex is fun, beautiful, passionate, etc. but that’s not his intention. God designed sex for marriage, between man and woman- for it to be sacred, holy, pure, passionate, and ultimately honoring him in the process. I know that may sound crazy but I believe that’s how he designed it because in doing so, it removes so much stress, burden, shame, heartache that comes with sex outside this context. Humanity and sexuality are fractured and broken. He gets it. That all came with sin in Eden.

I really don’t believe God wants couples, Christian or otherwise, to sleep together before marriage. I’ll take it a step further. I don’t think he wants couples to engage in sexual behavior before marriage, even if there isn’t sexual intercourse. I say this simply because he wants his Church, including those that may be living in some area of sexual behavior outside his context, to honor him with their body. To serve him with their commitment. Its not about legalism or following some list of do’s and don’ts. Instead I believe its about wanting to honor God humbly, sacrificing if necessary the physical desire to honor the spiritual- as a form of worship. To be able to try your hardest to be “pure and blameless and above reproach”. I wish the group of 20 somethings, that as teenagers had made the “True Love Waits” commitment, could all still be able to say “I do” knowing that they had waited for only him or only her.  The waiting honors God but also your future spouse, even if your future spouse is already the person you are dating or engaged to. It prevents a ton of emotional baggage and drama that can come with sexual partner [s] that are not the spouse. It prevents the obvious of sexually transmitted diseases as well as pregnancies- we all took health class, so I don’t need to go into detail on this.

You can look into the Bible and even see how screwed up things got when they had multiple spouses, sex outside of marriage, when people perverted sex, when women were raped, when men were raped, and the list goes on.  When people sinned sexually on any level there were always consequences and some level of brokenness reached, I believe, because it was another part of God’s heart breaking. Breaking because he sees over and over again people not valuing their bodies, valuing sex [the most intimate connection anyone can have],  not valuing purity or holiness, and seeing a broken covenant of another person taking “the apple”.  So as I end my thoughts on this subject let me just encourage you. Maybe you’re upset at my opinion on this matter. Frankly, its not my opinion but what the Word talks about sexuality and God’s design. Maybe you’re living with someone. Maybe you’re having sex with someone you’re dating/engaged to. Maybe you’re hooking up just because. Maybe its only some sexual behavior but not everything… though to be honest, that usually doesn’t last very long before everything is up on the table.

Jesus loves you. Yes, you, the one with the sexual stuff going on that “the church” would look down on. Yes I believe sex outside of marriage is sin. I believe it is not the way or intention of how God designed it. But I believe God also understands that it is very difficult to honor him and our bodies in a culture that honors neither. Regardless of your sexual history, maybe make the decision to strive for ‘sexual purity’ now… a way of abstaining from sex for the sake of self-edification and honoring God. Its possible to be a 20-something and not have sex. Yeah I promise you it is possible… as difficult as it to be a 25 year old, I can say in confidence that, despite the difficulty it has been to not have sex, I am a virgin. I look forward to the day where I can tell my husband “I waited for only you”. I look forward to the day where I can say to some man, that despite my struggle or mess ups along the way, I am his entirely. I don’t say this to judge you or make you feel bad about your sexual history but instead to encourage you that you can start now, restored and honoring God again with your body and heart…the way he created us to be long ago. I’m not saying its easy but I’m saying its possible. He longs for your to love him wholly and completely and that means removing sin from your life…. including I believe the most difficult and damaging of sin… sexual. He loves you and beckons you to receive his love.

to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength”.

Christians reading this, whatever your story, whatever your history, don’t be afraid to admit that you’ve been sinning. Don’t be afraid to own up to it and take a step forward to renewal and restoration. Don’t ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Sex is a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Wait for “I do” no matter how long that takes. Wait for God to work out his plan in your life. Wait, not because its the right thing to do, but because it honors God, honors your body, and honors your future spouse. And it can show the world what beautiful, God-centered relationships and marriages look like- ones founded on purity, honor, and holiness.

And for my friends who might read this, the ones who don’t share my faith: I know this may not make much sense to you. Not believing in God the way I do takes away a lot of the incentive to wait for sex. So let me say this instead. You are worth more than a one night stand, hook-up, casual sex, even sex with the person you’re dating. You are worth more than putting your value on how good you are in bed or what your sexual partners have to say about you. You matter. So next time you are in the situation where you are getting physical with someone, all I ask is that you remember that you are worth far more than you realize.