Soul Mates or Spouses by Choice?

Locking and Unlocking: Wedding Vows

The above article is such a tremendous peek into the mystery and wonder of marriage.  Me and my hubby have been married almost 8 months now, and I still cannot believe how much we have grown as a couple.  We have fought through the hardest of times and enjoyed the best of times together.  Our relationship is full of laughter, but also full of effort and sacrifice.  Christ knew what He was doing when He created the covenant of marriage, and I am thankful for it.

I always tease Ethan and say, “we’re soul mates” when we both do the same ridiculous thing or learn the most ludicrous facts about each other… Like that my cheek fits perfectly in his eye socket… No joke.  Then one day, during a discussion, he asked me if I am married to him because God told me he was “the one.”  I pondered that for a while, and answered something along the lines of, “That’s part of it!”  And then he pointed out the fact that, while that is amazing because the Creator, who knows my heart’s desires and needs, has brought me a man He sees as suitable for me, He also loves me enough to let me choose.  Then he told me that if I were in a line of the most beautiful women in the world that were also highly compatible with him, he would still choose me.  He didn’t only marry me because God gave him the green light (which is pivotal), but that he wanted to choose me, above all the other possibilities out there, because… well… because he wanted to.

That is amazing.  The power of choice is a very big deal on this earth.  God nudges, God speaks, but we must choose the path, either the path to obedience and surrender, or the path we make for ourselves.  It is a choice to let the Lord guide your steps.  Our choice to obey, to surrender, to have faith, to worship Him are how we show the Lord we truly love him.  He does not force us to do so.  Just like the Lord did not force me to marry Ethan, or force him to marry me.  He brought us together with all of our gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, baggage, and brokenness and let US choose so that each day we spend together, every fight we have, we can always remember the most important facts – that God is for us, and that we chose to vow our lifetime, our energy, our love, our affection, our sexuality, everything to the one person we married – and how very big of a deal that is.

When I am being the biggest turd in the world, just a total putz… Ethan chooses to show me love and forgiveness.  He chooses to believe the best of me, even when faced with my worst.  If Ethan wasn’t given the choice to love me or not, if he was somehow forced to love me day in and day out, if it was a mechanical autopilot thing…  I wouldn’t see it as love, but as his job, an obligation, and nothing more.  It wouldn’t be special.  It may seem like a very daunting task in that moment of anger or frustration or hurt to show me love, but it is something he saw worthy to commit to for the rest of his life.  That is truly special.

My God, my Father that loves me, brought me a man.  He told me that he could be the one I marry.  He gave me nothing but green lights.  That man, though he knew he was also taking on the responsibility of another life, one that he played no part in, saw something special about me and got all green lights from the Lord as well.  There were hard times, harder than most dating people have to go through, including the moment he had to turn his back on his family because they thought and publicly announced the worst of me for having a child out of wedlock (though they do not acknowledge that I chose not to have an abortion).  Ethan chose me.  Regardless of what the world said, regardless of the verbal abuse from his family that we both had to endure, regardless of the reprimanding from friends because I have a child…  That man had to turn his back on the world for me, and he continues to do so on a daily basis because he believes I am worth fighting for.  Not just because God told him to, but because he chooses to each day out of love for me.

There is so much to be amazed by in marriage.  The power of choice is one of those things, and man… does it carry a lot of weight.  God’s lead + our choice = a very very big deal.

An update on saving sex for marriage: 3 months into marriage

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I am writing this as a follow-up of my other article Why sex is for marriage ONLY & 8 benefits of waiting, because I could not read enough life experiences and witness accounts for the purity battle while we were … Continue reading

5 statistical facts about sexual purity from published reports

This was a list of facts given to Ethan and I when we signed up to be married through our church.  I am going to list them as they are.  These are not my opinions, these are statistics collected and expanded upon in research.  They’re legit.

1. Those who abstain from sex before marriage report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage.  In fact, those who report they are very sexually satisfied in their lives are not good-looking singles who have multiple partners.  Research done by Bethesda Research Group reported in the Washington Post, “Couples who strongly believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong are a whopping 31% more satisfied with their sex lives.” (From The Hottest Valentine”)

2. “Those who cohabitate or live together before marriage have a 50% higher possibility of divorce than those who do not.”  Researchers at UCLA discovered that not only do those who cohabitate have a higher level of divorce, they are more likely to commit adultery once they are married. (From M.D. Newcomb and P.M. Bentler, “Assessment of Personality and Demographic Aspects of Cohabitation and Marital Success,” Journal of Personality Assessment)

3. By contrast, the University of South Carolina in a study said that those who abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage have the highest rates of marriage fidelity. (From L. H. Bukstel, G.D. Roeder, PR Kilmann, J Laughlin, and W Sotile, “Projected Extramarital Sexual Involvement in Unmarried College Students,” Journal of Marriage and the Family)

4. “The introduction of sex in a dating relationship is almost always the ushering in of the breakup of that relationship.” Doctors Les and Leslie Parrott made this statement after interviewing thousands of single people on college campuses.  (From Relationships)

5. “Sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, can remain dormant, asymptomatic (you don’t know you have it), for up to a dcade or more, but be passed on to others during that time.”  The rampant spread of STDs flatly contradicts those who try to claim that sexual intercourse is a harmless recreational activity to be pursued with a large number of partners.  People are paying with their lives and their health for accepting that lie. (From Ibid., 139)

Trusting God with our deepest and greatest desires

How many times I laid awake uneasy, battling God over my love life, wondering when God would make it happen and fighting the desire to make it happen myself. Or in the beginning, when I was dating my daughter’s father and God told me to walk away – breaking apart my daughter’s chance of a whole family, leaving the comfort of a relationship, knowing that this meant God wanted me to date Him, essentially, and learn who I really was in Him, single, without any man to sway me or mold me into their perfect companion (which I always did). That was the most terrifying time of my life. It was easily the most life-changing, surreal, validating, and rewarding experience of my life as well.

If you have strong desires in you heart that have only grown stronger in your walk with Christ, then those are desires He promises to fulfill, but on His time. The days when you feel discouraged or wonder if God cares about how badly you want it, pray hard, ask Him for encouragement, and once again (I have to do this on a daily basis basically) release that desire into God’s hands. Trust that He loves you deeply, like we love our children, times a million, and wants nothing more than for you to delight in Him and the life He’s blessed you with. Trust that His plan is better than our own and His wisdom is far greater than our own.

Give Jesus the thrown of your heart and life, delight in Him, pursue Him above all others, love Him above all others, follow Him and He will lead you to the desires of your heart at the perfect time in His perfect way.

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to You I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:1-3 NIV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:4-5 NIV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:1-3)

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Don’t be the Bathsheba (a.k.a. your body is not made to be publicly displayed)

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Don’t be the Bathsheba meaning don’t be a sexual temptation by flaunting your body publicly.    No, Bathsheba did not make David do what he did, but the reason for my title is that women today are inviting men to commit … Continue reading

9 ways to beat sexual temptation

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We are sexual creaters.  We were created that way.  Sex in marriage is a blessing from God, but the time before we tie the knot is a constant battle.

Ethan and I were always very attracted to each other, but over the last 2 years of deepening our emotional and spiritual bond, the attraction is insane.  This is the hardest and most rewarding battle I’ve fought in my single-lady life. Same for Ethan.  There have been so many benefits and blessings to waiting that we have no doubt we are doing what is pleasing to God.

Here are the ways Ethan and I beat sexual temptation:

1. Don’t wear sexy underwear or bras unless you will not be alone at any point that day/night.  I don’t know about you ladies, but the second I put on my favorite bra, I want to show Ethan how awesome it looks.  I found it so much harder to stifle that desire those days/nights.

2. Flee.  If you’re put in temptation’s path, run.  When things get too heated or too tempting, Ethan and I literally separate until we can calm ourselves down and get control.  If need be, separate for a few hours, or even the rest of the night if the temptation is too great.

3. Pray and redirect yourself when you get on those train of thoughts.  Those days that I let my mind run rampant, I struggle.  Same for Ethan.  It’s alright to have lustful thoughts for the person you’ll be marrying, but be careful.   Too much can lead to you pushing the envelope.

4. Pray together.  Ethan and I used to start off nights we hung out together with this.  We should get back into it because it is so extraordinarily helpful.  Or if you’re both having a hard time with control one night, stop and pray.  You’ll be amazed how focusing both of your minds back on the bigger picture will change the mood for the better.  Satan flees at that point.

5. Pray for each other separately.  This is always good.  You never know what your other half could be struggling with and facing on a daily basis.

6. No porn.  No looking at other people lustfully.  Your husband spouse deserves a faithful wife – mind, body, and soul.

7. Don’t kiss on a bed.  Or maybe even on a couch.  This leads to heated moments that can lead to other bad things.  Best to just avoid it since it gets extremely tempting very fast.

8. Honestly ask your man if he could be your rock for you the days/nights that you’re having a particularly hard time.  Men love to be needed and to be useful in their own unique way.  They love having a purpose and being able to help us.  That’s how they’re wired!  You admitting a weakness and vulnerability will also deepen your trust in one another and he will take your plea to heart.

9. Don’t tempt him with a super sexy outfit.  Ethan always tells me this is the hardest and most frustrating thing because “he has me, but he can’t have me all at the same time.”  When we wear super sexy outfits, we’re making the battle harder and more frustrating for our men.  Men are even more sexual than we are, and seeing a woman he has such strong feelings for showing off the body he’s trying so hard not to think about all day… how much temptation can a guy take?!  Don’t get me wrong, making an effort to look good for him is important sometimes and greatly appreciated, just don’t push it too far.

Here is an interesting way to think about this – when put in a sexually tempting situation you have two options to choose from:

1. your flesh – your sexual desires, your desires to fulfill your significant other’s sexual desires, your fear or disappointing said significant other, your craving for affirmation, trying to satisfy their craving for affirmation – this is so temporary.  Literally minutes of physical satisfaction that will leave your Spirit suffering.  Also, you cannot fully satisfy your significant other’s craving for affirmation, even physical.  That is something that is not your job until marriage.  Believe me ladies, I’ve tried.  That is something you have to trust God with until that point.  He will come through for you both, but God can’t fill that void (yours or your partner’s) until you give it to Him to fill.  After I truly gave this up to God, after I told Ethan very plainly, “I am sorry for holding you back spiritually, I haven’t been giving God the opportunity to fill this void in you because I  hate to see you suffer.  But God is asking me to trust you with Him, ALL of you,”  Ethan had his breakthrough God moment literally a few days later, where God was finally able to heal all the wounds from his past.  Ethan’s relationship with God is on a whole new level now, a level he may have never reached had I kept clinging on to him for fear that God would remain silent.

2. your Father – choosing Him over yourself, choosing Him over your significant other, trusting Him with your relationship, leaning on Him to help redirect you.  God will bless you, God will bless the relationship He has designed you for.

Don’t let your flesh rule you, let the Spirit guide you and obey its nudges.  Don’t choose your significant other over your Creator.  Fight the good fight, purity is beyond worth fighting for.

One last note to the ladies – staying strong in your morals may turn a man away from you, but guess what that means – he’s not the one.  He doesn’t deserve your body.  If a man pushes away from you because you have physical boundaries, that’s a good indicator that his heart and intentions with you are far from being in the right place.

6 reasons to be sober

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I’ve talked to so many people that are hesitant to commit to Christianity because it seems to just be a long list of rules.  There are rules as there are with everything else we ever do in life, yes, but God’s rules have a specific purpose and were only made to protect us and keep us near Him and away from the Enemy.

Let’s start with drinking.  It is, first and foremost, a sin.  Only bad come from it.  A good friend of mine once called it “Satan’s stimulant.”  How fitting!!  Even if you have a night with no incidences, you’ve still decided to use an impairing substance to have fun instead of delighting in God’s creations and life sober, or you’ve decided to cope with something through alcohol instead of taking it to God.

I started drinking heavily when I was 16.  It lead me to some seriously dangerous situations and extremely stupid decisions.  I was nearly raped twice, even though I was surrounded by friends.  By the grace of God it didn’t happen.  The number of bad decisions I made while drunk are too numerous to count.  I regret so much of my past because of what has transpired while drinking, but this is God turning my ugly past into something beautiful to help all of my sisters out there.

So here are the reasons we are called to sobriety based on my experiences:

1. Drinking impairs our moral compass, HEAVILY.  This is so dangerous and detrimental to our walk with Christ.  When we are on God’s path and are tempted to drink and give in, we have already veered from Him.  But then, our human tendency and alcohol-consumed mind often says “welp, I already messed up, so what’s a little ___________”… smoking?  sex?  porn?  drugs?  It’s a snowball effect.  This is especially true with drinking and sex.  The two often go hand in hand.  This means we’re breaking another of our callings – to fight for purity and wait for marriage.

“It’s not as though people do drunken things because they’re not aware of their behavior, but rather they seem to be less bothered by the implications or consequences of their behavior than they normally would be.” – Dr. Bruce Batholow. 

2. Drinking DOES NOT make you feel better.  Actually, if you’re going through tough times, alcohol is a great way to make yourself feel worse.  It is a depressant.  It may be fun in the beginning, but at some point, the darkness and reality of your problems sink in and you won’t know how to deal with it because of your emotional impairment.  This is from a great article I found about this:

“But here’s the twist: alcohol also increases the release of dopamine in your brain’s “reward center.” The reward center is the same combination of brain areas (particularly the ventral striatum) that are affected by virtually all pleasurable activity, including everything from hanging out with friends, going on vacation, getting a big bonus at work, ingesting drugs (like cocaine and crystal meth), and drinking alcohol.

By jacking up dopamine levels in your brain, alcohol tricks you into thinking that it’s actually making your feel great (or maybe just better, if you are drinking to get over something emotionally difficult).  The effect is that you keep drinking to get more dopamine release, but at the same time you’re altering other brain chemicals that are enhancing feelings of depression.”

3. A relationship free of drinking is peaceful. Ethan and I have decided that alcohol will never be a part of our relationship.  That means I never drink, and neither does he.  Not even one (see #4).  It has been so wonderful.  There are no pressures to go out and have that kind of social life on the weekends.  Friday and Saturday nights get filled with dates, games, snuggling, relaxing, and cozy atmospheres with good friends.  There are no trust issues, there is no worrying when they’ll be home or who they’re with or what state of mind they’re in.  I’ve been in so many relationships where drinking was a big part of it, and the worrying never stopped.  If I didn’t know exactly what was going on any given night, I wondered and worried until I knew.  Now I’m on easy street.
4. “Drinking in moderation” is such a tempting situation to put yourself in. I have an addictive personality.  I either am all in, or I’m all out.  I’ve never been one for moderation of anything.  Like Mountain Dew for example!!  I always joke that I’m a Dew addict.  I cannot say “I’ll have 3 per week, but that’s it.”  Or “only when I go out to eat.”  I inevitably sit there sipping Mountain Dew all day no matter what the parameters.  If you can honestly sit down to dinner and have only 1 or 2 beers, then you’ve got great self control and I genuinely applaud you for it. But for all you ladies out there like me, once I had 1, I had 2, then I had several.  It’s better to just eliminate it completely and stay out of temptation.  Booze isn’t worth your relationship with your Creator.

5. There is a danger of becoming an addict.  This is not an extremely common thing, but the danger is there, it’s real, it should be avoided.  More from that article:

Over time, with more drinking, the dopamine effect diminishes until it’s almost nonexistent. But at this stage, a drinker is often “hooked” on the feeling of dopamine release in the reward center, even though they’re no longer getting it.  Once a compulsive need to go back again and again for that release is established, addiction takes hold.  The length of time it takes for this to happen is case-specific; some people have a genetic propensity for alcoholism and for them it will take very little time, while for others it may take several weeks or months.”

6. It is biologically harmful to our bodies and minds.  It is essentially a poison, capable of killing in high enough dosages.  There is short-term damage and long-term damage from drinking.  Here are some links if you want to learn more – 1, 2, 3

Let’s talk about weed.

I started smoking heavily when I was 19.  Now you guys, know I have an addictive personality, so as you can imagine, I did so very frequently.  Probably 5 days a week when it was at it’s peak.  I realized I had a problem when I started wishing I was high while doing EVERYTHING.

So many people will argue that it’s not addictive.  No, it is not biologically addictive.  Your body will never have withdrawal symptoms or go into shock without it.  But there is a level of addiction with our minds.  I experienced it first hand and I’ve seen it on so many occasion with all of my old friends.

I’ve seen so many friends fall into a rut of carelessness.  They don’t really care about their future, they don’t really care about their jobs, they don’t really care about how much money they have saved, they don’t care much about people in their life… they’re just… blah.  That’s the appeal of weed to a lot of people.  It helps you just go with it and not care.  It makes people lazy.  So lazy.  And not just when they’re smoking and high, but ALL THE TIME because their main focus for the day is when they’ll get to light up again!  This is how I used to think, guys, so I know this is true.

“So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6)

I don’t have any experience with other drugs, but it is the SAME concept.

All drinking and all drugs are just another way of coping with life instead of taking your stresses to the cross.  It’s another way of having fun instead of delighting in life sober.  God worked SO hard on the creation of the universe, and we enjoy it fully when sober.

Here are a ton of Bible quotes about drinking and sobriety:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephisians 5:18)

Proverbs 23: 29-35 says:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine;
    those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
In the end it bites like a serpent
    and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart utter perverse things.
You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of a mast.
 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
    they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
    I must have another drink.”