Sex God’s Way Resource List

Sex Resources

Resources on Waiting

Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy

When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write by Eric and Leslie Ludy

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Joshua Harris

Sex: It’s Worth Waiting For by Greg Speck

Fiction reading for Young Girls About Saving Themselves For Marriage:

Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn
The Christy Miller Collection, Volume 1
The Christy Miller Collection, Vol. 2
The Christy Miller Collection, Vol. 3
The Christy Miller Collection, Vol. 4

Resources on Intimacy In Marriage

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire

31 Days to Great Sex An E-book by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Honey, I Don’t Have A Headache Tonight:Help for Women Who Want to Feel More In the Mood
Audio Download by Shelia Wary Gregoire

  Sheila also has a fantastic blog covering Intimacy and Marriage called: To Love, Honor and Vacuum.  Go check it out, you are sure to be blessed!

Hot Chocolate for Couples: Practical Ways to Sweeten Your Love Life by Cindy Siglar Dagnan

Romancing Your Husband: Enjoying a Passionate Life Together
Romancing Your Wife: A Little Effort Can Spice Up Your Marriage

by Debra White Smith

Resources For Rebuilding After Betrayal

A Way of Escape: Freedom from Sexual Strongholds by Neil Anderson

Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time
Every Man’s Marriage: An Every Man’s Guide to Winning the Heart of a Woman 
Every Young Man’s Battle: Strategies for Victory in the Real World of Sexual Temptation
by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker

  A HUGE list of resources can be found here, at the bottom of the Surviving Infidelity Page!

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     Thanks for sticking with us for this series on Sex God’s Way! Did you survive the series without too much blushing? Did God move and speak to your heart about something you can give to Him? 

Get some of these resources and be open to learning and hearing from the Giver of all Great Things!

  It has been a joy and honor to share our hearts with you on this blessing and gift for Married Couples to enjoy!

Oh, and has it been 72 hours yet!?!?!?!?!!   Winking smile

~Angela from My Heart Ministry and Tonya from 4 little Fergusons

  Don’t miss this comment-spurred bonus post:  “Sexual Addiction: Road Block To Intimacy”

Saving Sex for Marriage: From Forbidden Fruit to Free Rein

saving sex for marriage

    So you’ve saved yourself for marriage, Congratulations!  I know it was difficult, I know you probably got laughed at, and I know the World thinks you are CRAZY now.  But that is ok, sex God’s way is unlike anything you could ask or imagine.  We talked yesterday about the chemical make up of the body.  Your Creator knew just what He was doing, including the release of hormones to make you feel unified afterwards.  Now that is something to say WOO HOO about!

  However, it can be hard to switch gears from the Forbidden Fruit of touch during dating or courtship, to the FREE REIN of Marriage, after your I Do’s……

  Sex is an amazing gift from God, to be opened and enjoyed on your Honeymoon.  And as you know, any peeking or unwrapping of the “gift” before you make your Covenant with Christ, will just take away from the experience later.  {we covered this in yesterday’s post} 

  And on a more serious note, in the Spirit World your body and life, actually intertwine with your sexual partner.  This is why having sex with anyone else, just makes trouble. Their life and generational sins have a perfect tunnel right into your married life, like a toxic sewer system.  Breaking free from the bondage of those past relationships is as simple as an outloud prayer session in Jesus name.

  For those that waited to have sex until marriage, it may be hard to switch from the forbidden, or even dirty thoughts of sex, to fully embrace and enjoy it for the gift it is. 

  Sex is an act of Worship.  No joke!  It brings glory to our Creator when 2 become 1 flesh and we enjoy our spouses body.  {Woah baby, have you READ Song of Solomon?!}  He Created Sex for our pleasure, and He created it to keep you married in the tough times, ‘cause HELLOOOO, Make-Up sex is FUN!   

  I was photographing a wedding and was sad to hear Bridesmaids bemoaning how awful sex was to this virgin bride.  WHAT A TRAGEDY!  Sex is a beautiful, amazing, delightful gift to enjoy fully.

Let me share a story with you from Max Lucado:

    A newlywed couple arrived at their ‘bridal suite’ in the wee hours of the morning, after their wedding, with great expectations.  What they were met with was beyond disappointing.  Where were the flowers and fruit and chocolate…and more importantly, the 4 poster bed, they had seen in the brochure?  What a horrible mistake this must be.  Too exhausted – and preoccupied with the promise of the greatly anticipated love-making, they decide to take it up with management in the morning. 

  After an uncomfortable night on a lumpy pull-out sofa in the small, stuffy room, the new husband heads down to the manager’s desk to give him a piece of his mind.  After listening patiently for a few minutes, the desk clerk asks…

”Did you open the door, sir?”

  After sheepishly returning to his room in search of ‘the door’, they open what they had assumed was a closet door, and are left speechless by the extravagance that lays before them.  A stunningly decorated, spacious room, boasting fresh flowers and fruit, chocolates…and the sprawling 4 poster bed.

  Do NOT be afraid to Open this Door on your Honeymoon…….

First in communication!  

  I would strongly encourage you and your fiance, to have a very real conversation shortly before your wedding, about your expectations for your Wedding Night.  

  I can guarantee you, you both will want to approach it differently.  Part of the way God made men and women. :)  

  You ladies may be imagining that you will slowly kiss and make out, and ever so slowly lead up to sex.  If you kissed during your dating relationship, you may be imagining that at the point you used to stop, you simply won’t have to this time.  Your handsome hubby however, may be imagining that the second you get to the hotel, he will drop his pants, and help you out of yours before leaping into bed.  Talking about it ahead of time will help you both be on the same page.

  I was terrified of sex hurting.  I was scared to show Dale my naked body, and I was scared to see his.  We have always had really open communication, so I talked to him about it.  His kind words put me at ease, and you know what blessed me the most?  He said, as long as I can hold you and know you are mine at the end of the day, we don’t even have to have sex that first night.

  Did we have sex the first night?!

HECK YES.  

  But you know what, his words took all the pressure away.  He showed me his heart and allowed me to voice my fears to him ahead of time, totally calming my fears and making me feel safe and loved.  

  So, you’ve had your big day, it was everything you imagined it would be, you are tired of smiling, in fact, your cheeks probably even hurt!  Your feet ache from standing so long or dancing, and now that you CAN open your “Gift”, how does this thing called SEX work?

8 Ways to Turn The No No No’s

Into The Yes YES YES’S

On Your Wedding Night

1.  Take It Slooooooooooooow!

  On our honeymoon night, Dale and I got to our new to us home about 11:30pm.  We didn’t have a dance per church rules, so we just spent time greeting our 600 guests.  We didn’t get to even eat, so our sweet family packed us a picnic basket full of wedding food.  So, we had a carpet picnic on the floor of our bedroom, eating, laughing and talking about our big day.  This is also when we opened the box of Love Letters I had written Dale every birthday from age 13 on and read them to each other. From giggles at the 13 year old scrawl, to tears at the 17 year olds heart felt letter of love and affirmation…we connected heart to heart before we ever moved towards becoming one.

  I felt no pressure from Dale to rip off my clothes and jump into bed with him, although I am sure he would’ve loved that. As I mentioned above, he reassured me that we could wait until another night.

  We spent one night at home before leaving at 5 am for our flight to Maui.  Hindsight is 20-20, we probably would’ve waited one more day before flying out, just to have more intimate time together before a 12 hour flight.  That is a LONG flight when you are newlyweds. 

  Actually that is a long flight when you aren’t, but you know what I mean!  ;)

  Starting slow means kissing and letting it progress slowly, over a period of time, except unlike your dating relationship, there are no brakes.  The Lord designed kissing to lead to deeper kissing, roaming hands, heightened breathing and sensation, for a reason.  Start kissing and watch it happen on its own.  No brakes! No brakes! 

2.  Use A Water Based Lubricant

  This will be your best friend at first, until you get everything worked out. Keep a bottle handy and use it every time, even reapplying during intercourse, as necessary. Nerves will make your body naturally a bit drier. This will remedy itself as your body gets used to intercourse.

3.  Stop After Entry

  I am trying to be as appropriate as possible while still talking about what I mean.  After your bodies become one, stop.  This is a fantastic time to ask your Creator to bless your union.  One of the things I love most about Dale, is from our honeymoon on, he is in the habit of asking the Lord to bless our union before moving forward.  Proclaiming to our Heavenly Father, his love for me and his thankfulness at our life and marriage.  It has always warmed my heart and made me feel cared for.

  Pausing after entry, will also allow the walls of your vaginal muscles to stretch around your husband, and allow for more pleasure and less pain these first months of sex.

4.  BREATHE!

  I am not going to lie, it does hurt at first.  But if you deep breathe, closing your eyes to focus on the good feelings that TOTALLY outweigh the pain of stretching, you can still achieve an orgasm and have some fun.  Breathing means oxygen, oxygen means more blood flow, and more blood flow means…..more FIREWORKS!

5.  You Might Not Achieve An Orgasm From Sex Alone

    Every body is so different, some women orgasm easily during sex, multiple times in fact! It’s super-duper fun if you are blessed with this, but sadly, it is not this way for everyone.  Some women may never orgasm from sex alone, and need some manual stimulation to achieve this.  There is nothing wrong with that, your spouse just needs to know what to do about it.

  Husbands, after you have finished, do NOT roll over and expect that she is done too.  If you haven’t heard her big finish, then it’s up to you to make it happen, Buddy!  This means touching, caressing and kissing her until she finishes, too.  There are some great books by Christian authors that you can read that can help you understand the female body.  And that brings me to my next point….

5.  Sex Is About Pleasing the Other Person

  When sex is about pleasing self, it doesn’t work right.  It basically becomes a self gratifying act to use the other person for your personal release.

  Sex God’s Way, means your entire focus is on pleasing the other person.  And when their focus is completely on pleasing you, and your focus is completely on pleasing them, and their pleasure, it means FIREWORKS for both of you!  And afterwards, both of you may bask in the after glow of it all, as those amazing hormones that was talked about yesterday, make you feel connected and in love! 

6.  Communication is KEY!

  Talking and having fun, is what this process is all about!  Sex is for enjoying each other.  Telling your spouse what you like and don’t like in the midst of intercourse, is key to the success of this physical union.  Your Spouse is not a mind reader!  Give ‘em some verbal cues, honey!

7.  Have A Naked Day

  Every honeymoon needs a Naked Day.  We went to Maui for 7 days, so towards the middle when we were tired and sunburned, we threw a Naked Day and stayed in our condo the whole day, no clothes allowed!  You are your own worst critic, so don’t be shy!  Your spouse loves your body and everything about it. 

8.  If At First You Don’t Succeed….

  Try, try again!

  Don’t be discouraged if this isn’t your Hollywood movie romance scene, that is a lie at it’s finest.  Things may not go to smoothly the first few times.  Laugh it off and try, try again.  Your personal love story is far better than anything Hollywood could ever script.  Throw out those preconceived notions and JUST HAVE FUN with your spouse, and know you are praising your Heavenly Father in your union.

  Can I get an AMEN! & a Hallelujah over here?!

~T

Shared with To Love, Honor & Vacuum’s: Wifey Wednesday!

 

 

 

 

Sex Before Marriage {Part 2}: The Chemical Side

  Welcome to Post 2, if you haven’t read Post 1: Sex Before Marriage: Everyone Is Doing It, RIGHT!? head over and get caught up!

 Now let’s cover the CHEMICAL side of why God designed sex for marriage only:

the chemical side of sex

  This article comes from www.christianpost.com and I am quoting this article in it’s entirety.

  Dopamine, Oxytocin and Vasopressin are three powerful and important products released during sex between a man and a woman in a committed relationship and helps couples bond. When they are introduced in casual sexual relationships, however, they can cause much trouble.

  Oxytocin, a hormone produced primarily in women’s bodies, helps women become bonded to the object of her affection. “When a woman has a child and she is breastfeeding, she produces lots of Oxytocin, which bonds her to her child….when skin-to-skin with her child.” explains the report. Working together, the two hormones and one chemical produced by the human body during sex helps to bond a man and a woman together for long-term relationship.

  “When someone is involved sexually it makes them want to repeat that act. Their brain produces lots of Dopamine – a powerful chemical, which is compared to heroin on the brain. Dopamine is your internal pleasure/reward system. When Dopamine is involved, it changes how we remember,” notes a Conquer Series report.

  So when a woman becomes intimate with a man, her body also releases Oxytocin and she becomes emotionally bonded to him.

  “Have you wondered sometimes why a woman will stay with a man who’s abusing her? We know now, it’s because she bonds to him emotionally, because of the Oxytocin release during sex,” the report said.

  Also referred to as the “monogamy hormone,” men produce Vasopressin which serves the same purpose as Oxytocin. “It bonds a man to a woman,” according to the report.

  But while these “bonding” agents are great for marriage relationships, they don’t work so well for dating relationships because “you lose your objectivity when you’re searching for your potential life mate.”

  According to neuropsychologist Dr. Tim Jennings in the Conquer Series report:

  “When you have premarital sex, your reward circuitry is bonded to them now, and it will be much deeper and hurtful. Oftentimes, in breakups of people who’ve been sexually active, they can’t tolerate the sense of emptiness, so they rush into another relationship. The neuro circuits did not have time to reset, and so they’re impaired in their ability to bond with the next person, and they may become sexually active with them. This is just a repetitive cycle, and there are real impairments in bonding going on.”

  “Knowing how these neurochemicals interact and change the brain help us understand why sex is meant [to be kept] within the boundaries of marriage,” the reported noted.

  “You see the overtones here about God’s design for His pure temple. This is another reason why the devil attacks our sexuality so much because in attacking human sexuality, it actually interferes with human bonding. So, for those practicing sex outside of marriage, they are creating a bond with their partner, thus inhibiting their discernment whether they should remain in that relationship. God wired and designed our brains for a specific purpose: to bond ourselves with the person we marry.”  

Gary Thomas, from the book Sacred Marriage:

  “At any given time, the female brain contains up to ten times more oxytocin than the male brain. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical that creates feelings of affection and empathy. You want to know why women tend to be more invested in close relationships than men? Oxytocin is one of the reasons.

  There’s only one time in human experience when the husband’s level of oxytocin begins to approach that of his wife’s: immediately following an act of sexual intimacy. A man’s brain literally re-bonds with his spouse, making him, at that moment, more committed to his family, more satisfied with his wife, more invested in his home. Wives, why do your husbands want sex with you so often (whether they know this is the reason or not)? It’s because they never feel closer to you than immediately following that encounter.”

  Another fascinating little fact that Dale heard on Christian radio one time, was that there were Scientific studies done on this subject, and they found that men do NOT release the same amount of Vasopressin in non-committed relationships, actually making them draw BACK from their sexual partner!  Yet another reason sex is for marriage only.

  God doesn’t ask us to refrain from Sex outside of Marriage to PUNISH us, He asks us to refrain from sex outside of Marriage to PROTECT us!

  Tune in tomorrow for a Honeymoon Night Pep Talk!
Saving Sex for Marriage: From Forbidden Fruit to Free Rein…..

~T

Sex Before Marriage {Part 1}: Everyone is Doing it, RIGHT!?

 Sex God's Way

  We live in a “IF if feels good, DO IT” world.  And with that, has come a shift of self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-honoring living.

  Believers are losing their way, because life is more focused on pleasing self, than God.

  The Bible is so so clear on the issue of sex and the beautiful gift it is, yet, so many God-fearing, Christian couples skip over that part of The Word.  Living together, sleeping together;  all before marriage…..

  “It’s just a piece of paper that makes sex legal,” the World tells us, “you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, would you?”

  “You are going to get married anyways……” the devil whispers in the ears of engaged couples trying to wait but failing time and time again.

  But God says in John 14:23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching…..”

  Simply put, your obedience to God is a demonstration of your love for Him.

  Easy enough, right? 

  I know you and your boyfriend or girlfriend love each other, but God wants you to put your love for Him FIRST, before your future spouse!  This is a HUGE part of your life to come, and the very foundation your entire marriage and life together is built on.

  When you disobey the order that the Lord has laid out for you, you actually rob yourself of the blessings to come.  Not only that, anytime you disobey God’s directions there are always consequences to pay.

  I Corinthians 6:18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

  I will never forget my 8th Birthday. I had been playing Super Spy Girl and had found all 3 of my birthday gifts before my party.  I thought I was so cool!  I would often sneak into the closet to peek at them one more time in the weeks before my birthday. 

  Guess who was totally bummed on her big day?

Yup, me.

  I thought it would be awesome to know what I was getting for my birthday ahead of time, but I was sadly disappointed.  Sneaking a peek at my gifts had robbed me of the joy of experiencing them for the first time as I pulled off the wrapping.

    The Bible also states…….

I Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

  For this very reason, we are already encouraging our children to Court instead of Date, and to save their kisses for engagement, or the altar.  We also will be encouraging our children to have a short engagement to help control that desire until their wedding night.

  What if your fiance says you are NUTS? What if they tell you that they have needs, and they sure as heck aren’t going to start waiting for sex now!

  If your fiance does not receive what you are saying about sex before marriage, ignoring God’s commands in the process, then you may want to seriously reconsider your decision to get married. Not having the same passion towards pleasing God and obeying the Bible, will only get worse in the future, and will lead to a difficult, unequally yoked marriage.

  Let’s stop tip-toeing around the HUGE issue of these dating couples worshiping together in church, praising a God who they are BLATANTLY dishonoring in their sex-before-marriage life style.  And while we are at it, let’s stop being afraid to talk about sex inside of Marriage, where God created it to be enjoyed.    

    Let’s tell the World the truth – that Sex God’s way is far better than anything the they have experienced.

  It’s never too late for second chances, or becoming Born Again Virgins.  Christ’s death on the cross covered ALL our transgressions, including anything you have done sexually.  We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Let’s help each other see the truth and instructions to walk in freedom, outlined in God’s Word.   

for·ni·ca·tion (fôrn-kshn)  
NOUN:Sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other.

1 Corinthians 6:9-20  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

  “Sexual baggage doesn’t unpack itself, it simply slips into the bed beside you and makes connecting with your spouse in spirit and truth, that much harder to do.”  Joy from Simply Bloom

  Commit your relationship to the Father, deal with past sexual partners by praying in the name of Jesus and breaking those ties.  Do this out loud, together before marriage.

   The tears and forgiveness that follow will be a new kind of intimacy, and in the long run, keep your future marriage from being tainted from the connections to those other partners.  {more on this later in the week}

  Bountiful blessings flow when you do things God’s way, instead of the Worlds way…….

Now head on over to Post 2 and learn about the Chemical Side of Sex!

~T

More info on this subject here:

http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/what-does-the-bible-say-about-sex-before-marriage-510492.html

Train Up A Child…..

  The Bible says, If we train up our children in the way they should go, they will not depart from it when they are older.
{Proverbs 22:6}

4 little Fergusons

  So, what does this look like?  “Train up a child”

  Well, I think it means I am Intentional in my parenting.  That I am always on the look out for those teachable moments. That I do my part to teach my children the value of hard work, daily duties and prayerful hearts.  That I am to speak and pray those blessings over my children just as the Fathers in the Bible spoke blessings over theirs, blessings that came to fruitition.

   One area I have been struggling with lately, is praying for their future spouse.  I have diligently been doing this since each child is born, diligently like EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Purity is a big, big deal to me, something I held dear to my heart in my growing up years.  Something I knew I wanted for my children.  Something I wish Dale would’ve chosen differently on.  We represent both sides, saving and not saving.  Our kids will have the opportunity to hear of the long term heartache that comes from sex outside of marriage.

  My prayers of 9 years have been this:

  First, for my child to be a Godly man or Proverbs 31 wife, then for them to save themselves for marriage, by hanging on to their purity for the treasure it is.  To save all the pieces of their heart for their ONE true love.  To allow the Lord to bring them that person when the time is right, when they are both ready.  To choose to court instead of date.  To allow the Lord to script them a beautiful love story.

bride to be

  In the past 2 years of Surviving Infidelity, I have learned purity will not save my children from heartache.  It won’t. It’s not a guarantee.  The reward doesn’t necessarily look like I thought it would.  And as I learn more and more about the hold porn has on our men, and our teen and preteen boys, I have lost heart.  So instead of praying about it, I was mourning the odds of my children finding pure spouses.  If 1 out of 3 teens look and 4 out of 5 men in your church pew look, then its a lost cause.  Right?

  Then the Lord reminded me of John 14:14 “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

  This doesn’t mean He is a genie in a bottle, grant me my 3 wishes!  It means that when I pray something I KNOW He backs with scripture, that I need to believe it will happen, and it will.

  “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”
Mark 11:23

  I am asking the Lord to, somewhere out in the world, raise up a little boy, or a little girl, ready to marry my children.  Being raised in a home that speaks blessings, and prays diligently for their children’s purity, for my children as their children’s future spouses.  A family that is aware of satan lurking on the internet, billboards and scantly clad women/men on tv.  I am asking they be raised in a family that is real about this trap of porn, that talks regularly about the importance of pure eyes in the world we live in today.

  Tylan is in Kindergarten.  He just turned 6, do you know that he prays for his wife already?  Did you know that he asks me what he should do if his friends show him pictures that are bad?  You may think that is too young, but I am glad.  It will be hard wired in him to look away, leave the room, call me for a ride.  It doesn’t mean he won’t fall or fail at times, but it means that even from a young age, those thoughts of purity are taking root.

Did you know, that Avery asks me if that Barbie’s outfit is “inapwopiate” in the store toy aisle because she is wearing a skimpy mini skirt and tummy showing halter top?  Instead of telling her not to worry about it, we talk about modesty, and covering tummies and breasts. Saving our bodies for our husband. I don’t think she is too young to know the truth about this.

  Parents, your children are listening to you, your prayers at bedtime need to MEAN something.  Not just thank you for this day, please help Johnny to have good dreams and no bad dreams. Amen.  

  No, think of it as seed planting, carefully tended each night, until you will watch it sprout and grow. Someday, your child will parrot those same prayers for themselves, then walk it out in their lives.

  Do not lose heart, for I have overcome the world.  {from John 16:33}

Praise you Jesus,

~T

Need help knowing how to pray over your kids? 

I suggest this book:  While They Are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for the Children You Love

    I have used this for almost 10 years and my copy is falling to pieces, but it covers areas from purity to leadership, kindness to humility, courage & contentment.  Each topic includes several days worth of prayers to read out loud and 2 verses to back it.   You could read it with your spouse as part of your devotions, or include it in your child’s bedtime routine, so they hear you pray over them, these qualities.

 

 

The Birds & The Bees

Birds and bees

It’s that time at our house.

You know, time for “The Birds & The Bees” talk. 

  A few days before Destiny turned 9, she asked if maybe it was time for us to have a talk. 

“A talk?” I asked

“Ya, you know, about sex and babies and stuff.  I am ready to know how it all works.”

  We talked a bit more, and she asked some good questions.  I told her intelligent questions would be met with intelligent answers.  So I talked to Dale and we planned a little time with Destiny after the kids went to bed to explain things to her.

Here are some of the highlights: 

We used correct and simple terms. 

We showed her diagrams of male and female genitalia.  We told her girls have 3 holes: one for pee, one for poop and the one in the middle is for babies.  That babies are made inside the same hole they come out of.

  We showed a video of sperm racing to find the egg.  She thought it was super cool that the egg only lets one in {sometimes 2}, before closing up and going on a journey!  We talked about how God picks which sperm meets which egg, and they determine whether you have brown hair or blonde, are good at piano, are a night owl…..all things already planned out when the two meet.  

“That happened when God made me? Neat!”

We told her sex was a beautiful gift for married couples to enjoy.  We told her it was fun, and it was perfect because the man and women parts fit together like a puzzle.

She said, Ew a few times, and Cool a few times.    

We told her that was normal.  :)

   We pray every night over our children that they’d save themselves for marriage, and that they would hang on to their purity for the treasure it is.  Even almost 4-year-old Avery can tell you she doesn’t want a “Swiss Cheese heart” full of holes. She wants to save her whole heart and all her kisses for her husband.    Tylan prays that he would be a Godly man, and he prays for his future wife, that she’d be a Proverbs 31 wife and that she’d save herself for him. PRECIOUS.  We pray for Tylan and Paxton to have a covenant with their eyes not to look upon anything impure, that they will save themselves for marriage, heart, body and mind.

Guys, they are LISTENING! They are parroting back prayers that have been spoken over them all their lives.  If you haven’t already started praying for this, it’s not too late!  The power of prayer is incredible!  And what a great teaching tool.

  My response to Destiny was calm. 

Purposeful.

  I encourage you to take a similar approach. When mom or dad, stutter, stammer, avoid the subject, or act disgusted, you are telling them sex is dirty.  It is embarressing.  That they did something wrong, by even asking.   

This could not be further than the truth. 

Do you want them to someday take that unhealthy view of sex into their own marriage bed? Because they really will.

Sex is a beautiful gift from God, intended for married couples to enjoy as they become one body, one spirit, one flesh.  I want our children to understand how beautiful, amazing, and special it is.  God designed it to be mind-blowing.  It was intended for more than reproduction, it was intended for…PLEASURE.

    In a Sex-at-9 society, if we aren’t talking to our kids about sex, the world is. It’s being sold on TV and in just about every movie out there.  It’s being whispered on the bus ride home, it’s being tried out at boy-girl parties. Yes, as early as age 9. THAT, my friends, is highly disturbing.

  You have a choice:

YOU teach them about sex.

Or

The WORLD will.

  Watch this powerful video.

“Seize the opportunity while your children are young to
start having conversations that will forever shape their sexual character.”
    Mary Flo Riley, author of Simple Truths. 

Making It Meaningful

  The sex talk is obviously happening at age 9 at our house, but at age 13, we will take things a step further.  We plan to take each child on a special birthday date, talk more about purity, eyes, thoughts, flesh; all of it. We will help them write out some boundaries, review some verses about sex and God’s design for it.

  We will present them with a purity ring, just as my parents gave me when I was 13, and encourage them to write a birthday love letter to their future spouse each and every birthday. The girls love to read through my box of love letters to Dale, to try on my purity ring, which will one day be Destiny’s.

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  This ring is to remind them that purity is a beautiful gift, only given ONCE. 

  It’s never to late to start talking to your kids about saving themselves for marriage. Telling them about a little boy or little girl our there, RIGHT NOW, being prepared to one day meet them. To one day fall in love with them at the perfect moment in time, all ordained by the Great Author of LOVE Himself!

We Are Giving Our Kids An Incomplete Message!!!!

by Joy of Simply Bloom

  “The Bible speaks out so plainly against adultery and the misuse of sex, that it’s easy for a young Christian to misinterpret that to mean that sex as a whole is sinful.

In Christian circles we tend to spurt out the “sex is bad before marriage” anthem, without following it up with the “but sex after marriage will rock your socks off!” part.

So on their wedding day, a couple is expected to flip that switch to ‘sex is allowed…we now have a license’, and they spend the first few years of marriage floundering and silently struggling with what they’ve always been lead to believe: “God doesn’t want you to have sex…and He especially doesn’t want you to enjoy it!”. Resentment grows as they try and reconcile what they deeply desire in each other, and what they believe God expects of them.

“The marriage ceremony is simply insufficient to reorient one’s attitude from ‘Thou shalt not’ to ‘Thou shalt—regularly and with great passion!’” – Dr. James Dobson”

  Joy has a whole blog post written about this!  Go read it!!!!  Here are a few of my favorite points:

  • Start early:
    • Be purposeful & prepared.
      • Vital: When they do ask “those” questions, make a point of smiling and responding with I’m so glad you asked, sweetheart!. Don’t allow your response or body language to communicate that this is a taboo topic to talk about.
      • Children are unabashedly curious about their bodies and the differences between boys and girls, if you don’t answer their questions – eagerlythey’ll find someone else who will.
      • Help them recognize that their sexuality is a beautiful part of who they arefor later in life.
      • If we wait until our kids are older, we’ve lost a tremendous part of the battle: teenagers are naturally inclined to doubt and wrestle with everything we say. Do you really want to initiate the conversation then?
  • Define your message:
    • “This is what I want them to know/believe/value about sex”
    • Make the message your own – what is important and valued in your family – boil it down to a few overarching statements about sex.
    • Don’t make it sensual for little ones, just basic biology. The “dangers and pleasures” of the sex talk come later.
  • Examine your own sexual baggage – we don’t want to pass off our pain and baggage to our kids. Set it aside {or better yet, work/pray through it} and present the most positive picture.
  • Explain Reproduction:
    • Use everyday examples to teach them that “by God’s design…protected deep inside every living creature is the potential for new life
  • Explain Conception -Start painting the picture of sexual intimacy now…allowing them to first see only a hazy view of it…add detail and depth as they get older and more mature.
  • Continuing the Conversation:
    • When billboards or ads depict intimate moments between a couple, teach them that sexuality is very private and “no one should ever watch”…helps them know how to handle unexpected pornography exposure {which can show up astonishingly early}.
    • Show them how important the decisions they make are. Their teenage years are so short in relation to the rest of their lives, and yet the decisions they make during that time have huge consequences.

  Remember, give simple TRUTH in real terms, never undermining the beautiful, smokin’ hot gift from God, sex really is.

  ~T

Are you struggling with a healthy image of sex in your own marriage?  Then read this blog about Re-discovering RED HOT Manogomy by Joy of Simply Bloom.  It’ll make your toes curl.

Winking smile

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A Love Story Retold: My Very Own Happily Ever After {Part 4/4}

Just tuning in?  I’m sharing Dale and my love story with you this week, in honor of the Beauty from Ashes Ceremony we are having this weekend to celebrate 2nd chances, as well as our 10th Anniversary, which is TODAY! 

  An anniversary has never held more meaning for us, as it does this year.  Today is extra extra special, because I just keep thinking, had I gone with my initial thoughts back in July, we’d be sharing custody of the kids this weekend instead of celebrating as a family!!!! Woah.
What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger! Praise God that He is able to trade beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and peace for despair!  {Get caught up here: Surviving Infidelity }

Happy 10th Anniversary to the love of my LIFE!
We’ve been given a second chance at a once in a lifetime kind of love, and I am not letting you go

I will see you this weekend,
At the end of the aisle,
I will be walking towards you with
Tears and a smile…..

I love you, Dale!

xoxo T

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  Part 4 of our Love Story, from the archives:

  I was engaged to the man of my dreams!  Now the wedding I had in my head since my childhood could take place.  Well, a budget version of that dream, but my dream wedding, none-the-less!  I had always wanted a huge foo-foo Princess wedding dress and a fancy night-time wedding in a church packed full of the people I loved most……

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By the time the invites were done, we had invited 800 people. I had chosen 7 special people to stand up with me as bridesmaids and witness our vows and Dale had done the same, choosing 7 groomsmen.

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I wanted to involve all 7 of my nanny kids, whom I loved and adored, as well as those who I babysat for for years.

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Scan_Pic0049And Dale, coming from a large family, thought it’d be nice to involve his cousins too.  In the end, we had 12 flower girls, who would head down our churches 4 side aisles that day, while handing out flowers to start the service.  Next would be 2 bell ringers down the Center aisle, followed by the Jr. attendant walking with the 2 more flower girls.  I wanted it to be a day to remember, Dale just wanted me to get down the aisle already!

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I’d like to tell you May 24th, 2002 dawned bright and sunny, but it didn’t. Well, it was bright and sunny on the inside, but outside? Terrible storms and rain.

My best friend called me in a panic that morning, worried how I was handling the weather, but my cheery “HELLLOO!” took care of any concerns she had.

This was my big day, a few thunder claps weren’t going to ruin anything!

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I had never been more thankful that God had restored my parents marriage and that I, once again, had a great relationship with my dad.  Because I had not moved out during our “rough patch” as I family, I woke up the morning of my wedding, in the bedroom of my youth.  I smiled to myself, giddy for the day to begin, and tried to capture in my mind the regular morning noises of my mom, dad and little brother making breakfast downstairs….for this was the last time that would occur.  When I left the church that night, I’d be heading to the home I would share with Dale, the one we still live in today! I was a 20-year-old young woman, ready to spread her wings and fly for the first time!

After all the hub bub of hair and make up, Dale and I met pre-service for what is now called a “First Look.”  We wanted to get photos over with ahead of time, but still have a private special moment when we first saw each other.  I don’t have the professional photos to capture it, but this is a snapshot from a friend.  Dale meet me at the end of the aisle with tears and a smile.  Before we parted ways, he grabbed me, pulled me close and whispered a prayer in my ear.  I loved that when the big moment came for me to enter the church and walk down the aisle on my Daddy’s arm, the butterflies were gone because I had seen my man. He had prayed with me and calmed my spirit. I was ready!

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The wedding was at 7 pm, and it was everything I hoped for.  The church was dark, the stage accented only by soft lights and twinkling candles.

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Our pastor gave a beautiful wedding charge, and when it was time, Dale and I  tearfully read our written vows to each other.

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Soft piano praise music played in the background the entire time, thanks to the musical talents of Dale’s friend on the Baby Grand, inviting the Spirit of the Lord there in the church with us that night.  And He was there, I could feel Him and He was smiling at us. The angels in Heaven rejoiced as they sat back and watched another ”Happily Ever After” of a Love Story written by the Author of Love Himself.

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Lest things get too serious on our big day, we tried to end on a fun note, and lighten the mood with the recessional song:

A roarin’, piano-thumping rendition of Little Richard’s “Great Balls of Fire.” It wouldn’t be complete without the part where you zip up and down the piano keys, and Dale’s friend nailed it!

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WOO-HOO!  He’s finally MINE! :)

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After an appetizer reception in the church gym-turned Garden, with twinkling lit trees, shrubs, gazebos and winding lit paths, Dale and I took off for our new home as a couple.  The day was everything we’d dreamed it would be and so very much more.

To end a perfect day, we sat down on a quilt in the bedroom of our new home, opened the picnic basket my mom had packed for us, and had a carpet picnic; eating all the wedding food and cake we had missed at the reception, as we greeted and hugged our guests for hours.  During this picnic, I presented Dale with my box of letters and purity ring.  As we ate, we opened them and read them from earliest to most recent.

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We laughed at the little-girl scrawl of age 13, starting with “Wuz up?” and ending with an oh-so cool “Ciao”, smiled at the grown-up words of a 17-year-old young lady, had flashbacks of a difficult time during the broken-hearted letter of age 18, full of apologies for giving her heart away to a guy named Dale, and finally, a tearful letter addressed: “My dearest Dale”, full of love and devotion from a 19-year-old woman, engaged to be married to the man of her dreams.  It was a beautiful moment, one I will not soon forget.

We were blessed to go on a week-long Honeymoon to Maui the next morning, thanks to the generosity of the amazing family I nannied for.  It was Paradise, just like they say!

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A lot has changed in 9 years, and we are not without our trials and tribulations, fights and tears. But I can tell you one thing, there is not one time I look back over our Courtship and that particularly difficult time in my life, and not see the Lord’s Fingerprints ALL over it. He guided us when we were lost, He carried us when we were too weary to stand, He lifted us up when we were broken down, and most importantly, He lovingly took us away from each other, to prepare us to one day be together again, this time FOREVER.

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When I said “I Do” I meant it, forever and ever, till death do us part.067

I leave you with 2 thoughts:

Guys, “If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you aren’t worthy.”

And girls remember this, “A girl should be so lost in God, that a guy has to get lost in Him to find her.”  You must be content in who you are alone, before you’ll ever be content in who you are with someone else.

Take these quotes to heart, hold out for your very own “The One” and GO get those books by Eric and Leslie Ludy.   They are LIFE CHANGING!

Thanks for letting me share our Love Story with you! It’s been a really fun walk down memory lane for Dale & I!

~T

A Love Story Retold: Letting God Write Your Love Story {Part 3/4}

Our Love Story, continued from yesterday….

The time line is a bit blurred in my mind, but somewhere along the way, close to the Holiday’s, the Lord asked me to let go of it all.  My dreams, my plans, my hopes, all of it.  He needed me to let go so He could take over. And when He takes over, AMAZING things occur!

He began to speak to me about Courtship instead of dating.  I finally had a name for what He had been asking me to do in High school.  He was asking me to be friends with a guy, hanging out with my family and his, until the Lord told me “Yes, this is the man I have for you, Tonya.”  Courtship is dating with the intent of marriage.  He was asking me to wait to date, UNTIL I found my spouse.  Interesting.

Then He brought me “THE BOOK”.  The book that forever changed my life and altered my course….

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“When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.

By the second page in the book words were LEAPING off the page and grabbing my heart…..

“…….You have searched for true love in your own way.  But my ways are not your ways.  I want to script a beautiful tale just for you, but first you must trust Me with the pen of this precious area of your life.  Will you let Me write your love story?”

“God is longing to write your love story.  A love story far beyond the most incredible fairy tale ever written. Will you give Him the pen today?”

  What a thought!  God was longing to compose MY love story, my very own fairy tale?  WOW!   He cares about all the areas of our lives, even this one, what a thought!   He was asking me to hand Him the pen, stop worrying, stop planning….and just sit back and hang on for the ride of my life.

Book-WDCT-2I  was so excited about what I was reading, that I bought this book and the next one for 7 of my friends (including Dale). I knew it was going to change their lives!  It’s called “When Dreams Come True” and tells the true love story of the couple, Eric and Leslie, who handed over the pen and let God script them a beautiful story.

More of Eric and Leslie’s AMAAAZING books are found here at http://ellerslie.com/Books.html  I highly recommend them for pre-teens and teens, and their parents as well!

Some of their popular titles include:

Authentic Beauty

Teaching True Love to A Sex-At-13 Generation

When God Writes Your LIFE Story

God’s Gift to Women

This couple has started an incredible ministry working towards raising youth to be a light to a dark world, to be IN the world but not OF the world. Play around on their website when you get a chance!!!!

Ok, so that was a major bunny trail, but an important one.  Back to the story:

After months apart, Dale & I decided to start spending time together again, we missed each other so much!  We were determined to just “Be Friends”, but we felt so much more.  Not long after this, we decided to take a week, not see each other or talk, but fast and pray, seeking God on our knees as to whether this could be turned into a courtship or not. Once again, the Lord began speaking to me immediately about forgiveness. As in, Dale prayed with me about our week apart and left, and before he had even left the neighborhood, I opened a book and there in front of me lay a 12 Steps To Forgiveness page. No doubt, the Lord was asking me to forgive as He had forgiven me, I knew this by now. He spoke to Dale too that week, about making things right with his past relationships.  That amazing man called each girl he had been in a relationship with, and asked their forgiveness for not respecting them as he should have.  Some were tearful and thankful, some called him crazy.

But as far as our Courtship?

The Lord was silent.

{SIGH} Fine. Friends it is.

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That Christmas Eve, during the candlelight service at church, 1 year later almost to the day that my world fell apart, I forgave my dad and walked away from the ugly bitterness I had been carrying!  Praise God for the freedom that comes from forgiving, my relationship with my dad is a close one, and I had missed him!  I also forgave Dale for his past that night and let it go, to be stewed about no more.  Jesus’ blood was strong enough to cover any and every sin, why was I worried it wasn’t strong enough to cover Dale’s indescrestions of the past? 

  What a load off! I tearfully rejoiced, feeling light and free!!!  I was SO thankful my relationship with my dad was restored to better than ever, and that I could enjoy my time around Dale without always thinking of his past!

It was the next night, at a Christmas celebration with family and friends that the Lord gave us the green light to pursue a courtship, dating with the intent of marriage, and we were thrilled!  He had been waiting for my forgiveness of the 2 men in my life all along!

Family and friends had been teasing us that we basically were like a couple anyways, and it was obvious we loved each other, why didn’t we make it official already?  We were hesitant to “slap a label on it”, but mostly, scared the Lord would take us away from each other again if we acted outside His will.

We were sitting at the piano, shoulder to shoulder, dinking around and talking about our relationship.  I told him what my mom had told me just the other day that maybe God was asking us to take a step of faith before He answered us.  Hmm, what a thought!   Dale thought for a minute then turned to me and says something like, “What if I ask you to be my girl right now?”  I hesitated, made and face and was like, “Welllll…”.

“See,” he says,”it’s so scary. I can’t do this alone, tell me what you are thinking in here (points to heart) rather than here (points to head).”

“Well, in my heart I’d say yes in a second, but then all those doubts creep in my mind.”  I just couldn’t lose Dale again!

We go on for about 10 more minutes trying to decide what God was asking us.  Finally,  he turns to me and says…

“So, do you want to be together?”

Me: “More than anything!”

Dale: “Ok then, let’s do this, let’s take the next step.”

Me: “Ok.” Big smile.

Silence.

Dale: “So are we together?”

Me: “I think so.”

Dale: “Do you feel any different?”

Me: “No.”

Dale: “Me neither.”

Me: “Is that a bad thing?”

Dale: “No, I don’t think so.”

Me: “Ok.”

Dale: “Ok.”

{BIG SMILES ALL AROUND}

In that moment, we realized nothing was different, we had been a couple all along, just without the label! I am sure the Lord was happy we were finally “getting it”!  Sometimes He speaks in a whisper, other times Neon flashing lights.  We heard His whisper that Christmas night, what a beautiful gift!  :)

Now that the “label” issue was out the way, we fully embraced our Courtship and began to spend time together once again, with me going to his family functions and he coming to mine.  My family adored him!  How could they not?  There was never a dull moment when he was around!!!!

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Soon after this, the Lord called Dale to travel with the ministry team“Souled Out” again.  This time for 6 months!  I was SO sad he was leaving, but knew the Lord needed him.  He walked away from his job knowing it may not be waiting for him when he returned.  (It wouldn’t be.) What a test this long distance relationship was for us, but through the ups and downs of it, our love just grew stronger, and Dale (who DOESN’T write) filled a journal FULL of love letters to me while he was gone. What a special gift.

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Dale came home for a visit the first week in June, around our 6 month anniversary, and we went ring shopping. HOW EXCITING! I had been waiting to do this my whole life.  Sadly, Dale told me since he left his job to travel with the ministry team, he had no money, and it’d probably be another year until he could save up for it.  I was totally ok with that, floating on my happy love bubble.  No worries, for him I could wait!

The very next morning, as we worshiped in church, my Pastor called me up on stage.  I was worried what kind of sermon analogy I was going to be!  He told me to close my eyes……and when I opened them, there was Dale, on his knee in front of me, with tears in his eyes and a ring in his hand.  My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating…..this was IT!

THE MOMENT I had been dreaming of!

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Dale looked me in the eyes and spoke, voice thick with emotions:

“Tonya, I could list a million reasons why I love you, but it boils down to this…..God let me love you.  You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I’m going to ask you one question…….

WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

I wiped my tears and THREW my arms around him!  I had found my Mr. Wonderful, I was going to be his bride, THIS was my happily ever after!  All those months of heartache and doubt, all those times of questioning what God was asking me to do…..all of it built up to this life changing, dream making moment.  The moment I said YES!

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That August, as I turned 19, I sat to write my Future Husband a love letter, as I had since I was 13, but this time I got to write on top….My Dearest Dale.  What a tear-filled, joyful letter it was!  I tucked it away in my shoebox, knowing that by my next birthday, I’d be a happily married woman!

Dale and I were engaged for a whole year, something our children will NOT be allowed to do. It’s so hard to remain pure, plus it’s just waaaay too long to plan a wedding.  It gave OCD me, more than enough time to comb through the details of the big day, organizing and reorganizing each detail!

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As the year-long engagement finally came to an end, I could scarcely believe it, May 24th, 2002 was here.  I was about to marry my best friend and become Mrs. Tonya Ferguson!!!!!!!!!!!!

Conclusion tomorrow…..

~T

A Love Story Retold: Summer Love {Part 2/4}

From the Archives: Our Love Story Retold

SUMMER LOVE

  Needless to say, I fell and I fell hard that summer, despite the fact that I was not speaking to the Lord or pleased with my father or men in general at that point. 

Dale eventually did get around to asking me on a date, and although he picked me up, payed for it, HE named the time and HE named the place, and thankfully, NEVER used that awful line again! Phew!   Funny, I was no where NEAR ready to be in a relationship, yet I willingly, for the first time, jumped into a dating relationship. You know, the “pick you up at 8” and all that.  No good night kiss though, I told Dale he’d have to wait on that! lol :)

It was summer love!  It wasn’t long before we were together nearly every evening, going for drives, walking in the park holding hands, sitting by “our fountain” listening to the water and talking.  We talked about EVERYTHING for hours and hours.  Oh, if there is anything I miss from dating Dale, it’s the hours of uninterrupted conversation…  :)

We talked about our goals, our plans, our dreams.  We talked about the Lord and faith a lot.  Dale admitted to falling away from the Lord and becoming  a “Sunday-Wednesday Christian” only.  I challenged him to think about his life in light of eternity, he teasingly called me his “Lightening Bolt” from God.

It was a summer to remember!

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That August, a little over 2 months after we met, Dale took me out for my 18th birthday, a surprise he said.  We arrive at his mother’s restaurant, which closes at 2 each day, to “pick something up”.  When I walked in all the tables were pushed aside except one in the center of the dining area, it was lit with candles and had flowers and gifts on it.  He had his brother back in the kitchen, making my favorite foods.  It was so sweet and romantic!  The radio he wanted to use for romantic background music was locked in a back office, but that didn’t stop us from slow dancing anyways.  It was amazing!  Dale gave me a gorgeous diamond heart necklace and promised me the world.

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He also told me he loved me for the first time that night, although I wasn’t ready to say it back until much later in our relationship, he put no pressure on me to return the sentiment.  And like the gentleman he was, Dale got teary, hugged me, raised my hand to his lips, kissed it, and told me how thankful he was to have a girl like me in his life.

God was doing amazing things in Dale’s life and he was making some positive changes, but I was starting to feel a nudge from the Lord.  Nudges I tried to ignore.  You know how that goes, it’s miserable.  I knew what He was saying, and I didn’t want to hear it.

He was asking me to break up with Dale.  He was asking me to lay him on the altar, and step back so the Lord could do a mighty work in his heart.  He was asking me this because neither of us were ready for a relationship.

I told Him, “Yeah, right! I love this guy and finally found someone that would treat me like a lady and not a piece of meat.  And helloooo?! Did you catch the part that he respects my purity pledge and is willing to wait for me and everything!?? Nope God, not gonna happen, I wanna marry this one! PLEEEEASE?!”

Still, the Lord prompted and I eventually listened.  God was asking me to let Him have Dale, maybe forever, to prepare him for being a husband one day, and whether he was to be mine or not, it needed to happen.

Bawling, I sat down and wrote the hardest letter I had ever written, one I’d have Dale read as we sat together, for what I thought was the last time, as a couple.

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I knew what needed to occur, our breaking up and going separate ways.  I was so disappointed in myself for listening to my heart and not the Lord.  After all those years of trying to save the pieces of my heart for my future husband, I’d given the whole thing away to Dale without consulting the Lord first.  I was so thankful we’d never kissed, at least my physical purity was intact.

I wrote in my journal: “I feel like I have let God down.  I feel as if I have tried so very hard in this area of my life to obey and stay focused on Him, but now I have messed that up.  Now I have to tell my future husband that I not only gave a piece of my heart away to another guy, I gave the whole thing away!  I have to tell him that I have loved another before him.  Ouch. That will be so hard. He’s out there, I know he is, my knight in shining armor.  The one who I have prayed for since I was 13. He’s out there, I know it….just waiting for me.”

I had Dale come over, read his “I have to break up with you because the Lord needs to work on both of us seperately” letter and then we talked, sobbing and hugging.  He knew it was true.  The Lord needed to make both of our hearts whole alone, before they could be whole together.  He needed me to forgive my dad and learn to trust men again.  He needed Dale to work on letting go of the past and fully embracing his future in Christ.  I placed my feelings for Dale on the shelf and determined to leave them their until the Lord let me take them down again.  Until we were both ready this time, IF that was the Lord’s will.  And then, he took Dale away from me.

God was doing mighty things in Dale’s heart and he was excited to get the opportunity to travel with a ministry team called “Souled Out” for a few weeks.  I was glad to see him go, I didn’t want to run into him anymore, it was too hard.

Dale will tell you now that God broke him over and over on that trip.  Like brought him to his knees at the altar.  He’ll tell you that each time the Lord broke him, He picked him up, dusted him off and loved on him as only a Father can.  He went through the layers of sin and disobedience in Dale’s life, stripped him down and begin a new work in him.  And when he came back? He was a new man.  The light that can only comes from Jesus was shining through his eyes.  I could scarcely believe the transformation!

While Dale was gone, I waged my own emotional war of unforgiveness in both the area of Dale’s past, as well as forgiving my father!  I had so much to learn before my heart would be ready to love fully and with 100% trust.

This story is a long and drawn out one, I have the stack of journals and emails to prove it!

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We spent months apart, God daily working on my heart in the area of grace and forgiveness.  It’s funny to me how my forgiveness of my dad was directly connected to my forgiveness of Dale’s past, and my readiness to move forward in both relationships.  I was being asked to forgive as Christ forgave me, but I was still feeling too justified in my hurts to do so.

More tomorrow……

~T

A Love Story Retold: Once Upon A Time {Part 1/4}

As you can imagine, this past month has been highly emotional for us, as we bore our souls and owned our truth.  I am so thankful and blessed for readers like you, who lovingly showed your support of us!  This week is busy for me, planning our vow renewal, which is THIS weekend!!! (as well as our 1oth Anniversary)  So, I will not be blogging anything new this week. I will be taking a break and instead, reposting our Love Story for you to read every day until Friday’s Weekend Potluck, which proceeds as usual.  I posted this Love Story series last year for our 9th Anniversary, but there are enough new readers, I think it might be fun to post it again.  I hope to be back next week, after the renewal is all said and done, and share our sacred day with you.  And, as soon as they are edited, pictures as well!

Thank you for investing in my family with your time, your encouragement, and most of all, your prayers!

 I can’t wait to see you next week and tell you ALLLL about it!  I am so excited to once again have a standing covenant with Christ and my husband.  So excited to once again wear a wedding band proudly on my finger, its symbol of a circle never broken, representing the truth.

Great big hugs,

~T

I give you Our Love Story: 

Once Upon A Time: from the Archives

Written May 24th, 2011 

Happy Anniversary, Dale!  I am so blessed that God allowed me to marry you, the man of my dreams! Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love you any more than I already do, I see you scoop up one of our children in a giant daddy bear hug or stoop down low to kiss an owie knee.  When you loving stroke the cheek of our baby as you lay him in his crib, or come up behind me and kiss my neck while I am doing supper dishes, my love for you grows a bit more.   Not just any kind of love, the forever and ever, till death do us part kind of love…… A love that lasts a lifetime.  Happy 9th Anniversary, honey!  I love you! xo ~T

  In honor of our Anniversary, and seeing as how this is my blog’s first year and we are all still getting to know each other, I’d like to tell you the story of how Dale and I met.

Let’s start waaaaaaay back at the beginning………..

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I loved fairy tales, LOVED them, as little girls seem to do.  I played bride and princess and dreamed of my very own Happily Ever After………..

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My little brother, Chad, made such a lovely Maid of Honor! :)

But more often than not, I played Mommy.

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From my kindergarten papers on, if you asked me to tell you what I wanted to be when I grew up, it’d say A Mommy.  I loved children and begged to get to help in the church nursery whenever possible.

Oh, how I wanted to get married, have babies and live happily ever after.

When I turned 13, I was starting to think about my “Mr. Wonderful”, somewhere out there in the world. My parents took me out on a date to what was to me a very “fancy” restaurant…….. Red Lobster  :) and presented me with a Purity Ring in honor of my birthday.  While on this special date, we discussed and wrote out curfews, standards and rules for dating for when I turned 16.  I giggled thinking about it, wondering what my grown up teenage life would be like.

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I went home and wrote my future husband a letter, something I would do from age 13 on, each and every birthday.  I got this idea from a wonderful Christian fiction series called The Christy Miller Series.  I placed that letter in a shoe box and slid it in my closet, full of little girl dreams for the future.

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Fast forward to when I turned 16, the “official” dating age at our house, and I realized I was being asked to do something by the Lord, but I couldn’t figure out what just yet.  Even though I had my parents Ok to date, I was very big into “just being friends” and not having a serious boyfriend, and although I had a major crush or two (or five) in high school and was asked out, I just couldn’t see myself dating anyone! You know, the “Pick you up Friday night at 8” thing, it just didn’t appeal to me really.  Most of my activities were done with a group of people, which I gotta say, is so much fun!

Soon after this, the Lord begin to do a work in my heart towards Emotional Purity as well, not giving pieces of my heart away to each and every heart-throb that came my way and flashed a charming grin!

I decided then and there to take dating VERY seriously.  Very.

As in, let’s-just-be-friends-even-though-I-have-a-big-crush-on-you-until-God-tells-me-differently. Like until God tells me this guy is “THE ONE”.

I had so many questions;

How would I know he was “The One” unless I dated him? 

Why was God asking me to do something so unheard of, so “WEIRD”?

My Junior year, after writing my 3rd “Dear Future Husband” birthday love letter, I sat down and wrote out a “Husband Wish List”.  I listed out all the things that I wanted in a spouse and begin to pray over that list each evening during my quiet time.  It was quite the detailed list!  I wanted him to be a virgin, I wanted him to love children, to be a hard worker, good with money, fun-loving, have nice hands, be a Mr. Fix-it, the Spiritual leader of our home….the list went on and on.  If you know me, this should not surprise you! I am a detail girl!   :)

It seemed I would never find anyone to date if I was going to view them as a future potential spouse and check them against the “What I Want In A Husband” list.  I begin to wonder what was “wrong” with me, or if my standards were too high?  Why couldn’t I just be free and fun, date and be kissed good-night on my front porch by guys that I couldn’t picture myself marrying? Why was I thinking about marriage so much?  Something was holding me back and it would be years before the Lord would reveal to me what He was asking of me.

I graduated from high school with my heart in-tact, memories of best guy Scan_Pic0067friends that made me smile and I left for college, more determined than ever to save my heart for my future husband.  I had been kissed just once during high school, something I instantly regretted, and I knew……the next man that kissed me was going to be my future husband!

I was going to be sure of it!

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I went to a near-by Christian College at my parent’s prompting, though I would’ve happily just stayed home and worked with children.  Things started off great, my room-mate was awesome and college was going to be amazing, I just knew it!

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Half way through my first year of college, a time that is supposed to be one of the best in your life, my world fell apart. Broke in a million pieces.Scan_Pic0113

I will not go into the yucky details, but long story short is, due to devastating circumstances, my parents separated.  This may not seem like a big deal to you in this day and age, it happens all the time, right?  But to me it was as if the rug had been pulled out from under me.  I looked over my life and questioned every bit of it.

Everything I knew to be true, was no longer.

Everything I had been raised to know as truth, was a lie.

But how could it be?

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We were a happy church-going, God-serving family.  Growing up we went on evening bike rides nearly every night, we sat around the kitchen table and played games and ate popcorn on Sunday evenings, we were happy…….

Weren’t we?

I never knew what harm unforgiveness could cause, but I was angry! Ticked at my dad, ticked at the world and ticked at the Lord.  I determined to speak to neither of my Fathers, Heavenly or earthly until further notice.

And I didn’t.

For a whole year. 

It was the darkest time in my young life.  Never had I known such anger and pain.  The Lord spoke to me once, during a weekend at home, that my unforgiveness would kill me.  I told Him I didn’t care.  I wasn’t speaking to my dad and I sure didn’t want to hear from the Lord either.  I turned a cold shoulder and went on my way.  My new motto:  “Life sucks then you die.”

I had never seen my dad cry up to this point, so you can imagine how hard it was one Sunday, when he came up to me after church and with tear-filled eyes and a choked up voice, asked me if he could please take me to lunch.  He told me how much he missed me and loved me.

And I turned and walked away from him.

I went home and bawled my eyes out.  That was my Daddy.  I loved him, but I was SO full of anger I couldn’t even speak to him.  I had no words to say.  I wept bitterly for what my life had become. For the ugliness that boiled and festered inside of me.

I had been driving home from college every weekend at this point, leaving the second classes let out Friday and not heading back until the last possible moment Sunday night for my 8 am class Monday morning….my mom was alone and hurting and she needed me, you know?

One morning as I got out of bed to head back to college, I slid to the side of the bed and stood up.  Well, I tried to stand up.  I couldn’t, instead I doubled over in pain and cried out for my mom to come.  I could not stand up straight or walk.  The Lord had told me my unforgiveness would eventually kill me, and it sure felt like He was right.  Turns out I had a stressed induced issue, resulting in a giant grapefruit-sized cyst on my right ovary.  (Ew, I know, I said ovary.)  Thankfully, I didn’t have to have surgery to remove it, but I knew the Lord was telling me something and that I needed to forgive my dad, and soon.  I spent weeks trying to “get better”, eventually dropping most of my classes and just coasting through the rest of my first year, trying desperately to keep my head above the tide of anger and pain that now consumed me.

Summer break came, my mom and dad reconciled and dad moved back in.  I was PISSED!  How dare she forgive him!  She and I were a team, us against the world of the pigs called men.  I felt betrayed by her and continued to struggle with forgiving him.  We were now on speaking terms, but very cold ones.  I had little to say to him and tried to work as much as possible to stay out of the house.

Scan_Pic0069Back in the day, it was “cool” to cruise Main.  This makes me giggle now to tell you that’s what we did all weekend, but its true.  Gas was less than a buck a gallon, we didn’t go to clubs, there were tons of “hotties” out there cruising too, and I had a convertible;  it was a win-win-win.

What I didn’t know, is that I’d meet the man of my dreams on Main Street, while cruising.  What an UNROMANTIC story!

My car was in the shop, thanks to one of my darling kids I nannied for at the time, “drawing” me a picture on the side of it with a rock.  Oops.  Scan_Pic0083

So that night, I was cruising with my friends in my mom’s Jeep Cherokee, when a group of guys called us over to where they were parked at the bank.

First trip down Main, my friend and I just waved at them and giggled.  We rarely pulled over, it was too scary, much safer to just wave, giggle and keep on driving.  The next loop I noticed it was a guy from my church youth group.  Ok, well he was safe, we’ll pull over for a minute but stay in the car.  We pull in and this gorgeous guy in a white baseball hat (what is it about guy’s in white hats, anyhow?) comes sauntering over.

“Where’s your Mustang?” he asks.

My mouth threatens to drop open, but I try to maintain my “cool”.

“How do you know I drive a Mustang?” I ask.

“I know a lot about you, Tonya.” he says.

My heart leaps into my throat, Hottie in the White Hat knows my NAME?!  I hold in a squeal and I turn to my friend in the passenger seat and mouth silently:

“OH MY GOODNESS, HE IS SO HOT!” 

She agreed.

Long story short, this guy, named Dale, had been watching me for a long time and had been hoping to get to meet me.  He had grown up with the guy I went to Youth Group with.  Deeming him “safe”, I parked the car and we hung out with those guys, parked along Main street, for the rest of the evening.  I couldn’t tell if Dale liked me or my friend, but somehow we left with promises of Roses from him the next time we met on Main.

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True to his word, the next weekend he pulls up to the bank and hops out of his White jeep in his smokin’ hot white hat, all nice and tan in his white cut off sleeve shirt with 2 red roses.  I just KNEW he liked my friend, since she got hers first, but later to my delight, he says to me….

“I wanted to call you this weekend and invite you to my blah blah blah {some youth group event I can’t recall} but I didn’t have your number.”

“Well, if you’d have asked for my phone number a long time ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem, now would’ve it,” I spouted back.

“So can I have it?”  he asks, grinning.

Can you have it? I thought you’d never ask!

No, I didn’t say that, but I THOUGHT it! :)

I write it down on this teeny scrap of paper from my cup holder and give it to him.

Then, “El’ Suave” says, SO unromantically….

“You name the time, you name the place and I’ll pick you up and pay for it.”

WHAT?!

That is NOT how it works!

To be continued…..

~T

P.S.  Look what still lives in Dale’s wallet 11 years later. :)