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

2 Years Ago Today

 What is a date on the calendar really?  

All those little squares, empty and waiting for us to fill with our busy lives.

  A place to jot notes.

 Record and remember important events like birthdays, doctors appointments, school functions, and anniversaries, we can’t forget those…..

  My calendar today has a red circle around the number 10.   

Next to it, a heart with a jagged line running through it, and a year: 2011.

The day & year of Dale’s “Truth”.

d & t

  Could it really only be 2 years ago today, that my world so drastically changed?  

It feels like a LIFETIME has gone by.

  Last year at this time, I bawled my way through the day.  Raw and having just told our story to the world, after keeping it quiet for nearly 9 months.  

  Interesting isn’t it, that just like the timeline of a newborn baby, our story took 9 months to grow and change, to prepare itself for the big reveal on April 30th, 2012.  

 You know, as I sit here and look down at my calendar, it doesn’t MEAN anything.  It doesn’t make my heart race, or skip a beat, no tears come to my eyes.  This year July 10th, is just a date on the calendar.  

  The timeline of the last two years has included brokeness, sharing, fearing our truth, then owning it loudly, obeying when it would’ve been easier to hide, loving, rebuilding, crying and laughing, good days and bad days, forgiveness and bitterness.

  But this date no longer owns me, and I am happy to tell you that today.

d and t

 Because someone, somewhere, is laboring along the same path Dale and I did, raw and broken, barely making it at times. They needed to hear this today.   I am writing to you today, broken one, to give you hope.  

  Hope that even 2 years later, just 2 short years after your truth, you CAN have victory, love, laughter, joy and peace by the supernatural healing of Christ Jesus our Lord.  

IMG_1372 honey

  Most counselors will tell you, that average number of years to heal from infidelity are 5-7.  And that’s ok, you take all the time you need.  But just hear me, that if you allow the Lord to lead every single step in this healing process, in the forgiveness that has to happen, then peace and joy return quickly.  Even 2 years later, you can feel whole and happy again.

  You know, maybe, just maybe, when I transfer important events to my 2014 calendar, I will skip over this one.

July 10th, 2011

  Or, maybe not.

  After all, it is a huge turning point in the timeline of our lives.

 Not for the horror it caused, but for the good that came up out of the muck and mire.  The beauty that came from deep inside those ashes.  The way our love grew deeper and stronger than we EVER thought possible.

What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger.

  July 10th, 2013 makes me proud of us, of how strongly we stand, united by tragedy turned triumph.  Thankful to the Lord for comforting us and carrying us after the fall.  

  Thankful that today is a glorious day, full of sunshine and joy, peace and hope………

  A date, is just a date.  

A calendar holds no meaning to our Lord, for His timeline is vastly different than our own.

I am glad for that.

~T

holding hands

Love. Wins.

The lines under her eyes tell a story…….

DSC_0077

They speak of Weariness. 

Loss.  DSC_0030

Strength. 

DSC_0252

A great War, Waged and Won.

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The strength of his stance speaks of great Courage, DSC_0282

The shine in his eyes a testament of Hope.DSC_0275

A man who has faced his demons head on,DSC_0227

A man who has Victory.DSC_0112

These Pictures weave a story of a Love,

Shattered & Lost, DSC_0036

Found & Reclaimed,DSC_0032

Reborn & Renewed.  DSC_0108

These pictures may not shout of the tragedy, tears, broken hearts, or broken dreams……DSC_0056

Instead, they whisper…..

that in the rubble of a broken marriage,

In the mess and sorrow of it all,DSC_0138-2

Hope was born.

Just a glimmer at first.

DSC_0058

  Too fragile to even move towards touching it, lest it be snuffed out……

But it grew.

DSC_0053

It grew stronger and brighter until it was grasped with two hands,

DSC_0257

Two hearts crying out for healing. 

Crying out for Wholeness.DSC_0028

Reaching for a Love, Deeper than ever before.DSC_0133

Brokeness made into Strength.

DSC_0260

Tears turned into Courage.

DSC_0024

Hope springing into Laughter

DSC_0103

and Love,

DSC_0063

The kind that goes down deep with its roots.  DSC_0278

For it has weathered a ferocious storm,DSC_0193

And strong it stands, DSC_0185

On Promises anew.DSC_0195

2 circles unbroken.DSC_0204

Promises of forever.DSC_0174

Whispers under the covers,DSC_0157

Water fights in the kitchen,DSC_0175

A hug at the end of a long day.DSC_0196

Freedom.DSC_0262

Fidelity.
DSC_0269

And Hope.
DSC_0270

Always Hope.DSC_0242

Even in the midst of utter Despair.DSC_0250

In the angry moments of WHY?DSC_0150

In the sad moments of quiet acceptance of a “Truth” I don’t want,DSC_0176

In the heart swelling moments of a Love

So deep…..

So great, that it brings tears to your eyes.DSC_0038

In the moments I forget to Forgive,DSC_0198

In the moments I don’t.DSC_0159

Hope is there, DSC_0225

Underneath it all.

DSC_0285

Hope in Jesus.

DSC_0249

In a new Creation….

DSC_0179

In Brokeness made Whole.

DSC_0289

For behold, He makes all things NEW.

  Happy 11th Anniversary {tomorrow} to the LOVE of my life……

DSC_0265

I know we are weary.

DSC_0251

I know the road to total healing is a long one. 

DSC_0102

I know we are still working out the kinks of this new life of ours. 

 DSC_0273

But, never, ever forget, that…..

I. Choose. Us.  DSC_0065

Now,DSC_0113

Always,DSC_0025

I give you all of me….DSC_0238

From now until forever. 

DSC_0255Because Love Wins.

Do you hear that?

Love. Wins.

DSC_0287

~T

Photos by the talented Melissa. Check out her blog, Voice, for more of her amazing work!!!!

 

Spring Break 2013: Florida Road Trip

  Dale and I are still on the mend from our year of tragedy turned triumph. I know it, because we still get weary of life and its demands more than we used to.  We had been hoping for some time away from life these past few months, and wouldn’t you know, the Lord provided!  :)

  Dale’s grandparents, who he lived with on the farm all during high school, needed someone to drive their truck from Florida back home. {They are Florida Snow Birds.} So, they were gracious enough to fly both Dale AND I to Florida to help them load the truck and drive it back. 

  We were so excited! Everything was going well until the night before our flight, I realize I can’t find my wallet.

Which means I can’t find my ID. 

Which means I can’t fly, right!?

   I tore our luggage, my car and our home apart.  OH MY WORD.  No wallet.

What was I going to do? 

  After many, many tears, and much research on Google, I packed an old Drivers licence in my maiden name, my birth certificate, and my SS card, all with my maiden name on them. THEN, I threw in our Marriage license because it showed I was indeed the Tonya Ferguson on the ticket after all. 

  You better believe I barely slept a wink from 12-2 worrying about it, and we got up at 3 am to get ready to go. {YAWN!}  Praise God, they were satisfied with all my ID’s and let me on the plane with no trouble at all, just a joking hint that it’d cost me my cute earrings to get on the plane.

PHEW.  

Know where my wallet was?

At Target.  

Where I had run errands the day before with all 4 kids and somewhere in the commotion of coats and bags, left it in the cart.  

Target, where I had JUST been that night, only hours before our trip, making a return with Dale.  Never even guessing my missing wallet was behind the service desk counter, turned in by some nice lady the day before, trip cash and all!  

Seriously, what are the odds?!    But at least it was safe and sound!

Blog collage 1

5 hours later, we were in Sunny FLORIDA!  {not so sunny, more like COLD, but oh well!} That didn’t stop us from being lazy in the sun!

blog 2

IMG_4889 

  While we were there, we stayed at my Dad and Drea’s home.  They live close by to Dale’s Grandparents, small world, right!? 

  It was QUIET there with no kids, and we were able to go out to dinner late at night and everything! Just like real grown ups. 

Haha! It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that. 

collage 3

We had a great time and got some much needed shopping done for all of us.  They have the BEST bargain stores there!  blog 6

Great food, great company, just an all around amazing time!

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  Before we knew it, Grandpa’s were packed up and ready to fly home, and our short little trip was up.

  On the way out-of-state, we stopped in at my brother, Chad and sis in law, Lauren’s home to kiss on my sweet baby nephews, Colby & Brayden.   They are getting SO big!

blog 4blog 5

Then it was back on the road again, this time 5 more hours upstate {Florida is SOOO long!} to surprise a life long friend at her Beach Wedding! You may remember Kris & Melissa from their engagement session I shared recently.

IMG_4480v.jpg

  We caught sweet Melissa off guard.  She came over the wooden bridge towards her groom and the beach wedding location and her jaw hit the floor.  She told us later, she almost cried. That made our long drive totally worth it!
It was such an honor to be able to be there to witness their I Do’s. 
Only the Lord could work out the details to such perfection, that we’d be there not only the day of her wedding, but able to make the time of her ceremony as well. 

The wedding photographers contract said no cameras at the wedding, so I only have a few of the before shots.  It was such a beautiful wedding!!!!! I snagged what I could before packing the camera away.  I didn’t want any trouble! Winking smile 

  Long before we wanted to leave, it was time to hit the road again, this time for 16 more hours of driving.  All went smoothly, until we got into some bad weather in Texas.  We just rode it out a bit at a gas station, and praise God it passed quickly without the hail they predicted!

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  We spent a grand total of 22 hours of travel and poor, poor Dale drove straight through so we could see the kids before school started up the next day.  He took 2, 45 minute naps. I was blessed to sleep in 3 hour increments in the back seat of the truck.  Poor guy, after we got home and played with the kids a bit, he crawled to bed at 5 for a nap, and slept until 7 the next morning!

  Oh, I almost forgot to tell you.  This is so exciting!  A friend of ours from here, has some BFF’s down in Florida that do photography. 

  So, knowing all we had been through these past few years, she made a couple calls, and got us hooked us up with a Couples Session on the beach!  {squeeeee!} 

  The following photos are taken by Drea, she and Dad hung out and watched our shoot.  Before you go, I want to share some of my favorites with you…..she did a great job capturing moments even though we totally were looking at another photographer the whole time!

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We had so much fun, with some serious, intimate shots…..

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And NOT so serious moments in the mix! 

We call this next photo, “Parents of 4”…..

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And let’s not forget some Beach side planking with a little Ta Da thrown in…..

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  In all seriousness, this opportunity was a big deal to us.  You have to remember, the last time we were there, Dale re-proposed to me on the beach, as we were fighting for our marriage after “the truth”. 

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2 years and a whole lot of healing later, it was so amazing to have a photo session on the beach in honor of all that had taken place.

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Mel and Jen were so fun to work with, I wish I had thought to get a photo of THEM! They were such sweet girls, and we all had a blast! Even though it was WINDY and super cool out.

  Check out this next shot, we were trying to get our feet tangled for a shoe shot, it was so not easy!  

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  Drea did such a good job capturing all the little moments during our photo shoot! 

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I will have to wait to share the pictures from the actual shoot until I get the disk and release from the photographers, but I just HAD to share some of these today too. 

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  I am proud of how far we have come.  It’s been a long, long weary road……..timeline

  But God is so, so faithful to walk with us every step of the way! ~T

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Branson Getaway: Part 2

This is a post about our Branson trip, but it’s the second half, head back one post to get caught up.

   We had just arrived at Silver Dollar City…..

Where we watched local craftsman, listened to folk and gospel music, rode fun rides and ate some good home cookin’.

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Be still my heart…….

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The Breakfast of Champions

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After our, oh so healthy, breakfast….we headed to Marvel Cave. A one hour tour that is actually what started Silver Dollar City!

Marvel Cave is known for being one of the largest caves in Missouri, having one of the largest cave entry rooms (the Cathedral Room) of any cave in North America, and for being one of the longest running tourist attractions in the Ozarks.

If you can’t stoop and fit through here to enter the area to wait in line, you might as well just go do something else, because the cave gets very narrow and very low at times!

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The Cathedral Room is one of the largest cave entrance rooms found in North America. The room measures 204 feet high, 225 feet wide, and 411 feet long. Entrance to the cave is made through a sink hole which is 94’ deep. Two large openings are at the bottom of the sink. On July 7, 1963 an underground altitude record was set by Don Piccard, by flying a hot air balloon around the massive room. Later, in 1994 five hot air balloons were flown simultaneously in the Cathedral Room in celebration of the 100th year anniversary of giving cave tours.

Yes, it’s THAT big!

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Looking down….

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After all that walking, an hour total…the cable train pulls you the last 218 feet out!

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After that, we had fun walking around…..

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Watching some crafters at work,

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Rode some rides, and walked through Grandfather’s Crazy Mansion with sloped floors…

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Then, this happened.

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Which equals this:

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After waiting a half hour in a food joint, we decided to head back to the condo, and change into warm, dry clothes and wait out the rain storm there. I couldn’t stop chattering, so I took a swim in the jacuzzi tub. You know its going to be a good soak when you walk in the bathroom and the bubbles are all the way past the top of the tub!!!!!

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I left the camera in the condo to dry out, but wished I had taken it back to Silver Dollar City for the AMAZING concert we got to see at the parks close. They offer it for any guest at no additional charge, and it was one of the best ones we have seen!

Branson has something they call, “The Strip”, like Vegas has, but smaller, cleaner and nicer. My favorite part about this town, is unlike Vegas, it is full of the Good News of Jesus Christ. People aren’t afraid to speak, pray and sing about Him at their concerts, or even write a note to Him on their billboards. You can feel the Spirit of the Lord everywhere you go! LOVED it!

There were bad tornadoes recently, and a lot of damaged buildings…thus the sign.

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Just in case you were confused, this building is SUPPOSED to look like this. :) The kids saw this picture, and thought maybe the tornado got ‘em.

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After much debate, we decided to do the 2 hour Titanic museum instead of some of the other light-hearted ones. It was fascinating!

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No cameras allowed inside, so no photos of it, but we were each handed a passenger to “be” as we walked through. At the end you found out if you were a survivor or not.

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  Along the way you got to see a stateroom, the grand staircase, feel the crisp, damp, FREEZING air “on deck” of the ship overlooking a starry night. We walked up a length of flooring the exact steepness that night as the ship slowly sank below surface. We also stuck our hands in FREEEEEEEEZING water that the people floated in for up to 20 minutes before hypothermia set in and they passed away. It was horribly cold, I could only stand it about 30 seconds before my finger tips started to sting.  It was well worth it, I’d recommend it to anyone!

 We wanted to go out nice, just once before we headed home, in honor of 10 year anniversary and of course, Beauty from Ashes. Drea bought me a little black dress for my 30th birthday, and I had yet to wear it. IMG_2537_thumb1

This trip seemed like the perfect time to use it! Guess what? It fit!

We went out to eat at this great restaurant called Cosmopolitan….where we had a FANTASTIC 3 course meal. {Special deal of $20 each!!!!!!! PTL!}

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And then headed to the SIX concert afterwards…..

Each of the singers had a Camaro in “their” color parked out front.

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SIX is six (of 10) brothers that sing together, a capella. They are voted best show on the strip for a reason! We highly recommend this hilarious and jaw dropping show with amazing vocals, sound effects and humor!!!!!

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What a great way to end an AMAZING 5 days!

We headed out early Tuesday morning to go see our babies, the trip home seemed to take forever.

We walked in to 4 VERY excited Ferguson’s and a very tired Nana.

And, these:

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Turns out, our friend Miss Kalene had come over to help the children make a special welcome home for us! Ball jars with painted treasures, and a huge Ball jar full of rocks and sunflowers!!!! What a great surprise!!!!!!

She sent me this collage later, of them working on it….precious.

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Oh and poor, poor lil’ Peanut got hit in the eye with a match box car by Paxton and now has a lovely shiner to show for it.  And the rug burn on her nose is from a tussle session with Tylan.

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We came home just in time for school to start the next day!!!!

Praise the Lord for His provisions for this trip, and for great friends, aunts and Nana’s that made it possible for us to go. He knew we were starving for time to invest in US, as a couple.  As Dale and Tonya, learning to live, laugh and love all over again.  I came home to a busy reality, but for the first time in over a year, I am content with Dale and I.  No longer starving, but full and satisfied.  Thank you, Jesus!

What a perfect ending to a great summer….

~T

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Branson Getaway: Part 1

  Dale and I had the opportunity to get away from life for a few days the end of August.  It was such a God-thing the way it all worked out, from a friend willing to let us use their time share any where in the world, right down to the available dates being the same as mom’s days off! 

  Of COURSE we’d have loved to somewhere exotic, or even back to Maui, like we did for our honeymoon!  However, we had to realistic on how long we could be gone, and it had to be affordable, only using the money I had saved up from photo sessions this past year…which meant we were driving! 

  So, Nana moved in with our 4 little Ferguson’s, 1 dog, 27 chickens, and 6 barn cats, and we took off for Branson, MO. 

For 5 days!

WOO HOO! 

  The last time we got away for an extended time, was to Palm Springs with Dale’s work, when we were just first pregnant with Tylan, 6 whole years ago.  This trip was JUST what we needed after a tough year!

  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have photos to share, so you better bet the rest of this post will be filled with them!  And of course, we have a number of self portraits since I didn’t want to keep explaining to people how to use my camera.  :)

  Friday morning, on the road:

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Dale’s sweet Momma packed us an AMAZING picnic lunch for the road!  Prime rib sandwiches and more…..

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Dale is having “See Food” apparently……

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Classy honey, real classy.

She also sent some appetizers that we enjoyed later in that weekend….

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Not quite 7 hours later, we start seeing the hills of Missouri!

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This is my “You Are My Sunshine” pendant that hangs from my rear view mirror. It has all the kiddos names on it,  I HAD to photograph it, because I was already missing them!

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The Condo we stayed in was BRAND new and gorgeous!!!!

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Entryway hall

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To the right, our room and bathroom…..

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Down the hall a bit, and to the left…..a room with JUST enough beds for our 4 little Fergusons and a whole bathroom for them to boot.  I have to admit, momentarily, I was like…..

”Awwww, they could’ve come!” 

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Then I remembered how ready for Dale & Tonya time we were! :)  Never mind.

Family room, dining room and kitchen….

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Back porch

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The first couple days, we just vegged out at the pool, or in our room. 

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  Saturday evening we headed to The Landing, a really cool place to walk around, shop, eat and watch the Water and Fire show.

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We had promised the kids that if they were good, and got 5 stars on their sticker chart while we were gone, then we’d bring them a surprise.

  I didn’t want to do cheap toys or souvenir trinkets, so when I saw this Candy Emporium, I knew, the way to my 4 little Ferguson’s hearts, letting them actually have…..

{gasp}

CANDY! 

Not just any candy…the coolest candy in the whole store…….

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Snakes. 

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BIG long gummy ones!

  So this is like the most unflattering picture ever, but the kids found it totally hysterical, so here you go…..

The Attack of the Killer Gummy Snakes

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A nice lady with a fancy camera, took our photo in front of the water show……..

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  This water and fire show is set to music, and goes every hour, I believe. It was AMAZING!  And it was FREEEEEE!

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Sunday, we headed to my FAVORITE place in the whole world….

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   But that, my friends, is in post 2 for today!

Come on over…..

So Long For Now……

  A portion of this post from the archives, the rest……

From my Heart.

  As couple after couple, call us, write us or email, pleading with us to help them put together the shattered pieces of their lives and marriage.  To merely be used as a vessel by the Lord, to pour clean water over them and help point them in the right direction, I once again realized we are in a battle…..

A CONSTANT battle to keep our eyes on Jesus.  With satan working overtime throwing things at us left, right, left, right, chucking things under our feet to make us stumble.  Shrieking with glee when he succeeds.

Because BUSY means Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke.

We MUST keep our eyes on Jesus.

We MUST not break our focus for a mere moment.

We MUST not let anything divide our families, our homes, our marriages.

  Our packed calendars rob us of family time, devotion time, prayer time, alone time….

Clear ‘em!!!!

Clear those calendars.

Make date night with your spouse a priority. Don’t just say it, make it happen.

Make family dinner a non-negotiable.

Family dinner

Nothing is more important than family.

No job more important then pointing your kids towards Jesus.

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  We MUST not let Social Media rob us of conversations during home time….

Leave the cell phone on the charger in the laundry room when you walk in the door; the texts can wait, Facebook can wait.  We MUST not let TV and Computer, iPhones and ipads steal precious playtime moments…leave them off until nap/bedtime if you have young children. 

  Don’t answer the phone during dinner, if its important, they’ll leave you a message and you can call them afterwards. Show your kids with your actions, just how important dinner time is.  Spend that time VISITING about the day, not staring at the TV.  Our family loves to do “Good, Bad and Blessing” going around the table and each family member shares their good, bad and blessing from the day….try it! You may just love it.

  Help your kids make good choices about how many “extra” activities they can be a part of.  What happened to the days of letting kids be KIDS?
Just playing. Imagining. Exploring. Sending them out to play and ride bikes until porch lights came on and our moms called us home for dinner.

  Remember, for EVERY activity you chose to enroll your kids in, you are taking from the “Family Pie” of time together time.  There are only so many pieces to go around before you are left with crumbs.

   Sacrifices are made each and every time we say YES to something else.  We are raising a generation of busy kids, who in turn will become adults that need to be “busy” because they’ve never learned to just relax, stay home and be still.  

    And let’s not forget the love of our life, and the time we must spend with them.  Sit with your husband or wife for at minimum of THIRTY MINUTES of face to face time each evening.  Face to face, not staring at the tv together, looking at each other.  Surely your favorite show, or email inbox can wait?! 

Who is to be our number one human priority as directed by God’s word? 

Our spouse. 

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Show them!  Use that face to face time to learn something about them that you didn’t know 24 hours ago.  Look them in the eyes and remember all the reasons you fell in love with them.  Do this and watch your marriage blossom and grow.  Set a stinkin’ timer if you have to. 

JUST DO IT.

  Wherever you are, be ALL there.  I am not preaching to you, I am preaching to ME! We all need to evaluate how our time is being spent!!!!!!!

Cause guess what satan says?

Every time you are not talking to your kids…..

I AM.

 Every time you are not working towards growing with your spouse,

I AM MAKING SURE YOU ARE BACKSLIDING.

When you are too busy?

I AM NOT.

I seek to destroy your marriage and family. I hate it and I hate you.  It would be my pleasure to use your lack of time together for harm, for evil, as a tool to ultimately destroy your lives.

When we don’t chose God every moment of every day, we automatically default to satan.

Think about that for a moment……pretty tough to swallow, isn’t it? 

  I don’t want to default to satan ever.   I seem to spend a lot of my time fighting off his attacks on my home and marriage, while balancing a really full calendar full of photography appointments, upcoming blogs I need to write, projects I said I’d be a part of, things I need to get accomplished around my home.  It all just feels like too much.  Like I have been doing a balancing act for too long, unsuccessfully.

Friends, I need a break. 

  Somewhere along the last year of fighting for my marriage and maintaining “regular life”, I have lost my focus.  I feel as if I have missed an entire year with my family while I was hurting, healing, seeking, sharing and forgiving.  The last year can not be viewed as a loss, it’s can’t…..

For it SAVED us. Praise His name!

  I am not sure what to say except, I need to cut back somewhere, and one of the places is the blog.  It takes my last piece of the “Family Pie” and I only have crumbs to offer the ones I love most. I am also cutting back in other areas, including how many photography appointments I take every week, as the editing process takes much time from family, too.

  As an overly busy summer draws to a close, I need time to be Mommy, playing on the floor in the living room or out jumping on the trampoline. I need time to be Wife, relaxing on the couch next to her husband, unwinding after a long day. I need time to do something for me, like curl up with a Christian novel during nap time, on a couch I haven’t sat on regularly in MONTHS. 

Mostly, I just need to BE STILL.

That’s what it really all boils down to, isn’t it?

Being still. 

Tylan came up to my desk the other day during nap time:

“Mommy’s are busy, aren’t they?”

Yes buddy, Mommy’s have a lot of jobs to do!

“You’re a mommy that takes pictures now too, aren’t you?”

Yup.

“You write your blog……”

I do!  {Now, I am wondering now, where he is going with this…….}

“Mommy?”

Yes, buddy.

“I miss when you were just my mom.”

Oh honey bear, I am so so very sorry.

  I am taking 3 weeks off of blogging to think, pray, evaluate how my time can be best spent, and mostly……

To be still. 

I will miss you, friends, but I’ll be back soon, check back with me around Labor Day. 
It’s time this Momma shows her family where her priorities are…….

  ~T

 

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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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