Friday, June 30, 2006

Take a breath

Really. I mean it. Take a breath. With all that’s going on: career, family, hobbies, church, activities…uh, reading my blog! When do you take the opportunity to just relax and take a break?

Try it now: Inhale (through your nose). Exhale (through your mouth). Again: Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Okay. I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel better.

I was having a little panic attack in the shower last night (no big deal, just a little hyperventilating) when I had to tell myself to “just breathe.” I could have made the decision to go into full overwhelmed mode, but I didn’t; I decided to just breathe. Breathing helped me get myself together enough to “just pray.” Well, I guess it was more of a “crying out” than a prayer, but I know you understand me.

And that’s when I started to think about you. I know that sometimes life, and everything going on within it, can get overwhelming. Despite that it’s always necessary to take a moment, slow down, breathe and pray.

Even when you can’t find all the fancy words for some big, theological prayer God is still listening. He hears you saying, “Lord, please help me.” Or “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Even when there isn’t time to get on your knees and close your eyes, He’s still listening for you. Waiting for you. Just call on Him.

Before anyone starts to hit the “comment” button, let me add now that I know it’s imperative for a true, strong, close relationship with God that we do spend time “on our knees” in an in-depth and fervent prayer! So, don’t panic! Now, where was I? ...

You can also take that same approach – slow down, breathe and pray – when you get in sticky situations. Like when it’s late at night and you want to engage in some sexual, self-gratification. (You know what I mean!) Just stop, take a moment, slow down, breathe and pray. When you find yourself in a passionate embrace: slow down, breathe and pray.

That’s when God can come in and do His part. Your phone may ring and your accountability partner will be on the other end. Someone will knock on the door. Or – even better – you’ll be convicted enough to change and stop the situation.

As you go into another weekend, don’t forget: slow down, breathe and pray.

"Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight."– Helen Keller

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Virgins & the Covenant

Has anyone thought, “I wish I’d never had sex then I wouldn’t have to make this covenant?” or “It would be so much easier to abstain if I were a virgin.” Shame on you… that’s not necessarily true. SIDEBAR: There we go again thinking that the grass is greener on the other side.

The fact of the matter is virgins also struggle with abstaining from sex. For some, they don’t have a mental picture of themselves engaging in sexual behavior, but they have the same urges. They watch the same shows. And they’re faced with the same temptations. You know the guy (or girl!) who comes on a little too strong and almost breaks your resolve.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never had sex, had sex only once or took many partners to bed; you’re all in the same boat. The boat is called “Desire to Do Right,” your shipmates are other Christian singles and your life preserver is Jesus Christ.

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” Alexandre Dumas

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stop the presses.

The previous post (yesterday’s) caused such an uproar or, should I say, backlash. Let me be clear: I believe that while you’re single you should focus on being single. I am not saying that I believe you should never get married. Yes, I did say that in my experience it would be in your best interest to remain single as long as possible.

You know the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”? Well, that applies to everything. A lot of times, single people believe that they’ll be happier when they get married. The same applies to poor people, fat people, young people. The think, “When I ____________ (get money, lose weight, get older) things will be better.”

That’s not necessarily true.

The other part of this is that if you allow people’s opinions, viewpoints or putdowns to affect how you conduct yourself then yes that could also change – or “put a kink in” – your relationship with God. Before you’re married you have an awesome opportunity to put your all into your relationship with God then nothing can shake it, change it or hinder it. I don’t think I need to explain that any further, but feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts, criticisms…

“If you are close enough to someone to know they have a problem, you are close enough to help.” – Bruce Cotter, author, speaker & interventionist.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

So, you were celibate, right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about being married, which a lot of you know that I am. Why in the world is a married woman writing about celibacy? Seems odd, huh? Not really. Check out my bio for more information on that, but I’ll just tell you that I haven’t always been married. I’ve had to deal with being a single Christian just like you’re doing now.

At the time I decided to live a celibate lifestyle, I wasn’t actually living a godly or Christ-like lifestyle. However, I made a decision to not “give it up” until I was married. It was something I committed to on my own. The reason, for me, was clear: I really wanted to be married and not one man I had given the goods to had actually married me. “Hmmm?” I thought. “There’s something wrong with this picture.”

Hence my commitment to myself. When I rededicated my life to Christ, my first thought was, “Oh no, now I really can’t have sex!” :-) Five years later, on my wedding night, was when I “broke” that covenant. I obtained a ring and put my covenant in writing.

Now almost four years into my marriage I realize that I coulda stayed celibate a little while longer. Yes, you read that right. Pay attention here: There’s nothing more precious than your relationship with God and sometimes a marital relationship can put a little kink in it. On top of that, if you’ve been single for awhile – you know, an “older” single person – then it would be in your best interest to remain that way as long as possible. That’s just my opinion.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 16, 2006

The weekend is here. Ut oh, time for a booty call.

How many of you are surprised by today’s title? Well, don’t be. What you should be surprised with is how many unmarried Christians are having sex: about 70 percent.

The reason for my title is that a friend of mine recently asked me if I had updated my blog. “Yes,” I said, “On Thursday.” He said, “Good, the weekend’s coming.” And he laughed.

I wasn’t that tapped into what he was saying because my mind was elsewhere, but later I realized what he meant. It’s when the pace of the week slows and the weekend kicks in that many Christian singles feel a little lonely. They have a little extra time on their hands from Friday night after work until Sunday night.

So, what should you do during the weekend when you’re feeling a little lonely?

1) Plan ahead. Don’t wait until Friday night to figure out what you’re going to do for the weekend.
2) Stop night owl-ing. Don’t stay up late just because you don’t have to get up early in the morning. It’s the late-night hours that cause you to thinking about getting a little frisky.
3) No “visiting” and “hanging out.” This one will get you every single time. Do not spend your time hanging out with an ex-girlfriend, a close friend of the opposite sex (especially someone you’re particularly comfortable with)… that means no bible study, no movies as just friends, don’t get together to talk or any of the other many reasons lonely people can think of to get together with the opposite sex.
4) Stay prayerful. Have a dedicated devotional (praise & worship) time throughout the entire weekend. That will keep your mind on God and keeping your mind on God will keep your mind off sex.
5) Read the word. Find out what God says about things that you’re dealing with in your life. Concentrate on areas of your life that you need to grow in: finances, work, stewardship, etc.

Other things you can do are participate in a hobby, volunteer at a community center or hospital, write a book, take up a sport… there are a variety of activities and things you can do that don’t cost money that will keep you busy.

Remember: Just because you’re alone, you don’t have to be lonely.

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Putting Your Covenant in Writing

Putting your covenant in writing can be … uh, well… fun – for lack of a better word. For someone like me who likes to be a little creative, putting the covenant in writing is fun. First, type your covenant. There’s no tried and true way that it has to be worded, but here is a general example for you to follow:

I, insert your name here, have committed to a celibate lifestyle until I am united in holy matrimony with the spouse that God has intended for me. I make this covenant before God who is partnering with me and supporting me in my decision to remain celibate until marriage. I commit to fleeing fornication (Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body – I Corinthians 6:18). By signing below I indicate my official and solemn promise to God, and myself, to remain celibate until marriage.

Right before the lines where the signatures are going to go you can put Amos 3:3: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” Don’t forget to date it.

Don’t forget to give your certificate a title -- somethin g like: My Celibacy Covenant, My Promise to God to Remain Celibate ‘til Marriage or whatever title you think fits the best.

Second, choose a nice piece of colored paper to print your covenant on. You want something that is appealing to the eye and suitable for hanging. If you didn’t put a border around your text in the Word document (or whatever program you used) then you can choose paper that has a border or design on it.

Third, have your accountability partner sign the document with you. Don’t forget to choose an accountability partner who is like-minded. Someone you trust and who will earnestly pray for you. Do not, do not, do not choose a person of the opposite sex who you are attracted to.

I shouldn’t have to go into detail about this, but this is one of the things that cause well-intentioned singles to fall. Choosing an accountability partner (prayer partner, hanging out buddy… whatever you want to call them) who is someone you’re interested in or attracted to is asking for trouble. It’s best that the person be a good friend of the same sex and it’s even better if it is someone who you consider a mentor or elder in your life.

Fourth, purchase a frame and hang your covenant where you can see it everyday on a regular basis. It should serve as a reminder – just like your covenant ring. A word about your ring: A lot of people will have purchased their ring by the time they put their covenant in writing, but if you haven’t found the right ring for you don’t rush it. I know a couple of people who took a few months searching for their ring. Someone even told me God had given them a vision of what their ring looked like.

As you’re doing all of this be sure to stay prayerful. Keep your mind on God and He will continually lead you.

I’m proud of you for making it this far. God is proud of you as well… and that’s what matters most.

"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans." Peter Drucker

Friday, June 09, 2006

Comments please!

While shopping with my oldest daughter the other day, I saw an old friend who told me he had viewed my blog and thought it was great! “A lot of people need to read that… it’ll help a lot of people including me,” he said. He had one suggestion though: Update often!

When I started writing this blog I told you I would update at least twice a week, but a couple of weeks ago I had some problems at home that prevented me from doing everything I needed to do. Now I’m starting to get back in the swing of things, but updating this blog – although I love the subject, the writing and the blog – seems to be for my own usage. No one is commenting, or offering feedback, to let me know if you’re reading or not! (Thanks to the couple of people who have left comments.)

So, will you please do something for me? Commit to reading and commenting on my blog at least once a week and sending the link to your friends. My commitment to you will be to continuously update the blog at least twice a week.

Do we have a deal?

Come back on Tuesday to read an example of how your written covenant should be worded!

Today’s thought: "Be sure your brain is engaged before putting your mouth in gear."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Now what? Find an accountability partner

Posting to a blog regularly has proven more difficult than I originally anticipated; however, despite my recent absence I am back and ready to continue.

Once you’ve made your promise to God to remain celibate until marriage and obtained a symbol of your promise (like the ring I told you about on March 28th), write your promise down and have someone witness it.

“People need to always find somebody with whom they can be accountable because we don’t mind letting ourselves down, but we don’t want to … let somebody else down who’s depending on you, who’s praying for you, who’s believing that you can do this,” Bishop Dale C. Bronner said. “That gives us extra power. One put a thousand to flight, but two 10,000. Just having one other person in agreement to what you’re doing, that you make yourself accountable to, makes you not two times as strong, but 10 times as strong. Your strength becomes exponential.”

Bishop also advised that finding a friend who has the same covenant can offer strength to the both of you. “That can become therapeutic and help you vent your frustrations. That becomes your support group. That says you’re not the only person doing this and you can draw strength.
“If people would be bold enough to get serious, to count the cost and then make a covenant God will come in and become a part of that thing. We laid the sacrifice on the altar and He lets the fire of heaven fall and consume that sacrifice. A lot of singles miss it because they never commit to anything – they don’t want to be committed. … You’re only committed to what you confess.”

Who are you going to ask to be your accountability partner? Make sure you choose someone who has the same beliefs and convictions as you do as well as someone who is going to be encouraging and in prayer for you.

My final thought for today: “Let nothing get in your way. Failure is never an option.” - Donald Trump