Saturday, 30 June 2012

Photo Challenge: Day 13

“When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now… When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” 
– C.S. Lewis

Gifts from my Loves

 Today a bouquet of flowers from my handsome man arrived for me for the very first time, just as I sat down in the sunshine of the balcony to do my bible study.

And it made me very very happy-- My heavenly love and my earthly one, both going out of their way to remind me that they love me; God in giving me His Word, and Charles in having a bouquet delivered to me :) I LOVE being given flowers!

I'm still learning to rest in those loves, but my heart is overflowing with thankfulness....

Photo Challenge: Days 11 & 12

Day 11:
Waiting at the Bus Stop

Day 12:
A Swedish Child's Room

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Literally 'Oppressed'

Sometimes I find Sweden just about the most discouraging place in the entire world.

My gorgeous Grandma and I last New Year's Day
Back home, my Grandma has been taken into hospital and for a moment a few days ago I thought I would be jumping on the next plane out. Thankfully, we saw some signs of recovery and she's been stabilised. She's in a great deal of pain due to fractures in her back, and she's suffering from pneumonia on top of her pre-existing congestive heart failure. Her kidneys are also on their way to needing dialysis. When her heart nearly stopped a few nights ago, it forced me to come to terms with the fact that this season of life Grandma's entered is very precarious. And I need to be ready to say goodbye.

I have been crying for days. But slowly coming to terms with the nature of life and death. And also hoping and praying HARD! I am due back in the country in October and could stay a rather indefinite amount of time. Months and months of treasuring good times with Grandma up for when this season reaches its end. But between then and now I have obligations and commitments already sorted on this side of the pond-- including a few ministry events in England in August, and even a speaking engagement (eek!!!). And firstly, to see out one last (please, God!) month in Sweden.

I've been feeling pretty fed up with it lately. I've been feeling like "what's it all for?" I've been aching over the fact that so many here (and everywhere) just don't want to know Him. Just plain don't want to. Here it's a matter of pride and self-sufficiency-- "I don't need God. He loves me? I don't care. I don't think He's real anyway." It starts to feel like banging my head, or maybe my heart because that's far more tender, against a brick wall. Lord, why have me so far away from my family, living so uncomfortably homeless, making barely enough money to eek by on, if no one cares what you have to say through me anyway? I just wanna be holding Grandma's hand, and instead I find myself here. And my mother back home says, "Just come home!" like it's that easy. 

Fed.Up. And a little bit heartbroken. I feel like I've been here pouring out my heart for the people He's led me to and whom I have grown to love. But to no avail. I feel so worn out...

In my bible study this morning, I was looking at Daniel 7:25. I'm in pretty deep territory at the moment, studying eschatological prophecy. So it's not as if every verse is speaking deeply to my soul. Ha! But in this verse it's basically talking about how the enemy will oppress the people of God. And I learned that the literal meaning of the word oppress in Daniel 7:25 is "to wear away," or "to wear out" just like one would wear out a garment.

Wow, does that ever sound familiar to me. How often in my years here have I just felt all but spent? Worn out like a ragged, old garment. I don't mean to be hyper-spiritual or creepy or anything, but I reckon Sweden is one of the countries that the enemy has won so much ground in that he works extra hard to oppress those who try to win some of that ground back for the Kingdom of God...

Here's the thing I have to cling to, though-- God's Kingdom has already won. When Jesus went to the cross, He made a way for everyone to believe and be saved. Even in Sweden. I suppose that's why it's so discouraging when no one wants to know that...

Why would someone not want to know that there is unconditional love waiting for them? That it's always been for them, and is drawing them all along (Jeremiah 31:3). That is precisely what all of us, at our very cores, are longing for, searching for, working for... Why would someone not want to know that there is grace and forgiveness for EVERYthing they've ever done, every time they've tripped up, every action they carry around with them, perpetually trying to justify and yet never fully forgiving themselves for (Romans 3:24)? Why would someone not want this Holy Lover who doesn't just save us and then leave us, but continually walks with us, continually works with us to become more and more like Him (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)-- full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? And will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5b). Why would someone not want the power that He holds out to us every single day (Ephesians 1:19-20) to face this hard life? Why would someone not want to know that that hard life has a purpose beyond what they can see (Romans 8:28)? Why would someone not want the kind of friendships which encourage and build them up, selflessly and without false motives, refreshing to the soul like my Christian friendships are (1 Thessalonians 5:11)? Not to mention an eternity in heaven, living as life was meant to be lived, not this painful, unsatisfying thing it is (Romans 8:18-25)...

What is there to gain in never asking Him to help you believe? All I can see is just that there is everything to lose in NOT asking...

But it makes no difference MY knowing it. And so I fight to finish out my July here with some modicum of joy...

Please pray, friends; please pray. Why would anyone still choose not to choose belief? Pray that those I'm here with in Sweden will try....

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
– G. K. Chesterton

[A verse for me tonight-- maybe you're needing it too?: "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." -- Hebrews 10:35-36]

Photo Challenge: Days 7, 8, 9 & 10 (I'm behind!)

Day 7:

Hot Habanero & Passion Love

So this is not exactly the kind of photo I'm after taking, but I did it for Charles :) My man loves his food, and my man loves me! And he gets a kick out of equating the two. I once got a text saying he was eating a bag of crisps which were advertized as tasting zesty-- "just like his love for me". So when I noticed this jar of nearly-finished salsa in the fridge of the flat where I'm house-sitting, I couldn't resist snapping a photo and sending it to Charles. "My love for you is like hot habanero and passion salsa, baby" :) hehehe. Oh yes.

Day 8:

A Cloudy Pink Birthday Surprise
This gorgeous little ring arrived in the post for me the other day! My cousin Emily had found it in a little street market in London one of her last days studying in the UK and thought it a perfect birthday surprise for me. I love looking down to see it's pretty delicateness on my finger :) And I loved getting this photo to come out so crystal clear in such a closecloseclose and detailed shot!

Day 9:

5 A Day
I love fresh fruit, especially kiwi and green grapes, and I love having a little kitchen of my own to keep a little fruit bowl in. The bright Swedish evening light through the open door leading out onto the balcony just lit up the crystal of this dish and it begged to have its photo taken! And good timing too, because the grapes were begging to be eaten and the display isn't quite so pretty now :)

Day 10:

The Harbour
Gothenburg, Sweden

(I am a day behind on my personal photo challenge! I will have to add it on at the end :))

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Photo Challenge Days 5 & 6: The First Bloom & Tourists

 Day 5: "The First Bloom"
This orchid blossom was SO encouraging to look up and see yesterday because I've been left in charge of this flat and they have so many plants! I can't claim to be much of a green thumb myself, and Orchids are notoriously fussy plants...
This makes me happy :)
I must be doing something right!

Day 6: Tourists in Gustav Adolfs Torget -- Gothenburg, Sweden
Oh fellow tourists, I know your plight very well :)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Photo Challenge Day 4: My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper

I took my friend's kiddos to the awesome park at Slottskogen today. They are such little delights :) Luca is 5 and already such a fabulously thoughtful and protective big brother to his little sister Leona (or Yona, as he calls her :)), who just turned 3. I snapped this while they were wheeling around the playground, little sis hitching a ride with big bro :) Precious!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Photo Challenge Day 3: The Tunnel of Love

The Tunnel of Love

I found myself walking behind this darling elderly couple today in a pedestrian bridge down by the harbour. They walked arm in arm all the way. I wondered how many years they had spent arm in arm, and I thanked the Lord for Love and how it literally holds us...

"Surprised by Oxford" by Carolyn Weber

Do you know that feeling when you open a new book and thirstily take in the first few pages and then lean back with a contented smile, reveling in how delicious the lines taste on your soul's tongue?

"Surprised by Oxford" by Carolyn Weber was such a read for me.

I originally requested the book from the book review program I write for over a year ago, but somehow it got lost on its journey to me. So I sadly requested other books and got on with things, but the thought of it lingered in the back of my mind. I was intrigued by the subject and style-- a memoir (which is a style I love to read!) about a young Canadian woman studying in England, and discovering herself on a journey to a relationship with God-- a journey she later understood she'd been on all along, but never before recognized.

I was enchanted by the author's way with words (for instance, she describes her mother as having "the scent of all things comforting and good"-- and, do you know, it immediately takes me back to curling up in my mommy's arms as a little one, nuzzling into her neck and breathing in that very same scent? And she describes Oxford: "The walls were saturated with the thoughts of endless minds across hundreds of years into the present, like a fine chain linked with hopes for the betterment of humankind."), and the way she wove references from classic literature all throughout her experiences. Her love of learning and studying and taking in the world, the way everything she encountered added to her thoughtful questioning, her adoration of The Romantics and flawless incorporation of their wisdom and experiences into her own, and the way England brought it all to life-- it all resonated so deeply with me. I also went to England as an idealistic, inexperienced young girl, and left with horizons widened on my whole world. I think she and I could be kindred friends, and reading her story was like taking a walk together through the beloved Oxfordshire landscape and sharing the struggles of our souls and the encouragement He gives to press on...

She wrestled honestly with God. She came from a background with only a vague understanding of Christianity, and many prejudices against it. It was the most unlikely of places to draw up close to Him-- the world of Academics. But one after the other, professors and scholars and friends she greatly respected came out with beliefs which made her question her own lack of them. She became enthralled by this plain of love she saw in some people's lives that she had not experienced. And so she started seeking out what it was that they had and she didn't-- and she didn't like the answer she inevitably came out with. But when she finally accepted that Christ is Who He says He is, her whole world was awashed in a new hue of colour. And the way she is able to encapsulate it in words thrilled my little literature-loving heart. Everything in her existence is touched and illuminated. Even the literature she'd studied for years suddenly read with a new dimension when she opened her eyes to The Holy. A lightbulb moment of the grandest kind.

The way she shares her story is so intimate, so detailed, and deep, and beautiful, that I felt honoured to be reading it, as if being imparted with a gift.

More and more I am convinced that what the world needs is to hear our stories. Jesus told stories. And crafted stories out of the lives of every one of His followers. He told them to go and share what they had seen and heard-- share their stories. I grow so frustrated so easily carrying around this incredible truth that so few think they want to hear, but as we share our stories-- unassuming, unaggressive, just letting people in-- we are free to just love with no agenda. Sharing our stories is loving like Christ loves, being vulnerable for the sake of someone else who needs to hear what you've lived to share. "Surprised by Oxford" was encouraging as you see a cast of characters coming in and out of Carolyn's life-- some of them for a moment, some of them for years, sharing their stories, unobtrusively, gently, honestly, but deeply-- until, in her own good time, it finally all just "clicks". And then she becomes a voice in the whole cast of characters sharing her story for someone else to one day "click" upon hearing...

It is a beautiful economy, this kind King's.

"That is the bizarre thing about the good news: who knows how you will really hear it one day, but once you have heard it, I mean really heard it, you can never unhear it. Once you have read it, or spoken it, or thought it, even if it irritates you, even if you hate hearing it or cannot find it feasible, or try to dismiss it, you cannot unhear it, or unspeak it, or unthink it."

"Belief is really hard work... And it's radical work. I mean, imagine if we really implemented the golden rule, among individuals as well as nations. If we really did everything from holding doors open for each other, to helping raise each other's kids, to feeding and clothing one another. If we really took God at His Word, and He is real, and so love, and grace, and accountability are too. Like Mother Teresa telling us to love until it hurts, with a smile."

"Life is messy. Life is beautiful and terrible and messy. So why would we expect a faith in this life that is easy to understand? Why expect a gift wrapped up neatly within the tissues of our brains and tied with a nice bow of material clarity? ... A round gift is the most difficult to wrap."

So beautifully written and honest, "Surprised by Oxford" is, among so many other things, just a delicious joy to soak up. Find yourself a copy and a bit of sunshine to sit in and you will be entertained as well as touched!
p.s. I want to move to Oxfordshire even more now!

 *I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Photo Challenge Day 2: Self-Portrait


"Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light.
For it is in giving that we receive."
--St. Francis

Monday, 18 June 2012

Gratefully 26

So, you know all those blog photo challenges? I've decided to do one of my own. No rules, really-- because rules are no fun :P-- just a challenge to take a photo each day of some element of my day.

Day 1: This is a photo encapsulating the relaxed feeling of my perfect birthday morning...

Morning bible study on the book of Daniel, teamed with a pretty morning coffee. Simple delights!

And another, simply because I couldn't choose :)

This month is a special one because, as of yesterday, I began 4 weeks of house-sitting for some friends of mine-- the pastor of our church-plant and his family. I have been amazed at how blessed and bolstered my spirit has been in the less than 24 hours since I've been here! I have discovered that in sharing housing with people, I tend to try to make myself as small as possible-- take up as little metaphorical space as can be. Being here, in this gorgeous, white, tidy and beautiful flat by myself, I feel so deliciously liberated. I can walk around in my nightie, sing as loud as I like, bake any time day or night, take a bath with the door open so I can hear my music playing from the living room, just breathe and be. Hehe! I have been overwhelmed by the simple pleasures. And my spirit is a bundle of thankfulness to the Giver of every good gift...

So, in traditional birthday fashion, I'd like to compose a list of 26 things I'm grateful for today on my 26th birthday :)

Gratefully 26:

1. This verse in my bible study this morning: "But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever" (Dan. 7:18). It was a heavy dissection of some of Daniel's prophecy today and that one verse shone out like a gem in the midst of it.

2. The relaxation of waking up, not having to worry about being at work, and just sitting down in this beautiful flat to myself in the morning light with my cup of warm coffee sweetened with honey and cinnamon, and opening my beautiful bible... Mmmmmm!

3. Webcam Skype chats with my sister and the kids. They delight my heart to no end! Yes, Abby, I can't wait to read the books you are writing :) And Emmy, thank you for sharing your secret with me!! 

4. Being an auntie! My 4 little treasures-- Abby, Emmy, Tucker, and Kenan-- make my life so rich, even when our time together is so little. And soon it will be more than 4!!

5. My handsome man. I love him so. We have so much to learn and so much to discover but there is no one I would rather do so with! So so so many hopes...

6. This house-sitting month! I am blessed to the core to have this lovely place to myself for a whole month!

7. Music and what it draws out of my soul.

8. Literature & Poetry

9. The excellent memoir I'm reading: "Surprised by Oxford" by Carolyn Weber

10. My adorable cousins and aunties and uncles. And my fabulous grandparents. I adore you! You all make my life so rich!

11. My darling godchildren. It blesses my heart to be trusted with praying for you all your lives long...

12. The way scripture is alive and the same old verse can hit me in new ways each time I read it!

13. That His ways are higher than mine. That I can trust that He's always looking out for my good, as well as His glory. That I needn't let anything trouble me (Oh, if only I could learn this by heart!) because He's got it all in hand...

14. Having a balcony for a month :)

15. sugar-snap peas. Yum. 

16. The sun coming out for my birthday :) :) :)

17. That He accepts my praise as a gift fit for a King. What?!

18. Grace so amazing, so divine, that it demands my soul, my life, my all...

19. Having a bike to use for the summer! And how well-laid-out bike paths are in Gothenburg :)

20. My parents and how well they've provided for and loved me through life.

21. Thai Curry!!! Honestly, why is nothing else as good? :)

22. Acoustic guitar and it's incredible power to transform any moment :)

23. Hope. 

24. Years that carry life-enhancing wisdom in their grasps...

25. Bubble baths-- the simple pleasures!

26. God's love and the way He wraps me up in it, pours it through me and around me and over me and under me. So complete. So everlasting. So amazing...

Here's to the next 26 years. May God continue to teach me to trust Him, to follow Him into anything, and to somehow use me to bless those He loves all around me...

Now, to head out on a walk and explore!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Confession: I Hate Sermons (But Love Bible Study Lessons)

I've never been much of a sermon kinda girl, I'm afraid. I was the child composing stories in her head and using the offering envelopes to scribble fanciful drawings on. And I have no doubt that I actually slept through a fair few sermons... Even as I grew up, it's just never been my best way to engage with God or His Word-- though, thankfully, my attention-span has improved :)

But today I need to tell you about the bible teaching podcasts from that you can listen to for free from Living Proof with Beth Moore because they are blessing me so.

I grew up the daughter of a Bible-studying mama. And I was probably only just a very young teen when she began attending women's group bible studies by a lovely lady called Beth Moore. My parents are both mega-drivers as they run their businesses and we were often on a car trip long into the night. To stay awake, my non-coffee-drinking Mom would munch on crunchy carrots and blare the radio loud. But it wasn't music she was listening to, it was this lady called Beth teaching bible studies with more passion than I had ever heard and in her prolific southern accent. She would be addressing event centres full of thousands of women, and a few brave men, and yet even in the dark of those long car rides, it felt like she was speaking straight to me as again and again God brought up concepts I needed to give some attention to, or scriptures I'd never studied that in depth before. Beth (because we're on a first-name-basis, naturally :P) would give charming anecdotes about her husband Keith and daughters Amanda and Melissa, and their bird dogs, until it honestly felt like they might have been cousins of mine. The Lord has taught me a great deal about vulnerability through seeing Beth live out loud, a great deal about honesty, humility, obedience, and the love of Christ. And do you know, to this day no other bible study teacher/writer can quite hold my attention like Beth does when she teaches. It's kinda like our hearts speak the same language. I don't wanna praise this woman-- she would hate that! I don't think she's the only one who can write a good bible study :) But something about her writing and her speaking and her personality and heart just really gets along with something about my personality and heart. I have supplemented my bible reading with her bible study workbooks for years now and there is nothing like a cup of coffee in the morning with my bible and bible study workbook spread out before me. No matter where I am in the world, in that posture, I am home.

So to steal a Beth phrase, it has just blessed my little heart to find entire series of bible study teachings by Beth on! I've just finished listening to "Measureless Love" and, woah. Another great series of podcasts is "When Godly People do Ungodly Things". You can download them for $2.00 or simply listen to them online for free! Some days when I'm in the studio on my own, I just listen to one lesson after another all day long as my hands busily work on the order on the cutting table before me. Let me tell you, it is a BATTLE to keep our minds fixed on heaven in such a way that we live purposefully here. These little podcast lessons keep my perspective set where it needs to be, like little Sunday sermons all throughout the week (but to me, they have a punch that I don't often find in a Sunday sermon).

So, whether you are familiar with Living Proof Ministries or have no idea who this Beth chica is, check them out and be encouraged! You can look through the years of podcast series here. Or read Beth's blog, where her two daughters, now grown women serving the Lord themselves, often post too. It's just fun :)

And now-- to leave you with one of my favourite of the stories Beth has told me over the years :) 

Friends, let's set our eyes on His face. Let's seek Him in whatever way we can every single day of our lives. Let's be intentional about studying His Word! And about knowing His heart so we can live His heart out for the world...

I have been so touched by every Beth Moore bible study workbook I've gone through, but I think my favourite thus far might be "The Patriarchs". If you've done some of the these particular bible studies, which have been your favourite?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Just What I Needed to Read Today

“Clearly my job here is not to go to the town plaza and convince people to change their
religious beliefs or to win a theological debate…
My job is to live wrapped in God, trembling with His thoughts, burning
with His passion.”

--Frank Laubach

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Choosing to Wait

 [Read another great article on the subject HERE]

The lovely Gothenburg, Sweden
So, at the moment I live part of the year with some friends of mine in Sweden, and part of the
year back home in Rural Minnesota, with trips and visits to various people and places in between (obviously, England owns a massive chunk of my heart-- we'll call that part my handsome Brit & university friends whom have become my family!). But generally, this means I swing like a pendulum from the extremely conservative heartland of America of my childhood, to what is considered one of the most liberal societies in the world.

To emphasize this tremendous cultural swing, in Sweden I live and work with Atheists. In fact, the percentage of people who genuinely know the saving grace of Jesus in this part of the world is reported by European Christian Mission to be something ridiculous like less than 5%.

It is the strangest thing to speak to educated people in the western world who have only a very vague, foggy idea of what the Bible has to say (if that!), let alone what God is about and what Jesus offers-- all while assuming they know it all already. I find my heart gets routinely beat up by the spiritual climate. But, in turn, I find this calls me to actively seek to protect my heart of faith and learning to offer its hope out to those around me keeps me thoughtful and teaches me the compassion of Christ unlike I've ever learned it before...

I'm thankful for things which prompt me to cling to Him.
In the holding on, I always discover I love Him more than I ever knew when I discover more and more of His love and grace for me.

Anyway, my Atheist friends are especially curious about my sex life (if it can be called that when I'm not having it!). This is a little awkward to write about. But I can honestly say it's a rare day that it doesn't come up in some way in our conversation, so I have learned to be very open and honest in hopes that something I share with them might make them think in such a way that leads them closer to a light bulb moment with God.

In Sweden (as in most of Europe, I reckon) waiting til you're married to have sex-- especially if you are in an on-going relationship with someone you love-- is literally unheard of... I must admit my naivete-- it shocked me to learn that even amongst Christians here, it is rather rare. I have realized now, 3 years in, that waiting for marriage is choosing a lonely path, and just to expect to walk it alone. I always expected it to be hard-- back home it is expected at least of Christians, but it is readily acknowledged to be hard!-- but I don't think I expected it to be so lonely. I literally fascinate my Atheist friends here, and they delight in telling their friends that they know someone who is waiting til she's married to have sex. Yeah. Like a freak. Thankfully, God has given me a good, good man who aspires to being a spiritual leader to me and our someday family and whom reminds me we are not alone in this when I start to feel like a total freak of nature...

The other night one of my Atheist friends was poking fun at me on the subject yet again (It's okay-- it's just that it's fascinating to them) when suddenly the air became serious and he asked something he never had before. Basically, "Why?"

And it felt so good to be able to explain.

My handsome man being all studmuffiny!
They seem to understand it as something my boyfriend and I are not doing because God tells us not to. And if we want to "be good" we have to wait. But to be honest, if that was what it was about, there is no way we would have made it this long. I, for one, know I am not "good" and so don't bother striving to be. And, I mean, come on! My man is way too sexy to keep my hands off for who knows how long just to "be good". Puh-lease. I'd rather be bad. haha. Seriously. He's so darn handsome...

But knowing my God's heart, knowing that He never ever acts outside of His measureless love for us, knowing that He designed us and knows how that design best works, I trust Him when He says this is the best way. For me, it's not about being good, but about being loved... and also, it's about being loving.

Charles and I have spoken from the beginning about wanting to love and serve one another well. We really believe that by delaying gratification in this way, we are serving one another by not using one another for our own momentary selfish gain-- even if we are as much in love as we are. One of my Atheist friends explained to me that she doesn't regret any of her sexual encounters because they gave her what she was needing at the time... I think it's that self-focused attitude that we are trying to avoid, really. In the long run, it is most loving of us to sacrifice what we want right now, or "what we're needing at the time", for the greater good of what we can have if we wait-- a deeper sense of commitment in our marriage, which then lends itself out to a deeper sense of stability for our children, etc. We feel that by choosing to be committed to one another in this way (by not sleeping with people whom we are not married to and namely, by not sleeping with each other before marriage), we are not just avoiding STI's and unplanned pregnancy, as is often the argument for abstinence, but we are strengthening our commitment to one another in our marriage someday (assuming we finally get married someday, but that's another post entirely!). It's tremendously hard character development to choose this long wait. It goes against everything in our strong biological urges-- to put one another and our Father God above ourselves in this way. But we believe that that character development will come out in our marriage and in how we treat one another in our marriage. And as hard as this wait can be, it's a brilliant 'team-building exercise' to be in it together :) We recognize that being in love won't always come so easily to us. But having worked hard at our characters through this and many ways, and fighting hard for the good of our relationship already now, lays a strong foundation for when the going gets tough and we need to be able to reach into ourselves and find character and integrity and commitment to see us through.

But all that said, what it comes down to in the long run, is choosing to trust our God when He says this is the best way, no matter how hard it feels in the meantime. Knowing the character of our God, we can trust that this long wait will reap benefits for us, in this life and in the next.

My Atheist friends say things like, "But you have to sleep with more than one person to learn what you like. What will you have to compare your experience to and learn from?" Um.... I don't mean to make fun of my friends, but-- what in the world? Surely the fact that they have to ask that question says something already about how their promiscuous lifestyles have stolen from their sex lives. My man and I greatly looking forward to discovering together this realm of making love to one another when the time is right, and we have no worries about being able to figure it out :) We will have the freedom to be totally vulnerable with one another as we learn together since we're starting on equal playing fields and we're coming toward one another out of a place of deep deep love for one another. Sounds kinda like the perfect sex life to me! 
"Married couples take time out to please their partners and satisfy them thoughtfully. Love and a concern for one's partner shifts the focus away from the self in a sexual relationship toward the other person" (from an article written about a 2004 study on Christian married sex).

Besides all this, my Atheist friends were amused to find that there had been studies done on the quality and quantity of sex in a Christian marriage.
...contrary to popular perception, married people have much more sex. It quotes a 2004 study of money, sex and happiness, based on 16,000 American adults, which finds that married people have more sex than those who are single, divorced, widowed or separated, and that sexual activity is linked with happiness. .... better sex is the result of love and commitment.
The Rev Canon Paul Hayes, mission and evangelism adviser for the Church of England, said: "Often people think Christians say no to the world, but actually the Christian faith is about making the most of what is given to us, and one of those things is sex. If you commit yourself to another person, along with all the other benefits is a good sex life."
To top it all off, after this conversation with my friends here, I spoke to my man about it all and we had a chance to stop and reflect again on why we're doing this thing this way-- which is always helpful. Sometimes-- to downplay it quite a great deal-- the wait can grow a little wearisome!

So... did anyone else out there wait, or are you currently waiting?
Did you have much company in the wait or were you a total freak in your circle?
What was a helpful encouragement to you in the wait?

"Do not arouse or awaken love until the time is right..."
--Song of Songs 8:4

*** I feel like I should have a disclaimer. I don't want to come across like, "Anyone who has sex before they're married is selfish and unloving!" Haha. Girl, if he was as much a heartthrob as my handsome man, I so understand!! :) I am just doing the best I can with what God's shown me, is all. And praying that He gives us the strength and resolve to keep on waiting. If you didn't, there is grace for you, just like there would be for us. You'll find, if you seek Him, that He is a master Redeemer. There's nothing we can do that He can't turn over for His glory and for our good. It's just a whole lot easier on us and on every life we touch with ours if we go after His best for us in the first place :) You are loved, loved, loved. May you know it and live it!

[I borrowed the quotes on the studies done on Married Sex from these articles:]


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