What’s the harm, anyway?

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Open-Book460_276

The story opens: girl meets boy.

Girl likes boy.

Girl is strangely attracted because boy is a bad boy.

Even though she’s heard all the advice, she’s drawn like a moth to a flame. She knows the best romance happens when there’s a little bad boy spark.

Boy falls for girl, and only girl will do. No one else can fix his life and make his heart go thump, thump, thump.

Girl is drawn deeper.

All sense falls away when boy places his hand gently on girls cheek and leans in for that first forbidden kiss.

Light fades on best moment on planet earth.

Oh my.

Most of us are totally sucked in to this kind of scene.

We love when the bad boy is finally tamed by the one girl (preferably me, we think).

It’s the stuff of romance.

And it sells.

Here’s the danger.

Most romantic novels and many romantic shows don’t stop there. Not only is the bad boy placing his hand on girl’s cheek, he’s pushing for a whole lot more than that. And while there is some restriction on how far he can go on national television (at least for now), those same restrictions don’t apply in a juicy novel.

Here’s the scoop:

We know this truth: Watching naked people on the computer is pornography.

But what about this truth?: Reading about naked people in a book is still pornography.

And it will hurt you.

I don’t read it for that, you may say. I read it for the story line – it’s a great romance. I love romance!

Oh ladies, romance doesn’t look like that. Real romance, amazing romance, steamy romance happens best in the way God designed it. And he did design it, you know. He is the true author of the steamy romance. When it takes place in the safe (and yet wildly beautiful) protective care of his ways.

But still, Elsa, you say, what’s the harm? I once had the same questions. But you are stirring up feelings that can’t be fulfilled in God’s best plan for you. You’re priming yourself to feel lust and that’s really difficult not to translate into your every day life. You start looking at people differently. You think differently. You daydream differently.

If you can’t have the cookies, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to stand in the bakery, reading the recipes and imagining what every crumb will taste like.

Pornography is addictive. Most of us get that when it comes to viewing pornography online. We know that it takes more and more to stimulate the more we watch. But reading pornography has the same effect. It’s addictive and it takes more and more graphic detail for the same “high.”

If you or anyone you know is stuck in that place of reading pornography (disguised as romance), don’t make light of it. Stop. It’s not romance. It’s not harmless. It’s pornography (graphic images planted in your brain). It’s rewiring your brain and setting you up for failure.

What else can you do? Well, I don’t want to be the cheesy Christian lady who wags her finger and says, “Just stop. Read the Bible.” I get it. I know there’s a draw to that kind of stuff and God knows it too. Ask for his help. Ask him to show you how dangerous it can be. Ask him to fill you with a desire for other things – and then pursue other things. Read a good mystery novel (I know, somewhat cheesy). Read about the real lives of people who made an incredible difference on this planet (mildly less cheesy). Fill your brain with good things and see what ends up spilling out.

I know it’s difficult.

I know a good biography is not quite the same thing as a steamy novel.

But one will inspire you to live this amazing life with focus, drive and purpose – and the other will just leave you wanting.

And in the end, which is better?

Thought to share? Ideas to offer? Leave a comment below. If you are receiving this via e-mail, click here and then on the post title to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your heart!

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Will you be mine?

beautiful-hot-pink-red-rose

beautiful-hot-pink-red-roseI thought of you today.

I think of you every day, really.

I know sometimes you feel like I’m far away.

I know sometimes you wonder if I care or notice or see.

I do.

I see you. I see your hurt. I care about your longings. I care about your loneliness. I notice. And I want to see you through it all.

Will you look for me today?

Will you see?

Look for me in the beautiful skyline. Notice my love in the song on the radio. Sense me in the vibrant artwork you might normally pass on by. Feel my arms around you through your friend.

I am here. I love you.

I’m creative. My love will be unique to you, but if you look for me, you’ll find me. You’ll hear my strong voice saying, in my own way, “Will you be mine?”

I hope you hear. I hope you see. I hope you answer.

I hope you say “Yes!”

Happy Valentine’s Day beloved. Will you be mine?

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What do I tell him?

From our “ask away” forum:

My best guy friend is currently in a relationship. He is almost 16 and she is 13. She has told him she wants to lose her virginity to him and he is confused on what to do. They have only been dating about three weeks. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and he’s asking what to do. I’m trying to tell him that sex is a HUGE deal, but he just isn’t getting it. I have been searching the web for things to share with him but I keep coming up empty. Can you please help me? It would mean so much! I just don’t want to see him hurt, he is so tenderhearted.

Thank you so much for writing! Wow! I can see why you would be worried for your friend. He’s in a tough spot! And for a young girl to want to give up her virginity at 13 years old (and after dating for only a few weeks), that’s tough. Since your friend hasn’t been raised in a Christian home, it’s tough to talk to him about it from that perspective. You could tell him that God has a best for them both, that He loves them both and that sex has some consequences that could hurt them in the long run – but if he doesn’t know Jesus, he might not hear that (although bringing it up at least gives you the chance to tell him about the love of Jesus – and that’s always a good thing).

There’s no easy answer, really

I have a couple of thoughts, but you know him best – so pick which one he might respond to…

The hero: He could be the hero in this girl’s life. Most guys (who don’t know God or who haven’t been raised to think differently) would jump at the chance to have sex with a willing girl. But this girl has some other issues going on – she might be looking for love, she may have been abused, she might not understand how big a deal sex is… so he can choose to be the hero and NOT be like other guys. He could tell her that he wants to protect her heart and her future – so he is not going to have sex with her. Imagine how that could shape her life!

The protector: He could go at it from the angle of protecting himself and this girl physically. There is really no full proof way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. What happens if she gets pregnant? Does he really want to provide for a baby at 16? Does she really want the risk of an STD at 13?

There’s no going back: For both he and this girl, there’s no going back once the choice is made. Sure, it probably feels good that this girl “wants” him, but once this happens, he can’t go back and change it. Neither can she. It’s a HUGE decision with lots of potential fall out – ask him to really think those things through.

However you decide to approach it, I will be praying for wisdom for you as his friend!

If you had a friend in this situation, what would you say? Leave a comment below or if you received this via e-mail, click here and then on the title of the post to leave a comment.

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“I don’t want it!”

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“Savannah, it’s time for night-night.”

“I don’t want it!”

“Time for bath…”

“No!”

“Time for dinner sweet girl. It’s yummy.”

“I don’t want it!”

“Time to buy you lots of new toys, and that condo in Hawaii.”

“No! I don’t want it!”

Savannah is nearly 2 years old, and doesn’t always understand what we’re saying. My husband and I adopted her two years ago, (which explains why you haven’t heard from me in oh, two years. I’ve been absolutely delighting in baby smells (most of them), baby giggles and baby fun). Savannah is our treasure. And she has joyfully discovered the words “No” and “I don’t want it!”

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I love Savannah. I would do anything to protect her, care for her, serve her. I’d even jump in front of a train for her (it’d be an odd set of circumstances that would cause that to happen, but you never know).

Savannah, in all her two-year-old glory, is a lot like you and me.

God tells us to do something and we stamp our feet and shake our head. “No! I don’t want it!”

“It’s time for you to hear my heart, beloved.”

“I don’t want it!”

“This relationship you’re pursuing is going to hurt you.”

“No!”

“I have the best kind of romance for you.”

“I don’t want it!”

“What I offer is better than anything out there…”

“No!”

We plug our ears to what He’s really saying and we stubbornly go our own way. It’s what we were born to do.

Sometimes we need to stop and think for a minute. Why won’t I listen? Could I be missing something here?

Savannah thinks we’re robbing her of good when we say no. You secretly want me to go to bed because you are cruel, I knew it! I’m not even tired.

You say dinner is yummy but you really want to feed me prunes and beets, don’t you? I know what kind of people you are.

At two years old, she is fairly confident that she knows what’s best for her. And in those moments, she thinks her mom and dad have some parenting issues they need to address.

I can relate.

I often think I know what’s best for me.

And can then question God’s character, his goodness or wisdom.

God loves me. God loves you. He has a best for us. The boundaries he sets around our lives are never about robbing us of the fun we think we want. It’s always about our protection, our care, our best.

He would jump in front of a train for you and me.

He would die on a cross for you and me.

Oh wait, he did that. He really did that. It’s not just an old story in an ancient book. It’s a today reality.

No denying that kind of love.

Will we listen?

What is he saying to you today?

 

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Never alone

Joseph was a good guy.

He loved God and did the right thing. When an older (married) woman tried to put the moves on him, he ran out of the house – so fast that he left his cloak behind. Unfortunately, the woman was so mad she told everyone that Joseph had actually tried to put the moves on her – and showed them the cloak as proof.

Poor Joseph. He tried to do everything right, and was thrown in prison for his efforts.

Totally unfair. Completely wrong.

The same thing can happen to us. We can do the right thing: say “no” when everyone else is saying yes, stand up for someone when no one else does, stick our necks out to love God no matter what.

And then things can fall apart.

People get mad or misunderstand or make fun of us. A relationship ends because we try to stay pure or friends pull away because they just don’t get it.

We think things should go well, but sometimes life gets messy when we do the right thing.

But look at what God did with Joseph:

The LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love (Genesis 39:21).

Joseph may have faced the cruelty of others, but he didn’t face it alone. God was right there with him. God showed him his love. I wonder what that was like… did Joseph feel that warm sense that God was right there with him? Did he have the kind of amazing dream he didn’t want to wake up from? Did the sun suddenly shine through his prison bars and land on his smiling face?

I love to imagine.

God loves you. He’s proud of the decisions you are choosing to make. So hold on to him. His love will see you through no matter what.

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Temptations and Grace

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Sometimes our pup Simba Roo doesn’t listen.

Like when we tell her not to eat certain things (because they will upset her stomach), she doesn’t usually listen. We say “no,” because we love her. She decides she knows better and eats it anyway.

Like pork chops.

Or chocolate.

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Sometimes temptation gets the best of her.

It happened the other night. Simba Roo ate something that messed with her belly. All night long she whimpered. All night long I got up with each whimper, climbed out of bed, stumbled down the stairs and let her outside so she could “relieve” the issue.

She was miserable.

And even though she disobeyed, even though she got herself in that mess, I was right there with her. I felt bad for her belly ache and took care of her through the night.

Because I love her.

God did the same thing. He told Adam and Eve not to eat the apple. They ate the apple. Suddenly they noticed they were naked and freaked out. They were grabbing leaves and branches and all kinds of uncomfortable items to cover up.

God let them face the consequences. He talked about the pain that would come – but then tucked in to verse 21 of the third chapter, it says: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

Can you picture it? Even though Adam and Eve messed up and did it to themselves, God pulls out a divine sewing kit and gets to work. The God of the universe makes them clothing – warm, comfy, snuggly clothing.

Grace.

Right there at the beginning of the Bible, grace wraps up God’s people. Would God rather that they had listened? Of course! It was for their best. And yup, they had to face the consequences. But love doesn’t end there. Love doesn’t leave us in our mess. Love gets up in the night. Love sews some clothing together. Love meets us in the middle of our pain, right after the biggest mistake ever and says… I’m here.

Thank you, Lord, for meeting us here.

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Heroine unaware

I posted this on my Dimples blog, but wanted to share it here as well. Living purity is a lot of different things. One aspect of purity is celebrating life, celebrating God’s work and honoring how he brings beauty from pain, hope from our mistakes. Here is one such story:

I don’t know if she realized how beautiful she was. She sat on the stage, hands trembling slightly, eyes down cast. She took a deep breath, looked up and scanned our faces. I wondered what she might be searching for—judgment? Compassion? Someone… anyone… who might get it?

“I was 15-years-old when I got pregnant,” she began. She shared how she’d come from a Christian home, how she never expected that this would happen to her.

She went on to share how difficult it was to tell her parents.

This young woman knew she couldn’t care for her baby, so she began taking steps toward adoption. She sought out a family, she invited them into her pregnancy and then on the day her daughter was born, she set her into the arms of loving, adoptive parents.

She told her story with tears in her eyes. It was no easy choice to give up someone she loved so much. Even now, four years later, tears slipped down her cheeks as she thought of that painful moment of placing her daughter into the arms of another mom.

This lovely young woman still gets to see her daughter through the open adoption. Her smile broadened as she talked of how well her girl is doing, what a joy it is to see her thriving… and how much she loves her still.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the whole place.

I found this young woman achingly beautiful. I wanted to scoop her up in my arms and hold her tight and thank her for all that she did. Such an incredible sacrifice, such profound love to not only choose life, but then give that precious life to a young couple who would experience it no other way.

Sometimes heroines come in small packages, small packages with humongous hearts.

I stand in tearful awe.

Beautiful.

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Everybody else is doing it!

I used to look around and feel discouraged. People who said they believed in God were doing their own thing, writing their own rules and living just like everybody else. Does faith really make a difference? I wondered. Does it really change anything?

I lived in that place of disappointment for a season. What’s the point? No one else is living this. Why should I?

Then I felt like God nudged my heart. I’m the point. Oh, it wasn’t an audible thing, but I felt like he was showing me something very important. Rather than use the bad choices of other people to justify my own bad choices, why not allow them to stir a passion in me to be different? To be one who really does reflect what faith can do?

God was reminding me to take my eyes off of others and keep them focused on him. That even if no one else chose to follow his ways, I could. And in that, I would get to show other people the amazing beauty of a God who really does change things and a faith that makes all the difference in the world.

God has a best for you. God has a best for your friends. If they aren’t living it, you live it. You show the world how beautiful God’s love is and how much you trust it by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

You’ll be amazed at what unfolds when you do. Not only will you experience God’s delight and blessing, you’ll also get the chance (over and over again), to respond to people who say, “What is so different about you? How do you do it?” You’ll be able to point them to the one who will gladly do the same thing in their hearts.

May it be so.

For practical tools and inspiring help to live this pure life, even when it feels like you are the only one, purchase your own copy of Pure Love, Pure Life, Exploring God’s Heart on Purity here.

Originally posted on SUSIEMagazine.com. To read an excerpt of Pure Love, Pure Life on SUSIEMagazine.com, click here. The excerpt begins after the first paragraph about Pure Life Day.

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Get Susie Mag on the shelf at Wal-Mart!

Join us in helping our friends at Susie magazine!! Susie is a great read for teen girls. Written from a godly perspective, Susie talks about things that teen girls think about, struggle with and dream of…

Please vote for them to be on the shelf at Wal-Mart – what a great outreach opportunity! Help get Susie into the hands of teens all over the country.

Please click here to vote today!

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It’s worth it!

My husband makes me blush, even still. He’ll wrap his arms around me in the middle of the day, just to kiss me on the cheek and tell me he loves me. He’ll text me when he travels and type out sweet nothings as he sits across from me in our shared home office. He’s a wonderful guy—strong, handsome and adventurous. He loves God and he cares about people.

I hit the jackpot.

I know (all the way to my core) that our love wouldn’t be as deep or sweet if we hadn’t trusted God in living out this pure life. I’m not just talking about saying no to sex while dating, I’m talking about our devotion to God, our mutual desire to love others and serve them, our heart to do the right thing… not to follow a rule, but out of our love for the God who had rescued us.

It wasn’t easy. Especially staying pure sexually while we dated. We wanted to throw in the towel (or tear it off… if you get my drift), more than one time. Our emotions teased us, our longings ran deep. But together we fought off sexual temptation and did our best to remember the incredible love that called us to that lifestyle. As we’ve loved God together, we’ve kept on this pure path – even into marriage. Oh, we enjoy one another sexually, but I’m talking about all the other components of pure living. We’re living our faith. We’re pure in our love for each other. We’re faithful and true to our marriage. We are crazy about each other’s heart and each other’s body.

This pure living thing is AMAZING.

I know, I know. I used to read stories just like the one I’m sharing and roll my eyes. I didn’t believe it, and I felt like the person was painting way too rosy a picture for reality. I figured they were making up the ooey gooey stuff to get me to follow their path.

Now I’m the one spilling ooey gooey all over the place.

Oh, my husband and I have had our struggles and hardships. It’s not like our marriage has been a series of romantic escapades on a remote Caribbean island (although we’ve had some of those).  But it’s wonderful. It’s comforting in the midst of tears. It’s stable in the midst of chaos. It’s romantic in the midst of bad hair days and morning breath.

True godly romance is out there to enjoy and delight in… and pure living paves the way for our hearts to experience it. Fight this good fight. Even if you’ve made some poor choices in the past, choosing differently from this day forward can make all the difference.

It’s worth it.

For more of the amazing marital benefits of pure living, check out Chapter 10 (Better than Fairy Tales) of Pure Love, Pure Life, Exploring God’s Heart on Purity by Elsa Kok Colopy.

Originally posted on SUSIEMagazine.com. To read an excerpt of Pure Love, Pure Life on SUSIEMagazine.com, click here. The excerpt begins after the first paragraph about Pure Life Day.

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