Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What Does Dating Do to Us?

This is for all you souls longing for a lover, for all those girls dreaming of their white wedding dresses, for all those parents trying to hold their children's hearts before they flutter away. This is for you. For all of you. 

To begin with, I must ask a hard question. Here it is. How much of your life is defined by the culture? As a Christian, can you go through the Bible and use it to explain why you talk the way you talk, act the way you act and handle your relationships the way you do? 

Looking back on earlier blog posts and things I have shared about dating relationships; I still fully stand behind what I have previously shared, but over the past few months that I have been married, God has broadened my approach even more. The main reason so many "Christian" people struggle with relationships is because they operate just like the secular culture in every other avenue of their lives, so their relationships are no more "Christian" than their non-Christian friends are. 

I am married now, but that doesn't remove me from the deep-rooted topic of dating and relationships. God keeps bringing this up in my heart. It has been a while since I have blogged on it. 

Before we can even begin to understand the best way to be in a relationship with the opposite sex, we have to have a strong relationship with God.  When you grasp true Christianity, you will have a desire to honor God in your relationships. You and I will never totally and perfectly be the children of God we should be, but we can't let that excuse the complete secular way we often live. 

So what is dating? Most of us know what it is. According to the "Urban Dictionary" it is: Of a couple, to be in the early stages of a relationship where they go out on dates to find out what each other is like, as a prelude to actually being a fully fledged couple.  

Why do I think it is so dangerous? My answer is because it goes totally against Scripture. Actually, "dating" is so far removed from anything Biblical and is so heretical, the Bible doesn't even address it. Aside from the Bible; dating isn't even in history. It really sprung to life in the 1950s. 

Dating allows a man and a woman (whether young or old) to spend time together alone. They hang out and "get to know each other." But it is so far from marriage and is so easy, they can't begin to imagine a lifelong commitment to the person. Dating is easy and playful and completely removed from the way life really goes after the wedding day. 

Let me be honest. Being alone with someone you "like" or love from the opposite sex before marriage (or even with marriage not even in mind) is extremely dangerous. I know from experience. I have been there. My husband and I thought it wouldn't be too hard to be alone for a few minutes at a time while we were engaged. It was as though we thought that since we were both strong Christians that temptation wouldn't be so strong. But it was so strong. I wanted to kiss him so badly. We wanted to be close. We had to realize that that longing is normal and good, but we had to stay with other people so our longings wouldn't let us compromise our beliefs. It was hard. With all honesty it took God's Word and Truth seeping into my heart every day to stay the route I knew I should walk. 

Dating also prolongs the gap between "the awakening to the opposite sex" and marriage. Most children awaken to the fact that the opposite sex is attractive when they are in their preteens. Apparently, we have taken that and turned it into a good reason to send them off to "date." Children turn into young adults and before we know it, they have dated for years and they have no real desire to marry because they don't see a point with dating as a constant option.

Dating usually teaches us that we are "victims" of love. We "fall" into love when all is sweet and rosy. Dating avoids what happens when she is no longer pretty or he is no longer as handsome. Dating supports lust more than love. 

Dearly beloved children of the One True God, decide and choose to revolve your life around God's Word. Choose to wait for God to bring you the man or woman He has planned for you. Choose to love that one man or woman all the days of your life. If his hair falls out, whisper in his ear that he is is still so handsome. If she wrinkles, kiss her cheeks and tell her that she is always your beautiful bride. When it is time to marry, stop waiting and say "I do." Don't rush while you date and then when you know he or she is the one, wait to get married. Reverse it and you will be doing a lot better. 

God's kind of love is almost the opposite of this world's version of love. As we live in this backwards world, remember that we must be intentional about the way we live. Sitting on the fence of dating and waiting is a waste of your time. Do relationships the Biblical way. I promise it is worth it. I know, because I am proof. 

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Deserted Island

Sunday night, a blue Honda mini van pulled up to my home. Out of it came 5 very special people. My family. My wonderful family.

I completely enjoyed the next two days I spent with them. Josh worked in the day, so for a couple days I was oddly apart of the Brown Family again. I even sat in my old seat. There were 6 of us again.

Tuesday was the day I, nor they, will ever forget. We decided to go to Beaufort (which is about 40 minutes from my house.) It is a beautiful, water-front town. My Dad bought us tickets to ride on a ferry to a 9 miles long "deserted island" called Shackleford Island where there are beautiful seashells and 104 wild, Spanish horses. The horses have been there since the 1700s when Spanish explorers left horses on the Island.

We bounced across the ocean for 15 minutes to the island. We got off the ferry and began our walk across the 1 1/2 mile wide island. It really was an adventure where horses galloped by and beautiful shells glimmered in the sunlight. We jumped over little streams and climbed to the crest of the hills. We made it to the other side of the island and played along the beach.

Pictures courtesy of Kandace.

With about an hour left until the ferry was to return, we took our time walking back around the tip of the island. An older lady whom had come on the ferry, saw a conk shell at the same time Clara saw it. The lady couldn't reach down and pick it up, so Clara retrieved it for her and gave it to the lady. The lady smiled with pleasure. She acted at though she had been given a treasure. Clara found other shells and had us all carrying a few.

We eventually made it back to where the ferry would pick us up. I was walking with Dad, well ahead of Mom, Kandace and Clara. Andrew was ahead of Dad and me. Mom's shill yell stopped me mid-sentence. Dad and I both turned in one split second.

We both saw Kandace and Mom leaning over the side of a small, sandy cliff. In the water was Clara's flailing arms. Adrenaline took over my body and I sprinted with Dad to the spot. Clara's head bobbed up and down as she gulped the sea water. Kandace flung the camera off her neck and into the sand as she leaned in and pulled Clara up.

Clara was soaked from head to toe. She cried softly against Daddy. We hugged her and told her that it was alright. She was safe now. She had apparently stepped too far off of the sandy edge and the sand had given way underneath her.

The cool wind caused her to shiver. Daddy took off his white undershirt and put it on her. The rain suddenly decided to start coming down. The ferry came a few minutes later. Daddy laid some of the shells on the ground and said that we didn't need them all. But Clara begged for them, so we carried them onto the little boat.

We said "farewell" to the beautiful island. The warm sea breeze turned cold as the ferry sped away. Kandace and I held Clara between us to keep her warm, but her thin frame just shook away. The older lady whom Clara had gotten the shell for earlier handed us something far more precious than a shell at that point... it was a warm blanket.

Clara grinned as we wrapped it around her.

It made me think. The lesson I learned was simple: If you give without expecting anything in return and do so cheerfully, God will provide your needs. And He did this time, in such a simple and sweet way.

It was a wonderful day that I will never forget. It broke my heart to watch my family drive away yesterday morning. But, I am thankful for the time we had together. I am blessed with a wonderful family. Are you? If so, give them a hug or tell them you love them.

Children and teenagers, don't let the everyday life steal the blessing you have in being with your family. Enjoy them while you are with them. Each day with them is one less you will have. So don't be gloomy but kiss, hug, tell them that you are proud of them, let them know you are thankful and be joyful. God put you together for a reason. So enjoy!