Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pure Passion :: From Bad to Good (another step back)

Welcome to the Pure Passion Series!!

It's a fumbling attempt to share my story. It's full of the journey of a shy Christian girl who wants to honor God, but, for most of my life, I have had no idea what that means in regards to sex and sexuality.

It's about sifting through the pages yellowed and written upon by my own hand and others. Then keeping the good and releasing the bad.

There's lots of both in my journey with sex.

The good is the innocence and naivety that was preserved even amidst a public school environment. The good is a commitment to not give myself physically to anyone but my husband. The good is a God who has loved and pursued this shy Christian girl, stirring a pure passion in me that knows complete fulfillment is only found in Him. It's a story of grace upon grace upon grace all of my days and forever more.

The bad has been harder to see. But it is becoming clearer. I can see that I am a product of a Christian culture that, for the most part, has been silent regarding sex. By this I mean that propriety, confusion similar to my own, and hidden things of sexual sin, or abuse, all have contributed to a sub-culture where sex, and any questions or issues regarding it, are just not talked about. This series has shown me where I have come from as I have only just begun to use the word 'sex' freely.

Truly, truly, I do not harbor bitterness or anger against anyone who might have contributed to the silence I grew up with regarding sex. But, I have resolved to live differently. I am called to live in the days given to me as a follower of Christ, woman, wife, mother, missionary, sister, friend, mentor... And I believe these days are calling for voices to speak with clarity and courage, humility and hope and fire and faith concerning sex.

Simply, we have let the Thief steal what God made good. Every day I hear another story of pornography addiction, emotional affairs, divorce, abuse, and these are just the things out in the open. Sad, heartbreaking, yet true.

But, I know that I know that I know God has called me, my husband, my kids and the next generation to something more. It's radical thinking in a world gone mad with out-of-bounds desire. But it's essential thinking in order for the world to know there is a God who sent His Son to redeem us from the curse of the fall by becoming that curse and reversing we, and this whole wide world, can be bought back from death and given life.

So I am moving from bad to good. A paradigm shift that changes perspective regarding sex. (Almost all of the posts are subtitled from (something bad) to (something good) that relates to understanding God's design for the well of passion that He gives us.)

I'm taking back what the world, the flesh and the devil call their own. 

In the world, sex is a chasing after the wind. But in outright and subtle ways we are pulled right into our own feverish wandering.

The clean romances and chic flicks, ladies, they suck us in. It's all of the excitement of new love and it really can make us think that excitement comes only in a new relationship. As a single and married woman, this is where I have been most affected. I have either lived in ideals that had lost a sense of reality when I made foolish choices in my dating years. Or I have been dissatisfied with the day-in day-out hard work of living out love in my marriage.

And where the clean stuff stops all kinds of other stuff comes in. Yes, I mean erotica and it's global boom, but also, every billboard, commercial, sex scene...anything that jumps to the front of the line raises its hand and demands our attention. It paints a picture that is fairy tale with no way to make it true.

So how do we keep from getting sucked in?

We can't. 

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus. ~Blaise Pascal 
But the Spirit of the Risen Christ living in us, communing with us, is fully able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine as we press into His infinite love.
So, practically, to see what our hearts are using to fill this vacuum, we look at our time and our thoughts. God in Christ is always ready to fill us with Himself, but we have to make the space for that to happen.

I have always loved light, fun, wholesome, romantic fiction. As a girl, it was my escape through hard things that made my family sad for a long time. For years I never read a single novel, because I lack self discipline and all but the survival essentials get put aside when I 'get into a book'. In the every-kind-of-weariness of living overseas, I started reading fiction again. A lot. I wasn't watching TV, but I was reading. A lot. This past Lent I knew the Lord was asking me to let go of it.

So I did. And this series came about, in many ways, through that. Because in that time and thought space I read the Bible more. I connected more with my hubby;) I made space to commune with God. To deal with my heart. To dream. To Live Free.

When we open our arms wide to a God who has fully and forever accepted us in Christ, the things of lesser value fall away. The bad thinking just doesn't hold up. The good gifts, like marriage, children, opportunities to minister sparkle before our eyes with the weight of Glory. A Glory for which we are indelibly made. And our passions are purified...made ready to flow in worship to God and in one-flesh relationship with our spouse.

So, you see, it's a completely wrong view in the world that chemistry is instant and irresistible. And sex is amazing from Day 1 and works perfectly, etc. No, we have to actively discipline ourselves, make time for it, choose it, like our relationship with God. It doesn't just happen and we need to let go of thinking it does.

I keep circling back to perspective and right thinking regarding sex. Because that's how this is not just some epiphany but rather, the way in which we are being changed in the deep places.

A friend of mine was recently talking to me about a Bible teacher, Jen Wilkin, and quoted her as saying ::

How can we ever love sex if our mind is plagued by faulty thinking? 

We've got to know God's design for sex.

We've got to let our thinking be transformed because, remember, 80% or more of sex, for women, is in our minds.

But the only way to be truly transformed is to be led by the Spirit of God and with Him as our greatest gaze. You see, as much as I love my husband, as much as I {may;} love sex, neither is enough to keep me going strong as I continue to work through many years of wrong views, exhaustion, a sense of duty, guilt and the spiritual warfare against a healthy marriage. The pleasure of marriage through the gift of sexual intimacy, will always be a lesser thing, an idol, unless through it I learn to know God. 

And so I will. You see, I need God desperately to journey well here. It's a humbling thing to write this series knowing how much still needs to be transformed. The danger of hypocrisy is close and enough to make me not want to write another thing related to sex or marriage or God. 

But what journey worth taking is easy or one in which we can ever feel comfortable or capable? 

No, this journey holds the pearl of all the true ones where I live like God is worthy of all of me (because He absolutely is!) and my life is broken open and poured out. 

Thank you for journeying with me...I won't be stopping anytime soon and I hope you won't either :)
Read the entire Pure Passion Series here!
 Sharing with the #SoliDeoGloriaSisterhood, #TellHisStory, #ImperfectProse and Unforced Rhythms

Join me next for :: From Escape to Experience


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pure Passion :: How Did I Get Here? {from Lonely to Lover}

So I've been traveling, speaking/sharing at churches and in small groups, and seeing family & friends in the States for 2 months. I've been back in Hungary for a week, now, and a lot of it has been getting over jet lag and nursing a very sick toddler (he's better now, Praise God!) and also going away with my hubby overnight;) In a few days we'll head to our English Camp SPEAKOUT for 5-6 weeks! Whew! It makes me think of this post I wrote for Sheila's blog. But, I've kept writing my story (and living it!) and hope for at least one post a week during Speakout and (hopefully) more after. I won't be stopping anytime soon, so please keep reading!

Welcome to the Pure Passion Series!!

This series is my journey to understanding sex and sexuality from God's perspective BUT it's also so much more than that!

It's already had twists and turns, hills and valleys as I comb through pages of my past and present life.

The thing is, knowing your story, is messy business.

We dig and find and let go and embrace and live and then it cycles again.

So, I find myself stepping back.

Why? Well, as always, it's a mix of things.

A good friend (one of many that I was able to see in our two months in the States) who reads my blog asked me how it all started. This Pure Passion Journey. I gave her a roundabout answer and realized I had some more reflection to do.

This post also comes from the in-between, can-be-incredibly-lonely of this life overseas that I have come to embrace. As I was thinking about re-entry into our new home while my 19 month-old son {finally} drifted off to sleep during our Trans-Atlantic flight, I thought about all of the lost~ness that is a great big theme in my life story.

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It probably came that moment I was born into this world and was no longer inside my mother or in the womb with my twin. It's woven through the heartbreak of losing our farm at the cusp of adolescence. The barn of that farm is no longer there. It was torn down soon after we left almost 30 years ago. So is the house in which my family lived for the next 10+ years.

And the next one in which cancer found my mother and where she lived her last days? It's abandoned and the next time I go back to the States may be torn down as well.

Her grave now sits atop a hill in one of the most gorgeous cemeteries I have ever seen. But my siblings, father and I live far, farther and an ocean away and only a couple of us rarely get there.

In the ins and outs there's me. An identical twin who needs to learn to live independently. A daughter who's lost her mama before she became a wife and a mama. A woman who has moved too many times, had kids in three different places thousands of miles from each other. Someone who has dear friends in multiple languages and countries.

I am truly on a journey and this lost-ness that must become found is written across every page of the story. And though it looks different for you, it is your journey too.

What does it mean to be found? To come home even as we journey Home?

I'd say that the answers to these questions which fought to be heard as I moved to another country 2+ years ago are how I got here.

I know I cannot survive the life I am called to unless I move from lost to found. Or in the context of Pure Passion from lonely to lover. Every day when I step out into a profoundly different culture, I must learn to know the presence of God and live from a place of dynamic love in which I am both receiving and giving.

This is what Pure Passion is all about! I shared about the clarity I found early in college and what it meant, for me, to live embracing God as my Lover as a single person. My pursuit of fuller passion in understanding sex as God's good gift is a continuation of that same path as a wife, soul-mate, and help-meet who is traveling Home with another.

And it is only now, in the brokenness upon brokenness that met me in this new life as I walk like a child, sometimes crawl, while feeling the pressure to be a great wife, mother and missionary, that I have begun to lay down all of my own ways of finding my life, or identity.

You see, the deeper the lost-ness the greater the longing to be found. The less other loves will satisfy. This is the great gift of a journey that takes courage and risk and sacrifice. I always knew being found could only come through God, but it's taken the messy working out of what that means to show me that I can not embrace God's love in fuller and fuller degrees by myself when I am now one with my husband.

My intimacy with God was stalling in a way I hadn't experienced since I was awakened by Grace in the beginning of college. And as I struggled through all of it, the Lord helped me to see that I was missing a huge piece: a fullness of intimacy with my husband that pushes through walls of loneliness and draws me into God's arms in the way my heart craves.

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It's the only way to become a lover of God and my husband. The Lord knows how He made us women. To see the whole picture and long for every detail to be colored in. It's what makes us seek to control, but it's also what makes us dream.

So I've begun to dream as I never have.

I'm laying down the fears that lay in dark corners of misplaced shame and profound insecurity. I'm opening doors that were sealed tight all of my life.

And the Lord is using my journey to understanding sex and sexuality and His designs for fulfillment in marriage to unlock much of it.

I believe He wants to do this for any woman who desires to become a lover of God and her husband. We are found as we learn to receive the love meant to carry us Home and give our love in ways that we never imagined possible.

That's how I got 'here' on this crazy, wild, pure passion journey and I am going to keep asking you if you will come along?

Sharing with Kelli at Unforced Rhythms, Jen & the NEW SDGsisterhood, and Jennifer Dukes Lee #TellHisStory

 Read the entire Pure Passion Series here!!

Join me next time for Pure Passion :: From Bad to Good


Friday, June 13, 2014

when you know the art is the listening #fmfparty

Go ::

And it's a Friday 
I am home
you know the one 
where I've grown up 
moved an ocean away
from home 
and really need to be a 
big girl.

A big girl who listens.

The messages, they've
been there all of my life.

The good definitely 
outweighs the bad.

So why is the bad all over 
the ones
that have filtered right 
through and stick to me 
like glue?

I'm writing this series
and it's taking me back
to the days when I was
a girl and how some 
messages changed my
whole life.

And now I want to move
ahead to what's ahead
with some big things

I want to know that I am
listening the the Only Voice
that counts in the end.

I've found Him in the 
cows that moo'ed when
I was a girl 
working a farm.
Saturday morning chores
and family together.

I've heard that voice in 
hugs and the knowledge
that I was enough. Mama
and Papa always, always
always made me feel 
like I didn't have to do a 
thing to earn their love.

And I've found Him in 
come in the gifts of friends
who are going to be 
with me forever, even if 
I won't see them again in 
this life.

I've found Him in the heart 
of this molding clay to 
which I have become one.
It's messy and real
and in the end we know
our breath is Grace and 
the hand that forms
is the One who 

says "I love you. 
It is finished, first to last, 
in Me. One Day you 
will be Home forever. 
Safe in my arms.

This is the message 
from which I want you
to live."


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Confessions of a Tired Wife :: How I Found Hope Through Sex #TellHisStory #ImperfectProse #SexinMarriage #missionalwomen 

It's crazy these days...we return back to Hungary in a few short days. I am packing again and cannot remember where I slept a few nights ago. It's the exhausting of this at-times very nomadic life we lead as missionaries.

I wrote this post a couple of months ago, before we started months of travel.  It is all still true, but it is humbling, reminding, challenging, encouraging and freeing to remember how God met me in a very hard point of our transition overseas.

To GOD be the Glory for ALL that He has given and intends for us to enjoy in marriage. It's all for Him and we ARE going Home forever so we can release the worry, exhaustion, pain, doubt and fear into His Forever Healing Arms and Live, Really Live, vibrantly, fully and His.

Here's an excerpt ::

But something was desperately missing.

I think you know where this is going.

Like so many women, sex had become duty for me. My husband has always been patient, sacrificial and desires to give me pleasure. Yet, this too, had become predictable and just not very fun.  We had our moments, but, the sad truth was we were living the adventure in big ways and yet it was missing from the most intimate space between us.

I knew things would have been different as far as frequency in our sex life if I could get over my tiredness which, of course, made me feel more guilty and, in turn, more tired. Why couldn’t I give more? Why didn’t I want to? What was wrong with me?

It was an evening last fall when I somehow (can you say divine inspiration?) found Sheila’s book 31 Days to Great Sex. Much to my husband’s delight we began to read it together that night. The next morning I woke up with a profound sense of hope in my spirit.

It was a strange thought to me, yet I knew it was from God. You see, I had been meditating on hope and seeking answers through His Word. But I just couldn’t grasp it. I was body, mind, soul weary. That fall was full of intense spiritual warfare as the Enemy of souls, marriage and ministry was gunning hard for me to give up.

So many things were coming together in our new life, but I was dying inside. And at the depth of my struggle, I was crying out for hope.

Read the entire post at Sheila's website :: Confessions of a Tired Wife

Also sharing with Jennifer for #TellHisStory and Emily for #ImperfectProse


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