A PUBLICAT I O N O F O N M Y OW N N OW M I N I ST R I ES
Young Christian Woman How to Win in
about clothes! Road-Trippinâ€™
Meet Beauty Queen Vicki Fourie
Modern-Day Esther www. onmyownnow .com
Young Christian Woman
A publication of ON MY OWN NOW MINISTRIES
STRAIGHT TALK FROM THE PROVERBS
How to Win in Any Argument By Donna Lee Schillinger
MOVING OUT ... SETTLING IN
Learning the Hard Way By Kimberly Schluterman
By Vicki Fourie, Miss Deaf South Africa
8 . 12.
I Know you Can
Road Trippin’ 101 By Julie Ann
Deep Thoughts ... About Clothes! By Tamara Jane
EDITOR IN CHIEF Donna Lee Schillinger
Purity’s Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off By Freda Miller
ART DIRECTION Daniela Bermúdez
JUST WHAT YOU NEED
23. Free Money, No Joke By Jeffrey Bridgman
CLICK TO THE STORE
The most difficult task in the life of a Christian single today is maintaining purity until marriage. The payoff is perfect love and sex, just as our Creator intended. But if that’s so awesome, why aren’t more people choosing it? And how can premarital sex be so bad if so many people are doing it and loving it? People who were virgins when they married aren’t usually the type to kiss and tell. And when premarital sex goes wrong, no one wants to Tweet it. This awkward silence from both contingents isn’t helping the next generation to decide well on the issue of premarital sex.
Purity’s Big Payoff
/ Pre-marital Sex is a Big Rip-off A collection of 17 true stories about love that waited – or not! – for sex until marriage and the consequences of that decision. Learn more at PuritysBigPayoff. com. Now on sale at major online booksellers, through your local bookstore or for a special price of $12 plus free shipping at www.OnMyOwnNow.com, which receives as a donation half of the proceeds of its sales. Also available in Kindle through Amazon.com.
by Donna Lee Schillinger
how to win in any argument A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing her own opinions. Proverbs 18:2
ave you ever been in a formal debate? If you have, you probably realized quickly that while your opponent is speaking, you have to listen carefully enough to catch the key points of her side of the argument, but most of your mental energy is spent forming your rebuttal. Debate is not a conversation in which two people should openly listen to each other – it’s a competition. Some people approach conversation as if it were a debate. As you talk to them, you can see after a few seconds they’ve turned on their auto-pilot response system so they can slip away mentally to formulate their next point. Once they’ve got it ready, they take over the controls again and you can read in their faces, “Hurry up and finish, I have something to say.” You know what I’m talking about and you may have been guilty of this yourself. I know I have been. A conversation like that is bad enough; it’s worse yet to be in an argument with this type of person. You can never make a point because the other person is too busy formulating her next point to listen to yours. And so you go round and round chasing each other’s tails. Would you like to know how to stop that chase? Just listen. No… that’s it – just listen. It’s up to you to just listen – if you can’t get the other person to acknowledge even one point, you’ll not likely be successful at persuading her to just listen. So you take the lead and just listen to her. This is not giving up or giving in – it’s getting somewhere. Try it. The next time you butt up against a contrary opinion and you find yourself engaged in what seems to be an endless and hopeless debate, try this tactic. Just listen. Let your “opponent” completely air her grievance until there is nothing left to say. Don’t interrupt. If she says something like, “Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” you can say, “I just want to fully understand your opinion, so keep talking.” I know it sounds crazy but these are tried-and-true strategies I learned and practiced as a court-certified mediator. In even some of the most complicated divorce cases, I found people willing to concede things they had, at first, staunchly opposed for the simple reason that they felt they had finally been heard and understood. There is great power in acknowledging someone else’s opinion and affirming their emotions. It will often completely diffuse an argument. The whole point of the argument may just have been, “I want you to get it!” and once you sincerely communicate
that you do “get it,” through listening, affirming that you understand why your friend feels as she does and apologizing, if for nothing else, for the fact that she has been distressed, the argument may be over. That doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is solved, but it’s easier to seek a solution when you’re not arguing. Then there are those who simply like to argue. It’s like a sport to them. There’s not likely to be a resolution with that kind of a person. You’re just a guest at one of their jaw jam sessions. Listen closely to that person too. The lines seem rehearsed, like maybe he has had this argument before, maybe a dozen times before. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into being this week’s special guest for another episode of the same ole argument. Again, the best way out is to just listen and then when you’re able, say something polite like, “You’ve given me a lot to think about,” as you quickly make your exit stage left. We can’t live in this world without clashing with other people from time to time. Even if you try to avoid argument, it’s not possible all the time. When your time comes, look for the lesson – take pleasure in understanding another person by giving them the floor and your full attention. If the matter can be resolved, your dedicated listening is the quickest way to bring a resolution about. If in your listening you realize you’re arguing with a fool who likes to hear himself talk – yield the field and enjoy the event.
Hold this thought:
I sincerely want to understand opinions that differ from my own. 5
by Kimberly Schluterman
the learning hard way
hen I was in Jr. High, Jesse, a kid a few grades ahead of me, was killed tragically in a car accident as he drove home, drunk, from a party on the mountain. At the time, we were all a little less scrupulous about what e-mails we sent because it was still a relatively new phenomenon and the rules and social norms that we expect today hadn’t yet been established. So naturally, several emails about Jesse went around, all saying basically the same thing. It’s so sad he died, let’s keep his family in our prayers, let’s all take the time to heal. All fine and dandy, but I felt like the obvious lesson here was being missed. So I forwarded one of those e-mails and wrote at the top something about how his death was so tragic, but we can learn from it. The moral of the story here is don’t drink and drive. My message seemed innocuous enough to me, but one person who was close to Jesse replied with a hateful, angry note about how I shouldn’t be judging him in his death. I should only be showing love and compassion. I was stunned, because in my mind, I was showing love and compassion to my friends still alive by cautioning them of what could happen if they were stupid. I really hadn’t meant to offend anyone so I replied to this person with a note about how a smart woman will learn from her mistakes, but a
smarter woman will learn from someone else’s mistakes. Somewhere in there, I remember writing these words: “Jesse’s death was a terrible tragedy for all those involved, but an easy lesson for those of us who weren’t.” This seemed to satisfy my offended friend because she wrote back, praising me for my wisdom and thanking me for keeping a cool head. Of course, it wasn’t my own wisdom that I was sharing. My daddy taught me my whole life to learn not only from my own mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others. This lesson has proved valuable to me time and time again, as there is never a shortage of stupid behavior around me. Not that long ago, I remember looking around my world thinking every other person I knew must be going bankrupt. Bankruptcies everywhere! Here I was, recently married and applying the financial goals from Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover (read my review in a previous Single!), and I was surrounded by people filing for bankruptcy. Coworkers, chatty Walmart cashiers, and old friends had all spent their way into financial bleakness so that they were now left with no other choice but to go bankrupt. I would have been a fool not to recognize the importance of living below my means and saving for unforeseen expenses in the future. I am sure this was no coincidence, but rather a divine
circumstance. God directed the money makeover book into our hands at a pivotal time in our lives; and when we needed it most, He provided the extra incentive, some real-life examples, of why we should take the book to heart. God is good like that. He puts people who have learned the hard way into our lives so that we can learn from them. If we are wise enough to take heed, we can be spared from hardship. But now, a person about whom I care very much is failing to learn from my mistakes. I spent my first couple semesters of college learning everything the hard way. I guess I didn’t realize how important sleep is to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Either nobody told me or I didn’t listen; the latter seems more likely. As is so common, I liked a boy, and spending time with him seemed more important than sleep. The cumulative result is what I now call “my bad semester.” Just before Christmas break of my sophomore year, that boy told me he didn’t like me like that anymore and only wanted to be friends. Of course, officially we were only “friends” anyway, as I knew he wasn’t the kind of boy I could ever marry. But the emotions were still there and the rejection still stung. He told me this at about 4:00 in the morning—about four hours before my history final for which I’d been studying all night. Naturally, when I got to the final, I was not only devastatingly tired, but distracted by heartbreak as well. To this day, I have almost no memory of taking that test. That’s probably why I made a D on it. This class, in which I’d held a high A the whole rest of the semester, now became yet another B on my transcript. The punctuation to that bad semester was Christmas break. I don’t remember packing or making the drive. When I got home, I went straight to bed. I got up occasionally to eat and use the bathroom, but for two full days and three full nights, all I did was sleep. I slept through company coming to visit, I slept through church, I slept through what could have been quality time with my family. I slept through everything because I was just so tired. I was tired in every way that a person can be tired. There’s no doubt in my mind that if that semester had been just a few weeks longer, I’d have ended up in the hospital. I’ll never forget the events of the following weeks or the way my relationship with my daddy changed for-
ever. Because of the unbelievable and tough love of my parents, I learned a lot of important lessons that I still use today. The most practical of them was simply that at least once, every single day, I have to go to bed. I’m a human in a human body and I need sleep. When I went back to school, I went to bed before midnight and slept for at least seven hours almost every single night. When I could, I slept for 8-9 hours. That next semester, I made all A’s. I also made the Dean’s List each of my last five semesters. It was amazing how much healthier I was just from that small change. Of course, I made some social adjustments as well. There were more tough social lessons to be learned later, but for then, the important thing was to sleep. Our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits need rest every single day. They need quiet time. And as a bonus tip, I’ll point out that your body does know the difference between night and day, so sleeping during the day is not as beneficial as sleeping at night; and sleeping at night with all the lights and TV on are not as beneficial as sleeping with black-out curtains and everything turned off. Remember, the point is to rest, to really, deeply, rejuvenate. Let your body use God’s amazing design to heal itself. Give your heart and mind time to process the assaults from the day and build defenses against the next ones. Read your Bible and let its words refresh your soul. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2 This lesson about sleep, which I learned in such a hard way, was probably the very beginning of my personal Project Balance. I learned to balance my social life and personal wants with my academic goals and physical needs. Whether the next step in your Project Balance is to learn to rest or to get up and exercise, I challenge you to learn from my mistake and take care of God’s temple (I Corinthians 6:19-20). This person about whom I care so much, I love her and want only good and wonderful things for her. I know she’s capable of taking over the world, but instead all she wants is to help it in every single way. I just wish she’d learn from my mistake like I did from Jesse’s. Youth can get you through a lot of things, but it cannot sustain. Only God can sustain, and His design for your body was that it should rest.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Psalm 42:1-2 7
by Vicki Fourie
I know you can
by Vicki Fourie, Miss Deaf South Africa
“Courage isn’t a gift, it’s a decision”
When I was two years old, my parents learned that I have 97 percent profound hearing loss. Even though they were extremely shocked and disappointed, they decided not to give up on me. Instead of looking at how big the problem was, they said, “How big is our Lord?” Every day turned out to be a challenge for me and my parents. For me, because I would throw constant tantrums; for my parents, because I thought I was just like any other little girl. I didn’t understand the need to make the extra effort to learn how to speak with my voice and read lips. One day I sat on the couch in the living room. “I don’t want to!” I shouted. My mom, always the patient teacher, said, “I know you can...”
Fast forward to high school, where my biggest challenge was understanding people in large groups. Everyone would speak at once, and my hearing loss kept me from being able to follow what was going on. It hurt the most when people made jokes and everyone laughed but I didn’t get the joke. I felt like such an outcast. I tried to avoid those kinds of situations, but there were times when I simply had to make the best of it. I learned to overcome my shyness about asking questions, keeping in mind that “He who asks is a fool for a moment – but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.” Now I encourage kids to be bold – do not be shy. Always ask questions. Be curious about everything and everything – the more you learn, the more you realize you still have a lot to learn.
At the age of 6, I was enrolled in an English school, despite Afrikaans (a Dutch dialect) being my native language. Statistics indicate that a deaf child cannot learn a second language, but my parents were adamant to prove those statistics wrong.
I still have my moments when I feel left out. For instance, I can’t speak on the phone, listen to the radio or go to the movies, but I have learned to adapt. Instead of speaking on the phone, I text or e-mail. Instead of going out to the movies, I rent DVDs and watch them with subtitles. Instead of listening to the radio, I buy the newspaper.
There were many obstacles along the way, but I overcame them by believing that “Courage isn’t a gift, it’s a decision.” My mother’s voice was a constant echo in my mind, “I know you can, I know you can...”
Human beings have an innate instinct to survive and adapt. We can learn how to make the best of our situations. We can ask ourselves, “What can I do to overcome my obstacles?”
Eventually, I began to say it to myself, ‘I know I can, I know I can...’
“The more I shared my stories with others, the more I received healing.”
The Road to the Runway The world of beauty pageants was an unexpected turn for me. In my final year of high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Several people told me I would be like Esther of the Bible – I would use my beauty to save a nation. At first, I didn’t quite understand (I thought I needed to marry a prince, and South Africa doesn’t have royalty!). I heard about the Miss Deaf South Africa pageant, and it occurred to me that Esther also partook in a pageant: the Miss Persia pageant. I took this as a sign that I should enter. Pageants have been a positive experience for me. I am sure there are those who look at supermodels and think, “How can that be positive?! The girls are anorexic, they smoke, and they have such low selfesteem.” There are those experiences as well, but for some, much good can come of the pageant world. If it weren’t for my title as Miss Deaf South Africa, I probably never would have had the motivation or opportunity to step into the public to motivate and inspire others. I speak a lot about overcoming my disability, but another event had a drastic impact on me. When I was 14 years old, I was accidentally shot with a gun – the bullet entered me at the back of my shoulder and exited in the front. This accident changed my whole life – in a good way. Before this happened, I always thought that my life was about me, about what I wanted, what
I needed. I also struggled with depression. After the accident, my attitude toward life changed. I decided not to be selfish anymore and not to feel sorry for myself. Life owes you nothing – it’s your responsibility to make something out of it. The more I shared my story with others, the more I received healing. When something traumatic happens, we tend to withdraw and keep it to ourselves. This isn’t healthy – if you don’t talk about it, you will die within yourself. Since winning the crown, I have had numerous opportunities to speak with young people of South Africa, sharing with the younger ones about how I struggled to be good in drama and ballet, and with the older youth, sharing my testimony of how I came to the Lord after the shooting accident. If I am blessed to win the Miss Deaf World 2011 crown, I will reach out to young people internationally. I know I can, because of Him who first believed in me. Even as a kid, I knew that God had a great purpose for my life. I just didn’t know what that purpose would be. As I grew older, I realized that life is not about what I want and what I need; it’s about others. Whenever I meet people, and they tell me that I have changed their lives, I know that I’m right on track in my own life. It’s not about how many times I’m on TV, or how many articles are written about me – it’s about all the
people who can be impacted positively from those efforts. It’s nice when kids come up to me and say, “Thank you so much, I really needed to hear your story.” Each of us has a story to tell – and we shouldn’t be shy about sharing it. In the pageant world, there are always winners and losers, but it’s important to remember that in life things are not so cut and dry. Sure, many girls are eventually disappointed when they don’t win in a pageant and it can seem that life isn’t fair – and it isn’t if we measure our successes against someone else’s. We each have our own path to walk. The competition is not against each other, but against ourselves. Ask yourself, “Am I developing the talents and gifts God gave me? Am I making the most of my circumstances and decisions?” A true winner in life is the person who is the best “she” she can be – the one who is not trying to be a copy of someone else, but a true original!
and gifts, and focus on them. The world doesn’t owe us a thing – it’s our responsibility to make something out of our lives. Life is full of choices, and having a positive attitude doesn’t just fall in one’s lap – we have to make a choice to practice this attitude in life. It’s like building a muscle: at first it’s not that easy, but with time it becomes easier and then one wonders, “Why did I ever doubt myself?” Embrace who you are. Your disability/circumstances need not define you… Be courageous! Vicki Fourie won Miss Deaf South Africa 2009/2010 and Miss Deaf International 2010 2nd Princess in Las Vegas. This July she will represent South Africa in the Miss Deaf World 2011 pageant in Prague, Czech Republic. Visit Vicki’s blog; follow her on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
And About that Disability There are some people who wallow in self-pity and bitterness, and that doesn’t get them very far in life. Stop complaining! You are alive, and your disability or circumstance is nothing compared to what you have – the gift of life. It doesn’t help feeling angry towards God or people about your disability. Believe me, it’s a total waste of time. Find out what are your talents
by Julie Ann
few months ago, I set out on an 1,800-mile, three-day road trip to relocate from New Mexico to Oregon. After numerous walletdeflating gas station stops, (what felt like) hundreds of fast food cheeseburgers, two motels and one relative’s spare bedroom, I felt like I had become somewhat of a road trip expert. As we head into summer, you might be gearing up for a road trip too. But with the soaring costs of gas and the national economy still in recovery, you are probably trying to keep cost to a minimum. So whether you are heading to the next town, the next state, or across the entire country, here are some tips that will help keep your road trip cost low, leaving more money for souvenirs or admission into the Idaho Potato Museum.
One of the biggest expenses of a road trip is transportation. These expenses revolve around the price of gasoline and general wear and tear on your car. These costs can add up quickly. To keep costs to a minimum you should make sure that your car is in good shape before hitting the road. Always check to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Studies have shown that properly inflated tires can increase gas mileage by more than three percent. You can also improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturer’s suggested motor oil. If it’s been a while since your last automotive tune-up, a visit to a licensed mechanic is highly recommended. This step may also help prevent an untimely break-down in some town where you least can afford it. Once your car is in tip-top shape, you can help improve gas mileage by modifying your driving style. Reducing your speed, not running the A/C and avoiding “jack-rabbit” starts and stops will all add up to better gas mileage. (Plus, you might even avoid a traffic violation or two!) Even after doing all you can to save gas, eventually you’ll still have to make that painful trip to the pump. Fortunately, with all the available information technology, it is easier to locate the cheapest gas prices on your travel route. Use a gas price tracking Web site to scope out cheap gas along the route or download an app for your Smartphone (I downloaded GasBuddy for free on my Android). This should help you know if you should fuel up in Tulsa or wait until you get to Oklahoma City. Also use a mapping Web site, Smartphone map app, or GPS to calculate the most economic routes. If you are prone to getting lost, this should also help keep you on track so you can avoid wasting gas if you accidently take a wrong turn and then have to backtrack.
If your road trip will involve an overnight stay or two, you’ll probably want to pre-plan in order to save money. Obviously the best method for saving money is by finding free lodging. You can consider camping (check out FreeCampGrounds.com for a more than 2,000 places nationwide to sleep for under $10), sleeping in the car (pick a safe spot like a hospital parking lot) or finding a friend along the route who will offer you a couch for the night. However, if you are like me and need a soft bed and warm shower, and have no friends along the way, you’ll have to find a motel. Doing an Internet search and reserving a room beforehand is best. It may sometimes be a little time consuming to search for and find the cheapest place, but well worth it in the end. If you have preplanned and reserved a room, you will know exactly where you are staying, how much you will be paying, and you won’t have to worry about getting into a town and not finding a cheap room (and a decent room) for the night. Compare prices quickly on most of the major hotel chains at Web sites like Hotels.com and Expedia. I also recommend Kayak.com, a site that compares prices of all the major travel sites, like Expedia and Hotels.com.
B FOOD AND SNACKS:
To me, eating snacks and fast food are one of the best parts of a road trip. In fact, on the routes I frequency travel to see my family, I know every single convenience store (note: convenience stores have a very high price mark-up) that carries my go-to road trip snack: Little Debbie Fudge Brownies. But again, grabbing chips, a drink and a brownie after every fill up or potty break will put a huge dent in your travel budget. So be sure to stock up on any snacks beforehand. Instead of stopping for fast food for each meal, carry an ice chest with sandwiches, snacks and cold drinks. If I were to indulge my brownies habit to an extreme on a trip, I could pick up a box of brownies from a grocery store and get about 10 for the price I would pay for three at a gas station. Once your car is ready, you’re preplanned and stocked up, all you need is some great music, fun car games, and spirit of adventure. Be safe, obey all traffic laws and be sure to stop and check out some crazy roadside attractions! Oh and if you’re curious, the Idaho Potato Museum is located in Blackfoot, Idaho, in case you’re headed that way.
how to calculate
GAS MILEAGE: 1. After filling your tank completely, write down the mileage from the odometer. 2. When you refill your tank, note the number of gallons it took to fill up and the mileage from the odometer. 3. Subtract the second odometer from the first odometer reading to calculate the distance driven. 4. Divide the number of miles driven by the total gallons of gas it took when you refilled.
FA SHION DIVINA 16
by Tamara Jane
went to prom this year with my boyfriend of 10 months. Prom is a big deal in general, but for me, a homeschooler, this was an even bigger deal, and I wanted to make the most of the experience. In addition to the frenzy of getting myself ready for the big day, I got to observe a lot of second-hand frenzy too, as I worked a lot of hours at a local florist during prom season. Being my usual, observant self, I noticed that a lot of girls were ordering their own corsages because they were going single to prom. I very impressed with and proud of these girls. Any girl who would rather go alone to the prom than to settle for going with some jerk was brave, independent and all-around awesome in my book. When the big night came, I recognized some of the corsages I had worked on and I admired the dresses they went with as well. Then I began to notice that the single girls at prom, in general, were wearing shorter skirts, with lower cuts up top and higher cuts in the kick pleat. And for having gone single to the prom, they didn’t lack for guys on their arms. And most of the time it was one of their friends’ dates! Interesting isn’t it? Going in, they were these brave new women to me, but with more careful observation, they looked more like they were working a corner by the amount of attention they were drawing to themselves. What a letdown. Just when you think women might start having some self-respect, you realize nothing has changed. Girls, high school and beyond, let’s have a heart-to-heart. Let’s think deep thoughts about … our clothes (after all, this is a fashion column) and about the way we interact with guys. I know, it’s not my usual and there aren’t five fashion tips, but along with all the efforts to look good in a style that feels right for us, we can’t ignore the fact that clothes communicate things to others. It’s foolishness to think that our clothes aren’t talking just because we think it ought not to be that way. Yes, you ought to be able to wear anything. We ought to be able to walk around
nude – that is the way God intended, but newsflash! When sin entered the world, it was a total game changer; and since then, and until Jesus returns, you clothes will talk! Take some time to reflect on what your clothing choices are saying, honestly. Say the words out loud. Do you like what you hear? Clothes aren’t the only talkers though. Our bodies and attitudes talk too. Do we treat guys with respect, like we want to be treated? Do we treat them like toys? Are they entertainment? Are we treating them like they are dispensable, replaceable? Yes, I am describing how a lot of girls treat guys, but that lot of girls are not disciples of Christ and daughters of God. They are daughters of perdition; they have not received a higher calling. They are not light and salt, like we are supposed to be. And as such, we need to be dramatically different – as different as light and dark. We need to take the lead to bring women out of the dark ages. It’s ironical that now that we theoretically have social equality, we are oppressing ourselves by perpetuating the notion that we are, foremost, sexual beings. I don’t mean to preach, but I’m really disappointed in us – the ways that we treat ourselves, each other and guys. I want to challenge every single one of us, myself included. We are light – let’s shine as beautiful young women – on the inside. I want us to have a deep love for our Savior, for life, and have joy in everything, even trials. That’s all good, but what about guys, right? I promise you that if you focused on your inner beauty, a really great guy is going to notice it. Some not-so-great guys will notice too and may even take their game up a notch to try to be worthy of you. I’ve see it happen and I’d like to see it happen more often. So be lovely, not to make yourself sexually attractive to guys. Be beautiful for yourself and on your own, and start treating guys with the same respect you (and everyone) deserves.
by Freda Miller
Premarital sex is a big rip-off
he most difficult task in the life of a Christian single today is maintaining purity until marriage. The payoff is perfect love and sex, just as our Creator intended. But if that’s so awesome, why aren’t more people choosing it? And how can premarital sex be so bad if so many people are doing it and loving it? People who were virgins when they married aren’t usually the type to kiss and tell. And when premarital sex goes wrong, no one wants to Tweet it. This awkward silence from both contingents isn’t helping the next generation to decide well on the issue of premarital sex. Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off is a collection of 17 first-person narratives about successfully waiting for marriage to have sex – or not. Contributors on both sides of the issue candidly share in face-reddening detail what they learned on their way to the wedding bed. Young people aiming to remain pure will be encouraged and learn practical strategies for resisting sexual temptation. Those who wish they had waited will learn that it’s never too late to restore purity with God’s grace. The following is an excerpt.
This Rule’s a Keeper
n my teenage years I began to test the various and sundry rules and values to which parents, teachers and friends had exposed me. It was a time to decide which ones I agreed with and which I didn’t. I watched others and thought I could learn from their mistakes as well as from their successes. I didn’t need to poke my finger in the fire to know I would get burned. Most of the people I knew had made a lot of mistakes, and sadly, that included my parents. I concluded that while they were both good people in certain ways, they seemed terribly miserable in their marriage. They fought, said hurtful things, held grudges about the past and never seemed to really resolve any issue successfully. Over the years, the wall between them grew higher, and it was plain to me that they weren’t happy. I decided that I wanted my life to be different. I wanted happiness and peace in my life. If I ever were to marry, I wanted to love and be loved. Not like them. I learned a lot about living without regrets from watching them. Two of the values that I decided to make a permanent part of my life were: To (try to!) make decisions that I would not later regret, and never to engage in any behavior that I would be ashamed to have made public. Maybe the second is a corollary of the first.
It was a Saturday when I was about 14 and my parents were at it again, screaming and fighting. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I grabbed a book and headed out to my “special spot” in the woods so I could get away. Sitting there in my escape, I took deep breaths of the sunshine. I laid back and listened to the wind blowing and the birds chirping. I watched the clouds in the sky and tried to clear my mind. Here there was harmony and peace. This was the kind of world I wanted. “God, help me; there is so much to think about.” My parents were so angry. They exchanged so many hurtful words and then no words at all for days. They were miserable, and so was I. My parents came from dysfunctional homes. I’ve heard it said that girls grow up to be like their mothers and then they look for someone to marry like their father. Is that what happened to my parents? Now I was growing up in a dysfunctional home. Would the same happen to me? I wondered about love and why it goes wrong. How could I avoid regrets in my love life? I needed to trust in someone and believe in something that went beyond anything that I saw in my parents — and God qualified. In God’s world were peace, harmony and security. What a contrast to my world! I thought about God’s rules for love and dating and knew that purity was God’s will, as well as my parents’ rule (although
Love is one aspect of life that’s caught up in this contradiction between the rules of nature and the rules of society. Besides these values I had for myself, my parents gave me lots of rules, like “Don’t be seen drunk in public,” and “Don’t come home pregnant if you’re not married.” I may not have liked their rules, but eventually I realized that I couldn’t escape them. Nature has rules and society has rules too. And life is often bound up by a complex interplay of rules that seem contradictory. Love is one aspect of life that’s caught up in this contradiction between the rules of nature and the rules of society. We all want to be loved, especially as teenagers. Nature creates the urge to seek a mate but our Christian values call for purity until marriage. Which do we obey? I remember the day I decided that for myself.
they didn’t have a lot of credibility as marital counselors at that moment). Maybe purity would be hard, but I couldn’t be sexually active without breaking all the rules, including both of my own — no regrets and no shame. I couldn’t find any way around it — the rule about no sex until marriage became a “keeper.” As anyone who has ever made one can testify, a purity promise is not easily kept. I’d love to be able to say that I was guided purely by virtue and moral perfection. Instead, foreboding rules hung over my head: “If I get pregnant, they’ll throw me out of the house.” That was a pretty big one, because I knew my dad really would. Then there was, “It’s a sin; I’ll go to Hell.” It came up from time to time, but Hell seemed a long way off.
Those threats were serious enough, but I actually had some other thoughts that reinforced my resolve and maybe they’ll help someone else:
1. How terrible would it be to fall in love with someone and trust him with your most intimate self, only to find out that you had been infected with a sexually transmitted disease from some former partner? To me, passing on an STD seemed the ultimate betrayal. I concluded that the best way to avoid AIDS or an STD was never to sleep around and never date boys who did.
Trust is an essential element in many different relationships and is very difficult to recover once broken. Even under the best of conditions, marriage takes work, but it is so much easier when built on a solid bedrock of faith in each other. I can only imagine how much heartache and stress are added when your only trust is based on promises that are no different than those made before to someone else and later broken. Sitting out in the woods in my “special place” that day, I came to see that God had a plan for all life, including mine, and I began to trust that He had good reasons for what He did and His seemingly conflicting rules.
2. If I told someone “I’ll love you forever,” when I had already “loved” another before we met, how could anyone completely trust that I wouldn’t love yet another later on? Wouldn’t there always be some doubt or insecurity? I believed that if my future husband and I conducted ourselves in an honorable way before marriage — if we could avoid all the pitfalls of hormones and peer pressure — then we each could rely on the other’s promise to be faithful after we married, having already set a trustworthy precedent.
3. I didn’t want my husband remembering how it was to have sex with one of his old girlfriends when he was making love to me, and I didn’t want him to wonder if I was doing the same. I wanted to be the only love in his life, first and forever. Was I insecure or jealous? Maybe — I was only 14, but hey, it worked for me!
4. I imagined how it would feel some day to walk down the street with my husband and kids and run into a former lover. He would recognize me; then he would look over at my husband. In his face, there would be this knowing superiority: “I know things about her, too, maybe things you still don’t know. We had something you don’t. You’ve got my old hand-me-down.” I wouldn’t be able to stand that and I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t be too keen on it either. Granted, the spiritual content of my rationale is lacking and maybe I’m revealing myself as insecure or even selfish. I don’t deny it, but it also could be that these are some of the real-life, practical reasons that God requires purity from His children. There may be no guarantees when it comes to love, but abstinence goes a long way to inspiring trust between two people, and that’s a solid prerequisite for love and a lasting relationship.
That day in the woods, I decided I could either be a victim of my circumstances or a victor, and I chose the latter. Though my parents’ marital discord was painful to me, it ultimately led me to look for a better way and to trust God for the answers. He has proven to be the best role model and teacher for how to be happy in life. Eventually, I met a special person who had also practiced premarital purity and expected the same from his future partner. My purity was a commitment to our future relationship based on the belief that love required trust and it was my pledge to him that I was worthy of that trust. It told him that I wasn’t ordinary and I wanted to be loved in a special way, and his premarital abstinence told me that he wanted to be loved the same way in return. It was and continues to be a special bond between us. Remaining pure was evidence of my belief that God is
smarter than we are, and that if He made a rule about it, it was in our own best interest, even if it does conflict with our God-given hormones that scream otherwise. Purity was trusting that a life lived with as few regrets as possible was a good thing and that there would never be any shame in telling our children that their parents had practiced purity in their dating relationship. Let me assure you how wonderful it is to look back after over 30 years together and realize how much misery and pain have been avoided because of that one important decision. You may not normally think of measuring the absence of a thing, but think about it now. By God’s grace, I avoided a lot of regrets and pain by following His plan, even though many would argue it was not the natural thing to do at the time. And yet many people I know who did the “natural thing” carry regrets about decisions in their past. Their lives have been burdened by complications resulting from the disclosure of secret behavior, whether a former lover,
an unplanned pregnancy, abortion, sexually-transmitted disease or an affair. Add to that the sleepless nights, the constant, gnawing fear that someone will learn the secret and the work of keeping up with all the lies, and the price to pay for casual sex becomes too expensive. That decision to trust God’s plan for dating was an essential ingredient that both my husband and I looked for when it came to choosing a marriage partner. I knew that I could never marry someone who had been intimate with someone besides me, and that was a good decision of which peace and security have been the outcome. By God’s grace, my prayers were further answered in that my marriage has turned out differently than that of my parents. While we aren’t perfect, we have solid, loving relationships with our children. My husband continues to be my only-ever lover and I believe him when he says he’ll always love me. I don’t have to be ashamed to tell any of that to my children. God’s plan works. God’s plan rules!
That was a good decision of which peace and security have been the outcome.
This story was excerpted from the new book Purity’s Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Ripoff, edited by Donna Lee Schillinger. A collection of 17 true stories about love that waited – or not! – for sex until marriage and the consequences of that decision. Learn more at PuritysBigPayoff.com. Now on sale at major online booksellers, through your local bookstore or for a special price of $12 plus free shipping at www.OnMyOwnNow. com, which receives as a donation half of the proceeds of its sales. Also available in Kindle through Amazon.com. También en español: La Gran Recompensa de la Pureza / La Gran Estafa del Sexo Prematrimonial. Visite www.VivaLaPureza.info.
JUST WHAT YOU NEED
Free Money No Joke *
’m not laughing, but you could be smiling big time by the time you get to the end of this article. I’m about to bust the top off of the well-kept secret about Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), savings tools that double your money. You save $1000, you get $2000. Sweet! And no, this is not some highrisk investment. Read on. IDAs can help non-savers become big-time savers in short order. They are savings accounts designed to help us actually achieve our savings goals by matching what we save dollar-for-dollar or even more. It’s free money! IDAs are specifically designed to help people with low to moderate incomes save toward a specific goal which will give them more financial stability in the future. This can include buying assets like a house or a car, starting your own business, getting vocational training, going to college, or even just buying textbooks. Eligibility varies, as these programs are run locally, but usually income limits are based on the federal poverty guidelines or local income averages. (Learn more about poverty guidelines.) The program in my area said that the income limit is 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. Since there is only one person in my household, as long as my income is less than $20,146.50 annually, I qualify. And even if my income goes above that limit after I graduate from college, I can still continue in the program. Additionally, programs may require a minimum contribution each month, but seeing as they are designed to work with people with low income, the minimum deposit is not overbearing. Details vary with each program, but usually taking some classes on budgeting and managing finances are also part of the deal since the IDA is designed to help people learn to be better stewards of their finances and to create lifelong habits of saving.
by Jeffrey Bridgman
But how does it work? Local non-profit organizations act as the sponsors for the IDA program. They work with local banks or credit unions to do the actual banking. Funds come from a combination of federal and state government grants, such as the Assets for Independence Program. Charities, corporations, and private foundations are often included. A website run by the Corporation for Economic Development provides more information about IDAs, in general, as well as a directory with information about local programs. For example, my rather small state has six different IDA program locations.
Do you find it hard to save? Do you start and then stop? Do big goals overwhelm you? Do you begin to doubt you’ll ever reach them and then chisel away at your savings for things like car repairs and Christmas presents? When I have tried to save money in the past, I always second-guess my future: What if I don’t save enough? What if I change my goal before the time comes to spend it? What if I get married and decide I would be happier just staying where I am now? If you have similar struggles when it comes to saving money, especially for way down the road, find a local IDA program and give them a call. This first step, which you owe it to yourself to take, will take 10 minutes max, and it could have a huge, positive impact for your future. I know I could use some help saving towards graduate school. I think I’ll give it a try and I’ll let you know how it goes.
*For those with low to moderate income who qualify