Monday, March 23, 2015

Love Without Sex || 3

For those that don't know the story of how PJ and I met, you can read it all here. It's my favorite story to tell, but for the sake of staying on topic, I'll condense. 

We exchanged our first words at the hotel bar, where family + the bridal party were gathered after the rehearsal dinner. We literally shared maybe 2 sentences; he learned that I wore glasses & didn't drink, and I learned that he was "crashing" the wedding. It was 100% a "he caught my eye from across the room" moment, but zero part of me expected him to be interested. I also didn't know enough about him to be interested beyond the point of finding him extremely attractive. ;)

It wasn't until the reception that all the Disney-topping dreaminess unfolded. And it wasn't until he cheersed my glass of sparkling cider and gave me a sweet compliment that I cued in to the fact that maybe, just maybe, he was interested. 


{A snapchat I sent a handful of girlfriends the day after the wedding. So glad one of them screen shotted this ;) }

So, let's get back to the whole point of this series. Sex. 

I brought up my boundaries with physical intimacy the night of the wedding. Yupp, you read that right. The first night we met. 

It may have been a bit bold, and I very likely could have scared him off. But one: I wanted to scare off any one who wasn't right. I had faith that one day, there would be someone who was right, so I wasn't afraid of losing the others. 

And two: there was actually another girl pursuing PJ that night {dun dun dunnnn}. I really love this part of our story because looking back, it gave each of us an opportunity to care for the other from the first moment we met. 

For me? I wanted PJ to have an exact expectation of what he was pursuing by going after me. I didn't want him to have any regrets at the end of the night, so I figured if he wanted sex at all before marriage, he deserved to know that I didn't. I knew he had other options, and I wanted him to be able to take that other road if it aligned more closely with what he was looking for. 

For him? Having other options blessed the heck out of me when he chose me. And he did so even after I gave him a big ol' stop sign for intimacy before marriage. He was able to take that information, and make a clear decision to still pursue me. 

Girls, there are guys out there who will pursue you even after you speak out about your boundaries and beliefs. And the ones who don't? I know it's easier said than done, but love them and yourself enough to let them go. 


PJ asked if he could kiss me that night, as we sat on a bench looking out at the ocean. It was the most romantic evening of my life, but something in me was able to clearly think & articulate "I really want to, but I know it would mean more if we actually get to see each other again."

To this day, PJ always says that me saying no blessed him. It showed him that I wanted to see him again. And you better believe that I did. :)

We had 3 weeks between the wedding and our first "date." 3 weeks of Face Timing, late night phone calls, and consistent texting back and forth. 3 long weeks of no physical interaction for two very physical people. We love holding hands, hugging, cuddling, and yes, kissing. So the fact that we fell hard for one another without any of those things meant a lot. 

Since that period, we have never gone that long without seeing each other. But I love that our love began through simply communicating. I got to know his heart, not what a good kisser he is. I got to feel pursed because he asked how my day was, not because he jumped on top of me. 

It's the healthiest relationship I've ever been in. And I don't doubt that it has to do with the fact that it began with emotional intimacy, not physical intimacy. I'm fairly certain that any two people who are attracted to one another can experience physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy is a bit harder to attain. 

I was instantly attracted to PJ, hence why our relationship started so quickly. But our friendship? That took time to deepen. I had to get to know his heart and his mind before I could trust him to advise me wisely in moments of trial. And now, it means sooooo much that he is the first person I turn to for advice. And he is the first person I turn to when I have good news to share. He is not just my boyfriend; he truly is my very best friend. 

Our chemistry was immediate, but our friendship had to grow. 

I never really took the time to truly grow and cultivate emotional intimacy or friendship in my other relationships, because physical intimacy became the primary, and arguably only, way of connection. 

I can honestly and whole heartedly say that with PJ, there is such an abundance of intimacy in our relationship, that I don't feel even a hint of lacking from the physical boundaries in our relationship. 

Those 3 weeks felt awfully long between when we met and when I went to visit him for our first date. They especially felt long because I did want to kiss him. Even though I said no that first night on the bench, of course I wanted to kiss this man that gave me butterflies & made me weak in the knees like no man before. 

It was a long 3 weeks, but when I finally got to see him again? When he picked me up at the janky hotel I had rented a room at, and when we drove holding hands to the Oakland A's stadium for a game against my Red Sox? And when I knew that I was about to have my first kiss with him? Absolutely zero part of me was regretting the wait. 100% of me was thankful that we waited until we knew, this was real. 

And when we had that long-awaited first kiss standing in line for the metal detector? Surrounded by people, but apparently both of us just couldn't wait any longer? 

It was perfect. And it was worth the wait. 

Whenever this whole waiting until marriage thing gets hard, I think about how thankful we both are that we waited for our first kiss. I think about how when we got to have it? There was not a single regret in our minds of the timing. 

And I just know that just like our unplanned first kiss in line for the metal detector, it will be perfect. 

And it will be worth the wait. 


***

Here's where you get to chime in!

First off, thank you so much for those of you who have given positive & encouraging feedback about this series. It has truly blessed both PJ and me!

We want to hear from you! Do you have any questions? As a final post, PJ and I are willing & excited to answer any questions you may have. 

Feel free to ask questions below (yes, you can do so anonymously!), or you can e-mail me at sweethomesbblog (at) gmail.com. 

We look forward to hearing from you! And thank you so much for following along in this series that is so close to both of our hearts. 

We love you guys!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Love Without Sex || 2

In case you missed the last post, I am currently in a series about, you guessed it, love without sex. Feel free to scroll down or click the link to read all about the heart behind this series, or just jump on in now. 

Before I continue, I want to make yet another disclaimer. This series will contain different forms of language, and I want to differentiate between them. The majority will be my personal experience and opinion, and it should be viewed as such. If I offer advice, it's only because it was tested & proven wise in my own life. But I always preface my advice with "this is what worked for me," or "absolutely seek the Lord, but here are my thoughts..." 

If I quote a book, it's because I appreciate the author's wisdom and find it to line up with Scripture. But again, human words do not equal God's words. Nothing can replace the Word of God, which will be the third form of language I use. 

So, in summation, the following can be found in this series:

1) God's Word (the best. ever)

2) Not God's Word, but not my words either (b/c sometimes, someone already said the words you're looking for)

3) My words

Alrighty, we're good to go. 

***

I was hours from home, flipping through radio stations, when my own pastor's voice spoke to me through my car and preached on sexual purity. 

I had heard the message before, more times than I could count. I had been chasing Jesus for months, and giving him areas of my heart that I hadn't ever surrendered. Yet, I still hadn't given Him access to my vision of sex. 

Until that night. 

I thought about God's Word. I thought about His instructions on sex, and marriage. 

"But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have His own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill His wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs." 
1 Corinthians 7:2-3

I thought about His instructions on guarding your heart. 

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." 
Proverbs 4:23

And I thought about my past relationships. I thought about each one, and noticed some undeniable similarities. I could not ignore the impact sex had on these relationships. Each time, my emotions and attachment would sky rocket once sexual intimacy was brought into the equation. It was scary how in my most extreme situations, I would go from complete indifference to truly believing I was in love. 

I realized that once sexual intimacy was introduced to a relationship, it trumped or even disregarded all over forms of intimacy. At this point in my life, I don't even think I remembered that there were other forms to cultivate: emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, friendship, etc. Physical intimacy is one aspect of a relationship, and yet it was the only one I paid attention to. 

In that moment, the Holy Spirit did something inside of me. It opened my eyes to the impact that sexual immorality had had on my life, and although it was daunting and scary and I wasn't even sure I could do it, I decided it was time to follow what Scripture commands: 

"Flee from sexual immorality. No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does."
1 Corinthians 6:18

***

Let's take a short side trail real quick to define this phrase that keeps coming up: sexual immorality. Here's the part where I'm going to borrow someone I respect's words.

In his book, Loveology, John Mark Comer writes that "the phrase 'sexual immorality' is porneia in Greek, and it's a junk-drawer word. Paul means any and all forms of sexuality outside of marriage between a man and a woman."

If I were to take a stab at elaborating on this, here's what I would say: sexual immorality is when our sexual drive, urges, and desires control us. God designed sex for good purposes (fo real!), and sexual immorality is when we take the creation outside of the Creator's vision to satisfy ourselves. You see, sex is powerful, and God knows it. He commands that we save it for marriage because He knows that it's for our good to engage in such a powerful form of intimacy only when we've committed ourselves to this person for life. And sexual immorality is when we say "yahhh, no thanks God. I know better on this one." 

I was doing that for a long time. And my motivation? To feel wanted. To feel loved, and desired. To feel attractive, and pursued. I wanted to feel all of this, and my way of satisfying those desires? Sex. 

Ridding my life of sexual immorality meant letting God take the reins in my romantic life. And even now, it is a daily decision to surrender those reins. 

***

Making this decision meant that a lot had to change in my life. But you know what? I didn't realize that at first. There was an awful lot of trial and error that helped me see that if I wanted to pursue purity, I had to stop pursuing my old life. 

What did that look like for me? Welp, I had to stop engaging in romantic relationships with men who didn't share the same feelings on sex. I fought that at first, but I very quickly realized that I wasn't strong enough to uphold this lifestyle on my own. If I was going to be in relationship, it had to be with someone who could partner with me in this. 

I had to stop flirting with men if I knew there was no purpose in it. I had to examine my heart: why am I flirting with this man? Just because sex was out of the equation didn't automatically mean my emotional issues were. I was still searching for love, still wanting to feel wanted. And if sex couldn't satisfy those cravings, it was real easy to let flirting fill that void. 

I had to let God fill that void. Something in me eventually discovered that if I ever wanted to have a healthy relationship, one that was free of sexual sin, I was going to have to let my God be my source of love. I was going to have to let Him make me feel wanted and pursued. 

And, I eventually had to stop drinking. Because even as I made immense growth in this area, it only took a few drinks for me to revert back to old habits. 

In all honesty, though? Alcohol and sex were easy to give up when I realized that freedom was my prize. 

***

I think this post is wordy enough, so I'll go ahead and wrap it up. I got to a place in my life where I finally stopped searching for love. I figured if it found me, it would be at church or at some Jesus conference. Little did I know that it would find me at a hotel bar, the last place I would expect. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Love Without Sex || 1

Those of you who have been around for a while (you know, from when I was consistently blogging) know that I have a huge heart for purity. So much so that I once wrote on it for 31 straight days. I have a heart that beats for lies to be shattered, wounds to healed, and new life to be given. And my passion for this? It comes from experience. Because in a single moment, my lies were shattered. By the grace of God, my wounds were healed. And because of my sweet Jesus, I was given new life. My view on sex was flipped upside down in a matter of minutes, and let me tell you, it was without my invitation. 

That's right, I didn't raise my hand willingly at a church event, or sign a contract proclaiming a new desire to wait until marriage. My God chased me down, with unrelenting love, and gave me a new mind and a new heart for my own good & for His own glory. 

My heart is to share my story in hopes that maybe, just maybe, God is doing the same chasing work in your life. Maybe He's after your heart, and maybe you just need a little encouragement. Maybe you need to see a life transformed to know that it can be done. Maybe you need to hear that there will be men who don't lose interest when you say you want to wait until marriage. Maybe you need to hear that it's okay if you're trying and failing, He won't give up on you. And maybe you need to have the word sexy redefined. 

Cause girl, there isn't anything sexier than a man who looks you in the eye and says "I want you forever" and means it. 

Maybe you're like I was and can't possibly comprehend how a serious relationship can exist without sex. Maybe a glimpse inside of one will give new vision to an area that you never expected would change for you. I never thought it would change for me, but here I am, writing a post about waiting until marriage. 

Whoever thinks God doesn't do miracles anymore? Let me just testify, my life is filled with them. 

I am blessed to have a boyfriend who actually encourages me to talk about our sex life, or lack there of. {ba dum chhh}


So if you're wondering what my wonderful PJ thinks about me writing about such intimate details of our relationship? Wonder no further. He's quite possibly more excited about this than I am. 

{Actually, I take it back. I'm pretty excited.} 

Regardless, this is a joint venture. I may be doing the tapping against the keyboard, but this is a two-person effort. Because this relationship? And this waiting thing? You better believe it's a joint effort. Ain't no way I could do it on my own. 

Why do we care to share our personal details on the internet for anyone and everyone to see? Because we care that much about this. Because somewhere along the way, we both started believing a lot of things about sex that just weren't true. And it's only by the grace of God that we are where we are today. So by golly, we're gonna talk about it. 

This isn't meant to shame, or condemn, or start an argument. If you're feeling judged, please remember who's doing the talking. This is a girl with a sexual past who has no reason or right to judge anyone, and would never want to. This is a girl who believes in loving people, period. Not loving those who agree with you, or loving those who listen to you. Why? Because that's what my Jesus did. 

This series is written with an understanding that these words can do nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. He alone changes lives, and words can simply testify to His power. 

This series is written with the hope that it will start a conversation in your heart. And not just about sex, because purity isn't just about sex. The title might read "Love Without Sex," but that's only because I once believed that the first required the second. I once was certain that love wasn't real love unless it included sex. 

And because I can speak as someone who truly believed that, it is now my heart's desire to present a love that is romantic, dreamy, exciting, real and yes, without sex. 

But it's only those things because of the single most important aspect. It's romantic, and dreamy, and exciting, and real because it's centered on the God who created love. It's without sex not because of self control, but because of the Holy Spirit who births self control. 

I'm excited to go on this journey with you. I'm blessed to testify of a kind of love that once seemed foreign to me, and is quite often still found foreign to our culture. 

I was recently involved in a sweet conversation with a soon-to-be-bride and a group of both married and unmarried friends. The married friends were giving honest, real, and yes, funny advice on what to expect with sex. It was so beautiful, so innocent, and felt like exactly what romance and marriage were designed to look like. 

A dear friend who knows my heart and my life well kindly checked in with me afterwards, inquiring "did you feel any sadness?"

"No," I said. "I am filled with too much joy and thankfulness and praise over where I am today to have even an ounce of regret."

And that, my friends, is why I share. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What I Believe

I believe that a good, hard work out can turn any day around. Especially the kind that leaves you sore for days. 

I believe that crossing a finish line of a race is one of the best feelings in the world. 

I believe that the most solid friendships can withstand silence without awkwardness. I'm working on becoming more comfortable with silence, myself. 

I believe in one on one convos, heart to hearts, exchanging prayer requests and life updates. I think there's power in being fully known and fully loved, and that's why there's such power in Jesus' love. 

I believe in celebrating with those who are celebrating, and providing a shoulder, a tissue, or ice cream for those who are weeping. I believe in being present through ups and downs, and finding the beauty in both. 

I believe in cubicle dance parties. 

I believe in mid-work-day coffee runs. 

I believe in daily Bible reading. I believe it changes you. 

I believe in vulnerability, and authenticity. If I fell on my face and learned a thing or two in the process, I want to share that. I don't want to pretend that I never fell in the first place. 

I believe in Stitch Fix. I swear half my wardrobe is from them. 

I believe the scary things are almost always the things worth pursuing. 

I believe in online friendships. I may not have met my boyfriend through the internet, but I sure met one of my closest friends.

I believe in the freedom of grieving. I believe grief is an emotion that doesn't need explanation or rationalization. Sometimes we grieve an unexpected medical bill, sometimes we grieve a death, and sometimes we grieve a dropped container of brand new raspberries. Regardless of the circumstance, I believe there's healing that comes from allowing yourself to grieve. 

I believe in the beauty of joy. I believe life is worthy of celebrating, whether it's new love, new life, or finding 5 bucks in an old pair of jeans. I believe that life is hard, and joy reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for. 

I believe that humans were created for fellowship with God. I believe we were made in His image, intended for holy communion with a holy God. 

I believe genuine love requires genuine choice, and out of love for humanity, God gave us free will. I believe that Adam and Eve were given a choice, to seek after God or to seek after the knowledge of good & evil for themselves. I believe they chose the second option, and with that, sin came into the world. 

I believe God grieved for our sinful world, the world that He created out of love. I believe that He loved us so much, and so desperately desired relationship with us, that He sent His only Son to be born of human flesh. 

I believe that Son is Jesus, and I believe Jesus came and died on a cross to take on the punishment of every sin ever committed in our world. I believe His death displayed God's infinite mercy, removing the punishment sin warrants. 

I believe that after 3 days of laying in a tomb, Jesus rose from the dead. I believe that through His resurrection, God's unimagineable grace was poured into our world. I believe that because Jesus lives, we too can have new life. I believe that because He overcame sin, we can have restored relationship with God through Him. 

I believe that salvation can't be earned, and right standing with God can't be worked for. I believe that righteousness and eternal life are gained simply and only through faith in the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. 

I believe that when a person asks Jesus into their life, they receive Him as their personal Savior. I believe what happens in that instant is that He takes up residence in them, and His Spirit lives inside their heart. I believe that with His Spirit, anything is possible. I believe that because of His love, lives can change in an instant. 

I believe that because mine did. 

I believe that I don't have it all figured out. I believe that some questions aren't answered until heaven, and I believe that's okay. I believe that my God can be trusted with the things I don't understand, and that it's okay to admit I don't have all the answers. 

I believe that pictures always add a little somethin somethin to a blog post. But I also believe that it's okay to have a wordy, picture-less post every once in a while. Especially when you're struggling with consistent blogging as it is. 

So there we have it, a list of things I believe. 

Happy Humpday, friends! Would love to hear what you're believing in today. 

<3

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our First Valentine's Day

Peej and I celebrated Valentine's Day at our halfway spot in San Luis Obispo. 2 hours each way for me, 3 hours for him. And I know that we'll always remember that time that we drove multiple hours just to spend Valentine's Day together. 

This long distance thing can feel like an inconvenience at times, but I know that one day we'll look back and see a different picture. We'll look back and see two hopeless romantics that added a whole lotta miles to their cars in order to make a whole lotta memories of falling in and celebrating love. 


Memories like getting far less than the recommended amount of sleep to instead wake up early, and meet in a city parking lot. 


Memories like exchanging presents in your backseat, and walking over to Starbucks to get caffeinated, read Loveology, and play footsie. 

Oh, and take selfies.


Memories like watching me get giddy over spending time in Barnes & Nobel, because Santa Barbara doesn't have book stores. And like adding in a little spontaneous shopping, because I can't ignore a good sale, and you're fun to shop with. 

Memories like eating lunch here, where a girl named Bonnie with the thickest, most adorable southern accent took our order, and where we enjoyed yummy sandwiches {you shredded tritip & me portobello mushroom}, played more footsie and took more selfies. 


Memories like walking down the adorable strip of adorable San Luis Obispo stores, and wandering around what you deemed "couples creek." It was as if Valentine's Day threw up all over SLO, and we didn't mind one bit. I'd say we actually enjoyed it. 


Memories like getting delicious ice cream, and playing googly eyes with a hard-to-get 1 year old. Like going back to Barnes & Nobel, because we had 3 hours to kill before dinner. Like each picking up books written by Parks and Recreation stars {you by Ron Swanson and me by Leslie Knope. I'm aware those aren't their real names, but I like to pretend the characters are real}. Memories like situating our chairs so that I could lay my legs over yours, because when you're long distance, you make sure you take full advantage of every cuddling opportunity you get. Or maybe that's just us, but either way, I love it. 

Memories like going back to your car to take a nap in the back seat. Because that seemed like the closest we could get to a socially acceptable nap location, and a nap was necessary after our early morning. 

Memories like you holding up a towel so that I could use your back seat as a dressing room to change before dinner. Like having a couple walk past us and look our way with a "they're totally doing naughty things in that back seat" look. 

That awkward moment almost had me snap into an "i'm so over long distance, this is so frustrating, when are we ever gonna be in the same place" mood. But instead, I chose to relinquish all of those emotions to God, and focus on the fact that one day, we'll look back and laugh at the awkwardness of that moment. Along with the amount of time we spent hanging out in the back seat of your car on Valentine's Day. 


Memories like going back to the restaurant where we had our first half-way date 7 months prior. Like choosing to sit on the same side of the table as opposed to opposite sides, for maximum cuddling and under the table hand holding. 



Memories like enjoying the gorgeous view of "couples creek," and filling up on some seriously delicious grub {lamb chops for you, butternut squash curry for me}.  




Memories like driving in our separate cars to a movie theater a half hour away, because we weren't ready to end the date. Like having a heck of a time finding parking, because apparently Valentine's Day is a popular date night, or something. Memories like getting real creative with our cuddle positions with an immoveable arm rest between us. 

Memories like the long walk back to our cars that neither of us wanted to end. Like the extra long hug goodbye, and the "I'll call you in a half hour to see how your drive is going." Memories filled with the mutual feeling of wishing we were leaving in the same car, in the same direction. 

But we didn't leave in the same car, and we didn't go in the same direction. And that's okay, because where we are right now? It's beautiful. The naps in the back seat, the hours spent in Barnes & Nobel, the awkward run ins with people wondering why I'm changing in a car, well, I can't imagine a better Valentine's Day. 

I love you, Philip James. Thank you for being my best friend, my favorite cuddle buddy, my Valentine. Thank you for never rejecting the idea of another selfie, for never letting go of my hand, and for giving me your opinion on the 10 different tops I tried on at Express. 

Our first Valentine's Day was just the best. And not because of the food, or the beautiful scenery, or the comfortable seats in your car. 

It was because of you, babe. You're the best. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day

I feel like Valentine's Day has gotten its fair share of negative publicity over the years. Whether it's referred to as Singles Awareness Day, or just another American Consumer Holiday, it's not always welcomed with open arms. 

And I get it, I do. As someone who has been sans-date for nearly all of my Valentine's Days, I understand the lukewarm sentiment. But today, I want to share my love for this holiday, single or taken. 


Some of my most memorable Valentine's Days were not the ones celebrated with a significant other. They were not the ones spent on an elaborate or not-so-elaborate date night out. They were the ones where a single act of completely voluntary love caught me by surprise, and left me feeling blessed. 

Like my first Valentine's Day away at college, when a friend knew my heart was still bruised from that high school relationship, and stole the key to my dorm room to surprise me with a teddy bear and chocolates. 

Or last year, when another friend sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my office, to make sure I felt loved, appreciated, valued and celebrated. 

Love comes in many forms. February 14th seems to bring a microscope to the romantic kind in your life, or lack there of. But what about all the other kinds that deserve to be celebrated?






We are born into this world through love; the single greatest act of voluntary love belongs to each and every one of us. 

"Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and 
it gave Him great pleasure."

Ephesians 1:4-5

We are born with the craziest love we'll ever experience right in the palm of our hands, and best part ever? Nothing can take it away! {Romans 8:38-39, check it.}

I pray that this Valentine's Day, you know that you are so loved. I pray that you feel the insane love of God, and you see the outflow of that in the relationships that surround you. 



Regardless of who you're celebrating with, I pray that you celebrate fully and joyfully knowing that yes, we celebrate love every day. But why not go a little harder once a year? 


The roomies and I pumped things up a notch this year by ordering Valentine's Day cards through Tiny Prints. We had so much fun taking pictures together, and looking through all of their Valentine's collection. I was so excited to see that blue box arrive, and couldn't be more thrilled with how they turned out. It's the perfect way to send out a little personal love on this holiday. 



So from our house, to yours: Happy Valentine's Day! May yours be filled with love, hugs, laughs, joy and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.