Ticket to the Gun Show

ticket

What is the strangest place you have ever gone on a date?  Mine was going on a second date to a gun range.

I met him off of Christian Mingle.  He was just a few years older than me, handsome, and a graduate of Michigan Law.  Our few email exchanges had shown him to be smart and funny.  My hopes as I went into the first date were high.

We met at a local restaurant/bar – I frankly don’t remember if he picked it or I picked it.  It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad.  I found him sitting at a high top table.  Okay, maybe not as handsome as in his profile picture, but still cute.

And then he started talking…and talking…and talking.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Some of what I learned was good.  I learned about his job, his childhood vacations, everything up to his favorite color.  He was Orthodox Greek and very traditional, which wasn’t my faith, but at least he was a Christian!

Then he told me about the guns. Let me just say that I don’t like handguns.  They were designed with one purpose – killing humans – and I don’t like them.  And he apparently loved them.  Said that he always carried at least two on him and made sure he had one in every room.  Horrified, I tried to imagine living like that – what if we had kids?

After we left the restaurant, he asked me if I wanted a second date.  I weighed the pros and cons.  Christian, Michigan Law, smart, professional, handsome…this kind of guy doesn’t just fall from trees.  But could I handle the guns?

So I did what I knew I needed to do to see if I could really fit into his world.  I took a risk.  “I will go on a second date…if we go to the gun range.”  I didn’t want to, I had never been to one, had no desire to go, but I thought, why not?  It was an adventure.

His response: “Will you marry me now?”

We went to the gun range and while nothing terrible happened, the short story is that the guy didn’t get a third date.  Maybe it wasn’t going to work right from the beginning.  But I took a chance, stepped out of my comfort zone, and gave it a shot (literally).  I am proud of myself for doing it.

In dating, I have tried out new restaurants, gone to sporting events and festivals, and attended museum exhibitions.  If someone had a passion or interest, I wanted to see it.  The person might only have lasted for a date or two.  But these experiences made me a better person with a richer history and more memories because of it.

Boundaries Vs. Intimacy Finish!

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My new favorite obsession is the show First Dates.  If you haven’t watched this yet and you are a single, dating person, you are totally missing out.  This show, portraying a series of blind dates, is a tutorial in human behavior and why dates work—and don’t work.

In the latest episode, a beautiful Nashville country singer shared in the pre-date interview that she waited for sex until her first marriage.  Now divorced, she stated that she wanted to wait again.  She is set up on a blind date with a slightly awkward, nerdy guy who tells her that he has never been kissed.  Never.  Not once.  The show cut to a commercial and I thought, well, that’s it.  She’s not going to find that attractive.  It’s one thing to wait for sex, it’s another to be an adult man who has never kissed anyone.

But when the show returned from commercial, the singer’s reaction was much different than I expected.  “That’s so endearing,” she said.  She later agreed to a second date and before the credits, it was revealed that they are dating.

In the series this month, we talked about boundaries – generally, boundaries on physical intimacy.  Such boundaries – even just the concept of them – are completely countercultural to today’s hookup society.  They make us seem like prudes, out of touch, and backwards.  Worse – like adult virgins, which is exactly what we are.

So we expect rejection.  I don’t want to be seen as a weirdo.  We put up walls, pretend falsehoods, refuse to show our true selves.  I would talk about relationships and sex with friends like I was just the same as them.  I can think of only two guys that I even brought up the topic of not having sex before marriage – one of them I married.

But in doing so, we shame and devalue the boundary in our own eyes.  Equally important, we lose the opportunity to be a witness that we might otherwise have had.  There are many ways to be a light to the world – one of them is simply to be brave enough to show our true selves to others.  

I can’t promise that it won’t come without a cost.  There may be lost dates, strange looks, and awkward conversations.

But that’s a small price to pay.  When you find the one – the right one – he or she will not judge you or mock you for the boundary.  Instead, he or she will value you and respect you all the more, hopefully because he or she shares the same boundary.  It will be one more signpost on the path to true love.

Never Been Kissed (Not Drew Barrymore’s Movie)

frogprince

You have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince charming.

I am romantic at heart! It’s easy to be swept away to follow the passions and desires of my heart to have that fairy tale ending.  But I have a confession to make: I’ve never kissed (or been kissed by a guy). So how could I possibly find my prince charming?

Don’t get me wrong, physical touch is one of my love languages. Being affectionate is important to show affirmation to people around you or even the person that you are interested in pursuing something further, but it is also important not to send the wrong message.

To be honest, I do not intend to kiss any frogs. My prayer is that the person whom I hope to share my first kiss will be with my future husband. While many may not share the same sentiment, boundaries and intimacy are a personal choice reflective of an individual’s values.

Am I implying that those whom had given their first kiss (and more) are people who do not hold commendable values? Of course not! Instead, I hope to share with you my top 3 reasons why I made the decision to wait.

I know how it would affect me

In my prior article, I mentioned the importance of knowing who you are and your self-worth; and because I know that I am a passionate person, I do not wish to awaken love until the time is right (Song of Solomon 8:4). I can hear you telling me that it’s just ‘a kiss’ and nothing further, why am I making a big deal out of it? May I humbly submit to you, that is because for some people a kiss could very easily lead to something more.

I want to honor Jesus (my Saviour and my Lord)

It is a personal conviction in line with my faith journey. It is not a matter of religiosity but a personal decision as a follower of Christ devoid of the complications of being an emotional wreck after a break up which helps me grow into spiritual maturity.

I want to honor my future spouse

Have you ever made or prepared a gift that means so much to you and kept it until the appointed time or occasion to give to the intended person? That is something that I feel led to do. I prayerfully hope to honor my future spouse with something that represents the most important part of who I am.

Nevertheless, to some of you girls out there who are braver than I, my convictions are not intended to make you feel bad or any lesser (just in case you think that those are ‘such high standards’). Believe me, the struggle is real. I too share the same struggles as anyone else in this area.

Ultimately, however, the bride of Christ (i.e. the Church, which we as Christians belong to) is to be presented pure and holy before Him (2 Corinthians 11:2). Let us then comprehend the big picture and hold ourselves to that standard instead.  It is worth the wait.

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timmie-liew  Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

A Wise, Guarded Heart

heart lock1

“Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.”—Proverbs 4:23 (RSV)

If only we could comprehend the magnitude of this verse! As women, especially women that have been single longer than expected, it can be easy to magnify a man’s positive character traits at the very beginning. Finding a handsome man with good character can make it easy to let down our guard. Some of us have the tendency to fling open the gates of our hearts upon meeting a man who seems to embody what we are looking for. Yet we must be cautious-our hearts hold the wellsprings of life!

More than once, I’ve been guilty of not guarding my heart. There have been a few men who were amazing on the surface. They were attractive and knew exactly the right things to say. They shared the same faith and appeared to be seeking the Lord in their actions and the words they said. I opened my heart quickly to them. Yet, character is revealed over time and through different situations. Truths about their character were revealed—not the sort of truths I had expected or hoped for. Trusted friends (male and female) also brought details to my attention that came to light in their conversations with the men in question. I was left hurting and regretting my not-so-cautiously opened heart. I had charged quickly forward without exercising wisdom, blinded by the positive qualities I saw.

Part of the sweetness of building a relationship is the time it takes to blossom. A great friendship or marriage is built in the crockpot, not the microwave. The recipe is prayer, guidance from trusted mentors or friends, time together in a variety of life situations, and levels of trust and intimacy that grow according to the state of your relationship. The ingredients simmer together over time to create something wonderful.

Your shared history together helps to foster an intimacy that grows over time. You share your heart with wisdom over time as you continue to find green lights from God, your own sense of peace, and confirmations from people of wisdom.

My heart is precious to my Father. It holds the springs of life—springs that affect not only myself, but also many others surrounding me. I’ve experienced the pain that comes when I give my heart away in the eagerness that follows meeting a “great guy.”  By guarding my heart now, I’ll be better able to give away my love to the right person in time.

I’m calling on the Holy Spirit and my trusted friends as I discern wisely how to guard my heart and when to share myself more intimately. I’m feeling empowered with the healthy boundaries around my heart, and learning to thrive in healthy relationships that are built ingredient by ingredient, simmering together over time.

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a case manager for refugee mothers. My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

No Shame

confident woman

Last week, someone I work with dismissively tossed in my face the blogpost I wrote on married sex life.  He said that it was being spread around the department.

For a moment, shock paralyzed me.  I was completely unprepared.  The attack had come out of nowhere.  Then I started talking—word vomit is more like it.  I said I was proud of writing it, that I wanted to break down boundaries.  Then I left.

Despite my words, embarrassment flooded through me.  The thought that he and other people had read the article and were even thinking about me and sex was horrible enough.  But that they were perhaps laughing at it and judging me?  People who I had to work with?

It brought back all of my insecurities and conflicted emotions about waiting for marriage for sex.  While the church preached abstinence, an adult virgin was a joke in the modern world.  As I got older, I would think of the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin with a wince.  That would be me.

And even though I knew that it was a lie, my decades-old insecurity whispered—you’re only a virgin because no one wants you.  You’re ugly.  You’re fat.  That’s what everyone is saying.  They’re laughing at you.

I made it through the end of the day and went home, able to hold back the tears until I got in my car.  I had published the blogpost because I had wanted to help other women, just as reading a similar article had helped set my expectations before I got married and calm my fears when things didn’t go as planned.  But maybe it had been a terrible mistake.

Finally, a coworker helped me reframe what happened.  “He had been trying to shame you,” she said.  Just putting a name to it helped.  She was right.  There’s no real answer as to why he would do that – I heard later that his girlfriend had applied for my job and maybe he was just pissed she hadn’t gotten it and wanted to bring me down some way.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why he did it.  Naming what he had been doing helped me put it in perspective: he was using my own story to try to get power over me.   And seeing it for what it was helped me take back the power.

Because I am not ashamed of who I am.  I am proud of who I am.  I am proud of my choices.  I have integrity.  I am who I say I am and my private life reflects who I say I am publicly.  I am also proud that I am brave enough to put my life out there in public, even the vulnerable parts.  In this Facebook-frenzied, filtered, and airbrushed world, there’s a real need for what is genuine, warts and all.

So be brave.  Yes, you might face opposition and derision, just like I did.  But I survived; you will too. Be confident in who you are.  Call it by its name when you face that opposition and feel the power of the truth.  Be not ashamed to share your story, your light, and your truth with the world.  We can’t wait to meet you.

One Size

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I remember the day I decided to save myself for marriage. I was 11 and my health class had just started a segment about STDs.

I was absolutely terrified.

At that age, I hadn’t yet developed my own relationship with God to understand the biblical necessity of my commitment. But fear was a good starting point. No marriage = no sex. So simple even a 6th grader could do it.

But then it got confusing.

I was in college when I first heard about purity rings, bands of silver or gold wrapped around the ring finger as a physical reminder of a promise to abstinence.  Then, while hanging with some sorority sisters, I watched as they threaded colorful plastic pellets to create purity beads, cords long enough to tie around their waists. Only on their wedding night would the cord be cut by their husband.

During late night conversations in our dorm, as my friends planned to not kiss or hold hands with any guy until their wedding day, I listened with a growing sense of spiritual insecurity.

I know I’m not having sex until I get married but now I can’t even hold hands? I had no jewelry to signify my commitment to God. And I hadn’t even kissed a guy yet. But I wasn’t so sure I wanted to wait until my wedding day to do so. Does that mean I’m not a good Christian?

As I grew in Christ and with age, it became clear to me that, aside from abstaining from premarital sex, physical boundaries are not one size fits all. Some couples can peck affectionately without conviction. Others feel led to steer clear of all physical touch.  And both ​can ​work, as long as the couple is seeking to honor God.

When I met my husband, I was not quite 30, far removed from the health class horror but still firm in my commitment to the Lord. We talked openly about our convictions and established what would be our boundaries. As our relationship progressed and we became acutely aware of, ahem, this thing called desire, we talked, prayed, and redrew our lines together.

If you haven’t thought about your physical boundaries yet, do so. Write them down and pray about them.  As long as your boundaries ​fit and ​create a continuous path to God, you’re on the right​ ​track.

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Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

Good Stewardship of Your Influence

shoes

In a sermon series, Pastor Benny Ho, a well-known pastor in the Asia region and a senior pastor of Faith Community Church in Perth, Australia said that “there is a difference between prominence and significance”, which switched my thinking light bulb on in relation to this month’s series.

Very often, we talk about stewardship of our time, talents and finances. However, one area that I find rarely mentioned (except otherwise in the context of leadership). In the marketplace, being a leader and having the authority is equated to having some form of influence. I started to think, what about ordinary folks like us?

From my observation, this is rarely discussed because majority of us feel that the season that we are currently – our vocation, relationship or social status in life and even our finances are in no way able to make any significant impact. Just like adding a drop of water into the ocean, it literally doesn’t make any difference because we are neither wealthy, famous nor attractive enough to have the platform of influence.

However, I hope to challenge your perspective as well as my own to see through God’s perspective. Although one drop of water doesn’t make significant impact pertaining to the volume (in the ocean), but what it does is that it create ripples on the surface of the water. This analogy shows me that the job that I have now, the community that I am in contact with now and my relationship status today in this season of my life truly matter to God on how I steward my influence.

Lisa Bevere (a successful preacher and best-selling author) said “God invites us to work with what He’s already given us. To those who are faithful, He entrusts more. It’s how His kingdom operates.” That is a powerful statement and inspiring.

If we are to pay more attention to the meaning of our existence and the people around us, realizing that we DO have the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something in small ordinary ways hence the proclivity of doing something silly that we will eventually regret or allowing ourselves to just drift away with the worldly concerns, comparisons and emptiness – in summary, self centeredness can be avoided.

Our significance as daughters of god is not found in the prominence defined by the world. Just because we are not achieved the ‘status’ of being a wife, a mother, a business owner, a minister or a politician does not mean that our influence cannot bring significance to the world around us.

Zechariah 4:10 says “Do not despise these small beginning, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Your sphere of influence is what God has entrusted you with, cherish it and steward it in such a way that would add value to the world around you.

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timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂