Glad you found us! This site has one objective: to help you win the spiritual battle for purity, in every sense of the word. Society encourages us to throw away our virtue; the message sent out by the media is: "everyone's doing it!" We are here to prove that statement wrong! Come in, read some encouraging testimonies, chat with others who strive to remain pure, and reaffirm your belief that purity, sexual and otherwise, is not only possible, but totally worth it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Think on These Things: The Grace Card, Now in Theaters!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (NIV).

tgc



I'm so excited to tell you about The Grace Card, a movie that is currently in theaters!  It's the premiere movie of Graceworks Pictures, made in conjunction with Calvary Pictures.  According to their website, this movie was inspired and modeled after the movie ministry of Sherwood Pictures, the producers of Fireproof  and Facing the Giants.  

They describe this faith-based movie as bringing together "Church and Hollywood."  Calvary Pictures is a ministry of Calvary, Church of the Nazarene in Cordova, TN.  The screenplay was written by Howard A. Klausner, who wrote the screenplay to Space Cowboys, and Academy and Emmy award-winning actor, Louis Gossett, Jr. plays the role of George Wright. 

Here is the teaser found on their website:

Witness the Power of Forgiveness
Everything can change in an instant ... and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, years of bitterness and pain erode his love for his family and leaves him angry with God ... and everyone else.


Can Mac and Sam Wright, his new patrol partner, somehow join forces to help one another when it's impossible to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one?


Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal wounds by extending and receiving God's grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD ... and never underestimate the power of God's love.

Here is the movie trailer:



Although this is an uplifting, God-honoring movie, it is rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.  The two lead characters are police officers, and aspects of their work translate onto the screen.  The name of the movie is a play on the phrase "the race card" for good reason, because Mac expresses some of his hurt through racist behavior, and this challenges Sam to extend grace in return.  Focus on the Family did an excellent review of The Grace Card on their website, giving detailed information about all aspects of the movie.  Here is an excerpt of the review:

Director David G. Evans, a Memphis optometrist, told the Christian Telegraph, "The point is to grab people by the heart." And it did just that for me. I watched The Grace Card as I was harboring deep resentment toward a man who killed a family friend in a tragic—public—shooting. As I struggled with how to work through my anger, God quietly used this film as a nudge to show me what the consequences are when we choose rage over forgiveness.



"Justice won't change our hearts," a character wisely explains. Only grace and love can do that. And how would the world change if we all extended the same grace shown in The Grace Card? To those who hurt us. To those we don't understand. To those we don't look like.

The answer is profoundly.

To view the complete review by Focus on the Family, click here.

If you live in the Southeast Texas, The Grace Card will be opening March 18th in Beaumont.  The theater location remains to be announced.  If you're in Southwest Louisiana, the Cinemark on Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles is currently showing this movie. 

You can find a participating theater in your area by clicking on this link.  If there are no listings nearby, you can contact actionsquads@providentfilms.org about bringing The Grace Card your way. 

It's so exciting to see churches getting involved in making movies!  Anything we, as Christians can do to support the production of positive entertainment should be encouraged.  I hope you get the opportunity to see this movie, I anticipate it to be quality entertainment, and spiritually uplifting at the same time.  If you get the opportunity to watch The Grace Card, please let us know how you liked it!  We'd be interested in your views.



What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment and we'll discuss the things that interest you.

sources:  thegracecardmovie.com, pluggedin.com, (thanks, Mary Lin!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Real Stories From the Purity Battleground part 8

Credit: Free photos from acobox.com












We're coming to the end of our testimony series this week, and ending with a beautiful story!  Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your heart!  Once again, this story discusses the pressures that women face upon entering college.  I hope her story encourages you to set boundaries, and to be selective in your choice of boyfriends.  Enjoy!

(Sarah, age 26)
Your website is wonderful! I think it is definitely a needed ministry for young girls. It is important for them to realize that sexual purity is so valuable, and that it is so much more than just not having sex. That's something I had to learn the hard way.

I went the majority of my high school years with no boyfriends or dates, so by the time I got to college, my self-esteem was pretty low. I was extremely innocent, and I tried very hard to fit in with the members of my university band, and in my second semester, with my fraternity. I allowed them to explain things that I didn't understand and gradually became desensitized to some of the jokes I heard. When one of the frat. brothers started showing an interest in me, I was ecstatic and we started dating. He was my first kiss.

Before we dated, I really didn't know that there was anything between kissing and sex, but this guy gradually pushed my boundaries. It is by God's grace alone that I am still a virgin, but we definitely crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed. My first clue when we dated should have been that I had to drag him to church with me, but at the time, I was blinded by the fact that a guy was actually interested in me and said he "loved" me. When he broke up with me, my heart was broken, but the shame I felt was even worse.

God healed and forgave me, though. He used that experience in my life and showed me that when my heart is in His hands, no one can break it. It has been hard to watch so many of my friends from high school and college get married and have children, but I am finally in a place where I am content with who I am in Him, and I know that when He is ready, He will bring the man He has for me into the picture. Until then, I have made a commitment to remain pure, and I have decided that I want my next kiss to be with my future husband on our wedding day.



If you have a testimony you'd like to share, please contact us at suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org.  We need as many "real stories" as we can to encourage young women that abstinence is possible, and forgiveness will always be available. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Want the Gift or the Giver?

Joshua 13:33     But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them (NIV).

Praise to God Pictures, Images and Photos


This little verse affected me deeply.  On the surface it appears to simply state fact, but what an amazing fact it states!  I'm humbly issuing a challenge to you (and myself) this week, a challenge to evaluate your walk with God and strive to never be satisfied, but to "go all the way!" 

The children of Israel had been promised a land of their own by God, Himself.  Since the time of Abraham they had dreamed of that promise, through slavery in Egypt, through wandering in the wilderness, and finally, under Joshua's leadership, they began to see the promise fulfilled.  After all the peoples were conquered, Joshua was given the task of dividing up the land by tribes, so they could enjoy this long-awaited blessing. 

Then comes this little side-note about the tribe of Levi.  They, unlike their brothers, would not inherit any land.  This was initially a punishment for violent behavior, prophesied by Jacob (Gen. 49:5-7), but later, the Levites took a bold and righteous stand (Ex. 32:25-28) and were promised a special blessing (Deut. 33:8-11). 

All the rest of Israel looked forward to a gift from God.  When all was said and done, they received a physical token of His blessing in the rich land He gave them, and in the spoils of the people they overcame.  The Levites, however, looked forward to a uniquely intimate relationship with God!  He was their inheritance!  The Levites became the religious leaders of Israel.  They received the privilege of serving in the tabernacle, offering sacrifices before God, and leading the people in worship.  Their food came from God's table, and their work was in His presence!

While it's fine to desire gifts from God, are you satisfied with simply receiving a present, or do you long for more?  Do you want the token of His affection, or a greater knowledge of the One who gives the affection?  It's easy to get hung up on the blessings, but true joy and fulfillment comes from an ever-deepening intimacy with Almighty God, so stay hungry!



Do you find yourself getting "spiritually satisfied" too quickly?  You're not alone!  Leave us a comment or send an email and we'll gladly pray with you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Think on These Things: A Good, Clean, Romantic Movie Night!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (NIV).

Emma Pictures, Images and Photos


According to the calendar, Valentine's Day has passed.  If you did not manage to celebrate on Monday, or the weekend before, however, you just might be making up for lost time.  If that is the case, I have a suggestion in the area of entertainment.  No, it's not a movie currently in theaters, nor is it a new DVD release.  It's an "oldie" (1996), but a very romantic story with no foul language and no sexual innuendo (imagine that!) 

I'm recommending the movie Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam.  It is based on the book by Jane Austen, and set in the Regency period.  Its heroine, Emma Woodhouse, is a kind, but misguided girl who finds enjoyment in playing matchmaker with her single friends and acquaintances.  Unfortunately, her attempts go badly wrong and therein lies the comedy.  When all seems to be lost, Emma, herself, finds love and somehow all ends "happily ever after."  For a more in-depth explanation click here.

Emma received "Two Thumbs Up" from Siskel and Ebert,"Four Stars" from USA Today, and was named "The Year's Best Film" by the New York Post.  This movie received as high a review as I've seen from Plugged in Online, Focus on the Family's movie reviewing website.  They described it as "nearly perfect entertainment."  You can read their review by following this link.

So often Hollywood depicts romance through one night stands and sex without commitment.  This movie is such a refreshing change from the ordinary, and one that you can feel safe about enjoying, regardless of your company.  As a self-proclaimed "romance snob" (love a good romance, but lose all interest when sex outside of marriage is involved) I give this movie and A+.  I hope you enjoy, whether you're celebrating, or just hanging out, enjoying the weekend!



What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment and we'll discuss the things that interest you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Real Stories From the Purity Battleground part 7

Credit: Free images from acobox.com












Welcome back! I'm excited about this testimony because it hits on a topic that's close to my heart; the pressures of college. We will be starting a series soon about what it's like on the other side of high school, and this testimony opens the door to that discussion. I hope you are blessed by this real life story and are encouraged in your own battle for purity. God Bless!



Hi! My name is Cassie. As a girl from a Christian, church-going household, I never really felt the pressures of becoming sexually active during high school. I attended a small school where I knew early on that most of the guys I had gone to school with for 13 years weren’t my type, and I’m pretty sure they felt the same way about me.

College however was a much different story! Suddenly, I was in a totally different social atmosphere than I had ever experienced. I could be passing by my future husband, I would think to myself as I trudged across campus for the next class full of totally different people than the class before. Each class offered a whole new set of guys to survey!

Then it happened…an older guy asked me out. I immediately said yes, not at all thinking that his intentions might not be as pure as mine. By the end of my first semester, I had made several friends (not all of which were Christians), and I had allowed myself to relax a bit in my spiritual walk with God. Big mistake! I found that I was letting myself get away with things I had never done before…watching filthy movies, listening to nasty music…all because that’s what this guy was doing. I knew it was wrong, but I was just trying to go with the flow so this guy (who by the way always wanted to talk about sex) would continue to like me. By the grace of God, things did not work out, and we went our separate ways a few months later.

Having learned my lesson and gotten my head back on straight, I was not looking for another relationship. So, of course, that’s when God decided to introduce me to my future husband, James. He was such a gentleman and treated me like no other guy had before. We hit it off instantly, and after a few months, it was becoming apparent to both of us that marriage could be in our future.

You may think that it got easier to push sexual desires and pressures out of my mind after I found “the one.” Wrong! I heard a Bible study teacher say once that when a woman gives away her heart, the rest of her is sure to follow. Well, I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life with James, and I had definitely given him my heart. So, it actually became harder for me to fight the desire to give myself completely to him, especially after we had been dating for 3 years. Don’t get me wrong…the desire to give yourself completely to your soul mate is a good one…as long as you don’t act on it until marriage!

Fortunately, James is a man of God and had also been saving himself for marriage. Though we struggled some with trying not to let our relationship get too physical, we did in fact wait until marriage to have sex. I am so glad to know that James is completely mine, and I am completely his. A sexual relationship between a husband and wife who have remained pure for one another is something special that no one else can be a part of.

“Why wait if you knew he was the one?” you might ask. I believe that God has honored mine and James’s decisions to stay pure until marriage. Jumping the gun on sex would have broken each of our promises to God, and I feel it would have left us both feeling guilty and weakened our relationships with God and each other. Our relationship is strong, and we have been married now for three years. Stay strong and don’t give your heart to just anyone! Sexual purity may not always be easy or popular, but it is so worth it!



If you're struggling with your own purity battle, drop us a line and we'll pray for you.  If you feel led to share your own testimony of purity, please email us at suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org and we'll gladly share your story!

Monday, February 14, 2011

What's Holding You Back?

Joshua 18:3     Then Joshua said to the children of Israel:  "How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you (NKJV)?"

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At this point, the children of Israel had, with God's blessing, defeated all the inhabitants of their Promised Land.  All that was left was to divide up the land by tribe and take ownership of it.  This had been the dream of Israel since God first promised Abraham, so they obviously looked forward to enjoying it.  Throughout each battle, God miraculously aided them in victory, so what was the problem? 

There was work involved in taking possession of the land.  It was one thing to dream about the big event, but it was another to live out the reality.  There were decisions to be made, traveling to be done, and work to do once they arrived.  In some areas, small pockets of godless people remained, that God wanted driven out, which also took effort on their part.  But at the same time, this was the land flowing with milk and honey!  God had placed before them 'a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build...vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant (Joshua 24:13).'  

It's easy to look upon the Israelite's situation and be critical, but we can understand their motives when we turn the spotlight onto ourselves.  Has God made promises to you?  If you are a Christian, the answer is yes!  He has promised you eternal life in heaven.  He's promised you an abundant life on earth.  The plans He has in store for you are beyond what eyes can see, ears can hear, or minds can even grasp.  He has promised that no temptation beyond your ability will cross your path, and that He'll always provide a way of escape.  So, are you living out that reality with Christ, or are you just scraping by?  Are you being everything He created you to be and doing the work He's asked of you with all your heart, or are you holding back?  If you aren't "possessing the land" that God has given you, then why not?

The bottom line, both for Israel and ourselves, is that failure to complete any God-given task demonstrates a lack of faith.  If God is truly number one in our lives, then we will obey all of His commands.  The other side of obedience is always blessing, if we only have the courage to do the work.  Just as with Israel, God will strengthen you to do whatever He's asked. 

You might be facing social pressure to disobey.  It could be that the task seems like too much work, or that you don't feel qualified for such a job.  Still the question remains, do you love God enough to do it, because He asked you?  The Bible is filled with stories of unqualified people that God used to do amazing things.  It changed their lives forever,blessed many people along the way, and brought glory to His name.  Do you want to just exist, or to achieve all that He has in store for you?  Ask God to help you examine the roadblocks to obedience in your life, and overcome them in His strength!



Has God asked you to do something that's out of your comfort zone?  Leave us a comment or an email and we'll pray for you! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Think on These Things: How's the Romance Going?

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (NIV).

Valentines Day Pictures, Images and Photos


So, last week I issued the challenge:  Spend the next ten days until Valentine's Day focused on proclaiming your devotion to Christ.  Ask Him what He wants from you as a sign of your love, and make it happen.  We have 3 days left until the big day, so I'd like to know, how it's going?

God let me know what He wanted from me on Saturday morning.  He wants me to actively trust Him!  I seem to easily trust God with the big things, the things I know I can't control, but the smaller things are more difficult.  I tend to believe I have control over the little things, so I might pray about them and ask for God's help, but I hold onto worry, as if that will somehow solve a situation. 

So, how am I actively trusting Him?  Like this:  when worry tries to overtake me, I'm stopping right then and there, thanking God that He's in control, and declaring my resolve to leave that particular concern in His hands.  Let me tell you, this commitment has been tested this week!  I found myself with more responsibilities and less help than usual.  It has been challenging at times not to lose my cool, have a "freak out" moment and say things I would later regret.  But God has proven that nothing I faced was beyond my ability to bear.  What a relief to embrace the fact that obedience is my job, but success is God's!

I pray that you'll accept the "Divine Valentine" challenge.  Let us know what gift you're giving Him, and good luck! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Real Stories From the Purity Battleground part 6

Credit: Free images from acobox.com














What a great testimony we have for you this week!  First of all, it's a testimony from the guy's perspective, (and thanks again, Mike!)  Secondly, it's a story of mistakes, but God's love triumphs over all.  Contrary to popular belief, sexual sin has painful consequences for the guys as well.  I hope this story keeps you from making similar mistakes, but also leaves you in awe of God's grace.  His love will always be great enough to cover your sin!
 

Hi, I’m Mike. When I was in high school, I began having sex with my girlfriend. We were both Christians and we knew it was wrong, but we justified it to ourselves. We said that we loved each other and we thought it would bring us closer together. We even thought we’d eventually get married. That all changed when she got pregnant. She and her parents, even though they were Christian, decided that she was going to have an abortion. I knew about it but I didn’t do anything to stop it, even though I knew that I should. I know God has forgiven me, but I still have to live with my own child’s death on my conscience. She broke up with me not long after that.

My first wife had been sexually promiscuous before we met and was a recent convert to Christianity. That marriage ended after five years because of infidelity on her part. She left me, quit the church, and rejected all attempts at reconciliation. Looking back on the early days of our relationship, there were warning signs that I missed. She had settled herself into a pattern of promiscuity in her teenage years that ultimately she was not able to break.

When I met the woman whom I am now proud to call my wife, Michelle, I had to tell her about all these things in my past. It took courage, but I couldn’t break her trust by being anything less than totally honest with her. Now, I don’t mean that I told her explicit details of every encounter, but I owed it to her to be able to make choices about me with all the information, with full knowledge of my past sins. She was gracious enough to understand and forgive me. For her part, she didn’t have to tell me anything embarrassing or shameful because there was nothing to tell. She was a virgin in heart and body. That made me respect her very much, and made her even more attractive to me than she already was!

Michelle and I did not have sex until our wedding night. With my first wife, I was always worried that she might cheat on me because I knew how she had acted in the past. With Michelle, I know she’ll never be unfaithful to me. How could she have sex with another man when she wouldn’t even have sex with me, her husband, before marriage?

Comparison is another inevitable consequence of premarital sex. Sex is very different with different partners. You don’t want to put yourself in the position of comparing your spouse sexually with some ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. It’s difficult for me to avoid comparing Michelle to my previous sexual partners in my mind. She doesn’t have that problem. Sex is all about learning how to please each other. Michelle is able to focus more completely on that learning process in a way that I am not, because I have the memory of other partners.

Take it from someone who has tried it both ways: it’s much better to wait until marriage to have sex. You save yourself a world of heartache, suffering, and shame. In return you gain respect, honor, an unshakable trust, and a closeness that's not hindered by past sins.



If you have a testimony you would like to share, please contact us at:  suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org.  We would love to help share your story!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Abiding in Him...the Warning and the Blessing!

John 15:5,7-8    I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing...If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples (NKJV).   

Fruit on the grape vines in the hills surrounding Bize-Minervois. Pictures, Images and Photos



So much of my youth was spent feeling inadequate, for one reason or another, because I was anxious to achieve the next big "thing," whatever it was, along the road of growing up.  Although it's easy to go too far with this mentality, to a certain degree, God made us that way!  We were designed to bear fruit, and when we're not bearing fruit, or accomplishing the tasks He has for us, we feel incomplete.

If you want a fruitful life, a life that is truly fulfilling and abundant, the answer is simple; stay plugged in to Christ!  He is the source of our strength, power and well-being.  We are the branches, so we have the privilege of  witnessing that power work through our lives.  However, being the sinful people we are, we tend to give ourselves the credit, simply because the fruit is blooming on our branch.  That's where the warning comes in:  without Me you can do nothing.  While seeing God at work in your life is exciting, it's entirely about Him and not about you.  If you choose to remove yourself from the Source, refuse to spend time in prayer and Bible study, attempt to work on your own, or congratulate yourself on the blessings, your efforts will fail. 

But there's another side to this story.  Not only does intimacy with Christ result in a productive life, but it's the way to bring your dreams to pass!  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  When we stay close to Him, our desires become His desires, so we begin to ask for the best things, the things we truly need, and such requests are met by our Heavenly Father.  Do you want to know God's plans for your future?  Abide in Him.  Do you want Him to use you for a mighty work?  Abide in Him. 

Expect Him to "rock your world" a bit, and push you out of your comfort zone.  Verse 2 says every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  He will cut sin out of your life, and He'll cut back the fruitful branches, so that they'll produce even more good works for His glory.  Pruning is painful, and sometimes seems unfair, but God knows the end result, and His actions are always in your best interest. 

So, plug into Christ, and stay plugged in!  Recognize that you cannot do anything without Him.  Include Him in your every decision, regardless of how small, and watch His blessings flow!  Your dreams, planted and grown in Him, will come to pass, and exceed your wildest expectations. 



Do you, like all of us, have difficulty abiding in Christ?  Are you experiencing some pruning?  Drop us an email or leave a comment and we'll be happy to pray with you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Think on These Things: Making Jesus Your Valentine!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (NIV).

valentine jesus Pictures, Images and Photos


Rather than finding some"thing" new and exciting to share with you this week, I'm issuing a challenge!  As everyone knows, Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  Many of you may be thinking of something special to give or to do for your Valentine, while many others may be feeling sorry for themselves because they don't have a special someone with which to celebrate.

So here's the challenge, and it applies regardless of your situation, young or not so young, single, dating or married.  For the next ten days, I challenge you to declare your love and devotion to Jesus!  What would Jesus like to receive from you as a token of your love?  Have you given Him your heart?  (If not, please read the Find Your True Love page.)  If He is Lord of your heart, do you spend regular, quality time together?  Where would He have you go?  What would He want you to do on His behalf? 

Ask God what He wants from you for Valentine's Day, and get to work making it happen!  If you get a great idea, please share it with us, because you just might inspire someone else.  Once you've given your Valentine to God, let us know the results.  Think about how many lives God can change through us in the next ten days, if we make Him the object of our affection this season! 

Good luck, and stay in touch! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Real Stories From the Purity Battleground part 5

Credit: Free images from acobox.com













This wonderful testimony is a story of great pain, but of greater forgiveness! This young woman experienced severe consequences from following a life of sin. Once she fell into sin, she became trapped by the lies the devil whispered into her heart, but thankfully, the story doesn’t end there! God came to this young lady’s rescue. He forgave her, restored her self-esteem and used her grief for His glory. If you have made any mistakes in the area of purity, regardless of how great, God’s love is greater than your pain! I hope this testimony encourages you to fall on Jesus. He can wash your sin away, and create a hopeful future.

My name is Mei. During my childhood days, I was faced with some life altering situations in my family that I feel ultimately led me to seek love elsewhere at an early age. I lost my virginity at 13 yrs. old. Wow, that is still so hard to say. I was just a kid. I felt lots of peer pressure that led me to that decision. I had no self-respect, very low self-esteem, self-confidence and didn't know much about self-control. Little did I know that I was looking for Jesus to fill the void inside of me that left me feeling so alone and empty. I know today that His love exceeds the despair that I felt inside so many years ago.
I proceeded to become a promiscuous teenager, until I found what I thought was the guy of my dreams. Little did I know then, he was not the person that he said he was and when our relationship ended over an STD that he had given me, my world came crashing down. I can't express the shame I felt going through such an embarrassing situation. This STD led me to some abnormal tests which revealed the development of pre-cancerous cells. I had to have a procedure done to freeze and remove these cells, which was extremely painful.

My life then carried on with thoughts of worthlessness and suicide. I continued searching for someone to love me. My perception of love was that it came through sex alone. I learned very quickly that these "great" guys that promised me the world and their love only wanted one thing. At this point, I couldn’t tell you the meaning of self-esteem and self-respect. I began drinking to hide the hurt and shame I felt.
I married a guy in my early 20's. We were married for a year and then divorced. He was an alcoholic and abusive to me. One day, I woke up and decided that I couldn't live like this forever. My immoral actions had led me to this low point. I settled for the first guy that would marry me. I just wanted that love void filled, I strived on my own and it led me down the road to nowhere.

I carried around guilt and condemnation with me for so long, that only God could open my eyes. He revealed to me that I daily thought about my past mistakes. It was literally a daily routine for me. For 16 long years I tortured myself over the choices I’d made and for the person I had become. It was after that revelation, during a ladies meeting at our church, that the guilt and condemnation was broken and I felt the heaviness leave my body and a pureness once again instilled in me. Oh the relief I finally felt! I felt like a new person! It was then I realized the turmoil and anguish that sin can cause a person. God didn't create us to carry such a burden.

I had a girl once tell me, "well you turned ok", trying to make an excuse to live such a lifestyle. The truth is, she didn't walk in my footsteps and had no idea what I went through all of those years mentally, physically and emotionally to get to be "ok". I might have looked "ok" on the outside but it was truly a living hell on the inside and it took a very long time to renew my mind through Christ. It was an extensive journey that no one should ever have to go through. Do I regret my mistakes? I wish I could change some of them yes, but they also have made me into the person that I am today. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

After my divorce, I met and married the man that I will spend the rest of my life with. He is my knight in shining armor! Shortly after we met, we found Christ and gave our lives to Him. God has changed our lives forever, together. Through Christ and my husband, I now have high self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. Jesus is my refuge! He is my redeemer and my Savior! He has forgiven me and cleansed me of all unrighteousness! He loves me and has filled that love void in my life. I will forever be grateful to my God who has delivered me and given me a purpose, His purpose, for me! What the enemy once used to destroy me, my God turned around for my good. I can now try and help others from making the same mistakes. Through my husband I have found my "happily ever after", but through Jesus, I have found my "happily forever after."