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!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't Sell Yourself Short!



Genesis 25:34     Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright (NIV).  

Well, it's been a long time, but we're back!  Now that school is back in full swing, I have a special message for you.  I hope that it will get you thinking as you start the new school year, and will challenge you to stand strong in your faith, and in your commitment to purity.  

We've all heard the story of Esau and Jacob.  In a nutshell, here's the scenario:  Esau has been out working in the fields, and he comes home exhausted and famished.  In the tent, Jacob is cooking a pot of beans.  Esau asks for some of Jacob's food, and Jacob takes advantage of the situation.  (Probably not for the first time, and definitely not the last time!)  In verse 31 Jacob says "First, sell me your birthright."

This is an amazingly hefty price for a pot of beans!  A birthright was the special inheritance given to an oldest son.  Upon the death of his father, the oldest son received a double portion of his father's estate.  This was traditional, because the oldest son was expected to take over as head of the household, and needed to provide for the family.

While Esau should have taken time to consider the bargain, he was too wrapped up in the emotions of his present situation.  He responded, "Look, I am about to die . . . what good is the birthright to me?"  Jacob makes him swear an oath, Esau does, and Jacob sells him the pot of beans.

Here's how this applies to us:  As Christians, we're out there, doing the work God has given us to do, and it's exhausting!  As a teenager committed to sexual purity, you face an all-out war against your decision everywhere you turn.  You are rejected by your peers.  Sometimes you have to stay at home, rather than having fun on the weekends.  You might miss out on going places.  You even face ridicule, as people don't understand, much less value your decision to honor God with your body.  You are slammed with sexual images everywhere you turn, and Hollywood spends millions of dollars to specifically target you, encouraging you to abandon your principles by glorifying sinful lifestyles.

It's a tough place to be.  You probably wonder if anyone actually succeeds.  Then, in your moment of weakness, someone offers you a relationship, acceptance, friendship, and "love."  After all your hard work, it seems so easy.  The price?  Give in to the pressure.  Surrender to the voice that's saying, "Try it!  Everyone else is, and look how good life is for them!"

So many Christian young people, (and older people as well), fall for this lie!  They sell their spiritual inheritance, and deny who they are in Christ, for beans!  They allow themselves to be used, in exchange for a very brief change in their social circumstances.  Esau may have satisfied his immediate need, but he became hungry again, and that pot of beans was no longer there to fulfill him.  Jacob, however, walked away with Esau's prize:  a double portion of the family inheritance.

Don't let the world rob you.  As a child of God, you will inherit the riches of an eternal kingdom one day, and even while here on earth, you have the power of the Holy Spirit living within you.  He will give you the power you need to overcome any temptation, no matter how weak you are at the time, and no matter how strong the temptation.  You are spiritual royalty, living in a world that has no real power over you.

Satan's only weapon is the power of lies.  He paints a very convincing illusion, hoping to make you forget who you are and what belongs to you, but it is still an illusion.  Remember, daughters and sons of the King, that you are entitled to power to overcome the enemy (2 Tim. 1:7).  Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10).  Remember, also, that God's plans for romance are complete and without regret.  It might mean that you struggle against rejection for now, but if God's plans are for you to marry, then your inheritance is a faithful, committed relationship that will bless you until death do you part.  Finally, realize that you are ultimately the bride of Christ.  God's greatest plans for you are to spend eternity with His Son, and know the most faithful, committed, fully accepting love in existence.  A love that goes beyond what our minds can even comprehend.  

Stand strong this year, my brothers and sisters!




If you are struggling with pressure to give in to sexual sin, you are not alone.  Please contact us as requests@armedandvirtuous.org and our prayer partners will be glad to support you in prayer.




Thursday, June 27, 2013

We're on TV...again!



We have exciting news!  Armed and Virtuous is getting a wonderful opportunity to "show and tell!"  We've been invited to appear on Nite Line, a Christian variety show on the Dove Broadcasting Network, based in Greenville, South Carolina.  Click here to see the write up on their website.

We'll be sharing about the ministry; our mission, what we do, and where we're headed.  I'll be sharing in song as well, possibly even with my precious kids (pray for me).  ;-)

So, if you're in the area, tune in to WGGS TV channel 16 (channel 8 on DirecTV) tomorrow night at 8 p.m. EST.  If you can't make it then, it will re-air on Monday morning at 8 a.m. EST.

If you're not in the viewing area, follow this link to the home page and click on the "Live Program Stream" at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST).  Again, if you miss the original broadcast, it will come on again on Monday morning at 8 a.m. EST/ 7 a.m. CST.

We'd appreciate your prayers, that God will take this wonderful opportunity and use it for His glory.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More Than Just a Flavor Enhancer!



Matthew 5: 13     "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men (NKJV)."


(This is an older post of mine.  I'm re-visiting it with you, in light of Friday's "Think on These Things" post.  We're living in times where evil is being called good and good is being called evil.  What will you do to take a stand?  In that light, may this devotional be a blessing and a challenge to us all this week:)


Maybe it isn't as earth-shaking an idea to you as it is to me, but I couldn't help but share the new way God gave me of looking at this verse. Throughout my life, when I've read, "You are the salt of the earth,"  I took it to mean "You are the seasoning in this world.  You make this dull world a more palatable place to live.  You make this world more exciting and interesting; much like table salt makes a bland dish taste acceptable."  Is that how you've always taken it? 

But salt is so much more than just a flavor enhancer!  For centuries it has been used to preserve food.  How?  By removing water-the environment for decay, and creating a new enviromnent- a dry and salty one, which is unfit for bacteria to live and grow.  Salt does not completely halt decay, but it sure slows it down!  In other words, salt is vital to keeping food safe to consume.  Salt preservation could be the difference between health and sickness (or even death!)

So, when Jesus calls His people the salt of the earth, He's declaring how vital we are to the preservation of what is good.  We live in a dying world.  Our society is riddled with the bacteria of sin, and everything from popular movies, fashion styles, secular music, and commercials expose the evidence of rot and decay.  As believers, we're made of a completely different substance than the world.  We have the ability not only to avoid the rot, but we can in turn create a healthy environment!  When we stand up for what is right, and expose what is wrong, sin can't abide in our presence; it's like we create a healthy "peer pressure."  But if we lose our preserving abilities, by conforming to the world, we fail to fulfill our purpose, and the decay consumes not only the world, but us.

With summer just around the corner, you may feel pressured to wear what's "in," even if it causes guys to lust, hang out with people who do drink, date guys who will pressure you for sex, or do whatever it takes not to stick out.  I've been there, and I remember how cruel the crowd can be.  Keep in mind, though, that we're not supposed to look or act like the world.  We're meant to be different, and it's a very good thing!  We are designed to stand out, to not only oppose what is sinful, but to stand so firmly in our convictions that we preserve a healthy environment all around us.  As other Christians see you affecting your corner of the world, they'll join with you and you'll become even stronger as a team. 

In a world that seeks to destroy, dare to fight against the agents of decay.  Accept who you are, and step up to the task God has given you! 



Is the pressure to fit in causing you to compromise your standards?  Leave us a comment, or email us at requests@armedandvirtuous.org.  Our prayer partners would love to support you in prayer. 



Friday, May 24, 2013

Think On These Things: The Battle is Intensifying!

newborn baby photo: baby newborn.jpg


Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, 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).

Happy Weekend, folks! A few articles that I read recently have broken my heart.  I'm calling attention to them as this week's "thing."  I know the spirit of our weekend posts is designed to be uplifting, and dwelling upon things that are excellent, but my hope is that in sharing the recent turn of events, it will stir you to prayer and to action, which is definitely excellent and praiseworthy.

The first article deals with the recent IRS scandal in which IRS agents have been found targeting conservative groups, such as the Tea-Party organizations, and asking intrusive questions, as well as delaying approval for non-profit status.  I have learned recently that this discrimination has also has engulfed the pro-life movement.  This article explains in greater detail.

Next, I read an article discussing a recent publication in the Journal of Medical Ethics.  According to a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University, newborn babies are "morally irrelevant," and therefore, parents should have the right to kill them.  They call this act "after-birth abortion."  This particular article is not the original medical journal entry, but a discussion of it.  It contains links to the original article, but when I clicked on the link, it appeared that the article had been removed.

Thankfully, there are groups who are standing up for the rights of the unborn, and seeking to heal the wounds of women affected by abortion.  A few of those groups are Operation Rescue, (caution-links on Operation Rescue's sight contain graphic images of abortion), Operation OutcryTexas Right To LifeThe Hope Women's Resource Clinic, and East Texas Pregnancy Help Center.

Finally, I wanted to ask you to pray, and to seek God in how you can help fight this tragic battle.  The family unit is being torn apart by the world.  We as Christians need to do more than complain; we need to be active.  If we don't stand up for what is right, our society will continue to decay, and even more terrible wrongs will become "rights."

Have a Great Memorial weekend, and while remembering those who gave all to defend our freedom, take time to remember those who never had a chance to live.

God Bless.




Friday, May 17, 2013

Think on These Things: Dannah Gresh's TED Talk

TED talks photo: TED Talks icon-5.png


Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, 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).  

I'm sure that many of you know Dannah Gresh.  She is a leading author and speaker about abstinence, modesty, and purity.  We've actually recommend several of her books on our resources page here at A&V.  

On March 16, Dannah was invited by the TED Talk series to give a speech in defense of virginity to an audience of 900 Penn. State students.  We're sharing the video of her nine minute speech with you today:





TED is a globally recognized, by-invitation-only think tank of speeches used by educators and students, billed as "ideas worth spreading."  It is very exciting that the issue of abstinence has reached this platform!

We're sharing this video with you today, not only for the great argument she puts forward regarding tolerance of virginity, but also in the hope that you will spread it as well.  If this video gets enough traffic, then it will be placed on the main TED website, and the message of abstinence will receive global attention!  So, post this to your facebook page, share it on your blog, and help out a great cause.  

Enjoy, and have a blessed weekend!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Change Your Focus

Out of Focus Pictures, Images and Photos


2 Corinthians 4:18     while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen [are] temporary, but the things which are not seen [are] eternal (NKJV).

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and it's been speaking volumes to me lately!  This verse is the last of a chapter devoted to enduring hardships as a believer, but this last phrase is so hopeful, that it challenged me to change my focus.

How many times do you look around and feel that, for some reason or another, you don't measure up?  Almost constantly, right?  We live in a world that is trying to sell us something, and their favorite marketing strategy is to create discontent.  "If you only had this hairstyling product, your bad hair days would be over!"  "Try this new skin product and never have another blemish!

We spend so much time thinking about the things that are seen.  They seem so certain, so dependable, so important, but in reality, they're temporary.  In the next few days, weeks, months, or years they'll be gone and another "thing" will take its place to make you feel inadequate.

So what does matter?  Our walk with Christ, and how we use the blessings He's given us to bless others.  Instead of stressing out over our reflection in the mirror, we should focus on improving our spiritual reflection.  Instead of trying to imitate the latest iconic supermodel, we should be trying to imitate and reflect Christ.

 Molding a Godly character is an unseen attribute which is eternal.  However, just because it's unseen  doesn't mean it goes unnoticed.  If you begin turning your focus inward, people will detect the change, remark on the change, and you will begin making an impact on the world, rather than being impacted by the world, how awesome is that?

When Christ was on earth, what was the image He portrayed?  He was a servant.  This is what Jesus said about Himself, in His own words:  ". . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)"

This week, I'm offering a friendly reminder to change your focus, (and I'm "preaching" to myself as well).  Rather than looking around at the things that don't seem to be going your way, look to Jesus, your Lord, Savior, Master and Creator.  Allow Him to show you how loved and cherished you are in His sight, and change your ideas of what really matters.  God Bless!

In Focus Pictures, Images and Photos


Do you struggle with image issues?   We all do as women!  Drop us a line at requests@armedandvirtuous.org or leave us a comment and we'll be happy to encourage you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Think on These Things: A Ministry Update

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, 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).

The Lord has been opening doors and providing several opportunities for us to share the Armed and Virtuous/Armed and Valiant message lately!  I just wanted to give you a brief update of what's been going on:



First of all, we were invited to LakeRidge Baptist Church in Lubbock, TX!  We had a tremendous time sharing the plan of purity over the first weekend in April.  For the first time, we took an Armed and Virtuous "field trip!"  During one of the afternoon sessions on Saturday, the girls and I discussed some tips on dressing modestly, then we went to the mall and put together modest outfits!  It was lots of fun, and very useful.  (I enjoyed seeing how quickly they put their new information to good use, both in finding modest outfits, and in refusing the immodest ones!)  Way to go, ladies!

The guys, being video game connoisseurs, had a special session about video games.  They talked about ratings, not simply what they stood for, but why a game was given a specific rating.  They determined which games were acceptable for Christian young men to play, and which weren't.  Afterwards, they put their new found information to good use by playing the games that were deemed appropriate.



Then, at the end of April, Armed and Virtuous ministries was given the opportunity to share with preteens for the first time!  We went to First Baptist Church, Silsbee, TX and led their "B.U.M.P." conference.  It was a parent and preteen together event, and went off tremendously!  On Saturday afternoon, Jason took the preteens away and taught them how to "juggle," while the parents and I spoke frankly about the issue of sexual pressure with young people today and strategies for overcoming temptation.  It was a joyful experience!



As of Wednesday, we are now sharing the Armed and Virtuous message with the preteens at Central Baptist Church, Kirbyville, TX!  Session one, in which we discussed purity of heart, went really well!  We had both an attentive, and an interactive audience, because the preteens had several great questions to ask.  We look forward to sharing for the next several Wednesdays with this great group of preteens, and we'll wind things up in June with Jason's juggling act.

Throughout all these events commitments have been made to purity, young people have begun to put serious thought into their dreams and aspirations for the future, and steps have been put in place to guard their commitments.

At the end of June, we've been invited to be on television, again!  Friday, June 28th, we will be on Nite Line, a program on the Dove Broadcasting Network, which is based out of Greenville, South Carolina.  The program is live, and will air at 8:30 EST.  We will be sharing with some preteens and early teens on the program, and I'll be doing a little show and tell of a few of my "spiritual treasures."  We're really looking forward to this opportunity, and as we get more information about the details, we'll pass them along to you.

So, there's the latest with A&V!  We feel so blessed to have been given these opportunities to share, and we're trusting God to provide more in the future.  If you would like Armed and Virtuous Ministries to speak to any age group at your church, feel free to contact us at:  events@armedandvirtuous.org.
Have a blessed weekend!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Boundaries: Inhibitors or Inheritance?

Boundaries Pictures, Images and Photos

Psalm 16:5-6     O LORD, [You are] the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant [places]; Yes, I have a good inheritance (NKJV).


Because of the upcoming purity conference, I've been doing a lot of thinking about boundaries.  Our world scoffs at the idea of living within God's prescribed limits.  They shout from the billboards, television, movie screens, and radio "You are the master of your own destiny.  Don't let anyone else hold you back.  If it feels good, do it!"  As Christians, this obviously runs contrary to God's will and plan for our lives, but how can we remain content within the confines God has given us, when just on the other side, the world is partying heartily and calling us to join in?

The secret lies within the limitation, itself.  It all comes down to how you perceive that boundary line.  Is it a limitation, or is it a blessing?  Does it point out all the things you can't do, or does it map out what is rightfully yours, your God-given inheritance?  When the children of Israel finally took possession of the Promised Land, God Himself divided it between the tribes, and then within each tribe to the individual families.  Each family's allotment was marked off, usually by a stone.  Considering that Israel had been wandering for forty years in the wilderness, this boundary line represented a tremendous gift, a place that was finally their own!

Ironically, if you look a little more closely at the world, they actually set boundaries, themselves.  Although they accept all forms of sinful lifestyles, they cannot tolerate the lifestyle of a genuine believer.  For some reason, if it feels good to be a Christian, it's not acceptable in their worldview.  Why?  Because our very existence exposes their lifestyle for the fraud that it is.  We are the light of the world, and the light of Christ which shines from us, highlights the ugly truth about a life "without boundaries".

Here's another truth about living life on one's own terms:  At some point along the way, such people become addicted to something and it completely enslaves them.  In their pursuit of pleasure, they make gods out of fame, fortune, drugs, power, sex, or numerous other things.  These gods steal their very lives, and leave behind a shell.  Think about how many celebrities go from supposedly having it all to multiple divorces, drug rehab, eating disorders and even committing suicide?  They achieve what should have fulfilled their wildest dreams and yet, they are left empty, much more so than when they took that first step across the boundary line.

According to Psalm 16, Who is our portion and our cup?  The Lord!  These boundaries are the measure of the tremendous blessings God has in store for us.  Our portion is what God has given us, our cup is what we make our own.  Ironically, as these people proudly step outside of the boundaries, they are forfeiting their portion and drinking the dregs of life from their cup, instead.  God's desire for our lives is that we accept the entire portion of His blessing!  He wants us to live life abundantly, and that involves accepting the boundaries that He has set for our own good. 

Most often, it takes a while to experience the fulfillment of our inheritence in Christ.  The pleasures of the world are immediate.  In fact, we won't experience everything God has in store for us until we're with Him in heaven.  But as we continue to be faithful, as we continue to abide by the boundaries God has set, He will bless our obedience.  We will begin to see pieces of the puzzle come together, and reap the long-lasting and completely satisfying rewards of submission to God.  Each time we say "no" to the world, we take a step closer to the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future! 

So, embrace your boundary lines this week, and stay the course.  The payoff is worth it, and it's coming soon!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stand Before Kings!

royal court photo: The Court of Royal Justice DSC00823.jpg


Proverbs 22:29     Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men (NKJV).

Happy Monday, everyone!

This is just a short little thought, but it's been with me for a while, so I thought I'd share.  

Everyone wants to know what makes them special; what sets them apart, what gives them identity.  There are many places to go looking for identity, and most of those places lead to regret.  The only true place to find one's identity is in Christ, as His disciple and servant.

Everyone also wants to know what they're good at; what their particular talents are, and how to be recognized for their talents.  But, here's where the Bible gives us a little twist:  this verse doesn't say "Do you see a man who is really talented," it says "Do you see a man who excels in his work."  In other words, do you see a man who is a hard worker, a man who sticks with the job, and doesn't give up until the task is completed?  He is likely working in an area where he has talent, but it's his commitment to the job that causes him to "excel in his work."

Do you want to stand before kings or unknown men?  It's a matter of how hard you're willing to work.  If you can't do more than the average person around you, then you're working toward leading an average life.  If you want to do exceptional things, then you must put in exceptionally hard work.

God has given us all talents and abilities, and they help point us toward the areas where we naturally shine, but talent alone will not bring success.  Talent, when paired with hard work, can lead to great things, and a hopeful future.

So, lets really dig into our work this week.  Who knows where our efforts may lead us?

Have a blessed week of work, my friends!

Monday, April 22, 2013

In the World, Not of the World!

set apart photo: Set Apart 3f5d19ad.jpg


Leviticus 18:1-5     Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'I am the LORD your God.  'According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.  'You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD (NKJV).  

We had a really great lesson in Sunday school yesterday, and I'm finding myself wanting to talk about it a little more.  


Do you know what it means to be sanctified?  It means to be made holy, to be set apart.  Not necessarily secluded from other things, but set apart to be used for a special purpose.  That is the point I believe we must focus upon, and remind ourselves that we might be living in this world, but that shouldn't change our attitude about sin, nor our stand regarding what is right and wrong.  


When the Lord spoke to Moses in this passage, the children of Israel had been freed from slavery in Egypt and were on their way to obtaining the land that God promised to provide.  God was reminding the children of Israel that He had set them apart for a special purpose.  They were His chosen people; the people through whom He would reveal his plan of salvation for the entire world.  Therefore, they were to live differently than the people around them.


When they were slaves in Egypt, they witnessed the Egyptians commit all sorts of sexually and spiritually immoral behavior.  When they came to Canaan, they would again see many people groups behaving in ways that were sinful, but no matter how often they witnessed these activities, no matter how often it was spoken about, they were not to engage in the same behavior.  Just because it seemed like "everyone was doing it," that didn't make it acceptable for the people of God.


In fact, as this chapter continues, verses 24-25 say:  'Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.  'For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.'


The Lord would be uprooting these sinful peoples from the land to make room for His righteous people.  


So, what were these people doing that was so vile?  Here are just a few examples:


They were having sex with family members; committing incest (Lev. 18:1-17)

They were committing adultery; having sex with another person's spouse (Lev. 18:20)
They were offering child sacrifices (Lev. 18:21)
They were practicing homosexuality (Lev. 18:22)
They were committing beastiality (Lev. 18:23)

Do some of these things sound familiar?  Unfortunately, many of these same sinful activities have become front line news lately.  Even in our modern, "humane" society, we see child sacrifice taking place under the name of abortion.  Homosexuals are pushing our lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage.  People use sex as a means to hurt one another.  These things might be talked about often, they might be praised in movies, on TV, and made out to be trendy and fun, but it doesn't make them right.  We, as Christians, are called to live differently.


In addition, we are called to stand up for what is right.  We must uphold the boundaries God set out as proper human relationships, and at times, that involves speaking up.  Now, let me make a distinction here:  We are not called to be cruel, unkind, or condemning to people who do these things.  God loves all of us, and died for everyone.  However, showing love to someone doesn't include accepting immoral behavior.  Jesus, Himself, when he saved a woman caught in adultery from stoning, said to her to "go and sin no more" (John 8:11).


So, what is the point?  It's this:  sin is sin, and sin has consequences.  No matter how you disguise it, no matter what name you give it, no matter how trendy it becomes, no matter how many people tell you it's okay.  Secondly, God has called you to something much higher.  His plans for your future relationships are meant to be holy, blessed, and life-long.  Don't allow the world to push you into sinful behavior.  The world doesn't understand sex at all. They define people's "sexuality" based on a narrow stereotype, and try to impose a lifestyle upon people who don't fit their mold.  


The only standard you are accountable to is God's, and His standards lead you to a blessing.  Walk with Him, follow His commands, listen for His voice, and watch as He makes a way for you, even if, like the Children of Israel, it's in the middle of the wilderness!  

Have a great week, and God Bless! 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Think on These Things: An Armed and Virtuous Preteen Weekend!



Philippians 4:8    Finally, brothers and sisters, 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). 

Welcome back, everyone!  We very excited to share our latest event with you. So excited, in fact, that we're making it this week's "thing."  

It's called B.U.M.P. (Beware, U Must Persist), it's a parent/preteen conference, and it's being hosted by First Baptist Church, Silsbee, TX.  Jason and I are the thrilled to be leading this event! This will be our first opportunity to share the A&V message to a preteen audience.  

Here's the schedule:


Friday, April 26th:
7:00-7:45pm - Session 1 - Purity of Heart
7:45-8:00pm - Break
8:00-9:00pm - Session 2 - Purity of Mind
9:00-9:30pm - Fellowship Time (Ice cream Sundae Party!)
9:30pm - Parents leave and 4th-6th graders stay for our sleepover

Saturday, April 27th:
9:00-9:45am - Session 3 - Wise Innocence
9:45-10:00am - Break
10:00-11:00am - Session 4 - Armed and Vigilant Parents - with April Anderson
10:00-11:00am - Session 4 - Kids - Juggling and Games - with Jason Anderson
11:00-11:30am - Parent/Child:  Individual Discussion Time
11:30am-Noon - Session 5 - Dating and Romance - Two Different Views



As this is a preteen event, we will not be delving deeply into uncomfortable topics.  The emphasis will be on the positive:  What to be doing in order to remain pure.  We will discuss how to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus, how to guard our hearts and minds, and how to avoid compromising situations.

Then the real fun begins!  Jason will whisk the preteens away, juggle for them (and with them!), and lead them in some awesome games, while the grown ups and I delve much deeper into the topic of purity.  We will be discussing what young people face today and some strategies for preparing them to stand firm.

After that session, the parents will have a 30 minute opportunity to get alone with their child and talk.  Hopefully this will be the beginning of many meaningful and relationship-building conversations to come.

Our last session puts dating in its place.  With all the pressure the world places on young people to pair up, we're encouraging these preteens to embrace this special time of their lives, and enjoy pursuing their dreams as individuals, trusting God to bring His perfect plans to pass when the time is right.

So, come join us!  The cost is only $20 per family.  What particularly excites me about this event is the opportunity to get a good word into these youth before they enter the crazy world of junior high.  I was 12 years old when God first spoke to my heart, and led me to begin praying for my future husband.  What a difference early goal setting can make in the life of a young man or woman of God!

Hope to see you there, and God Bless!




Friday, March 15, 2013

Think on These Things: Guys want you to wait!



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).

Someone brought the group Anthem Lights and their tremendous song to my attention, and I just had to share it with you.  When you listen to the hearts of these young men, I hope it gives you the courage to stand strong in your commitment to purity.







Here's the song in full:







My dear sisters in Christ, you deserve to meet such a man; a man who has waited for you, prayed for you, and who trusts God to bring you together at the proper time.  It's so hard to wait, I know!  You get harrassed at school, you get left at home when others are going out, but it's completely worth it

At the same time, purity is available to everyone, whether you've made mistakes or not.  Jesus didn't leave us one opportunity to do things right, or be forever lost.  Just confess your sins to Him, ask His forgiveness, and then walk from this day forward in sexual purity.  Your future husband will appreciate your sacrifice.  You can still have a happily ever after. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Think on These Things: And The Winner Is...


Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, 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).


Well, the results are in, and the winner is . . . SPENCER!  Thank you to all who participated, you made this an exciting giveaway.  Thanks also to Elizabeth Ludwig for her support of A&V.

Come back and see us again soon.  We've got more exciting "things" planned to share.

Have a great weekend, and God Bless!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Think on These Things: Mystery Novels by Elizabeth Ludwig!



Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, 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).

Welcome back!  I'm so excited to share this week's "thing" with you.  Recently, I met Elizabeth Ludwig, a Christian mystery novelist, whose books are available at Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and just about any other book store.  She was such a blessing to meet and talk to, and because the idea of a Christian mystery novel was so intriguing to me, I asked if I could interview her for A&V.  Here's what Elizabeth has to say about herself and her latest novel, No Safe Harbor:


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Well, I could give you the long version, but why do that when you can read all about me on my bio page (http://www.elizabethludwig.net/Biography.html)? The short version is much simpler…and probably more interesting. LOL!

Basically, I was just a kid who loved to read. I had a voracious appetite for books, and it was not unusual for my mother to catch me reading at two or three in the morning…on a school night! Since that got me into trouble, I took to reading with a small nightlight under the covers. My poor eyes! I’m surprised I can still see.

Anyway, fast forward twenty…um…thirty years, and that love of reading changed into a love of writing. I still daydream characters in my head, but now, that transfers onto paper.

And now, since I think it’s always fun to share secrets about oneself, here are five facts readers might not know about me:

 
  1. I am an avid football fan (Go Steelers!!). When I’m not cheering on my team, I’m thinking about cheering on my team.

  1. My kids call me a computer geek wannabe. I’m not good enough with techie stuff to actually do anything…just good enough to get in trouble.

  1. In high school, people called me a Drama Queen, but not because I was emotional and erratic. It was because I loved everything involving the theater.

  1. My dachshunds get me. They really, really get me.

  1. I married the sweetest, most romantic, loving man in the world. He tells me so all the time. J

What is your favorite Bible verse?  (Translation too, please) Why?

I always smile when I’m asked this, because my answer puzzles people. It’s Habakkuk 2:2-3. Are you scratching your head yet? Let me clarify…

 

Habakkuk 2:2-3 says this: Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (NKJV)

 

At a time when I was really questioning whether or not I was called to write, God gave me these verses. I’ve clung to them ever since, and I sign all of my books with them, mainly as a reminder to myself that I’m doing what God called me to do.

What was your inspiration to write No Safe Harbor?

Family members on both my side and my husband’s emigrated from Europe in the early 1900’s. Some of my ancestors were from Spain. My husband’s ancestors were from Holland, Ireland, and Germany. These brave men and women who risked everything in search of a better life were the inspiration for this story. I hope I’ve done them proud!

Have you visited Ireland?

I’ve never been to Ireland, but I hope to one day. My husband and I went to Europe in 1995. We got to see so many fascinating things! We spent two weeks traveling through parts of France and Germany. Now, my dream is to go back and continue our trek through Ireland and Scotland.

Is this considered a cozy mystery?

Though there are elements of mystery in the book, this is definitely not a cozy mystery. Cozies are usually more lighthearted, and have an element of humor built in that this story does not. For people who love suspense, however, this book should be right up their alley. From the first page to the last, I tried to construct a story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat!

How much research did No Safe Harbor take?

I have to say, this book definitely required more research than any novel I’ve published so far. On top of all of the historical facts I could dig up from New York in 1897, I had to research Ireland and everything that was occurring during the same time period there. Thank goodness for the Ellis Island Foundation’s website. I found a lot of information there.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing No Safe Harbor?

I loved learning about Ellis Island—from its beginnings all the way to the role it plays in America today. For instance, did you know the scene near the end of No Safe Harbor, where a fire destroys the immigration station on Ellis Island, actually happened? Though no lives were lost, thousands of records were destroyed.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story?

More than anything, I really wanted to get the “feel” of the time period right. Also, I very much wanted to do justice to the thousands of people who have made the journey across continents in search of a better life. Added to that, it was very difficult to show the struggle of the Irish people objectively, without casting one side or the other as the bad guys. I hope my many hours of research helped me get the balance right.

What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

I have finished the second book in the Edge of Freedom Series, and am currently working on book three. Each of these books focuses on a different aspect of the struggle in Ireland, and how it translated to America. Overall, I am very excited to have been entrusted with this great project!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading No Safe Harbor? 

There’s a unifying message in all three of the books in the Edge of Freedom Series. It’s one that I hope will speak to everyone who reads them, but rather than tell you what it is, I’d like to show you from a line taken from one of the books:

“My dear, braw lad,” Cara whispered, “your faith was never in God. It was the church you followed, and the Fenians, not the Savior.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Writers trying to break into the business often ask me what advice I would give. It’s simply this: if your goal is publication, great! But don’t be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the journey you’re on while reaching it. There are some awesome lessons to be learned along the way, and great friends to be made…all of which you will miss if you attempt a shortcut. Trust God. His timing is always perfect.

 

You know what…I think that works for non-writers, too.

 


 
You can learn more about Elizabeth Ludwig, (and her 7 other novels) by visiting her blog, The Borrowed Book or her website, elizabethludwig.com. 
 
 
 And here's the best news:  Elizabeth is giving away a free signed copy of No Safe Harbor to one lucky Armed and Virtuous reader!  You have three opportunities to win.  Here's how to enter:
 
1.  Become a follower of this website
2.  Like our facebook page.
3.  Invite a friend to follow Armed and Virtuous
 
Then leave a comment on this post, letting us know that you've completed 1,2, or all three!  :)
 
The winner will be announced Friday, March 8th.  So, good luck, and have a great weekend! 
 
 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fighting the Urge to Merge: Embracing the "Single Life" part 3

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Hopefully, after last week, you've begun to fall more in love with Christ, and are finding Him to be the true source of your fulfillment. This week, in an effort to be content with the "single life," we will explore one of the advantages of being free from romantic attachments. 

According to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, every season of life has a purpose, even the season of being single.  God has special things for you to experience, lessons for you to learn, and work for you to do now that cannot happen later in life, so rather than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, dive in and make the most of it! 

What's the biggest advantage to being single?  In my opinion, it's having complete freedom to explore what interests you, what you're good at, and determine what plans God might have for your future.  Don't underestimate the value of this freedom.  When you're older, you will have adult responsibilities that will hinder your ability to do what you like.  Even having a boyfriend in jr. high or high school can take up the time that God intends for your personal discovery, so take full advantage of your freedom now! 

Start by taking inventory of your interests:  What do you like?  Are you creative?  Are you technologically savvy?  Are you musical or artistic?  Do you like sports?  Are you a math/science kind of person?  Once you've determined this, dig deeper.  What excites you?  What peaks your interest and makes you want to learn more?  What skills are you developing, and how can you further sharpen those skills?  I was a singing/flute-playing/writing/drama person, myself.  I got involved in my school's band and choir programs.  I became involved in youth orchestra, youth choir and drama groups at my church, and I competed in fine arts festivals with writing and poetry entries. 

Once you get involved with such activities, set some goals.  Usually, these organizations have competitions or prizes to earn.  Focus on reaching such goals.  Then, determine which activities are simply hobbies, and which could lead to a future career.  Even if you don't intend to make your life's work from a particular hobby, you could possibly win scholarship money for college.  Just look around, ask your instructors, and most of all, pray.  God gave you particular talents and interests for a specific reason, and He knows the path of your future.  So, explore, improve yourself, and trust that God's got everything under control.

What if you have a boyfriend?  As I said before, dating is not sinful, but it can become all-consuming.  If you are dating someone, take a step back and examine your daily schedule.  Is this guy taking up most of your free time?  Are you letting things go in order to spend time with him?  Are friendships fading?  Are your grades slipping?  What about your personal interests?  Are you losing sight of who you are as an individual?  If so, the relationship has become unhealthy.  Ask God to help you place dating in the proper perspective.

Talking on the phone, texting and social networking are great, but they have no lasting value.  Enjoy these things, but don't let them rule your life, either.  Instead, focus on worthwhile activities that develop your God-given skills, and allow yourself to dream big dreams for your individual future.  Lay these dreams at Jesus' feet and trust that as you walk with Him, He will show you what to make a serious priority, what to enjoy for now, and what to let go for the better things He has in store. 




What activities do you enjoy?  Are you beginning to make plans for the future?  Leave us a comment and share!  We'll be happy to pray for God's perfect plan to unfold in your life.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Enjoy This Season!

Credit: Free images from acobox.com












Ecclesiastes 3:1-8     To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace (NKJV).


Have you ever looked forward to a special event in the future, such as Christmas morning, a birthday, or a special trip?  Most of us become filled with anticipation, wondering how it will exactly unfold, and expecting an exciting experience.  Especially as a child, I always looked forward to the next age I was approaching, not just the birthday itself, but it always seemed like being older would make life a little better, somehow.  On that long-anticipated day, I was always asked, "What's it like to be . . .(8,9,10 . . . 16)?"  My response was always:  "It feels the same," and there was always a little disappointment in that fact. 

How often do we look at our current life situation and wish for something more?  Besides just wanting to be older, there have been many "seasons" in my life during which I became dissatisfied.  I looked ahead to the next season thinking:  "If only I was there, life would be so much better!"  A few of my personal examples include:  feeling "dateless" as a youth, being in college, dating the man of my dreams, but wishing we were engaged, becoming engaged, but not married, married, but no children, the list goes on and on. 

Time after time, when I've reached this point of dissatisfaction, God has spoken a word to me.  I've heard it so many times now, that I laugh to myself when He repeats it:  This time of your life is unique.  It won't last forever.  There are special experiences you can only have during this stage of life, and I have lessons to teach you now, that you cannot learn later.  For every perceived advantage in a certain phase of life, there are down sides as well.  On the flip side, for every drawback in your current season, there are also advantages!

This verse in Ecclesiastes might sound like it's describing opportune times in life for various activities to occur, but it's not.  Instead, it declares that God controls time and seasons, not just seasons of the earth, but of our personal lives as well.  There is a time for every purpose under heaven.  God alone knows when you're ready to progress from one stage to the next.  Only He knows the experiences He has in store for you, the skills you are to develop, and the special work He has for you to accomplish, right now!

Contrary to popular culture, life is not a race to reach a point of complete satisfaction, but a journey to be enjoyed as you go.  There will be joys and sorrows throughout every season.  If you spend your entire life looking forward to the next thing, you'll miss the miracles occurring in the present.  Just the other day, I was watching my little girl run through the house.  As she passed, I thought sadly that her little toddling walk is all that's left of her babyhood.  How I hope that I have fully enjoyed the early season of her life, because it's almost gone, never to return.

So, are you enjoying the season?  Are you taking advantage of your youth, when loving adults meet your needs and allow you to explore your talents and interests?  Are you making the most of the "single" life, and discovering the special work God has for you?  If not, then get started!  This special stage of life won't last forever.  All too soon you will have responsibilities, in the form of a husband, children, a career, or many other things, that will limit your ability to do what you, and you alone enjoy



What season of life are you experiencing right now?  Have you struggled to remain content?  What has helped you along the way?  Please drop us a line and share!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fighting the Urge to Merge: Embracing the "Single Life" part 2

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Last week we introduced the idea of finding satisfaction in being single; needing no one else but God to feel complete.  It's not the way of the world, but, as you may have noticed, people who do things the world's way don't seem to be finding true happiness either.  I challenge you to make the most of going "solo," and this week we'll discuss what I consider to be step one:  Falling head over heels in love with Jesus, and finding purpose in your relationship with Him.

How do you fall in love with someone?  By spending time together.  So, channel the energy you would be spending on a guy toward Christ instead.  Take an honest look at your personal walk with God.  How often do you read the Bible?  Do you only crack the book on Sundays?  Do you read it only on occasion, when the going gets tough?  Do you read daily, but just to check the obligation off your list?  If so, it's time to dig deeper!  Start by getting completely honest with Him in prayer.  Tell God that you want to know Him better, and desire to develop a love for His word.  I guarantee you, He'll answer that kind of prayer!  Find a version of the Bible that is most comfortable for you and start reading.  As you get into the word, you will begin learning about the heart of God.  You will see His truths come alive in your life, and you will crave more.  This is what David meant in Psalm 42:1 when He said As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

Pray with complete honesty and sincerity.  God is not impressed with big words or with hitting the "right" topics.  He already knows your heart, so pray from your heart.  Tell Him exactly how you feel, be open about where you are weak, and ask Him to give you strength.  As you press deeper into your prayer life, this too will become more personal and exciting.  He will begin to lay burdens on your heart for other people.  He will lead you in how to pray, and you will see God work through your prayers.  As this happens, your love for Him will increase, and your desire to read His word and pray will only grow stronger. 

Worship your way!  If you don't know what "your way" is, then find out.  What styles of music appeal to you?  There are Christian bands out there for every possible style of music, so find what interests you, and get plugged in.  Worship in song, or if you play an instrument, worship through that instrument.  Don't worry about how well you sing, instead, place your focus on God and declare through your worship how much you love and need Him.  Worship through your lifestyle, by striving to do your best work at every opportunity, and seeking to please your Lord in every area of life. 

Finally, ask God to give you His work to do . . . now!  This doesn't necessarily mean surrendering to "the ministry," but seeking to do work on behalf of your Lord right where you live and work.  You can be a minister for Christ even as a young person.  People your age need to know the love of Christ just as much as anyone else, and who better to lead them than you?  This might sound a little unnerving, but as you fall in love with Jesus, this will be a natural next step in your walk with Him.  You will develop His heart for those around you, feel compassion for them and desire to help meet their needs.  God will give you, step-by-step, everything you need to accomplish such a task.  Most of the time, this will not involve standing on a pedestal and preaching, but praying for a person, living your life as an example of God's love, and being willing, when the time comes, to share your faith.  As you obey, you will find the rewards so exciting that you'll want to keep going.  Every time you surrender to His leading, your faith will grow, your love for Jesus will grow, and the sense of purpose you receive will outshine your previous feelings of inadequacy.

We all worship something, the question is, who or what will you worship?  Another flawed human being, the quest for social acceptance, or your Creator and Savior?  By making Christ your first love, you place all other areas of life into the proper perspective, including the desire to date and possibly marry.  God will honor such a decision and will lead you in the best path as you commit yourself to Him. 


Do you have any ideas for growing in your walk with Christ?  If so, please share!  Leave us a comment and join in the discussion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who Told You That You Were Naked?

Genesis 3:9-11     Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked (NKJV)?"

Credit: Free images from acobox.com

I know, this is an unusual verse to be using for a devotional, but bear with me for a minute.  We've just begun a series about embracing he single life- being content with who you are in Christ and needing nothing else.  A friend of mine shared these verses with me recently, and it opened my eyes to a completely new meaning of this old story; one that I'd like to share with you.

Most likely, if you're reading this, you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  (If not, I humbly suggest that you stop right here and read the "Find Your True Love" page.)  If this is true, then you are already in the ultimate "relationship".  You are "in" with the All-Knowing, All-Powerful God of the universe, and He delights in spending time with you Even though He created everything-including you, and knows your every need and every thought, He desires an ever deepening relationship with you. 

How does this relate to fighting the "urge to merge?"  I'll tell you:  the world sends you constant messages that you need someone or something else to be satisfied.  In many of our cases that equals a romantic relationship.  But, do we really need this?  We're already in a relationship with the King of Kings.  He provides our every need, most often before we know we have a need, and gives us the best gifts; ones that ultimately bring us the most joy and contentment. 

Who told Eve she needed anything besides God?  Satan.  He whispered to her soul:  "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"  His intention was to deceive her, entice her to sin, and enslave both Eve and her husband with the consequences.  After giving in, did they feel satisfied?  No, they became even more dissatisfied with themselves as God made them. 

At their regular time of fellowship, God called to them and asked "Where are you?"  He obviously knew where they were.  His question, unlike Satan's, was meant to enlighten them.  He wanted them to examine where they were compared to where they should be-by His side, walking with Him.  Adam's response?  "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 

Then God asked the big question, the question I want to ask you:  "Who told you that you were naked?"  Let's look beyond the obvious here, and make this question personal:  Who told you that you were incomplete?  Who told you that you needed something else to be satisfied?  God didn't, and He knows you better than you know yourself!  What you "think" will satisfy you is, in fact, a mirage.  It promises contentment, but will leave you feeling emptier than before. 

Is it sinful to want to date?  No.  Is it sinful to feel inadequate and not good enough?  No, but a feeling is not reality.  Who is telling you that you need someone else?  Ultimately, the answer is, the same person that tempted Eve.  Satan, the enemy of your soul hopes to use these feelings of inadequacy to lead you to sin. 

But, take heart!  Here are the facts:  you are created in the image of God.  You are saved by the blood of God's only Son.  You are to inherit the riches of Heaven one day, and God's plans for your time here on earth are greater than you can possibly imagine!  Don't be fooled by a snake, instead take a walk with God, let Him meet your deepest needs and give you the best gifts, with no sorrow attached, in His perfect time.



So, was this a new take on an old message for you, too?  Did it bring you some encouragement?  Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fighting the Urge to Merge: Embracing the "Single Life" (part 1)

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Happy Valentine's Day!  I thought I'd re-post a series from a few years ago.  It's not the traditional Valentine's message, but I hope it blesses you, and helps keep your eyes on your one True Love.  Enjoy!


Be honest, ladies, how much of your daily thoughts are consumed with a boyfriend, if you have one, or wishing for a boyfriend if you don't?  If these thoughts don't rule your life, then good for you!  However, many young women are overly occupied with finding or maintaining a "romantic relationship."  I know, because I've been there.  I, too, felt the pressure growing up, and I've witnessed it many times since. 

We come upon this pressure honestly.  Movies paint the picture of success as meeting Mr. Right.  School dances are designed to be attended with a date.  TV dramas, both "reality" and otherwise, portray the ups and downs of the celebrities' love lives.  Finally, and what most affects us is the unspoken, but very real teenage belief, that having a boyfriend is essential to popularity.  No wonder there's such pressure to "hook up!" 

Let's examine the reality of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in the life of a junior high or high school student.  I'm sure you can find an example, either in your own experience, or that of a friend.  Most girls get completely wrapped up in their boyfriend, to the exclusion of all else.  They spend every free moment texting or on the phone with him.  He becomes the subject of her every conversation, and the star of her facebook page.  She spends less and less time with her girlfriends, because pleasing this guy has become the most important part of her life.  Her family relationships can suffer.  Any goals or interests she was pursuing take a backseat to him, and what she gains in return is regular opportunities, (and pressure) to get physically intimate and push the boundaries of her purity. 

So . . . is this God's best for us?  Is this His perfect plan for our lives?  Most likely, you'll say "no," but I can hear your next questions:  "How do I avoid the pressure?  How can I survive as a single teenager?"  Let me first say this:  I do not believe that dating or having a boyfriend is sinful, but dating relationships can easily take over your life.  In addition, most girls enter such relationships for the wrong reasons.  They want a hand to hold, a date to the dance, or a social "stamp" of approval.  And, by the way, the guys are not generally in it for the right reasons either!

Over the next few weeks, we're going to explore this topic.  I will offer my humble suggestions, in hopes of helping you discover the blessings of singleness.  I'm not going to make you feel guilty for having a boyfriend.  Instead, I hope to give you some perspective about where dating fits within your life as a young woman of God. 




So, what do you think?  Is this an area where you struggle?  What, specifically, is the most difficult part to deal with?  Parents, what do you think?  Leave us a comment, we'd love your input!