How God Used Parenting to Purify Me

How God Used Parenting to Purify Me

By Moses Sanchez

We stood silently on our bed.  The silence was a mere facade, concealing the war of emotions weighing on my spirit.  I fumbled through my wording, trying my best to catch them before they left my lips, but it was too late. Only three weeks into my marriage, I had made my wife Marilette cry.  With tears, she spoke, “So are you saying this is my fault?”  I stood silent for a few seconds and then said, “Yes.”

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An Interview with Moriah Peters | MariletteSanchez.com

An Interview with Moriah Peters | MariletteSanchez.com

I recently had the honor of interviewing the beautiful and talented musician, Moriah Peters. We talked purity, modesty, marriage, and listening to God’s voice. I was so blessed to find a kindred spirit in her, since we share a deep passion to inspire young people to be deeply committed to Jesus Christ. She released her first music video TODAY for her single “Brave.”  Be sure to check it out and share. 

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Russell Wilson and Ciara are Waiting for Marriage to Have Sex: God Asked Me to ‘Lead’ Her, He Says

Russell Wilson and Ciara are Waiting for Marriage to Have Sex: God Asked Me to ‘Lead’ Her, He Says

In a recent interview at The Rock church in San Diego, California, Wilson, NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks, opened up about his relationship with R&B singer Ciara. 

“She was on tour; she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror, I was sitting in the dressing room, she was getting ready to go…and she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her,’” Wilson recalled. “And I was like, ‘Really, right now?’…And he goes, ‘No, I want you and need you to lead her.’ So I told her right then and there, ‘What would you do if we took all of that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?’…And she was relieved.”

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Inside My Prayer Journal: Thoughts on 'Avengers' and Femininity

Inside My Prayer Journal: Thoughts on 'Avengers' and Femininity

(WARNING: May contain plot spoilers from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’)

Dear God,

I listened to Britt Nicole’s “Still That Girl” and I couldn’t help but break down. It’s like she wrote that song for me. I totally relate to how “dreams may change” and “plans may fail,” and how once upon a time, Britt believed she could be the girl “shining in the dark,“ the bright-eyed girl who truly believed she could change the world.

I’m thinking about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and its different portrayals of femininity.

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Dear Friend Struggling with Homosexuality

Dear Friend Struggling with Homosexuality

Dear Friend,

I’m told you are a homosexual. Is it gay? Is it practicing homosexuality? Is it you’ve switched sides? I don’t even know how to say it.

First, I need to apologize. We, your brothers and sisters in Christ, have presented you with a religion with standards that we can’t possibly live up to. Instead of trying to fix you from the outside in, we should have been introducing you to a Person. 

To quote one of my favorite theological books, The Jesus Storybook Bible, “Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.”

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What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

By Marilette Sanchez

As an adult, I’ve balanced being a full-time college student, a volunteer for a high school ministry, and a retail employee for 30+ hours. I’ve held two internships and two part-time jobs simultaneously. Yet, never have I felt more overwhelmed and powerless than at my most current career choice. My current job? Being a mommy of two.

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Millenials and Marriage: Why We Can’t Get What We Want

By Amber Lapp

This is a guest post from Amber, my dear friend from college. She and her husband David are Research Fellows at the Institute for Family Studies, Affiliate Scholars at the Institute for American Values, and co-investigators of the Love and Marriage in Middle America Project, a qualitative research inquiry into how working-class young adults form relationships and families. Amber’s work has appeared in media outlets such as The Atlantic Online, First Things, and The Huffington Post. She is mommy to sweet toddler Daniel and newborn Peter. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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My husband David and I have spent the past three and a half years interviewing and writing about Millenials (18-33 year olds) and their experiences forming relationships and families. What we’ve heard has convinced us that while young adults are delaying marriage, they still value marriage. Despite spouting off excuses (fear of divorce and few positive marriage models; little trust in the opposite sex; job instability and lack of financial peace; changing norms when it comes to sex, cohabitation, and childbearing; an over-idealized notion of romantic love; and more), Millenials still have a deep desire for marriage.

A recent article at National Review Online tells us that Millenials are “connected to friends, family, and colleagues on the ‘new platforms of the digital era,’” yet are disconnected from “the core human institutions that have sustained the American experiment— work, marriage, and civil society.” Only about 44 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 are employed full-time. Only 26 percent are married, and almost half of children born to Millenials are born to unmarried women. Only 19 percent of Millenials say that “most people can be trusted.”

As a Millenial myself, these stats strike me as true, but tragic, something David and I wrote about at First Things last month. The good news, though, is that this is not the way Millenials want things to be. When it comes to marriage, young adults are not giving up. 80 percent of us still say that marriage is an “important” part of our life plan, according to the Knot Yet Report.

In one breath they might say, “Marriage is just a piece of paper.” But in the next, they say that it’s a piece of paper they want and that is important. David and I have made sense of this seeming contradiction by noting that it has a lot to do with the discrepancy between what young adults see as the ideal and what they see as reality. Ideally, they’d like to get married and create a stable family for their kids. But they feel that in reality this is hard to do, fewer and fewer people are doing it, and they are not sure how to do it themselves.

“Everybody wants that—it’s their dream,” 20-year-old Julie said of marriage when we interviewed her. Her friend Kelly agreed, tossing her blonde hair before wrinkling her pixie nose and asking, “But is it reality these days?”

Most of us struggle with the disconnect between what we want and what is realistic for us to attain. But with young adults and marriage, the gap seems glaringly impossible to bridge.

That’s why I’m so encouraged by initiatives like I Believe in Love (iBil), an online community of young adults dedicated to helping each other “write a different story about lasting love in America.”  Their “About Us” page explains that the site is “written by real people telling real stories about real love” who are seeking “to understand how to get to love, marriage and family life, and how it to keep it.”

We Millenials must resist the temptation to allow life’s experiences to make us jaded by love. Take Mary, an iBil contributor, as an example. Six days before her freshman year of college, her parents separated. By choosing to surrounding herself with “couples who are in it for the long run,” she was able to move past her skeptical feelings toward marriage, and beyond her thoughts that marriage was nothing but “a hopeless cause.”

Most Millenials may be disconnected from marriage, work, and civil society—but it’s also something that we, like Mary, must take ownership of through creative measures of our own.

QUESTION: Why is there such a big gap between the ideal and reality when it comes to young people and marriage? Let me know in the comments below.

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Why God Isn't Obligated To Fulfill Our Desires

By Tracy Pierson

This is a guest post by my good friend Tracy Pierson. She is a fellow full-time missionary with Cru, serving middle and high schools in Chattanooga, TN. She is also a very talented singer/ songwriter. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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I’m approaching my 30th birthday and I’m still single.

I was 27 on my first date, the age my mother was when she gave birth to her first child. I honestly enjoy being single, but my journey has also been painful.

I’ve watched friend after friend after friend after friend get married and start families. I’ve had to initiate a breakup because I was being led down a specific path of ministry—and he wasn’t. I’ve suffered through loneliness, questioned my beauty (inside and out), and doubted my sexuality and femininity.

Too many times, I’ve begged God to take away my desire to get married, but He hasn’t. I’ve read every book about being a “happy single girl” ever published (it’s a rather large section at Lifeway Christian bookstore). I’ve had people give me all sorts of advice when they have no clue what my life is like.

When I was in college, several of us were bemoaning our singleness—it was one of our favorite pastimes, right behind mocking our football team and descending like locusts on a Starbucks. In my deep theological wisdom, I cited one of the most misquoted scripture verses in our generation: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

My reasoning went like this:

  1. God gives you the desires of your heart.
  2. I want to get married. Therefore…
  3. God MUST send me a husband” (who played guitar and looked like Vin Diesel—we didn’t have Ryan Reynolds back then).

I’ll never forget what happened next. Like a toddler with a blow dart, my buddy Stephen lobbed the following sentence out into the universe. “You’re not guaranteed to get married.” I didn’t argue, nor did I punch him in the stomach. But I had never been so afraid.

Years later, I was driving home in the rain and I lamenting the fact that I was still UN-married. I started to wonder aloud, What if I never get married?  I heard God whisper back, What if you don’t?

Like during my college days, my immediate reaction was terror.

Quickly thereafter, God began to speak tenderly to me:

Tracy, what if you live your whole life with this longing on earth and you don’t get married? What if I’m the only husband you ever have? What if the only wedding dress you wear is when you attend the wedding feast of the Lamb? Will that be enough for you?

Suddenly, my desire to get married looked pathetically small and lackluster. I remembered the years of walking through the painful and joyful moments of my singleness with Him—seeing Him prove Himself to be working all things together for my good.

I was experiencing what my favorite Narnian, C.S. Lewis, had meant when he said:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased”

(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses).

Whether it’s to get married, have children, or to “get out of this town once and for all,” the pull of our desires can nearly tear us to bits. We simply cannot imagine anything stronger. We see the invitation of Jesus as a quid-pro-quo business deal: if we follow him, he’ll give us our Christmas list. He extends his nail-scarred hand—the proof of his love and our freedom—and we assume it’s so we can shake on our agreement. We even look at God—the infinite Creator of time and space—and wonder if what He has to offer could match what we can see and taste and touch.

Contrary to my 21-year-old self’s understanding of Psalm 37:4, that verse is not a formula on how to strong-arm God into bringing me what I want (even if it’s something noble and good). It’s a reminder that God will faithfully give of Himself if indeed it is a relationship with Him that I seek. 

QUESTION: Have you ever tried to twist God’s arm into fulfilling your desires? Let me know in the comments below.

My First Valentine

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to post this gem: an old letter I had written to my husband Moses on our first Valentine’s Day as a couple. Little know fact: technically, he was also my first Valentine.

February 2009

Dear Moses,

Once again, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness in answering a prayer that I have had for years, namely that He would lead me to a genuine and godly man who can be my spiritual leader. I know we definitely have our differences in personalities, tastes, and sometimes differing (though not contradicting) theological beliefs. But what can I say? God works in mysterious ways. I prayed for someone who would continually stretch me in my faith (and in all other aspects of life, for that matter), and only God’s providence could have predicted that this “someone” would come in the form of my complete opposite. It took me a long time to realize, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that our inexhaustible series of “debates” and “discussions”–far from tearing us apart as a couple–are the very means which bond us more closely as a single unit. What’s more, they are what bond us as a couple to our Savior.

Love,

Marilette

QUESTION:Who was your first Valentine? Let me know in the comments below.

3 Things I Learned From My Almost-Break-Up

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“I think I’m falling in love with someone else,” I told Moses, my then boyfriend, over the phone.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” he said with a trembling voice. Then he hung up.

It was one week before our first dating anniversary.

It had been a draining year for us. I was a full-time college student in Manhattan and worked 30+ hours per week. Moses was a first-year teacher in Queens, whose schedule was eaten up by never-ending lesson planning. We talked on the phone as often as we could, but we carved out very little time to see each other in person. The few times we did meet up lacked the depth, intensity and excitement of earlier days.

Hungry for companionship, I found myself confiding in another man. I knew it was wrong, but I was lonely, and I missed being needed. Upon hearing Moses say that he couldn’t talk to me, I braced myself for our inevitable break-up.

With swollen eyes, I woke up early the next morning to write an email.

Moses, I’ve made promises to be a committed and loyal girlfriend and I haven’t kept it. I have not given my best to you; I’ve only given you the leftovers. I’m sorry.

As I hit SEND, I realized that an email from Moses was already waiting in my inbox.

Marilette,

I didn’t expect to feel all the pain I felt last night. I felt that I was immune from it, but man, last night was tough. As much as I say I’m strong and secure and could be okay without a relationship, it is impossible for me to think like that anymore. I’m weak for you. I need you. And I want to be with you, struggling together, rejoicing together, honoring God together.

Babe, more and more, I realize that love is a climb, not a fall. I want to continue climbing with you. I wasn’t a good steward of this relationship, and ultimately, I’ve failed God in this. My personal failure has caused hurt and pain to myself, as well as to you. From this moment forward, I want to be a better boyfriend for you.

I know thoughts have entered your mind these past couple of days, thoughts of “What if things were like this? What if things were like that?” Babe, let me erase those thoughts from your mind. I want to be that person you always wanted. I may not be perfect, but when I say I am committed to you, I mean ‘committed.’

I learned three things about love from that whole ordeal:

1. True love is a risk.

Moses and I each had walls up that stunted the growth of our relationship. But behind every wall is a fear and lack of trust. It is not only selfish but stupid.

Emotional walls are paradoxical. “I fear heartache, so I put up a wall of protection. I have a wall, so I don’t fully trust. I don’t fully trust, so the relationship stagnates, or worse, implodes.” As the trite, yet true, saying goes, “relationships are built on trust.” And there is no trust without risk.

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says it best: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

2. True love forgives even in the harshest circumstances.

Never in a million years would I have expected myself to be on the giving end of infidelity. I know some of you will not justify my “emotional cheating” as such. I would disagree. While I was never involved physically with another man, my time, emotions, and attention were given to someone other than Moses. These were parts of myself that should have been reserved only for him. As a result of my careless actions, feelings of jealousy and a loss of self-confidence erupted in Moses.

Moses had two choices: become angry and resentful, resulting in our bitter split, or forgive, resulting in a strongerrelationship.

It took a lot of humility for Moses to recognize his own faults. It took maturity to refuse to dump all the blame on me, the unfaithful one.

But Moses’ decision to forgive not only saved our relationship, it allowed a newfound sense of trust in each other to blossom and gave our relationship a fresh start.

3. True love needs constant, laborious effort to survive.

Moses and I got a wake-up call that day that a relationship is never stagnant. It is either moving towards oneness, or drifting towards isolation (Source). Moses and I had always prided ourselves in not being one of those “clingy” couples. But those days of not prioritizing the other person and “doing our own thing” allowed an emotional and spiritual distance to creep into our relationship. Then, at the first sign of loneliness, I attempted to compensate with another person.

It took almost losing each other to push Moses and I to take our relationship seriously. Since that day, we’ve realized the amount of vulnerability and effort it requires to have a relationship not only survive, but thrive.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake or hardest life circumstance? Let me know in the comments below.

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Resources:The Four Lovesby C.S. Lewis

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The Myth of "The One"

By Marilette Sanchez

I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a little girl, singing Disney princesses, romantic comedies, and pop love songs have all told me that I should never settle for anything less than “the one.” He would be my soulmate, my “other half.” He would read my mind and satisfy all my needs. Once he and I met, we would know right away that we were the only ones meant for each other. I would never be lonely again. It was a marvelous concept. But is it true?

The fact is 2 out of 3 second marriages and 3 out of 4 third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006).

That’s a lot of people with wrong feelings. What seems like everlasting love is usually short-lived infatuation and lust.

In He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Anna [Scarlett Johanson] is a single woman who is considering pursuing a married man [Bradley Cooper] after a “magical” encounter outside a grocery store. Anna seeks advice from her friend Mary [Drew Barrymore].

“What if you meet the love or your life, but you already married someone else?” Mary asks. “Are you supposed to let them pass you by?“  

We’re told to follow our feelings and we’re left with more divorce papers.

In the book, Sacred Marriage, Christian author Gary Thomas notes: "We have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. …What if God didn’t design marriage to be "easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?“

Valentine’s day weekend last year, The Vow was released. It was a romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams that was inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a newlywed couple who experienced a devastating car crash a mere 10 weeks after their wedding. Krickitt suffered a debilitating head injury in which her entire memory of her husband Kim was erased. Krickitt never recovered her memory of her courtship, engagement and wedding with Kim, but they remarried and eventually had two children. They recounted their love story in the book with the same name.

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I’m a huge fan of the movie, but as with any book-to-movie endeavor, plenty was lost in translation. The movie did not come close to portray the scope of Krickitt’s developmental loss. Weeks following the crash, Krickitt was like a tantrum-filled preschooler whom Kim had to coach back to physical and emotional health. Several months after the accident, Kim had been on leave from his college coaching job, medical bills were piling up, and Krickitt’s recovery seemed at a standstill, What’s worse, Krickitt began to resent Kim for his tough love as a coach. A sobering reality finally hit Kim.

“Very possibly, the woman I married no longer existed.” Kim had to make the conscious decision to uphold his commitment to Krickitt, even if she never remembered him.

When Krickitt lost her memory, she lost her feelings for Kim. She had to completely rediscover what it was about Kim that she had fallen in love with the first time.

“My love has grown in a different way–not that ‘fluffy romantic love,’ but more of a conscious choice. The fact was, I was married to this man. The feelings came later, and by God’s grace, I’ve grown to love him again,” Krickitt said.

The producers of the movie also exercised their creative license when they removed the couple’s devotion to God and their Christian faith. Unlike their movie counterparts, divorce was never an option for Kim and Krickitt.

Some well-meaning friends told him, “At some point you might just have to let this go.” Others pointed out that divorce would be the easiest way to release Kim from Krickitt’s mountain of medical bills. A social worker told him that when a married person has a debilitating head injury, the odds of divorce are around 80 to 90 percent.

“I had a simple answer for anyone who suggested divorce,” Kim said. “'No, it will never happen.’…I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved–the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need…I’m stuck with [her] for life. We will make it work. There is no other option.“

It’s a sobering moment when we realize that difficulties are not just the exception, but the norm in marriage. Kim and Krickitt are living testaments that it is possible to have a thriving marriage in the most crushing circumstances. Krickitt admitted that at her second wedding she experienced a deeper love than most wives experience in a lifetime. We need to stop viewing trials in our relationships as an unnecessary burden, or even a necessary evil, but as a stepping stone to a deeper love.

"Our unique experiences, as awful as they were at the time, have given us a stronger bond than we would have had without them.” Kim said. “We’re closer now; we’ve got a different bond, a more meaningful connection than before.”

Resources:

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

Marriage and the 50/50 Myth

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American Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a pop. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. It was the 2012 Olympics, and he had 200 meters to go in the first round of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries. He limped the rest of the way, and the U.S. team qualified for the finals. The cause of the pop? A broken femur. [Huffington]

It is easy to praise Mitchell for his perseverance in his sport. But when it comes to marriage, why is it so easy to quit? At the first sign of difficulty, quitting is the preferred, even the glorified answer. It’s because so many of us adopt the 50/50, “meet-me-halfway” myth into our relationships. Author Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, a non-profit offering resources to build strong marriages and families, gives some insight. In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Rainey suggests four reasons why the 50/50 plan is destined to fail.

1. “Acceptance is based on performance.” Without realizing it, many individuals put stipulations and prerequisites on their “love” of their spouse. In this video by FamilyLife, we realize that most of us are drawn to marriage not to love, honor, and cherish. Instead, we get married so we can finally have someone to love, honor and cherish us.

2. “Giving is based on merit.” With the 50/50 mindset, a husband would only lavish his wife with affection when he felt she had deserved it. In turn, a wife would praise her husband only when she felt he had deserved it.

3. “Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels.” It’s easy to sacrifice for someone to whom you feel romantically attached. But what happens when feelings fade (as they are bound to)? The 50/50 myth tells us “you owe it to yourself” to end the marriage, and find someone who will give you those romantic feelings once again.

4. “Rejection is based on focusing on weaknesses.” The “meet-me-halfway” approach to relationships leaves too much room to focus on how the other person is neglecting their “half.” Both spouses are always falling behind because each spouse defines the midpoint differently. “A person who says, ‘I’ll meet you halfway’ is a poor judge of distance,” says Dr. Michael Easley, Pastor of Fellowship Nashville Church.

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In the recently released movie, Love, Wedding, Marriage, Ava (Mandy Moore) is a marriage counselor who is devastated when her parents decide to get a divorce, caused by an affair. Ava immerses herself in reconciling her parents, as her own marriage with newlywed husband Charlie (Kellan Lutz) enters its own downward spiral. When Ava loses hope in her marriage, her father offers her a tidbit that he once learned from Charlie, a devoted vineyard-keeper.

“[Charlie] told me once that when the grapes are grown, the winemakers purposely stress them out by depriving them of water and giving them an overabundance of sunshine. This weeds out the weak ones and only the strongest and best survive. And those are the grapes that make the finest wine. Now, the greatest love survives the harshest conditions. And surviving that turmoil is what makes a marriage strong.”

Resources:Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis & Barbara Rainey

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.