Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Tree

If you live close enough to one or both of the families, and if either family has a specific time to decorate the house for Christmas, make sure your CB joins in the fun! Pop some popcorn, turn some Christmas music on, and let the decorating begin!! This can be a great time of fun and laughter together as a family, and at the end of the day you can stand back and look at the results of your labor.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holidays

Study up on the origin of the holidays. Where did christmas come from? Why do we celebrate it on December 25? Who is Santa Claus, really? Where did the legend come from? Are there parts of the holiday that are pagan in origin? What will you do as a couple to celebrate Jesus' birth? Are there parts of the "commercialized" holiday that you will dispense with?

Do the same thing for Thanksgiving, though as a newer and less commercialized holiday Thanksgiving should be easier. It is very interesting to study up on where things come from--you never know what you'll learn!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The First Moments

(Continued from part 2)

I can't put a finger on when exactly I came to know Melody's younger brother, Richard. Since then correspondence has been lost and memories have been blurred, because at the time neither of us knew there was anything significant happening. I do, however, know that much of it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for a choir we were both involved in. We practiced at different rehearsal locations, but when the whole choir would meet together I couldn't help noticing the outspoken boy on the back row of the guys section.

While I don't remember the exact order of events, there are several "moments" in time I remember as defining the course of our friendship.

One was around the Bush v. Gore presidential election of 2004. It was the first election I'd voted in, and I was determining my voting policy. Some of the voting practices followed by people I knew troubled me. It bothered me more that when I questioned these issues my friends (both peers and their parents) took offense rather than answering my questions. I felt as if I was expected to automatically toe a certain party line, and when I stepped outside the box nobody knew what to do with me. I remember saying in a forum discussion that I just wanted someone "reasonable" (ie. Willing to listen and think through my objections before answering) to answer a few questions. Richard was a part of the forum as well, and when he saw that comment he PMed me. There followed a lively discussion, where he willingly listened to and answered my concerns. At the end of the conversation our conclusions still differed, but I remember being very grateful for his helpful--and "reasonable"--assistance.

Another time I remember was when I was at my grandparents house. I believe this followed the elections a few months. Richard and I had kept up sporadic correspondence since the elections, and one e-mail he asked if I had any prayer requests. There was something weighing heavily on me at the time. While I don't remember the exact problem, it probably had to do with my grandmother, whom I was caring for as she prepared to meet her Savior. I remember sitting at my granddad's rolltop desk and writing out a short email describing the issue. I clicked the 'send' button, and immediately felt a sinking feeling as if I'd revealed too much of myself in showing him this area of concern. I didn't know Richard well enough to know how the prayer request would be received. I anxiously watched for his reply. When he wrote back he was all kindness and concern--melting away my fears.

I admired Richard from a distance. Even though he was sveral years younger than I was, he demonstrated spiritual maturity above what I expected to find even in young men my own age. At the time he was suffering from several mysterious health problems which doctors had been unable to diagnose. Even though he was often in pain he didn't complain, choosing instead to accept everything God gave--both the seemingly good and the seemingly bad. I remember hoping that someday he'd count me as one of his good friends, but I really never expected it to happen.

Part 4

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giving

Consider giving presents to family members together this year. Giving presents together has several benefits. First, it allows more flexibility in the present (there is more money available if giving from two people than there would be from one). Second, it will probably be less expensive. Third, it allows the CB coming into the family to get a better idea of what each person likes. Fourth, it's just plain fun to be able to sign "From: Us."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thankfulness

Each day during the month of November sit down with your CB and write one thing that you are both grateful for. Or you could each write something separate and then compare notes afterwords.

There are several cute ways to do this. When I was a child mom set out strips of colored paper for my brothers and me to use. After writing something on the paper we made a long chain, each strip of paper becoming one link. Each day we'd add a few more links to the chain, and by Thanksgiving it was quite long! I've also heard of cutting paper leaves out of colored paper (just fold a piece of paper in half and cut a leaf shape with a zig-zag pair of scissors) and writing things you are thankful for on those. I saw a collection of those leaves once that was kept in a bowl, and it made a pretty fall decoration. Remember the reason for the holidays, and be Thankful!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Culture Shock

A common difficulty in starting a new family is the combining of two family cultures. This process can be particularly difficult in the courtship stage, when the two young people are moving from being two individuals under their respective authorities, to being one couple under God. This transition, already difficult for everyone involved, is further complicated by differences in family cultures. 

For example, one family may place a heavy emphasis on education, while another believes common sense and hard work are enough. 

One family may be reserved in showing emotion, while the other family is very expressive and affectionate.

One family may be well to do, and the other may struggle to make ends meet. 


One family could be large, while the other has one one or two children.


One family may be relaxed, the other may be involved in each other's lives.



Parenting styles vary widely as well, from the hands-off, "You're both adults now." To the hands on, "you're still ours till you're out of the house."


There is nothing wrong in ny of those things, they are just the circumstances that each couple will face. I listed maybe six, there are hundreds of others. Each one will effect your courtship in some way. The important thing is to be aware of these differences.


The most obvious challenge in facing different family cultures is the difference in thought processes and expectations. A family who places great emphasis on education may have difficulty in understanding why their son/daughter's CB has made different choices. A family that is very physically affectionate might not understand why their son/daughter's CB doesn't initiate hugs more frequently. The result could potentially be hurt feelings, particularly if these differences aren't understood.


I think the most challenging time is in the first few months of the courtship, while things are still in a flux and the "new normal" hasn't been reached yet. It is important to keep in mind throughout the courtship and engagement (and marriage too, I'm sure!) that each family is coming from a different background. Learn everything you can about the family you are entering.  Don't react too quickly, take time to learn what makes them tick. It is possible that the hurtful thing they said or did (or didn't say or do!) was never intended to cause pain--it may even have been a loving thing in their minds! Be understanding of their unique way of viewing the world. Love and forgiveness are the keys.






Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Exercise

(So this isn't exactly holiday related, but it certainly will be a useful habit to get into before the holiday foods come out in force! )


Depending on your circumstances and proximity, exercising can be a great way to spend time together.  If there is a trail nearby you can go jogging together, or if the weather is incliment you can do indoor exercises at home or elsewhere. If exercising together isn't practical but you still like the idea, you could be exercise "accountability partners." Even though I know I need to exercise and want to, sometimes it take  little push to actually get me moving!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Christmas

The holidays are upon us, the stores have broken out their Christmas and Thanksgiving wares, so it's time for some holiday Christmas ideas! I'm going to add some holiday tags, and for the next couple months have holiday related courtship projects. And, to start things out festively, here's a favorite Christmas song of mine.


Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "yoo hoo",
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
let's go, Let's look at the show,
We're riding in a wonderland of snow.
Giddy yap, giddy yap, gidd yap,
it's grand, Just holding your hand,
We're gliding along with a song
of a wintry fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together
like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us
and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

There's a birthday party
at the home of Farmer Gray
It'll be the perfect ending a of perfect day
We'll be singing the songs
we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace while we watch
the chestnuts pop. pop! pop! pop!

There's a happy feeling
nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee
and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print
by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
we remember all through our lives!

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "yoo hoo",
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you 


Friday, October 30, 2009

Sermons

 Sermons are great launching pad for discussion. Not only do they help you get a feel for your CBs tastes (do they have a favorite preacher, or even several favorites?), but listening to sermons together will challenge you both to think through what you are hearing to see if it is accurate. You can listen to sermons from your own church, or listen to "podcasts" online from a pastor you respect. Either way, make sure you talk about what you've heard.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cooking

This activity was suggested by my dear friend (and soon to be sister!!) Amanda. Cooking together can be a great activity--not only is it fun, but you get to enjoy the "fruits"  of your labor once you are done. You can make anything from a batch of cookies, to a full fledged meal, depending on your tastes and the amount of time you have. An added benefit is that this project is also appreciated by the rest of the family, if you make enough to go around!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rock climbing

Discussions and projects are great, but don't forget to have some fun also!! You don't have to actually go rock climbing, perhaps your (or your CB's) interests lie in a different area. The important thing here is get out and do something that is physical and fun--sitting around talking about all the earth shattering things that must be discussed can be difficult when not balanced by a bit of enjoyment. Have fun!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scripture Memory

Become partners in Scripture Memory. Although it is a personal responsibility for every Christian to "hide God's word in his heart," in my own experience a partner can make the difference between success and failure. Besides what better way to draw closer together than through His Word?

There are many different things you can work on, the Romans Road, 1 Cor 13, the Sermon on the Mount, and any of the marriage passages are always good places to start. If you have both been in the habit of memorizing you may want to try one of the smaller New Testament books, such as Philippians. Philippians only has four chapters and 100ish verses, at two verses a day, ten days a week that would only take a little over 2 months. Not bad for an entire book!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perspective

"To be honest, my heart has grown a little impatient with the ‘perfect’ courtship stories, and although I am glad for those couples, it is hard because the message I receive from so many of them, whether they intentionally try to give that message or not, is that if you follow God’s plan, your courtship and marriage will be ‘perfect’. But I do not see that in the Bible…

God promises good, which I believe sometimes includes trials and pain, to those who love Him… His desire is His glory, and I see His glory in the broken lives and hearts He holds in His hands… broken so that His love may pour through." -Elizabeth Jackson (More from her here)

There is a tendency in circles that "do" courtship to look at a happy marriage as a reward for doing well. There is a formula attitude--if you follow these certain rules during courtship, do such-and-such at these specified intervals, then your courtship will be God-honoring and you will have a perfect marriage. I say it is an attitude, because no one would actually verbalize such statements. Yes, it is true that there are some things couples can do to bring glory to God. However, bringing glory to God does not mean that a happy 'perfect' marriage will automatically follow. Often it is through the valley of suffering that God refines us.

This blog is a pretty light hearted look at courtship. I haven't written much about the challenges, trials, and difficulties that can come up, though my courtship has had it's share of struggle.  The struggles aren't the point of my writing, the point is to take a good look at the practical side of courtship. What it can look like in the day-to-day, in a world where courting certainly isn't the norm. 


While the cheerful is certainly good, it is also important to have a Godfearing attitude. I live every day with the knowledge that I may never marry my Knight. God may call him home, or He may call me. Or if we do live long enough to marry there is nothing that says we'll see our first anniversary. While it isn't right to worry or fret, we should keep proper perspective on life's brevity and treasure every happy gift that God blesses us with. We also need to remember that at least for those who are the children of God, all things work out for good. No, there is no formula for the perfect, trial free life. Pain is going to come. It's part of living. But God will use those struggles to work in us a deeper, purer perfection than can ever be gained by a euphoric, fairy tale 'happily ever after.'





Monday, October 19, 2009

Gentlemen

“I have found that a man will usually be as much of a gentleman as a lady requires and probably no more.”
-Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Kisses

This post from Young Ladies Christian Fellowship is the best article I've ever read on the practice of saving the first kiss (and any other forms of romantic touch) for the wedding day. It is controversial, but well worth reading. Though I know this flies in the face of most traditional "courtship theorists" I think Gretchen has hit the nail on the head and have come back to the post several times since it was published.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Proverbs on finances

Work through the book of Proverbs with your CB and note all the verses that talk about finances. Categorize them, and discuss the implications of the verses.

There are several ways to do this--you could read each chapter together, or work on it separately. My Knight and I each took a half of the book and read a chapter a day for three weeks. Once a week we had a "quiet time" together to discuss the things we'd learned and compile our verses. How you choose to do the project depends on how you and your CB work best together.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reformation day

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther hung his 95 thesis on the door of the wittenburg church.This major historical event marked the emerging birth of the church. People started reading the Bible in their own tongue, praying directly to God (no priest), and pursuing a personal relationship with Christ.

the idea for the day is to plan a Reformation Day celebration to celebrate the occasion. You can do as much or as little, depending on who you want to invite. If you and your CB want to just have a family thing, you could put on a play, do some games, or read an interesting historical account of the reformation. If you want to plan something bigger (maybe for your church, or group of friends) you could do much more.

Some ideas we have used include:

*Put together a play or skit (there are also some available onlne, both free and for a price)

*Have Reformation themed foods (anywhere from a wittenburg churchdoor cake, to German dishes such as sauerkraut)

*Give a brief historical account

*Reformation Era costumes

*A trivia game with prizes

*Coffer toss

*Life of Luther maze

*Bible relay

*Bible translators clue

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Focus

One common trap that I have observed in courtship, is the trap of a wrong focus. I don't mean the most obvious trap of focusing more on each other than on the Lord. This trap is much more subtle. It is a trap that is common for both the couple and their families to fall into. It is difficult to recognize because it disguises itself as being holy. In fact, depending on the culture and belief system the couple was raised in, the more tangled in this trap they are the more praise and respect they will get. What is this trap, you ask? It is the trap of rules.


 Before that February evening when my Knight first spoke to me, I had a lot of ideas about the way courtship should work. I had read a pile of relationship books, and many more "courtship stories" on top of that. I'd carefully observed my peers in their relationships. With this extensive study I had formed quite a lot of opinions on how courtship should be done. There were good things that all couples ought to do, and wrong things that couples should never do.


When a dear friend of mine confided in me one afternoon that she didn't want a lot of oppressive rules hanging over her when she started courting, I was convinced that she spoke some sort of "courtship heresy." After all, the point of rules is to be loving--not oppressive. A common theme of these rules is that a courting couple will, when given an opportunity, throw all caution to the wind and do something they will later regret. Even though the rules seem uncomfortable a good Courter will accept them, because the rules are there to protect them from themselves.



In the last 6 months I've had plenty of time to examine those assumptions, and I find that there is no Biblical foundation for them. There is no biblical example of a relationship conducted based on so many rules. In fact, there is no "Biblically based" method of conducting a relationship. Isaac and Rebekah's relationship was very different from Jacob and Rachel's relationship, which was very different from Joseph and Mary's.


If a couple is not mature enough to conduct themselves in purity and to choose wise standards and stick to them, they are not mature enough to be married. If a couple isn't mature enough to handle themselves in a God honoring way when they are alone, they are not mature enough to be courting. If a couple isn't mature enough to wisely use the amount of time they have to prepare for marriage together, they are not mature enough to be in a relationship.


The assumption that rules set and enforced by siblings and parents equal purity is a faulty one at best. Some general thoughts abut how well "the law" worked out for Israel, and how well Jesus received the pharasees and their rules proves that. God does not smile upon those who add to his word, even something as seemingly insignificant as extensive lists of courtship rules. Is purity important? Yes. Of course it is. Are rules necessary to maintain purity? No. Remember, "the Law killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Cor 3:6) Creating long convoluted lists of rules just creates a very stressed couple that will take what they can get. The emphasis is moved away from a heart attitude of purity and onto outward performance.


If God had intended there to be a yoke of rules on those who are about to be married He would have spent more time describing the rules. Instead He just told us to strive for purity. What exactly that looks like in each time and culture will vary. God knows the heart, and He knows if it is pure.



Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim 4:12

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reading

Read a book together. Is there an area of spiritual growth that one or both of you are challenged in? Perhaps God is leading you to missions—there are many interesting biographies and autobiographies written about missionaries. Perhaps God is leading you to trust more fully in Him, whether in general or in a specific area—there are many good books on this as well.

Reading together will help expand your horizons and give opportunities for discussion that you wouldn't otherwise think of. Discuss things you are learning as you read, and apply it to your lives.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Issues

As your courtship progresses it is important to find where each of you stand on various issues. These may either be things that one of you has “a conviction” on, or these may just be things that you need to be sure you are of one mind in.

Here are some examples of issues that should be discussed during courtship:

Debt—What does the Bible say about debt? Are there positive uses of debt? What kinds of debt are acceptable? What do each of you do currently to stay out of debt, and how will you handle debt in the future?

Finances—how will the finances be handled? Will you have a commitment to save? Who will be in charge of finances/paperwork? How with tithe and giving be handled? Which of the two of you is the spender? Which is the saver? When there is a conflict over money, what steps will be taken to resolution?

Birth Control—does either of you have scriptural objections to all/some kinds of birth control? If the restrictions are Biblical share the verses, if they are personal explore the reason. Are there certain circumstances where birth control is acceptable? What are they?

Decisions—will your family follow egalitarian or headship/submission model of marriage? What are your scriptural reasons for choosing this model? If you do egalitarian who will make the final call in a tough decision? If you follow headship/submission what checks and balances should the husband follow in order to be a servant leader?

Discipline—When children come along, how will the discipline be handled? Compare the models of discipline that each of you had growing up. What portions will you imitate? What things will you do differently? Will the responsibility for discipline be shared, or fall primarily to one of you? How will discipline be administered? What circumstances? What is the ultimate goal of discipline? What forms of discipline will be unacceptable?

Entertainment—What are the family standards for entertainment? What criteria will be used to filter evil things out—both for parents and children? What forms of entertainment are unacceptable? What forms of entertainment are good?


Extended Family—how will family relationships (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) be handled so that you are both your own couple but also include them in your lives? When there is a conflict between your desires as a couple, and the desires of your extended family what steps will be taken to resolve the conflict? What boundaries will you set around each other? What about holidays?

There are plenty more topics that should be discussed, but these are the biggest ones that come to mind. Some of these make more sense to discuss a few months into the courtship, after you have both spent some time growing closer and studying the Bible together. All of them, however, are potential areas of contention and should be discussed well before marriage.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Created To Be His Helpmeet


Of all relationship books I’ve read, and I’ve read quite a few, this is the one that has most shaped my views on marriage. It is written by Debi Pearl, whom I first grew to respect through the series that she and her husband wrote on child training (that series was so well written that as a child I read it for fun!).

This book is written in the spirit of Tutus 2, by an older woman to encourage younger women to godliness. Some of the topics covered are: keeping a merry heart in hard times, practicing thankful spirit toward your husband, being content with what you have, developing a ‘playful’ spirit toward your man, developing wisdom (4 chapters), the nature of man and woman, earning the trust of your man, and reverence. And that is just the first half of the book! The second half Mrs. Pearl works through the Titus 2 passage phrase by phrase; To Be Sober, To Love their Husbands, To love their Children, etc.

Mrs. Pearl is a mountain woman, and she doesn’t mince words. She calls sins by their real name, not by the glossed over terms that we use today to soften them up. She paints a hard picture of the kind of marriage a woman who doesn’t follow scriptural principles can expect, and backs these pictures up with letters she has received.

This is a book written to women, so she focuses intently on the responsibilities that woman have to their husbands and doesn’t mention responsibilities men have to their wives. Considering the author and the intended audience this is very appropriate, but it is important to keep in mind as the book is read.

One thing that bears mentioning, this book does deal with some sexual themes. Mrs. Pearl takes a hard look at some very common misconceptions that woman have about sexuality and what the Bible says on the topic. This is done in a manner appropriate both for a mature single young woman and a young lady who is courting and preparing herself for marriage. I would submit that the topics covered are necessary for anyone who is going to be married soon.

Really, the only chapter I would strongly caution about is the second to last one, “To Obey or Not To Obey.” This chapter treats with difficult situations of abuse and husbands involved in sin. Most of what Mrs. Pearl (and her husband, who writes much of this section) has to say is fairly sound biblically, but I don’t believe it is necessary to read unless the situation is one you are actually dealing with.

All in all I highly recommend this book. Should the Lord give me daughters it will be required reading for them when they turn 18—and I imagine I’ll work through it with them just for the chance to read it again!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Letters

This is a pretty specific project, again directed at developing relationships with your CBs siblings. If your CB has a sister who enjoys getting mail, try sending her a letter. This can range anywhere from regular correspondence to an occasional birthday or Christmas card. Regardless, the letter will probably become a treasured keepsake.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Character


Individually make a list of all the character traits listed in the Bible that husbands and wives are to possess. Compare and discuss the lists. Do either of you have blindspots in these areas? Are there points that are especially strong? Are there strong points that are either misapplied or imbalanced? Share these thoughts with each other, then together select one trait for each of you to study more in-depth. Share what you have learned in your next Bible study.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Family Game


 Is there a game that either your family or your CB’s family enjoys playing? Play a game with them! Monopoly, Risk, UpWords, Rummycube, Settlers of Catan, and Nuts are some games my family enjoys, and there are endless other possibilities. Remember to ask about house rules ahead of time, often different families play games different ways.

A fun twist to this would be to have a “family game night” and have both families get together for an evening of fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Power of a Praying Wife


You may wonder why I have a book designed for a wife as recommended reading for a courtship. The reason is first, because this is the only Stormy O’Martin book that I’ve read. I wasn’t aware she had others until later. I’m sure they are good, but I can’t personally recommend them yet. Secondly, there are no books like this designed specifically for the courting relationship. This is probably because the courting stage is fairly finite, and there isn’t a huge market for books on prayer. Thirdly, I think this book is quite appropriate to the Courting relationship. Any area appropriate for a spouse to pray about is also appropriate for a CB to pray for. Your man needs your prayers, give them. 
This book was both challenging and enjoyable to read. It was enjoyable to read because there were good illustrations and the book explained very nicely each of the prayer points. It was challenging because it had never occurred to me that there were so many areas in which my Knight needed prayer!!It was also interesting to watch the results of the prayers.

Some of the prayer points covered were his finances, fears, protection, reputation, integrity, choices, and many more. At the end of each chapter are related Bible verses and/ a written out prayer, you can choose to pray that prayer as a guideline or to pray in your own words. There are a total of 30 prayer points, plus a chapter on the power of prayer, so this book lends itself well to a monthly reading. Because the chapters are usually only a few pages long, this book will only add a few minutes to your normal quiet time routine. I highly recommend working through it at least once.

** Stormy O’Martin has also written The Power of a Praying Husband. I haven’t read that one, but would assume it to be similar in quality and content to this one.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Highschool Years

Unlike my hopeful predictions in the journal entry, soon after that brief October visit her family chose another church to attend. We didn't keep in touch.

The next several years of my life were full. We joined a homeschool group, and I joined the church youth group. I started horseback riding at a local Christian camp, and in the summer was on the city's swim team. In my country-girl life I'd never dreamed of having so many friends, having so much to do, or of being so popular.

The more accepted I was the more I conformed to expectations of my age. I fought with my younger brothers, got mad at my parents, argued, debated, and rebelled just as far as I could without getting in trouble. I could walk the line between "safe" and "you've gone to far" as though I'd had special training for it. Of course, there were times that I didn't care enough to walk the line and was unrepentantly rebellious, but even those times I kept in moderation. Just enough to drive my parents crazy at the time, but not enough for them to remember a few weeks later.



As cheerful and vivacious as I seemed to my peers, on the inside I had a deepening confusion. There was nothing in life I wanted that I didn't have (except a boyfriend!), and yet I wasn't happy and couldn't figure out why.

A dear friend of mine saw the problem long before I did, and one afternoon asked, "So, how is your Bible Study going these days?"

"Well..." I coughed. I was, if nothing else, honest, but I didn't want to admit to him that I couldn't remember the last time I'd voluntarily cracked my Bible open. "Uhm, it's been a little while. I've been forgetting about it the, uh, last few days."

"You know that's important."

"Yeah... I know. Thanks." I knew he was only saying something because he cared, but the whole conversation was awkward. What was worse, he caught on to the fact that I was trying to dodge the question, and kept bugging me about my quiet time. I finally began to do a semi-daily quiet time just to shut him up.

A funny thing about reading the Bible is that you can't read it honestly and not walk away changed. The change didn't happen overnight. It was very gradual, and very painful. God was preforming a delicate and precise operation of open heart surgery on me. There were times I thought the mental and spiritual strain was more than I could handle. But by the time I graduated highschool in 2004 I was a completely different person. God had taken the rebellious lump of clay that was me and started fashioning it into a woman after God's own heart.

This painful refashioning wasn't a moment too soon, because mere weeks after my highschool graduation  I was to become friends with a certain young man that would become very dear to me in the years to come...

Part 3

Friday, September 18, 2009

Building relationships

This project is a little different than the others, in that it doesn't directly involve your CB. Remember, sometimes there are things that will help your relationship that can only be done alone. I've given these the tag "solo" so they are easier to find.

If your CB has siblings, try to take each one of them out to visit, particlarly any of them that are old enough to want to develop a personal relationship. You can go out for icecream, a meal, a walk in the park, anything. My Knight has 7 siblings, six of them younger. One I took out to Build-A-Bear and then we got our pictures done. With another I got shakes and we went exploring in a park. Match the activity with the sibling. I've started asking where they want to go or what they want to do--they often have some fun ideas! (though I have to specify the price range first ;) )


The point of this exercise is first to develop a relationship with the rest of the family--something you will be grateful for later on--and second to show that you aren't trying to "steal away" their dearly loved sibling. I have yet to observe a courtship in which the siblings didn't feel some level of insecurity at the new addition to the family (you). By showing a personal interest in the other family members you can help head-off these insecurities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book reports

I've always been a book worm. From the time I learned to read one of the most likely places for me to be found was curled like a cat in the recliner, snuggled up on my bed, or relaxing on a tree branch--always with my latest book. I wasn't picky with the books I read, fiction was prefered but some of my most loved books were history books, DIY, craft books, and "roughing it outdoors".
As I've grown older I've also developed a propensity for research. I will become interested in something new, and for the next several weeks every spare moment is devoted to learning everything I can about it. I love discovering things. Fortunately these two hobbies of mine dovetail quite nicely. I love books.... I love learning... Works well together. 

Of course my newly begun courtship is no exception. Since I started courting I've read many, MANY books on relationships and becoming the best woman possible for my man. I thought I'd share a few of those books with you. So look for postings of book reviews sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giving

You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving. ~ Amy Carmichael

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Letters

There is something extra special about a card recieved in the mail. Write your CB a note and send it the "old fashioned" way.  It doesn't matter what you write about--your love, your dreams, your run-of-the-mill day. The fact that you took the time to write the note, and invested all $.44 makes the letter meaningful and special. 

“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call.” ~ Liz Carpenter

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Silence

Talking is a good and needed way to get to know each other, but don’t overlook opportunities to be quiet together. If one or both of you is still in school, try studying together. If you have work projects that can be done at home, try working on those together. If one of you has work or school that needs to be done, the other could read a book in the meantime. This doesn’t have to be done all the time, of course; everything in moderation. But remember that sometimes silence is golden.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Caveat

 I’ve been listing down many different projects in the past few months, and it occurred to me that a qualification was in order.

Every relationship develops differently. No two courtships are the same, nor is there an ideal set of rules and standards for the perfect courtship. In my family there are two courtships going on right now (both mine and my oldest brothers) and they are very different from each other. My Knight’s older sister was married earlier this year, and though her courtship was also beautiful it was different that ours. That’s to be expected since every person is different, therefore every couple is different.

My Knight and I, as will be told in more detail later, were best friends for many years before we started courting. Because we already had a strong foundation beforehand we didn’t have a “get to know you” stage in our courtship. Some of the projects reflect that and are designed primarily to a relationship where both CBs are committed to eventual marriage. If your relationship is still in the “discovering God’s will” stage, these projects would be best saved for the formal engagement.

Just use wisdom and discernment in your relationship, and be open to feedback from parents and godly adults.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love Languages

Work through the “Five Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman. Learn what your CB’s love language is. The five languages are:

Physical Touch
Words of Affirmations
Quality Time
Gifts
Acts of service
More likely than not you will each have different love languages. You need to learn to “speak” whichever love language your CB does. For example, if their love language is Acts of Service they won’t appreciate that neat gizmo as much as someone who’s love language is gifts. That isn’t to say you should be loving your CB with all of the love languages simultaneously—but remember to focus on the one they appreciate the most.

Here is a link that describes the love languages, and another for further research.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

October 20, 1999

Someday I would like o write, in book format, the story of how Richard and I met and fell in love. I was inspired in this project by the book, "When Dreams Come True" by Eric and Leslie Ludy. It was the most beautiful, encouraging, and challenging courtship story I've heard. I think that if young people hear stories about God honoring relationships they will be better motivated to live it out themselves. So... here is the first installment. Enjoy!!! :-)

*~*~*~*~

It was a cool October afternoon when my family pulled up to the house. We'd been invited over for dinner by couple that had just started visiting our church. My family was pretty new to the church also--just 7 months ago we'd moved back to Texas from a ministry position in Arkansas. It was a difficult transition for the family--a case where God's will was extremely obvious but not at all what any of us had expected or wanted. Especially me. I felt like everything I'd ever wanted had been taken away and still couldn't figure out why. Since we'd moved back we hadn't done much visiting. We'd met a few people, but I hadn't made any good friends yet. I was still praying that a miracle would happen and we'd end up back in Arkansas, I wasn't yet ready to put down roots in this new place. But here we were, in front of a near-strangers home, expected to make some friends. All I knew about the family was that they had five kids, and the oldest was a girl who was one year younger than me.

I was nervous as we walked up the drive. I didn't have any idea what to expect. I had grown up around boys (many, many boys!) and wasn't quite sure how to make friends with a girl. The truth was, I was a little afraid of girls. They could be so emotional and strange--boys were general much more predictable. Much to my surprise and pleasure I discovered that the oldest girl, Melody, wasn't hard at all to talk to. I disappeared into her room and we chatted the entire time.

Later when I got home I wrote this hopeful journal entry, "Tonight I made my first friend since moving to Texas. Her name is Melody. She is 12 years old, has medium length brown hair, pink cheeks, and looks older than she actually is. I think she is very pretty."

Part 2 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fears

Share any fears that you have. What is your Knight's greatest fear? What is your lady most afraid of? Is it a recognized paranoia? What is the reason behind this fear?

Make sure the atmosphere is comfortable and free from distractions. This conversation needs to be private. That doesn't mean you must be totally alone, of course. Depending on the family it is possible to have such discussions on the couch in the family living room. In other cases it may be necessary to go to the back yard, take a walk together, or step out during a family gathering. Another possibility (and perhaps the easiest logistically) is to talk over the phone, though in person is better if possible.

Also (for those of you who are exhorters) remember that this isn't an opportunity to explain why your CB shouldn't be afraid of whatever they are afraid of. Fears exist, and in order to combat them spiritually they must first be brought to light so the root cause can be understood.

Don't expect to fully discuss this in one sitting. One day let the knight talk, another day let the lady talk. Depending on what fears and reasons there are this could be a very hard conversation. Don't rush it.

Spiritual goals


Sit down together and discuss what your individual spiritual goals are. Talk about both long term and short term. Here are some sample questions:

What are your spiritual goals for the next year?
What are your spiritual goals for the next five years?
What are your spiritual goals for the next ten years?

Do you have any specific scripture memory goals you want to obtain?
What is your time frame for reaching these?

Do you have any specific scripture reading goals?
What is your time frame for reaching these?

In which area(s) of Christian living do you see the most need for growth in your personal life?
(This can include something as "mundane" as cleanliness, so something as "spiritual" as prayer)

Which areas of personal discipline are you working on?
(ie. Solitude with God, fasting, prayer, giving, etc.)

There are many other questions that could be asked, and some of the above may seem redundant. Their purpose is to trigger discussion. It's important to be purposeful about our walk with God, and important to include our CB in that walk.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Research and Comparison


Choose a topic in the Bible to individually research, then come back together after a week and share what you learned. Be creative with this, there are endless topics available! My Knight and I took a break from our usual Bible Study each week and did a project comparing mercy and truth. We found some very interesting comparisons! To get you started, here are some ideas you can start with:

Biblical love
Mercy and Truth
Christian response to suffering
Submission vs. Headship
Going the extra mile
Wisdom
The fruit of the Spirit
Sexual Purity
Honoring parents
Humility
Forgiveness
Flexibility

This is obviously a very short list of possibilities. I just took about one minute to write down what came to mind. Most of those are things that I've had to work on since I started courting, and at some point you will be challenged in these areas as well. The most important thing in this project is to consider what areas you have already struggled with in your courtship, or expect to be a challenge in the future and learn what the Godly response would be. Don't take any pat answers you've learned in Sunday school--go straight to the Bible and make sure you know what the Bible says.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Affirmation

The last courting project was making a list of things you appreciate about your CB. While the list can be a one time project, remember that pointing out things like this should be a way of life. Make it a daily priority to point out positive traits you see in them. Remember, a primary goal of a Christ centered relationship is to encourage each other to grow more Christlike. Their view of themselves can be warped by the world, peer pressure, failure (whether perceived or actual), and many other things. Make it your goal through loving, gentle affirmations to infuse in them a correct, Christ-like perspective of themselves.

A word to the Ladies who read, one affirmation that is particularly meaningful to your knight is to hear how proud you are of him. When he does something noble or self-sacrificing don't just think to yourself how wonderful he is, tell him how proud that made you. It makes a world of difference to a Knight to know his Lady is proud of him.

To the Knights, it is particularly meaningful to your Lady to be told how much you love her. Don't be afraid of lavishing it on her if you mean every word. One area that women are particularly vulnerable in is the area of looks. Affirm to her that she is beautiful to you--both physically and spiritually.

Remember that the goal of all this is to inspire greater character development and a deeper relationship with Christ. Your words will shape the sort of person your CB becomes.

Lists


Make of a list of things that you appreciate about your CB. Put anything you like on there--make it as long or as short as you choose. List things that you love about them, or ways that you are proud of them. Point out positive character traits that you see, and areas you've observed growth in. You probably can see things in them that other people don't have the opportunity to observe, and certainly will be able to see areas of growth that your CB is unable to observe him/herself. Be generous in your praise.

Ethnic differences


If there are ethnic differences between the two families, capitalize on this! Learn everything you can about the different background. A good way to start is to have a meal together based on the country of origin. Even if your CB is the same ethnicity there could still be some interesting cultural differences to capitalize on. For example, my mother-to-be grew up in Taiwan, so even though my CB has the same ethnic background I do, he grew up with strong Taiwanese influences. It's fun to explore the differences (and experience the different kinds of food)!

Cooperative Family meal


This isn't quite a pot-luck, but similar. Plan a meal for the two families to attend at one of the homes. Choose a main dish that is easy to share--something cold like Hawaiian Haystacks or Mexican Stack is good for the summer, a soup of some sort would be good for colder climates. The key is to use a recipe that is easily divided between the two families. Make a list of the ingredients and have each family bring half.

Another twist would be to simply make sure the base materials are provided (ie. the rice and meat for haystacks, or the chips and meat for Mexican stack) and then leave the other ingredients to each family. This could make for a unique and fun meal!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Take a walk


Go to a nearby park and take a walk. It can be anything from a leisurely stroll to a jog--whatever the mood is. Not only is taking a walk a good time for conversation, it is also good exercise!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Convictions

Discuss any “unusual” convictions either of you have and the reasons behind those convictions. It there a particular type of entertainment that you avoid? Are there things that you have committed to do that your CB doesn’t know about or doesn’t understand? Are there places you won't eat? Activities you think are wrong? Days you hold special? Holidays you don't celebrate? Certain styles of music you don't believe honor God? It is important to be like-minded on issues, particularly ones that deal with personal weaknesses or personal convictions.

Prayer Journal


Start a prayer journal. This can be as formal as once a week having your own couples prayer meeting, and praying faithfully over the petitions and praises every day together, or as casual as simply having a specific place to write down requests and answers as they arise. This will bring unity of spirit, and in the future will also become a special reminder of how God worked in your lives.

Gardening

Plant a garden! If you have a place to plant it and it’s the right time of year, the garden can be a special place for visiting. It doesn’t have to be a large project, even a few plants can spruce up a dreary place. Planting a garden together gives you a hands-on opportunity to work together on something. Do you want veggies, flowers, herbs or a mixture? Where exactly will the garden be? What plants and where should they be planted? Will it be a spring, summer, or fall garden? Who will be responsible for the care of the garden, or will it be shared? There is an added benefit of being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, whether literally of figuratively, after a few months.

Grandparents

Interview each set of grandparents. Ask them questions about where they came from, what their jobs have been, how they grew up, and (if applicable) when and how they got saved. How did they meet? What hard knocks have they been through? What things do they recommend you avoid? Is there anything they think it is particularly important for a young couple to know? There is much wisdom to be found in grandparents, and they appreciate being included!

Family Reunions

Family reunions are a great way to introduce your “courting buddy” to some extended family (or closer family like grandparents and cousins if they live a long distance). It is also fun to look through family mementos such as old letters, journals or pictures. Not only does this give both of you an idea of where you came from, but sometimes there are some real treasures, whether of a wise or comic nature, to be found in the writings of those who have gone before.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I've started this blog as a place to journal ideas I have about courting projects. I've found that in the process of courting there are many more ideas I have for relationship building projects and activities than I could ever fit into a single courtship. The goal of this blog is to provide a resource of ideas for those who are also courting (or hope to someday court).

This project was actually started at my father's encouragement. There are a wealth of books out there outlining how a proper courtship ought to be done. Lists of rules and standards are easy to come by. But when my brother started courting, and then two months later I started courting, my family quickly discovered that there is a lack of ideas out there for how to actually conduct a courtship. It's agreed that family activities and a long term perspective make up part of the backbone of a Christ honoring courtship--but how does that play out in actual practice? Join me in discovering the answer to that question!

As a side note, one struggle my brother and I have had since we started courting is what exactly to call our "significant other." Suitor has a nice ring to it but only works for the man, and implies that the relationship isn't "official" yet, because a woman can have more than one suitor. "Significant other" is used by other people to mean other things, so that doesn't work for general usage. Girlfriend or Boyfriend is ok and works for some, but to me it sounds far too casual and changeable. Possibly because half the time I hear the names "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" it's either in the same sentence as "break up," or in reference to a couple who is entirely too young and/or immature to be considering a romantic relationship. "Fiance," on the other hand, goes much too far in the opposite direction! My man and I often call each other "Knight" or "Lady,"which works reasonably well for us due to the way he asked me to court him. Sadly those terms earn us many strange looks during introductions to those who don't know our story. My brother and I were discussing the sad lack of terminology for those of us who have decided to court, and he jokingly said we should just call each other "courting buddies." This, though very tongue in cheek, works surprisingly well. So, if you see the abbreviation CB, it's for Courting Buddy. :-)

(and if you have a better terminology option than Courting Buddy I'd love to hear it!)