Christmas Card 2012

We were totally on our game this year. One of our students — Lexi — took this picture for us a few weeks ago, giving us time to order our Christmas cards and get them in the mail before Christmas. We had a blast playing around in Schmeeckle Reserve close to campus.  Thanks again, Lexi — we love our picture. 🙂

So here you go world. Merry Christmas from the Horrmann’s.

Erick and I christmas card 2

No magic in the grey area

I’ve asked the Lord for wisdom as I write this post. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks now, and I’ve finally taken the time to sit, process, and pray about what I want to share.

What I am about to say is my opinion, from convictions the Lord has placed on my heart, and is spoken with gracious truth.

This post is written for women. If you’re a dude, feel free to read. If this were a secret I wanted to keep from you I wouldn’t be posting it on the Internet. You should just know that I’m gonna write like I talk, and who I’m talking to is one of my girlfriends as we sit in the corner table of our local Starbucks sipping Americanos. Cool? Cool.

Okay, lady. There are a few more things you should know (if you didn’t already) before you read on.

One — God desires for you to walk in honor and purity. He longs for you be a courageous, strong, happy, wise, and kind woman. Please hear me correctly when I say that He wants you to be a woman who fears Him. He longs for you to stand in awe of who He is, what He has done, and what He will do in your life. He desires for you to bring Him glory and make His name known.

Two — God’s desires for you, are my desires for you.

All that to say, I’ll begin with this:

I’m not watching Magic Mike and I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey. And you shouldn’t either.

Normally, I do not blog about the books I’m not reading, and the movies I’m not seeing. Not very useful information for you to know. However, this film and this book are quite the phenomenon’s of the summer. I’m joining the conversation because I don’t want you to join the party.

First off, let’s start at the beginning. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. Magic Mike is a film about male strippers. For some women, the decision of whether to read this book or watch this film is simple once they learn what they are all about. However, others are curious and want to “check ’em out.” And others can’t understand why I, and many many others, are upset. “Isn’t this just a book?” “I’m spending the evening hanging out with my girlfriends, we just want to watch a fun movie with some cute guys in it.” “It isn’t real, it’s just fiction. It might even add some fun to your sex life with your husband!” Please don’t justify your actions with these thoughts. And please don’t believe that this isn’t a big deal.

Erotic fiction is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” God says there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in us: our husband. If you’re not married: your future husband. Since that’s God’s plan, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be against His intention. In other words, it would be sin.

Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reading this book and watching this movie is sinful.

Think about it from this perspective. Sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d it make you feel when you learned that your friend, boyfriend, fiancé, or husband exposed themselves to it? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights and Photoshop? Well, he can’t live-up to the unhealthy, unrealistic comparisons you create for him either.

In Philippians 4:8 it says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Can you truly think purely while simultaneously reading this book and watching this movie? The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful to us.

God knew what He was doing when He commanded us to keep our hearts and minds pure.  Exposure to erotica and pornography, over time, conditions your body to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. We’re women. Our imaginations, and the emotions they create, are powerful. The fact is, exposing yourself to erotica robs you of the real sex and relationships the Lord desired us to have. This book and film — and many others books, films, and TV shows for that matter — are not good for your marriage or future marriage.

From the reviews I’ve read, a specific genre is highlighted in Fifty Shades of Grey — BDSM. Do you know what it stands for? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love, not pain and humiliation. This book redefines sex into something evil as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. Stay away from this. You don’t want these images in your mind.

There are many things in this world I don’t need to partake in to know that they are harmful to me. God has spoken clearly, with no grey area, about His desires for my life. When my entertainment choices conflict with that, I turn the other way. You need to turn the other way.

If your heart resonates with mine, share it with your friends. There is too much junk in our world and it is often difficult for us to see what is pure, honorable, and noble. Stand firm, my friend. As Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians, “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

Your Best Interests In Mind

Some of you out there may be experiencing the reality that many of us face at this time of year: wedding season. We have a record-breaking eight weddings to attend this summer.

Sadly, since there are only so many weekends in a summer, we’re going to end up missing a few :-/.

I really enjoy weddings. One of the many reasons is because they always get me thinking about our wedding. A warm September afternoon, a light, crisp breeze, the most beautiful girl, and tons of the people we love all in one place. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have always thought of “your wedding day” as a very small glimpse of what Heaven might be like. That feeling where you look around and all you see are people you love and who love you. The love of a community you experience on your wedding day is a blessing. It allows us to experience God’s love directly through the people who surround us.

Besides the great weather and people on our wedding day, I often think about the message our pastor shared at our ceremony. We love sharing it with people — it was a good one. His charge to us was this: have your partner’s best interests in mind, and (here’s the catch) trust that your partner has your best interests in mind.

Let’s un-pack that a bit, shall we?

The first part is difficult enough. We have to think ourselves, “okay, is this decision, thing I’m going to say, action I’m about to take, etc. — does it have my wife/husband’s best interest in mind?” This charge tests a lot of what you say, think, and do. It is a definite reminder that marriage is about both of you.

I am constantly reminding myself, “how does this affect Courtney? Is this how she would want it?” I’ve come to experience this as more of a thought process than a state of mind. It hasn’t been as simple as putting myself in her shoes, or some sort of pair of shoes that we share. Rather, it is constantly thinking about her as if she was a part of what I’m experiencing, thinking, doing, etc. Even after almost three years of marriage, I’m still not even an average-student on this practice because I’m constantly only thinking about myself and no one else. Selfish, much? Yep, I sure am.

The flip-side of this is even more difficult, however. To trust, absolutely, that your partner is thinking the exact same thing. To believe without a shred of a doubt that the things that your wife/husband says, thinks, and does have your best interests in mind.

This is all about trust. Every moment I have to be in a constant state of trust in Courtney that her actions and thoughts have my best interests in mind. I often think to myself, “well, if I’m struggling with keeping her best interests in mind, she is surely struggling too, so there’s no way that everything she says/does has my best interests in mind.” I have to extend grace to her, and believe the best of her.

We live in a world that is all about self-preservation, self-motivation, self, self, self. To believe that someone else is looking out for you too, always and in everything, is a BIG leap of faith. What’s great about that, though, is that it’s not only a beautiful way to experience your marriage, but it is also an amazing glimpse into our relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s why our relationship with Jesus is essential to our marriage’s health, growth, and development.

If we’ve learned anything in marriage, it’s that you cannot whole-heartedly walk through marriage with the belief that your partner has your best interests in mind without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is simply not within our nature to blindly trust someone else in that capacity.

Our husband/wife will let us down and give us reason after reason to not trust that they will have our best at heart. But if we continue to live our marriages like this, they’ll eventually be built on nothing more than a veiled facade of trust. They won’t be built on the firm foundation of trust that you can only find if you let the Holy Spirit give you the strength to make it happen.

God’s love for us is abundantly more than the love we experience in marriage. The best part is that God ALWAYS has our best interests in mind. Romans 8:28 says that, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” That means that even when the chips are down and you feel like there’s absolutely nothing left, God is still working all things together for good. It is clear in this passage that God has our best interests in mind. Always and in all things He has our best interests in mind … even if we don’t think so.

Getting an opportunity to have a relationship so rooted in trusting love that you believe so absolutely that the other person has your best interests in mind is a great glimpse into what our relationship with God is really like.

Marriage, and our relationship with God are all about truth and grace.