Side Effects, Katy Perry, and the Forbidden Fruit

My last post “Talk about Sex” generated some tremendous dialogue and initiated more questions than I have answers for.  Clearly I hit on a hot button by openly discussing why I talk about sex within the church community. 

What I hear people saying loud and clear is “we need this conversation and we need more of it.”

I hear you.

And since I’m not one to shy away from a tough debate, giddy up, let’s talk about this, in-depth and with radical honesty.

Before we begin though, I want to lay some ground rules.  There are many points I want to address on this “oh so sensitive topic” and I won’t be able to do it all within one post.  I would be glad to oblige if I didn’t have three kids, two jobs, ministry and a husband. 

I know.  I know.  I need some cheese and crackers with my whine, but please be patient with me.

I also want this to be a two-way conversation, not a diatribe.  So play along.  Feel free to engage and comment.  I feel vaguely safe from all the haters out there who violently disagree with me, mainly because we are online and you can’t yell at me, but take it easy on the punctuation marks and the name-calling.  I have a list of alternative bad words if you need to be creative.

Ok…now we have some ground rules.  Here are some of the topics I want to cover.  If you have suggestions too, I am wide open.

  1. Waiting is HARD to do.  (Give me a REASON to be pure)
  2. How far is too far?
  3. Why does the church ignore singles?
  4. Why is sex important to God but not Sr. Pastor’s?
  5. The bumbling buffoon and the media (Counteracting the stereotype of the incompetent male)
  6. Wives –the ministry of intimacy.
  7. Talking about sex with our kids

 

Shall we begin?  Let’s start with “Waiting is HARD to do”…  And we’ll begin tomorrow. 

Totally lame right?  I lead you to begin a great conversation, and then I leave you hanging.  It’s sort of like what we do with our kids.  Every day they are bombarded with images of blatant sexuality.  The world says it looks good, feels good and it’s so easy to get.   

But then we –as good Christian church people tell our kids, “oh by the wait, just wait another twenty years for it.”

Your boner is bad.  Sex is wrong.  And for God’s sake, “do not touch yourself.”

And then my Jr. High kid turns on the radio and Katy Perry says, “Forget that nonsense. You won’t die if you take a bite of this yummy sexy hot red apple.”

Of course we might think twice if they showed us all the side effects of pre-marital sex… you know, like the disclaimers on the pharmaceutical ads?  “This drug will help you with your depression… could cause dementia, diarrhea, increased sensitivity to noise and loss of desire to do anything fun…” sounds awesome!  I’d rather be depressed.  (See 10 Worst Prescription Drug Side Effects to laugh your butt off)

Actual Side effects of sex before marriage include: Unwanted pregnancy, emotional scarring, abortion, HIV, HPV…which leads to ovarian cancer, genital warts, STD’s and the slow but gradual ripping apart of your soul, so that one day when you do find “the one,” you won’t actually be capable of emotionally connecting with a human anymore and porn on the internet and masturbation will be your “go to gal” instead of a real live complicated woman. 

Wow…that sounds appealing.

But what if I told you there was a good reason to wait?  And it was a compelling reason that doesn’t suck?

Would you wait for dinner if you knew you were having a filet mignon and sushi or would you go ahead and feast on Cheetos every night?  And never, ever be really satiated?

What about waiting for ten million dollars?  Would you work for five or ten years to collect a fortune or would you settle for a thousand bucks today?

But we’ll get to that tomorrow.  And maybe it will be worth the wait ♥

 

 

Talk About Sex

Yesterday, someone in my writing group suggested I write a lot about sex. 
 
Ummmmm guilty.  I actually mention sex in my blog posts six percent of the time.  I calculated this number for personal clarification or possibly because I was a tad bit defensive.
 
So, I think this “sex talk allegation” deserves a proper response.
 
I don’t talk about sex simply for shock value, because I want you to think my husband is a voracious horn-dog, or because I am a secret sex addict -as a woman in my group suggested.
 .

I talk about sex because I believe the church has done a really bad job in not talking about it. 

 

There.  I said it.  I think the church has screwed this one up (no pun intended).
 
We (the church) have let the world define sexuality and allowed it to be removed from its very creator.
 
We have let the world define sex in marriage as a chore and adultery as an epic romance.
 
We have let the world  polarize “sexy” into something perverted, unchristian and sinful. 
 
We have allowed marriage to become a business deal and sex to become a hobby.
 
There is a an epidemic of married women who are so exhausted from working full-time, raising kids and trying to be superwoman they are neglecting their husband’s sexual needs and justifying it all in the name of feminism. 
 
There is an alarming trend of married men who are so resentful of women emasculating them, they have turned to porn, football and work addictions to cope (only further isolating their wives by disengaging their hearts even more).
 
And the mere fact that a pastor’s wife openly discusses sex and (gasp) encourages it in marriage makes some people uncomfortable.
 
Just to be clear, my husband has a perfectly normal desire for intimacy.  He is a healthy male who loves and desires his wife.  And I am not always frisky.  In fact, I am usually exhausted, overwhelmed and sometimes play dead to get some sleep.
 
But when I let God whisper into my marriage…I am reminded that I chose this man and made a committment to care for his needs, not justify my own.  And I try to find, deep within me -in the dregs of my crusty heart, the extra effort to love my husband in a way he feels loved. 
 
I talk about sex because someone in the church needs to. 
 
So when a fellow writer insinuated I might be a sex addict yesterday because  I blogged about how my husband and I take vacations or “sexcations” without our children I just about fell over. 
 
Not everyone get’s my humor.  And not everyone has the luxury (or the misery) of knowing my heart behind the words I pen.  I write satire.  It’s supposed to make you laugh not analyze my neurosis.  And for the record, I’m pretty open about those too.
 
In all honesty, my husband and I didn’t have sex before we were married.  Maybe that’s why we like it now.  We have the security of knowing, without a doubt, we love each other for more than how we make each other feel.  I practically skipped down the aisle when I married this man because I knew he loved me for me and not for sex. 
 
I actually went to an SA (Sex and Love Addicts) meeting once.  My friend dragged me there because I was struggling to end a bad relationship.  After one very poignant and humiliating meeting, where I thought I was going to die, I drove home and broke up with the jack waggon.  Thank you SA for empowering me!
 
I make jokes about sex.  This is true.  And it’s possible it might be on my mind more than usual right now because I’m trying to get knocked up.  But the deeper message I want to communicate is we as the church need to reclaim sexuality as a good thing within the relationship of a committed marriage. 
 
And that’s why I talk about sex. 
 

How kids affect your relationship

Two weeks after the honeymoon my new husband cornered me outside the door of our condo and whispered in agony, “The kids never go away, do they?”

I looked at him with all the empathy a former single mother of two small children could muster and shook my head, “No, they are pretty much around ALL THE TIME. Better get used to it babe.”

I really did feel sorry for my husband that day. It’s a big adjustment for a single (i.e. self absorbed and not used to sharing) thirty-eight year old man to get married and instantaneously have two children. Within a year, I was pregnant and then there were three munchkins running around creating havoc.

But to his credit, my husband adjusted admirably and I have watched in both delight and trepidation as fatherhood has transformed my sweetie into a more loving, sacrificial and humble human being, even though, by his own admission, it’s been excruciatingly painful at times.

The truth is kids affect the best of relationships because kids create stress. But it’s truly up to the couple to determine if the little stressors will be a blessing or a curse.

There is an antidote to the grass is always greener adage about relationships; it’s called –the grass is greener where the lawn is watered. If you take care of your marriage along with your children, both will flourish, but if you neglect one for the other, the marriage will inevitably wither.

The biggest shocker when the stork arrives may be the overwhelming demands of children on one’s time, resources, and sleep. While this may seem obvious, it’s still surprising how many people are baffled at what this actually entails- pretty much everything.

Sleep isn’t guaranteed, emotions become fragile due to lack of sleep, and sexual relations (also due to lack of sleep and post-partum recovery) generally take a nose dive during the toddler years.

There is an erroneous assumption all couples make as they stand at the altar and say “I do,” believing their romance will stay the same and transcend the length of their marriage. And it will, if they would continue to woo and romance each other for the rest of their days.

But generally, couples who spend a great deal of time meeting each other’s emotional needs in the early years refocus all their love, time and attention on the children, leaving their marriage high and dry.

The husband (feeling neglected) starts working longer hours and the wife glares at her husband each evening as he arrives home late while simultaneously blowing kisses to the baby (her new love). Little junior replaces daddy’s spot on the bed next to mommy and the internet become’s daddy’s new girlfriend now that he’s been booted to the sofa. Sound familiar?

In an age of child-centric parenting and skyrocketing divorce, many couples forget the best gift they can give their children is a strong and stable marriage. Kids need to know that their parents adore not only them, but each other as well. A child’s sense of security grows as they watch their parents display love, with all its imperfections, struggle, and willingness to choke out an “I’m sorry (even when we aren’t).”

Because I’ve been through a divorce (and don’t want another) there are certain non-negotiables in our marriage that we implemented right from the get-go.

My husband and I intentionally spend time alone catching up –usually over a long rambling walk where we air out both the good and bad. I make an effort to meet his sexual needs (always a challenge) and he tries hard to emotionally connect with my complicated female heart. We vacation together without our children (AKA “sexcations”). We affirm and admire each other and we go to counseling on a regular basis. We are honest with each other and try to always put our marriage first-even before the children.

All of this takes enormous effort and a hearty dose of unselfishness, but the results are a strong and healthy marriage that we both treasure.

Marriage isn’t for the weak or the namby-pamby’s out there, and it’s no walk in the park once the children enter the picture, but I believe it’s a worthy endeavor and if done well, can be a beacon of hope to a world desperately in need of something to believe in. Love –at its core is radical, sacrificial and a choice made every day in the trenches of dirty diapers and temper tantrums.

The greatest compliment my husband bestowed upon me was when he leaned over and whispered, “I know it would be hard with four children, but I would love to have another baby with you.”

*Note* I wrote this piece for a secular magazine. I tried to weave God into it, without being overly preachy. But ultimately, I believe God is love and marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Jesus and his church.

Oh boy, do we ever screw this one up ♥

Baby vs. Puppy -The Final Decision

After a good deal of prayer, looking for various signs from heaven, and crying out for fleece (and then more fleece because God can’t really be serious about this), I think Tim and I are going to go for the BIG TRY.

For a baby that is. And some poor dog out there is out of a doghouse now because we dissed him.

Basically “trying” means we are having necessary sex vs. the unnecessary sex we normally have.  This makes it much more official.

And since we want a boy child who will be a tall and a  stellar athlete I will be donning sports apparel and six inch heels for the “trying.”  (I’ve found it’s best to be specific with God)

I know some of you are thinking…seriously?  Raising four children seems rather excessive these days.  (It’s so Duggar)

I know.  I know.  Trust me…I know.  The pitter patter of little paws sounded so appealing.

And let’s be honest here.  I’m already overwhelmed.  As I write this, I have a huge baby snot stain on my nice work pants and some buttons on my shirt have gone astray.  I’m lucky if I pull a shower every other day and my makeup is haphazardly applied at stoplights.

I was so exhausted a few weeks ago I actually ate a nugget of baby poop thinking it was a cheerio. Let’s just say it was an unpleasant surprise.

We have a three bedroom home and it’s pretty darn full.  The only room left to put a baby in is the cabinet over the TV that I can’t reach.  Or maybe in the closet or the bathroom (oh wait…that’s daddy’s Man Cave).

Then there’s the fact that my husband works non-stop (three nights a week and six days a week) and he goes to seminary on his only day off- which leaves me completely hosed from a help perspective.  Of course I do have the older two minions, I mean children.

Crazy right?  So I’ve been asking for a sign.  And every sign that comes across my path is anti-dog.  Remember when Snoopy was trying to hook up with that cute little girl and then he realized he was a dog and the relationship was doomed (maybe because he was a canine and she was human) and everywhere they went there were signs that said “No Dogs Allowed.”  Yep –it’s like that.

I tried the throw open the Bible tactic to get a word from God on my Kindle.  This method lacks the “wow” factor of dramatically flinging open the scriptures, closing your eyes and dropping a finger down on a verse, but it was still effective.  I opened my Kindle, clicked on my Bible download and Psalms came up randomly.  I glanced down with intensity and bamm…a verse on how “God knits us together in our mother’s womb.”  Shut the front door!    Another baby reference. (Or maybe a knitting reference, but God knows I’m not crafty so it has to be about a baby –right?)

Then my husband Tim says he feels like God is saying to him, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Youza!  I’m thinking, “Are you sure he didn’t say –be fruitful and multiply our income?”

But my biggest objection is really not the enormous amount of work involved in having another munchkin, it’s the same fear I struggle with everyday –that I won’t be able to love everyone enough, or I’ll feel even more inadequate as a mother than I already do, and oh yeah –that I won’t have time to write or volunteer as a room parent and then there’s all the additional mommy guilt trips.

I guess I have to trust that with four rug-rats and the always lively Tim Keller I will probably have enough material for a full season of SNL and as for the rest, I’ll just have to leave it up to God. 

For those of you still not convinced –namely me, I will suggest to you that I do have three great kids and (because of or in spite their mother) they are tremendous little people.  They are giving, loving, talented and irreplaceable. (And the world really needs more good people and fewer jackwaggons, dang it!)

So…now that we got that settled, here comes the fun part –making the baby. 

(More bun in the oven jokes to tentatively follow pending the “trying” phase)

PS.  I was joking about wearing the six-inch heels. 

What new, risky and bold decisions are you making in the new year?

Bad Reindeer

My phone started buzzing last night with one text after the next.  It was vibrating so much it jumped off the table.  I grabbed it and laughed and started texting back.

Apparently, our reindeer have been getting busy.  And it wasn’t the first time today.  My husband came home and found them inappropriately coupling and moved them apart only to have Rudolph get all frustrated and as soon as we shut the door mount Clarice again.

What is in the water at the Keller house?  And, oh by the way, my husband Tim added that last line to my text to Staci.  I think it was a hint.

Just after we delicately removed the young buck and his gal for the second time of the evening and donned our winter caps, John Ramsay texted us. 

“Your reindeer are getting all crazy.”

Crap! Again?  Do they just wait for us to close the door and then start humping?

I guess next year we are going to have a herd of reindeer because Clarice is already showing signs of morning sickness.  Or maybe she’s just exhausted by her frisky buck?  (I can so relate)

 

Sex or Sleep?

The Old Siren of Starbucks

The late summer sun was setting by the time my son’s football practice wrapped up. While the boys grabbed a quick snack, a group of moms lingered nearby chatting and catching up. I tried to appear engaged in the conversation but couldn’t stop big yawns from sneaking out of my mouth.

“I need Starbucks bad,” I said.

My friend Page looked at me like I was nuts. “Sam, it’s 8:30pm, you want coffee now?  Do you have some work to catch up on tonight or something important to do?”

I nodded my head, “Well, sort of-my husband.”

As soon as the words came out, I groaned, because the ladies all started laughing. And then I had to join them. Because the truth is, by Friday night I’m ready for bed at sundown.

With three kiddos, one being a baby who still wakes me up, work, writing, ministry, kids sports, and so on…I’m barely holding my head above water at any given moment.

I blushed and then admitted to them, “Ok, who am I kidding? If my husband is going to get some action tonight, I need a triple Americano, thank you very much!”

***

A recent study by the Edinburgh Sleep Centre asked both men and women if they had to choose between a night of passion or a full night of sleep, which one would they pick? The answer, not surprisingly, was sleep. 

The study, of more than 8,500 people, saw 79 per cent admit they preferred the thought of extra sleep to a night of passion. Only 12 per cent of those surveyed said they got eight hours sleep most nights, even thought 40 per cent believed they couldn’t function properly without it.

Personally, I think it’s the wrong question to ask. The human condition has a natural hierarchy of needs; food, water, shelter, and then sleep.  A person can survive without sex for awhile (my husband excluded), but they won’t make it too long without sleep. And the reality is, most of us, in this country and in Britain are running so hard and fast that we are ridiculously exhausted and clearly sleep deprived.

So, it’s not that we don’t like sex, but we’d like our sex so much better if we weren’t zombies when we had it. And if we got more sleep, we’d probably feel like having more sex.

(Which brings me back to caffeine, an important job to do, and big yawns)

I went ahead and ordered a tall Americano with the best of intentions, (I mean I really do love my man) but by the time we got home after going out to dinner, put the kids to bed and finally made it to the bedroom, both of us were snoring within two minutes.

Final Score for Friday Night           Sleep: 1                     Sex: 0

(Thank God for Saturday mornings)

Stranded at Sea…Leave Your Fishing Pole at Home

Carnival Cruise Ship Splendor Arrives at Port ...

Image by Port of San Diego via Flickr

 Article first published as Stranded at Sea…Leave Your Fishing Pole at Home on Technorati.

My interest has been peaked, like most Americans, as the passengers of the Carnival Splendor cruise ship, finally disembark in San Diego Harbor after a four-day ordeal of being stranded at sea and then towed back to shore.  One comment in particular caught my eye chronicling a pair of traveling Honeymooners because my own husband and I celebrated our Honeymoon in a similar fashion. 

Here is what the bride’s father– Paul Patrick, who purchased the trip as a gift to the newlyweds, had to say about their interrupted vacation.“They’re hungry, very hungry and very eager to get off this ship,” Patrick said. “You can’t ruin a honeymoon, but this came close.” He added: “My son-in-law wishes he’d brought his fishing pole. What else can you do four days on the sea?”

Now, I don’t debate that they are hungry, I mean eating spam sandwiches pretty much stinks, but I do have an issue with the next line.  What else can you do for four days on the sea?  Ummmm… how about have sex?

Now that might sound crass, but if the couple had walked down a road of purity before marriage, their “ruined” trip might have been a fantastic reason to stay in bed and revel in the joys of intimacy, designed by God for marriage.

Oh, it’s such a sad story.  The poor husband wishes he had brought his fishing pole to fight off boredom.  When my husband and I traveled to the Mediterranean for our Honeymoon and cruised the seas on the Norwegian Jade for 12 days, we did some fishing all right, and strangely enough it didn’t involve any fish (though there was a fantastic sushi bar on the Jade that we enjoyed). After waiting for almost a year and a half to be sexually intimate, we practically skipped down the aisle and into each other’s arms.

This is the difference between shacking up, premarital sex, and all the compromise the world tells you is great…it steals the joy of true intimacy.  It robs the bride and groom of a night to remember.  It makes four days at sea with your beloved… a yawning bore. 

I can always tell the difference at weddings.  It’s obvious to me if the bride and groom have had premarital sex.  It’s all about the “event” for the jaded bride, it’s a rite of passage, and a big hoopla over the details.  For the couple who choose to be pure, it’s all about the relationship.  You can tell in their eyes, their smile, their posture…they have waited for a true treasure and they will celebrate and protect something so valuable.

I know the difference.  My first marriage started and ended in compromise.  But, the next time, God was gracious and gave me a second chance to walk down the path of purity, restoration and healing. When I married my darling husband, a Godly man and a pastor, I knew he loved me for my heart and not for how I made him feel physically. Our relationship, though by no means perfect, stands on a foundation of trust.

So, though I am truly sad for the vacationing Honeymooners whose trip was derailed, when my husband and I slip away for our next cruise, the “Please Do Not Disturb Sign,” will proudly hang on our door!

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