19.3.12

Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 3

i had a dream last night
and rusting far below me
battered hulls and broken hard ships
leviathan and lonely
josh ritter - change of time

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start by reading part 1 + part 2!

First we need to mosey on back to 1987, when a little boy was introduced to earth.  This child grew wild and free where the wind sweeps down the plains.  Except scratch the "wild" part.  He was a bit of a safe man.  Very proper, respectful, disciplined, intentional, and formal.  Though he loved adventuring outside, hog-hunting, fort-building, machine-driving, height-climbing, animal-shooting, rock-moving, he certainly was not wild.  He was young and male, but he was… tame.  This tall, quite slim, calloused, muscular, bronzed, high-cheek-boned, cut-jaw-lined, blue-eyed boy played by the rules.  


His mother and father raised he and his 12 brothers and sisters on over 20 acres of land.  His father and mother poured their hearts and souls into their family.  His father and mother are hard workers - hard and loving workers.  His father and mother are generous, kind, strong and faithful.  

This young man, Caleb, was raised to respect and desire a wife and to nurture and raise his own children.  He was brought up eager to be a husband.  From a young age he prayed for his future family and worked hard to be in a position to provide for them (as he also learned by word and action that a man is to be the provider for his home.)  This diligent and ambitious family took an incredible risk and started their own construction business when Caleb graduated high school.  Father and his three sons took on the daunting task of running their own company - something none of them had ever done.  

In the early years of the family-run company, Caleb and his twin brother also set out to buy their own land and start building homes for their families - completely debt-free.  After years of saving, and in the middle of running their first company, the boys bought 50 acres between the two of them on neighboring plots of land.  Their determined, focused spirits put the pedal to the metal.  They'd rise before the sun to head to work, and after work they'd drive over to their land and clear trees, prep their foundation, pour concrete, assemble walls and build those houses (which is utterly impressive for 22 year old guys, if you ask me.)  

Their devotion to their task also made itself known in the music world.  Caleb and Daniel both play the piano, violin and viola.  Let me rephrase that: they both received university scholarships for their musical skill.  Ha! Can you imagine?  I actually can not imagine being so good at something! These scholarships were turned down so they could start their family business and build their homes (which, again, is utterly impressive for 20 year old guys, if you ask me!)

Handsome: check! Honorable: check! Hard-working: check! Smart, talented, adventurous, romantic and over six feet tall: check, check, check, check and cheeeeeck.  Single and available? Yes'sir.  Single and looking? Oh, you bet… for years Caleb was looking.  But in 23 years this sweet, gentle, quiet, hunky man had never had a girlfriend.  In fact, he'd never asked a girl out! Actually, he'd never even spoken to a girl on the phone, or been "alone" with a girl anywhere. 
This brings us to a very crucial and careful portion of the story.  Crucial, because the belief system I am about to share almost defined Caleb singularly (much like my past stories and hurts "made" me).  Careful, because I would never want to offend, judge or blame anybody in his life for "what he believed."  I'm simply telling the story of a boy, not preaching a Christian course on relationships.  Trust me.  

Caleb was homeschooled and brought up in an organization with very honorable, virtuous and impressive principles.  The organization, however, was created and the material written by a man who has a flawed view of "grace." If one were to take the time to read his personal papers (NOT his homeschool material or books, but his personal writings) one would find an interesting definition of grace.  He claims "grace is the desire and the power God gives us to do His will."  Strictly "dictionary definition" as well as biblical definition, that is just not what grace.  Grace is unconditional forgiveness, undeserved mercy, unmerited favor from a generous, extravagant, loving Father.  The definition of grace includes "He did" not "us do."  Grace is not about our performance, obedience or discipline.  A completely different discussion would be how God's grace gives us power to obey and desire for HIs will, but that is not grace itself.


 This conviction automatically (albeit subtly) works its way into the writings, meetings, principle's and teachings of this man's organization.  His grace worldview touches everything.  And to be honest, I think it's incredibly hard to not get swept up into the mindset, particularly when everyone you know and love believes the same thing.  That last sentence would be true for any belief system or organization!  If you are born into it, and know it, and everyone around you believes it, you'd be hard-pressed to disagree (though it certainly happens!)

While this particular organization has a great mission statement ("to support parents in raising their children to love the Lord Jesus Christ, reason wisely based on the principles of Scripture, have world-changing purpose in life, and give Biblical answers to the needs of our day") it seems to fall short in the day-in day-out application of unearned grace.  By nature, a wrong view of grace (and freedom and forgiveness and salvation) means many people work to achieve or earn or keep something by their own goodness that is not according to the Bible.

Many of these families adhere to certain "rules" for godliness, rules to obey "God's will," that are just not in the Bible. Rules like: women must wear skirts, parents must homeschool their children, families must not own or watch cable television, modern music and "drum beats" are sinful as they worship the devil, drinking alcohol is always sin for anybody, and a rigid, confusing courtship system.  

The dictionary definition of "courtship" is simply: A period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage.  But the courtship-program adhered to by many, I believe, well-meaning families is much more deranged.  Parents strongly limit male-female interaction (unless at large group events or family get-togethers or church/school events.)  A young boy needs to essentially see and maybe speak with (a handful of times) a girl and "seek the Lord" to find out if she is "the one" for him.  If he receives the mystical go-ahead from God, he can then call the girls father and ask permission to court his daughter.  From what I hear, fathers have a variety of responses: some decline a man right there, others tell the nervous lad to wait while the father prays about it and that he'll get back to him (in no definite time frame) and still others request to meet in person for a dad-boy date.  The dad-boy dates are supposed to be a time for the father and hopeful knight to get to know each other, build a relationship and learn about each other's beliefs.  These dates could last for weeks or even months.  Which you may say "Wait, isn't that what a guy is supposed to do with a girl?I" You have yourself a point there, you have yourself a point.  If the boy boy passed the father's inspection, he would be granted permission to take the girl out on a date (with a chaperone, of course.)  

If the boy didn't gain daddy's approval, however, he was shot down.  And the fair maiden daughter at home was left protected, safe and un-hurt thanks to her father's fortress and shield.  Her heart was not divied out in pieces to the men of this world, but was left whole - still waiting - for her one and only husband.  

It's hard for me to not launch into a rant about how deeply I disagree with this "model" of finding a life partner.  How, first of all, the father's assessments by no stretch of the imagination could conclude if the boy was a "strong leader" - all the assessments could conclude would be if the boy was a strong obeyer.  Father's set the rules, if the boy obeys and says yes to the right questions, he's in.  If he doesn't, however, he's toast.  Or how about the natural, good, lovely building of a friendship?  A REAL friendship?  Even the boys that ended up hurting me were my friends.  Very good friends.  Every single one of them talked with me, laughed with me, shared with me, made memories with me and had fun with me.  The friendships weren't separate from "feelings" but the friendships were real.  Or maybe we could talk about the fact that a father believes he has a better grasp on what his adult daughter needs in a life partner than she does, that God isn't able to lead her.  That she is just too young, unwise, swayed by emotions, fragile and hormonal to know who would really be a good for her.  Maybe the biggest one for me: how is man supposed to "hear from God" about a girl before he even knows her?  And then once he does "hear" that she is the one, what happens when the father turns him down?  Did the boy hear wrong?  Or did the father make a mistake?  I do believe that God can and sometimes does literally speak to a person about future life decisions, including who to marry.  But to place that kind of pressure on a man as a requirement to possibily take a girl on a group date… well, that's just too much.

That kind of thinking and approach was one Caleb was set on.  To be honest, his parents really did not even teach him that rigid courtship system, or believe it themselves!  Caleb just subconsciously applied what he was seeing around him as final truth.  had never asked out a girl because he had never heard that "she was the one."  So he was stuck, unable to ever really pursue a girl he liked.  He could try to talk with a girl at family events, and obviously stalk her Facebook or blog… but that was it. He often wondered "What will this 'hearing from God' look like? How will I know?"  With an underlying belief that if he blew this, he just might be blowing his favor with God, he treaded extremely carefully.  

His respectful, masculine, genuine, good-guy self garnered a whole lot of attention from the ladies, and he always had a slew of girls circling in his head he was keeping tabs on, but all of "that" led to barely any friendship and zero romantic relationship. 










40 comments:

  1. Your words get me everrrry time. Love your story, Kristen. :)

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  2. I definitely click with this. :)

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  3. I've typed up and erased several rather long comments but all I can say is...Amen. You and Caleb are brave, you know that?

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  4. I'm with you on the courtship thing. There is not only ONE model to lead a healthy marriage-purposed relationship. Looking forward to more! :)

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  5. Anonymous19.3.12

    I hope you will not be pressured to move to OK, as you seem to have a wonderful career in DC...I hope he can respect that...

    "I thought it was neat that as the Lord continues to guide, it will be a big change for Kristen to "go country" but I know grace will abound when that time comes!"

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  6. Anonymous19.3.12

    Faith. By your words you make it sound as though you don't trust God enough to know who the "right one" is for you. That's sad. Trusting God doesn't always mean you'll get the answer when you want it and it might not be what you want to hear, but His way is always better, right? There are so many scriptures that show that.
    About the whole dad thing...Yeah, I don't totally agree with all that but if for no other reason it definitely says something about a guys character and character is important.

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  7. Anonymous19.3.12

    The "organization" AKA: Advanced Training Institute, is nothing you said it was. There are no rigid rules, just a deep commitment to encourage Christians to have hight morals and do what the Bible says. They do not say girls have to wear a skirt, Bill Gothard does share(and backs it with solid Bible) that women ought to look different than a man and that they ought to be modest in dress and spirit. Courtship is encouraged, yes, and is it such a bad thing that a father watches over his precious daughter, Kristen? I mean, do you also think is okay to hang all over one another before marriage when the Bible says a man should not even touch a woman he is not married to? Are you really going to go against the Bible on all these issues to make yourself feel better? Also, another example you brought up....cable t.v......... is that also so bad that they encourage families to obstain from the filth that is showed on television?-(Ps 101:3-"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.")I think that it is sad that Caleb and his family have allowed worldly excuses to come in the way of what the Bible really teaches. They now, look no different than the world..... and announce to the world they are Christians, but sadly the world can not see the difference between them or themselves. You are a very liberal christian and that is why you do not like a more conservative view(or God's view). I hope that Caleb will remember his roots as you embark on a husband and wife relationship. I suggest you read the Bible cover to cover and you may be surprised to find that you believe opposite of everything you just criticized.

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  8. I'd just like to say that posting "annomously" is the height of cowardice. Whether you agree or disagree with someone, if you can't "own" what you say, then dont say it.

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  9. Blessings on you both, Kristen,as you seek God's hand in your relationship and future. Very excited for you!

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  10. I like how you addressed this. In fact, I'm very much enjoying this series, thanks for writing :)

    I definitely understand and am acquainted with this view, but what I don't like is that people try to strait coat jacket relationships. Dating vs. courting alone can stir the pot in some christian circles. I personally think it divides the church and God's people. I believe that each relationship is unique and that it should be the couple progressing on this new journey, as two people pursue one another as long as it is a God honoring relationship I don't care what you call it. Obviously there would be help/input/advice of friends and parents. :)

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  11. Sometimes being brave is the hardest thing. I consider it the first step in walking towards marriage -- when "forsaking all others" becomes a necessary (Biblical) step.

    I'm also impressed with your bravery to tell the story as you see it, as you've lived it. God's sovereign hand is evident in this journey, no matter how hard/difficult the path seemed at times.

    Please keep on writing with honesty. I think you're doing a great job at being real & being tactful at the same time.

    God bless you & Caleb. You guys are my favorite! :D

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  12. (To all the anonymous commenters: please feel complete freedom to share and discuss openly. Be brave!)

    Anonymous 1: Oh, one of the sweetest parts of our relationship is the shared respect, trust and love we have for each other. If/when we move (anywhere! Who knows where God might lead our little family) it would not be because of a lack of respect. I trust Caleb and want to go wherever he goes. I want him to dream big, take risks and move life decisions that might be hard if he/we feel confident that those things are of God. I would leave anything behind to walk beside this man for the rest of my life. My career is not more important than my devoted love this man - a man who respects me more than anybody else on earth. It's such a blessing and adventure!

    Anonymous 2: I'm not sure I totally understand your comment, but I couldn't agree more: His way is ALWAYS better. Being able to trust God and His word to me - knowing that He will never break His promises - is the hope of my life.

    Anonymous 3: As I've walked through trial, disappointment and hurt the primary life-changing lesson I've learned is not even a "lesson," it's a whole different life. I've slowly and stubbornly learned about grace. If you can read through this and not defend your stance but just hear me out, I think you may be blessed and encouraged! The reason I say that is because I know I used to constantly defend myself. my belief and my lifestyle when gracious, kind, gentle friends tried to engage in conversation with me. I wish I hadn't, but I did.

    My life was changed by a new understanding of a parable a few years ago. The story of the Prodigal Sons lays out a scary scenario for the moral among us. The "worldly" son - the one who was rebellious, sexually immoral, greedy, immoral and just plain mean - was welcomed home by his Father with no qualms. The Father so loved His bratty, loser, embarrassment of a son that His only response when the son returned home was rejoicing, celebrating, honoring and generous gift-giving. It would have been an electric scene to witness. Meanwhile, the "moral son" - the one who obeyed, worked, followed the rules, looked SO good, was faithful, was sexually pure - this son was the son in peril. He did not join in with the Father's joy. He did not celebrate when his brother came home. He was indignant, angry, bitter and jealous. His heart could be described much like Jesus described the Pharisess, and the primary audience for this parable, "outwardly appeared beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones...outwardly appeared righteous to others, but within was full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

    The fruit of the Spirit would have revealed itself if the Spirit had been alive and active in the older son's heart: he would have been bursting with love, joy, kindness, and goodness (like his Father.) Instead we see a moral, "good" young man bursting with flaming darts, fury and disgust.

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  13. God showed me that I was the older brother. I loved my "goodness." I loved my "faithfulness." I loved my obedience to the law, my high standards, my ability to resist temptation, my lack of worldly behavior. I walked into events and instantly found the "sinful" present, and my heart despised their ways. "How could you call yourself a Christian and wear THAT to church?" I found joy and hope in my job well done.

    Until God kindly ruined me of myself. As I read the Bible I see stories of Hosea, lovingly and eagerly, buying back his prostitute and failure of a wife. I see the murder and the adulterer David forgiven, honored and loved. I see Moses refusing to obey God's vocal command to set His people free - and I see God patiently and aggressively pursue Moses despite his sin. I see Jesus going to the unclean, the despised, the dirty, the filthy, the wretched, the sinners and touching them. Sobbing with them. Feeding them. Embracing them. Knowing them. Being their friend. The cheaters, the liars, the sexually impure, the greedy, the wasteful, the rebellious, the drunk, the unproductive, the loose, the ruined - He came and offered Himself to them. Nothing more and nothing less. (Because, to be honest, to add anything to the perfect Son of God would be lessening Him.) He didn't present them with law to obey and works to do and standards to meet. He came to them and said "Come with me! My yoke is easy and my burden is light." He beckoned them. He found them. He went to them. All for love.


    I regretfully can say that when I came across "sinners" or "worldly people" or "Christian's who break God's law" I did not go to them. I did not love them. I, perhaps, cared more for the unbelievers who knew nothing of God than I did my brothers and sisters in Christ. But if one of my brothers messed up (according to my view of the Bible's standards) I was an older brother. I was disgusted. I was so proud of myself for being better than them, for honoring God better, for doing it right.

    "Righteousness under law?" I was nearly "blameless." I was a good girl, I was moral, I was obedient, I was a Pharisee.

    Jesus said: "The Pharisees... tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. They love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

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  14. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single convert to your religion, and when he becomes a converts, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe according to the law, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law such as mercy and goodness. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

    You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. You serpents, you brood of vipers..."


    To re-phrase Galatians 2: I cancel the grace of God if I believe obeying God's law or commands is the way to earn or keep salvation. I essentially say "Christ died for no purpose. My works contribute more than His." For freedom Christ has set me free, but I submitted myself to another yolk of slavery: a yolk of obedience, performance, morality and my own strength. The law is fulfilled in one phrase: Love other people. I regretfully did not love - I bit, and devoured, and provoked, and envied. I was conceited, harsh and proud.

    Then God set me free. Free from myself. Free from my super modest outfits. Free from my heavy-handed media standards. Free from my own faithfulness to study God's Word. Free from my high-regard of myself as I refused to even hug a boy. Free from my oppressive, high-standard, self-focused view of God and His salvation.

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  15. I'm still learning so much (which is why I decided to share my story!) and I pray my experience may spare others from walking the path I did - the path of the elder son. I pray I will be a Christian who bears the burdens of those around me, and doesn't place burdens on their backs (Galatians 6.) I pray that knowing me (and my family) would be an experience of joy, happiness, love and genuine care. I pray that Caleb and I use our love, our life and our story to go after the hurting and broken. To find them and welcome them into our lives like the Father welcomed his youngest son. I even pray that you would get in touch with me and not remain anonymous, because I would LOVE to know you - to know your story, your beliefs and your heart. I'd love to share in the freedom of Christ with you.

    Thanks for reading! And joining in the discussion. I love conversation among people - who agree and disagree with me!

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  16. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you....I can not express into words how wonderful those last three blog comments are, that you wrote Kristen. I really hope one day we could meet in person for a cup of coffee perhaps. But until then, I will keep reading your blog and the pure honesty you share with others.

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  17. Anonymous20.3.12

    Kristen~

    Why dont you publish your own version of the Bible since you live the way YOU want and interpret(or distort or twist) the Bible into what makes YOU feel good? Everything you wrote was not scriptural, but merely an opinion. The nprodigal sons father was rejoicing that his son CAME HOME!!!! He was happy a sinner came back. It is not about rules. None are righteous, not one and our righteousness is as filthy rags. Dressing modest, abstaining from wordly things is not what gets us into heaven.......the "organization" you speak of does not say that either. It is by grace and faith on Jesus. Dressing modest is pleasing to the Lord,abstaining from things God says to, is again, being obedient to scripture. When you say God set you free from "super modest clothes" you are basically making a mockery at God. He did not set you free from that. You just made your own rules/conviction and are using Gods name to say it is okay. You have a lot to learn, as a young lady and I will state no more. It is just disheartening watching a family that I loved, start to live a more fleshly life because it makes them feel better and then act like what they used to do was because they were so bound by a law, when they were not.

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  18. Anonymous20.3.12

    oh and you are right. We are to love the sinners and to give the gospel to all. However, we are to do what the Bible says as Christians and yes, not be haughty or proud. But when the Bible says something, we must obey and we are called to look, act and be different than this world....a shining light so we can win the lost. There is no shining when our churches sound, dress and do what the world does. Would Jesus aprove of your dress, what you watch, what you do? We should be making sure that EVERYHING we do lines up with Bible and we should do it joyfully unto the Lord. The point is, you look no different that an unsaved girl and as a Christian you ought to look like one Kristen. You are telling the world it is okay to look and act like world.

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  19. Anonymous20.3.12

    Anonymous 1 here...as long as it is *your* decision (and you're happy with it) and you aren't being pressured to go to OK because it is expected/assumed, then yay, and I wish you two all the happiness in the world! Respect is key...but you guys seem to know that already. Best of luck!

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  20. I think doing "EVERYHING in a way that lines up with Bible" would also apply to comments, judgements and accusations of people - not just how we look or dress.

    I must say that I find these comments very unloving, very ungracious and very unkind. You might not be meaning to come across that way, but I'm convinced that Christians should be the MOST loving, gracious and kind people in this world. I'm not offended personally by them, but I will take offense for Caleb's family. To even hint that you "used to love" this family before they started living "a fleshly life" reveals a conditional love. It would be truly impossible to come across that family - in their or in public - and not be aware of the kindness and joy of God in their life. They are a wonderful witness.

    What I was referring to in "being saved from my outfits" was not that I don't believe God loves and calls His people to be modest, but rather that when I LOOKED modest on the outside, my heart was very very proud and actually immodest inside. I LOVED "being modest" because I felt superior. In saving me from that God has given me a radically different heart of modesty. Modesty (by definition) is "moderate in the estimation of one's abilities or self." It's so ironic because the way I dressed was not moderate about myself - it was excessive and full of myself. It was anything but modest (though it was very covered and layered and loose!)

    My heart was NOT modest. I can honestly say God has given me a new, gentler, humbled heart for modesty. But more than that: He has given me a new, gentler, humbler heart towards people which springs out of an obsession with Him. I want to love as fully, generously, happily, kindly and faithfully as my Father loves me. I have a new desire to have rich, meaningful relationship with people and not judge them for how they appear - whether they appear "worldly" like a younger son or appear "moral and godly" like the older son. And to be honest, I think Jesus disapproved more of my "godly outside appearance and modesty" but unclean/judgmental heart than me wearing shorts and tank-tops now, with a free, joyful heart. It's not an excuse to wear what I want, it's a transformation of who I once was.

    But to be honest, if you were concerned for me or my fiance's family with a heart of love and Christ-like care, I would hope you would speak with us and not hide. The invitation stays extended: if you would ever like to e mail or call or leave your real name, I'd truthfully love to get to know you and hear about your life. I mean it! :D

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  21. Thanks Anonymous 1! The only thing I might be pressured to do is clean animal poop or help deliver a goat ;) Not exactly up my alley ;) haha But no, I'd be thrilled to live in Oklahoma at some point! I actually probably want to go more than Caleb even does ;) And thank you! I hope you have a happiest of lives yourself :D

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  22. These posts by Anonymous (2 or 3) are becoming quite pointed and increasing personal attacks. Doesn't seem very Christ-like to me.

    Dear Christians, it is not necessary for other believers to be identical in conviction and persuasion to be edified by their conversation/writing/life. I would dare to say that if someone looked at my life, they might find radical differences from Kristen's in some areas and uncanny similarities in others. I need not agree about anything except the cross of Christ and His power to save our souls. In Christ, we find our fellowship with other believers.

    Once I was also a Pharisee. An "older son," to use Kristen's example. And while I still may appear outwardly holy, as I attempt daily to "walk in His steps" and "be holy, as (He) is holy," I do not find my salvation in holiness. I find my salvation in Christ. And because of that salvation, I echo Christ's lifestyle. The Holy Spirit leads me, guides me, woos me, keeps me in His ways.

    Let's remember that it is the attitude of pride, conceit, self-exultation and spiritual I'm-better-than-you-ness that is sinful. And let's run away from those things.

    Embrace a gracious attitude towards other believers. Maybe you wouldn't do what they do--that doesn't make what they do sinful. Nor can we claim "all knowledge" about people's situations, tendencies, circumstances. Why don't we let the Holy Spirit be the convict-er and we can just mind our own business? Because I don't know about you, but I have enough on my place just trying to walk with God for myself... without trying to make everyone else perfect (according to my own standards).


    All that to say, I’m a grateful Christian. Grateful to the salvation that I didn’t deserve and grateful for every other believer that has found salvation, and attempts to walk this out every day and live in a way that honors Christ.

    In Christ,
    Naomi

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  23. Anonymous20.3.12

    I still love them. I was writing fast and wrote loved. I love them unconditionally. I just find it sad to see such watered down christianity and the Bible speaks of that much. What does God do when we are luke warm and also, I DO NOT think I am better than anyone....you, the Morris' etc....just tired of excuses from brothers and sisters in christ. I am also just pointing out the way you dress because you post yourself and things you watch and do and I am simply pointing out you look no different than any other girl I see walking down the road. In fact, I have family members close to me who are unsaved and cover more than you!!! I also have unsaved people in my life who have high morals(sadly do not know Jesus) who would not even watch he filth you have....he Bachelor, weird movies,tv shows I have read you listed. Be real Kristen. Caleb would have been uncomfortable around your dress a few years ago, and now he does not care because he buys into your philosophy. Read the Bible and stop deceiving others.

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  24. Well, internet forums aren't the best way to build relationship and dialogue with fellow believers, so if you'd ever like to talk, you know where to find me! But until then, "grace and peace to you."

    :D

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  25. Hi Kristen!
    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your story! I'm really looking forward to all the exciting things God is going to do through you both as a married couple...just think about how many 'handfuls' He has in store for you to gather :) Woohoo! and yehaw! and everything else :D

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  26. Hey Kristen! Just popping in again to say that your comments on this post have blessed my heart so much. Everything that I've been dealing with and struggling you've written about and addressed from a Godly standpoint. Seriously, I can't tell you how encouraging it was to read your words. Thank you for speaking TRUTH in LOVE. :) x

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  27. Tiffany21.3.12

    Kristen,
    I just wanted to let you know that you're great. I thank you for your honesty and raw emotion in your posts. I have never met you, but I feel like I know you through your writing and photography.
    To echo what Hanna wrote...thank you for speaking truth in love!

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  28. Hi Kristen,
    Long-time lurker here (I'm married to a former CLCer who knows you from there). Thank you for writing this post with an attitude of grace and faith. There is a beauty in that which is compelling, and it is encouraging to me, as I've had a similar experience with my husband and other friends who were in ATI and had to re-learn what grace really means.

    I'm excited for you guys. This is such a sweet thing.

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  29. lovely post :) I'm enjoying your story...

    I think you have been remarkably gracious in your comments, and that points to the grace (the merciful and undeserved love!) of God at work within you.

    I understand what you mean by being "set free" from modest outfits... not that God doesn't care about modesty, but he cares more about a modest heart. So if modesty is becoming a burden or a means of self-righteousness there is probably something wrong with our attitude! I can relate to that. I was the same way in high school, so paranoid about modesty that I felt like I couldn't look like a woman :) We certainly ought to be different from the world where it matters. But we aren't supposed to be different just for kicks. If you happen to be wearing the same pair of jeans as an unbeliever it doesn't mean you are "worldly..."

    Yeah, I think some people take this concept of "freedom" too far and seem to believe that God is okay with dressing like a streetwalker. You, however, don't fall into that category. haha

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  30. Hi Rebekah! It's so so nice to "meet" you on here :D

    And thank you... I'm glad you understood what I was saying! You perhaps said it better than I did! Thanks for your comment!

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  31. Jessica22.3.12

    Dear Kristen,

    I want to say first of all that I love reading your posts and gazing upon all your amazing photography. You have really been gifted with being able to express yourself well through both mediums. You are an amazing storyteller!

    I wanted to say that while I agree to an extent with Anon. 3, I do think that their judgement may be a little biased based on the fact that they apparently know the Morris family. I met the family about ten years ago(mrs. Cindy and my mother were girlhood friends). Yes, they did dress a little less worldly then(if you consider trendy and cute to be "worldly"). However, if anon. 3 has a problem with their family it is completely unscriptural of them to discuss it with a third party. If they felt that they were doing something that goes against the Bible then it is totally scriptural for them to bring to their attention and then let the Holy Spirit work in their lives.

    I did want to point out to you, Kristen, that it is totally possible to follow God's commands wholeheartedly simply out of the desire to please and honor Christ. I choose to dress in a manner that I believe is Christ honoring, not because I believe that my works have any worth, but because He commands me to. I, like you, once held my standards up to everyone else's to compare, and always found other's wanting. However, God changed my heart without me ever compromising what I knew to be truth. Basically, God made me realize that while my outward modesty was good and pleasing to Him, my inward modesty was lacking and needed to be brought up to the same standard as my outward modesty. I am no longer modest out of my desire for righteousness (As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one: Romans 3:10), but out of my desire to obey His word.

    Now, onto courtship :). I am afraid that I do not understand the line of thinking that says that we have to be alone, date, etc. in order to know if someone is the right mate for us. I am happy to say that I have only ever dated one man and that after we were married. My husband spent a whole lot of time with me around my family before I was married. He never had to prove himself to my dad, except to show that he was financially capable of taking on a wife, AKA we weren't going to starve :). It is clear to me in every way that my husband was an answer to prayer. I asked God when I was young that I would not have to go through the stress and temptation of dating, that He would bring me the perfect man. I fully believed He could do it, too. He did. So, basically, because I have seen firsthand what God can do(not just in my case, but many others as well) I do not think dating is the best or even has to be an option for finding a spouse.

    That said I think your story is beautiful(dating and all!). I pray the best for you and your Cowboy Caleb. Oh, and I do not have a problem posting my name, so I am yours respectfully, Jessica Snow :)

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  32. Jessica22.3.12

    Dear Kristen,

    I want say, first of all, that I love reading your wonderful posts and gazing upon your amazing photography. You have the wonderful gift of being able to express yourself well in both mediums. You are an amazing storyteller!

    I have to say while I agree with some of the comments made by Anon 3, they were made in neither the right way nor the right attitude. I think because they seem to know the Morris family personally that their comments are not completely unbiased. However, if they believe that the Morris family is doing something unscriptural, then they have every Biblical right to point it out to them in person and then leave it in the hands of the Holy Spirit. I met the Morris family about ten years ago(Mrs. Cindy and my mother were girlhood friends). Yes, they dressed less "worldly" then(if you consider trendy to be "worldly").

    That said, I would have to say to you, Kristen, that it is entirely possible to fully understand grace while still desiring to follow God's commands. Like you, I used to hold my standards up to others and always find theirs wanting. But, God showed me that my outward modesty was way ahead of the inward. I realized that I needed to have an inward modesty that matched the outward not by bringing the outward modesty down but by bringing the inward modesty up. I am no longer modest out of a desire to appear righteous(Romans 3:10, As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one:), but out of my desire to obey God's word. Not because my works have any worth, but because, as a God who has the power and love to redeem me, a worthless sinner(despite my "blameless" appearance) He deserves no less. So it is possible to "follow all the rules" out of love while still fully understanding God's grace regardless of my actions.

    Now onto courtship :). I do not understand the thinking that you have to shop around for a life mate. I'm not saying that you can't only that you don't *have* to. I never *dated* my husband until after we were married. Not to say that we were never alone but there was always someone nearby. I fully believe that my husband was an answer to prayer. When I was young I asked God to bring me a husband without having to go through the unnecessary stress and heartache of dating. I fully believed that He would. He did. My husband had my parents approval not because they tried him, but because they knew him to be good man by the way he interacted with his family. The only thing he had to *prove* was that he was financially able to take a wife, AKA we wouldn't starve :). Because I have seen firsthand what God has done in my life(and many others, as well), I do not believe that dating is the best or even has to be an option.

    That said, I am so enjoying your beautiful love story(dating and all!) and pray the very best for you and your Cowboy Caleb. Oh, and I am not afraid to sign my name, so I am yours respectfully, Jessica Snow :)

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  33. Jessica22.3.12

    Sorry, I didn't know how these things work and was literally sick to my stomach when I saw I was going to have to(or so I thought) rewrite it again. You may delete these last two comments. :)

    ~ Jessica

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  34. Dear Kristen,

    Someone above described themselves as a long-time lurker on your blog--I am as well! :) Your photography and your words are beautiful and grace-filled. I have enjoyed both of them for quite some time. Thank you for sharing a part of your life here on this corner of the Internet. Congratulations to you and your fiancé on your engagement! May God bless you as you move forward into a shared life together.

    With appreciation,

    Emily

    P.S. Am wondering if you've ever stumbled across Tim Keller's book The Prodigal God? Your comments above made me think of his writing. Think you would find it a rich read (I did!).

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  35. Hahah no worries at all, Jessica ;) When my comments get moderated on other blogs I'm always unsure if it went through... if I just commented 14 times... what's the deal! ;) Made me smile!

    And thank you so so much for your kind, gentle and gracious comment. I knew what I was getting into by posting this part of our story... but to be honest, I want to share truthfully and genuinely. Sometimes Christians know "the Christian-ese Script" so well that it is hard to relate or understand them. But the risk of sharing real, un-safe thoughts is that they can get you stomped down ;) Your example of "disagreeing with me" but also "loving me" is one I want to follow. So lovely.

    As far as modesty: Oh yes, I completely agree with you. I think the one of the most beautiful parts of the Holy Spirit's work is the meshing of God's free, unconditional love with an ability to want and live out His Holy Will. God's commands are only good gifts. To paraphrase CS Lewis, why would we settle for mudcakes when a feast awaits us? His feast is both His grace AND His holiness, His love AND His perfection. I want more of both - I want to want more of both!

    I think what is hard is in wanting this good, holy thing called "modesty" the practicals get tricky. Some would see showing your knees is immodest, others would say showing your ankles, and still others would say revealing the shape of your leg is immodest. Then we have our tropical friends born on the beach who think nothing of a swimsuit! Then many Arab friends find anything but showing your eyes is immodest. The who, the why, the context, the heart, the men, the body shape, the season, the country... all these things SO play into "modesty." And God gave us His Spirit.

    His Spirit is active, alive and working in each of the redeemed... and He works differently in us all. There isn't ONE right answer to many of these issues, but there may be ONE way the Spirit is leading me, or you, or Anonymous Commenter, etc. I do think my heart has grown in desiring true modesty, and I also think I dress modest! Maybe not the way other Christians dress, but it's a way that I believe honors the Lord! But you know what, I probably also wear things I shouldn't sometimes. That's just the truth. I also probably judge and think highly of myself and am proud of myself much more than I ought. And I'm forgiven. It's not an excuse, it's an intense powerful realization; a realization that makes me long to be more like this Faithful Forgiver and Loyal Lover. It makes me more aware of love and grace than my shortcomings, which makes me want to love Him more and be more like him! Funny how it works!

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  36. As for courtship! Man, the stories I wish I could tell on here that I can't. My plan for myself was to marry the first guy I ever courted, to wait on God to act and to save myself from heartbreak, baggage and "giving my heart away." I had it all under control, I thought. But truly: God knew what I needed more than I did. And He absolutely shattered those wise plans I had. Him shattering that "picture" of a relationship was more than just losing "that guy." It was losing an entire identity and even hope I had for myself. God had to show me in a grueling manner that HE ALONE had to be my hope. My life completely changed. And my "good image" I had grown so fond of was shipwrecked. In what really has been years of learning and re-learning about God and life in Him, I came to appreciate and crave the Spirit's leading in my life, not my Look!-aren't-I-such-a-commendable-holy-and-nearly-perfect-person's leading of my life... if that makes any sense ;)

    "Playing by the rules" was a performance for me. And then I bombed on stage and the whole audience saw it. God took me off the stage and I started to really LIVE my life, not act it. Your conviction on courtship (and modesty) is wonderful, and I'm sure very Spirt-led and genuine in your life. But those standards are not how the Spirit worked in me, and that is wonderful too! <-- That last sentence was a hard one for me to accept and believe a few years ago. It's really, really, really wonderful that the Spirit works differently and that Believers have different standards.

    Thank you for your comment and for your honesty! Seriously. I hope you pop in more! :D

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  37. Kaylee M.24.3.12

    Kristen, your heart is so beautiful and full of the joy of the Lord, even in the midst of every circumstance in your life! I love to hear/read you speak strongly on your convictions as a woman of God and a true love to Caleb. I've been praying for you (Really, I have!) and your sweet mom. I don't know where your family is in Florida, but I'd love to get lunch or shop or whatever with you! I feel like I know you so well! haa:)

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  38. Hey there Kristen! I've loooved reading your story so far. You sure do have a way with words! Just wanted to say that you're pretty brave for putting this up, knowing people are going to disagree with you. I have to say I don't agre 100%, but I understand and support your view as long as you're sure it's in concordance with God and His holy Word.

    About the courtship (and I haven't read through ALL of the comments so someone might have touched on this), I'm pretty sure everyone's "view" of it is different. My big sister Rachel got engaged about a month ago after about 3 months of courting. Their first date was by themselves, and they were by themselves all the time. But not choosing to touch/hold hands/whatever before engagement was their choice, simply to keep from doing anything displeasing to God. Again, this is an area that people need to seek God on. All that to say that courtship really does work for some people. :) And I think having your parents, especially your dad involved, is sooo so so important. Daddies are meant to be protective of their little girls and I know nothing is more precious to them than to see their little girl going out with a guy he loves and respects.

    As far as the modesty thing goes...everyone has different convictions. But it does need to line up with God's word. In 1 Thessalonians, it talks about not having the appearance of evil. We are also commanded to do nothing which would cause a brother to stumble, and to do ALL to the glory of God. I've been convicted of this lately. "Are you living a life that is for God and pleasing God, or for yourself?" is the question I had to ask myself. I think there is a fine line between over-dressing and under-dressing (meaning that if you go around wearing jumpers and stuff, you'll probably draw more attention to yourself than if you go around wearing jeans and a t-shirt. But if you go around dressing skimpily (nice word choice huh:P) you can cause people to think wrong thoughts, ect.

    Annyway, just my little thoughts on the subject. What I love about this is that everyone is subject to their own opinions, and as long as they have truly truly sought God on these subjects and read up on them in the Bible, go them. :)

    Appreciate your patience and kindness with these comments! Not a lot of people would still be putting smiley faces up ;) haha. Keep up the amazing photography and writing, girl. God bless you! <3

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  39. Hi Kristen, thanks for sharing your story. I must admit when I first saw your post on Facebook, I immediately thought, okay here we go, another "perfect" boy meets girl story that ultimately extols the virtues of the courtship model and suggests to Christian men and women who desire marriage, that if I just do 1, 2 and 3, I'll have the perfect godly marriage. Please forgive me for prejudging you. While I don't agree with everything that you said about courtship (I DO see value in some of the principles associated with courtship); I agree with your point that the idea that there is just one path to godly marriage is flawed. I look forward to reading the rest of your story.

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Oh, you've made my day! Thank you for the thoughts and words!