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All I Want for Valentine’s Day
Posted February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day may be a happy time for couples, but it’s often a painful reminder for single Christian women of what they’re still praying for, hoping for, and – sigh – waiting for. Many of us don’t have a valentine this year because we’ve been holding out for someone special. We have high standards, and we’ve stuck to them, and now we’re having to eat the fruits of this resolve (instead of Godiva chocolates).

High standards and faithful perseverance are noble things. But sometimes we need to re-examine the honesty of our standards, and the whole spirit in which we devise them. Some of us, whether we know it or not, have made lists of suitor-requirements that look like this:

Dear God,

I have been very good this year, and I would really like it if you would bring me a husband who:

Is working to become just like Christ
Will love me just the way I am
Speaks several languages and plays several instruments
Will look past my inadequacies to see only my inner qualities
Is handsome
Will not be so carnally minded that he will care about the way I look
Isn’t interested in money
Can support me in the style I would like to be accustomed to
Is completely sold out for God
Will let me be myself

I know these are very righteous things to desire, and I have been patiently waiting and have not compromised my standards, so can you please reward my faithfulness now? Thank you.
Love, Janey

It’s good to develop noble standards for the kind of man we want to marry, but simply having a preference for good men doesn’t make us worthy of them. We often have lofty demands for suitors (well, not that lofty – just that they have Jim Elliot’s heart, C. S. Lewis’s mind, William Wallace’s courage, Clark Gable’s face, Cary Grant’s clothes, Josh Groban’s voice…), but we want them to love us just the way we are. So the men we want to marry often don’t really exist – and if they did… well… why would they want to marry us?

Janey apparently hopes that her paragon of glowing character and accomplishments won’t mind that she is (apparently) shallow and materialistic, has qualities buried so deep there’s no danger of anyone ever finding them, is not-quite-sold-out for Christ herself… and is not interested in changing. But then, we don’t really want what we deserve, do we?

So, we make our wish lists and pray that we get Missionary Martyr Malibu Ken for Christmas. But what will we have to offer him? How are we preparing to be what he might need in a wife? How long are our lists of standards and requirements for ourselves?

Our aspirations to be married to fine husbands are good; but then, that’s an aspiration that the Cinderellas and the ugly stepsisters of the world have always had in common. We need to step outside of our imaginary roles as the heroines of our own personal fairy tales, and ask ourselves: Which one am I? Why would the prince choose me?

The bad news is, none of us are naturally likeable, desirable, or eligible. Because of sin, we all start out as ugly stepsisters, and we don’t automatically become Cinderella upon reaching marriageable age. The good news is, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pet. 2:24) And the rest of the good news is, if you find yourself Valentine-less this Valentine’s Day, that means the Lord is giving you more time to die to sin and live to righteousness, more time to make yourself ready, more time to become a better gift.

Ladies, let’s decide to do our (future) husbands good on this day (Prov. 31:12), instead of moping about the good they’re not here to do for us. On a day when women all over the world will be thinking about what they want to get from a man, let’s think instead about we’re preparing to give to one.

(With excerpts from It’s (Not That) Complicated)

Two New Deals!
Posted February 12, 2013

Gratitude for “It’s (Not That) Complicated”
Posted December 7, 2012

It’s been a year now since we published It’s (Not That) Complicated, and the feedback we’re getting is incredible. God is answering our fervent prayers by using it to change lives.

A sampling of the notes we’ve been getting:

“Of all the relationship-oriented books, blog posts, and Christian magazine articles that I have read, none have been as Biblically solid or as helpful as this book. Were I to go through this book with a highlighter, the entire thing would be neon yellow.” – P.

“It totally challenged me in the way I relate to young men as brothers in Christ. I have officially made it my favorite book, and have strongly encouraged all the young ladies I am acquainted with to read it!” – Tiana

“…exactly the kind of book I have been looking for for so long! I laughed out loud and took extensive notes. There really is not any other book like it.” – Brydon

“You should know that I finished it in one afternoon. It gave me an entirely new perspective on how I should be treating my brothers in Christ, as I have always struggled with how to love them and come across the right way. I was so blessed by the comments from various young men. It put everything into a new light for me. I have been able to put much of what you shared into practice this year with both my brothers, and my sisters in Christ (encouraging them to do the same!), and the results are simply amazing. May God use this book to bless young men and women all around the world!” – Amanda

“The only book I’ve ever cried over. Every girl should read this. Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin have wisdom beyond their years, and they present biblical truth with grace, but without holding back.” – Emily

“In my opinion, every girl in America needs to read that book. No, EVERY girl needs to read that book.” – Amber

“…my highlighter was thoroughly worn out when I was done reading…and I’ve been trying to get into as many girls’ hands as I possibly can!” – Sarah

“It’s (Not That) Complicated was hysterically funny, incredibly amusing, and properly edifying all at the same time. Anna Sofia and Elizabeth wrote about the Truth of God in a way that we girls who live in the 21st century can enjoy. Their words are accurate, but they use anecdotes that we can understand and relate to. I’m already rereading the book for the second time. (Yes, it was really that good!)” -Cassandra

“I can’t thank you enough for the way you spare no punches and give us the real deal–it shows love in a way no sugar-coated “girly talk” can!  It’s helped me to adjust my goals and ideals of what a good life is… Also, I’m impressed by the way you present salvation so candidly with none of the modern Christianity fluff.  That’s what we need, it’s what everyone needs: a no-frills, Biblical gospel, and I admire the straight and narrow way you presented it.  Keep it up!” – Alaina

Another Excerpt from It’s (Not That) Complicated
Posted March 4, 2012

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We’d like to share with you another excerpt from our new book. This one is pulled from “Chapter Eleven: “Will You Be My It’s Complicated? How to Just Say No to the Wrong Kind of Relationships.”

Let’s Play Romance

There are plenty of people who have technically kissed recreational dating goodbye, but are still looking for romantic flings outside of marriage. They want the fun of being in boyfriend-girlfriend relationships without purpose or commitment. Enter flirtship, the popular new alternative to dating and courtship. It’s like dating, only you don’t go out – you use email, chat, or phone, or just pair off whenever you’re in the same vicinity. Either way, you’re definitely – though not officially – well, apparently, anyway – boyfriend and girlfriend.

These are classic “It’s Complicateds” because they’re not defined at any point, and no one, including the involved parties, knows exactly where they’re going. Let’s use Deanna and Gabe as an example. How did Deanna let herself get so entangled with Gabe? Answer: deliberate romantic encounters and emotional fire-stoking. The reality is, our hearts crave to be in a relationship, starting long before we’re ready to get married. Deanna was enjoying her “romance fix” and the warm fuzzies of being loved with no strings attached. It wasn’t until she became dependent on Gabe’s interest that she realized this kind of romantic free-for-all meant that there would be no strings attached to Gabe either. And because Gabe was also only in it for a good time, he was free to move on once the relationship wasn’t meeting his needs and a better time appeared on the horizon.

Sometimes people justify taking each other for a romantic spin by saying, “We have to try a lot of people out to see which one would be the best match,” or “I thought it would be a good idea to secure him just in case.” But test-driving someone romantically, whether for kicks, for science, or for strategy, is not how we keep romance in the context of marriage, where it belongs. We can invent a thousand excuses, but at the end of the day, we don’t do it because it’s wise. We don’t do it because it’s loving. We don’t do it because we’re pursuing purity. We do it because it’s just so much fun.

Proverbs 9:17 tells us that “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” It’s natural for us to want things that we’re not supposed to have (yet). And we have a natural desire for somebody to be the prince so we can be the princess so that we can have a love story. But the correct response to this desire running out of its proper context (whatever Taylor Swift may say) is to Just Say No.


Why Do Bad Boys Happen to Good People?

Ashley’s situation was an easy one to unravel because it was entirely one-sided. But often it takes two to tangle, and there are times when it’s the young man who’s leading the girl into it. There are such things as scoundrels and rakes; there are young men who genuinely don’t know the right channels; there are good boys who aren’t ready to get married yet; there are guys who are more interested in fun than commitment; and there are nice guys who are just way too friendly with girls. How do we handle them?

Girls often come to us distraught over problems like, “He keeps telling me he really cares about me, but I know he hasn’t talked to my dad…” “He’s too friendly and I don’t know what to do about it…” “He asked me for a date, but I’m committed to courtship!” “He keeps sending me gushy Facebook messages!” “He’s not marriage material yet but I hate to push away someone who likes me so much…” “He stopped me in the store and asked me for my name and phone number…” “He follows me everywhere and asks me really personal questions!” “He is just so sensitive and sweet and affectionate toward me – I know he’s pushing his boundaries, but I’m starting to fall for him anyway…”

These sorts of situations can be uncomfortable to deal with, but they don’t have to get truly sticky unless we let them. We often have more power to direct this sort of situation than we realize. Young men have told us time and time again: Girls really are the ones who set the tone for the interaction. Young men tend to unconsciously defer to what the young lady seems comfortable with (e.g. if she seems to be enjoying his attentions, he’ll ramp it up; if she thought his coarse joke was funny, well, he’s got more where that came from…). Most often, they let us set the terms; they let us establish the boundaries. The kind of young man above usually tests the waters to see what kind of girl he’s dealing with and what he can get away with. You don’t have to play his game.

You need to talk to your parents about how they would like you to handle situations like the ones below, but here are some general principles our parents gave us.

If Don Juan accosts you in the dentist’s office waiting room and tries to charm you out of your phone number, a firm “I don’t give out my personal details to people I don’t know” is usually sufficient.

If Lancelot might be a possibility someday, but is acting like he wants to be married now – pushing the boundaries of your friendship and letting it get a little too emotionally intense way too early – it’s usually possible to remind him of what’s appropriate in your own respectfully reserved conduct. If he doesn’t take the hint, you can ask your father to talk to him about it.

If Romeo seems smitten with you and showers you with attention and compliments (and is exactly the sort of Montague your parents do not approve of), you can make it very clear in your cool but respectful manner that you are not interested in sharing a balcony scene with him.

If your friend Han Solo asks if he can take you for a ride in the Millennium Falcon and you are affronted because it is a bucket of bolts and you’ve already kissed romantic intergalactic joyrides goodbye (and you’d rather kiss a wookiee anyway) – you don’t have to tell him so rudely; there is a polite way to say, for example, “Have you checked with my dad on that?”

If Edward Cullen is stalking you in a creepy manner, always staring at you across the room and trying to corner you so he can ask you creepy questions about yourself – you can respond so honestly (“Yes, I believe in Total Depravity”), seriously (“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how God judges sin”), and confidently (“What is your position on supralapsarianism vs. infralapsarianism?”) that he will probably never come ask you questions again. If something firmer is needed, your father or brothers should be able to do the job.

If Willoughby wants to take you on a solitary ramble to read Shakespeare’s sonnets and then have you stay home from church so he can ask you a Very Particular Question, you’d better be sure your father or father-figure is fully behind what W. is doing. If you know that W. is not playing by the rules, you can point him towards the right person to ask, or ask your father to talk to him.

If girls would realize that they don’t have to go on romantic rambles, tolerate creepy questions, welcome inappropriate flattery, laugh at crude jokes, accept dates, allow over-friendliness, or give away their phone numbers just to be nice, everything would be a lot simpler for them.

Complicated things will happen to us – but “It’s Complicateds” will only happen if we’re playing along. We will make things a whole lot more difficult if we enjoy the attention, become emotionally entangled, lose our level-headedness, relish the drama, or encourage the misdemeanors.

When a ball of this kind is hurled into our court, this is a test. What will we do with it? No matter how outrageously a young man is behaving (and trying to get us to behave), we still have to stand our ground and do what is right. The standard is still to act like Christ, Who knew when to be firm and forceful, but Who never sinned. This means that cruel or haughty comebacks are not ok, but neither is going along with a young man when he’s pushing the limits. Remember, the most truly loving thing we can do for him is to point him to what’s right – even if it means saying, “You’re talking to the wrong person,” or “No, I’m not interested in going out with you.”

In the case of Lauren and Marshall, Lauren is feeling overwhelmed with confusion over how to handle Marshall’s clear interest, knowing that he’s not marriage material yet, and hasn’t approached her father. The solution, however, is very simple. Lauren simply needs to do three things:

Talk with her parents about the situation, and let them know her true thoughts and feelings regarding Marshall. Our parents can help keep us accountable if our own hearts are swaying. Our fathers are also our secret weapons in the area of dealing with guys. They are the strength that we don’t have – they are the ones that can force the issues for us, the ones who can find out what a young man’s intentions are towards us, the ones who can make sure no one leads us along. What if Marshall was only playing with her while he waited for something better to come along?

Interact with Marshall as a sister and not a girlfriend, as though nothing is going on… because nothing is, right? Our pure and sisterly conduct can remind young men what their own should be.

Resist the urge to keep a candle burning for him in her heart just in case. We don’t know who God intends for us to marry; we don’t know who God intends for them to marry. What’s important is that we keep our hearts open to what God wants… and that’s going to be a lot harder if we’ve already filled that spot with a certain someone.

Giveaway: It’s (Not That) Complicated
Posted December 2, 2011

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We’re giving away a signed copy of It’s (Not That) Complicated! To enter the draw: Just write to us (damselsATvisionarydaughtersDOTcom) and tell us what you’d like to see us write a book about next!

To enter a second time, either 1: Put our nifty “It’s (Not That) Complicated” sidebar button (see left) on your own website sidebar (see here for instructions), and send us an email telling us, or 2: simply “like” the “It’s (Not That) Complicated” page on Facebook and write and tell us. Best yet, you can enter three times by doing all three.

Giveaway ends December 9.

Anna & Elizabeth Talk About Boys, Beauty, and Emotional Purity on Generations
Posted November 26, 2011

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Last week we were honored to talk about our new book with Kevin Swanson on his radio program “Generations”. You can listen to the interview online here.

Excerpt from It’s (Not That) Complicated
Posted November 8, 2011

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We’re excited to share with you a number of excerpts from our new book. These next few chunks were pulled from “Chapter Seven: The Heart: Victim or Perpetrator? Getting Your Heart to Follow YOU.”


Emotional Purity Revisited

We’re very grateful for the groundwork that has been laid by the Emotional Purity advocates, people who first began to seriously address the problem of handing out bits of our heart with reckless abandon. We, for two, needed to hear about the concept of guarding our hearts, keeping our emotions under control, and being faithful to our future husbands in thought and deed. But we believe this foundation needs a little more built onto it. For many, the concept raised more questions than it answered.

As one girl wrote to us: “My friend + i hav both decided that wee r neva goin 2 d8 + we want our 1st kiss 2 b on our weddings. …[but] i was tellin sum of my friends @ school about the decisions ive made and another question came up, is it wrong to have a crush on a guy? my friend says that you can’t control whether u have a crush on sum1 or not and im not 100 % sure how 2 answer that. Can u guys help?”

Once the idea of emotional purity is introduced, the questions breed like rabbits. “Can you keep from having crushes?” “Is it wrong to have a crush?” “When is it technically a crush, anyway?” “Whatever it is, is it a sin?” “Will they come back to bite me later?” “Will each crush that I’ve had make me love my future husband less?” “Do I need to go find and marry the first boy that I ever liked?” “Did the crushes I had when I was two count against my emotional purity, or do they only start to count at age 13? Is there a crushing age of accountability?” “I’ve given away my heart so many times – is it too late for me to even care?”

To those on the outside, these sorts of questions might sound like silly wranglings over definitions to see what we can get away with, or the perfect ten in female ditziness. But these questions are actually legitimate, and the confusion a big deal, because at the heart of it, we’re talking about our moral responsibilities. When we don’t understand our actual moral responsibilities in this area, we can feel ridden with guilt over things that aren’t actually wrong, and completely unpricked by things that are. We can have a fatalistic “It’s too late to guard my heart because I’ve already botched things so badly” attitude towards doing right in the future. And we can develop an unbiblical fear of doing the things we are actually commanded to do.

We torture ourselves over quandaries like, “At exactly what point in my thought process did my favorable thoughts towards a young man turn into sin? Did I cross the line when I started naming our imaginary future children? …or was it back when I was wondering what color the bridesmaids’ shoes should be? How about when I first admired what a servant’s heart he has?”

We ask the wrong question when we ask, “Is having a crush a sin?” The Bible doesn’t actually say, and the reason is because “emotional purity” is a made-up moral category. And it’s giving a lot of us feelings of (unbiblical) guilt for committing some dreadful nebulous crime that there is no definition for, when the answer would actually be very clear if we phrased the question using biblical terms. There are plenty of real moral categories for real sins – like lust, covetousness, idolatry, fear of man, vain imaginations, and presumptuous sins. How much clearer would things be if we would just go ahead and say, “I’ve made an idol out of a young man; is that wrong?” or, “I’m having lustful thoughts for this guy – is that a sin?”

The Bible gives plenty of clear commands, both positive and negative: Guard your heart. Love the brethren from a pure heart. Think on what is pure and what is true. Don’t covet. Don’t lust. Have self-control. Take every thought captive. Going against any of these clear commands is a sin. This should answer our questions.

See? Now it’s not that complicated again.
…..

Conquering Love

But keeping our love in its proper place is easier said than done. Our hearts want to love. They want to fasten themselves to someone. As woman was taken from the side of man, she yearns to be restored to the side of man. We’ve all known since our highchair days that that’s where we belong. We’re wired to find them fascinating, attractive, and loveable. This is why one of young women’s biggest struggles is keeping that desire to love under control.

A girl once wrote to us, “For a long time I have struggled with unrequited love. I just cannot get over this one young man I know. I love him, but it seems that God has just not ordained that he should love me in return, and I am having the hardest time trying to accept that.”

There is no pain quite like realizing that what we desire most is not what God desires to give us – a pain we’re both keenly familiar with.

The truth is hard to accept, especially when we’re hurting, realizing that we made a mistake when we staked our hopes, our futures, our love, on someone who had no commitment to us in return. The girls who write us such emails are hoping for advice on how to get the young man to return their feelings, but truly the kindest (and hardest) thing we can tell them is this: that their own affections are out of place to begin with. The earlier girls would realize this, the more pain they would be spared. Love doesn’t have to go out of control and harm us. The young men God has placed in our lives don’t have to be sources of pain and heartache. There is a better way. And it requires learning to set boundaries for our own feelings.

But even those who recognize that little schoolgirl crushes are immature and fruitless can still wonder, “Is it wrong to deeply, sincerely desire a young man who is really worthy? One we could really marry?”
One thing our father taught us is that it’s not wrong to respect and admire a godly young man; not even to realize we could marry a man like him. But our legitimate and pure-hearted regard crosses the line into out-of-place love when we stray into one or more of these five mistakes:

1. Seeking our will above God’s

God already has a plan for what must happen with you and every young man you know. In His grand design, He knows who should be married to whom in order for His will to be accomplished, and your duty is to embrace that design as surely as you embrace God Himself. If we really, truly, sincerely love God’s ways, we will be able to do the impossible: Rejoice even if God gives Brandon to someone else, and take joy in the plan He has for us instead. Whenever we feel that we would not be happy with God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven, if that will is different from ours, we’re out of place. If a young man becomes more important to us than God’s will and preferences, he has officially become an idol.

2. Thinking we have a claim over the young man

It doesn’t matter how much we think we understand him, appreciate him, love him, deserve him – if we do not have his ring on our finger, he is not ours. In God’s bigger plan, this young man we’re lavishing so much devotion on might be another woman’s husband. And we might be another man’s wife. If there is no marital commitment, we don’t belong to one another.

Our love may feel pure, perfect, transcendent – but once it lights on a brother in Christ and says “He’s mine – hands off,” it has become selfish, possessive, and jealous. And this is part of the reason we need to resist crushes – because they’re incompatible with real love. That’s right – real love for the young man, and also the people around us. Do we truly love Brandon, enough to want the very best for him? Enough to want something better for him than… us? (If we truly cared about a fellow, would we necessarily think, “Brandon is so amazing… he needs a really special girl. I know! Me! Why, he couldn’t do better!”) How about the other girls? Do we love Amber enough to hope that she will also get a really amazing husband? Even if it’s… Brandon? (“But she can’t have him! I deserve him!”) If we love the other girls around us, it really will change the way we love the other boys. Because true love conquers all – even crushes.

3. Forgetting who the man is

We’ve all heard it a thousand times, and yet we still forget: It’s the man’s job to choose, the woman’s job to be chosen. And no amount of active searching and window-shopping on our part will actually make our chosen chooser choose us any faster. Wrapping ourselves up in a bow and throwing ourselves at his feet doesn’t count as letting him be the initiator, either. It’s hard to feel powerless, but now is our time to learn patience and trust, to be at peace with the fact that it’s the man’s call. For a girl to “pick” a young man who may never be an option for her is presumptuous, at best. It can be asking for heartbreaking disappointment, at worst.

4. Building castles in the sky

The truth is, we open the door for heart wrenching pain when we stake all of ourselves, all of our thoughts, our whole world – on something that we have no guarantee will happen. Even in a courtship-type situation, when the young man’s interest is certain, it doesn’t guarantee that your future with him is. God may still have other plans (Jas. 4:13-15), and it’s best to be emotionally prepared for them.

5. Letting your brain go out the window

…as our father always put it. Dad taught us that when you’re facing one of the biggest decisions of your life is the time when you most need your wits about you. We all know infatuation is blinding; during this season of getting to know young men as friends, and especially in the next season of getting to know one of them as a potential husband, we will need to have our minds prepared for action (1 Pet. 1:13) and our eyes wide open.

Moreover, as appealing as it may sound, we shouldn’t expect God to lead us through our infatuations. Our hearts, feelings, “intuitions,” and romantic inclinations can all be wrong, no matter how strong they are or how right they feel. One friend of ours was so convinced that her feelings for a particular young man were a sign from the Lord, that she wouldn’t let them go even after his engagement to someone else. On his wedding day, she confronted him for going against the will of God, and told him it was still his destiny to marry her. Obviously, her feelings weren’t proof of anything but the fact that… she had feelings. God leads us through the truths in Scripture, not though our fickle human hearts.

We learned a lot from watching our dear friend – now sister-in-law –Nadia face all five of these temptations. It wasn’t long after Nadia became one of our family’s closest friends that she realized our older brother David was exactly the kind of man she had been praying for. As she describes it, “I was gripped by his humility and purity of heart before the Lord and his passion for proclaiming the Word of God.” She’d never met another man she thought she could help, follow, and complete as well. And yet… she had no guarantee that David was really the man God had chosen for her. Any girl in this situation would be tempted to check out from reality, fixating, wishing, speculating, wondering, hoping… To place her happiness in the contingency that it would work out. To view the young man as “hers.”

But Nadia knew the battle in her heart that she had to fight and win had nothing to do with David. It had to do with finding her satisfaction in God alone. She knew that no matter what happened – even if she married David – she could not be happy until she learned to love God more, know Him better, and desire His will over her own, even if His will for her future didn’t include David. She wanted to learn to love David rightly and desire what was best for him, regardless of whether it would involve her or not. She wanted to be focused on reality – growing and working to be more like Christ and serve Him in the here and now – not distracted by possibilities or fantasies.

Some girls think if there’s a chance the relationship could work out, they should hold on to their infatuations… just in case they were to need those feelings someday. The angst in their hearts isn’t even over “I just can’t stop loving him!” but “Should I stop, or shouldn’t I?” In Nadia’s mind, the question was “Are these feelings right before God, right now? Am I putting my hope in marrying David, or in God? Has my sisterly regard crossed the line into idolatry?”
….

Wash Me and I Shall Be Whiter Than Snow

Some girls fear that they will have permanent scars from mistakes they have made. They fear that part of them is gone and they can never be made whole again. But the concept of inner purity deals more with the present state of the heart, the mind, and the affections than it does with the past. What we need to be doing is developing a state of heart and mind that is self-controlled and faithful to one man. It’s never too late to repent and do what’s right.

Going back to Ephesians, we see that the Church of Christ was not naturally pure, but had to be sanctified and cleansed “by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26) before she was ready to be presented before her Groom. David cried, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Ps. 51:7) Being clean means having been washed. Being pure means being purified – tested, matured, and refined by fire.

More than that, it means being forgiven. Our hearts, if not the rest of us, have all played the harlot, committed murder, and sinned against God. But what did Jesus tell the woman taken in adultery? “Go, and sin no more.” The same love that was extended to her has been extended to us by the same Savior. “If we confess our sins,” says 1 John 1:9, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When Christ saves us, He gives us His righteousness so the Father can accept us as righteous and see us as completely pure – as He is. This is the essence of forgiveness in Christ, which makes us clean in God’s sight. If we have been purified by Christ, we need to learn to dwell in this forgiveness rather than dwell on our former impurity. So think about your future, ladies, not your past. We should live every day in the comforting assurance of this position, and in a way that honors the Savior who bled and died to exalt us to such a place! Once you understand your forgiveness in Christ, you will be able to think and act like a pure woman, and your future husband will be able to truly see you as such.

In King David, we see a heart that was already “after God’s own heart,” but still needed constant maintenance. We should take a lesson from the way he cried out to God in the Psalms to give him continual heart surgery: “Let… the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD.” (Ps. 19:14) And after his affair with Bathsheba: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)

Some girls have fallen so deeply for someone in the past that they feel they’ve lost that part of their heart forever. But does he own real estate in your heart, or is he just a squatter? We say we can’t get that part of our heart back, but it’s not gone. It’s still in us – still generating special thoughts and feelings for that someone, cherishing sentimental longings and wistful regrets, not letting go. But we can get this corner back. As with conquering sin, this could require taking a knife and cutting away a part of our life. It’s not easy, and it’s not painless – but it’s not impossible. The most emotional, impulsive, anxious, romantic, or vulnerable girl is not powerless to rule this area of her life. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how:

Do not be anxious about anything

Not even Brandon.

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

He hears your cries for a godly husband.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding

He can envelop even the most stressful, anxious area of our lives with His peace.

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This is why it’s possible to guard our hearts and minds: because He makes it possible.

Why So Complicated?
Posted November 5, 2011

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Boy-girl relationships are hard. They’re hard because they’re made of people, not mathematic equations, formulas, or quantifiable factors like numbers. When talking about relationships, we’re dealing with fluctuating factors like motives, irrational feelings, and a nature that was made by God to be one way and twisted by sin to be another. Numbers are easy because they are predictable, but the heart, as Jeremiah 17:9 says, “is deceitful above all things… who can understand it?” And if one person wasn’t complicated enough, just add another person, multiply their sin natures, and we’ve got an equation too hard to solve in our own strength. When we do try to boil these relationships down to simple rules and formulas, they can come out looking something like the diagrams below. Because when it comes to each of these quandaries of the heart… it’s just (not that) simple.

Here are some drawings that didn’t make it onto the cover of It’s (Not That) Complicated, but we wanted to share with you anyway:

comic3 comic5 comic1 comic2 comic7 comic4

Have You Ever Wondered…
Posted November 3, 2011

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“My biggest concerns are how should I even treat boys period? I have
no idea how to act around them…I know I should be myself but, besides
that…”

“I’m not around a lot of young men, so when I am in a group with one,
it gives me the jitters. How do I act natural?”

“Is it a good idea to be good or close friends with a guy? And if you
do sense yourself beginning to be interested in someone, is it an
option to try to get to know them better, or should you keep things
the same and wait for the guy to make the first move?”

“If I say ‘hi’ and strike up a conversation is he going to think that I
am too forward, shouldn’t my kind of man be the first to speak, and
what will others think of what I do?”

“Where do you draw the line between being friendly, which is okay, and
being flirty, which is (presumably) not okay?”

“…can you encourage a potential suitor to pursue you without being
flirty, forward, or inappropriate? …can you let them know you are
available in a God-honoring way without becoming the initiator?”

“What takes a girl from someone a man likes to be around, to someone
he wants to spend his life with? I see a lot of lists by girls about
‘my husband must be such and such.’ But it seems all I ever hear from
guys is ‘a godly lady.’ What does that mean to them?”

“If there is a particular guy that I have noticed, what is the best
way to deal with these feelings? And what should I watch out for when
I am around him/do to guard my heart?”



It’s (Not That) Complicated will explore all of these questions sent
in by our readers and many, many more. (And will, hopefully, make them
all seem a lot less complicated.)

For more information and to order a copy, visit NotComplicatedBook.com.

It’s (Not That) Complicated: It’s Here!
Posted November 1, 2011

How do young men and young women interact with one another when marriage is not in view? Can young men and young women be ‘friends’? And how does a young woman guard her heart, preserve her purity, and walk in integrity without treating young men with disdain? In It’s (Not That) Complicated, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin address these and other questions with wisdom, grace, transparency, and biblical acuity.

— Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr.

We’re excited to announce that It’s (Not That) Complicated is now available! For more information and to order a copy, visit NotComplicatedBook.com, and don’t forget to check back in the coming weeks for excerpts and special features.

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