Some people say that squirrels look like rats with furry tails. At times, I can see that. But I think the overall thought on the animal is that they are cute. After all, who puts a small statue of a rat in their garden? I think they are cute. And now I have an unusual obsession with squirrels. I literally will be in a conversation with my wife and.. SQUIRREL!
We have put out bird seed to attract birds. Even our neighbors have noticed the increase in the number of birds in the area. So it is working! We even had some Lesser Goldfinches stop by on their migratory trip. (And by migratory trip, I mean from one side of the complex to the other. We ran out of seed for a day and they haven't been back) We love the activity on our patio and the sounds they make. (Not so much the mess!)
Along with the birds, we have had an increase in squirrels. There is Bella who we thought was going to be a mother when we first noticed her. She tends to stay the farthest away from us when we go out. There was Buster a male with a darker face but I haven't seen him for awhile. He used to come with Bella but now there is Chip. Chip is named after the chip out of his ear (Right picture above). But my favorite is Sammy (Left picture above). Sammy is the most aggressive one. He has even tried to scare me many times by jumping at me, chattering at me and shaking his tail at me. But he is also the one that will come close enough to get food from my hand.
At first, he would jump at me, but soon he would walk up slowly and carefully before grabbing the peanut or bread out of my fingers and running a few feet away. Now, I will hold the peanut tighter and he will put his paws on my hand to take the food.
One time, he took the bread and just went a couple feet away. I decided I would try to touch his tail. Guess what happened next? Yup! He turned and scratched my hand before I could even get close.
A couple of weeks have gone by and we are now at the point where he will sit on the fence and chatter to get my attention. When I come to the door, he runs down towards it and waits about a foot outside. I grab a peanut and as I come out, I point and tell him to get up on the fence. He runs around, climbs up and comes to where I am holding the peanut. I have done this quite a few times and it seems to work.
One day, I went out to give him his peanut in the same manner, but this time I brought out a bag of old cereal to put out for the birds. I gave him his peanut and he went to his normal spot a few feet away. I stopped keeping an eye on him as I started to pour out the cereal on top of the fence. All of the sudden I felt his front paws on my hand. Startled, I pulled my hand away before I realized what happened causing his claws to scrape across my skin. Squirrels have razor like claws. I barely saw any scratch marks, but just a second later a bead of blood started forming. Later, I could see the results of the scratch and it looked a lot worse than it did initially.
In dealing with wild animals, even small cute little fury squirrels, you always have to be aware and on guard. It is easy to put your guard down, like I did. I would hope I wouldn't be the same way if I was dealing with lions. The same applies to purity. There are bigger things tend to keep us on our toes but the smaller ones we overlook. When we think that just a little crossing of a boundary won't hurt anything, that's when things can happen. We let our guard down and next thing you know, we have fully crossed the line. A little look here, a small flirt there, or thinking something is just an innocent gesture but hiding it are all little things that open the door for a bigger attack. You may even think, "What harm can this cause?" It isn't the harm that the action could cause that is the problem. It is the harm that that action will lead too down the road, that is the issue we need to protect from. The initial affect may not seem that bad, but later on, the real results will show up.
How we look at issues is important in knowing how we will approach them. If I looked at a lion the same way I consider a squirrel, I would probably try to feed one by hand and probably try to pet him too. But when I truly look at a lion for what he is, then I make sure I keep a safe distance and have enough protection between him and me. When we look at sin as a small thing, we tend to keep our guard down and don't respect the damage it could do. If we see pornography as just pictures or as something that isn't harming anyone, then we won't be able to comprehend the consequences that just looking at it will cause.
Living a life of purity is hard work. It takes effort. It isn't just about being nice. Some of the nicest guys I know have been addicted to porn or have had affairs. Living a life of purity is about being aware of where attacks can come from and then protecting yourself. You can't just float along and stay pure. The more you stand for purity, the more impurity attacks. Be prepared.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
I finally decided to have surgery on my knee to fix a 30+ year old injury. This is an injury that I played with through high school, college and adult soccer leagues. It’s an injury that I continued to re-injure many times… over… and… over… and… over! I have had many opportunities to repair it over the years, but I haven’t for various reasons. Stubbornness is not one of them… really.
In junior high football, another player pushed his guy into the side of my left knee bending it a way that God did not intend it to bend causing an almost complete tear in my ACL along with some other damage. Because I wasn’t fully grown at the time, the doctor suggested that I not repair it surgically. They would have had to go through my growth plate causing my leg to stop growing. So I waited to get it repaired.
I played through high school and college. Every now and then, I would tweak it a bit or a lot and had to deal with the pain and swelling but would be able to get back to “normal” fairly quickly. The summer before my college senior year, I tore my right ACL ending my college career. (Don’t cry, it wasn’t all that…) I had surgery on my right knee over Christmas break and went back to school on crutches and in a brace. But I didn’t get my left one fixed.
Throughout high school and college I played with a brace. I hated that brace. As soon as I started playing in adult leagues, I stopped wearing the brace. It worked, or so I thought. My leg got stronger and I felt I was able to play better. And so it went for awhile. Then one day, with no one around, in my first game in California, my knee went out and that was it. I stopped playing. It felt unstable. Day to day, it felt like it was going to come unhinged at any moment. But I still carried on with life, sans soccer.
It wasn’t until our daughter started showing interest in soccer that I decided that I would need to get some stability in my knee if I wanted to be a part of her soccer life growing up. So, I decided to finally get this 30+ year old injury fixed.
My knee being unstable didn’t bother me. I could live with it as I believed that it only affected me. But when I started to see how it could affect others, I really saw how unstable my knee had become. I had tried to strengthen it myself. It didn’t work. Because of this, I had to decide to submit to someone who could strengthen my knee for me. I had to get a surgeon to physically operate on it.
The integrity of my knee is like purity. When I was thinking it only affected me, my strength of my knee… or my purity was something I could live without. Lack of purity causes instability and weakness that we may not recognize. When you live just for yourself, you tend to allow instability or weakness in your life because you think that you are the only one being affected or hurt. It’s when you see that it affects someone else that you will see the instability or weakness and see the need to fix it. You also have to admit that you can’t do it on your own. Only then will you seek out Someone that can be your strength. Living purely is something you can’t do in your own strength.
I do NOT want you to think my husband is hot. In fact, I really don't want anyone looking at or considering him in that way at all. And how much more so if the person doing the gawking and ogling over my spouse is also married, or at the very least, in a dating or engaged relationship.
Being involved in a ministry that is based on purity definitely gives me a strong view on topics related, and even more so when it comes to my marriage with Rob. I waited too long for such a blessing to not be protective of him and us. There are so many different purity battles that we all regularly face, and unfortunately, we have a tendency to add to our discontent and wandering heart without even realizing it. When I pledged my heart, my love and my life to Rob through marriage, I did a couple of different things. I made a commitment to be there for Rob in all things, the good, the bad and the ugly. I also made a vow to keep myself my body, my mind, my eyes and my heart for him and no other. Until death do us part.
Now...If I spend the rest of my days with Rob, noticing other guys, commenting on another's physique, enjoying any other male companionship in any way that resembles what I should have with Rob, then I am personally putting up little time bombs into my marriage that will wait for just the right moment to explode. I certainly wouldn't want Rob to be doing those things to other women!! I spent many months watching his eyes as we began noticing one another again. What was he looking at, or better yet, what did he choose not to look at? Was he making his eyes available for the world, or was he choosing to have his eyes on the Lord, and therefore keeping his eyes on me.
There have been times in gatherings with friends that I hear the hypothetical conversations of, "If you could have one Hollywood star and no consequences who would it be?" Or another, "He is so hot! If I could just..." And then there is, "I wish my husband (boyfriend, fiancé) would: do that, be that, act like that, look like that, say those kinds of things to me." Maybe the most dangerous is the conversation between a couple, the one of, "If we could each have one other person for one night, no questions asked, who would that be??" Oh how we put our relationships in harms way with this kind of thinking and speaking. There is NO ONE that I want to do certain things with other than my husband, and I would never want him to think that I was desiring someone instead of him. The reality is, there is no option of "no consequences" and thinking this way only put chinks in the bond of my relationship with my spouse.
What has come to my attention lately is how common it is for us to flaunt not just ourselves, but our spouse for the world to see. This has become more prevalent as we have moved full speed ahead into the world of social media. Often, when we post details about dates with our spouse, or significant other, we are personally truly feeling real love and emotion with them and for them. We really did have a great time with them, or truly were surprised by a gift or special treatment from them. So then the natural tendency is to share our thoughts about how we feel with others. What ends up happening though, is we are posting how he or she may look, how they act, or our opinion about our attractions to our own spouse. (Which in and of itself is not a bad thing. I sure do hope that you are in love with your spouse and that you do tell them that as often as possible in fun and surprising ways.) However, what we post is, "look at my hot wife," or "I love you my amazingly handsome, charming, witty, smart, talented and best dad ever to our children...oh did I mention he's hot?" Many of the posts include interesting or crazy hashtags, none of which I am going to write here, because I really wouldn't want you looking there anyways. Remember, we are talking about purity here.
Now again, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with these kinds of posts. May I just toss out there as a word of caution. If I advertise for the world, something that I hold dear, I also am putting a lure out there. It may not be an intentional lure, but the bitter taste of displeasure, of dissatisfaction, of loneliness in others, or the misguided desires of self and self pleasure can so easily be ensnared by such a comment. And when I have just advertised my spouse to the world via social media, I have just put little targets on my relationship and without proper protection through prayer we can easily be hit.
My hope for my marriage is to keep the doors of dissatisfaction closed. To keep my one true love as just that, the one that I adore and will love until death do us part. And I will not put him out there as a banner for "hottest husband ever," "the studliest stud muffin," or "Mr. Romance 101...in the flesh." (Even if I believe all of that stuff to be true to me.)
So please know that it is ok with me that you don't even pay my husband any mind when it comes to his romance, his looks, his brains, or his brawn. Those things are reserved for me through the covenant of marriage, and believe me, I waited a long, long time for my prince charming to come.
This picture was sent to me by a friend. Since receiving it, I have had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. It has sparked a lot of ideas and emotions. Maybe it is because of what we do, but most of my thoughts tend to be on how this scenario came to be and how the moment that is portrayed is not the important moment but somewhere earlier on. Below are different thoughts or questions that have come to mind.
What would the differences in tone be in the two pictured? The top picture seems like one of despair. Like she is saying she knows she messed up and the consequences are so huge that she doesn’t know what to do next. One could read into it a sense of need to cover it up. Similar to when Jenna found out she was pregnant with Colby. Her first thoughts were that no one needs to even know about this and she could take care of “it” before anyone found out. That anyone included her mom and me. Praise God that He intervened and showed Jenna truth.
On the other hand, maybe fear of disappointing her parents is the primary driver of her statement. “I have really let them down,” she might be thinking, “what are they going to do?” I knew about Jenna being pregnant for weeks before telling my parents. The fear of letting them down was so big, but I couldn’t hide from it. Whenever commercials came on about baby products I would freeze. “I can’t watch this, they will know that I got someone pregnant. But wait, if I don’t watch it, then they will know that I am avoiding it and think I got someone pregnant.” When I finally couldn’t take it any longer, and the “right moment” never happened, I told them through sobs and tears. My dad’s first action was to walk out of the room. My fears jumped up and started screaming, “See, you disappointed him so much.” But they were quickly silenced when he returned with a box of tissues.
The bottom picture has a completely different tone. More of disappointment, not in something she did, but in not having a chance to live. Here she is developing and growing at a rapid rate looking forward to what life has for her only to see that it would end before she even would get a chance to cry.
Those are the initial, almost of the surface responses that I had. But then, as I was thinking about it, it struck me that regardless of what kind of tone or thoughts going through the top pictured girl’s head, there was something bigger in play here. What lead to this moment? What caused her to feel this way to make that statement?
This is why we do what we do.
This girl may have been told not to have sex. Or, as in a lot of cases that we hear, she was told to at least use a condom or her mom took her to the doctor to get on the pill. “After all, kids are kids and they are just going to do it anyway.” (One of the biggest lies out there, by the way.) Either way, communication did not happen soon enough and/or often enough. It has to start as early as possible with age appropriate information that builds on itself over and over.
The issue isn’t a positive pregnancy test. It was way before that.
The issue isn’t her having sex with her boyfriend, or the guy from the party, or whomever. It was before that.
The issue isn’t in letting her date or hangout with a guy by herself or whatever else. It was before that.
The issue lies in all the decisions that led up to that moment.
It isn’t the last turn that caused you to get lost. If it was, then you just need to go back to that crossroad. It usually is one turn after another that leads to being lost.
And who is responsible for these decisions. The girl? The parents? The boy? His parent’s? The answer is, yes. All of them are responsible.
We know that a couple hours in front of a student, usually their freshmen year in high school isn’t enough to equip them to set the appropriate boundaries they will need to get through life the way they have planned. (And by planned, I am talking more about avoiding what they don’t plan. No one ever plans to have a baby in high school or to get an STI… ever.) We know, that no matter how cool you think it is, our story is our story and as impactful as it may be, won’t be the deciding factor in the moment. Hopefully it will help them make choices before that point.
What we do know is that by training and teaching students on an ongoing basis, we can make a bigger impact than just ourselves in a health class. We can start to turn the tide of peer pressure to abstinence and living with boundaries be the norm not something to mock. We know that when students are taught the big picture, and not just what is impacting them now, they will take it and run.
Also, we know that it isn’t just a battle for students. We need to help parents. We need to show parents that it’s more than just “having the talk.” It needs to start when our kids are young and be a lifestyle that they are brought up in. Open communication. Trust building. Leadership. Guidance. All of these are important in raising children who will communicate; Children who will trust parents enough to share with them what is going on in their lives; Children who will follow and who will learn and be teachable.
Abstinence only education gets a bad rap sometimes… OK, many times. People believe that it is a message of, “Don’t have sex” period. End of story, see you later. Yes, abstinence means you don’t have sex, but it’s the “why” that is more important. Our purpose is to provide the students with tools and resources so that they can make a decision of abstinence because it is what is best for them and their goals.
Proponents of using birth control and other forms of protection are only addressing two issues when they talk about “safe sex.” (Actually now, the new term that they are using is “safER sex.”) The two areas they believe they are keeping safe from are pregnancy and STI’s. Safe means “free from harm,” or a 0% chance. In this case, safe sex would mean there is a 0% chance of getting pregnant or contracting an STI. And we know that there is no protection that can guarantee 100% safety from these two areas. Hence the term “safer sex.” But safer than what?
So-called “comprehensive” sex educators are called such because they talk about protection. But what they don’t discuss is that there is no protection from the social, emotional or spiritual consequences of sex or even intimacy. So a more “comprehensive” approach to the whole picture of sex and intimacy is actually abstinence because it is only abstinence that can and will protect you from not only the physical, (pregnancy and STI’s) but also the social, emotional or spiritual aspects of sex.
As part of our presentation, we ask who the students talk to or feel that they can talk to about sex. We get a variety of answers ranging from parents to youth leaders to counselors to siblings and friends. We always encourage them to speak to their parents first and also that they can reach out to their teacher, a counselor at school or contact us with their questions. What stands out a lot is the students show more ease with talking with their friends than with an adult about sex. This is what I shared with the students in response to talking with their friends:
I started by asking the students, "If you wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, would you ask me to teach you knowing that I have never learned to fly a plane?" Their response was an obvious, "No!" Then I tell them that one time when I was in 2nd grade my father and I actually went up in a small plane with a friend of my father's and he let me control the plane while flying. So based on that experience, I ask them again if they would let me teach them to fly. Again, they say no.
Next, I add another level. I explain to them that I have taken a graduate level course in aerodynamics and I have studied all the aspects of how a plane flies. I discuss the four aspects of flight: lift, thrust, drag and gravity. After that I ask again if I could teach them to fly. I had one student agree then to let me teach him. I reminded him that I don't actually know what all the buttons or gears do in the cockpit and he quickly changed his mind.
After this, I relate it back to who they ask about sex. I remind them to make sure they know the "qualifications" of the individual before putting their trust in their answer. I re-emphasize the important role that their parents play in their lives as well as remind them of the options they have on their campus.
Parents, if you don't feel qualified enough to teach your kids to fly, then it is time to get qualified. While you are doing that, reach out to the resources you have as well. Reach out to the school counselor, the teacher, the pastor and you can reach out to us as well. We can help equip you to speak with your child and provide a safe environment for them to feel free to share with you their questions.
It seems today that everything is revolving around secrecy. Now don’t get me wrong. I love secrets that involve surprises! Birthdays, Christmas, family adventures or planned dates with my husband, the idea of sharing time, or gifts and being blessed by someone I love is the best. More and more today we see ways where we can lead a more private life, which is in and of itself quite the misnomer since we are an online culture. It is very easy to look up details about peoples’ lives, plus most of what we do on our phones, computers and tablet electronics is location aware and “someone” knows where we are at all times.
In our home, we take precautions against temptation and sin. We believe that by keeping things in the light there is no room for darkness. Darkness can be thought of as secrets, or sin. In the dark, and in secrecy is where we can easily find a lot of trouble.
Given all the work we do online, I get excited to see new options for my internet browser, Mozilla Firefox. It’s great to make my online experience as streamlined and ad free as possible.
This time, however, I was totally bummed! All three of the new add-ons tout the specialty of secrecy, hiding your tracks and leaving no trail of where you have been. I am sure that there are some really great reasons to have these features on your computer, however, to me what this speaks of is, “Do whatever you want on your computer, and no one will ever no.” Not only is this dangerous for my children, but it is a pathway to destruction for my household and my marriage.
The first is the “Forget button” This ad-on allows you to remove your browsing history and erase website information of sites that you visit if you don’t want others to see.
The second is the new search engine called Duck Duck Go, used like Google or Yahoo browsers. This secret browser allows you to search with no history or tracking stating, “Find what you’re looking for, your way.” I’m not sure what all they think we are looking for that we wouldn’t want others to know we have found. All this spells to me is T-R-O-U-B-L-E!!!
The third one is a private window for you to go online with no history. The browser claims to not record where you have been so no one else can see it.
As individuals, we are charged with keeping track of our own lives and purity. As parents, there is the additional responsibility of protecting our children. This doesn’t always mean keeping yourself or your kids completely sheltered from the mess, as much as it means to be educated in how to walk through all the muck and know how to stay the course of the pure life.
Staying informed in our families is the best medicine for success. Keep things in the light, from the use of social media formats, locations of where they are used and now more than ever, what it is that we are looking for and watching. You can protect your family today by implementing good habits and open lines of communication. These apps are a “no go” for the Crenshaw household. We have nothing to hide and no reason to keep such secrets from one another, or for our kids to think that it is safe to live in secret.
For more information or to know more about Rob and Jenna Crenshaw, check out the site or contact us today!
Rob and Jenna Crenshaw are founders of Crossroads Club