You might read somewhere that the teen pregnancy rate is dropping. That is great news! But reducing teen pregnancy isn’t our goal. Reducing teen pregnancy isn’t our message. Our message goes beyond abstinence. Our goal is far above reducing or even eliminating unplanned pregnancies. Our goal isn’t even to reduce or eliminate teens contracting or spreading STD’s.
Do we want teen pregnancies to drop to zero? Yes.
Do we want the spreading of STD’s to drop to zero, especially in the teenage population? Yes.
But these are not our goals! They are natural outcomes of what we want to accomplish.
If you have ever had the opportunity to try and break a board, (HIYA!) then you have been told to focus beyond the board you are trying to break. You punch through what you are trying to accomplish. So what is our focus?
Our goal is simple: We want to teach people to live purely for God.
We know that if we can educate students on how to live purely, cultivate in them a seed to lead others and motivate them to do so within this un-pure world, then:
So how do we do this?
We teach what love is in public schools while sharing the facts about STD’s, teen pregnancies and condom use. Facts like condoms may reduce the risk of pregnancy but can not stop the spread of HPV, one of the most common STD’s today that is causing cervical cancer in younger and younger females and throat cancer in boys.
We visit youth groups and share what God desires from each one of us and how we can live that out while supporting each other.
We talk with parents to help equip them so they can help educate their kids, no matter what age.
We share our story because God gave us a second chance in order to do just this. We chose to live life according to “me” instead of “He” and He allowed us. But now that we live our life according to Him, He guides us.
I fight for purity isn’t just a hashtag so we can sound trendy. We live this fight out daily. And we will go to battle for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Will you help us fight for purity?
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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.
There are many conversations we have where someone wants to know about our beginning. Meaning, “How did you get started in ministry?”, “How did you know you were supposed to teach teens?”, and “When did you get involved?”
Neither Rob nor I had a “specific person” (not counting parents) who spoke into our lives regarding direction, beliefs, choices, or correction. For us, this void left a lot of gray areas for us to play in.
Twenty years later, we now have the opportunity to share truth with students, parents and community leaders that is real, relevant and redeemed.
As youth workers in our community and beyond, Rob and I hope to be (and train others to be) that “specific person” in the lives of the many youth that we work with. Whether it be from a large assembly, a classroom presentation, or a weekly mentoring meeting, we want every aspect of our lives to be shared and be available to help teens and families as they walk through their Crossroads.
For Christmas, we were able to return to Iowa to be with our family there. It was a great break and was awesome to be with our family. I had lived in Iowa for almost 20 years before moving to Wisconsin and then down here to California. I had always heard jokes about how flat it was and how you could see for ever. I always compared it to Nebraska, which is flatter than a sheet of paper, and was able to see Iowa’s rolling hills and the contours that I was sure people missed. Now, after being in California for the last almost 6 years, this trip was the first time that I actually noticed the flatness of Iowa. It actually struck me as odd that I saw it as flat, something that never happened before. I was able to see how big and how long the sunset happened. I don’t ever remember taking notice of that while I lived there, but I had nothing to compare it too either. Now that I have been in California where we are surrounded by mountains, the sunset is a rather quick occurrence, unless you go out to the beach to watch it. I love driving around the highways here in California and seeing all of the mountains and views here. I hope I never lose that sense of awe at the sight of these mountains that I see everyday. What are we seeing everyday that we have become accustomed too that would normally strike us as wrong? On the other hand, what beautiful scenes, acts or experiences are we missing? Even when we notice what we have been missing through desensitization, do we even respond the same as if it was the first time?
We discussed in our last blog how being desensitized leads to lower standards in our lives and how this can have a snowball effect from generation to generation. So how do we get re-sensitized? Below are four ways that we can re-sensitize ourselves.
1 – Shine light on it – or draw attention to it.
Many times we get used to something until someone points it out and we notice it again. For instance, if you are sitting down, can you feel the seat on your back side? Did you notice this before I pointed it out? Because I brought attention to it, you now feel the chair. By the time you are done with this article, you won’t feel it again.
This is why we do what we do. Purity is fading fast in this world and we are trying to point it out so it isn’t lost. If we are able to shed light on issues that people have become accustomed to overlooking, then we can reach more people who will stand up for purity.
2 – Compare it to true white
I love the funny scene that is played out in hardware stores across America, with the couple standing there and the guy asks, “You want to paint it white?” And the woman responds, “It isn’t white, its eggshell.” If you just look at an “eggshell” painted wall, you would think it was white until someone held up a sheet of white paper. Then you would see the difference.
When it comes to purity, what we think are “eggshell white” tend to look more like a light tan when compared to true purity. What has happened? We didn’t keep comparing to the true white so as it darkened, we didn’t notice. By comparing things to a true standard, we too can see when something is out of the bounds of purity.
3 – Take a break
Just like me returning to Iowa after being away for awhile, sometimes we just need to be away from whatever it is in order reboot our sensitivity. My wife has started making bone broth. She cooks a whole chicken and other vegetables in a big pot for a couple of hours. She removes the meat from the chicken, places the bones back in the liquid and then cooks it for 24 more hours to extract all the nutrients from the bones. While I am here, I don’t notice any smell. But when I head out for a meeting and return, the smell greats me at the door like a big welcome home extravaganza and it smells so good. The longer the break, the more I can smell it upon return. Another example is fast food. I stopped eating a certain fast food chain over a decade ago. One day, I was with a friend who stopped to get some food at this place. I decided to have what used to be my normal. Before, I thought I felt better, had better energy and was doing well after eating that meal. This time, though, I was sluggish and did not feel better. Because of the break, I was able to see exactly how my body responded to the “food.”
By taking a break from violent movies or movies that have more skin than plot showing or anything else, upon return those images will stand out more to you and you will notice how you respond more to when watching them constantly.
4 – Get back to the basics
Vince Lombardi, the famed football coach for the Green Bay Packers has a famous quote where he says, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” This is how he started each pre-season. He would hold up the ball that these professional players have used most of their lives as he said it. He said this even on the years after they were the world champions. His point on doing so? To make sure the players got back to the basics. He didn’t care that they were the best at what they did, he didn’t want them to deviate from the basics.
We too can do this. By doing a "check-in" on a routine basis to see where our boundaries lie, we can make sure we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. Lombardi didn’t want over confidence to get in the way of accomplishment. We may think we are confident in keeping our boundaries, but in order to bring us back to them, and make sure we just haven’t become comfortable with them, we need to revisit the baseline.
Now, do you feel the chair you are sitting on, or did you forget about it already?
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