Sunday, February 14, 2016

We're Getting MARRIED! Celebrate with Us On Our New JOURNEY!

The full story on how I proposed to Brittney on Friday, February 12th, 2016. Brittney received an e-mail from a huge Christian magazine saying that she and I were selected to be interviewed for our story on abstinence. What Brittney did not know is that I created the fake e-mail and the entire interview to set up our marriage proposal. In this video you will see live footage and behind the scenes footage of how the evening went.

Thank you to all of our guests who kept this a secret, and who attended the surprise engagement! Thank you to these special people who played a MAJOR part in making this day super special!

Interviewer: Chrisdine King (Professional Actress)
Producer: Kobe King (Live Video Feed)
Videography: Alejandro Orengo
Photography: Eric Slye (Slyeman Productions)

Thank you everyone for your love, prayers and support! Follow us on our journey until the #McKinnonMatrimony!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dating with a Purpose

Do you have an ultimate end goal for “why” you are dating? Are you just dating because you don’t want to be single? Are you dating because everyone else around you has someone? Are you really dating with a purpose?

I haven’t blogged since Mark’s birthday, and hadn’t plan on writing an entry until I was having a self-bible study on “not being misled and be mindful of who leads you”. I was in the Book of James 1:16, and also back and forth from my book Good or God. God led me to the self-bible study of being mindful of who leads you for a reason. In James 1:16-17 it states, “So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father…This scripture dwelled on me for about 30 minutes before I decided to get out my laptop and write about WHY God led me to this specific scripture at this specific hour, at this specific time…

It’s the Holiday season. This is the time of year where we will see all the lovey dovey couples, engagements, weddings, babies, “relationship goals”, all types of LOVE. Right? Yes. You also see a lot of singles getting depressed around this time of year because every time they log into their social media accounts, this is all they see. But what if I told you that being a single Christian in today’s world continues to be increasingly difficult. We often want this "perfect" Man/Woman of God who can lead us the way that we “think” we should be led.  But do we ultimately know how we should be “properly” led according to God’s will for our lives? Or are we going by what we see posted on Google or Let’s take a minute and think about that…

Just recently, Mark and I faced an unexpected attack on our relationship. We did not see it coming, I know I didn’t! We thought we were doing so well, ready for the next level, but God had other plans for us. He had a small detour that He needed us to take before we proceeded forward. God can use anything and anyone around you to remind you that He is with you; I knew that but did I really believe it? It doesn’t matter how many pre-engagement classes we’ve taken, how much training we’ve received; when God sees that you are losing focus on His calling for your life, He will step in and stop everything that you’re doing so that you can re-focus on Him; and that’s exactly what He did to us. Careers were going well, Mark was selling out workshops, my business was booming BUT when was our last bible study together? When was the last time we were in our Word individually? We got so caught up with the success that God brought us; in the process of this great success, we forgot the ultimate purpose; to always keep him 1st. How can we lead each other if we become too busy for God? Just like, how can today’s single Christians express that they are enjoying their season of singleness because God hasn’t sent them the right man/woman? 

It hurts my heart every time I hear one of my single friends say, “I’m enjoying being single right now because God hasn't sent the right man for me. The bible said that, “Death and life are in the power of our tongues, and that whatever we speak shall be.” However, if we’re not careful, those words can be decrypted to mean, “I’m enjoying my life of selfishness.” Part of the reason many people are choosing a life of singleness is because some singles ministries make being single look so much fun and exciting. Commitment and intentionality are inadvertently being discouraged by increased opportunities to go on group dates and see members of the opposite sex without pursuit. 

Another reason I think people are choosing a life of singleness is because of the difficulty, confusion and frustration that comes along with dating. I will not lie and say that relationships are 100% perfect, and if someone EVER tells you that their relationship is; please go get your Holy oil and lay hands on them. I can’t speak for anyone else’s relationship, only ours. Relationships and dating are hard work ONLY if you choose to make it hard. Once you find out who you truly are as a person, and allow Christ to come in and clean you up; you’re going to be just fine. If you enter into a new relationship with baggage from your past, not knowing WHO you are, withholding secrets and issues from your life without expressing them to your partner; you will most definitely run into problems. As many times as I speak about my personal life of being a former sex addict, I had to allow God to fully heal me; renew my mind, body and spirit, in order to have a successful courtship. And it’s not easy-at all, but we know our ultimate end goal is MARRIAGE, and we are dating, learning and helping each other every single day with that end goal in mind.

I realize that a lot of the challenges that we all face today as singles, center around the confusion of intentionality. The standards of our culture leave us believing it is okay to date with selfish intent—to date without purpose, with no plan, without deliberate acknowledgement and respect for the other person’s feelings, heart and emotions. God had to mold me from being independent, selfish at times to being more understanding and respectful of Mark’s feelings and emotions if I wanted this relationship to properly be one of God. Mark will happily tell you that it’s hard putting up with an Aries with a Type-A personality on top of having a choleric temperament, (The choleric temperament is traditionally associated with fire. People with this temperament tend to be egocentric and extroverted. They may be excitable, impulsive, and restless, with reserves of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others. They tend to be task-oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually "do it now." They can be ambitious, strong-willed and like to be in charge. They can show leadership, are good at planning, and are often practical and solution-oriented. They appreciate receiving respect and esteem for their work). But it’s also a perfect balance. When I need help calming my tongue and anger, Mark’s Phlegmatic temperament balances well with mine. (The phlegmatic temperament is traditionally associated with water. People with this temperament may be inward and private, thoughtful, reasonable, calm, patient, caring, and tolerant. They tend to have a rich inner life, seek a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, and be content with themselves. They tend to be steadfast, consistent in their habits, and thus steady and faithful friends). Anyone who knows us personally, know that these two temperament traits describe us to a T and it’s so important to know that about each other for your future purpose together.

If you’ve been in the Christian dating scene for a while, then you’ve probably heard the acronym DTR, also known as “define the relationship.” Sometimes we hear this in a good way or a negative way. Normally when I hear, “So define our relationship, what exactly are we?” usually results in some type of confusion. I wholeheartedly believe this term would have never been coined if singles were intentionally communicating their feelings from the jump. We wouldn’t need to define what we are if we were dating with purpose, dating with marriage in mind as the end goal. If marriage isn’t the end goal for you, then you shouldn’t be dating. When dating with a purpose, be intentional by making an effort to leave NO room for confusion. Guys, if you want to take a girl on a date, use language that make your intentions clear. Referring to your time together as an “outing,” “meet-up,” or “get together” doesn’t communicate to the girl her time is valuable to you. Be clear and profess that you are interested in taking her on a date. I think that’s why so many couples today still participate in “date nights” to keep their relationship fun and exciting. Being intentional means being clear in your delivery. As women, we don’t want to hear, “Hey what would you like for dinner tonight?” Instead, how about, “Hey, don’t make any plans Saturday night at 7:30 pm, I made us reservations, and I will be outside waiting for you at 7:00 pm sharp”. This communicates that their presence is important to you, and you want them there and shows a lot of effort and thought into the date.

As Christians, the way we date should look different than the rest of the world. We shouldn’t be dating with selfish intent, just to have something to do on a Friday night. We shouldn’t be dating because we are feeling lonely and desiring connection with someone. No! We should be dating because we are taking the necessary steps toward one day of being married. You have to treat that person differently than others.  1 Timothy 5:1-2 encourages us to “exhort older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with all purity.” We are to treat members of the opposite sex as brothers and sisters in Christ. Once given the opportunity to observe their actions and determine if they could be a suitable mate, our actions toward that one person should be different than our actions to other members of the opposite sex. By treating that person differently, you are letting them know they are special to you. That you value them uniquely and desire to make that known.

I want you to know, that for all my single friends out there, singleness is a wonderful gift we have all been blessed with. It allows us the opportunity to pour into the lives of others. Gives us more time to serve in the community and allows us the time to focus on becoming more like Christ. Until you are married, you are single. I am single, Mark is single. We are still dating/courting each other until we are married. During this time, it shouldn’t be a time that breeds confusion and frustration. My prayer to all of us is that, as singles, we should utilize this season of singleness to leave others better than the situation in which we found them, pour into their lives and keep in mind our ultimate purpose during the dating season. God bless you!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Birthday Letter For My Best Friend

"A hero to me is somebody who is selfless, who exemplifies a generous spirit, who gives back as much as possible to help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people with their spiritual gift, and who will always put others before themselves."

"One of the best feelings in the world is being able to be leaders in Ministry together and holding each other accountable."

A Birthday Letter For My Best Friend

Not only is today Mark’s Birthday, but it’s his 3rd birthday that we are celebrating together, and I can’t think of a better way to wish him a Happy Birthday than to share my thoughts with him here on our blog, and relive our moments of celebrating together.

Happy birthday, babe.
Although it’s your birthday today, my mind is filled with all of the amazing gifts, life lessons, and love that you’ve given me. There are a handful of things that I am sure of in life, and one of those things is that I know God created you just for me…for this journey that we’ve built and embarked on has been indescribable, nearly perfect and yet amazing.

How do I know this?
Your strength and determination ease fears that I’ve carried throughout my life. You fell in love with a woman who was a sex addict, and you showed me the love of God.

Your calm, phlegmatic spirit softens the sharp edges of my choleric temperament, and we balance each other out so well.
You have protected, cushioned, and loved me through our struggles to fill our bodies with purity, build up our faiths, and build our walk with God, together.

Your unflappable nature reassures me that together, we can face anything with grace. Your mom even approves. 

Your amazing sense of humor brings out my silly side and keeps me from taking myself and life too seriously, when I’m over working myself, or running out of gas because I was way too busy to see my gas light was on; you still came with a smile on your face to my rescue. My hero, forever.

Dynamic duo, we are. Not because it's a cute title, not because social media calls every two good-looking people regardless if they are making a difference in life or not a "power couple", but we are a dynamic duo because we both know the importance of serving the community, our church, people around us, and each other.

Today, I celebrate your life.

You have brought a sense of stability to my life that I’ve always dreamed of that has made me feel safe enough to reach for my dreams. You inspire me every day to always resemble Christ in all that I do, even when sometimes it’s so hard for me to do so.

You are truly everything I ever dreamed of. I remember writing to God in my prayer journal, the ideal man that I wanted. Each attribute that I wrote down was the total opposite of you,  and God knew it was because I was only after the materialistic, already established man, instead of being on a life-long journey of building together.

Your passion is my passion. I am your biggest fan, and will always be your biggest fan.

Since you entered my life, you have made every day feel like my birthday.

And I just want to say, I love you...
I love your intelligence
I love your passion for life, acting, and being God’s image at all times
I love how I thank God every day for bringing someone as wonderful as you into my life
I love the ways you choose to show your affection for me
I love the way you inspire me to be more than I am, and more than the life I lived
I love you just the way you are

I will spend the rest of my days showing you how grateful I am to call you my best friend. Don’t ever change, for anyone.

May your day be wonderful just as you are.
I love you beyond words,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Keeping Up with the Joneses

(Lost, Empty, and Broken II)

23, straight from college to Washington, D.C.! Her own car, traveling, VIP tables every week, hair and nails were on point, a CAREER not a JOB, 3- bedroom townhouse with 1 roommate, AND she owns a pair of "red bottoms"? Seems like the perfect girl, right? Seems like she has it all together, right? Seems like she's living the life, right? Wrong. I owned a pair of $700 shoes, but I was late on my rent....

..."I'll catch up on the next check", is what I would consistently tell myself, but wasn't the next check for cable? Internet? Cell phone? Car insurance? Utilities? Making only 45k...I was putting myself in an even bigger bind, but hey, as long as I looked good on the outside to everyone it didn't matter. The other girls at the clubs had expensive bags and shoes, so I had to fit in too. My curves just wasn't cutting it anymore, I needed more, to get more attention. Past duepast duelatelate, past due. These bills were adding up, but my bank account was rapidly decreasing, negatively. So negatively, I had to leave the town-home with my roommate, and get out on my own. I couldn't let her know that, because my pride was too high. I went and found a 2 bedroom condo to lease that next week, even posted the picture of my keys like I had "really" done something big, but to me, it was big. I started working at a lounge for additional income, thinking that would cure my financial problem, but being more in the club scene 3 nights out the week only made it worse. I'm now trying to keep up with the girls I'm hanging around, the girls in the clubs, and the social media models. 

I was constrained in thinking that spending money on status symbols, name brands and luxuries for the sake of flaunting your “wealth” was what defined you and made you somebody. It was beyond "Keeping up with the Joneses", it was a lifestyle I had to portray in order for people to “like” me, “notice” me, and “worldly define" me. I only dated men of "status"; if you didn't have a job, your own place, making at least 60k+, tall and handsome, I wasn't interested. I envied relationships that I saw on social media, and then jumped into situationships one after another, man after man. Is this what the average 23 year-old woman looks like? It was for me, it was my story. At 22, I found Christ, (read lost, empty and broken) and at 23, I was lost in the world yet again...

I thought working at this lounge part-time was the best decision ever. I met high caliber men, I was able to get drunk for free, I wore the tightest and shortest dresses for attention, and men told me I was the baddest thing walking, and I had a lot of "likes" on my pictures. People defined me, men defined me, social media and the world defined me. I was insecure, and I had low self-esteem and I used false materialistic things to bring me happiness, but I didn't know that back then. I would compare my life to the people around me, I didn't know my identity, or my purpose in life. I was portraying to be everyone but ME. Who really is bold enough to admit they falsely flaunt to impress people knowing they are broke? Who admits they live paycheck to paycheck but have the latest Gucci bag or a new pair of Loubs? Who has the courage to share a transparent testimony from their test they have endured to help the next person? I did.

I did, and now I'm sharing my testimony and what I went through to help you. Many of the people driving around the suburbs in their giant SUVs, Benz’s, while talking on their multiple new cell phones are deeply in debt and some still get declined. If you ask them how they are doing, they will tell you that they are doing extremely well, but in reality, many of them are just barely getting by. The big homes, expensive toys and other goodies seem nice, but in reality they are unnecessary from a practical perspective, and will only make you happy for a very short period of time before the next "must-have" item rolls around. 

Why does the majority of the world try to "Keep up with the Joneses"? 

* The Desire to Show off our Success through Temporary Happiness
* The Need to Have What Other People Have
* The Desire to show your "Haters" that You're Doing So Much Better than They Are
* Low Self-Esteem
* Ego Boasting
* Prolific False Advertising 
* A Society that Favors Instant Gratification over Hard Work

When I first started dating Mark, I was 24 years old, a babe in Christ, I was attending church twice a month, and I knew a few scriptures. Basic scriptures. Although I had matured in age, I still had some "keeping up with the Joneses" residue left in my system and that had an effect in this new courtship. I still expected Mark to treat me to the finer things in life during the initial stages, I still expected him to wine and dine me (and he doesn't even drink) on our date nights, but in reality, he couldn't. Mark couldn't afford my fake luxurious taste that I tried to portray, and he tried his hardest, but little did we both know- we both were struggling, but was too ashamed to communicate it to each other. Mark was still living at home in his mother's basement rent-free, drove his little sister's hooptie car to get around, and worked as a part time substitute teacher only two days a week (if that). (Read Boy to Man). Mark was living a starving artist lifestyle. Yes, he had many accomplishments as an actor, but his income was never consistent. One month he could make $5,000 off of acting gigs, and then the next three months not make a dime. $5,000 stretched over 3 months until the next gig equals...Broke! 

Arguments came, stubbornness came, and sexual activities due to frustration came. Next thing you know, we had established soul-ties with each other. (Read Breaking Soul-TiesDo you know that when you have sex with someone, you begin to pick up their habits and their feelings? We would randomly find ourselves mad or upset with each other for no apparent reason, but we looked perfect on social media didn't we?  Doesn't most of those celebrity relationships that we die to be like paint the same exact picture? I think we call it, #RelationshipGoals. We had spiritually, emotionally, and physically become a mess. 

We knew if this courtship was going to last, we had to make some serious shifts in our lives. Mark took the lead and stated that he couldn't do this anymore. He had been celibate for four years prior to meeting me, and he just couldn't do it anymore. It was one Sunday after church, he made a declaration in my prayer journal, that moving forward, there will be no more engaging in any sexual activities, we will attend church, bible study, and get more involved in ministry. He told me he needed me to get more in my word for myself, not for him. He left this scripture in my head for me to meditate on.. Ezekiel 36:26, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." For me, coming from being in the world, transitioning to living fully for Christ was hard, but when I look at my life today- it was the best decision I've ever made in 26 years of being on this Earth.

As a 26 year-old CEO, business owner with 4 streams of additional income, I had to make the decision to live and follow the "world", or live and follow Christ. I choose to live and follow Christ. I wouldn't be the woman I am today, if I didn't trust God, and if I were to continue living for the world. I choose to spend my 20’s living for God, living cheaply and investing my money in my business, mutual funds, and investments. Many people think that if you live cheaply, drive an old car, wear cheap clothes, that you aren’t doing well, but you can’t worry about what people on the outside are saying, you have to continue doing what you know will pay off in the future. My family jokes all the time asking, “How are you a CEO driving a 2002 Honda Accord”? I laugh and say “Because paying off bills, debt, and establishing a nest egg is far more important than indulging in a sprawling home, car note (like all of you have) or high-end fashion.”  I am using my 20's to inspire people who may be dealing with what I went through, avoiding credit-card debt, building my savings, while remaining humble on this journey, so I can thank myself later. The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals. Whether you're using your 20's to build your own business or establish a rewarding career, I promise you, the cheaper you can live, the greater your options will be in the future.

The bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:6; Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness and absence of self. Humility in Colossians 3:12 means “lowliness of mind,” knowing that humility is a heart attitude, and not merely an outward demeanor. How can you say you practice humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance? Jesus said to us, those who are “poor in spirit” would have the kingdom of heaven; being poor in spirit means that only those who admit to an absolute bankruptcy of spiritual worth will inherit eternal life. 

Are you someone living for world, or are you living for Christ? Do you struggle with wanting the expensive luxuries of the world, and it causes issues in your relationship? Are you sometimes prideful, arrogant, and find yourself always comparing your life to people you see on social media? Decide today to make a change. Decide today to let God steer your life in the direction that He has for you. Don't be afraid to ask for Him and seek Him when you don't understand. God has promised to give grace to the humble, while He opposes the proud. Therefore, we must confess and put away pride, arrogance, jealousy, anger, pettiness and competitiveness. If we exalt ourselves, we place ourselves in opposition to God who will, in His grace and for our own good, humble us. But if we humble ourselves, God gives us more grace and in the end, it is only He, who will exalt us. Share with me some things you are praying that God delivers you from, I will be more than gladly to pray with and for you. You are not alone.

God Bless You!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Listen to Her

"Your mate is a result of your intelligent decision". These are the words from one of our mentors that made us both appreciate each other on another level. Many of us, before deciding to commit to a serious long-term relationship with someone after the dating stage (aka the "we're talking" stage), has went into deep thought about a few things. Some were thoughts about the future of that relationship, the habits of that mate, their career path and goals, and other key things that are important to you (If you haven't thought about the important things before committing to someone, and you made your decision only off of looks....then ouch! Our prayers are with you). Based on those important thoughts, you make a decision to move forward or not and YOU are responsible for the results of that choice. Your decision to commit to someone or even date a person is a direct reflection of how you see yourself.

We're pretty sure you all have heard before, "your mate is a reflection of you". We both believe that this statement is true. The person that you decide to date, WHEN you date them, HOW you date them, WHY you date them, is all a reflection of you. Staying in a relationship even when you see all the red flags, reflect back to you. It reflects back to how you see yourself and how you treat yourself. You have to take a moment to think about what does you being with this person say about you? What is it saying to yourself and what is it saying to the world? The answer to those questions all fall back to your intelligent decision. For most, the type of person you decide to date nowadays may be completely different then the type of person you chose to date a few years ago.  But don't regret it, or don't get mad. Stop talking bad or down about that person. During that time, that person was your decision to date or talk to. Maybe during that season of your life, that person was right for you. Not all relationships are meant to be permanent. A lot of times they're meant to be temporary. For some, there could have been a provision made through that past relationship. Maybe the job you have now came from being with that person and they helped you with that connection. Maybe you met your current best friend through that past relationship. Maybe they've influenced how you dress. There can be many things that you may have gained in that past relationship that benefits you now.They're meant to be life lessons for us and seasons of growth. The biggest pain and hurt that I (Mark) went through in a past relationship, I used to hate it. I used to wish I never had to deal with it or spend years going through it. But now when I look back, I'm glad I went through it. I'm glad I had to face it and go through the hurt. Why? Because it matured me. It made me into the man I am today and also made me realize what I really wanted out of a relationship. Actually, one of my current contract jobs is still happening because of a connection I've gained through that past relationship. God has a way of making us go through things in our lives that may not make since and sometimes even hurt, but it’s God's way of molding us into the men and women he has called us to be. I remind you of Romans 8:28,And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them".

So let's say you've made your decision in a mate, you feel that your current mate is a great result of your intelligent decision, and that you see a great future with this person. You feel that this person is a great reflection of you and represents you well. Do you take time to listen him/her? We mean, actually listen to them. Do you only listen to your mate only when it’s convenient or do you listen to your mate at all times. Listening doesn't mean obey. Listening can simply mean hearing your mate's opinion / advice and consider their knowledge in your decisions. Do you process the daily advice of your mate? Gentlemen, we know it's tough sometimes, but do you trust your woman's intuition? Do you trust and listen to some of her decisions? Many men decide to date a woman and when she gives her advice, wisdom, and/or intuition, they don't value it or they overlook it. Why is that? Could it be pride? Could it be that the man has the mindset of always being right and it's "my way or the highway?" If you've made an intelligent decision to commit to the woman you are with now, why not trust her intuition? Why not listen and sometimes actually follow her advice? We think a lot of men overlook the true value of a woman's power. God originally designed the woman to be a help meet to man. God created the woman to work alongside him in this battle of life. She watches his back; he watches her back. They're supposed to be in this battle together. 

The bible says in Proverbs 31:11-12, "Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life". Men, do you believe that your current mate is capable of this lifestyle? Does she possess those qualities, that you know without a doubt, she will not bring you harm all the days of your life? Remember, your mate is your intelligent decision and she is a direct reflection of YOU. If you see yourself as a King, then you wouldn't settle for anything less than a Queen. One of our favorite quotes from well-known author and motivational speaker, Tony Gaskins, "if you listen and don't make it about yourself, it frees her. When you need some advice, if you listen you'll find that God gave her a profound wisdom to benefit your life".  

Men, try following her advice for a while and watch how much your relationship grows. Watch how much more she gives you what you been waiting for her to do for a while. Try it and observe. As Tony Gaskins said, "It frees her". You will start to see her be more creative and beneficial to the relationship because she now knows you trust her call and that her opinion / decision matters. There were a couple of books and articles that we came across that were about wealthy men and how they gained their wealth. Several times we saw throughout all the readings that wealthy men mentioned having a supportive wife as one of the keys to their success. Are you in a relationship with a woman who will help build and grow your wealth? Wealth doesnt just mean money. Your wealth involves your health, your kids, your possessions, your everything. Is she helping you grow those areas or is she just complaining about what you don't have? Ladies, if you see an area of lack in your man's life, maybe you are there in his life to help him grow that area. Help him map out a plan, help him plant seeds, help him enlarge his network. Help him! Be the best support system he's ever had. In our premarital class we took a few weeks ago, we learned that the man has the vision and the woman supports him with the blueprint to his vision. Now this doesn't mean that the woman won't have visions. But she must follow his lead as he follows God's lead. That's why it's key to be with someone whose purpose compliments your purpose. If he is allowing God to lead him, then God will make sure both of your purposes are being fulfilled in the journey.

We would like to thank you all for continuing to follow our journey and reading our blog posts. We truly appreciate it and look forward to hearing your comments about "Listen to Her". God Bless!

Mark & Brittney

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How Do You Know if You've Met the Right Person for You?

 "How will I know when I meet the right person?"

There are two types of reasons that people seek relationships/courtships:
1. To get love, validation, security and safety, or;
2. To grow spiritually and emotionally and to build a firm foundation on love.

With 1 year and 8 months we've been courting, we RECENTLY received confirmation that we both were made for each other. Yea, we said we were made for each other prematurely in our relationship, but that was solely off of our mentors telling us, our spiritual counselors told us, social media told us, but did WE really know if we were made for each other? No. Not until we recently passed our pre-engagement class. Yea, the social media "lovey dovey" posts are CUTE and flattering, but when the the likes and followers go away and it's time to start thinking about the future, and real-life challenges that you will face; your perception of what defines a real courtship gets real...

If you always feel insecure and alone, then you will most likely look for someone who will fill that inner emptiness and provide you with the love that you are seeking. You will constantly keep looking for someone who will complete you and make you feel adequate and worthy. We recently completed a very thorough 13-week class that showed us if we were meant to be with one another, allowed us to see if we had our own individual walks with Christ, and prepared us for the next journey in our lives, MARRIAGE.

You ever ask yourself, "what's the worst thing Jane/John did to me, and can I live with this for the rest of my life?" Something to think about, right? Because we are always attracted to people who are at our common level of woundedness, or our common level of health, a person who is desperate to get love will only attract a person also desperate to get love. Each individual has high hopes and dreams to get filled from the other, but not realizing the effort it takes to fill each other up spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Therefore, so many courtships fail, because no one takes the time and right steps to determine if they are dealing with the right person, and then you both are left hurt and confused with no intent to continue to grow and build together.
Instead of asking, "Is this person right for me?" why not ask yourself FIRST, "Am I taking the right steps to be RIGHT for this person? Do I have my own personal walk with Christ? Am I a selfish or selfless person? Am I kind, patient, not prideful or boastful? Am I living a true 1 Corinthians 13:4-7? Am I being a person who comes to a courtship filled with love to share, or am I being a person hoping to get love and validation?" 
One of the main reasons that many courtships don't work out is because each person is disappointed in not getting what they expected to get from the other person. In today's world, many are meeting off of social media networking sites, which can be a good thing, or a bad thing. You expect them to be the person on their social media page, but a few weeks/months of being with them/getting to know them, that's when you really start to see that they are an entirely different person. If you don't know how to love, validate, and establish who you are FIRST, then how can you expect to have a healthy courtship when these missing pieces of the puzzle are still causing you inner problems? 
People who are truly open to learning about themselves, and learning how to grow spiritually and emotionally and taking responsibility for their own actions have a higher success rate of transitioning from a courtship to a healthy marriage. It took a lot of humility and self-discipline that this class taught us, in order for us to see the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish. It's fairly easy to know if this is the right person for you when your intent for being in a courtship is to grow together, learn together, build together and share the love like the love Christ shares to us. Individuals who come from a full place within find it easy to discern if the person they are with is empty inside or just desperate to be with someone because they see everyone else around them with someone. Many times, people get in relationships solely just because everyone around them is in a relationship and they don't want to be left out, either they believe their "biological time-clock" is running out., or either they are desperate for love and they don't know how to properly love themselves, and these ways will result in a failed courtship. 
Knowing if the person you are with is right for you won't happen over night or instantly. It takes months to discover whether or not a person is who they say they are. You won't really know who a person is until you've had a conflict with them, and you find out how they handle conflicts. Are they standoffish? Are they violent? Do they go days without acknowledging you? Do they admit to their faults, and try to move forward? Do they talk to outsiders about your problems instead of addressing them to you? Do they run to their parents/or siblings? Do they run to alcohol/or drugs to minimize the pain or hurt? All of these things play a major part in determining if this person is right for you. It's critical to really take your time when courting someone, because people can appear very open and loving until a conflict arise, and when they get angry, you have to ask yourself, "Is this type of behavior something I can live with for the rest of my life?"
Given that no individual enters a relationship perfect, it's very important to know that the person you are courting is willing to explore how to deal with conflicts when they arise rather than trying to protect it with controlling behavior. "I had to learn how to deal with my anger, and how I treat people because I had a serious anger issue from the result of my father not being in my life. The more I was around Mark, the more I wanted to inherit his characteristics; he's kind to EVERYONE, and he has a heart just like Christ. I knew I wanted to have that same character, so he motivated me to stay in my Word daily, and find a scripture to meditate on daily, to help me with my anger issues. James 1:19 is my scripture that I recite daily to help me in my walk." (Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.)
Conflict will occur in all relationships, and if both persons are not open to learning about themselves, and each other when conflict arises, the unresolved conflicts will eventually destroy your relationship. 
If you are a person who is open to learning and want to establish a relationship that builds from love, here are a few tips we've learned from our class that will help to determine if the person you are with is right for you...
1. You both should be capable of caring, being honest, showing empathy, agape love and compassion, and be open to learning and growing together, and be mature enough to handle conflicts God's way and not YOUR WAY...
2. Learn how to see things through God's eyes and His perception. Not every situation deserves an argument, be open to learn how to handle conflict than just wanting to win and be right.
3. Learn each other's conflict style (Accommodating, Avoiding, Competing, Collaborating or Compromising will discuss more details in another blog post... ) and be willing to fight through any attacks the enemy throws your way TOGETHER. 
During the duration of this class, we experienced and learned a deeper knowledge for God between ourselves, and as individuals. We learned how to see God's point of view when situations approached us, and we acted on it according to His will. We know that God's grace is sufficient, and His power works well in our weakness. We were taught together how to hear from God, how to discern from God, how do we know we're called for each other, how to communicate in love, how to be patient with one another, and most importantly, we understand the characteristics of how God speaks to us.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

God Bless,
Mark & Brittney