L: Eric always goes for a chocolate shake. He is in such a rut! Sometimes he will branch out and try cheesecake or something, but a chocolate shake is what really makes him smile! I am actually not a desert person at all, and I don't really like sweets, if you can believe it! However, I do like red Panda licorice and my mom always gives it to me in my stocking for Christmas (she still does stockings for all her adult children - old habits die hard!)
My mom still does stockings for us too, and we're all married with children - but we still look forward to the stockings! Leslie, you and Eric have written many amazing books and have a real ministry to youth, showing them that instead of getting caught up in the brutal and sometimes heart wrenching game of dating, how they can love God first and foremost and then God will help them find the person He has planned for them. "Teaching True Love To A Sex-At-13 Generation" is the book I picked to be on my Top 7 Most Life Changing Books of 2007 list. This book doesn't necessarily speak to youth as it is designed to speak to parents and grandparents, to help them see what youth today are dealing with and how we can help them. What led you to write this particular book with the focus on parents and grandparents?
L: When Eric and I first started sharing our message for young adults, we expected there to be a lot of resistance to our message. But we found the opposite was true among youth. The young people of today are so hungry for a higher standard, so eager to hear that they can have something better than what the world offers, that they are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get it. We found almost everywhere we traveled that young people were just waiting for someone to raise the standard and give them hope, and they were eager to give the "pen" of their life to the Author of romance - God Himself. However, when we spoke to parents, we often got the sense that they were in complete oblivion as to the true sexual crisis hitting young people today. Often they would say things like "well I'm sure that's not going on at MY child's school" or "well, I know my daughter would NEVER do anything like that". And all too often, parents resisted the need for such a "radical" message of surrender to Christ. They also resisted the idea that they, as parents, were the primary ones responsible for guiding their children in the area of love, sex, dating and romance. Most of them preferred to let the youth pastors deal with it and hope for the best. In my love story with Eric, having our parents as key players was a huge reason why it was so pure and successful. We wrote Teaching True Love as both a wake-up call for parents, and a "practical guide" to help parents fulfill their God-given role in helping their kids discover His best in this area of their lives.
Your love story of how God brought you together after you had each made a commitment to honor and love God first in your lives is really beautiful. Did you have any idea that out of your own story God would spring forth such a ministry to youth?
L: It's amazing, but even before we were engaged, my dad felt that our story would impact a generation. He shared this with us, and at the time it seemed outlandish. Yet, here we are, twelve years later! After we were married, a pastor from our hometown said that he thought we should go into ministry sharing God's perspective on relationships. Both of us were very resistant to the idea. The only people we knew of who spoke on relationships were old, stodgy and strange. We didn't want to be one of those "odd" relationship speakers! But once we saw how God was using our story and our message, our hearts changed and we began to love it! These days, we aren't speaking and writing only on relationships, but also on the deeper Christian life, and it's been exciting to see how God has expanded our ministry over the years.
If you had one suggestion for parents and grandparents for something they could do to help the youth in their lives in a tangible way to avoid some of the obstacles that are placed in their paths on a daily basis - what would it be?
L: The first and most important thing is prayer. My parents prayed for my future spouse from the time they first became Christians, when I was about two years old. They recognized that Eric was "the one" even before I did, and such insight into what God was doing in that area of our lives. Parents often get discouraged when they find out about how bad things are among youth, but don't underestimate the power of persistent prayer! Secondly, when parents take an active role in awakening their kids to God's ways, they make a huge impact. Even if a parent doesn't feel like an expert in this area, if they simply point their kids toward Jesus Christ daily, He will take care of the rest! He is amazingly faithful - remember that He cares more about this area of your kids lives than even you do!!
For additional resources to help your kids discover God's best in this area, please visit our websites: http://www.setapartlife.com/ and http://www.authenticgirl.com/.