November 2013 archive

The best book (I wrote) for Christian teens wanting to date

By Hayley DiMarco

dimarco_d8.indd

I wrote a book for Christian teens back in 2009 called B4UD8 (Before You Date) along with my husband Michael. Although some may know me more infamously for my 2003 release Dateable, few know that I never speak on Dateable and that B4UD8 (and my husband Michael) were game changers for me. I wish I could say that B4UD8 was as commercially successful as its predecessor (Dateable outsells it 8:1,) but I am proud to say that B4UD8 won the highest honor in Christian publishing, the 2010 Christian Book Award for Youth.

I have reached out to my publisher to request that they offer B4UD8 available for free on ebook readers so you can read for yourself how I communicate to Christian teens on the subject of dating, though five years later it needs a little refresh (yes, there’s a K-Fed reference.) That’s why my husband Michael and I are working on a new book on the subject to go even deeper spiritually into why we look for love in another. But that won’t be written for awhile, so I’ll update you when I hear back from the publisher and then post a link to the freebie.

UPDATE: As of 2pm, Friday, 11/15/13, the Kindle version of B4UD8 is now listed on Amazon for $0.00. Our publisher has agreed to do this through the weekend until Monday morning. Thanks to Revell Books and Baker Publishing Group for this gift.

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/B4UD8-Before-You-Date-Things-before-ebook/dp/B002E7ARVE/ 

Growing Up

By Hayley DiMarco

Growth-sunflower

The person I am today looks so much different than the person I used to be. One of the great things about God is that he’s always changing you, making you better, if only you will let him. For years I thought I knew it all and what’s more I thought everybody else didn’t. And so I started writing books, why not, if you now it all you’ve got to share it with the world? Right?

But boy was I wrong. Every year that I live I see how much I didn’t know then that I do know now. And it’s the same for everyone who surrenders their life to God. Once you surrender your self-will, your self-righteousness, and your know-it-all attitude to God and embrace the notion of humility, of dying to self, and stopping the self-obsessed preoccupation with your opinions, you are set free. Set free to love, set free to serve, and set free to grow.

There was a time in my past when I was merciless. When the law was my high horse. When being bombastic was a delivery system. When I was so certain that I knew it all that I forced it all onto others.  But God has been kind to me, he has taught me much, brought me through great trials and much humility, and shown me the depth of his grace. The grace I’ve been given has set me free from my past and it can set you free too. If you will only decide today that who you were yesterday doesn’t define you are today or who you are becoming, but it is just a step on the path to becoming more and more like Him.

I haven’t let the failures or embarrassments of my past derail me, but have accepted God’s grace for myself and have learned to extend it to others, even those who would define me by my past. Be set free today, don’t let the you of the past be the you of the present. Once God saves you he never leaves you the same, but brings you daily, yearly closer to the image of His son, and deeper into a life of humility that says, “I don’t know it all, but I love the one who does and that’s enough for me.”

In the age of the Internet and social media, your past is inescapable. Imagine if you had written over forty books over a ten year period all on how to live life! For anyone that has read my first book compared to my last, you know how God has changed me. As a loving, caring, Heavenly Father, he is with me (and you) as we grow up saying, “your past does not define you, my love defines you.” Never be shamed by the past, or anyone. You are valuable not because of what ‘rules’ you follow or don’t follow but simply because of His love for you.

God Bless this Mess

By Hayley DiMarco

Mark Twain's Mess

My husband Michael shared with me recently a series of photos of geniuses and their desks. People like Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, and others with extremely messy desks (my husband included.) It was a powerful visual reminder of a lesson I have been learning lately (and a gentle encouragement from my husband.)

When my house is neat, clean and pristine I feel whole. I breath more deeply and I find a peace that is absent in the mess. In fact, the mess that sits around me right now is silently pulling on me, making the waters beneath the surface of my life start to roll and I can sense a swell coming. Order gives my mind and my heart rest. It makes me feel complete, content, and hopeful. When my house is all cleaned up for company, I feel acceptable and proud. But on days when the floor is cluttered, the windows are dirty and the dishes aren’t clean I dread a knock on the door announcing visitors. How could they love me in my mess? What would they think? Yes, order is always better. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all.

Or is it? This well-known and often repeated mantra is not a bible verse: it is a worldly verse in Bible clothing. And it has perverted many a faithful heart from their first love. As I consider my desire for order and my discontentment with the mess, I see something more insidious at work under the waves of my life, an obsession, or as the Bible reveals, an idol. An idol is anything or anyone that we go to for the things God promises us. And in my obsession, I see the pursuit of hope, peace, acceptance, contentment, and even completeness taking the place of the very one meant to be my hope, peace, acceptance, contentment and completion.

For a long time I thought that my discontentment and even stress over a messy house pointed to the purpose of my life, the need for order. And so I. like millions before me, embraced the idea that cleanliness was next to godliness, even if I didn’t voice it. Even though I knew this was not a biblical concept, I still believed that if my heart craved order it must be because order was a part of my soul’s DNA. But checking this belief against God’s Word which reminds me that ‘the heart is deceitful above all else,’ (Jeremiah 17:9) scripture proves the error of my ways. Rather than being a part of my soul’s DNA, this desire for a clean house is a part of my flesh’s DNA, my deceitful heart. The part of me that wars against the Spirit as I read in Romans 8:5. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5–6, NIV) When my mind screams about the mess of my unkempt house it is set on what my flesh desires. But I am meant to live with my mind set on the Spirit.

Jesus made it clear what that the single most important commandment wasn’t to keep a clean house, but to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. I consider the word neighbor to include the members of my household. Many would use this as an argument for good housekeeping, but let’s be honest with ourselves, the majority of men and children in this world would much rather have a happy, playful, present mom who considers time with them more important than order, than to have a woman obsessed with the standard of cleanliness she requires in her home.

As I remind myself that the fruit of the Spirit should be what I desire over the fruit of my own flesh, I look around at the mess on my table and on my floors and I breathe easy. My relationship with my family has never been better, my stress never lower, and my heart never focused more on the one who makes it all possible. So thank God for the mess and the ability to see it not as a stressor but as a reminder of my true purpose here on earth; to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love this messy life because it proves my obsession isn’t me, but Him.