A Washing Machine Revelation

By John Figleaf

We hated our washing machine from the very first day we bought it over seven years ago. It frustrated my wife intensely, which caused me to dislike it very much also. After all, “if Mama ain’t happy – then nobody’s happy!” After my wife’s disabilities increased and I had to take over the laundry, I begin to literally hate this machine that would never seem to work like I wanted it to. It would tangle clothes, go off balance, and often sit and go into “sensing mode” for no apparent reason. From the very first day I began to curse that machine calling it all kinds of derogatory names and even kicking it and pounding on it with my fists! I’m really not a violent guy, but this was a bit of a phobia I had towards it – for seven long years!

Recently, after a really frustrating day with the dang thing, I finally had it and was going to get a new one. This one was going to the junkyard – that is until I looked at the prices of new ones! Yikes! Even the cheap ones are expensive! Ok, now I’m looking with a new mindset of perhaps living with this monster of a machine a bit longer.

I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or just me in desperation, but a thought came to my mind. John, you’re cursing this machine all this time. Why don’t you try blessing it? Quickly recognizing the biblical truth before me, I right then and there repented for cursing my washing machine and started to call it blessed out loud. I even declared it to be part of the Kingdom of Jesus and is therefore blessed in my household!

Well, wouldn’t you know it – shortly thereafter the Lord opened my eyes to what was wrong with it and how it could be fixed. I say, “opened my eyes” because I literally was blind to a simple method of making it work correctly. I’m a mechanical kind of guy. I should have recognized the problem easily, but I believe my cursing it literally blinded me to the obvious – and blessing it literally opened my eyes to changing this machine from a monster to a very pleasant and useful piece of equipment.

Shortly thereafter, I began to ponder about how this cursing thing had affected my life in various ways. Naturally, I began to review my journey out of lust and pornography into Christian Naturism – and the similarities began popping up all over the place.

  • I was constantly cursing my body.
  • My body was a monster – rarely acting the way I wanted it to. Always going off balance and getting tangled up in stuff it shouldn’t.
  • Just as I would kick and beat on the washing machine, I would abuse my body by looking at porn and doing destructive things with it. It was the same love/hate relationship I had with the washing machine. I had one and had to use it for better or worse.
  • Just like having a phobia about that washing machine, I would look at my body as evil and corrupt and must be dealt with very harshly.
  • I also began to see how many woman could hate their body and call it cursed – hoping to get rid of it and upgrade to a new model!

It wasn’t until I fully realized that my body is blessed because it is the Image of God that I began to be “repaired” and now my body works properly. I call it blessed and it exists in a blessed environment in the Kingdom of Jesus. My being nude is no longer going off balance with lewd. My nudity is no longer tangled up in the spin cycle of the world. The lie that my body is cursed has been washed away! I am clean, whole, and functioning very nicely without clothes. Who needs a washing machine anyway!

A Delightful Trip

Mrs. Phil and I recently had the chance to visit some friends in the Pacific Northwest. Since the time we first met them elsewhere, we decided that it was a trip that we would have to add to our naturist bucket list of places to visit for a nakation (clothes free vacation). It did not disappoint!

Any time we can get away together is good, but when we have some naked in nature time together, it’s even better. Throw in some friends, and some new friends, and it’s a great experience.

A question that gets asked often is: Why does nudity have to be social? Well, it doesn’t have to be. And for many naturists, it isn’t. Many are home nudists but don’t have the opportunity to be nude in non-sexual ways with others. This is unfortunate, because there is something about being that open and vulnerable with other people: friends or strangers. The longer we have embraced this way of living and thinking differently, we can testify to one fact that affects naturists more so than non-naturists. Simply put: winters are harder. The reason they are hard, is that due to the weather and other factors, socially nude time greatly diminishes. We can’t even lay out in the sun for an air bath by ourselves! But because we were made to be social creatures, the lack of opportunities really puts a damper on what some already see as a dreary season. There are things I do like about winter, but this is definitely not one of them. I don’t know what it is exactly, but the friendships made with those with whom we’ve been socially nude are some of the best friendships we have. When we go too long without experiencing socially nude time, we both start to feel like something important is missing. Why social? I say why not? We are social in textile situations, and we should be in nude ones too. The era in which we live makes this level of friendship difficult, but not impossible.

This is why a trip in the spring was such a welcome idea. We were feeling the need for such a trip and an experience of this sort badly. Mrs. Phil told me the confidence she had gained from being socially nude was waning. She is so much more confident than in the 20 years before embracing naturism, but she could feel a need to be befriend her body again. Shedding all your clothes has a way of shredding with them the insecurities those clothes hide away. We weren’t in danger of falling back into old habits and an old way of thinking, but since we have this freedom, why not use it? We desperately wanted to go, and are so glad we did.

Aside from the absolute beauty of God’s creation and getting to see a new terrain, we got to be just as we were created in all it’s glory. This is something else that often goes overlooked or unappreciated by non-naturists. Can’t you hike and see amazing landscapes with your clothes on? Yes. But when you can experience these sights and be in your natural state, it’s even more amazing! If you haven’t done it before, you’ll just have to trust me on that one. I feel so close to our Creator when I’m unencumbered by any trappings of society, and simply enjoying beautiful nature and joining with creation to praise our Lord. If we don’t do it, the rocks will cry out, Jesus said. To experience natural hot springs (and several of them in different terrains) was awesome, and I use that word sparingly. Here, the Creator has built into his creation a hot tub that doesn’t require electricity. It simply requires strategically placed rocks to create a pool that separates the hot water from the freezing cold water of the river. You can do a polar plunge and warm up in the hot spring within 10 feet of each other! And you can do it all in the comfort of your own skin, no soggy bathing suits (or shame suits as a friend calls them).

A neat thing is to hear how accepting the culture up there is towards nudity, especially when it comes to hot springs. There was one we did not get to see because when we arrived, there were a bunch of “suitors” (bathing suitors) there, or “textiles.” Sometimes it’s not an issue, but this was a big camping group with little ones, so we just went on our way to the next one. Our friends will often take their own little ones to the hot springs and just like at a family friendly naturist park, there is no problem and it’s perfectly fine and acceptable. Any thoughts otherwise would prove a pornographic mentality, as opposed to a mature and renewed mind we talk about on this blog so often.

We got to meet a bunch of people from all walks of life. They were all very nice. The lack of clothing jump starts better conversation because the small talk that generally happens is unnecessary. Humans don’t only tend to hide behind clothes, but also hide the real and authentic versions of themselves as they attempt to project a certain image of themselves. I think we do this instinctively, or at least subconsciously. Perhaps not all of that goes away, but naturism tends to accelerate the loss of phoniness due to the common acceptance of our natural state. I’ve observed this phenomenon over and over, and even though I can’t explain it, I do appreciate it. 

This blog post makes some good points worth further reflection and contemplation: “Nudism is not about seeing others naked or being seen naked, per se, but I also think it would be disingenuous to say that seeing and being seen are not part of what makes nudism so liberating and empowering. Overcoming the fear instilled in us throughout our upbringing and, for many of us, throughout much of our adult lives, by confronting head-on the anxiety associated with being nude in front of others is one part of it. Another part of it is a very sincere curiosity and a very human desire to know others and to be known for who we are, to be vulnerable, to be acknowledged and accepted and, yes, seen. Not seen for the sake of exhibition or attention. Not seen to show off or flaunt. Seen in order that the truest version of ourselves, warts and wrinkles and wounds laid bare, might be accepted and celebrated.” I love that thought and others mentioned in that particular post. I love that we can express joy and freedom in its most raw form together without shame spoiling it. 

During this trip, we were also off the grid with no cell service or wifi. That made Mrs. Phil a tad nervous having left our kids at home, but they survived just fine without us. We had a terrific time and relaxed those days and enjoyed the handiwork of our Creator on display. We can cross the Pacific Northwest off our naturist bucket list now. Not that we won’t be back again, but we’ve been there and done that. We didn’t get the t-shirt, but rather we took them off. Oh, and one more thing. Ignore this whole post. The locals told us to say there’s nothing there that’s worth seeing! I think they just want to keep it for themselves!

You’ll NEVER be free!

Freedom wasn’t something I thought I was missing in my life before 2019. I live in the good ‘ole USA after all. I had all the freedom I needed. I didn’t feel like I was lacking in the area of freedom. 

Looking back, in my heart I never really did understand John 8 when Jesus is talking about the truth setting us free. Ok, yeah I believed in Jesus and I had accepted Him as my Savior so I’m already free. I never stopped to ponder that Scripture or let it settle in my heart. It was one of those Scriptures you read and then say, “Oh cool” and move on. 

The Lord wanted to set me free in a different way though. In October 2019 just days after Phil revealed to me that he was a naturist, I was still wrestling with what that meant for him and me and for our family. I had learned enough through prayer and study that I knew I was changing my mind on what the truth was. I had just informed some new naturist friends that I was seeing things differently and I sensed that this was a new path the Lord was leading me down.  Those days were full of interesting conversations and reading and praying together. As we laid in bed that night we began discussing something that eventually led to another confession of sin and I was once again devastated. I tried to remain calm but my heart was overwhelmed with grief. I turned my back to Phil and began to weep quietly. I wasn’t only sad, I was angry! As I lay there so emotionally spent I began to hear an evil laughter in my mind. It was faint at first, but it began to grow in intensity. Even though the laughter wasn’t audible by human standards, my response to it was. “Shut up!”.  Phil responded confused, “I didn’t say anything.” I put my hands over my ears. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” The evil laughter continued and then I heard the words, “You thought you could do this? You’ll never be free!” followed by the most evil laughter. It was then that Phil realized what was going on and he wrapped his arms around me and held me tight as he began to pray and rebuke Satan. In that moment I saw myself throwing punches. I was in a literal fight. I could feel myself shaking as my hands were drawn up like a boxer trying to protect his face. I’m not sure how long this went on, but eventually the fight subsided and I began to weep. Somehow I knew that I had won. It was the enemies’s last ditch effort to fill my head with lies. Satan wasn’t happy that after 38 years I finally knew the truth about my body and the way God sees me. He wasn’t happy that I was breaking strongholds that I had allowed to consume my life for far too long! My decision to follow my husband in naturism was the proverbial middle finger to Satan (as one of my new friends puts it). 

I didn’t know it then, but allowing the Lord to reveal to me the truth about my body was the catalyst for many other truths the Lord wanted to show me about who He is and what He wants for my life and for His people. It has literally changed everything for me. I don’t believe Satan is all knowing, but I do think he has enough experience to know that this was just the tip of the iceberg for me and he wasn’t happy about it. 

Satan has lost that battle with me. I know who I am. I know whose I am. If doubts about that come, they pass quickly. I know how to combat those thoughts now. The Lord has set me free. It wasn’t just for me that those bonds were broken through. With the help of the Lord we are changing the way our family thinks today and hopefully in the generations to come. Change starts with us and we will do what we can as the Lord guides us to help bring freedom to those who don’t even know they are in bondage and to help guide those who are already seeking. 

Isaiah 60:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” 

I was in bondage to shameful and hateful thinking towards myself and toward others. Your bondage may be different, but the desire of the Father is that we are all set free from the things that hinder us from fully worshiping God and bringing Him glory. If it holds you back, it’s bondage and you need to be set free.

If it holds you back, it’s bondage and you need to be set free.

Once you’ve been set free, don’t look back like Lot’s wife. Run full steam ahead into the new life that the Lord wants to bless you with! Don’t allow Satan to trick you into falling back into stinkin’ thinkin’.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  

If the Spirit of the Lord is within you, then you have access to freedom. 

Every time the disciples started establishing rules—no children near Jesus; don’t let the crowd touch Jesus; don’t talk to Samaritan women; don’t let people waste expensive perfumes—Jesus told them to knock it off, and his rebuke was usually followed by a lecture that said, “You still don’t get it! We’re not substituting religious rules with our rules. We are substituting religious rules with Me!” Jesus kept saying “Follow Me,” not “follow My rules.” So most of us have spent our Christian lives learning what we can’t do instead of celebrating what we can do in Jesus.

Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003), Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith

Psalm 119:45, “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.” 

Romans 8:20-21, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Live in your freedom as children of God!!

Behold the new!

The Phil you all have come to know in the pages of this blog is not the Phil I spent most of my life married to. When Phil was trapped in the sin of lust, it was evident in his actions and reactions. His reactions many times seemed exaggerated for the situations.  

I remember very early on in our marriage we got into a fight, I don’t remember what the fight was about (probably sex), but Phil got so mad that he punched the wall near our bed and put a fist size hole in it. That hole stayed there until we moved out and our landlord fixed it. That’s not the only hole he’s made as a result of anger. The house we currently live in has a hole in one of the doors. For most of our marriage I lived with the Phil that was angry a lot. 

Let me be clear, I never felt like I or the kids were in danger. He never hurt me (us) physically. There were emotional and mental scars however. There were times when he would make me feel so small. He would attack my ability as a homemaker, as a cook, as a wife and as a mom. Those attacks hurt so badly, but when I would show emotion, he would belittle me for crying. 

I mentioned sex before. That was what most of our fights were about. The infrequency and quality was always the problem, even though in my mind it wasn’t infrequent. I was rarely in the mood for intimacy because I didn’t feel loved or respected and I didn’t respect him. And I was exhausted from basically being a single parent (more on that below). 

I wasn’t the only one who had to deal with his anger though. I was always more concerned for our kids. I would try to shield them when I knew he was upset or I knew he was going to be upset. When he would come home from work,  I would send them to their rooms to play so he could have some peace. There were a few times I would leave the house and take the kids to the park to play if he came home in a particularly bad mood. 

We were in full-time ministry at the time and he worked extra long hours most days.  They were weird hours too as sometimes he would get calls in the middle of the night. There were ministry obligations that had to be taken care of and that took him away from us a lot. Even though this meant I was doing most of the parenting, I was ok with him being away from us. I dreaded him coming home. Even though we were in ministry, we rarely prayed together. As far as I knew, he never prayed for me. We weren’t in the Word together outside of church. We were really just going through the motions of a pastor’s family. We were dying inside. 

I began to find a pattern in his behavior and the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me that his mood was tied to his pornography use. If he started belittling me and yelling at the kids, it was almost guaranteed that he was struggling. I would approach him and ask if he had been having issues. Sometimes he would admit it and sometimes he would deny it. Sometimes I would just come right out and tell him I knew he was looking at porn. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing all of this to light and I’m grateful for the role he continues to play in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a saint. I definitely contributed to some of the issues we had. I was bitter and angry too, but I dealt with my anger differently. Even though our relationship was pretty unhealthy, there were some moments of good. Some moments of really good. We have lots of home videos and pictures to prove that we really loved each other and that he was a pretty good dad even during those more difficult times. Thankfully, our kids don’t remember very much about angry dad. 

The Lord had been working on Phil for a while, even before naturism. The atmosphere in our home had already begun to shift, but 2 ½ years ago I began to notice an even more drastic shift happening. My first indication that something was different about him was that I began to notice him treating me better. He stopped yelling. He started speaking to me with kindness and genuine interest. I noticed he was more patient with the kids. He was loving on them more. He started asking me how he could pray for me. I didn’t say anything to him about what I was noticing. I think I was afraid of jinxing it. 

Looking back I believe I was able to embrace naturism so quickly because of the changes I had seen in him. Today, I am married to a new man. He has the same name, the same physical DNA, but his spiritual DNA is different. He is the man of God I always wished he would be. Actually he is more than that. I have loved him for a very long time, but my love for him has grown exponentially through everything we’ve been through. The Phil of today is kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, caring, emotionally available and so much more. He encourages me constantly and makes me want to be a better person. I have so much respect for who he is. I am so grateful for him and honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world! How did I get so blessed??

Today, Phil prays for me regularly. As we are getting ready to sleep he often begins praying for our family or situations we are aware of. We talk through the Scriptures often. He takes care of me so well! Our kids have felt the shift too. It’s been amazing to watch how they have taken notice of the changes in us and have begun to make changes in themselves too. They are making their faith their own and that is such a cool thing to watch in your kids! We’ve gotten to have some really authentic conversations with them and in turn our family has grown much closer to each other. 

Every once in a while a situation will come up that makes my amygdala scream. I’ll expect Phil to act one way and when he doesn’t I’m reminded that the Lord has redeemed him. Phil will remind me in these moments that he isn’t that man anymore. The Lord has done an amazing work in Phil’s life and in mine and we feel so blessed to experience this life together! 

I don’t look at that hole in the door anymore with contempt. Today I look at it and I’m grateful that the man that made that hole has been made new. 

Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Revelation 21:5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”

Fear Not

Fear has been something I’ve always struggled with. I almost always go to the worst case scenario. As a mom that only increased. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, fear was part of my parenting style. This season in the world has been full of fear. It’s one of Satan’s most effective weapons. Believers and unbelievers alike fall prey to it. At the beginning of the chaos, I lived full of fear! I was downright crazy! I’m not proud of it. I liked the saying, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad philosophy, but I was using it try and justify my fear. It’s smart and even Biblical to prepare for hard times, both physically and spiritually. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (NLT) We see in Scripture times where the Lord warned of coming famine. What did the people do then? They prepared and stored up for the times when food would be scarce. There is wisdom in preparation.

Matthew 25:1-12 gives us this parable on being prepared, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’” (NASB)

When fear sets, there are 3 ways we can react. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You can freeze, flee or fight. I honestly think there is a time for each of these. I don’t think freezing in some scenarios makes you weak. Sometimes in dangerous moments, not moving can save your life. I don’t think fleeing some scenarios makes you a coward. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to walk (or run) away. In some scenarios, freezing or fleeing are wise decisions. I’ve had several conversations that could have developed into tell-all conversations, but in those moments I evaluated who I was talking to and either out of fear, or with wisdom, made the decision to freeze or flee and redirect the path the conversation was on. 

As for fighting, there are definitely scenarios where fighting is the wisest thing to do to push back the fear. This blog was started because Phil and I wanted to keep a record of our experiences. Fairly quickly we decided we also wanted to be able to share it to help people understand our reasoning and to share our research. Initially it may have been out of fear, but it turned into something we were preparing for. We are so grateful that we have this blog for that purpose, but we are also blown away and humbled that the Lord has used it to help others as well. It’s an honor to be used in this way!

At the beginning of this journey there was a lot of fear. Fear of being nude in front of others, fear of others finding out, fear of how this was really going to affect our family, and so much more. Over time though, that fear has turned into peace that what we are doing is not condemned by God, and our confidence in His goodness and blessings has grown immensely. This summer I was again struggling with the fear of being found out. At the Christian Naturist gathering I was speaking to one of the men about my fears and he showed me the “Nail to the Cross Prayer”. He walked me through it and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. If you are not familiar with it, here are the steps.

  1. Father, I bless my spirit to be prominent over my body and soul. 
  2. Father, I nail (thought, feeling, spirit, etc) to the Cross.
  3. Father, I break all agreements, known and unknown, that I have made with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) and I repent of joining with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.).
  4. Father, I ask that you send (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) away from me. 
  5. Father, what do you have to give me in place of (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.)?
  6. Listen to the Father to see what He has to give you to replace the thought, feeling, spirit, etc. 
  7. I seal (what the Father told me) in my spirit.

When I did this prayer I nailed fear to the cross and replaced it with joy. 

Here are some Scriptures that have helped me deal with fear. 

Psalm 34:4-5, “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” (NLT)

Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, A very ready help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (NASB)

John 14:26-27, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (NASB)

Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I have discovered that fear no longer has the hold on me that it did before. I always want what is best for my kids, but I’ve come to realize that I only have so much control over what happens to them. I can’t be with them 24/7, and honestly, even if I was, I’m still not going to be able to stop every bad or hard thing from happening to them. I always want to be able to control the narrative surrounding our journey in naturism, but I know that that too is out of our hands. The Lord is in charge of our lives and ultimately it is His will that will be done. I know that God wants good things for my kids, even when they have to go through hard things.

I know that God may use some hard things in our lives to bring about His plan. We’ve known several families who were confronted about naturism and went through very rough times in their lives because of it, but through their stories, I know that God used those times to bring blessing. We can worry and be afraid, or we can prepare and be ready for the roads the Lord will lead us down. When we are prepared for where the Lord wants to lead us and prepared for the attacks of Satan, we don’t have to fear them. In fact, it’s in some of those times that we get to experience an intimacy with the Lord that only comes through hard times and eventually the joy of the Lord. James 1:2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT)

The hope I have is found in Christ. It’s found in the love and sacrifice of giving His life for mine (and yours). It’s found in the miracle and majesty of an empty tomb. It’s found in the daily patience and forgiveness of a gracious Savior. It’s found in the hope and assurance of everlasting life when my time on earth is over. It’s found in the knowledge of Psalm 91:2-4, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (NLT)

Reflections on the Journey

It’s been 2 years since the crazy day in October when Phil told me he was a Christian naturist. Lately I’ve been reflecting on all that the last two years have held for us. Looking back, I’m blown away by the transformation that God has done, not only in our individual lives, but also the transformation that has taken place in our marriage, in our family, and in our spiritual lives. God has taken us on quite the spiritual ride!

This morning I was preparing dinner. Baking bread and putting soup in the crockpot. Since I wasn’t cooking bacon, I did all of this nude. I began remembering a time when I was uncomfortable being nude alone! Yes, really! Shortly after our talk in October 2019, Phil encouraged me to try to get comfortable being nude at home. I thought it was so weird! What if someone came to the door?? I remember the first time I opened the blinds in my laundry room and let the sun shine in (we have high windows and I am short so there was no chance anyone would see me). The sun felt so good!

Phil and I were laying in bed a couple nights ago unwinding before sleep. We have an open door policy at our house now. If the door is open or unlocked you are welcome to come in. If it is locked, go away. The other night, Phil and I reflected on what it was like at the beginning. I was terrified to be nude in front of our kids. I was afraid it would scar them for life! I remember sitting in our room in November of 2019 and Phil encouraging me to just go to the kitchen and get a drink while the kids were watching TV in the living room. I remember crying worrying about it. I remember our now 17 year old walking in our room while I was under the blanket and asking, “Are you naked?”. When I responded yes, instead of hugging me good night, he rolled his eyes and huffed and went upstairs. I was devastated! I remember having conversations with each of our boys telling them why we were changing our minds about the body and why we felt it was ok for us to walk around our house nude. They all understood. I remember the slow progress we made with them. Our daughter was still young enough that she didn’t have an issue with it at all. We have come a long way! Our children wander in and out of our room nightly now.- just to chill or to talk. They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them. None of them are walking around the house nude, but I consider it a win that they are seeing the body as normal.

They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them.

I remember our first trip to the naturist park in the middle of December. It had snowed the day before and we were praying for the sun to be out. God is so good and the sun was shining and it was a balmy 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer we got, the more nervous I became and started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. When we arrived we were met by the nicest man ever! He knew I was nervous and never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. On top of that he was (and is) a Jesus follower and I was so grateful for that! Even though we didn’t see many people that day, I am so grateful for the interaction and conversation we had with that man. I am convinced that the Lord used him to help me! I remember walking along one of the trails that day with nothing but my furry boots on and even with the cold temperature, we stayed on the trail for an hour before retreating to the hot tub. I remember feeling the sun on my whole body for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I remember jumping into the deep end with our naturist marriage retreat and how weirdly natural it felt to be with these fellow believers who also were enjoying letting the bodies God gave us breathe. Those people are amazing parts of my spiritual family now. I remember my first time on the nude beach and how awesome it felt to play in the waves and lay on the sand.

I remember all of the times we have been to the park and all the new friends we have made and all the fun. All the deep spiritual conversations we’ve had and all the encouragement given. When we aren’t there, we long to return.

God took something that was meant for evil (a pornography addiction) and turned it into good using naturism. That’s what God does if we will let him. If we will get out of the way and listen to the Lord, he will open new doors for us. He will show us his love and grace in ways we never could have imagined! I’m so grateful that he had prepared my heart and mind, even when I didn’t know it was happening, to be able to embrace my husband and this journey. Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 7, God used naturism to start me on a new spiritual path. I was stagnant and stale and really dry bones, but God challenged me in my thinking, starting here and it continues. Are you up for the challenge?

Save your money, sanity, and dignity!

Since being made free from my bondage to pornography (something I thought might never happen), I’ve been on a mission to help others experience the same kind of breakthrough. 

It grieves my heart (and probably God’s too) that so many are making a buck off of the freedom business. They promise success for a price. I’m convinced now more than ever that the solutions you pay for aren’t solutions at all, you will remain a paying customer or perhaps struggle less but still not be a fully free individual.

I want to be clear. These are good-hearted people honestly wanting to help others. I’m not against having a calling and a ministry and keeping the lights on. I’m even writing a book (very much a labor of love). I will charge a modest price for it, while the blog remains absolutely free. Some of the prices for learning how to break free (courses, coaching, etc.) are ridiculous! And I have a big problem with the software companies and their subscription based accountability. That’s highway robbery.

It’s something that should be free. There’s not a secret formula. No one should get rich off of another person’s misery.

I also have nothing against professional counseling and therapy. It is sometimes needed and can be very helpful. What I am saying is that my experience (and that of many people I’ve come to know) shows an easy path to freedom that shouldn’t and needn’t cost a dime.

So I want you to save your money. At the same time you’ll save your own sanity and restore your dignity in the process. I hate it when something sounds too good to be true. Often those are just scams. I’m aware this sounds a bit like that one of those advertisements, but it isn’t. I would argue that the others (and the examples shown above) are. Why? Because I’ve tried them and came up wanting. They didn’t work. They are man-made strategies that are ineffective. They are behavior based. They are coping mechanisms. We weren’t meant just to cope! Avoidance makes us hyper vigilant and does nothing to solve the root issues. Freedom is not something you can white knuckle and just try hard through your own will power or through accountability. You can’t be guilted or shamed into freedom.

I’ve read more in the last couple of years than I ever have before. I’ve made it a point to read books that I know do not contain the answers they claim to have, just so I can see what is being put out there to try and help people. Even those that say they are different tend to rehash the same tired ideas, and it breaks my heart!

Compared to my own experience, everything that is suggested by conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is entirely too cumbersome and hard work, which leaves you in another type of bondage altogether. It’s not freedom. The authors or “experts” often concede that you will still have triggers and warn against relapses, even if you follow their plan. If you aren’t truly free you can always find ways to cheat the system. Until you’re free, the best of these techniques will continue to disappoint.

Please hear that not everything in these resources is bad. Many are in fact very good, but don’t go far enough in getting you to think differently about the body and your fellow image bearers. Most still have an underlying deep seated dualism that at the core sees the body as bad and the spirit as good. This goes against the correct view of Imago Dei that has our bodies and souls intertwined. The gnostic heresies of old are back with a vengeance, and many are caught unaware.

Many are starting to speak out about the damages done by purity culture and its teachings, which have even left many with actual PTSD! Others go deeper to explore why you have this compulsion in the first place. They say if you go back in your story or history and learn to be kind to yourself, you can start the hard work of recovery. That could be a good exercise, but the fact is we are broken and need to be fixed, restored, dare I say redeemed. It’s my opinion that tragically none of these offer an ideal solution to bring about healing and bringing about complete sexual integrity. They stop shy of the goal, a renewed mind that sees others as God sees them. When you let God do the work, he finishes the job aside from your own efforts. The result will be zero desire for anything that objectifies another person.

While I may do a series of book by book constructive critique posts, I’ll demonstrate my attitude before obtaining freedom of the grip of lust and porn on my heart to the new way that I experience daily life.

THIS OR THAT

I remember the story at the beginning of “Every Man’s Battle” where the author recounts getting in a car wreck because he was looking at a lady jogging while he was driving. That was a wake up call for him, and an effective hook for the book. I could relate to that as I, too, used to typically feast on whatever visual stimuli was available at any moment. It was my automatic because I thought and was told it was every man’s automatic. Now that my mind has been miraculously renewed, I see the world through new eyes. Noticing is not a sin, nor is appreciating beauty; the sin is a lustful intent, coveting what is not yours, and objectifying another human being.

Today, I may notice a woman who has the body most women would dream of having, but what I focus in on is truly intriguing. Maybe she has some fake eyelashes, and out of love and compassion, I pray for her in my head: “Why do you feel the need to wear fake lashes and such heavy make up? You don’t need this stuff to feel secure!” You better believe that’s a whole lot better than the thoughts I used to have.

Then I may see another woman who has a more normal body shape out running, and my heart goes out to her as well: “Good for you for becoming more healthy, but do you know that you are beautiful just the way you are?” No matter what the situation, I see women as whole persons with a life, and a story, and quite possibly one full of insecurities. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I used to gaze at others with the look of a predator. I wasn’t technically a predator, but every woman was visual prey- not all the time, but often enough! This is how I was conditioned to be, and I hid it well. I didn’t want to be that way. I felt guilty about it, but I didn’t know how to replace that thinking with something better.

It takes both a realization and admission of this depraved reality to get better. Thankfully, having acknowledged that terrible condition, now I see myself as a protector of all women. Temptation used to be literally everywhere. Now temptation in this area is absolutely nowhere. It may seem over simplified, but here’s what I believe. When you really boil things down, a man is either be a predator or a protector. I don’t normally like to be so binary, categorizing people in their thinking as either a one or zero. Life is more nuanced than that. Not everything can be black or white due to various shade of gray. However, at the heart level, I stand by these two distinctions and say a man is either this or that. Even if he is a passive onlooker, that is predatory behavior, because he is not protecting his fellow image bearers. Hear me. This isn’t discounting the strength of women. It’s protecting the dignity that comes with women reflecting one half of the image of God. This isn’t toxic masculinity. It’s simply a call for men to take responsibility and stop the blame game once and for all.

Protect the dignity of the women around you. It’s what God did with Hagar. It’s what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery (what ever happened to the man?), and Mary Magdalene. The Lord is a protector of people. He comes down hard against those who would use and abuse others.

Stay tuned for more and further exploration of the woefully inadequate solutions the church is proposing today to address this issue.

P.S. Of course, my go to resource to recommend (aside from this blog) is mychainsaregone, and it’s free too!

Treasured

We all know that feeling. We arrive at the area pool with our kids just hoping to get a couple hours of relaxation while they swim with their friends. Instead, the second we walk through the gate we are bombarded with the thoughts. “Wow, she looks great! How does she have 3 kids and still look like that? I have three kids, (or 2 or 1) and I look like a beached whale!” “I should have bought the black bathing suit.” “I should have just worn my shorts instead of this bathing suit.” “Ugh, why do I have to be so fat?” “I shouldn’t have eaten my birthday cake for the last 40 years. I hate myself for eating that cake.”  Anyone else have this experience or one similar? I know it’s not just me. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely yes! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We aren’t all going to look the same in the process of caring for our bodies though. I am never going to weigh 140lbs but I can do healthy things to care for my body at 200lbs. Would God love me more at 140lbs? God’s love is not earned or lost. A good, loving parent doesn’t stop loving their child because of bad choices they make, or weight they gain. A loving parent continues to love that child! When our children are struggling is when we most want to wrap them up and snuggle them until they feel better. It’s when we want to speak words of life into their little (or big) hearts and spirits. In the same way when we are struggling, the Lord wants to comfort us! He wants to take our faces in His hands as he looks deeply into our eyes and tells us, “You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!” 

“You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”

I want to be seen like that! I want to see myself like that! I want to know I am a beautiful child of God who is known and loved and treasured! Not only that, I want to see others that way! For a long time, most of my life in fact, I was very judgmental. I know I’ve talked about this in the past. I love that the veil has been lifted from my eyes and I no longer look at people the same. God, give me your eyes to see your children the way you see them! Help me to see past the superficial things and ways of the world and into the heart and soul of those around me. Show me the hurting, the lost, the confused, the tired, the worn and weary and use me to pour out your love to them. 

Can we have and develop empathy like this without naturism? Absolutely yes and many have! For me, though, God used naturism to open my eyes to what my attitude was like. No matter how we dress, sweat pants and a t-shirt, jeans and blouse, or jacked up for the red carpet, people are going to make assumptions about us based on our clothing. But clothes don’t make the person. We are all way more than the clothes we put on everyday. My clothes don’t show you what’s in my heart. My clothes don’t show you what my values are. You can only truly know who I am by connecting with me on a more personal level. Finding out what we have in common. With naturism right off the bat we know we have that in common and it opens the door for more conversations and relationship building. We have met so many amazing people at the naturist resort we frequent. Friendships are being built. Lives are being shared. We need each other on so many levels! 

As I type this we are at a Christian naturist gathering. There are around 50 of us here. This week we have worshipped together, prayed together, fellowshipped together, eaten together, and grown together. While our official worship sessions are over for the week, the relationship building continues. Some of these people I am meeting for the very first time, but we already have an instant connection without knowing anything else about each other. As Christian naturists we are like-minded in that we believe we have all been created in the image of God and we are living that out by hiding nothing during this week of iron sharpening iron. We have spent hours in the pool enjoying the sunshine and discussing Scripture while all the kids splashed around. I imagine that is a picture of what heaven might be like except maybe Jesus will be floating around with us! There is no judgement here. There is love, acceptance, respect and appreciation for the bodies that God has given us. God is in this place with us. You can feel him. You can see him in the image bearers that are here desiring a deeper relationship and walk with the Father! God may not walk with us in the cool of the day in the same way he did with Adam and Eve, but there is no denying that he longs to be with us and is pleased when his children draw near to him.  I believe in the same way we long to return to a Garden of Eden existence with God, he longs for that too! Until the day he returns for us, we are aching for Eden together. 

Happy Birthday!

We’ll have a regular blog post tomorrow, but today we wanted to have a special post to celebrate one year of Aching for Eden.

Thank you so much for reading. When we started this site a year ago, we had no idea if anyone would read or not! We’ve been blown away by the response, and we’d like to thank you for your continued interest.

We also are happy to announce that Phil is working on a book that chronicles our journey. More on that later, but we just wanted to announce that it is being written. For updates on this and everything else, be sure to subscribe to the page. That would make for a great and happy birthday! (You can follow us on the side bar or on the homepage.)

What’s been your favorite post? Let us know, or please comment below if you have any ideas for us as we move forward.

Seeing as God Sees

“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)

This verse is more true than we think it is. We do not see people as God sees them. In the context of 1 Samuel 16, you have a perfect example of this being played out. The singer Ray Boltz described it this way in his song:

One by one,
Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet,
Their father knew a king would soon be found,
Each one passed except the last,
No one thought to call him,
For surely he would never wear a crown.
But when others see a shepherd boy,
God may see a king

How does this play out in real life? We are conditioned by the world around us to see through the lenses of the world. It’s oftentimes a harsh, petty, shallow, and judgmental world. Snap judgments are made instantaneously, many times based on how someone is dressed or other superficial details we observe. We are unaware of how prone we are to agree with the standards of the environment we live in. God calls us to be aliens in a foriegn land (1 Peter 2:11). Being holy as God is holy means being set apart (1 Peter 1:16).

The whole goal of Christianity is to become more Christ-like. Philippians 2 begins this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) The context continues showing how Jesus lowered himself, not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself, and gave himself for others. John 15:13 ESV  states that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Furthermore, we see this beautiful example and exhortation in 1 John 3:16 NIV- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

True love is extending one’s self to serve others. I see the spousal love analogy (of a man giving himself in love to his bride) as a beautiful picture or image of how Christ gave of himself and sacrificed for his bride. He even said, “This is my body, which is for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Your highest calling as a Christian (how Jesus summarized both the Law and the Prophets) is to love God with everything and then love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). How can we do this effectively? One thing we need to do is to stop seeing others the way the world does, and instead start seeing them the way God does.

Brandon Heath was on to something when he penned the words of his song:

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missin’
Give Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

One last beautiful example is from Genesis 16. Abram and barren Sarai are trying to take God’s promise of being the fathers of a great nation into their own hands. They convince their slave Hagar to conceive a child for Abram. When she is pregnant, Sarai begins to mistreat her, to the point that she runs away. In the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to the elements, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort her. He tells her to go back, and promises Ishmael (when born) will also have a great number of descendants as well. Verses 13-14 are often glossed over, but they contain the point I am trying to make.

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (meaning well of the Living One who sees me.); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14 NIV)

Hagar was a slave woman, forced to conceive a child for her master, mistreated by her mistress to the point that she would run away to the desert to die. This is a person that the world has chewed up and spit out, so to speak. But God saw her. It affected her so profoundly that when others would turn a blind eye, God would see her. 

One of humanity’s greatest needs is to love and be loved and to be seen (noticed, valued and appreciated). Steve Pokorny writes about having your vision redeemed (See book Redeemed Vision). His thesis is that we live in a pornified culture and are blinded by several messages the world bombards us with, that contradict the truth of how God sees us and others. Like the blind man in Mark 10:51, we too should cry out, “Master, Let me receive my sight.”

My mother knows that I am a naturist. The other day, she heard me preach in church about how I overcame the problem of lust in my heart and mind. We spoke a little more afterward about our plans for vacation in a naturist park, where we will gather with many other Christians and have daily times of worship and devotional thoughts and incredible fellowship. “And you’re all naked? How can you do that? You say there’s no lust? I can’t wrap my head around it.” she would say. I replied, “I know. That’s the problem.” This way of seeing others is crucial not just in naturism, although it was naturism that was a catalyst for my change in thinking about a great number of things. You have to see others the way God sees them (Imago Dei, made in his own image). He loves them. He doesn’t lust. You also can’t lust after someone and be loving (serving) them at the same time. 

Sadly, my mom went on to say that she doesn’t even like to see her own body, and called it ugly. This breaks my heart. Because I know that when God sees her, he sees a beautiful person, survivor of breast cancer with a mastectomy, a work of art not just on the outside, but also on the inside. God sees the whole person for who they are and what value they bring to humanity. I see my mom the way God sees her. I only wish she could see herself that way. It’s the way I look at everyone now. I know I’m not God, but should that stop me from trying to be more like Him?