Jaci Velasquez doesn't have a boyfriend. In fact, she doesn't even date. But she's given her wedding a whole lot of thought.
"I just plan my wedding all the time," Jaci says. "Probably about 20 times a month."
Her ideas about dresses, flowers, and colors for her wedding are constantly changing. That's OK, since Jaci's only 17 years old. But one thing isn't changing about the young recording artist's plans — she's going to remain sexually pure until that time.
"I have a friend in Michigan who's 14, and she and her baby both have full-blown AIDS," Jaci says. "You look at that and it makes you realize there's something definitely wrong. It could have been avoided. It didn't have to happen."
That tragedy prompted Jaci to write "I Promise," one of the songs on her debut album on Myrrh Records, A Heavenly Place. It's a song about her pledge to God to remain sexually pure for her husband.
The chorus says, "So I promise to be true to You/To live my life in purity/As unto You/Waiting for the day/When I hear You say/Here is the one I have created/Just for you."
"I hope to communicate that saving yourself for marriage is not a negative thing," Jaci says. "And it's a lot more romantic, anyway ... when you do save yourself for that one person God has for you. To say, 'Here I am. I belong to you now.'"
But sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies are not the only reason to save sex for marriage. "Look at the Bible," Jaci says. "Sure, no bad things may happen, but you know, and God knows."
Jaci is getting a larger audience for her message all the time. Her first two singles, "If This World" and "Flower in the Rain," each rocketed to number one.
Right now, she's touring in England and Europe. Because she has a lot of people watching her, "I want to stay above reproach and not give anybody a reason to think of me in a bad way," she says.
But her success in Christian music doesn't change who she is, and she wants her fellow teenagers to know that. "It takes a lot," Jaci says about facing sexual temptation. "I struggle with it every day. It's normal. ...
"I'm there just to encourage people my age," she says. "To say, 'I put up with the same things you do. But we can make a difference if we do stand together.'"
Jaci comes from a strong Christian home. The youngest of five children, she says having her family's support helps in the battle for sexual purity. But, Jaci says, even if her family wasn't behind her, she bears the responsibility for the way she lives her life. "You're the one who decides. You make the choice," she says.
She knows that people mess up. She knows there are those who haven't kept themselves pure for marriage. But she also knows there's a God who cares.
"He is forgiving," Jaci says. "If you've already messed up, that's OK. God forgives and forgets. But you still have to try."
That's what she's doing — trying, trusting, waiting. As her song says, "Until then, 0 Lord/I will be content/Knowing that true love will come someday/It will only come from You."