A Wrong Turn Gone Right

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And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 

Have you ever wondered if God still works ALL things together for our good when we screw up - intentionally or unintentionally.  This is something I struggle with.  It causes me to lose faith when I make a bad decision, take a wrong turn in life, say something I knew I shouldn't have.  It causes me to wonder if God is still  going to work all things for my good.  The short answer that I've found is - yes - He will and He does.

Once a year, my friends and I hold an all-night prayer session.  We always start the first hour with praise and thanksgiving.  One of the things we reflect on is our favorite thing about God - our favorite character trait.  Hands down mine is His ability to redeem anything.  I probably pray the simple prayer, "Jesus, please redeem this," many times a week.  I've learned in any situation, even if it's my fault or disobedience or carelessness, He can redeem it.

 I have so many examples of God redeeming situations, but one of my favorite's that I think of often is when my girls and I were on vacation earlier this summer.  It was just the 3 of us in a foreign Caribbean country.  We were very much out of our element and for this reason, used a taxi everywhere we went.  One day, however, someone had told us of a popular beach about a half mile to a mile away.  Since it was "just around the corner," we decided to walk.  I don't think there are words for how hot and muggy it was.  It was miserable anywhere outside of a beach.  So we take off on our walk - the wrong way - around the wrong corner.  And of course, we don't realize it until we had gone really far and ended up at a dead end in an overgrown field.  Instead of a popular, thriving beach - we were met with tall grass and mosquitoes.  Oops!  Needless to say, I had 2 very unhappy campers on my hands since the walk was my idea in the first place.  As usual, I prayed my prayer for redemption, that somehow, some way God would redeem this sticky (literally) situation.  And did He ever answer that prayer!  Across the field, I could see that it dropped off.  I managed to talk the kids into walking through the tall grass (not a single person in sight - kind of scary) to see what was over the cliff.  After much (more) grumbling, we walked over to the edge of the field and looked down to see a beautiful, secluded beach.  We climbed down rocks and made our way to what became known as our "private" beach.  It was the highlight of our entire vacation.  The kids barely remember the wrong turn, the tall grass, the mosquitoes, their tired legs - but they remember every detail of "our" beach.  This beach had shells unlike any others on the entire island and the seclusion made it so special.  Isn't it just like Our Redeemer to turn my wrong turn into the best part of our trip?  And doesn't He do that so often in our lives?

 

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It's such a reminder to me as I walk this journey God has placed me on that He's working ALL things for good ALL the time - in spite of my mistakes.  

I'd love to hear your stories of redemption.  They are truly my favorite.

   

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Rosh Hashanah Fast 2017

 

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Hello Sumites!

Dawn here.  Welcome to the annual SUM Rosh Hashanah fast.

Many of you may remember last year’s fast.  I am honored and thrilled to be leading it again this year.  It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed.  I can’t wait to share the amazing things that God has been up to in my life and hear the amazing things He’s been up to in yours.  I am excited to spend this week lifting each other up in prayer and encouraging each other as we spend this special time fasting together.

What is Rosh Hashanah?  I’m going to share straight from Google because I don’t want to butcher this.  In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.  Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. 

I don’t about you, but the “Days of Awe” gets me so excited.   I love that it represents a new year.  I, for one, am all for fresh beginnings.

So for these "days of awe," what awe inspiring things are you praying for this week?

Psalm 37:4

Take delight in the Lord,  and he will give you the desires of your heart.

What desires has God placed in your heart?  The ones that He just won’t let you shake.  That, my friends, is what this week is all about.

Let’s start this fast with gusto – praying and fasting for the promises, the miracles, the desires of our hearts.

Who’s with me?  Remember, you can fast in many ways.  Pray about the best fast for you this week.  I will be fasting from dinner each night and snacking between meals until sundown on Friday.

As a reminder to myself, because I always struggle with this - fasting is not about strong-arming God.  It's about standing in faith against impossible situations.  It's about walking in victory and claiming God's plans and promises for you and your family - no matter how long they take.  It's about breaking strongholds that have kept you captive for way too long.  Let this be your motivation when hunger pangs strike and temptation sets in.

Love you all and again – so excited to share this journey with you.

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Raising Up Generations

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Being the mother of a toddler and kindergartner can certainly keep me on my toes. I am so thankful for the grace of Jesus; He is so merciful - Knowing that I don’t always have to have it all together, that I can be perfectly imperfect in my efforts to be the best mom I can be. As many of the SUMites here have experienced; raising children in a spiritually mismatched household can throw in a set of challenges that other Christian families may not face.

By the time my daughter was born almost 6 years ago, it was evident that my husband was agnostic. I was so thankful that he gave me his blessing to raise our daughter (and now our 22-month-old son) as a Christian. He has gone as far as standing with me as our children were dedicated to the Lord at our church and participating in prayer time. While he supports me as I guide our children to follow Jesus, he has reiterated time and time again that he will not play an active role in shaping our children spiritually.

As a new wife and mother, I held onto hope that my husband would ‘come to his senses’, so to speak, and take on this leadership role. I placed unrealistic expectations upon him, when he had made it abundantly clear from the beginning that he would not be fulfilling the role of spiritual leader in our home. As you can imagine, and likely have experienced, this unfulfilled longing can leave one feeling unimportant and cast aside. My actions and words relayed to him that he was not measuring up as a husband and father, when what he needs to hear is that he is loved beyond measure just the way he is. It was only after pressing deeply into my relationship with the Lord to fill my every need that I could see this clearly.

My job as a mother is to love unconditionally and model to my children a loving relationship between husband and wife. If I am not allowing the Lord to set the precedence for my each and every day, to build me up and become the foundation for my life, then I am unable to be this example for my precious little ones. God is the ultimate father and spiritual leader. Who should I turn to with this longing than the source Himself? I came to a point in my walk where I was ready to allow God to work within me so that I could begin to be this Godly example, regardless of where my husband happens to be in his own journey.

The more I have delved into my walk with Christ, the more I have realized an amazing truth; the modeling of a God-fearing spirit to our children is important for generations to come. We can become hyper-focused on life’s current circumstances and our immediate surroundings, very much self-absorbed instead of God-absorbed. Let’s try to readjust our perspective to see that we are on a God-appointed mission to change the trajectory of entire familial lines. The Lord has sent you to be an influence in the lives of a line of people that had no prior recognition of Jesus Christ. This is a huge deal! The gift of eternity! Allow God to work on the heart of your spouse while you ‘train up your children in the way they should go’ (Proverbs 22:6)!

The following are a few verses that speak of the blessings that we pass to future generations when we are obedient to the Lord and his teachings:

Genesis 22: 17-18

I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.

Psalm 112: 1-3
Praise the 
Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.

Luke 1:49-50

For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.

I will continue steadfastly in this walk with my children, my husband at my side, with a hope in my heart that we, along with ALL our future descendants, will spend eternity together worshiping the King of Kings. It is my prayer that each SUMite comes to a place in his or her journey where fulfillment is found solely in Christ Jesus, not in another human being. If we continue to chase a mere man (or woman) to fill the role of our Messiah, then we will always be left feeling empty. Let us release all our need to control to our Father (Proverbs 19:21)! Allow God to bless you today, that you may lead your little ones to follow Him, and to sense a supernatural peace in your heart as you continue onward.

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)

 

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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My Fearless Child in a Mismatched Marriage

Patty Tower and Family 2017SUMite, Patty Tower:

Thank the Lord. Although my husband and I are not on the same page spiritually, we see eye to eye when it comes to parenting.

Whether with a Christian background or not, one of the things we agree on in life is…fear limits us and inhibits us. Maybe you don’t agree on other things with your spouse while you parent, but perhaps you can agree that fear or producing fear is a bad thing.

My husband’s latest obsession has been mountain biking on the outskirts of where we live in Seattle. To gain more quality family time, we found a way for my 2.5-year-old son to be included in this newfound recreational activity.

The place where we go has a dirt pump track park, where kids and adults, anywhere from three years and older use it as a practicing playground on their bikes before they head into the woodsy area of the mountain. I do not sense a feeling of insecurity or hesitancy from my son at this park, where I find him hanging out with the big kids.

Of course, it’s not without falling the first several attempts of him riding up and down this track. And like anyone, he did not like to fall. Watching my son go, and almost as the Holy Spirit led me, immediately I clap and cheer, hearing myself say “Good Fall Levi! Great fall! You fell so well!”

I am chuckling as I write this, because even my husband thought I was weird.  

My husband looks over at me and asks, “Why would you praise him for falling? It’s like you’re telling him it’s ok to fall.”

“Because it is. I don’t want him to be afraid of falling. He makes mistakes and can learn and become better, right?”

And like that, my husband nods and totally gets me.

Someone once told me “The great thing about failure is that we create neuropathways when we fail. The more we fail, the more we force the neuropathway to grow. At a certain point the pathway is created and then practice of that same task creates a coating (myelin) that helps the pathway remain strong. I think it's great that God created the brain to create and expand through failure, not through success.”

Isn’t that awesome? Our God, our creator, created us to be strong through failure.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Sumite Parenting

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This weekend marked the passage of another year in my parenting journey and the turning of yet another page. My oldest child turned 14 and suddenly I realized that my sweet little goober has become more like a man and less like a boy. I say this with a twinge of sadness but also with a rush of excitement for what our future holds. Then I realize this is the perfect time to reflect and share the single most important thing that I've ever done for him and my daughter.

As a child there was no religion in my home, however, I was blessed with one set of extremely faithful grandparents. They radiated the love and kindness of Christ in every corner of their lives. Fast forward many years, I met my future husband at the age of nineteen, married by twenty one and had my son by twenty two. When he was born, I was still a child in so many ways but I knew one thing. I wanted to raise him in the home that was modeled by my grandparents and the first step toward that goal was finding a church. I asked my husband for permission to raise him in the church and he allowed it but promised never to join us. That was the beginning of my journey as a parent in an unequally yoked marriage. During those early years, I learned that simply going to church wasn't enough. I needed to learn what it meant to be made a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). In that moment I made the best parenting decision of my life, I dedicated all that I knew of myself to all that I knew of Christ. I know that sounds lofty but let me share the practicalities of that choice.

I began by asking God to provide us with a church-home then I committed to regular attendance and involvement outside of the worship hour. I know that's a really hard one for us but I cannot overemphasize the importance of gathering with a body of believers. It will be hard and at times you will feel like an odd duck but do not let the enemy keep you in a place of isolation. That's his favorite weapon to use against this fellowship of Christ-followers. Ask God to knock down any walls that stand in your way, ask him to soften your spouse’s heart to the idea and know that you are supported by the prayers of this Sumite community. Persevere and make church attendance a priority for you and your children. (Hebrews 10:25)

Another small change that had a gigantic impact on my progression was the decision to listen to only Christian music. I’ve learned that the Lord clearly speaks through worship artists. The lyrics often confirm messages that I’ve heard from other sources and aide in the healing of some of my deepest wounds. My pastor once said that the root of the word music is “muse” meaning to think or ponder. That is one purpose of worship music, to point our hearts and minds toward God and keep us focused on Jesus Christ.

Even more important than church attendance or choice of music is your own inner relationship with the life giving King, Jesus Christ. Perhaps begin by setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would. Wake up before your family and settle down with your Bible and a journal. Begin each morning with Him and allow the power of the Spirit to fill your soul. It’s also helpful to seek out a few online devotionals and begin to fill your email inbox with his word. Saturate your heart with the living words of God and he will never abandon you. John 15:4

I hope you see the point to all of this, we are called to make Christ the focus and center of our minds. I know it seems counter-intuitive for us as Sumite parents. The enemy wants us to believe that it's impossible, that we are too different, that our marriages are too hard, that we can't possibly be strong enough to raise authentic followers of Jesus Christ. I'm telling you now that the enemy is a liar and we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:31-39) If you stand up today and tell God that you want to devote your entire being to him then HIS Spirit will begin the work in your heart, taking you from lesson to lesson, transforming you into the image of Christ. In time, your husband and family will be transformed by the power of Spirit and no force on earth can stop that progression. This sold out dedication to Jesus Christ has been the most important aspect of my journey as a parent. I am a flawed and broken sinner just like every other human, so I cannot do this without the indwelling of the Spirit of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I think that God is raising a generation of believers who contain a faith, passion and obedience like no other generation. He has chosen our generation of fathers and mothers to parent these children. We are called to focus on Jesus Christ and model the same faith that Lois and Eunice modeled for Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:5) Will you choose to focus on Jesus Christ then allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you as your faith impacts the next generation?

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)

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Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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