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23 entries from December 2009

Praying and Fasting Together

Handstogether Several of my friends and I pray each year for a word from God. It's been an interesting journey to see how God unfolds the year according to his early revelation.

And that's what 2009 was for me. My word for last year was REVELATION. I think I'm still in this state as God shows me more and more what's deep inside of my heart and what needs to change.

So, again I've prayed for my word for 2010. I clearly heard SUBMISSION. And again I am in awe of God's ways. He spent a year revealing what needs to change, and now the work will come, to clean out these areas, to break strongholds, to submit to his direction.

Part of this will be fasting next week. This will probably be the most difficult area for me—to overcome my resistance to this area of discipline and the enemy who inevitably slams me each time I try. He's succeeded in deterring me from fasting for a long time, and I know some of the breakthroughs I need can only come through submission to this discipline.

It won't be easy. In fact, I think this will be one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Ever. But I'm standing before you with a commitment to do this according to how God is leading me specifically to fast. And I'm standing under his shadow of protection and against the enemy to say, I will not shy away from this anymore. I will not accept the enemy's attempts to defeat me. God is stronger and God lives in me. I will persevere through Jesus.

So I humbly ask, will you join me in confronting those areas of your life that keep us from experience God's full blessing in our lives? Will you join me in this fight for freedom? I will pray for you, please pray for me. I'm so very weak, but I know God's grace is sufficient for us. He keeps reminding me of that! And I believe together we can succeed.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Thankful Thursday - Can I be thankful for THAT?

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

December we are meeting at Women Taking A Stand. In January we will be giving thanks in the new year, right here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I can't wait.

_____

Wow, the last day of 2009. What a year it has been. Many of you have shared the fantastic and divinely appointed journey of the Donovan Clan. We experienced many extreme challenges and struggles. We faced some deep fears and financial setbacks. 

 But! 

 ~Don’t you always love that there is a but in the story? 

God proved His faithfulness. Mostly He showed this broken and messed up bunch of people just how mighty and awesome He really is. God astounded us with answers to prayer and miraculous provisions. 

Yet, as I sat with Him this morning instead of feeling joy, I felt pain. I felt the sting of rejection and unworthiness. 

Why is it after all these years walking with Jesus the actions of people still can hurt so deeply? 

You see, I wasn’t included. I wasn’t asked to the party. The party was discussed around me but I was left out. And I was left out by the very people who are suppose to love and care about me. 

I think the Lord showed me this pain to remind me of how many of you feel pain. You feel pain because you weren’t invited to the party. You were left out. You were talked about, disrespected, and then left by the wayside. 

If you read my story over the past year and felt anger or hurt because your marriage has not changed. If you are wounded because your husband remains distant and hostile to Christ, I know you. 

I see you. I feel your pain. I will never forget all the years of crying for my marriage and the pleading for salvation of my husband. 

The LORD will never allow me to forget. Do you know why? 

Because I know how you feel and the Lord knows I will never stop praying for you. 

My journey is certainly not finished. As I talked to the Lord this morning about my pain, He reminded me of the vast amount of work still to be done in my heart and character. This pain was necessary to keep my mind on all of you and my focus on Jesus Christ.

I am thankful. 

Happy New Year! I love you. Lynn 

PS. Please join us for the week of fasting that begins Sunday. Stop back tomorrow for more information. This week will make a difference in your life for the entire year of 2010. That’s a promise! 

Don't forget, join me next Thursday as I will host Thankful Thursday for the month of January! Hugs.

*Update: It's funny. Just as I hit the publish button, an email arrived with a party invitation. God is too cool and it's nice to be asked!  

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2010: A New Year - A New Hope - A New Beginning

Every year, during the first full week in January, our church holds a corporate fast. It is our week of Solemn Assembly, based on Joel 2:15: "Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly..." 

We do this as a way to begin our year in the presence of God, seeking Him for directions, breakthroughs, revelation, whatever we may be in need of. This is a time for us to really draw close to the heart of God and to really experience Him in the most intimate of ways. 

In His Word, the Lord speaks of fasting on many occasions, even giving instructions as to how we are to present ourselves as we go through the fasting process. He says that fasting and praying should be a regular part of the Believer's life and that some things only come by fasting and prayer. As a matter of fact, even when Christ lived among man, scripture says he fasted 40 days and 40 nights before he faced his adversary, the devil. 

Fasting is an act of humility and total dependence on God. It shows our deep yearning to see Him work in our lives, in whatever way we need at any given time. When we deny our bodies the very food they need in order to function, we say to God that He is so important in our lives, that we want His will so completely, that EVERYTHING else is secondary to being more intimately connected with Him. We are putting aside our need, in order to honor His desire that we abide in Him and allow Him to be our everything. 

Won't you join us this year? 

Our fast will begin Sunday, January3rd, 2010 and will end at Midnight, Friday January 8, 2010. We are asked to fast at least one meal per day - typically the evening meal, and to forgo entertainment television (news, weather, etc, would be considered exempt from this). The time we would normally spend engaged in these activities should be spent in prayer/meditation/study of God's word, the goal is that the time we spend doing these things is focused totally on drawing closer to God. Don't worry that it has to be done exactly as our body does it. This is between you and God. Do as He leads you. For some, He will require more. Some less. Some different times, some not at all. And that's ok. What matters is that you seek Him in earnest, with a sincere heart. 

Each day there will be a different area of focus. I will do a short post detailing the days focus and anything the Holy Spirit leads me to share. You are encouraged to journal and to comment. Share your experiences and the things the Lord might share that would be beneficial to those on the journey with us. 

Happy New Year and I will meet you here in a day or two. Get ready! 

Rosheeda Lee

 Brandnewyear2010  

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Christmas 2011?

Dream Last week I wrote a post about daring to dream. This past week I and my family have taken a step in this direction, to take a desire and dare to dream it.

We have talked for years about spending Christmas in New York City. My mother is from there and has many fond memories of Christmas in the city. She came all the way from Florida to spend Christmas with us, and the idea came up again. This year I decided to push for a date. Why not dare to make a dream a reality?

So, God willing, I and my family will spend Christmas 2011 in New York. We've set the date and will now work toward this goal, to make a dream a reality. And my first step is to commit this to prayer and put it in God's hands, because you would not believe how God loves to make your dreams come true.

I've seen him do it in my life many times, even with dreams I'd forgotten about. But he didn't. As a teenager I had many dreams, small and large. And over the last ten years I've watched God bring almost all of them to reality. Some were small things like visiting a city in Europe that had the same name as my maiden name. And just this year, to design bookcovers. That one I'd totally forgotten about until my mother reminded me. And just this month, another dream came true. That one I'll share with you soon.

God loves to delight and wow us. He knows our hearts, he knows our dreams, he knows not only what we need but what we long for. When he is the center of our lives, our dreams become possible because they are centered in him with potential. They are opportunities to live in his grace and proclaim his glory.

And in the revelation of our dreams we see they are only possible because God is the One who brought them to reality. He not only created us, he created these dreams deep in our hearts so that one day he could show us just how precious we are to him.

So, I'm daring to dream and trust God with the outcome of a dream to spend Christmas in NYC. And if I can dare to dream for something like this, I realized I can dare to dream of a future with my sweet hubby walking in faith, and knowing God intimately. I will dare to dream this too.

How about you? What are you dreaming of?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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I Have a Serious Question for You.

Are you ready for healing?

Do you think as Christians most of the time we think of heavenly healing as a cure of a physical ailment? I believe we do and I know God miraculously heals people of physical sickness and disease. I also know God heals us from their emotional and mental injuries.

What I am discovering right now is the Lord is calling me to a year of healing. Healing specific to my physical condition(s). But, it is actually healing of my emotional issues as well.

I was talking with Dineen on the phone today. We were discussing how our weight gain is attributed to stress. Mine; unemployment. Hers; her daughter’s cancer and resulting heath issues.

How many of us medicate ourselves with food. I will own up and admit, I DO. Now let me tell you something that is hard to share. My bad habits began many years ago. I have thought long and hard about why I find myself with the struggles I face today.

I will admit that when I moved to California ten years ago, I found myself in a deep loneliness. My husband was far away from God and he was also on the road five days a week. I moved to a new town, leaving my career, family, and friends behind. I became a stay-at-home mother without any idea what to do with my high-energy self. I found myself eating too much and drinking a glass of wine at night to mask my loneliness. You can see how easily and seemingly harmless our bad habits begin.

I don’t want to skip over this point… Every spouse I have ever talked with who lives in a spiritually mismatched marriage, has battled with loneliness. It’s an odd paradox to be lonely and married.

I must caution you to recognize your stage of a spiritually mismatched marriage. You will likely experience loneliness. Now please don’t do what I did. I ate and drank to mask the hurt in my heart. Please turn to Christ.

But how do we really do this?

Why Don’t Diets Work?

Diet’s don’t work because we don’t cure the spiritual maladies of our soul.

Let me be specific. I needed healing of bad habits from years ago. Although I am no longer lonely, I still struggle with the years of reinforced bad habits and cravings.

After praying for several months now, I have heard the Lord calling me to healing. He has helped me to see that the emotional and spiritual part of this healing is completely up to Him and Him alone. The scripture verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I don’t think I really understood this verse until now. His grace is sufficient. Nothing else is going to help me~ only His grace. Not only that, His power will be displayed through my healing. I will, without question, be healed through His power.

Whoa! Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Blows mine every time I think and pray about it.

Stripes I began praying 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed, as inspired by e-Mom. (read her post here)

Now get this: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV.

We WERE healed. It has already been done. Past tense. Already healed!

I began praying every night as I lay in the quiet of my room. Lord, by your stripes I am healed of my eating cravings. I would also count each lash, repeating the sentence of healing over my cravings. For the first time I felt the pain Christ endured for my healing. How dare I not pray for my healing when the Lord suffered to give it to me?

So here is my challenge.

Do you need healing? What is it in your life will you lift up to God in 2010 and ask for healing?

Now remember your heart and relationship with Christ must be in the right place. If you are far away from God right now, the first prayers and efforts must be focused on time spent alone with Him. You can know God through His Word and in worship. God lives in the praises of His people.

Then begin to pray these scriptures nightly over your body, soul, and emotions.

My healing will also require some further steps. I will share more with you in my next post.

Please tell me your need. I promise you I will take your healing before the throne. As you write the words in the comments, make this your 2010 commitment. Remember your healing is declared and it can be accomplished because the power of God is made perfect in weakness.

Praying the scriptures over your life, Hugs, Lynn

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A Bible Verses 2010 Calendar for You?

Imported Photos 00002 Wow!

Do you see this beautiful Calendar? Iris of Grace Alone, has an amazing photography gift. She made these calendars for 2010 and I have one to give away.

I want to give one away to our SUM friends on Facebook. To enter just join us over on our Facebook page and leave a comment to enter. I will pick a winner on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, we will launch our plans for the new year. You will want to participate in this. Last year changed my life and my husband's. I am convinced it was partly due to how I started the year.

Also, I have much more to add tomorrow about our weight discussion. I have a challenge and I have some helpful ideas. Are you in?

Pop over to Facebook. Leave a comment. Come back tomorrow for an update on the "Fat Cat" series. I love you. I pray for you, your husband and your kids. Hugs, Lynn

Also, visit us on our Facebook page.

Spiritually Unequal Marriage on Facebook

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Am I Fat or Is That Ring Around my Stomach a Child's Floaty?

So, ummm, yep, I think a diet life style adjustment is in order.

Big_fat_cat_kitty I like turkey. I like stuffing. Oh for goodness sakes.... If it has carbs, I love it... Just keepin' it real.

What a great photo -------->

Can anyone, besides me, relate?

I will tell you something else, eleven months of my husband's unemployment translated into 10+ pounds on the hips. Okay, okay and also into the floaty ring around my tummy. Guess I won't need to worry about staying boyant in the bathtub. Sheesh!

I find it interesting that I gained weight over the last year. I don't think it was because I ate out of worry or stress. I think I just prepared more meals and larger portions because my husband was home.

Morning, noon and night. He was home.... We both ate.... a lot.....

Perhaps I did a bit of stress eating as well. Keepin' it real.... *again.* *grin*

So, now that my man is heading back into the work force and because January is around the corner, it's a good time to start to take off the pounds.

With all this in mind, I think we should tackle this delicate or heavy (as the case may be) subject of our weight.

Should our weight, size, proportions be an issue in our marriage?

Can weight gain create LARGE issues in a marriage relationship?

What does the Word have to say about all this?

I believe we need an honest and realistic discussion. Millions of men and especially women stress EVERY SINGLE DAY about what they eat, what they weigh, and how they look.

What is your take on the matter. Does your weight matter to your spouse? Does your weight matter to you? Why?

I can't wait to talk with you more about this. Leave me your thoughts. I will be checking in and adding to our conversation.

Hugs, Lynn

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Merry CHRISTmas and get ready for 2010!

Dineen and I are signing off for a few days. Dineen's mom is in town and my son arrived at my house this morning.

We will be returning on December 30th to share our New Year Kick off plans. 2009 was an incredibly scary year. Yet it was the most amazing road I have traveled with the Lord, EVER. And it all started out with the first week of January last year. We plan to repeat that experience. You don't want to miss the first week nor the series we have planned that follows.

So check back here on December 30th.

Today, we earnestly pray that each of you encounter that divine moment where you stand with the Lord in awe over His amazing plan to bring forth a child that would save the world.

Jesus is our hope

Jesus is our help.

Jesus is our encouragement.

Because of Jesus our marriages can be renewed. Our lives can be filled with peace, love, joy and contentment. 

Now that is a Merry Christmas indeed.

We love each of you. We are so very thankful you choose to spend time with us here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. God bless, Lynn and Dineen.

Ornament_Jesus01 

 

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Charlie Brown? Hope of the World.

I grew up waiting each Christmas season for two special TV shows to appear on our old television set. Yes, I grew up in the “Dark Ages”, according to my teenager. There weren’t video recordings nor hundreds of channels with millions of re-runs. You had one chance, once a year. That was it.

I anxiously awaited, A Charlie Brown Christmas which was followed by The Grinch That Stole Christmas. I would sit in the basement, next to the aluminum Christmas tree with the weird color wheel turning. Mom, would bring down the freshly popped corn which was coated with the most divine candy coating and we would make popcorn balls. With popcorn ball in hand, I sat criss-cross apple sauce on the floor and watch as Charlie Brown and the gang lit up our small television.Charlie brown  

I was always partial to this particular seasonal show over all the others, including Rudolph and the Grinch, because Linus always told the Christmas story. The real story from the Bible.

Luke 2: KJV

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

------

Even as a child of eight this story filled my heart and life with a smile. I knew the truth. I knew who Jesus was and even at that young age He had a grip on my soul. And at that tender age He knew I would turn run away from Him.

Yet, He never let go of me. He watched over me during the dark and dangerous years of clubbing in Las Vegas. He commanded angles to walk with me even when I was arrogant, vulgar, mean and completely self-absorbed.

He looked down on this girl of eight and delighted with me as I smiled at Charlie Brown, knowing full well the many hurting and broken people I would leave in my wake of selfishness. Oh but, He never let go.

He relentlessly pursued me to return home. I found my way home, gently guided by the love of Jesus.

I returned ashamed and broken. Knowing full well I deserved to die for the pain I caused in so many lives including my own.

The enemy worked my shame.

I am not worthy to be forgiven.

I’m so broken, I could never tell anyone else about God.

I’m utterly so messed up, I can’t possibly be loved by anyone.

I can never make up for the havoc I have wreaked.

Worthless, insignificant, useless empty.

Manger-cross  But that story of the babe in the manger is THE story. That child wrapped in swaddling clothes became my Redeemer. I was made free.

From shame.

From failure.

From the lies.

So on this Christmas, with all that has been redeemed in my past, with all that the Lord has done in my life in the past year alone, I will acclaim the King, born of a peasant. Born in humility. I will honor Him with my life.

To Him I will give my worship, adoration, praise and thanksgiving. I will celebrate this Holy day, Christmas like a girl of eight. With delight in my eyes and happiness in my heart.

Merry Christmas, Love Lynn

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Weekend Devo — Dare to Dream

ColorfulEye People seem to be having more difficulties these days than usual. This time last year I was shuttling my daughter back and forth to radiation treatments. And not too long after Christmas, Lynn's husband lost his job like so many have since the economy tanked. I'm sure as you read this, your own trials are playing out either in memory or in reality. None of us is immune.

But profound things happened in the midst of those trials. I'll be the first to say there have been some pretty deep valley's this year. One ongoing for me and my family, but even in this time of frustration and one morning's rant at God, I knew I loved my Jesus more than ever. I knew that I had grown and changed.

Such sweet adoration in the middle of my tirade—couldn't be from me but the working of the Holy Spirit. So what could I do but thank God for the trials that brought me to the place that ease of life never could?

Perhaps this is one of our constant tests of faith, to see our trials as God's tools forming us closer to the image of Christ and to praise God in the suffering and seek the fruit our pains. I know my current journey isn't over, but in submission I've found peace, understanding, and new purpose in prayer for my daughter.

We are the family of God, bonded together by the death of God's Son and united in our struggles. Again, I'm in awe of the way God works our life experiences and sufferings with a synchronicity, joining one to another. In the trenches we find true meaning.

Together.

And in perseverance in the presence of God's faithfulness, we can dare to dream. Dream of what can be, what could be, what will be. Dream of our lives with God, when all our tears are wiped away and joy is complete. Dream of a place where those we love and pray for know Jesus as we do.

This next year, let's allow God to show us what's beyond our imaginings. Let's pray like warriors determined to win. Let's dare to believe like we never have before. 

As Christmas comes full of promise, let's dare to dream. 

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Opened Eyes by Amy Forbes

Today I want to welcome Amy Forbes to Spiritually Unequal Marriage as a guest contributor. Amy has share several posts with us over the past three years. Today she brings a very honest and revealing look at her marriage and how the Lord has moved in her life.

Amy is a born again Christian and a former wicca (story for another day). She is married with three children and lives in a small town in New Zealand. She works part-time developing websites. She is faithful to share how God has worked in her life, her husband's life and in their marriage. You can find Amy at her personal blog, I Love Retro Things.

Open Eyes

As I sit here in the cool spring evening after cleaning up the kitchen from dinner I'm thinking about where I was emotionally, spiritually, physically a year ago at this time.

Yes I'm in an unequal marriage too and there have been times over the years where I've felt revolted by my husband, I'm ashamed to admit that. If I think about it, he's a good provider, he works hard for us and the guilt I felt about my feelings was tremendous.

I knew no matter how much I tried I couldn't change myself, only God could do that. Surprise, surprise...he has! I don't feel the way I did when we first met but I no longer have the hate or the guilt or the revulsion. I sound awful don't I but no doubt there are other women out there going through or who have gone through the same thing too.

Over the last few months it's almost as if I've been seeing my marriage with new eyes. Sometimes I have that feeling of discontentment, you know wishing we had more money and nit-picking over the little things that really aren't worth fighting about.

If you'd told you a year ago that my feelings would have changed I would've laughed at you but now I'm beginning to realize that all things are possible with God. Once you give a situation to Him, He is the only one who can change things for the better. As the Pantene advertisement on TV says "it might not happen overnight but it will happen" and that's how it's been for me.

I pray that anyone else going through what I have will find hope in this post. Just because things seem hopeless doesn't mean they will stay that way. Ask God to change you and your marriage and then give it to him.

Amy

Amy Forbes: Amy is a born again Christian and a former wicca (story for another day). She is married with three children and lives in a small town in New Zealand. She works part-time developing websites. Amy is a frequent guest writer at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. She is faithful to share how God has worked in her life, her husband's life and in their marriage. You can find Amy at her personal blog, Home With Amy and I Love Vintage Things.

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Thankful Thursday - It's a Birthday

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

December we are meeting at Women Taking A Stand. In January we will be giving thanks in the new year, right here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I can't wait.

Okay, I’m a dork. Go ahead a poke fun if you must, I own up to my dorkiness… (is that a word?) 

So here’s my confession. I love Christmas movies. I love sappy, happy, all ends well, tied up in a neat little Christmas bow, kind of stories. 

In the month of December, I drive my family nuts. I get my hands on the remote control and lookout…. Within minutes I have scheduled the DVR unit to record more than a dozen of these sentimental renderings in the next 24 hours. The movie titles stack up on our recorded list and it drives my techie man crazy. In December I record more movies in a month than he records war documentaries all year long. It freaks the guy out. 

So, if you’re in need of good cheer. Com’on over and bring a bag of microwave Kettle Mania and we are gonna watch movies until dawn together. 

With that said, I watched a sappy movie this year, which was new to me. The Perfect Gift was about this hobo, kinda guy who shows up at a church and helps the junior pastor and this thirteen year old girl build a nativity in front of the church. 

Sounds boring. But of course, there is much more to the story. There was a monolog in the story where the girl is telling her mother about this hobo and what he is teaching her about the real Christmas 2000 years ago. The monolog went something like this. 

The world has taken Christ out of Christmas. Christmas parties have become Winter Celebrations. The proper greeting at a department store is now, “Happy Holidays.” You aren’t allowed to have a nativity on government property or now even in front of the church. 

The whole world celebrates this time of year. But, what we started celebrating 2000 years ago was a birthday. It’s like we are celebrating with a giant birthday party and forgot to invite the guest of honor. 

Gulp. 

Whoa. 

This statement just rang as truth in my entire being.. The entire world is celebrating a birthday and forgot to invite the very one who was born. 

So, today on this Thankful Thursday, I will acclaim the Son of God who was born unto us. His birth split time in two and radically changed my life and the lives and eternity of millions. Won’t you celebrate along with me? 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS. 

Be blessed, Lynn 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

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Are You Ready for Christmas?

ChristmasTree I know I’m not—still have shopping, baking, and a birthday to prepare for! So much to do along with work and taking care of the family. Are you nodding along with me?
Keeping our focus on Christ this time of year is tough for anyone, so I’m not going to talk about the busyness that threatens to steal the meaning of Christmas from us. I’m sure you’ve read enough on that topic already.

I want to address the difficulties that crop up this time of year in spiritually mismatched marriages. Specifically the challenge to keep Christ in the holiday especially if you have children. I know when my girls were young, this was quite a challenge. My sweet hubby has always been like a kid at Christmas time, so introducing more than my childhood nativity scene became a real challenge.

But each year I found small ways to give my girls a sense of the true meaning of the season through special activities and traditions. Yet I remember being near tears one year, thinking my two little ones only saw Santa. Minutes later the two of them stood in front of me singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Thank you, God!

Keeping a family together is tough enough without the complications of trying to keep peace during the Christmas season. Here are a few tricks that have helped me along the years.

  1. Be flexible. Christmas Eve and Day services can be a point of conflict. I know it was for my family. I wanted us all to be together, but my sweet hubby just didn’t want to go to church Christmas Eve. And going without him or alone, was just…well…lonely. I found other ways to participate at church during the month of December to celebrate Christ’s birth. At home we also light a candle on our advent wreath each Sunday and on Christmas Day. And for those years that either Christmas Eve or Day landed on a Sunday, I went to the morning service.
  2. Compromise. Decide what matters most and be willing to bend on the rest. If you’re spouse sees you willing to adjust in one area, he or she may be willing to “return the favor.” And remember to approach any situation with prayer and respect. Our unbelieving loved ones will be more likely to reply in like manner.
  3. Relax. Remember that God knows your heart, and we can honor Christ’s birth many times and many ways throughout the year. Sometimes having unrealistic expectations only serve to cause more stress for you and your family. This goes back to being flexible.
  4. Pray. This probably should be number one. Whatever area that seems to trip you up each year, bring it before God now and prepare. Don’t give the enemy a way in to mess with your family and your Christmas celebrations. You might just be surprised how God works out a difficult situation for you. Bring God into your Christmas planning early. Not at the last minute.
I hope these tips help alleviate some of the stress typical of a S.U.M. If you have ideas that have worked for you, please share them in the comments. What better way to celebrate Christmas here at S.U.M than to give the gift of wisdom and caring to one another?

And, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Trust AND Action!

I don’t subscribe to the old adage; God helps those who help themselves. I am acutely aware the Lord helps many of us when we are so low we can’t even get off the couch. But, I am also certain God wants our active participation in His plans.

With that said what does it mean to “trust” God? Trust

Suppose you were unemployed, would you pray and trust God saying, “Oh, I am trusting God to give me a job,” then never apply for work?

Would you fail to intervene in your teenager’s life if you found marijuana in their room? Would you just pray about it and say, “Oh I am just trusting God to change my daughter’s mind about drugs.”

HECK NO!

Well, I think sometimes we fail to join the Lord in His plans with regard to our unbelieving spouses. There are times when we must stand for the principals we know to be true. I am convinced ther are times when the Lord wants us to be a fighter for His kingdom.

Discernment is the critical component when you are married to an unbeliever. There are indeed, times when you need to let go of your rights and/or desires and then there are times when conflict is necessary. I can tell you through the years of my marriage there were many heated moments of conversation (read: fights) over our different worldviews. Some specifics were church attendance. I would attend. Period. The end. So would my kids when they were little.

I look back over the years and KNOW, without a doubt, my consistent defense of the Word of God in the face of my husband’s skepticism played a powerful roll in his discovery process. The Lord would allow my words to land on my man’s heart from time-to-time where they would sink in. Coupled with living my faith with authenticity and enthusiasm, my husband softened to the Lord.

Trust is to be confident and secure. Trusting God is an unafraid trust. We know the Lord has our best interests at heart. But the Lord is also expecting effort. He gave us a brain and wants us to use it. He also calls us to action. He expects us to move in our world for His benefit and glory. There are numerous stories of God calling His people to action throughout the Bible. There are just as many where God calls His people to trust Him.

So why am I sharing this today? I know many of you are walking a difficult road right now. I know the Lord is calling you to trust Him but He may also be calling you to action in a specific area.

Ask Him.

The New Year is quickly approaching and what you and the Lord set into action today may be life changing for those you love tomorrow.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Be blessed, Lynn

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Weekend Devo — Turning It Around for Good

This is one of the most powerful devotionals I've seen on the subject of trials. James MacDonald seems to be on the fast track into some deep insights into our Christian faith and what it really means. I want to share this devotional by him, because his words clarified it isn't about whether or not we go through trials that distinguishes us from unbelievers, but HOW we go through them.

We all face difficulties in life—that's the nature of this fallen world. But I'm coming to understand better that how I walk these trials (And there seem to be more lately for so many of us. I know you're out there, and I'm praying for you!), my greatest witness to my sweet hubby is my perseverance, and not even how well I do that, but that I do it!

I pray this blesses you as much as it did me.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Turning It Around for Good
by James MacDonald

"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." - 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

With all due respect to Rabbi Kushner, God does allow bad things to happen to good people. He doesn't cause them, but He doesn't prevent them either. The world is free and God doesn't very often step in and alter the fact that the effects of sin are visiting themselves randomly upon the creation. So God lets trials happen to the Christian just like He lets them happen to the pagans so that the superiority of the life lived in God can be demonstrated through our lives. The majority of the world is choosing not to worship God, but a few of us, by God's grace, can draw down upon God's promised resources to get us through.

God did not cause the horrible events in your life, but you need to embrace the fact that He allowed them. God could not make a world in which we are free and at the same time guarantee that everyone would choose Him. So the world is broken and bad things happen. But God promises that He will be with those who love Him. He will bring us through the fire, and we will come forth as gold.

God allowed Paul to suffer a "thorn . . . in the flesh." Paul said that God allowed "a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul understood that God allowed this pain in his life for a reason. God allowed a demon to harass, or buffet Paul. The word buffet means to strike with a fist or beat. But God permitted it with a purpose: to keep [Paul] from being conceited.

God is so sovereign. He's so much in control that even when Satan tries to ruin our lives, God takes the weapon that Satan wants to use to destroy us and turns it into a good thing. God says, "If you will lean hard on Me in the midst of this difficult time, I’ll take that thorn and make it for your good."

We all have a thorn. We all have something that God has allowed into our lives that Satan meant for our destruction but that God has turned around to help us grow and change.


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Please Help Me Out!

I would be extra appreciative if you could give me your opinion. Also, in the comments can you tell me how and when you ask your spouse to attend Christmas Eve services. What works and what doesn't. Thank you.... Thank you.... THANK YOU. Be blessed, Lynn

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Thankful Thursday & Christmas Traditions

TTButton Welcome to another Thankful Thursday! This month we continue to meet at Women Taking a Stand. I'm (Dineen) filling in for Lynn this week, which is majorly cool because I get to tell you what I'm thankful for. Can I have more than one? LOL!

First and foremost, I am thankful for Lynn and for her obedience to God to start this ministry. And she let me join in! Yes, I am truly blessed. Which brings me to the second thing I'm thankful for.

YOU!

If you're reading this blog, I am honored to the tip of my toes to serve you. Some of you leave comments that bless me beyond words. Sometimes your comments are what carry me through the day or week because you remind me I'm doing what God has asked me to. And on the rough days, especially some recent ones with my daughter, you were a bright spot in a difficult day. THANK YOU!!!

Lwgimage Now, how about some Christmas Traditions? What traditions make your Christmas extra special? I hope you'll read my post over at Laced with Grace about the Miller Christmas Traditions. Would love to hear about yours!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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I Got A Bag of Rocks for a Gift! Say What?

This week I received a gift. Bag of rocks  

It is the season of gift giving and this present is so unusual that I have to tell you about it. 

What is it?

Hop over to Laced With Grace and see for yourself, I Got a Bag of Rocks for a Gift! Say What?


Also, visit us on our Facebook page.

Spiritually Unequal Marriage on Facebook

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The Perpetual State of Waiting

716045_hands I’m in a perpetual state of waiting. I believe many of us are. In fact, I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t waiting for something. And as Christians, aren’t we all in some form or another, waiting to one day meet Jesus?

We’re all waiting for something. And I’m finding in this time of waiting that the most growth occurs, which seems like it would be the other way around.

Waiting is one of the most difficult places for us to be. We’re impatient by nature. Waiting takes patience. Sometimes whole lot of it, too.

But what’s so amazing is that God waits too. Did you know that? Take a look at Isaiah 30:18:

New International Version
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

English Standard Version
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

I included the ESV version as well, which runs very close to the King James translation. Here the words long and wait are used interchangeably. They original Hebrew word is chakah, which means to long, wait, or tarry.

I’m going to make another jump here. I don’t profess to be a Bible scholar, but I found this most interesting. The root of chakah is related to the Hebrew word chaqah, which means carved or engraved in relation to piercing.

Now take a look at Isaiah 49:16:

NIV: See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
ESV: Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

The original Hebrew word for engraved is chaqah, the same word that’s related to chakah, which means to long or wait.

I know this might be a stretch, but is it possible that God had engraved us on our hands because he longs and waits for us? And for our unbelieving loved ones? I don’t know about you, but that just blows me away. To think not only we are engraved upon God’s hands, those he waits for are as well. Make a mental picture of your unbelieving spouses name engraved upon the hand of God.

And if I may make one more leap. I wonder if that engraving resembles the nails holes, which pierced the hands of Christ. Like the relation between chakah and chaqah.

I hope that gives you chills like it did me. But I have one final connection for you through this. The biggest example we have of God waiting and longing.

God sent his Son Jesus to us at just the right time. He didn’t do it as soon as man fell in the Garden of Eden. He didn’t send the Messiah when the Israelites were captives in Egypt.

No, he waited until the exact moment, longing for us every step of the way with our names engraved on his hands.

God waited to send his Son. For you. For me. And for our unbelieving loved ones.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Weekend Devo — The Way to Victory

This devotional from Walk in the Word spoke to my heart a few weeks ago. I love the questions he asks in his article—"will I trust God even when...?" "Do I believe that His ways are best for me even when...?" I'd like to share it with you this weekend in the hopes it will encourage you to keep praying and believing!
Praying and believing with you!
Dineen

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The Way to Victory
by James MacDonald, Walk in the Word

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith." - 1 John 5:2-4

At every crossroads of life you face a choice. "Will I trust God? Will I believe His Word? Will I have faith?"

More than likely, you're facing a decision today in which you see several ways you can go. One might be easier, but it's not calling you higher or to what you would think would please God. "But it makes more sense for me to go this way. It would be the safest... or the most reasonable... or the best in my mind. I think I could make that way work out." But then God says, "No, go this way. This will be better in the long run. You'll be glad you went this way."

God's message to you could be any number of clear directives from His Word: Stick with your marriage. Put Him first in your finances. Forgive them before they ask.

It's always going to be better for you to follow the Lord, whatever the issue is. However logical or reasonable the other paths seem, consider what motivates your decision.

The choice to obey the Lord in this situation is a decision of faith. First John 5:4 says, "And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith." Your faith is determined by your answers to: "Will I trust God even when...?" "Do I believe that His ways are best for me even when...?"

Is walking with God the surest road to happiness and the fastest exit from misery? Yes, I believe so. The decision of faith will not be a burden to you. It's the way to victory.

Following God's ways is a protection to you. As you grow in Christ and obey God by faith, you experience "the victory that has overcome the world." The world is trying to drag you down. But when by faith I do what God wants me to do, I'm not crushed by the world; I end up in victory over the world.

I tell you the truth, I can't wait to get my feet on the floor every morning and try to do what God wants me to do, because it always works out better. Choosing faith is a daily decision we all must make.

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A Crazy and Busy Donovan Clan

Hi Everyone:

Wow, what happened to this week? INSANELY BUSY doesn’t adequately describe the first two weeks of December in the lives of the Donovan Clan. Chronicles

But, it’s all good.

Tonight my church, Sunridge Community Church, Women’s Ministry will host over 500 women as an outreach event. I told you a little about this yesterday. I have been busy helping every day this week. Therefore, if you have sent me an email or called or even put up a smoke signal, I didn’t respond.

Oh, please forgive me.

After I speak at MOPS this next Tuesday, life will slow and I will refocus on the Birthday of Jesus. I will also have a worthy post prepared for your reading. So forgive me as I have had little time to write.

However, I cannot leave the story from Monday alone just yet. I want to share one more tiny little detail. This may not seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but with the years and years of waiting for this very moment, it is enormously significant.

You may remember from last week my husband accepted an offer for full-time employment. He begins December 14, 2009. On the day he telephoned me, I was standing in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant. I screamed, jumped up and down, and praised the Lord. After I settled down my husband said, “You don’t have to even ask me, I already prayed and thanked God.”

Did you catch that?

He offered a prayer of Thanksgiving for this opportunity. He recognized God working in his life.

Do you find the timing and amazing conclusion of this strange year of unemployment fascinating? I am overwhelmed. The offer arrive the day before Thanksgiving. My husband praying for direction. His first payday is scheduled for December 25th. Go figure. Multiple answers to my prayers and the prayers of many others (that is a story for another day. People I know have prayed for him every week for at least the past 10 years).

So where do we go from here?

I don’t know. But one thing I know to be true. God hears my prayers and I am praying every day Romans 10:10 for my man. So I will wait. I will trust. I will thank God for His unimaginable kindness in the lives of the Donovan Clan.

I am so undeserving and can only offer my entire heart, soul, mind, and strength to the Creator of the Universe and praise His son, Jesus Christ.

Happy Birthday Jesus.

Have a blessed weekend. I will share more of our journey as the Lord instructs. One thing I have learned, you cannot rush the work of the Lord. Love all of you so very much, Lynn

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Thankful Thursday - Church Women's Ministry


Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

December we are meeting at Women Taking A Stand. 

This Friday our church will host Sarah Kelly, Grammy nominated entertainer, at our annual Christmas Dessert. This event is the pinnacle of our women’s ministry at my church.

The first Friday of every December our worship center is transformed. Tables are set up and the women of our church bring to bear their creative talents and turn a simple round table into a work of art. Christmas plates Once finished the tables are elaborate, tasteful, simple and even sometimes gaudy, in a fun way. The lighting is soft with flickering candles. You will find snowmen, nativity sets, candy canes, feathers, ornaments, and every color of red and green.

It is mesmerizing.

It is one of my most favorite times of the year.

So this Thursday, I give thanks to my BFF, Pam Dvorak, Women’s Ministry Director, for bringing me on board to assist with all things in our Women’s Ministry. I am thankful for Katie Hougen who is our event coordinator. Pam and I would be lost without her. She is truly GIFTED in hospitality. Pam and I stand in awe each year when the doors are opened and the event goes off without a hitch.

I have served now for a year in women’s ministry at our church. This in itself is seemingly impossible. Most churches would never consider bringing a woman on staff who is married to an unbeliever. But, thanks be to God and to a few wise servants, they see past my mismatched marriage and see my heart for Jesus.

I am deeply thankful to serve Sunridge Community Church.

Be blessed, Lynn

PS. One amazing thing you may not know. I met Pam Dvorak while I lived in Las Vegas, before she was saved and during my prodigal years. We both worked at the bank together and became great friends. We lost touch when I moved to California. However, several years later I spotted Pam in our local Target.

“Pam, what are you doing in Temecula.”

I was astounded. Our friendship instantly reignited and today we serve the Lord Jesus Christ together in Women’s Ministry at our church. God wastes nothing and you never know why you might meet someone… NEAT!

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Scripture vs. Strongholds

We've spent a fabulous month learning about the power of Scripture in our lives. Well, today I have an example for you of just how a dear friend of mine applied it to her life directly and saw her life change in powerful ways. Talk about transforming your mind!

Please welcome my dear friend, Helen Bratko, as she shares her testimony of how she overcame a stronghold in her life. This is a tool I plan to implement myself. I hope her message speaks to you as it did to me. Helen is an amazing woman of God, dedicated to serving her creator and her family. She's currently working on recording her memoirs in the hopes her past trials will be a testimony to others of God's transforming power.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


S613767147_1477456_3911094 How I Got Free of Anger
By Helen Bratko

Several years ago, I heard a teaching by Ed Silvoso on spiritual strongholds. He gave a very helpful definition:  “A stronghold is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness, that forces us to accept as unchangeable, situations that we know are contrary to the will of God.” To tear down a stronghold he recommended finding forty bible verses to read  aloud four times a day, for forty days. Silvoso likened the tearing down of a stronghold to a story he heard about a man who knocked down a wall of concrete blocks. The man kept hitting the wall with a sledgehammer, over and over, but it looked like nothing was happening. Eventually, a crack appeared and with more blows, the wall finally came down.

As he was speaking, I was convicted that I had a stronghold of anger. For many years I would scream at my kids on a regular basis, and was easily angered by day-to-day trials. So I decided to give it a try. I started looking for verses and found some great ones, such as: “Our anger does produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:20) And, “Better a patient person than a warrior, those with self-control than those who take a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)

With my verses acquired, I began my forty days. I quickly found it almost impossible to do it four times a day, so I settled on twice a day, morning and night. As I recited the verses out loud, I began to memorize them. When a situation arose where I began to feel angry, I would immediately quote verses to myself and the anger would subside. Speaking the words out loud was empowering to me. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take up…the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”

After the forty days were over, anger was no longer the first emotion I felt when my kids disobeyed. My kids now don’t even remember me yelling at them! The bible says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Do you want to get free? You don’t have to live in bondage, you can do something about it. If you are tired of a besetting sin, I encourage you to take the forty-day challenge, and have a friend do it with you. Whatever you do, don’t settle for the spiritual healing you have now, there is always more, so press in and take hold of what God has for you.

~ Helen Bratko

See the Silvoso teaching here: http://www.transformourworld.org/strongholds

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