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22 entries from May 2010

Pray for the Healing of our Lands and Waters

There is still a hole in the Earth, crude oil is still spewing from it and there is still, excruciatingly, no end in sight. --- Today's Headline; May 30, 2010. 

In the past, several days the Lord has crush my soul with concern over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although I live on the Pacific coast, my heart is broken over what is happening to our beautiful earth. My heart is broken for the people of the coast and the pristine coastlands and marshlands that will never be the same. 

I have been praying for the well to be capped and yet it remains flowing at this very hour. As I talked with Jesus about this disaster, I imagined what he is seeing from His view in heaven. The pictures grieve my spirit. 

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Oil spill

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Today, I am leaving our topic of marriage and I implore to pray. If you stopped by here today, it wasn't by chance. There is a battle raging for our beautiful planet, the amazing earth God gave us to steward. We need to pray as a people for the Lord, Almighty to move now and seal that well. We must pray for the protection of the animals the fish and the people who are living in the wake of this disaster. 

Please take one minute and pray. Pray these words aloud and implore our Lord to turn this terrible disaster, which we created away from us. 

Be blessed, Lynn 

 Lord God, Our Father In Heaven

We as a people, who are called by your name, we humble ourselves and pray seeking your face. Lord, we pray this nation, this world will turn from our wicked ways and we know you will hear us from heaven and will forgive our sin and will heal our land and waters. Lord, we are clueless about the repercussions that we will endure in the years ahead. Our children's children will be dealing with this mess and it will affect our entire world. 

We grieve over the animals in harm's way and the livelihoods that are lost. We pray your hand of mercy to stretch out and cover with both protection and provision. Lord, show us in the days ahead exactly how to pray and what we are to do that will bring about the capping of the well and an end to the flow. 

Jesus, out of this great disaster reveal to us clearly what you want us to learn. Keep mankind from ever letting this happen in the future. Finally, may the entire world see your hand in our rescue and may your name be honored above all else. 

We love you Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.

*****

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Weekend Devo — Memorial Day: Remember the Spouses Who Hold Down the Fort

MilitaryCouple Whether you agree with why our troops are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other parts of the world, let’s take a moment and pray for these brave men and women serving our country in often brutal conditions. They are answering the call and being obedient, even if they don’t completely understand why. They are an example of obedience even when it’s difficult.

Let’s also remember the ones at home, keeping the family together, taking care of children and parents while their spouse is in dangerous areas. They not only have the stress and worry of their loved one’s safety on their hearts, but the often overwhelming responsibility of taking care of what normally two people would do. They work hard to make the home a peaceful place so as not to add additional worry to their beloved soldiers and to give these men and women in service the reassurance that they will have something precious to come home to. That despite the distance and trials, they are still loved and missed.

According to an article on Veteranstoday.com, thirty percent of U.S. troops returning from the Iraq war have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home.

Marriage is difficult enough without extenuating circumstances. Adding in time of war along with being spiritually mismatched add even more stress and trial to the marriage. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is being diagnosed more and more, thankfully, but these soldiers and families need our prayers.

Do you know someone whose husband or wife is oversees, serving in dangerous areas? If so, reach out and thank them this weekend for serving their country, too. Offer to pray for them and their marriage, support them, and if you can, ask how you can help them as they wait for their loved one to return home safely.

These brave men and women deserve our respect, our thanks, and our prayers.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

*Special thanks to author Ronie Kendig for her list of resources on her Discarded Heroes website.

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Friendship with a Jealous God

For thou shalt worship no other god: 

 for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. 

Exodus 34:14 

Names mean something, especially in the Kingdom of God. As you read through God’s Word, notice how often we are told the meaning behind the different names people give to their children. God even tells the parents in some instances what they are to name their children. And in some cases He changes a person’s name to represent something significant in their lives. Abram meant “high father” in Hebrew, but when God made a covenant with Abram and promised him to be the father of many nations, He changed his name to Abraham which means “father of many.” Jacob meant “supplanter” however later in his life when he wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord in order to receive a blessing, the Lord changed his name to Israel which means “God contended” or “he struggles with God”. 

I have a bookmark that I use frequently which lists the different names of God and what they mean. The names of God are important because they reveal to us His Character. Anything in this world that is good, is good because it is consistent with His Nature and Character. Anything that is evil or wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God. 

Ancient-Hebrew-Text  One name of God that I’ve discovered recently though is not listed on my bookmark – El Qanna. That is the word used in Exodus 34:14. God is telling us not only is He a jealous God, but His very name means Jealous. This posed a problem for me the first time I put much thought into it. We’ve been taught that jealousy is wrong. In fact, further down in the Ten Commandments, which this verse is a part of, it specifically talks about coveting what is not yours – being jealous! So then how can one of God’s names (El Qanna) mean Jealous? How can He be named Jealous when jealousy is wrong and we know that anything that is wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God? 

As I pondered this question, prayed and studied Scriptures about God’s jealousy (and there are a lot of them!) I began to notice something - two little words that pointed to something huge – the words OF and FOR. When we think of jealousy, the jealousy that is “bad” we are referring to our being jealous OF something or someone. We are coveting what they have or what we perceive them as having. This type of jealousy leads only to hatred and bitterness. Even when it seems to be for something good, for example, when I see a couple praying together and I begin to feel jealous of what they have. Whether I mean to or not, bitterness begins to creep into my heart because I’ve perceived them as having something which I desire. This is not to say I can’t desire to pray with my husband one day as I see them doing, but if I am not careful the enemy will plant a seed of jealousy in my heart that will flower into bitterness and anger – towards them, towards my husband and even possibly towards God Himself. 

However, when God is described as being a jealous God, He is jealous FOR us. You may ask, what is the difference? Beloved, the difference is huge and it is critical. God is jealous for us and the relationship He has with us. When Scripture refers to God as a jealous God, it is talking about His Jealousy to remove anything that hinders the relationship for which He created us. God’s jealousy is a righteous jealousy that arises when sin threatens the covenant relationship we experience with our Creator. 

In all cases where Scripture describes God as being jealous if you look closely you will see this jealousy has arisen because sin of some shape or form has attempted to break the covenant relationship the Lord has with His people. 

One song which has a very strong meaning for me is Nicole C. Mullin’s “Call on Jesus”. The end of the chorus says: 

When I call on Jesus 

Mountains are gonna fall 

Cause He’ll move heaven and earth 

To come rescue me when I call 

This overwhelms me with emotion when I think of a love so great that Jesus would actually move heaven and earth to come rescue me. Think of the bond between a mother and a child and how women have been known to have superhuman strength to rescue their children when needed. God loves us even more than a mother’s love for her children. 

Now add to that a righteous jealousy that burns within His heart anytime something attempts to come between us. I for one am stunned by this. He would do absolutely anything necessary, even dying on the cross to defeat the sin that attempts to destroy the relationship we have with Him. Can you even begin to imagine the love that is behind this righteous jealousy? 

There is a battle going on all around us Beloved – a battle raging because of jealousy. The enemy was jealous OF man whom God loved and created in His own image. This jealousy consumed him until he was filled with anger and bitterness and in rebellion against God he became determined to destroy the very thing that God loved. God is jealous FOR us and will arise against anything the enemy in his anger and bitterness tries to use to tear apart that covenant relationship. The enemy’s jealousy is rooted in bitterness and anger. God’s jealousy is rooted in His righteous love for us, His creation. I am so very thankful to be friends with and loved by a righteous God who is jealous for me. 

As we begin to develop our friendship with God by beholding Him through his Word, worship, prayer, and confession we should also strive to be jealous – jealous for our friendship with God. We should develop a righteous jealousy which arises within us whenever sin threatens to harm that friendship. Beloved, let’s become a people who are jealous FOR our friendship with God.

Angela Smith

(Angela, Dineen and I adore you and thank you for adding your wisdom and love for Christ in this series. You always inspire us to see Jesus and His love in ever amazing ways. BIG hugs, Lynn)

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Thankful Thursday

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Laurie at Women Taking A Stand and then in June we will share our thanks over at Iris of Grace Alone. Back here in July.

Well my schedule has slowed a tiny bit and this past week I was able to spend some time in my garden. Wow, things are growing. It is a delight for me to walk through it everyday and watch as God's creation changes before my eyes.

I am thankful for my garden. lettuce, red potatoes, gold potatoes, corn, zucchini, pumpkins, peppers (all sorts) tomatoes (yum, salsa), herbs, sunflowers (seeds). All of it in a small patch of earth. Yipee!

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Romaine (above) and tomato blossoms. 

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Corn... It's looking like it will be knee high by 4th of July. (who made this saying up anyway????)

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Oh, and that is Doo Doo below in the last photo. He's a hoot! He guards my potatoes. Not doing a very good job of it either as the horn worms are having a field day.

Happy TT. What are you giving thanks for this week? Be blessed, Lynn

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Show Me Your Glory, Lord

Catch_the_light As we’ve explored our theme Friendship with God this month, I keep hearing God’s quiet voice saying, “Seek me above all else.”

Then that great Third Day song, asking God to “show me your glory” has gone through my head nonstop.

Show me your glory, Lord.

Moses asked God to show him His glory is Exodus 33. So great was God’s glory that Moses was only able to see God’s back as He passed over the cleft Moses hid in with God’s hand over him for protection. To see more would have meant death.

Yet Moses asked. He wanted more than just a pleasant relationship with God. He wanted to KNOW God.

When we ask God to show us His glory, we’re asking Him to invite us into His presence in the most intimate of ways. Worship and confession are key parts to what enables us to be in His presence, but asking to see God’s glory comes from our deepest need and recognition that we can’t live without God. He is our center and driving force. He is our life and breath.

Show me your glory, Lord.

To want to know God is to desire nothing more. The more we learn, the more we hunger to know. We realize how very little we understand about this omniscient God who despite his vastness can be so personal and real.

The story of Moses’ request, and the examples of Abraham and David give a clear view of the relationship God desires to have with us despite our imperfections. His only requirement is that we seek Him with all our hearts. Not just to please Him but also out of His great desire that we know His true being, “I am.” Our desire to be known comes straight from God.

Show me your glory, Lord.

Seeking God and His glory isn’t about us. And yet it is. It starts as the smallest seed that bursts forth with the first taste of nourishment and hungers for more. We break through the soil of our sin and bask in the light our Creator, reaching upward in praise and desire to know the Source. Without His light, we wither and die. Within it, we flourish and become the most precious of flowers, designed to reflect His love and attention to detail.

In the presence of His glory we are flooded with pure joy and completeness that we are exactly where we’re meant to be. Then we are truly His. Then we are truly God’s friend.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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I Am THAT Woman

Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. – unknown 

I am in an unequally yoked marriage because of sin.  

Most of you know my story. I married my atheist husband during a time of great rebellion against God. I knew better. Raised in a Christian home, I knew what the Bible said in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 

I walked away from the light. I thought I knew better than God what was best for my life. I lived in a dangerous and shadowy world of Las Vegas. In the darkness of clubbing and all matter of indulgence. 

I am THAT woman.

John 8:1-6 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

I stood bare before Him. He was well aware of the decision which brought me before Him. My self-justified choices. Decisions that hurt others. Bad decisions. Jesus listened as the accusations flew from those around me. Voices of my past. Hurtful words, I believed were true. 

The accuser arrived shouting:  

     Believing in God is for the weak.

     You are a coward.

     You are a fake Christian. 

     You can't do anything right.

     When will you grow up? 

     You'll never get it right. 

     Why can't you be more like........ 

     You are a cheater and a liar.

     You'll never be a great wife. 

As the shouts came so did my shame. The accusers paraded my sin before Christ in a mad effort to somehow make them feel better about themselves. I looked at Jesus as the accusers finished, "Now what do you say?" 

I hung my head and admitted my sin waiting for the death penalty, which surely would follow. "In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women." 

Christ writing in dirt Time stood still and the universe shifted as Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 

I can't be sure but I think he was scribbling the names of my accusers. Fear, insecurity, loneliness, failed friendships, greed, idolatry, selfishness, wickedness, satan. 

In that moment, brilliant light flooded my heart. Jesus refused to hear the words of my accusers. Instead, He drew all the wrath and attention away from me and placed it upon Himself. 

As the accusers shouted louder, demanding my soul. Christ confronted them saying, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 

He scribbled the sins of the accusers in the dirt. Their lies exposed, they drifted away. 

Jesus straightened up and asked, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 

"No one, sir," 

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin. 

I looked into the face of Jesus and saw unconditional love. 

In an instant, Jesus redeemed my past. Not a tear wasted. I stepped into a future filled with adventure and laughter. He birthed new dreams that far surpassed my feeble imaginings. He gave me a new heart. 

This is what Friendship With God is all about. 

I AM THAT WOMAN. That very blessed and thankful woman....

My friendship with Jesus is everything. 

Are the accusers shouting at you, heaping the lies upon your soul? Look into the face of our Jesus this very day and hear the words of truth. 

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; 

        I have drawn you with loving-kindness 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 

      "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

 Be blessed, Lynn

*This post, Inspired by Josh Clark. Sunridge Community Church 5/23/2010

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Weekend Devo — Worship: Offerering Yourself to God

I'm finding some awesome devotionals that fit perfectly with our Friendship with God theme this month. Here's a great one from Rick Warren. Have a wonderful weekend and keep seeking Him!
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Worship: Offering Yourself to God
by Rick Warren


So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.  — Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)


Offering yourself to God is what worship is all about.

This act of personal surrender is called many things: consecration, making Jesus Lord, taking up your cross, dying to self, yielding to the Spirit.

What matters is that you do it, not what you call it. God wants your life, all of it - 95 percent is not enough.

Our total surrender to God is blocked by several things, including:

  • Our ignorance of God - not knowing what he's really like;
  • Our sinful nature - the desire to be God ourselves; and
  • Our misunderstanding of surrender and the trust that it requires.

Can We Trust God? Trust is an essential ingredient to surrender. We won't surrender to God unless we trust him, but we can't trust him until we know him better. Fear keeps us from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more you realize how much God loves you, the easier surrender becomes.

How do I know God loves me? He gives us many evidences:

  • God says he loves you (Psalm 145:9);
  • You're never out of his sight (Psalm 139:3);
  • He cares about every detail of your life (Matthew 10:30);
  • He gave you the capacity to enjoy all kinds of pleasure (1 Timothy 6:17b);
  • He has good plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11);
  • He forgives you (Psalm 86:5);
  • He's patient with you (Psalm 145:8);
  • He sacrificed his Son for you (Romans 5:8).
  • God loves you infinitely more than you can imagine.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. — Romans 12:1 (HCSB)

If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross saying, "I love you this much! I'd rather die than live without you."

God is not a cruel slave driver or a bully who uses brute force to coerce us into submission. He doesn't try to break our will, but woos us to himself, so that we might offer it freely to him. God is a lover and a liberator, and surrendering brings freedom, not bondage.

When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that he is not a tyrant but a savior; not a boss, but a brother; not a dictator, but a friend.

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Friendship with an All-Knowing God

In my first post for this series I mentioned that one of the keys to any friendship is not only knowing the other person, their character, desires and emotions, but also in revealing your own heart to them. Friendship with God is no different. In fact, in order to truly begin to understand Him and His emotions we must first open ourselves up to Him and allow Him to change us. This is done by pouring out our hearts to Him. However, you may wonder, if God is omniscient, why do we need to pour out our hearts to Him? He already knows our desires, emotions, and character. In fact, He probably knows our heart even better than we do, so why go through all the effort? Isn’t it redundant? 

To answer this I first want to go back to an example that Dineen gave on Tuesday. While talking about confession she used the example of our children. I would like to do the same. Young children are just beginning to discover the world around them, all the beauty and sometimes all the heartache. We already understand many of these things, but as they make new discoveries in this world they come to us with enthusiasm, wanting to tell us all about what they just learned. Not one of us would dream of saying to our children, “I already know that, I don’t want to hear about it.” Instead we listen with rapt attention, soaking in their joy and excitement while describing something to us that we already know. Their reaction actually renews a sense of wonder within us as we listen to them. 

If we love to hear our own children tell us about their discoveries and their dreams (no matter how outlandish), how much more joy do you think our Heavenly Father experiences when we come to Him with the same openness? 

In the same way, our heart goes out to our children when they come and share their fears and pain with us. We long to take them in our arms and comfort them. We are warmed that they trust us without thought to listen and take care of them when they are hurting. I loved Dineen’s post because I felt it truly went along with what the Lord was putting on my heart to write about today. She spoke of confession and how coming to the Lord to confess our sins actually frees us and allows God to show us things in our lives and hearts we may not have seen otherwise. 

Beloved, this is the same for all areas and emotions in your life. Not only the sins that burden your life, but all the hurt and pain, the anger and bitterness and even the joys you experience. Even when these emotions are directed at God, we should be sharing them with Him. 

I know of individuals who are very angry at God for things that have happened in their lives, but because they see Him as their Sovereign Lord they will not share these feelings with Him. They believe it would be a great sin to admit to the Lord that they are angry with Him. After all, He is God! 

What they miss is the fact that God knows their heart, He already knows they are angry with Him. It is true that their anger is misplaced because God can never do anything to truly justify our anger. Our anger always comes from misunderstanding what God is working to accomplish in our lives. We miss the big picture so often and it is usually because we’ve begun to focus on ourselves instead of Him. However, when that does happen, if we go to Him in our quiet time and pretend that those feelings are not there we are really just lying to Him and to ourselves. In doing so, we are shutting off our heart to Him. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with going on a rampage, screaming and yelling at God if our focus is just to scream and yell. That does not benefit us at all and is not respecting and fearing our Creator as we should. However, if we go to God with our true feelings and pour out to Him what is really in our heart, we open ourselves up to Him. At that point He can begin a work in us to reveal more of His Heart and He can then begin to heal ours. 

As we begin to honestly share ourselves with God – the good, the bad and the ugly – we actually begin to understand ourselves and Him in a deeper way. We begin to trust Him in new ways. We open the doors to healing and understanding. 

The answer Beloved, is that pouring out our hearts to God is absolutely crucial to being His friend and it is all for OUR benefit. With our earthly friends we share intimate things about ourselves so they can get to know us better. With God we share the deepest most intimate things of our heart in order for Him to reveal our true hearts to us and transform us. 

However, our God is a gentleman and He will not force His way into our hearts. He understands that true love and friendship is given willingly. He is waiting and desiring to be your best friend. He’s just waiting for you to trust Him enough with your heart to willingly reveal to Him what He already knows. 

Trust in Him at all times, O people; 

Pour out your hearts to Him, 

For God is our refuge. 

Psalm 62:8

 Angela

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Thankful Thursday

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Laurie at Women Taking A Stand and then in June we will share our thanks over at Iris of Grace Alone. Back here in July.

So many thoughts crowd my mind as I am thinking upon my blessings.

  • My daughter's opening night performance in the High School Musical, Bye Bye Birdie is tonight. I can't wait to watch her sing and dance across the stage.
  • My husband is crazy busy at work. I am so thankful he has a job.
  • My Mom is visiting from Colorado. Wow, we always have the most amazing talks. 
  • Life is finally slowing a bit and I hear the Lord calling me to pray with intensity for many marriages. I count it a privilege to stand in the gap.

I am deeply thankful for all these things and so much more. I am thankful for all of you my friends. What are you thankful for this week? Hugging all of you, Lynn

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Friendship with God Through Confession

Prayer:Confession We've covered some amazing ground so far in our Friendship with God series. If you didn't get a chance to read Angela's post on Friday, be sure to scroll down and read it. It will change your outlook. Today I want to encroach on a subject that seems to be overlooked too often, yet is a vital part in seeking God.

Confession.

Now don't run off quite yet. I promise this post isn't a hand slapper, but confession is something we need to talk about here at S.U.M.

Years ago I had a wonderful mentor who helped me move into the discipline of daily time with God. Another discipline she taught me was confession. Not to be confused with condemnation, because we know that there is no condemnation in Christ.

Confession is an opportunity for us to "clear the air." If you're a parent, compare it to a time when your child came to you and confessed something he or she did wrong. Though you're pained by what they've done, your love doesn't waver, and your sole desire is to move your child from this place of guilt to forgiveness (with consequences as needed, of course).

Now take a look at your child. Once the situation was dealt with and you extended that love with mercy, along with the consequences, your child probably seemed relieved. They released themselves from carrying this burden and opened themselves to you the parent for examination.

From my own personal experiences with my children, I find my daughters draw closer to me afterward and our relationship is even strengthened. And that's in an imperfect world with an imperfect parent.

Our God is a perfect parent. He wants nothing to stand in the way of closeness with him, but sin does. Sin is a barrier that clogs communication, and without communication, there is no relationship.

This mentor I had taught me the importance in making confession a part of my daily time with God. I'm not perfect, and I know I fall short everyday. I may not even know it. This part of the time I spend with God gives him a chance to show me where I didn't hit the mark and gives me the opportunity to learn from it. I can confess my selfishness, self-centeredness, self-entitlement, self-reliance—all those "self" issues to God, because in doing so, that allows him to take more residence in my heart. Less of me and more of Him.

And that is a key ingredient to this amazing opportunity to be friends with God. We allow God to shine his light in those dark places in our hearts so that there's more room for Him to live in and through us.

God's Word gives us the promise of the righteousness of Christ.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."1 John 1:9

Through confession we can walk in the righteousness of Christ as God’s friend.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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A New Phenomenon

Lynn is taking a much needed vacation this week to spend time with her mom. So I get to pop in a post on something off topic (we'll go back to our series about friendship with God tomorrow). But it's something I think we need to start talking about here at S.U.M.

1279418_shadow Numerous times past week I've come across references to how the church is failing men. We have it down pat (for the most part) for women and establishing the need for encouragement, but our men are more quickly told how they are failing and not supported. I wonder if this is the reason for why statistically men who come to faith later in life wind up falling away. A high percentage do this.

Are we emasculating our men? I know early on in my marriage I think I did this especially after our first daughter was born. I was more concerned with things being done my way than letting him be a dad his way. Then I complained that he didn't do enough to help. Now I understand that was my doing. I never gave him the freedom to try and not worry about messing up.

Now God is moving this wonderful man in my life into the role of leader and big changes that will require me to trust him and God like I never have before. But I'm finding I'm glad to do this, to come along side my husband and offer him the support and freedom to spread his wings without the fear of judgment.

I know we ache and yearn so much for our spouses to be saved but sometimes the best thing we can do for them is just get out of the way. I know right now God is calling me to stand by my man in quiet strength and support. Not in front of him, not behind him. Right next to him, to walk as a friend, an encourager, as his helper.

I know some days won't be easy and the enemy will try to sabotage me. I know others will think what we're about to do is crazy considering the economy. But what I KNOW more is that this is where God wants me.

Something new is definitely happening in the Miller household. The discontent I've watched grow in my husband's life seems to be reaching full bloom. And I must believe God is at the center of it, answering years of prayer. How can I believe otherwise and profess to believe God can do anything? 

And how can I offer my husband anything less than the freedom to become what God created him to be?

Praying and believing,
Dineen   

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Weekend Devotion - Weekend Humor

Okay, watch this video with all the humor intended. It's okay to poke a little fun at how we Christians do things. I watched this along with my husband and we laughed our heads off.

Sometimes it's a good thing to let our unbelieving spouses see we can laugh at ourselves and our "Christianese"

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

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Friendship with God: David’s example of Beholding

Awhile back, a good friend of mine asked me a question that I came across again recently in a book I’m reading. I want to pose it to each of you today. Please be very honest with yourself. You don’t have to share your answer with me. My purpose is not to know your secret thoughts. But I will share some of mine with you, on the off chance that some of you share in these same thoughts. 

Imagine for just a moment that you were told by a reliable source that tonight you were going to meet Jesus face-to-face and He was going to judge you – He was going to reveal the deepest parts of your life and your heart – what is the first feeling that overcomes you? Is it fear or excitement? 

I’ve been on a David quest for almost a year now, or more accurately a quest for David’s heart. He is described in Scripture as being a man after God’s own heart. God Himself, describes David in this way. What made him so special? Sure he was a mighty king and ruler of Israel, but he was also a royal mess up at times. I want to know what it was about Him that caused God to look upon him and describe him in such a way, despite his failures. I want a heart like that. I want to hear my Creator one day introduce me to the hosts of heaven as “Angela, a woman after my own heart”. 

When I was asked that question by my friend awhile back, I was immediately overwhelmed with dread. Why? Because deep down I believed that the God I serve is mostly mad and/or sad when He looks at me. I know God loves me, I’ve always known that, but I also believed I was a huge disappointment to Him. A part of me thought I still had to do things to earn His approval. 

I spoke last week about one of the keys to being a friend of God is getting to know Him. This is critical to any friendship, but especially with God. The more we understand Him, the more comfortable we are going to Him with anything and everything in our lives. 

I’m reading a book right now called “After God’s Own Heart” which speaks of a concept the author calls beholding and becoming . I won’t get into too much detail about it here. But the bottom line is, as we behold our God – His emotions, His heart, His character – we will gain more understanding of how He truly feels about us. That in turn will lead to our loving Him because of the great love He has for us and that will lead to our hearts, minds and lives being transformed by God. Not by our strength, but by His. 

God has shown me this has been my problem all along. I did not want to take the time to behold Him, instead I wanted to become like Him by my own strength. The key here is that I have one part in this (beholding) and God has the other part (becoming). He is the one that transforms me. I need to focus on getting to know Him and as I do so HE will transform me. I need to stop trying to bypass my part and stop trying to do His part. 

So, the question then is how do we get to know God, how do we behold Him, His emotions, His character and His heart. The answer is to study His Word and spend time in His presence – prayer and worship. I’ve always done these things, but the problem is because I felt the need to prove myself to God, to “do” things to earn His approval, my focus was always on becoming. I would read His Word to gain more knowledge, to be a scholar who knew all the answers. When I prayed I worried about how my prayers sounded. Were they holy enough? Did I sound sincere and knowledgeable about God. When I worshiped it was about going through the motions, doing what I knew I was supposed to do to honor God. But something was always missing. The friendship part – because I was focused on becoming what God wanted me to be and doing so in my power – I only knew God on paper. It was a logical, scholarly thing, not a heart thing. Bottom line, my focus was on me, not Him. 

God is slowly showing me what it means to behold Him. To read His Scriptures, not for knowledge that will make me wiser by man’s standards, but to read His Scripture to see His heart, His character and His emotions. To pray and just rest in His presence, not expecting that something must be resolved each time I go to Him in prayer. That just sitting in silence with Him is enough. To worship and truly focus on Him and not what I need to do or what others may be thinking. I loved Dineen’s post this week about worship. This truly is the key to knowing God. As we open our hearts and minds to Him, He reveals Himself to us. God created us to be influenced by music, which is why the enemy uses it so much to influence society and feed us his lies. He sees the connection that is created between us and our Creator with music and he twists it to serve his purposes. 

When David sinned so greatly by laying with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant, having her husband killed and then taking her as his wife – the Lord revealed his sin through the prophet Nathan. What was David’s response? He repented of this sin and then he prayed and fasted, asking the Lord to spare his son’s life. In the end though, the Lord took his son, just as He said He would. What was David’s response here? He cleaned himself up and then went to worship the Lord. David understood that even when we’ve messed up royally, we can come into the presence of the Lord and worship Him. God sees the part of us that is willing and desiring to follow Him and He focuses on that part of our heart. He delights in that part of our heart. God loves us dearly and takes delight in us, even in, especially in our weakness. 

That was the difference between David and me. David knew that God saw that “yes” hidden deep within his heart even at his weakest point, whereas I thought God was too blinded by all the other stuff in my heart. Maybe in a way I was not even aware of that “yes” in my own heart. God saw what I could not and He has revealed to me the part of my heart that is most precious to Him. 

What better friend can you ask for than that? 

Dear Lord, We know you see the “yes” buried deep within our hearts. Please reveal to us that “yes” which You find so precious in each of us. Help us to learn to focus on beholding you instead of trying so hard to ‘become’ by our own strength. Your word says in Zephaniah (3:17) that You will take great delight in us, You will quiet us with Your love and You will rejoice over us with singing. Please make that real to each of us this week. Show us how to focus on You, show us how to search out Your heart, Your character and Your emotions during the time we spend in Your Word and during our prayer and worship times. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen

 Angela Smith

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Thankful Thursday - A Husband

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Laurie at Women Taking A Stand and then in June we will share our thanks over at Iris of Grace Alone. Back here in July. Wow, are we talking the hot months of summer already.

This week I have been richly blessed by all the speakers from A Woman Inspired, One Marriage Conference. It was a time where I was able to see God alive and well and working in our marriages. 

I am thankful for my husband. That man loves me and I adore him. We have over come so many challenges and I see growing old together as a great and grand gift.

The Lord is good. He has done great things in the life of an ordinary woman, an ordinary wife.

What has the Lord given you through marriage? Be blessed, Lynn

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Friendship with God Through Worship

IStock_000004628405XSmallRight after we moved back to the States from Europe, I had the chance to go to my first Women of Faith conference. I went with two friends from the church I’d recently found and joined. Now the music was amazing, and if you’ve ever been to one, you know what I mean. Plus being with so many other women in a stadium that seated 10,000…wow.

I had a problem though. For me to let go and worship God was not easy. Something seemed to get in the way or block me from expressing this side of my faith. I figured I was just one of those overly self-conscious people who would have to be content to stand still and sing along politely.

But I wanted more. So much more.

On the second day, we stood to sing another song after a very moving session. After the music started, images began to go through my mind. You know that saying, “your life flashes before your eyes”? Well, that’s what it was like. Except it wasn’t the images I would expect to see, ones I was completely aware of from my painful school years. No, God showed me one by one all the times I had felt rejected by the father figures in my life.

I began to cry. Then like the quiet voice that came to Elijah after all the raucous of the wind, a fire, and an earthquake, God told me, “I will never reject you like that.”

My heart melted. I bawled even more. And from that day, I’ve been able to worship God freely. I can’t stand quietly during worship at church anymore. I move a little to the beat and have even lifted my hands at times when I’ve been so moved by a song. And every word speaks to my heart and becomes a prayer.

God did that for me. And he told me recently that if I wanted to draw closer to him, I would find him in worship.

Worship is a unique portal in which our hearts open and allow God access to a deeper level. The times I’ve heard God most clearly have been during worship and I believe this is part of the process of becoming friends with God.

But it requires a vulnerability we sometimes shy away from. Take a look at this passage from John:
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). —John 1:41-42
This particular piece of Scripture captured my attention, specifically the part that I bolded. When I looked this up in Stong’s, the root of this word (beheld in KJV) has its roots in words that imply discernment and to look “through.” I had a feeling when I read this that this wasn’t just a glance, but Jesus’ serious assessment of the man he knew he would build his church on—Peter.

The beauty of this is…Jesus looks at us too and he sees it all. He knows our pain, our struggles, our hang-ups. He knows it all because he experienced it all during his testing and more importantly, it’s why he came and died for us.

So whatever you’re holding onto, whatever that deep wound is, Jesus already knows about it. He wants you to give it to him and let him heal you so he can walk closer to you.

Like your friend.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Friendship and A Woman Inspired and a Surprise!

Hi Everyone: 

I am interrupting our series, Friendship with God, to invite you to join me today at A Woman Inspired online conference. 

This is a three day, stay at home in your PJ's, and listen in as we share God's truths and teaching about marriage (ladies only. sorry men). I will be speaking at 9:30 a.m. PST and would dearly love to know I you are in the audience. Be sure to send me a chat note and say, "Hi, I'm here." Also, please whisper up a quick prayer that everything I say is from Jesus and that He is honored. 

It's not too late to join the fun. Visit the website, A Woman Inspired, and register. 

If you are joining us from the conference, hello and WELCOME! I'm so glad you found Dineen and I and all of our friends here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. To enter the drawing I spoke about at the conference, please leave a comment, and share with me one aspect of love that was especially meaningful to you. I will draw a name to win at the end of the conference. I want to thank Iris Nelson of Grace Alone, for donating such a wonderful gift. 

For all of our regular readers and our new ones too, I have a giant surprise for you later in the month. It will be fun. I promise. Stay tune for more details. We are going to have an opportunity to connect with one another in a way we haven't before. 

Our series, Friendship With God, continues tomorrow. Check back then. I love all of you so much. Please write me or leave a comment so I know how to be praying for you, your husband, and your marriage this week. BIG hugs, Lynn



I am Speaking at this marriage event.

Topic: Who Killed Cinderella?
From Disappointment to Thriving...

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Happy Mother's Day

This is priceless! I think I have said everything in this entire video.

Celebrating the gift of Motherhood. Have a great day! Hugs, Lynn

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Weekend Devo — Friendship of God

Here's another devotional from Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald. Happy Mother's Day and keep seeking God as your friend! Praying and believing, Dineen

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Friendship of God
by Dr. James MacDonald of Walk in the Word


"The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant." - Psalm 25:14


It’s hard to read that verse and not do a double take. You’re like, "Friendship? How does that connect with the 'for those who fear him' part of the verse?" The Bible is full of these stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks statements. God's Word will make you think about what you think you know. This verse tells us that fear is the foundation of our relationship with God. Fear is not the life that we're living in Him today. It's the foundation of that life.

First John 4:18 says that "perfect love casts out fear... and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." When I'm walking in the ways of the Lord and in fellowship with the Lord, I grow up into a love relationship with God. But I'm really glad I still have that fear foundation. What if I'm tempted to be a selfish moron later today? I've got that foundation reminding me, "What will the God you fear think of this?" So you want your relationship with God to be built on a foundation of fear, but then grown up into a love relationship with God: "The friendship of the Lord."

Actually the word friendship in this verse can also be translated secret or intimate. This interesting word in the Hebrew refers to the confidential counsel that you would get from a close friend. So, the secret, intimate, confidential counsel that comes from the friendship of the Lord "is for those who fear Him." God shares His best stuff with the people who fear Him. This is the closeness of trusting God.

My dad was a big-time disciplinarian. "Wait 'til your father gets home" had real meaning in our house. Now I have a friendship with my parents. We laugh together. We cry together. We pray together. I have the most amazing relationship with my parents. But even when I talk to them about something difficult - especially with my dad - I still choose my words carefully because they're my parents.

Even in our friendship relationship with God there's still that sense of "He's God; I'm not." It's an intimacy, but it's an intimacy that has the foundation of healthy fear.

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What’s the big deal about Friendship?

A few days after Lynn asked me to be part of this series, I was having lunch with two of my friends at work when the subject of friendship came up.  Women at lunch  One of the ladies began to share how she’s never had any really close friends and how she often does not feel like she truly belongs in any group of which she is a part. As the two of us listened we had tears in our eyes. I’d like to say it was just tears of compassion, but in reality it was also tears of empathy because both of us knew exactly what she was talking about. We both felt the exact same way but had never had the courage to voice our feelings. This lunch was a turning point in the friendship the three of us share and I’m thankful my friend was willing to share her heart with us. 

This conversation got me to thinking about how many of us, especially women, crave a deep intimate friendship with someone, but seem to not be able to ever really find it. We begin to wonder what is broken within ourselves to keep others at such a distance. Or is the problem with everyone else, why don’t they understand us? Why can’t we find that kindred spirit that understands us, loves us and accepts us – the good, the bad and the ugly? Why can’t we find that special friend who we can pour our hearts out to, share our hopes and dreams with? Someone we can be ourselves with, someone with whom we can let down our guard? 

As I pondered this and prayed about it God revealed something to me. We can’t find this perfect best friend for two reasons. First, we are too selfish. Ouch! It is hard to hear, but so true. I would love to have a close friend like I’ve described above, but if I’m totally honest I just don’t have the time in my schedule to reciprocate what I’m asking for in a best friend. I’d like to think otherwise, that if I found someone like that I would be the same to them, but in all honesty that would just not happen. I need a best friend that has no life outside of me. (Be honest with yourself here, can you relate?) 

The next hurdle is that in order for this person to be what I’ve described above, they would need to know my heart (and my mind) pretty intimately. This requires a whole lot of energy, trust and raw emotional soul barring honesty on my part with another human being who I know is just as messed up and sin-ridden as I am. Who are we kidding – that is NOT going to happen! 

About this time you are saying, “Geez Angela. I was a bit bummed about this whole friendship thing before, but now I’m down right depressed! “ Not to worry though, because there is good news for us. I truly believe this desire in each of our hearts to have a deep trusting friendship is one that was placed there by God Himself. He wants this for us just as much as we do. In fact, He may want it even more. However, in order to obtain our heart’s desire we must find it in Him. That has been our first mistake – we are looking in the wrong place. This is not to say that we won’t or shouldn’t have close friendships in our lives, but that our closest, best friendship should be with God. All other friendships pale in comparison because He is the only one that can handle the expectations that come with this type of intimacy and openness. 

As I’ve continued to pray about this the Lord has whispered to me about what His design for this friendship is and what is necessary to gain my heart’s desire. That is what I want to share with all of you this month. What does it take to gain this desired intimacy and friendship with our Creator? 

I want to look at two things this month. First is focusing on getting to know God better. What are His heart’s desires, what are His emotions, what is His personality? Have you ever pondered these things? I want us to learn how to gaze upon His face and His beauty and spend time in His presence. Dineen has already started us down this path with Tuesday’s post. The second thing is how do we truly pour our hearts out to God? How do we reveal to Him the desires of our heart? Our emotions? Our personality? And why do we need to do this with a God who is omniscient and already knows us better than we even know ourselves? 

Unfortunately our human weaknesses, our society and the enemy are constantly bombarding us with lies to keep us from this intimate friendship. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of believing these lies and wondering why I can’t attain this desire that is so rooted in my being. I’m ready with God’s Strength to take some ground the enemy has tried to convince me is not within my grasp. I’m ready to develop a truly intimate friendship with my Creator. What about you? Are you ready and willing to take a step of faith and become best friends with God? 

Dear Lord, We acknowledge that the desire for friendship that is so deeply rooted within us has been placed there by You. And we recognize that we have been looking in all the wrong places to fill this void in our lives. Please, show us how to be true intimate friends with You. Show us Your Face, Your Beauty and most of all Your Heart. And help us to truly open our hearts to You. We desire for You to be our best friend. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen


Meet Angela Smith

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It's Okay If You Don't Believe

Today I have a story to share with you that will give some of you goose bumps and will cause others to roll your eyes. And that’s okay. But, it’s a story worth sharing because so many of God’s faithful will be encouraged to watch for the miraculous that happens more frequently than you might expect.

Read the rest at Laced With Grace. This is one of the strangest and hardest events for me to share. I really mean this: It's okay if you don't believe. Hugs, Lynn


Also, today I am sharing some of the basics about living unequally yoked over at Exemplify, The Marriage Channel. Find my article, Hope for the Unequally Yoked Marriage. This is a look at living unequally yoked from the beginning. In this series we will walk through some of the basics such attending church alone and the loneliness that we experience on this unique path toward Heaven. Please join me and I pray you are encouraged. Hugs, Lynn 

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Friendship with God: Come Just As You Are

1055793_whats_in_a_word Hello everyone! Welcome to our May series, Friendship with God. As you probably know Lynn, Angela and I have been praying about this series. I’ve been asking God to tell me where to start. What are his words? What does he want us to know about friendship with Him.

I sat in my living room Saturday, reading from a devotional booklet and praying again about this series as my daughter watched a cartoon. Never did I expect God’s voice to breakthrough at that noisy moment, but He did and this is what He told me:

“Tell them they don’t have to be perfect to come to me. I want them just as they are.”

Wow! As a recovering perfectionist, this spoke right to my heart. Don’t we do that…strive to be perfect, thinking we’ll be more acceptable to God? If I do this, God will love, accept, bless me… When I fall into this trap, I remind myself that I can’t make God love me any more or less than He already does.

Sometimes we totally miss the point of why Jesus came. I know I did for a long time. I knew in my mind that Jesus died for me, but my heart still hadn’t accepted that truth. And I didn’t even realize it until one day Jesus whispered in my ear through a song of worship and told me he died for me. He even used my name, and let me tell you, when God uses your name, you better pay attention, because it’s going to be big!

So here is where we start. Throw off the expectations and lofty standards you’ve placed upon yourself.

“Those are not your burden to carry.” (Wow, again! God spoke this to me as I was typing the sentence before it!)

Get rid of them, then find a quiet spot and imagine that you’re sitting at Jesus’ feet. Tell Him you just want to sit there and soak in everything about Him, that you want to know Him like you never have before.

Then be still and know Him. Close your eyes and if you find your mind wandering, speak his name out loud to refocus. You can even use a breathing prayer, and say His name as you exhale.

And in your heart, place one sole desire. “Lord, I want to know you deeper than I ever have before. I want to walk with you as a friend.” Make this moment just about you and God, and leave the prayer requests for when you’re done with this special time just for the two of you. If you like to journal, I’d like to encourage you to write about your time with God, and anything that seemed important at the time.

And like your favorite shampoo and conditioner say “repeat,” repeat, repeat, REPEAT! The best way to know God and know Him as a friend is to spend time with Him and his Word. You will always find Him when you seek him!

Here are some thoughts to ponder after you meet with God:

  • Did you find you “felt” more connected to God than you have before? Try to describe what was different.
  • Did He tell you something specific, something He wanted you to know?

Whenever you sense God telling or showing you something, jot it down either in a journal or in the margin of your Bible near the Scripture that maybe sparked it. Be sure to date your entry as well. Then you have a spiritual history to go back and reread. As God told the Israelites to remember, He wants us to remember, too.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

Visit me At the Well!Also catch my post over on At The Well, where I answered this question:

I am a spiritually single mom with 2 children trying to love and walk with the Lord while being submissive to my unbelieving husband. Any encouragement or biblical teaching would be much appreciated.

Dear Spiritually Single,

First, let me say that your desire to love and walk with the Lord while being submissive to your unbelieving husband is a huge step. This desire is the spark God asks for so that he can supply the strength and wisdom for you to travel this path.  It’s not an easy one, but I find the richest paths of life are often fraught with challenges and trials.

Read the rest...


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Come Visit Our New Home - Redesign of SUM

Hi Everyone: 

Welcome to our open house. I feel as though we (Dineen and I) have just moved into a new home we have been building over the past several months. Dineen and I are so excited. It is a BIG change from our old look but I hope you feel comfortable here. AND this home is your home. We custom built it thinking about all of you who stop by for a visit. We told our designer, make this a place where our friends arrive and they feel like they arrived home. Where they feel safe and loved and where they will find two women who love them and who love Jesus and their unsaved husbands. We pray with a full heart that you find that here every day at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. 

We quietly launched our new look on May 1st just to work out some kinks if they arrived. We tweaked a few things but the new design and implementation went smoothly. I mention May 1st specifically because I opened my Daily Bible which I have read every year since 1999 and on the page that begins May1st, I wrote this in the margin in 2006: 

May 1 2006: Started Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog. 

It has been four years and as I look back to that day when I sat at a table with eight other women who were discussing blogs and heard the Lord tell me, “You’re going to do this. You’re going to do this.” I stand amazed and humbled. Dineen joined me a few months later and slowly over the many months have grown closer to all of you and closer to Jesus. 

So would you join us as we welcome each of you into our new home? We count it a privilege that you spend time with us and we pray earnestly for the Lord to give us His words as we write from our hearts about the living hope we have in Jesus for our lives, our marriages, our children, our community and our world. 

We love you. 

Lynn and Dineen 

Lynn and Dineen want to share with you a few of our new friends, Ashley and George of Tekeme Studios. What amazing talent and they have a way with html code that boggles my mind. We love you both. Thank you for our amazing design. May the Lord richly bless you. Check out Tekeme here and say hello from us. 

Don't forget our new series begins tomorrow, Friendship With God. Whoa! Can I just say the Lord has revealed a few things to each of us to share with you. It's not what you might expect but it's exactly what the Lord want us to know. Join Dineen, Angela, and me tomorrow. Hugs. Lynn

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