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20 entries from June 2011

Thankful Thursday - Random Richness

It's Thankful Thursday. In June we are at Iris', Grace Alone. Next month, July, we are back here. WOO HOO! Dineen will be helping with Thankful Thursday in July, as I will be in Wisconsin.

 Do any of you live in or around Door County? Let's meet up.....

Half of 2011 is OVER. Say What?

I'm so thankful for the answered prayers in the last six months (read Monday's post for just one answer to my words of prayer).

I'm thankful that tonight the Women's Leadership Team will gather at my house for Sunridge Women - Foodnetwork. We are going to cook together, Roman Chicken, A Southwest Salad, Cheesey garlic bread. Three words: Yum and eee. We are celebrating the victories of the past church year. Lives were changed. Bondage broken and Jesus was glorified.

I'm still humbled to the core that as an unequally yoked woman, my church embraced me and has encouraged me to serve my local church body. In some churches, if your husband is unsaved, a woman cannot serve. I am deeply thankful.

I'm thankful for my sister in Christ, Dineen Miller (My Jerry McGuire). I love you my friend.

I am so thankful for all of you who spend your precious time here with me reading. You grieve with me over setbacks and shout with joy and praise through the victories in my ordinary life. My extraordinary life, because of Christ. 

I love each of you who stops in here. What are you thankful for this week. Leave a note in the comments and honor Jesus with your praise. Hugs, Lynn

*****

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

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Choosing to Love

(Last Fall I wrote this post about making the choice to love our spouse. With a little revision, I'm sharing this again since it's a topic that can be a great challenge yet is so crucial to any marriage.)

1228973_love_1 How do we love our spouses unconditionally? How do we keep going? How do we keep hoping?

I want to share some Scriptures to encourage you. Claim one, some, or all of these in your heart and know that God is faithful, whatever path He calls us to walk. And please read to the end. I saved the best for last.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. —Romans 5:1-5

These verses start with our justification through faith. Then it speaks of the peace we have through Jesus, who we gained access to by that faith. This faith allows us to stand firm in Christ. Every bit of this screams Christ is the center of it all.

These Scriptures also help us understand that sufferings are and will be a part of our lives, but that we can rejoice in them. Why? Because we have a God who loves us and brings purpose to every part of our lives, even our trials and sufferings. Through them we learn perseverance, character, and most importantly, HOPE! How do we do this? What’s the key? Jesus is the key. We can persevere and have hope as we stand firm in Him.

We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. — 2Thessalonians 3:4-6

Here we have an example that tells us that our hearts are to be defined by God’s love. Who we are, how we see others and ourselves, and how we love is all supposed to work within the confines of God’s amazing and unending love. That’s huge shift in perspective! That means we don’t have to love our spouses through our own capacity. God knows we can’t and he’s provided His Son to help us persevere. Again, all through Him!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. —James 1:2-4

These are some of my favorite Scriptures because they speak of God’s preparation in our lives. He doesn’t abandon us. I know sometimes it feels that way, but crying out to God in your times of despair is also an act of faith. And I know sometimes it can feel like God asks so much of us, asks us to sacrifice a lot for our unbelieving spouses, but remember that a soul is at stake. We have a high calling and God will equip us every step of the way.

So what’s my point in all this? Hang on, we’re almost there.

God is present. We are not alone. He is our strength and prepares us for whatever comes, for our good! And for the good of those he’s calling us to love unto Him. This never changes. What does change is our perspective. Are we operating only within our own strength and ability with our eyes focused on the problem? Or do we have our eyes turned upward as we stand firm in Christ with the understanding that God is our strength and our hope?

I’m a firm believer in the power of decision. We can be like the waves James speaks of that are blown and tossed by the wind because of their doubt. I believe this happens when we are indecisive as well.

What’s the first step to loving your spouse unconditionally? Choose to love. Don’t worry about the feelings. Those will come later. Make the choice to love your spouse and do whatever God asks you to do. Use the above Scriptures as reminders that God will strengthen and equip you for what’s ahead. Make the first step, then watch what God does.

This quote below from Goethe says it beautifully.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is one elementary truth in ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

I’m thinking it’s time for a Chronicles update.

This is one of the most meaningful posts about the Chronicles I have written to-date. Up until now, I hesitated to share with you what happened on May 6th. But today the Lord said to me, “It’s time.”

For those of you who are new to our website the Chronicles of the Donovan Clan is my ongoing personal story of our family, Jesus, and my husband’s journey to faith. You can read past post of the Chronicles in our archives.

May 6, 2011:

It’s a Friday morning and my 15-year-old daughter will be taking the biggest exam of the entire school year today. Her first period class is AP Euro (Advanced Placement European History). This is a college curriculum and college credit exam. A passing grade will allow her to take this credit with her to college.

Now I don’t know about your kids but my brainiac gets herself completely worked up just before a big exam. The night before, she is on edge. She is so wound up she usually can’t study. Thankfully she has her Daddy’s giant memory and knows her stuff.  To placate me, she will eventually try to settle down and at least pretend to study.

So the morning of the exam, Friday, May 6th, she is teetering on the edge of complete lunacy. She gets out of bed, heads to the couch for some TV to wake up. I glance at her sideways and carefully craft a simple question, “Cereal?” She glowers in my direction and her girl claws surface. I could almost hear the, “Reeeeeee-eeeer” rising from her throat.

She snaps sarcasm my direction. I let it slide as I know how stressed she is and isn’t that just like a family. We always take out our frustrations on those we love. Ahem, I would never do that *grin.*

I lay low in my office while she eats. My husband is hiding out in the bedroom pretending the cat fights aren’t actually happening in the other part of the house. Coward!

Anyway, the teen dresses and tosses a few more angry glares and caustic words my way. Let me be clear here, I’m not likely to suffer through disrespect from anyone but on this particular morning, I let it pass and gave her THE LOOK.

Comon’ you know “the look.” The purposeful stare that only a mom can give that communicates all manner of retribution is waiting if said child chooses to say one more thing. Period. The end.

She grabs her backpack and stomps to the car. I whisper a prayer of thanks to the Good Lord above that she is finally leaving. I pick up my purse and quickly walk into the bedroom where my husband is dressing.

“Honey, I’m leaving to take Caitie to school.” I talk quickly. “She is really stressed out. You need to pray for her.”

Okay, I have asked my husband to pray on occasion in the past. He will shrug it off or to placate me say, “I will.” I don’t ask too often but that particular morning, I would take anyone praying beside me for our kid.

Now get this. He says to me, “I already prayed for her and I prayed for you.”

In my rush, I smack him on the lips and sprint out the door to get said primadonna to school in time for the exam. I drop her off and pray up a storm for her success as I circle around the school. I wave at Officer Baily as I pass and then head back home.

THAT’S when it hits me. Did he say he already prayed…… for her……. for me????  

What do I do with this simple yet life-altering statement? Let me share some of my private reflections. Did he really say he prayed? Who was he praying to? He prayed of his own volition. Does that mean he believes?

Handholdingrest It wasn’t until today when we were at lunch after church. Yes, he went with me this morning. No, rephrase. I went early to a class. He got up on his own, drove to church and met me in the sanctuary. It wasn’t until today that I gathered the courage to ask him about that morning.

Starting this kind of conversation is a scary aspect. Marriage to an unbeliever is a tight rope at times. Discussions of faith are a risk. Pain and or disappointment can follow. “Honey, I want to ask you about something…. I recreate the morning of May 6th with my descriptions, taking him with me back to that morning. “Honey, you said you prayed for Caitie and you prayed for me. You prayed of your own choice before I even asked. It touched me deeply that my husband prayed for me. I have waited 19 years for that.”

He looked at me with kindness in his eyes,“I have prayed for you more than just then. In fact, I pray for you more than you know.”

Please imagine, blonde, 5 foot 4 inch, Lynn Donovan, as a deer in headlights stunned to silence on the bar stool in the restaurant.

I have so many more questions I want to ask him but the Spirit cautioned me not to push.

So, is he a believer?

After nineteen years, I witnessed the Lord’s faithfulness to a private yearning in my lil' heart. What are you waiting for? Don’t give up. We serve a brilliant God who is captivated by His people and His people’s spouses, even my stubborn man.

Lynn 

*****

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

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Weekend Devo — Gideon a Mighty Warrior?

IStock_000012718009XSmall When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” — Judges 6:12

The story of Gideon is a tale of man who sees himself and his tribe as being weak and most incapable of defeating their enemy. He’s baffled that God would even consider him suitable material to defeat the Midianites, who had severely oppressed the Israelites for seven years.

Yet there sat this angel of God under a tree, calling Gideon a “mighty warrior” before he even stepped foot into battle.

You see, in Gideon’s eyes he hadn’t yet proved himself. He had no credentials to qualify him for the title of “warrior.” Maybe he even thought God had the wrong guy.

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
— Judges 6: 14-16

God calls Gideon to go in the strength that he has. He’s not asking Gideon to prove himself first, or to get in shape, bulk up and earn the title of warrior. Nope, He just tells Gideon He’s sending him.

I love that part. God just simply says, “Am I not sending you?” It’s like God is saying, “Isn’t it enough that the Creator of the universe, who controls all things and all outcomes is sending you? What, do you think I’d send you in only to lose?”

Yet Gideon still questions. God makes it even clearer by saying He will be with Gideon and that the battle will be theirs.

But let’s go back to that first verse. Right from the start, God calls Gideon a mighty warrior. What Gideon couldn’t see within himself without proof, God clearly saw as potential. He created Gideon, so He knew what the man was capable.

God does the same with us. He knows his creations well and knows our needs to fulfill whatever place or calling He has in mind for us.

When we relinquish control of our limited and earthly perceptions of ourselves, we step into God’s potential for us. What His amazing and unlimited will is for our lives.

Now we sometimes might view God’s will for our lives as a limitation of what we get to do on this earth until we reach heaven. The truth is, it’s our own wills that are limiting and short-sighted.

God’s will is freeing, unlimted in potential and the most satisfying purpose-filled way of living that exceeds anything I can even imagine. The trick is to believe it—to move past the Gideon’s within us and trust that God is with us in whatever He’s asking us to do.

After a bit of testing and doubting, Gideon defeated the Midianites. He finally saw it wasn’t his own ability he needed to rely on but on God Himself.

When we do that, whatever it is that God is placing on your heart is possible. You don’t have to qualify, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to change first.

God just wants you to say yes.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Bittersweet

Dear Dineen and Lynn: 

I just have to share with the two of you my “bittersweet moment” this morning.  To back track, I just got home yesterday from having been with my youngest daughter the past three weeks as she gave birth to her first child—a precious 9 lbs. 1 oz. baby girl, name Hadley.  Needless to say, it was hard leaving that little bundle of joy 5 hours away from me in Austin, Tex. 

And now for my bitter sweet moment via Facebook post my daughter, Heather, posted early this morning.  She had a picture of a devotional book:  Baby Boot Camp by Rebecca Ingram Powell.  Beside the picture, Heather wrote: 

“Moms—it is my first morning without my mom to help me and this little devotional book is a life saver!  Find one and take a little time for yourself to read a little devotion each day.  I love it already with a cup of hot coffee.” 

I shed a few tears and then replied:

“I’m having a bitter sweet moment five hours away as I read this.  My daughter doesn’t need me to help anymore????  But, how sweet knowing that she is reading and dependent on God’s Word.  All is right with the world.” 

I wanted to share this with you because you are doing such a wonderful job in reaching out to young moms who are faced, as I was, and you have been, in raising children in church alone.  I had so many flashbacks as I read Heather’s post.  

One in particular was a decision I made when she was two years old and her sister was six.  We had just made a move from Atlanta, Ga. to New Orleans, La.   My husband had been offered a job opportunity that he felt he couldn’t afford to turn down.  During the process of our lengthy talks about taking the job, I just simply said to him:  “I’ll go with you anywhere you feel we need to go; it is just so hard for me to move with two little girls to a strange city and have to take them to church by myself.”  

To which he replied, “I promise you if you will make this move with me, I will go to church with you and the girls.”  And with that hope, we made the move. 

Oh yes, he went the first Sunday to help me find the church, and that was the end of that.  

As a young mother I felt so betrayed.  

One Sunday morning as I was about to give this church-going up for good, I heard little children playing out in the street in my neighborhood.  It was then that I prayed:  “Lord, whether he ever goes to church with me, I commit to you this morning that I will go alone if I have to;  I can’t bear the thought of my children playing on the streets on Sunday morning and not in church.  

And with that, the three of us began our journey, and today both girls are ministering in their own church, and raising their little ones for Jesus.  And I might add, they married fine Christian young men who are right beside them and who is the spiritual leader of their homes. 

I realize it doesn’t always happen this way.  When children become of age, they have to make their own choices and sometimes stray from their Christian up-bringing for a while.  But, my reason for writing to the two of you is this:  keep on encouraging young moms, as you are doing, to make the effort to teach the kids about Jesus and take them to church, even if it she has to do it alone.  It has it rewards---I am blessed. 

On a side note, both girls love their dad so much, and he gloats over his children and grandchildren.  He has been the best husband and father any man could be with the exception of that “little missing link of having Jesus in his heart.”  But, the three of us feel the manifestation of his salvation is near.  As you say in your book:  “God makes everything beautiful in His time.”  

And last, your book has been good therapy for me.  It was with me in Austin each morning during my quiet time.  The keys have allowed me to see where I’ve been in the past; sometimes “I got it right,” but there are keys that are showing me what I need to be doing at the present time for this particular season of my life and marriage.  It couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time for me.  

Keep up the good work as you minister to the spiritually unequal yoked and blessings to you both. 

Martha Bush

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Thankful Thursday - Sweet Sixteen

It's Thankful Thursday. In June we are at Iris', Grace Alone.

.....

Can anyone tell me what happened??

I blinked and my baby who was strapped safely in her car seat in our Ford Explorer is now pulling away from the house driving it.

I am freaked out. I am humbled. I am scared. I am excited. I'm emotional!!

Imported Photos 00012 She turned 16 and passed her driving exam all in a few short days this past week. This little shy girl who never spoke to anyone and hid behind my leg has become an actress at school, a driving young adult an intelligent and good student and a great buddy to me.

We spent the day together on the beach today. We talked about boys and about dating. We discussed college and all manner of teenage woes. But I looked at her as we were driving down the freeway on our way home and saw a beautiful young woman. Beautiful inside and out.

I said, "Did you pray and thank God for helping you pass your driver's exam."

"Yes, Mom," she stated matter-of-factly. As if.... why do I even need to ask.

My heart soars. She is becoming a young woman and Jesus will be part of her life. Jesus will be part of her sweet sixteen year, her high school graduation, her wedding day, and every day of her life.

Today, I have witnessed the faithfulness of God. He has heard my prayers. He has loved on my daughter and revealed himself despite her daddy's unbelief. My daughter, sweet sixteen this week, loves Jesus. And that is all that really matters.

I love you Caitie. You are a joy to both your mom and dad. We couldn't be prouder or love you more. Hugs, Mom (Lynn)

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Just Too Busy

It's my great delight to share with you today my friend, Joanne Kraft. Joanne and I met face-to-face at She Speaks Conference back in 2008. Here is a photo of (left to right) Angie, from the Knightly News, me and Joanne Kraft of One So blessed

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Little did we know the adventures God would take us on. This month I am privileged to share with you Joanne's new book, Just Too Busy, Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. Her wit and humor abound as she tells the most amazing story of how Joanne and her family "quit" the traditional American life.

Cover: Just Too Busy is the true story of the Kraft family s head-on collision with busyness and the twelve-month experiment that changed their lives. When their children could recite the dollar value meals at McDonalds faster than their times-tables, they knew something was very wrong. So, instead of continuing their bad habits and fitting more into their schedules, they took a year off from all activities and learned how to be a family again. 

In this book, readers will laugh their way to learning the ten tell-tale signs that they are too busy and discover the symptoms for a common disorder known to moms today: A.D.D. (Activity Denial Disorder). Families will find simple ways to guard themselves from the temptation of constant distraction.

To learn more visit www.JoanneKraft.com or Amazon.

Please leave a comment and you are entered into a drawing for a $25 gift-card.

I'm delight for Joanne. She is a woman who loves Jesus and I am praying for her and the message she had to share. Lynn

*****

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

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Pointing Out the Positive

Photo 3 I’m in Florida at the moment visiting with our extended families. When I fell in love with my husband, I also fell in love with his family. He has a big one too! I love being around them and hearing all their stories of growing up. Lots of chuckles and memories.

On Father’s Day I loved seeing my husband and his youngest brother team up to help their dad with a project that would have monopolized a lot of this hard-working man’s time. Their unity and closeness have always inspired me.

As you can see by the picture, they are hard at work making a repair on the back porch. That front mostly gray head belongs to my sweet guy who gave his Father’s Day time to serve his dad.

I just love that. I love that I can see such positive and giving qualities in my husband and I make a point of letting him know how much I appreciate and admire those qualities.

So this week I’d like to challenge you to praise your husband for one thing—even it’s small—and thank him for that quality. Do this once a day (more if you’re motivated!) and watch what happens.

And if you’re willing, come back and share with us what happened. I know I love seeing my husband’s smile flash and his shoulders go up just a tad. Those opportunities to affirm them are priceless!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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The Elusive Dream

Today’s post may be a bit rambling but I'm sensing you may be in the same place. So here goes.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I know this day can be emotional and challenging to spouses who are spiritually mismatched.

I know this because I am still one of them.

I walked into church this morning.

Alone.

I was working a greeting table at the entry of our building and it was my delight and simultaneously my pain, to say hello to my friends who were headed to the auditorium with their husbands and their kids. Don’t get me wrong. I am truly thrilled for my friends that they are holding the hand of their spouse while stepping through the door. I am utterly blessed to have such a loving, accepting, and dedicated Christian family through my church.

But, here I was without my husband nor my daughter.

Again.

Ouch.

Why do holidays like Father's Day punctuate my oddity? Why does it still hurt after these many years? I think there will always remain a deep longing for a life that I am just not destined to live. And, it’s not like this life is an outlandish fantasy of fame or glamour or riches. It’s simply to be married to a man who shares a love for Jesus. That elusive dream where we sit together on a Sunday morning, a Father’s Day Sunday morning, as a family. A dream of a BBQ with our Christian friends following church.

I knew walking into church yesterday, my heart would sting.

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christian concerts, small group dinners, that longing never quite leaves me. But, one thing I also knew as I walked into church was that my Jesus waited for me. He reminded me that yesterday would be more difficult than other Sundays but to remember to just ask……

Ask Him to be my strength, be my hope, be my everything.

I stepped through the doors and the last worship song was this: Jesus Be The Center

Jesus be the center
Be my source be my light Jesus
Jesus be the center
Be my song Jesus

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in my sails
Be the reason that I live

 Jesus

 

Couplehands2
As the years of my marrried life begin to rush along ever faster and faster, this elusive dream loses its hold on my heart. Slowly and faithfully Jesus steps up to be my center and the pain lessens. The real joy of living for Christ intensifies and the truth of knowing my purpose for living is to glorify Jesus.

I did that yesterday. Just by showing up for church. Alone.

I hope your day was wonderful. I pray you told your husband that he is your hero. I pray that one day, one amazing day, ALL of us will walk through the doors of our church on the arm of our man who crossed over the line and lives for Christ.

That is my earnest prayer for all of us today. With a giant heart of love for all of you, Lynn

If you need to hear the song, here is a link: Jesus Be the Center

*****

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Weekend Devo — Do Whatever Brings You Back to Your Heart and the Heart of God

(In honor of Father's Day, we'd like to share this excerpt from Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge.)

865 Against the flesh, the traitor within, a warrior uses discipline. We have a two-dimensional version of this now, which we call a "quiet time." But most men have a hard time sustaining any sort of devotional life because it has no vital connection to recovering and protecting their strength; it feels about as important as flossing. But if you saw your life as a great battle and you knew you needed time with God for your very survival, you would do it. Maybe not perfectly-nobody ever does and that's not the point anyway-but you would have a reason to seek him. We give a halfhearted attempt at the spiritual disciplines when the only reason we have is that we "ought" to. But we'll find a way to make it work when we are convinced we're history if we don't.

Time with God each day is not about academic study or getting through a certain amount of Scripture or any of that. It's about connecting with God. We've got to keep those lines of communication open, so use whatever helps. Sometimes I'll listen to music; other times I'll read Scripture or a passage from a book; often I will journal; maybe I'll go for a run; then there are days when all I need is silence and solitude and the rising sun. The point is simply to do whatever brings me back to my heart and the heart of God.

The discipline, by the way, is never the point. The whole point of a "devotional life" is connecting with God. This is our primary antidote to the counterfeits the world holds out to us.

(pp 171-172)

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

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The BEST Video EVER!!!! Celebrating Dad

TUNR ON THE SPEAKERS AND GO GET YOUR HUSBAND. Then watch this video together.

I promise this two minute video will have you laughing, rockin' to the beat, and stir a love in your heart for Dad.

Father's Day is Sunday. Be intentional and tell your Dad and your kid's dad that he is a hero. 

Be blessed, Lynn

*****

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

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Thankful Thursday -

It's Thankful Thursday. In June we are at Iris', Grace Alone.

.....

Today Iris was sharing her thanks for the summer produce and the Farmers Markets. 

This brings to mind two things. First a verse that I read recently.

John 4:36 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Neat.

I also am thankful for my backyard garden. Many of you have heard this story before however, for the new readers I will tell you that for more than 25 years I worked in corporate America. I wore a suit, high heels, and always my nails were manicured. I really loved working but God had such better plans for my life.

Thus we moved to California and about three years ago we dug up the grass in the backyard and planted a garden. This garden is very special to me and I share a profound and amazing story about it in our book. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Anyhoo, there was a time in my life I never would have dreamed that I would love to dig in the dirt, cut off my nails and desire jeans to a business suit. Thank you Lord Jesus that you allowed me this wonderful gift of a life with dirt and a garden.

Last week I harvested and used in my cooking, zucchini, parsley, cilantro, basil and peaches. All from a tiny suburban backyard garden. It's my favorite place to read God's Word and pray.

I am, INDEED, richly blessed. I am so thankful for the Lord and His wisdom. He knew exactly what I really needed and what I would treasure.

What are you thankful for today? Share with me your praises and let's honor the Lord. Hugs, Lynn

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

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My Favorite Thing

Today I'm sharing a devotion that ALL of us can relate. I hope and pray you giggle, you smile, you are moved by the unconditional love of our Father.

This is one of my favorite devotions. Hope it becomes one of yours. BIG hugs, Lynn

"My Favorite Thing"

To read the entire story, join me today at Laced With Grace.

Laced With Grace

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Extenuating Circumstances

IStock_000014919590XSmall We've talked about all kinds of issues here at S.U.M. but today I'd like to delicately touch upon extenuating circumstances that can exist in our mismatched marriages.

You know that Lynn and I will always be on the side of believing that God can save any marriage, but we want to also be clear that we don't believe staying in an abusive (physically or emotionally) is God's will.

Some marriages fall under the "extremely difficult" category. The world today would tell you to get out of it—that this kind of emotional turmoil is ridiculous to put up with, but we answer to a higher authority than the world. Unlike society and common trends, we see marriage as a covenant to be highly guarded, even at personal cost. I will tell you that those women called specifically by God to stay in a difficult marriage know without a doubt that God is the one asking them to withstand the situation.

They are also some of the strongest women I've ever met. To listen to them speak of their situation leaves me no doubt that they have truly heard from God and they are equipped for the "job at hand." More importantly, they have no doubts.

But what I really want to touch upon are the marriages where obvious abuse is present. Or the threat of it.

A few years ago, we went through a particularly difficult time with our youngest daughter. We knew she was depressed but we weren't sure to what to degree. We felt—I felt I could handle it. It wasn't easy. Sometimes I didn't know what to do about her moods and since I was the one with her all the time, I received the brunt of it.

Until one day her anger became so intense that I was suddenly faced with the reality that I needed help. I was afraid and felt threatened.

This moment is still clear in my mind because I had to admit that I couldn’t fix the situation. I had to admit I needed help. Thus began our path to finding the help we needed and bringing change. That change began with me setting firm boundaries with my daughter and getting her outside help.

This kind of situation can creep in slowly. It wasn’t until I was brutally faced with the reality of my daughter’s condition that I realized how much I had allowed another person to control my life, but I am so glad for that moment too because it help me face the truth and be a catalyst to change it.

I couldn’t walk away from my daughter. I had a responsibility to fulfill as her parent. But I learned how to handle the times when she became confrontational and disrespectful with calm assertiveness. The best thing I could do at those times was walk away. (I forewarned her that when she behaved this way, I would leave the room.) Over time, she grasped that her behavior was inappropriate and began to change. I began to see her visible efforts to control her temper and her moods. Thanks to my changes and the outside help we both received, these issues don’t even exist now.

Boundaries If you are in a situation where you feel controlled and are losing who you are, be the catalyst of change. Start with reading Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. This book is a treasure trove of useful principles that can transform your marriage (we’ll talk about it more over the summer months). Don’t use it to try to control your spouse, but to help your spouse change their behavior—with the motivation to save your marriage.

In more serious cases, seek Christian counseling. Start with your pastor if you feel comfortable talking to him or her, or go through the Focus on the Family website. This doesn’t mean your marriage is going to end. It means that you want to fight for it and change what’s not working so you both can rediscover how to love each other as God intends us to. Our marriages are worth fighting for.

Only you can make the decision about what to do. Begin by praying and asking God to show you how and where to start. He will put what you need in your path in amazing ways. And through amazing people. Reach out for prayer and get ready to act.

I know it can seem overwhelming. It did for me with my daughter. The change took time—one small step at a time most days. But I look back now from a place where she understands boundaries and willingly respects them. I look forward to being with my daughter instead of cringing and wondering what mood will greet me each day.

Let me leave you with this quote from Boundaries in Marriage, regarding the “law of responsibility”:

“The Law of Responsibility also means that spouses refuse to rescue or enable the sinful or immature behavior of their partners. Couples have duty to set limits on each spouse’s destructive acts or attitudes.”

Praying and believing,
Dineen

43149: Boundaries in Marriage Boundaries in Marriage
By Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend

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Weekend Devo — Our Faithful Travel Companion

Shasta The other day I took our dog for a walk. Shasta is a strong dog, so much so that we have to use a lead leash in order to keep her from pulling us down the street when we walk her.

On our usual route we approached a house under construction. A yellow caution tape blocked off one area but had come undone and part of it now laid on the sidewalk, undulating slightly in the breeze. I didn't think anything of it until we got closer and our 35 lb. mini brute suddenly cowered like her miniature poodle counterpart. She wouldn't cross the tape.

I had to get down to her level and speak calming words to her, then guide her across what she perceived to be a genuine threat. After we returned to business as usual, the thought struck me that we are often so like this (no, I promise I am not calling you a dog). We perceive something to be a genuine threat to our status quo. We grow fearful and resist moving forward.

But unlike me who didn't foresee an issue for our fearful pooch, God knows exactly what is going to affect us adversely before we even know about it. He's always present, helping us to navigate the treacherous paths to safety on the other side.

God's command from Joshua 1:9 is, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

This is a command and promise that shows up many, many times in the Bible. God wants us to believe this promise and trust Him. No matter what part of the journey we're on, rocky or smooth, He's with us all the way.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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The Intentional Marriage ~ June 2011

It's the second Friday of June and welcome to our show, The Intentional Marriage.

Once again Dineen and I are together and we are answering your questions.

*Raising Kid's Christian
*Children and church attendance
*The changes that come with an empty nest when you are spiritually mismatched 

Please spend a few minutes with us and then add your thoughts in the comments. We are especially wanting your suggestions on how you navigated these GIANT issues with the grace of Christ and with love for your spouse.

Thank you now join the show. Hugs, Lynn

 

The Intentional Marriage ~ June 2011 from Lynn Donovan on Vimeo.

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Keeping Eternity in Our Sites

IStock_000010576453XSmall Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. I will admit I am affected by this more than I thought I would be. Sunday I was down right cranky (my daughter will confirm that) and yesterday I was sad.

I kept I reminding myself that death didn’t win. I know where Dad is and I know I will see him again one day. No way would I want him back here, suffering the ravages of cancer. He is exactly where he should be—with Jesus, whole and healed. But I do still miss him.

As believers in Christ, we have a hope that others don’t get to experience. They don’t have the reassurance of their loved ones’ eternity. They don’t have the promise of seeing the ones they loved again. They don’t have the comfort of knowing where their loved ones are.

I can’t imagine being in that place. I don’t want to experience that “not knowing.” I want that reassurance. When my mother was here in April, I even asked her to be sure. I knew she loved Jesus, but I had to ask her, “Mom, you’ve made that choice, right? Accepted Jesus as your Savior because I need to know where you’re going!”

She laughed and reassured her crazy daughter that she had. (Oh, thank you, Lord Jesus).

It’s so easy to lose sight in our day-to-day life that we serve a higher calling. Yes, the daily, weekly, and yearly stuff is important but without the reflection of eternity’s promise on all of it, we’re shortsighted.

As I tell my girls, this life is such a tiny blip on our eternal lifeline. We have work to do here, character qualities to build, and most importantly, people to serve! God has a purpose and calling for each of us right in our homes, in our work places, in school, on the playground, and any and every place we interact with others.

Our journey as a mismatched spouse is not an easy one. (Higher callings never are.) And we can easily lose our focus when faced with the inherent struggles these kinds of marriages pose. But don’t let your vision stop there. Keep in mind what’s at stake—the salvation of our unbelieving spouses. Let this be the motivation that keeps you walking the path God is calling you to.

Sometimes that means hanging in there through the roughest of times and learning to work together in unity. Sometimes it means seeking counseling and help to overcome deeper issues. Sometimes it may even mean a temporary separation until the two of you can come back together, committed to each other and the marriage.

Whatever God is asking you to do, move forward in the amazing reassurance and promise of His strength, mercy and love. You can trust Him completely with your future while you help those you love find their eternal destination too.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Good Always Wins

 

946158: Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy"s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

The following is an excerpt from Heaven Is For Real: Looking back, the Burpos realized there had been moments since the surgery when Colton had spoken very personally about Jesus, but they had just been happily surprised. Now they were fascinated. Over the next few months, they looked for opportunities to casually find out more about just what their son had experienced… On one occasion, Todd asked, “What did Jesus look like?” Abruptly, Colton put down his toys and looked up. “Jesus has markers. And he has brown hair and he has hair on his face. And his eyes -- oh, Dad, his eyes are so pretty! And he has markers, Dad.” “What color are Jesus’ markers?” “Red, Daddy. Jesus has red markers on him.”

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I think the first time I read this little boys account of his death and encounters in heaven and specifically this one….. Jesus has markers, I fell absolutely still. I sat and reeled as the full force of Christ’s love and His sacrifice washed over me. With each wave, the reality that these markers, these red markers are lasting evidence of a love I can’t begin to comprehend. A sacrifice I can’t contemplate in full. A gift.  

For me.

For you.

The red markers are visible in His skin right now, this very minute, because He redeemed us.

The red markers stand as evidence over my prodigal years where I ran from Him.

The red markers are there bearing proof that Jesus suffered because my selfishness and the hurt I causes others.

The red markers are His scars.

Scarsmoke
We also bear scars of pain. They don’t always show on our physical body but the scars of pain cut across our heart and many still lie unhealed and festering in our soul.

An affair of a spouse.

An family member who was an abuser.

An addiction of mom or dad that wreaked havoc in our childhood.

Our own addiction.

The loss of a home, a bankruptcy, a job.

Betrayal of a Christian.

Loving a man who is hostile to Christ.

These are the scares that only Christ can heal.  Let’s offer them up. Let’s give them to Christ and forgive our enemies. Let’s pray for those who cut those scares into our live. That is how we find freedom. Clinging to our bitterness only hurts us. It’s time to release ourselves from the chains and LIVE.

Good ALWAYS Wins!

Always.

Jesus bears the red markers to prove it. ~Lynn 

(Inspired by Josh Clark and Heaven is For Real ~ Thank you)

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Weekend Devo — Character Builders

IStock_000012906364XSmall Is there a particular area of you life that you seem to constantly struggle with? I have several! (grin) I have a funny one to share with you over at Laced with Grace. Stop by and read how God used my 17 year old daughter and traffic to bring one to light...

That car just wouldn't let me move over!

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Our Soul and the Natural World ~ Article III

Article III: Our Soul and the Natural World

A few weeks back, I began a series on the natural world and how nature, the world God created, can bring healing and joy to our soul. We started with light. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Then we looked at darkness and how we are adversely affected. You can read that post here.

Today is the third post in this series. I’m completely convinced the natural world was created for our health; physically, emotionally and spiritually. The environments where we spend time affect our lives and they impact the spiritual realm and impact the spiritual warfare going on around us.

So you’re in a bad mood. What is a believer to do?

We could likely spend hours and hours of conversation answering these questions. Anything from a slight inconvenience to a catastrophe can change our optimism to pessimism and leave us feeling defeated, mad, and or sad.

Let me be clear here. Those negative emotions are NOT how or where God wants us to live. Those feelings and moods are straight from the enemy who is relentless to discourage and crush. Note: I recognize there are physiological causes for some depression and mood swings. But that aside, how do we deal with an everyday bad mood or sadness?

My short answer: Take a walk.

Recall from my first post in this series the importance of living in the light. Well, when we are in a mood or feeling sad, my experience leads me to believe there is some kind of healing power in getting outside into the natural world.

When I'm worried, troubled, confused, sad, angry, I put on my tennies and head out for a two-mile walk. I make a point to walk where there are little distractions (people). I want to “really see” the natural world. I often listen to praise music on my Ipod (this is a post for another day~ sense of hearing). Or I listen to the sounds of the birds, the dogs barking in the distance, frogs, the breeze blowing the flowers.

AND that is when I start…….

AND that's when everything changes.....

I look at the brilliant blue sky and I start to praise God for His wonder and creation. I praise Him for the color of coral as I pass a rose bush in the neighbor’s front yard. I praise Him that the birds are singing and they bring Him glory. I smell in the bouquet of flowers more sweet and pleasing than any man-made perfume.

I walk. I breathe. I worship.

I return home and life is better.

Walkingpath Why?

Because I spent time with God in the natural world. He walks beside me when I walk and pray. When I’m praising Him the devil MUST flee. God dwells in the praises of His people. He delights in us when we thank Him for His creation. After all, He made it just for us.

I don’t pretend to understand how this time affects the spiritual realm but after many years of walk/praying I know it makes an impact.

Get out and walk. Even in the winter months a short walk will help. Walk with the baby in the stroller. Walk before work, after work, on yhour lunch hour if you need a recharge. Walk with the dog, the cat, the pet pig if you have to, just walk. Anytime outdoors walking noticing nature, praising God will draw you closer to Him and can totally change your mood, perspective, dare I say, your life.

Thoughts? Who has experience in this? Please share.

Next up. Two areas I discussed in this post: Physical activity. God made us to work, physically. And, hearing. Oh, I can’t wait to share about this aspect of our natural world and the profound impact on the spiritual realm. Stay tuned. We are in the summer months, the best time to put all of these posts to the test. Discover for yourself if what I’m sharing proves true in your life. I challenge you. Be blessed, Lynn

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

 1 The Lord is my shepherd;
      I have all that I need.
 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
      he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    3 He renews my strength.
   He guides me along right paths,
      bringing honor to his name.
 4 Even when I walk
      through the darkest valley,
   I will not be afraid,
      for you are close beside me.
   Your rod and your staff
      protect and comfort me.
 5 You prepare a feast for me
      in the presence of my enemies.
   You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
      My cup overflows with blessings.
 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
      all the days of my life, and
I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

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