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16 entries from November 2011

Turkey Soup

SoupWhen we lived in Memphis, I used to always make turkey soup from the Thanksgiving leftovers. I’d let it sit on the stove all day and cook down to yummy goodness. One of my favorite ingredients was to throw some of the left over stuffing into the soup for seasoning. Yum!

A lot of years have gone by and I haven’t made much turkey soup in recent years. Seems like my family’s tastes changed and simple soup just didn’t interest anyone anymore. My soup pot stayed in the cupboard and I let the tradition go.

I was thinking about this last night as I chopped up some carrots, which made me think of my soup. Sometimes we keep doing things without thinking about them until it takes a change from the outside to bring us to a stop. An illness, a depression, a change of heart . . .

Those can be painful times but I’m finding God is very much at work in those details. We can be such creatures of habit (I know I am!) that we keep doing certain things just because we always have.

I kept thinking long those lines as I chopped a few stalks of celery. You know, God let’s those shake-ups come into our lives to grab our attention and maybe even try a new way.

Or learn a lesson. Or start a new tradition. Or bring a solution in a way we never expected, even through someone unexpected.

Sometimes we miss some great opportunities or a better solution when we limit ourselves to only what we know. God wants to show us so much more. His infiniteness isn’t limited by our finite point of view.

He wants to grow and shift us from our limited human perspective to one that encompasses Him and His presence in every aspect of our lives.

Well, my soup pot came out this year. Yep, you guessed it. Those carrots and celery were for soup. I used the usual ingredients but added a new one when the idea struck me as I passed the leeks. A new flavor, a new possibility.

You just never know when those moments and traditions from our past are rebirthed into something new and special. That’s the way God works, isn’t it? Even to my old turkey soup tradition that’s now been remade into something new, with leeks!

By the way, my turkey soup came out even better than ever. Yum.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Effective Spiritual Warfare in an Unequally Yoked Home

Traffuc
So, ummm, yep, nothing like an eight hour car ride to challenge a marriage.

Yep, we traveled last week. In the car. With two teenagers, in heavy, holiday traffic in a car that barely seats four. First to visit four colleges in three days then on to northern California with my husband’s family. Finally, a long drive home in demanding and stressful conditions. Are we nuts?

It’s interesting how a change of venue compounded by stress of travel and family expectations will reveal the good, bad, and ugly in a relationship.

Overall our week went well but…… there was this one day. It was day three after a long college tour and we had another six hours on the road before we reached our next destination. And now as I’m home and can think back over the day, I’m able to view it through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

After the tour we piled in the car and began the drive. Conversation was light but the tension was rising. We didn’t get on the road as early as my husband had wanted. He was a bit testy most of the day and now an hour into the drive I think the word that comes back to me is, mean. Now let me say here, my husband is not a mean tempered man. In fact, he is genuinely a kind and gentle spirit most of the time. But, now as I reflect back I can see something I didn’t see at the time.

A mean spirit.  

It was rising and after some words back and forth, I’m not totally innocent in this exchange, my husband’s temper rose up and hurtful words were spoken. It crushed me and I fell silent. I couldn’t speak and for the remainder of the long drive, I was silent. What was even stranger to me was his driving. It was so unusually cautious. SO not the norm. My husband is a safe and cautious driver to begin with but his driving was uncharacteristic, so much so that my teen daughter even asked me if dad was okay.

Now at the time, I didn’t see what was really going on but boy howdy, do I see it today.

This mean spirit was in reality an evil spiritual influence. The spiritual warfare going on in that car must have been intense. I can look back at the interactions now and even see how my husband’s normal demeanor changed in that period of time. I will also share that even his face, somehow, looked different. The best way I can describe it is a glint in his eyes and an air of confrontation (not normal), and a steel faced determination/dominance? Okay, I’m not finding the exact words. But, I’ve seen that look before and it's not good.

But why am I sharing this with you? Because when we get out of our normal protective boundaries of our home we are entering into a realm of spiritual battlefield where we are unprepared and unprotected. THIS is exactly what I believe happened on day three of this long drive. The spiritual battle opened up and I was unprepared for it. And zing, I’m hit full force with mean words which incapacitated me for hours.

Man.

What is hard about writing this is that I KNEW that this kind of thing happens to me when I travel and I even prayed asking for protection, a few weeks leading up to our trip. But, as I sat with God the next morning early with my Bible and journal praying about it, taking my hurt to God and asking Him about this odd and painful exchange, He revealed to me that I hadn’t prayed with a fervor and with the time I needed to put into it.

We live in the spiritual realm and our prayers are crucial to so much that God desires for us but we don’t pray it through. And I’m convinced as the Holy Spirit has impressed me that I needed to spend an hour every morning for two weeks leading up to the trip in prayer for protection, wisdom, to bind the enemy in the power of Jesus.

I wonder if you might be in the same place? Are you recognizing spiritual warfare in your unbelieving spouse? And are you at a loss as to why God doesn’t seem to do anything about it? I wonder if it’s time to ignite your prayer life? I wonder how much we leave on the table just because we are too lazy, to rushed, to self-important to pray. An hour a day, every day can change everything.

Perhaps this post will not resonate with anyone. Perhaps it’s only for me.  

But just writing it has made me determined that I’m not going to let the enemy slip past my protective boundaries again because I’m lazy or rushed. My spiritual life is too important and if you think about it, I allowed an open door for an evil spirit to come in and speak lies and influence my husband, which ended up hurting all of us.

I know better. As a wife of an unbeliever, God has called me to be the spiritual leader of our home. It’s my charge to pray for protection, Godly wisdom and discernment and to lead with the love of Christ. God wouldn’t have called me to lead our home on my own if He didn’t think I was up for the task.

I can and will defeat the enemy. The devil and his minions have nothing on me. I will pray for angels to surround us, to protect us, to lead us. I will ask God to help me recognize spiritual warfare more quickly and to pray with fervor against it. I will use the Word of God as my sword and the enemy will flee in screaming terror from a mere, five foot, four inch blonde girl.

Just imagine what else I can do just because I believe, I pray and I live for Jesus.

Have a great week. Live in victory. Hugs, Lynn

 

*****

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Who You are in Christ

WhoIAm

Lynn and I hope you've enjoyed this week's Twitter stream of praises and truths. The above is a compilation of all of them. Just click and download it. It's our gift to you! Keep it on your computer, print it out and hang it up somewhere, or even insert copies in your Christmas cards this year as a gift to those you send it to. 

Christ came and died to give us these truths, to remember that through His birth and death, we are adopted, accepted, blessed, chosen, forgiven and redeemed (Ephesians 1). Let's ponder these wonderful truths right into Christmas and continue to give thanks to our Savior for giving us the greatest gift of all.

Himself.

Praying and believing, 
Dineen 

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Thanks and Praise @SUM

WhoIAm

(SCROLL DOWN AND READ MORE)


Who are you this Thanksgiving? Share your praises, your thanks, your acknowledgement of who you are because of Christ in the comments.

If you Tweet your praises to #praiseatSUM you will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket:

  • The Husband Project
  • $25 Berean Gift Card
  • Winning Him Without Words
  • Prayer Journal
  • Daily Bible
  • Lunch or Skype with Dineen and/or Lynn

The more you tweet #PraiseatSUM the more you are entered.

So start tweeting your praises today. To join Twitter, click here. To sign up for Twitter via Smart Phone, see Instructions below, or click here. Let's show the world that the unequally yoked spouses are giving thanks to our Lord even in the midst of a spiritually mismatched marriage. 

We love all of you. Watch for our Tweets this week. Have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving. Lynn and Dineen.

To create your new Twitter account via your phone...

  1. Send a text message to your Twitter shortcode (such as 40404 in the U.S.) with the word START.
  2. Twitter will send you a reply and ask you to reply back with the word SIGNUP to create a new account. Send SIGNUP.
  3. Next, Twitter will ask you to pick a username. Your username must be unique and less than 15 characters. Reply with the username you want (see below for advice on picking a username).
  4. You will get a confirmation message when you pick a valid username (Twitter will tell you to pick a new name if someone else already has the username you wanted).
  5. You're all set! Send a message and it will post as your first Tweet.

*****

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To Pray of Not To Pray. That is The Question for The Unequally Yoked

Thanksgiving rockwellFootball rages in the family room, the aroma of a roasting Bidzilla satisfies the kitchen, kids play outside, red cheeked and with hands frozen. Ahhhh, Thanksgiving.

This is my favorite traditional holiday of food, family and ……stress.

 

Read more at the Internet Cafe Devotions, Marriage Counter.

 

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Weekend Devo — Who are you?

IStock_000013852845XSmall"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Luke 6:46-49

Certain truths are foundational to our faith. Without them, we wind up with a belief system built on sand instead of a solid foundation. There are two that I think are crucial to that first layer, or even a pre-layer so that all the rest of God’s Word fits snugly and stands firm.

The first is that God is good. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s the other one I want to focus on. It’s about who you are in Christ. Do you know? Do you want to know? I hope you do because the journey starts right here on Monday. We have a wonderful week of truths planned for you that will give you a new perspective on Thanksgiving and take you right into Christmas.

So be sure to come back Monday and find out the details. The earlier the better. Then we have a special gift for everyone on Friday.

In the meantime, be thinking about this question—who are you?

Praying and believing, 
Dineen 

*****

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It Is Truly Special - Thanksgiving

Coffbible
The predawn light slips through the window as I sleepily rub my eyes and wait for the coffee to trickle into the pot. The smell rises to fill my head with a smile. I pour in cream and shuffle to the drawer, withdraw my familiar and tattered Bible and the spiral binder below it.

All is quiet. The family slumbers. It’s peaceful.

The heat from the cup thaws out my hands as the warming air from the heater finally circulates. I sit on the couch under the lamp and slowly open the pages. The precious and powerful pages that literally saved my life, changed my heart and continue to do so. I turn to November. The pages are marked with familiar writing as through the years I’ve scribbled my thanks across the top.

November 19, 2007 Praying for wisdom that comes from heaven.

November 20, 2009 Mike received offer for employment after a year of no work. Thank you Lord!

November 22, 2004 Submitted article to magazine. Thank you Lord.

November 22, 2007 Thanksgiving Day. Thank you Lord for your boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again.

November 26, 2006 Thank you for the new blog.

November 27, 2003 Thanksgiving Day. My Jesus, salvation, my daughter, son, time off, our home, my husband….Lord, may this year be the year of Mike’s salvation.

The handwriting speaks softly to me of years gone by. Of markers of God’s provision, His love, His grace and His ever present love in my simple life. I step into the words on the page this November 24th, 2011 and thank Him for the rich blessing of another year, a book, a chance to share the hope I have with others, a family that is healthy and under the profound protection of God Almighty.

I read the first chapter of Daniel. I hear God calling me though this story to be a woman of courage, of integrity, of commitment and purpose to serve God alone and never to bow to idols of greed, gluttony, and self. In Peter chapter three, I’m met with such power I’m overwhelmed. It’s as if on this cold morning God is confirming once again to me to keep walking the walk, talking the talk, living it out in my heart and before my unbelieving spouse. Jesus died for sinners that he might bring them safely home to God (vs18).

I sip the coffee and little Peanut jumps up beside me. He paws the sleep from his eyes and waits for me.

I smile at him and give him a quick pat.

As I turn to my journal, I'm touched by the softness of the morning. And feeling the real presence of God, I fall on my knees and I offer thanks. I pray a prayer from the depths of my soul, filled and overflowing with thanks for what truly matters in this world.

O Lord Jesus, my Savior,

Step with me before the throne of grace this special morning and let me recount my blessings to our Father. Lord, You have guarded me with all the power of heaven this past year. You have kept me from evil and sheltered me from disaster. And not only that but Lord you have spoiled me. I know it all can be gone tomorrow and I don’t take all the luxuries You give for granted. I rejoice that you love me and delight in giving your children, this child, great gifts.

Father, thank you for my salvation, for knowing the truth that sets me free, for the healing you bring into lives and you allow me to see it, to be part of it. Thank you for sharing your Words with me. To bring me closer to you and conform me in the likeness of Jesus. Thank you for my husband, my children, my home, my church, my online sisters and brothers. You know how I dearly love and care for them.

Thank you that ……. I am chosen.

I am chosen. I am chosen. I am chosen. Thank you this day that we pause to give you proper gratitude. I love you Lord, Jesus my Savior and Spirit that binds us all. Your humble servant, Lynn

A teary shimmer rests on my lash. The room has grown lighter. Peanut is scratching for his breakfast in the kitchen and I hear a stirring in the distant bedroom. The house is awakening. A full day awaits but for this moment on this day of thanks, I spent time with my King.

And I experienced HIM.

THAT is a perfect Thanksgiving.

Lynn

Spend time with the King this Thanksgiving. It is truly special.

*****

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A Change in Perspective

IStock_000016630204XSmallI sat in my favorite chair, devotional in hand and Bible open. Tears began streaming down my face. I sat before God, grieving over a hope that felt thin at best.

The evening before, my husband and I were on our way out to grab a bite to eat. I thanked him again for the wonderful set of darts he’d given me for my birthday. (We love playing darts and I love that it’s something we share and do together). Part of the gift was a set of flights (the things that attach to the back end of the dart and make then fly straight) which had a cross on them. I was touched that he thought to buy those for me.

He said that was actually a big step for him. I asked him why since he’s bought be cross pendants in the past. He explained that jewelry was different. He didn’t really see it as having a specific meaning. But buying the flights with the crosses mean that he accepted my faith as something that wasn’t going to change.

Our conversation continued over dinner. He further expanded that just as I probably hoped he would change his mind and believe in God, he hoped I would decide to believe like he does, that God doesn’t exist.

In my heart, I cringed a bit because I shared recently here that I thought he’d moved toward being more of an agnostic than an atheist. We continued to talk. That was the good part—we really talked. It was honest, open, and authentic. Nothing defensive or upsetting, even though it seemed like a step back.

Interestingly enough, at one point I got to share a perspective that surprised him. He said I probably thought that his life would be better if he believed. I said not necessarily better but richer. This gave me the opportunity to explain to him that my desire for him to come to faith had nothing to do with wanting to change him in any way. My only desire was that his eternity would be secure. I love him just as he is and I want to see him in heaven.

I explained the “richer” part with comparing the discovery of the world being round, not flat. New discoveries were to be made and perspectives enhanced and even changed. Like a whole new world (pun intended) being opened up before our eyes.

So, the reality of his unwavering choice to not believe God existed grieved me deeply that morning. I sat before God and asked what had happened? Had ground been lost? Had I misunderstood? Then I told God refused to stop believing his promises for my sweet guy. I know without a doubt God’s hand is on his life and I will wait however long it takes.

Then God’s loving and quiet voice came into my heart and changed my perspective. He showed me that this was not a step back but a step forward. That my husband’s acceptance of my faith was a crucial step in his consideration of faith for himself.

God helped me see what I could not on my own. My hope is restored. And renewed by a God who continually blows me away with His perfection and love.

No more tears. Just basking in the love of my Father. I will wait on Him and know joy.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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You Thought You Weren't One

Luke 15
The most unexpected thing happened to me yesterday.

Seated next to my daughter and her best friend, I opened my Bible to the passage and listened as the pastor began to read Luke 15. While he was reading this familiar passage, powerful emotion rose up from some place deep within me. He arrived at verse 24 and it was as if the world around me went into slow motion. Every part of me was engaged and experiencing this sentence. He spoke slowly and with purpose, each word emphasized and as I listened, tears welled. I felt the full impact of my salvation all over again.

With eyes spilling, I struggled to control the tide washing over me. I teetered on the verge of becoming a blubbering idiot right there in the extremely quiet worship center. But I determined to spare my 16-year-old daughter the uncomfortable reality of her mother becoming a complete spectacle in front of 500 people.

The 15th chapter of Luke is one of the many stories told by Jesus. And if you read our book, Winning Him Without Words, my introduction begins with this very passage. You also know that I am the epitome of this wayward son. I am the prodigal daughter. It’s no wonder as I sat there in church and the words….

…. was dead and now is alive again. Was lost and now is found…..

My heart lurched, my spirit soared, my mind humbled, my throat constricted. For Lynn Donovan was once very lost in her selfish life, lonely, scared, and deceived.

But…..

God loves redemption stories. His Son, Jesus, refused to let me go. He waited for me on the road, looking, calling out to me, just like the father in this story in Luke. He never gave up on me. Never. Ever.

Hear me now.    Don’t make the mistake and believe this story is not about YOU.

We all squander our inheritance.

We have let fear replace faith.

We have traded exceptional living for mediocrity.

We have replaced God’s truth with lies.

We have exchanged freedom for captivity.

We have handed over our miracles for apathetic safety.

Today, I say, “No more. That is enough.”

I want to be reacquainted with the God of love, the God of mercy, the God of grace. I want to know Him this season in an intimate and personal relationship that I haven’t yet experienced. I want to encounter this Father who waits on the road, scanning the horizon, calling to me, to you, “Come home my child, come home.”

What is your pain? What is God asking you to surrender? Our great God has so much for all of us Prodigals. Every…. Single…. One.

God loves redemption stories. We are His redemption story.

Be blessed, Lynn

Share your praises this season with us here at SUM- Join us next Monday for a unique way to honor God and give thanks. (PS. Get a Twitter account….hint…hint)

Inspired by Keith Potter. Thanks Keith

The Picture-Story of the Foolish Son Who Spent All His Money

Luke 15: 11 And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, let me have the part of the family riches that will be coming to me.’ Then the father divided all that he owned between his two sons. 13 Soon after that the younger son took all that had been given to him and went to another country far away. There he spent all he had on wild and foolish living. 14 When all his money was spent, he was hungry. There was no food in the land. 15 He went to work for a man in this far away country. His work was to feed pigs. 16 He was so hungry he was ready to eat the outside part of the ears of the corn the pigs ate because no one gave him anything.

   17 “He began to think about what he had done. He said to himself, ‘My father pays many men who work for him. They have all the food they want and more than enough. I am about dead because I am so hungry. 18 I will get up and go to my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am not good enough to be called your son. But may I be as one of the workmen you pay to work?”’

   20 “The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’

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Weekend Devo — The Journey from Atheism to Belief

This is a beautiful testimony from one of our readers about her husband's journey from atheism to belief. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jennifer!

I accepted Christ in the 4th grade and grew up in a Baptist church. I have always had a strong relationship with Christ, but my walk blossomed exponentially over the past 2 years as I became intimately involved in Kay Auther's and Beth Moore's Bible studies...finally, I was IN the Word and allowing our relationship to be two-way.

God knew exactly what he was doing, as He was preparing me spiritually and scripturally for what was about to take place in my marriage. Jim and I married in 2005 and he had, since we started dating, proclaimed to be a Christian. Born and raised Catholic, he had never been exposed the "love of fellowship and worship" aspect of a Southern Baptist church girl. His church upbringing consisted of Easter and Christmas mass and the extent of his relationship with God was a string of fox-hole prayers. (He would tell you all of this.)

Over the years, I have longed to get involved with a Sunday school class and participate more in couples activities in the church, but he always balked. When we had our first baby, my longing to fill my home and my life more with the Word and life of God became more intense. This was the first sign of push-back, because all of the sudden I was wanting more than a Sunday morning commitment.

Jim is a physician...a scientist. He has always whole heartedly believed in evolution, the big-bang, the radical theories of science and disregarded the magnificent truths in the Bible as folklore and exaggerations. He would even laugh at the fact that I believe in Noah's arc and creationism. He is real big into pod casts, too. Financial, spiritual, how to, etc. I noticed spring of last year (2010) that part of his pod cast mix included Buddhism, meditations, zen...you know, all kinds of New Age stuff.

It was sometime last summer that we were sitting in my therapist's office. I am in recovery for an eating disorder that I have struggled with since I was 11. I have been to treatment several times, but seemed to maintain and hide it pretty well until 2009. My poor health erupted and my intestines prolapsed. My 10 day hospital stay was prolonged because of my nutrition. Long story short, I had to go to treatment September 2009 for 6 months, leaving my precious babies and husband behind.

So back to my therapist's office...We had gone for a couples session desperate to learn some relationship tools. We were really starting to argue more than a married couple should. In a heated debate he blurted out, "I don't even believe in all this church stuff. I am an atheist and have been all along. I just go to church to appease you."

He stormed out. I have had a lot of lows and hit a lot of bottoms in my life, but that day, I don't think I have ever felt so wounded. It was hard to breathe. I cried out, God, I don't know what to do. You can only imagine what this did to our marriage and my heart. I clung to 1 Peter 3 and hit my knees with prayer for my husband and his heart. I sought counsel through my spiritual mentor and Bible study leader, Ruth. His mocking of the Bible and questioning of my faith only became more blatant. I questioned him...how can you read every text book under the sun, yet blow off my belief system without even reading the Word it's based on?

I think he took that as a challenge. He came across the most amazing podcast of all, The Daily Audio Bible (Brian Hardin). The intro sucked him in and he was curious, so he began to faithfully listen each day. At first he scoffed at the stories and dug thru the law of the Genesis and Exodus, but something began to stir. In Feb of this year, a friend of mine gave me 2 CDs of Mark Cahill speaking at a Joshua Conference. I casually turned it on in the car during a family road trip to visit family. As we listened, he kept pausing and rewinding the message. He began asking questions and his wheels started spinning.

He asked to hear the 2nd CD, which we listened to twice! Praise God that He had brought me to a maturity that I could speak truths and scripture to him. He decided to sign up for the Fight for Manhood Bible Study at our church, and the men in his small group began to minister and witness to him. The gentleman who led his group approached him and said, "God has put in my heart to disciple you," and they began meeting together.

I remember the day he proclaimed, "Jen, it's true. It's really true. I want to follow God's word. I prayed the sinners prayer."

My husband has been born again...he is so hungry for the word of God, and he is growing like a spiritual weed! Our marriage is flourishing and our hunger to seek Him only grows stronger with each passing day. God is so good, so very very good. He is sooo HOLY!!! Oh, how I love Him!!!

Jennifer

*****

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A Letter of Hope

Dear Lynn,  

Good afternoon!  My name is Christine and we have emailed once before (about a year ago).  You helped me so much though what seemed to be an enemy attack on my family and myself.  In retrospect, the last year turned out to be my Red Sea, if you will.  God lead me though so much...the death of my father, the near collapse of my marriage, a court case and two months best described as a dark night of the soul.  It was in mourning the death of my father a year ago, that broke me open in a way only grief can do.  As I look back over the last year, and I can see the work that God did, the beauty leaves me without words.  It was as if every pain only made His voice more clear.  My only regret is that I did not journal as much as I should have.  My memory is fading even now.  I suppose that's what having four kids does.  : ) 

I have so enjoyed your blog (and recently, your book!) because my husband was very firm in his agnostic (I suppose...I could never quite pin him down), anti-religion ways and would visibly bristle when God was brought up.  This summer something happened that, aside from my mom and my pastor (because he was witness to part of it!), probably only you and Dineen would believe.  I just have to share it with you...  

Things had gotten bad between us, marriage-wise.  The children and I left for a week long beach vacation, mid-June, and he didn't come with, deciding last minute he was too busy.  While we were there, on the last day, I was able to escape to the beach for a little time alone.  I really needed to sit and speak with Jesus.  The beach wasn't crowed and I felt free to talk, cry, really open up and tell Jesus I couldn't do it anymore.  I'd been hearing Joel 2:25 from Him (the verse about being repaid for the years the locusts have eaten), so I was certain God was going to make good on that, but I poured it out to Jesus and told Him it had to be soon.  I reminded Him of how difficult my life had been since becoming an adult (with the last year being the kicker), and how I so trusted that God would make good on this promise, but could He please start now?  I will never forget how desperate I felt when I sat on that beach and begged for Jesus to ask this of His Father on my behalf.  I'd never asked anything in that way.  When I was done, I felt Jesus tell me to go into the ocean, almost as a re-baptismal.  With that, I got up and started packing everyone to go home. 

I had no clue what was waiting for me when I got home.  My husband told me that night, the marriage was over.  He had thought about it, and had it all planned out.  Long story short....despite the fact I could hear Jesus loud and clear in my head and heart, saying, "Let him go...I have work to do"  I could only maintain that for about 12 hours before I crashed.  I just fell apart.  It was horrible.  I begged my husband not to go.  I promised anything and everything.  An odd thing I know, why wouldn't us staying together be what God wanted...I wasn't sure, but God needed to do His work in His own way.  I met with my Pastor, and asked him what was wrong with me and where was my faith?  I knowingly would rather make the decision to stand in God's way, than to feel this horrible pain and allow my husband to leave.  Why couldn't I get out of the way???  I knew God had work to do in both of us, and I was keeping it from happening, but by then we were back together and my husband had decided to try one more time.  

By mid-July, I'd come to realize what I'd done by standing in God's way.  This time I promised Him, if He ever saw fit to give me a second chance, no matter how painful, I would trust in Him and not back down to my horrible fears.  Within three days, things were so bad, that I felt in my heart it was time.  I told my husband he was right, it was best if we separate and the kids and I traveled to my mom's house.  I felt a peace about things I couldn't explain.  I felt like the storm was swirling all around me, but God gave me such a sense of protection and peace. 

Sit down because here comes the good part! 

Our God is an awesome God! 

He moved in ways no one saw coming.  About two days later, my husband...Mr. Marine, tough guy, who couldn't even say the word God, texted me at 5am.  He'd been up all night.  He wanted to start again, but this time in church.  I never saw this one coming...so to be honest I didn't even believe it.  I had a sense of peace about it...like it wasn't just a line...but still.  Sure enough, a few days later my husband met with the Pastor and when we got home later that week, he went to church with us.  He's been every single week since then (except while on vacation), started seeing a therapist by himself - FAITH BASED therapy!, is working through a faith based marriage book with me the therapist recommended, and, here is the kicker, when a visiting missionary couple came to the church a couple of weeks ago, said he'd like to do a missions trip...and started looking up the info.  I don't know what God has in store from here, but I have never been so certain of God's love for His children.  The God Who Sees...He saw me on that beach that day... 

Which brings me to today!  A friend at church and I have been thinking of beginning a group for women at church who are spiritually mismatched.  We've been talking about it for a while...but are finally putting it into action and meeting with the Director of Spiritual Growth.  She thinks it's a great idea, as does the Pastor...but I am wondering if you will add us to your list of groups to pray for?  

May God bless you Lynn.  You are truly amazing.  Thank you for your blog, book, everything...you just don't know how much support you've given to people like me!  : ) 

Christine 

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The Battle with Fear

IStock_000015938234XSmallFor I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand 
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. — Isaiah 41:13

Fear can be an all out, guns blazing affair or a subtle thief that sneaks in and steals our joy. I realized this past weekend that fear had done just that to me lately—stolen my joy. I asked God to help me get it back, but I also needed to know what I’d allowed in the steal it away.

I don’t know about you, but fear is something I’ve had to battle from time to time. Fear of going new places, fear of what the future holds, fear of rejection, etc. I’d imagine you could add your own to that list.

As God spoke to my heart, I had to ask Him, what was I afraid of this time? What had I allowed to sneak in and steal my joy?

Worry. Fear. Anxiousness. Complete and utter lack of control of circumstances like never before.

More specifically, worry about the future of my youngest daughter, who now lives 3,000 miles away and is learning to make good decisions (that’s code for making not great ones but learning). Worry about our financial future in light of a year of little to no income. Worry about my mother’s health issues. Worry about getting all my work done and trying to contribute something to our financial picture.

Worry, worry, worry! I’d let the old bugger creep in and steal my joy. Again! And this came from fear of the unknown. I’d let my fear distract my focus from Jesus, and that left the door wide open for Worry to waltz in and make itself at home.

As I sat in Bible study later that morning, a question was posed to us. It was, “What’s one thing that would make you happy right now?”

I turned to my neighbor and said, “That my daughter would be okay.” And as I turned back around, I heard God’s small voice tell me, “I will do that for you.”

You know, God doesn’t just leave us with a command to not be afraid and then walk away. He jumps right in and takes our hand, holds us and gives us exactly what we need at just the right moment.

“I will do that for you.”

“I will help you.”

What are you afraid of right now? Have you reached out to God and told Him about your fears? Have you poured out your heart and grabbed hold of Him?

He’s already holding you. He has everything worked out. Most of the time we don’t know what that looks like, but we can trust God and believe Him.

Do you believe Him?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Marriage Monday - In-Laws

…nearly 60 percent of all marriages suffer from tension with mothers-in-law, normally between the daughter-in-law and her husband's mother.

It's Marriage Monday. Our topic: In-Laws

I wonder how many of you felt your blood pressure rise at the mere mention of this topic? Well, considering the statistic above, I can bet a number of you bristle in this area of your marriage. And, to our guy readers, I can only address this topic from my perspective but would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

See if you relate to any of these statements:

"She's always telling me what to do"

"She keeps meddling"

"She wants constant companionship"

"She competes with me for my husband"

(From: How to Make Peace With Your MIL)

These tend to be the most common complaints of wives. But for me, I think what I struggled with was the distance. Not just the miles, more than 400 separate us, the emotional distance. 

I wanted connection and friendship. My mom-in-law wasn't so good at that. Looking back now and knowing my husband's mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer's, how I wish I could have sat at the kitchen table with her. Chatted like friends, asked questions such as, "What was he like when he was ten? What was his favorite toy and why. Did you have to get after him much?"

My mom-in-law was way to uncomfortable with intimate talk. 

Now all these years later knowing this also helps me to see why my husband struggled in our marriage to be demonstrative in his affection. I was raised in a family where we said I love you often. We hugs, kissed, held hands, wrestled on the flood, made popcorn balls together on Sunday nights. We loved. We loved out loud. We were also all kinds of other dysfunction but one thing we did right was to tell and show our love.

What I would have given for some of that insight in the early years of our marriage. With this knowledge though comes understanding, then forgiveness, and love. And I am determined to show, demonstrate, even teach my husband now how to love his daughter out loud. He's come a long way. 

As I type these words I feel a tiny bit of anxiousness as I think of my in-laws. My Father-in-law remains a staunch unbeliever. Even after reading our book he called me and said, "I really enjoyed your book. You made me laugh and I found it a good book but like my son, faith isn't for me."

Ugh. 

I believe I have shared my faith with both of them. You can read my story about my MIL here. But, there are nights I lay awake and I pray for their salvation. I may have been the only one who was sent to them from God to share the truth. I pray that Jesus knows I tried. I will never stop praying for them as long as I have breath and they have life.

What are your struggles with your In-Laws? How do you work through them. Let's help each other out today and share your wisdom in the comments. Your words may be exactly what a struggling wife needs to hear today.

Hugs, Lynn

Also to read more, visit Chrysaliscafe. Marriage Monday.

 

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Weekend Devo — God is GOOD!

IStock_000016470126XSmallAnd we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is my life verse. No other piece of Scripture has spoken as deeply into my heart as this one. Amazingly, I understood the truth of this verse as a young child long before I ever read it. I know it's because God put this truth in my heart Himself. There's no other explanation for it.

I have clung to the truths in this verse for years, especially the several ones, and even more so recently with all the changes going on in my family, the struggles within myself to let go and trust God in new ways, and especially on days when I have felt like an utter failure in what God is calling me to do.

I've realized that even in those times, God is working for my good. And as hard as it is for this recovering perfectionist to accept, at times He allows me to fail so I can learn a deeper and better lesson than I ever would have had I succeeded.

For me, that ongoing lesson is complete and utter dependence on Him. There are times I think I have it figured out and then there are weeks like this one that remind me I have so much more to learn. 

I'm smiling as I type this because I know that God is in control and that He is GOOD! So very and completely good. That's His character, that's who He is. He can't be less than good. He can't be bad. 

I will even go as far to say that I believe the entire Bible points to this truth and the death of His Son Jesus is the ultimate proof of this truth. 

He is always working for our good. Your good.

This truth is so foundational to all we believe and do. Meditate on Romans 8:28. Ask God to reveal any ways that you see Him as less than good, as not working for your good all the time. Then ask Him to replace those lies with His truth, His goodness.

His Godness.

Praying and believing,
Dineen 

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A Tablecloth of Thanks

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions and I share it every year here at SUM. If you started one of these in prior years, please leave me a note in the comments. If you are starting one this year, leave me a note in the comments. 

I pray that this one family tradition affects your heart and home like it has done mine. Happy Thanksgiving, Lynn

 

Tablecloth of Thanks from The Intentional Marriage on Vimeo.

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Talking Without Words

IStock_000012579309XSmallPart of a presentation I’m giving on Wednesday has a section about romance and romancing your guy. I love this part because I get to give a group of women some facts and tangible ideas of how to romance their husbands.

Some of this lands on communication and its vital role in any relationship. And it can be a useful tool to flirt with your spouse. But how do we really communicate?

Recent statistics show that only 7% of our communication is done with words and 38% with intonation and sound of voice. Which means over half of our communication is done with our body. Fifty-five percent to be precise and most of that is done with our eyes.

Think about that a minute. Do you look at your husband when you talk to him? Do you focus on him when he’s speaking to you? Can you remember the details of his eyes? (That one I just threw in there for fun).

How about tone? That’s probably one of the most frustrating areas that I have in my communication. My tone can sound almost angry at times when I’m actually not. I’ve had to school my voice and pay attention to how I sound.

Facial expression is a big one too. I can be lost in my thoughts (more than likely the story I’m currently working on) or trying to figure something out, and my family will think I’m upset because I look so serious.

My point is, communication isn’t just about words. It’s about our body language and our focus. Ever talked to someone who didn’t say a word to interrupt but you could clearly tell by their body language that they weren’t listening?

Think about how you communicate to your spouse and to your children. We tend to be more aware of these areas with friends and even strangers but totally “let down our hair” when it comes to our loved ones and forget to pay this simple courtesy to ones we love most.

Not sure how you communicate most? Ask your spouse. See what he or she has to say and pay attention to how your spouse communicates over the next few days. Some of my biggest eyeopeners in this area have been in the messages I didn’t realize I was sending.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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