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18 entries from December 2011

Prayer and Fasting 2012

Fasting banner 2011

Fasting keeps you sensitive to His Spirit, enabling You to live holy.

I am convinced that we will never walk in the perfect will of God until we seek Him through fasting. When you present your body in the manner, you open yourself up to hear from God. You will prove or discover His good and perfect will for your life. Paul was fasting when God called him and shared the assignment for his life (Acts 9:7-9). Peter was fasting on the rooftop when God gave him a new revelation and called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Fasting prepares the way for God to give you fresh revelation, fresh vision, and clear purpose. ~J. Franklin

I want a fresh start in 2012. Do you?

Our fast will begin on sunrise of January 2nd and last through sunset of January 6th. That's this Monday. There are many ways to fast but if you are medically able, fast from food in some way. I am preparing to fast on a liquid fast for three days and then finish the week out with a Daniel fast. This is what I hear the Lord asking of me. What is He asking of you.

Do you want a breakthrough? Do you want to be rid of a habitual sin or a bad habit? More importantly, do you want to hear from the Lord what He wants for your life? What is His will in your marriage? I know I do.

So join us on Monday. I'm so excited that so many of you have committed to join us. You will not be disappointed. God will surely show up when you offer this sacrifice to Him.

On Monday, Rosheeda Lee, who leads our fast every year, will post a scripture verse to reflect upon and a prayer to start the day. So stop in early and pray with us corporately.

Dineen and I believe this year God has called us to pray very specifically for our families. On Monday, pray for your spouse. Every aspect, his/her health, job, parenting, hobbies, his soul, heart, and emotional state. Pray to understand him better. Ask God to show you where you can be a better spouse and to give you the courage to take action in whatever area He reveals. Pray, pray, pray.

Light a candle.

Each time you see the flame along with your hunger pangs; both will remind you to shoot up prayers.

On Tuesday, pray for your oldest child. All day. In the same manner. On days-three, four, and five pray for each subsequent child. If you have more than three kids double up days or extend your fast. If you don't have three kids, then pray for another significant relationship in your life.

The community of believers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage is an expectant bunch. We truly believe God answers prayer. I know I have seen the miraculous in my prayer life, so let’s expect God to hear, to act, to show up and show off.

Then let us bring Him praise. Lynn

*****

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Fasting. Does It Work?

When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God. 

Matthew 6:

Jesus said, "When you give....When you pray..... When you fast...." 

This passage in Matthew six is where Jesus made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying, is a normal part of the believer's life.

On January 2-6 we will fast as a community of believers. There are many different ways to fast. Last year we set out several examples of fasts and I want to list them here again today. Please begin to pray and ask God to prepare you and to point you to the fast that will work for you.

 

 

 

Fasting banner 2011 
 
Are you willing to forgo a Snicker's bar in the afternoon to over come a recurring sin in your life?

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So what is fasting? It's the humbling of ourselves to draw closer to God.

Fasting must be coupled with prayer and reading of God's word. This three cord approach is what releases God's supernatural power into our life. Without all three, fasting is just dieting.

Fasting is NOT:

  • A tool for weight-loss.
  • An attempt to arm twist God into our way of thinking.
  • Advisable for those with medical conditions that are complicated from fasting.

True fasting is giving of our basic human nature completely over to the Lord. To allow Him to fill us up spiritually as we empty physically.

There are many ways to fast. You can fast from television. Or give up one meal a day. Or like, Daniel, fast certain foods. The Biblical fasts include fasting from food for one, three, ten, 21, and 40 day fasts.

In his book, Fasting, Jentezen Franklin, describes the types of fasts:

  • Absolute Fast: Food and water fast. For only a limited time and under medical consultation.
  • Normal Fast: No food, clear liquids, lots of water, 1 gal purified the first day, broth and juice when necessary.
  • Partial Fast: The Daniel fast was vegetables and water.

If you have never fasted before, I would suggest trying out a one day fast. Forgo food from dawn to dusk. After sunset you join the family for a modest evening meal. This was the first kind of fast I participated in. It was amazing. This was the type of fasting I did during our annual fast last January.

Why do this corporately? We all are living in some difficult and challenging circumstances. When we pray and FAST together we bring down the power of God. We will also bring God into our planning for 2011.

Okay today, if you are feeling that excitement build, leave "I'm In" in the comments again. Also share any experiences you have had during a time of fasting. Your experiences can help others to be ready.

Additionally, I discovered some excellent information about the details of fasting on the Campus Crusade website. Take a look:

Why You Should Fast 

How to Fast Safely

How Long and What Type of Fast

We will be sharing the focus of our fast for the week on Friday. See you then.

Be blessed, Lynn

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Praying & Fasting for 2012

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With the New Year ahead, I find myself anticipating what God has planned. If you were with us here at S.U.M. last January, you may remember that we fasted that first week. I will confess that I did not want to participate.

First of all, fasting has never been easy for me. I’m one of those people who struggles with a food addiction so this is a big undertaking for me.

Second, my family and I were traveling from Florida back to California by car that week. Fasting on the road seemed even more daunting. I made up my mind to do what I could. I wanted to at least fast during the day.

So, as the week of fasting approached, I started praying and asking God to prepare me to do this. He above anyone else knows how I struggle in this area. My heart's desire was to honor Him. Plus, I use this first week to ask God for words and Scriptures for myself and my family to guide me in my prayers for the rest of the year.

Finally, the week arrived. Day one of the fast and our first day on the road. I allowed myself only basic liquids, like tea and broth. Evening came and I felt like God was calling me to continue. I continued to pray for strength to continue because what I really hoped and longed to do was fast for three days—something I’d never been able to do.

By the end of this first day, God gave me my word for for 2011: VICTORY. I will tell you, I stand in awe of what God has done in a year that seemed to start out rough but has truly become a year of true victory for my family in so many ways, with some still coming to fruition.

Day two arrived and I continued on. I didn't want to be low on energy because I wanted to help drive and alert for my husband. God amazed me and continued to strengthen and keep me going. As I prayed for direction for myself, God gave me a wonderful verse to affirm my work for Him in ministry and speaking.

Evening came and I felt God's strength to keep going. I was amazed how He provided for me through a bottle of juice and the broth from a bowl of chicken soup from Subway!

Day three arrived and I focused my prayers on my family. God gave me insights and a Scripture to pray for each of them. The one that amazes me the most was for my youngest daughter who still struggled with health and emotional issues from her past battle with cancer.

I have prayed Malichi 4:2 (But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.) this past year for my daughter and claimed this promise from God even when things seemed worse. God is so faithful. My daughter is flourishing and growing in ways I hadn't even imagined possible at this point. She is truly like this calf, leaping with joy from its stall.

When day four arrived, I felt God's release to break my fast. I was amazed. I'd actually done it, even while traveling on the road and stopping at restaurants for meals, which is part of the fun! And my family seemed to understand too. Even my hubby. I already felt victorious as I started my year of victory!

Friends, as we approach the first week of January, will you start praying now for God to guide you in a decision to fast? We will start at sunrise January 2nd and end at sunset January 6th.

You can fast for one meal, just for the day until sunset or as many full days as God leads you to. And that is key here. This has to be about what God is calling you to do. And it can be a fast from food, just sweets, television, the computer or whatever it is you feel God putting on your heart.

As one who still struggles with the discipline of fasting, I can tell you there is something powerful that happens when we align ourselves like this and submit our wills completely to God in order to know His. He loves to meet with us in this most sacred of places. 

CandleWill you join Lynn and I as we take this most amazing journey again? Let's walk this road together and start our year with the strength and guiding wisdom of God. Each day, starting January 2nd, we will meet here at S.U.M. to share a prayer for our unbelieving spouse and our children. Each day will be geared to pray for one person, and we will light a candle each day as our reminder to pray each time we see its flame.

If you're an Advent wreath nut like I am, use that center candle, the Christ candle, each day as your connection and reminder to pray your loved ones into the loving arms of Jesus and His grace. Come each day and share what you feel God is telling you or just to be encouraged to keep going and continue to seek God.

God's love for us is like that candle's flame, only unimaginably brighter and hotter in His passion and pursuit of us. Let's hear what He so longingly wants to tell us for 2012.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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From Our House.....

To Yours...

Merry Christmas

 

Dineen and I wish you a blessed Chrismas filled with laughter, memories and the love of Christ.

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Tune in on Monday, December 26th as we set our sites on the new year and talk about what's coming next. Hugs, Lynn

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A Charlie Brown Christmas For Me

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

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

This is my personal testimony of the meaning of Christmas in my life. Join me at the Cafe Today.

Have a blessed week, Lynn

*****

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Weekend Devo — 'Twas the Week Before Christmas

IMG_0117I'm having an "ahh" moment with a cup of my favorite tea. The warm scent of English blend wafts across my nose and my eyes close in welcome relief. The stress in my shoulders seeps away as I settle into my comfy chair and on the matching ottoman I prop my aching feet. 

I'm tired but happy. My Christmas shopping is done. Next week promises busy moments with my family as we make ready for Christmas baking and fun. My oldest daughter will turn 22 and additional  presents will be under the tree for her new fiance (we always have a gift for this sweet guy but this year he's earned a few more!). We even have a stocking for him hung by the chimney for Christmas day.

My youngest (18 as of last week—yes, we have Christmas babies!) won't be with us—she's tucked snug with family in Florida, enjoying the fuss and attentions of my husband's big family. Nope, no sugar plums are dancing around her head but I'm betting she's having visions of what she'll buy with the gift card we sent for her birthday.

I settle down more into my soft chair (no kerchief for me, too many curls in my hair). The nativity scene on the sofa table catches the light from the twinkling tree. I smile to myself and thank Jesus for being there for me, even on busy and hectic days like these.

Another sip of tea and my heart settles into silent Christmas songs. Our newest member of the family (a hyperactive mutt we named River) races into the house with a clatter and stops in front of me. Her little brown nose wiggles as she sniffs and she tilts her head as if to ask, "Why are you sitting around?!"

With a scratch on her head and a pat on her back, she races out the back door after the cat. I return to gazing at the tree so brightly lit. Lights twinkle and blink and dance up the branches. Big bulbs of color glow inbetween ornaments each with a story that matches.

This one for our baby girl's first Christmas. That one for Dad's favorite movie, A Christmas Story. Another reminds me of our time in Switzerland and Christmas snow! And yet many more bring a parade of past memories of Christmas cheer and glow.

No Santa to bring presents this year—our girls are all grown. Just the sweet lingering essence of a baby promised long ago. I'm so thankful for our Savior—He's always so near. And though our family's changed and we're not all together, our hearts are forever tied with love and Christmas cheer.

Much to celebrate in the Miller home this year. So much to be thankful for—my heart just overflows. The trials of the last few years grow dim in the faithfulness and reality of God's plan. So from my heart to yours, I wish you the same.

Peace and many loved ones to be always near and the blessing of God's presence all through the year!

Merry Christmas, my friends!
Dineen 

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A Christmas Legend??? I Believe

This story was written by Rev. Howard C. Schade, pastor of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, New York. By the time the story was anthologized in Alice Gray’s Christmas Stories for the Heart in 1998, Rev. Schade already had passed away in 1989 and could not be contacted to verify the details of the story, which is why Snopes calls this story a “legend.”

I choose to believe!

By Rev. Howard C. Schade

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19, a terrible tempest — a driving rainstorm — hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor and, not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

TableclothivoryOn the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea-market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet….

“Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials EBG were crocheted into it there.

They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike. He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

*****

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Thankful Thursday - A Focused Moment

Hi Everyone,

It's a bit late in the day to join Thankful Thursday but my heart and Dineen's heart overflows with gratitude. We thank our Lord for allowing us to share the hope we have for our unequally yoked marriages with the team and eventually the listeners of the radio program, Focus on the Family.

We arrived at the Focus campus yesterday and went straight into the recording session. We will share more at a later date. For today, Dineen and I want to offer praise to Jesus for this day and to thank our Lord for the community here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

You are our eternal family and we love you very much. Lynn and Dineen

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Away in a Manger, Then a Tomb—The Humility of Christ

IStock_000007349205XSmall“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” — Luke 1:34-37 (NIV, emphasis mine)

As I read the account of Gabriel’s visit to Mary above, that last line pulled me in and kept there for a while. Here’s the mighty Gabriel telling Mary what she needs to know most of all. In the 1984 version of the NIV, that line reads, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

This is a message for us too and reminds me of the promise in Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

God will never take us to a place of seeming impossibility and leave us there! He is faithful, true to His Word and will give us whatever we need to walk all the difficult paths in our lives. We don’t walk them alone. Emmanuel is with us, remember?

Now let me show you something so amazing, that one of my pastors (Thank you, Pastor Alvin!) showed us just this past Sunday. Read these two Scripture references below and let God bring a wave of fresh awe for his grand plan of salvation:

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. — Luke 2:7 (emphasis mine)

Then he took it [Jesus’ body] down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. — Luke 23:53 (emphasis mine)

Jesus’ life and death are “wrapped” in the humblest of means and He willingly chose to do this for us.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! — Phil. 2:6-8

Christ’s humility is the ultimate example of dying to self. He left the greatest place of power—the Son of God—and took on the greatest form of weakness—a helpless baby.

For all of us. ALL OF US! Believe God’s Word will never fail and trust Him to bring the answer to our prayers for our unsaved loved ones at just the right time.

Just as He brought his Son to Earth so long ago—at just the right time.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Couple of Updates

Good Monday Morning.

My heart is full as I write to all of you my friends that meet here at SUM. This particular Christmas season offers a unique gift. I have watched God work through all the struggles, challenges and pain in my life and bring it all into perspective.

I have come full circle. And it is good.

I share my story in our December Newsletter. If you are not receiving our monthly e-Newsletter, Thrive in Love, please click over and sign up. Your email address is absolutely confidential and never shared with anyone.

Read this month's here and receive January's in your inbox.

I also want to announce the winner of the Thanksgiving Twitter prizes. Thank you for all who joined us in posting praises through Twitter #PraiseatSUM. The winner is: MamaCre8s. Heather Gafney. Heather, email me your mailing address. 

I'm signing off today as I have so much to do before I fly out of town tomorrow. But, I have a story that is still in progress about my daughter. It's a tough story and I'm waiting to see how God works in all of it. Stay tuned. 

I love you my friends. Press into Jesus and let this scripture fall fresh on your heart today. Be Blessed, Lynn

Luke 2:10-11And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

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

 

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Weekend Devo — The Greatest Gift of All

IStock_000018130970XSmall“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46

I love these two parables because they show a “sold out” mentality for Jesus. The man is willing to let go of everything to obtain the greatest treasure of all—the kingdom of heaven.

Our salvation is our most precious gift, but do we live like that? Do we live everyday in the awareness that we have been saved by the Son of God and now wear His righteousness as our own? It is all because of Jesus that we can embrace this most precious pearl as our own highly prized treasure. And nothing can take it away!

As we welcome Christmas into our homes and the Christ child into our hearts, sit on that thought a moment and let it seep into your heart and spirit. Wow...we already possess the most valuable gift of all. Priceless!

Jesus gave everything for us. Let’s live our lives as an offering of thanks to Him and a reflection of a heart sold out to Him.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Give Yourself THIS Gift This Christmas

Christmas-giftOn Tuesday I was sitting in my office at Church. I love where our Women’s Ministry office is located. We are situated next to the receptionist, near the front door, one doorway away from the break room and at the apex of all foot traffic. Everyone passes by our office and I have candy on my desk so we have visitors often, even if they don’t want a Snickers Bar.

On any ordinary day, our office is smalish but on Tuesday, Christmas exploded in there with the remnants of all of our Christmas Dessert paraphernalia so it was also cramped. In addition, we are treated with a wall of windows, which is great for looking outside but makes for a sauna by 9 a.m. But, I wouldn’t trade our little humble abode for any other room in the place.

I have enjoyed, even marveled over some of the amazing conversations about faith that occur when people just “happen” to stop in. They stand in the doorway, as they are only stopping in for a minute (or at least they think that). And this past Tuesday did not disappoint.

Our Pastor of Group Life and Community Care (don’t you just love the titles we have in churches?), well he passed by the office. He popped his head in the door, you know, for just a minute that turned into almost an hour. I had been meaning to ask him about a topic I’m curious about, Pre-marital Counseling. I’m curious about what happens in pre-marital counseling as you might guess, because I didn’t ever experience it. Ahem, remember I’m unequally yoked.

He went on to explain what he does, the kind of couples he talks with and what results from his counseling. It’s not always what you might think. I was interested in this topic as something I might write about in the future so as the believing parent in our home, we may have more information to help our kids when they are at the marrying age. But, that’s a topic for another day.

What really was a mind-blow was the pastor’s salvation story. I was asking him what it was like to move out of the darkness and into the light. Listen in: (paraphrased)

Lynn: You know I think that I have always KNOWN God. He has always been with me even in my prodigal years. What was it like to really move out of darkness and into light? To be separated from God and then come to the realization of what you had missed?

John: Well it is interesting. I came to faith at a late age. Very unusual for an adult male at age 38 to become a believer.

Lynn: Yes

John: You don’t even know what you are missing. You come to Christ and an entire new life opens up. One you didn’t know existed. You know Lynn, I was very much like the Israelites who were freed from Egypt. What was supposed to be an eleven day journey to the promised land, took instead 40 years. They were rebellious and craved Egypt. And just like them, I actually became saved but then lived for eight long years wandering.

I literally had one foot in the world and one in my faith.

I was miserable.

It was only after eight years of living misery that I committed. I went “all in” and I have never looked back and I have never regretted it. Living “all in” is the only way to find the joy and peace that the Christ offers.
*****

Since Tuesday, this conversation has nagged me (Lynn). I haven’t been able to let it go. I can’t let it go because I hear God speaking through it. There are many who arrive at our website or through email who are miserable. They are miserable and suffering. Some of the many, suffer because of the actions of others but I wonder, is their misery because they are living like the Israelites in the wilderness?

Is one foot still in the world?

If this story sounds somewhat familiar to you then this Christmas give yourself the best gift ever. Step out of the world, go “all in”, and live for Jesus. I know this can be a scary prospect because you may be living with a spouse who is hostile to Christ but I can promise you, it is worth the risk.

I was that girl who lived with a hostile spouse, who hated any reference to God. But, I stepped into the full life and Jesus just came out of me. Not in an overbearing way but through love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and the result is joy. Peace. Joy,

Peace…… Isn’t that what this season is all about? Give yourself the gift of living for Christ and don’t look back.

Just imagine what 2012 might hold for you.

That is the miracle of Christmas…… Jesus!

Be blessed, Lynn

Christmas_cross_ball

*****

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Thankful Thursday - Holy Chill Bumps

Gave me Holy Chill bumps.
(only 2 short minutes)

 Shut down distractions.

Turn on Speakers.

Be moved. 

So thankful this Christmas. So utterly thankful. Lynn 

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He Came Upon a Midnight Clear—For YOU!

IStock_000018440676XSmallMy Bible study group completed our study yesterday. We’d walked the past 11 weeks through the story of David with Beth Moore. On this last day she shared a powerful visual of a staff that had once been a vine. The bottom was straight but about half way up, the thick stalk rose upward in a tight spiral.

Beth Moore then showed how the vine would have grown around a branch, surrounding it, holding it, and referred to Jesus’s words that He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15).

It’s a visual that I will never forget because it so aptly shows how Christ is all around us, surrounding us. This vine that climbed from a small beginning. . .

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” — Matthew 1:21-23

Then He grew up and up and around and around, His purpose clear and true. . .

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. — Luke 2:49-50  

Each year, each day, each moment—from a child to an adult, walking as a man on earth, yet fully God. . .

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! — Philippians 2:6-8

He twines around and through us, giving us breath and life. Giving life meaning and definition. . .

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. — Colossians 1:17

And no matter what we do, He is always there either pursuing us or waiting for us to come to Him. His love never wavers, nor does his faithfulness. . .

If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13

Christ came to give us Himself. He is the ultimate culmination of God’s love for us and His goodness. . .

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. —Romans 8:16-17

His love is unshakable and unending. His Word is His story from beginning to end, the promise of His coming, His arrival and His return.

He came for me. He came for you. Nothing can change that truth or take it away from you. . .

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39

In Christ we are adopted, accepted, blessed, chosen, forgiven and redeemed (Ephesians 1). And it all started with a baby who grew to a man, our God who is ever present, always with us, around us, and in us.

We are his, and He is ours.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Creating Christmas Memories with your Kids on the Cheap

Holiday Traditions

Some of you know that I can be a bit wacky. With that said, my adventurous nature is in full gear during the Christmas season. And I AM, ahem, adventurous. And I share my escapades with my daughter. We have built memories that will last forever.

One of our favorite things to do at Christmas is decorate. Ya, ya, ya, blah, blah, blah, decorate (yawn)…. What else is new?

Yes, but we decorate in “Donovan” style. We always decorate the outside of our home. And it’s never typical. We like to create our decorations and we don’t do anything ordinary.

Read the rest of this story over at Sharing the Journey.

Christmas Traditions


These are some of our favorite holiday antics from the Donovan home to yours this season.

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Hope you have a chance to try one of them. Hugs, Lynn

*****

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Don't Get In a Twist

Nails
A visit to my local nail salon is always fascinating. Now, please don’t think poorly of me. This is the one pampering I allow myself. I visit the local Vietnamese nail salon for a pink and white fill. Don’t do the toes, nor the anything else much but this one thing. But I am so glad I have this one little luxury because a one hour visit in that place is simply fascinating, illuminating and shows me so much about what Jesus teaches.

First, when you walk in the door you can’t miss the gold-platted Buddha that sits of to the left. Yep, now don’t get your undies in a twist because I visit a salon with a Buddha. Think about this. Jesus went where the lost, broken, and unsaved went. He ate with the sinners. I find out more interesting things in this place and delve into a sub-culture of America, steeped in a faith of tradition but does little to bring healing and help to the individual.

I’m a regular there and most of the men and women know me. They know I wrote a book, a Christian book, and boy do we have some great conversations. Like today.

I sat with Ken, his American name and he's new to the salon. He spoke very good English. Most of the time I must listen very closely to understand some of the gals and I really try hard to understand because when I breakthrough that language barrier I find they are truly interested in my perspective and thoughts. Ane I am interested in them.

“Ken, what is your real name?” I asked knowing that they all have American names because most American’s can’t figure out how to say their Vietnamese name.

“Hein. Like the ketchup. But I don’t like people to call me ketchup.” He snickers. I giggle.

“What does it mean?”

“Peaceful One.”

“That really fits you.”

“Yes, it does.”

At some point in our discussion, I ask Ken about how he arrived in America. He went on to describe five different boat trips, one without food or water for over four days. One boat, which was intercepted by the Russians. The death a suffering of those trying to find a better life. Of a mother whose child died but she carried it around with her because she couldn’t give it up. (hard to read, I know)

Ken looked up at me and said, “That’s why I don’t get upset about some of the silly stuff people get upset over. I have seen the very worst of living. I have gone without food and water. Shivered at night and feared for my life on many occasions. The minor complaints around this place just don’t bother me.”

I just sat and listened. Very humbled. Thinking of all the stupid little things I complain about.

“As long as I have my daughter and wife, that’s all that matters.”

Sometimes I need a reminder about how good I have things. Often I need God to hit me upside the head and have a man from Vietnam remind me how very fortunate I really am. It’s funny that God often does this in the nail salon.

I wonder do they see God in me while they set the pink and white on my nails. I’m praying they do.

I praying that I will never allow my undies to get twisted up. I want to go where the people are who need the truth of Jesus.

My conversation with Ken will continue in the future. We briefly discussed his faith background. He is Catholic and Buddhist. I find that fascinating in itself. So, you can bet Jesus has me getting my nail done in the future. I can’t wait to see what we talk about next.

Be blessed, Lynn

*****

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Have Yourself a Merry "Intentional" Christmas

ChristmasTreeI don't know about you but I feel like Christmas has hit me unexpectedly these last few years. Sometimes we just get so bogged down with the demands and trials of life that we only have the energy to react to this season of decorating, shopping and gift giving.

Well, I've decided I want more this year. Actually, what I mean is I want less. I want this holiday to be different. I want to be intentional about it, not just roll along with the current and try to avoid the undertow.

Here's what I'm thinking:

1. I’m being intentional in my joy. This will be the first year that we wont have both our girls with us. My youngest daughter will be in Florida with our extended family. This is difficult but part of how families change. So, we will do at least two Christmas events this year. One will be to see a light show in a neighboring community. The other I assigned my older daughter and her fiancé (Yep, engaged!) to figure out. One idea is to go downtown this year (something I usually avoid) to see Christmas in the Park.

These are both low cost or free but great fun to do together as a family. What's in your neighborhood? Just planning a night to drive around to see the decorated houses is one of our mainstays. This is not about filling our schedule with activities. It’s about doing something that is intentional in the moment to be in the spirit and love of Christmas, and to share that with our precious family. Every moment is a gift and I want to live each day in appreciation of what Jesus has given me.

2. I’m being intentional in slowing things down. This is part of wanting less—less stress. After the chaos of the last few years, I'm a bit worn out. I sense God's gentle nudge to see things differently this year from a place of rest. So, I'm resisting the usual hurriedness of this time of year and am even planning ahead in my work schedule to have time to read a book by the Christmas tree as the lights twinkle and glow. To spend more time with God in my mornings and read the stories of Jesus’ birth. To really assess everything I'm doing with this question, "Does this please God and draw me closer to Him?" I'm even bringing my television viewing choices under this scrutiny.

3. I worshipping more intentionally. This is an area I really feel I need to develop more. Not out of duty but out of my love for God and desire to know Him better. That is my heart’s desire, to know God better everyday, every year. To grow closer to Him. When I expressed this to Him in the past, He spoke to my heart these words, “You will find Me in worship.” I want to find Him more. Right now, I’m totally loving Casting Crowns’ Christmas album, Peace on Earth. Break out your favorite Christmas music. Sing along out loud or in your heart or both! Let the gift of God’s Son, His greatest gift and the ultimate example of God working “for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) fall afresh on your heart. Let God wow you!

4. I want to be a willing and intentional blessing. As much as I’d love to just make this month all about R&R for me, I don’t want to be selfish. I want to be a blessing to anyone God puts in my path. This means I will be intentional in staying alert when I go about my day to God’s “interruptions” and be ready to serve. I confess this is a challenge for me because I’m a “get ‘er done kind of girl” and have never been good about interruptions to my agenda. But God knows this and He knows my desire to change this area of my heart and life. He’s already given me couple opportunities recently. (One just yesterday in a MacDonald’s drive thru!) I’m looking forward to more.

These are some of my ideas. I hope you'll share yours too, so that we can help each other have an Intentional Christmas. This is not intended to bring more stress or create more duty. God doesn’t want our relationship with Him to be about duty. He came to give us life and joy (John 10:10).

So, whatever that translates to in your life, go for it. Be joyful and joyfilled. That is a gift we can give intentionally to our Lord and Savior because it reflects Him.

Your intentional servant,
Dineen

*****

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