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18 entries from April 2012

A Story and a Surprise!

DineenI have a story to share with you. And a surprise.

The story is about Lexie and Hugh Baltimore. Lexie is a believer who God uses in a very unique way to reach the lost. Her husband Hugh is an atheist. In the aftermath of a terrible loss, she’s trying to live out her faith as she raises her son Jeremy to know God, even though her husband doesn’t like the idea of her taking their son to church.

Then there is a battle waging all around this marriage. The enemy recognizes how profound an effect Lexi’s faith can have on her husband, and he is not about to give up now. He’s cemented Lexie’s husband firmly in his atheism and is determined to make sure Hugh doesn’t switch sides.

Sound familiar?

Many of you may not know that I write fiction—that fiction is where I started writing seriously. In the fall of 2009, God put Lexie’s story on my heart, a story about a mismatched couple and the battle waging to keep her husband from knowing God. And I knew He wanted it to be a compliment to our Winning Him Without Words book. (In fact, it's even mentioned in the story!)

SoulSaverThe Soul Saver is officially releasing this week, and it’s not only a story I want to share with you, my dear friends, it’s a story I wrote FOR YOU.

On the second page of the book is this dedication:

For all the “Lexies” out there.
Remember, God is faithful.

I am so excited to share this book with you. I have so looked forward to revealing my little surprise for you. I will share with you that at one point I about gave up hope that Lexie and Hugh’s story would get told. Many publishers didn’t want to deal with the “niche” of the spiritually mismatched but God knew there would be a home for this story and He didn’t let me give up. In fact, He did some pretty cool stuff bringing this story to fruition.

This week I will be sharing the stories behind the story. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for a two day interview with Lexie. There are some questions I want her to answer for you, things that aren’t in the book.

And by Friday, you will have the full “skinny” on how God moved very visibly in this story and in my own life and family at the very same time. Some God-bumps are coming there!

Each day that I post I will give a way a copy of The Soul Saver. Leave a comment to enter each day if you’d like. If I had my way and the means to do it, I’d give you all a copy of this book of my heart because it’s our story, my friends.

We are all Lexies and we have a story to tell to encourage and help others walking the path of the spiritually mismatched. My prayer is that Lexie will inspire you to step out in faith and trust and realness even when everything around you is telling you otherwise.

Remember, God is faithful.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Weekend Devo — Possible AND Impossible

859675_book___God’s been whispering a message to my heart this past week with every prayer request or comment I’ve read here and other places.

“All things are possible with Me. Nothing is impossible either.”

I so sense God wanting us to truly understand His heart for us. So, this led me to compile all the verses in the Bible that speak this truth. If you have some to add, leave them in the comments. I’ll even create a special download from them all if we wind up with a bunch!

Memorize them, use them to battle doubts. Speak them out loud to affirm your faith AND change your thinking. You will be astounded especially in that area at how God’s Word can change the way we think and relate to our situations.

Friends, dive into these promises and claim them as your own!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” — Mark 9:23

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” — Mark 10:27

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” — Mark 14:36

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” — Luke 18:27

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” — Matthew 17:20

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” — Mark 10:27

For nothing is impossible with God.” — Luke 1:37

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” — Luke 18:27

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. — Acts 2:24

*****

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Chronicles of the Donovan Clan - Fear

What is bizarre in all this is what happened inside of me. FEAR. 

After twenty years of asking for his willingness to attend a marriage class and receiving his rejection, I was terrified to say…… YES…… 

I literally didn’t answer him because I was overwhelmed by all the fears and feelings of rejection that ran over me as I sat dumbfounded in my chair. Let me share some of the thoughts that raced through my head in the few seconds that followed. 

If I say yes and he changes his mind, it will crush me.
I should just let him off the hook; after all, he really doesn’t want to go.
I’m not sure I want to go.
Can I handle taking my unbelieving husband to church where many judgmental Christians might make him feel embarrassed?
Will I be embarrassed if he says or does the wrong thing? 

Sheesh and GOOD GRIEF!! 

What a mess.

Continued….. 

So, I sat at my desk, fear flashing across my face, thoughts screaming, hesitation gipping my heart, my hope. I looked up at my husband. And can I tell you, my friends, on his face was an expression of pure vulnerability. He was filled with uncertainty and hesitancy as well. 

Looking at him in that moment, I felt the urging ever so softly by the Holy Spirit, to just say, “Yes.” 

“Yes.” I spoke directly into his face. “Yes, I really want you to go with me.” 

There. I said it. He agreed. Hello, what is happening around here? The Apocalypse surely must be at hand because I was convinced that I would NEVER see the day my husband willingly went to a marriage class, especially a class that was faith based. I felt light headed. He smiled slightly and disappeared to his office. I think we both were in need of processing. 

My friends, get this, I still can’t believe it. I ALMOST SAID NO. Please learn from me. If your husband is willing to go to a marriage class, say yes, don’t let fear keep you bound in chains. 

Well, the day of the first class arrives. Weird. I felt uncomfortable, so did he, I can imagine for all kinds of different reasons. However, we sat down at the table together, with might I add, four other couples and one couple with which we are friends. Weird again. How can you be authentic in this kind of scenario? I wasn’t sure what was about to happen. Let me tell you, I was praying under my breath, “O God, please just help us to get through this. Help me to keep my expectations out of this evening. Help Jesus, help. Amen.” 

The speaker took the lectern and spoke about marital conflict. Oh boy, nothing like jumping right into the real “stuff” we deal with. It was fascinating content. Our homes of origin, how we grew up, and how our family handled conflict, plays an enormous role in how we navigate conflict in our marriage. Duh! But, I hadn’t though specifically in these terms. 

You can likely guess that Mike and I handle conflict vastly differently. Duh! I did know this. In fact, as we sat through the evening, it started to hit me, I already knew this about him. I already know he’s wired like that. I know I’m wild and crazy and he’s reserved. I already knew this. I knew that. I really do KNOW this man and he knows me. We aren’t such a mystery to each other after all. So why have I believed that for so long? Whoa. 

We aren’t really struggling as I presumed. In fact, as I sat there listening over several weeks, I came to several conclusions. We are in a better place in our relationship than many the other two-believing couples in that room. We are mostly past many of our conflicts and differences and we truly in love and we are a happy. 

Enlightening. 

I still don’t really know how to process all that was revealed by attending this class. It wasn’t really the material of the class that changed my perspective, it was the realization I already have what I thought I didn’t. 

Now don’t get me wrong. My husband remains an unbeliever. We are still very much mismatched about many things. But, overall, on many levels and issues, we are resolved, at peace and truly happy. 

Who knew?

Okay, I have more to tell you about this and the original conversation that started all of this. However, I'm sorry, but it's going to have to wait for a week because beginning Monday, we have a special guest joining us.

You won't want to miss our mystery guest.

As I leave you today. Can I ask you this question? Could you perhaps be like me, you already have a better marriage than you think? Can you ask God about this. Ask Him to show you what you truly have and don't be a blonde-brain, such as me, and wait nearly 20 years to have God hit you upside the head and show you. Thoughts?

Love you, Lynn

*****

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Confessions of a People Pleaser

OuchButtonHe said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. — Luke 16:15

The verse above is the piece of Scripture that God stopped me at during my quiet time, specifically the part I bolded. I read and reread it several times, praying for God to show me what He wanted me to see. I understood the context of its meaning. Jesus had just spoken to the Pharisees about serving two masters and their love of money.

In fact, Jesus made this statement as these men who thought of themselves as the source of Godly truth were sneering at Him.

I clearly saw what Jesus wanted them to see, but what did God want me to learn here? I’ve confessed in the past that I’m a people pleaser. God has brought me a long way from where I used to be and continues to work in this area of my life. I’m still working on the word “no.” (sheepish grin)

So, it’s through this lens of change that I viewed this Scripture as to how to apply it to my life. The Pharisees viewed themselves successful based upon the opinions of others. They were valued and seen as authorities and representatives of the truths in the Torah.

I felt my ouch button get just slightly pushed. Yes, God has been working in my heart to please Him, not others. To not base my worth and acceptance upon the opinions and acceptance of others but only on who I am according to Jesus. This journey the past year has been intense and my personal proof of just how far God has brought me came just last week with my post, Share Jesus and Be Real. Definitely bold for me and out of my comfort zone. 

Back to that ouch button. Just a slight pinch. Where? I’ve been checking and rechecking my motivations in my friendships and in my online exchanges—any type of people interaction.

Except my husband.

The ouch button pushed down a little more. A gentle push, mind you, because Jesus is always kind when teaching us His truth. This time, the truth was that I’d placed too great a value on my husband’s approval, higher at times than living my faith out loud.

I knew I hadn’t compromised my faith or stepped away from what I believed, but were there times when I’d chosen to be silent or not share completely out of my desire to keep my husband’s favor instead of following God’s lead to be forthright?

I had to answer yes, I had and ask God’s forgiveness. This is one of those fine lines we the believing spouse walks where we place a higher value on our place in our marriage than our obedience to God.

Oh, ouch again.

No, I’m not saying that we should suddenly discard the truth that our actions speak louder than words. Actually, my desire is to affirm it even more. But sometimes our actions will still stir the waters of peace and contentment in our marriage when it comes to a choice of faith. Sometimes the right choice is the one that affirms our faith and yet still causes contention with our spouse. As Lynn would say, that’s a time to “stand up.”

Now don’t get those index cards out and start putting Scripture all over your house. That’s being manipulative and not at all what I’m saying here. Our motivations need to be pure and out of a desire to do what God is asking us to do.

Sometimes the right choice (obedience to God) will still cause issues, but we can claim reassurance and peace that we have done what God asked us and by serving Him, we have pleased the one who matters most.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Chronicles of the Donovan Clan - Never, say Never - This is NOT about James Bond

Several months ago, I told you that God was working some new things in my husband, in us. At the time, the Lord impressed upon me to hide these things in my heart until they were settled out. 

Today, all these months later, the changes that began in January and February have reached a stall and I have learned a few things. I think it’s time to share with you what I’ve learned. 

I remember the moment distinctly. I sat in my office, frozen, fearful to say, “Yes.” 

What ensued leading up to this moment was weird filled with conflict and hurt feelings and stress. Our 20th wedding anniversary was approaching and I remember saying something to my husband that went something like this: 

“We’ve been married now for 20 years. Honey, I “get it” that you don’t embrace my faith. I really understand. But, after 20 years can you see that it is who I am. I’m not going to change. There comes a point when as a married couple you do things for the other because it’s just the right thing to do for the relationship.” 

“I believe it’s time to accept that my faith, going to church, is simply part of who I am. So perhaps, we are at a place where you join me at church because you love ME. Perhaps, it’s what you give to me to show me your love.”

 “And think about the places and the things I do for you, just because I love YOU. I choose to be part of your life and interests not because it’s what I really want for me but because I love you and it’s just what married people do. They give of themselves to bring happiness to the other and to show them love.” 

Understand this part of the conversation was still a little heated and for the life of me, I can’t remember what the issue was that started it. 

My husband turned and left me in my office. I sat staring at my computer screen, actually feeling a bit peaceful about sharing this with my husband and a bit apprehensive at the same time. I turned back to my work and like many of our conversations, I believed we would not discuss it again. 

However, to my complete surprise, an hour later my man walked back into my office, which is really just a cubby hole in the hallway. So he walked down the hall and stood by my desk. I looked up. Hesitantly he asked me a question, “Do you want me to go with you to the marriage workshops at church that start this week?” 

STUNNED….. 

Let me tell you that for all of my married life I have wanted my husband to attend any kind of marriage workshop with me. Never, I mean never, ever, has he been willing to do so. So to say I was surprised, is the understatement of the century. 

What is bizarre in all this is what happened inside of me. FEAR. 

After twenty years of asking for his willingness to attend a marriage class and receiving his rejection, I was terrified to say…… YES…… 

I literally didn’t answer him because I was overwhelmed by all the fears and feelings of rejection that ran over me as I sat dumbfounded in my chair. Let me share some of the thoughts that raced through my head in the few seconds that followed. 

If I say yes and he changes his mind, it will crush me.
I should just let him off the hook; after all, he really doesn’t want to go.
I’m not sure I want to go.
Can I handle taking my unbelieving husband to church where many judgmental Christians might make him feel embarrassed?
Will I be embarrassed if he says or does the wrong thing? 

Sheesh and GOOD GRIEF!! 

What a mess. 

My friends, even as I type this I feel my anxiety rise. And, there is a lot more to tell in this story but as usual, I’ve gone way too long. Find me Friday as I share with you what happened next and then what happened after that. Oh and one more thing then happened later. 

It’s never boring at the Donovan house and it’s absolutely an epic adventure living the believers life.

Have a great week. Humor me and let me know what you think happened. Be blessed, Lynn

*****

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Weekend Devo — The Power of Dogs

ShastawithBallYes, you read that correctly. I'm talking about dogs today. There is just something about these furry critters that intrigue me. I haven't always been a dog person but after witnessing the HUGE impact our precious Shasta has had on my youngest daughter as she battled first depression and then cancer, I am a true believer that dogs are a special gift from God. My daughter is quick to point out that dog spelled backwards is God, after all. (grin)

Think about your special pet and now imagine God specifically creating that furry creature (or scaled, feathered or whatever defines your pet of choice) with you in mind. Our God is that intentional! Can you believe it? He didn't have to make these furry little critters. He chose to because God loves to delight us.

Now go love on that critter of yours (or your neighbor's if you don't have one) and praise God for thinking of every detail to provide and delight His children.

Praying and believing,
Dineen 

*Photography credit for this cute picture of our Shasta goes to my brother-in-law, Don Miller, whose talent with a camera is amazing!

*****

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Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Part III

A few months ago I was emailing back and forth to a friend of mine whose husband is a reader of atheist blogs. She was in such pain and in a quandary as to how to cope. Now I don’t pretend to have all the answers for each individual situation. I can only share what has worked in my life and marriage. 

Let me say that I love this young mom and wife. She is in the midst of fiery battles daily and is yet living for Jesus under tremendous persecution from her own spouse. And to add to the dynamics of her situation is how she is hard-wired, she hates confrontation. Many of us would go to great lengths to avoid confronting anyone let alone our spouse who holds a great deal of power to hurt us. 

I shared with my friend that there comes a time when we must say to our spouse that we are partners in marriage. That what our spouse believes does not diminish what we hold true. It’s appropriate to call them out and ask for our due respect as a spouse and a partner in the relationship. We must stand up and tell them that the words they speak against our faith are disrespectful and truly not what builds a marriage relationship. I know I advised her to tell her husband that she expected him to refrain from speaking about her faith and promise him that she would do the same about his atheist beliefs. 

Okay, that’s one take. For me, my moment of truth came unexpectedly. It was many years ago and I remember it clearly still today. 

My husband was angry. He was so riled up about my growing faith that he was constantly throwing arguments up for me to discount or contradict. He told me that I was foolish and that my faith embarrassed him. He was absolutely mystified that I, an intelligent woman, would ever even consider believing in a god. 

He was adamant and determined to “prove” to me God did not exist. 

At this point in our marriage, we had been down all these roads. You know, the paths of trying to defend my faith from a science point of view. Defending the truth of the Bible. Discussing intelligent design. Debates about the fossil record. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Etc. etc. etc. 

My friends, I’ve had every conceivable conversation so if you feel like you are all alone in this, I know exactly how you feel. 

Okay, after years and years of debate, conflicts and arguments with each of us trying to convince the other of the error in their thinking, I finally gave up. 

Whew! What a relief. 

What follows is the simple conversation that seemed to finally help my husband accept my faith. Here we go. 

Me: Honey, why does it matter so much to you that I believe in God? My faith doesn’t make me stupid.

Him: I does too matter. (He states in great anger and frustration I might add.)

Me: But why? Why does it matter?

Him: Because you are living a lie.

Me: But how do you KNOW that I am wrong? You don’t know for sure. And let’s say that at the end of it all, we die and nothing happens. No heaven. No hell. We just cease to exist like you presume.

What I know is that I lived a life that was morally strong. I lived a life filled with joy. I have many friends who I love and who love me. I have given of myself to this world to make it a better place. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy. 

Him: (silence) 

Now there is likely more to this conversation but I just don’t remember what happened after that. However, the dynamics in our marriage relationship changed upon that conversation. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy……. 

The key to this kind of conversation is waiting until they are truly ready to hear it. He was ready that day. 

Pray that the Lord will give you several things to equip you to walk this journey. 

  • First, that He and YOU seal your mind, heart and soul in the truth of your identity. Know who you are in Christ. 
  • Second, pray for courage, Joshua courage to step up to the task of confronting immature behavior and words toward your faith. 
  • Three, pray for discernment and wisdom and for an opening to have a conversation with your spouse. God loves to honor those prayers. 

Identity
Courage
and an open door. 

And this very day, I also give you dominion over your delete key. Decide today that you will not allow your husband to be used by the enemy to create doubt. Reject the fiery darts of the enemy. Live in joy. As Beth Moore says, “JOY, is our birthright in Christ.” 

Live victoriously and let the enemy quake with fear and the atheist blogs go wild, because we are children of the Most High God and NO ONE CAN TOUCH THAT. 

Be blessed, Lynn

If God had picture

*****

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Share Jesus and Be Real

933344_i_love_youWe’ve had some great discussions with Lynn’s posts about atheist blogs and the unequally yoked. As I’ve shared with you all here, my husband is an atheist and his choice not to believe in God has been a huge catalyst for me to be clear on what God’s Word says and to claim many of the promises contained therein.

Scripture holds so many answers for us as well and instructions and examples. If you want to know how to love a person unconditionally, study how Jesus loved people. If you want to know how to answer people (atheists, agnostics, those of different faiths, and even believers) who question or criticize your faith, study how Jesus instructed his disciples and answered (or didn’t) the Pharisees, Sadducees and Pontius Pilate. If you want to know what to say when asked about your faith, study God’s Word and you will know not only what to say, but how to act and react. Again, our actions can speak louder than our words.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. — 1 Peter 3:15-17

I want to take this gold mine of Scripture apart just a bit, because there is a deeper meaning here than we first see. And we have four areas of instruction here.

First, set Christ apart as Lord. Lynn’s post yesterday is a great example of this. This is where it starts. We must know who we are in Christ. If you are hazy about who Jesus was, why He came, and most importantly, why God the Father sent Him, your foundation is weak.

If you look at the NASB version of this line, it reads like this:

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts

We are being called here to make Christ holy and hallowed in our hearts. By the way, the Greek word for sanctify in 1 Peter 3:15 is the same word used in 1 Cor. 7:14: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife. Food for thought and a future blog post perhaps?

I have a feeling we won’t completely understand the full power and strength behind this sanctification until we reach the other side of the “veil” but there’s no doubting there is something powerful there.

Second, be prepared to explain your hope. It doesn’t say THE hope but YOUR hope. How often have you shared from your heart what something has meant to you and watched the other person understand and even relate to what you’re saying? The key here is sharing what you know, what your acceptance of Christ has meant to you, how your faith has changed your life for good. This is not about us changing the other person’s mind. That’s up to God. This is about sharing what Christ has meant to you. Share Jesus and be real.

This kind of authenticity is powerful! When we are transparent and share how Jesus has taken our broken lives and brought hope and healing, people will listen. And when our actions support that, people are convinced.

And being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks shows us that often times it’s not we who initiate the conversation. It’s about keeping our spiritual antennae on alert for those divine appointments orchestrated by God, for the person He suddenly sets in front of us who is seeking or hurting.

Which brings us to the third point—how we share our faith. With gentleness and respect. Jesus came with the attitude of a servant and not just for those who believed in Him. He extended this to everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. He could have looked down on us from his superior place upon the throne, but instead He became like us (except in sin) so He could save us. Jesus never made anyone feel like they were “less.” On the contrary, He lifted them (and us) from the pit of sin and despair to share with Him all that God has to offer. We are co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). And Jesus offers that to everyone.

And fourth and finally, yes, there will be times that we will suffer for our faith. Times where standing for what we believe will bring ridicule and rejections. In 2008 I shared a time (A Choice of Faith) where I had to choose standing for what I believed over my husband’s approval. It was a hard thing to do, especially for a people pleaser like me, but I just could not turn my back on God and what I knew to be true in his Word.

I did, however, have to keep a clear conscience and leave the results to God. That is what the last part of 1 Peter 3:17 is about. We must do what we know to be true and right according to our belief in Jesus and His Word. And we must leave the results to God. He will take care of it. Some will be held accountable in this lifetime and some in the next.

Lynn and I have witnessed God turn a heart from indignant criticism for what we stand for here at SUM to repentance and a desire to understand better. In that moment Lynn and I simply shared what we knew to be true with respect and gentleness. God took care of the result and helped this person to see the truth. To see Him. Imagine what the result would have been had we fired back the same kind of attitude and ridicule.

I’ll never forget what one of my husband’s friends said to me once. We were discussing the differences in our beliefs, me as a Christian and him more of an agnostic/atheist. He said, “You’re not like most Christians.” I was pleased and saddened at the same time. Pleased that I had shared my faith without making him feel less. Saddened that he saw most Christians as being judgmental.

I don’t believe most of us are but I do think we have moments where we can come across that way. The media has a way of focusing only on the negative and the negative is always what seems to make the headlines. It’s easy for anyone (even us) to make broad statements about the faceless but put a face on the target and make it personal. Then decide if that statement is still worth making. This is the consideration most believers want to extend and we only ask for the same consideration.

If we must suffer for standing for our faith, so be it. But let us do it with clear consciences knowing that we have above all served Jesus and His unfathomable sacrifice for us by sharing the hope we have because of what He did. And let’s be real (not perfect) about it too.

Praying and believing,
Dineen 

*****

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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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Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Part II

As I ease into the second part of this series, I feel a compulsion to say something: To every unbeliever, including my spouse, I hold respect and empathy and love in my heart for you.

I have been writing here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for almost six years. Over the years I have received many encouraging words from so many of you. Your thoughts and kindness are the jewels in my crown that I will toss at His feet one day. 

I have also received some not so nice comments. I have been confronted and there are always a few doubters and even haters out there that will try to rattle my resolve and commitment to this ministry and to my Lord. 

For example, several years ago I received some kind of notice through my Google Analytics or notices (I think) that my blog had been linked to another blog. I followed the link and low and behold, there splashed across the page on this prominent atheist blog was this: 

Moron blog of the week award: Spiritually Unequal Marriage 

I started cackling out loud. Woo Hoo. I wear that label with great honor. If our lil’ ole’ marriage site is stirring up the unbelievers, then Wahooooo! 

Moron blog of the week. It’s a badge I wear proudly. 

What you should know about this merely 5’4” tall blonde is that I’m not easily rattled. I have the first component that steels my heart and soul from the doubters, haters and nay sayers. 

I KNOW my identity. I KNOW without doubt who I am in Christ. 

LifeisshortMy friends when you understand that you are solidly in the palm of the Most High God, words intended to hurt, condemn or persecute will fire at you but they don’t penetrate. It’s like I see the words “moron blog” come at me and then simply melt into an impudent puddle on the floor. In fact, I actually find it’s humorous. 

My identity in Christ came about because I worked and pursued my personal relationship with Jesus with all of my passion and a deep commitment. Wow, my efforts have paid off. If you want to discover this kind of relationship with Christ, He eagerly waits for you. It takes discipline but that will soon turn to desire. You can read about how I went about it (here). And Dineen (here)

Knowing who I am in Christ has freed me from wavering in my faith while under attack. It has empowered me to see clearly and sift the ever changing values of our society through the lens of the Bible. Which by the way, never change. What freedom there is in that truth.

I have gained a strong sense of what is right and wrong. I am free to agree to disagree with my spouse because I am  confident in the truth of God. I am filled with compassion for those who are harmed by lies of the devil. I am brought to fervent prayer for the lost, broken and the nay sayers.

And one incidental side note: I also have dominion over the delete key.  *grin* 

Empower yourselves. Begin to believe who you are in Christ. Embrace it. Live it. Love it and watch as God builds your courage and the fiery darts of the enemy just melt in impudent puddle at your feet. 

The second part of responding to the Atheist blog reader is a conversation I had with my spouse years ago. Things changed for us after that. Tune in Friday for Part III Unequally Yoked and The Atheist Blogs. 

How has your relationship helped you to cope with the attacks of an unbelieving spouse?

Be blessed, Lynn

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Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Okay, Yep. I’m bugged. Warning: This is a very blunt post. Proceed with caution and forgiveness if some of my annoyance seeps out.

A few weeks ago I Googled a common term used in Christianity. The results came back and I clicked on the top result. The website loaded and to my complete astonishment I was looking at an atheist blog.

I started to read the post. To say I was ticked was an understatement. P-off, anyone???

BrainsfalloutNow I don’t normally read atheist blogs. I don’t normally read anything that will skew or slander the inerrant truth of the Gospel. Let me be clear here. I DO NOT have an open mind about many things. I don’t succumb to the societal poo that I am intolerant because I don’t embrace every cockamamie thought out there.

I have done my study. I have tested my faith. I believe in the Lord and His son Jesus.

Period. The end.

Okay, back to the story. So I’m reading this guy’s post and it’s not about science. It’s not about Islam. It’s not about Hinduism, nor any other faith or deity, no it solely a rant about Christianity.

So, I clicked off the blog.

But since then I have been bugged by the thought that many atheist blogs aren’t about their doubts or proof against any and all faith and deities but are in fact, a direct attack against believers, that would be all of us. And why this bugs me so much is that many of our own spouses read this crap.

I will tell you now that I’m fortunate in that my spouse doesn’t participate in this arena but a number of you who I am praying for and who have written to me are dealing with a souse who reads atheist blogs and books. And the fact of the matter is that many spouses are not only unbelievers but they are pouring hatred, misinformation and all matter of hostility into their souls from these sources. Indeed we have a very threatening road to walk in some of our mismatched marriages.

I know that one of my friends who is married to a very hostile unbeliever feels the constant attack and pressure. She feels like she must always be on guard to not say the wrong thing in order to avoid the constant conflict that comes from her hostile spouse. I grieve over these situations and I know right now I am talking to a great many of you.

In the early years of my marriage when my husband was extremely hostile, he would go at me with a vengeance throwing all kinds of arguments and weird statements and questions at me to rattle me. I didn’t know at the time that his questions weren’t coming from his own mind and thoughts but were being placed there through some atheist materials he was reading.

The pain we feel when our own spouse attacks us, the shame they place on us, the doubt that it can create can set us back years in our faith walk. How do I know, I lived it. I remember my husband saying something to me one time about God and the devil that rocked my faith so hard it took me months years to get over.

Now I know that Dineen and I wrote a book, Winning Him Without Words, based on 1 Peter 3:1. And the more I live out my faith the more that this passage proves its power in my life. However, there are times when remaining silent is wrong. It’s harmful to you, your spouse and your kids. In fact, chapter seven is titled: Pick and Choose Your Battles; When to stand up or shut-up. My friends, in this case, in my marriage, I finally decided to speak up and when I did things changed.

I will share that conversation with you on Monday as this post has already gone on too long. There are two components that will prepare you for meeting an atheist blog reader. I will share both of them next week.

For today I need your input to help me next week. If you live with a spouse that reads atheist blogs or books, please leave a comment and share with me some of the experiences when confronted by your spouse.

Looking forward to the conversation today. Be blessed, Lynn

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I Saw God

I saw God.

Let me explain.

Lately I have discovered that my spiritual eyes have opened just a little bit wider. I’ve witnessed glimpses of God around me. Most recently, I heard God. It was early Easter morning. You can read about that story on my Facebook page (look for the post on Sunday, April 15, 2012.)

But the story I feel compelled to tell is this one:

Join me for a great devotional at Laced With Grace and catch a glimpse of God. Be blessed, Lynn

 

Laced With Grace

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That Old Familiar Ache

PrayerIt snuck up on me again, that old familiar ache. The one I used to walk around with constantly early on in my mismatched marriage. I thought I’d made peace with it, made the choice to trust God with my husband’s salvation and the future of our marriage. I’d learned to bring that ache, that longing to share my faith with my husband to God and leave it in His hands.

But there it was again just days before Good Friday.

Why now and why so suddenly? Had I stopped trusting God somehow? Had I taken it back from God? Or was God trying to show me or remind me of something?

I did a mental review of the last few weeks and nothing came to mind that might have shaken my foundation of trust in this area. If anything, my marriage and my relationship was better than ever.

And there it was. I’d hit this place of contentment with things as they were. Now there’s nothing wrong with being content in my marriage. Paul even speaks of how he learned to be content in every situation.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. — Philippians 4:11-12

Though Paul referenced his physical needs, his meaning is deeper when he speaks of “every situation.” He trusted God for everything. He was content.

But my contentment made me question whether I was simply at peace with God’s plan for my husband’s impending salvation (I believe, I believe!) or had I started to lose hope in the waiting? Had my prayers lagged and desire waned to keep praying?

Every once in a while I think it’s good to take an inventory of where we are at in our faith. Sometimes life has a way of becoming so busy with the doing and the routines that we “do” without thinking “why.”

That's what I had done recently in my marriage. I’d prayed and asked God to show me the difference. Had I truly given Him that ache in my heart in exchange for His reassurances that no matter what happens, I have Him and I am His? Or, had I become complacent, living for the now with my husband because he is a good and moral man by nature, which makes living in a mismatched marriage a little easier? Had I allowed complacency to make me forget what’s at stake in the end?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. — 1Timothy 6:6-7

I’m being honest and authentic here because you deserve it, my friends. Our battles don’t always lie in the obvious conflicts and issues we face being in a mismatched marriage. Sometimes the enemy works in the subtle areas we forget to take notice of. Complacency can be his tool as well.

Do I have an answer to my question? No, actually I don’t. I don’t know why the ache returned. I’m begining to think there’s more than one answer to this question because God is never found in just one place or one level. Even the Scriptures are full of many layers and meanings.

Perhaps complacency is one factor. I do believe I have trusted God for my huband’s future and I do believe one day he will come to know Jesus because God gave me this reassurance many years ago. Maybe God allowed me to feel that ache again so that in this gift of reassurance, I didn’t become lazy or forgetful.

I also believe God gives us things like this so that we don’t lose compassion and understanding for others walking difficult paths. So I believe that is part of the ache I felt even more keenly as I sat in church Friday evening.

Because as I sat there, yearning for my sweet guy to know Jesus, not just for me, but to know this amazing and wonderful God who was willing to become man as well God and suffer a most horrible death for my husband, I prayed for him to understand that kind of love.

And I thought of all of you. How we walk this path on a daily basis, some days good, some days bad, but we walk it together as sisters and brothers in Christ.

I left the church that night with a prayer to leave that ache at the cross. I can think of no better place for it. God met my needs in many ways that evening. He met me in my heart, He met me in the nudge He gave to a sweet friend at church to invite me to sit with her instead of alone, and I know He is meeting my pleas and prayers for my husband—my need for this man I love so dearly to know the One who loves him even more.

I know this because God’s Word says so:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. — Phil 4:19

My dear friends, may God meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. He is faithful and He is good and you can be sure He will do this for you. Leave that ache at the cross and watch how our Great Lord and Savior redeems it.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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An Open Letter To The Spiritually Mismatched

The Lord impressed upon me to share a post I wrote for Focus on the Family -The Live Forum two weeks ago. I pray you are encouraged and hear God’s voice as He speaks to all of us, the Unequally Yoked.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Sometimes people misunderstand our ministry by thinking we are in opposition to God’s Word as it commands in

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (NKJ)

As a woman who has been unequally yoked now for 20 years, I understand the truth behind God’s desire in this passage. The life of the spiritual mismatched is difficult. There were days I didn’t know if I would survive the spiritual warfare.

To read the article join me at the Internet Cafe.

AND be sure to stop back in here on Friday as I discuss a topic that is long overdue:

The Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Have a great week. Be blessed, Lynn

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The Victory of the Tomb

IStock_000018235413XSmall

Lord Jesus, Your tomb stands empty. We rejoice that You are no longer there because now You dwell in fullness in our hearts. You've defeated sin and death and given us victory and life!

Lord, meet our unbelieving loved ones and show them the scars on your hands and feet. Let them touch the marks on your body and know that you died for them too out of your great love for us all.

Lord, as we your sons and daughters celebrate this glorious day, a day that set the promise of salvation in stone with an empty tomb pronouncing You are indeed risen, renew our hearts with this promise that is not just ours to claim. It is for everyone.

When you allowed them to nail You to the cross, You saw us across the span of time. You saw our broken and sinful hearts. You even saw our unbelieving loved ones.

And then you said it was done. For us and for them. Help us to live in this promise that is there for us all. Help us to remember that you left the tomb in complete triumph over sin and death. Help us to remember that You desire that none should perish.

You knew every one of us when You hung from that cross. The smile You bore as You walked on the road to Emmaus and your passion was for us all.

And our unbelieving loved ones.

Lord Jesus, we stand in Your promises, ready to be the representation of that love to our spouses who have rejected and turned away from You. Renew our strength and commitment to our spouse and our marriage. Give us wisdom and passion to love them as You are calling us to. Give us Your heart and vision to persevere and hold true to the path You have set before us.

The tomb is empty and our hearts are full! The victory is ours to behold as we ponder the incomprehensible wonder of Your love, Lord Jesus.

You gave us Your all. Help us to be like You. In your glorious name we pray, amen.

Be blessed and redeemed!
Dineen

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JESUS DEATH - 60 SECONDS

For the next 60 seconds, set aside whatever you're doing and take this opportunity! 

THE (SCIENTIFIC) DEATH OF JESUS  

At the  age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.  

At the time crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, for unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was nailed to the cross by His hands and feet, rather than tied... 

Each  nail was 6 to 8 inches long.  

The nails were driven into His wrist.  Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.  The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the Wrist, that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself, so that He could breathe.    

Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross.  Jesus could not support himself with His legs for long because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back and using his legs just to continue to breath.  Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.  

Jesus endured this reality for over three hours.   Yes, over three hours! Can you imagine this kind of suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from his wounds.  

From common images we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side... But do we remember the many wounds made to his body.  A hammer driving large nails through the wrists, the feet overlapped and a nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. And... before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten.  The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The crown of thorns (two to three inch thorns) cut deeply into His scalp.  Most men would not have survived this torture.   

He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds.  The human adult body contains about 5 liters (just over a gallon) of blood.  

Jesus  poured all 5 liters of his blood; He had three nails hammered into His body; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest..  

All  these without mentioning the humiliation He passed after carrying His own cross for almost two kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross beam was almost 66 pounds of weight, to which His hands were nailed).  

Jesus had to endure this experience, so that you may have free access to God.  

So that your sins can be "washed" away.  All of them, with no exception!  Don't ignore this. 

JESUS  CHRIST DIED...FOR YOU! 

Do not believe that He only died for others (those who go to church or for pastors, bishops, etc).  

He died for you! 

Accept the reality, the truth, that JESUS IS THE ONLY SALVATION FOR THE WORLD.  

God has special plans for you because of a cross more than 2,000 years ago. Take 60 seconds and share what this day means to you. Be blessed, Lynn

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The Next Generation: Building a Titus 2 Legacy

MentorThis past weekend my church held a “Meet the Author” event. I confess I was concerned about it being a bit too much “about me” but instead it turned into a very special opportunity for me to share about our ministry here at S.U.M.

These dear women at my church, who I am privileged to call friends, are now praying for us here, and there are some pretty fierce prayer warriors in this group!

During the Q&A time, I noticed one table in particular because there sat a group of young women ranging in age from late teens to early twenties. I think they’d migrated together to avoid us “older” ladies.

As I looked at them, it was as if God spoke to my heart, “This is a moment not to be missed.”

At the risk of sounding even older than I am (I’m not old, really...) I did as God lead me and spoke to these precious and young hearts because one, I wanted to try to save them from the heartache of a mismatched marriage. And two, God has been clear with me to teach His Word.

God's Word says not to be yoked with unbelievers. We all know that here at S.U.M., but at the age of these young women, I didn’t know this.

I shared with them that God didn’t put this in His Word to dictate to us. He’s not out to strike them with lightning if they date an unbeliever. He put this precept in the Bible to guide and protect us. Just like we as parents want to protect our children from pain, so does God.

There is a generation of single women coming up behind us that need to know what it means to be spiritually mismatched. They need to know what God’s Word has to say about it. They need to understand that to tempt such a path is to “play” with potential pain and unhappiness that God doesn’t desire for their lives.

Many of you have expressed concerns over this younger generation. I think God is moving not only to bring awareness to this ministry to help those of us in mismatched marriages, but also to help our daughters and sisters, our sons and brothers to understand God has a plan for them. For their future.

One young woman came up to me afterwards and shared her heart with me. I see this fear in these young women (as I saw it in my oldest daughter) that they will never find someone to love them. We need to let them know that’s not true. I was able to give her the reassurance that God had a man in mind for her (and I do believe this because I’ve seen how God worked this out in my daughter’s life) and that she needed to trust God and wait for His timing.

How do we help young women (and men) to entrust their hearts to God? Many of us stand in a place to be mentors. We even have biblical reference to this in Titus 2:3-5, a model of mentorship between the older to the younger.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. — Titus 2:3-5

On the surface, this Scripture selection can seem a bit, well, old-fashioned, but based upon what we know about Paul, what his goals were (to spread the Gospel) and customs of the time, we can apply this model today and appreciate its wisdom.

Learning from the Past
As I studied these Scriptures I thought of the mentors I’ve been blessed with over the years—precious women who have shared their wisdom and knowledge with me and fed into my life with their own faith and experiences. I treasure those times sitting with our Bibles open and cups of coffee as we shared from our hearts and studied God’s Word.

Lending into the Present
As I learned from my mentors, I’ve been able to apply these lessons to my own growth and faith journey and apply the wisdom and knowledge they shared to my own life. Then as I’ve grown in age and faith, God has used me to do the same in the lives of other women and especially my own daughters. What a blessing and reward to see a younger woman bloom and grow in her faith because God used us in such a crucial way to help another grow closer to Him.

Launching into the Future
Even though my daughters are grown, I still play the role of mentor in their lives. And in this model they too will play the role of mentors to other women as they grow in their own faith and to their own daughters down the road. This is a precious legacy we carry from those who came before us to model in our own lives and to share with those to come after us.

Think about those who have mentored you and write three of their names in the spaces on the left. Then think and pray about three other women (include your daughters!) you can mentor and write their names in the spaces on the right. This is what I call The Titus 2 Legacy.

Titus2Graphic

If you feel you are in need of a mentor, start praying for one. If you are feeling led to be a mentor, pray about that too. Maybe you see yourself in both positions, which is the best place to be! I can think of no better way to live out the truth and cement it in our own lives than to share it with others.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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She Finally Asked

My friends, 

Yesterday our Pastor told a story that will not leave me. It pulls at my heart and I think it’s a story we all need. 

He told of a young woman who came up to meet him after service last week. She came along with a friend. She said to Pastor Josh, “I haven’t been to church in over a decade. I stopped going when I turned eleven when my parents stop making me attend. But I came today because for the first time ever, I met a real Christian.” 

Josh went on to explain to us that her friend, Jessica, works in the childcare center at Fitness 19. It was through a friendship that developed there that this young woman discovered what Jessica had was the real deal, an authentic relationship with Jesus. 

It might seem to some that childcare at a gym may not be where you would find out about Jesus. But as Pastor Josh said, “People are watching you. There’s no such thing as living in neutral. You are either all the way in. Or you are out.” 

What really got me about this story is what Jessica’s young friend said next, “I came to church because finally she asked me.” 

She finally asked me. 

Oh my friends. Who is watching? Who will notice if our faith is authentic and vibrant? Who is it that we need to ask to come to church? Who needs to be loved with the love of Christ?  Who have we not asked out of fear, discomfort, or a chance of embarrassment?

Cross_lightThe most important day in our entire year is THIS SUNDAY. 

It’s because of the resurrection that we have hope, fantastic, extravagant, supernatural hope. 

I look around this world, this nation, our town, my neighborhood and see the lost and broken. I see so many who are so badly beaten up by life that they have given up, walled up, shut up, and shut down. They are hard, caustic, mean-spirited and deep down, utterly living in fear, bitterness, and regret. 

We KNOW the cure; we know the healing, the forgiveness, and the joy. We know the hope of the world. 

It is Jesus. 

I’m just pulled at the core of my spirit that there might be someone in my sphere of influence that I haven’t invited in. Someone I haven’t asked to church. I grieve that they could be living in hope and I haven’t shared how. So on this Monday as I think about Christ’s triumphal entry and the dark days that the await him later in the week and His glorious resurrection, I’m moved to pray: 

O Lord,
Show me who they are. Bring their names to my mind. Let me see who is watching me. Help me to live authentically, not perfectly, but to live with love, peace, forgiveness, generosity and kindness. As this week marches closer to the day we celebrate Your Victory, help me to release one more person from the prison of darkness. Help me to show them our hope. Show them Jesus. It is in His name I pray. Amen

Be blessed, Lynn

*Thanks Pastor Josh

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