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18 entries from June 2012

Weekend Devo — Feeding on God's Best

IStock_000013074149XSmallLike newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1Peter 2:2-3

Have you ever noticed how you wind up drifting away from your spouse when you don’t spend time together and make time to talk and interact—on purpose, not just out of necessity? Have you noticed how you drift away from God when you forget to pray or wind up so busy you don’t keep that appointed time to meet with Him?

Do you see the connection? Our marriages are an earthly representation of our relationship to Christ, as his bride. When we see our marriages as a training ground of being intentional in a relationship, we are learning what it means to be intentional in our relationship with God.

Just as we have to be intentional in our marriages in order to grow closer to our spouse and mature the relationship, we need to do the same thing in our relationship with God to mature spiritually.

We can’t keep living on milk. Sometimes we have to take a hefty bite of the solid stuff and chew on it for a while to learn and grow in our marriages and our faith. Even when it seems scary, too hard, or just too much work.

Remaining in infancy keeps us from fully experiencing who God is, who our spouses are, and what our marriages and faith lives can become. We miss out on the tasty, meaty stuff.

I know this faith walk isn’t easy. Sometimes God calls us to trust Him in whole new ways and calls us to difficult tasks and directions. Not to starve or punish us, but to feed us with His best.

Praying & 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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God is In The Details Too!

Today it's my great privilege to welcome back Janet.

Janet resides on the East Coast with her high school sweetheart turned husband and their three daughters. She begins and ends her day with God and strives to still be in constant dialogue with Him between. 

Thank you for being part of our amazing community. Hugs, Lynn

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JanetWe recently received our summer calendar of the events for Busch Gardens, our home away from home.  And I couldn’t help but reflect on how a few years ago God answered the smallest, faintest prayer I have ever prayed.

After checking the mail I stood there in my kitchen reading the list of powerful headliners at the upcoming concert series Glory In the Gardens.  As my excitement and anticipation grew to paramount proportions this will be no easy task I reminded myself.  Indeed, that was an understatement.  To attend this concert not only would we need a hotel room for the weekend, traveling money and, quite frankly, a small miracle.  You see, the concert was scheduled to begin in the afternoon, ending well into the evening.  With a 3.5 hour drive home, that would put our family exhausted and driving during the wee hours of a Monday morning.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture”—Psalm 37:3 NIV

I had left the park’s mailer on the kitchen island assuming my husband would glance over it later that evening.  I knew he had seen and read it when he mentioned Brandon Heath and tobyMac were coming in concert and did I notice.  Did I notice?  Oh yes dear I did notice!  Not wanting the taste of disappointment on my tongue I didn’t get any hopes up, but casually mentioned how nice it would be to go there. As season pass ticket holders, I knew my one daughter would wait hours and help me brandish my maturity as we rushed the stage ensuring optimal viewing pleasure.

“We will see what we can do” was his response to my little request. Oh God please, for me and for my daughter, please was my faint heart’s prayer.

I imagine God on His throne, hearing my quick arrow prayer shot up reaching His throne and how naïve my faith in Him answering such a silly little prayer must have given Him much to delight as He said to me: My dear child, you wait and see what I, the Great I AM, am about to do.

A week passed when I thought about this concert again.  We were members of a hotel rewards program; though it seemed meaningless as we slowly chipped away, inch by painful inch, the qualifying stays.  Miraculously we had finally achieved enough stays for a free weekend!  WOW!  Could God orchestrate a better argument than a FREE weekend stay?

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”—Psalm 37:4 NIV

But there was no need for an argument.  My simple, “hey hon, we finally earned enough points for a free weekend stay to go to Busch Gardens the weekend of the concert” was all he needed to hear.  We were booked!  My daughter and I mapped our stealthy mission plan and smiled knowing we would be front row.  My husband and other daughter decided they would simply enjoy the amusement park while we spent hours in His presence in praise and worship. 

Periodically throughout the concert my husband would text to see how we were doing.  It helped pass the time as we spent a few hours camped out at the gate awaiting entry to the stage.  My man even braved and broke through the massive crowds navigating to the front lines – not an easy task by any measure—to hold our spots so we could leave and use the restroom.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him—Psalm 37:7a NIV

God’s glory does not end there.  After a year of enduring heartbreak and fertility problems, I spent part of the concert in slight cramps with unexpected, light bleeding.  We would later come to find out that Sunday, during the concert, I endured the phenomenon known as implantation bleeding.

How silly of me to think God, in all His mercy and goodness, would not consider the small desires of my heart and delight in answering me.  What was your smallest, faintest answered prayer?  Or do you have a small, faint prayer request we could arrow up to His throne for you?

Janet

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

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The Call to Stand Firm

(This is from a 2009 post that I dug out and updated. It fits our ongoing series so well even after three years!)

IStock_000007310932XSmallThe stories in the Bible display a constant thread of struggle and perseverance. From Jacob to Joseph to Moses and the Israelites.

In Genesis 32, Jacob is faced with a potential disaster. His brother Esau is coming with 400 men, and Jacob fears the worst. He even prepares for the confrontation by dividing his people and possessions into two camps. In verses 9-12 he revisits God’s promise of prosperity:

Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

Jacob has struggled with God enough in the past to stop this time and remember God’s promise before reacting. He even reminds God of it. Back in Genesis 28 Jacob reached a turning point by claiming his faith as his own (see verses 20-22). And now, by revisiting God’s promise, Jacob’s faith is re-enforced.

Then there’s Joseph. I think this is my absolute favorite story in the Bible. I’ve imagined many a time the desolation Joseph must have felt to be hated by his brothers and sold into slavery. I’ve marveled at how God favored him and gave him success, even in prison. And then the anguish to see his brothers and not be recognized.

Joseph endured years of slavery and imprisonment to fulfill a purpose God set in place long ago. Amazingly, Joseph understands this and even tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20 NIV).

Here we see a glimpse of Romans 8:28 in action. Joseph’s story is truly one of perseverance and supernatural faith.

From Streams in the Desert: “Joseph had more sorrow than all the other sons of Jacob, and it led him out into a ministry of bread for all nations.” — The Heavenly Life

And now to Moses and the Israelites. In Exodus 5, the conditions for the Israelites have gone from livable to treacherous. And they blame Moses—the man who’s brought a message of freedom from God—for their worsening state. The phrase “darkest before the dawn” epitomizes the thickening of battle before the victory. When we stand up to evil and injustice, when we obey God in ways that offend the world (or our spouses), we will meet opposition.

We don’t like this persecution and our fist instinct is to back off. To cry for things to go back to bearable like the Israelites did. But to do so means losing ground in the battle. And it is in the midst of this battle that faith is so critical. We must continue to believe we do not stand alone.

In Exodus 14, the Egyptians are in hot pursuit of the Israelites, who despair they are to die in the desert. Moses reminds them who is in control with these profound words.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”

This simple statement is so full of God’s love and pure intentions. Even despite the Israelites lack of faith, God is fighting for his people. He’s there in the thick of the fight and his promise still stands.

The Israelites were called to face a great challenge, as are we who are spiritually mismatched. But we need not fear. We need simply to obey God’s call, be still in Him, and let God fight the battle for our spouses. But we must do our part.

“God will give us the victory when we join Him in the fight.” —Upper Room Ministries

Join God in the fight. Pray without ceasing. Have faith. Trust. Believe.

And guess what?

God always wins.

Praying & 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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Glimpses of God

I thought I would share a clip from my recent speaking event. In this clip I tell the story that I shared in our book about God sending my husband a Mylar Balloon. 

 

 

My friends, Dineen and I will be traveling again for a few weeks. I will be in Colorado so I'm giving a shout out to all of you in the Mile High State. 

While I'm out, we have ask Janet to share a few thoughts. Janet has written guest posts for us before. I'm sure you will be blessed by her words. 

Dineen and I will also be checking in from time-to-time to be part of the conversation. We love all of you so much. God has been whispering about all the great things He has for us. So stay tuned because we are going to explore the blessings of the unequally yoked.

Have a fantastic week ahead. I'm praying with fervor for you, your marriage and the salvation of your entire family. Love, Lynn

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

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Weekend Devo — God’s Irony

The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him. — Esther 6:4

By now you know how much I love the story of Esther. For one, she is the first spiritually mismatched wife mentioned in the Bible. Esther is our inspiration too. As her Uncle Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” we hold a place in our marriages for “such a time as this.”

The story of Esther never speaks directly of God, but there is no doubt He is present. I love how He’s orchestrating it all. He’s put Esther in a place that probably wasn’t her first choice but winds up serving a higher calling than she ever imagined.

Yet here is Haman, a man totally engrossed in himself, that he’s oblivious to what is going on behind the scenes. In chapter six, God has kept King Xerxes awake and unsettled, leading him to read the chronicles of his reign. He happens upon the recording of Mordecai’s exposure of a plan to kill the king. Then just as he’s looking for a way to honor the man who saved his life, in walks Haman with a plan to kill the very same man.

God’s irony. Don’t you just love it? He’s there working the entire time to bring salvation to His people and even uses the ones most opposed to Him to do it.

I can only shake my head and smile in appreciation of God’s ways. I truly love seeing our great God in action in my life and the lives around me.

Including you! So tell me how God is working “behind the scenes” in your life and marriage.

Praying & 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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Taking a Walk with Nehemiah, Part 2

IStock_000001537091XSmallOn Tuesday we started our journey with Nehemiah and his calling to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. In the comments, Shelly pointed something amazing out in Nehemiah 2:

After this post I was intrigued to read Nehemiah myself with the perspective of marriage at hand. Only made it to chapter 2 but what stood out was 2:21... "The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall (marriage). But you (those who were against him, my interpretation...satan) But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem (my home)." Satan has no share, legal right or historic claim to our marriages! A powerful statement to remember when the battlefield of the mind seems to be getting the best of you.

Is that not amazing? I love how Shelly took this piece of God's Word and brought out the truth we could apply to our marriages. Make a prayer out of this, my friends, and let's put the enemy of our marriages on the run!

Now onward...

I left you with some questions to consider about doubts. After the doubts, the voice of fear chimed in next. They were threatened with death. Do you find at times that you fear the "death" of your marriage? That the current situation or constant conflict will result in this kind of loss? I know I have at times.

In verse 14 Nehemiah says something we hear repeatedly (repeated even more than God's messages of love) thought the Bible.

Do not be afraid.

Nehemiah tells them not to be afraid and to fight for their families and houses. Do these men go to battle and fight the men opposing them? No, they stand their ground and continue in the calling God has place on their hearts. That same commitment and calling spoken of in verse six when they built the wall to half its height with all their hearts.

Nehemiah then divides the men into workers and defenders. The defenders are equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. Even the workers held a weapon as they built. They didn't even take off their clothes to sleep or put down their weapons to get water. They continued to do what God asked and stood firm in the calling. Sound familiar? Isn't this the same "standing" spoken of in Ephesians 6:10?

Now think of those weapons as prayers. These men were constantly armed with weapons just as we are to be constantly armed with prayer and God's Word (there's our armor).

Now look at verse 20 where Nehemiah says, "Our God will fight for us." Who's that doing the fighting again?

God.

God did the fighting. The men did the believing. They held onto the vision of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, of seeing their home repaired and made strong for God's glory.

We are being called to a similar place, my friends. God is calling us to stand firm for our marriages, to hold our prayers and God's Word firmly in hand and use them. As God fights for our unbelievers and our family, we are standing firm in our place to pray and believe in God's plan for our lives, our marriages and our children.

The wall of Jerusalem was completed. Can you imagine the cheers of these men when the past beam was put in place? They held fast to the vision of a completed wall and stayed faithful.

Catch the vision God has for your marriage. Ask Him to show you what needs rebuilding, repairing and reinforcement. I’m doing this myself right now. God has alerted me to places that are weak and could give the enemy entrance.

I'm standing my ground for my marriage, for my husband’s impending salvation, for the future of my family. I have my armor on and God’s Scripture in hand as I work, as I pray. The enemy tried to make me think I faced an impossible situation but God reminded me He is the one working and the very situation I feared is what He is using to bring His plan to completion. I will not be afraid.

How about you, my friend? Are you willing to stand for your marriage and let God fight for you? Let’s stand together. God is fighting for us!

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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Taking a Walk with Nehemiah, Part 1

IStock_000001537091XSmallIf you're doing a read your Bible in a year plan, chances are you're reading in Nehemiah right now. I've been reading this story of rebuilding Jerusalem's wall with a new fascination. It's as if God is whispering in my ear as I read, asking, "Are you committed to building your marriage like Nehemiah fought to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem?"

Yes, very convicting, yet so comforting in the sense that God loves us that much that He takes the time to show us what we need to do or to prepare us for what's coming. And most importantly that whatever God calls us to, He equips us as well.

That is where I'm at right now—discerning what God is calling me to do in my marriage right now. What many of us are being called to do in our marriages.

Let's take a walk through Nehemiah 1-4.

If you look at the first three chapters, you get an understanding of who Nehemiah was and the calling God put into his life. He was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, who seemed sensitive to Nehemiah's grief, which in and of itself is unusual because cupbearers where not supposed to show emotion like this. Even the queen is mentioned as being present.

Nehemiah is grieving over the wall of Jerusalem standing in such a state of destruction. An earlier attempt had been made to repair the walls but opposition stopped the efforts and the wall was never finished. The people were defenseless against their enemies and biblical history shows the Jews always had enemies.

The king grants Nehemiah's request to go and over see the wall and get things moving. I believe God was working not just in Nehemiah, but in this king and queen as well to soften their hearts toward the Israelite's cause. Nehemiah not only goes with the king's permission but with a two letters: one to the governors of TransEurphrates requesting safe passage and the other a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, to request the timber needed to rebuild the wall.

God not only called Nehemiah to go and rebuild this wall, God also equipped Nehemiah with the King's favor and materials needed (vs. 8). God called and equipped this man just as he calls and equips us in our mismatched marriages.

Let's jump to chapter four. Verse six says the men built the wall to half its height, “for the people worked with all their heart." I can just see these men totally committed to fulfill this calling. But what about when the opposition came?

There was some serious opposition to the city AND the Israelites’ restoration. Just like we face the enemy's opposition to keep working and stay committed to our mismatched marriages.

These men plotted against Nehemiah, who prayed and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat (4:9).

The voices of opposition chimed in first (4:10). People in Judah pointed out how impossible the task was. The voice of discouragement came to create doubt in the hearts of these men. I imagine their doubts sounded something like this:

Was their task really worth the fight?

Was it really what God wanted?

If this was what God wanted, why were they facing so much opposition? Shouldn't it go smoother than this?

Sound familiar? What doubts are the enemy, your friends, or perhaps even your family speaking into your life right now about your marriage?

Come back Friday for part two of Nehemiah's story. We'll finish our walk with this determined man and see how God fought for him.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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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We Believe In Miracles

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
Letters for Gina

The community of believers here astounds me. My friends, I cried reading the letters and email prayers that arrived for Gina. 

Here are only a few sentences pulled from some of your prayers:

Dear Gina, Precious child of God, I am praying for you today.  May God grant you peace beyond understanding as you walk this journey of faith..... ~Tina

To read the entire update, hear from Gina and see photos, click here. Have an amazing Monday and know that through you, a young woman's life was profoundly impacted for the cause of Christ.

I love you. I'm in humble awe of the believers who call SUM their home. Hugs, Lynn

A Miracle for Gina, CLICK HERE.

 

 

And visit Internet Cafe Devotions; Marriage Counter, if you are a new reader here for one of my past articles they are reposting today. 

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

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Weekend Devo — What about Dad?

IStock_000015004200XSmallFather’s day can be a difficult day to navigate for many of us. I find it usually has to do with unmet expectations. I know I’ve struggled with this at times, wishing our family picture looked just a little more like the families I saw at church.

But instead of focusing on what’s missing, let’s turn our focus upward and ask God to show us how to honor our men. Make a list of the things your husband does best with your kids and you, then pray and ask God how you can show him respect and appreciation on his special day.

Here are some fun ideas you can do with the kids:

1. Sit down with your kids and make an “I love it when Dad...” list. Either by hand or on a computer, decorate your list and get a frame to show it off. He can hang in his office at home or at work. This is a great way to affirm him as a husband and father.

2. Have the kids help you make him a special breakfast. Fuss over him that morning even if it means staying home from church. This will show him and your children that he’s important to you.

3. Think about one thing your husband really enjoys. A sport, an activity, an event. Surprise him with tickets to a game, plan a day doing his favorite activity, or make his gift something he’s always wanted to do.

4. Give him the day off. For an entire day, make it all about him. Set up his comfy chair with basket with all his favorite treats, a book or video he’s been wanting, and put the remote control in the center. Then join him!

5. Create a coupon book full of acts of service that he can tear out and claim. Your kids will have a blast coming up with ideas for this one. Let them draw each coupon and then staple it together in a booklet.

6. Take him out to his favorite restaurant or on a picnic.

7. Wash his car. The kids will think you’re a hero!

8. Give him a back and shoulder rub. Get the kids to take turns too.

9. If your husband likes to play games, plan a game day full of his favorites and have fun! (You could even let him win sometimes.)

10. Ask him what he’d like to do most that day and then set out to make it happen.

I hope this gives you some ideas. You may even set a new standard that will come around and bless you next Mother’s Day. ☺

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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It's a Dog Gone World

Let’s finish this tale (pun intended). To read Part I of the Hound from Hell, visit here

Is He a Nice Doggy? 

As he approached the last barrier I was a little nervous but because this was the main fence separating the property from the road, I wasn’t yet in full panic in that’s where most dogs out in this area are contained. I do know my heart was pounding likely from the brisk walking as my pace hastened to get past this dog and also from the increase in my blood pressure watching him break through barrier after barrier. 

I watched this pitbull come straight at me toward the last remaining barrier. At this precise moment is when God started to talk to me again. Say what? 

“Lynn, this dog has broken through all of the barriers in place to protect you. It’s the same in your walk with me. My barriers such as angels, the family, the home, your church, all of these things are what help to protect you from the evil one.” 

At this point I’m truly in sheer panic as I watch the dog meet the fence and then to my horror, yep, there was another hole under the last barrier. It was as if my life went into ultra-slow motion. I watched the dog start to dive down under the fence and I knew instantly what was about to happen. 

FEAR gripped me. I was breathing hard, my heart pounded in my ears. I was burning from exertion and panic. The dog skinnied up from the fence on my side and still seeing all of this in slow motion, I reached for the spray on my belt. 

I let go of a long spray in the direction of the dog who was about 20 feet away and coming directly at me. I missed the dog and obviously the spray did not deter him. In my utter panic. I screamed, 

“STOP!” 

He slowed down. 

God spoke.

I shouted stop again and then once more at the barking beast. 

God said, “You allowed this sin in Lynn. The evil one will use every advantage and weakness to break through the protections placed around you.” 

“O Lord.” 

“STOP.” 

Good grief. 

The dog paused in his approach on the edge of the dirt road a mere five feet from me, still barking but he stayed away. 

God again, “It was your words that stopped that dog Lynn. Your prayers are what finally stopped the enemy. But you didn’t need to go through this if only you had chosen to keep what you already knew was bad for you from your life.” 

Then silence. (except the barking dog and my panicked breathing.) 

I rushed to the top of the hill. The pitbull stayed behind sniffing at the repellant spray. And once my breathing calmed. I cried. 

Lord in Heaven, forgive me. And thank you for saving me. Again. And Again. 

I walked home. Then I grabbed this - no longer Grey area, trashy novel- from the drawer and tossed it in the trash. ~Apropos don't you think?

The very next morning as I was reading my Bible, I kid you NOT this was the verse from Proverbs: 

A wise person hungers for the truth, a fool feeds on trash. Proverbs 15:14 (NIV)

Gulp and shame. 

But from this shame came a lesson I will NEVER, EVER forget. Also, a deep lesson about God’s protections and a realization at the sheer numbers of barriers He builds around me and how it was me who allowed the enemy access. And finally, my shame is forgiven. For me personally, this trashy novel was sin. I’ve confessed the images it brought and the distraction that came into my mind. I’ve allow God to teach me that the best thing for me is to never allow the temptation a chance. And finally grace. 

The expanding, take your breath away, overwhelming grace of God still rests on me, even in my failure. How do I begin to understand a love like that? 

It will take ten thousand upon then thousand years to even grasp an inkling of the facets of God’s love for me…… and for you. But I’m looking forward to the years with great anticipation. 

My friends what is difficult to admit is that I have walked many years with God and I KNEW this book was bad news for me but I picked it up anyway. Darn it. But, this lesson is not lost on this blonde brain. I know my limits. They are there to protect me not to restrict me. 

Oh what freedom we have when we understand His ways. 

What is your pitbull, your weed in the garden? Can you confess it today and allow God to restore His barriers of protection,  grace and love. 

Your healing awaits! 

From a sweaty, (from walking) humble, thankful servant of the Most High God. I love you. Have a wonderful weekend and get out and walk. Hugs, Lynn

PS. Go hug a dog *grin.*

 

Peanut
Peanut... Nice doggy!!!!



 

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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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What Should I Do?

1009935_question_con_3Or not do? That’s the flip side of this question. But I’m betting you’re wondering why I’m asking that question. Care to take a walk with me?

The longer we walk with God the more aware we become of the unseen. We no longer accept what’s on the surface out of an understanding that there is more going on than what’s visible or from a place of dissatisfaction because what that surface level has to offer just isn’t enough.

We’re changed by Jesus to want more of God and to be more like Jesus. That is the eternity that God sets in our hearts and is spoken about in Ecclesiastes 3:11.

This eternity is set in all of us. We may run from it but God uses it to bring us to a place of discontent and dissatisfaction so strong at times that we finally see there is nothing big or good enough to fill that place except God.

That’s is how God worked in my life to bring me to Him and now I’m seeing it in my husband. And not so much as seeing but sensing something is unsettled and not right in my husband’s life. He may not sense it but I do.

And that brings me back to the question I’m asking God: What should I do? I want to help my guy, but I also do not want to get in God’s way. I know many of the “he says, she says” books say that men are fixers, but you know what, as wives and mothers, we do the same stuff. We want to get in there and fix things so that our loved ones don’t have to struggle. We even pray for God to “fix it” at times. A lot of times, I dare say.

Thus the flip side of this “what should I do?” question, which is looming right behind it: What should I not do?

Forgive me if I’m dancing you in circles but this is my brain of late. I’m trying to make sense of whatever is going on and figure out what I’m supposed to do, or not do. Pray, yes, I know that’s part of it all, but discerning where my place is in the situation is just as important, I believe.

I want to bring happiness, contentment and peace into my husband’s life. But not at the expense of what God may be doing to secure his eternal lifeline.

This is part of our walk in a mismatched marriage. We need to see conflict and challenges in terms of what God is trying to accomplish in our unbeliever’s life. It’s not an easy place to be especially if our own lives are greatly affected, which I dare say again, they WILL be.

It can be a scary place to be at times. Trust me, I know. I’m living it live and real at the moment. But God is asking me to put that fear in His hands and place my need for security with Him. He’s also asking me to come along side my husband and ask, “what can I do to help you?”

Literally. I’ve placed that question before my husband. I don't think he quite understands why I’m concerned, but my goal is to simply keep the question before him as well as in my heart.

Then, prayerfully, entrust the rest to God.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Shades of Grey and a Hound from Hell

So, ahem.. Right…. 

I have a story to tell and I’m about to be very real. It’s a risk to share what I’m about to tell but, I absolutely know there are so many of you who will understand. I know sharing my little escapade will keep you from tripping up like I did, and I pray you will still love me in spite of my failures. 

We are wrapping up our spiritual warfare series. And I know every time we write about warfare, both Dineen and I experience it first-hand. However, I also know we bring into the light the knowledge to defeat the devil and his minions. And that thrills me to the core. 

The story I want to tell is strange and I hope I do a good job in the telling. I also think it’s funny in that during this series God sent a weed to Dineen to help teach her some truths. Well, you know what God sent me? 

Fencspitbull
Nice doggy....


A pitbull.  

Have mercy. 

As I was relaying this story to Dineen last week she chuckled and said, “Well that fits your personality.” 

Humph… 

We both laughed because she is right. Dineen only needed a tiny, little, ornery, weed and me…. Yep a terrifying encounter with the ugliest, scariest brown and gray pitbull. 

Not kidding!!! 

Even worse, now I have to own up and share with you what led up to this happenstance. Through a series of events, too long to lie out here, I came to have in my possession a book that is of a certain title, that may remain Grey. Of which just further cements this story in that I’m about to discuss the gray areas of sin that we find ourselves entangled and the trash that can smell in our lives. This book has been on all the news stories and actually been the obsession of millions of American women in the last several months. 

Please don’t judge me. 

Let’s just say I felt like this book was a grey area for me until I actually started to read it. I didn’t perceive it as something forbidden in my mind. After all, I’m a married woman. I’ve likely read something like this in my prodigal wonderings. And, may I say, I’m not judging anyone because I know there are women reading this right now who have also read this book. 

For me, however, in the first several chapters I knew this was going to head in a contrary direction. The changes in my thought life were evident. I put the book down. Went to bed. 

Many of you know that I rise early to read my Bible, pray and then head out on an hour long walk-n-pray. I walk in an area outside of our town where there are farm animals, wild animals and all sorts of fantastic critters that God sends along my way to delight my morning. After rising the next day and thinking about this trashy book and how it has disrupted my thought life, I headed out on my walk. 

Now I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. I’ve been barked at by every kind of dog, recently stared down by a coyote and have almost stepped on a snake…. twice. So now I take no chances and carry with me a four foot PVC pipe and I clip on to my belt a can of dog repellant spray although I hope I never have to use them. 

On this fine morning, I began walking up a steep incline on a dirt road. My breathing intensified at my brisk pace. I’ve walked this road many times without incident. However on this morning, all hell was about to break loose. Literally. 

It’s common that every property in this area has a large dog or dogs. They will run to the fence when I walk by, bark, sniff and then watch me walk on. On this day I looked to my left and there standing behind a fence was this brown –gray pitbull dog. Let me tell you I get nervous about dogs. Mainly dogs that are loose as my poor Peanut has been to the hospital several times from his unfortunate encounters with dogs on the loose. 

Anyhoo, this dog is BEHIND the fence. Thank you Jesus. Whew! 

I walk on. However, this is where things start to get interesting. I’m watching this dog, which has now started to bark in my direction. He remains behind the fence but is becoming excitable. Now the weird part in this entire encounter is that it took only minutes. 

It felt like hours. 

And God choose that moment to start talking to me. What???? 

Yep, I will try to recall exactly our exchange but as you might guess, I was a little stressed. 

Watching the dog, he ran away from the fence that separated him and me and I continued walking up the dirt road. But, I watched the dog run to an adjacent horse paddock and with fascination and sheer dread, I watched this dog skinny under a hole in this enclosure. You couldn’t see this hole and I bet even the dog’s owners didn’t know it was there. 

God spoke to me in that moment of concern, “Lynn, do you see that dog? He found a chink in the armor. He found a tiny little spot under this chain-link fence to wiggle through.” 

All I could muster was, “O Lord.” 

As I was so thankful that the beast hadn’t broken through the first fence to get to me and now he was stuck in this hose enclosure, which by the way the horses were as terrified as I was. Whew! I’m still safe. But in two seconds the scoundrel ran across the enclosure and to my utter astonishment on the opposite side was another tiny hole under the fence. That round, large and now ferociously barking dog managed to skinny himself under that barrier as well. 

 “Oh crap.” 

The dog rounded the corner of the fence and was coming directly at me. There remained one last perimeter fence between me and the mutt. So far the first fence stopped him, but he ran to where he knew there was a break in the horse enclosure then skinnied under and ran to the next barrier, skinnied under that one as well. This dog is now truly working hard to get to me. 

As he approached the last barrier I was a little nervous but because this was the main fence separating the property from the road, I wasn’t yet in full panic in that’s where most dogs out in this area are contained. I do know my heart was pounding likely from the brisk walking as my pace hastened to get past this dog and also from the increase in my blood pressure watching him break through barrier after barrier. 

Now, please don’t be mad but this story is already over 1,100 words. I’ve likely lost a lot of you. If you made it this far, my friends, thank you. But I’ve got at least another 1,000 words to go. So on Friday, come back because the scariest part, the most amazing part and the way God moved in all of this is ABSOLUTELY worth returning for. 

And I will add my heart is pounding now just thinking about it again. 

It’s the gray areas, the trash we chew on, that can often do the most unexpected damage. Boy howdy, do I have a lot to say about all that. And gray areas are also extra difficult to navigate when you are in a spiritual mismatch because something might not be right for you but your spouse has no problem with it. Ahhhhh, now that’s worth talking about. See you Friday my friends. 

Now walk out into your week with your offensive weapon. Do you know what that is and how to use it in everyday living? Looking forward to some great discussion today. Hugs, Lynn 

P.S. Any of you who own pitbulls, none were harmed in the telling of this story. *grin* 

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Weekend Devo — God Has Your Back

HeartinClouds“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. — Isaiah 58:8

I have loved this particular verse for a quite a while now because God used it to affirm me on a day I wasn’t sure whether I was meant to be a writer. Yep, I asked and He lead me to this verse. You know the rest of that story.

We’ve talked a lot about our armor but this precious piece of God’s Word tells us He our rear guard. He has our back.

Almost daily I am blown away (yes, I know I use that phrase a lot so feel free to suggest new ones. LOL!) by God’s love. It’s taken me a long time to really accept that God loves us that intensely. More specifically, loves me that way.

With that kind of love backing us up, we can walk confidently forward and stand firmly in our faith to defend the holy ground of our marriage.

Praying & believing,
Dineen 

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Spiritual Warfare, Part 3: The Rest of Our Armor

IStock_000006669917XSmallIn my last post I left off with our feet. Yes, our feet shod with the gospel of peace! When our minds are full of God’s Word, and we are relying on and trusting God, we are STANDING firm in our faith. This is our strength.

I read something in a Bible study (Duty or Delight by Tammie Head) just this past week. In fact, the timing of this study—when I read this chapter and writing this series—all fell together at the same time. I asked God to equip me to write this series and boy, did He show up!

Now get ready for this little nugget of revelation. I read something that shifted my perspective and I want to share it with you. Tammie makes a great point in the last chapter of her study. She asks, are you fighting for victory or from victory?

Think about that for a moment.

In the NIV version of Ephesians 6:10-20, we are told to stand four times. We’re told to stand against the devil’s schemes; to stand our ground; that after we’ve done everything, to stand; and then to stand firm. All within the first four verses.

Now put this together with Tammie’s insight and what do you get? We’re not running into battle to gain victory, we’re standing firm in defense of the victory that is already ours.

Do you see the difference? This is a subtle yet major shift in our perspective. There’s a big difference between fighting to win to KNOWING you’ve already won.

My friends, we’ve already won! Jesus “finished” it. The enemy is already the loser in this battle. Let’s STAND our ground and keep what God has given us. And if the enemy’s taken some ground in your life, it’s time to take it back. Stand back up and stand firm!

Let’s look at the rest of this amazing armor of ours:

Feet Shod with the Gospel
We covered that the sword our Bible. I love how that goes right to our feet, because we are standing firm in God’s Word. That’s our foundation Jesus spoke about in Luke 6:47-49.

The Belt of Truth
This will absolutely blow your socks off, my friends. Take a look at these two pieces of Scripture:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, — Eph. 6:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. — John 14:6

The Greek word for truth is aletheia and is the same word in each of these verses. Jesus is our belt of truth! That makes me think of Colossians 1:17 that tells us He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.

Paul was very intentional in his analogical comparison of faith to armor. Roman soldiers wore their belts tightly around their waists to show they were ready for action. This same belt also held their breastplate in place as well as the scabbard, which held their sword. Jesus is holding us together, my friends, and we are girded in His Truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness 
Held by our belt of truth, our breastplate of righteousness is also a direct connection to Jesus. The Greek word used here is the same one used when referencing the righteousness of God. Jesus is our righteousness. Wear it proudly against the enemy as a reminder to you and to him that you are covered by the blood of Jesus and therefore now wear his righteousness and not our own. When the enemy hits you with doubts and thoughts that say you are unworthy or have no right to God’s love and grace, kick him to the curb with this truth. God chose you before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Eph. 1:4).

Our Shield of Faith
As I mentioned before, our shield is what keeps the enemy’s attacks (fiery darts) from getting through. This shield doesn’t just deflect those darts, it “extinguishes” them. When we pray God’s Word out loud and speak the name of Jesus (Truth) against the enemy when he attacks, we’re not just deflecting his presence, his lies, or whatever evil he’s sent against us, we’re actually defeating it. The flame intended to burn us is put out!

The Helmet of Salvation
Think of this as your protection against the enemy’s attempts fill your mind and thoughts with lies. Know who you are and who you belong to! If you know you are saved and that you are already victorious in Jesus, then this helmet is your covering. The enemy can’t take your salvation away from you. He will try to make you think he can, he will try to make you doubt your salvation, or even make you believe you’ve done something to lose it. When we are secure in our place in God’s heart, the enemy can’t touch this kind of confidence.

I hope by now you see that we’re not the ones fighting because the battle has already been won. We are holding our ground in faith. One more little nugget before we say goodbye. We talked about how the word “stand” is used four times in Ephesians 6: 10-14. Now look at this piece of Scripture from the last two verses of Jude:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (NASB)

I’m using the NASB translation because it uses that word stand again more clearly. And I bet you already guessed that it’s the same Greek word. You’re right. So I’m thinking, if Paul says God can make us stand in his glory blameless with great joy, then the enemy doesn’t stand a chance.

Yes, pun intended, my friends. Take that chuckle and go be joyful before God and celebrate your place in victory!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

(You can read more about the armor of God in chapter nine of our book Winning Him Without Words as well.)

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We Believe In Miracles for Gina

More than a year ago God began to push me about. “Lynn, I’m waiting for you, Dineen and the entire community of SUM to do a great work for me.”

Gulp!

Let me tell you that I didn’t want to listen. I had an inkling of what God may have wanted after our enormous success from the Kingdom assignment several years ago. However, I felt unprepared to follow through. I felt awkward asking our community to join us. However, a few months ago God began to point out some areas in my character that needed work. And it’s been quite a journey. I have so much to talk with you about how God is revealing His perspective in my life.

Stay tuned because those stories are worth a visit. In fact, I’m going to tell my first story next Monday. It’s about a pit-bull, the devil and those various Shades of Grey (pun intended) that we grapple with in our faith walk.

But today is a very special day because I’ve waited a long time for today. It’s a new day where the community of believers join together to be part of God’s miracles.

And today’s miracle is Gina.

Gina and Caitie

This is Gina. She is a 17 year old high school Junior. And today, Tuesday, June 5th is a day where her entire life could change forever.

Why is God bringing Gina to our community today? What is her miracle? The answers to these questions are on our We Believe in Miracles page. Click here or on the sidebar and join the thousands who want to not only see a miracle but be part of the miracle. ~Lynn

We love you our friends of SUM. You are so important and we pray for you and ask God to bring you a miracle. Lynn and Dineen

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BIG Astonishing HOPE

 

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Click on Join Us and The Community Map


We are all community. We believe in an extravagant and all-powerful God. We are His hands and feet. He’s placed us all around the world to be light, to serve, to love, to reflect Jesus. It’s this amazing community that God has intricately and purposely placed together, we will do GREAT things for the Kingdom. 

 

Every day is a new adventure when you are living the believer’s life and we expect our Lord to show up and show off and leave us breathless. And the most amazing part of it all, God wants us to be part of it. To experience His love, provision, grace, mercy, direction and everyday delights. 

So today, we welcome you to a few new adventures here at SUM. Over the past few months God has been revealing much to me. I have some fantastic stories, some hilarious, some scary but they all point to Jesus. I’m compelled to the very core of my spirit that our Great God is calling this community to BIG things.  

BIG THINGS! 

God is going to move in you, in us and we will experience Him in ways we’ve yet to know. My dear sisters, brothers, moms, dads, friends. Let’s get started and astonish this unkind world with the beautiful. 

The beauty that only emanates from our Great King. 

For today, take a look at the new stuff happening. On the left, top of the side bar, click on Join Us. Then Visit the Community Map and be part of it. 

And on Tuesday, stop back for the best part…. The MIRACLES.. 

So much is happening. So many marriages are waiting for the power of redemption in Christ. Our families will be rendered speechless and the best part…… One a day not far from now our Lord, Jesus will look into our eyes, touch our face, and speak these words, 

“Well done good and faithful servant.” 

Oh my friends, we are family, sisters, brothers and we are on this planet to live life out of the box. Monumental, God-sized living. Don’t miss out on all God has for you. Join US… The SUM community is going to ROCK this world, turn Satan on his a** and we are going to make our Abba, Father proud. 

So hop over to the sidebar. I will see you there and then back here again tomorrow for more. 

With all of my heart and from the depth of my soul, I pray this very hour you are filled with His hope, blessed by His presence and inspired to live in victory. BIG hugs with astonishing hope, Lynn

 

PS. Did you notice we lightened up the place around here. Tweeked the colors and the fonts a bit. Changed the background. I didn't even know the couple on top were looking out over water until we made these changes. Enjoy my friends and give thanks that God provides! Hugs, Lynn

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Weekend Devo — Birth of a Stronghold

639294_weed_detail“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” — Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Sweat beaded on my brow as I worked my way down the flowerbed. The bucket next to me sat nearly full with weeds and dead leaves. To my left, a weed-free bed spanned in elegance. Each bush seemed to sigh, free of the invaders once choking their roots.

To my right, the distance dwindled steadily to the end. Pluck, pluck. Two more imposters joined the bucket with their cohorts. I smiled. My garden would soon be beautiful again.

I reached the end. One final weed. My gloved hands grasped its protruding growth. I froze, took another look, and released my grip.

The tiny plant twinkled in the morning dew, beckoning me with its delicate leaves. I glanced in my bucket for a comparison. Nothing I’d yanked from the soil resembled this beauty. Had a lone seed found its way into my garden? I studied its form again and saw not a sight of offense but one of promised splendor.

What harm could there be in letting it grow?

I left my new visitor alone to flourish among my sweet Japanese Boxwoods and Spirea. Almost every day I inspected the tiny plant, anticipating what unknown bloom would soon burst forth from its exquisite leaves. Surely something so bewitching would promise a flower unlike any I’d seen before.

One day I checked my promised treasure again. My mouth dropped to see the transformation a mere two days had produced. Spiny projections marred the once elegant lines of the green leaves. A thick, gangly stem had replaced the tiny bud I’d thought held a dainty flower. I’d been fooled. I recognized the deceiver for what it was.

A weed.

Like a soldier on a mission, I stood over my garden intruder and made a plan of attack. I wrapped my hands around the base, ignoring the prickle I felt through my gloves, and pulled. Some of the leaves broke off with a jerk, yet the bulk of the weed remained.

More determined than ever, I plunged a spade into the dirt to loosen the soil. Surely that would set this intruder on a path to my bucket. I yanked again. The root held firm despite the few prickly leaves I held. I had to dig deeper.

Again and again I spiked the shovel around the root, giving a tug every so often. The weed loosened but refused to budge. I dug deeper. A gouging hole now marred my garden as well.

Then the nudge of the Holy Spirit brought my hands to a stop. God’s soft voice spoke to my heart.

“This is sin in your life.”

I dropped my shovel. Tears welled in my eyes. The deception fell in God’s light, revealing its darkness. How had its beauty blinded me? Had I recognized this “weed” for what it was, I could have yanked it out sooner. Yet I’d let it grow, lured by its tempting beauty, fooled by the promise of something greater to come.

I’d been an Eve in my own garden.

Head down I prayed for forgiveness. Begged for freedom from this stronghold of sin. God gave me reassurance again of my place in His heart and comforted my spirit.

I glared at the weed, my guilt gone as I gripped the exposed root, praying for God’s help. The sound of the first tear of roots breaking free from the earth spurred me on. I pulled harder.

The imposter released its hold from the soil. A long root dangled from my hand, exposed to sunlight. I tossed the green monster into my bucket, then smoothed dirt and mulch to fill the gaping hole left behind. Peace and satisfaction now replaced the tension of my struggle.

I slipped off my gloves, then wiped my brow. Now my garden was truly free.

Praying and believing, Dineen

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Some BIG and some small Changes at SUM

It's June 1st and I'm still traveling but will be back in my office on Monday, June 4th. Dineen and I have some changes ahead here at our site. We have some exciting new adventures for all of us who call this community our home.

God has called me to see a few things differently. I'm especially compelled to talk about "The Church Lady." 

Stop in and catch the new vision on Monday June 4th. See you then. Love and hugs, Lynn

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