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17 entries from August 2014

Lord, Do It Again!

Psalms91-4Last week I shared a Word of Encouragement that God impressed upon me about how He’s about to turn things around. Today I want to add a little more to that message—something else God showed me this last week, but first I want to share a powerful tool.

This last week I’ve noticed Psalm 91 showing up a lot. I’m not sure why, but I know this Psalm is important right now. Read the whole thing and pray it over yourself and your family. Put your name and your loved ones’ names in verses 14-16 and claim God’s promises of protection and salvation. Here’s how I do it:

The LORD says, “I will rescue Dineen who loves me. I will protect her because she trusts in my name. When she calls on me, I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble. I will rescue and honor her. I will reward her with a long life and give her my salvation.

 

This Psalm is powerful through and through and is full of God’s promises. This verse in particular is one I hold dear:

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection. — Psalms 91:4

I know we say it a lot here, but I’ll say it again. God is faithful! He really and truly is. And I have learned these last few months that His promises truly are our armor and protection. Thus it’s important that we know them and to know them means reading the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to show them to us.

Now for the rest of that Word of Encouragement. As I read the book of John last week, the Holy Spirit stopped me at this verse:

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. — John 16:20

Jesus was preparing (see? there’s that preparation thing again…) the disciples for His death AND was giving them a promise—that their grief would turn to wonderful joy.

He was telling the disciples He was about to turn things around! He did it then, and He’ll do it now.

My friends, as I read this, my heart soared and this is what started going through my mind:

Do it again, Lord! Do it again!

So, my dear friends, join me in praying:

LORD, DO IT AGAIN! Turn things around as You have done before so many times and have said You will do. You are the God of endless possibilities. We love You, Lord, and we put our trust in You, because You are our God.* In Jesus’ mighty name, amen!

Pressing in to Jesus,
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*Psalm 31:14

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If I were the Devil

I'm still traveling this week.

I stumbled upon this video. Gang, what do you think? See you next week. Hugs, Lynn

 

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The Bush and the Tree

Tree&BushOnce upon a time there lived a bush and a tree, side by side in a large garden. The bush sat squat and low, near the base of the tree. She often gazed up at the tree admiring her great height and wishing she could be so tall and so regal in the garden. Yet the bush forgot the small creatures and insects who found their home in her leafy protection.

The tree rose tall in the garden, narrow at the bottom and full up top. She often looked down and admired the fullness of the bush. The tree fretted over her leafless trunk, showing all her bark. Yet the tree forgot the birds of the air and the creatures that climbed her branches, which provided resting and nesting places.

One day the bush decided to be like the tree and she shed all the leaves on her lower branches. She stretched as high as she could reach, longing for a bird to come and land on her. One finally did but soon flew away because she didn’t have the strength to hold him.

Seeing the bush’s daring, the tree decided to try changing her leaves as well. She hunched over in the garden, extending her lower branches down in an attempt to cover her trunk. The bird nesting in those branches squawked and screamed at her, then flew away and never came back, leaving the nest empty and deserted.

Soon the bush began to weary of her efforts to be like a tree and collapsed upon herself. Only then did she notice the creatures and insects that used to snuggle against her on the ground were no longer there. She mourned their loss and vowed to try harder.

The tree began to ache and complain over her hunched appearance. She felt more like an old tree then one in her prime. So she tried to stretch back upward, but it took time as she’d lost her strength. She wanted to give up.

Over time the bush’s base filled back out full of leaves and the creatures and insects returned to their sheltered homes. She decided she liked her place as a bush in the garden and could admire and appreciate the tree next to her. For the tree gave her shade and shelter too.

The tree not only reached her former height but grew even taller and stronger. Soon the birds and climbing critters returned, chattering and happy to be back. The tree sighed with contentment as a gentle breeze fluttered her leaves. She decided she liked her place as a tree in the garden and could admire the bush below. For the bush gave her barky base protection, much better than her own branches could have.

So the bush and the tree worked together for many years, bringing flying, climbing, crawling and burrowing creatures safety, protection and even food.

One day, the Great Gardener looked upon them with pleasure and said, “Well done, faithful bush. You have served well in your place as a bush. And well done, faithful tree. You have served well in your place as a tree. Just as I had designed each of you to be!

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all
have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. — Romans 12:4-6
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. — 1 Cor. 12:18-20

My friends, I sat one morning on my porch staring out into my yard at the bush and tree there. As I praying this story came flowing from the Holy Spirit and was a valuable visual for me to understand how harmful comparison is. When we compare our appearances, our marriages, our children, or even our spiritual gifts to others, we lose sight of what we already have and who God designed each of us to be. We are His details and He delights in us, exactly as He mades us. And His heart is that we live in unity, sharing our gifts with each other so that the entire body of Christ (the family of God) will thrive and grow.

This has been such a valuable lesson for me this year as I understand who God created me to be, and learn to be content in who I am in Jesus and how He has called me to function in the family of God. I can’t think of a better place to be so that the light of Jesus can shine brightest to those around us. Including each other!

Love you, my SUM family,
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I'm A Living Success Story by Pam Osborne

I’m A Living Success Story! - A Guest post by SUMite, Pam Osborne

 

Pam OsborneIt’s that time of year when all Mothers experience one of two emotions, either extreme joy that Summer with all of its “I’m bored” exclamations will soon end, or the polar opposite, which is the onset of empty nest syndrome.  I happen to fall into the latter.  My baby will be a senior in high school this year, and my daughter starts her sophomore year at college.  I’m still not sure how they reached this level of maturity since I haven’t aged at all, but that’s another story. 

As a Mom, we can’t help but wonder about what the future holds for our budding offspring, and if we have done enough to prepare them for this great big world.  I know this to be especially true of the SUMite mom.  We can’t help but play that footage in our minds, “I wonder if I’ve taken them to church enough?”, “I wonder how not having my husband as our spiritual leader will affect my kids?”, “I wonder if I will lose them to peer pressure?” REPEAT.  I can quote many of those bible verses meant to reassure us, but still… 

As I was contemplating all of this, I had the sweetest revelation.  I am a living success story!  

I am the restored child of a SUMite mom!  Praise Jesus.  My mom was the spiritual leader in our house.  She faithfully took, or drug when necessary, us to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night prayer meeting, church camp, and vacation bible school, in most cases without the presence of my father.  Although my spiritual journey was not always a straight path and consisted of many detours, I know without a doubt that God had me tethered to him and never let me stray too far off course.  In retrospect, I guess you could say that those frantic mornings of mom trying to get three kids out the door to Church, the loneliness she felt around other Church couples, and her disappointment of not having spousal support was, in the end, all worth it! 

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

So as I sit here lamenting over the new school year with doubts of whether or not my son will let the temptations of this culture influence him, and whether or not my daughter will choose to build her life upon a spiritual foundation, I can rest assure that we serve a God who always keeps his promises! 

Bio: I was born and raised in South Carolina, and reside here with my pre-believing husband,two young-adult children, one dog, and an ever increasing number of Koi fish. 

I work as a legal secretary by day, and nurture my creative side at a home decor shop on the weekends.  I thank God for an awesome Community Church, my two bookclubs and spell-check.

 

Not Alone Prayer

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A Word of Encouragement

Hey there, SUM Family! I'm doing something a little different today. I pray this blesses and encourages you.

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Line by Line: What About The Kids

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

I want to follow up on 1 Corinthians 7:14 as I see it applying to our children. I can’t think of anything better to share than my thoughts from our book, Not Alone. 

Not Alone

There is one verse in particular which gives me the greatest comfort as a mother. What is utterly fantastic about this passage is that it is written specifically for those of us who live in a spiritually mismatched home. I’m humbled and thankful to realize God knew thousands of years ago there would be marriages such as ours. What relief and freedom this truth brings to my heart. Read it with me from the Message translation: 

For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. –1 Corinthians 7:12-14 MSG 

I’m learning that when we, the believer, love Jesus and walk in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we impact our environments. And in fact, we are bringing God’s will and purposes into our lives and those of our children. The living presence of God within us becomes so powerful that Paul tells us in Corinthians that through the believing spouse, she will sanctify every other member in the home. The living presence of God is so contagious, so powerful that it creates an umbrella of safety over anyone that comes into that environment. 

My friends, we as believers are uniquely positioned to release the purposes, the love and very power of God into our children. They are then included in His plans for their lives. They are sanctified—set apart as holy unto the Lord. They belong to the Lord. When we grasp this truth, praying with belief and through the Holy Spirit for our kids, we need not live in fear for their future salvation. Our love, our example, our Jesus is always enough. I believe this promise for my children’s future and eternity. 

I will again state that our faith doesn’t guarantee their salvation but it sure helps me to step out of constant fear. 

My friends, I’m heading out of town next week. It’s going to be a fun trip. Find me as I share my adventures on Twitter and Facebook

I will return to write on September 5th. We still have two more verses to cover and they are fantastic. After we conclude this study, I feel God stirring my heart to write another series on finding freedom from our life-long personal sins. Good, so good. Stay tuned. Never a dull moment around here. 

I love you my SUMite family.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

 

Not Alone3 copy

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The Journey of a SUMite

My friends, I want to share a comment from one of our SUMite sisters. Heather Passuello has been a long time reader here at SUM and when she first landed on our site, she was unsure of what life held for her and her marriage, let alone what God might have in mind for her. 

We have watched her grow in her faith in and love for Jesus, and now she is blooming like a prized rose of rarest varieties. I'm astounded, blessed and beyond "tickled" to see her walk this path. Heather's journey is so encouraging, because she has endured through much difficulty and many set-backs. Somehow she knew God wouldn't give up on her, so she couldn't give up on Him. That's my take anyway. 

Heather left this beautiful comment on my post last week about God's Preparation: The Cross:

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Heather with her daughter.

Yes, I NEED and WANT to live in FRONT of the cross! As I was reading this a couple thoughts went through my head. 1. I am not the most intelligent person nor do I really want to be, but when I say something profound, that really is all Jesus. I could never come up with stuff like that on my own. 2. I was born for this. For serving Jesus. I have gone to college for something I wasn't even interested in because I didn't know what I wanted to to. The only thing that has ever made sense was Jesus. I love him more than I realize and that should be my focus. Listening to Him guiding my path, even when it's scary or I stand alone. I am a disciple and I am grateful for His death and love for me. Wow. My heart is wide open.

Lord Jesus, draw me into closer relationship with you so that whatever flows in me will flow right back out. I don't want a single flame in my heart, but a wildfire that cannot be contained. Help me to realize the love that you have for me so that I can love others as you do. I repent of selfishness, gossip, ill thoughts of others, and even pride. Remove these things from me so that I can be fully effective for you. I thank you Lord Jesus and I praise your name! I am NOT ashamed of you or the cross! In Jesus precious and powerful name I pray, Amen.

I love this community and regardless of where you are in your marriage, Jesus loves you and your spouse. He is and will always be the ONLY constant in your life so cling to that with EVERYTHING you have. Don't let go and don't give up.

Thank you, Heather, for sharing your life and your heart with us. You are and will be an inspiration to many. 

My friends, many of you have "bloomed" and inspired us here at SUM. I want to affirm each of you for enduring, persevering and clinging to Jesus even in the toughest times. Know that He sees your faithfulness and will return that ten-fold. I believe that. I believe our faithfulness to Him and to our marriage covenants gives Abba great delight.

And if you're sitting there thinking this doesn't apply to you, because your life is a mess, let me be a voice that points to the truth. If you are here reading and looking for answers, if you are reading your Bible searching for truth, if you are praying and calling out to our Most High God to know Him and  ask for what you need, then you are on this path of seeking. You are looking for the "more" and that delights God even more. Trust Him with all your heart (even the broken and hurting parts), don't keep trying to figure it all out on your own (even when you are desperate for answers), keep seeking Him in everything and He will lead you and keep you safe and on track (Proverbs 3:5-6).

So today, I want to celebrate each of you, my SUMite sisters and brothers, and cheer each of you on. 

Love you all dearly with the love of Jesus,
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Line by Line: Sanctification of the Unbelieving Spouse

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

SUMites, we have arrived. This is a tad long but you MUST read the story at the end. 

We have arrived in our line by line study of one of the MOST powerful verses in the Bible. It’s profound and specific. Specific as it is filled with God’s power, promise and is written intentionally for us who are unequally yoked. 

Let’s read it together. 

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. —1 Corinthians 7:14

 

My friends…. WHAT????? Can we truly wrap our heads and hearts around the power and implication of the truths behind this verse?

 

I’ve read several commentaries on this verse and they agree that this verse is not a guarantee of our spouse’s salvation, as each person much choose Christ for his or herself. However, our faith brings God’s favor, power and holiness into our home. And our faith brings with it a covering or ability to “set-apart as holy” our spouse and children. 

Whoa!!!! 

Sometimes this verse is a mind –blow. The promise and truth brings me great comfort. As the believing spouse, I know that my faith and my prayers are affecting, changing and making holy our home. My faith and prayers can and DO change the environment. I literally have watched this happen in my home. 

I have watched God change my husband over time. Through my relentless prayers and petitions I know God is moved and He takes great interest in my husband’s life. I mean really, I pray all the time for this guy. I have brought this man, to whom I’m married, into the throne rooms so many times that the angels are sick of seeing him there. *grin* 

I literally envision standing before the great throne, my Papa, extending His scepter toward me as I stand there with my husband at my side, holding his hand. I ask the Lord to surround him with His love. I ask for God’s favor upon his professional life, upon him as a man, favor for him financially as he is the provider of our home. And as his wife, God’s favor comes to me through my husband’s employment. I ask relentlessly for his salvation and for God to reveal Himself in a way my husband can experience him. 

Now get this: My prayers change the atmosphere of our home. 

My husband was once utterly hostile about my faith. We fought often about faith, Jesus and God. My husband’s words hurt in the early years and I would seldom say anything about my faith for fear of another fight. But my friends, God has changed me and over the years, drastically changed my husband’s heart from hostility to acceptance and support of my faith. Through this verse God promises to make our home, my husband and my children holy, sanctified, set apart unto the Lord thereby including my children in God’s plans on earth. 

I want to share an astonishing story that is reflective of God’s sanctification. This is what happened in our home just last Thursday. 

Last week my husband, who works in the High-tech industry was reassigned to a new project. (It’s nice to know that my husband’s employer finds him a valuable asset to the company.) My husband started his new assignment right away. He returned home on Thursday from his first week on site and as I spoke with him that night I could tell he was a bit uptight about all the work that he faced. 

Friday morning, I went on my walk-n-pray and during my prayer time as I spoke to God about Mike, I could sense there was perhaps some fear in my husband about the new assignment. He was under pressure as the assignment was enormous and the problems vast and the work load, incredibly large. But this time during my prayer, I felt God was telling me to go home, place my hands on the man, and pray for him. 

Gulp. 

Yep, I’m still not that outrageously brave to lay hands on my unbeliever, in my home, and pray for him. Out loud. I squeaked to God; Okay God, I will pray for him but you will need to make his heart open to this idea. 

Yikes. What did I just agree to? 

I went home. Still sweaty. Still hot. Walked into my husband’s home office where he was frantically working. I smiled tentatively. 

“Sweetie, I need to tell you that on my walk-n-pray, I sensed you have fear about this new project.” 

Mike looks right at me. Yep, I had his full attention now. He stared at me. 

I pushed forward quickly, “God said that I’m supposed to pray for you.” 

He responds, “Humph.” I hesitate… Because as you all know, these can be fighting words. Double yikes. 

“I just want to pray quickly and I will then get out of your office so you can get back to work.” 

“Okay, but I’m really busy so this can’t take long.” 

On that sentence of permission, I walked over to my husband, laid my hands on both of his shoulders, looked him in the eyes with love, and then …… 

Bam…. I let loose a prayer of power and the voice of the Holy Spirit upon my husband. I prayed to break fear and that this new assignment would prosper and more. In fact, the Holy Spirit was so strong upon me, that I can’t remember what else I said because the Holy Spirit inspired my words. 

“In Jesus name. Amen.” 

And the prayer was over. 

I went to the kitchen. He turned back to his computer. 

I leaned on the kitchen counter and nearly cried. You know why?????? For as long as I can remember, years and years, I’ve wanted to lay my hands on my husband and pray over him, face-to-face. 

And today it happened. It happened because I bring my man to the throne room every day. And it was today that heaven moved on earth, in my home, and I was given a gift to pray with this pre-believer in a way I’ve wanted to pray for most of our marriage. 

It was a profound and blessed moment in time. 

The cool thing is my husband can’t deny that my prayers make a difference in his work life. I’ve prayed over specifics regarding his assignments and they happen because I ask my Daddy for His favor. They happen because I am the believing spouse and my prayers move God’s heart. And I’m believing that over time, my husband’s salvation will happen. I simply believe. I trust. I pray. 

God loves us so much that He literally makes our family holy, sanctified. When you think this through it can change everything. I am so certain about this verse that I can’t help but ask myself;  What chance does a mere unbeliever stand in the light and truth of an all-powerful God??? 

SUMites, I’m not minimizing the unique challenges we face and the great difficulty in our marriages. Yet I think we underestimate God’s abilities and our faith. More than anything pray this week and ask God to make 1 Corinthians 7:14 real in your heart, life and home.

What are your thoughts on this passage? 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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Not the Answers I Expected

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Leslie with our critters. Mittens on the back of the couch and our dogs Shasta, Riley and River.

My friends, I want to give you an update on some things that have happened in my family, specifically my daughter as many of you have prayed with me for her over the years. For our newer readers I will give a brief summary of the journey we've been on with her since 2007, because I want you to see the full scope of how God moves in the most subtle and unexpected ways.

We've walked through much with my youngest daughter who will soon be 21. At 13 she was diagnosed with severe depression, then later in 2008 at age 14 we found out she had a malignant brain tumor (the clinical name for it is the length of a run on sentence!). God was very present during all this, making it clear she would be okay. The miracles He did during that time still stun me. I think even more so now that I know Him better than I did then and understand more fully the things He did.

As difficult as that all sounds, the hardest part came afterwards with the emotional fall out of all she endured, more depression, then critical decisions about her future. I confess I was so desperate for "normal" for my girl that it was very at times to recognize God's hand moving in her life, because it wasn't what I expected. Yet it always was what she needed.

And He's moved that way again. These last four years especially have been about her catching up. But God had given me promises for her—one from Micah 2:4 that she would be like a calf leaping from it's stall (Have you seen cows run in delight? Google it. It's quite astounding.)

So I prayed that diligently and have remind God of it often of His promise. And waited. And waited. And waited... (I think you get my point here.)

"Things" began to unfold several weeks ago. After two years of prayers for a job for this girl who has learned to understand her limitations in handling stressful situations and crowds she "got a job." It wasn't what I expected but it was exactly her speed, so to speak, working for a family we know, love and trust as caregiver for their little girl. Leslie adores kids, always wanted a little sister, and aspires greatly to be a mom one day.

As this unfolded, her car was totaled while parked in front of our house. Thankfully she wasn't hurt and the other driver was fine. I held little hope that we'd get much for this old car but prayed for enough at least to get her back into a decent car. God blew us away with twice what I'd expected. Leslie is now driving her favorite car—a 2002 Ford Mustang.

What I haven't shared is my family and I are moving back to Florida (from CA) in late November. The plan was for Leslie to come with us, but earlier this year she met a wonderful young man (who'd a believer) and now wants to stay in California.

I confess again that for the last two weeks as this solidified, I fell into a bit of a depression. My heart was breaking as I faced this challenge of letting go of my youngest (again as she moved to Florida to stay with family for a while a few years ago) without seeing (don't miss that I used that word) definite signs and proof that it will be okay.

God reminded me that He would be the one taking care of all her needs. And I am now more fully embracing that for my daughter, even though "things" don't look as I expected them to look. Even though the answers to all these years of prayers are unfolding not as I pictured, imagined, and expected but exactly as God knew Leslie would need them.

The final answer to so many prayers for her future comes today (it's Friday as I'm writing this). Today I am faxing in her college registration. She will be a student again (a very brave step for this girl) and pursue her certification in pet grooming. Leslie is gifted with an amazing ability to work with animals and this is part of her dream to one day have her own shop.

So I'm letting go. And trusting God to continue to bring my precious girl out from the constrains of her past to leap with joy into her future. It's not clean and tidy as there are still loose ends that will take time to complete (it’s that wait thing again). And it's not as I imagined it (did I say that already?)

But it is as it should be. As God planned it. For her.

My dear friends, I want to thank you for all your prayers. They’ve been heard and now we’re seeing the answers. The journey continues for my daughter and I both as she steps into a new life and independence, and I trust God to take care of the loose ends and this mamma’s heart that is learning to let go.

Love you all so much,
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Line by Line: God's Thoughts on Guilt and Shame

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Good Friday Morning My Friends, 

I want to add to our summer study something that is not specific to our line by line study but something I feel as though the Lord is desperate to tell His children. 

I was talking with Dineen on Tuesday and sharing with her a discussion I had with a very close friend of mine who was tormented by shame and guilt because of past decisions in her life. I hung up the phone with Dineen after sharing the story and all of sudden The Voice of God was speaking so loudly to me in that bathroom where I was getting ready that I know I’m to share His thoughts about this subject today. 

From the conversation with Dineen we were made acutely aware of how unworthy so many of God’s children feel. How beat up, emotionally and spiritually, because of the many mistakes we have made in our lives. How we live with such deep shame over words we have spoken. We carry enormous gilt over the tremendous errors in our judgment that have brought pain into our children’s lives and into our own. 

We feel like this all the time. And on dark days the enemy snakes in and tells us all day long that we are a failure. We are stupid for making that decision. He tells us to say to ourselves, Oh, how I wish I wouldn’t Isiah 4 9have said that. I would give my life to make a different decision. I have suffered so greatly because I chose to do this instead of doing that. 

If we could see this shame and guilt upon us in the spiritual realm, it would look like enormous chains upon us, dragging behind us, sapping our energy and our love. Can anyone relate? 

So right now I want you to hear what I heard from the Father. Receive this as your truth and step into His words of freedom right now. 

 

My Sweet and Holy Child, 

Do you not understand that I know how very difficult it is to live on earth? Are you not aware that I am fully and completely sensitive of how hard it is to live there? I know the pain you face. I didn’t send you to earth as your Father, blindly-unaware of every tiny detail that you would face. 

I know it’s hard to live there. I knew that before I sent you. And I knew that you would make mistakes. You would make big mistakes. You would make choices that would affect your life adversely for the rest of your earthly life. I knew that would happen. I knew your choices would cause you pain. And choices that your parents made would cause you hurt and struggle. I knew the decisions you made would hurt your children too. 

I am fully aware my child that your words have hurt others deeply. So deeply that they have forever separated you from a loved one. And I know that words spoken to you in carelessness have been giant swords that pierced your heart and left you broken. 

I know this life is hard. It is hard from the beginning and there will be struggles until you die. But I know all about every one of your struggles, your guilt, your shame and your difficulties. And it’s all okay. 

I knew when you arrived of the planet you would struggle. And I knew you would make poor choices at times. And it’s the same for every person on earth. 

You all make bad choices at times. It’s not like you are the only person who hurt someone with a choice you made. Everyone does it. Everyone makes tremendous blunders and messes up their life and the life of others. 

It’s all okay. 

You are not worse than anyone else because they ALL MAKE mistakes. Big mistakes. 

What I want from you is simple. Admit you made them. Ask for forgiveness. I WILL FORGIVE YOU IMMEDIATELY. Make right what you can. Then FORGIVE YOURSELF. 

I expected you to make these giant mistakes because life is hard on planet earth. So live in this truth. The lie you have believed is that no one else screws up this badly. It’s a lie. Everyone messes up their life and the life of others. 

But I am your Papa of Grace. It will all work out in the end. For I use all things for the good of those who love Me. You’ll see. Give yourself grace. Grace is forgiveness and kindness and love. But grace is also empowerment to do better the next time. And you will do better the next time. 

So let go of this shame and guilt. I will not condemn you because my Son stood before me with your name on His lips. He died for you and He speaks to Me often on your behalf. I love you. My Son loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you to help you do better next time. 

The best thing you can do is to follow hard after the teaching in my Holy Word, talk with me all the time, bring your life before me and let Me direct your path. I will never leave you nor forsake you my child. You can learn to walk through this very difficult life with grace, love, joy and peace. That is what I want for you for the rest of your life. 

I adore you. Please adore yourself. 

Signed, Your Papa
Abba, Father 

PS. Jesus says, “Hi.”

 

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God's Preparation: The Cross

CrossDear friends, I believe this is the last post in this series about God’s preparation. We started with part one, about Trials and Challenges, moved to part two, Time + Honor = Fruit, and then last week delved into Recognizing God’s Preparation. Thank you for being so willing to share your hearts and stories. They (and you!) are amazing!

I think this last part is the toughest to write as there is so much swirling in my mind, more in the sense of a mental picture of this whole process and how God works, that to put it into words is very challenging. I think I could write an entire book about how God works in everything and how it all interconnects.

Thus why I love this Scripture so much:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. — Colossians 1:16-17

The scope of this is massive if we sit down and apply it to everything we see, think, and feel. To our trials and challenges. Even to our pre-believers. This applies across the board to the seen and the unseen—the physical in all that we are and see and the spiritual in all that we don’t see but believe, hope and find our being.

My question for you today is, what side of the cross are you living on? In the series I wrote about transforming our minds I talked about sinner vs. new creation. On the back side of the cross, we are sinners—living in our sinful state without Jesus. On the front side of the cross, we are new creations in Jesus who still sin at times. But we live in the full inheritance of Christ as co-heirs. We have the Holy Spirit living in us—our Great Friend and Counselor, who is part (if not all) of this spirit of power, love and a sound mind that we are given (2 Tim. 1:7).

Behind the cross we existed and survived within our own limited power. In front of the cross we are empowered and strengthened by the very Spirit of God.

Behind the cross we had to work to save ourselves. In front of the cross, we find our salvation in knowing, abiding (trusting) and resting in Jesus.

Behind the cross we could not be who Abba created us to be in His Son Jesus. In front of the cross, we find our true identities in His Son Jesus and are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. — Ephesians 1:3-8

This is powerful, heady stuff that I struggle to wrap my brain around. I want to live in front of the cross all the time, but my own doubts, insecurities and the enemy seem to drag me back behind this amazing “tree of life” at times.

And perhaps there is the most astounding connection that Adam and Eve’s Tree of Life would one day be the Cross of Christ, giving us everlasting life. And at the end of times we will once again see this tree of life bearing fruit and healing. And the living waters once again as Jesus spoke of so often as He walked the earth.

Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree (Hebrew “ets” also means gallows) that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. — Genesis 2:9-10
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. — Revelations 22:2

Behind the cross we see only what we are capable of on our own. In front we witness the God of possibilities, never limited and beyond our full comprehension. From the tree of life in Genesis to the Cross of Christ, Jesus, was, is, and always will be our destination, our truth, and our peace. The Cross of Jesus is our ultimate preparation to be God’s children.

Adam and Eve stood on the backside of the cross and we stand on the front. I want to live on the front side all the time, my friends. I’m sure you do too. And I believe, when we choose this place on a daily basis, intentionally and purposefully, we then see the very face of Jesus.

May we always live in front of the cross!
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Line by Line: An Open Letter To The Fearful Young Wife

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My friends, the comments on Friday’s post were amazing. All of them. Filled with honesty and truth and HOPE. I’m choosing to share this particular comment with the community because it’s a restoration story of epic proportions. Thank you Merlene for your courage and heart to share your life with us. Now here is Merlene’s comment to the young woman who is afraid to live her faith in her home: 

This is a topic near and dear to me. My husband was raised in a Catholic home but was hurt by the church. When we married I was a Christian but not walking with God the way I should have been. We married six months to the day from our first date. I knew I should not unequally yoke myself to him but I was 25 and had never dated or had anyone show me any kind of affection. So I jumped in with both feet. 

I got better about serving God and was not afraid to show it, but he was never on the same page with me and still is not. But I have watched God slowly change this man. Living in fear is not pleasant. Living with an alcoholic is not pleasant. Never knowing if you are going to set off a time bomb is not pleasant. But knowing God is always there at your right hand - Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

 In 2008 he was transferred back to Iowa and left to get an apartment and I stayed in Illinois to sell our home. The market crashed and I eventually lost my job. Due to two DUI’s within a 13 month time frame, the distance between us became greater and greater. After 15 years of marriage it drove us apart and we divorced. It tore me up. It helped me grow closer to God that is for sure. And over time it also changed my husband. 

Neither of us would admit it at the time but we made excuses to call each other from time to time over the 3 1/2 years we were divorced. I had a tendency during our marriage to be a very zealous believer. In many ways know I had a part in pushing him away from God because I was also very bitter towards sin (his drinking and smoking) and working a different shift and failing to be the dad his children needed him to be and it all was dumped on me. (I was his step mom to 4 children of which we had custody of 2) My answer to my pain was to throw God in his face. It was not my choice to divorce. However, afterwards I realized that I had as much to do with it as he did. 

I say all that to say this. After 3 1/2 years apart and lots of digging into God's word and reading some great books on being a Godly wife, I realized I had not loved unconditionally. I realized that I had not respected my husband nor kept my vow I made to God to stay in sickness or health. Sin is a sickness. When I came to realize that, I bawled and repented. 

I had never stopped loving this man. During our time apart God had put an older gentleman in my life that I thought was going to be my Boaz. Well ladies let me tell you something. Sometimes those men of God are just as unholy as the ones that aren't men of God. I decided I would rather be with the man who does not know God yet than with the one that does know God and is very critical and judgmental and unwilling to become the man God wants him to be. Real is better than fake. 

At Christmas 2013 I stood face to face with the man I fell in love with in 1994 and confessed my part and we sat down and God showed me how he has been working to soften my husband's heart. We remarried in January and are committed to making our marriage work. 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comTo this young woman with children I recommend that she not be afraid to share her faith with her husband or her children. I he doesn't like it then he has a choice to make. Don't walk in fear - 2 Tim 1:7 says God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. Take small steps and do it in love. But let your light shine. We are all praying for you and know the path you are on.

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Thanks Merlene for your testimony. Thank you for being part of our amazing community of SUM.

My friends, can you take an honest assessment of your life and see where you have been just as much of the problem in your marriage? Ouch. Tough to do but I'm thinking God wants to burn out some of the dross in our heart with this question.

Hugs, 

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Biblically: Confrontation With Spouse And Others

This is a great video from Dineen that is a fantastic follow up to yesterday's post. Hugs, Lynn

  

Gang, if this helped you, share it on Social Media. Thanks  

Tweet: Great Video dealing with conflict and confrontation. http://ctt.ec/L22N8+ <--- Click to Tweet

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Line by Line: Do I Divorce An Atheist?

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So Gang. Before we leave the verses from Monday’s study. I want to expand upon them. The questions I’m asking you to ponder address a very REAL scenario in SUMite homes today. I think we need some honest conversation about the topic. 

Let’s get started. 

On Monday we read: To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.—1 Corinthians 7:12-13 

Let’s place this verse into “real life” today. 

Lisa married her husband twelve years ago. She was raised in church and because she didn’t have a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus, she fell away from church and lived in the bad lands of the Prodigal Nation for an extended time. (ahem, this sounds familiar)

She married her husband who wasn’t raised in church during those years. In fact, Lisa’s husband was highly intelligent and regarded all organized religion as ridiculous, a fantasy, and absolutely the worst thing to happen to an educated society. In the early years of their marriage, Lisa didn’t pay too much attention to her husband’s caustic remarks about believers, God, Jesus, and the Bible. But as the years passed, their marriage was difficult.

Two children arrived. They both held down careers and the pressure to pay bills, manage kids and to work more than eight hours a day was overwhelming. Lisa, like most of us, was wooed back to Jesus because of her great struggles. And she secretly started to listen to podcasts, worship music, and read books about faith, never allowing her husband to catch her or find one of her books. And she absolutely hid her Bible carefully as she knew her husband’s growing atheism would bring his wrath of words down upon her.

Lisa continued to grow in her love for Jesus. But also her fear of her husband’s great hatred of religion paralyzed her. She lived in constant fear to be “found out”. She mentioned God to the kids in the car but they never attend church nor would she ever share anything about God in front of her husband.

 

Okay…… I think I’ve described this marriage enough for you to grasp an understanding. So, my friends, although we are instructed that we are not to divorce our unbelieving spouse, scenarios such as this are very real. If you are a wife and are completely terrified to talk about Jesus to your spouse, is this verse applicable? 

And if so, how do we help this young woman to find a balance between Christ’s presence in her life, home and children and her commitment to her husband? 

Now be very careful with your words my SUMite family because there are many of your SUMite sisters who are currently walking this very path. I’ve been heartbroken for so many of you who live in this very place. Confronting a hostile-atheist husband is a terrifying aspect. Don't be quick to judge but quick to love and support. How can we help women/men living in this unique aspect of the unequally yoked? 

Please, please add to this conversation as I believe the Holy Spirit want to bring some practical help, advice and encouragement to believers walking this path. Also, if you are a man/woman in this place, have the courage to add your story here. Share what you HAVE done to encourage another woman on the road behind you. Even comment anonymously if you don’t want to use your name. 

Lord Jesus, today there is someone who needs to know they are not alone walking this very difficult and painful path. Lord, give courage to have them share their story and to ask for prayer from their SUM family. Lord, I ask you to grant upon them a spirit of Joshua and Caleb courage that they will find a way to be able to express the love of Christ in their home with freedom. 

Father, I ask that you bind the spirit of atheism and the hatred that is directed at Your Children. Lord, free husbands, wives to see that the love of Jesus in their home actually brings, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Lord, release a fresh hope for these spouses and let your Holy Spirit fill them. In Jesus name. Amen.

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God's Preparation: Recognizing God's Preparation

GodisgoodWelcome back to the God’s Preparation series, my friends. I hope you are finding this encouraging and enlightening. God’s ways are so beautifully intricate and simple at the same time. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I’ve begun to see Him. Lynn and I speak often of this and how we, His children, tend to complicate things. I sense part of this year of intimacy with Him is also about simplicity.

To review, the first week we talked about how God works in and uses our Trials and Challenges. Last week we talked about how Time + Honor = Fruit. As I said last week, the fruit from one trial becomes the strength and preparation for the next. This week, let’s talk about recognizing God’s preparation. We have some amazing examples in the Bible.

God is all about preparation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can see many examples of this in His Word. I’m just going to pick out a few of my favorites. Feel free to share yours in the comments! I can’t wait to hear yours.

One of my favorite stories is of Joseph. We are introduced to Joseph in Genesis 37 and watch him walk a path full of trials and challenges that span his entire life, right through to Genesis 50 when he is reunited with his family and they bury his father, Jacob.

All that Joseph suffered—from a pit, to a prison, to a palace—he summarizes like this:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. — Genesis 50:20

And Paul sums it up like this:

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

Joseph's preparation was specific to God's purpose and calling to his life and according to God’s plans and purposes to save the lives of many people. Joseph’s trials and challenges show us each step of his preparation to ultimately be ready and able to handle a place of such authority so that he could fulfill God’s plan to save the Israelites. (Read Genesis 37-50 to get the full picture.)

Another story is in Genesis 22 when God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. I believe this was part of God’s preparation for the coming Messiah. As I’ve said in the past, God seems to always have more than one purposed for everything. Just as this event tested Abraham’s faith (and can even be symbolic of not making idols out of those we love), I believe it also served as a foundational depiction of what was to come—specifically the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

Yes, Abraham had Ishmael, but that was not technically part of God’s plan for Abraham’s offspring to be as numerous as the stars. Isaac was always the intended “only son.” And I believe this sacrificial model is exemplified when Abraham answers Isaac’s question about the sheep:

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.” — Genesis 22:8

The generations proceeding Abraham and Isaac would have this story as a prophetic picture of what was to come—Jesus’ sacrificial death to save us all.

Another story is in the New Testament, the story of Lazarus (John 11). As I read this story one day, God strongly impressed upon me the understanding that the resurrection of Lazarus was to be a reference point for the disciples for when Jesus died and was then resurrected.

Again, Jesus was preparing the disciples to understand what was to come:

So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” — John 11:14-15

God is all about preparation, and it seems it is never just for our own benefit. Our preparation often serves not only us as individuals but those around us as we share our testimony and blessing with individuals, communities and even nations. Our end results can be preparation for others!

I’m learning to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s “call to attention” when I see, read, or hear something that will be significant to something that I will soon experience or walk through. How often have you looked back and can identify things that played a key role in the bigger event? The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more we will sense these things before and recognize them as preparation.

And let me also say, God is not random. He fits and works everything perfectly together, whether good or evil. This is one of the most amazing ways He thwarts the enemy’s plans in our lives. He will take something the enemy intended to used to destroy and use it to create life and redemption (like Joseph’s life). This is where the power of our testimonies lays, to release hope and the power of the Holy Spirit into the lives of others.

The SUM ministry is a testimony to this. God used mine and Lynn’s mismatched marriages to lead us closer to Him and to teach us how to thrive in this type of marriage—all in preparation to create a ministry to help others in mismatched marriages. Our lessons, blessings and victories are meant to be shared.

Okay, now it’s your turn. How do you see God’s preparation working in you life? What do you think He’s preparing you for? Can’t wait to hear your stories!

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Line by Line: Unbeliving Spouse

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Hello SUMites, 

Well I’m still not up to par but we are pushing forward with this summer study. If you remember we completed the study of 1 Corinthians 7:10-12. Today let’s move forward to the subject and verses. 

Verse 12: To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 

Line by Line: 

Let’s refresh our memory here. Remember Paul is writing a reply to a letter sent by the first century Christian church in Corinth. As men and women became believers, they didn’t know if choosing faith would impact their marriages. They were seeking wisdom about how to navigate their new faith in light of marriage. In the particular passage above Paul is now speaking specifically to believers who have come to faith…. and their spouse has not. 

Yep, just like us. 

It is interesting here that Paul offers his advice and it is not specifically a command from the Lord. Commentaries indicate this is because there wasn’t specific direction spoke by Jesus while on the earth. However, the offering by Paul is inspired by God. 

Question: Because Paul changes the emphasis in this passage and denotes that this verse is not a command but Paul’s wisdom, does it change its truth or power? (Share your thoughts in the comments.)

 

The verse reads specific and clearly stated and is addressing men who are married and become believers and their wife remains and unbeliever. (By the way, we have many more men readers at SUM than you think. They usually just don’t leave comments *smile*) 

What does Paul instruct this man? Well what I love about this passage is that Paul is instructing them to consider the unbelieving spouse. This is also in direct opposition to Old Testament practices where Jews (Believers) were instructed to “put away” their “heathen” spouses. Ezra 10:3. I love that major paradigm changes in life and society came with Jesus’ ministry. 

This line of scripture directs believers to consider their spouses willingness to remain in the marriage. And if she is willing then – he must not divorce her. 

Straight forward. However, we know that it’s much more complicated than this simple directive. What I find interesting is the rendering in King James: 

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 

The translation is “pleased” in the KJV. Fascinating!!!! 

If we look to the next verse the command from Paul is identical to a woman believer living with an unbelieving husband. 

13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.

My friends, let’s place these verses in perspective. If I received a letter such as this from a newly married young woman who just found Jesus, I would encourage her just as Paul has done in his writing to the Corinthian church. 

If a couple marries and they are getting along fine, nothing more than the usual marriage challenges, and the husband is willing and pleased to remain married to his newly believing spouse, I would greatly encourage them to push forward. And we will see in the passage later why both Paul and I would encourage them to remain married. Does this make sense? 

However, Paul is not addressing marriages where there is great sin and wickedness as part of the marriage. I would venture to guess that if Paul was presented with some of the scenarios that fellow SUMites have faced, his answer may have been more involved and even very different. 

For today’s Line by line study let me say this: 

I am living out this passage in living color. I have been living it now for the past 22 years. I’ve been married to a man who is “pleased” (most of the time, ahem *grin*) to be married to me. My faith has not caused him to want to leave. We have an ordinary and beautiful marriage. I will admit that I’ve faced seasons where I wanted so badly to be married to a believer. And I will also be completely authentic that if this command was not in God’s Word, I might have left our marriage. 

However, I’m so glad I obeyed God’s Holy Word. I truly love my husband AND, the intimacy with God I’ve found came about because my husband is an unbeliever. My husband’s disregard for my faith actually pushed me to know and love Jesus more than if I had married a man of faith. I would have likely placed my faith and beliefs on the shoulders of that man…… instead of the King. 

Whoa! 

I can truly tell you I’m thankful. Thankful for this tough and at times, lonely road of the unequally yoked. It’s been difficult and challenging but also brought me into the best thing in my life. A life-transforming faith. An experience and love with God I’m still astounded by every day. And the hope of Jesus for my children and my future and for all mankind. WOW!! 

Okay, thoughts today?
See you in the comments, Hugs.

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Prayer Day in Canada

Thank you for your prayers, God has answered wonderfully and beautifully. 

We were able to share the Gospel with so many kids today at the Oakville's children festival. We were making beaded bracelets on our blankets, and sharing the Gospel at the same time. After the kids finished the bracelet, each one got their copy of Jesus Christ story and sometimes also the Gospel of John and an adult tract for their parents and a ring pop candy:-) We were in the park from 1:30-4:30 and at the end estimated that we made about 90 bracelets, gave out the same number of Jesus story books and Gospel of Johns and some New Testaments. We prayed with maybe 15-20 of the kids to accept Jesus into their hearts as their Savior. 

There was no major opposition, only three parents returned the booklets and the materials to the blanket but the kids kept their faith bracelets on! "Some parents were staring from the distance as if kept by some force from entering and interrupting, although they did not look happy about what their kids were doing:-)" God put a hedge of protection around our craft area:-) 

God used our kids as they were bringing other kids to the blankets and asking them "Would you like to make a faith bracelet?" :-) Little fishers:-) 

In one of the pictures the bright light was shining in the middle as Kerri took a picture when kids were accepting the Gospels and listening to the story of Christ. 

The pictures are worth a thousand words to me...Also, the Lord held off the rain and the thunderstorm until after the event. There was a massive downpour, lightning and thunder all through the night, but there was a huge party in heaven! 

I also read this passage last night after the event, and I believe the Lord fulfilled it in the park yesterday so beautifully, as we were sitting down under this huge oak tree next to the lake and kids were tying faith bracelets on their wrists: 

Is 44 

For I will pour out water to quench your thirst

    and to irrigate your parched fields.

And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,

    and my blessing on your children.

4 They will thrive like watered grass,

    like willows on a riverbank.

5 Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’

    Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’

Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands

    and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

 

and Kerri also shared this Scripture with me which was fulfilled before our eyes:

 

Deuteronomy 6

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

God bless you and thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers!
Olga

Olga light

Olga 2

Olga 3

Olga 4

Olga 8

Olga 9

Olga 6

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