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13 entries from December 2015

Community Fast 2016

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

Matthew 6:

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

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

On January 4-8 we will fast as a community of believers. There are many different ways to fast. Last year we set out several examples of fasts and I want to list them here again today. Please begin to pray and ask God to prepare you and to point you to the fast that will work for you. 

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

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

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

Fasting is NOT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Should Fast 

How to Fast Safely

How Long and What Type of Fast

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

Be blessed, Lynn

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Seek and Listen

Jer33-3SUMites, as we prepare for our fast next week, I would like you to begin asking God for specific words and/or impressions from Him for yourself and for your family. I do this each year and God either gives me specific words or impression for me and each of my family members just about every year. I've already begun doing this and will be sharing what God is speaking to my heart about you and His heart for our SUM community for 2016. I am so excited to tell you more next week.

If this is a struggle for you, don’t stress over it. Just sit in a quiet place, pray Jeremiah 33:3 and if you “hear” a word, see a word in your mind, get an impression or feeling, write it down. I find at times what I first receive may seem unclear or confusing but as I continue to press in and pray, Holy Spirit unfolds its meaning. 

I love you, my SUM family. It is my honor and privilege to be in prayer for you too as you seek God's heart.
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My Unexpected Christmas

933344_i_love_youHappy (almost) New Year, my dear friends! I feel like I've been on a long trip and haven't seen my family in a long time. And now I've come back home. I've missed you! My shoulder surgery went well, and I've started physical therapy. This whole process has been much more difficult and painful than I anticipated, which has made working at my desk and typing next to impossible. But day by day I'm healing and am able to do more. Please be patient with me as I ease back into writing here and please know how much your prayers and words have helped encourage and sustain me.

What I want to share with you today is about what God did in all this process. The day before my surgery I sat in my quiet time, sad and a bit fearful. Not about my surgery but about Christmas. I was struggling with being apart from my daughters for the first time at Christmas and trying to figure out how to handle it all without diminishing my husband's Christmas by making him think I couldn't enjoy the holiday with just him. I hope that makes sense. 

As I sat there praying, God whispered to my heart, "Give Me Christmas, Dineen."

I realized in that moment that I was still trying to "salvage" Christmas, to cling to what I knew and make it work in spite of the distance between us and our girls, my surgery and recovery, and my daughter's heart issues. I didn't know what God had in mind or what Christmas would look like in His hands, but I said yes. "Take it, Lord. It's all Yours."

After the surgery I was surprised by how little I could do and thankful we'd managed to get our shopping done before hand. I could do little more than sit on the couch with my right shoulder strapped to my Iceman (a icing system). I was so grateful to have my husband's selfless attention to take care of me as well as my mother and mother-in-law who helped as well. Not exactly easy to do for this girl who's so used to taking care of everyone else and herself.

And God worked in and through it all. Smoothed my mama-worries over my girls having a good Christmas—they worked our their own plans to be together and did the same traditions we always did together. We were able to FaceTime (love technology!) on Christmas Eve and open our gifts together.

I was able to be present at the infamous cake baking day the women in my husband's family do each year, even though they didn't let me do much (probably a good thing!). And Christmas with my husband's family was warm and fun. 

It was not at all the Christmas I expected—one I attempted to hold together myself and lived in fear of it falling apart. Instead it was full of love, care and a deeper closeness to my husband that never expected would happen in such circumstances.

My friends, I am the first to admit I like the safe route. I like to know the outcome ahead of time, because it gives me a sense of security. I have a feeling many of you can relate to that as well. 

But God doesn't work that way, does He? He wants to be our security and place of safety so that we rely and trust in Him instead of ourselves, our own abilities and our circumstances. I do find it challenging to live in that place with Him, but I am learning—though quite painfully at times (hee hee)—to let go and trust God.

Here's a verse that I've been pondering this Christmas season and holding close to my heart and limited abilities at the moment.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

SUMites, that last part of the verse brings me great reassurance that even when we think we fall short or we haven't quite got things right, our attempts are not in vain. Every single prayer, act of service, word of encouragement, etc. is significant. We may not see the results but they are there none-the-less. God knows. God sees. That's what counts. He knows our hearts no matter what the outcome—or lack of one—may appear to be. He has the full picture and puts the pieces together as only He can.

God called me to let go of what I knew so He could so something new in me. My greatest lesson this Christmas was that it didn't have to be perfect or according to my expectations to be a great Christmas. How about you? What did God show you during this most precious time of the year? I love you, my SUM family. I'm so glad to be back here and look forward to your comments.
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God Sent You To Earth On Purpose- 2016

James 5 16You were sent to earth by God. You were assigned a purpose, a divine destiny to accomplish while you live on earth.

God knew it would be difficult to live on earth. He knows the challenges we face and the evil that has been set up to defeat us. Yet, He is looking for those who will believe and then persevere. He is anxious to help us to discover our destiny. He is standing with us to answer our prayers for direction and protection as well as to lead us toward our divine purpose.

Many never find their destiny. Many are victims of the deceptions and lies of the devil and flounder in unfulfilled purposes during our life on earth. However, there are those of us who one day come to realize our pain has been for not. Our struggle is actually our victory and our deepest hurts have become the testimony that releases healing and hope to many others.

Over the last two weeks, Jesus has led me on a path to help me recognize that my main purpose on this planet is to walk the path of the unequally yoked. It was my purpose to live in the painful years of marriage to face the shaming of my faith. To struggle with my unbelieving spouse over the truth of the Kingdom of God. Out of my personal opposition, the SUM ministry was birthed. It was born before I even really knew it was a ministry.

I’ve considered stepping into new ministry opportunities in the past but every time I do this, the doors of heaven shut tightly. And my love and passion for the people of SUM rise in my heart to supersede any other ministry venture out there.

THIS IS MY DESTINY.

I’m to live my marriage in faith with an unbeliever. I’m to share the good, bad and ugly and never stop loving or hoping nor stop pointing people to the power and love of Jesus in their lives and homes.

My friends, if you have been a SUMite for any period of time, this is your destiny as well. Could it be God looked at you as He sent you to earth and said, “It will be one of the most difficult assignments of all. You are to love me in the face of ridicule. You are to serve me when those you trust most on earth, speak evil about me and about you. You are to walk in absolute faith in my promises and model them to the next generation all the while being persecuted for your faith.”

BUT….. What an exceptional journey it has been. I wouldn’t trade it for an easy life. I say this with full conviction. I have learned so much because I had to lean on Jesus in many desperate moments. I was placed in this ministry to tell others that they can “do this thing” also and do it well.

You, my fellow SUMites, are a rare company of significant believers. You are destined for greatness and are becoming positioned to witness the miracles of heaven. Your worthiness and perseverance have already moved heaven and the angels speak about us. The angels watch us faithfully live out our faith in very personal and challenging circumstances. They marvel in awe. So does our Lord. And our Father in heaven sees our community, connected together by this strange technology, the internet, and He smiles. He whispers over all of us. Just keep going. I am so well pleased with you my Beloved!

It is my hope that in the year ahead you begin to see your destiny. That you discover how profound your struggle is and every day you live in victory, is a powerful defeat to the darkness. I hear the Lord calling me to teach about worthiness, shame, love, vulnerability, full-living and more. It’s going to be a year of deep personal faith and heart growth.

I can’t wait!!! Perhaps that is because I am wanting wholeness in these areas of my own heart.

We are going to start of 2016 with a powerful time of corporate fasting. Years ago, Rosheeda Lee who passed away several years ago, started our annual community faith the first week in January. And this year we will fast again together. Five days together, January 4-8, 2016.

I ask you to start praying and asking the Lord if you are to fast and what type of fast. Every year I am astounded at the results of this kind of humility in our community. The reverence and abstinence stirs the spiritual realm and God responds.


I will share more on Wednesday about the different types of fasting. But if you are able a fast from food, that is our goa. A week long fast complete fast or partial or a daytime fast. Begin to pray. The day before the fast and each day following Dineen and I will post about things to consider and things to pray about during the fast.

The best part is reading your comments during the week. God does some pretty amazing and revelatory work in this body of believers.

I can tell you something I sense the Holy Spirit whispering to me right now….. The devil is scared and the demons are shaking in their boots because they know the SUMites are about to go to prayer with fasting before the Father. Woo Hoo!!!!! Our prayers can change our lives, our homes and dare I say….. even the world.

I love you all so very much. Truly from the depths of my soul. And I make a promise to you. If you participate in this fast, leave a prayer request I will be bringing you before the throne of grace and God will hear about your life from my lips that are filled with love for you and your family.

Have a great day my SUMite family. Your destiny awaits and I believe this fast will show you the direction you need to take for 2016. Love and hugs, Lynn

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

6a00d83451ee9f69e20105365c5148970b-piThere was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

image from unequalmarriage.typepad.comThe geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" 

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: 

"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!" 

~Author Unknown

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Christmas and the Spiritually Mismatched Conference

Hello SUMites:

I’ve come to realize that I’m in a struggle to keep up with holiday demands, writing and serving this community. My heart is to really be available to all of you as we work through the series on loneliness. And December is proving to be impossible to do – well, everything. So Dineen and I talked and decided that we are going to delay the series until after our week of fasting which is January 4-8, 2016. I still want to reply to all of the comments and emails and will do my best to do so.

Dineen is having surgery on her shoulder tomorrow so we have decided to take a writing break through Christmas, the end of next week. We will have a few random posts that may pop up but mostly we are going to spend some time in rest and quiet. Boy howdy, don’t we all need that.

In fact, I truly felt like the Lord impressed upon me that this Christmas needs to be protected and be a time of family, laughter, quietness and living in His Presence. So, let’s all do that.

Dineen and I will be back right after Christmas. And as usual you can bet I will be fired up about our week of fasting together as a community. Amazing breakthroughs ALWAYS occur in that week within our community. Stay tuned.

Also, we ask you to be in prayer about attending the Spiritually Mismatched Conference in January in Detroit, MI. Below is Dineen who shares her heart about the conference. Wouldn’t it be amazing to start 2016 together? And I’ve been receiving a revelation about our verse… You know our verse, 1 Corinthians 7:14. I will be talking about this and how it will change your prayers, thoughts and attitude about your marriage, spouse and home. Truly.

Have a blessed Christmas. Pray for the Lord to bring peace and joy to your home. I pray you are filled with His holiness and that this Christmas takes on a special meaning as we consider the miracle of the birth, death and resurrection of our Savior. Hugs, Lynn

 

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This Is God's Request In Our Dissapointment

On Monday our discussion was about loneliness and disappointment at Christmas.

SUMites, reading about loneliness and challenges in our marriages brings about a couple of different outcomes. First, sometimes we need to know we are not alone in our struggles. A little bit of commiseration is needed and understandable. Sharing our thoughts about our struggles allows for honest and authentic conversation, which is needed especially is you are new to the unequally yoked walk. But there is a fine line between the commiseration and focus on our troubles.

I will assure you the enemy hopes our conversations will go down the road of “poor me” which will lead to more defeat in our homes. We won’t give the dark kingdom that kind of foothold in our lives right now. AMEN!

So today, I’m compelled to share what I’m personally learning from the Lord. In the last several weeks, I’ve been walking in this weird place of confusion.  And as I’ve talked with other believes, it appears this is happening to many of God’s people. Perhaps you are in this weird season as well?

I’ve been struggling with unfulfilled promises given to me from the Lord in the past which appear utterly impossible to come to fruition. I mean impossible. I can usually deal with disappointment where people are concerned but I’m not acquainted with feeling disappointment with the Lord. However, I believe I walked in this regarding my husband’s salvation years ago and I have peace about it now.

But today, I am convinced God gave to me several divine assignments and right now I can’t see through to the “how” they will happen.

As I took my disappointment in prayer before my God, who I know is always good, I asked Him about it.

No answer.

Well at least about the specifics. But I strongly sensed the word: Faithfulness. The Holy Spirit was reminding me of God’s fantastic and miraculous faithfulness in many events in my past. And very gently, because God is kind like that, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, Lynn, I want to see your faithfulness to Me.

In that moment I prayed and told God that I didn’t understand why His promise hasn’t unfolded but that I would trust and I pledged to Him, my faithfulness. That was last Sunday morning.

What was so funny ,yet amazing , a couple hours later I was sitting in church and this is the sermon message: Look at the photo.

Centerpoint

I choose to form my life around faith in God’s faithfulness.

It was a sermon on remaining faithful while waiting.

It’s like God was confirming to me that my faithfulness is exactly what is needed right now. And all I need to do is have faith in God’s faithfulness. I began to recall all the impossible doors that were opened to me in the past. I then began, with purpose to recall the astounding adventure’s I’ve had with the Lord. I brought to mind His provision, great favor and protection that filled my life time and time again.

I know that the enemy has worked overtime to discourage so many believers. He is fighting against our breakthrough and God is calling us to remain faithful. But in this season of great hope, I choose to believe! I’ve seen too much. I’ve experience too many miraculous events and God’s hand in my life. I will not lean into the doubts of the enemy.

But perhaps you don’t have this kind of faith. Or you haven’t experienced God’s faithfulness over many years. Well my friend, God has a word for you.

Even if we are faithless, He remains faithful ­– 2 Timothy 2:13… Don’t believe me? Go look it up.

Loneliness at the holidays is a very real struggle but I urge you, look for the blessings of God’s faithfulness in your life. On Christmas morning, rise early and spend time in prayer. Tell the Lord of your faithfulness to Him and thank Him for His enduring faithfulness in your life.

Can you share a memory of God’s faithfulness in your life? I know it would encourage me.

Love you my friends. Hugs, Lynn

2 Timothy 2:13

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The Promise of Christmas

IMG_4705One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is the advent wreath. I first observed this at our international church while living in Switzerland and fell in love with the candles and their meaning. Every year I’ve used or remade our wreath, searching for just the right candles each year.

But this year wound up a little different than I expected (there’s that word again). I’d actually prayed a few times over the years for a really nice wreath and candle holder. This year I wanted to find something different. These were simple desires I thought about and left unspoken.

And this is the year that Abba surprised me with a new one. The most interesting part of this story is that I wasn’t the one to find it. My husband did. How’s that for some Christmas humor and delight?

We saw this candle holder in a store and both loved it. I saw it only in the light of a decorative piece for our home. To my surprise, my husband pointed out how well it would work for an advent wreath too! Even the store clerk seemed surprised that my husband mad the suggestion.

My friends, I cherish this new piece in our home not just for it’s beauty and design, but for it’s meaning. The more I study it, the more meanings the Holy Spirit shows me. Now I will look at this candle holder—year round—and see the reminder of God’s love for me in a small detail and how He used my husband to bring it to my attention.

Sometimes our desires and hopes are met in the most surprising ways. I’d expected, looked in one direction. God showed me another one—one I never would have expected or thought of.

I find this faith walk lately to be a delicate balance of holding hope tightly and holding expectations very loosely. I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations—the Bible even tells us to  wait expectantly on the Lord. The challenge is to have ones wrapped in hope and to not hold them so tightly that we miss other possibilities. God is the God of possibilities—He makes the impossible possible.

As I reread the Gospels telling of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit has stopped me at the feet of Luke 1:45.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ words to Thomas.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29 (NIV)

As believers we are asked to believe what we haven’t yet seen. To take the step of faith without proof, yet believe it will come. To persevere even when everything around us tells a different story.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. — Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)

This verse has taken a place in my recent journal entries and I find myself returning to it frequently. And today I noticed it precedes one of the most powerful parts of Scripture in the Bible.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Before the baby Jesus and our Messiah was ever birthed in the natural realm, He was prophesied and birthed in the spiritual. The Old Testament is the promise, the New Testament is the fulfillment.

Jesus is our greatest example of holding hope, persevering for its revelation (pregnancy), and waiting for its arrival (birth). Christmas is a yearly reminder of His revelations and the revelations to come. And we hold this hope not only for ourselves but for our pre-believers and our families, dear friends.

SUMites, we are blessed because believe the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. We persevere, and though at times we may falter, we continue hold hope in our hearts. 

And Jesus is that eternal hope. Merry Christmas!
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Moments of Delight and Moments of Despair

IMG_4580
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

My friends, it’s great to be back with you! I had an amazing week in New York City with my mother and dear friend Sally, who is also my son-in-love’s mother. Definitely a family trip filled with special surprises and blessings that I know came from God’s heart to delight us. And I am moved and impressed by the heart of this city and and what it has endured. There is a sense of strength and unity there.

I was profoundly moved by the 9/11 Memorial and took significant notice that majority of those around us on that particular day were from other parts of the world. They traveled to our country, to New York City, to specially see this memorial and museum. The most emotional part for us was to listen to our tour guide describe this day from her first hand experience. At the time she worked in one of the buildings behind ground zero. 

Then we were dazzled by the lights of the city and the Christmas windows at Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Saks and many others. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center took my breath away as it stood tall and sparkled. I felt like a kid at again at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show featuring the Rockettes and Santa Claus.
What surprised us there was the how the show concluded with the true Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, with as much beauty and detail as the rest of the show. And the audience response was outstanding.

I’m so grateful for this experience, dear friends. And yet I am about to write the most difficult part of this post. After coming home from all this excitement, I’m now facing the reality of spending this Christmas without my daughters. I truly am struggling with this, to be completely honest. I’m realizing how much I’ve loved sharing the true meaning of this holiday with my daughters and how much that filled that lonely place in my heart that we’ve been talking about here.

Several of you talked about expectations and letting them go. I believe that is part of the journey I’m on right now is to readjust my expectations of doing Christmas without my daughters with us. Just about every ornament on our tree has a story and a sentiment behind it to our family. So you can imagine how decorating the Christmas three last night without them was a teary-eyed event.

My morning walk was more like a walk and cry. LOL! I miss my girls so much. I shared that with God, pouring out my heart to Him. I know He brought us to Sarasota and has plans for us here, some of which I am watching unfold, but I was honest with Him. What I didn’t expect was how He would share His heart with me.

“Lord, this is hard. I miss my girls so much.”

As I let the words flow honestly, this is what I felt He said to me.

“Trust Me, I know that pain, that ache. For every one of my children who don’t know Me yet and aren’t walking with Me, I ache. I hurt. I long for them to come to me. Dineen, I feel your pain and even more so.”

Wow! Talk about putting things into perspective! In that moment I felt His comfort as well as a renewed fire to share His love with everyone I can in this hurting world. It didn’t diminish the ache in my heart for my girls to be with me for Christmas, dear friends, but it did comfort me to know my Papa God understands my heart and shared His with me. 

So, including the negative ones that have a way of becoming self-fulfilling, I’m letting go of all expectations for this Christmas. Except for one.

I am making room in my aching heart with the expectation for God to fill it with His presence, His comfort, His peace, and even something special. I don’t know what—I want to just let that unfold  in an unexpected delight, much the way several moments did in New York.

My friends, please know that I am praying for you and this community and I would like to thank you for your prayers for me and my family too. My youngest daughter Leslie was just diagnosed with pericarditis (inflammation around her heart) and the doctors are trying to figure it out why. I will have surgery next week on my shoulder and hope (and maybe a little expecting too) to be back to fully capacity quickly. 

I love you, my friends. I’m so thankful for you, for this community. Lynn and I marvel at our love and unity here and praise God for it. We are so thankful and grateful to be a part of your lives, especially at Christmas!

I leave you with a few more images... Hugs! ~Dineen

 

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Last piece removed from ground zero.


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One of Macy's Charlie Brown Christmas windows.


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The Rockets!


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Me standing on the Bow Bridge. Finally saw this beautiful and romantic bridge in person!


And finally...

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The Miller Christmas tree in Florida! (No palm trees were harmed in the decoration process.)

 

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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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Holiday Aloneness

Holiday LonelinessChristmas is only two weeks away, let’s begin our discussion about loneliness and take a look at aloneness during the holidays. And SUMites it’s not only our community that feels alone during this time of year. For different reasons, The Holidays punctuate loneliness in many hearts.

Those of us who walk through life with a spouse that navigates life from a different world view, the Christmas season brings a new set of challenges into our homes and hearts. I know for me, there were many years in our marriage that this was the one time in the year that my husband would attend church, the Christmas Eve Service. In fact, his entire family would attend…

I had tremendous expectations that each of them would be overwhelmed by the story of the birth of Jesus and thereby be saved. Yep, didn’t work that way. In fact, I think that the holidays usher spiritual warfare into our homes. Our dysfunctional family members get together, mix in alcohol and a few failed expectations and…… Tempers flare, people say things they shouldn’t and tears sting our eyes. Disappointment pounces.

Am I alone in this?

My friends, I experienced this very thing over Thanksgiving. It was interesting how I literally sensed the enemy walk in the door along with visiting family members. I feel like I battled all week long to fight off, despair, anger, frustration and I had to keep a tight rein on my tongue. I was desperate to keep the peace in my home. That week I was intentional to spend an hour every morning, in deep prayer fighting against the enemy who wanted to disrupt the peace in my home.

I wasn’t going to let that happen.

My friends, in this busy season it’s easy to forgo prayer time because we are overwhelmed with tasks and exhausted by the demands of preparation and holiday events. I’m convinced that it’s imperative that we pray protection over the atmosphere of our home especially when you know that extended family will be in your home.

Take authority over your home and tell the devil he can’t have it. Pray to bring protection around your family and children. As a believing spouse, your prayers are powerful in the spiritual realm (1 Corinthians 7:14).

Secondly, hold your expectations loosely. This is easy to write but difficult to do. I wonder if we could share in the comments just how we can do this and do it authentically. How do we surrender the idyllic image of a perfect family Christmas?

On Friday, I’m going to share some insight into what the Lord is asking of us in our disappointment and confusion. It is truly a Great Word of encouragement.

Okay, this week, please, PLEASE share how you have overcome disappointment and loneliness during the holidays.

Also, I’ve read every one of your comments and the emails that have arrived in the last week. Please forgive me as I haven’t been able to write back or respond to each. But know my heart, I read, pray, my spirit is stirred for you and I pray all the more for you and your heart. Thank you for your grace and understanding as I try to keep up.

I love you my family on the web. Our community’s breakthrough is near. Truly. Lynn

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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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Yep, We Are Lonely

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHi SUMites,

Well it looks as though I hit upon a deep need. The responses to Monday’s post, asking all of you about loneliness in marriage were vast and passionate. The comments on that post as well as the private emails that arrived, are filled with tremendous emotions.

I sat down and wrote down the issues, the emotions the coping suggestions and I filled four hand-written pages with notes.  There were many common themes from all of you. Such as attending church alone, the lack of intimacy with our spouse because we are unable to share our heart, our passions and thoughts about Jesus.

From my note taking, there are SUMites in all spectrums of the unequally yoked journey. There are some of us at the beginning of this walk where we learn to forgive ourselves and decide to stick this marriage thing out. There are others who have discovered peace and yet after 43 years, challenges still remain.

What I also discovered were the emotions that went along with our journey. There are some of us who are just flat-out, pissed off about our marriage and spouse. There are others who are experiencing a deep sadness. There is alone-ness, disappointment, shame, fear, anger, self-pity, negativity and boredom.

There were fantastic suggestion on how we cope. I was teary-eyed reading these. SUMites you are truly amazing people of faith. Some of those suggestions were, look for ways to pour love into others, focus on the good and not what I don’t have. Have safe people in your life who understand you and don’t judge.

What we didn’t talk about are the ways we cope that are difficult to discuss. How do we cope with our broken heart, our disappointment, pain? I can tell you that many of us cope through our faith but we also cope through food, wine, television, prescriptions, shopping, uber-involvement with our children’s lives, hours at church, social media, gaming and gambling, etc. I’m not casting stones, these are just the ones I’ve used to cope. Okay not really, but many on this list have been comforts to me in the past. Just being real here.

What is fascinating to me is that reading through my pages of notes, my head just nodded in agreement. I have felt what you have felt. Dineen and I have walked were you are. We have lived for decades with the pain, disappointment and challenges that are unique to our kind of marriage. And I will be the voice to tell you that it can be better. You CAN be married to an unbeliever and live a full and whole-hearted life.

I will also tell you that I still have difficult moments. But now I mostly enjoy fantastic days filled with hope, adventure, grace and fun. Because of this hope, that is why I write. If Jesus will show me how to do this marriage well, He will show you how to do it well. And it’s in the showing that the most astonishing things happen.

It’s the journey. When we arrive in heaven and reflect upon our life here, it will be in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of our journey where we will have experienced the miracles, the faith, the transformation. I can’t wait to see your journey as I hold your hand one day in heaven.

But we need help. We need wisdom. We need encouragement. We need a place where we are safe to be real and to learn to walk this out. We need each other. So together let’s take on a few of these issues that cause loneliness in marriage. Let’s share our frustrations, our hopes, our fears, our victories. We need one another and together we WILL THRIVE. It is our Father’s will!

Are you up for helping one another, help me and Dineen. Are you willing to pray for each other, your spouse, and your freedom?

Monday, we will chat about what to do, feel, process our inability to share part of our authentic self with our spouse.

If you have more to add to this conversation, please do in the comments.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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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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Childlike in Anticipation - some reflections on Advent

Source: WikipediaI've always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas.

I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds.

We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep.

And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips.

We had to wait.

The anticipation. The excitement … was electric.

Advent

The season of Advent has commenced. Advent simply means: “coming” or “arrival” – of Jesus.

But as most of us know Jesus didn’t arrive without a long, long wait. Four hundred years in fact. That’s how long the Israelites had to wait.

The four-week season of Advent reflects a time of waiting. We don’t like to wait, do we? Especially if it’s for something important or critical, a test result, an answer to prayer, our pre-believing spouse to meet Jesus, and so on.

“While God rarely comes at our appointed time, he comes at the right time.” (Louis Giglio)

Waiting in the Busy

December is often a frantic month. Besides finishing end of year projects there is the added weight of present buying, parties to attend, gatherings with family and friends. All around us there are reminders of what is coming: the lights, the decorations, the music, the extra crowded malls and our own stress levels.

But what is the gift we are expecting? Or more precisely, who is the gift? Who is arriving?

Jesus.

Remember those days of childlike anticipation, the sense of wonder, on that day? Christmas Day.

A little challenge

In amongst the busyness of December find some time to sit in the Lord’s presence. Allow yourself to recall such days of anticipation, when you couldn’t help but smile. For hours at a time.

He’s coming. Jesus. For you. He’s especially chosen you. You who are holy and dearly loved.

To assist you, read the story of when Mary received a very special and unusual visitor, Gabriel, in Luke 1:26-38. Let go of everything else that’s going on around you. Really desire to hear from God and ask the Spirit to speak to you. Picture yourself in Mary’s place. Imagine the awesomeness of the situation, listen to Gabriel’s words and what they mean.

Write down what you heard, how you felt.

We’d love to hear some of your responses in the comments.

Perhaps do it a few times over the next four weeks. Allow “the words of Christ to dwell in you richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a joyful Advent season full of childlike wonder and anticipation.

*****

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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