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13 entries from February 2016

I'm Baaaaack...

35337395_sDear SUM family, it's so good to be back with you! I'm still recovering from this crazy shoulder thing that went from surgery for a bone spur to a frozen shoulder needing "manipulation." But I am on the mend, doing my physical therapy diligently, and I received a high five (well, more like mid-way...) from my doctor yesterday. It's still painful but only because I am progressing and will soon start strength building. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement, my dear friends! You have no idea how much that has meant to me and kept me going at times.

And I am overjoyed by the testimonies pouring in that are only the beginning of the revelation of God's Word for us this year! God is on the move! Don't you just love that?!?! I am so encouraged and strengthened by every single one of these testimonies. Keep them coming!  And Lynn has revamped our Salvation Stories page! That link is always in the navigation bar beneath our header, so be sure to check it out from time to time especially when you need encouragement. 

My friends, the Holy Spirit has impressed upon me that I am to re-release our SALVATION Word for 2016 over our community from time to time throughout the year and to continue to pray this word over our pre-believers. I am convinced this is God's Word and promise for us right now, but I know many of you are struggling to believe. I want you to know that's understandable. We walk a difficult walk. Even Lynn and I have talked about this on the phone and she has told me this is my "holy assignment" to help her and others struggling to believe God's promise for us.

So if you are struggling, leave a comment and I will stand in faith and pray for you to believe God's promise. If you are standing in faith already, pray for those leaving comments too so that we can support one another and stand united in faith. Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold his arms up in faith, and many of you have shared that very same beautiful picture with me, that you have been holding me up in prayer through this recovery (which btw, brought me to gushing tears every time!).

26495595_sThis is what we are called to do for each other. There are areas and seasons that we are able to stand in faith without doubt and others that we need the help of our siblings to do so. Paul's letters are full of encouragement like this. We need each other, my friends, and that is one lesson I have learned among several the last two months.

My dear friends, know that God understands too. Jesus understood a father's heart cry to help him believe for his son's healing and honored the man's plea as the boy was healed. 

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" — Mark 9:24

The very first thing the farther did was to make the choice to believe and he spoke it out. Jesus did the rest. Our Lord is good and He is faithful. Let Him show you just how much.

I love you, my SUM family! So so good to be back! Sending you each a big cyber hug! I love you!
SignatureGraphic2

Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: glopphy / 123RF Stock Photo

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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-

SUM Books 4


Broken In A Thousand Pieces But..... Jesus..

SUMites, ANOTHER profound email. What is happening in our community? Ten years of praying, believing, trusting. The fruit is ripe and I celebrate every victory in our SUMite Nation. And I continue to pray and trust for those yet to come.

Today, please meet Kim Valentine. Her story is TRULY miraculous!!!!  Thank you Jesus. (Read to the end because this story is astonishing!)

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One day after 18 years of marriage my husband informed me he was moving out.  As soon as the words left his lips, I knew this time it wasn’t an idle threat. God immediately began revealing to me every sin I committed that degraded, emasculated and disrespected my husband. Every time I blamed, criticized, condemned or withheld intimacy was before my very eyes. The blinders were ripped off and the ugliness of my sin was repulsive to me! Here I was a Christian for 16 years, playing the part, talking the talk and holding the church positions. I felt so valued by my Christian “family” as one of Christ’s ambassadors to the world, but the witness to my own husband was like filthy rags before God.

 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

I felt stripped bare to the core that day, but in that process God miraculously transformed my heart for my husband. I experienced an infilling of unconditional love for him that was beyond human comprehension. The persistent nagging inside my being that had to speak up and criticize my him was miraculously gone. So many things that irritated me in the past were washed away.  I began to see him through God’s eyes as a precious human being created and loved by Him.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

We had become strangers in the same house living separate lives. We were more like roommates than a married couple and our lives rarely intersected. We hadn't shared a bed for over eight years but I was comfortable with that arrangement, so I didn't care to change.

Had I not realized over the years I was not treating my husband well? I could say “no” and blame other men who had hurt me, other people or society. I have to confess that deep on a spiritual level I knew my actions were damaging to my husband and our whole family.  All factors may be reasons for my behavior but no excuse to treat him with disrespect he didn't deserve.

This new love for my husband welled up inside me and overflowed. I had never felt this way and I wanted him to receive this love from me, but was it too late? I had taken control and removed him as head of our family where God intended him to be all along. Would he think that my actions were nothing more than a ploy to make him stay? Regardless, I started to treat him with respect and submission the way I should have all along.

But I was not completely obedient and trusting God. I fought for control of the situation by plotting and intervening like an amateur detective. I intercepted emails and monitored his bank account justifying it because I was trying to save our marriage. God began to convict me of my intrusion and I realized it was actually an invasion of my husband’s privacy. The harsh reality was, he was leaving and there was nothing I could do to control or manipulate that outcome.

After he moved out I withdrew and began to focus on my own pain.  I started to dwell on my husband’s contribution to the marriage breakdown in my own private pity party. I remember lying on my kitchen floor weeping and begging Jesus to take me Home. I felt like my heart was broken and I was in a thousand pieces. I now believe it was my own sin and lack of “control” eating me alive. One morning I woke up in tears telling the Lord that I couldn't go on any longer, I was too weak.

I turned to my devotional and the scripture verse was from 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God wanted to heal my heart and life before He could ever heal our marriage. This journey of reconciliation wasn’t only about our marriage but also about my disconnection with the Lord. I took my eyes off Him and lived life my own way.

God used prayer and study to open my eyes and discover I was the contentious or quarrelsome woman of Proverbs. In the message Proverbs 27: 15-16 reads: A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; you can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.

 “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” Proverbs 21:19

God now had my complete attention and I wept in brokenness. Even though my heart had been transformed, I continued to hold on to control. I had to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, renew my mind, be accountable to the Lord for my own actions and not blame anyone else. My obsession with control destroyed our marriage.

A week after this epiphany, my husband contacted me out of the blue and asked me to go out for coffee. I hadn’t heard from him in months. The first meeting started as a casual meeting between “friends “but was actually the beginning of our restoration journey.

My husband had a new softness to him I had never before seen, so I knew his heart was changed. He is back home now and we don't just have a marriage restored but a one that's transformed. I tell people I have the husband I’ve always wanted but never allowed him to be. We are blessed to fall into a deeper love with each other. I am witness as he grows in confidence as the head of our household. There are days I still struggle with wanting control, but being aware helps me learn to surrender it to the Lord.

Learning to be a wife as God intended is counter cultural as the world dictates women be independent. We are supposed to take control in marriage and family instead of depending on the Lord but this is so counterproductive. I have new joy embracing the role God has graced me with as wife and help mate for my husband. I know that after God, my husband is my priority. This is how I honor the Lord.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.

I have had the privilege of watching the Lord draw my husband to Him.  It has been more than two years since our reconciliation and my husband has recently become a follower of Jesus Christ. I stand in awe at how the Lord is developing him into the spiritual leader in our home. It’s all about Him!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

For many years I sought to find my identity and affirmation in education, positions and career but these pursuits became my gods. I had built my foundation on sinking sand destined to wash away. It gave me a feeling of superiority over my husband. I lost focus that my true identity is found in only in Jesus Christ and the role he has for me as His child, a wife to my husband and a mother to our children.

Kim Valentine 2016I am a  50-something  daughter of the King, wife to one awesome husband, mother to two amazing children and one special "son in love", future grandmother and nurse.  I strive to be a woman after God's own heart and walk in His steps.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps"
1 Peter 2:21

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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-

SUM Books 4


He Became A Believer But It Wasn't What I Expected

SUMite Nation, it appears there is a lot happening in our community. I am so thrilled to share the emails that are arriving and pray they encourage us in our faith. Today, I bring a powerful message from Janet Sommer. Janet has written for us before in the years of her unequally yoked marriage. But today she has a fantastic message that is..... well, unexpected but filled with hope and faith.

And Janet, I LOVE that you call us her at SUM, precious siblings!

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Some people have such grace and joy that reflects in their words, actions and face.  The ones who hear God’s power or see it, quickly they begin smiling and praising God.  Not me.  I first have to pick up my lower jaw off the floor, have a few rounds of recovery time and then can join the rest who are applauding God’s amazing power, mercy and grace.  Even a year after my husband encountered God and accepted Jesus as his savior I still regularly am in shock and disbelief.  I am confident the heavens sit back and prepare to enjoy the show my face displays.

Concert Selfie - Tobymac
Concert Selfie - Tobymac

After an exhausting year of relearning marriage and transitioning into an equally yoked marriage, I found myself at a concert with my family.  Not only were we attendees, but my husband and I were volunteers too.  (Cue a face show for the heavenlies!)  It was surreal to stand there this time with my husband.  At a Christian concert.  For a genre that isn’t exactly his first choice.  Trust me, by now the heavens are ordering extra rounds of popcorn. 

The last time I saw the Tobymac it was an answered prayer I wrote about here: God Is In The Details.

And to make it even better, I unexpectedly experienced at that concert, my daughter with hands raised, and dancing the whole night away.  She earned the moniker “Spirit Dancer” as she repeatedly told us she could feel something in her making her body dance. 

Both my husband and I continue to keep the SUMite community in prayer.  (Did you know he even joins the corporate fast? Cue an encore face show for the heavelines!!) As Tobymac performed “Move (Keep Walking)” God spoke greatly to my heart and gave me words for you, the SUMites, whom He sees, hears and knows. 

I am fairly confident this is your battle cry.  Your war anthem He is singing over you.

Another heartbreak day

Feels like you’re miles away

Don’t even need no shade

When your sun don’t shine, shine

 

Too many passin’ dreams

Roll by like limousines

It’s hard to keep believin’

When they pass you by and by

 

I know your heart been broke again

I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet

I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left

Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so

 

Another Thanksgiving. Another Christmas. Another new year.  Another week of corporate fasting.  And now Easter is on the horizon bringing a holy holiday facing the struggle of finding balance keeping God honored and at the center.   The longing and heartbreak is truly immeasurable as the same prayers are, yet again, expressed with such faith and hope. 

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Day in and day out it is so tiring to keep enduring this walk of an unequal marriage. The Lord does not want you to stop walking.  It’s a trick—a whisper from the enemy manipulating the truth. The real truth is that God is indeed your promised strength, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Even the running community even knows if you stop for a rest, you will not finish the race.  

Precious siblings, keep walking.  Keep growing in the Word.  Keep drawing in close to the Lord.  Keep making room for quiet time.   Keep teetering the balance beam of honoring God and your spouse.  I promise He will catch you.

This year has not been the hallmark movie I thought it would be.  Far from it.  My rock solid faith has been tested and shaken.  I stood on days I wanted to crumble.  I had ongoing quiet time when I didn’t want to.  I continued with bible study when I had no desire to learn let alone open the bible.  And many considered me strong in the Lord.

We have and are still facing many challenges—physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  The hardships and persecutions have come with rapid fire. Spiritually battles came as quite a shock to me.  Gifts and manifestations that awed me and left me desiring them, were immediately deposited and displayed in my husband. 

While some may rejoice over this obvious confirmation of transformation, I stood watching him have what I wanted.  As if that didn’t rattle me a bit, daily I heard the enemy whisper to me “Look at that.  You’re not really saved, but he is.” 

I knew God’s character.  I believed and knew Him by many names—translated and Hebrew names.  I knew He was for me. In my wait I saw many miracles and answered prayers.  Yet just as the enemy did to Eve, he crept in and tried every manipulation of doubt targeting my belief of salvation and God’s goodness to me. 

You must move and keep walking because the enemy will come back to steal what has been gained, and even attempt to take above and beyond.  And SUMites, I want nothing more than to see you wear out the enemy with your knowledge, readiness, willingness and His strength.  This time, right now, is your training ground.  This now is where the foundations of faith and truth are built, solidified and tested.  Precious siblings, move…. Keep walking

These lyrics could not be more fitting.  We must choose to lift our head, and keep it lifted, at all times.  There are days it will be a choice and not a feeling.  Anytime we take our focus off Jesus we will sink just like Peter.  It is not over yet.  Do not let your hope get poisoned.  (Proverbs 13:12) I promise it is not over yet.  God promises it is not over yet. 

Hold on, hold on

Lord ain’t finished yet

Hold on, hold on

He’ll get you through this

Hold on, hold on

These are the promises

I never will forget

I never will forget 

He will get you through this.  Just as the Israelites were fed and cared for in miraculous ways, He has miracles placed along this journey for you too.  He has many promises for you.  Never forgot the promises and what He has done for you in the past.  (Deuteronomy 8:2, Psalm 77:11, Psalm 105:5, Psalm 143:5) Remembering the past will be essential to your ability to keep walking, to shield your ears from the deception and lies of the enemy and to keep believing His promises made over 2000 years ago are still very much alive and active for you personally today.

God spoke that some hearts have tremendous hurt.  He knows.  He sees your heart is broken.  He knows your prayers aren’t answered yet.  The Lord gave me a vision of this community locked arm in arm standing in a triangular formation.  And He said, “stay in formation. Do not be distracted by who is ahead, behind or next to you.”

There are these “suddenlies” in scripture and our lives.  Suddenly an earthquake shakes the prison doors loose for Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25-26). Suddenly an angel appears and gives Mary a message.  Suddenly Joseph is given a message.  Suddenly a cloud covered and the glory of the LORD appeared. (Numbers 16:42) Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:9)  And suddenly your spouse is a believer.  Suddenly.  Suddenly you’re catapulted to the front lines.  Those of us ahead of you, as well as Lynn and Dineen, will gladly hold your arms up to win this war.  (Exodus 17:11-12) 

Fight bravely and solider on, warrior. 

As we continue to pray for you in great anticipation of your suddenly, please pray for us too. ~ Janet

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

 

 

 

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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-

SUM Books 4


Lenten Reflections - Repentance and Restoring Joy


ID-10036003A couple of years ago my siblings and I helped our parents spring-clean their house. They’re both in their eighties and it never ceased to amaze me how much stuff they managed to collect over a long life. The house became very “full”, especially when you’re not inclined to throw things out, as was the case with my parents.

They moved into a much smaller place: a two-bedroom apartment within a retirement home complex. Very different to a four bedroom home with big garden and double garage.

It wasn’t a spring-clean, rather a major overhaul with lots and lots of stuff discarded, given to charities and grateful others. There were a number of trips made to the waste disposal centre (or tip as we call it down under) as well as two large council pickups.

Spring-cleaning and major clean-ups require us to get our hands dirty. We have to get into the mess that has accumulated over the years. I’ve spent time in this season of Lent reflecting on repentance. Lent involves a spiritual clean-up or a re-tuning, and so I’ve found I’ve had to go into my mess. The one that’s in my heart.

I’m surprisingly okay with sifting through the mess. Certainly I wouldn’t suggest I’m enjoying it. It’s a process, not a one-time activity. Well, not in my case anyway. Long ingrained thought patterns can take a while to change.

Best of all, I’m in the muck with someone. And there’s no one else I want to be there with.

Jesus.

“We are not left alone in our repentance. Jesus Christ lives to make intercession for us.” (Matthew B Redmond – He Reads Truth)

David’s Experience

I think one of the reasons we all identify with David is he reveals the state of his heart to us. The Psalms are like an autobiography of David’s heart journey. We see his highs, his very low lows and everything in between. As I mentioned in a previous post I’ve been working through Timothy and Kathy Keller’s devotional on the Psalms. They often spread a psalm over two to three days and it highlights how so many of David’s psalms start with him being in a bad way and then moving to outright praise and adoration. That’s a good lesson for us in itself: keep our eyes fixed on Jesus irrespective of our circumstances.

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Ps 32: 3-7 NASB)

David suffered immensely as a result of keeping his sin from God. Once he’d asked for forgiveness, he was surrounded with “songs of deliverance”. He was able to experience peace.

Psalm 51, though, is his classic prayer of contrition, the scales having fallen from his eyes as a result of Nathan’s intervention. I expect many of us are very familiar with this psalm having heard it and perhaps spoken it many times in our lives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Ps 51: 10-12 NASB)

I typically meditate on verse 10 above, however, this week verse 12 took on new meaning:

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation”

Yes, I want more joy. Yes, I want my joy to be restored.

“God’s goal in repentance isn’t to beat you to death but to bring you to life.” (Steven Furtick)

Killing off sin opens the door to JOY! Removes the blinkers from our eyes so we can see Jesus in all His glory.

It surprised us how many wonderful items we discovered with mum as we cleared through the stuff dad and her had accumulated.

It’s like panning for gold. We have to sift through the sand to discover the nuggets of gold.

Hallelujah!

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving each and everyone of us, we SUMites and our spouses. We love you, we worship you. Holy Spirit reveal to us what is getting in the way of enjoying God in all His glory. That which our Lord Jesus is interceding for us this very hour. Thank you. We praise you, we adore you. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Note: photo courtesy of Bill Longshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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-

SUM Books 4


No Longer A Pre-believer but a Believer

Today I have another amazing story that arrived in my email box. This is from Pam Anderson who has been a SUMite for a number of years. She is sharing what is happening in her home right now. I pray you are greatly encouraged and also find these breakthroughs she is experiencing are for you as well.

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Lynn and Dineen,

I’m emailing you today about something God has placed on my heart to share with you.  I don’t know why, but here I go.

I’d first like you both to know what a blessing you’ve been.  In some of my darkest and challenging times, your prayers and words have been the encouragement I needed to hang in there and stay faithful!  When my faith was weak, yours was strong.  And I cannot thank you enough.  It amazes me how closely my life, challenges and blessings, have so closely aligned with the two of you.

Anyhow, here’s what God has wanted me to share with you.  Back in May 2014, God said it was time for me to take it up a notch in my faith walk.  It’s then he showed me that I am to ask for something in prayer once, then after that, begin thanking him for it as though it’s already happened (claiming Mark 11:24).  So I began a “thankful list” which basically converted my prayer requests into thankful prayers.  Specifically, in regard to my husband spiritually, I began speaking and declaring the following:

In the name of Jesus, I thank you Father that:

  1. My husband has turned to you, humbly asked for forgiveness and has repented of his sin’s and has named Jesus the Lord of his life.
  2. My husband accepts the Holy Spirit’s guidance in all areas of his life.
  3. My husband has been transformed by the renewing of his mind, and is living a life that brings you honor and glory.
  4. Your will is being done in my life, my husband’s life, our marriage and our home, just as your will is being done in heaven.
  5. My husband and I love you Heavenly Father with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength.
  6. My husband is sanctified through me, his wife.
  7. You have given my husband the grace and anointing to carry his responsibility as head of our home.

These are just a sampling of the prayers that I prayed. There are others that deal with physical manifestations of changes, such as habits.  Ladies, I am in awe of what God has done!  He’s bringing my thankful list to pass in front of my eyes. He’s been faithful to moving mountains with mustard seed faith!   My faith increased and I started expanding my vision and asking/thanking.  Praise you Father in the name of Jesus for your faithfulness!

Now God is speaking this to me:   “Call your husband a believer, not a pre-believer.”  I started having this overwhelming “knowing” that by calling my husband a pre-believer I was cursing him, not blessing him.  I was locking him into that status.  God showed me that it was time to call him out of pre-believer status, into believer status.  That he’d be faithful with this as he’s been with the others thankful prayers.

So today, I ask myself, “What do I have to lose? Absolutely Nothing!”  

Beginning today, I prayed:

Prayer Request:  (Prayed one time)

Father, I ask that you bring my husband to believe in Jesus Christ as his savior and Lord, and make him a mighty force in the furtherance of your Kingdom.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

Thankful Prayer: (Will pray this daily as of today)

In the name of Jesus, I thank you Heavenly Father that my husband is a BELIEVER in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and that he is being used mightily in the furtherance of Your Kingdom! Amen!

I know God is doing more than I can possibly ask, think or imagine.  I’m keeping a daily log of all the things God is doing, his many graces.  The more I look for them, the more I find.   I’m so humbled by the whole thing.

Love you both,
Pam

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Pam HeadshotI worked in the healthcare industry for 25 years and quit an executive position to support my husband in his writing career.  A step of faith that has taken me, and my marriage, in directions I could never have thought, asked, dreamed or imagined (Eph. 3:20).  I am humbled and in awe of God’s faithfulness.

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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-

SUM Books 4


A Single Decision Can Change Everything

Today I welcome SUMite, Holly Boone who wrote me this amazing account of her life. Today she shares it with all of us. I pray you are encouraged in your decisions. Hugs, Lynn

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I had a decision to make tonight.

I have been putting it off all week, assuming as the day drew nearer I could make a decision. This wasn’t a big deal, no major crisis, no one would really care either way what I decided. I had been invited to two different gatherings on the same night. So I had to decide which one I would go to. At first I was just trying to decide on which to attend. One was a girl’s night, some at-home shopping at a friend’s house. The other was a dinner with those from a ministry I’m involved in. Both inviting, both I wanted to attend. I mentioned it to my husband, that I had two things going on Thursday night and I had to choose one. Mid-week I still just couldn’t make a decision, I wanted to spend time with all of the people involved and didn’t know how to pick which group. The night before I realized there was a third option; stay home with my family. I know that was God showing me I needed to put my family first tonight.  As the day progressed, the decision was being made, yes, I will stay home with my family. Now this is not to say there is anything wrong with a girl’s night or a night of spurring each other on with a dinner and encouragement. There have been nights that I of course have done those things and there will be more in the future. What is so cool is that God steered me in the way I should go.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8.

Up to this point I was thinking about what I would miss out on if I didn’t attend one of the gatherings but now I was looking forward to that chosen time with my family, and let me tell you the fruit of my decision was bountiful!

We have been going through an intense time of teaching boundaries and discipline with our daughter as she pushes back and struggles with obedience. Progress is being made and my husband and I are working together (the snow days gave us some extra time of full days of parenting together which was good!) and I just saw that staying home tonight would help since I have to go back to work for three nights in a row starting tomorrow. I texted my husband at 3:00 today that I would be staying home tonight and told him what was on the menu for dinner. He replied back with a smiley face :) Just that simple little gesture reassured me I had made the right decision. It meant something to him that I made a choice to stay home.

When my husband arrived home Sophie set the table and dinner was served. Right before I sat down Sophie said “Mommy can we pray first and can I say the prayer?” Now Sophie has prayed before. She prays at night or after we’ve had a moment that needed forgiveness, and sometimes when I ask she will pray at dinner but she never has asked to say the prayer at dinner on her own. She reached for my hand and her daddy’s hand and started her prayer.

“Dear God, thank you for this wonderful day, thank you for this family dinner, and thank you for my mommy and daddy, in Jesus name, Amen.”

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 That moment right there was worth every contraction or labor pain times a million. My husband looked at me and asked if she always prays like that. I told him she does pray but has never asked to do it at dinner without my prompting.  He told her that was a really sweet prayer. Usually when he is home for dinner I say it really quickly with her before he is in the room or we don’t say it at all. I think Sophie may have just changed that.

She then asked if we could turn the lights off and light the candles so we could not only have a family dinner but a “candlelit family dinner”. So we did. We proceeded to the living room after dinner for ice cream and games. I asked my husband how much work he had to do tonight and what did he need to get done and he replied “I’m not doing any work tonight”. I believe he was honoring my decision, my choice, to stay home when I could have had a night away, by making his own choice to put work away and savor this sweet time we were having. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14.

My home was in perfect harmony tonight. Each one of us loved the other well. God showed me to put my family first tonight and His mercies and gifts showered us the rest of the evening. Sophie bowed her head to God in thanksgiving and sweet blessings flowed from that. My husband, by God’s grace, saw the importance of a puzzle and games over TV in the background or work.

God works like this every day. This was a beautiful picture tonight but He also reminded me that there are moments that aren’t this beautiful that are still filled with His mercies and that we are to Rejoice always! May I remember to rejoice always even in the disobedience, because it brings me closer to seeing my own disobedience and a closer relationship with the Lord. Rejoice always even when the boundaries are pushed because I see her as my little arrow then and the gifts and strengths God will use in her future to bring Him glory. Rejoice always even when I wonder if I am teaching her enough to prepare her for the battles and decisions she will face in the future because tonight she showed me it is sinking in, she is hearing me and she CHOSE to thank God tonight, in front of her daddy and it hit a sweet spot with him.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7.

I am overflowing with gratitude for the union I have with Christ, that rock, that firm root that allows me to abide in Him which results in being able to make a decision that seemed to be small and not important but that was part of God’s plan to pour love on us tonight and draw me closer to Him and bring him much glory.  Praise God!

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Holly BooneI love studying God's Word and encouraging others through it as I write what God is teaching me. I have been married ten years to the kindest man I know and anticipate the day his heart is opened to God's truths.  God pursued me relentlessly and in my mid 30's after living with devastating decisions and a lifestyle of debauchery I accepted Christ as my savior and I have been on fire for the Lord ever since. We have a four-year-old girl and are awaiting how God will grow our family through adoption. I am the director of the M.O.M.S. Ministry in my hometown and have a heart for encouraging women to meet God in His living and perfect Word. 

 

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How to be Led to the Still Waters

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Life is busy. Often we find life can be out of control and we can become quite desperate to restore some semblance of order. For some of us right now there is something “big” that’s causing life to spin uncontrollably. Our hearts are fearful and desperate for an answer, for peace, for life to get back to what is normal. Such feelings of fear and desperation can have an all-consuming intensity about them.

It's scary. Isn’t it?

Grabbing hold of Jesus in these moments can be very difficult. We scratch around with short prayers and quick-grabs of a favorite verse. Even when we get some time for something more, our minds are working in overdrive being bombarded by our todo lists, managing the kiddies activities, meeting the expectations of our bosses and spouses and so on.

Still Waters

We’re all familiar with Psalm 23 and those especially wonderful verses at the beginning:

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;” (V1-3a NKJV)

If you haven’t read the psalm recently, I’d encourage you to. Give yourself some time to simply sit and meditate on each of the stanzas. It’s a Psalm that brings such comfort.

When life is spinning out of control or the busyness is all consuming, I picture myself sitting with Jesus in a lush meadow beside a gentle stream. I’ll do this wherever I am in the moment. I might be in the car, in the bathroom, at my desk.

And we sit. Side-by-side. I want to speak, to get answers, all that desperation rushes to the surface. Then my shepherd puts a finger up to his lips.

Listen.

Can you hear it?

Nope. Nothing. Lord, I’ve really got a lot to do (or I’m scared or I just need some answers)

Listen.

And breathe. In and out, in and out, in and out.

I can feel the cool breeze, the long grass fluttering on my ankles. And I can hear a soft gurgling sound that draws me to the stream.

Then I see what I fear, it might be illness; my anxiety about whatever, float down the stream.

I smile. Thank you.

It’s peaceful and safe. Even though there may not be many words I find I don’t want to leave; I’m alone with my Lord and my shepherd. The world can wait a little while longer.

Silence

“If solitude means getting away from the busyness around us, silence is stilling the busyness within us.”1

Lent is a season of letting go so we can have more of Jesus.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Another go to verse for many of us. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means “Let go of your grip.” Let go of all that preoccupies your mind so you can open yourself up to a whole new kind of knowing.2 A knowing that can only come from God.

That’s why we need the silence. It’s where we let go. Watch whatever is filling our mind float silently down the stream.

The beauty of David’s words is that Jesus wants to lead us to the still waters all day every day. To quote James MacDonald:

“Notice the word beside. This isn’t some down-to-the-river-and-out-again experience. Beside the still waters is where you can live your life. It isn’t a monthly or a weekly thing; it’s a daily, continuous replenishing. You’re walking with Christ beside still waters, drinking in His presence. You're alone with Him, not thinking about the time. It’s quiet . . . and He's restoring you.”

Some days are better than others. Some I get to sit beside Him, others it’s a real struggle. But most days I keep turning up, even if for a little while.

How about you?

Try it. Even for a few minutes. If nothing happens the first time, or the second, or the fifth time, don’t worry. Keep turning up. Because Jesus is there with you. Beside the still waters.

What do you do to find silence with the Lord?

 

Notes: 1. “A Simple Way to Pray – The Wisdom of Martin Luther on Prayer;” Dr Archie Parrish – Serve International, Fifth Ed 2009, p96 2. Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton, IVP Books, p74 (abbreviated)

*Photo courtesy of mapichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Releasing the Word

Jer24-7My friends, I have felt Abba's nudge to declare our word from Him for 2016 over us again. I am praying this over our community and our pre-believers just about every day. Join me in faithful prayer.

 

Lord, thank you for giving our pre-believers hearts that recognize You as the Lord. We declare that they will be Your people and You will be their God, for they shall return and turn to You with their whole heart. In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

 

To read the full word He gave me, click hereLove you! ~Dineen

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10 Valentines Day Ideas to Rock His World

IStock_000015212699XSmallLynn and I (Dineen) put our heads together and created a list of 10 ideas (you know how we love lists of 10!) to WOW your spouse on Sunday. Many of these turned out to really bless our hubbies and we hope they’ll be helpful to you. Have fun!

  1. Buy his favorite magazine or a book he’s been meaning to buy and put little love notes in between the pages.
  2. Order chocolate covered strawberries and have them delivered to his work. Makes him look really good to the other guys drooling over his special love treat.
  3. Surprise him with a complete evening designed to focus on him. If possible, have a friend or relative take the kids, make his favorite dinner and dessert, shower him with attention that takes the evening right into the bedroom.
  4. Write him a love letter. Tell him you’re still crazy about and for him.
  5. Buy his favorite treat and hide in a place for him to “discover” it. Hide multiple items or little gifts and tell him you’re saving the best surprise for later.
  6. Text him love messages throughout the day and tell him you have a surprise to model for him later.
  7. Buy him tickets to his favorite sporting event and tell him you’re going too so that he can watch the game uninterrupted while you run to the concessions to get his favorite drink and snack. The night’s about him!
  8. Take him bowling at midnight and act like teenagers!
  9. Surprise him with a long should rub or massage with no strings attached. He’s the one who gets spoiled this time.
  10. Give him a handmade coupon for a free day to do whatever he wants, guilt free.

Here’s an article packed with great ideas by Bill and Pam Farrell. Prepare to be inspired!

Love-Wise: Romance to the Rescue

Have Small Children?
Let me just add one more idea here. If you have small kids and no family to take them for an evening or not enough funds for a babysitter, consider planning a special evening WITH the kids there. Let them see you make a fuss over your spouse. What a wonderful way for them to see what love looks like in a marriage. Get them involved and help you decorate or set the table and plan a menu. Valentines Day can be a family event to celebrate the love you all share for each other. You can even turn it into a valuable lesson that will keep giving throughout the rest of the year. Have fun!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

Originally posted February, 2011.

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O Valentine’s Day – A post for us Men

 

ID-100276483When Lynn asked if I’d give a perspective on Valentine’s Day I readily said yes. I also wanted to continue our conversation on Lent, it starts Wednesday, and have included a few brief thoughts at the end of this post.

Valentine’s Day. I still remember an old boss of mine who I wouldn’t have thought to be overly romantic when asked what he did for his wife on V-Day, he said he picked up a bunch of grapes on his way home from work and gave them to her. At the time, those of us who listened to the conversation thought it a bit lame but now years later I’ve changed my mind. John knew his wife loved grapes and he intentionally stopped off on his way home to pick them up. Perhaps it was a small gesture but one, it was a surprise, and two, he demonstrated his love for her.

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t every day be a day we seek to cherish our lover? Yes, it should. But like Mother’s and Father’s Day it is a day to stop and especially focus on each other.

Is it now overly commercial? Yes, it is. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to acknowledge it. Just like John did something sweet to acknowledge his love for Bev, his wife of thirty-plus years.

My first Valentine’s Day with my wife when we were dating was a really special night, one we both still cherish. We had some dinner and went to see a live production of “Beauty and the Beast”, one of the great Disney love stories. It was my girl’s first live musical and she so loved it she took her mom off to see it a few weeks later.

Cherish

It’s an important word for me. It’s a bit old-fashioned; you don’t hear it used much these days. But I especially like what it means.

“To feel or show great love; to keep and cultivate with great care.”

Jesus cherishes the church (Eph 5:29 ESV) and we know how much he does for what He did.

But when I think of cherishing it means I need to be intentional to show my love for my wife. It often involves a surprise or serving her in some way. Those to two “S” words usually require intentional thought. So a week or so ago knowing the day was approaching I deliberately made a plan. My wife knows some of the plan. We usually do that these days and this year she is interstate for some of the weekend so we needed to work on it together. The key for us is being together, just the two of us. Yes, a date night with a bit of a twist, I guess.

Training

We men are often not good at this stuff. I’m not going to make excuses, just put it down to the Mars and Venus paradigms, and I’ve always believed that some training is often involved. Lynn used a different term for it on her Sunday post: “hint dropping.” But it comes down to sharing little by little how you like to be cherished.

Guys, it’s okay to receive tips or training. I’m always seeking cooking tips from my wife as I know she knows more than I do.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?

Lent starts Wednesday

Thank you for sharing so openly last week. It was interesting how prominent fear and worry is for so many of us. Only this morning I had a moment of panic that had hit me by surprise. In that moment I struggled to grab a hold of God. Does anyone else find that? It’s like a barrier goes up, a door is shut or the lights are switched off.

That’s exactly what the enemy wants. But we need to turn the light on. Because it shines in the darkness. So this morning I found two really helpful things:

  • I relaxed my breathing which served to calm me.
  • I kept quoting Scripture

The lights went on. Yes, the dark was lingering but I was then able to stop, sit down and spend some time with God in silence. And I asked Him about the panic.

Silence.

A couple of things struck me this morning that I hope may be some help as we journey through Lent together. Renew (or start) a commitment to sit alone with God in silence during these forty days. Even for a few minutes. I know this can be hard with little kiddies but even if the only place is the bathroom then so be it.

Wait for Him. He’ll show up. It’s more about listening, not talking. He knows your heart. He knows your desire for Him. See what He says. Write down what happens. Perhaps nothing will happen on the first day, or even the tenth day, but keep at it. And know that God is always present.

Psalm 27 is fantastic – look at verse 5. “He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”

What’s so amazing is He is the shelter, the tent and the rock. God. He is our hiding place.

Hold close to God. Remember Lent is less about religious self-denial and more about surrendering our hearts. He wants us to have more of Him and these next forty days are a great way to start out on increasing our hunger for Him and being satisfied in Him.

Note: Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles?FreeDigitalPhotos

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O Valentines Day - A Post For Us Ladies

The History of Valentines Day: Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards, or offering candy. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine's Day. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.-- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

699d6valentine

Valentines Day is around the corner. This day is an opportunity to celebrate romantic love. It can also be a time of deep pain. This day brings with it the word “expectation.”

In the early years of our marriage, I would find myself disappointed because my husband did not meet my expectations of how I wanted Valentines Day to play out. It was difficult for me to receive “just a card” when I wanted a room filled with roses. Okay, I was young. Poor Guy!

I feel silly now that I was hurt because I “only” received a card. There are thousands of women who would give much to receive a card on V-day. As this day approaches let’s think about a couple of things to help us maintain our perspective.

First, it is okay to drop your guy a hint so that he remembers this day for you and for your children. I have found a couple of ways to do this without embarrassing my husband and without causing a confrontation. Always, give him a heads-up several days in advance. I have left a written note on his desk. I have sent him an email. I have forwarded an email from 1800-FLOWERS. I have also reminded him to purchase a valentine for his daughter (Little girls, need valentines from their Daddies).

Another way I always get my husband’s attention is to ask him if he would like me to buy new lingerie for Valentines Day and model it. This has proven highly motivating! *grin*

I know we want our man to want to remember us without our intervention. We want our spouse to be so “in love” with us that they are compelled to rush over to the florist with only his beautiful wife on his mind. It doesn’t play out like this. Some men need help to be prepared for these sentimental moments.

Secondly, have reasonable expectations.

Thirdly, seize the day. Don’t wait for you husband to make the day special. Some of the best Valentine’s Day memories I have are because I made the plans.

This March my husband and I will be married 24 years. He is a man after my own heart.65b02valentineHe always remembers Valentines Day, birthdays, anniversaries and will surprise me with flowers or cards for no reason at all. He honors our love and marriage.

I do the same but it took us a while to get to this place of mutual respect and love.

One more thing. If you do find yourself disappointed this year, remember our Lord is the lover of our soul.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 (New International Version)

Be blessed, Lynn

Originally published February, 2008.

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Healing The Heart Of The Spiritually Mismatched

Over the past several weeks we have covered many topics about loneliness and suffering. We have looked at these through the lens of God’s Word and our unique marriage struggles.

I feel as though it’s time to wrap up this series. So, how do we find healing?  And how do we maintain our healing as our struggle continues in a marriage between a believer and unbeliever?

Well, way back in December many of you shared exactly what has brought healing to your life. I want to share them here today. I also want you to add to this discussion in the comments. What brings healing to our hearts?

Here are the thoughts SUMites left in the comments:

  • Focus on the good and not what I don’t have.
  • Look for ways to pour love into others.
  • Set with other “married, singles – misfits. (Bible study, time at a coffee shop, on the phone, etc.)
  • Start a small group. Share, pray, study.
  • Join a Bible study.
  • Have safe people in your life who understand and don’t judge.
  • PRAY
  • Focus on Jesus.
  • Trust God for family’s salvation.
  • Visit SUM – Read an email. Read a comment left by another SUMite. Comment back and forth and encourage another SUMite and be encouraged.
  • Consider how my loneliness is actually a blessing. I’m encouraged to see other couples at church. I am believing God desires this for me.
  • Seeing Jesus as my husband – My One true love!
  • Walk in the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Recognize lies of the enemy. Example: SUMites don’t fit in anywhere at our church.
  • Cling to the promise of 1 Peter 3:1.

These are amazing and all of them are true, powerful and WORK in our lives. Amen Jesus, AMEN

When you begin to walk in the truths and power of Jesus Christ this is where we live everyday: Peace, joy contentment, hopeful expectant.

I love all of you so very much. I’m deeply encouraged every day by your love, devotion and pursuit of the Kingdom of God and the love of Jesus Christ. You are MY FAMILY. I love and adore you forever. Hugs, Lynn

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Observing Lent

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Photo courtesy of dexchao/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’d never given Lent much thought. For some reason, I know not why, I’d thought it an outdated practice that Catholics observed. Typically, it appeared to be reduced to “what are you giving up for Lent?” In my overly judgemental moments I found it strange that apparently non-pious people chose to participate in such a “custom”.

Three years ago the Lord nudged me to consider it and with the Lenten season upon us once again, starting next Wednesday 10 February, I’ll be observing it again.

What is Lent?

Lent derives its structure and themes from Christ’s forty days’ in the wilderness, where He fasted and prayed and faced Satan’s temptations. As most of us know this period occurred before His public ministry began. It’s typically six weeks in duration (some denominations calculate it differently) and ends with Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

I particularly love Ann Voskamp’s description in a post that I read a few years ago. Ann’s chatting to her brother on the phone answering his question:

“Okay … Lent. It’s the preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we come face to ugly face with our enemy. Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”

So it’s the letting go of our stuff, whatever that may be, so we’ll be even more desperate for Jesus to fill us.

“’And yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart …’” (Joel 2:12)

“The purpose of Lent is not to force on us a few formal obligations, but to ‘soften’ our heart so that it may open itself to the realities of the spirit, to experience the hidden ‘ thirst and hunger’ for communion with God.”1

This is my desire: to experience that communion with God.

What now?

For the past three years I’ve joined Margaret Feinberg’s global readership on a new Bible adventure. The first one we read the entire Bible in 40 days. Wow, what an experience that was. This year we’re reading through the Books of Luke and Acts which in comparison should be a piece of cake. These are two books I love. Most biblical scholars believe they were both written by Luke and are good to read one after the other.

If it’s something that may appeal to you follow this link to Margaret’s website where you can grab a copy of the reading plan. Margaret is a mighty fine teacher of the Bible and she shares many of her insights along the way.

“So what are you giving up for Lent?”

As I mentioned at the outset often it’s this question that dominates discussions around the season of Lent. Yes, if the season involves “spring cleaning of the soul” then letting go of our junk makes sense.

As we know fasting is an important aspect of our walks allowing us to let go of our dependence on certain things (food, TV shows, internet, etc) so we can filled by the Lord whilst relying on Him.

I’m still seeking the Lord on what to fast but will report back. But I don't want to just give up confectionary. I want something more; to walk through these six weeks with more of Him, more of His presence, to experience a little of that "knowing" I mentioned last time. 

“He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

John the Baptist spoke those words acknowledging that it was time for people to focus on Jesus who was now living and teaching amongst them. It’s a great verse to take with us into Lent. Letting go of ourselves to allow room for more of Jesus.

I’ll be posting each week over the next few weeks reflecting on my Lenten journey. I hope you’ll join me.

But tell me, do you have any plans for Lent?

Notes: 1. Great Lent, Alexander Schmemann, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974. Page 31.

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