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13 entries from November 2016

The Hope in Waiting … reflections on Advent

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Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s something both exciting and tremendously nerve-wracking when an author presses the send button on the email that whisks their latest manuscript off to a publisher. Exciting? The project we’ve been working on has now reached a point of completion. In my case that project had consumed a lot of my mind space for the past three years.

Nerve-wracking? Will they like it? Enough to publish it? What if they don’t? What will I do then?

It’s a moment that is soon forgotten.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

A few months later an email arrives outlining your manuscript is still in the game. Being reviewed by some others. They liked it sufficiently to pass onto others. Great.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

As I shared with a writing friend recently: the Lord's got it in His big capable hands. Waiting helps us lean on Him more. And that's what I've tried to do. Keep writing, keep hoping, keep knowing He's looking after the situation irrespective of whether I receive a positive response or not.

We are People who Wait

Authors wait a lot. It’s part of the fabric of being an author. I expect it’s one of the reasons self-publishing has become so popular: the author takes greater control over the end product and can manage the timeline.

We SUMites wait. We know all those feelings that come with waiting. The frustration, angst, discouragement, hopelessness. We know the drill because it’s part of our lives. We wait for our beloved to receive the revelation that Jesus is their Lord. For some of us we’ve waited a long time and may continue to.

Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (last Sunday), Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return.

The Branch Gives us Hope

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;


    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him.

Christmas can be a tough season for we SUMites because we choose to celebrate Jesus and not Santa. We pop off to church on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, alone.

But remember Jesus understands loneliness. He understands being alone. He understands rejection. He understands our SUMite situations.

He understands us. Really, truly! Because He has chosen each one of us.

Choose to remember Him when the enemy throws the darts of loneliness at you, when he tries to take away your joy in the One we celebrate. Look for the Presence of Jesus in the small moments, in the interruptions, when out shopping, wrapping those presents and chatting with your neighbour.

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in your richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,

*****

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SUM Books 4


The New Prayer Book -Sample Chapter

Hello, SUMites!

WinningThemWithPrayers-CoverLRBoy howdy, I’ve missed all of you so much. I have so much I want to write about. So much that I’m learning from the Lord. So much that has happened in a short 30-day window. I want to continue our conversation about boundaries and emotional healing. And I also feel as though the Lord is teaching me a great deal about how to cope and walk through weariness, defeats and relationship challenges. So, watch for a few posts about all of this in the weeks ahead.

But today, I’m humbled to share with you a chapter from the new prayer book. I will tell you that about a month ago, I went to lay down one afternoon. While in the quiet the Lord spoke to me a new title for the book and I saw the cover at the same time. Thus, the title of the book is Winning The With Prayer – Prayer Strategies for the Spiritually Mismatched.

I shared the cover design that I saw in my head with Dineen. Did you know that she is a brilliant cover designer? She designed the front and back cover to resemble exactly what I saw in my head. Amazing.

The book will officially launch January 2, 2016. We will be using it in conjunction with our annual fast that will be the week of January 9-13, 2017. Currently, we are in the final phase of production. You will be able to order through Amazon after Christmas and have it in plenty of time for our fast.

What I LOVE about this particular book is that it is a collection from many of us who meet together at SUM. The prayers are beautiful, healing, powerful and honest. I can’t wait for you to read them, pray them, speak them and watch the words change lives. THANK YOU to each of you who contributed. Thank you to each of you who spend your hear-earned dollars to buy a copy.

To read a sample chapter, click here. And below is a sample prayer written by our own Dorothy Fleming:

Praying on the Armor of God for You and Your Spouse!

By Dorothy Fleming

I often “pray on” the Armor of God (Ephesians 6) not just for me but for my husband as well.  It is very powerful to pray God’s Word back to Him, and He reminds us that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He desires in us (Isaiah 55:11) and in our spouses! This is an awesome weapon against the evil one. We cover not only ourselves with God’s Armor, but provide protection for our spouses! How I pray on my armor changes as well as the verses I’m led to pray, depending upon what life circumstances I’m facing. Join me and let’s pray on the armor daily with the Lord’s power, love and protection for ourselves and our spouses!

Belt of Truth: Dear Lord, please help me to remember this day that Your Son Jesus is beside me, and You will uphold me with Your righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). You go before me and follow me (Psalm 139:5). You will show me the path where I should walk this day. You will point out the right road for me to follow. You will lead me by your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long my hope is in You (Psalm 25:4-5), as I trust in You for (spouse’s) salvation.

Breastplate of Righteousness: I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness to protect my heart, which belongs to Jesus. Please help me to guard my heart above all else, for I know that everything I do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23) and that my mouth will speak what fills my heart. Please help me to be a reflection of the love of Your Son Jesus to (spouse) this day, Oh Lord!

Helmet of Salvation: I pray that the Helmet of Salvation will protect my mind and my thoughts this day. That the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Please help me to remember that You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You (Isaiah 26:3). Please help me to trust in You, O Lord, for (spouse’s) salvation.

Feet Fitted with the Gospel of Peace: That I may know and proclaim Your Word to those You place in my path, O Lord, especially (spouse). I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with me and that You will grant me the wisdom to recognize the opportunities placed before me this day and the courage to be obedient to Your commands. Please help me to be the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15) to (spouse) and help me to remember that You love (spouse) more than I do. You do not want anyone to perish, for You want everyone, including (spouse), to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). I pray that You will put people of peace in (spouse’s) path today.

Shield of Faith: Please help me, Lord, to use my Shield of Faith to extinguish the flaming arrows that the devil hurls at me and (spouse). Please help me to remember that the devil has no power over me, and that You have not given me a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love and self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7)! I pray Your protection on us both, O Lord. Please command Your guardian angels to walk with each of us this day (Psalm 91:11). 

Sword of the Word: For me, Lord, Your word is my most powerful weapon against the devil’s attempts to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). But he has no power over me because I have been redeemed by the blood of Your Son, Christ Jesus. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in me, creating an ever-burning desire to know Your word and commit it my heart that it may be ever on my lips (Psalm 34:1). Please keep me from becoming weary of doing good, for at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up (Galatians 6:9)! Please help me, O Lord, to never give up!!! Lord, I ask that You will give (spouse) a heart to know You, and You will be (spouse’s) God, and he will return to You with all his heart (Jeremiah 24:7).

About Dorothy Fleming

I live in Texas with Alan, my loving husband of 27 years! We have a furry, four-legged rescued family. I take our 80-pound dog, Teddy along with our blind cat, Iris, to visit our local nursing home several times a month. I love outdoor activities and also yoga. I love to cross-stitch or crochet while watching old movies with my husband. I have grown in my faith through participating in small church groups and studying God’s Word. In 2012, after reading quite a few books on unequally yoked marriage, I found Winning Him Without Words and have been thankful to call Lynn and Dineen friends ever since!

*****

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

SUM Books 4


Introducing The SUM Shop

TheSUMShop
What’s The SUM Shop, you ask? Well, my friends, Lynn and I have been working on several projects over the last few months and a store dedicated to this community is one of them. 

At The SUM Shop you will find books, one of which is the new SUM community book, Winning Them With Prayer. (Formerly titled Praying for Your Unsaved Spouse—we’ve redesigned a bit. Lynn will tell you all the details tomorrow.) When you check out the shop you’ll see you can pre-order this book now.

You’ll also find teaching videos and materials, gifts items and more. More as in more is coming. We are so excited to offer this now as a way to provide more resources designed to your needs, and all the proceeds from The SUM Shop are poured back into this ministry to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

So check out The SUM Shop, SUMites, and let us know what you think. We’ll be adding new items soon and will keep you posted on every new addition. We love creating and designing every single item with you in mind. You’re our family and we love you.

Big hugs!
Dineen and Lynn

*****

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

SUM Books 4


Thanksgiving

SUMites, we are taking Thanksgiving week off. You should too!!! *grin*

Spend time with your families. Eat way too much food. Enjoy a slice of pie. Kiss your husband and do something adventurous and new with your kids. 

Give Thanks! We will see you right after Thanksgiving with a few announcements. Woo Hoo!! Stay tuned!

Dineen and I love you so much. We would love to see some photos of your Thanksgiving week/day. Come back here and upload a pic. We will give thanks along with you. Hugs, Lynn & Dineen.

Turkey Eat Pizza 2

*****

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


Offense Follows on the Heels of Pain

I'm Offended

When our hearts are wounded, we have two choices. How we respond will lead down two very different paths. We can choose healing and a path back toward joy. Or we can choose offense and stand on the slippery slope and slide slowly into bitterness, anger, depression and demonic oppression.

And let me tell you a truth. The demonic realm uses offense as one of its most effective weapons upon believers. The demonic likes to whisper the deceptive words into our ears such as you didn’t deserve that. You are absolutely right to be hurt. Those words are unforgivable.

What is difficult about choosing healing is that the demonic will twist words of truth to lure you down the slippery path. You may have been hurt and you DID NOT deserve to be. But it is a deceptive lie that you are entitled to be offended. An entitled offense will hook you then steal your joy and hope.

With this said, I want to share the process of walking through healing back toward joy following an emotional wounding or offense.

One: Take the pain to Jesus. Immediately, pray. Ask Jesus to come and hold you and to take the words of pain out of your soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to touch your heart and bring healing. Do this over and over until you start to feel peace and a change in your heart.

Two: (Here’s the hard part) Ask the Lord to help you see this person the way He sees them. When I do this, I often can see my attacker’s wounding. I can see they are filled with fear and failure which motivates their hurtful words. Often I see insecurity cloaked by pride and selfishness. I can sense the fears and pain from wounding, neglect, or unloving parents or others who should have cared for them when they were a child.

This kind of empathy develops a supernatural compassion. And when you begin to see them from outside of your pain, it changes how you move forward.

Three: (This is the REALLY hard part) Choose to forgive. Choose to let go. Choose to not be offended. How do you do this? I literally must speak these statements out loud. I take angry thoughts and thoughts of revenge and hurtful words of response, captive to Christ. I put into practice all I’ve learned about the power of our words and I pray them forth.

I take captive any and all repetitive thoughts of an angry response. Thoughts that are unkind, unloving or hate motivated. Over and over. And over and over again, sometimes over many days until they come into obedience and alignment with the truth of the Word.

Then I bless. I bless that person with the knowledge of the love of Christ. With joy, peace and whatever else the Holy Spirit places on my heart. And I can do this with a genuine hope that they receive all they need through Christ.

This process over a few days and/or weeks will bring about healing and leads me out of pain and darkness into light and joy.

Now, I do want to chat about relationships that need boundaries and I hope to get to that soon. Stay tuned.

Today, I have another assignment. In the last post, your homework was to give the Holy Spirit permission to work with you in areas of offense. So today, your homework is to take out that list and start to work this process in prayer with the Holy Spirit about that person(s) who hold offense in your heart.

My friends, offense grows and becomes a block in your prayer life. It will stifle the Holy Spirit’s work. Offense cuts off love from flowing out of us to others. That is why the devil employs this tactic often. Today, I implore you to forgive every offense. Our work here on earth is to learn to forgive and learn to love. Dealing with an offense with Jesus leads us on the path, Everlasting. And living without offense it FREEDOM. It’s life without fear and pain. It is living the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10. It is a life of joy and peace. It's GLORY!!!!

So, what do you need help with in this process? Share in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

Luke 17New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Warns of Offenses

17 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

*****

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SUM Books 4


Sumite Prayer Partners

Image James 5

Hi prayer family, Christy Edney here!

As I think about our community, one phrase continues to bounce around in my head. That phrase is authentic friendships. Many of you have accepted the invitation to form prayer partnerships and you have shared how God is working through those bonds. It's not too late to receive a prayer partner! If you would like a partner then please send me an email by clicking this link: Sumite Prayer Partners

Today I want to share a quick story from Sumites Melissa and Anne. They are prayer partners that can actually meet in person because Melissa used the Community Map to look up her hometown and noticed another Sumite in her area.  I want to encourage you to do the same thing! Click on the Community Map, add a dot to your location and email Lynn or Dineen if you see another dot in your area. This is a fabulous way to build authentic friendships and maybe even community within your own city! 

Father, I am so encouraged by this community's courage and obedience to Your call. It takes courage to reach out to a stranger and trust them with our hearts. It takes faith to believe your promise that the Holy Spirit will be with us whenever we gather in your name. I hold up these men and women and ask you to bless them with friendships that would bring glory to your name. Lord, we look to our leaders and ask you to cover them with your holy protection, give them feet to run from temptation and a heart filled with love for our savior, Jesus Christ. May your supernatural peace flood our lives like a crisp fall breeze. I ask all of these things in the mighty name of our king, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

*****

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


Reaction Mode

Dear friends, the following is a post I did a few years back. The Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of this post the last week or so, but I wasn't sure if it was a needed subject at the moment. Then on Thursday as I was working on the registration details for the Hope Ignited conference our healing rooms and my church were hosting, I heard the Holy Spirit say over and over again throughout the day, "Don't take offense."

I assumed it was for me, specifically something the Holy Spirit knew I would encounter at some point over the weekend at the conference. Then our worship leader gave a word on this very subject Friday evening. I knew then it was a corporate word. And then Lynn's post yesterday confirmed that! Wow! Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us?

God is on the move, my friends, to restore this nation to peace and righteousness. I truly believe we will be astonished in how He does this through His amazing love.

So, I present to you, "Reaction Mode," originally posted in September of 2011. I pray it speaks to your heart and encourages you. I've updated it just a bit for our community needs right now.

 

Reactions Mode

6a00d83451ee9f69e2014e8b804fe8970d-320wiAre you in reaction mode in your marriage?

I remember to this day when I made this revelation about my marriage. I stood in our home office, about to react to something my husband said. I believe at that moment the Holy Spirit stopped me and then gave me a complete picture of the situation. And it wasn’t pretty. If this pattern didn’t stop soon, my marriage would soon crash and burn.

And even more sobering (i.e. convicting)? I was the heart of the problem, because my heart was in a bad shape. Years of resentment toward my husband and unmet expectations had created a barrier between us.

What I call “reaction mode” is this highly destructive and very draining place where you and your spouse are walking in your marriage more like adversaries than partners. Every comment is scrutinized under suspicion and communication has completely broken down.

Though not always true, I find this often starts with women. We stop communicating out of unforgiveness and resentment. Or, like me, we never learned to communicate in a healthy manner.

The saddest part of reaction mode is that it leads to contempt toward one another. And where there is contempt, respect and love no longer exist. They simply can’t coexist. For example, a husband reacts back to his wife harshly, because he’s not receiving his deepest desire, which is to be respected. The wife then retreats or closes herself off, feeling unloved when her deepest desire is to be loved.

Do you see the vicious cycle? That’s the first and most crucial step to breaking reaction mode—seeing this pattern in your marriage. Whether you are male or female, this pattern will not stop until you make the first move. What does this change look like?

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

You know, there were times that I realized my reactions to my husband bordered on the behavior of a sarcastic teenager. Not a pretty sight but very convicting when recognized. Our words have the power to build or break down. If you’re inclined to speak without thinking first, stop right now and ask God to help control your mouth. This is a biblical principle and He will help you. Trust me on that.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

We can also seek the Holy Spirit for the right words to speak as well. If we choose words that are honest and without an agenda to prove we’re right or place blame, we can be instrumental to restoring peace to our marriage.

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

It’s easy to fall into this place where we think our spouse has an ulterior motive to his or her words. Even simple requests can turn into a battleground, because we’ve somehow fallen into the lie that our spouse intends to harm us. This suspicion perpetuates the reaction mode and is its fuel. Suspicion can also be fueled by lies, so the best way to combat this is to counteract with the truth. What does your spouse do well?

Make a list. My husband is great about making sure the garbage goes out every week. I appreciate this even more when he’s out of town and I have to do it. Yuck! He’s also great about going grocery shopping with me, and he’s quick to show his love and affection. Start with small things and your list will grow. Then study it whenever you fall into thinking those negative thoughts about your spouse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

A negative thought feeds the enemy and breeds more negativity. This can even evolve into scenarios playing out in your mind of how your spouse could potentially hurt you. Then you wind up hurt and defensive over something that never even happened.

A positive thought feeds the spirit and releases the Holy Spirit to work in your mind for transformation (Romans 12:2). He also works in your heart to help you forgive and allow God’s love to flow more freely to and through you.

Which one do you want to grow “fatter” in your life?

  1. Respect Him Even When You Don’t Want To, Love Her Even When She’s Unlovable.

Our hubbies need to know we will still stand by them when they mess up. And they will mess up, just as we do. We need to extend that hand of grace and acceptance, just as we want it extended to us. I’ve never seen anything quite as destructive to a marriage as contempt. And it is subtle in its presence. This goes right back to number one in how we use our words.

Add to that how you sound. What is your tone? Are you speaking in a way that solicits cooperation or are you condemning and accusing? This was the biggest area that I needed to change, and I know I could not have done it without God’s help. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our tone and words hurt those we love. Pull out that list you made and go over it again. When it’s hard to show respect to your husband, find the things you can respect and show it to him. Then watch him bloom under your praise.

… and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33b

And loving someone when they are unlovable is one of the most powerful and sacrificial things a person can do. I have watched a woman be astonished by the fact that my church was assisting her out of our own desire to help and we weren’t getting paid by the government to do it. I have been deeply humbled by my husband's love when I was in pain and cranky. Love speaks louder than anything. Anything! Love changes hearts, marriages, families, cities and nations.

God is love so when we love, even when a person hasn’t “earned it,” we display His heart and presence in the most powerful way possible by revealing His very nature. Love (1 John 4).

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

Isn’t this really the truth we forget? We enter in to marriage as two “I’s” and suddenly have to figure out what it means to be a “we.” This requires putting our spouse first, this means loving and respecting even when we don’t feel it, this means seeing our marriage truly as a team effort and pulling our weight even when we feel our spouse isn’t. God sees our heart and our efforts. Your actions to honor Him in your marriage are never wasted!

Don’t quit the team. Be the one who stands strong and keeps Christ in the middle—your faith and prayers do that (1 Cor. 7:14). Whatever issues you’re dealing with, remember that you and your spouse are a team. Blame solves nothing. Teamwork always gets the job done.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. —Genesis 2:24

Finally, remember that we can’t make these changes on our own. We need God’s help. Start with prayer and trust that God really can work in you, in your spouse and in your marriage to bring change and healing. It takes time, but when we desire God’s will for our marriage—a partnership built on love and respect—He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

SUMites, I want to leave you with one final thought here (and this is a new part I'm adding). No matter where we are in our faith journey, God sees us the same way through His love and according to who He created us to be. We are His righteousness through Christ Jesus. And He never changes for He is the God of today, yesterday and tomorrow. He doesn't function within time as we do. He is present in all places—past present and future.

Now this is where it gets really interesting and may blow your mind a bit. Just as He sees us in this way, as who He created us to be, He sees our spouse the same way. He does not define them by their lack of faith but according to the measure of faith He has set aside for them. He sees them as they are intended to be, His children. I believe that is the heart of Eccl. 3:11 too. 

Father God, give us Your eyes, Your perspective of our spouse. Help us see them in the potential and in the light of eternity that You've placed within them so that we can love them according to that image and be part of releasing the truth of Your love in them. Thank You, Lord! Thank You! In the amazing name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! And God loves you even better. ;-)
Dineen

 

*****

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


Offense

I'm Offended

SUMites, in the last 30 days the enemy has come like a flood and with a specific weapon, offense.

In the last four weeks, I’ve had to fight for my heart with all the faith I possess in a way I haven’t in a long time. I’ve battled, fighting against pain and fear and worked relentlessly to move into joy and healing. And after walking through this season, I believe the Lord is asking me to share what I’ve learned with you. So, I think we need to chat about how to walk with Jesus through emotional pain and how to keep our hearts from moving into offense.

What do you think, is this a good idea???

The devil will use physical pain to open the door to more sinister issues such as resentment, depression and fear. The enemy also uses emotional pain in the same way but with emotional pain, the demonic will employ bitterness and even do his best to paralyze us with inaction, shock and anxiety.

The Lord is well aware that the devil uses pain, wounding and especially offense as one of his primary assaults to invade our life and spew his destruction. What I’ve come to learn is that our thought life is especially vulnerable and can lead us into defeat while in the midst of emotional pain and offense.

Today, I want to chat about how to defeat the darkness of offense.

Let me start with a story:

Not long ago, a friend of mine was searching for some healing for her life. She asked me how to receive the kind of healing she was searching for and because she lived out of state, I suggested she contact her church and ask for some healing prayer. Well, I followed up with her about a month later and she told me that she contacted the church for a session of prayer. However, because they asked her to fill out a questionnaire to facilitate her session, and the questions were quite detailed about her past, she was offended. She never went for prayer and likely still struggles with issues that could have been given to Jesus in prayer.

My friends, I need to ask you a question: WHAT OFFENDS YOU?

Sometimes we are easily offended? We can watch television and be offended. We can be offended because a stranger parked their car in front of our house. We are offended because the Women’s ministry leader didn’t include us or ask us to participate. We are offended when the train is late, someone forgets to pick up their socks, when we are cut off in traffic, etc., etc. And these are just the little things that will raise an offense in our heart.

THEN there are other offenses. We are emotionally knocked out by words from our mother, father, sister, brother, children, boss, best friend or others. And how about when our spouse speaks something hurtful and you feel like the air was knocked from your chest.

These moments of pain are even more devastating when the words spoken are released with intent to harm, humiliate and are without truth. And hurtful words are especially upsetting when spoken by those we love and trust.

In years past, following a moment of hurtful exchange my gut reaction is revenge. I want to say something to hurt back. I want to rush to my defense and just set this person back a step. I want to react with a blow to their life that would give me satisfaction.

All the years of walking with Jesus, I’ve learned it might feel good in the moment to respond at that level. However, later it never feels good to respond in revenge and give pain to the one who wounded you. But boy howdy, it is hard to respond like Jesus and turn the other cheek.

However, it IS possible. And when you work through the pain and realize that you handled the situation with integrity and maturity, you will be filled with relief and there are some amazing things that are the result when we offer a wise response.

I think in order work through offense there are two processes that are needed.

In The Moment: You may have more to add to this, but for me, in the moment of a hurtful exchange when emotions are roiling, it’s my intimacy with Christ and my years of practicing grace and restraint through the Holy Spirit that saves me from escalating a situation and restrains me from speaking words that will wound others. I remain focused on words like redemption, hope, reconciliation and grace.

Remaining conscious of who I am and whose I am, reframes conflict. I don’t need to stoop to untruths or verbal mud-flinging. I don’t need to speak words that intentionally harm, control or silence.

(Side note: There are situations when it’s appropriate to remove yourself from the conflict, i.e., hang up the phone, leave the room, etc.)

After The Moment: How we process and handle the aftermath of an emotional wounding and conflict is utterly crucial for our emotional and spiritual health.

Join me next time for After The Moment, as I will share the process of how to keep our heart and soul from falling into offense.

Today, I have some homework. In your quiet time this week, I want you to take out paper and pen and pray: Holy Spirit, I give you permission to show me where and with whom I am offended. Write down what you hear then ask the Holy Spirit how to begin to move out of offense.

If you can, share with me areas of offense where you struggle. I hope to write about how to work through them in the next few posts.

I’m in Philadelphia and NYC this week, so I’ll be in the comments sporadically. But I will check in and we will walk this out in Holy triumph my friends. Hugs, Lynn

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” -Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV)

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The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

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Defending the Bible

A few days ago, I received a prayer request from a new reader. As I answered her email, I realized that her situation is also similar to many of us. So, I want to share her question/prayer request and my answer.

Let me know if you are in this season of marriage and struggle and I will be so glad to pray for you. Hugs, Lynn

Provers 3  1-6From B:

My husband says he believes but every time that I open my Bible or talk about God he makes me feel like I'm wasting my time and brings up controversial issues in the bible to try to prove it’s not true. It weakens my faith because he makes really good points and it then makes me feel stupid for believing it. I don't want to feel this way and I know it's Satan trying to steal my joy and my faith and he’s using my husband to do it. So, I'm asking my sister's in Christ to be in FERVENT prayer over my husband. Thank you all.

Dear B:

Girl, do I ever know how you feel. Indeed, this was my life as well in the early years of my marriage. I will assure you it’s all real. Jesus is real and the more you grow in your faith the easier it will be for you  to walk in confidence in the truth of the Word. Also, do not feel as though you must defend your faith or the Bible to your husband. It’s impossible to make them see the truths in the Word without the Holy Spirit. It’s not a book of logic. It’s a book of faith. Faith is believing. But right now, I will be the voice to tell you it’s all real. Hold on to those words when the enemy uses your husband to shame you.

Keep walking in joy and hope because you will not be disappointed. You may need to have a conversation with your husband. Pray first for wisdom and timing. Let your husband know that you don't have every answer he is looking for but your experience and the joy in your heart outweighs the questions you have. And over time you will receive answers because God loves to reveal himself to those who are diligently looking for Him.

Ask your husband to just respect your faith because it makes you happy. Ask him not to tear you and your faith down and then promise him you won’t push your faith on him. Prayerful and hopefully this kind of conversation will develop into peace in your marriage.

In the meantime, pray…. Your prayers are utterly powerful. Claim your husband and marriage with 1 Corinthians 7:14. It is our power passage. Read about there here.

I pray for your husband and I bless you with love, a peace that passes all understanding, joy, forgiveness and more faith. In Jesus name. AMEN

Hugs, Lynn

SUMites, have you struggled like this? Do you have any words of encouragement to give to B? See you in the comments. Lynn

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Expecting Perfection

QuestionMy friends, I’m finally settled (mostly) in our new home and writing my first post for the blog from my new office. I am so excited about one part in particular. Why?

I have doors. 

Yep, doesn’t take a whole lot to make this gal happy. I can now close the doors of my office and play worship music whenever I want and speak privately on the phone on the occasions when I’m blessed to minister to someone. 

And I’m learning some new lessons in this season about expectations. Specifically my expectations of God. Early on God made it clear this home was a blessing from His hand and I was to receive it as such. 

But what I didn’t expect were the complications that came. Foundation issues, mistakes (the tub vs. the shower) and a backed up sewer line on our fourth day, just to name the big ones. I expected the little ones, like an unfinished wall behind a toilet that went unnoticed until the toilet backed up. Yet, I assumed that since God was clearly behind it all, we’d not have so many big hitches that turned an expected four to six month build into a year.

So not true.

Those are the moments that make you stop, pause and wonder. Don’t you think? If God is clearly the force behind the event, then why do we still hit complications that threaten to take us off track?

This is what I’m discovering and please add your own thoughts and wisdom in the comments, my friends.

  1. The obvious first answer is the enemy. We do have an enemy intent upon destroying God’s kingdom and all that it entails. John 10:10 tells us that. I have to say, I scratch my head at that one and wonder why he bothers when he knows he’s already lost, but he’s just a bully and a trouble maker. So, it makes sense that he’d try to come against this home in light of the kingdom plans God has for it. Most of it, my friends, it just inconveniences that could easily keep me frustrated if I didn’t continually turn them over to God. He’s the burden (yoke) carrier. I get to be His kid and stand in confidence that He’s got it covered. Yet the more serious side of this is to remember that the enemy will hinder us to order to keep us from reaching the lost. He may have lost the war, but he’s still battling for souls. And we are part of God’s army to defeat him. Amen? Our godly and kingdom inspirations will meet opposition.

  2. Which brings me to a little “ditty” I created and have written on a piece of paper that I keep on my desk right above my keyboard.

    “For every trial and conflict we face, God has already put a promise and provision in place.”

    Our challenge as God’s children is to remember to look for it, ask for it, and/or pray for it. God not only has a solution, He is the solution.

  3. Sometimes we perceive a complication or delay as the enemy when, in actuality, it is God’s hand of protection. The biggest example I’ve witnessed Him do this is one I’ve shared in the past. When my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the procedure to put a port in her chest for her chemo treatments fell through three times. It was ridiculous. What I didn’t understand at the time was that God had a plan to literally change the chemistry of that tumor. After her surgery they reassessed the tumor to be a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. They even sent it to another hospital in another state to be sure. If they’d put the port in her chest, they would have had to take it right back out. She didn’t need it, because she didn’t need chemo after all. Praise Jesus!
    SUMites, I imagine you can think back to at least one of those stories yourself. They are powerful testimonies of God’s protection and presence!

  4. There is no such thing as perfection in this world. Though we seek it, want it, even long for it, we won’t find it here. And that longing is just a sign of our deep and true longing for our real home in heaven. So in the waiting, I believe God calls us to look for the beauty in those imperfections, because then we can witness His presence and power at work. He does the perfecting (2 Cor. 12:9). And there is always a good to be found in everything, because God is working in everything to reveal it. That’s one of our greatest promises in the Bible and one of my favorites, Romans 8:28. He turns every negative into a positive. Amazing!

My friends, sometimes we will see the reason or the good in the trial or complication quickly. Other times we will scratch our heads in confusion every time we think about it. Those are the times we must rely on faith and trust in our God that His ways, thoughts and plans are much higher and grander than we can imagine. And just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there. I think we, as SUMites, have an advantage of experience in this area. We live in this level of faith every day as we wait for our spouses to come to faith. God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of everyone to know Him (2 Peter 3:9).

So, my friends, these are some of the things God is teaching me at the moment. How about you? What are you seeing and witnessing God doing in you, around you, in your family, etc.? 

And one final thought. Our best stance is abiding and resting in Him (a.k.a. trusting Him). Because that’s when Abba does His best work. Why? Because we get out of the way. LOL! Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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A Tablecloth of Thanks 2016

I started a Thanksgiving family tradition a few years ago, quite by accident. This tradition has become my absolute favorite. I'm sharing it today, as I do every year so that our new readers can begin this tradition in their home. This is also a Family Faith Tradition I share in our new book, Not Alone.

I have a story to share and a photo. I also want to give you a chance to share some of your holiday traditions or giggles.

Join in today and share a Thanksgiving holiday tradition from your home or share a funny holiday hiccup.

My Hiccup: Like many newly married young women, I didn’t realize the turkey was stuffed with bagged giblets. Yep, I cook the turkey with the plastic bag and the giblets still inside. We ate it anyway.

Also, three years ago, I set the oven on fire when I moved the giant bird around. I freaked out. My husband came running. The house was crazy, people were yelling, crying and freaking… Perhaps it was only me doing the yelling, crying and freaking. My calm man put the flames out and to this day, I don’t know how he did it because we didn’t own a fire extinguisher.

The next morning I rose before dawn and went shopping at The Home Depot. NO NOT FOR CHRISTMAS… For a fire extinguisher. And now, every year BEFORE I bake the turkey, I check to make sure the extinguisher is charged and ready.

Sheesh!

Today, I'm sharing one of my most favorite family traditions. Here is a post I wrote five years ago for the Internet Cafe. Hope you start a family tradition this year. It's NEVER too late to have a Tablecloth of Thanks.

Tablecloth of Thanks 

Many of you know that I am married to an unbeliever. This past May we celebrated 15 years of marriage. Our unequally yoked marriage has had its challenges, to say the least. Over the years, however, our ingenious God has maneuvered us through many touchy issues. 

Our disparity becomes more apparent during the holidays. Giving thanks to our Lord in November is a treasured time for me. I name my blessings one-by-one in prayer, thanking God for His lavish abundance poured into our lives. 

Like most wives living in an unequally yoked marriage, I long for my spouse to understand there is a God. To know He is intricately involved in our lives and everything we have is the provision of our creator. I have also learned that forcing God upon my husband is a surefire way to push him away. I am careful to respect my husband and simply trust Jesus to reach him in his perfect timing. 

In spite of my husband’s unbelief, I discovered a unique way to draw him into the celebration of thanks, besides through his stomach. He loves turkey. 

Four years ago, I threw a new, pristine white tablecloth across our dining room table two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. I purchased several colored pens and placed them on top. A new tradition was born, a Tablecloth of Thanks. It began with my daughter. I told her, “I WANT you to write on this tablecloth.” She looked at me with skepticism in her eyes, wondering if her mother had lost her mind. 

“Really,” my smiled reassured. “Write down what you are most thankful for this year. Then write the year, 2004, near your name.” 

She grinned and began to write using several different colors. I joined in and wrote my thanks directly on the beautiful tablecloth. 

Later that evening my husband noticed the scribbles on the tablecloth. I watched as he walked over to read our words. I walked to his side and took his hand. I subtly asked him if he would also write down his thanks. He smiled and said maybe later. 

Finally, on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, my husband picked up a pen and wrote; I am thankful for my wonderful family, great friends, and a very happy life. 

Wow! Was he giving thanks to our Lord? I am not sure. However, every year since he has continued to write a thankful list. Last year’s entry reads; I am thankful for all of my blessings…family, friends, and the dogs. 

Imported Photos 00001What? Did he use the word blessings? Small steps such as these lead to the Savior. I can’t wait to read his thankful list this year. 

The Thankful Tablecloth is one of my most prized possessions. Everyone who visits our home during the Thanksgiving holiday contributes to this permanent memorial of thanks. It is a visible praise to the King displayed in our unequally yoked home each November. 

One of my favorite thanks is this: 

2006
I am thankful
to be able to sit
on the couch and have
my people pet me.
Peanut 

Hmmmm, I wonder how the dog grew fingers and learned to write???? 

Psalm 69:30 (NIV)
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

 

Lord God, I will name my blessings one-by-one….. Jesus… eternal life…. clean water to drink…..capacity to love…..empowerment to forgive….. just for a start….. 

It is never too late to start a new tradition. If you want to start your Tablecloth of Thanks, I have a few helpful hints.

  1. Place a sheet of butcher paper under your tablecloth. (I have a permanent smiley face on my dining room table from the year 2005)
  2. Use colorfast fabric pens.
  3. Store your tablecloth in an airtight Ziploc bag. 

Thank you, my friends, for sharing this Holiday treasure with me. I wish you were with me today and could share your thankful heart on the Tablecloth of Thanks.

(My friends, if you could, share this post on Facebook and Twitter. It's truly a wonderful tradition and I want so much for families to have an opportunity to share faith in this way. Thanks, Lynn  - click on the buttons below to share. Hugs)

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Spirit of Faith

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Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Faith.

For a small word it has a heck of a punch. Doesn’t it!

What immediately comes to mind when you read the word, faith? Lots of things I expect and sometimes we assume we understand it and more automatically assume we have a lot of it.

Yes of course we possess it because we wouldn’t be Christians if we didn’t have it. It’s essential because “for by grace you’ve been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) and we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Belief determines behaviour

A Greek friend of mine shared that the words: “Faith”, “trust” and “believe” are all the one word in Greek: “pistis” or its derivative “pisteuo.”

We do what we believe. If we believe God’s Word we do it or we should.

And the key to do the doing is whom we believe in.

This year has been a fascinating year for me as I’ve felt the scales of my “unbelief” have fallen from my eyes. That the things I know about God and my identity have finally suck in. It’s like finally the words (the knowledge) have got out of my head and into my heart. (Or perhaps it’s the other way round, as Graham Cooke believes. Thanks Dineen.)

“Until the truth of our union with God gets into our heart, it remains information.”1

As some of you know I love to learn so gaining knowledge is something I regard as fun and strangely invigorating. But as that quote above suggests, knowledge can be just that: information, unless it melds into our hearts.

Often we strive after more of Christ. We get frustrated with having all this information (or knowledge) but don’t feel any closer to Jesus.

“So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Rom 101:17 NKJV)

Why’s the “hearing” duplicated? Many commentators believe the first hearing reflects what we hear and the second reflects what our heart hears. It’s the heart that is pivotal to what we believe and then what we do.

Who we believe in

In being seriously committed to studying the Word I’ve come to know God better and have chosen to believe He is who says He is in the Word.

Many of you will know that anxiety has been a struggle for me all of my life. “I was always the anxious one” as my mum described me whenever we asked what my twin brother and I were like when babies. I’d accepted that I would always be anxious. It was my “thorn”.

But this year I’ve come to realise that anxiety isn’t what God desires. There’s no anxiety in heaven (“will be done in earth as it is in heaven”) and so I shouldn’t choose to believe it’s my “thorn”. So I’ve chosen to believe. Believe God. Believe I am a joint heir in Christ. Does Jesus suffer anxiety? No, of course not.

Certainly there are day’s when the tentacles of anxiety reach out and squeeze me but in those days I choose Jesus and His will, His Kingdom, His power.

“The depth of your faith is determined by just one thing: how well you know the one you put your faith in.”2

Read that statement again.

All the greats of faith (refer Hebrews 11) had faith because of they believed (or trusted) God.

Mustard Seeds

"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matthew 17:20 NLT)

The amount of faith doesn’t really matter does it – just a mustard seed size (read: tiny) will do. Because it’s not our power that moves the mountain or brings our spouses to faith, it’s whom we believe in, God’s.

Our faith keeps growing when we choose to act on what God says is true. When I start to feel the symptoms of anxiety I choose to act in His truth and call out to Him. Often it’s as simple as saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” repeatedly.

The power of praise

This year I’ve studied the Psalms using Tim and Kathy Keller’s devotional style of book “The Songs of Jesus”. I’ve used that as a starter and then jumped into other sources to meditate on them more. David was a man of praise. Pretty much every one of his psalms, even the ones of lament, will end with praise.

This week I discovered the shortest Psalm and shortest chapter of the Bible: Psalm 117. 2 verses but what verses. Here’s The Message version of it.

“Praise God, everybody!
 Applaud God, all people!
 His love has taken over our lives;
 God’s faithful ways are eternal.
 Hallelujah!”

Praise strengthens our spirits because I believe it helps us focus on the one whom we can trust. The one who is worthy. The one who is Almighty. The one who adores us. The one who is never going to leave us. Never. Ever.

Praise helps us take our minds off ourselves and step into faith. It brings our heart alive and gives us a shot of courage as we know our Lord is present and is with us no matter what we are going through. Yes, our circumstances may not immediately (or ever) change but knowing we have Jesus with us helps fill us with peace knowing He’s in charge.

Dear heavenly Father, we love you, we worship you. We praise you for your constant presence. Fill us with more faith to know that you are always present. Awaken our hearts to our union with you, that we are the sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Help us to receive all that comes from being one with you, our dear Father. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

Notes: 1. Fil Anderson, Closer than Close (Foreword) by Dave Hickman, NavPress. 2016 p. xiii. 2. Steve Goss, Free to be Yourself, Monarch Books, 2008, p69.

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