66 posts categorized "Christmas"

Fourth Week of Advent: Peace (and Christmas!)

Advent4Merry Christmas, SUMites! I’m finishing up my Advent series today, because Lynn and I will be taking next week off to have more time with our families. We love you and bless you with all the joy and gladness this season holds, dear friends. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and most importantly, ENJOY JESUS! He’s not only our Savior, but our very best friend and partner in this life and the one to come.

We are about to enter the fourth and final week of Advent this Sunday, my friends. I’ve included a picture of what my Advent wreath will look like this Sunday as I light all four candles. This last candle represents peace, and as the Word says, Jesus came to bring us peace. Not the peace the world offers, but His peace. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. — John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

He overcame the world to save us and bring order to a chaotic world.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. — 1 Cor. 14:33

And His covenant of peace was made long ago.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isa 9:6

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. — Isa 54:10

This is the heart of our Father God and why He sent us His Son, Jesus, to establish His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. And not only did He come to bring His peace, He came to dwell within us so that His peace would “live” in us. It’s part of what we receive with the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. — Gal 5:22-23

His peace resides in us. Even when we don’t “feel” that peace, we can pray for it to bubble up and fill us, my friends. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Phil 4:6-7

Peace is one of God’s greatest provisions that is intended to permeate every area from our personal lives to the entire world and every place in between. Our mind, heart, soul and spirit are part of that too. So often we forget to ask for it, to pray for it to well up and increase in us. During a very difficult time I learned to call on this peace and was absolutely stunned at how I could actually feel it rush in. The Spirit of God lives in us, my friends, and that Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is our Comforter. Call on Him to comfort you as much as you need!

Ornaments
Some of my favorite ornaments...

Now, the best for last. The Christ Candle. Every year I look for a candle that speaks to my heart. Usually white with some sort of design on it. I am especially enamored with Christmas trees since last Christmas and find myself drawn to them. I realized the tree is the most important part of my family traditions because it holds so much love. Nearly every ornament holds a meaning, has a story behind it, or marks a special date. And now that my girls are grown, I find those ornaments to be a precious reminder of all the love we have shared over the years. 

ChristCandleSo this year’s Christ Candle has a tree on it and will be lit on Christmas Eve and Day. For me, this candle represents the promise of hope and a future (Jer 29:11). He is the light of the world and the light of our lives. And He has even more for us for next year. I’m already praying over 2017, my friends. Praying for words and Scriptures for my family at home and here, our SUM family. He is faithful to His Word and watches over it!

SUMites, I bless you with precious moments that touch your heart, that will remind you of how God’s love is always present and will even form a new and precious memory for years to come. And I pray the glory and favor of the Lord will increase in your lives all through 2017. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). In the glorious name of Jesus, amen!

Merry Christmas!
Dineen

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Wonder Gives Birth To.......

Please share more of your #WonderOfChristmas with me here in the comment,
Facebook or email me.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. —Luke 2:9-10

Do you know what happens when we make time to notice the Wonder of our Savior? Do you know what can happen to our heart? To our soul? Do you know that fear will flee? Did you know that we are primed to learn a great deal when we begin to walk in child-like faith and notice our Savior speaking to us? Learning to notice the “wonder” is how we learn to walk in HOPE!

We learn to alk in courageous HOPE!

Hope to face a cancer diagnosis. Hope that our prodigal children will come back to faith. Hope that our almost dead marriage will live again. We learn to hope. We learn to live in a lavish, extraordinary hope because we have discovered the voice of God in our everyday life. We discover God's voice because we choose to look for the wonder.

As believers, we should be the most hopeful people in the world.

However, right now, can be a very tough season for so many people, including SUMites. But Jesus..

BUT JESUS!!!!!

His birth is our hope. His whispers of love in the dark moments, becomes our hope. His promises are true and faithful. We can hope. We can live in expectant hope. Our world needs to feel this kind of hope. We, SUMites, also need to feel this kind of hope.

There is a path for God’s people to follow that leads to everlasting hope. Hope for today, tomorrow and all eternity. That path begins with a mustard seed of faith. It grows and flourishes as we trust, pray and seek the wonder of His Kingdom.

I wonder, are filled with hope today? Do you need a voice or prayer to reach out for hope?

Share your need or your hope today in the comments. Let’ spur one another on in faith and hope as we experience the wonder of Christmas within our home here on the web. Then let’s take it to others. Let’s take Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to someone who feels hopeless.

See you in the comments. I love you. I’m so hopeful for all of you. Hope for salvations. Hope for marriages. Hope for finances. Hope for healing of our hearts, souls, bodies and hope for joy, peace and goodness. Merry Christmas. Lynn

This is a PS to this post. This morning on my walk-n-pray, I was feeling discouraged about unanswered prayers for healing. I had been praying for my grandaughter's healing. I was feeling confusion and seeking an explanation of what I may be doing wrong. Asking the Lord if I was the one blocking the healing. 

It's so interesting that I didn't get a direct reply to all my questions of how come? Yet, in the brilliant morning sun during my walk I had something extraordinary occur. I received not one, not two, but three Mylar balloons all within a few minutes of each other. Here is a photo of the first two. It was as if God was shouting to me, don't focus on what you haven't seen yet, just focus on the fact that I adore you. I adore you so much that I'm sending you a triple blessing today.

My friends, our experiences with the Lord and the answers to prayer that we DO receive MUST carry more weight than our questions! 

Today, I bless you with a triple blessing too. Everything and more that you are seeking, I'm standing with you and with our Jesus. And we will continue to contend in prayer for those things that are yet to be realized and give thanks for the many, MANY things that are miracles in our everyday life, such as Mylar balloons. In Jesus name. AMEN

Smiling balloon December 14 2016

Double Wednesay December 14 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY HOUSE TO YOURS, HUGS, LYNN

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Third Week of Advent: Love

Advent3Hello, SUMites! We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas. Can you believe that? I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping…I think. How about you? And what’s on the menu for Christmas Day? What do I need to make? Who’s coming over? Need more lights up outside. I hope my mother loves her gift…

I bet your mind is filled with thoughts like these, one after another tumbling after each other like dominoes. It’s totally normal, right? We do this every year and we go into it all with the best intentions. Doesn’t always work out perfectly, but we hope for the best.

So what’s at the heart of all that? 

Love.

We love our families and friends. We want the very best for them. And we want to enjoy them during the celebrations too. Doesn’t take much in my book. So far my favorite gift for a friend cost $3.95. Can’t wait to see the surprised delight on her face when she opens it. For me it’s an act of love that says, “I get you. I love you. I think you’re special.”

As you can see I’ve lit our third candle on the Advent Wreath—just one more to go and then I’ll be lighting the Christ candle in the middle on Christmas. I love Christmas traditions. They remind me of my childhood and my children’s childhood. And I love remembering the love that infuses those memories too. Dancing around the kitchen as we baked cookies, making a snowman together, hugs and hot cocoa—more precious acts of love.

Love is the theme for this third week of Advent. As I sat and contemplated and prayed, another stream of Scriptures come to mind. I’ve shared in the past that I’ve known since I was a small child that “love makes the world go round.” I knew love was the biggest game changer in this world, just didn’t know the source.

Now I do and I still believe in love. And as the Bible says, God is love, so I believe in God. And I believe God. The first statement defines my faith, the second defines my relationship with Him.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17 NLT

And God’s motivation has always been love, hasn’t it?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NIV

Not to condemn us, but to love us. Jesus walked this earth as the embodiment of God’s love and displayed it brilliantly. With just a look, a word, a thought—people’s lives were changed, healed, restored. He’s our greatest example of how to love.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” — Mark 10:21 NIV

My friends, He is faithful, true and loyal to the end, our Jesus. He is my inspiration. And my greatest prayer is for Him to help me love well every person He puts before me, whether at the healing rooms, at home, in a store or right her online. This my goal!

Let love be your highest goal! — 1 Cor. 14:1 NLT 

I love you, SUMites. You are fierce in your love, faith and faithfulness. You walk a path many will never understand. But God does. He gets you. He loves you. He’s thinks your super special. 

Merry Christmas, my friends. May the love of God be more real to you right now than ever before. May He fill the stockings of your heart with His overflowing gift of love. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Hugs!
Dineen

*****

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#WonderOfChristmas - Who Needs Peace?

I received so many photos and tags on Social Media as our community captures the #WonderOfChristmas. Look at this one from Patty.

Patty's Son Macy's Train

Her son admiring the train set up at Macy’s. Priceless

December can be so amazing and also hectic. I wonder how many of you need peace on this Friday?

Jesus prince of peaceI continue to hear Jesus, the Prince of Peace, call out to each of us to catch the moments of wonder in our lives this December. Just as Patty’s young son marvels at the window display, Jesus is whispering to us, “Take notice of the beauty in the sky, in the clouds, in the sunsets and sunrises. Do you see the sparkle of the tree and how your face gleams in the reflection of an ornament? Your glorified face gleaming is how I see you ever day. Do you sense the angels that are in your home? Take a moment to read My story of my birth to your children and allow them to feel my love. Do you know that I’m enamored by you and I’m whispering words of love and encouragement to you all day long? Take in My wonder. Listen to my voice. Pause and allow me to dust you with golden peace that comes from heaven.”

 

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-12-08/f861471f-4ccb-4375-a4e1-ad03bef62615.png
From JB (Monday's comments): Decorating the tree...and the only ornament to shine brightly? The cross on the lower right.

My friends, do you know what happens when we catch the wonder of Christmas? Something amazing unfolds. Something that can move us out of fear. Something happens when we catch the face of Jesus in others. The miraculous can occur and as believers we receive a gift that the rest of the world can’t seem to grasp. Do you know what that is? Well tune in on Tuesday and I will share where Jesus is leading us this December.

Please share more of your #WonderOfChristmas with me here in the comment, Facebook or email me.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. —Luke 2:9-10

 

From this week posted on Facebook: CHOSEN!!!! Randomly I dropped my name in a drawing on Saturday. Don't know why. I picked up the gift card yesterday. I LOVE December. #WonderOfChristmas
#Steinmart Thank you!!!
feeling festive.  

Winner Steinmart Gift Card

*****

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Second Week of Advent: JOY!

IMG_5524Hello, SUM Family! We’re moving closer and closer to Christmas, and like you, I want to be intentional in enjoying the details of Christmas. Yesterday morning I went into my prayer room to pray for my own family and our SUM family here. I continue to pray and declare Jeremiah 24:7 over our spouses and am praying the Scriptures written on the beams of this house over you. They are such good words!

JOY is also a very good word, my friends. And it’s the theme of the second week of Advent. As I searched for the word JOY in the Bible, I was struck by several verses that spoke of JOY. Then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see a beautiful flow and connection in these Scriptures. 

And connection is so instrumental to our relationship with God. As you can see in my picture I’ve lit the second candle. I love taking a picture each week and sharing it with my daughters, which helps create a more intimate connection between us for Christmas as the days draw closer to their arrival. I love that we can share these traditions despite the 3,000 miles that separate us. It closes the gap.

And that is what Jesus did when He entered this world—closed the gap between God and His people and connected us together as His body, the church. What’s more, Jesus arrived with the declaration of great JOY!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. — Luke 2:10 

Jesus entered the world as joy and to bring us joy. Joy is the status quo in Heaven. Isn’t that an amazing thought? 

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. — Luke 15:7

Our intended state of being is meant to be joyful. Like He taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in Heaven,” Jesus came to give us His joy, the JOY of the Lord to strengthen and uphold us.

While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. — Luke 24:51-53

And here’s the connection from the cradle to the cross, my friends. It is rich with God’s love and our Savior’s heart for us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 

As Jesus is our joy, we are His joy—the joy set before Him as He endured the cross. In other words, as our Savior suffered and died, He had us on His mind and heart. The very same very reason He entered this world as a helpless child to save us.

I pray this resonates deeper into your spirit than my words can convey. It is a full circle story of love and salvation that is almost incomprehensible in its brilliant perfection. We could spend a lifetime and beyond learning to understand it—and that’s exactly what we get to do!

My friends, as I shared, I went into prayer, seeking the Father’s heart for us now. I waited to hear Him yet only sensed to share this beautiful picture of JOY. But as I sat down to write, the Holy Spirit’s voice broke through and this is what I heard:

He who is faithful has said a good word.

Another Scripture search ensued as I knew I’d heard this before but couldn’t remember exactly where. The Scriptures I found are the very same verses that God has been showing me over the last year or so. I was surprised and delighted to see what He’d spoken to me at separate times come together in one profound word. So like the JOY of Christ’s birth and death…

SUMites, soak these in and apply them to our SALVATION word and promise and to any other promise God has given you.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. — 1 Thes. 5:25

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. — Heb 10:23

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. — Psalm 33:4

The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” — Jer 1:12

My friends, He is faithful to His Word. He watches diligently to perform it.

And what struck me most powerfully in this word to us, is that it is past tense. Our Lord has “said a good word.” In my spirit I sense that to mean “it is done.” Just like His journey from the cradle led to the cross and His words…

It is finished. 

It is done.

We can rejoice!

We have JOY!

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that we are the JOY set before you. That Your JOY is intended to be ours and our natural state of heart, mind, soul and spirit. We rejoice in You. We rejoice in the promises You have given us and have already fulfilled. Even the ones we are waiting to see fully manifest here on earth as You have said a good word in Heaven. In the name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUM family, so much. I am overcome by the Lord’s heart and love for us. I pray you are too.
Dineen

*****

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#WonderOfChristmas -SUMites This Is Our Season

Hello SUMite Nation,

I’m going to save the Emotional Healing study for the new year. I think I need to have several uninterrupted weeks for this topic. It will be powerful.

Today, I want to share with you what the Lord is speaking to me for the month of December. And it started with a phone call to speak at my church.

Next Sunday I will be speaking at our Women’s event, Christmas Dessert. It is a great honor and I’m humbled to be asked. Truly! In preparation I went on a walk-n-pray and I asked Jesus this question, “Jesus, what do you want me to share with your girls?”

Immediately I heard Jesus say, “Lynn, tell them about Me. Tell them what it’s like to live an ordinary day with me. Tell them how to see the wonder of this season where we celebrate My birth. Tell them that I’m near to them. Even in the hard stuff. Tell them I’m filled with affection for them. Tell them I think they are funny and I laugh at their goofiness and jokes. I like to watch football with them and sit in the kitchen with them while they are making dinner. It is my favorite thing to just live life with them.”

“Lynn, tell them about me and tell them about the life we live together and tell them this wondrous life is for them as well.”

So, my friends, after I wiped the tears from my eyes, the Holy Spirit began to download what I’m to share. And as I began to organize these thought, Jesus said, Tell my SUMite family about this too. I want this kind of life for them this season.

I hope it’s okay with all of you if I share some of the wonders of this season with the hope that you will experience Jesus, the Jesus of today, in a new and wondrous way.

Okay?

One of the first things the Lord began to share with me was to take time to see the “wonder.” How do you see wonder? What is wonder?

Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

A surprise, something beautiful, unexpected…. This is exactly what I believe Jesus is asking us to notice this December. It’s the small things that bring a smile to our face. It’s the unexpected beauty that shows up in some way. It’s a gift of heaven.

He wants us to experience His love this Christmas through child-like faith. Neat!!!!!!!!!!

So for the next several weeks I have a challenge. I want you to find something wondrous every day in your life. I want you to take a photo of it or write it down. Post it to your social media with the hashtag #WonderOfChristmas and tag me on FB or Twitter, or Instagram and/or post to our FB page and best of all post some of them in the comments here.

We are going to do something with these wonders later in the month. And I promise you that Jesus is going to reveal something miraculous through this endeavor. But I’m saving that for the Big surprise later.

Okay, I’ve already started and here are a few of my post #WonderOfChristmas.

Sunday, December 4: Early Sunday morning walk n pray. The flocks of geese have returned to the valley to winter. Splendor watch and listening as the fly over. #WonderOfChristmas

December 2: Facebook

Christmas unwrapped dogsCame home last night to Christmas morning-post unwrapped. The dogs had a blast under the tree while we were gone. #WonderOfChristmas. Now off to re-wrap everything.feeling festive.

December 1: Facebook

Christmas beautiesI love the wonder of this time of year. And on my walk n pray these beauties greeted me. #WonderOfChristmas

Okay, now it’s your turn. And as we travel this adventure this week. I’m going to share with you what Jesus asked of me. Are you ready? Stay tuned and ask Jesus today to show you the “wonder of Christmas.”

I love all of you so much. My heart is so full of anticipation. I’m so full of expectation that this Christmas is going to be special and an intimate time with Jesus, for each of us.

Praying a blessing of love, joy, peace, goodness and HOPE. In Jesus name. AMEN

*****

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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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My Unexpected Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God called me to let go of what I knew so He could so something new in me. My greatest lesson this Christmas was that it didn't have to be perfect or according to my expectations to be a great Christmas. How about you? What did God show you during this most precious time of the year? I love you, my SUM family. I'm so glad to be back here and look forward to your comments.
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There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Author Unknown

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Christmas and the Spiritually Mismatched Conference

Hello SUMites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Promise of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ words to Thomas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4580
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Last piece removed from ground zero.


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One of Macy's Charlie Brown Christmas windows.


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The Rockets!


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


And finally...

IMG_4698
The Miller Christmas tree in Florida! (No palm trees were harmed in the decoration process.)

 

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Holiday Aloneness

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

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

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

Am I alone in this?

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

I wasn’t going to let that happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Childlike in Anticipation - some reflections on Advent

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

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

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

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

We had to wait.

The anticipation. The excitement … was electric.

Advent

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

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

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

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

Waiting in the Busy

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

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

Jesus.

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

A little challenge

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

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

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

Write down what you heard, how you felt.

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

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

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

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There Once Was a Man Who Didn't Believe in God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Author Unknown

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A Promise For The Unequally Yoked

Matthew 12 21
Good morning my friends: I know this is a crazed time of year. I pray you are getting enough rest and finding the Lord is your strength. 

Let’s pick up on our letter that the Lord has assigned to our community. Revelation 3. Remember we considered the open door that has been swung wide for us which cannot be shut. Now is the last half of verse eight: I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 

This statement alone can bring tears to my eyes. Perhaps you are like me. There were days in my early years of marriage where it seemed as though it would have been easier to deny my faith in front of my husband than to stand and fight the onslaught of arguments and efforts for me to defend Jesus. 

I remember reading this last year and it was as if Jesus, Himself, stood before me. He reached out to touch my face and speak these words to me. I know that you have little strength, (You feel weak and attacked and uncertain and weary) Yet, Lynn, you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 

Most people don’t understand just how difficult it can be to stand for faith in the face of persecution from your own spouse. Now I know the word persecution pales when we consider what is happening to believers in different parts of the globe who are murdered for their faith. But, it is emotional pain and heartbreak when your best friend on earth persecutes you and your Jesus to your face. 

BUT, Jesus bears witness to “our” faithfulness and the next verse came to me as Christ’s reward for standing for Him in the face of the intimidation. 

Verse 9: I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 

When I read this the Holy Spirit compared these Jews to the unbelievers who have stood against us. Now, I don’t think that our pre-believers belong to the synagogue of satan but let’s be clear. You are living in one camp or the other. If you aren’t a believer in Jesus, by default you fall into the enemy’s camp of bondage. The Holy Spirit impressed me by whispering, “Lynn, one day all of the spouses will fall down at their spouse's feet and acknowledge my name, Jesus and how I has loved you.” 

Our unbelieving spouses will “know” the truth. Do I understand when and how this will happen? I don’t. But it appears important to Jesus that we know this will happen. And that our reward for our faithfulness will impact our spouses. 

To further this reward, Jesus states to us: Verse 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. 

Whoa! What a promise. My friends, WHAT A PROMISE! 

On Monday, I will finish up with the amazing promises that are written to this church. Sometimes I feel very privileged and special in the Kingdom because I have walked this unique walk of the unequally yoked. 

See you Monday. Merry Christmas. I’m off to work on Christmas Cards. I hope to get them in the mail before Christmas Eve. I love you my family. I’m praying for your miracle this year. Hugs, Lynn

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Merry Christmas SUMites! Video Message

 

We love and adore you. Have a blessed and Holy Christmas. Love Lynn & Dineen.

Check back on Friday as we have some exciting updates about what 2014 will bring here at SUM. I'm so pumped up for everything that God will do in our lives in the new year. Until then, Merry Christmas from me {Lynn} and Dineen. 

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Weekend Worship — Our Greatest Gift to Jesus

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On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. — Matthew 2:11

I've always read this verse in light of the gifts the Magi brought Jesus. Yet just this week as I read this verse again, I realized the very first gift they each gave the Baby Jesus wasn't their treasures but their worship.

I don't know why that struck me so profoundly this year but it did. Our greatest and most desired gift that Jesus longs to receive is our worship. Through time set aside to focus just on Him, through praise and worships songs, and through lives lived with Jesus so present in our hearts that everything we see and do is done in the light and presence of His love.

This is worship. The greatest gift given to the baby Jesus. Our greatest gift we can ever give to our loving and mighty Savior.

Oh come let us adore Him…

And in light of all of our wonderful RAK stories, Abba impressed upon me this week that it was time to share a prophetic word He gave me in October. Be blessed, my friends, in knowing you walk in Abba’s great favor because you are doing what He has asked us to.

Merry Christmas!
Dineensig

 

 

 

On October 13, 2013 I heard the Lord say to me, “Prophesy over my church.”

This is what He told me to write down:

"The land is broken and I have called you to heal it. You are my hands and feet of healing. I’m sending you, church. Heed My call. Don’t delay.

Go! Time is short. Your time is short and the generations must be ready. Take your children and teach them. Show them who I am. They are to take up the call along side you and beyond.

A glorious wave of my Spirit and power is coming like you’ve never seen before. This will give you all you need to walk in strength. And look for Me because I walk among you. I am the beggar on the street, the heartbroken child abandoned and alone. I am the wanderer who can’t find his way home. I am every broken and lost heart. Look for me in these places and help bring forth my light and truth.

I have set eternity in every heart. Do you see it? Ask Me and I will show you.

You ask for My heart, but you already have it, poured out on the cross, forever given. Nothing can change that. I AM forever yours."

 

*****

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There Was Once A Man Who Didn't Believe..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Author Unknown

 

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How One RAK Inspired Another

My friends, a couple weeks ago I shared this post about my daughter Leslie and her amazing heart of generosity. Specifically her act of kindness in taking a Visa gift card she had received on her birthday and giving it to a homeless person.

What blows me away is how we are inspired by these acts of kindness and find ourselves moving in similar places. I'm finding this is something that I want to make a part of my daily life. It's so much fun! 

And that's Jesus in us, my friends. Read this beautiful story from Heidi and how Jesus honored her heart's desire to help someone. He led her right to this mom...

 

ImageFinally here I am, though I feel my RAK is not near as awesome as some I have read, but I promised an update anyway. As I had mentioned before I don't have access to our funds so I needed to be creative, because I really wanted to give back since God has given sooooo much to me! :-) I need to back up a bit so bare with me.

My Mom had sent me a $100 gift card for my birthday and as you can imagine I was totally excited, being that I never have money of my own, which for woman my age can be very humiliating when out with friends. Then I read the RAK post. I sooo wanted to do that leave money here and there, but I knew I would have to ask my hubby who wouldn't have allowed it.

Then I thought I wonder if I could find a way to cash it—nope that wouldn't work either. Then I thought I'll just give it away, but worried it would hurt my moms feelings. Well finally, after reading about your daughter, Dineen, and how she said " Mom, this gift is for me right? Well this is what I want, it will make me happy," I said to myself "exactally! It will make me happy, and was given to me with the idea it was mine to spend how I wished!"

My first thought was, the freezing temp here that we had, I wanted to buy blankets, search out homeless people who didn't make it into shelters and give them to them. Well finding the homeless turned out be a task in its self, and when I did, I felt I would be in danger getting out of my car alone. Also they all were covered in blankets and jackets. So I drove praying, "God if this is what you want me to do I will, I trust you will keep me safe, but I need to know if this is your idea or mine."

So I kept driving, then Wal-mart popped into my head! Hmmm, I thought, is that what I should do, Father, find someone in need there? So I told myself, I will go to Wal-Mart, and if I find someone that stands out and looks in need, then I will give them my card. If not blankets. Wal-Mart it is!

I walked around with an empty cart pretending to shop, even checked out the blankets to see how many I could get for $100. Finally, walking in the food section, I saw a mom and her two children with about four items in her cart and using a calculator to figure out what else she could afford. I could tell by their clothing it had been quite awhile since they had anything new.

I could hear the children pleading for something they wanted or needed. So that was it. I walked over, stuck my hand out and said, "Here this is for you."

She was embarrassed and said, "Oh no, you don't have to do that!"

I told her, "It was given to me as a birthday present, and I want to do it for you. I saw you working on your calculator. Merry Christmas."

And then Itook off! I was embarrassed too and didn't want her to feel bad by drawing attention to us, or try to give it back. I could hear her say "thank you" as I disappeared. I had planed to place God in my words in speaking with her, but didn't because I could see she was worried people would look at her.

 

Heidi, thank you so much for sharing this precious story with us. I have no doubt that mom knew our great Abba was looking out for her that day and He did it through you.

My friends, our testimonies are inspiring and when we share them with a heart to glorify and praise Jesus, we inspire others. So share your testimonies with that heart and ignore the enemy's attempt to condemn and make you think you're bragging. He would love to keep us quiet so that others won't be inspired to do similar acts of love and kindness.

And I wish you could have seen my daughter's face when I told her how her act of kindness had inspired someone to do something similar. I tell you, I literally saw her spirit expand with in her. So beautfiul and so precious. Heidi gave my daughter a gift too in her desire to help another in like manner.

Wow, wow and wow again! This is the heart of Christmas, my friends. The love of Jesus in action. Not to earn the praises of others but to share the sacrifical love that was born first as a tiny baby and came with the sole purpose to save the world. 

Jesus, our great King, Savior and Friend. The epitomy of love, Who CHOSE to dwell in us. He's in you, my friends. Let that sink in and blow you away! Then let Him shine brightly through you.

Love you so much! Be shiney for Jesus!
Dineensig

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Walking in Mary and Joseph's Sandals, Part 2

15540150_sMy friends, sorry for the delay in posting the rest of this series. I hope you’re enjoying exploring Scripture for more nuggets and details surrounding our Savior’s birth. I love how Abba’s Word comes alive as we do this. Did you discover new things as you read Luke chapters one and two?

What I noticed first as I read is that Luke, a gentile, tells the story more from Mary’s perspective. Makes me wonder if Joseph was still in the picture (these recordings were done after Christ’s death, as much as 30 years after, I believe). One commentary I read a while back suggested the possibility that Joseph may have died at some point as he’s not present at all after Jesus’ temporary disappearance at age 12 when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to be in his Father’s house.

Both Zechariah and Mary have encounters with the angel Gabriel—Zechariah regarding his son John’s conception and birth (Luke 1:11-22), and Mary being chosen to bare the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). And don’t you just love what Gabriel says in verse 37? Powerful!

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

There are four specific mentions of the Holy Spirit being active at this point (pre-resurrection). The first when Gabriel tells Zechariah he will soon have a son, who will be “filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). The second when Mary visits Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s voice, John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb and she is filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:39-45). The third comes at John’s birth when Zechariah’s voice is restored and prophesies over his son (Luke 1:67).

I want to interject here and say I wonder if Luke, being a physician, was being a tad ironic in verse 62 when the make signs to Zechariah about John’s name. The man was made mute, not deaf! Yet how often does that actually happen?

Okay, back to the Holy Spirit. The next mention of His presence comes in chapter two when Jesus is presented at the temple. Here we meet Simeon, who seemed to have many interactions with the Holy Spirit. I love that God heard this man’s dream to see the Messiah and grants it before his death (Luke 2:25-32). Simeon wasn’t a prophet but he did prophesy over Jesus. Then we meet Anna who is a prophetess and continues to give thanks and speak about the child (Luke 2:36-38).

Did you noticed there were not Magi mentioned in Luke’s account? And one of my favorite parts is when the angels appear to the shepherds—not to the kings and rulers of this time. To the shepherds who almost seem to be a prophetic symbol or resemblance to the humility and status that Jesus came into this world and continued to walk in it. And He would be called our great Shepherd too!

Now as a mom, I found two areas very tender and intriguing. First in Luke 2:19 and 51 where it says that Mary “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Can you imagine? Those two mentions of her holding these truths about her son—the Son of God—in her heart, always stop me as I read. She’d spent nine months carrying this child and now she held the Son of God in her arms, kissed his brow, fed Him, changed His diaper…

And now she speaks prophetic words of what He would mean to a nation. Reading it or even knowing about it is one thing, but to be living it out is entirely different. Mary was a strong presence in Jesus’ life all the way to the cross.

And then we jump to Jesus at about age 12 when He is clearly aware of who and what He is (Luke 2:41-52). Did He always know? Or what point did He become aware of who He really was? Did Gabriel visit Him too? (Okay, that’s me being a little humorous—I’m sure Jesus could hear His Father just fine without the help of an angel.)

Seriously though, these are the things that get my brain moving and wondering what they thought, felt and perceived. Absolutely mind blowing when you think about it. I can’t wait to get to heaven and talk to all those involved!

So, my friends, this concludes our exploration of the birth of Christ. What parts stood out to you? Resonated with your heart in some way? Left you wanting to know more? Just listen the song below for awe inspiring thoughts! Wow, Mary kissed the face of God…

And finally, here is my Christmas gift for you. Using the NIV translation, I’ve taken parts from the books of Matthew, Luke and John to compile a chronological account of Jesus’ birth.  Click to download The Birth of Jesus. Enjoy!

Love you all so much! Merry Christmas!
Dineensig

Image credit: yupiramos / 123RF Stock Photo

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More Than A Random Act of Kindness

Greetings SUMites. I hope you’re having a beautiful Christmas season filled with love and holiness. Today I have a special treat for you. What you’re about to read below was sent to me by a fellow SUMites, Cindy. This email arrived in my inbox on Saturday. However, I didn’t get to read it until late Sunday evening. I was utterly moved by this story, and by Cindy, and by watching her share the love of God. 

I pray you are moved to outrageous and generous acts of loving kindness for other people. Hugs, Lynn

 

Connecting with Someone Who Just Needed a Little Help.
By: Cindy Martina (Fellow SUMite) 

ManhomeWhile volunteering to feed the homeless a meal in Santa Ana, CA recently, the Lord moved me to help a man. I was serving punch when he came through the line. I noticed he was limping. When he came back for seconds, I asked him if he was okay. Tears started to fall and he said he had been hit by a car. 

I said, “Oh my goodness,” and I offered to pray for him. 

He said, “Thanks.” 

The next 20 minutes or were so very busy, finishing serving and then cleaning up that I was not thinking about him at all. However, when I went to my car to leave I saw him sitting on the curb. Seeing him there, I felt the “nudge” from God. I stopped my car, walked over to him and asked how I could help him. 

He began to cry. 

I was so moved (Holy Spirit ~ NO doubt) by this man. I offered my phone, but he had no one to call. Forgoing my plans to visit a friend, I sat down next to him and we tried to find him a place to spend the night. He had come to California with a carnival which had shut down. He stayed in a motel till his money ran out. He had been on the streets for three nights. All he owned had been stolen. I asked him if he drank. He said no. I asked him if he did drugs. He said no, he was Muslim. 

I hope and believe that I reacted like Jesus would have. I loved him. I drove him to the Salvation Army shelter, about four miles away. I prayed for him, in Jesus’ name, and praise God, when 3:30p.m. rolled around, he was able to get a bed. 

Two days later the Lord led me to offer to buy him a bus ticket home. When I offered this to him on the phone, he was overcome with gratitude. The next day I picked him up from the shelter, drove him to Greyhound and bought his one way ticket to Ft. Worth. I gave him plenty of reading material… Biblical articles comparing Christianity to Islam. A New Testament and some other little Christian booklets. I was able to tell him, in all sincerity, that God loves him, is pursuing him, and that God has a plan for his life. Then I sent him on his way with a prayer, a couple of hugs, and tears from both of us. 

Mostly Hawaii Jan 2013 Cindy M032I cannot put into words the blessing this whole experience was for me. I am just eternally grateful that God gave me this opportunity to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet. For one person. One person that I pray for daily and that I can’t wait to see again someday. And I expect to hear about all the marvelous works that God will do through his life.

Cindy <><

"...For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord..." ~Luke 2:11 (NKJV)

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Weekend Worship — Dreams, Prophecies and Magi

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “ God with us. — Matthew 1:23

15540148_s

Hello dear friends! I hope you’re enjoying this series about Joseph and Mary. Some of you left comments on Wednesday’s post with some great insights. Go check them out if you can—it’s great stuff! I’ve been looking forward to sharing all week what I felt the Holy Spirit wanted me to take notice of in Matthew 1 and 2.

Five Dreams
Joseph had a total of four dreams. The first when the angel of the Lord told him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife (1:20). Joseph still could have walked away but it seems his desire to obey God was stronger than his fear of the imposed shame from others he most likely would face (both of them would face). I wonder if they told their parents the truth of what was really happening and if they were believed. Definitely one of those times in the Bible that I wish we knew more.

The second dream warned Joseph to escape to Egypt (2:13). The third dream told him to flee Egypt and go to Israel (2:19). And the fourth dream rerouted him to Galilee (2:22). And even the Magi were warned in a dream to not go back to Herod (2:12). They returned to their own country by another route. (I’m not sure how we wound up with three wise men because it doesn’t say how many in the Bible, but they were from the same country.)

Five Prophecies
A total of five prophecies were fulfilled in just these two chapters of Matthew alone.

  1. Matthew 1:22-23 — “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear A Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” This was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14.
  2. Matthew 2:6 — ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd MY people Israel.” This was prophesied in Micah 5:2.
  3. Matthew 2:15 — He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:“ Out of Egypt I called MY Son. This was prophesied in Hosea 11:1.
  4. Matthew 2:18 — “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” This was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15.
  5. Matthew 2:23 — “…and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets:“He shall be called a Nazarene.” This one doesn’t seem to have a direct mention in the Old Testament. My commentary said it may have been unrecorded or a reference to Isaiah 11:1.

Gifts of the Magi
Finally, I have always found the gifts the Magi brought so fascinating. I believe the gold represented who Jesus was—royalty. Gold is often a major part of the descriptions of heaven and Daniel 10:5 describes a man dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold, and this man is most likely Christ in Daniel’s vision.

The frankincense represents the incense offered by the priests in the temple and over sacrifices. I believe also that this is two fold: one, of Jesus being the highest priest as in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrew 6:20) and two, that He would be the final sacrifice, the Lamb. And the myrrh seems to me to be a prophetic gift that foretells His death and what’s to come.

So, my friends, those are my observations. In two weeks (December 2) we will talk about Luke 1 and 2. So have fun reading and exploring Abba’s word for more tid bits about Jesus’ birth as we leave Matthew’s perspective from his Jewish heritage and enter Luke’s from his Gentile perspective. Fascinating stuff!

In the meantime, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am so thankful for each and every one of you! Love you dearly, SUMites!
Dineensig

 Image credit: yupiramos / 123RF Stock Photo

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Let's Walk in Mary and Joseph's Sandals

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “ God with us. — Matthew 1:23

15540148_sMy friends, can you believe Christmas is just five weeks away?!?! Right now I'm doing a series with my life group at church in preparation of Christmas this year. We're not following a book or script—we're just letting the Holy Spirit walk us through the story of Christ's birth and I'm discovering stunning details in the process. What a great way to walk into this blessed season with hearts focused on and full of the story of our Savior's expected and revelational arrival so long ago.

So, my heart is to share this with you too. It's a great way to set our sights on what really matters in the midst of all the preparations and celebrations, and I believe we will feel more like we've appreciated the truest meaning behind it all, along with valuable time with our loved ones.

Let's start with Matthew 1-2. Set aside some time and read through these two chapters and take notice of the people present and what they are doing. Who seems to be more in the forefront of the unfolding events? What is the turmoil surrounding them? How is God putting people and things into place? How is He communicating with the people involved?

As I read these chapters, I was stuck by how this time of anticipation over two thousand years ago seems so reflective of this time of anticipation that we are living in right now.

For hundreds of years, Jews had anticipated the coming of the Messiah. Their culture, rituals and the Pentateuch all pointed to this impending event. Then comes Mary and Joseph's generation and it actually happens. Take a moment and imagine what they may have felt.

Along with what I can imagine was a fair amount of doubt and wonderment, these two young people stood right in the middle of the biggest revelation of all time. All that they'd heard from their ancestors was now unfolding right in their very own lives.

The Messiah was coming?

Their anticipation was about to become a reality. Maybe not as they had imagined it—who but God would bring the Savior of the world into that same world as an infant first? Have the generations before who'd imagined His coming even contemplated this possibility? Did they assume He would arrive in full form more in a blaze of glory like Elijah left this world?

Now, bring those thoughts full swing to the here and now. This present generation stands in a time of acceleration. More things are being revealed and more signs and wonders are happening than ever before. It is entirely possible that just like Mary, Joseph and those who went before them anticipated the Messiah's coming and then witnessed it, that this generation in similar manner is anticipating the Messiah's return and could wind up witnessing that as well.

Unbelievable? Is it? I say astonishing for sure.

My friends, we stand in anticipation just as Mary and Joseph did. Who knows when Jesus will return—only Abba knows—but I find such striking resemblance right now between us and Mary. Many of us are carrying our hopes and dreams in gestation, waiting for Abba to bring them to term and birth. So let’s walk in Mary and Joseph’s sandals and stand in wonder of what this miraculous birth brought us and praise God for this and the many things He’s birthing in our lives too.

Now, go read the first two chapters of Matthew and take notes. Then come back here and share what stands out most to you. On Saturday, I’ll share some of my own insights as well. I can’t wait to read what you share! I know this will bless all of us too.

Holy Spirit, I ask for a deeper revelation of God’s Word for our community as we seek to draw nearer to Jesus during this time of remembrance and celebration of His birth. Also bring a fresh awareness and appreciation of Christmas to our hearts and inspire us with ways to share this with those around us. We love You so much, Jesus. You are truly the greatest gift we will ever receive. Amen!


Love being on this journey with you, my friends!
Dineensig

 Image credit: yupiramos / 123RF Stock Photo

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