157 posts categorized "Community"

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 and Dreaming!

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My daughter Leslie's blessing prayer on our entry. :-)


My friends, Mike and I are getting settled into our home. There are still boxes to be unpacked and things to be put away, but I am loving the process. And the promise. There is so much promise coming…

I shared on our Facebook page recently a verse that the Holy Spirit kept bringing to my attention over and over again. I honestly have never had a verse “dog” me this much. 

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. — Romans 16:20

I didn’t fully understand the full “breath” of this word at first until I was in a moment of worship and God overwhelmed me with not just His love but a hope so great it brought me to tears of joy. It’s huge! And then I understood that our Papa God is about to release a greater hope into this world than we have seen before. His promises are true and just—our enemy is destined to be crushed under our feet. That’s where we stand, my friends, for Jesus, and the enemy is crushed. 

And this great hope will accompany His love as never before. It’s absolutely huge. We will be stunned, awestruck and swept over by intense gratitude as it appears and transforms us in ways I can’t even imagine at the moment. I am so full (pregnant?) with expectation.

My friends, will you dream with me? I believe God is about to do some amazing things right in this SUM community. I’m asking Him personally for something I never could have thought of without His loving inspiration and this budding hope working in me. It’s just not something I would have thought of asking on my own. And when the words first left my lips I was shocked to hear them.

I’m asking that Abba move in my daughter Leslie to want to be baptized. I’m asking Him to put this on her heart and that she’ll ask me to baptize her in our pool in our new home while she is here for Christmas. I believe God will move in this, and it may not happen as soon as I’m asking, but I believe it will happen. 

Why? Because I believe this dream is from Him. And why would He give me a dream He didn’t plan to fulfill?

So, SUM family, it’s dreaming day. What are you dreaming of? Here’s one I want to ask God for now, with your agreement, dear friends. 

Lord, we are dreaming of homes that are spiritually matched! We ask that our House of SUM become a House of SEM—Spiritually Equal Marriages! In the name of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, my friends! I can’t wait to read about your dreams, to bless them and pray with you.
Dineen

A few more of the Scriptures written on the beams...XOXO!

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The Tale of Two Houses

NewHouseMy friends, I pray you are still discovering sweet revelations and blessings from last week's fasting and praying for Rosh Hashanah. Dawn did an amazing job leading us. Thank you, my friend! We love you so much! 

And my friends, your comments were moving and inspiring. If you didn't read Ann's comment about her revelation dream for us that she posted on Thursday, please go read it in the comments. It's very encouraging and confirmed many things for me. In fact, God used her comment and Dawn's story about her house to show me what I was to share with you next. 

Can I just say, I love our Father's heart for us and our spouses? He is so passionate about us, my friends! I'm overwhelmed by His love and heart for us.

Now about our house...we are just 16 days away from closing. We have watched our house transform from a cement slab and framed walls to a nearly completed home full of details—cabinets, counters, painted walls and landscaping. My husband and I are so excited that we go by our house about twice a day just to see what new things have been done that day.

Now something happened early on in this process that came full circle just a week ago and God has show me it's a word for us. But first, I need to tell you a story of how this all began.

Back in 2004...

My husband and I decided it was time to buy a house. We'd moved back to the U.S. (to California) from Switzerland two years prior and had rented a house so we could get acquainted with the area and figure out where we wanted to settle. However, as you may or may not know, the housing prices in California were/are quite high. And the houses that were in our budget sold fast, usually through bidding wars.

One Sunday I went to church full of despair. We'd not found a house and had decided we would continue renting. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for us. We planned to check one more area that afternoon, but if that didn't pan out, we'd call our landlord and negotiate another lease.

That afternoon we drove to the area a friend had suggested but didn't find it. We had a fairly small area to work in because of our oldest daughter's high school district. When we reached that outer street, we resigned ourselves to just go home.

Just a few blocks down, we saw an open house sign on a house that was just renovated and hadn't even been officially listed yet. We debated stopping and finally did. 

My friends, I kid you not, as I walked into that house and barely saw more than just the front living area, I said to my husband, "This is our house."

We contacted our realtor, who was (is) a believer and told her to make an offer. And then we went to war. Several offers came in for that house. We'd offered the full asking price but knew the chances were slim to get it. Mike and discussed offering more and decided we'd take the risk. Our budget would be stretched, and we weren't sure how we'd do it, but my ever-optimist husband said we'd figure out a way. 

I called our realtor and asked if we should offer more. She asked for a little time to pray about it. A half hour later she called and agreed it was a good plan. Then we waited. 

The next day my husband came home with a story of his own. He'd received an unexpected raise that day, and it was exactly what we would need to afford the higher price mortgage. 

We got the house. SUMites, every time I looked at our house after that, all I saw in my mind was this big red bow around it, because it was a gift from God. We walked through a lot in that house (including the miracles of my daughter’s cancer recovery) and God us blessed us richly, even in the sale of the home to a sweet family with a little boy.

Now, fast forward to our house we are building now. As I shared in my post in July, God showed me this new house is a also a gift from His hand and that I was to rejoice in it. 

On September 8th, God led me to the book of Haggai. 

"'The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” — Haggai 2:9 ESV

As I read this, I began to tremble, my friends. That may sound crazy, but I knew that God had spoken something very deep to my spirit. And He reminded me of two other times this Word was spoken over me in the last year and half. Now He was affirming that the house He was giving us  ow and all that He has planned and purposed for it (which He's given me just a glimpse of His kingdom plans there and let me just say, "WOW!") will be greater than our former house.

SUMites, as I have shared in this past, this new house has become a monument of God's presence, provision and plans for this community. Our SUM family.

This word, that our latter "home" will be greater than our former one is for all of us. Ann's comment last week confirmed this for me. And showed me now was the time to share it as we near the completion of this home.

But God has given me another specific word, my friends. One that starts with an event that would require me to forgive someone connected to the completion of this home for lying and breaking our trust. It's a crazy story of God's unexpected justice and protection of His provision and plans. You will be utterly amazed.

Please be sure to come back for the rest of this story on Friday and to hear God's heart for us right now. This is a message you don’t want to miss, straight from the Father’s heart.

We are on the precipice, my friends. I know it's challenging to be on the mountain top with an assuredness and determination to pray into what God reveals to us, then to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray and not see any visible change. But let me be the voice of truth to you and reassure you that our God is working diligently to bring forth His promise in reply to our prayers. 

Today I'm asking you to make a new declaration in the comments that you trust the Lord for all that He has promised you because He is your God.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” — Psalms 31:14

Declare what you are trusting Him for too, my friends. Let's speak out into the natural what God is setting into place in the heavens! (Heb. 11:3)

I love you, SUM family. Please know that I am faithfully praying Jer. 24:7 and the Scriptures you sent me over you and your spouse. God is faithful to His Word!
~ Dineen

 

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A Testimony of Fasting - Day 1 of SUM Community Fast

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If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

Lyrics from “My Story” Big Daddy Weave

The words to that song are the words to my song – my story.  And to tell you my story is to tell of Him.  My story of the last year is one filled with hope, love, victory and abundance.  It has been a jubilee year indeed and it all started with the Rosh Hashanah community fast here in our Sum Community. 

It was Monday, September 14th.  I had not fasted in a quite a while and I was actually at a very stagnant, even stale, place in my prayer life.  I was disappointed with God for not moving in my timeline, I was stressed out from the contentious relationship with my ex-husband and I was doing this fast because I just needed to feel that closeness with the Lord that I had not felt in a very long time.  And the thought of a Jubilee year on the heels of one of the hardest 3 years of my life sounded very appealing too.  While it was not my driving force, a breakthrough would definitely have been welcome.

It would be very hard to fit an entire year of blessings into a blog post, so I will start with that day.  On that day, everything with my ex-husband (for whom I have been standing for over 4 years with no hope in sight) turned on a dime.  It started with him calling me about his sick grandfather (shocking in itself) and since that conversation we have become friends, gone on family outings, helped each other out and even attended church together on Easter Sunday– ALL a result of that one day of fasting when everything turned around. And I believe that every day since then has brought us closer to restoration – no minor miracle, my friends!

For our first day of fasting, I will tell you of one other amazing story to bookend this past Jubilee year.  It ended as grand (grand as only God can do) as it started.  As you are reading this, I am moving into a house I purchased for me and my girls.  I had been renting a house for the last 4 years, but my daughter was starting high school and wanted to attend a particular school in a different area.  I decided I needed to go ahead and buy a house in that district.  So we started praying back in March for a ranch style house (just a personal preference), within our budget and with a school bus for both girls. 

The housing market in Denver is just crazy, so after getting outbid on every house we liked, I decided a new build was the only way to go.  Upon inquiring about new builds, I found out ranch style houses are VERY popular and there were none of those models available.  Apparently they were the first to sell.  So I settled on a 2 story house, significantly out of my comfortable price point and decided this was just the way it was meant to be.  At least both girls would have a bus to and from school. 

Fast forward to Sunday June 19th… I got a call from the sales office saying that our house completion had been pushed back to next year instead of the original Oct/Nov date I had been told.  Oh – and did I mention my lease was up in July and we had moved into my sister’s basement for what we assumed would be a short amount of time?  This news was devastating, BUT GOD!  As I am in tears with the poor sales lady, she says “We do have a ranch that is available and finished.  The family who originally intended to buy it was transferred out of state. If you’d like to come see it, we’d be willing to work with you on the price and transfer your earnest money.”

The girls and I went to see it that day.  It was everything we wanted and we fell in love with it immediately. It even had the same finishes (white cabinets, gray quartz countertops) that we had picked out for the other house.  We closed on September 30 and best of all; the price they gave us was well within the budget I had prayed for.  Wow – don’t you just LOVE how God rolls!?!

The kind of fast I am choosing to do this week is solid food from sun up to sun down Monday – Friday.  The breakthrough(s) I am particularly praying for are the usual ones I’ve been praying for years – that J will come to know the love of Christ first hand and know true unconditional love for the first time in his life and that my marriage and our family would be restored.  I would love to hear the breakthroughs you are all fasting for so we can pray for each other during this special time.  What mountains do you want to see moved as a result of your fast this week?

I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be leading this fast and doing it with all of you. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about obstacles to fasting and how we can stand strong against them.  “See” you then!

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Rosh Hashanah and SUM Community Fasting

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Hello, SUMites! I’m excited to tell you about what will be happening next week and who will be leading it. 

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset on Sunday, October 2nd and ends at nightfall on October 4th and means “head of the year” in Hebrew. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah, which in Hebrew means day of shouting and blasting and is sometimes translated as the Feast of Trumpets. Thus why the Shofar is a symbol of the holiday (as well as the eating of symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year”) and is blown as part of the celebration.

The significance of this horn is very symbolic as well. Remember the story of Jericho and how the seven priests bore seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord? They were to blow the horns as they marched around the city. Have you heard the sound of a Shofar?

Rosh Hashanah is then followed by Yom Kippur, which is a time reflection, repentance and fasting. So, my friends, next week our very own, Dawn Billesbach, will be leading us each day in community fasting and praying with stories and encouragement of how God has moved in her life through the observance of this Jewish holiday and its traditions.

Lynn and I are so very grateful to have her leadership for this. We’ve already read the first installment, and we both wound up in tears. It is a stunning and ongoing story of God’s goodness and faithfulness to a woman’s prayers and intercession for her for her marriage, her family and even herself. 

So, dear SUMites, be prepared to be blessed and encouraged greatly by this wonderful woman of God who’s heart for Jesus is steadfast and faithful. Lynn and I have had the honor and pleasure of standing with her for years in prayer and have witnessed her grow in her faith walk in ways we never imagined. God is so good!

Here’s a little about Dawn:

Bio_picI live in Broomfield, Co with my 2 girls.  I have a teen and a tween and needless to say, lots of gray hair. We enjoy camping and all things outdoors. If I can’t be outside, my 2nd favorite place is in the kitchen. I love feeding people. Food is definitely my love language. I have many accomplishments that I am very proud of, but one my greatest (besides raising 2 amazing kiddos) is learning to back up my pop-up camper. Funny, but true!

I am divorced, but standing in faith for a restoration of my marriage and family. I am in AWE every single day of the faithfulness of God and His promises to work ALL things for our good.   As I watch His plans unfold, I can’t help but be absolutely blown away. In recent years, I have learned the difference in knowing God and knowing God. HE has met me on every step of this journey whether I was face down on the floor, immobile from grief or learning to back up a camper so I could take my kids camping. For this, I wouldn’t trade a single tear or heartache.  

I joined the SUM community about 4 years ago when my husband and I were first separated. The encouragement has been a lifeline to me since.  

Dear friends, here are some links to help you determine how and what kind of fast is best for you. Please consider this next week prayerfully and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Why Should You Fast

How to Fast Safely

How Long and What Type of Fast is Right for You

SUMites, I’m excited about and expectant of what God is going to do next week. A verse I have prayed for years showed up yesterday, and I knew in my spirit right away this is for us right now.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. — Jeremiah 33:3

Lord, we call out to You and wait expectantly for You to answer. Tell us great and hidden things about this next year, Lord, as we ask to know Your heart for ourselves, our spouses and our family. We commit this next week to You and rejoice in knowing that You are always working for our good (Rom. 8:28) and have a future and a hope set in place for us all (Jer. 29:11). We rejoice, Lord! We rejoice in You! For You are our inheritance and we are Yours. In the blessed name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Lord of the Harvest

15753952_sHe said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

My friends, I don’t know if you remember me sharing in June of 2013 a dream God gave me, which I believe was a precursor to our salvation word this year and what’s to come. There are several pieces to this that the Holy Spirit is showing me, and I am excited to share with you. So let’s start with a refresher of that dream and then pray in this harvest!

May 2013 (date of dream)

I was half awake, half asleep, but the dream was very vivid. I stood before a tall cornfield—taller than me. Jesus stood next to me.

He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest.”

I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?”

Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!

At the time I found it very curious that I saw corn in this dream as opposed to wheat. With some investigation and research, I discovered that the Bible references to grain can mean either corn or wheat and are often connected with oil and wine.

“From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. — Genesis 27:28

Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?” — Genesis 27:37

“If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat. — Deut. 11:13-15

Look at this Scripture from Joel, which is part of God’s promise of restoration:

The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. — Joel 2:24

Grain and wine were such integral parts of the Israelites lives and culture that it makes complete sense that Jesus would use bread and wine to bring such powerful symbolism, connection and power to what we practice today as communion.

And harvest time is always about prosperity, provisions and promise—of abundant life. The Old Testament displayed this in the physical sense first through manna and then provision from the promised land. Jesus took this provision of physical sustenance and connected it to our spiritual need as well. 

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. — John 6:35

Now recently several SUMites have shared stories of how their spouses have walked away from their faith either on this blog or on our 1Peter3Living Yahoo group. My friends, I can’t tell you how deeply this grieved me. These are the stories that break my heart and bring me to tears before God. 

And that is what I did one day last week. It made no sense to me in light of the promises God has been sharing with me—with all of us. I went to Him in tears and asked, “Lord, what is going on? You’ve promised us salvation and even shown me this is coming. Have I missed something, not prayed enough? Is the enemy winning this battle?”

I saw only two possibilities, but our God of the impossible replied with His, “I’m revealing the greater glory.”

Dear friends, my tears turned to laughter as the Holy Spirit whispered this to my heart, “The prodigals are being called back and the unbelievers are being drawn in.”

Our Papa God is so good! He’s bringing our loved ones to His Son just as Jesus said He would. 

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” — John 6:44

SUMites, I believe this with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit! Will you pray with me?

We praise You, Mighty Lord Jesus, for You are the bread and wine to our lives, our souls and our spirits. Thank You for giving this provision to our spouses too! Lord, send the workers needed for this Great Harvest. Send people into our midst to reveal Your presence and love to our pre-believers. Reveal and show that love to them through us, for we are Your workers too, Lord! 

Lord Jesus, there is Resurrection Life in all You do. We ask for this resurrection life to be released over our pre-believers, our lives, our marriages, our children and every place in our lives where dry bones need to be called back to life. Breathe Your breath of life over all of us. We call these dry places to life, in the Saving and Life-Resurrecting Name of Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, we ask for vengeance against the enemy and the demonic for all they have stolen from us, the SUMites, from our pre-believers, from our children and even from our ancestors. We ask for full recompense and restoration of what has been lost and stolen (Isa. 35).

Lord, call in the harvest of our pre-believers and prodigals. Bring them to You, Lord, every single one of them. Lord Jesus, when You walked this earth, every person who came to You was healed. We present our prodigals and pre-believers to You like the man lowered through the roof and ask that every single one be saved and healed. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

God's love is complete. Jesus made sure of that at the cross. So if God did that in order to love us that way, why would He be angry with us or withhold His goodness from us? Something to think about. The truth always turns the lie upside down.
Love you, my friends!
Dineen

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Friday Prayer: God's Heart for Our Loved Ones and His Church

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A SUMite Question: How Do I Stay Connected to My Spouse?

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My friends, one of the most challenging areas in a SUM is staying connected to our spouse, so today I want to tackle a reader question. Actually, this is a question that is asked frequently so I’ve edited this most recent one and included some additional parts from past questions so that it will encompass more.

 

y hubby and I have been married for many years. I came to faith only a few years ago and now there’s this enormous area of incompatibility and difference between us. I’ve looked to my church for support, but how do I build a church life when my other half is not in it? 

My husband has also shared he’s concerned about losing my love. I feel so sad that he feels this way…and how can I keep going to church when he feels like this? I don’t know what to do: do I stay home now and make him feel secure and loved, or do I keep on going to church for my own needs?  And what about our kids? They’re still young, and I want them to grow up knowing who God is now and not when they’re already adults like I did.

The other issue is that all our friends aren’t believers, and I’m finding those friendships so difficult to relate to now – so I need church and other believers for encouragement and support.  

I feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction to take care of my hubby and avoid erecting barriers, but what does taking care of him look like?  I’m feeling quite stressed about it, and I feel bad he feels so sad! Any advice?  

My friend, you’ve described the dilemma we all seem to face in our mismatched marriages. Staying connected to our husbands can be a real challenge, because we are very much changed—reborn. After my hubby told me he’d decided he was an atheist, I had no clue how to move forward, and I mourned deeply. So deeply. The next day he asked me if I’d ever be able to look at him again. I didn’t even realize I’d done that and like you, I felt horrible! I had to reassure him that I loved him and nothing would change that. 

From that point on I had to be very intentional to follow God’s leading in what I committed to at church. I think it’s important that we’re plugged into a faith community in some way, because it’s very difficult to stay strong without it. We need other believers so we are challenged and can grow, as well as be supported and encouraged. 

Early on I did wind up stepping down from my position as a youth minister, because it was very demanding and required traveling for youth trips. I realized my hubby and my two young girls needed more of my time and that was okay. I had put my marriage and family first.

During that time I expressed to my husband my need to go to church, but that I could be flexible if we wanted to make plans. Or just wanted an occasional quiet morning together. I can count on one hand how many times he’s asked me to miss church for him in 20 years. 

And I also explained that I wanted to take our girls to church. He was fine with that as long as they would be allowed to make their own choice when they grew older. I agreed and trusted God for that. They both chose Jesus, btw. :-)

More than anything, I think our spouses just need to know they are still important in our lives. I’ve explained to my husband that loving God helps me love him better, and my actions have proved that out. Amazingly, my husband has become more loving and giving over the years as well.

Just be honest with him. Tell him how it grieves you that he feels bad and talk about how to work it out. Just as you want to respect his needs, he should respect yours too, and you need a faith community. You may need to limit some of your extra activities if you find you’re doing a lot. Find a balance that works for you and follow what God is telling you. Trust Him to show you what to do and to keep you growing. It may not be what you expect, but I know it will be really good! And trust God to take care of your hubby’s heart when He does call you to do something. God is in the details of everything in our life and He works for our good in ALL of it. Unbelief will not stop His love!

And most importantly, don’t let the spiritual mismatch define your marriage. Find other things you two can do together to stay connected and have things in common. You will need to do this because otherwise you both could wind up living very separate lives. This will happen to some degree, because you both will be interested in doing things that don’t overlap. My hubby does disc golf and I do church. LOL! We have friends that we spend time with together, and we both have our own friends. 

Don’t lose hope, my friend. Look at this situation as temporary, because one day we will be united in faith. Trust God to do what He says He will do. And in His timing. He is so faithful!

 

SUMites, I pray this encourages and inspires you too. If you have ideas of how to stay connected to your spouse, please share them in the comments. Let’s inspire one another. And if you have a question, feel free to share that too. 

Love you, my friends! Next week I will return to our foundations series and explore truths about faith, hope, love and inheritance. And whatever else Holy Spirit is wanting to show us. And tomorrow—another Friday prayer.

Big hugs!
Dineen

*****

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God is Watching Over This House!

IMG_5181
My daughter Leslie is visiting and helped us write Scriptures!

Hello SUMites! Today I wanted to share with you how amazing it was Saturday to write those beautiful Scriptures on the beams, doorposts and stairs. There are now over 30 Scriptures written all over this home. As we wrote, we prayed, blessed the house and even prayed over the workers who will see them as the drywall goes up. My spirit jumps for joy just thinking about the possibilities of what can happen, because God is faithful and watches over His Word.

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” — Jeremiah 1:12

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BFF Heather came and helped too!

I think of all those beautiful promises from God's Word that you sent and see God watching over them to perform what He has said He will do. Oh, my friends, that reaches deep into my soul and spirit and sends such excitement through me. Such great hope and expectation! I pray this encourages you and fills you with great hope. God is watching over this house, and He is watching over this SUMite home right here, our "church without walls."

Thank you again for sharing your hearts and promises and allowing me to be a part of God's heart for you. I have these Scriptures compiled now in a list with yours and your hubby's names so I can pray them over you. I am praying over our entire community, for our loved ones and for you, SUMites, to be strengthened, renewed, restored and energized for whatever God is doing in and around you. That you would be filled with great hope, peace and reassurance as you rest in the truth that He is faithful and so very good. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you!
Dineen

 

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Foundations Series: SALVATION

SalvationHello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing! 

This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!

So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.

First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6

The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. 

1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.

Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.

In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.

And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured. 

Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.

After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.

At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13

For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?

My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.

I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.

And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage. 

Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
Dineen 

*****

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Foundations Series: A Monument for the SUMites

HouseHello SUM family! I hope your 4th of July celebration was full of fireworks, yummy food and family fun. My house was packed with close to thirty people (including my daughter Leslie who’s here for a visit!), which equated to me making a lot of hamburgers! The aroma of grilled burgers and hotdogs still lingers in the air here. How about you? 

Last week I laid the foundation (yes, pun intended) for this Foundations Series. And left you with a bit of a cliff hanger, didn’t I? Blame the fiction writer in me. It’s in my genes. Giggling just a bit here.

So, as I shared last week, my husband and I are building a house here. There is a God story behind this that is truly amazing and is part of this foundation theme. You see, roughly 26 years ago we moved away from Sarasota and family to find a better place for our growing family. At the early buddings of our careers, we couldn’t afford to buy a house. Though we loved being near our families, we didn’t see much of a future here. We moved away and lived in many places, including Switzerland for a short time.

Fast forward to the end of 2010. We (me, hubby and our girls) drove to Florida from California to spend Christmas with family. One day as I sat with my mother and my youngest daughter, we prayed a prayer that God answered so fast it made my head spin, yet would take four years to fully manifest.

I wanted to move back to Florida. My husband adamantly did not. Yet that day my mother, daughter and I prayed for God to soften my husband’s heart about moving back. Three days later hubby and I left the kids with the grandparents to run an errand and have a few minutes alone. Mike’s unusual silence told me something was on his mind. 

Suddenly he asked, “How would you feel about moving back to Florida?” 

I was so stunned I couldn’t speak a coherent word for about three minutes! Little did I know that the next four years would be filled with some tough times for us financially and would just about make me lose hope in that dream becoming a reality. Then everything “suddenly” fell into place.

So we’ve come full circle. From unable to buy a house here near our families to now building a home big enough to host family get togethers and holiday celebrations. This is part of my Jubilee year promise God gave me. (Lev 25:8-13)

In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors. — Lev 25:13

And also why I wanted that picture of our feet on the foundation of our house. Kind of silly, kind of fun, yet packed with meaning in light of the 26 years it took to return “home.” And there is so much more coming, my friends.

As we started this house process, God was showing me eagles in the Bible. I was praying that verse in Psalm 103 about renewing our youth like the eagles. Best aging remedy I know! One day we drove to our future neighborhood to see our empty lot, and there in the middle stood a bald eagle. I kid you not. 

God spoke to my heart that day a sweet confirmation that this was from His hand, His blessing and that I was to delight in it. He is so very good. So very generous.

And we are blessed to bless others, right? That was my inspiration behind a decision to share His generosity with this beautiful SUM family. 

We’re talking about foundational truths right now and salvation is one of them. More coming on that one, as I shared. But I wanted to create a monument to this, my friends. To God’s goodness and His salvation promise to us.

I just read about Jacob and and his Uncle Laban. Their story culminates in Genesis 31 with a pile of stones called Galeed, which means “witness pile” in Hebrew. I love monuments like these in the Bible, because they mark a moment of significance. Which is what I wanted to do with our new home, this community and our SALVATION word this year.

Package
Millers, Donovans and ENTIRE SUM NATION!

 

I printed out a copy of our 2016 SUM Word (see the sidebar if you haven’t read it) and wrote Lynn’s and my names on it along with our hubbies names too. And I wrote “The entire SUM Nation” with it. Then I tucked this along with a glass “stone” with Romans 8:28 engraved on the surface into a baggy.

This prophetic package is now part of the foundation of our house—our home. It is right at the corner of the entry to the house. 

IMG_4823The "promise package" is now a permanent part of the foundation, right at the entry to the house, under a "cornerstone."

 

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Ephesians 2:20

Wow! That’s giving me Holy Spirit chill bumps! And you know what’s even more amazing about this story? My husband is the one who put it into the foundation for me. Is God astonishing or what?

Now there is one more part of this story that’s incomplete. As I was praying and worshiping last night, God showed me He wants to fill the walls of this house with Scriptures. 

From you. 

Has God given you a Scripture and promise for your spouse? Email it to me so I can write them on the beams of this “monument” house built on the foundational promise of SALVATION God has given us, set in the corner to represent Jesus as the cornerstone. I’ve already enlisted a team to help me do this too!

In late August we are scheduled to close and move into our house. But even as the walls are going up and the rest of the house is being completed, I will be walking the rooms of this house, praying the prayers you have sent me for your spouse. I don’t fully understand the meaning behind all this, but I know He is bringing us together in a powerful way and has even shown me this in a dream. What God has planned for us is glorious, my friends! Together, we are His house!

Love you so much!
Dineen

*****

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Friday Prayer: The Armor of God

Hey there, SUMites! Here's one of those surprises! On Fridays I will post a prayer through the month of July. God's impressed upon me to share these prayers to help encourage and bless you. So here goes...are you ready? (Turn up your volume if needed. I forgot how allergy season here in Florida makes me lose my voice a bit.)

Praying on Your Armor

Lord, I am putting on the Armor of God. (Eph 6:10-17)

My belt of truth for Jesus is my way, my truth and my life. (John 14:16)

My breastplate of righteousness for I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:21)

My shield of faith for the righteous shall live by faith. (Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38)

My sword of the Spirit—the very Word and promises of God which are my shield and protection. (Psalm 91:4)

My feet fitted in the Gospel of Peace for Jesus is my firm foundation. (Luke 6:48-49)

And my helmut of Salvation for I am covered and live in freedom under the sacrificial blood of Jesus. (Heb 10:19, Eph 1:7, Eph 2:13, Rev 1:5)

SUMites, share your favorite armor Scriptures in the comments. And pray this over your children too. Make it like a game and you will implant the truth of God's protection, their identity in Jesus, and truths about their inheritance too!
Love you! ~Dineen

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Reach for the Stars

ReachfortheStarsMy friends, we’ve already started to receive prayers from many of you for our new book, Praying for Your Unsaved Spouse. I’m hoping there are many more of you out there praying, considering and even writing your prayer story.

But if you’ve decided that’s just not something you can do, I want to tell you a little story. About a year or so after I rededicated my life to Jesus, my church started a Stephen Ministry and put a call out for participants. It was a two year commitment—a year of training and a year of service within the church. 

When I read it, I thought how wonderful that will be for our church membership, but I didn’t even consider signing up. I had two young children and a husband who didn’t share my faith at all. Didn’t seem like a good fit for me. How could I do something like that?

That same week, my pastor called me into his office to chat. He asked me if I’d considered signing up for the Stephen Ministry training. I told him honestly, no. He looked me straight in the face and asked, “Please pray about it.”

My friends, I was surprised that my pastor, who knew my situation and knew me, would think I’d be a good candidate for this. But I was very willing to pray about it. And that’s what I did the very next morning. 

I love the saying that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls. Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what to say but to trust that the Holy Spirit would give them the exact words they would need (Matt. 10:19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:11).

That morning I sat in my favorite chair with my Bible in my lap, I began to pray about what my pastor had asked me. And before I could even finish my prayer, I heard God clearly say, “Well, what did you think I had in mind for you?”

You see, sometimes we disqualify ourselves for things because we haven’t done them before. Or we make assumptions that disqualify us that are completely contrary to God’s truth—and His plan—for us. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:10

My friends, if you think you are not qualified or capable of contributing to this project, please let me encourage you to seek God and ask Him. Let Him be the one to tell you what you are capable of. I have a feeling you will be very much surprised and delighted. And if you want some biblical inspiration of just how specific God can do this, read about Bezalel and Oholiab in Exodus 31. The only difference between them and you is that you already have the Holy Spirit living in you.

And I have a feeling there are prayers you haven’t thought about that have become near and dear to your heart. They don’t have to be about just salvation. How about prayers for your spouse to have favor at work or to be the best parent he or she can be with God’s help? We’ve seen God move in amazing ways through our spouses. What prayers have impacted your life as a SUMite? What prayers have impacted your marriage?

SUMites, I believe you have something to pray and say. Even if it’s something new that God inspires you with, share it! You’ll inspire more SUMites along this path than you will ever know. Like I say, God is not wasteful. He will take whatever you offer up to Him and multiply it beyond your wildest imagination (Eph 3:20)

I never imagined myself as a Stephen Minister, but God had planned it all along. And you know what’s even more amazing? All that training was part of God’s plan to bring me here too, to be a part of this beautiful SUM ministry. He’s the best equipper I know!

And I want to let you in on a little secret. As I was praying for this book and for our SUM family, Holy Spirit showed me there will be a sequel to this book—one filled with the salvation stories of our spouses! Can you imagine that, SUMites? Wow, God is on the move!

Holy Spirit, fill every SUMite praying this prayer with words and inspiration to be shared with those coming up behind us. I pray they be filled with wisdom, understanding and knowledge and with all kinds of words to express their heart and prayers. In the mighty and most able name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUM family!
Dineen

*****

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And the Adventures Continue!

SUM10Anniversary
Hello SUM Nation!

We’ve had a blast this month walking down memory lane, doing a LIVE Webcast, announcing our ordinations and celebrating YOU! Did you enjoy the stories? Lynn and I have had some crazy adventures together, and we have taken you with us in our hearts every time.

WHWW&NotAloneWe’ve written two books together—Winning Him Without Words and Not Alone—Bible studies you, the SUMites, asked us for. Which then led to invitations to speak at conferences, to be on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Dr. Dobson and INSIGHT on The Miracle Channel. Lynn even did an interview on the 700 Club! She’s the big adventurer in this duo, that’s for sure. 

Lynn and I have talked a lot about our adventures this month and laughed—a lot! She has said I was the one who gave her the gift of saying “yes,” when she said “let’s go!” Honestly, I believe I’m the one who was blessed more. She keeps me from getting too comfortable, you know? We all need someone like that in our lives.

And the adventures continue, SUMites! We are a family. A church without walls. The SUM Nation. God has brought us all together these last ten years for a reason, for such a time as this, and that time continues. His plans are still unfolding for us, my friends.

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, and Lynn and I have decided to take next week off. We have some planning and catching up to do. My hubby is off Monday so I’m looking forward to some beach time with him! But be sure to catch Ian’s post on Wednesday. And Lynn and I will be back June 6th.

With a surprise…

What kind of surprise, you ask? Well, we’ve been up to something—been planning the next adventure. And this one includes you, SUMites. A surprise that we think you’re going to love being part of. So be sure to stop in June 6th for all the details.

Until then, have an amazing Memorial Day weekend with your family. Enjoy next week with friends and family in whatever adventures you happen to be on. 

We love you, SUM family, with all our hearts. We love being a part of your lives as we continue to walk this great adventure with God together.

BIG hugs!
Dineen & Lynn

P.S. I (Dineen) will have a small post up this Saturday with a little announcement that I hope you’ll enjoy. XOXO

 

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A Past and Present Story

Hello, SUM family. I'm with Lynn in wondering how this month has gone by so fast! Here I thought I'd run out of stories only to find I needed to pick and choose the best ones, because there are so many. And I will say they are truly God's stories—the evidence of His love and presence. We all have His-stories to tell, my friends. They are our testimonies.

My story today has it’s roots in the past and is blossoming in unexpected ways today today. I never expected to be ordained. In a way that truth is still settling into my heart and mind, because it's not something I ever felt worthy to aspire to. But we know our worth is determined by what Jesus did and not what we do. I find I must remind myself of that daily. I trust God daily to free me from that performance mentality.

But you know what I love most about this. I was ordained by this ministry—our SUM ministry. I never imagined such a thing possible ten years ago. Or even five years ago! It's just “right" that it comes from this beautiful place. You know what I mean? There simply aren't words to express the joy that brings me.

And there is a humorous side to this story, SUMites. I wondered what my hubby would think of this so I explained I was going to be ordained and then asked him, "How do you feel about being married to a pastor?"

He laughed. In a good way. You know what's so funny about this story? Only a week or so before this, he and I were talking about the churches I've been visiting with a my best friend who just moved here in January. I've been helping her find a church home. The thing is, I'm still in this church search myself now that we've settled in Florida year round. I love the church I've been attending, but it's a big church and I'm not sure that's where God wants me to stay.

Do you know what my hubby said to me?

"You should start your own church."

And he was serious! SUMites, I'm just stunned at how God works in our circumstances. That is the last thing I ever expected my husband to say. 

I shared this story with my friend and what she said stopped me in my tracks. "How crazy will it be when you're both pastors of a church."

SUMites, I don't aspire to pastor a church, and I still don't. I feel like I'm already doing that right here, which still blows my mind. But that statement fueled the tiny seed simmering in my heart to one day serve God with my husband, to be united in that calling, whatever it looks like. I know you understand that dream too, because it's a hope we all hold close in our hearts.

You see, the story gets a little more interesting here. I asked God a few months ago what spiritual gift(s) he'd given my husband, and He opened my eyes to see it was evangelism. God also showed me how Mike is already operating in that gift, which is absolutely mind boggling. 

Why? When I met my husband, he was one of the shyest people I'd ever met. He didn't like crowds and kept to himself. Even in the early years of our marriage, if we went to an event, he mostly stayed with people he knew. 

Now I watch up him go up to complete strangers on the beach, in a restaurant, or a store and strike up conversations all the time. Complete strangers! And he seems totally at ease about it. I watch, and I'm in awe of how God works in our spouses even when they don't know or want it. Even when we don't know or can't see it. He does, my friends. He truly does.

SUMites, God has planted and is watering this seed in my heart—a dream of possibility. A dream I realize I'd put in the impossibility column early on, even ten years ago, and now God has moved it not just to the "all things are possible with Him" column, but to the "DREAM BIG" column as well. God has done a great work in me too on that one!

How about you, my precious SUMites? What dream is God seeding in your heart? What hope have you held close, yet been too afraid to share with your Great Big God? Share in the comments—I'd love to pray with you for this dream or for God to seed a dream in your heart.

On Friday's post, Lynn shared Karen's one minute prayer idea and 78 of you left comments with your hubby's name. Seventy-eight! Many of you replied to other SUMites that you would pray for her spouse and have partnered up. I've compiled a complete list and will continue to update it. If you'd like a copy, email me

IMG_5046
My Bible at Jeremiah 24:7. I have a hand written version of the list too. Started the list by hand and Holy Spirit impressed upon me to keep doing it. So now I have both!
 

SUMites, I am standing on the word and Scripture God gave me for our community in January, and I am placing this list in my Bible at Jeremiah 24. I declare this over our spouses nearly every day and I believe like I have never believed before that God is and going to do this.

He is faithful and He will do what He says! Amen? Amen!

Love you so much, my SUM family!
~Dineen

*****

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LIVE Web Classes were a BLAST!

Lynn&Dineen

SUMites, Lynn and I had a blast with you during our LIVE Web Classes! A BLAST! Wow, does an hour go fast or what? We so enjoyed being able to pray over you, bless you and teach about hearing God's voice for yourself. And telling you stories...and the Q&A session—getting to hear you—hear your hearts—was huge. Thank you, SUMites, for spending that hour with us—two ordinary women who love to go on adventures with God. And you're part of the adventure too!

If you weren't able to attend, we plan to do more! More opportunities to participate are coming. In the comments (whether you were able to attend or not) please leave suggestions of topics you’d like to see covered so we can plan and schedule future sessions.

If you attended one of the classes today, please share in the comments which session you attended, what you learned and what you took away that helped you most. We are excited to hear your input and comments. And what you share could very well be what will minister to someone reading and in need. We see that happen all the time in this beautiful community.

We love you so much, SUMites! Thank you again for making us a part of your lives.
~Dineen & Lynn

 

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I Finally Found "It" by Christy Edney

Christy Edney
Christy Edney and family!

My faith journey began as a little girl visiting my maternal grandmother's church with a small congregation, all over fifty-five years old. This small church did not welcome young children and I'll never forget the way they looked at my brother and I as we tried to behave during service. I now know that my mother ran from organized religion as a result of her childhood experiences with that congregation and her own mother. As I grew older I spent summer breaks with my father's parents. They insisted that all of the grandchildren come to their church every time we were in town. Their church was also very small but the congregation welcomed all ages. The thing I remember most about that congregation is their kindness and the sense of peace I found in that small building.

Fast forward many years, I met my husband when I was nineteen, married by twenty-one, and became a mom by twenty-two. The moment my son was born I knew that I wanted to raise him differently than I'd been raised and that meant finding a church home.  I asked my husband for permission to find a church and take our son with me. He agreed but promised that he would never come along or participate. That conversation was almost thirteen years ago.

I visited only one church before finding the one that God meant for us.  During those early days I would sit in the chair, look at the "happy" couples and cry. One morning, after crying through every worship song, a lady in front of me turned around and handed me a stone with the word Hope printed on it. She smiled with such kindness that I knew I was still home. One other Sunday during those early years, an acquaintance sat next to me and said "that chair next to you may seem empty but it's not. The Holy Spirit is always here." That bit of encouragement gave me strength to walk through those doors again and again.

I will admit, those early years were very hard. I tried plugging into the community through volunteering but out of respect for my husband, I limited my time spent in church activities. In an effort to find community I would look through the church website for a small group or class that could help me navigate my journey as a spiritually mismatched wife but I never found that. I continued to go every Sunday but I sought community and a Biblical education on my own. I did that through daily reading in the Bible, tons of Bible studies and Christian music. Then in 2011, after I had read just about every book I could find on the subject, the Spirit led me to Winning Him Without Words. Through that book and the word of God, I learned that if I was willing then God would use me to positively impact every area of my marriage and home. I also found the community that I had so desperately needed. It's true that I've never seen either Lynn or Dineen in person but through technology, they have become my friends and mentors over the last five years. I may not respond to every blog post but I read every one and I lift up each prayer request. This community has become my church without walls and I know that it was a vital part of God’s plan for my life.  Lynn and Dineen, thank you for your honesty, kindness and service to our community. Both of you will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Christy Edney is a follower of Jesus, wife of thirteen years and mother of two children (12 and 7). She serves her congregation as a Small Group leader and Stephen’s Minister. She is passionate about raising her children with an authentic Christ-like example, showing the love of Christ to all and teaching his Word.

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The His-story of SUM

SUM10AnniversaryMy SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.

When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers

As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.

Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.

And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him… — 2 Peter 3:15

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31

And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.

And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…

My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today. 

And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!

I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation. 

God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love. 

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12

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

26495595_sSUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV

So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.

I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen!
~Dineen

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How God Brought Lynn and I Together

SUM10AnniversaryGod, am I hearing You right?

That was my question in early 2006. For nearly two years I’d been writing fiction and pursuing publication along those lines and doing all the things a newbie writer was supposed to do to build craft and make connections, including blogging. Yet I felt this distinct nudge to share what God had done in my mismatched marriage to help others. That brought my next question. 

How do I do that on a blog and still honor my husband? 

During this same time I went to lunch with a dear friend and fellow fiction writer, Camy Tang, and poured out my heart and thoughts on the subject. My biggest concern was what could potentially happen in the comments. Could I handle that? And again, how did I do something like this and honor my husband and marriage?

Camy (who’s an amazing multi-published author now, by the way) listened with great care and made suggestions. I left our lunch date more committed to following God’s lead and belief that He would show me the way.

About a week or so later I received an email from Camy, telling me to check out this link to a blog. She’d just returned from attending the Mount Hermon’s writers’ conference that March and had met a woman there who wanted to know more about blogging. Seems she too felt the nudge and calling of the Holy Spirit to share about her mismatched marriage.

Bet you can guess who that was!

I clicked on the link and there it was. The Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog, newly started with a message of hope to encourage others living in a mismatched marriage. I was honestly floored and amazed that God was moving in someone else like He had me.

So, I crafted up an email to this Lynn Donovan and told her a little about who I was as a writer and feeling led to write about living in a spiritually mismatched marriage. I humbly (at least that’s how I remember it! LOL!) offered to write some posts for her blog on the subject. 

Then hit send. I figured she’d either tell me she had it under control, or she’d welcome me with open arms. And as you know, it was the latter. I was ecstatic! God had shown me the HOW of what He was calling me to do. 

My friends, when I think back to that time and my concerns over how the subject matter would be handled and comments from readers, I am even more astonished at what God has done in the last ten years. He’s created a safe place where we’ve had the freedom to be honest and grow together. God’s hand has rested mightily on our SUM Nation faithfully and continues to do so. 

Just…wow…

And we carry on, grow and have learned to thrive—the very intent of this blog all along. So, my friends, with you here today I want to say a very profound THANK YOU to my wonderful, amazing, inspiring best friend Lynn Donovan for inviting me to partner with her ten years in what would become an amazing family of God that gives Him glory every single day. And I want to thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives. Lynn and I are so honored and amazed by that every single day. God is SO GOOD!

Woohoo! Let’s celebrate!

Love you!
Dineen

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The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

19197771_sOn Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.

I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13

In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT

As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.

  1. Simply read His Word out loud. As powerful as playing Christian music in your home can be to change the atmosphere, reading God’s Word out loud in your home is even more so. I know this isn’t always possible with our mismatched situations, but take advantage of the times you can. I did this quite frequently over my children’s rooms as they were growing up and I speak God’s Word over my marriage bed and room. Bless and protect!
  2. Make it a prayer. Take the Words and speak them as prayer to God with your name or a loved one’s name in it. One piece of Scripture that I used quite a bit in recent years is from Psalm 91. Here’s an example:

    “Because Dineen loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16 NLT

    I even did this with the entire Psalm and still personalize it as prayer of protection. This spoke to my heart and gave me comfort. And the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
    So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
  3. Speak it back to the Source. When we read a verse and speak it back to God as a statement of truth, again our faith is strengthened and so is our trust. And as I shared on Tuesday about God’s faithfulness, He returns that trust with His faithfulness to His Word and to us.

During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.

Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.

Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.

Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”

God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!

SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.

Why? Because…

“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!

Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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No Greater Love

52448900_sMy friends, I’m so glad to be back at home in Florida. I’m still catching up with emails, writing, and unpacking boxes, but my heart is relieved to be back not only in our Florida digs (well, our temporary ones until our house is completed) and back here with you. You are my precious friends. You are my faith family. You are my sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus. And for a gal who grew up an only child wanting siblings, how cool is that?!?!

I want to tell you a quick story, or rather, tell you about an image that is emblazoned upon my mind like a photograph. I saw it while traveling cross country. I don’t remember which state we were in, but it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is what I saw. From my passenger side comfy seat I glanced up and saw an EMT vehicle. Not one of those average ambulances but one of the full blown, decked out rescue vehicles that we often send up prayers for when we see them flying down the road, lights flashing.

Except this one didn’t have its lights on. It was just cruising down the road next to us. As I glanced up, I noticed the driver had his arm resting against the window and his tattoo was pressed against the glass. Not an image but words and numbers.

John 15:13

Now I’ve seen quite a few faith-based tattoos, and they usually have an evangelistic message to them. I didn’t know this verse off hand, yet assumed it served the same purpose. But I wanted to know for sure. Love my cell phone Bible app…

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. — John 15:13

What a fitting verse for a man who risks his life to rescue others. Perhaps not every day is filled with peril, but I’d expect he leaves every day for work with that expectation. This is his life verse, his statement of purpose, the motivation behind what he does every day.

To lay down his life…

My friends, as I pondered this in the days that followed, the heart of this message expanded to you. As believers, we have laid down our lives for Jesus. As SUMites, we have laid down our lives for our spouses. As soldiers in God’s army, we day our lives for each other. Or should I say our hearts?

That’s what we do here, with every post. We love on each other, we pray for each other, we encourage each other, we empathize and often sympathize with each other. We wear each other’s shoes, so to speak.

We live the truth of John 15:13 every…single…day. 

So my dear friends, I am celebrating you this week, this month, this year—how about always? Always in my heart. I can’t think of better words than to say (and please receive them from my heart), I am so proud of you. Of us. Of what God has done in the SUM community to grow us into a church without walls.

We are coming up on 10 years for this community. We have grown so much and in so many ways. And so much more is coming. 

So much more. In the last week or so God has been showing me His great heart for us, SUMites. He is drawing us together even more in unity and purpose.

More is coming. More is coming. More is coming. I sense this deep in my spirit and my soul. We’ve walked a long journey, we’ve grown and God has prepared us. Now all that is being called into place. I don’t know what that will look like or what it means, but I just somehow KNOW it’s coming.

As we stand in faith for our spouses and with each other, God is moving. I can’t wait to see what He does next. How about you? What are you hearing Holy Spirit speak to your heart?

Love you, SUMites!
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Copyright: scottff72 / 123RF Stock Photo

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Reflections on the Apostle Paul and Life

19197771_sHello, my SUM family. I'm writing to you while on the road. An asphalt ribbon stretches before us as my hubby drives us across the United States. The U-haul attached to our trusty VW wagon holds the remainder of our possessions—at least all that we could fit. And in the backseat our 18 year old Mitty kitty rides trustfully with us to his new home. He's a good little beastie.

ImageWe have officially made Florida our home. Our daughters are now on their own adventures, living in different parts of California. As they helped us pack up the rest of our home of 11 years, my heart walked a dance of memories, both good and challenging. Yes, that house saw a lot of challenges and more importantly, a lot of love.

I will say leaving it was harder than I thought, yet in the same breath I was ready to let go. God provided that house for us miraculously (perhaps a story I'll share when we meet in eternity), and our current move and house building is by His hand of provision as well. You see, He is a faithful God who keeps His Word and promises to us.

Which brings me back to Acts and a man named Paul. Last week I wrote about his transformation. That if the man Saul, a Pharisee of high regard who made his life work to stop the believers of Jesus Christ, could be transformed to Paul, a man sold out for Jesus and determined to bring the Good News everywhere, then no one is beyond the life-changing presence of God. His desire is that all would know Him (2 Peter 3:9), and He is relentless in His pursuit of our spouses.

Paul inspires me. I want to stand for Jesus with that same determination and commitment. I'm sure you do too. Paul's continued defense would take him to Rome to present his case before Caesar, but he would endure great peril to get there. In Acts 27 we read of his journey by ship and the impending shipwreck. Once again he stands confident in God to do what He has said He will do. This time the promise is that none would perish on that ship.

So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” — Acts 27:25-26

Once again, my mind wanders to imagine Paul standing before a frightened crew, making a bold statement he couldn't prove except for his confidence in Jesus Christ. He must have been very convincing because the crew followed his instructions and not a single man died.

As a newbie Christian reading the Bible, I used to think Paul was just arrogant but then with maturity has come the understanding that Paul was confident in God. And as I read Pau's words in Acts 27, I too believe it will be exactly as God said.

Every promise God gives us will be as He says. He is faithful and keeps His word. We may have to endure a shipwreck to reach the full realization of His promise but, my friends, we will endure and live to see the promise of His heart to us. I believe so passionately in this, that we will see our spouses come to faith this year and beyond. 2016 is just the beginning of the harvest promised to us.

I have stood in faith and confidence that my daughter would be healed of a brain tumor and she was. I am standing once again for her health, for the promise from God that she will be as a well watered garden. And thank you for standing with me with your prayers!

I have stood in faith for twenty years now that my husband will be a man of God and will be a mighty force for the Kingdom. And I continue to stand in faith and belief for this promise to me and to each of you. (Read that promise here.)

I have stood in faith and trust that God would direct my path to achieve the purposes He put me here to accomplish. The last two years alone have challenged me greatly in this area, but I will not relent and back down from what God has called me to do. No plan of the enemy can stand against this, me, or my family. Because God said so (Isaiah 54:17).

I believe, my friends, I believe. How about you? What are you standing for? Let's share in the comments and stand in faith in our God and with each other.

As I finish writing this, we've passed through much of the United States and are nearing home. My friends, please know that I love you, I adore you and I am standing with you. Always. SignatureGraphic2

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