148 posts categorized "Community"

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!

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

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

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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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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

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

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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

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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!
SignatureGraphic2

 

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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Are You Weary In The Waiting?

Hello SUMite Nation,

I’ve been traveling and so has Dineen. So Monday’s post is waaaaaay late and likely to show up in mail boxes on Tuesday. But, I’m moved to share a quick word of encouragement.

Kathy Sweetman group two
Winning Him Without Words Study Group


Over the past several weeks, I’ve been privileged to meet many of you face-to-face. Kathy Sweetman’s church in San Diego has two groups each are studying our books. I visited their study group night and it was simply amazing. I SO wish I was able to do this with every group. (Lord, provide the money and this girl will travel *grin*)

I have been speaking quite a bit locally, and everywhere I go lately I am meeting women who are unequally yoked. Even this weekend a young woman sitting next to me at a retreat mentioned her unbelieving husband. My heart is deeply moved as I see the pain in their faces.

I hug their neck. I look deeply into their eyes and say, “I get it. I know what you are living through. I know how very difficult this walk truly can be. But, I will be the voice to tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS.”

Kathy Sweetman group one
Not Alone Study Group


Of late there seems to be a common issue within our community. I even remember a young woman at our Detroit retreat mention this issue.

“I’m weary.”

Right now the weariness of the loooooong journey is upon many shoulders here and feels like an unrelenting 20-pound sack of pain and burden. My heart breaks over the faces that look at me with tears just about to roll down cheeks, “I’m so weary of the waiting. I’m so tired of the conflicts. I’m so weary that there isn’t any change in my husband.”

I will be the voice to all of you today. The voice of the Holy Spirit as He SHOUTS, “He is worthy of it all! Change will come. I’m working things out behind the scenes that you cannot begin to conceive. My plans are in motion but I’m depending and preparing other people in this process. And moving people and events into place takes time. And I’m preparing you in multiple ways as you step into your Kingdom identity and destiny.”

What do we do in the waiting? We cry. We tell our Jesus all about it. We stay in the Word! We write our prayers in our journals. We read some good books. (I have suggestions, leave a comment and I will offer recommendations.) We reach out. Leave me a comment that I may carry you in prayer. Reach out to your small group at church. Be willing to be honest and tell them you need intercession. Then pray for someone else.

I discovered that when I changed my prayers to focus on another’s needs, my prayer time was much more fulfilling. We need to pray for ourselves and our family. Every day, each person by name. But then pray for others who are feeling weary. Suggestion: Pray for them now in the comments.

I will remind you that our unique journey is very difficult in seasons but it is also filled with riches of the Kingdom that other married believers will never experience. I’m reminded of the story of Carol who married her husband who was a believer. She seemed to have the life I always wanted. They attended church together, raised their kids Christian, etc.

BUT….. There is so much more to this story and I will share it again on Friday.

I love you. I’m praying for you and we are seeing breakthroughs. Press into the Father’s heart and keep contending for yours. Hugs, Lynn

Galatians 6 9

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I'm Baaaaack...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday, I want to chat about another big issue that was mentioned back in December when we began this journey.

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.

First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.

Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???

My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier. 

Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.

It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.

Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.

I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.

But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.

So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.

Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.

BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!

Next up: Spiritual leadership

Hugs, Lynn

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From My Heart to Yours

933344_i_love_youHello SUM family. I'm still in recovery mode for my shoulder and have met another challenge in this process. It seems my body is working against me and has formed scar tissue in my shoulder, which is hindering the rehabilitation process and making it more painful. I confess I was very discouraged to hear this from my doctor today. I will need to step up my therapy and exercises.

So I want to let you know I won't be writing consistently over the next few weeks. That doesn't mean I won't be reading or around. I will be reading posts and your comments as I lay on the table at physical therapy with ice on my shoulder after my torture—I mean therapy sessions (hee hee). And as I do my exercises through out the day I will be praying for you too. 

SUMites, I want you to know that every day I am praying our word of SALVATION over every one of you. I am standing in belief in God's powerful word to us. My friends, I truly believe this is His promise for us this year, and we will see many of our pre-believers being drawn to Abba by His Son Jesus. And I believe it will reach far beyond this year as the effects ripple out. Can you just imagine it?!?!

Please know that I love you all so much. I hate not being here regularly, but do know that if Abba places something on my heart to share, I will! And I am so thankful for all your love and prayers. They are so encouraging and part of my healing. Thank you!

All my love to you!
Dineen

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Proverbs 3 & Spiritually Mismatched Conference

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SUMites. In less than two weeks Dineen and I along with a number of you from our community will be meeting in Detroit, Michigan for a Spiritually Mismatched Conference. It’s not too late to decide to join us.

Start your new year off with a full day focused on living victoriously in a spiritually mismatched marriage. How often is there a conference specific to our unique faith lives?

The day is designed to release victory into our lives and strengthen our faith through a beautiful freedom process. The whole day builds until we reach the most beautiful encounter. The ending of the event is absolutely powerful and is anointed with the healing Presence of Jesus. Hope fulfilled!

It’s not about me or Dineen. It’s all about our kind Father, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit!

If you are able to get there, get there!…. Please make your travel arrangements today. Register for the conference through Eventbright.

Okay, I truly hope a few more of you can join us. Lynn & Dineen

For today, I want to share a passage I read this past week. It has stirred my spirit. What does this passage mean to you?

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. ---Proverbs 3: 1-6 NLT

I love you Sum family. I speak a blessing of joy, peace and goodness upon you this week. In Jesus name. AMEN 

Also, if you want a Kindness & Loyalty, Key necklace, you can order one by clicking on the Kingdom Necklace link.

Kindness Loyalty Key Necklace

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The Promise of His Covenant

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SUMites, I pray this week of fasting has brought you encouragement and strength this week. I wish I could have fasted more, but my pain medication only allowed me to fast a couple mornings. I am encouraged however that even in the midst of this recovery, which has made focusing on God very challenging, I was still able to hear His heart for our community. That right there knocked another lie out of my spiritual life. For that I am grateful. He has shown me that even in such places of challenge when I don't feel close to Him, He is still speaking and He will make sure I hear Him. 

Our own Cindy C. shared this profound truth perfectly: "Trust God's hold on you MORE than your hold on God." (Thank you, Cindy!)

Now, the rest of Abba's message for us is in Jeremiah 33, where I started on Tuesday. I am sharing here only the key verses so read the entire chapter if you can and seek God to bring this promise into your heart and home.

Then this city (our homes) will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. — Jeremiah 33:9

The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord. — Jeremiah 33:11

And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ (Yahweh Tsidqenu) —Jeremiah 33:16 (Prophetic reference to 2 Cor. 5:21: We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus)

“This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me." — Jeremiah 33:20-21 (The covenant with David was the prophetic word and promise of Jesus coming.)

My friends, as I read this part, Holy Spirit whispered John 3:16 to my heart. We know this verse well...

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

And this is God's reassurance that He will do what He has said. My friends, I hear God speaking this to us right now, that He is faithful and nothing will stop or hinder the promise He has given us. 

But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” — Jeremiah 33:25-26 

SUMites, this is a powerful promise. Jesus is the final covenant. For two weeks now 2 Peter 3:9 has shown up over and over again. Our God has not been slow to answer our prayers for our pre-believers. He's just been setting things up for the right time so the revelation of His covenant (Jesus) to our pre-believers would be so full that they would turn to Him with their entire hearts (wholehearted!), just as He said in Jeremiah 24:7.

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. — Jeremiah 24:7

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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Praying for Peace and Prosperity

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My friends, as I shared on Tuesday, I have an amazing story to tell you today. I just want to say personally how grateful I am for those moments that reveal His presence at work in our lives. I am renewed and strengthened every time by those moments. My faith grows and hope is restored. How about you?

This was one of those moments. During the week, Holy Spirit had revealed more of Abba's heart for us through Scriptures in Jeremiah. More specific than I anticipated so I asked Him to please confirm that I was hearing Him correctly.

Sunday morning I went to church and the pastor of my church was speaking on the EXACT same Scriptures and message that Holy Spirit had shown me for our community. My friends, I can only imagine what I looked like as I sat there with my eyes bugging out and my mouth hanging open. 

Simply put, God's message for us is Jeremiah 29:11, a verse we know very well. But He showed me what He asking us to do as we wait for the salvation of our pre-believers.

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” — Jeremiah 29:5-7

The Lord was instructing the Israelites through Jeremiah to thrive and prosper in the place they were in. Let me clear that Holy Spirit isn't saying that we have been exiled in our marriages. And also let me clarify too that if you read Jeremiah in it's entirety you will see that God instructed them to do this in order that they may live and not die. His plan most likely made little sense to them from a human perspective—to go into exile as captives to another country, yet God's plan was for them to grow, thrive and prosper. 

Our circumstances do not often reveal the plans and purposes of God, but they will reveal His presence at work if we seek Him and seek to obey what He is asking us to do in that moment or place in our timeline.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." — Jeremiah 29:11-13

My dear SUM family, God spoke this to my heart last week: "Steward well what I have given you." I confess I've had to do some internal examination to get my heart back on track in some places. My surgery and recovery have really tested some places in my faith.

But I know without a doubt that our God is at to work in our marriages and that 2016 will be a year of salvation and the beginning of a great harvest in our community. I have walked this path of the mismatched for 20 years and have prayed as faithfully as I could each prayer that Abba has given me to pray over my hubby. And now I am beginning to see the harvest of the seeds I have planted. Just this weekend, my mother even commented on the change she has seen in him. I am not the only one witnessing it now.

SUMites, lets not give up when we are on the verge of such a stunning breakthrough. Pray as Holy Spirit has told you to pray. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance on how to pray for your pre-believer in 2016, write it down and continue to faithfully pray and believe as you wait. Abba is asking us to seek the peace and prosperity of our marriages in a whole new way. I've no doubt as you seek Him, He will reveal to you, lead you too, or move you in this new direction. Just remain spiritually receptive to what He wants to say to or show you. This week of fasting is a great time to do this, to know how He is calling you to do this so you move closer to the promise of Jeremiah 11 each day.

And I will tell you now that the key ingredient to what He shows you will be love. To love with the heart and passion of Jesus Christ flowing through us. That is what I have witnessed most powerfully in my marriage, and I am now convinced it is foundational to thriving and planting seeds in our marriages. To transformation and salvation!

Lord, we come before you in great humility, recommitting our marriages to You. We stand as Your faithful SUMites ready to steward well our marriages and our families as You are calling us to do. We trust you, Lord, to provide all that we need to do this and to inspire us with great knowledge and wisdom to love our pre-believers with the love of Jesus. Today we declare as a community that our marriages will be places of peace and prosperity for the glory of Jesus Christ. In His amazing name and love we pray, amen!

My dear friends, share in the comments what you believe Holy Spirit is showing you for your marriage and 2016. I want to pray in agreement with you. I love you so much, SUMites. I am looking forward to walking, waiting and thriving in 2016 with you!
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Praying for Figs

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My friends, I’ve been praying for our community and seeking God’s heart for us these last two weeks. Reading your comments and hearing your heart has so encouraged me. I love seeing God work in your lives!

SUM family, I believe God has given me a powerful word for our community. When I first heard Holy Spirit speak this to me, I was quite stunned and then realized this was not only a word for me but a corporate word as well for our SUM community. I've been praying into this for understanding and leading for us. 

That word is SALVATION.

As I prayed for understanding and wisdom as to what this word means for us, Holy Spirit kept taking me to Jeremiah, a very challenging book to read in the Bible. But thankfully His intentions became clear as I came to chapter 24:

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord.

One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.

And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. — Jeremiah 24:1-7

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that our pre-believers are like those good figs and then He showed me how we are to pray for them in connection to our word, salvation. My friends, I am so excited to see what God does in 2016 in our community. I also believe that this year's most important mission for us each is to "plump" our pre-believers up with our love, the love of Jesus.

My friends, pray with me today as we fast and let's commit to praying the following prayers throughout this next year. Let's determine to walk in faith that God's will and purpose for our pre-believers will be done.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, set Your eyes on our pre-believers for good. Bring them to the land of faith. Build them up and plant them with deep roots. Give them a heart to know You are the Lord. Fill us with Your love in great abundance so that we can pour that love into our pre-believers so they will be plump figs for Your harvest.

Declaration: Lord, we declare that __________ will be Your people and You will be his God, for they shall return and turn to You with their whole heart. In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

And there is more. On Thursday I will share more of what God's heart is for us in 2016 and how He used my pastor to confirm it. Absolutely astonishing! 

I love you, SUMites. I know we walk a difficult path but our God has not abandoned us. Far from it. He has placed us where we are for specific purposes. I will share more on Thursday. 
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Seek and Listen

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

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

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