75 posts categorized "Guest Post"

He Opened It. I Waited With a Butterfly Stomach

1 Corinthians 13The following was written by Dorothy Fleming, a long-time reader here at SUM. She shared this story with me and I knew all of us need to receive it. Thank you Dorothy for your love, example and your Christ-like heart. Hugs, Lynn


January 6, 2018

Making My Husband Cry on Christmas

It started with a 2017 Valentine’s Day post by Gary Thomas author of the book “Cherish –The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage”.  He kept a journal for a whole year writing each day how he cherished his wife.  He then gave the journal to her at Christmas.  Hmmm.  What a great idea!  I can do that I thought…can’t I?

However, keeping a cherish journal for a SUM spouse presents some challenges, right?  Not only would I need to find something to cherish each and every day for days, weeks, months, but accomplish it without directly quoting Bible verses or writing prayers in it.  How can I honor my husband through this adventure and grow my faith, so I can be a better reflection of Christ to him?  Lord! Please guide me!

To cherish – to go out of my way to show my husband that I believe he is a gift to me and to honor him and our marriage of almost 29 years.  I wanted the Lord to teach me to have an auto-pilot that goes to grace, mercy and forgiveness when irritations and problems crop up.  I wanted my heart to not focus on negatives but show praise and thanksgiving for all the blessings our marriage has been, is and will be. 

So, I purchased a cute colorful journal that even says, “Cherish You” and I began writing.  Each day, I would pray - what do you have for me today Lord?  Many days, it was quite easy, but some days presented a challenge…do I have to cherish today Lord? Really?  Even when he….

But cherishing and remaining in God’s word teaches us to remember what Christ has done for us, how He loves us, cherishes us, shows unfathomable grace and mercy to us.  How can we not show that to our spouses by cherishing them as well?

Take a look at Song of Songs Chapter 5 as it describes my Beloved…My lover is radiant and ruddy…his eyes are like doves…his lips are like lilies…thinking of my husband as my Adam and I am his Eve.  Corny?  Maybe?  But isn’t that how Christ sees us?  Loves us? Shouldn’t we be imitating Him?

We know that God desires all to be saved and I hold on tight to God’s promises for my husband.  Dr. Tony Evans has written about our faith – “Faith is acting like something is so even when it is not so in order that it might be so simply because God said so.”  By choosing to cherish my husband more, am I not then being a better reflection of Christ?  I know my husband watches and listens to my actions and words, as he is quick to point out when I fall short of God’s commands.  He’ll comment, “Is that what it says in that Bible of yours.”  Ouch!

So I ended up journaling for six months!  Before Christmas I prayed a lot – Lord please show me how to conclude this!  Please open his heart to receive it as the cherishing gift I intend.

When Christmas day arrived and so did the butterflies in my stomach!  The time came for him to open the journal, I was nervous; please Lord let your love enter into my husband’s heart!  He opened the gift and began to read.  I watched.  He read.  I waited.  He smiled.  About two hours later he finished with tears streaming from his face and he thanked me with a big hug and kiss!  Thank you Lord, you are an awesome God!

Since Christmas, I have noticed my husband writing in the same journal at night…hmmm maybe I will receive a cherish journal back next Christmas…

DorothyFleming 2018Cherishing your spouse is a choice and that choice can be learned and grown into an awesome habit that will enrich your marriage.  You know all too well the extra challenges a SUM relationship brings and to remain motivated and focused on cherishing we must stay in God’s word daily and understand the gospel.  We need to remember that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins that we may be restored to Him.  As Gary Thomas says towards the end of his book, the God who cherishes the imperfect you is more than capable of helping you cherish an imperfect spouse!




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Be Aware! Don’t Compare!

Pure Hearted Kath MillerToday, I am tickled to share with you my friend, Kathy Collar Miller. Welcome Kathy!

by Kathy Collard Miller

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I’ll make sure I’m never bad like her.” Or “I want to be good like her.” We all have and it may seem like a really good thing to focus on avoiding the mistakes of some and emulating the good points of others. Even the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi, Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (3:17).

But if we read his words earlier in that chapter, he says, Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

Paul isn’t saying “be like me” so much as he’s saying be like how I’m like Jesus. Paul acknowledges he is imperfect and still on a spiritual journey himself.

When we point others to be like Jesus as we are learning to be like Jesus (to whatever extent) we are lifting up the greatness of Christ. We are never supposed to idolize a friend as the example, only how they reflect Christ.

Other people will always fail us. To put our satisfaction in being like them is surely like building our house on sand ... near the waves ... as a hurricane approaches. A very saddening comment I hear is, “Well, my pastor failed me and now I don’t go to church.” Such an attitude reveals they put their focus on someone who was never meant to be their example. When we are disappointed by others, our objective wasn’t to be like Jesus.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with gaining wisdom from another believer or noticing characteristics in them you need to improve in. But what is our motive? If we think being like them will give us the contentment we need, we aren’t acknowledging our perfect model Jesus as our source of goodness. We want to give others a correct opinion about who Jesus is, not another Christian.

0075_MillerKathy is making a copy of Pure-Hearted available to the winner of a book drawing. Enter by January 12th. The winner will be drawn on January 15, 2018. (US addresses only can win.)

Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books that include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 47 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. She would love to hear from you.

This guest blog is adapted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory

Order Pure-Hearted at: http://amzn.to/2jzYdWi


Twitter: @KathyCMiller



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Advent - Sharing the Longing

Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent.

Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you.


This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked down upon.

Why? Scripture tells us the reason: 

“But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.” (v7)

Because child bearing and, particularly a son, were so significant in those times, Elizabeth was most likely not recognised and she would have carried great shame.

Besides the shame there would have been a deep deep longing. For a child. The preceding verse describes both as being blameless before the Lord. But still no child. Imagine their heartache, the number of answered prayers that had come from both of their mouths over perhaps forty-plus years.

We too experience a similar longing. For our spouses who don’t know the Lord yet. And the different life we might lead as a Christian couple. No more shying away, no more hiding in the background, no more missed opportunities, and no more sitting alone in church.

Astonishment and Doubt

Zechariah has an experience of a lifetime. He is fortunate to be the name drawn to have the honour of burning incense in to the temple of the Lord. This would have been a great day for him. 

And then he meets an angel. Not any angel. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God.” That angel. Many would have fainted I suspect … his presence would have been terrifying, bewildering and just weird.

The news Zechariah receives is astonishing. After all these years of waiting and longing, answered prayer, his dearest Elizabeth would bear … a son. And not just any son; but one that “will be great in the sight of the Lord.”


Zechariah is so astonished that he questions Gabriel. I think we all would under similar circumstances. And interestingly, Mary a few verses later, asks almost the identical question when Gabriel shares with her. (“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” v34)

Doubt is part of the human condition. It is nothing to be ashamed of nor does it turn God away from us. He understands. Expressing our doubts to Him is okay. He wants us to share our doubts with Him. We only have to read the Psalms to see how David doubted.

Intercession by others

“And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” (v10)

It’s easy to miss this verse. While Zechariah is in the temple, a multitude is praying. For him. Probably for Elizabeth. For their situation.

No doubt our couple had shared with many their sadness, their longing and yearning for a child. God doesn’t call us to journey alone. In seasons of doubt being able to share our situations can be beneficial not just to ourselves but those we share it with. When was the last time we shared our sadness about our situation with another? For most of the last twenty years, I wouldn’t say much at all unless directly asked. Recently, I mentioned it to someone in one of my prayer groups. And his first response was “that must be tough.” To which I nodded and said, “yep, it is.”

“Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.” (Enuma Okoro)

We’re blessed having this community where we can share our yearning and be praying for each other. Lynn, our ever faithful leader, a few weeks ago encouraged us to leave our spouses name in the comments so she could pray for each of us as couples. And I understand there is some wonderful sharing in the Facebook group.

If you are feeling particular sadness due to a longing in your heart or loneliness as Christmas approaches please share with us in the comments below so we can love over you with our prayers.

I had thought I’d write more on the next part of the story but I realise I’ve gone long enough so I'll leave it to next time.

Grace and peace, dear friends.


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God's Promise For A Marriage - Thankfulness This Thanksgiving

Becky Walker Family Nov 2017
Becky and Her Two Children

Promises by: SUMite Becky Walker

I wanted to write about the Lord’s promises and explain what the Lord recently revealed to me. I encountered opposition about claiming the Lord’s promises for my husband.

My husband and I have been separated for almost three years and he actually divorced me in May 2016, but I didn’t even know about it until a year later. He has since married someone else and they have separated. I have also consulted with my lawyer who says that the divorce was not carried out legally and we could contest it. That door still has not slammed shut.

Years ago, before my husband left, the Lord promised me that my husband would return, not a slave to sin, but a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:15-16). He also promised me that He would give my husband an undivided heart and place His Holy Spirit in him, remove his stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26). I have clung to these promises and claimed these promises, even in the face of opposition, because of the faith He gives me.

The Lord continues to me of His promise to keep me strong and give me the faith to make the decisions He wants me to make. I have watched my husband, (yes, I still call him that), Charlie, go from not wanting to set foot in a church to regularly attending a Bible believing church in our community. In fact, the last time he had our children, he took them to church on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Years ago, before we separated, he did not want me to pray for meals but lately he has asked my children to pray for the meal when they go out to eat. My daughter also told me that when she got into his jeep last night, he was listening to a "man talking about God." And recently he told them that he listens to pastors on the radio now. Charlie is a truck driver who travels across several states during the night, so he may be listening to hours of God’s Word. 

I have watched God do amazing things and He still amazes me every day. I do not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but my faith is strengthened, and I give glory to God, being fully persuaded that He has the power to do what He has promised. (Romans 4:20-21). His promises have reminded me how to react and speak to my husband in every situation; speaking with grace so that I do not ruin my witness. His promises guided me to wait on the Lord when everyone else was telling me to divorce Charlie and move on. His promises give me the faith to make decisions that would seem foolish to the world based on my circumstances, like quitting my job as a public-school teacher to home school my children as a "single" mom. God not only provided almost all of my home school resources for free, but He has also provided an amazing job in which I'm teaching English to children in China online in the early morning hours.

The Lord’s promises are such an amazing act of grace and mercy. He could just leave us in the dark about everything that is going to happen. We could just be left to try to figure everything out on our own. People who do not follow Jesus are doing just that each day; living in the dark and trying to figure everything out on their own.

His promises are the reason we can walk by faith and not fear.

His promises are the reason we have peace and joy in the midst of storms.

We need to cling to and claim His promises, personal ones He reveals and the amazing promise of eternal life. There are over 100 promises in the Bible that we have the privilege to claim as believers. 

I was recently thinking about Joseph and the Lord’s promises to him through his dreams. I used to think that Joseph was enslaved only because he shared the dreams he had with his brothers, but the Lord recently revealed a new perspective. Since the Lord knows everything before it happens, and He knows our hearts, perhaps the dreams the Lord gave Joseph were given to Joseph because of what the Lord knew would happen. He knew Joseph’s brothers’ hearts and the way they felt about Joseph because of Jacob’s love and favor towards him. The Lord knew what the brothers were going to do to Joseph before it happened. I believe that the Lord used those dreams He gave Joseph to keep him strong during the trials the Lord knew Joseph would face; the enslavement, imprisonment, and needing to forgive His brothers. 

The Lord knows what each and every one of us needs and He does not keep us in the dark. He knows what every soul is longing for and what every person will have to endure in their lifetime because He has already seen it all play out. It is by His grace and mercy that we have the promise of eternal life and we need that to carry us through the hard times, the confusing times, the struggles.

He knew we would need His promises. We need to remember His promise of eternal life and personal promises that He reveals because He has given them to us for a reason; not just as something to hope for and patiently wait for but as a guide. We should always base our decisions, our attitudes, and our behavior on His promises and seek to follow Jesus, trusting Him that He will bring us to that promise. I know that God will fulfill His personal promise to me and my family because He has already seen it happen. But most importantly of all, I know I will have the promise of eternal life with Jesus, my Savior in His perfect timing. I will be living with Jesus in eternal light, brilliant colors that don’t even exist on Earth, a glorified body, no tears, no worries, no fears, no sickness, and no pain. I can't wait! 

It is also up to us to share that promise with everyone. Righteousness is the opposite of sin and Heaven is the opposite of Hell. We need to remember that there is also a promise of eternal damnation for those who do not follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If Heaven is the opposite of Hell then the eternal damnation they face is one of eternal darkness (such that we’ve never experienced before), and an eternity of tears, pain, fear, sickness and horrors we can’t even imagine. We shouldn't want anyone, not even our worst enemy, to experience that. We need to intercede in prayer and share the Gospel with words and actions.    

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing promises that are so full of grace and mercy. Do not let us forget your promises. Open   our eyes to the opportunities to share Your promise with everyone around us.  Help us to live every day of our lives in the victory of that fulfilled promise and may You receive all of the glory for everything You do and all that You are. We trust that you will do whatever it takes to draw our loved ones to Jesus Christ.


My name is Becky Walker. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am a stay-at-home mother of two children; my 8-year-old, Charlie Walker, V and my 6-year-old, Lily. I used to teach middle school Spanish but in June, the Lord called me to home school my children. I resigned as a teacher, a lateral entry position that God had amazingly provided since I don’t even have a teaching license, and later in the summer, I applied to VIPKID. I now teach English to children in China and I’ve never enjoyed a job more. I live in a house that’s owned by our church, and I recently became involved in the ESL ministry there; another door God opened. I love spending time with my children and singing in our church choir.


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Oh, Captain…Our Captain! by Dee Rusnak

“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” — Hebrews 2:10

When you think of a wilderness, what is the first picture that pops into your mind? Perhaps a tree-thick forest, or a breathtaking landscape of a mountain terrain, or even the soft extending sands of desert dunes? What about a wasteland? Desolation? Emptiness? Solitude? This is the biblical description for wilderness, or eremos, the place where Jesus was driven immediately following His Baptism. The Spirit of God descended upon Him and promptly began His work…launching His Son into the arid wilderness to be tested and tempted in every way for 40 days.

IMG_0083The first temptation of man took place in a plush garden with gorgeous scenery, fresh crisp air, warm comforting breezes, surrounded by the musical sounds of life. The first temptation of Jesus occurred in the dry desolate wilderness that resembled death, with the air thick, heavy and dry as the scorching heat of the sun beat down amid the deafening sounds of stillness.

Adam’s human hunger was always completely satisfied. Jesus went without food day after day for well over a month. Adam was not alone. Jesus was in solitude. Both were sinless, yet the temptations brought drastically different results. Adam had everything, even the God of all creation walking along side of him, but succumbed to wanting more. Jesus gave up everything, intentionally experiencing the sufferings of sinful man, overcoming every temptation, and defeating evil at the height of its strength. The first catapulted us into darkness, while the second transports us into His great light. The first a defeat. The second a victory.

In order to serve His suffering people, Jesus had to experience for Himself the human condition where suffering became a reality. From it He can deeply sympathize with His followers in every way. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…stricken by God…pierced for our transgressions …crushed for our iniquities…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) As we suffer through our hardships and trials, we begin to see our true selves and our helpless state, turning to our Captain who’s been there and can bring us through it! Accordingly, we can be there for others as well.

We cannot plead for our own cause. But, for all who believe and rely on His sacrifice, and based upon the accomplishments of His death, we have a Captain, a High Priest, who has purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, removing the crushing weight of our own depravity upon the soul. His power bestows that same endless spiritual life, keeping us secure, while His intercession continuously presents before the Father the very reason why we should be saved. Herein lies our hope for the souls of our spouses. “But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a High Priest truly meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” — Hebrews 7:24-26

The 19th century poet Walt Whitman composed the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Within its stanzas, Whitman expresses the great relief following the treacheries of the Civil War, battling the storms to abolish slavery, receiving the prize of peace in the nation, and celebrating all the Captain (Lincoln) had accomplished. A Captain whose sorrow was compounded with every hardship experienced by his nation. Whitman’s Captain unexpectedly passed away to death. Our Captain purposely passed from death into life! Our Captain leads us through the battles of this life, experiencing every sorrow we endure. When the temptations come, whether in a lush garden or the darkest wasteland, His power is made available to overcome sin’s strongest hold, setting the captives free. We celebrate all that our Captain has accomplished on His cross, and what He continues to accomplish daily in us. He never leaves us to ourselves or we would surely fall. We are kept by His power and His prayer, fortified by His grace, which is sufficient as He lovingly walks us through this life and into the next. Oh, Captain…Our Captain! “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

DarDee Rusnak and her husband live in Westerville, Ohio, were they spend their retirement years taking great delight in their 5 grandchildren.


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Jesus Paid The Parking Fine

Lynn here. Last week I received a wonderful email from Tamara Hari, who is a long-time reader and lives in Switzerland. It is beautiful and filled with truth. Thank you Tamara.

Paid In FullHello, my dear wonderful friends – how is life in your part of the world?

Mine is so full of wonderful surprises and sometimes a bit of holes too. I am always so positive, and God has spoken so clearly in my husband’s life, sadly, once again, when it comes to repent: regret and turn around, he has chosen the wrong way.

So now I am licking my disappointment wounds, and God gave me this amazing sermon to listen to this morning – that is why I am writing – not sure if this is worth posting but it touched my heart so deeply, I felt led to share: 

We all know the story of the prodigal son, who went his own ways, and when it went bad, he turned to God, his father. His father didn’t put him down, or give him a bad conscious or turn him away or treat him less than his beloved son. No, he took him into his arms and reconciled with him. Because the son repented, turned around and came back, the Father was able to embrace his son again, in love, in forgiveness and in freedom.

This part we all know........................now to show a picture:

You have parked your car in a parking space where you shouldn’t have. The meter-maid comes and gives you a ticket. The ticket is under your wiper. When you go to take the ticket, frustrated that you got another ticket = fine, you see, (here in Switzerland it is always  Sfr. 40.00 ) 40 francs in cash. There is a note attached:  your fine = sin has been paid – Jesus has paid for your fine = sin. He will go to court for you, pay the fine, work the hours needed to earn the 40 francs. You don’t have to do anything, He will pay. Will you accept this gift?  

It means:

- you are not able to pay the fine, Jesus is.

- You are not able to “right your wrong”, Jesus is.

- You are not without fault, Jesus is.

- Jesus is willing to pay for your fine in full.

- Jesus is willing to suffer for your fine.

- Jesus will free you of any debts in that he pays for your fine.

- In paying for your fine, He will suffer, not you.

- In that He suffers for you, you realize how much He loves you.

- His suffering for you, is where you get healed.

- In that you get healed, you are free.

- When you are free, you are in His love, saved, His child. 

This morning, I am newly touched by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus showed me once again, that He is suffering for each and every one of us that have to suffer pain. We think we suffer, we hurt, we are disappointed, which is true to a point. But we forget sometimes, I know I do, that JESUS CHRIST, our Saviour, has already seen it, suffered for us and paid the price and we are now without any debt.

We must take responsibility that we parked the car in the wrong place =  that some of us walked away from the Lord and now have living conditions that are a result of those prodigal years, some of us didn’t know the Lord before marrying and now must stand alone in faith.

WHATEVER the reason is that we suffer, it really doesn’t matter – because Jesus already knows about it, has suffered for us!!! Paid the fine, and set us free!! We are healed, we are free, because of Him!

I know this sounds really “normal” and not too astounding, and yet, for me this morning this was amazing! Each and every time we feel pain, Jesus has felt it already, has suffered for us, and said: I will take your pain and carry it for you, I will pay the fine, that you may be set free, you may be healed, you are DEBT-FREE!!!

This morning, I am set free, once again, and in the future, again and again. So, sisters and brothers in faith, don’t ever forget: when you endure suffering, pain, hurt, run to the Lord. He knows about it, He has already suffered, He is crying with you, and He shall heal you. Time and time again the Lord has paid, is paying and will pay for you .......until you don’t need healing anymore, when we reach heaven.  I am so deeply touched this morning, I felt how much my Saviour has suffered for me, for my spouse’s blindness. Jesus is without sin, and yet, He pays for all our debt and the debt that others do unto us. So, next time you are hurting, remember, Jesus is hurting with you, wants to carry your pain (pay the fine) and heal you and set you free!!

Do you want to let go of your pain to Jesus?

Do you want Jesus to carry your pain?

This means, forgiving and letting go of the pain the person did unto you?
Do you want to be healed and be free?

I hope for all of us, that we never stop running to the Lord for forgiveness, healing and freedom and we never begin to believe satan’s lies that Jesus “can’t or won’t” do everything He has promised in the bible.

Be richly blessed my dear friends, 


Tamara Hari-Mueller, 53 years old, married to Jakob Hari since 1995, three children: twins Franziska and Friedrich 21 years old, Hans Jakob 17 years old. I was born and raised in an evangelical and baptist family, walked away from the faith at 21 years old and moved to Switzerland to discover my roots. My father immigrated to the states in 1939. I was awakened from by Lord in 1999 in a church service I attended. I didn’t expect anything because I believed I lived my life correctly and God was happy with me. I don’t remember what the preacher said, I only remember the preacher and I remember the pain in my heart:

BANG. I was in shock!

I realized, I am not saved. I then started a two year search for a church where I could have a church family. I was led to the Salvation Army Church. Since 2001, I am a child of God, follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, a listener of the Holy Spirit. With every season more that I get to live with Jesus, I wonder.........why didn’t I do it earlier? That is my passion: to encourage others not to wait. You shall never regret trusting the Lord with your life, you will only regret not doing it earlier. All our children are followers of Christ, my husband is still outside....looking in the window.

Tamara Hari and family 2017


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How God Spoke to My Heart About My Husband

Dear friends, I am on "vacation" this week. It's actually my oldest daughter, Rachel, who is on vacation and spending the week with Mike and I. We won't get to see her at Christmas this year so I am making the most of this week with my girl. I'll be back next next week.

In the meantime, this testimony from Alissa is so beautiful and powerful, of how God met her, reassured her, and even gave her revelation and insight to understand what was really at the heart of her husband's choice to be an agnostic. When I asked her if I could share her testimony here, this is what she said:

Absolutely you can use this. One thing I learned on my missions trip was the power of testimony. We learned that the word testimony, literally means 'God do it again'. So if my testimony can give someone else hope and encouragement that is really the ultimate goal, God do it again!

Thank you, Alissa! 

Be encouraged, SUMites. God has you and your spouse, right in the palm of His hand. He never lets go. Hugs! ~Dineen


How God Spoke to My Heart About My Husband
by Alissa Berglund

Alissa BA little back story first...  A couple of weeks ago I went on a missions trip to Romania while my husband stayed back and took care of the kids. While I was on my trip he got together with some of our friends (all unbelievers) and they got into a discussion about faith and God. Fast forward to this week. I went on a walk with my best friend who isn't a believer but is open to God and she was telling me that this discussion and taken place but didn't offer up any details, and I didn't push for the whole story, just listened to what she offered up.
After the walk on Wednesday night my hubby Andy and I got talking and I asked him about the conversation that had taken place. He told me that him and some of the other had arrived at the conclusion that they didn't know where they stood in terms of faith, but that he felt like he is searching for answers and "proof" of God's existence. Then he blurts out that he identifies as an agnostic.
I don't know what that was so hard to hear... but having him label or identify himself with a certain set of beliefs just pierced me. I started reading about agnostics and the more I read the more defeated and beat down I felt. It's like a huge mountain is before me that I have no clue how to conquer. Yesterday I was mowing the lawn and just pouring out my heart to God, just pleading with him to move in Andy's life and bring be peace about this. God was oddly silent, but just kept telling him I trusted him and it's not my job to save Andy but his. I almost got on the Summite website to ask you all for prayer because I was so discouraged.
This morning I was running late and I got into my car and Faith Radio was on. Usually in the mornings they talk politics so I was about to change it, when all of a sudden the host starts talking to his guest about agnostics.... WHAT??  I perked up. This guys starts explaining how some agnostics become the way they are.  He said a lot of times deep pain is the beginning of unbelief. Wouldn't you know it... Andy lost his mom to cancer at age 9 and he has always wondered why God didn't answer his prayers and heal her. Then he starts giving practical steps to impacting an agnostic for Christ, loving them, being in relationship with them, listening more talking less, not pushing the gospel on them, getting into the Word and other resources about apologetics... but most of all trusting that the Holy Spirit will move and there will come a tipping point when they experience the realness of God.
It was as if God was speaking directly to my heart, saying... see I heard you last night...  I haven't forgotten your struggle or where Andy is. I just was so encouraged and lifted that this isn't my battle but God's. I feel like God is preparing a prayer strategy for me that is very specific to my husband. I've been trying to pray for him consistently every day on my drive in to work since I started a new job. I just want to up my game and do my part to cover him in prayer.
So that's it!! Just wanted to share that with someone :)  Just remember it's not our battle alone, but God's.
About Alissa: 
Married to my high school sweetheart and a mom to two energetic boys. Lakeville MN is where I call home, most summer days you can find me outside taking pictures of sunsets or collecting rocks.


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Was I Really Lamenting?

Acts 16 31I was tired. Weary. Drained.

I thought I heard from God that my spouse’s salvation was supposed to come last year. When God told me to be more specific with my prayers, I was more specific with my questions. I asked when, Lord, when?? I heard two years.

Well, those two years came to pass…nothing.

I waited a couple weeks. A couple weeks turned to two months, and two months turned into eight months.

The thing was…I did not give up on God’s promise – but I did give up my fight. I was in a stage of utter disappointment.

“Well, God! If you told me it’s going to happen, it will and I’m just going to trust it! I’m DONE praying! Done! I’m tired of being the only spiritual leader in my household. I’m tired of being the only one spiritually guiding my child! It’s not supposed to be me! I’m tired of leading! I don’t get it Lord! Whatever, it’s on You now. When it happens, it happens. After all, it’s YOUR TIMING.”

That was my justification with the Lord. I was justifying why I should stop praying.

If this is you. I urge you…DON’T stop PRAYING.

The endurance we go through praying for our spouse, the dry seasons we go through with the Lord…it’s for His glory. It’s for us to recognize the hole in our faith where we need to glean from His Strength.

The spiritual shield I once had, turned in to a cloak. I felt defeated.

Yes, it feels like a lonely battle. Yes, I have envisioned seeing my husband and I worshipping in the pews together. Yes, I want my husband to pray for me for once!

The thing is…we are not defeated. Remember if God is for us, then who can be against us?

Knowing my bitter heart, God sent me someone to tell me not to GIVE UP. This woman gave me her testimony of living through affairs, long fights, and drunkenness in her marriage. And who am I to lament or complain? The battle is not over!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

My God, I repented. I repented for my bitter heart. I praised Him for healing that hole in my heart.

It’s okay to feel disappointed. It’s okay that every once in while we feel weak. Maybe you are going through stuff in your marriage. Maybe there are times, where you are asking, “why me?” Patty Tower and Family 2017

I was in a place of losing hope! What would it be like if God lost hope in us? What would it be like if our spouses stopped fighting for us? I can’t explain the why, but I do know YOU are instrumental to your household.

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." Acts 16:31

If we lost hope, we wouldn’t have a reason to live. Hope is what keeps us sustained.

Are you in a season where you’re on your spiritual shield is dropping? What is helping you get by?

Sumite, Patty Tower

Patty Tower resides in Seattle, WA with her husband and 2.5-year-old son. She loves Jesus and aspires to help women thrive in their Godly lifestyle. She ministers to women of all walks of life, and helps them learn their prophetic gifting by leading a women’s prayer group. She is a blogger of pattytower.com


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Guest Post by Dee Rusnak: The Chosen One

Dear Friends, today we are blessed to have a guest post by our very own Dee Rusnak. I know her words will encourage you as much as they did me. Thank you, Dee!

I'm looking forward to sharing my next post with you, possibly a series, about partnering with God to release what He has placed already in our spouse. Eternity (Etc 3:11)! But how do we do that? Stay tuned...

Love you, SUMites! ~Dineen



The Chosen One
by Dee Rusnak

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

One of the most compelling salvation stories in the Bible is the one of the thief on the cross. It just boggles the mind that at one moment this dangerous criminal is mocking Jesus, and the next admitting to his own guilt and being saved. The Bible tells us this miracle happened within the first three hours of the crucifixion. Something major went down within those precious moments while he was in the throes of death. What, or who, broke through to his heart, and why?

Here's the scene. In the first three hours on the cross, Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Many began mocking Him. “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Come down from the cross, if You are the Son of God!’ In the same way, the chief priests, teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. ‘He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said “I am the Son of God.” In the same way, the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.” (Matthew 27:39-44)

In those days, robbery was not a crime punishable by death. Consequently, it was likely that these men committed a far heinous crime than mere robbery to deserve such a sentence. Their sins were then compounded by the blasphemy and unbelief they had toward Jesus. Oh, boy. No hope for them. Or was there? What happens next was quite a shock to everyone within earshot, not to mention those of us reading this account, and most likely to one of the thieves.

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: ‘Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:39-43)

What just happened? The salvation story plays out immediately and perfectly as two men, identical in their sinfulness, in exact proximity to Jesus, heard the same words, are affected very differently. Perhaps the prayer plea Jesus made to His Father for forgiveness came to pass as God reached down into the pit and saved one. Divine mercy. Perhaps this man contemplated Jesus’ prayer plea and it penetrated his heart. Suddenly, as one remained tenacious, wanting desperately to be rescued from the cross, the other became penitent, wanting desperately to be rescued from his sins. He took ownership of them as he was unexpectedly aware of a faith not there before, not of himself, a faith in the very One who could possibly show him mercy. The One who hung on the cross right next to his. Jesus confirmed his salvation by assuring him of eternal life. And, his wasn’t the only salvation that day. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, ‘Surely He was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54) And, not long afterward, a murderous, hateful religious leader named Saul was given new life.

Isaiah writes, “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me.” Paul writes in Romans that “not all of them welcomed the good news.” He continues, “Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Both men heard Jesus speak. But, only one HEARD His words of forgiveness. There’s no logic to it in the human mind. It’s all of God.

What I love about this passage is that there was no formula to this man’s salvation. No prayer. No works. No Bible studies. No following Jesus. Nothing but pure response to God’s grace. We try to fathom salvation…how it’s done, to whom, where, when, the right scenario, and what it takes. This story completely shatters any notion we may have of what transpires in a heart of the one being saved. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” David said, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Salvation belongs to the Lord. It is His to give, not ours to strategize.

This story of salvation should give us all great HOPE, dearest SUMites! In an instant, anyone can be transformed from dead and the most atrocious sinner into God’s very own son, presented without blemish. Let us go before His throne in earnest prayer, sitting at His feet, waiting, communicating, listening, emptying our hearts, drinking in His truths, trusting Him, resting in Him, and taking great delight in what He has planned for us and for our loved ones.

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26)

— Dee Rusnak and her husband live in Westerville, Ohio, were they spend their retirement years taking great delight in their 5 grandchildren.


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Guest Post: The Magnificent Vine by Dee Rusnak

Dear Friends, Dee sent me this piece she wrote and it fits so well with our healing series and who Jesus is, our vine! Thank you, Dee! Love you, SUMites! ~Dineen


The Magnificent Vine 

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

On our way driving through the mountains of Pennsylvania recently, I gazed at the wooded areas alongside the highway. Everything was buried in a foot of snow that had fallen just a few days before. I was drawn to the effects of the snow on the trees as they stood cold and motionless. Some trees, too weak to stand under the heaviness of the snow, had slumped into what appeared as the "arms" of other trees. It was as though these trees were there for the sole purpose of support…a band of stronger brothers catching, holding, and keeping the weaker ones close. Many had fallen completely, possibly lying there forgotten for years.

Nestled among the tall leafless trees were the pines who tell quite a different story. The wee ones resembled little children straining to keep their branches from buckling beneath the burdensome snow. However, they gave the impression they were quite determined to hold this weight….as if vying for the Guinness record. The larger more mature evergreens emerged strong and confident, as the piles of heavy snow graced their branches.

During the warmer months of summer, my grandsons visited the local state park where the ranger explained how trees communicate with one another through an underground network well hidden from the eyes of humans. Their root systems are linked together, making them stronger as they mature, feeding the needs of others, and more importantly, warning them of impending dangers.

Jesus is our magnificent and powerful Vine from which we grow. The mighty Trunk. The solid Rock. “Abide in Me,” He beckons, “for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15) Our branch was birthed by the Vine Himself as well as producing the fruit on it. As we remain in the Vine being one with Him, we find strength, courage, wisdom, understanding…all that is necessary to mature and flourish. “He sent from above, He took me, drawing me out of many waters, delivering me from my strong enemy…I will enlighten your darkness; arm you with strength…I am your help and will never leave or forsake you…you are My servant whom I have chosen, fear not, for I am with you, I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand…I will give power to the weak and to those who have no might I increase strength…He delivered me because He delighted in me.” (Psalms 18, 27, Isaiah 41)

Although in this life the snow storms may initiate, the exasperating bugs may infiltrate, weakness may penetrate, disease may permeate, burdens may arrogate, we find ourselves slumped into the arms of those who are stronger because they, too, were once here and found strength in the Vine. We allow ourselves to be upheld, while on other occasions we are the ones upholding others. It’s who we are. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Together we take these burdens to the Cross where they’re unloaded and cast off. “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

As we sometimes resemble shaken bystanders seeing our unsaved loved ones lay helplessly fallen, the Holy Spirit from within activates our diligent and earnest prayers which swiftly rise to His inclined ears filling our hearts with the confidence and trust that His promised help will come to pass. “Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” (Psalm 28:6-7)

Beneath the Vine is an extraordinary network hidden from the eyes of this world where our roots are permanently linked together by His Word, and everything we could possibly need is supplied by it. It feeds, nourishes, and transforms us into His new creation. It protects, warns of impending danger, giving wisdom, comfort, courage and strength. God uses this remarkable system to bring His message of hope to us and to this fallen world. “Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You…for Your word has given me life…oh, how I love Your word! It is my meditation all the day…You are my hiding place and my shield, I hope in Your word…my heart stands in awe of Your word…all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (Psalm 119; 2 Timothy)

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and four adorable grandchildren (with another on the way this summer)!


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Guest Post: Perceptions by Dee Rusnak

Happy New Year, SUMites! So good to be back with you! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas filled with special moments of delight and love. I'm so glad my daughters and son-in-love were with us this year. Our Christmas was busy and fun!

As we walk into 2017 together, my friends, I want to encourage you to press into your relationship with God even deeper, to sit with Him quietly and begin asking Him what He wants to do and be for you in 2017. This is a great way to get ready for our praying and fasting next week.

I keep hearing God say, "I want to do something different." I don't fully understand what that is yet, as I've been very distracted with the holidays and family, but I'm trusting He will show me. I'm so ready for "different"! How about you?

Here's a wonderful post by our very own Dee Rusnak (thank you, Dee!) to help us reflect upon the lens we're looking through and ask God for wisdom and alignment with His lens. I love you, SUMites! And I'm walking expectantly into 2017 with you. ~Dineen

by Dee Rusnak

Dee and Jerry“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:2-5

There’s a commercial on television for a product that can reduce the effects of a migraine headache. The mother in this piece wants desperately to understand what her daughter suffers during her migraine. Hence, the makers of this product developed a virtual reality simulation of a migraine and placed the device over the mother’s eyes so she, too, can experience what her daughter endures. Understanding immediately consumed this mother’s heart as she finally saw what her daughter sees, and her daughter was filled with great relief. Mom gets it. “How much better it is to acquire wisdom than gold; to acquire understanding is more desirable than silver.” Proverbs 16:16

I, too, have suffered with ocular (or visual) migraines since I was 13, which went undiagnosed until I was in my late 40’s. That is when I returned to the workforce and they became more frequent. I mentioned it to my family doctor who said, “Oh, I get those. They’re visual migraines.” What??? I did some investigating online and what I found was astounding. Much like the mother in the commercial, I saw on my screen the actual pictures of what I see during my migraine episodes. I learned what triggers them and what to avoid to deter them. Sharing this with my family finally brought understanding to all of us. We get it. “Wisdom is of utmost importance, therefore get wisdom, and with all your effort work to acquire understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

Being misunderstood is quite frustrating and causes division. No matter how much we try to explain, people still don’t get it and can be coldly dismissive. We’re not much better. We expect certain responses and judge others for failing to live up to them. But, God doesn’t ask us to pray to be understood. He asks us to pray to understand…understand Him and others. In his book Love and Respect, (you gotta read this book!) Dr. Emerson Eggerichs explains when God created men and women, He wired us differently and gave us distinctive roles. We both can experience, see, and hear the same situation, yet are at odds as to what we perceive. We each have our own lenses and grow angry because the other person is coming from the opposite pole. We fail to want to see the whole picture, to go see it from their side. Once we begin to understand this fundamental principle, then a light begins to shine. Oh, now I think I get it. “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Proverbs 14:29

Because we and our pre-believing spouses are unequal spiritually, the condition becomes more complex. As we try to talk to them about Jesus or His Word or anything about God, to them we are talking gibberish. We want so desperately for them to see what we see, but their lenses are still very much distorted and they cannot comprehend without God’s intervention. When my grandkids were toddlers, they often spoke unintelligibly and demanded that I repeat what they said, confirming they were understood. More often than not they cried out in frustration because I wasn’t getting it. I had to quickly set aside all logic and enter their world to see things as they see them. Perhaps we need to do the same for our spouses. What's more, we were once where they are. I get where they are. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Removing my glasses and making the effort to see through someone else’s lenses is what the Lord has been teaching me this season. Not only wanting to see their side of things, but God’s perception of it as well. The Lord isn’t asking me to ditch my glasses, but merely trying on someone else’s, helping me to meet them where they are. After all, how often has God met me with His grace, patience and love to bring me into His understanding? Often this effort can result in correcting my own vision, causing me to see things more clearly. In addition, attempting to understand another’s perspective commonly initiates that same effort from the other person. Let’s help each other get it. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” 2 Timothy 2:7

Understanding is a tremendously blessed relief. That is why God refers to it as “better than gold.” Our world today certainly needs it, as do our households. We seek God first, for there is no better wisdom than from Him. He will give us the discernment to understand what appears confusing, and give us direction on how to proceed. Imagine how many chasms can be narrowed, walls dismantled, and divisions eliminated if we only make the attempt to try to see things from someone else’s perception.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” Ephesians 1:17

Dee Rusnak and her husband, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and four adorable grandchildren (with another on the way this summer)!


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Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!


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From The Archives: Those Pesky Elephants

I was waaaaay back in the archives and stumbled over this treasure written by our beloved Rosheeda Lee. For those of you who don't know Rosheeda, she was a popular and frequent guest writer here at SUM. She always led our community through our January fast with power and amazing intimacy. She passed away in a car accident while on her way to meet up with us at a conference. You can read about Rosheeda Lee Legacy. We love and adore her and I can't wait to see her in the Throne Room. We plan to hug and dance and sign together for at least 10,000 years. 

But today, I want to share her thoughts about the foxes and the elephants. This was written during our fasting.

Have a great weekend my friends... I will be back with a TON of fantastic thoughts, classes and insights on August 1st. Love you so much, Lynn

Okay: Rosheeda Lee

Song of Solomon 2:15 "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."

Corsac fox Song of Songs is such a great love story. The words, the passion, the utter romance, and suspense of it all. Grace, mercy, and unfailing love. All that is in this one little book. It really IS a great love story.

But it isn't THE greatest love story in my life. Not by far. And I hope that it won't be for you either. Because the greatest love story of my life is the love affair I have with Christ.

I know, I know. This seems pretty irrelevant when we talk about fasting, but just hear me out. There are a couple things we all know about being in love. First thing is that it takes time together to allow love to really blossom, especially when you've been together so long that what used to be exciting is now common place. There has to be intimate time between you to reconnect and to re-kindle that flame. (Sounds cliché, I know, but it's true.) That's what fasting is all about. One-on-one time with our First Love. Time to re-connect, re-engage, and re-discover all the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

The second thing we all know about love is that when there is an elephant in the room, you can't be completely connected until... well.. until the elephant leaves. Oh, it doesn't change your love for each other or the desire to be close. It just makes it pretty difficult. Our love story with God is the same. When there is an elephant in the room, we can't connect with Him as fully as either of us would like, because for the Believer, that elephant is always un-confessed or un-repented sin.

Which brings us the Song of Solomon 2:15. Here we are seeing the Lover ask that the small foxes be caught, because they are destructive. Because they will ruin what is blooming so beautifully. I just want to point out a few things, then I'll leave you to get rid of the elephants in your rooms.

First, the Lover doesn't say 'let us catch'.. he asks that the foxes be caught FOR them. Which means he understands that he is powerless to capture these foxes in his own strength. He recognizes the need of someone more powerful to step in and act on his behalf so that their vineyards aren't ruined. It also shows that the Lover has to acknowledge that the foxes are there in the first place. So it is with the sin in our lives. We have to acknowledge that it's there, and we have to recognize that we can't cleanse our own lives or hearts. That job has to be given to One more powerful than we.

And let's not forget that these foxes are called LITTLE. They aren't huge, overwhelming, obvious intruders. They're small. Easily hidden and easily ignored. Which is why the previous paragraph is so critical. We have to CHOOSE to acknowledge them and to have them captured, so that the work God is doing in our vineyard (our hearts, our relationship with Him and with others, our lives in general) isn't for naught.

Pretty convicting stuff, right?

Elephantroom Love is at its best when it is guarded and diligently cultivated. The blossoms are overwhelmed if we don't weed on a regular basis. Don't let your relationship with the Lord be overwhelmed by hidden sins. Take time today to think about your own love story with God. Now that you've decided to make time for the two of you to be alone together, take time to address the elephant(s) in the room. I can't promise it won't be difficult, but I CAN promise you won't regret it. Not at all.

Off to get rid of my own elephants.



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Guest Post: Follow Me by Dee Rusnak

Steps“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I totally get where the Israelites were coming from in yearning to be like those around them, even to the point of desiring a king (1 Samuel 8:5). They were a very small nation, the "runt" of sorts among everyone else in the entire world. To them the outside world was the norm.

Yet, God set them apart to belong to Him in His very own way, making them unique, one of a kind, chosen to follow Him like no other. Runts were the smallest or weakest ones compared to the others in the litter. They didn't live long, expensive to care for, and pretty much worthless. That's why most farmers euthanized the runts - more out of an act of kindness to the struggling animal.

In the book Charlotte's Web, the farmer's daughter begs her father not to kill the runt of the litter of piglets, Wilber. Not only was Wilber on the chopping block, but was snubbed by other barnyard animals because of his size. He is befriended by a spider named Charlotte, who weaves words of praise for Wilber so others can see him differently and not be slaughtered. He became renown because of her words and his life was spared.

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon, who thought of himself as the "runt" of the tribe of Manasseh. The Angel of the Lord called him a mighty warrior and sent him to save Israel out of the enemy's hand. "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord encouraged him, "I will be with you." Gideon had to believe what God said about him instead of thinking of his own limitations, and he followed.

I struggled with the path God had chosen for me with this mismatched marriage thing. None of my Christian friends have spouses who are unbelievers. Just me, and I often felt small, the runt among those in my church. My mindset was that if only my husband were saved, then I can be like everyone else. What I failed to see is what God has purposed for me in spite of the condition of my husband's soul.

Jesus called us at the time of salvation with His powerful words “Follow Me!” and we got up and followed. As with the small nation of Israel, as with Gideon, as with Matthew the hated tax collector, as with the ordinary fishermen, as with the adulterous woman, as with the leper, and everyone else who definitely did not appear to be the logical choice to follow, Jesus wants us to continue following Him in this very unique ministry saying “I will be with you.”

Winning our spouses without words in our own homes does not sound logical. Almost lame. Bordering on lazy. It’s not common, and few understand it. You can almost see the proverbial question marks hovering over the heads of those confused by it. When thinking of missions, imaginations carry the mind to a far away place from their own front door, while ours takes us directly behind it.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As my retirement approached, I had it all figured out. I would dive into every bible study and outreach available, not only to learn, but to get me out of the house and away from my husband. The Lord had other plans and said to me, “Come with Me by yourself to a desolate place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) He showed me this barren place filled with those whose hearts were very dry and thirsty. Those with unsaved spouses who felt all alone, almost ashamed, runts of sorts, because they weren’t like everyone else in the church. That was me. I immediately dropped my agenda and followed Him to the SUM nation where everything changed.


I found myself in this refreshing oasis of constant living waters that soothed and quenched this parched heart. I found truth, hope and encouragement at every turn that salvation for my lost husband was not an IF but a WHEN! My mission became crystal clear as the Lord took my hand and pointed to the one who sleeps beside me every night whispering go there!

God sees no one as “normal” or as a“runt.” We are His precious children, His very own whom He cherishes and treasures, His workmanship set apart for His extraordinary plan (Ephesians 2:10). He established an online ministry and set two remarkable women at the helm. Dineen and Lynn have spent the last 10 years gathering all of us who are in this same EXCEPTIONAL situation – a spiritually unequal marriage – while nurturing us with the Word of God to dispel the lies, giving us hope in our desolate valley, camaraderie in our loneliness, determination in an unfamiliar ministry, understanding in our confusion, and great love in our thirsty hearts.

Here we can be ourselves, sharing, confessing, praying, blessing, and encouraging each other. I’m convinced that the Lord plans to bring more and more SUMites out of the woodwork and into the church pews where God is preparing us to minister for that very scenario. We were chosen for such a time as this. And, on that day when we step aside and watch all the lost souls come valiantly to Christ, we will all triumphantly praise God for initiating, establishing, and setting in motion this vital ministry of winning them without words!

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5


Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!


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Dealing with Disappointment

Photo courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You know when you’re in church listening to the sermon and you feel the pastor is speaking specifically to you and only to you? Well I had that experience a week ago. The message was all about disappointment. But I also sensed the Lord wanted me to share some of it with us.

Yes, leaning on my pastor for inspiration once again. I trust you don’t mind.

Misplaced Expectations

We’re often disappointed aren’t we? Things aren’t turning out the way they should be or how we hoped they would? Our spouse still hasn’t made a commitment to the Lord even though we’ve been praying for it for however many years. In fact, they appear to be even more opposed to it. Our kiddies are struggling too which grieves us so and increasingly sends us to our knees.

What about our dearest friendships? The intimacy we once shared has disappeared. Why, we don’t know. There’s an open wound in our heart that brings us to tears most weeks.

Why God why? It wasn’t mean to be like this!

We want our situation resolved now. We get disappointed when it doesn’t. Our hope fades. How many times have you wondered whether your spouse will ever come to the Lord? Me, too many to count!

The Road to Emmaus

We’re all familiar with the story of the two disciples who have left Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus. I’d encourage you to read it again today (Luke 24:13-32).

Jesus (out of nowhere) comes alongside and asks them a question:

“What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” (v17)

The two disciples were “restrained” from recognizing it was Jesus in their presence.

Remember this is on the day Jesus is resurrected. The greatest day in history.

They had heard (whether firsthand or from other disciples) that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb and that angels said He was alive! (v23)

But they were sad! So sad in fact they were getting out of town.



“But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel.” (v21a)

They had expected someone else; someone like Moses who was going to free them from the Roman rule. Jesus brought something far better: freedom from sin and death so we could enjoy relationship with the Father.

Misplaced expectations.

“When your hope is misplaced you are guaranteed disappointment.” (Phil Pringle)

This disappointment also blinded them from Jesus’ Presence. They couldn’t recognize Him. Ever felt that when you’re so upset with disappointment you struggle to draw close to the Lord? Even when He’s right there? I have.

The Power of the Word

Jesus proceeds to give them the best bible study they (and anybody) have probably ever heard. They so marveled at His words they asked Him to dine with them when they arrived in a village.

They still didn’t know who He was.

It was only when He had blessed and broken bread that the duo’s eyes were opened, “and they knew Him.” (v31)

Then He vanishes. They now believe. So they return to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples all about their experience with Jesus.

I’m sure some of the eleven would have asked the question, “But you didn’t recognize Jesus for how may hours while He walked with you?”

Disappointment can do that. It steals our hope and blinds us.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick. But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)

If you’re struggling with a particular disappointment right now please share it with us in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so and we can pray over you. Grab a hold of the Word and draw close to Him. Let His Word minister to you. Remember He has never left you and is always working in the background. Just as He is with all of our spouses.

Grace and peace, dear friends.


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Guest Post: Glowing in the Dark

Fireflies"For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" — Acts 13:47

I could hear the explosion of fireworks near my house on the night of July 4th. I peered out my back window, but too many large trees were in the way to see anything in the sky. I could see, though, a continual sparkle of light coming through the branches. Wow! The remnant of the fireworks!

Then at closer look, those weren't fireworks at all. They were fireflies (or a.k.a. lightning bugs)! Hundreds upon hundreds of them! I was mezmerized by their beauty as they quickly flashed in the dark of night, putting on a show much grander, and quieter, than the fireworks themselves. But in reality, they were just doing their thing, being who they are.

I found some interesting information on the Mother Nature Network website listing "the 12 things you didn't know about lightning bugs." A chemical inside their abdomin/tail called luciferin (yes, oddly enough the same latin root as Lucifer - is this why he's known to appear as the "angel of light?") mixes with oxygen, calcium and adenosine triphosphate causing a chemical reaction to create their spectacular light.

There are more than 2,000 species of lightning bugs, but only some come equipped with the ability to glow. The light these bugs generate is the most efficient light ever made! Almost 100% of the energy in the chemical reaction is emitted as light. In comparison, an incandescent light bulb only emits 10% of its energy as light, while the other 90% is lost as heat. Each species of the lightning bug has a specific pattern of light flashing, and males use this pattern to draw the ladies to create that perfect match. Some species actually synchronize their flashes creating a beautiful light show, such as the one I had seen out my window.

"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." — 2 Corinthians 4:6

Do you see yourself in this description? We glow because that’s who we are and what we do naturally! Jesus is our light, and recently our SUM family synchronized our lights to be in earnest prayer for our spouses, not to mention how we continually uplift, encourage and support one another. What a spectacular show that must appear to the heavenly hosts as our prayers rise to the One in whom we place our hope and trust.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." — Matthew 5:16

Sharing our wounds, our brokenness, and our flaws actually attract the lost. Here’s a light they can relate to and be drawn to. In this world of darkness, the lost don't even realize how desperate they are to see light. Sweet SUMite family, may we simply be who we are, shining Christ's light, not as a pest, but as a magnificent wonderment so the fireworks of salvation may take place in our very own homes. Not that our spouses would behold us, but behold the ONE who is the giver of that light

"Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." — Ephesians 5:14


Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!


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Guest Post: Ripe for Harvest

Dear friends, today's post is written by our very own Dee Rusnak. Thank you, Dee, for sharing your heart with us. Have an amazing week, SUMites! ~Dineen  

Ripe for Harvest 

Copyright: dedivan1923 / 123RF Stock Photo

Years ago, the Lord beckoned me to join a group of dancers at my church. Seriously? I’m 54 with no dance experience, not even a lesson! What was God thinking? I prayed and reluctantly auditioned, trusting the Lord would help me, and cause them to see what He sees. Let me tell you, He faithfully equips, even when we don’t know what on earth we’re doing. To my surprise, I was enthusiastically welcomed to the team! I began taking dance classes at a Christian dance center. Each class gave a recital at the end of the term with all the dancers participating in the finale.

One finale in particular was extremely moving and prophetic. We were all dressed in different costumes of white. There was a group of dancers already on the stage carrying candles. They slowly began to form a circle, as though marching around the throne of God. As they continued moving, all the other dancers, also carrying candles, slowly streamed in from every part of the auditorium, joining these dancers on the stage. The circle grew larger and larger until the stage was completely filled as the final dancer moved in conjunction with the others.

Then suddenly we all stopped and blew out our candles, as if the call for salvation was complete. I thought about this dance when we recently determined to pray our one minute prayer for our spouses - as they are all being called by God to join His family, one by one, from every corner of the world. It also reminded me of us SUMites, earnestly in prayer, marching purposefully around the city of Jericho in anticipation for the walls to crumble. Our spouses are within those city walls thinking they are safe, tucked away from the claws of religion, while all along being deceived and kept prisoner in enemy territory.

In Key 4 of “Winning Him Without Words,” one of the questions is: “How hard is it for you to trust God for the salvation of your husband?” The question caused me to think…I’m mismatched because God saved me first. I’m on this path because that is God’s plan for me. God has His reasons why He chose me first, so, who am I to question that? Everything about God is spiritual. His kingdom is spiritual. His salvation plan is spiritual. None of us are awakened to that spiritual realm unless He Himself reveals it.

But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

Is it possible for my husband, or anyone for that matter, to choose to be spiritually born or know spiritual truths without God initiating that process? Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3 comes to mind. That cemented my answer: of course I trust God! From where else does salvation come?

That evening I was reading in John 4 about the woman at the well. Following her amazing encounter with Jesus, she ran back to her town and simply said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” That’s all she said. Short and sweet. No rehearsed verses. She spoke her heart.

What happens next is nothing short of miraculous. The people LEFT THE CITY and CAME TO HIM! Her simple words triggered such a grand response that changed their lives forever. The Holy Spirit had been working silently in their hearts beforehand without them even knowing it.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Meanwhile, Jesus was telling His disciples, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK at the fields! They are RIPE for harvest.”

Then, over the hill came the harvest. MANY of the Samaritans from that town BELIEVED in Him because of her testimony, and MANY MORE became believers because of His words. Our dance all those years ago portrayed people from every walk of life streaming to the throne of God – called by God Himself to be His very own. Jesus says the harvest is ripe. Perhaps we’re to open our eyes and see the harvest who lives right there in our own home, knowing His Spirit is enthusiastically preparing their hearts for His special day of their salvation!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!







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Celebrating 10 Years: Waiting for Lynn and Dineen to Grow Up

“Mama, you are the Christian in your marriage, but you are not showing respect to Daddy,” my two daughters said to me,” as they detailed times, places and events that covered several years. 

And with that, my two grown daughters, Crystal and Heather, shoved a book in my hands, called Love and Respect, and said, “You need to read this, and get your act together!”

In that moment, I started having hot flashes (not from menopause, but anger) and I silently whispered, “Girls, I brought you into this world, I am a-fixing to take you out!” After their monologue of disciplining their Christ-like mother, I picked up my halo, walked out of the room and pouted with them for two months. 

During my two months of pouting, I walked my neighborhood crying and sometimes yelling, scaring the dogs and leaving people gazing at me in bewilderment. My heart became like a water pitcher pouring out years and years of complaints stored up inside of me about raising two girls in church without my husband, along with other things “HE” had done. When I had coughed up everything I could remember about him, I then poured out how angry I now was with “Daddy’s precious little girls” for confronting me about not respecting him, of all things.

“God, my husband doesn’t deserve respect for putting me through all of this.  Don’t you agree?”

Instead of agreeing with me (does He ever?) He gently nudged me to go to the internet and see what I could find out about living with an unbeliever.  Say what?  Never in all my years of reading books on marriage had I ever read anything on that subject. But, somehow, I found a site advertising a book called Winning Him Without Words, so I decided to order it.

My first night’s impression with “the book:” Not bad.  Pretty interesting.  Finally, I came to Chapter 4 - The Essentials of Love: Hope, Joy, Peace and Trust (Oh, Yeah, and Respect)

Oh, my goodness!  Now, I have some author, what’s her name, Dineen Miller, telling me to have respect for my unbelieving husband.  What does she know?  She is probably married to a Christian.  Oops, no!  It says right here she is married to an Atheist! And her co-author, Lynn, is married to one, too.    

My heart slowly began to melt as I kept reading through the night.  It was as if these two authors were seeing into my heart something that nobody else had ever seen.  They understood what it was like being married to a nonbeliever, but were also providing ten keys to thrive in the midst of this type of situation.

By morning, I fell on my knees and repented of not living up to 1 Peter 3 in the midst of an unequally yoked marriage.  I also knew I was to start a group at my church in Orange, Texas for women “like me,” which is now in its 5th year.

 “Where had these two women, Lynn and Dineen, been all my married life?  Why had I not heard of them before,” I wondered on that first night of meeting them on the pages of their book. Well, duh!  They were just babies when I got married; I had to wait years for them to grow up to teach an older woman like me how to live with this man I married!” 

Meanwhile, on their website, I started meeting women from around the globe (and Ian, too) as Lynn and Dineen pulled us all together as a community to walk through the maze of a spiritually mismatched marriage according to God’s Word. Wait! Wait! We can’t leave out what The Chronicles of the Donovan Clan has taught us, too.

In fact, everything that I have learned from this ministry has so impacted my life that I have decided to keep my husband around a few more years, and “Oh Yeah, Respect Him, too.”

As I think back to that night in 2011 when I had my first encounter with Lynn and Dineen on the pages of Winning Him Without Words, it reminds me of something Sister Mock, my childhood Sunday School teacher of long ago used to do.  When things got to going really good in a church service, she would stand up, whip out her handkerchief, wave it in the air, and shout:  Whooooooopeeee!  Glory Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!”

Knowing Sister Mock like I did, I know she is on her feet in heaven right now, ready for us to join her in a shout-out.  Are you ready, Sumites?  If so, get your hankie out, and start waving it. 

All together now------ 

“Happy 10th Anniversary, Lynn and Dineen!!

Whooooooopeeee!  Glory Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!”


About Martha Bush: 

Martha-031-Lite-WebMartha's love for teaching led her into areas outside the school system as she began teaching Bible study courses in jails, prisons, and at her local church. She also writes a monthly inspirational post at Created Woman and is a contributing editor for Created Woman Magazine.

In addition, Martha is a contributor to Girlfriends Coffee Hour and a member of the Orange County Christian Writers Guild.

Through her years of teaching, as well as being an avid reader of human behavior and grief counseling from noted Christian psychologists, she recognized how a team effort can help build a foundation in children at an early age that will enable them to cope with the losses in their lives. Modified-Front-CoverShe believes this team, made of up parents, grandparents, educators, and spiritual leaders, can guide a child to healing from losses he or she might experience. They can do this simply by recognizing his pain, listening to his pain and then teaching the child how to apply the principles of God’s Word to his hurting heart. This led her to write Helping Hurting Children: A Journey of Healing.



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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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Celebration Victory - Pam Anderson


In joining in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the SUM blog, I would like to share with you my experience of how I became part of this amazing SUM family.

It was January 2013 when I found the website.  I was struggling in my marriage due to a spiritual issue I had been dealing with for some time.  I was carrying a very heavy burden.  Satan was attacking me 24/7.  I needed help.  I needed wisdom.  I needed God to show me what to do.

Then one day, Lynn wrote a blog post.  Honestly, I don’t remember what it was about, but I remember her saying that she felt God prompting her to offer that if anyone needed to email her privately, and ask for prayer, to please do so; and she provided the link to email her.

I knew this was meant for me.  I emailed her, asking for prayer.  I shared with her what the issue was. I was in such pain and so desperate—it apparently came through in my words. I was amazed at her response.  She was an angel sent from God. She said that she could feel my burden, that she could tell I was feeling so oppressed, and this was not of God. She told me that God was leading her to pray with me, and asked when she could call me so she could pray over me.

I was so taken back by this response.  Really?  This woman was going to take time out of her busy schedule, her ministry, her family—to pray for me?  We set up a time over the next few days, and just as she promised, she called.

Honestly, I was a little embarrassed, feeling as though I “shouldn’t” be so transparent, that if I was a good Christian, I should be able to pray for myself. (Get thee behind me satan!)  But God told me to trust her, that she was the answer to prayer I was asking for.  (Wow!) She prayed a powerful prayer for me, to be released from Satan’s shackles, to be released from his stronghold and be set free and walk in the victory that was waiting for me.

And that was the beginning of victory for me.  Not overnight, but over time.  Along with the prayers and wisdom from the other SUMites through the blog and the 1Peter31 Yahoo group, and other believers, I received the encouragement I needed to finally take God at His word.  I began moving from a shackle-bound life, to a life of victory, the life God intended for me.

And now, in 2016, God has blessed me with so much knowledge of Him.  I asked for it, and He’s was faithful to answer. He’s shown me how I’ve been limiting Him through fear.  And now, I see through satan’s lies, and it pains me to see Believers living in condemnation and shackles.  I’m thankful God has used this group to help show me that all things are truly possible with God—through prayer.  To stop believing lies and believe and accept this truth: God is pleased with me, He’s crazy about me, and loves me more than I could possibly wrap my head around.

I pray that every human being living on this earth will seek to find the limitless life that is possible with God, through His Son Jesus Christ—for if we seek, we will find!

Thank you Lynn, Dineen and SUMites!  May God bless each of you, and your marriages, with His favor and overflowing abundance! -Pam 

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Concert Selfie - Tobymac
Concert Selfie - Tobymac

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

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

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

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

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

Another heartbreak day

Feels like you’re miles away

Don’t even need no shade

When your sun don’t shine, shine


Too many passin’ dreams

Roll by like limousines

It’s hard to keep believin’

When they pass you by and by


I know your heart been broke again

I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet

I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left

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


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

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hold on, hold on

Lord ain’t finished yet

Hold on, hold on

He’ll get you through this

Hold on, hold on

These are the promises

I never will forget

I never will forget 

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

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

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

Fight bravely and solider on, warrior. 

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

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





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A Single Decision Can Change Everything

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


I had a decision to make tonight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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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Guest Post: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Dear friends, we have some more exciting news for you today. Our very own SUMite, Ian Acheson, has come on board with us and will be posting the first Wednesday of each month. As you know, Ian is the author of Angel Guard and has written guest posts with us periodically. We are so thankful to have him on board to give a male perspective to our mismated journeys and to our SUM family. God is so good! He knows exactly what we need! If you want to know more about Ian, check out his website too!

Thank you, Ian! We are excited to see what God has planned for you here and we are blessed to receive your wisdom and authenticity. Lord Jesus, bless Ian and equip him with more knowledge and wisdom in You. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Photo courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lynn wrote a wonderful post two weeks ago encouraging us to always put on the shoes of peace. I've been meditating on the Beatitudes for the past few months and providentially my church has just completed a sermon series on them.

Anxiety has filled my heart for too much of my life. I’m blessed to be a twin and since I can remember mom always described me as the “anxious one” while Peter, my brother, was the relaxed one. I put it down to the fact he sat on me for nine months. Yes, I was first out and Pete took another twenty minutes before he realized he was missing his older brother.

Peace is inside us

Neither the enemy nor the world can bring us peace. But God is peace and the words of Romans 5:1 remind us that in believing in Jesus we have peace. As Lynn reminded us we have to actively choose to believe that peace is within us by putting on our shoes.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

Anxiety and strife begin in our heart. If we’re anxious we step into any situation, anxious. Only this weekend Fiona and I were discussing Christmas and how we’d manage having separate lunches for each of our families. Even though Fiona will do most of the cooking, she was the one who brought peace to our discussion. I brought the anxiety.

We can only be a peacemaker when we're at peace. 

Distraction steals peace

We live in a world of distraction. We only need to look at the story of Martha and Mary when Jesus comes to visit. Look at what Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha (ouch …not a good sign) you are worried and troubled about many things …” (Luke 10:41)

Martha wants everything to be just right. Heck, it’s Jesus. She’s cooked him a three-course meal while making their house spotless. And she’s exhausted.

Mary, on the other hand, is single-minded. On Jesus.

We can learn two valuable lessons here on dealing with distraction:

  1. Make decisions about what your priorities will be. For example, read your Bible every day, go to church every Sunday. Don’t wait to decide on the day. Lock it in.
  2. Actively eliminate things from your life, whether that’s one or two regular commitments, some of the email newsletters you subscribe to, or stuff that is causing clutter in your house.

Source of peace

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks ago about the power of memorizing Bible verses? One verse that I’ve locked away since then is the following:

“You will keep in perfect peace
 those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

That’s what Mary did. She kept her mind fixed on Jesus.

As I mentioned last time, for too much of my time as a Christian I’ve been too casual in my commitment to Jesus. I haven’t wed myself to His Word rather simply grabbing snippets. Guess what? My anxiety continued unchecked.

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)

My pastor mentioned this verse a few weeks ago. What a great verse. Fall in love with the Word. Read it, devour it, mark it up, memorize it, live it.

I know in making a stronger commitment to spending time in the Word and in prayer this year my level of anxiety has reduced and I realize God’s peace is truly accessible.

This morning as I scanned my Instagram feed there was a photo of an underlined passage of the Bible from someone I follow. She mentioned her sister has been struggling with much opposition but “reading God’s words are the only time my mind and world quit spinning.”

It reminded of something my pastor would say: “If your Word level is out of whack with your circumstances, you will be susceptible to those circumstances.”

As a group let’s encourage each other to stay in the Word and in so doing we will experience peace. Then we can be the peacemakers in our marriages, our families, our friendships and all situations.


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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Guest Post: Abiding...Not Just Visiting by Ian Acheson

Dear friends, our very own Ian Acheson has a wonderful post for us today about how we spend time with God. This is such a good reminder of how much our God loves just spending time with us and for us to be be in His presence. And the importance of reading and knowing God's Word. I love it! 

Thank you, Ian, for sharing your wisdom and testimony with us! May we become wiser and stronger in our faith because of it. Amen! 

Enjoy and grow in Him, SUMites! ~Dineen


Abiding… Not Just Visiting

My twenty-five-plus years in the Corporate world mostly reflected a life where I chased after my goals and fulfilling that sense of achievement that drives many of us men. Typically, my relationship with the Lord was one where I’d grab a few minutes in the Word prior to leaving home and then pray on the drive into the office.

Once I’d parked my car it was like I said to the Lord: “Thanks for that, Lord, I’ll see you back here in ten hours or so.” And off I’d go ready to dive into the rigors of the day rarely giving the Lord a thought. Or if I was feeling particularly stressed I might pop into the bathroom to have a quick chat with the Lord to seek His help.

I’d compartmentalized my life. I allowed (you kidding?) the Lord access to various parts of my life. Yes, I prayed, read the Word (well kinda) and went to church.

Then a few years ago the yearning in my heart for something more kept getting stronger. Until one morning I asked the Lord what He wanted from me.

“Ian, I want you to know Me!”

That almost flawed me. I’d been a Christian for almost thirty years, the troughs in my walk definitely outnumbering the peaks. But hey, most of my friends were experiencing much the same.

So I asked the obvious question? 

“How do I do that?”

The response was immediate.

“Read my Word.”

So that’s what I started doing. Everyday. And I haven’t stopped five years on.

But I’ve learnt there’s more to it than simply reading it. Or listening to it. Or watching it.

And that’s one of the characteristics of what differentiates an abider to a visiter. 

Speaking the Word 

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”(Joshua 1:8) 

I love that image of keeping the Word on your lips. To do that you really need to have it constantly in your mouth like a piece of gum. 

I’ve found the only way to do this is to actively memorise Scripture and use it in your prayers. The Word is powerful as Lynn and Dineen’s recent posts have kept reminding us.

Only two days ago I received the perfect example of it’s power.

I stumbled across Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (NKJV)

Pretty simple. I’ve always thought I’m pretty good with being kind and tenderhearted but the Lord nudged me to pay more attention to the verse and commit it to memory. So I did.

The message at church that night was on the Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful …”(Matthew 5:7). I’d recently studied the beatitudes and I figured this one came relatively naturally to me. The pastor emphasized how easy it was for us to find fault in others, to criticize and judge but a merciful heart is one that doesn’t seek to do such. It opened my eyes to another perspective on mercifulness that I hadn’t fully appreciated.

And my newly locked away memory verse kept floating through my mind as I jotted down notes to the sermon.

I went home challenged and within about half an hour of being home found fault in something Fiona did.

Don’t you love that? The first small test you get in obedience you get sprung!


We had a big day ahead the next day preparing the house so that our floorboards could be sanded and polished. I apologized to Fi and went to bed repeating, “Be kind …” and asking the Spirit to help me be kind and tenderhearted the following day. 

I woke with that verse on my lips and repeated it throughout the day and we had a great day shifting the house around.

Quiet time exercise

Following on from Lynn and Dineen’s posts may I encourage you to learn a verse this week. Ask the Lord for one, if one doesn’t particularly come to mind. 

And those of us who are experienced Scripture memorizers it would be a treat if you could share a little of your system for memorizing.

Blessings for a special week ahead.

19_Ian Acheson_22.05.12_by rasha photographyIan’s Bio
Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter





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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