105 posts categorized "Marriage"

The Mystery and Wonder of Esther

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this...

Hello SUMites! I mentioned last week that I was feeling led to do an series on Esther. Since then I can’t seem to stay away from this book and have poured hours of research into digging into the deeper places of this astonishing story. So consider this an introduction to Esther and what I have in store thus far to share with you. And I encourage you to read the book yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truths and promises to you too.

One of the most significant aspects of the story of Esther is that God is not mentioned by name once in the book. He isn’t even referred to. But He is very much implied. However, there are actually clues I believe the author put in place to make indirect references to God’s presence, something I hadn’t noticed before. So fascinating!

In researching the people highlighted in this story, I discovered the Hebrew meaning of their names to often be significant and indicators of their place in this God-driven story. And that even key attributes of God’s character are clearly yet indirectly displayed.

On a larger scale Esther is the story of the birth of a Jewish tradition and celebration (Purim) that has had significant historical impact in that last century alone that is unmistakably God’s work to save the nation of Israel. 

My friends, Esther is a very multifaceted true story that holds romance, power, intrigue and much more. I am excited to explore its depths with you and look forward to hearing your comments too. We are going to have fun with this one, SUMites, and in reading about Esther and the nation of Israel, I’ve no doubt we will discover our own stories and God-driven purposes in the lives of our spouses and our families. And in our nation as well.

So, are you with me on this one? Ready to go an adventure with me? If so, give a shout out in the comments and share anything else that’s on your heart, my friends. I know the Holy Spirit is already at work among us, the SUM Nation, stirring our hearts for “such a time as this.”

And in the mighty and saving name of Jesus, I say, AMEN!

Love you so much, my friends!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo

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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

Perception
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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Reaction Mode

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

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

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

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

 

Reactions Mode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

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

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

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

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Expecting and Dreaming!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moving Day!

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My daughter Leslie wrote this in the entry.

SUMites, today’s the big day. As you read this, hubby and I are moving into our new home. I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are. I can’t wait to pray over the Scriptures you sent as I sit in my “war room,” knowing those same words that are written on the interior beams of the house. Yes, I will have a small room that I can call my “war room,” my friends, where I can meet with God and pin my prayer concerns to a big bulletin board I can’t wait to design. Have any ideas on that? Send them to me or leave them in the comments.

I don’t fully understand what God is doing in this symbolic representation our home and our SUM family. I can only tell you that He has some crazy big kingdom purposes for this house. Already I can see people in our home for Bible study and ministry, and many coming to Christ in those times. I can see people being baptized in our swimming pool(a standard feature here in Florida) and people in our neighborhood being drawn to this home that holds the presence of the Holy Spirit, because deep in their soul they know something’s missing and they want—need—that hope. 

But you know what absolutely brings me to tears of joy? I believe this is what God is doing in all of us and all our homes. I can’t tell you how I know that, I just do. I firmly believe God’s word to me about this latter house being greater than the former is symbolic of what God is doing in the “House of S.U.M. too.”

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

And that is a word I want to release over each of you today. 

Abba Father, thank You for the promise of Your Word. We pray in agreement that the latter glory of the House of S.U.M. and every SUMite’s home will be greater than the former. We dedicate this ministry and our homes to You for Your kingdom purposes and for Your glory alone. Lord, we ask that the heavens would open even wider over this church without walls and each of our homes to pour out more of Your presence, provision and blessings so that the world will take notice—our spouses, our children, our families and friends, and even our neighbors. And fill our homes with peace, Lord! Great peace! In the name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, I have more hope to share with you next week. So much more! I’m praying already that it will knock your socks off. I believe it’s the next part of “moving day” and some pretty amazing things God is going to be doing.

Love you!
Dineen

Here are a few of the Scriptures written on the beams. :-)

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A Holy Spirit Moment

CrossMy friends, I have a fascinating story to tell you today. I shared in the past that God is changing things up a bit in how He speaks to me. Let me tell you this is both a bit frustrating and very exciting, but I absolutely love this adventure with Him. And I love His unexpected ways.

Well, He did something very unexpected just recently and right in my own kitchen. A few weeks ago I was standing at the counter, spreading refried beans on corn chips to make nachos. Yuuum!

Hubby was still in his office working. I sang along with worship music as I worked. Let me just say I am so glad I held a butter knife instead of a sharp blade. 

The Holy Spirit showed up big time. I was so overcome by His presence that I had to drop the corn chip and knife on the counter. I couldn’t do anything else except stand there and soak Him in! 

My friends, I’ve had encounters with God’s presence in my quiet time and at church. But this was so unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. It was like the Holy Spirit wanted me to understand that His showing up wasn’t dependent upon my efforts to make it happen. That is something Abba continues to work out in me and let go of as it’s a form of striving. 

So there I stood, hands out and tears running down my cheeks as I worshiped. God’s presence usually brings me to tears, because His love is so overwhelming. I knew hubby was in the house somewhere, which normally would have caused concern about what he might see and interpret, but as the thought crossed my mind I simply pushed it away. I didn’t care. I could do nothing but stand there and worship.

And then it happened. My husband walked in. Yet I remained in my worshipful state and noticed he just walked on by. Didn’t say a word.

Once the moment passed and I opened my eyes, Mike came back into the kitchen. He looked at me with concern, and asked, “Are you okay?”

As I wiped away my tears, I said, “Yes, I’m great actually. Just having a God moment.”

“Okay…He’s not being mean to you, is He?”

“No, sweetie. He’s just loving on me.”

Then he nodded and walked away. My friends, this is actually the second time my husband has expressed that concern, and it’s given me insight to understand that the God he was taught about at the private Christian school he attended as a teenager was not the loving and true God we know and love. And that breaks my heart.

Yet I rejoice in this encounter and what I learned! God is so good. I’m so excited to share this with you, because I believe it will give you insight and possibly even breakthrough in your prayers for your spouse.

  1. I experienced the presence of God without “working” for it.
  2. God’s presence and love truly do cast out fear! My concern about my husband walking in on my worshipful moment drifted away without a care and didn’t return. Thank You, Lord!
  3. My husband was able to again witness God’s love and presence working in and around me, even if he doesn’t fully understand it yet.
  4. Most importantly, I now have more insight in how to pray for my sweet hubby, and that is huge! My hubby has such a tender heart. Now I understand what his choice of atheism was truly about. It’s not so much about unbelief but a way for him to cope with the disconnect. 

SUMites, I wonder how many of our spouses are truly operating from that place of disconnect. As God showed me this, my heart swelled with even more love and understanding for my husband. And heartache too, because I can almost see with my spiritual eyes that moment he chose this path.  

So, my friends, I am praying against this tarnished mindset of Who God is that’s causing him to reject the image of a cruel god instead of knowing the One True and Loving God Almighty. I am praying for his spiritual eyes to be opened to the truth of Who God really is and to encounter the love of God all around him. That includes me too, that God’s love would pour through me even more. 

I believe God is working in amazing ways in our loved ones that we can’t even perceive yet. He’s revealing the pieces to us as well. I know that can be confusing and frustrating, but I’m learning to look at these pieces and simply ask God to show me how to connect them. And He does! 

And He will do this for you too. So my friends, I pray for greater wisdom to flood our entire SUM community. I pray that our own spiritual ears and eyes would be opened more and that we would have greater discernment to hear and see what the Holy Spirit is telling us right now. Because it’s really, really good stuff.

And Lord Jesus, we praise and worship with all our love. We give You and our hearts and lives freely as we walk this path of faith. Help us live each day in greater awareness and expectation of You. We love You so much! In the name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

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Bearing fruit - the power of kindness

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Photo courtesy of Dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As Dineen shared last week we both attended a writer’s conference in Nashville ten days ago. It was a tremendous few days for both of us on a number of fronts, not least hearing from the Lord regarding our writing. It was a wonderful answer to prayer for both of us. God is good.

We'll save those stories for another time.

Family

One aspect of the event that I so loved back in 2012 was a sense of the familial. Yes, even when I didn’t know the majority I felt accepted, loved and appreciated. Simply because I was sharing the same journey they were. Yes, having an Aussie accent probably helped a little too.

I experienced the same sensation this time too. Perhaps even stronger. Yes, since 2012 I’ve developed friendships with attendees (like Dineen) but it’s like any new friendship. We get excited in the early days as we learn more about each other and the yearning for more grows.

Funny, I’ve discovered in the last year or so that the more time I spend with the Lord, especially in our secret place together, and in His Word, the stronger the yearning for more of Him has grown.

Vine and Branches

We’re all familiar with this analogy Jesus uses. It’s one that I’ve meditated upon a lot in recent times. Enjoying the Lord and His presence is self-perpetuating. The time we spend with Him, the more time we want to spend with Him.

I was extraordinarily blessed on a number of occasions at the conference by the kindness of others.

Kindness. I love this word. It’s a bit old fashioned a word, isn’t it? We all intuitively understand what it means and we can often miss it when we receive it.

The keynote author gave me ninety minutes one-on-one, another author who is highly sought after by many sought after me to have dinner, and dear Dineen made a point of celebrating a successful meeting I had with my publisher. And then there were all the little moments of people stepping out of their way to say hi. One author even rode down and back up another escalator simply to say hi.

Kindness.

As I’ve mentioned to many on my return my heart is full. And still is. Even almost two weeks later.

Jesus and His Interactions

The Samaritan Woman, the adulterous woman hauled before Him by the Pharisees, and His interaction with Peter on the beach after His resurrection.

All examples of kindness. Yes, there are many other lessons to be learnt in those particular examples but in each of them we see Jesus being kind. The individual standing in front of Him had sinned and in the world’s eyes, big! Jesus didn’t focus on the sin, or their shame. He focused on their heart.

One of the first signs for me that I’ve become too self-absorbed or I’ve slightly withdrawn/disconnected from my wife is I’ve stopped being kind. I forget to make the morning smoothie or send the ‘sweet nothings’ text.

Abiding and Fruit Bearing

Often we’re hurting for good reason. We’ve been let down, unfairly treated or spoken too. Or we’ve simply been ignored or we take a word out of context. Our spouse is self-absorbed in something and we’re not getting the attention we hope for or desire. So we retreat, bite back, ignore or whatever our usual modus operandi might be.

But we’re called to be kind. Even when betrayed by Peter and when hanging on the Cross (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.”) Jesus exercised kindness.

Sure, but Jesus was special. One of a kind. (excuse the pun)

Yes, but He was also an example for us to follow. But how do we do it?

By swinging back to the vine. By abiding.

“We aren’t required to bear fruit; we are required to abide in Christ. The result of abiding in Christ is bearing fruit and that is the proof of our discipleship.”1

The struggle in our marriages, in our friendships, with our children, can be unbearably hard. We can’t bear fruit on our own. I know, I’ve tried it. And come up short too many times. That’s why we gotta keep turning up to our secret place. Every. Day. Jesus is there waiting for us.

Share your hurt, share your joy, give Him everything you got. He can take it. He wants to take it.

The fruit will come.

Believe it. Know it. His Words are true and trustworthy.

Dear Lord, thank you for pursuing us, protecting us and wanting all of us. Help us to let go of our lives and hand them over to You. Be our guide as Your Word reminds us. Give us the courage to turn up every day in our secret place and to believe that Your Word is true. May kindness flow from us into our marriages, into our children, our workplaces and our friendships. We pray in Your mighty Name. Amen.

Note: 1. “Who I am in Christ,” Neil T. Anderson, Bethany House Publishers, 2014, location 2246 (Kindle edition) 

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Seeing the “Gold” in Our Spouse

NowenQuoteI went through my old files today and found a post I’d written about my husband’s positive qualities. The list made me think about a verse in Ecclesiastes that I absolutely love. Why? Because it’s a picture of God’s heart and how He sees us.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. — Ecc. 3:11

There are three little words in this verse—made, put and heart. But the Hebrew translation of these words holds a list of meanings that would fill a page. I’m just listing a few of them to give you a taste:

Made—to do or make in the broadest sense, become, bear, bestow, fashion

Put — give with greatest latitude, restore

Heart — feelings, will, even intellect, inner man, soul

And to think He did this with everything—everything—kind of blows my mind. He’s fashioned us with beauty and bestowed beauty upon us to grow in beauty as we resemble Jesus more and more. He’s given us eternity with the greatest latitude and restored us to Him, to His kingdom through Jesus. And He put all of this promise in our hearts, wills and souls—the very essence of who we are. 

Now take a look at this truth:

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. — Romans 4:17

How amazing to think that the same way God called into being this “gold” He placed in us, He’d doing the very same thing with our spouses, our family members, our friends—every single person He places on our heart to pray for. In fact, that nudge should tell us He’s already in action and He’s asking us to partner with Him with our prayers.

So as we look at our spouses, think about the eternity that God has already placed into them. Ask God to show you what it looks like, to see your spouse through the eyes of God. 

Deep friendship is a calling forth of each other’s chosenness and a natural affirmation of being precious in God’s eyes. — Henri Nowen

Then as we see and treat them according to that chosenness (and pray), they begin to walk in that truth. I’m witnessing this right now with my husband.

That old post I found? Here’s part of what I wrote about him in 2007:

He’s the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. I’ve always felt cherished in our marriage. He’s a great dad, provider, and all around great guy. He’s affectionate, loves his girls to pieces, enjoys hanging out with his family, and actually saved a binky (a pacifier) from each of our girls as a memento.

He’s generous, quick to give of his resources, and wants only the best for not only us but for his extended family as well. Part of the reason I fell in love with this guy was because of his big and wonderful family. 

He’s patient, even-keeled, passionate about his interests, loves his work, and is constantly stretching his mind.

Shortly after I read this, he brought me a yellowed piece of paper with big child-like letters, written by our oldest daughter when she was about five years old. He’s still a big softy...and more. I love watching what God is doing all around my husband and how he responds without even realizing it. I see the calling on his life now and the love of God already flows through him in ways that surprise me.

My friends, I want to challenge you today to make a list about your spouse. Write down all the positive qualities you see in him or her. Then hold this before God and praise Him for creating your spouse to be that person. And ask God to show you more of what He’s placed in him or her to add to your list. Don’t be surprised if this becomes new inspiration in how to pray for him or her. 

And feel free to share in the comments. We can have a little “brag-fest” and inspire one another with our hopes and prayers for our loved ones.

SUMites, we hold great hope for ourselves in our growing intimacy with God. We can hold that same hope for our spouses as well and trust God to bring them into that hope of Jesus in His perfect timing.

Lord Jesus, thank You for creating us and holding us together with Your amazing and complete love. Thank You that You do this for our spouses too. I pray for fresh eyes for every SUMite to see his or her spouse through Your lens of love and grace. Reveal the “gold” you’ve placed in them so that we can be part of calling it forth. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends! My prayers are joining with yours.
Dineen

(P.S. I will be in Nashville next week for the annual American Christian Fiction Writes conference. Woohoo! I get to spend the week hanging out with fun people who have characters talking in their heads (just kidding...well mostly...). See you on the 30th!)

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Growing Up a Marriage

GrowingUpMarriageWhat if nurturing a marriage is like nurturing a child?

The question entered my thoughts as I sat next to my hubby in the car, comfortable and confident that he would take us to our next destination well. I began to contemplate the journey of a marriage. Like the birth of a child, a marriage has similar beginnings. The first inkling of love starts (conception) and a relationship begins to form (the embryo).

With time the nature of the relationship is made clear as to whether it will grow into a marriage (It’s a girl! It’s a boy!). Then the big day comes—the WEDDING! (The birth!), and thus come the adjustments to living life as two (or three—one a wee…).

My friends, my contemplations came as a bit of a revelation as I pondered. We would never raise a child with the expectation of instant perfection from the moment of birth. Yet why do we step into marriage with a similar expectation that from the moment we say, “I do,” everything should be perfect? And if it’s not, we question the marriage.

I know I did this in the early part of my marriage, because I bought the world’s depiction of what love and marriage were supposed to be. And when conflicts cropped up, which are inevitable in any relationship that include people, I wondered if I’d made a mistake. Or did we make sense…

The reality is, a marriage has to grow up. 

When a child is born, we don’t expect her or him to be a fully functioning adult. There is no “add water, stir and voile!” instant adult! Ready to go and tackle the world! There are stages to raising a child from birth and nurturing him or her to adulthood.

What if marriage is the same way? 

Those early years when we’re trying to figure out how everything works and how to live together—what if those are like the infancy and “terrible twos” of toddlerhood? 

The challenges of agreeing on how to manage and delegate daily life—finances, home, children. Makes me think of chicken pox and kindergarten. Grade school and braces. Homework, and “who kisses the skinned knee this time, honey?”

Bigger issues come that push the boundaries of the two becoming one and staying one. Now that sounds like a teenager in the works, if there ever was one. Do you agree?

With age and few gray hairs come the journey of growing older (not old) and appreciating the rhythm of life. Children have become teens have become adults. New journeys about to be conceived and birthed…

And with them the understanding that the marriage is still growing, taking shape (hopefully not too many pounds bigger) and evolving to the next stage of living live as two. A process ever changing and shifting with each stage of life.

And as we watch our children grow, bloom and become the people God created them to be, we can do the same with our marriages, appreciating each stage, even the pimply ones full of drama and tears to the ones encapsulated with the simple holding of hands in the car as we drive along to the next destination.

Just some of my contemplations in an ordinary day, my friends, as I appreciate all that my husband and I have overcome and walked together, and look forward to what’s to come. 

May God bless you with some deep and joy-filled contemplations today as well, SUMites! 

Love you!
Dineen

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Politics - An Ordinary Wife

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comPolitics and an ordinary believing wife. That would be me.

So, let’s pick up with one more truth to navigate the political season with our pre-believer.

Three: Politics won't rescue our world.

The shootings in America, the bombings in France and Belgium, the massacre in Nice, France, with a truck are utterly evil. They shock us to our core and the enemy uses these events to release fear into our hearts, homes and nations. No matter how many laws you pass, you can’t legislate evil out of the world.

Our world needs a heart change. It’s about the heart. It’s LOVE that changes everything.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. — 1 John 4:18

And my friends, we are loved -perfectly.

It’s a perfect kind of love that flows from our Father that empowers and moves me to love my husband even as we watch the evening news during a political season. It’s an unexplainable, heart-changing and supernatural love that overrides my fear of the future, fear about the political season and fear over my husband’s salvation.

Our Father is good. Utterly good. His intentions for His kids is goodness, prosperity, love, and adventure just to name a few. We need only begin to walk in His truth and let it transforms us from fearful and ridged people into beautiful, kind, good and giving believers.

So, even though at times, as I watch the news and I find myself wanting to speak truth to my husband as the talking heads roar on the tube, I fall under the restraint of the Holy Spirit and know my God loves me. He loves my husband. He loves this beautiful world he created. He hasn’t abandoned us as orphans and He is executing His extraordinary and astonishing plans. And it continues to blow my mind that He asks us to participate with Him in His strategies. Our faith, our prayers our votes, they matter…..

They matter so very much.

Be at peace this election season. Don’t become riled up over all the crazy. Pray and respond in love and in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Who knows? Come November maybe God will surprise all of us.

I adore you my friend. Thanks for tagging along with me as I work through my own angst about this season. Your grace and love overwhelms me. I adore you. Lynn

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Lord of the Harvest

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

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

May 2013 (date of dream)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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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.

EVERYTHING!

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

38774765_s

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Big hugs!
Dineen

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My Arrogance—A lesson Learned by Pam Anderson

CoupleholdinghandsMy Arrogance—A lesson Learned

Arrogance is defined by one online dictionary as: an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.

Recently, Lynn wrote a powerful and thought provoking post called “I Created Bitterness-A Weird Confession."  Well, I have a similar confession. A while back, God revealed to me that I had become a hindrance to my husband. I was causing him bitterness toward God.  Why?  Because of my arrogance.

You see, my husband has always been a very spiritual man, not religious, but spiritual. A seeking man. He has a very strong belief in God, but his relationship with God is different than mine.  I realize now when I recommitted my life to Christ 10 years ago, I went on a journey that didn't consider him, and the message I conveyed to my husband was that I was better than him. To him, it was devastating, and caused him great bitterness—he felt as though I left him. He felt that the rug that represented our dreams, hopes and future, had been pulled out from under him. And looking back now, I see how my actions and words caused him to feel that way.

I am thankful God has opened my eyes to my arrogance.  God has shown me that He is working not only in, but THROUGH, my husband and I need to get out of His way—Now!

So I embarked on a new journey with my husband. I’ve started asking him his thoughts on certain spiritual concepts and scripture.  I’ll say, “Do you have a minute, I’d like pass something by you and get your thoughts on it.” At first, he was surprised and skeptical; I’m sure thinking this was another way to make him wrong and try to wrangle him into seeing things “my way.” 

But God has impressed on me to listen, very closely, to what my husband is saying, assuring me that He is working THROUGH my husband! I'll tell my husband, "That's really interesting, I've never thought of it that way before," and the discussion will go into areas I never dreamed, thought, or imagined (based on Ephesians 3:20). It leads to more and more discussions.  I don't correct him; I just respect him and listen.

So recently, God reiterated this lesson He is teaching me—more like He hit me upside my head!  I had just stopped reading a book, because it said Jesus was a prophet. I thought this would be a good discussion opportunity for us, so I asked him what he thought. Are you ready for this?  My husband says, “I can’t believe you’re even asking me this.  The Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, not a prophet—that’s who He is!” 

I just stared at my husband, in awe! But here’s the crazy part—this is what my husband has always believed. But I didn’t give it the credit it was due.  Why?   I was blinded by my arrogance! Because he was not acting the way, or saying the things, or doing the things “I” thought he should (ugggh…).

Prior to this spiritual awakening God is currently doing in ME, I was NOT being a sweet aroma to my husband. Instead of seeing me as a loving, respectful wife and friend, he saw me as judgmental and arrogant, things he wanted nothing to do with. I was on my high horse, snubbing my nose at my husband, instead of fostering his spiritual nature. Not intentionally, but I was, none the less. 

The fact that I thought my husband’s relationship with God had to look and feel like my relationship with God was arrogant.  In essence, I was setting out to make my husband in “my own image”! (Ouch, that hurt!)

We are at different places on our spiritual journeys; however, for the first time, I see us going the same direction! Why?  Because the poison of arrogance is no longer present in me. Our marriage is now peaceful and fun. I’m just letting God do his thing, His way, in our lives and marriage.  My husband calls it Spiritually Different versus Spiritually Unequal, and I love that.

This path is truly a humbling one, but it's filled with much hope, wonder and abundance.

Blessings in Christ,
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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Jesus is fighting for us

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Photo courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened again on Saturday.

What you may ask?

My three strikes policy.

Huh? Three strikes policy?

Whenever I’m struck three times by a common theme or thread within a short period of time I ask the Lord for some interpretation.

On Saturday as I scanned my Facebook feed our Lynn made a comment about being under enemy attack. You may have read that update. I prayed immediately for Lynn and saw an image of Lynn dressed all in white wielding a mighty sword and being surrounded by angels who were similarly armed.

Within a matter of minutes I read Revelation 19: 11-16 which describes Jesus riding on a white horse as He sets off on His final quest to bring His kingdom to earth. Do read the passage, as it’s full of incredible imagery.

At this point I was questioning whether it was Lynn I pictured or Jesus.

And then I read Psalm 68: 17-18 (NIV)

“The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. 

When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious—that you, Lord God, might dwell there.”

Once again, we see Jesus as a victorious leader of armies.

Strike 3.

Okay, okay, Lord. I get it. What’s on your heart?

And I sensed simply the words: “I’m fighting for you.”

I had been asking Him for the past few days what message He’d like me to write for we SUMites. Some ideas were brewing but then I got a strong sense that this was for us.

Jesus is fighting for us.

Alignment

We’ve come off a month celebrating this wonderful ministry and family led by our two pastors (ordained and all! Yes!) Lynn and Dineen. It’s been very special sharing in each other’s messages of how this family has so helped us all grow, irrespective of how long we might have been a part of it.

Last week I was reminded of my “different” situation to the members of my men’s group. We’d heard a panel discussion on married relationships where being aligned in purpose was put out there as being critical to a fruitful marriage.

And immediately I sensed the thrust of the enemy saying well Ian that’s a bit of a problem for you, isn’t it now?

I gave it a second’s thought and then swatted it away. Yes, yes, we have our challenges when it comes to not being aligned with spiritual purpose but as we’ve discussed many times before that doesn’t mean our marriages can’t bear fruit. Far from it.

And it’s because we have Jesus fighting for us. And for our spouses and our marriages. Believe that deep in your heart.

The power of worship

The warfare theme continued into Sunday as our pastor preached on “Speaking the Word of God into our Relationships.” The armor of God in Ephesians 6: 10-18 got a good overview. Fascinating that I’ve rarely looked at the second half of v18: “… be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people.”

That’s us. And we’re doing it! How fantastic is this month of praying for each other’s spouses. I can’t wait to hear how God answers our prayers.

If things are particularly tough at the moment may I encourage you to worship. Worship isn’t simply singing a song, but as my prayer pastor said the other day, it’s the pursuit of Jesus Christ.

Worship Him. Spend time in His presence. Read His Word. Praise His Mighty Name.

And keep on worshipping.

And remember, Jesus is always fighting for our marriages and us.

Grace and peace, my dear friends.

*****

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Powerful Prayer To Defeat Anger

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
This photo CRACKS ME UP!

Continued from Friday's post....


BUT…. This is what I learned from that experience.

I believe I was wrestling with a spirit of anger. I believe it was demonic in nature and it erupted in very rare moments as to keep me from recognizing it. And just like a volcano, when eruptions happen…. Devastation.

Later that evening when the eruption cooled and I knew things were in a bad place, I fell on my face and I begged God to forgive me. I asked Him to remove this spirit of anger from me and I promised Him I would never again let this anger be part of my life.

God did just that.

I haven’t felt that weird surge of ferocious anger since. And out of His great love, he healed everything in our family. Everything.

Our Father is so good that He delivers us, heals us even when we screw up everything in our own lives. He loves us through it and is protective.

Now I know not everything turns out like this. I look other areas of past resentment and anger with my spouse, yet my husband remains an unbeliever. God hasn’t move in him…… yet….

But what God did was reveal this area of oppression and He has completely freed me from that beast!

Hallelujah and Amen.

I’m sharing this story with you because I believe that are SUMites who are dealing with an angry spirit. Either it strikes you and/or your spouse. And if there is anger in you or your spouse, your children are vulnerable to become angry as well. Just sayin.

HOWEVER, You can pray to defeat anger.

Pray with me out loud:

In the name of Jesus, today I break any and all agreements I have with anger. I say that anger no longer has a place in my heart, soul, body, mind, will and emotions. I will live in the peace of the Kingdom of God. I declare that anger is hereby banished from my thoughts. No longer does anger have access to my mind. It must leave immediately and go into the pit and cannot return. My home is now a safe zone from the enemy and especially from the spirit of anger.

Also, in the name of Jesus, I declare the spirit of anger in my spouse must leave right now. I stand in authority over it by 1 Corinthians 7:14. My spouse in now protected and anger has no hold on my husband/wife or my children. The spirit of anger must go directly into the pit and never return. In the powerful name of Jesus. And I declare the blood of Christ over me, my spouse, my children and home. AMEN

Pray a version of this prayer every day, out loud for as long as it takes, (days, months, perhaps even a year). Personalize it with names. Pray the scripture verse out loud as well, claiming it’s truth and power over your faith and life.

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And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:30-32

Okay, the next post is about dealing with ongoing annoyance, anger and our perceived unfair treatment. Then we will tackle disappointment and finally the granddaddy of them all... Fear of Man. Can't wait to get to that one.

I love you. Is this prayer helpful? Is this series helpful, let me know your thoughts about dealing with anger in your life in the comments. 

I bless you with Shalom today. In Jesus name. AMEN I love you, Lynn

*****

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I Created Bitterness - A Weird Confession - Chronicles of the Donovan Clan. Ouch!

So, I kinda feel like today is my confession.

This post is likely to be raw and vulnerable but someone needs this word. Or perhaps it’s only me?

Many times when I’m speaking people will ask me if I discern what God is doing in my husband’s faith life. I reply that unfortunately or perchance fortunately, God rarely gives me insight into my husband’s heart journey.

However, I pray for him every day, covering many aspects of his life, career, health, salvation, protection, etc. etc. I believe the Lord has instructed me through His Word to pray unceasingly for Him and to cover him with the promise of 1 Corinthians 7:14, which holds great power and authority as a believer married to an unsaved spouse.

However, on Easter Sunday morning, God opened up a big ole pile of revelation to me.

So weird.

Why on Sunday morning and especially why on Easter.

A rare event to be sure both the revelation and the fact that my husband attended church with myself and our daughter, Caitie. This is our selfie before church began.

Family photo Easter 2016

There are so many things I love about this photo. But the light shining directly on our heads is crazy and filled with brilliance. It’s actually dark in our rather large church auditorium.

Once again…. Weird. But wildly cool. Could this photo be reflecting the glory of God’s children? I don’t know but these are things I love to think about.

Anyhoo, moving along.

It was nearly the end of the service, the worship team took the stage and in an unusual event our pastor invited anyone to come forward who wanted to be touched by God. And many went forward. I stood, as the awesomeness of the music compelled me to worship. A minute later, my daughter stood.

My husband did not.

He remained seated…….

AND THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENED.

I began to sense the Holy Spirit speaking to me about Mike. And Yikes, it was revelatory and profound and difficult.

It took me a few weeks to process what God revealed in that moment. I have wrestled with the information and I have grieved. And I have apologized.

A week or so ago, I was on the loveseat and my husband on the couch. I looked over at him and started our conversation, “I need to tell you something.” Most men panic when they hear this.

“Don’t panic. I just need to say something and can you just hear me out?”

Hesitantly, “O, -kay.”

“I recently realized that I have caused you to become bitter toward God. I didn’t mean to do it and I’m grieved that this has happened.” I watch his face; he’s listening but guarded.

“I’ve come to realize that it could be due to the ministry in which I’m leading or perhaps because of my need for healing and turning fully to Jesus in our early years of marriage, I made God the problem in between the two of us. In our early years, like most marriages, we had struggles. Unfortunately, we didn’t seek marriage counseling and in my frustration and pain, I turned to God.”

“Jesus healed me from so much and I in error believed that if only you would come to Christ, everything in our marriage would magically be made better. Sheesh! What an idiot.” I rushed on as I didn’t want to lose my courage to own and act on this revelation.

“Our problems were rarely about faith. And somehow, I may have made God the only answer. I was naive or immature, likely both. But on Easter Sunday the Lord revealed all of this to me and I’m greatly grieved over it. I ask your forgiveness. But more importantly, I ask that you would see my part in this, came out of immaturity and please, please don’t be bitter at God.”

“God loves you so much, Mike. And in spite of having a block-headed wife, please, please don’t look at God with eyes of bitterness.”

Gulp!

Okay, there it is.

I’m still processing and praying through this revelation, our conversation and the implications. Geeze. I even had to call my daughter and share and apologize. She said, “Mom, this isn’t news to me. I’ve actually talked about this very thing with a few friends.”

Good Lord, Almighty!

Why am I sharing this with you today? I want other SUMites who are on this long journey to receive a word of caution through my story. I don’t want you to become a bitter root in your spouse’s faith journey.

So, the great thing about this apology was the ensuing conversation between Mike and myself. It’s was honest, clarifying and it was hopeful. We talked about his thoughts about God and he was very honest with me. He remains undecided about it all. And my confession broke the bitterness that may have held power in our marriage and in his faith journey.

Okay, I hope all this isn’t too much. Sometimes I feel as though I must be brutally honest about my struggles as well as my victories. And in the telling of this story, healing happened and perhaps healing will happen in another marriage.

Jesus, I pray with all that I have within me, in faith, this is true. In Your name, Jesus. AMEN

*****

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How Do You "Speak" God?

MouthMy friends, as I listened to a very gifted teacher at my recent healing rooms training I attended teach about our words, I knew right away this applied to our "how do we hear God" series, thus my title "How Do We "Speak" God?" It seems the natural progression, as Scripture says what we hold in our heart is what comes out of our mouths.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. — Luke 6:45 NLT

God's Word also says we are created in His image, therefore we are creative beings, like our Creator. We just have different ways of expressing that creativity. God's Word shows the power of His words to create, bless and curse. And as image bearers of Christ, we are warned about the power of our very own words to give life or death:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. — Proverbs 18:21 NIV

The more I walk this path of faith and understand the importance of studying God's Word to put truth into my heart so that it will flow from my mouth, the more aware I have become of the words I think and speak throughout my day. Our thought life is a very powerful entity, one that when full of lies and not controlled, leads to bad decisions and hurtful words. This is the heart of where our words pour out, so we must guard our hearts and minds well.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. — Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Think about that verse for few minutes. I intentionally chose the New Living Translation because of the last part of its wording—determines the course of your life. That also means it can determine the course of our marriages, of our relationships with our children, our friends, our co-workers, etc.

Let me say that again. What we choose to think and speak can determine the course of our marriages, my friends. And let me tell you, that is powerful. I will never forget the day I stood in my husband's home office and realized the words I just spoke had created a negative atmosphere between us. The thought hit me—most likely the Holy Spirit—that if I didn't change my heart and my words, my marriage would fail.

That's when God began opening doors for me to the resources I needed—books like Beloved Unbeliever and a small group for the spiritually mismatched. It started with my recognition of need and God's answer to that prayer. You are a part of the SUM family for the very same reasons. God knows your need, wants you and your marriage to thrive and has answered your prayer with support, resources and encouragement from this amazing "church without walls."

My friends, as God changed my heart, my words began to change. What I spoke to my husband became more about edification and unity. The Holy Spirit worked very hard, I'm sure, to help rein in my tongue that had learned the wrong kind of fruit to bear. And guarding my heart is something I must do constantly for I know who is prowling around with the intent to destroy my family (John 10:10). You know that too.

I once heard a woman speaking to her husband at a grocery store that brought home this truth in such a powerful way. That not only do our words "speak" but also our tone. I am sure the Holy Spirit placed me there that day to see this picture, because I've never forgotten it. With each contempt filled word, this man's head sunk lower and lower.

SUMites, we have the choice each day to use our words to build up or tear down. I have come to the place now where I am constantly looking for ways to build up my husband and our marriage. The amazing thing is this has increased my gratitude for my husband and our marriage dramatically, which has drawn him closer to me and brought more opportunities to share my faith with him. And I am eating the fruit of this in ways I never even thought possible. As a child of multiple divorces, this has changed me profoundly—in a wonderful, God-intended way. Thank You, Jesus!

And this has rippled into every area of my life. My relationships with family, friends and even strangers. This is how we become these open doors for the Kingdom of God to burst through, carrying the love of Jesus. That just blows my mind to a whole new realm. How about you?

My friends, share how you have used your words to bring change to your life, your marriage, your family, etc. Let's encourage and inspire one another right here with our words. SUMites, I've seen you in action and you are GOOD at it!  

I have a special post for Thursday in honor of Easter. I am also flying back to California on Thursday to help my daughter move and help my hubby get our house there ready to be sold (Sniffle. That house was a true gift and blessing from God, as is our new one we are building—more on that soon!)

I intend to continue this speaking series next week to expound upon the power of our words as we speak Scripture and God's promises over our lives and marriages. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me do justice to that post! That could be an entire book right there. 

I love you, my friends. I believe in you and your hearts for your marriages. I stand with you in prayer for your marriages to be healed, to be restored and to be places of prosperity and thriving. And I am standing with each and every one of you for the SALVATION of your spouse and loved ones. That is my heart for you and the Father's too (2 Peter 3:9)!
SignatureGraphic2

*****

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When I See You In Heaven - Chronicles Of The Donovan Clan

It’s today, March 14, 2016. Twenty-four years of married life. As I pondered my husband and our marriage this week, the Holy Spirit revealed something utterly unexpected and peculiar…. a letter. A letter to my husband as I see him in the future.


Mike When I see you in heaven...When I See You In Heaven

Mike, when I see you in heaven, will there be tears in my eyes?

Will I glimpse your face across the expanse of the Great Assembly of worshipers? Will I run to you? Will you run to me? When I see you in heaven, I believe we will both run, full-out, with every bit of intention and intensity, to reach one another.  

When I see you in heaven, will you have tears in your eyes? Will you wrap your arms around me in a fierce embrace? Will you pull away and place your hands on both sides of my face as you draw my eyes unto yours?

When I see you in heaven, will you whisper into my eyes through gulps of love and emotion, a breathless thank you.

At that moment will your heart expand as you fully grasp the impact of the years I prayed for this very moment? Will you utter deep groanings of intense joy knowing that I tarried for you in earnest prayer year after year?

When I see you in heaven, will you look upon my face and gently brush away the drops of joyful tears falling on my cheeks.

When I see you in that moment, I will place my finger over your lips to hush your words of thanks. I will tell you, “It’s our Father’s love that saved us. It’s our Father’s love that walked with me through our many years of married life. It’s our Father’s love that held me in the lonely moments and it’s our Father’s love that stood with you when you felt alone and weary of our quarrels.”

When I see you in heaven, I will join my hand in yours as we turn toward the throne. In that moment, our Father will look down upon us both with profound joy and love upon His face. In that singular moment, a life-time of battling the enemy will be revealed. The days and nights I called out to Jesus to protect you, to keep you from the lies of the enemy and to save you from his evil intentions, they all will flash before you. In that moment we will comprehend God’s purpose which placed me at your side as your life-long partner on earth. Under His full understanding we will comprehend that this tiny, 5 foot 2 blonde, girl was a commanding intercessor for your health and prosperity. In that instant you will bear witness to the relentless combat I engaged for our children.

When I see you in heaven, we will share in the greatest joy- your full salvation. Every harsh word ever spoken will be erased instantly, lost in the glory of our King. We will look upon one another’s face and realize that every hurt and disappointment is forever forgotten and forgiven. Our brokenness is instantly covered by the crimson blood of Jesus our King.

When I see you in heaven, I will lead you by the hand to the steps of the throne. With utter sobs I will look up into the face of my heavenly Father and tell Him, “THANK YOU. You gave me this man and I did not fail my assignment. I walked out many years of hope deferred and I did not stop for one moment and give in, give up or lose hope.”

“Father, I couldn’t have done any of it without your love, grace, mercy, kindness and wisdom and power. I’m utterly undone, Father, the faithful love You poured into my life over and over and over is evidenced today, as I see Mike in heaven.”

When I see you in heaven, I will turn toward the vast expanse of the saints and I will honor, celebrate and declare for all eternity the fathomless love of our Father before them as I grasp your hand. And Mike, when I see you in heaven standing there beside me, you will do the same.

When I see you in heaven, Mike Donovan, my heart will be full and we will have all of eternity to discover, recover and uncover things that were left undone or unfinished on earth. I’m so excited to take your hand and step into our eternal life in Jesus Christ, when I see you in heaven.

Happy Anniversary,

I love you, Lynn

Mike and Lynn 2 Nov 2011

*****

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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!)

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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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GOING TO CHURCH ALONE

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

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up: Spiritual leadership

Hugs, Lynn

*****

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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Conference At Merriman in Garden City, MI

Perhaps for a moment in time, just perhaps, we stood upon holy ground.

 

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

I bet many of you know these ladies. They like to hang around SUM! 

SUMite Pillars
Gillian, Teresa, Melissa, Heidi, Joanne

 

Ohio Sumites
Some of the Ohio SUMites: Left to right: Judy, Mindy, Laura, Dawn, Chris

 

Fran Green
This is Beloved, Franie. This conference started in her heart last summer.

 

Lynn Donovan
The Holy Spirit moved. We laughed, cried and we were loved on by our Lord!


Skit
The skit was hilarious. I was cackling. Well done Merriman!
Conference Team
This is the amazing team of leadership that made this day possible. Thank you is inadequate but THANK YOU!

More photos are posted on our SUM Facebook page, click here.

 

The best part of the day is: WE PRAYED. I wish I had a photo to show you what happened at the end of our day. Can anyone who attended share what happened in your heart as you stepped out?

I'm overwhelmed at how the Lord moved on Saturday. Dineen was unable to make it due to her shoulder. So on Thursday I knew that I would speak the entire day. My friends, I can't perform. But I prayed and prayed that our Papa God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit would walk among us and I believe we honored our Lord and He showed up with love and power! I believe lives were touched and I'm teary reading the email messages such as the one at the bottom of this post.

If you were unable to attend, don't feel left out. You are loved and we talked about our amazing community on the web. And now let's pray that Jesus arranges another conference in your area. It would be my humble privilege to meet you, to pray with you and to love on you with our Daddy's love.

Breakfast in the gym
Love these ladies. They were on the front row!!

DSC00088

From Jen:

Lynn,

I do not even know where to begin to thank you. 

I attended your workshop this past Saturday and I am moved beyond words.

When my pastor’s wife invited a small group of us to attend this together I admit I was a little apprehensive.  Not knowing whom she invited I assumed it was only sent to me (or a couple of people) and the other couple of people were nowhere close to my unequal marriage, (so I thought).  I immediately went online and bought your book and WOW!  By the end of just the intros of the both of you, I was in tears, so moved and so motivated. I thought I was the only one in this position, I was alone, I thought nobody understood my marriage, my life, I even questioned my position in my faith and how I possibly could continue to follow Jesus with an unbelieving husband, a daughter 20 years old whom has walked away from Christ and a 13-year-old daughter loving Christ, how could I keep going?

I read the first half of the book in one day and then started over so I could take notes, pages and pages of notes. Ready to register for this workshop, (alone because I figured nobody else in my bible study, church or small group of friends would ever be in the same position I am), the pastor’s wife emailed me again asking if I wanted to go and let me know there were a few others interested. I attended our bible study the next week to tell these women everything I had read and learned up to that point (which was 66% as I am an e book user 😊) and was floored to discover five out of ten women there that night were somewhat in the same position.  Then in our plans for carpooling across the border I find out there was eleven of us going from our church...eleven!!!! Seriously???? I am not alone!!!! So as soon as I got home from the workshop I went directly to your website and signed up, pinned my location and when I looked at all the other pin locations around the world, my heart swelled to see and feel the common love from all over the world.

You were not even five minutes into speaking and I was in tears.  I have come out of this past week with a new light, a renewed hope and joy that is just spilling out of my heart. I went to church this morning and together we found five women sitting alone and we all filled half a row, held hands, hugged, sang to the high heavens and supported and loved on one another like never before. One woman even had an argument with her husband before church today because he did not want to attend anymore and guess who had some loving words of advice for her?  ME!! Little old me! I walk into church today and out of church today with a new song in my heart, a skip in my step and a feeling like I belonged, and better yet, God wanted me there, He loves me! He loves me! He loves me!

So from the bottom of my heart thank you! Thank you for leading me closer to God, thank you for opening my eyes to the women near to me in the same unique position, thank you for introducing me to the thousands of women near and far that feel my pain, my joy, my love and have my back!

Forever indebted and much love, Jen

*****

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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Proverbs 3 & Spiritually Mismatched Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kindness Loyalty Key Necklace

*****

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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Yep, We Are Lonely

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHi SUMites,

Well it looks as though I hit upon a deep need. The responses to Monday’s post, asking all of you about loneliness in marriage were vast and passionate. The comments on that post as well as the private emails that arrived, are filled with tremendous emotions.

I sat down and wrote down the issues, the emotions the coping suggestions and I filled four hand-written pages with notes.  There were many common themes from all of you. Such as attending church alone, the lack of intimacy with our spouse because we are unable to share our heart, our passions and thoughts about Jesus.

From my note taking, there are SUMites in all spectrums of the unequally yoked journey. There are some of us at the beginning of this walk where we learn to forgive ourselves and decide to stick this marriage thing out. There are others who have discovered peace and yet after 43 years, challenges still remain.

What I also discovered were the emotions that went along with our journey. There are some of us who are just flat-out, pissed off about our marriage and spouse. There are others who are experiencing a deep sadness. There is alone-ness, disappointment, shame, fear, anger, self-pity, negativity and boredom.

There were fantastic suggestion on how we cope. I was teary-eyed reading these. SUMites you are truly amazing people of faith. Some of those suggestions were, look for ways to pour love into others, focus on the good and not what I don’t have. Have safe people in your life who understand you and don’t judge.

What we didn’t talk about are the ways we cope that are difficult to discuss. How do we cope with our broken heart, our disappointment, pain? I can tell you that many of us cope through our faith but we also cope through food, wine, television, prescriptions, shopping, uber-involvement with our children’s lives, hours at church, social media, gaming and gambling, etc. I’m not casting stones, these are just the ones I’ve used to cope. Okay not really, but many on this list have been comforts to me in the past. Just being real here.

What is fascinating to me is that reading through my pages of notes, my head just nodded in agreement. I have felt what you have felt. Dineen and I have walked were you are. We have lived for decades with the pain, disappointment and challenges that are unique to our kind of marriage. And I will be the voice to tell you that it can be better. You CAN be married to an unbeliever and live a full and whole-hearted life.

I will also tell you that I still have difficult moments. But now I mostly enjoy fantastic days filled with hope, adventure, grace and fun. Because of this hope, that is why I write. If Jesus will show me how to do this marriage well, He will show you how to do it well. And it’s in the showing that the most astonishing things happen.

It’s the journey. When we arrive in heaven and reflect upon our life here, it will be in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of our journey where we will have experienced the miracles, the faith, the transformation. I can’t wait to see your journey as I hold your hand one day in heaven.

But we need help. We need wisdom. We need encouragement. We need a place where we are safe to be real and to learn to walk this out. We need each other. So together let’s take on a few of these issues that cause loneliness in marriage. Let’s share our frustrations, our hopes, our fears, our victories. We need one another and together we WILL THRIVE. It is our Father’s will!

Are you up for helping one another, help me and Dineen. Are you willing to pray for each other, your spouse, and your freedom?

Monday, we will chat about what to do, feel, process our inability to share part of our authentic self with our spouse.

If you have more to add to this conversation, please do in the comments.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

*****

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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Are You Lonely In Your Unequally Yoked Marriage?

LonelyHello SUMite Family,

I want to talk about loneliness in marriage. I may be off in my thinking. Do we, the unequally yoked, live in a kind of perpetual loneliness? I know for me, I’ve battled against loneliness for years. I’m coming to understand some common denominators that are present in our kind of marriages. I’m coming to see how and what we use to cope with our feelings of rejection, the pain, —boredom.

I’m not sure right now what specifics to write about yet. Or even if this is an area we, as a community, need instruction or discussion.

So, today, I’m asking all of you. Do you experience loneliness in your marriage to an unbeliever? What does that look like in your life? What are the triggers or are there triggers which allow loneliness to creep in?

Do you want to talk about how we cope? Do you want to talk about the best way to cope? Can our faith help us to live —thrive— in unchangeable circumstances, of our unequally yoked marriage?

What say you?

I need to hear your voice. Is this a topic that would help you? Is this an area you have found freedom in your marriage and your voice can help the rest of us? Please share.

I will wait to read your answers and then we will see where we go with this on Friday.

My family, SUMites. We are entering into the most beautiful and loving season of the year. We KNOW the Son of God who was born of a virgin. Who heals, saves, delivers, and prospers His followers. I pray through the next few weeks, our conversations fill us up to overflowing with hope, expectancy and that we see miracles within our lives and family.

I have faith for this and thus I say, “Jesus, we believe! Bring the miracles in our homes. Salvation, healing, wholeness and whole-hearted living. In Your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN.”

I love you. See you in the comments. Lynn

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

*****

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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