113 posts categorized "Marriage"

The Rooms in God's House

Hello, dear friends! So good to be back with you this week! I couldn't wait to share this beautiful revelation from John 14. God's Word is so very present and for us now. I pray this insight brings that home to your hearts in an astounding way. 

The words I am referencing:

Rooms: monē — a staying, abode, mansion, abiding, dwelling, metaphor of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers
(comes from menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): — abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own, live, not to depart.

House: oikia — a house, an inhabited edifice, a dwelling

Way: hodos — way, journey, metaphorically a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding.

And I hope this prayer blessed you and your marriage as you wait in expectancy for God to fill the "room" of our spouse's heart with the love of Jesus. Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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Devil, We Are Not Unaware Of Your Schemes

2 cor 10 11SUMites,

I am truly bereft in my soul.

Last week my friend, Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, posted on her blog that her nearly 25-year marriage is ending in divorce. Eight months ago, my dear friend, Courtney Joseph, of Women Living Well, also found her family torn apart by divorce.

The woman who runs Momastrey, who until recently, wielded vast influence and a large readership in the Christian arena. She also divorced her husband following, ironically, her book release of how their marriage was healed. She is now in a spiritually mismatched marriage with another woman.

This is a hard post to write but one of reality. Within the last nine months, three, high-profile, Christian bloggers with a large number of readers, have experienced divorce. I know Lysa and Courtney personally and they are my friends. My heart and prayers are full of compassion, love and prayers for each of them and their families.

But, it's weirdly unusual these breakups are happening in such short succession.

So, in my prayer time, I asked the Lord, “What is going on in the spiritual realm? Why is this happening to these prominent and influential leaders?”

Immediately, I heard the Lord’s reply, “Witchcraft.”

Gulp!

When God speaks to me often I hear a single word. And immediately what comes with that words is what I can only describe as a “knowing.” It’s as though the Holy Spirit provides the answers or information and usually multiple scripture verses in response. I received a “knowing” when I asked the Lord about what is going on right now in the spiritual realm and as to why this is happening to these high-profile leaders in the Christian world.

Along with the word witchcraft, I sensed that the Lord as telling me that for the last nine months there is a specific demonic assignment on Christian leaders and it is explicit to those who write about marriage. And I believe the enemy is marching against pastors and ministry leaders and their spouses as well.

Double Gulp!

This demonic assignment is initiated and called forth from the dark realms by occult witchcraft, witches and warlocks, who are speaking incantations, spells and more to destroy Godly marriages and mar the beauty of a union of a man and woman in the holy relationship of marriage. I also sensed the Lord tell me that as believers, we need not fear BUT PRAY. We will defeat this assignment of Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Just recognizing that there is an active assignment, decimates the enemy’s power. AND our prayers can completely demolish the works of the devil in this area.

I believe the Lord has brought this to light for three reasons. One, the SUMites can destroy these demonic assignments. Wow, did you know we can do that? We can! As believers, we have this kind of power through the name of Jesus and by the blood of Jesus…. And it’s also our calling and purpose to further the work of Christ and destroy the works of the devil. (The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil. —1 John 3:8)

Two, this blog is a marriage ministry. We need prayer covering. The leadership here and every marriage represented by a believing spouse who is part of our community needs prayer covering. YOU need prayer covering. Three, we need to pray for the marriages of those in our sphere of influence who are our ministerial leaders. Our pastors, Bible study leaders, worship leaders and those we listen to online or through other media platforms. If you have a relationship with a Christian leader, their marriage needs a prayer covering of protection.

SUMites, we can create this covering. AND we need to ask other believers with whom we have influence to pray as well.

The person who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. The devil has sinned from the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.— 1 John 3:8

In the name of Jesus, I stand upon the promises of the WORD of God. I speak forth John 14:14, You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. So Lord, in Jesus name, I pray and stand against any and all forms of witchcraft that is spoken in my realm of influence. It is canceled, dissolved and impotent. It must fall to the ground…. POWERLESS. In Jesus name. And instead of cursing, I release blessing (Romans 12:14). I bless the marriages, every marriage relationship, here on SUM and those of my pastor and all my church leaders. I bless them with never ending love and compassion. I bless them and my own marriage to be sealed, unbreakable, in the heavenly realms. I bless marriages and my own with commmitment, service, intimacy, monogamy, commitment, and with the love of Christ as a covering. Sealed by the blood of Jesus.

We stand against the schemes of the devil. All evil plans and efforts are powerless in our world. We pray the devil is rebuked and silenced by You, LORD. Lies must cease in marriage unions and truth and sacrifice reign supreme. We bless each marriage now with Your love and protection, Father. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, who purchased our lives with His own. Who gave us the Holy Spirit and angels, we speak forth Your purposes, protection, and favor into this world. In Jesus name. AMEN

As a side note, I fully believe my friends Lysa and Courtney did absolutely everything they could to restore their marriages. I believe they prayed and that God is carrying them forward. They were not unaware of the devil's schemes but were in fact praying and trusting. Many of you have or are also facing divorce. You have done more than God ever asked of you to reconcile. There are just times that a spouse's free will and the enemy's advances can destroy. This post is NOT condemnation but my hope is to raise awareness of the plans of the enemy, and THUS DEFEAT HIM!! (Please be kind in the comments as there are many in this painful season who need love from their brothers and sisters in Christ and not condemnation, guilt and words of hurt.)

PRAYING IN FULL FAITH AND POWER, Lynn

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How God Spoke to My Heart About My Husband

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

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

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

Thank you, Alissa! 

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

 

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

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

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When Your Spouse Walks Away From God

Ps34-22My friends, as you can see from the title, we tackling a very difficult and painful topic today. It’s one I think we should address as it’s something many of you are living out. And one of you even asked for this subject to be addressed on our recent survey.

Please. Please talk about spouses leaving the faith. — Kelly

So, let me first say to Kelly and all those SUMites out there in this same position that I am so sorry. The closest I can come to relate to this kind of situation is how I felt when my husband made the choice of atheism. He’d recently bought a Bible, and I was convinced he would soon join me in this faith journey. Needless to say I was devastated. 

But God helped me let go of my expectations and to trust Him to bring my marriage through to a place of peace. I had a lot to learn and as the believing spouse, God started with healing my heart first.

My friends, I’ve prayerfully sought the Holy Spirit’s council on what to write and how to help those of you in this position. Though I don’t have first hand experience with this, I can imagine the pain, rejection and betrayal that rushes in to fill the gap once occupied by a united faith. And that is the place that we should start to address this kind of situation, because until all of the pain, heartache and betrayal is brought to God and addressed, the marriage is hindered and healing can’t easily begin.

Forgiveness Is a Daily Choice

As I shared from my own story, I had to let go of my expectations of what I thought my marriage would be like. That also meant I had to release my husband from those expectations. For many of you, this will mean forgiving your spouse for their choice to walk away from God and from a life of shared faith. Release them from the debt you may hold against them as well—for not meeting your expectation.

When you’ve made these decisions, make the choice not to go back into unforgiveness. That will most likely be your greatest challenge as you continue to walk in a mismatched marriage. Remind yourself that you made the choice to forgive and that you are trusting God to mend your broken heart as He promises to do (Ps. 147:3) and remind the enemy too. 

Also, realize that their choice is not against you, though it may very well feel that way. That is not your burden to carry. Give that to God as well. And you didn’t cause this. You are not responsible for your spouse’s decision. God gave us each a free will to choose—or not to choose—Him. 

Then move forward. Your relationship with God is your own. Continue to pursue your faith with all the fire and passion He has placed in you. 

Understanding the Situation and Applying Truth

First, remember that even though your spouse stopped believing (or think they do) in God, God never stops believing in them. They may walk away for a time but God does not leave them.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2Tim 2:13 (ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.— Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

Not even your spouse’s choice to walk away from God will separate God’s love from him or her. God’s love is not based upon us—how we act, believe, succeed, etc. It is completely based upon Who He is. He loved us first—not in response to our love. He is love and that is His character.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love. — 1 John 4:16a (ESV)

We love because he first loved us. — 1John 4:18 (ESV)

Second, don’t make assumptions. The biggest pitfall I can foresee here is false assumptions as to the “why” behind your spouse’s decision. Most of the time, when I delve a little deeper, seeking better understanding from the person or God (or both), I discover details I never would have known otherwise. And those specifics can make a huge difference in how you relate to your spouse.

I know this will be difficult, but ask your spouse to help you understand where they are coming from. This is where I suggest you pray first, asking God to prepare your heart and your spouse’s for this conversation. What you find out may very well surprise you. Be prepared to bring what he or she shares to God also. You are now being called to intercede for your spouse at a whole new level.  

Their reasons may include things like:

  • Anger at the church. Sometimes we misplace our faith in people instead of God. So when they let us down, we reject God instead of realizing that we’ve put God-like expectations on an imperfect human being. No church is perfect. And it’s very possible a spirit of religion is at work here. It’s very possible your spouse has operated more under the law instead of grace.
  • Anger at God for not meeting their expectations. This is where disappointment moves in, and I believe many of us have walked this road. I know I have. What I discovered is that my expectations were based upon my own thoughts and determinations of how I thought the situation should be. Thus when it didn’t pan out that way, I was grew disappointed. This is where is it so vital that we know God’s character and that He is always working for our good (Rom. 8:28), no matter what things look like. (This one applies to us as well—we can be angry at God for what’s happened in our marriage. Be honest with Him. He can handle your anger and help you walk out of it in greater trust and faith.)
  • Feeling they can never measure up so why bother. This ultimately has a lot to do with identity—who do you believe you are and who do you believe God is for you. If you don’t know God’s character and don’t understand His love for you, you fall into a place of trying to earn His love and to “get right” with God. In our own power and ability, we can’t achieve that. God knew that and thus why He sent His Son Jesus to take care of it once and for all. Grace is a gift, and salvation is all about His love and willingness to die rather than to lose us. If we don’t understand that it has nothing to do with our own efforts and merits, we struggle to fully receive God’s love and can’t walk fully into the confidence that we are truly loved.
  • Deception. We know the truth of John 10:10, that the enemy prowls looking for a way to steel our Christ-given power, to kill our hopes and to destroy our faith so we are not walking in the truth of who we really are. But Jesus is greater. The rest of this verse is where you want to camp, my friends.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. — John 10:10b-11

SUMites, these reasons may very well be what keeps your spouse from even considering Christianity, church and all they believe comes with it. God has been so misrepresented by the ones who are supposed to represent Him best. But don’t lose hope. God always has a plan.

When Restoration Comes

And it will. Believe God for that. Stand for it. But most of all, don’t carry your expectations from the past into this new place. God is all about the new (Isa. 43:19), and He has a new plan of action for the both of you that way exceeds those old expectations. Don’t limit Him. Don’t limit what He can do in and through you—both of you—no matter where you are in this process. God completes everything He starts. Everything.

And He doesn’t move backwards. Even though you may feel you’ve lost ground or have been knocked off your feet, His plans for restoration always include more. He’s not going to make you start all over. Everything He set into place for you is still there and He will help you step back into it. No matter how long it takes. He’s on your side. Always.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. — Psalm 34:18-19 (ESV)

The Lord redeems the life of his servants. — Psalm 34:22a (ESV)

Yes, God not only redeems us, He redeems our lives and everything in them. He’s so good! 

My friends, I’m sure there is much more to this topic than what I’ve covered here. If you are in such a place and walking this challenging road, please share what you’ve learned that has helped you move forward in faith in your marriage. I’ve no doubt your words of encouragement will reach a heart in need. 

SUMites, you are amazing people of God! I love you!
Dineen

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How Sturdy Is Your Seat?

ChairMy friends, I loved your comments from my post on Monday. Several of you shared you would really like to know more about the Greek meanings of the words I’m researching, so please know that I’m thinking and praying about how to do that best. Right now I think a video would be easiest to explain and bring these treasures to life, so stay posted.

Today, let’s start talking about where we “sit” with God. Let’s take a look at Ephesians. The first chapter of Ephesians is all about our identity, who were are as new creations in Christ Jesus and what we’ve been given as our inheritance in Him. 

Many of you shared in the survey that you wanted to understand more about our identity in Christ as well. Knowing and understanding these truths is very important to the sturdiness of our “seat,” especially where and how we “sit” in our mismatched marriages. In taking these truths into our spirit by studying, praying and believing them, we will operate from a greater place of influence in our homes and marriages simply by living our lives according to these truths. 

Take a look at this list of who YOU are right from Ephesians 1.

  • Blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
  • Chosen before the foundation of the world
  • Holy and blameless before Him
  • Predestined for adoption
  • Blessed in the Beloved
  • Redeemed through His blood
  • Forgiven of all trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (not limited by yours)
  • His will and purposes made known to you with all wisdom and understanding
  • United with Him, things in heaven and things on earth

SUMites, this is what Jesus died to give us, our complete identity in Him. And not only that. He gave us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, as a seal and guarantee of our inheritance.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. — Eph 1:13-14

Christ Jesus has done all this for us so that we can be with Him and He can be with us. The veil separating man from God was both literally and figuratively torn upon His death to make this possible. Yet we still tend to think a type of physical separation remains, but God’s Word says otherwise.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. — Eph 2:19-22

Read these verses carefully. God didn’t just want to save us, He also wants us with Him. And not just in eternity, but in an abiding relationship with Him always. When we understand that we are secure in our value, worth and God’s great love for us, we become more and more Christ-like in our faith, courage, integrity and strength. We begin to reflect the very characteristics of Jesus, and if you read the gospels, He was irresistible! People were drawn to Him. They saw the hope and promise He carried and they wanted it.

My friends, this is exactly why God always starts with us, the believing spouse, in a mismatched marriage. We are a conduit of His love and grace, we are a representation of His character, and we are the source of His delight. And we don’t do any of this. He does. 

So this is where we start in releasing our spouses identity in Jesus, by living in belief and faith that we are God’s children, given the full inheritance in Christ Jesus.

Not just when we go to heaven. Now.

Every spiritual blessing, remember? My friends, as you think and pray about these truths about you, think and pray about them regarding your spouse. 

  • You are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, so now bless your spouse with the same.
  • You were chosen before the foundation of the world, and so was your spouse. Declare this truth over his or her life.
  • You stand holy and blameless before Him, so thank Jesus now that He is doing the same thing for your spouse.
  • You were predestined for adoption and so is your spouse. See him or her from this perspective, as someone God is willing to die for so that he or she can LIVE!
  • You are blessed in the Beloved and God’s heart and intention is for your spouse to be too. Again, declare this truth over him or her. If your spouse is open to hear it, tell him or her they are blessed!
  • You are redeemed through His blood and have the power and authority through this to declare the blood of Christ over your spouse—heart, soul, mind and spirit.
  • You are forgiven of all trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. That same forgiveness is for your spouse too. Live forgiven and forgive so that your spouse can see what that looks like.
  • God’s will and purposes made known to you with all wisdom and understanding. Ask God for this same revelation of your spouse. What is God’s heart for your spouse? What gifts did He place in him or her? You can even ask God to show you how your spouse may already be operating in his or her gifting without even realizing it. I see this in my husband as he becomes more and more aware of the people around him and intentionally talks and spends time with them. I see his gift of engagement and evangelism already operating. And I chuckle as I watch him not only do this but how people are drawn to him!
  • You are united with God, things in heaven and things on earth. Therefore, through your faith (sanctification, 1Cor 7:14 and marriage, Mark 10:8) so is your spouse. Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Then take your spouse with you to those heavenly realms in love and prayer. Think of them as there with you already. Wow!

Okay, that one just kind of blew my mind. How about you, SUMites? I hope you’re beginning to see how important you are in God’s eyes and in your marriage. Nothing is impossible for Him. And you, my friends, as a co-heir of Jesus and a co-laborer with God, are part of His possibilities.

Love you dearly!
Dineen

Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

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Survey: TRANSFORMATION

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUMites,

Here are a few more responses to the survey.

Q: What have you learned or experience through SUM that has transformed your life?

  • I was searching for your website to find out how my husband can change. What I really learned is that the relationship with Christ needs to start with me.
  • I've learned about my identity in Christ, and how to use that authority in my prayers.
  • Reading other people's stories shows what God can do and gives me hope
  • Praying the word with bold faith. Covering my family...1cor7:14 (I can’t tell you how many different people and how many times I have referred people to Chapter 8 of Winning Them With Prayer. This scripture changed everything for me – Lynn)
  • Overall, I would say just the experience of being with a community of like circumstances has transformed my life the most. Up until 5 years ago, I knew no one unequally yoked---my friends all had Christian husbands and did not have a clue about this type of circumstance.  I always got the impression they thought because my husband was a good man, the spiritual side didn't matter.
  • That God can still use anyone even if they are struggling in some area of their life
  • That I'm not alone. There are literally thousands of us called to this lifestyle and blessing of having a mission-field right in our own living room!
  • A community of people going through the same circumstances and thriving; and even when they hit bumps, being transparent-asking for prayer, having dialogue with folks that truly care about them. This has caused me to be more transparent in life; to take that step out there when talking to people. It has made me brave, as I never walk alone. 
  • Trust God in the hard
  • The weekend Lynn came to speak at our church! God's love became so overwhelming!!
  • The first time I read Winning Him Without Words - I was joyfilled! It was the first book I read on SUM that lifted me up and made me want to share it with others like us.
  • That I'm not alone and Lynn, Dineen and the SUM community are my home and safe place.
  • I am not responsible for my husband's salvation, that will be in God's timing. I, however, can draw closer to God.
  • I now know that God still loves me!!
  • Too many things to narrow it down. I have been in regular contact with a new friend in Texas, however, through SUM as a prayer partner for the last 6-8 months. That has been such a blessing to share life with her and pray for a sister in similar shoes.
  • My faith has grown

I think as I read this last entry, My faith has grown. I pray this for all of us. I know that for Dineen and I, our faith has grown as we have grown up with all of you. I wish I could share each of your replies. SUMites, we are helping each other. We are learning to pray, to have powerful faith, to BELIEVE that mountains will move and to cheer on others as they battle the demonic and WIN!!!!

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. —John 14:12-14

I release the truth and power of this verse over your life, faith, marriage, home, finances and family. It is for the SUMites today. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the blood and name of Jesus Christ and by the love and affirmation of our good Father. AMEN

If you agree, type AMEN in the comments. SUMites. Today we walk in VICTORY!!  Hallelujah. AMEN. Love, Lynn

*****

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SUM Books 4


This IS the SUMite Nation - Survey Results

Survey with WMSUMite Nation

Thank you for walking with me through the Revelation of Love series. It’s now over. Dineen and I chatted yesterday and we are going to respond to the survey that we took back in March. We will be writing in response to your questions and topics that are of interest or need.

I was overwhelmed by the responses. First, I was astonished by the sheer number of replies and the details everyone offered. Wow, you know what that tells me? You are very much invested in this community. You genuinely feel connected in our family. You genuinely have HOPE in Jesus for your family, your marriage, your spouse and for each other who meet here daily. (I think I already knew that but it was so cool to see it confirmed in the survey.)

I asked the question: Do you visit our website Via: PC, mobile device or other. Well, it was split down the middle.

I asked:  What is your age? 20-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 60+. Did you know that our community is comprised just about equally through all the age groups, with the exception of those under thirty? And it’s likely that we have less readership in that category because of two factors. One, young people are waiting to marry until they are older. Two, it takes several years of matrimony to realize that marriage is hard and walking unequally yoked is harder. After a few years in a rough patch, a desperate believer searches for help. That is when many find us.  Praise God they find us. And many of you responded that is exactly how you found us.

Here is the question I asked and some responses: What was the approximate date Month/year you found SUM? How did you find our website?

  • 2012; googled unequally yoked or unsaved husband or something of the like
  • 2011-google search "I believe in God my husband does not"
  • 2013 I found the site by googling words associated with the site. I know God led me to you.

Many of you also found us:

  • Maybe about June of 2014? Through the book Winning Him Without Words, which I found about through a talk show on Christian radio.
  • Sept/Oct 2012 - Focus on the Family interview
  • I bought your book "Winning Him Without Words"
  • Stumbled across the blog. "GODINCIDENCE"
  • I joined in 2013. I had heard of your website in a previous year listening to a Moody radio broadcast called Family Life Today.
  • I think we go back as far as Nov. 2001. I believe I came across the ministry of Lynn & Dineen through the book my pastor recommended to me, Winning Him Without Words.

There are SUMites that have been with us for years and some for only days. People come and stay and others only need to be with us for a season. God brings us many and we have loved them to the best of our ability. Many of you are faithful and give monetarily, monthly, even if you walked through a divorce or other profoundly difficult life challenges. That is what family looks like.

God is teaching us about His family and how we will love and live throughout eternity. We learn about one another first through our hearts because we can’t see each other and have all that silly judgement that goes on. We come to know and love each other through words, through our heart and mind and soul… It’s a beautiful practice that will be perfected in heaven when we all meet together in the Throne Room. Hallelujah!

You know what else I discovered about our home here on the web? We have accomplished something so many in the “church” desire to do but can’t seem to figure out…. We are a united CHURCH. A church without walls but united in faith and purpose. We all meet here. Learn together, pray for each other, listen, love, respond and encourage and yet we are diverse. We are many different ages as I mentioned before, our family is located in many places across the globe. India, South Africa, United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico, European nations, and even a few readers in Asia. Say what??? God is awesome!!

I asked: Are you attending church regularly? What is your denomination affiliation?

  • Born again. I use Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa website to view weekly bible message.
  • Non-denominational Christian church.
  • Yes 4-square
  • Yes, Church of England (Anglican)
  • I go every other weekend per an agreement my husband and I made to keep peace and to rid our marriage of the fighting that was occurring every weekend over my church attendance. Praying the frequency increases and my husband begins to attend with me. I am Berean.
  • Non-denomination i guess. Protestant...i hate to use labels
  • Yes - Lutheran - I joined an ELCA congregation after leaving Missouri synod.
  • fundamental Baptist
  • yes every sun and wed(awana) Baptist
  • I belong to (and am very active in) a Lutheran church because my husband was raised Lutheran, but I don't consider myself any denomination. I am a follower of Jesus.
  • Attend church weekly, Assemblies of God
  • Yes; evangelical Christian/Nazarene.
  • Pentecostal
  • yes, The Salvation Army
  • Yes I attend regularly. Nondenominational
  • Yes, Catholic
  • Fairly regularly. I have 3 boys (12, 10 & 10) that I am trying not to drive away from the Lord, so it can be a delicate dance around church at times. The church we attend is a non-denominational Christian church.
  • I'm not, but would like to. Methodist.
  • I try and I'm Catholic
  • Yes, Free Methodist.

What I love the most about all of us is that we don’t divide over denominational differences. I asked this question and was astounded that we come from all sorts of faith practices, backgrounds, and denominations. Often believers can divide in these areas but Praise God, we don’t get hung up there.

We ARE THE CHURCH!!

A beautiful and holy Bride that fights the demonic, seizes the day with prayer, never relents in our faith that our God can overcome ALL circumstances, trials and traumas. We are strong when we feel weak. We are vigilant to bring truth to our peeps. We have a hunger for God’s holy Word and we will never let loose of the faith that abides deeply within. We are love. We are more than conquerors and we are filled with the Holy Spirit power. We take down strongholds and bind all the comes against us. We bless and release the Kingdom with our mere words! We are the SUMITES and we are marching toward heaven and taking all our loved ones with us. We stand on the promises of God in full faith and especially 1 Cor 7:14. We are the kids of the Kingdom and Christ Jesus abides within.

If God is for us who could ever be against us?

Christ in us, the hope of glory!

Hallelujah! And AMEN!

Okay, next week I’ll share some more from the survey and then tackle some of your questions. So SUMITES, if you agree with the statement above and want to declare your faith. Write AMEN or some statement of faith or a scripture you are standing on in the comments today. See you there. Woo Hoo… Lord bring the fire on all of us and let us see your power and might displayed within our very own homes, marriages, families and community.  In JESUS POWERFUL NAME. AMEN

I love you SUMites… You are MY family forever. Lynn

*****

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SUM Books 4


A Revelation of Love For My Husband

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThey say.... Love is blind. But, marriage is a real eye-opener!

My friends, a few weeks ago, my husband, whom I refer to as my pre-believer, celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. As I remember through the seasons of our union, I recall the challenges, the laughter, the fun and the really hard times as well. But mostly as I consider this landmark in our marriage, I find that the difficult years have been replaced with peace. Struggles and fear have been given over to unconditional love and acceptance. We are truly living the abundant life and our marriage is sanctified through my faith, as the believer in our home (1 Corinthians 7:14).

Mike and I are planning a European Cruise this summer to celebrate and spend time alone together. But what I found interesting is that the Lord gave me a gift for our marriage anniversary. It was unexpected and delivered with power and authority and ROCKED my world.

Today, I want to give this gift to you.

When you face the seasons of struggle, disappointment, loneliness, or confusion in your own marriage, open up this gift, and read it again. Allow the LORD to pull you into His vision of your marriage.

Every January at my local church we have a weeklong series of meeting where we intentionally seek God through prayer, guest speakers and worship. It was this January, 2017 on the fourth of the five night of events, that I stood in worship. And when the music began…. The LORD spoke.

You see, I had been crying out for a fresh revelation of love from our Father for weeks. But on this particular night, God answered with a fresh revelation of love for my husband. And it changed me.

Standing next to my usual seat on the second row, I lifted my hands and suddenly God came down and began to bombard my mind and heart with a revelation of just how much I truly DO love my husband. I felt wave after wave of love, care, compassion wash over me. I LOVE this man, fully, deeply from my core, unconditionally, and with full forgiveness for any harm or offence of the past. This love revelation felt like a gushing river and a fullness at the same time that I didn’t know that I possessed.

I truly didn’t understand the depth of love I had for my husband until that moment. (Is that weird?)

Years of pain and loneliness were gone, washed away by God. Unmet expectations, disappointment, feelings of longing, all became insignificant and felt selfish, yet they too washed away under the flood of love that continued to pour into me like an epic torrent.

Then God turned it up…..

He showed me where I had hurt my husband. The years and words that landed with pain on his heart. Where I minimized him, held him back by my words, slashed is manhood, and assaulted him with humiliation. Ugh…. Hard to admit.

I began bawling under this revelation.

If this wasn’t enough, God ratcheted up the revelation and then really poured it out. I was given insight to see with spiritual eyes the little boy that resides within my husband. The small child that needs nurturing, care, tenderness and understanding. The small man who has longs and needs for me to smile with kindness toward this boy. To tell him he is good. To say they things and be the one person on earth who can affirm his worth and value that I know is God-given.

Gulp.

Did you know that our husbands need this core of their person to be nurtured? It’s a deep need within him. And he has chosen one single person to offer him this affirmation. Just one… Just one, for all of his adult life, his wife. It’s a powerful and humbling responsibility.

I was made aware of how I failed to be a wife who loved well and the vice grip of pain nearly chocked me. But God…..

BUT GOD….

He allowed me to see just how much I REALLY loved this man. I mean, I really, really love him more than any person on earth. Next to God, I love him with all of my heart. I know I didn't perceive this reality until that moment. And God also released me of my failures in the light of the authentic love I hold for him (love covers a multitude of sins 1 Peter 4:8)

Well, the service ended and I literally sprinted out of the building. Arriving home, I ran into the kitchen and into my husband’s shocked and concerned arms. His face said it all: What the heck is going on as I was still bawling. I began to repent of where I failed him. I promise to love him well for the rest of our lives. And to tell him that I love him with all that I am and with a full heart.

Challenge: I challenge you to ask God for a revelation of love for your husband. It will change your thoughts, your prayer life for him, it will change your priorities and your family dynamic. God’s kinda cool that way!

*****

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SUM Books 4


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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SUM Books 4


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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SUM Books 4


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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SUM Books 4


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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*****

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SUM Books 4


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?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Big hugs!
Dineen

*****

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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.

-----

 

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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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