28 posts categorized "Submission"

How Do We Become Free Of Offense?

SUM Nation:

This post is going to challenge you. However, working through the steps I discuss will, indeed, free you from the ugly snare of the enemy’s weapon of —offense.

Surrendering the offense is the first step. Well, perhaps recognizing that you feel offended is where you begin. Recognize it and name it. Then say, “I’m determined to give this offense to the Lord.” Then pray, pray and pray and surrender the need to respond.


Sometimes let goIt IS appropriate to respond in relationships when boundaries are crossed or broken. However, there are many times where we need to just….. let…. it…… go. Learning to discern those instances I believe comes from praying Ephesians 1:17 over our minds and heart. I have prayed this passage so many times, I’ve lost count. And I frequently pray this verse over others.

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 1:1 NIV

Praying for wisdom and revelation to know God’s thoughts and will in the matter is very powerful…. And extraordinarily helpful and healing.

I understand that it’s easier said than done. But with the Lord’s help, through our prayer time, we can learn to see above the situations and the people and truly let offense just roll off our backs.

Over time through prayer and forgiveness we will find we come to a place where we forgive and let go of offenses. I don’t even fully understand how this happens. It completely, doesn’t make sense especially in our culture to forgive and to release an offense. Our culture will encourage you to hate that person. Seek their demise through gossip behind their backs. To cause pain through escalating the offense and making it even more personal.

In my life as I’ve practiced recognizing and surrendering offense, I’ve discovered that forgiveness and release of the offense and offender comes more easily and quickly. And part of our freedom it to release offense as quickly as possible.

Now here is the final step. Are you ready?

Bless them.

From your heart speak into your prayers a blessing. “I bless ____________ with joy and peace and everything they need. In Jesus name. AMEN

Gulp!

Here is an example.

I pray with people through my church. And often people come in for prayer because they are really struggling in life with all kinds of emotional issues. Recently a man came in for prayer and through some prayer time and questions, we arrived at his divorce. He had been divorced for many years and assured us he had worked through forgiveness of his ex-wife. And he had.

However, he had never taken that extra step to actually release her from all the past pain, by blessing her to receive everything the Lord had for her.

So, in that moment he began to pray, out loud, and blessed his ex-wife. He blessed her with joy, happiness, contentment and everything good that the Lord has for her.

THAT was his freedom moment. His face changed. He experienced a lightness in his spirit and joy rose up from within. He was finally free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. — Galatians 5:1 NIV

This passage says it all.

Practice releasing offense as quickly as you can. Surrender it to the Lord. Something supernatural begins to occur that empowers your heart to truly forgive and even bless.

Wow, the miracles and workings of the Kingdom of God… It simply blows my mind up at times.

SUMites, we are often the target of offense. Our own family members can speak persecution and offensive comments to us about our faith. There are times to respond and times to let go. Pray Ephesians 1:17 so that when those moments arise, you will be filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will know what to do and what to say, if anything.

Thus you will walk in peace. And peace, joy and righteousness is your inheritance as a child of the One True God and His son, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

I love you. We have some BIG surprises coming next week and throughout the month of May. I intend to discuss the fear of man challenge later this summer. Stay tuned… Much, much more coming here to the House of SUM!

It’s a blast living the believer’s life! Hugs, Lynn

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Part 1: The Journey to Complete Abandonment

SUMites, Lynn here. I will be traveling this week. While I'm away, one of our long-time readers and Sister, SUMite Gillian Russell will be sharing a portion of her story. You may remember her and her astonishing story of traveling to meet me and Dineen in Texas. You can find her story about that adventure, here

Thank you Gill for taking time to share your faith with us. Hugs, Lynn

Although I came to my faith for the first time as a twenty year old, somehow God grabbed hold of me very early on in my journey: within a month I was completely sold out on God and I never looked back. While I struggle with many things, trusting God has rarely been an issue for me. (By this I mean for big stuff, trusting God in the little interruptions and frustrations in my day is a completely different story). Maybe it's also that I've always been impulsive, but when God says jump, I jump, (and think and ask questions later!) Honestly, it doesn't matter what it is, all I need is to hear from Him. 

So what does that mean for a mismatched marriage? It has certainly created some odd discussions but there are so many blessings that have flowed into all our lives from this obedience, because after all, God always works only for our best. 

A few years ago, while praying on my way home from a church event I heard these words CLEARLY in my spirit: 

Until your husband sees you, visibly different, (like my best friend saw the change) truly submitting to him, he’s not going to believe.’ That’s what it will take for him to come on board etc, radical humility. ‘Only when you are willing to lay down your will, will he be able to know Me.’ 

Gulp. 

Part 1.JPG Gill
Since then God has been helping me, one little step at a time, to lay down my wants, my desires, my way. In Texas God had taught me that I didn't need to try to run the show because He was in control, and of course He knows what's best. I was reminded of what God had told me about letting go of my will, and it was clear God needed me to stop controlling my husband, trying to get him to live his life how I wanted. 

In fact, God took it a step further by showing me clearly that as long as I was doing this, God would never be able to reach him. Like the prodigal son, my husband had to be able to live free, even free to make mistakes, and that would require my cooperation. This actually made perfect sense, so I trustingly said yes to God. 

A few days later I began to see just what that yes meant.

You see, my husband was invited to a party I did not want him to go to. Besides the fact that it was overnight and shouldn't a husband and father be home with his family, I knew that part of the festivities included strippers (Bachelor party). I knew this situation was not going to be healthy for him or for our marriage...and I wanted to put my wifely foot down, that he was NOT GOING.

Instead I had to lay that urge down, and let him make the decision himself, and look to God to get me through it. So I trusted my heart to God, only to have it broken when he chose to go anyway. I clung to God through the fears and hurt that followed, and offered up the pain I felt to God, together with the cross of Christ to win graces for my husband. Even though I couldn't see any real changes, I had to trust that God was using this to humble my husband, as he saw how his decision affected me.

I had never been so broken, but The Lord stood with me. Truly, I'd never felt so close to my Lord as I did those few days. I had given Him everything I had. 

The night before, after my husband had left for the party, I felt like Jesus alone in the garden of Gethsemane wrestling with the Father's will as my heart wrestled with surrendering this completely to God, for better or worse. Now God had taken my heart, and I had nothing left to give Him. In that place I found myself completely abandoned to His will, whatever it might be, from that moment forward.  There, kneeling by the water in full view of the cars going by, I raised my hands to the heavens in humble surrender. 

Three days later I watched God do a work of redemption in our marriage that only He could do. Afterwards I even shared with my husband a little of how God was responsible for it, because it was only because I was following God's directions that this new breakthrough happened. 

Only God could turn that place of darkness into a new dawn. Truly, the Almighty works ALL things for our good. 

Gill Intl Life
--- Stay Tuned, Part II is next--- Gill

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Submission - The Books of Peter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. —1 Peter 3:1-6

When I was a young wife, this passage raised my hackles. But as I have now lived more than two decades with my unbelieving spouse, I testify to the power and truth behind this wisdom.

I know that there remains great confusion in the “church” over what Peter intends here. I’ve known women who were told to submit to men who were abusive and evil. Although I think in general, church leadership has steered away from this kind of demand in the past decade. I know that within homes, especially marriages of the unequally yoked, husbands have quoted this verse to their believing wives in order to manipulate and control them. Let me be clear, if a man quotes this to his wife he is speaking out of fear and arrogance. His intent is not love but to control.

A husband of integrity would never need to speak this verse to his wife. And a wife should never acquiesce to a man who holds scripture over her to control her. And wives you don’t get off easy either. Mutual respect and love should reign supreme in your relationship and thus a husband would never think of manipulating his wife in such a way. Love and respect must be the core of every marriage. Of course, people aren’t perfect and most of us are somewhere on the path learning to love and respect our spouse well.

Reading back through 1 Peter 3, I can only offer what I have learned in the two plus decades that I have tried to apply this passage to my life. Trying to win my husband with my words of confrontation, condemnation, conviction, manipulation, fear, and begging, well….. it just doesn’t work. Period. The end.

You know what works? The behavior of purity and reverence of my life. What does that look like? Well, my husband CANNOT deny that I believe. He sees the hours I spend with my Lord. He has witnessed my years of praying for him and our family. He sees that I am clothed with hope. He sees that I possess a relentless well spring of joy and that I am a person of profound faith.

I am adorned with a grace that allows me to forgive the unforgivable and I have modeled that to him and our children. I have been honored with an unfading beauty which is the Spirit of the Living God. My husband may not understand it, but our home is a peaceful place. It is a sanctuary that allows him, our children and myself to live authentically. I have friends who call and want to visit just because our house is and I quote, “so peaceful.” My faith changes the atmosphere of my home and often improves the atmosphere wherever I go. (More stories for another day)

I have willingly laid down many dreams and hopes in support of this one man because God said he is worth it. I’ve cried at times and then I’ve prayed with power. I’ve lived the best that I can within the love and power of Jesus. I have adorned myself with humility, most of the time *grin*, and have done the right thing by loving him with a full heart. The dreams I had as a young wife may have been lost but in return God has given me abundantly more than I could have hoped, conceived or dreamed. And God is not finished yet.

At the end of this particular passage Peter urges wives to do what is right and when we do, we will walk in the legacy of Godly women who have gone before us. How beautiful is that? I want to pass this legacy on to my daughter.

And finally Peter says, “Do not give way to fear.”

Submission is not fear. Submission is love and respect. And by the way, it goes both ways between a husband and a wife. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: Submission is meeting the needs of our spouse. As a believer it means meeting his/her needs even when yours remain unmet. But do not fear because over time, just like me, you will discover that your husband  will begin to meet your needs and he will treat you with respect because you modeled it first. And my dear wives, if there are needs in your heart that are never met by your earthly husband, Jesus will more than meet them all.

I leave you now with a story of ultimate submission. I pray this story wrecks you in every good way because this man's submission was for us:

Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wives, do not fear, let Christ raise you up. Because when He does, your husband will fall to his knees and acknowledge that you were right all along and he will proclaim that Jesus is Lord! Never stop praying. Never stop hoping and never stop re-presenting Christ in your marriage, home, family and to the world!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com Winninghim

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Day Four - The Power and Humility of A Fast

Fasting banner 2011

I Give You My Life

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,


When we accepted salvation, we accepted the call to die. The kind of death that would allow God to live in and shine through us. The kind of death that would give us new life. REAL life. We accepted death understanding that through our death to ourselves, we would also find a re-birth as glorious as the one Christ experienced when he was resurrected.

I know it's daunting, this thing of dying, but really ya'll. Membership has its privileges. The cost is great, but the destination is worth the journey.


Father God,
I come before Your throne and I humble myself at Your feet. I bow my spirit before You and I surrender all that I am and all that I have to you. Master, I come to you lowering myself in total submission to Your Lordship, Your Headship, Your Authority in my life. My life is not my own, but Yours to do with as You desire. I die to myself right now, today, that I might find resurrection life in You.

In Jesus' Name.
Amen.

Ro

(Please share with us how you fast is going and what the Lord is revealing to you, Hugs, Rosheeda, Lynn and Dineen.)

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Welcome to 2013!

IStock_000022174079XSmallFor the last month I've started praying for words for myself and my family and specific Scriptures to go with them. In the past my words for the year have come in the quietness of my prayers and in the tenderizing of my heart by God's gracious hand.

But this year's word has shown up like a horn blasting loud and long into the darkness, my friends, and I truly believe it's not just for me. God has big plans for us this year and is calling us to walk with Him on a journey to know Him more deeply and more powerfully in our lives.

That word blasting in my heart and mind is WORSHIP.

I type it in all caps because that is how I "see" it. It is bold and large and loud—a call for us to seek God as never before. I am not saying this should be your word for the year as well (though I dare say I am not the only one who is hearing God in this area—I look forward to reading your comments!), but pray and seek God for how He is calling you to expand this area of your life. We are all called to worship God and as I've shared in the past, when I asked God how I could draw closer to Him, He spoke very clearly, "You will find Me in worship."

And worship is so much more than just praising Him in our prayers and singing worship songs. Every moment of our lives can be acts of worship when we live them with an intentional awareness of His presence.

God wants our hearts, my friends. Totally and completely. I've felt led to start my mornings each day on my knees however briefly with the phrase, "Your day, Lord. Your way." These words have become my daily motto and almost a chant in my heart and mind. I know this is the work of the Holy Spirit to make my daily life one that worships God and equips me to walk in my God-given power and authority.

Now I want to hear from you. I sense deeply God is speaking to so many of us. If you are unsure of what you are hearing, let this be the place you can share and let this amazing community of believers come beside and assist you. I dare say many of us are hearing things from God in our hearts, in our thoughts and in our dreams for He is increasing His presence and His works in us, through us and around us, my friends.

Now is the time to pray boldly, wait expectantly and submit to Him completely. God has so much to show us this year!

Standing with you!
Dineen

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The Power of a Three-Stranded Cord in an Unequal Marriage

The Power of a Three-Stranded Cord in an Unequal Marriage

. . . a three-stranded cord is not easily broken.   (Ecclesiastes 4:12, CJB)

Cordring In the verses prior to this, Solomon is speaking of how two are better than one because if one falls the other can help them up.  They can keep one another warm when it is cold and they can defend one another against an attacker.  Then in the last part of verse twelve, he changes things up a bit and speaks of three instead of two. 

This verse is often spoken of in regards to marriage.  It describes how a successful and strong marriage is one in which there are three participants, a husband, a wife and God.  I’ve also seen it illustrated as a triangle in which the bottom corners represent the husband and wife operating in a horizontal (physical) relationship and God being the top point operating with both husband and wife in a vertical (spiritual) relationship.  Regardless of the picture drawn, it makes sense.  Anything we bring the Lord into will become stronger as He has strength far beyond anything we can ever begin to fathom.

The illustration of the three-stranded cord though makes even more sense when you speak to a rope maker.  They will tell you that this is the strongest cord you can make because all three strands are touching each other.  If you add more strands, the rope becomes thicker but not necessarily stronger because not all the strands are touching at the same time. 

If one or even two of the strands becomes frayed or broken, the cord will remain intact as long as the third strand does not break.  This gives time for the other strands to be mended.  God works in this way in our marriages.  During those hard times when both spouses are at a breaking point, God holds the marriage together until He heals the other two.  And the good news is that God is a strand that can’t be broken.

So then why has an illustration regarding marriage that makes so much sense and should give so much hope, only saddened me in the past?  The answer lies in the fact that I am in an unequally yoked marriage.  My beloved does not share my faith, does not believe in the God that I so love and believes if there truly is a God, He doesn’t really care about us.  So in my mind the three-stranded cord can’t happen as one of the strands does not “touch” or acknowledge the one unbreakable strand.

However, God in all His wisdom whispered a secret to me recently, a secret that caused that beautiful flower of Hope to once again blossom in my heart.  He said, “Angela, my beloved, what makes you think that just because one strand does not acknowledge Me that I suddenly no longer exist?  Since when does the unbelief of one person negate the Truth of my Existence and keep Me from working in their lives?”  At that moment I realized, that even if my husband does not bring the Lord into our marriage, that does not mean that I can’t and it does not negate the presence of the Lord in our marriage. 

Regardless what my husband chooses to believe, I can still commit to follow the Lord and to plead on behalf of my marriage and my husband at the Throne of Heaven.  I can commit to love my husband unconditionally and to pray for him – his health, his success, his life (physical, emotional and spiritual).  I can commit to respond to him in kindness and forgiveness even if he does not always respond to me in the same way.  And if (when) I fail, I can go to him humbly and ask for his forgiveness.  My commitment to the Lord and my marriage brings God, that third unbreakable strand, into our marriage cord whether or not my husband himself acknowledges it, because by doing so I am sharing God’s love and strength with my husband.

And as 1 Peter 3:1-2 says, by doing this who knows but our husbands may actually acknowledge for themselves the Lord and be won over to Him by how we have treated them – by the love, respect and submission we show to them and which strengthens our marriage.

I will be honest, in the end our spouse may still choose to walk away and break what God has joined.  Our Creator has given us all free will, and our spouse may choose to exercise it by walking away from our marriage.   However, by bringing God into our marriage through obedience and submission, we will make that break harder for them to accomplish.  The strands of a cord not only touch one another, but are also entwined and woven amongst one another.  Our spouse’s strand must be broken and disentangled in multiple places before they can truly and completely get free of the cord they have been woven into. 

Angela smith Asking the Lord into our marriage will only strengthen, not weaken it.  It will only strengthen, not weaken us.  In the end we will know that we have been obedient to the Lord and can leave the rest to Him, the One who created us and knows us best.  Regardless of our spouse’s choices and the final outcome of their faith or our marriage, we will be strengthened by that unbreakable strand and we will have given our beloved spouse a glimpse of what that can look like in their own lives.  What better gift can we bestow upon the one we have committed to love for the rest of our lives?

~Angela Smith

 

Thank you Angela. You have inspired me. Hugs, Lynn

Dineen and I also want to give a "SHOUT OUT" to our blogging friends who are profiling our book today at their place. Many are offering a free copy as a giveaway. If you keep entering, you are bound to win one eventually because there are many to give away.

A BIG THANK YOU to:

Noreen - Life Blessings

Angie - The Knightly News

Debbie - Debbie's Homeschool Corner

Angela - Thankful Heart

Bonnie Paulson - Bonniepaulson.com

Mary Lu Tyndale - Cross & Cutlass

Jeanette - Making This House Our Home

Patty - Adding Zest to Your Nest

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The Funny Thing About Losing Your Life

WearyWoman During my quiet time the other morning, I sat there reflecting on the direction God has taken my life. What sparked my examination was another reference to the movie Chariots of Fire about Olympic runner Eric Liddell.

I know...this movie and story gets referenced a lot but this time it wasn't his choice not to run on a Sunday that caught my attention but what happened after that.

First, let’s set the stage. Here is this powerhouse runner ready to compete and bring home a medal in the 100 meter race, his best event. He’s forced to withdraw because it’s scheduled for Sunday.

Now imagine being faced with a choice like that? Something you’ve worked for, dreamed of, even longed for right in front of you but now you’re faced with a decision.

Do what I want or do what honors God?

Liddell chose to honor God and didn’t race. He made his decision in advance that he wouldn’t run this race and instead trained for the 400 meter. The day of the race an American Olympic Team masseur slipped a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30: "Those who honor me I will honor."

Liddell not only won the gold, he set a new record.

This story made me think of Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

Sometimes we are faced with decisions in life that require us to sacrifice what we long for in order to be obedient to God. Sometimes it can even seem unfair. But was true for Liddell and has also been true of my own life is that God really does honor those decisions in which we choose Him.

I once thought making the sacrifices God was calling me to would result in a life without what I wanted and enjoyed. Instead, it’s turned out to be a life I could have never even imagined, filled with joy and wonder (and yes, still trials) because I chose Jesus.

The challenges in our mismatched marriages often put us in this position and I want to encourage you to step out in faith and choose God’s direction for whatever it is your struggling to decide. God will honor your sacrifice as you honor Him. Then be prepared to be surprised and wowed with how He brings it all back to you.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Do You Believe In Modern Day Miracles?

On Monday afternoon I went to my mail box. Waiting inside was a rather large envelope mailed from Canada. Puzzled, I took the package inside. I opened it up and out came a book.

Modern Day Miracles

Mdmiracles3 I smiled and breathed a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Inside I found my story about a small miracle in my life. My story: It All Started With a Woman and a Cow. What a Christmas!

Many of you read this story last year over at Laced With Grace. This was my retelling of God's fantastic, crazy, and faithful provision during our eleven month-long unemployment. So, today I'm praising God for allowing me to share with many others how He lavishes His love into the lives of our ordinary family.

But, I'm not writing about that story today. I want to share with you a different story from this book. Let me set the stage:

Russell VerMulm was a young man who came from a very large family. He joined the military and several months into his service, he fell gravely ill. His complaints were ignored by the medical staff for a week until finally they ushered him into surgery to remove his ruptured appendix. 

For SIX months, this kid langished in pain and fighting for his life in a military hospital. He was unable to speak or basically even move. Now listen to this excerpt as he recalls this period of his life:

Why was I in the hospital? I wrestled with that for a long time and God spoke to me again and said, "Do you remember the nurses who read your cards to you while you were in the hospital?" 

I did.

He said "Do you remember when you were lying there unable to talk, they were reading those loving get well cards to you? You for all practical purposes were dying and through tear-filled eyes they said they wished they had what you had (A relationship with Me). 

Today they do."

Did you hear what I said? While I was dying they wanted what they saw from this dying young man. Even while standing by the fragrance of the dying, you can smell the victory of life. 

I had life eternal and they wanted that.

By the part I played just lying in that hospital, a good work was done. I give praise and glory to God. The time was well spent. That was my best witness to date; I couldn't talk or move, so God did what God needed to be done with no interference from me.

-----

Quite a story. But this is where the rubber meets the road for our own lives. The troubles in your life may appear to be overwhelming. They may feel like they are bringing you close to death, an emotional death, a spiritual death, a marriage death, and perhaps even a physical death. However, we are charged to persevere through it because someone's eternity is at stake.

Now hear me as I say this: ALL THAT MATTERS IN THIS LIFE is that we live for Christ and the salvation of souls.

So, step up to the plate. God is asking us to bear our diffuculties with dignity and with grace. He is asking us to reflect Him, especially through our hardships. In our challenges is when we shine the brightest in the spiritual realm and people are affected.

People are saved.

Our children, our neighbors, our family and even one day our spouse.

Praise the Lord, Jesus. He knows what He is doing. We must trust Him. Live every minute for Him and allow Him to shine in this dark world.

Be blessed, Lynn

To order a book, visit Allisson C. Restagno at Moderndaymiraclesbook.com

*****

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The Unending Trials

IStock_000010779625XSmall One of the heaviest burdens we carry for ourselves and others are those that don’t seem to end. These days we all have some area that continues to challenge us. We pray for healing, release, whatever seems needed, in the hopes that God will rush in and save the day.

Sometimes things get better, then something happens to plunge us to the depths again. You cry out to God to bring resolution, healing, whatever, yet nothing seems to change. We struggle with our faith, with our perception of God in our lives and his plan, we struggle, struggle, struggle...

We even despair, wondering why God doesn’t seem to hear our prayers. These are the trials that take the most from us emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.

Coming to a place of trust and acceptance is a great challenge, and I think we have to do it over and over again. God has a reason for not just stepping in and making a situation better or removing it completely, but believing that and trusting that his reasons are good is not always easy. The truth that keeps me going is that God is good. He is not capable of bad motivations. That's the one thing He’s incapable of. So if that's true, and it is, then our ongoing trials have purpose and meaning too.

Recently, God showed me that sometimes parts of our lives have to be torn down in order to rebuild something much better. And often those parts He wants to remove aren’t healthy anyway. Yet we tend to cling to what we know, preferring the familiar over change or growing pains.

And it is painful and heartbreaking at times. I know my own stubborn nature wants to protest and keep the status quo rather than face this kind of pain—the kind that tells us it must get worse before it can get better.

Our spirits know it’s necessary. That’s the way God designed us, that if we’re to truly walk in his plan for our lives, we must allow Him to prune and refine us.

The thing is, we can know all this is true, but at the darkest moment of testing, we consider the cost. We stop and look, examine and estimate, decide and choose. Can we go on?

I confess one of these times hit me recently. Very unexpectedly, I might add. I think that was part of God purpose in allowing it, to show me I wasn’t as secure in my faith as I thought. For a nearly a day I labored over what God was calling me to do.

What I faced was appalling to me in that moment. Yet the more I examined the true depths of the issue, the more I realized the heart of the matter was internal. My heart needed some changes in order to go on. I met with God in his Word and prayer, and He began to heal what I could not and bring acceptance to what I had initially resisted.

In the end, I had a choice, and God left it to me to choose. I could choose living in all that God wants to accomplish in and through me, or I could walk away. Sometimes we just have to choose to do the hard stuff, and it sure helps knowing we’re choosing God in the same breath—to be obedient, to serve a higher calling than our own human nature. To know we’re not making the trip alone and on our own.

God asks a lot of us sometimes. More than we can imagine ever accomplishing or enduring. But whatever He asks, He will equip us to move forward. He doesn’t ask if we have the strength to do it, because He knows we don’t, not without Him. He asks us to trust Him more deeply than we have before and leave the rest to Him.

Again, not easy but very much worth the journey.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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What if I HAD to Choose?

Excerpt from Winning Him Without Words, Regal Publishers:

WinningHim The true strength of our faith lies in God, not our circumstances. So let’s consider a difficult question: Can we love our spouse without any guarantee that he will come to know Christ? If this question raises despair, then we’ve most likely placed our faith in our spouse’s conversion and not in God. This is a key element to thriving in our mismatched marriage. Realigning our faith to reside completely in God can be difficult, but it is absolutely necessary to finding peace and to loving our spouse unconditionally. Leave the saving to Jesus. You do the loving! (Dineen Miller)

Today I sat in my office reading the manuscript of our book. The paragraph above was written by Dineen way back in March. I know I read it back then but today when I re-read this portion, the truth of her words struck me profound. I think everyone of us in an unequally yoked marriage has lived in this place: Our spouse’s salvation was the key to our happiness…. Not God.

Dineen can be a profoundly insightful woman and I am richly blessed to receive her teaching. I know you feel that way as well.

For the past two weeks, Dineen and I have worked on the edits for our book. The finished work is due in our publisher’s office today. So, Dineen and I intend to pray over this manuscript as we send it off. We will get on the phone and pray together asking God to place book into the hands of those who need encouragement, those who need healing in their marriage and those who need to hear that Jesus is the power and hope to thriving in marriage.

Dineen and I also ask all of you to pray along with us as the publish date nears. Pray that lives are touched and they see Jesus. That is truly our earnest hope.

Thank you everyone for loving us through this year and a half long process. So many of you helped by contributing your words, some of you read our work, you prayed over the words and over us. We love all you.

As of now our publish date is expected to be February 21, 2011. Thank you.

So, let’s talk about Dineen’s question today. Was there a point in your marriage or are you still there today that you put more hope in your spouse’s conversion for happiness than in God? I’m not sure I am completely free of basing some of my happiness on my spouse’s conversion.

So, I hear God asking me, “Lynn, can you love your husband and Me with a full heart for your entire life, if there isn’t a guarantee of his salvation.

Whoa! Thoughts?

Hugs, Lynn

*****

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God’s Preparation

1063353_mysterious_stairs-1 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 5:7-10

I’m back again with another nugget. Are you ready?

 Have you noticed how more people seem to be going through more trials than normal these days? Are you one of them? We face enough conflict and trial in our spiritually unequal marriages as it is, then throw in a few more issues, and we can feel like we’re at the end of our ropes.

I want to share a promise with you, one ready to be dug out of the Scripture I shared above. Specifically, look at the part I bolded. Go ahead. I’ll wait for you. Just come back when you’re done.

This little nugget shows us that even Jesus was prepared for what God, his Father, had designated for him to do. Jesus wasn’t placed on this earth ready to fulfill his destiny. God used his first 30 years to prepare him for his ministry and greatest moment of glory.

From his birth to his death, Christ’s life was a series of trials for preparation. Though we know few details of his life growing up, I think we know God well enough that he wouldn’t have made his son’s life easy. Like us, he learned obedience and submission from his sufferings, as it says in verse eight. Perhaps this represents the human side of his deity, one so critical to his sacrifice being legitimized in our very human and broken states. We more easily identify and welcome someone who knows and understands our own trials by experience.

I don’t know. What I do know is that if God prepared his Son for what lay ahead of him and equipped him for every step, we can expect the same preparation as his children and coheirs with Christ. Whether it’s persevering through the storms in our life or meeting the challenge of a new calling God is leading us to, God will equip and prepare us just like He did Jesus.

In our lives of trials, we can look to Jesus and see the pattern of preparation. And perhaps therein lies our joy—in knowing God the Father loves us that much, like his Son, and is preparing us for the destiny he has planned for each of us.

What I do know and have lived is the joy of looking back through those trials and seeing how God meant every one for good. He not only prepared me for the trials, he used each one as preparation for ministry and service.

Whatever difficulties you’re facing today, walk forward in the trust and belief that God has prepared you for it. He’s set everything in place to bring you though. He’s equipped each of us to walk the path of being unequally yoked and to persevere no matter how long the journey may take.

We just have to believe and ask for God to show us this great mystery. Go ahead and ask him. I’ll be here waiting to hear how God prepared you for your journey.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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SUM Books 4


CONFLICT ~

You can't live with him...You can't live without him.

I have been pondering conflict.

Not world conflict, nor social conflict but that personal, in-your-face, conflict in marriage. I guess my thoughts on conflict have surfaced because of my most recent exchange with my own mate. Remember Church or no-Church?

If you are married, you deal with conflict. After all, we are human, broken and flawed. What troubles me is so often conflict is avoided or handled inappropriately. Therefore, I think we need to take a look at some real situations and discover how conflict is handled appropriately and through the lens of the Bible.

As I was in my quiet time a few days ago, speaking to the Lord, the following found its way into my prayer journal:

I wonder if many of us have a view that as a Christian, we must be the spouse who refrains from conflict. It is our duty as a follower of Christ to always be the peace maker and give in to the demands of our spouse and don’t rock the boat?

There are scriptures that point to this conclusion:

Proverbs 13:3 3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.

Ephesians 4: 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

And then there is this one:

James 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Yikes!

It’s all so confusing.

There are times we should keep our mouth shut. Such was the case last week when my husband was moving slowly on Sunday morning and I thought we would be late to church, again. You may remember, I took control of my thoughts and then my mouth and said nothing. It was the right thing to do.

However, three weeks earlier the conflict that erupted between us in the most inopportune place and at the most in opportune time was necessary. Perhaps I could have made an issue of this growing church or no-church conflict at home later in the day. However, I am convinced the impact would have been feeble, my words ignored, and resolution of our differences would still be hanging out there.

People, there are times we not only need to rock the boat but we need to get out of the boat.

Now, don’t panic. You know I am not leading this conversation toward throwing in the towel. No, I want to look honestly at proper conflict and our responsibilities as believers in these unique marriages.

So how do we start to define this vast issue of conflict resolution? Let’s start with this; Is it Godly to draw the line in the sand?

What do you think?

Have a blessed week and stay tuned for more on CONFLICT, Can’t live with him. Can’t live without him.  Lynn

*****

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Going Alone? Oh No Siree!

I sat down a few minutes ago to prepare this post. Before I started typing, I stopped to pray. I prayed for all of you who read the posts, Church or no-Church. I thanked the Lord, our Great King for each of you who took time to leave me your thoughts, your prayers, your concerns and your experiences.

Church or No-Church, Part I

Church of No-Church, Part II

I have read and re-read your comments just now. I have tears in my eyes. I have been writing here for three years and the advice and love and comfort all of you have given through your comments is some of the best I have EVER read. I encourage all of you to read the comments from last week. Such words of wisdom. You may very well leave your computer today….. CHANGED. PERMANANTLY – CHANGED!

I know that I am.

On Friday I wrote that I was seeking answers from the Lord and how He is always faithful to answer when I pursue His wisdom. Girls and men, He did not fail me. I have a powerful story and prayer to share.

Before I tell you what happened, I think it is important to point out some interesting observations from all of your comments.

First, not all of us agree. After reading through the comments and the private emails I received, it looks like the church or no-church decision is very personal and individualized.

Second, it appears most of us actually have grappled with this very choice and have spent considerable hours, years in prayer and in thought, determining what is appropriate for ourselves, our kids and especially our husbands. These decisions were not made lightly.

Third, many of you found your spouse attending after you released pressure on them. hmmmmm

Fourth, many spouses attend to make their wives happy and that works as well. hmmmmm

Fifth, the enemy is often at work in this situation. (Boy, is that the truth)

Okay, now I want to share a direct message that came to Lynn Donovan on the beach Thursday afternoon. The minute I heard these words, I knew Jesus was correcting my perspective and re-directing my path. The words spoken to me were what I needed to hear and penetrating. I am changed.

So, here goes…

I am fortunate enough to have a small group of friends from my church. We meet together once a week to review the pastor’s message and to pray for one another. Until this year, I was never comfortable as a “married-single” to be part of an intimate group like this. I always felt like a third wheel among all the couples. But, my friend, Pam, loved me so much and welcomed me after inviting me year after year to join the small community, that I felt ready. Thank you Pam!

Well, because most of the families in our group are on a budget, we look for inexpensive ways to enjoy the summer with our kids. The beach is perfect. Free rides on the waves, beach combing and you pack a lunch.

On Thursday, I arrived at the beach and joined a few of the other gals there. I sat down with Gina and Jolene and I shared with them my struggle with this church or no-church thing. They know me and my husband and listened with loving hearts and ears.

I explained my dilemma, “Jolene, it is just so hard to sit there (in church) when he is angry. I don’t want him there.”

Jolene, looked at me and she said. “So what.”

Hunh? No mercy here. Jolene isn’t one to beat around the bush.

She went on in a kind and loving voice. Her message was not to hurt but honestly to help. “Lynn, you know that my husband and I were unequally yoked for many years. He came to Christ a little over five years ago. But before he was saved I would literally be on my knees before the Lord, begging Him to place Himself anywhere and everywhere in front of my husband.”

Hunh?

“I would pray, “”Oh Father, place yourself in front of my man at every turn. Put a Christian man next to him on the airplane today. Father, let my husband catch a glimpse of you through a song, or something on television tonight. Lord, surround him with other business people who love You at his meeting today.””

“Lynn, I wanted my husband surrounded by the Lord. If you want the same, you will want him at church too. Let go of yourself here and if your man is willing to go to church then rejoice as you sit next to him, because the Lord is answering prayer.”

Gulp!

“Oh, Jolene, you are absolutely right.” I knew in my heart, for me, the right thing was to get over myself. And at that instant I did. How dare I let this be about me?

On Thursday as I sat under a cloudy sky at the beach, the Lord spoke. He didn’t speak audibly but through a wise and Jesus-loving friend, Jolene. I now pray much differently and with a new heart for my husband. I stopped asking the Lord to save my husband and to have him read the Bible and to open his spiritual eyes. These prayers are not wrong but I now I am moved to pray like this:

Oh Father, today let me just love him. Pour Your love into me is such a powerful and complete way that I am just bursting with You all over everyone and especially my husband. Father, I beg you to place Yourself before my man today. Be in front of him as he searches the employment boards for work today. Lord, place one or two men in his path at the store today or on the phone who know You. At the Worship barbeque tonight, I ask that there would be one or two Christians who initiate a conversation with him. Lord, I ask you to surround him with You. Fill his morning, noon and night with some message that puts You smack in the front of his face. I ask Your will in his life and not my own.

Lord, YOU- sit on my throne.

 

You sit on my throne.

You sit on my throne.

I love you Jesus. I love you. Your humble servant, Lynn

*****

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Spiritual Leadership and the Heebie Jeebies

Jesus said: Luke 6:41 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Why, do we constantly feel the need to change our spouse?

Okay, perhaps it’s only me, but I don’t think I am alone. Often in my conversations with believers I discover that we, women, want our husbands to be the… -spiritual leader of the household.

Shudder…

Those few words can give me the heebie jeebies. Spiritual expectations create a ton of unhappiness in our married relationship. Okay, I know I have probably offended you. Stay with me here. Let me state that it is correct thinking and Biblical to desire our man to be the spiritual leader of our family. I get it, really.

Where I see this go terribly wrong is what we as women “think” that leadership should look like. Do the words family devotions and leading prayer nightly and Bible discussions with the kids and, and, and… ring a bell? Yikes!

I know there are a few men out there that bring these qualities and activities to the home. They are actually rare from all my years in talking with Christian women. If you have a man like this, kneel down right now and give thanks to God.

For the rest of us. Relax.

Why do you wait for your husband to lead devotions? Where did this expectation come from?

I would submit to you that men practice their faith differently than women.

Allow your husband to be who he is.

I know this, if my husband became an on fire believer tomorrow, he would never be comfortable enough to lead family devotions, and it would probably take him years just to pray out loud. I am okay with it. It doesn’t mean he would not be the spiritual leader of our home.

What Jesus calls us to see is our man’s fruit. Not just the man-(woman)-made suggestions of practicing faith. Take a step back. What is the fruit? What is in his heart for what is in the heart come out of the mouth. Look at his character. God cares so much for our character and a little less about leading family devotions.

Jesus said: Luke 6: 43 “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 44 A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. 45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Perhaps this was a tough post. Perhaps you don’t agree. That’s is okay. I hope however, it causes you to think about the good fruit in your man today. Give him a break for the things he may not do and give him a hug for the fruit that is evident. Have a blessed Friday, Lynn

*****

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WITHOUT A WORD by Noreen

As a young engaged woman I worked at a Christian preschool and was surrounded by godly women whose lives modeled the role God intends us to walk as wives and mothers. I didn’t realize how much they influenced me until I began to write my wedding vows and although I wasn’t saved at the time my vows were scriptural. At the time I purposely and willingly left out the phrase to submit and obey for I knew I surely would be tested on this.

Noreen2 You see I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s, a vocal spokesman of Women’s Liberation. In the early years of marriage I was saved and began memorizing scripture; one of the very first verses I memorized was 1Peter3:1 “In the same way you wives, be submissive to your own husband so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives”.

In the margin next to this verse is the year 1988 that I first claimed this for my beloved. After memorizing this scripture along with many other verses pertaining to marriage, I stopped leaving index cards with verses on them around the house, I stopped preaching at him or leaving “subtle-not so subtle” hints around the house of what I wanted him to become. I made a conscious decision to let him see Christ in me instead of hearing what I wanted him to hear. I wanted and still want him to be won without a word.

I would be tested on this almost immediately and I can say it was the most difficult test I ever faced. At the time my beloved husband was dealing with a wife who had changed overnight and he wasn’t very pleased with the changes or what I was teaching our daughters.

One morning he announced to me that I was no longer able to take our girls to church. Stunned and hurt I quickly told him I would submit to this but he had to know I would never stop teaching them about Jesus and the bible. This was the hardest thing I had ever faced; I spent days in concentrated prayer over whether or not I should obey, I sought the advice of godly council and I grieved. How could this be happening? Everything within me shouted out in rebellion, to seek my own will in this situation because after all I had rights didn’t I?

During these days of seeking the Lord’s heart in this matter, in my marriage and in begging for His grace I knew something immediately- if I was to pursue doing what I wanted and disobey my husband, his heart would forever be hardened to the very One I so desperately wanted him to know. So after much prayer and many tears I willingly stepped away from attending church in order to honor my spouse. I also gave up being a discussion leader in a large women’s bible study, another part of laying down my life that took everything I had.

I would love to tell you that he immediately saw my submission and went to the cross but it didn’t happen like that. During those early years I did see softening and subtle changes in his heart; several times he even suggested that we go to special Christmas services at our local church.

It was many years later through a set of circumstances that he finally agreed to let me take the girls to church. It was such a privilege for all of us and we cherished it even more because of years going without it.

Here I am 30 years later, still learning to obey and submit to my unbelieving spouse and still waiting for that day when he will come to the cross. I do not believe this is the choice each unequally yoked spouse will face but I do know that we will be called to lay down our lives for Christ.

During those long years, the reality of being carried by Christ was almost tangible to me. His grace covered my two daughters and me. I know my beloved was sanctified and blessed by his believing wife.

My two daughters are godly women, married to godly men and are raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

I am so grateful the Lord has allowed me to walk this walk for so many years. What a glorious day it will be when one of the lost return to their Father. I look forward to that time but am content to wait upon the Lord. Someone once said “Prove Jesus to the world that His Word is true” and I love to reflect on this. Love your spouse as unto the Lord, today and every day for the rest of your life.

_____

Noreen writes at her blog, Life Blessings. Thank you Noreen and Carrie for sharing your heart and for honoring Jesus here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage and through your marriages. Be Blessed, Lynn

*****

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Day Three: Believing Like Abraham

55446_catch_the_light Welcome to day three of our week of fasting and prayer. I know many of you have joined us in praying and even fasting for your spouses. I'd like to encourage you to continue, in whatever form God is leading you, to keep your vigil going.

For the sake of simplicity for my family as we continue through the final stages of my daughter's treatment (and she's doing great, praise God!), I chose to fast through my first meal of the day and devote my morning quiet time to seeking God's will for this next year. The emphasis of course is for my sweet hubby, who seems even more set in his atheism than ever. My faith choices have even come under more scrutiny of late.

So, I'd like to share some of what God is showing me through this time of fasting to encourage you to keep going, and most importantly, to keep believing. I've signed my posts with the words "praying and believing" since I joined Lynn here (still such an honor!) and I will be honest, there have been times typing those words didn't come easy.

Sometimes disbelief has a way of sneaking in. Then we find ourselves doubting, wondering if we ever really had things straight, heard God correctly, or missed the mark somehow. It's so easy to find ourselves in these dry places when we keep praying and don't see any changes.

For two days I've been hearing God say, "Believe like Abraham." And I believe this is a message for all of us. I sense deeply that God is calling us to take our faith to the next level and truly believe Him for the things we're asking in his will—for the salvation of our loved ones, and many other things.

You know, we can have great faith and trust in certain areas, yet doubt in others. I'm realizing I have great faith when it comes to trusting God for my loved ones—for my husband's salvation, for my youngest daughter's complete healing from cancer. Yet my faith wavers a bit in the small areas. The little things.

But God is calling us to believe like Abraham in all things. To take that step of faith and say, "Yes God, I believe you are in the middle of this, and I am praising and thanking you now for what you're about to do." To pray for a unbelieving spouse as if he or she were already saved...

Spend your fasting and prayer time today first, confessing any unbelief that has found it's way into your heart. Like the father asking for his son's healing said to Christ, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Then ask God to grow your faith. Ask Him to show you a Scripture for this week that you can memorize and use as a reminder that Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith, and will therefore increase it. We need simply to ask.

Praying is the beginning of the journey, belief is the completion. Let's make 2009 the year we believe like never before.

Praying and believing (and typed with trust),
Dineen

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Trouble ~ Transition ~ Tension

Today is our conclusion to the Love Our Neighbor series. Walking through this scripture has left me permanently changed. My heart for people softened. This series brought with it the Kingdom Assignment. God gave us a chance to practice kindness, and goodness. He gave us a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He watched, as we loved our neighbor.

This series unfolded Matthew 22:36-39 and Matthew 25: 14-30.

I understand this command in a way I never did before:

Matthew 22: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Our world reverberates with hate, bitterness, and broken dreams. When we give our love away a doorway opens. Kindness and compassion overcomes barriers, hatred, and anger.

It opens a door to share Jesus.

Today, right now in our country and in our world, doors are opening.

People come to know God usually through three circumstances; trouble, transition, and tension. The pressures of the terrible T's propel people to search for God. Our world is smack in the middle of all three. People are scared, they are in financial trouble, and tension mounts each day as we watch the nightly news.

Our opportunity is NOW.

From this day forward I will never be the same. I am going to live every day of my life, giving love away, opening the door for God. I will be obedient. I will be kind. I will live compassion. I will live for Jesus.

If we truly live in this kind of obedience, our unbelieving spouses, our children, our neighbors, the world will know there is a God and He lives and works in our lives.

Lord, this is my prayer for every reader who stopped here in the last few months. Let your Holy Spirit fill us so full, that kindness is in our every breath, love in our eyes, and compassion in our hearts. Let us live it. Let us be the door to share with this broken world the life-changing truth: OUR GOD SAVES! I ask this in the powerful, awesome, glorious name of Jesus, our Redeemer, and our Lord. Amen.

Please share with me what happened with your Kingdom Assignment. Whatever you did with your dollar is exactly what the Lord wanted. Don't judge it unworthy of mention. Allow the Lord Jesus to receive honor because you used God's money in some way to serve His kingdom. Write to me today a quick note. Please email me. You can read other's stories by going to the Kingdom Page through the link in the sidebar.

I am excited to see where the Lord will take us next. You should know I am always just as surprised by the Lord as you are when we walk through these journeys. Thank you for walking beside me. Your friendship, wisdom, and love are gifts I can never repay. But, I sure do tell my "Father" about all of you often. Have a blessed week, Lynn

*****

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Weekend Devotion—Are You Envious?

Weddingrings-small Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. — James 3:13-18

These verses were part of my devotional reading this past week. When I read it, I immediately thought of how often the unequally yoked tread this ground. We don't mean to, but when we see couples and families worshiping God together at church, we can fall into this trap of envy. Then our envy can turn into ambition as we try to manipulate our unbelieving spouses into going to church with us next time.

James tells us in these verses that seeking wisdom from God will help us reap the best benefits. We can take those feelings and turn them into more constructive actions that will speak louder than anything else to our loved ones. By submitting our envy and and selfishness to God, we can grow into the peace-loving, considerate,  fruit bearers of Christ that God intended us to be.

Through God's strength we can become the peacemakers in our family and be visible representations of the righteousness of Christ.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Ready to Graduate

Leslie_2I want to graduate from the unequally yoked club. I bet you do to.

In January of this year, God had me write something important down. He gave me a specific word about my future. Part of what he said was, “this is the year I will do great things in your life.”

Now I will honestly say I knew these “great things” didn’t necessarily mean complete success and all my dreams coming true. I know God well enough to understand that what I consider great and what I want may not necessarily be in agreement with what God is shooting for.

And I’m a firm believer in Romans 8:28. I have no doubts that everything God does has a purpose, nothing is wasted, and anytime we, his children, are included in these events, he always has our best interest at heart. So even faced with a difficult road ahead of us, I know God has a plan, a reason, and I trust him.

But looking back at his words during this time with my daughter has illuminated a new aspect for me. What God considers great can have much deeper ramifications. And more difficulties than we anticipate.

Sometimes “great” has farther-reaching ramifications than we can ever imagine. “Great” then takes on deeper meaning than the casual usage implying better than good. Great can mean significant, important, earth-moving and life changing.

What do we do in those times?

Hang on to God. I can tell you from experience, he’s very faithful. He’s certainly not letting go of you. And if you’re a control freak like me, the best thing you can do is spend a lot of time with him, especially in his Word. The better you know God, the more you will understand his will and find peace in acceptance and trust. God speaks, we just have to listen.

Look beyond ourselves. There’s always a bigger picture there, I promise you. I can look back over the last seven years and see ways God has been moving us to this point, AND preparing us for what we face right now. Those times are significant. Those times were great. Struggles, difficult decisions, set backs, failures—all of these have equipped me to deal with we are facing now. In this viewpoint, I can be grateful to God for all he’s done to get me ready. And I see it’s really not about me. It’s about God and his plan, which he set in place from the beginning, and he’s completely in control of it all and knows the outcome. I can’t do any better than that, so leaving it all in his most capable hands brings me tremendous comfort.

Join God. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently regarding ongoing issues is that much more is accomplished when I seek to join God in the process instead of demanding God just fix it and make it go away. Does it seem like God’s not hearing your prayer in a particular situation? Are you praying over and over again for God to change/fix/remove this problem, but nothing’s happening? Change you prayer. Instead of asking God to deal with it for you, ask him how you can be a part of the solution. God doesn’t need our help but he wants us involved as part of our growth. And that growth is what brings us closer to him, allows us to know him better, and even gives us a glimpse of what God has planned in his perfect will.

So much has happened in my family these last few weeks. And we still have more to face. We learned yesterday the tumor is cancerous. She will need more surgery, weeks of radiation, and months of chemotherapy. I know there will be days that I will wonder why God has taken us down this path.

But for now, I’m holding onto God’s promises for my daughter and for my husband. I can see that there is so much more going on than just the visible. God’s allowed this time for a greater reason than ourselves. Lives will be touched and changed. One in particular… God’s presence is being and will be revealed.

I want to be a part of that. I want to walk alongside God and participate as he’s calling me to. The big picture is salvation and relationship to God. That’s what this is all about.

And I can’t wait to see the culmination. I’m ready to graduate.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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The Most Dangerous Prayer

Hi friends! I'm still traveling! Here's a post I wrote in November of 2007 that is still so relevant. :-)

PrayingIt’s birthed in the deepest recesses of our hearts, then moves with our silent yearnings to the hidden places in our thoughts. We dare to think it, until we finally submit and give words to this most dangerous prayer.

“Lord, do whatever it takes to bring my husband/wife to Christ.”

Among the unequally yoked there is an unspoken enormity to this prayer. And we understand the journey it takes deep within ourselves to finally speak it—to pray it with sincerity, knowing full well we have no idea what we may have unleashed. It comes from a place of near desperation and complete trust in God.

We are willing to risk it all.

At times the urgency of this prayer fills me with such desperation that I can hardly breath. And when I am overcome by it, God tells me this is just the minutest fraction of what he feels for my husband.

Can you imagine?

Can you imagine a love that wild and all consuming? Then I realized that God feels that way about us and pursued us then just as He is pursuing our loved ones now. (Talk about really leaving a girl breathless!)

That kind of love never fails. It’s always there, protecting and watching. He’s got our backs. (Isaiah 58:8). We just have to trust him and let go of our expectations, preconceived ideas, and fears. He will equip us to handle whatever comes. (I’m listening to those words as much as you are.)

Amazingly, I’m the one who’s been changed the most by this prayer. At first what I thought to be terribly unfair now appears to be part of a grand plan. A time of preparation. With each pruning, I find myself more and more grateful, and humbled. (There’s hope for me yet.)

Perhaps it makes a difference knowing the outcome—God gave me a glimpse of what’s to come several years ago. Or perhaps it has more to do with how He has strengthened my trust and reliance on him. He’s shown me my fallen-ness. I have no choice.

What are you willing to risk for your unbelieving spouse to know Jesus? What are you willing to pray for that loved one? Are you willing to walk into the unknown realm of God’s will, and trust him completely with the outcome, no matter how you’re affected in the process? It’s a scary question, I know!

When I worry what this prayer will cost me, I remind myself that God will equip me for whatever comes. That’s been the whole point of this time of preparation. And then I remember that He made the greatest sacrifice. He already paid the highest cost of all with his Son. And nothing I could lose can compare to that.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Would you Change Churches?

I have spending a significant amount of time thinking about church. I am one of the thousands of spouses who pray in hope that my husband will want to attend church.

In our early years, of course, this prayer was completely self-centered. I wanted my man to become a Christian because my life would be simpler. Also, I didn’t want to go to church by myself. Can anyone relate?

I can recall my husband standing in our church sanctuary last year. The band was playing – loudly— and my husband was embroiled in the “hostile” stance. Hands on hips, elbows jutting out, and a look of exasperation on his face as he stared forward. No singing, no participation. He was mad.

I probably coerced the guy into attendance that morning. I looked over at him and could feel the anger emanating from him. Tears sprang into my eyes. I was so upset because he was mad. The morning was a total loss.

Half way through the service my husband could tell I was hurt. We muddled through the motions and left. On the ride home, in a teary voice but honest voice, I released him from attending church and I honestly meant it.

That was the day I completely stopped influencing him into church.

However, I STILL deeply desire my husband to attend church. My reasons are different today than in my selfish years. However, he remains at home on Sundays while I head off for services.

I began asking myself the usual questions. Why doesn’t he like church? If I attended another church, would he go? What makes church attractive to men?

I read the following in Today’s Christian Woman magazine last week:Menrockclimb


Wish your spouse spent Sunday mornings with you? Choose a church with these men-friendly characteristics.

  • Large congregation
  • No denominational affiliation
  • Strict scriptural adherence
  • Young multiracial crowd
  • Authoritative, male pastor
  • Informal dress
  • Modern technology
  • Fun services

    -adapted from How Women Help Men Find God by David Murrow (Thomas Nelson)

    Hmmmmm. This prompts the question, would I be willing to change churches for my spouse’s spiritual growth?

    Your thoughts? Hugs~ Lynn

  • *****

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    Lessons from the Campground

    Happy Friday!

    I am away this weekend, traveling with my daughter and her Middle School Band. We are competing in San Francisco. I am one of about 10 chaperones who will be on a buss for a total of 16 hours with about 60 middle school boys and girls. I am scared!!! Can any one say a prayer??? *grin*

    I want to share a post with you today that I originally shared at Christian Women Online about a year ago. Our family goes camping a few times a year. Each time I am delighted that God travels with us and never fails to provide me with a life message. To follow is one experience I will never forget. I hope you enjoy,

    Better Than Reality TV

    Friday afternoon we arrived at the campground. We bailed out of the car and began to unload the gear; sleeping bags, cook stove, food bins, and the most dreaded piece of camping equipment known to marriage, the tent.

    This year we brought with us a brand new tent, still in the box. I spied the beast lying on the ground, knowing what must ensue. Looking around I was relived to see the campground was empty with the exception of a retired couple sitting quietly in their lawn chairs in front of their trailer about 100 feet away.

    I approached the box, cut the tape and out slid the biggest pile of nylon and connect-the-sticks I have ever seen. The contraption sleeps ten. Why a family of three needs a tent this size, I still cannot explain.

    Dragging the tent around on the site, I called to my husband for help. Thus the event commenced; the raising of the tent. This is a hotly contested battle of wit and patience between a husband and a wife. If television wanted a truly unrefined reality show, Raise the Tent, would win hands down. Two minutes into the set up, orders were shouted, my husband was obviously blind to the logic of my instructions. This became readily apparent from the look on his face.

    A retort from my frustrated spouse was foreseeable. The sound level increased. I glanced over at older couple who sat smiling at their reading materials, afraid to look up for fear they would break into hysterics.

    Precisely at this moment in all tent-raising events, children mysteriously disappear. My daughter retreated to the creek, suddenly captivated with the rocks at the bottom.

    I lowered my voice but the yelling continued in what I call, snake whisper. It is still yelling just at a hissing level. I am sure some of you can relate. The older couple is no longer watching covertly, they sit mesmerized by our show activity.

    Finally the Holy Spirit became fed up and tapped upon my heart. He reminded me I no longer needed to be in control. In the midst of our squabbling I saw my husband, a gift from God. I saw a man who has made me a better woman. The bickering diminished and the tent went up quickly.

    My husband and I are spiritually mismatched in our marriage and although my husband has yet to discover the truth of Christ for himself, Christ is alive and active in our marriage. Christ’s supernatural power brings us through the arguing, disagreements, and tent construction. I look back upon my marriage journey and see Christ standing with us. He has been working through my nonbelieving husband to smooth my rough edges of selfishness and desire to control.

    My spouse and I are the ultimate odd couple. Our back grounds and beliefs are vastly different, which makes our marriage, our happy and fulfilling marriage, a miracle.

    Handholding

    An hour later, I sat at the picnic table waiting for our friends who were joining us to settle into their campsite. Their daughter wandered over for a chat. I asked her, “Did your mom and dad getting everything set up?”

    She replied, “Yes, but yelling was involved.”

    I laughed out loud knowing God was alive and well in the next campsite!

    1 Peter 3:1-4 (The Message) The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.

    May the God of the Universe be with you this weekend and at every campsight you visit this summer. Be blessed, Lynn

    *****

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    When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

    I had concluded I was a hindrance to my husband. I was not serving the Lord with all of my heart because I was torn between honoring my husband and obeying the Holy Spirit moving with in me.

    Simple choice? Sounds simple, but wasn’t. You see my husband and me were like fire and kerosene…EXPLOSIVE. Have you every heard the analogy if you smack a horse in the face every time he walks up to you, then when you want to ride and go to put the bridle on him he will resist and run away? That is the way we were. He could give me a look or have that “tone” in his voice and I would automatically go into a defense mode.

    I would start quoting scriptures to him to “prove” that he was failing as a father, husband, and a man. He wanted no part of my “religion.” It was so bad that we would go days and weeks with out talking. We could pass each other in the house and turn our backs so there would not be any eye contact. Yes we even had separate bedrooms. I did not have a marriage…I had a glimpse of hell.

    Why did I stay? The Lord would not give me peace in leaving. I would pray that God would place a godly man in my life so that we could be united as one to serve Him. My co-workers had no idea I was married. This is how separate we were.

    I tried so hard to be that godly wife that wins her husband to the Lord but I had no clue as to how badly I was failing. I was constantly putting him down, telling him all of the wrong things he was doing comparing him to that “perfect” godly husband in my mind. He could not live up to that. No one can!

    God dealt with me about being a godly wife and I wanted to please God, but the harder I tried, the more mistakes I made, and my heart grew colder toward my husband. My faith grew weak. I knew God could save him, but I was a Martha. Martha knew the Lord could have saved Lazarus if he had been there but when it came time to roll the stone away from the grave she said, “Surely he will smell.” She lacked the faith that the Lord could raise him from the dead (John 11: 20-22, 39). I lacked the faith. Therefore, after 25 years of marriage I sat him down and told him I could no longer live this way.

    In January 2008, my New Years resolution was to leave my husband. I was tired of the fighting and feeling so alone. Satan was using my loneliness to tempt me into sin. No matter if we were together or apart I wanted him saved. I explained to him that the time had come that I needed to move on…I had given up. More than that I had allowed Satan to tempt me and never saw it coming.

    I started packing, preparing to leave. Through the whole process I continued to pray for my husband but most of all myself because deep with in me I knew my place was with my husband but I refused to allow those emotions to surface. I was “afraid” of the pain I would endure if I continued to stay. I wanted to search for that “godly man” to share my life.

    On the 27th day of January my husband walks in to my bedroom and asks me if I would like him to drive to Church. I wanted to make a big fuss and say I’m glad you see how much you need the Lord. God closed my mouth and all I said was, “that would be nice.” He has been by my side in Church ever since. I praise God for that.

    1Peter 4:11 If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus.

    I was not glorifying God with my attitude toward my husband. I was doing what I “thought” to be right but my best still failed. When I took me out of it, and let God have it, my prayers were answered, and today, my husband’s name is written down in Heaven.

    AngelaNascroll

    *****

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    Weekend Devotion by Guest Contributor - Amy

    2 Kings 6:16-17
    "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

    There are daily spiritual battles going on in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. We see things with physical eyes but we don't see what's going on spiritually - God is there!

    For many years I struggled with my husband's lack of passion in his Christian walk with God. It seemed that I was thriving but he just wasn't interested. We were two different people living two different lives - we were like chalk and cheese spiritually. He went from being this totally on-fire man for God to someone who used swear words daily, he developed an anger problem, we were on the verge of divorce last year until God stopped me in my tracks and said "Amy! You’ve done what you can - now step back and let me do my job.”

    Those words from God were SO strong that I immediately just shut my mouth and didn't mention another spiritual thing to him until two months later my husband approached me and said how God had been chasing him and how he'd been ignoring Him but he couldn't continue doing it any longer. Oh, that was a day of rejoicing for me!

    It was a HUGE lesson though. Just because I couldn't see or hear what God was doing in my husband's life doesn't mean nothing was happening. God knows our struggles and He knows our hearts - He knows us so intimately and way better than we know ourselves after all He created us. There's a saying that goes "read between the lines". That's often the way it is between the physical world and the spiritual world. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not happening. It is very important to let God fight our battles for us after all He CAN do anything and His ways are higher than our ways.

    Amy

    Visit my blog @ petticoat-lane.co.nz/home

    *****

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