78 posts categorized "Waiting on God"

Chronicles of the Donovan Clan - God Never Relents

SUMite Nation!

Gang, can I just tell you…. I MISSED YOU. I finally am home. It’s great to travel and I have some stories to share but it’s awesome to be back at home.

I am refreshed now and feel as though God has cranked up my passion to a brand-new level for our community. Since returning, my heart is filled with the thoughts of you. I’ve been praying like a mad woman for marriages, for your hearts for you to rise up in hope and to see how Jesus is working all around you. I have prayed to defeat depression, fear and weariness. I’ve been praying for restoration, redemption and to cancel all the lies of the enemy in the homes and spouses of the SUMites… And I’ve only been home for a week!

Right now I’m in a serious season of intercession. Take comfort and hope and know that God sees you. He loves you and I’m interceding for you along with Jesus through the Spirit.

Today, I want to share a story with all of you who feel that God has disappeared or doesn’t see you. He does.

Most of you know that Mike and I traveled to Europe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The only way I could convince Mike to travel overseas was to add a cruise to the equation. He agreed. So, we cruised on the biggest boat I’ve ever seen. Our room was on deck 15 and wow, what a view. 3,000 guest and 2,000 crew. THAT’S a crowd.

Mike is a traditional sort of guy, so nightly we would eat dinner in the formal dining room. The first night we were seated with a young couple. But they had been separated from their family and joined them for the remainder of the cruise at their table, thus we sat alone.

But…. On night three we walked in for diner and there sat two new couples. And this is where the story becomes a God thing.

You see, the women we met have been friends for more than 40 years. The two couples are great friends. And within minutes we were chatting and laughing and having a great time. And with me around, I can’t help it but conversations always move to areas of faith. I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself.

Wouldn’t you know it, out of all the thousands of people on our ship, we were now seated with a Nazarene pastor, his wife and their best friends. After a few nights of talking, Wes, the pastor looks over at Mike and asks, “Mike can I ask a personal question?”

“Yes, sure.”

“What is it that keeps you from accepting your wife’s faith?”

I sat motionless staring at Mike. He responded honestly and with great respect for me and the pastor. And his answer was not what I expected and yet it was. 

“I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I just struggle with organized religion.”

My mouth hung open as I took in this conversation. Mike went on to explain a bit more. Pretty much what you might expect. The evil that has been perpetrated by religion, etc.

I love Wes’ rely, “What your saying isn’t anything that I haven’t thought as well. But it is also true that when people organize, pool their resources, their manpower, they bring so much good to the world. Bringing the Gospel to those who would never hear it and helping people in multiple ways.”

Gang, can I just say, Wes was born to be a pastor. His love shined from his eyes. His concern for Mike was genuine and you could just see him loving Mike without judgement. Man, when I grow up I want to be like Pastor Wes.

A funny thing about these God-incidents. One evening I didn’t attend dinner because I was still full from lunch (eating is the main sport on a cruise – sheesh, I gained five pounds) an Anglican Priest was seated at our table along with the Nazarene pastor, his wife, their best friends and Mike. HILARIOUS!!  Mike is surrounded on all side, all the time, by believers.

Don’t think for a second that God isn’t working in your life and marriage. He is. He ALWAYS is at work to bring men unto His heart through His kindness.

Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep growing in your faith. Our God is all powerful, faithful and He is moving in our lives.

I love you. Have a great week. Lynn

 

25th Wedding Anniversary Cruise
Mike, Lynn (Photo bomb), Sam, (front row) Mary, Wes, Elizabeth

 

 

 

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25 Years

SUMite Nation,

This date on March 14, 1992 was the day we married. I looked through some of the photos. A couple of crazy kids. Wow, twenty five years passes quickly.

Wedding pic 1992

We have come through much and I tell you this from the bottom of my heart.

I love this man. 

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Thank you for celebrating this special anniversary with us. Mike and I will be traveling to Europe later this summer to celebrate our love and marriage.

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Stay strong SUMites. It's the journey that makes us holy! Love, Lynn

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A Miller Update

Mike&Leslie
Leslie & Mike, Christmas 2016

Hello, my dear friends. I’m taking today’s post as an opportunity to update you on my daughter, Leslie. Many of you have asked me to keep you updated, which touches my heart beyond belief. Thank you. Your love and prayers fill my heart with comfort, joy and peace.

If you’re new to the site, my daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age 14 in 2008. She is 23 now and cancer free. (If you want the full story, you can do a search of her name to access the archives.) At the end of 2015 she began to exhibit side effects of her radiation treatments from 2009 and had to stop working due to pain and trembling throughout her limbs. Just as it seemed she was finally stepping into a full life, healthy.

Leslie has still not been able to go back to work. It’s been over a year now. Her pain level is still high and after a year of seeing the doctors at Stanford (not the same team who helped save her life) and not getting anywhere or any relief, she has begun to take control of her own health care.

That’s a big step. I confess that was difficult at first for this mama who can hover at times, but she has done a fabulous job pursuing her own health solutions and answers.

As a result, she’s managed to find out more with a rheumatologist nearby in just a short month. Right now the doctor’s report says she has arthritis in her tendons, her right ankle being the most damaged. 

My friends, I am going to be honest with you here. I didn’t know what to pray for as this was unfolding. I, of course, wanted a good report and prayed for that, but I was torn. I wanted answers for her so she could figure out how to manage the pain in her body and live a fuller life. 

So I am grateful for answers, but I am not coming into agreement with this diagnosis, nor will I speak it over her. I have learned in the healing rooms to pray and believe with each person at whatever level they are willing to believe God for their healing, but I have also witnessed God increase each person's faith in those moments to believe and ask God for more than they can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

So, I will support my sweet girl and believe with her at whatever level she is at to believe she can be restored, even through treatments and medications, which I’m not against. God clearly worked in tandem with the doctors to save her life in 2008, and it is a story full of miracles.

I believe in God’s Word that says we WERE healed by the stripes of Jesus, and that His salvation (sozo) covers our physical restoration too. And I am standing on the promise God gave me for Leslie from Isaiah:

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. — Isaiah 58:11

My friends, I am not discouraged. Initially my heart ached, and I poured that out to my Papa God. He gave me comfort, peace and reassurance. He does not forget His promises. Quite the opposite. He constantly watches, plans and sets things in to motion to fulfill His Word out of His great compassion and in His perfect timing.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! — Isaiah 30:18

And for every promise God gives us, He gives us the provision too. So this is how I am “upgrading” how I am praying this over my daughter. 

Father God, You have given me the promise for Leslie. I speak it back to You, in faith. That You, Lord, are guiding Leslie continually, not just now but throughout her life. That you are giving her water in the dry places of her body and restoring her strength. That every provision she needs to walk in health is already in place for her. 

I declare in agreement with Your Word, Lord, that Leslie will be as a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. She will be restored in the places she has struggled and pour out great beauty, fruit and hope to others in dry places. She will be a garden that blooms and produces fruit that cries out and shouts of Your great power, love and glory, Lord. In the endless name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, I believe now is the time for us to renew our prayers and declarations for the promises God has given us. He does not falter, nor does He step away from us. Our breakthroughs could be just a single prayer away. Let’s not give up the race now. 

Our Great God will not fail us. I believe He will move and do things in ways we have never seen before and never could have imagined. I’m already seeing Him do this in small things, and it’s absolutely stunning. I can’t even imagine what this will look like as He increases in us, our lives and circumstances and through the prayers we pray over those we uplift to Him. 

Share your hearts and thoughts in the comments, my friends. I am standing with you in prayer for every promise, every provision, every declaration.

Love you so very much,
Dineen

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Grace in the Waiting

Eagle

The Israelites were a people who waited. They waited for the promise of restoration to their homeland for over 70 years. My friends, we are like the Israelites. We are also a people group united in our time of waiting as we yearn and hope for the promise of salvation. And God has given grace-filled promises for every part of it.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. — Isaiah 40:28

Nothing is unknown to Him. Every possibility is the doorway to another, yet the ultimate goal is always the same. He is the one unchanging constant in this life, my friends. He exists beyond time as we understand, as He just is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior—His heart is to be all things to us and His power, like His love, is more than we can comprehend. He never tires, falters, or doubts. He trusts us more than we trust ourselves. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. And how could He not? He knows what He has given us as a deposit, as His ultimate promise—His Spirit.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; — Isaiah 40:29-30

The Hebrew word for "power" is ḵôaḥ and holds meanings such as to be firm; vigor, ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance and wealth. It is a "power-packed" word (yes, pun intended) that attempts encompass and define His indefinable power, presence and provision. It is who He is.

Our limited power and strength never diminish or change His plans. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our weakness is the very condition that allows His power to be revealed and perfected (2 Cor. 12:9). And He never grows weary in His own strength and He never grows weary of helping us, providing for us, sustaining us and loving us. When we see impossible, He says possible. When we see a wall, He makes a doorway. When we see the end, He says it's just the beginning of a new time, a new season, a new opportunity...

Appointed Times and Seasons

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

There are two Hebrew words here that hold vital meanings to our complete understanding. The first is "wait." Other translations use "hope." That's because the Hebrew word here, qâwâ, means both to wait and to hope. It also holds meanings such as to bind together, to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

To hope in the Lord means to wait expectantly upon Him to fulfill His promises to us. He knows the times and season of our lives down to the smallest detail. He is always working to fulfill what He has promises us in the best timing and seasons possible. He wants us to have the fullest benefit. 

The second noteworthy word in these verses is "walk." The Hebrew word here, yâlaḵ, and means to walk (literally or figuratively); causatively, to carry (in various senses), bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, follow, grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, pursue, cause to run, spread, take away. Take not of the meaning "prosper" in this definition. As His children, no matter what time or season we are in, we are intended to prosper and thrive. Even in the toughest of times, God is working to help us reap our reward as we grow more like His Son Jesus.

And perhaps I'm not far off in say that is our greatest "opportunity," dear friends, to be more and more Christ-like. Our lives are a continual journey toward Jesus, to be like Him and one with Him. I used to wonder if we had to discard all that we are in order to be like Jesus, but the reality is, in doing so we become who we truly are intended and designed to be. Our identity in Jesus is a lifetime spent in revelation of our unity and inheritance in Him. And we are provided for in every way and for every aspect of that journey.

There is so much grace for us in the waiting, my friends. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" mean kindness and favor. So know that as you wait, God's grace is there providing His power, strength, hope and provision as we dwell in His great kindness and favor.

SUMites, you are greater in and through Him than you will ever know. You are destined to soar on wings like eagles!

Love you!
Dineen

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"Watch What I Do!"

IStock_000005733150MediumWhat has God promised you, my friends? That is the place I want to start today, because I’ve discovered there is a very definitive process that occurs between the promise given and the reality (or manifestation) of that promise. And it’s in the in between time that we can get confused or even lose sight of our promise.

No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. — Psalm 89:34 (NLT)

I believe as a community we are on this journey right now together. As I shared last week during our prayer and fasting, this is a Year of Promises. As I walk in this place of waiting and the challenges I’ve faced, I’m finding that God’s promises are designed to bring us from one point and place in time to another and it’s very much to do with our growth as believers.

We’ve talked in the past about preparation and that is part of this promise package. God always sees us according to His plan for us—who He created us to be. He sees us from our future and therefore partners with us to direct our path accordingly. Our promises are part of that future becoming our present reality. So, in everything, God is working for our good to according to that picture. 

Yes, we do have an enemy that will do whatever he can to hinder and delay that path, but ultimately, as we continue to seek God and say yes to Him, we are assured of victory, as God’s Word says. He already sees us as victorious, therefore we are. That’s an important place to walk in faith and perseverance (Romans 8). 

As God cheers us on He also works in us so that we can walk in the fullness of our callings (destiny) and many times that means we need healing. We live in the reality of good verses evil and the imperfections of this world, so it is inevitable. 

This past week God worked this in my life in a stunning way. As I mentioned God revealed some things to me, of which one part was a deep need for emotional healing. I find it so very interesting that as Lynn is about to begin this series on emotional healing, God walks me through that very thing.

So, my dear SUMites, I want to encourage you to walk this journey with us, because it is part of the revelation of your promises this year. To fully receive what these promises are we often must grow in some way to be able to walk in them. This is part of God’s upgrade or promotion process. He wants us to benefit fully from His promises. 

Think of it in a way as professional training or learning a skill. In order to function as a lawyer in a court or as a teacher in a classroom, we have to learn things in order to fully function in those places. Our “training” or teaching can be very specialized too.

I believe that God is doing much of this in us for many reasons. For me, this means I am more emotionally healthy for two reasons. One, to walk in the broader places He is taking me in ministry and to be ready for where He is taking my husband to one day be in ministry together. Yes, He has to get me ready (prepared) for what that means. Oh boy…

And sometimes it can seem messy and painful, but as we’ve used the analogy before, a wound must be cleaned for it to heal well and without infection. Think of the lies, hurts, rejections and grudges we carry as infections, that once dealt with, our emotional wounds can be healed.

The wonderful thing about this process is that it ripples out. So often we want to fix what we see on the outside, but God works from the inside out and that is what those around us begin to see as we are healed. Those places we often struggle with externally could very well be the reflection of something inside in need of healing. This applies to our spouses too, my friends. We have the benefit of the Great Physician at work in us to help us heal, yet those who don’t know Jesus yet can only rely on their own resources or that which the world offers.

My friends, whatever God did in me this week broke and released things I have carried for years. I feel lighter, stronger, and more peaceful. And I am excited to walk in this new freedom and am expectant of the ways it will show up more in my life. I’m excited to see what God does next, and I am looking forward to what He does in all of us through Lynn’s series. 

It’s going to be good. How do I know that? God told me. Since last weekend, His still soft voice has whispered over and over to me these words.

“Watch what I do.”

And He has expanded those words for our community. This is what I feel I hear Him saying for us:

Watch what I do.

In your homes and in your marriages,

Watch what I do.

In your lives and in your government,

Watch what I do.

In your nation and in your communities,

Watch what I do.

In your minds and in your hearts,

Watch what I do.

SUMites, the choice is always ours. God loves us no matter what. He is always for us and always, always, always, working for our good. So if you feel this is something you want, then I encourage you to pray something like this in your own words:

Lord, I want everything You have written on the pages of my book in heaven to become a reality in my life. I want to let go of the pain and hurts and be healed of the emotional traumas in my heart and soul. Whatever that takes and whatever that looks like, Lord, I say yes. I am ready. I trust You. I love you and I am so grateful that You love me with such a relentless and perfect love. Lord, I am watching to see what You do! In the name of Jesus, amen!

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. — 2 Cor. 1:20 (NLT)

I love you, my SUM family. I’m so blessed to walk this journey with you and stand with you in prayer.
Dineen

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Waiting on the Promises with Hope

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My advent wreath—the first candle lit represents hope.

Hello, SUM Family! Life at the new Miller Home has been crazy busy and hectic to say the least.  We’re mostly settled in with just a few boxes here and there.My daughters and son-in-love will soon arrive to spend Christmas with us—our first Christmas in our new home. Needless to say hubby and I have been busy little bees getting things put in place and finishing some projects ourselves like towel bars and and a few light fixtures.

Then, of course, decorating the house for Christmas, gift shopping, social events…my list is growing, my friends. How about yours? I think we all share this common challenge of managing the business of the season while trying not to lose the heart and hope of what it truly means.

Christmas is all about promise. Our Messiah Jesus was/is the greatest promise given to us. The Old Testament is all about that promise. God moves and weaves Himself into the lives of His people with great care, often giving us just a glimpse into a picture too large for us to fully comprehend. But every story points to His faithfulness to His promises. 

Here’s are two translations of a verse that captured my heart this week:

This is why I wait upon you, expecting your breakthrough, for your word brings me hope. — Psalm 130:5 (TPT)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; — Psalm 130:5 (ESV)

The first version from the Passion Translation brings to light the position of waiting, to wait expectantly for God to bring breakthrough. Sometimes we can get tired in this place of waiting and give up right before that breakthrough comes. The key here, my friends, is to be tenacious and one of the best ways to do this is to have a support system. This is one reason why having a church home, small group or prayer partner is vital. 

Last Sunday I went to church weary from a lot of spiritual warfare. The enemy targeted my daughters and family to try to undermine my choice to stand in a place of peace. I went up for prayer at the end of the service. A friend spoke wise words to my heart, “to speak what I know, not what I see.” 

In other words, I could speak the trouble and chaos I was witnessing in my children’s lives, or I would speak the truth of God’s Word and promises into the situations and into their lives. 

Both of these translations also contain “word,” which means promise. The Bible is God’s promise to us, and Jesus is the manifestation of those promises as He is the Word become flesh (John 1). That kind of blows me away, SUMites. That’s a huge promise and God fulfilled it. Nothing is impossible with Him.

My friends, like you there are promises that I have prayed into all year long (like my daughter’s health and restoration so she can work again) that I’m still waiting to see manifest. Those are the ones that put our faith to the test. Will we continue to contend for what God has promised us no matter how long it takes? These are the waiting places that require us to guard our hearts from doubt and encourage ourselves in the Lord. His love conquers everything! 

As Ian shared in his beautiful post Wednesday, we are a people who wait. We know this position well, my friends. SUMites, we are all standing and praying for the promise of salvation for our spouses—a promise God spoke to my heart specifically for this community at the beginning of the year. I know He continues to work in our spouses in ways we can’t even see yet. Seeds are being planted and divine appointments put in place. I believe God is “setting-up” our spouses to walk into belief in ways we can’t even imagine right now. I am contending for this for my own spouse and yours. And I have been asking God for testimonies.

Well, I have a story to share with you that I think will strengthen your faith and reenergize your prayers. Last week we received a testimony from Jamie about her marriage and her husband. This is a stunning story of God working in the most unexpected ways. All evidence pointed to this marriage ending in divorce, my friends, BUT GOD… It’s powerful, awe-inspiring and beautiful. All things are possible with God.

Read ‘God Saved Our Marriage…and My Husband’ here. I pray it encourages you and ignites a new hope in your spirit. That is the promise we hold within, the hope of Jesus, and it’s the focus of this first week of Advent.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. — Romans 5:1-5

SUMites, I bless you with a fresh anointing of hope that will ignite your faith to a whole new level as we close this year well. 

I love you all so much,
Dineen

 

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The Hope in Waiting … reflections on Advent

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Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s something both exciting and tremendously nerve-wracking when an author presses the send button on the email that whisks their latest manuscript off to a publisher. Exciting? The project we’ve been working on has now reached a point of completion. In my case that project had consumed a lot of my mind space for the past three years.

Nerve-wracking? Will they like it? Enough to publish it? What if they don’t? What will I do then?

It’s a moment that is soon forgotten.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

A few months later an email arrives outlining your manuscript is still in the game. Being reviewed by some others. They liked it sufficiently to pass onto others. Great.

And then we wait.

And wait some more.

As I shared with a writing friend recently: the Lord's got it in His big capable hands. Waiting helps us lean on Him more. And that's what I've tried to do. Keep writing, keep hoping, keep knowing He's looking after the situation irrespective of whether I receive a positive response or not.

We are People who Wait

Authors wait a lot. It’s part of the fabric of being an author. I expect it’s one of the reasons self-publishing has become so popular: the author takes greater control over the end product and can manage the timeline.

We SUMites wait. We know all those feelings that come with waiting. The frustration, angst, discouragement, hopelessness. We know the drill because it’s part of our lives. We wait for our beloved to receive the revelation that Jesus is their Lord. For some of us we’ve waited a long time and may continue to.

Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (last Sunday), Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return.

The Branch Gives us Hope

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;


    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him.

Christmas can be a tough season for we SUMites because we choose to celebrate Jesus and not Santa. We pop off to church on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, alone.

But remember Jesus understands loneliness. He understands being alone. He understands rejection. He understands our SUMite situations.

He understands us. Really, truly! Because He has chosen each one of us.

Choose to remember Him when the enemy throws the darts of loneliness at you, when he tries to take away your joy in the One we celebrate. Look for the Presence of Jesus in the small moments, in the interruptions, when out shopping, wrapping those presents and chatting with your neighbour.

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in your richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,

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The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

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Expecting Perfection

QuestionMy friends, I’m finally settled (mostly) in our new home and writing my first post for the blog from my new office. I am so excited about one part in particular. Why?

I have doors. 

Yep, doesn’t take a whole lot to make this gal happy. I can now close the doors of my office and play worship music whenever I want and speak privately on the phone on the occasions when I’m blessed to minister to someone. 

And I’m learning some new lessons in this season about expectations. Specifically my expectations of God. Early on God made it clear this home was a blessing from His hand and I was to receive it as such. 

But what I didn’t expect were the complications that came. Foundation issues, mistakes (the tub vs. the shower) and a backed up sewer line on our fourth day, just to name the big ones. I expected the little ones, like an unfinished wall behind a toilet that went unnoticed until the toilet backed up. Yet, I assumed that since God was clearly behind it all, we’d not have so many big hitches that turned an expected four to six month build into a year.

So not true.

Those are the moments that make you stop, pause and wonder. Don’t you think? If God is clearly the force behind the event, then why do we still hit complications that threaten to take us off track?

This is what I’m discovering and please add your own thoughts and wisdom in the comments, my friends.

  1. The obvious first answer is the enemy. We do have an enemy intent upon destroying God’s kingdom and all that it entails. John 10:10 tells us that. I have to say, I scratch my head at that one and wonder why he bothers when he knows he’s already lost, but he’s just a bully and a trouble maker. So, it makes sense that he’d try to come against this home in light of the kingdom plans God has for it. Most of it, my friends, it just inconveniences that could easily keep me frustrated if I didn’t continually turn them over to God. He’s the burden (yoke) carrier. I get to be His kid and stand in confidence that He’s got it covered. Yet the more serious side of this is to remember that the enemy will hinder us to order to keep us from reaching the lost. He may have lost the war, but he’s still battling for souls. And we are part of God’s army to defeat him. Amen? Our godly and kingdom inspirations will meet opposition.

  2. Which brings me to a little “ditty” I created and have written on a piece of paper that I keep on my desk right above my keyboard.

    “For every trial and conflict we face, God has already put a promise and provision in place.”

    Our challenge as God’s children is to remember to look for it, ask for it, and/or pray for it. God not only has a solution, He is the solution.

  3. Sometimes we perceive a complication or delay as the enemy when, in actuality, it is God’s hand of protection. The biggest example I’ve witnessed Him do this is one I’ve shared in the past. When my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the procedure to put a port in her chest for her chemo treatments fell through three times. It was ridiculous. What I didn’t understand at the time was that God had a plan to literally change the chemistry of that tumor. After her surgery they reassessed the tumor to be a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. They even sent it to another hospital in another state to be sure. If they’d put the port in her chest, they would have had to take it right back out. She didn’t need it, because she didn’t need chemo after all. Praise Jesus!
    SUMites, I imagine you can think back to at least one of those stories yourself. They are powerful testimonies of God’s protection and presence!

  4. There is no such thing as perfection in this world. Though we seek it, want it, even long for it, we won’t find it here. And that longing is just a sign of our deep and true longing for our real home in heaven. So in the waiting, I believe God calls us to look for the beauty in those imperfections, because then we can witness His presence and power at work. He does the perfecting (2 Cor. 12:9). And there is always a good to be found in everything, because God is working in everything to reveal it. That’s one of our greatest promises in the Bible and one of my favorites, Romans 8:28. He turns every negative into a positive. Amazing!

My friends, sometimes we will see the reason or the good in the trial or complication quickly. Other times we will scratch our heads in confusion every time we think about it. Those are the times we must rely on faith and trust in our God that His ways, thoughts and plans are much higher and grander than we can imagine. And just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there. I think we, as SUMites, have an advantage of experience in this area. We live in this level of faith every day as we wait for our spouses to come to faith. God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of everyone to know Him (2 Peter 3:9).

So, my friends, these are some of the things God is teaching me at the moment. How about you? What are you seeing and witnessing God doing in you, around you, in your family, etc.? 

And one final thought. Our best stance is abiding and resting in Him (a.k.a. trusting Him). Because that’s when Abba does His best work. Why? Because we get out of the way. LOL! Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

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

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

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus prayed…

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

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

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

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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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Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

GodsLoveMy friends, how are you doing? There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is discouraging and heartbreaking. The more I watch how God is working in our community here; at the healing rooms as we pray Jesus’ truth into hearts, lives and bodies; through the connections and bridges I see Him building and creating between all of us—the more I understand His heart for us to know these foundational truths. Our foundations need to be firmly built in His truth.

And, SUMites, perhaps it sounds a bit trite and cliché because it’s been said so many times, but we are not of this world. We live in it, we have a mission and a purpose here, but God’s plans, purposes and HIS PROMISES go way beyond the now and span all of eternity. In other words, He’s got us covered. We can rest in the reassurances He’s given us and walk in the truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. That’s our identity—another part of this foundation series I sense is coming.

Today’s foundational truth is found in a verse we know well, and Paul is the scribe who wrote these words of God’s truth.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I sought Holy Spirit’s help to understand what He wants us all to understand about this truth is that these three are like the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They cannot stand alone as they are part of the whole. 

Love is, as Paul says, there greatest of these three and represents the God-head.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  — 1 John 4:16

Hope represents Jesus, who is the hope of the world. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, — 1 Timothy 1:1

When I did a search for the word “hope” throughout the Bible, Psalms had the most references, but can you guess which book came next? The book of Job. Did you know that in the Old Testament the words hope and wait are used interchangeable because the Hebrew word is the same? And in the New Testament the definitions for the various forms of the Greek word for “hope” used always included the definition “joyful and confident expectation”?

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… — Hebrews 12:2

Faith is representative of the Holy Spirit, whose highest purpose is to teach us about Jesus and grow the seed of faith we are given when we received salvation. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:8-10

Like the three fold cord spoken of in Ecc 4:12, faith, hope and love are intertwined and purposed to function as a whole. The real clue, amazingly, came when I looked up that fascinating word, abide

menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), to wait for.

Without love, hope and faith lack the soil for their roots to grow deep and strong. Without hope, love wanes and faith dies. Without faith, love shrivels and hope fades. My friends, as a wordsmith of sorts I find it very difficult to fully explain this mystery for a mystery it truly is.

What I do know is that God’s love is the substance, the birthing place, of miracles. That hope is a divine expectation of God’s love to overcome and save. That faith holds love and hope in the birthing room of those miracles with great tenacity and perseverance. 

The entire Bible is about these three words, because the Bible is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And these three words embody the heart of God.  

Perhaps the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all and is simply and ultimately a decision to believe the Truth (Jesus) and trust and look for God in every part of our lives. We are not meant to live our faith only during our quiet time with God and church attendance, but as part of every aspect of our lives. To do otherwise keeps God in a box and leaves us disappointed. But to live the abundant life, full of God’s love, hope and faith brings joy, peace and prosperity.

Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest, the most powerful force on this earth. And all we have to do is ask for it, my friends. Ask God to overwhelm and flood us with His love so that it pours out all around us. Ask Him to love others through us. Ask Him to show us how He loves others and do likewise. There is no set formula, no pattern, no correct way to do this. Just simply follow His lead. He’s an expert!

I love you, SUMites, with the love of God, with the hope of Jesus and with the devotion of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord drench you with His amazing love and renew your spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: SALVATION

SalvationHello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing! 

This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!

So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.

First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6

The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. 

1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.

Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.

In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.

And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured. 

Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.

After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.

At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13

For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?

My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.

I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.

And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage. 

Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
Dineen 

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Are You Weary In The Waiting?

Hello SUMite Nation,

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

Kathy Sweetman group two
Winning Him Without Words Study Group


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

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

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

Kathy Sweetman group one
Not Alone Study Group


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

“I’m weary.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galatians 6 9

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How Do You "Hear" God...For Your Spouse?

IStock_000005733150MediumMy dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:

“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT

Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well. 

And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.

If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).

I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecc. 4:12 NIV

On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.

As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8). 

Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did. 

I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.

Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.

And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.

Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT

My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need. 

Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.

Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:

Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28

Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!

Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!

*****

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SUM Books 4


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

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

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

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

Concert Selfie - Tobymac
Concert Selfie - Tobymac

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

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

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

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

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

Another heartbreak day

Feels like you’re miles away

Don’t even need no shade

When your sun don’t shine, shine

 

Too many passin’ dreams

Roll by like limousines

It’s hard to keep believin’

When they pass you by and by

 

I know your heart been broke again

I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet

I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left

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

 

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

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hold on, hold on

Lord ain’t finished yet

Hold on, hold on

He’ll get you through this

Hold on, hold on

These are the promises

I never will forget

I never will forget 

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

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

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

Fight bravely and solider on, warrior. 

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

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

 

 

 

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SUM Books 4


O Valentine’s Day – A post for us Men

 

ID-100276483When Lynn asked if I’d give a perspective on Valentine’s Day I readily said yes. I also wanted to continue our conversation on Lent, it starts Wednesday, and have included a few brief thoughts at the end of this post.

Valentine’s Day. I still remember an old boss of mine who I wouldn’t have thought to be overly romantic when asked what he did for his wife on V-Day, he said he picked up a bunch of grapes on his way home from work and gave them to her. At the time, those of us who listened to the conversation thought it a bit lame but now years later I’ve changed my mind. John knew his wife loved grapes and he intentionally stopped off on his way home to pick them up. Perhaps it was a small gesture but one, it was a surprise, and two, he demonstrated his love for her.

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t every day be a day we seek to cherish our lover? Yes, it should. But like Mother’s and Father’s Day it is a day to stop and especially focus on each other.

Is it now overly commercial? Yes, it is. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to acknowledge it. Just like John did something sweet to acknowledge his love for Bev, his wife of thirty-plus years.

My first Valentine’s Day with my wife when we were dating was a really special night, one we both still cherish. We had some dinner and went to see a live production of “Beauty and the Beast”, one of the great Disney love stories. It was my girl’s first live musical and she so loved it she took her mom off to see it a few weeks later.

Cherish

It’s an important word for me. It’s a bit old-fashioned; you don’t hear it used much these days. But I especially like what it means.

“To feel or show great love; to keep and cultivate with great care.”

Jesus cherishes the church (Eph 5:29 ESV) and we know how much he does for what He did.

But when I think of cherishing it means I need to be intentional to show my love for my wife. It often involves a surprise or serving her in some way. Those to two “S” words usually require intentional thought. So a week or so ago knowing the day was approaching I deliberately made a plan. My wife knows some of the plan. We usually do that these days and this year she is interstate for some of the weekend so we needed to work on it together. The key for us is being together, just the two of us. Yes, a date night with a bit of a twist, I guess.

Training

We men are often not good at this stuff. I’m not going to make excuses, just put it down to the Mars and Venus paradigms, and I’ve always believed that some training is often involved. Lynn used a different term for it on her Sunday post: “hint dropping.” But it comes down to sharing little by little how you like to be cherished.

Guys, it’s okay to receive tips or training. I’m always seeking cooking tips from my wife as I know she knows more than I do.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?

Lent starts Wednesday

Thank you for sharing so openly last week. It was interesting how prominent fear and worry is for so many of us. Only this morning I had a moment of panic that had hit me by surprise. In that moment I struggled to grab a hold of God. Does anyone else find that? It’s like a barrier goes up, a door is shut or the lights are switched off.

That’s exactly what the enemy wants. But we need to turn the light on. Because it shines in the darkness. So this morning I found two really helpful things:

  • I relaxed my breathing which served to calm me.
  • I kept quoting Scripture

The lights went on. Yes, the dark was lingering but I was then able to stop, sit down and spend some time with God in silence. And I asked Him about the panic.

Silence.

A couple of things struck me this morning that I hope may be some help as we journey through Lent together. Renew (or start) a commitment to sit alone with God in silence during these forty days. Even for a few minutes. I know this can be hard with little kiddies but even if the only place is the bathroom then so be it.

Wait for Him. He’ll show up. It’s more about listening, not talking. He knows your heart. He knows your desire for Him. See what He says. Write down what happens. Perhaps nothing will happen on the first day, or even the tenth day, but keep at it. And know that God is always present.

Psalm 27 is fantastic – look at verse 5. “He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”

What’s so amazing is He is the shelter, the tent and the rock. God. He is our hiding place.

Hold close to God. Remember Lent is less about religious self-denial and more about surrendering our hearts. He wants us to have more of Him and these next forty days are a great way to start out on increasing our hunger for Him and being satisfied in Him.

Note: Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles?FreeDigitalPhotos

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SUM Books 4


Healing The Heart Of The Spiritually Mismatched

Over the past several weeks we have covered many topics about loneliness and suffering. We have looked at these through the lens of God’s Word and our unique marriage struggles.

I feel as though it’s time to wrap up this series. So, how do we find healing?  And how do we maintain our healing as our struggle continues in a marriage between a believer and unbeliever?

Well, way back in December many of you shared exactly what has brought healing to your life. I want to share them here today. I also want you to add to this discussion in the comments. What brings healing to our hearts?

Here are the thoughts SUMites left in the comments:

  • Focus on the good and not what I don’t have.
  • Look for ways to pour love into others.
  • Set with other “married, singles – misfits. (Bible study, time at a coffee shop, on the phone, etc.)
  • Start a small group. Share, pray, study.
  • Join a Bible study.
  • Have safe people in your life who understand and don’t judge.
  • PRAY
  • Focus on Jesus.
  • Trust God for family’s salvation.
  • Visit SUM – Read an email. Read a comment left by another SUMite. Comment back and forth and encourage another SUMite and be encouraged.
  • Consider how my loneliness is actually a blessing. I’m encouraged to see other couples at church. I am believing God desires this for me.
  • Seeing Jesus as my husband – My One true love!
  • Walk in the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Recognize lies of the enemy. Example: SUMites don’t fit in anywhere at our church.
  • Cling to the promise of 1 Peter 3:1.

These are amazing and all of them are true, powerful and WORK in our lives. Amen Jesus, AMEN

When you begin to walk in the truths and power of Jesus Christ this is where we live everyday: Peace, joy contentment, hopeful expectant.

I love all of you so very much. I’m deeply encouraged every day by your love, devotion and pursuit of the Kingdom of God and the love of Jesus Christ. You are MY FAMILY. I love and adore you forever. Hugs, Lynn

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SUM Books 4


The Promise of His Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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SUM Books 4


Praying for Peace and Prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dear friends, share in the comments what you believe Holy Spirit is showing you for your marriage and 2016. I want to pray in agreement with you. I love you so much, SUMites. I am looking forward to walking, waiting and thriving in 2016 with you!
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SUM Books 4


Praying for Figs

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

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

That word is SALVATION.

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

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

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

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

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4705One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is the advent wreath. I first observed this at our international church while living in Switzerland and fell in love with the candles and their meaning. Every year I’ve used or remade our wreath, searching for just the right candles each year.

But this year wound up a little different than I expected (there’s that word again). I’d actually prayed a few times over the years for a really nice wreath and candle holder. This year I wanted to find something different. These were simple desires I thought about and left unspoken.

And this is the year that Abba surprised me with a new one. The most interesting part of this story is that I wasn’t the one to find it. My husband did. How’s that for some Christmas humor and delight?

We saw this candle holder in a store and both loved it. I saw it only in the light of a decorative piece for our home. To my surprise, my husband pointed out how well it would work for an advent wreath too! Even the store clerk seemed surprised that my husband mad the suggestion.

My friends, I cherish this new piece in our home not just for it’s beauty and design, but for it’s meaning. The more I study it, the more meanings the Holy Spirit shows me. Now I will look at this candle holder—year round—and see the reminder of God’s love for me in a small detail and how He used my husband to bring it to my attention.

Sometimes our desires and hopes are met in the most surprising ways. I’d expected, looked in one direction. God showed me another one—one I never would have expected or thought of.

I find this faith walk lately to be a delicate balance of holding hope tightly and holding expectations very loosely. I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations—the Bible even tells us to  wait expectantly on the Lord. The challenge is to have ones wrapped in hope and to not hold them so tightly that we miss other possibilities. God is the God of possibilities—He makes the impossible possible.

As I reread the Gospels telling of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit has stopped me at the feet of Luke 1:45.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ words to Thomas.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29 (NIV)

As believers we are asked to believe what we haven’t yet seen. To take the step of faith without proof, yet believe it will come. To persevere even when everything around us tells a different story.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. — Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)

This verse has taken a place in my recent journal entries and I find myself returning to it frequently. And today I noticed it precedes one of the most powerful parts of Scripture in the Bible.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Before the baby Jesus and our Messiah was ever birthed in the natural realm, He was prophesied and birthed in the spiritual. The Old Testament is the promise, the New Testament is the fulfillment.

Jesus is our greatest example of holding hope, persevering for its revelation (pregnancy), and waiting for its arrival (birth). Christmas is a yearly reminder of His revelations and the revelations to come. And we hold this hope not only for ourselves but for our pre-believers and our families, dear friends.

SUMites, we are blessed because believe the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. We persevere, and though at times we may falter, we continue hold hope in our hearts. 

And Jesus is that eternal hope. Merry Christmas!
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A Miller Family Update: Waiting on God

21290757_sMy friends, I have a stunning story to tell you. About two weeks ago God moved in a very unexpected way in my family. There are so many pieces shifting in this giant puzzle, but I want to give you a glimpse into what is coming together as part of this Jubilee year and God reuniting us with our "kin" as He showed me He had done in Leviticus 25:10-11.

On Monday my husband received a text from his father that he was taking Mike's mom to the ER. She seemed to have caught the flu his dad had just recovered from and was dehydrated. Mike and I joined them in the waiting room, and as I sat by my mother-in-love, rubbing her leg, I silently prayed for her. After hours of waiting, a scan and assessments, the doctors admitted her with a diagnosis of a blockage and readied a surgical team. 

Yet the surgery didn't happen. It was delayed. The same thing happened the next day and the next. As I continued to pray for her healing, I emailed our 1Peter3Living group for prayers for her a well. SUMites are awesome prayer warriors!

Thursday evening came, and we could see Mike’s parents were very frustrated with the constant delays in her diagnosis and need for surgery. Yet I knew it was God. I'd seen Him do the very same thing with my youngest daughter Leslie when they said she needed a port in her chest for chemotherapy. Three different times this procedure fell through for various reasons and after the fact it turned out she didn't need it.

As we sat visiting, I could see my precious MIL was in distress. She’s a tough a cookie, yet I could see she was scared. She is a precious woman who loves her family fiercely and calls me her daughter. She’s like a second mom to me, and I so appreciate how she raised my husband to love like she does. Early on I think she thought I was a bit over the top in my faith but she never criticized me. 

What happened next totally shocked me. As I sat by her bed, she looked at my FIL and my husband and said, “I want you boys to leave so Dineen can pray with me.”

The guys left. I leaned over her bed and just held her as I prayed for her healing. I declared the blockage gone. I declared the blood of Jesus over her. I released healing and peace into her. All in the name of Jesus. Afterwards, she said she felt better already.

I went to the waiting area to get “the boys.” My father-in-love gave me a grateful smile and said thank you. We went back to my MIL’s room and Mike and I said our goodbyes.

When we stepped into the elevator, joining another couple who got off on another floor. Once the doors closed, Mike turned to me and said, “Thank you for helping my mom.”

I smiled, and said, “Of course.” 

My friends, I wish I could give you the full dialogue that ran in my head but the amazing thing was, there actually wasn’t much. I wasn’t worried, uncomfortable, or concerned about what my husband or anyone else would think. I jus did what I knew God wanted me to do.

Like Jesus, the Father showed me what to do and I simply followed His lead with His Son as my model and inspiration. God is so faithful. And I truly believed He would answer those prayers for healing.

The next day when we went up to visit, we found out the blockage was gone and no surgery was needed. Praise God! I realized the weeks of praying for my family’s protection had played a part in all this as well. And my husband witnessed God in action. He didn’t criticize in any way. He was thankful. 

SUMites, I’ve waited for a long time to see answers like these to years of praying. Today I want to encourage you to keep pressing in and praying. Believe that God hears your every prayer and if there are delays, seek God for understanding. 

Just like the delays for my daughter and my MIL were God’s hand of protecting and provision, they are for us and our pre-believers too. God is good and He has a future for us and those we cover in prayer that is good and full of His love. We may not understand the process, and often times we don’t get the timing until after the fact, but we can trust in His perfect love and purposes for us. 

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9 NLT

I love you, SUMites. I know God has great plans for you, for this community and one day we will meet in heaven and see how the great puzzle all came together! In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
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Don't Over-Schedule Your Kids

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My friends, what are your thoughts about this study so far? Is it helping you? Are there areas you want to talk about that we haven’t addressed yet? Let us know if you have more specific issues that we can address through this study.

Today I want to talk about helping our kids choose between good and God's best. I noticed way back when we first moved to California (Silicon Valley) when my daughters were in elementary and middle school. My oldest daughter found her footing in her new school quickly and made friends easily, thank goodness. She’d had a rough time in this area while we were living in Switzerland. My youngest, who had an easy time doing this during our time there, found herself struggling in her new CA school. 

And part of the problem wasn’t even in her realm of control. It was the parents. Many of Leslie’s classmates went from school to homework as well as many other “scheduled activities” during the day, like music, language and even additional tutoring. These weren’t students who were struggling academically either. None had time to schedule a play date during the week and many weren’t allowed to do so on weekends either, because they had to keep to their work and studies. This was third grade and the pressure on these kids increased as they got older.

This phenomenon was a growing epidemic in Silicon Valley, which is very multi-cultural, and still continues as the norm. I believe it affects much of society today too as part of the “get ahead” mentality. Unfortunately, these kids are growing up knowing all work and no play. They have no concept of what it means to relax, play and rest. And they’re growing up to be adults who find it difficult to enjoy times of rest and challenging to enjoy life without constant activity. 

I’m not saying these activities are bad for our children. What I’m saying is, we need to leave some room for them to rest, to be in God’s creation, to be kids. And the younger they grasp this, the better they will be at finding balance in their lives as teenagers and adults. 

Just this week I listened to a speak say we’ve lost about ability to discern in the church. That nailed it on the head and it’s one of the enemy’s most successful tactics. If he can keep us too busy to listen to God, we lose our ability to discern too. When we forget how to relax and rest our mind, we have a hard time hearing God, making wise decisions and we even hamper our creativity. 

Our children need down time to understand and learn how to listen for God’s quiet voice. They need to know that God is responsive to those who seek Him with an open heart, and they need to hear and see examples of how God answers. Our children need time to be still and know God (Psalm 46:10).

In this day and age, our children seem required to do more in order to keep up with the world as they get older, but let’s not do that at the expense of their spirituality. More than anything they need in this world, they need to understand the value of eternity and kingdom living—that these are the better pursuit, which will ultimately provide in this life as well as the next.

As parents we are legacy builders. We want our children to launch into this world with a strong faith and a hunger for God that will continue to grow and impact those around them. I know a lot of this we have to discover as we go, but I’d love to see my daughters and grandchildren learn some of this a lot sooner than I did.

So how do we do this, you’re probably asking and wondering. First, Moms and Dads, you set the pattern. Are you doing this yourself? Do you have a time that you spend to just be quiet with God and pray? If you find your day is too packed, ask God to show you where to make room. Be willing to let go of something if necessary, but above all, trust God to show you time during your day to meet with Him. A wise woman once told me that if you “tithe” 10% of your time to Him, He’ll make sure you get the rest done in the 90% that’s left. 

She was right. Didn’t make sense at all at first, but over the years this has proven true time after time. God even told me once in detail how to change my schedule to make it work. He’ll do this for you too, my friends. And why wouldn’t He want to and do whatever necessary to help you make it work? He’s your Abba, Father, and loves spending time for you. He’ll move heaven and earth to do it too.

He’ll do this for your kids too. So as school starts and the list of activities begin to grow, as more and more opportunities present themselves, as your budding daughter and son seems to have a growing social life, help them see that even in the midst of a see of good things, we need to choose wisely so that we can enjoy fully what is God’s best for us instead of being spread so thin that we’re just tasting the tip of His goodness for us. 

Two great activities clearly shaped for our child’s unique gifting and design is WAY better than four okay activities that they do because they think they have to.

They’ll need your help to discern (there’s that word again) the difference, but if you’re setting the example of saying, let’s take a moment and pray into this and trust God to give us an answer by the morning—or the end of the day, week, etc.—you will be teaching your child to take time to pray, to seek wisdom and to discern God’s voice. 

And that is by far a greater gift you can give them than anything else they would attain in this world, my friends. Greater by far.

Question: Consider your child’s daily schedule (yours too, Moms and Dads). What seems to be the priority most days? Do adjustments need to be made? What do you think God is telling you about it?

Prayer: Lord, give me courage and guidance to follow Your leading as I pray for wisdom, words and strength to teach my children to make good choices. Equip me each day to walk faithfully in my calling as a parent, and show me how to rely on Your strength, Lord, and not my own. Show me the unique gifts that You have given my children, and help me lead them in how to use those gifts for Your glory. Help me to recognize the potential You have placed in my children and to inspire them to be who You created them to be. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, hug your kids and tell them they are AWESOME! Tell them you are with them all the way and so is God! 

All in His love,
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