Thanksgiving & Grace

Christmas 2020 SUM (1)SUMite Nation, Lynn here.

I pray you had an amazing Thanksgiving. We put up our Christmas tree and the lights on the house. My thoughts: TAKE THAT 2020! We are spreading joy with a million twinkling lights!!  

I pray you are also moving in thankfulness and into the joyful season of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This single man, Jesus. Born in obscurity and laid in an animal trough. Without prominence, lacking wealth, and into the hands of young parents. 

THIS SINGLE LIFE:    

Split time into from BC to AD. He transformed a nation, a world and frees the captives and heals the sick. He is the most famous man around the world and His life has impacted millions through the centuries. This one life is the most read book ever written. He is the GREATEST NEWS...

THE GOOD NEWS!  He reconnected us to the Father and we are never alone or without hope!!!  Hallelujah.

Friends, we are launching into the Christmas season. I'm hopeful that over the years you have found hope here with me, Ann and all the others who have gathered in our amazing community. If you have been encouraged here, found hope on a dark day, or found a way forward through words of life from the Giver of life here at SUM, think about sewing into this ministry so we will live on for another year. We STILL are all about encouraging and equipping the unequally yoked.

On Monday join us for Giving Tuesday. And this time, when you give, I'll be able to give back to you. Stay tuned to find out more. 

I adore you. Lynn Donovan    I bless you with Shalom of heaven and the GREATEST HOPE! In Jesus name.


A Donovan Clan Update - Thanksgiving 2020

Hi My SUMite Family,

I’m so proud of Ann Hutchison and how she has stepped up to help me with the blogging. She really filled in a space that was desperately needed when Dineen stepped out.

Mike & LynnToday, I feel like it’s time for a Donovan Clan update. The last update was Thanksgiving 2019 when Mike had been unemployed for months and I was so desperate for your financial support to keep this little place on the web alive.

TRULY, if you hadn’t helped the SUM blog and ministries would have closed down. Your great generosity revealed God’s hand in this place. God LOVES our space here. He knows the thousands that visit here need a word of hope for their faith and marriage. I’m so humbled to be part of the voices of hope here at SUM.

Thank you as so many of you donated and many became recurring monthly givers. I lack language to adequately express how your gifts reached people and brought truth and hope to them!!!

The Donovan update is this. Interestingly following Mike’s baptism not much more has changed with regard to his faith journey. I’m still wrangling with this, but the Father has told me to leave it alone. Jesus is working there, and I must pray and believe.

As far as our finances, we aren’t in the same place as we were prior to last year’s unemployment. But when I look at so many who became unemployed this year, I’m so utterly thankful Mike is working. I’m deeply grieved for those who are truly in need.

Yet, I’ll be vulnerable, without you there isn’t enough to pay all the expenses. And trust me I’m absolutely frugal with the funds of this ministry. NOTHING is used but to support the online presence and to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, I’ve prayed a lot about all of this. And decided to participate in Giving Tuesday again this year. But I hope to offer some incentives that I couldn’t offer last year.

Stay tuned because your giving will also be giving back to you!

Elise & Avery & NanaAs far as my family. My son remarried in August. His family is precious, and I love them so much. They are well and prospering in Las Vegas.

My daughter, Caitie, is now 25! SAY WHAT?? How many of you remember her as a little girl? We packed up her LA apartment in September and she moved to Portland. She is very happy there and her apartment is absolutely quaint. She lives in the same building as her BIOLA roommate and her husband. She’s doing well.

Mike and I are empty nesters and loving our life with our crazy and barkety-bark-bark dogs!

I love the many ministries I’m involved in.

My friends, my testimony is your testimony. You can find love, peace, and joy in a marriage that turned out very different than you thought or dreamed.

It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about OUR faith. It’s all about living the truth of the Word of God. We can do all things because of Christ Jesus who is our strength.

Keep marching. Keep believing. Keep coming here and finding encouragement with others on the journey. Your life and faith matter so much in this world.

Know that I truly love you. You are my brothers and sisters with whom I will live forever. And that thought gives me great JOY!

Hugs, Lynn


Happy Thanksgiving

Family thanksgiving Table SUM

SUMites, we are taking Thanksgiving week off. You should too!!! *grin*

Spend time with your families. Eat way too much food. Enjoy a slice of pie. Kiss your husband and do something adventurous and new with your kids. 

Give Thanks! We will see you right after Thanksgiving with a few announcements. Woo Hoo!! Stay tuned!

We love you so much. Hugs, Ann, Lynn, Tiffany, & Ian

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. -Hebrews 13:15-16


A Prayer of Blessing Over Our Children

Dear SUMites, Ann here! Vidya

As a mum of two teen boys, I have to say that parenting is the biggest thing I bring to the Lord. Dare I confess that it really can send me over the edge when I think too long and hard about my precious boys and how precarious it feels to let them detach from my apron strings and fly free. Anyone else out there feel this way? These days my prayers have ramped up for that very reason and, in particular, it's their faith life that occupies me.

Yet, just like with my husband, I find I can't just make this thing happen on my own strength. And it takes a good deal of thought.

I know that many of you feel the same, and it's a big part of our SUM journey trying to figure out how to raise our children effectively in faith.

Well, today I want to share a prayer that one of our SUMites, Vidya Rodney, has written for us. She too is a mum and I always love the thoughtful prayers she contributes. This one is a great one for us this Friday.

Thanks, Vidya!

***

Blessings Over Our Children

My child is the head and not the tail. My child is above and not beneath.

I bless my child with favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and others, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child with wisdom and understanding in all study and endeavors, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to be filled with the knowledge of the Father's will, bearing fruits in every good work, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to prosper at everything he/she touches, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child with divine protection, to be rooted and grounded in love, in Jesus' name.

I place the whole armor of God on my child, in Jesus' name.

I charge the Angels with flaming swords and flaming wings to stand guard at my child's sides to defend, protect and preserve them, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to be a man/woman/boy/girl of integrity in everything they do, in Jesus' name, Amen

I bless my child to be established in perfect love which casts out all fears, in Jesus' name.

Amen and Amen

**

I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles, Missouri, and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.


When a Spouse Leaves the Faith -- Part 3

Hi friends, Ann here! Tears

When a spouse leaves the faith -- part 1

When spouse leaves the faith – part 2

I’d like to thank those SUMites whose stories have helped inform the last two posts on this topic. It is an intensely difficult path.

The grief of a lost shared faith in marriage is an extreme thing to live with, but several of the SUMites I talked to said they can look back and see how much they have learned through it all. So I thought it might be nice to finish with a few ‘tips’, or insights, from these SUMite soldiers.

If I can summarize, what most said – in one way or another -- is this:

Once you realize the battle is spiritual, a shift takes place.

Once you realize that it's a blinding of your spouse's heart, the fight changes its flavor.

Once you realize that your spouse is not the enemy but the prize worth fighting for, then you begin to battle as an overcomer.

I guess those comments point to this well-known verse:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV)

With that in mind, here are some final insights -- pieces of wisdom -- from those SUMites:

(1) Winning without words is the way to go.

Yes, 'Winning him without words' is one of our favorite mottos, from 1 Peter 3:1. In this scenario, it most likely means not bashing the faithless spouse over the head with arguments. In fact, those ones who have lost their faith probably know every argument there is and will not appreciate a head-walloping. A couple of our SUMites said they tried hurling apologetics at their spouse for a good few months; then gave up. It didn't do any good. A gentle and quiet spirit was the better formula.

(2) Upgrade your spiritual warfare

Several SUMites said how much their journey changed once they enhanced their understanding of spiritual warfare. There are quite a few resources out there, and several mentioned the book Marching around Jericho had been a big help. Many of our blog posts on here in the archives also cover the topic of warfare.

(3) Fight for that marriage

Said one SUMite: "I learned how to fight for my marriage. I learned that the entire situation was because the enemy wanted to destroy my marriage and destroy our family. I stopped contending for my husband's soul with angst because, frankly, it was exhausting, and it wasn't MY JOB to save him!”

(4) Your faith will never be the same again – And it's a good thing!

Several SUMites said this situation has changed their relationship with God for the better. This statement was pretty powerful:

“If God gave me the choice for my husband and I to each go back to the faith we had before all this, I wouldn't choose that. My husband's faith was obviously lacking and built on shifting sand, and my relationship with God was also lacking. So, if I don't want to go back, then the only way to go is forward, and God's already there.”

(5) Finally, God is not surprised by any of this!

It's true -- He knows. He knows all about it. And he will use it. In the words of one SUMite:

“And then it dropped that He is good and this is not a surprise or an 'oh crap, I didn't see that coming' moment for Him. And that was a turning point for me.”

So, my friends, that brings our series on this topic to an end for now. I can't help but feel there's so much more we could say. For example, what is it like for the spouse who loses their faith? How can we walk it with compassion? I'm sure we will be back to revisit this. But for now, we'll leave it there. 

To conclude, are there any other key tips that you would share with someone walking behind you on this path?

Till next time,

Ann


When a Spouse Leaves the Faith -- Part 2

Ann here again! Tears

When a spouse leaves the faith, Part 1

Today we're going to continue with the above topic, and I thought I would start with a little story:

Last year, I attended a ministry conference. We were a small group, perhaps 100 in the room, and Auckland is a small place so we often see family faces. There we were in an interactive session, when the conference leader asked a question. A man on the far left of the room shot up his hand as if to say ‘Over here! I have something to say!’ The mic was carried to him, and for the third time that day he spoke something super insightful into it. All the while, his wife sat beside him, nodding. 

I looked over at this couple from over on my side and quietly did a happy dance (inside!) In fact, I just kept on looking over, grinning. See, I knew their story. He was one of those husbands who’d fallen away. For eight years, in fact, he’d stayed home every Sunday while his wife carried on -- Dismayed, determined, confused. But now he was back -- And honestly, everything he said into that mic was so good.

The Come-Back Kid!

My friends, this isn’t the only story I know of a spouse coming back to faith. It might be natural to think that this situation looks particularly impossible. If we're going to really not sugar-coat this thing, you might even fear what your spouse has done. For sure, we know free will is a big part of this, and this thing is no game.

But there's also this: The fruits of the Holy Spirit are joy and peace. This alone tells me that God -- who grows these fruits within us -- will be encouraging us to NOT walk through this situation peace-less. Only God knows the destination of a given soul, but if our spouse has fallen away He actively encourages us to grow joy and peace. Somehow we have to let God bring peace to this terribly difficult situation, but of course fruit grows slowly and usually within the opposite circumstances.

The Lord led me to this amazing verse this morning, which speaks of how He sometimes works two or three times in a person’s life to bring them back from the pit.

“Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners.

If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ‘ransom’;

His flesh shall be young like a child’s, he shall return to the days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me.’

He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.

Behold, God works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Job 33:23-30 (NKJV):

What a wonderful verse for those who are hoping for a ‘fallen-away’ spouse to be restored! I guess it tells me that this thing is far from impossible, and these spouses are certainly not the 'least likely' or a hopeless case. In fact, I will say that I also feel my husband is the least likely to convert, and he's never yet been a Christian. So perhaps we all feel it: 'Mine is the least likely!'

Least likely does not mean impossible!

Ultimately, God has given us a tremendous shared testimony here in this community. This blog has over one thousand readers, and many were once prodigals. Even Lynn, our founder, describes herself as the ultimate prodigal child, and now she is one on-fire Christian. We know from the parable of the prodigal son what kind of excitement lands on the one who comes back. And so many of the SUMites themselves are living, breathing, walking examples of God's miraculous restoration.

It's hard huh? We will carry on with this topic on Monday. But in the meantime, if you would like to share any thoughts in the comments, please do!


When A Spouse Leaves Their Faith -- Part 1

Ann here! Tears

Today I want to talk about a path that is walked by so many here, and it's a really difficult one: ‘When a Spouse Leaves the Faith’.

In our community we have many a story to tell about how we found ourselves in a SUM. In my case, for example, I was far from God when I married, then turned and changed. That's a common scenario. But there’s another story within our ranks that seems especially weighty: The situation where one spouse falls away. 

It looks something like this: A husband and wife intimately share their relationship with Jesus. They pray together, dream together, and serve together. Faith is the bedrock of their shared life and they are wedded to church. Then, out of left field one loses their faith and the other has to stand by and watch. The sense of loss is profound.  

In these next couple of posts I'm going to write about that. It’s not my path, so I asked several other SUMites for help with this. The following words come from their shared stories. And, as I have written it up I realize all over again what brave soldiers they are.

Why is it so hard when a spouse leaves the faith?

Most challenges in a spiritually unequal marriage are commonly experienced. For example, almost all of us battle loneliness, find it difficult to be open about faith at home, and church is complicated. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But when a spouse loses their faith there’s something extra: Grief.

These are seriously lost dreams. The spouse who leaves their faith might have been a vibrant disciple of Jesus at one time. That is perfectly possible, it happens. So, the remaining one knows what it is to be spiritually matched. And they cry tears of grief -- Tears that may well be mixed with a bitter sense of betrayal.

Then it happens: Their spouse’s character begins to change before their eyes, and this can happen quite quickly once they've decided they no longer believe. Their priorities shift and it can extend into some quite contrasting areas of behavior and opinion. They might even start to despise their prior faith.

“This isn’t the person I married”, sobs the believing spouse into their pillow at night.

The unbelieving spouse may or may not question the marriage itself. In most cases they will still love and want their spouse. And if that's so they'll just want to be loved back. “Just love me please, the way I now am.” Alternatively, they might actively despise their old life including everything the believing spouse now stands for. In that case it's more precarious. Or there’ll be some mixture of hostility and love. Either way, it’s tumultuous change. 

In terms of their mindset, the unbelieving spouse might hold a strong belief that they have excellent ‘insider knowledge’ of Christianity. If that's the case, Christian apologetics arguments, or even testimony, will be especially unlikely to help. Intellectual debate is futile, and testimonies are rejected. Possibly these spouses have had testimonies of their own and now somehow those testimonies have become a distant memory. "What will it take to change their mind?" one wonders.

Well, is it their mind, or is it their heart? So much of this is about the heart.

Meanwhile, Christian friends will treat the unbelieving spouse (their friend) as a ‘fix-it’ project that they most likely can’t fix as easily as they hope. And it’s hard to stay connected to these friends because the dynamic has changed and they probably don't really understand the full story. The couple might slowly lose their friends, bit by bit. By bit.

Of course, it looks different in different couples. Some have spouses who now are active atheists after having been elders. For others, it's simply a case of the spouse having gone quietly lukewarm. That one is a more placid situation and perhaps slightly easier to handle than a full-on missionary-turned-atheist who has 'all the answers' (I know one of those myself, he lives down the road and remains married to a very strong Christian lady!)

So what would God say to us about this particular path? And what practical tips are helpful here? There is more to share so we will continue in the next post. And, again, I thank the SUMites who have helped with this post -- so much.

In the meantime, if you are walking this particular path, what is the hardest part for you?


Church, We Are Crossing Over!

Dear friends, Ann here! Crossing the Jordan

I had a different post planned today, but that can wait until next week. Instead, I thought I'd share a few impromptu thoughts given the present events. We're watching wide-eyed as the US election plays out, and then across the Atlantic many Europeans are entering their second lockdown. It's all pretty intense.

However, many believers - friends of God -- across the world will be sitting in their living rooms asking, “What does this mean, Lord? What do you want us to know?”

Sitting … waiting … watching … seeking Him. 

"I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected."

(Habakkuk 2:1, NKJV)

We hear in part, and we put the pieces together as a body. So, in that spirit I thought I might share what I've been hearing from God these past few months. And when I say 'hearing', I can say He has spoken this particular thing to me quite a few times this past year (even before COVID began), and quite clearly. The hard part is believing it (because it feels abstract) and knowing what to do with it. It's along these lines:

The Church is crossing over to a new era like the Israelites crossed the Jordan. 

This crossing over involves moving from one era to another. From one way of being, to another. From old routines, old ways of doing church, and old mindsets to a brand new 'thing'.

Specifically, the Lord has led me repeatedly to the story of Joshua and the Israelites who crossed the Jordan river collectively. They crossed over from the wilderness to the promised land (Joshua 1:1-3:17) and this involved them completely leaving their old place. Even though it was the dysfunctional wilderness, it was what they knew so there was comfort there. The wilderness had a certain set of routines: They ate manna, for example, and they were led by Moses. In the new land, the manna stopped and Moses died just before they crossed. Their main focus was now to follow the 'new' -- Joshua -- into new battles. The whole package was completely different. And the process of crossing over took months, the river being only a small part of it.

The good part was that once they had crossed over, they experienced victory - Well, as long as they were obedient and listened to God's voice.

I believe what God is saying is that we are moving, and we need to be prepared for the same magnitude of change as the Israelites had, unbelievable as that might sound. When we emerge from this pandemic, things will be different in our faith lives and perhaps in the Church. I have no idea how, but I do believe God is asking us to prepare our hearts for that. He is asking us to be open-hearted to change, be prepared to embrace something new, be prepared to be obedient, and hold on tight to him.

Right now, the year 2020 is an experience that feels something like walking through the riverbed of the Jordan. It's hard to be straddling this in-between place, this 'no-man's land'. But in that story of the crossing over, the Ark of the Covenant went ahead to show God's people where to put their footing, for they had not been that way before (Joshua 3:3-4). In the same way, God will be leading us through this. We just need to keep talking to him -- And listening.

Here is the key scripture God has been giving me for this time, and I love it. It fills me with hope!

"But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year."

(Deuteronomy 11:11-12, NKJV)

SUM family, let's be strong and of good courage, for God is doing something new in our midst. Hold on tight, he has us buckled in and safe!

In the meantime, how are you doing? I'd love to hear, even if you are finding it tough. Let's pull together as a community.

Love to you all,

Ann


Living an Extra (Ordinary) Life

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Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It’s a big few days in America with the election and we all around the world watch on eagerly with prayerful hearts.

Recently, I came across a little-known Saint, Alphonsus Rodriguez, who lived in Spain in the 1500s. Rodriguez was in his 40s, a widower, with no children and a bankrupt,  who on seeking to join a Jesuit monastery was told he was too old and too uneducated to become a priest. He was sent to a Jesuit College on the island of Majorca where he served as a porter and doorkeeper. He turned door-keeping into a sacramental duty. Every time the doorbell rang, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!” and would then welcome the visitor as Christ himself.

Many brilliant young priests passed through the college. Alphonsus welcomed each one lavishly and many of them turned to him for spiritual counsel. One of them was a man named, Peter Claver, who began meeting with Alphonsus, now 72, on a daily basis. The doorkeeper encouraged the young priest to travel to South America where he devoted his life to caring for slaves, for which he was later recognized as a saint.

Alphonsus Rodriguez was also made a saint, canonized for his own brand of quiet heroism expressed in a life of humility, hospitality and friendship that impacted vast numbers of people across the globe.note

Our Little Lives

Sometimes we can question whether we’re making our lives count. We’re just going about our days as spouse, parent, employee/employer, friend, sibling, child and on wondering whether we’re really making any impact. Inherent in all of us is a desire for significance. Perhaps this drive is stronger in men, I don’t know, but we can also let it lead us astray in chasing after the ‘big’ thing that will make us feel better about ourselves and fill us with pride for being a ‘somebody’.

We’re already significant, aren’t we, in the simple fact that God, the creator of the universe has chosen to give each of one of us, life. That’s right, our God thinks we’re pretty awesome because He made us. We were significant before we were born because God thought of us before we even made an appearance in the womb.

The Great Commission

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a NIV)

We’re all familiar with these verses and for many of us we can feel burdened by thinking we’re not doing anything ‘great’ for the Kingdom. Or we might feel this is someone else’s responsibility, that is, those people specifically called to a ministry role of some description.

But, no, we are all called to make disciples. Yes. Every single one of us. But we don’t have to be burdened by it; we can in fact be playing our part by continuing to live out our own little lives. For most of us, the Great Commission will be outworked in our own homes, schoolyards, workplaces, cafes and such like.

How?

Alphonsus Rodriguez provides us with the example. “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV). We get to choose how we treat everybody we come across today: “I’m coming, Lord!”

Like Alphonsus, we may never know the impact such an attitude might have on our legacy. He most likely had no knowledge that Peter Claver was canonized for his role in South America having passed away long before.

Just Start

Often, we get stuck in thinking we have to do something significant.

“Start where you are, where you can be of service, not a hero.” (Joan Chittister)

Start with your spouse. Start with your kids even if they’re driving you nuts. Start with your work colleagues. Choose love. Choose to think you’re addressing the King of Kings. You’ll be surprised how once you start, you’ll keep doing it. And then it spreads. Love begets love. Care begets care.

And in the ordinariness of life, something extraordinary begins to take root.

“I’m coming, Lord!”

Grace and peace, dear friends

Note: my inspiration for this post came from Lectio365 Monday 2 November 2020 Devotional titled: Alphonsus Rodriguez: Hero of Hospitality.


On Shedding the 'Unequally Yoked' Badge

Hello friends, Ann here!Badge

It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but in my last post I shared a story from our archives where the Holy Spirit had given us a caution about using the ‘unequally yoked’ label too much. To catch up, you can read that post here. Today I'm interested in chatting a bit more about that -- the 'unequally-yoked' badge.

I certainly can relate to the issue of using the 'spiritually mismatched' label a little much. As a woman, I share my feelings easily with others, and when I’m with other Christians I talk about my faith challenges. Well, the spiritual mismatch is the major challenge, right?

Except … it’s easy to mention this thing to any Tom, Dick or Harry at church and suddenly we’re allowing them into our marriage, which is a private space. That thought makes me sad. I think my husband would hope that doesn't happen.

I guess over the years I’ve become more wary about sharing this precious and difficult thing that Bryce and I walk. But guarding the tongue takes practice, especially if you are naturally a bit talkative!

As for the label itself, which we do use in the SUM community, what are we to make of the words that the Holy Spirit gave us (mentioned in my last post)? Let's take another look at those beautiful -- and perspective-changing -- words:

Beloved SUMites:

Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked.

Your marriages are Mine.

Your husbands are Mine.

They are Mine.

Words like these are designed by the Lord to give us the mind of Christ. He always sees things differently to the way we naturally do and he will often ask us to lift our eyes above the circumstances. He wants us to walk in hope, peace and joy!

Of course, we can't deny the battle. If we were too euphemistic in our words, people wouldn't be able to find this blog and know we're here to help them deal with spiritual mismatch in marriage. The Bible uses the term ‘unbelieving wife’ and ‘unbelieving husband’ (1 Corinthians 7:14) with honesty. So, we do the same in this ministry to articulate the challenge for others who need help. Even then, I have to say I use the label cautiously (Proverbs 18:21).

Perhaps the issue is not so much about using the label as much as it's about our hearts. If the label is used to minister to other SUMites it's a different thing to us using the label widely and without respect for our spouse. So, while I'm open with SUMites I've become much more guarded when talking with other Christians. If I do talk about it I'll say something like this:

"My husband and I do have a difference in what we believe, but we're still happily married."

“My husband doesn’t go to church with me, so I tend to do that side of things by myself.”

In fact, I had this role-modelled to me a few years ago when I sidled up to an older woman at church. I wanted to ask her about her non-attending husband. All she said was this, smiling:

“You're right, he doesn't come to church. But you know what, he is the most amazing man. It's not ideal, but he's a fantastic husband.” 

I liked that.

Ultimately, what I know is that God sees the end from the beginning. This present moment is not the final answer and when God looks at our marriage he sees its final day and every day leading up to that. As he sees the bigger picture, his word on the matter is this:

Your marriage is not mismatched. It is Mine.

If we can believe these words, our job is then to 'call things that are not as though they were' (Romans 4:17). That is, we can go so far as to say verbally to others: "My husband -- He belongs to the Lord", or "My marriage -- It belongs to God", or perhaps we can even smile to ourselves and think about that declaration of the Holy Spirit: Not mismatched.

My friends, I hope you've found that interesting -- It's been food for thought for me. For now, here's a question: How do you approach this issue when talking with other Christians about your situation and your life? We'll chat in the comments.

Ann