We’ve had a blast this month walking down memory lane, doing a LIVE Webcast, announcing our ordinations and celebrating YOU! Did you enjoy the stories? Lynn and I have had some crazy adventures together, and we have taken you with us in our hearts every time.
We’ve written two books together—Winning Him Without Words and Not Alone—Bible studies you, the SUMites, asked us for. Which then led to invitations to speak at conferences, to be on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Dr. Dobson and INSIGHT on The Miracle Channel. Lynn even did an interview on the 700 Club! She’s the big adventurer in this duo, that’s for sure.
Lynn and I have talked a lot about our adventures this month and laughed—a lot! She has said I was the one who gave her the gift of saying “yes,” when she said “let’s go!” Honestly, I believe I’m the one who was blessed more. She keeps me from getting too comfortable, you know? We all need someone like that in our lives.
And the adventures continue, SUMites! We are a family. A church without walls. The SUM Nation. God has brought us all together these last ten years for a reason, for such a time as this, and that time continues. His plans are still unfolding for us, my friends.
This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, and Lynn and I have decided to take next week off. We have some planning and catching up to do. My hubby is off Monday so I’m looking forward to some beach time with him! But be sure to catch Ian’s post on Wednesday. And Lynn and I will be back June 6th.
With a surprise…
What kind of surprise, you ask? Well, we’ve been up to something—been planning the next adventure. And this one includes you, SUMites. A surprise that we think you’re going to love being part of. So be sure to stop in June 6th for all the details.
Until then, have an amazing Memorial Day weekend with your family. Enjoy next week with friends and family in whatever adventures you happen to be on.
We love you, SUM family, with all our hearts. We love being a part of your lives as we continue to walk this great adventure with God together.
BIG hugs! Dineen & Lynn
P.S. I (Dineen) will have a small post up this Saturday with a little announcement that I hope you’ll enjoy. XOXO
Hello, SUM family. I'm with Lynn in wondering how this month has gone by so fast! Here I thought I'd run out of stories only to find I needed to pick and choose the best ones, because there are so many. And I will say they are truly God's stories—the evidence of His love and presence. We all have His-stories to tell, my friends. They are our testimonies.
My story today has it’s roots in the past and is blossoming in unexpected ways today today. I never expected to be ordained. In a way that truth is still settling into my heart and mind, because it's not something I ever felt worthy to aspire to. But we know our worth is determined by what Jesus did and not what we do. I find I must remind myself of that daily. I trust God daily to free me from that performance mentality.
But you know what I love most about this. I was ordained by this ministry—our SUM ministry. I never imagined such a thing possible ten years ago. Or even five years ago! It's just “right" that it comes from this beautiful place. You know what I mean? There simply aren't words to express the joy that brings me.
And there is a humorous side to this story, SUMites. I wondered what my hubby would think of this so I explained I was going to be ordained and then asked him, "How do you feel about being married to a pastor?"
He laughed. In a good way. You know what's so funny about this story? Only a week or so before this, he and I were talking about the churches I've been visiting with a my best friend who just moved here in January. I've been helping her find a church home. The thing is, I'm still in this church search myself now that we've settled in Florida year round. I love the church I've been attending, but it's a big church and I'm not sure that's where God wants me to stay.
Do you know what my hubby said to me?
"You should start your own church."
And he was serious! SUMites, I'm just stunned at how God works in our circumstances. That is the last thing I ever expected my husband to say.
I shared this story with my friend and what she said stopped me in my tracks. "How crazy will it be when you're both pastors of a church."
SUMites, I don't aspire to pastor a church, and I still don't. I feel like I'm already doing that right here, which still blows my mind. But that statement fueled the tiny seed simmering in my heart to one day serve God with my husband, to be united in that calling, whatever it looks like. I know you understand that dream too, because it's a hope we all hold close in our hearts.
You see, the story gets a little more interesting here. I asked God a few months ago what spiritual gift(s) he'd given my husband, and He opened my eyes to see it was evangelism. God also showed me how Mike is already operating in that gift, which is absolutely mind boggling.
Why? When I met my husband, he was one of the shyest people I'd ever met. He didn't like crowds and kept to himself. Even in the early years of our marriage, if we went to an event, he mostly stayed with people he knew.
Now I watch up him go up to complete strangers on the beach, in a restaurant, or a store and strike up conversations all the time. Complete strangers! And he seems totally at ease about it. I watch, and I'm in awe of how God works in our spouses even when they don't know or want it. Even when we don't know or can't see it. He does, my friends. He truly does.
SUMites, God has planted and is watering this seed in my heart—a dream of possibility. A dream I realize I'd put in the impossibility column early on, even ten years ago, and now God has moved it not just to the "all things are possible with Him" column, but to the "DREAM BIG" column as well. God has done a great work in me too on that one!
How about you, my precious SUMites? What dream is God seeding in your heart? What hope have you held close, yet been too afraid to share with your Great Big God? Share in the comments—I'd love to pray with you for this dream or for God to seed a dream in your heart.
On Friday's post, Lynn shared Karen's one minute prayer idea and 78 of you left comments with your hubby's name. Seventy-eight! Many of you replied to other SUMites that you would pray for her spouse and have partnered up. I've compiled a complete list and will continue to update it. If you'd like a copy, email me.
My Bible at Jeremiah 24:7. I have a hand written version of the list too. Started the list by hand and Holy Spirit impressed upon me to keep doing it. So now I have both!
SUMites, I am standing on the word and Scripture God gave me for our community in January, and I am placing this list in my Bible at Jeremiah 24. I declare this over our spouses nearly every day and I believe like I have never believed before that God is and going to do this.
He is faithful and He will do what He says! Amen? Amen!
Well we are in the last week of our 10-year, month-long celebration. Can you believe it went by that fast? I’m in my office on a Sunday afternoon. I feel the Lord’s Presence and it is peaceful. I pray all of you are filled with His peace, love and joy as you read this.
My affection for our Papa God has been the highlight of all that I write, speak and share with others over the past 10 years. I love the Lord with all that I know how. But what remains utterly amazing STILL, is to be adored by Him in return.
And He continues to overwhelm and surprise me in ways I can’t even dream up.
So…. This is what He did.
The Lord knew that Dineen and I have been planning this 10-year celebration for several months. We began talking about it months ago. And wouldn’t you know, God decided to participate.
So unbeknownst to me, in March a local ministry with which I serve on the Board of Directors, well they, ahem, officially ordained me into ministry.
I’m a reverend. A for-real pastor.
When they presented my ordination certificate to me I literally bawled, look for Kleenex in the purse frantically, kind of bawling. Tears of joy.
It was as if the Lord said to me, “Lynn, I have walked the long road with you. I have stood by as you faithfully served people who arrived at your website fearful, broken and lost who were seeking My love. You served and gave your time, your money and you gave your heart. You have loved my people and helped many, many who needed a voice of hope and a word of encouragement. You have faithfully served My Kingdom and my children. I want you to receive the recognition that you deserve as you reach this 10-year milestone.”
Hold on a moment. Where’s my Kleenex box around here, sheesh.
I’m undone. I’m utterly undone by this kind of love. I’ve been undone all month as I read through the comments and feel your love for this place, this weird church without walls, this place where we are real with one another. Where we cry over brokenness and we pray down heaven over our children. Where we pound the carpet pacing and praying in unceasing spiritual warfare for our home and spouse's soul. Where we live and love and walk toward heaven. I’m undone by the love of God in your faces, your voices and your lives.
I’m undone. In every amazing good way.
Sumites, I’m just an ordinary, broken, yet redeemed, 5 foot 4 blonde woman who is loved by Papa, God! Oh how His love redeems everything I thought was missing in my marriage, my home, my life. It was all a lie, that perfect picture of love and marriage in my head. It was a lie.
The truth is, I have EVERYTHING IN HIM. My Papa God, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit!
And SO DO YOU!
Thank you for walking this journey with me and Dineen. You are our forever friends. Truly
Also, this month our ministry ordained, Dineen Miller. God’s kinda cool that way!
Live for the Kingdom my friends. Live with expectation. Live with love and with purpose. It’s a blast living the believer’s life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here I am with the certificate that is on the wall in my prayer room.
In February Karen Le from Ohio, emailed me with a fantastic suggestion. And so today I want to share it with you. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I want to challenge you to a 30-day, One Minute Prayer. Here is what Karen wrote:
Several years ago a Christian leader urged churchgoers to choose one person whose salvation they could pray for through the season of lent at 1:00 PM, every day, for One Minute.
ONE PERSON FOR ONE MINUTE AT 1:00 PM.
Wherever they were, those participating, prayed at 1 pm. It wasn't long into the daily prayers that those being prayed for were repenting and being saved. Hallelujah!
I'm wondering if, as a group of SUMites, we could do this?
I'm excited to see all that would be possible if we came together as a group and prayed daily at 1:00 pm. Thoughts, Fondly, Karen from Ohio.
Karen BRILLIANT! I've saved your email specifically for our May celebration.
Okay SUMITES... UNITE!!!!
Begin today. Here are the rules. Every day at 1:00 PM, no matter where you are, be intentional to pray for someone by name and for their salvation. Rule #2, You can't pray for your own spouse. Pray for another SUMite's spouse, even it you don't know their spouse's name. Rule #3 - pray for one minute.
We will pray daily from May 20th through June 20th.
Leave your name and that of your spouse, or anyone you want prayers for salvation in the comments. Let's make this 10-year anniversary soar to heaven and be participants in the Great Harvest!
Hello All. My name is Karen. I am happily married to Vinh and we will celebrate 19 years in June! We have two beautiful teenagers that I homeschool. Homeschooling was God's calling on my life - a desire I just couldn't deny. I have enjoyed every single moment of this journey. My days are spent in extracurriculars with my children, gardening with my husband, time at the gym or a walk in the neighborhood and always a good cup of coffee. I try to be mindful of God's presence in each day, whether it be a sunset, wild flowers, or a kind gesture from a stranger - He is always there. I am grateful I can have peace in His promise to never leave me or forsake me and that if I trust Him, He will make my path and the path of my family clear.
SUMites, Lynn and I had a blast with you during our LIVE Web Classes! A BLAST! Wow, does an hour go fast or what? We so enjoyed being able to pray over you, bless you and teach about hearing God's voice for yourself. And telling you stories...and the Q&A session—getting to hear you—hear your hearts—was huge. Thank you, SUMites, for spending that hour with us—two ordinary women who love to go on adventures with God. And you're part of the adventure too!
If you weren't able to attend, we plan to do more! More opportunities to participate are coming. In the comments (whether you were able to attend or not) please leave suggestions of topics you’d like to see covered so we can plan and schedule future sessions.
If you attended one of the classes today, please share in the comments which session you attended, what you learned and what you took away that helped you most. We are excited to hear your input and comments. And what you share could very well be what will minister to someone reading and in need. We see that happen all the time in this beautiful community.
We love you so much, SUMites! Thank you again for making us a part of your lives. ~Dineen & Lynn
“Mama, you are the Christian in your marriage, but you are not showing respect to Daddy,” my two daughters said to me,” as they detailed times, places and events that covered several years.
And with that, my two grown daughters, Crystal and Heather, shoved a book in my hands, called Love and Respect, and said, “You need to read this, and get your act together!”
In that moment, I started having hot flashes (not from menopause, but anger) and I silently whispered, “Girls, I brought you into this world, I am a-fixing to take you out!” After their monologue of disciplining their Christ-like mother, I picked up my halo, walked out of the room and pouted with them for two months.
During my two months of pouting, I walked my neighborhood crying and sometimes yelling, scaring the dogs and leaving people gazing at me in bewilderment. My heart became like a water pitcher pouring out years and years of complaints stored up inside of me about raising two girls in church without my husband, along with other things “HE” had done. When I had coughed up everything I could remember about him, I then poured out how angry I now was with “Daddy’sprecious little girls” for confronting me about not respecting him, of all things.
“God, my husband doesn’t deserve respect for putting me through all of this. Don’t you agree?”
Instead of agreeing with me (does He ever?) He gently nudged me to go to the internet and see what I could find out about living with an unbeliever. Say what? Never in all my years of reading books on marriage had I ever read anything on that subject. But, somehow, I found a site advertising a book called Winning Him Without Words, so I decided to order it.
My first night’s impression with “the book:” Not bad. Pretty interesting. Finally, I came to Chapter 4 - The Essentials of Love: Hope, Joy, Peace and Trust (Oh, Yeah, and Respect)
Oh, my goodness! Now, I have some author, what’s her name, Dineen Miller, telling me to have respect for my unbelieving husband. What does she know? She is probably married to a Christian. Oops, no! It says right here she is married to an Atheist! And her co-author, Lynn, is married to one, too.
My heart slowly began to melt as I kept reading through the night. It was as if these two authors were seeing into my heart something that nobody else had ever seen. They understood what it was like being married to a nonbeliever, but were also providing ten keys to thrive in the midst of this type of situation.
By morning, I fell on my knees and repented of not living up to 1 Peter 3 in the midst of an unequally yoked marriage. I also knew I was to start a group at my church in Orange, Texas for women “like me,” which is now in its 5th year.
“Where had these two women, Lynn and Dineen, been all my married life? Why had I not heard of them before,” I wondered on that first night of meeting them on the pages of their book. Well, duh! They were just babies when I got married; I had to wait years for them to grow up to teach an older woman like me how to live with this man I married!”
Meanwhile, on their website, I started meeting women from around the globe (and Ian, too) as Lynn and Dineen pulled us all together as a community to walk through the maze of a spiritually mismatched marriage according to God’s Word. Wait! Wait! We can’t leave out what The Chronicles of the Donovan Clan has taught us, too.
In fact, everything that I have learned from this ministry has so impacted my life that I have decided to keep my husband around a few more years, and “Oh Yeah, Respect Him, too.”
As I think back to that night in 2011 when I had my first encounter with Lynn and Dineen on the pages of Winning Him Without Words, it reminds me of something Sister Mock, my childhood Sunday School teacher of long ago used to do. When things got to going really good in a church service, she would stand up, whip out her handkerchief, wave it in the air, and shout: Whooooooopeeee! Glory Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!”
Knowing Sister Mock like I did, I know she is on her feet in heaven right now, ready for us to join her in a shout-out. Are you ready, Sumites? If so, get your hankie out, and start waving it.
All together now------
“Happy 10th Anniversary, Lynn and Dineen!!
Whooooooopeeee! Glory Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!”
About Martha Bush:
Martha's love for teaching led her into areas outside the school system as she began teaching Bible study courses in jails, prisons, and at her local church. She also writes a monthly inspirational post at Created Woman and is a contributing editor for Created Woman Magazine.
In addition, Martha is a contributor to Girlfriends Coffee Hour and a member of the Orange County Christian Writers Guild.
Through her years of teaching, as well as being an avid reader of human behavior and grief counseling from noted Christian psychologists, she recognized how a team effort can help build a foundation in children at an early age that will enable them to cope with the losses in their lives. She believes this team, made of up parents, grandparents, educators, and spiritual leaders, can guide a child to healing from losses he or she might experience. They can do this simply by recognizing his pain, listening to his pain and then teaching the child how to apply the principles of God’s Word to his hurting heart. This led her to write Helping Hurting Children: A Journey of Healing.
SUM family, are you enjoying this walk down memory lane? It’s amazing to look back over our history and see how God has moved in the big picture of our community. I truly believe part of our continued growth and endurance as a ministry has been our desire to honor our husbands in doing this.
Lynn and I have never spoken negatively about our husbands here on the blog, in any of our media interviews, or our books. And we have not moved forward in this ministry without our husband’s knowledge of what we are doing. Our heart has always been to respect our husbands out of obedience to God. We strive to be open, honest and respectful to our husbands in everything we write and speak about.
If you listened to Lynn’s video post “SUM Beginnings,” she shared how her husband told her that if just one other couple could be helped, she should start the blog. He has been supportive of her ever since.
My husband has also been supportive and even texted me our Amazon rankings throughout the day when Winning Him Without Words first released. He’s even told people he works and associates with about our books. A man who claims he’s an atheist promoting Christian books…now if that’s not God working in our husbands, I truly don’t know what is!
And let me interject here, SUMites, that if God is calling you step out in some way to serve and minister, trust Him to bring your spouse’s heart into alignment. Pray for this and listen carefully (Luke 8:18). God is faithful to lead, prepare and equip you and your spouse in what He’s calling you to do.
Now back to the point of this post. Do you remember the first part of this story where I shared that I was concerned about what could happen in the comments? That is probably one of the most astounding parts of this beautiful family of God.
Never have we had to address what is often referred to as “husband bashing.” (We’ll call it “spouse bashing” here since we are blessed to have a small male readership, and Ian’s wonderful wisdom and writing in our ministry as well.) I find this truly amazing when you consider this form of negative speaking about one’s spouse is so prevalent in the world today. And destructive! That which we focus on becomes our truth and reality, because our words are life or death (Prov. 18:21)—life to our marriage or death to it. We have a choice. (That’s definitely a post I will write about at a later time…)
SUMites, you walk this difficult path well. We are not called to be perfect, but to persevere and run the race God has marked out for us.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3
Lynn and I are honored to run this race with you. Together we are stronger, and we help each to not only run this race but to run like the conquerors through Jesus that God’s Word says we are.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. — Romans 8:37
And that we are, my dear friends. I declare this over each of you, that you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus in your life, in your marriage and in this world. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Yep, after 10 years we can say... Woo Hoo We aren't going anywhere.
The Hand of Jesus Christ has been upon this humble ministry from the beginning.
So today IT OFFICIAL! We are a real 501c3 Religious Corporation. After 10 years we have filed all the paper work and we can issue tax deductible receipts for donations.
In our 10 year history we haven't asked for donation to support this ministry. Some of you have given even without our asking. THANK YOU!
Dineen and I have paid out of pocket for all of it. This year the internet portion and the corporate expenses are $2,500.
If you have grown in your faith, found hope for your life and marriage and consider yourself part of our family, pray about pouring into our family on the web. Every penny is used to pay the expenses to keep us online.
Click on this donate button and give. I will mail a tax receipt to you in January from Three Keys Ministries our umbrella Religious Corporation.
So as you give, I speak over you a blessing that comes with power and with fire. That the Lord Jesus will multiply your finances. I speak over you favor in your workplace, your church and your home. I speak that great provision will be poured out upon you and you will have more than enough for your home, your church and this church without walls.
THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts that you love us, love this family and are part of the Kingdom of God! Hugs, Lynn & Dineen
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38
My faith journey began as a little girl visiting my maternal grandmother's church with a small congregation, all over fifty-five years old. This small church did not welcome young children and I'll never forget the way they looked at my brother and I as we tried to behave during service. I now know that my mother ran from organized religion as a result of her childhood experiences with that congregation and her own mother. As I grew older I spent summer breaks with my father's parents. They insisted that all of the grandchildren come to their church every time we were in town. Their church was also very small but the congregation welcomed all ages. The thing I remember most about that congregation is their kindness and the sense of peace I found in that small building.
Fast forward many years, I met my husband when I was nineteen, married by twenty-one, and became a mom by twenty-two. The moment my son was born I knew that I wanted to raise him differently than I'd been raised and that meant finding a church home. I asked my husband for permission to find a church and take our son with me. He agreed but promised that he would never come along or participate. That conversation was almost thirteen years ago.
I visited only one church before finding the one that God meant for us. During those early days I would sit in the chair, look at the "happy" couples and cry. One morning, after crying through every worship song, a lady in front of me turned around and handed me a stone with the word Hope printed on it. She smiled with such kindness that I knew I was still home. One other Sunday during those early years, an acquaintance sat next to me and said "that chair next to you may seem empty but it's not. The Holy Spirit is always here." That bit of encouragement gave me strength to walk through those doors again and again.
I will admit, those early years were very hard. I tried plugging into the community through volunteering but out of respect for my husband, I limited my time spent in church activities. In an effort to find community I would look through the church website for a small group or class that could help me navigate my journey as a spiritually mismatched wife but I never found that. I continued to go every Sunday but I sought community and a Biblical education on my own. I did that through daily reading in the Bible, tons of Bible studies and Christian music. Then in 2011, after I had read just about every book I could find on the subject, the Spirit led me to Winning Him Without Words. Through that book and the word of God, I learned that if I was willing then God would use me to positively impact every area of my marriage and home. I also found the community that I had so desperately needed. It's true that I've never seen either Lynn or Dineen in person but through technology, they have become my friends and mentors over the last five years. I may not respond to every blog post but I read every one and I lift up each prayer request. This community has become my church without walls and I know that it was a vital part of God’s plan for my life. Lynn and Dineen, thank you for your honesty, kindness and service to our community. Both of you will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Christy Edney is a follower of Jesus, wife of thirteen years and mother of two children (12 and 7). She serves her congregation as a Small Group leader and Stephen’s Minister. She is passionate about raising her children with an authentic Christ-like example, showing the love of Christ to all and teaching his Word.
My SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.
When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers.
As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.
Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.
And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.
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
And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him… — 2 Peter 3:15
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31
And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.
And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…
My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today.
And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!
I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation.
God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love.
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17
SUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV
So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.
I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen! ~Dineen
In joining in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the SUM blog, I would like to share with you my experience of how I became part of this amazing SUM family.
It was January 2013 when I found the website. I was struggling in my marriage due to a spiritual issue I had been dealing with for some time. I was carrying a very heavy burden. Satan was attacking me 24/7. I needed help. I needed wisdom. I needed God to show me what to do.
Then one day, Lynn wrote a blog post. Honestly, I don’t remember what it was about, but I remember her saying that she felt God prompting her to offer that if anyone needed to email her privately, and ask for prayer, to please do so; and she provided the link to email her.
I knew this was meant for me. I emailed her, asking for prayer. I shared with her what the issue was. I was in such pain and so desperate—it apparently came through in my words. I was amazed at her response. She was an angel sent from God. She said that she could feel my burden, that she could tell I was feeling so oppressed, and this was not of God. She told me that God was leading her to pray with me, and asked when she could call me so she could pray over me.
I was so taken back by this response. Really? This woman was going to take time out of her busy schedule, her ministry, her family—to pray for me? We set up a time over the next few days, and just as she promised, she called.
Honestly, I was a little embarrassed, feeling as though I “shouldn’t” be so transparent, that if I was a good Christian, I should be able to pray for myself. (Get thee behind me satan!) But God told me to trust her, that she was the answer to prayer I was asking for. (Wow!) She prayed a powerful prayer for me, to be released from Satan’s shackles, to be released from his stronghold and be set free and walk in the victory that was waiting for me.
And that was the beginning of victory for me. Not overnight, but over time. Along with the prayers and wisdom from the other SUMites through the blog and the 1Peter31 Yahoo group, and other believers, I received the encouragement I needed to finally take God at His word. I began moving from a shackle-bound life, to a life of victory, the life God intended for me.
And now, in 2016, God has blessed me with so much knowledge of Him. I asked for it, and He’s was faithful to answer. He’s shown me how I’ve been limiting Him through fear. And now, I see through satan’s lies, and it pains me to see Believers living in condemnation and shackles. I’m thankful God has used this group to help show me that all things are truly possible with God—through prayer. To stop believing lies and believe and accept this truth: God is pleased with me, He’s crazy about me, and loves me more than I could possibly wrap my head around.
I pray that every human being living on this earth will seek to find the limitless life that is possible with God, through His Son Jesus Christ—for if we seek, we will find!
Thank you Lynn, Dineen and SUMites! May God bless each of you, and your marriages, with His favor and overflowing abundance! -Pam
I worked in the healthcare industry for 25 years and walked away from an executive position to support my husband in his writing career and pursue our dreams together. A step of faith that has taken me, and my marriage, in directions I could never have thought, asked, dreamed or imagined (Eph. 3:20). I am humbled and in awe of God’s faithfulness.
Welcome back, SUMites, to our 10 Year Celebration and a walk down memory lane. In my last post I mentioned that it would be nearly three years before Lynn and I would meet in person, and the circumstances leading up to that started with you.
But let me go back a little farther in time before this second meeting. In the fall of 2008 my daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Things happened fast those first few weeks with surgery dates, recovery and radiation treatments.
During this time, Lynn was part of my support team and so was this blog and community. I found writing to be so helpful, and amazingly, it was during this time that I wrote The Soul Saver. God put that book on my heart and it was birthed out of my own life, marriage and the SUM ministry. I wanted to write that book for our community, and the front page bears a dedication to you, SUMites. I’m so thankful that was God’s plan all along too.
Not long after I finished that book, you started asking us for a Bible study about being spiritually mismatched. We listened, prayed and, boy-howdy, did God move.
I remember being on the phone with Lynn, working out our chapters. By this time I’d written several fiction books and had an agent working on selling The Soul Saver. I’d never written a book with someone else and only dreamed of writing nonfiction at this point.
My friends, God again put all things into place. Lynn laid the foundation of the ten keys and we shared from our hearts what we felt most passionate about to write for the book. I’m still floored at how God basically placed half of that book on each of our hearts—different halves to make up the whole!
Our editor and dear friend, Kim Bangs
The chapter subjects came together seamlessly, and we put a book proposal together. Then came the waiting. And hoping. We knew God had given us that book, but the industry just didn’t seem quite ready. Until God connected Lynn with Kim Bangs, an editor at Regal Books.
Little did we know then that Kim would champion our book, we’d receive a contract, and by the grace of God, we wrote Winning Him Without Words in about four months.
Keep in mind that Lynn and I still lived hundreds of miles apart and had only met that one time. Yet we wrote a book together without any hitches! God was all over that, my friends. His Holy Spirit kept us unified and inspired us with the words.
Then in August 2010 the invitation came from our publisher to meet the team and join their marketing meeting at the offices in Ventura, CA. I flew into Ontario Airpot and guess who picked me up?
Yep, Lynn. I remember walking to her car with my suitcase, wondering how it would feel to finally spend time with her. We had a two hour car ride to the publisher’s offices, and then I would be staying with Lynn at her house overnight. Would it be weird? Awkward? I know a bunch of you out there are nodding your heads with the same questions, right?
Guess what? We didn’t stop talking the entire trip to the meeting and afterwards on the ride to her house. We didn’t stop talking at her house, or the next day when she took me back to the airport. God sure knew how to put two very different women together in a fit that’s just about as perfect as you can on this earth.
My friends, I declare today that I’ve no doubt Lynn’s and my friendship was ordained and I humbly believe it is anointed, too. For this ministry and for each other. The enemy has tried to come against us and break our unity, but we have stood together through it, and God has protected us. He’s also grown us in that friendship too, in ways that just make my heart burst. She and I say frequently that we would not want to walk this journey of the spiritually mismatched and ministry without each other.
And that’s the heart of this community—to walk together in faith and to honor God with our lives and marriages. As Lynn shared in her video on Friday, the secret to an abundant life and a thriving marriage is about love:
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this:‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the L ord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ’ The second is equally important:‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’ No other commandment is greater than these. — Mark 12:29-31
And SUM Nation, I have to say we do this so very well here in our church without walls. God is in the SUM house!
See that picture? My friends, that picture represents THE very first time Lynn and I met in person. We’d been writing together for nearly a year at this point, exchanged innumerable emails and had talked regularly at the phone, but we hadn’t actually met in person yet.
Until April of 2007. We found out we would both be attending the Deeper Still event in San Francisco and excitedly made plans to meet and at least chat for a minute. With the plan in place, we both headed up the San Francisco. Separately.
Now I tend to be a little on the shy side (although a surprise post coming this Saturday may make you think otherwise) so I will admit I was a tad bit nervous to meet Lynn. But my excitement far exceeded my shy nerves.
We connected by cell phone at the event and set a place and time to meet during a break. We didn’t have our pictures on the blog at that point (thank goodness!) and video calling wasn’t really a thing yet (did I just age myself?). So we exchanged some appearance details so we could find each other. How funny is that?
And there she was, this bubbly, “little” blonde powerhouse! I knew right away that she was a brave woman because she wore all white. I’d have to buy stock in bleach if I did that. As soon as we saw each other, we laughed and hugged. I can’t even imagine what she thought when she saw this nearly six foot woman with curly hair coming her way.
Just minutes! That’s all we had to connect and see each other person.
After that we continued to work together, write together and watched God grow this ministry He’d brought us together to lead. When I think back to that and how He continued to work and grow us together, and how He continues to do that, my friends, I am utterly undone by His wisdom and goodness.
It would be nearly three years later—three years!—before Lynn and I would meet again, and the circumstances of that meeting started with you, SUMites.
That’s the next part of this story that I’ll share on Tuesday. In the meantime, be sure to tune in for more. We have some surprises coming!
It was September 2012. I had always wanted to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and having a publisher for Angelguard I thought it a useful way of building some momentum for its release a few months later.
Fiona and I combined it with a holiday to the US with the plan to attend the conference in DFW on our final leg before heading home. The conference had started and I was having a ball meeting lots of fascinating authors including some of my heroes plus gaining a lot of useful information. There was one particular workshop titled “How to Market Your Fiction Like a non-Fiction Pro” that featured four presenters: an agent who I knew of, an author who I was a fan of and two other authors who I didn’t know.
It was an excellent workshop spread over two sessions. One of the non-fiction authors shared a little of their journey on writing a non-fiction book about being married to a pre-believer. All of a sudden this workshop now had added meaning.
Yes, you guessed it that author was none other than our own, Dineen. Dineen, of course, is a rarity in publishing, being both an author of non-fiction and fiction. Her award-winning novel, The Soul Saver, is tremendous.
On the workshop ending, I was on my way to an appointment with an editor when I happened to notice Dineen waiting in the same area. She was by herself so I introduced myself and shared how I too was married to a pre-believer. We chatted very briefly, Dineen mentioned the SUM community and to my delight gave me a copy of “Winning Him Without Words”. She only brought two to the conference and I was the fortunate one to receive the second one. Talk about a blessing.
The Lies of the Enemy
Up to that time, one of my struggles in church life and faith was a belief that any ministry I undertook including through my writing would not be blessed because I was in a spiritually mismatched marriage.
As I sat in the workshop listening to Dineen, I was struck by the revelation that what I’d believed for so long was a lie. The scales of deceit shattered on reading the first few chapters of Lynn and Dineen’s book.
A few weeks later having read both books and explored this community’s blog, I genuinely felt a changed man. Have you ever experienced that? Having a lie that you convinced yourself of for years being zapped.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6 NKJV)
The above verse took on new meaning and continues to. Our perceptions can be so misleading. Hey, I’d carried that chestnut around for many years. In some ways I had come to believe my marriage and I didn’t deserve to be blessed. But no longer!
God is good. Meeting Dineen and the Lord using her in that workshop and enabling us to bump into each other so soon afterwards was one of those moments I so cherish.
He certainly is mysterious.
I joined (do we join?) the SUMite gang less than four years ago now. I’m a little envious of all of you who’ve been with Lynn and Dineen for longer. Our two dear friends are anointed. They share their anointing with us each and every week.
Reading the posts through the week is like an oasis. We all experience that loneliness of being the “single” one, not only in our church communities, but also often within our other various friendships and associations. Even though we’re mostly a virtual family it’s always special being able to hang out in a warm and safe place where there is much love, understanding and discernment.
On behalf of your SUM family, dear Lynn and Dineen, thank you. Thank you for honoring the Lord through your obedience in caring for us these ten years. We love sharing this journey with you both and each other and look forward to what the future holds.
And to all the SUMites, thank you for sharing your heart with us all. This family wouldn’t be what it is without all of our contributions.
I so look forward to reading more of your stories in weeks ahead.
That was my question in early 2006. For nearly two years I’d been writing fiction and pursuing publication along those lines and doing all the things a newbie writer was supposed to do to build craft and make connections, including blogging. Yet I felt this distinct nudge to share what God had done in my mismatched marriage to help others. That brought my next question.
How do I do that on a blog and still honor my husband?
During this same time I went to lunch with a dear friend and fellow fiction writer, Camy Tang, and poured out my heart and thoughts on the subject. My biggest concern was what could potentially happen in the comments. Could I handle that? And again, how did I do something like this and honor my husband and marriage?
Camy (who’s an amazing multi-published author now, by the way) listened with great care and made suggestions. I left our lunch date more committed to following God’s lead and belief that He would show me the way.
About a week or so later I received an email from Camy, telling me to check out this link to a blog. She’d just returned from attending the Mount Hermon’s writers’ conference that March and had met a woman there who wanted to know more about blogging. Seems she too felt the nudge and calling of the Holy Spirit to share about her mismatched marriage.
Bet you can guess who that was!
I clicked on the link and there it was. The Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog, newly started with a message of hope to encourage others living in a mismatched marriage. I was honestly floored and amazed that God was moving in someone else like He had me.
So, I crafted up an email to this Lynn Donovan and told her a little about who I was as a writer and feeling led to write about living in a spiritually mismatched marriage. I humbly (at least that’s how I remember it! LOL!) offered to write some posts for her blog on the subject.
Then hit send. I figured she’d either tell me she had it under control, or she’d welcome me with open arms. And as you know, it was the latter. I was ecstatic! God had shown me the HOW of what He was calling me to do.
My friends, when I think back to that time and my concerns over how the subject matter would be handled and comments from readers, I am even more astonished at what God has done in the last ten years. He’s created a safe place where we’ve had the freedom to be honest and grow together. God’s hand has rested mightily on our SUM Nation faithfully and continues to do so.
And we carry on, grow and have learned to thrive—the very intent of this blog all along. So, my friends, with you here today I want to say a very profound THANK YOU to my wonderful, amazing, inspiring best friend Lynn Donovan for inviting me to partner with her ten years in what would become an amazing family of God that gives Him glory every single day. And I want to thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives. Lynn and I are so honored and amazed by that every single day. God is SO GOOD!
Wow, can you believe we have become a nations of God’s people? We march together to bring the love of Jesus to a world that is dark and desperate.
AND, today we are going to celebrate.
Look at this photo:
In my Daily Bible, on May 1, 2006, I wrote down in the top margin the date that it all began, Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog.
My friends, 10 YEARS!!!!!
The following is what I wrote on that very first day:
This website is dedicated to our Lord and to men and women who live every day in a spiritually mismatched marriage.
It is my prayer that this forum will be the place where Christians can find support, encouragement, and practical resources to thrive in their unequal marriage.
I pray that when you visit this site you will be inspired and offer your own insights into God’s design for a healthy marriage in the midst of different viewpoints.
How I hope we have lived up to this mandate over many months and months, a decade of writing.
Goodness! First, I guess we aren’t just another fly-by-night blog, here today, gone tomorrow. We actually grew into an amazing ministry… And more important than that, a family.
Throughout the month of May, Dineen and I are celebrating. We are going to share some stories about how we met. We will be posting testimonies from all of you. We want you to share how you found us and what being part of the community has meant to you and provided to your faith, marriage and life. (If you want to share your story, click here to read our guidelines and then email your submission to me here: email me Lynn.)
We are working on a LIVE online class to chat together about how to hear the voice of God better. Also a live Q&A, if I can figure this all out. Watch for more info later in the week.
We want to give away some books and share the love.
Humbly, Dineen and I are so very thankful to be worthy of your time. We are grateful for the Lord’s hand upon this ministry and upon the people who visit here. So many emails and letters have arrived over the years that keep us writing. Because through the love of Jesus and by loving one another, marriages have been saved. Men and women are walking in greater faith and victories. Children are walking in faith and courage in the Lord.
We know there is always more work to be done, but for today, THANK YOU for allowing us to celebrate this milestone in our lives. We love you so much SUM family, Lynn & Dineen
See this photo? We have a story about this moment... Stay tuned!