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12 entries from November 2018

The Great Gifts of the Unequally Yoked

Hello SUM Nation: 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comI just wonder…… 

Can you perhaps come to understand the unique and special blessings of the unequally yoked? 

I bet someone just read this and rolled their eyes? Anybody??? 

As a woman who has walked this journey now for more than two decades, I truly understand how very difficult it can be. I have lived through the pain, rejection, fear and confusion. I know that some days it can take everything we have to hold on to hope. Yet as a veteran, I have come to realize the unique and beautiful blessings of this journey of faith. 

We, the SUMites, have learned to pray. We have gained great faith as well. And our hope in Jesus soars above so many others who are of faith. During this season of miracles, take a minute to reflect on what gifts and goodness have been born out of your difficult marriage. 

I know that I would not have the kind of faith nor the amazing experiences I have with God if I had married a believing spouse. I just know. In fact, it is likely that most of my life I could have leaned on my believing spouse for faith and missed the hard work, perseverance and prayer that are required to move in the gifts of the Spirit that God has honored me with today. 

As I have reflected on this community and the love we have, a story that deeply touched my heart came forward and flooded my soul. So, I want to share it with you again today.

This is worth the time to read. 

November, 2013: (Lynn) Today I have a question for you. How many times have you set down in church and looked around the sanctuary at the couples seated together, husband and wife, and felt defeated, disappointed, and pain? 

I know this place of pain existed in my life for many years. And I really didn’t understand why God was ignoring my prayers and my pleas for the salvation of my husband. And why He didn’t see my pain and longing for a “normal” Christian home. 

That was until about two years ago and I heard a woman share her personal story and as I listened it changed everything. Today, I’m sharing this story with you so that you might understand a little more, about the heart of our Father, and His love for us, the unequally yoked. 

Two years ago I was part of the leadership team for our church’s annual women’s retreat. Prior to the retreat, the leadership team would meet once a week for eight weeks on a Wednesday evening and have Bible study together. Every other week, the team welcomed a guest speaker, an ordinary woman from our congregation. 

Well on this particular night, we welcomed Carol Mahaney. And Carol proceeded to tell her story. And it’s likely the rest of the women in the room were moved a bit by her story, but I was leveled to the ground, in my spirit. 

You see, Carol married her high school sweetheart. He was a believer. She was a believer. They attended church together every Sunday. They tithed, they studied the Bible, they prayed together, they were everything I dreamed and hoped and wanted for my own life. They raised two girls to adulthood as Christians. Carol said she had a wonderful life and she leaned on her husband for everything and she utterly adored him. She said she loved her church family she felt absolutely blessed by God. 

But in 2008, Carol’s husband unexpectedly died. She was devastated. Additionally this was the year that the economy crashed and as Carol had never managed her finances before, she was overwhelmed as her finances were in chaos. Devastated by grief and lost in a maze of paperwork, banking decisions and taxes, she hit bottom and there was no longer a husband to save her. 

Carol looked up and said, “That’s when I met Jesus.” 

I looked at Carol astonished. And I sat in my chair as my head reeled. Carol was 63 years old and she admits in front of all of us that she lived the Christian life with a believing husband for 63 years but at age 63 for the first time she met Jesus. 

What is so compelling about Carol story for me is that she had the life I thought I always wanted. She attended church with her husband, raising her kids in church, tithing, all things Christianeese but she really didn’t meet the King of Kings until she turned 63 years of age. She merely “played” church and her husband’s faith was enough for her…….. 

For 63 years….. 

Instantly, God moved my spirit. He made me realize that I could have lived a Christian life with a very shallow faith thinking I was doing all the right things but never truly “knowing” Christ. 

I know walking this unequally yoked journey is very difficult. I still have very difficult days. I struggle with my husband’s media choices, I still miss him by my side at church, etc. BUT I would choose this journey again over the life Carol had until age 63 because I truly know Jesus. 

I grieved for Carol because for 63 years she “lived” the Christian life or so it seemed. But it wasn’t until the death of her spouse and a personal crisis that brought her into of living vibrant relationship with Jesus. 

My friends, our difficulties are what God has given us to push us, pull us, help us to surrender and to seek Him out for rescue, and then to live in His Presence. As I think about Carol’s life and marriage, it isn’t worth it to have a marriage that is easy if it means that I live most of my life without truly knowing Jesus. 

I would sign up again for this unequally yoked thing, over 63 years of playing “church.” 

I’m convinced we will truly see that our challenging marriage is singularly, a divine assignment with generational ramifications, for us and our entire family and more people than we realize. 

1 John 3:1  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

I love you so much my friends. Today, don't doubt God loves you and that He has your life in His hands. Ask Him where you need to surrender and ask Him how to love Him more. 

God is good and His ways are always best for His children. Hugs, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


A Table Set For Victory

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here.

I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting  on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.

As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

TABLE BEFORE ENEMIES*Photo credit: Loving Grace Ministries

Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.

That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"

I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!

I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)

Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!

Let us lift our voices in one accord today:

I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


My Husband Changed After I Said This

From our archives, articles which remain relevant for the spiritually mismatched marriage.

This post is part III in this series. Click on Part I and Part II to read the precursors to this article. This was originally posted on April 20, 2012.

*****

Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs  

A few months ago I was emailing back and forth to a friend of mine whose husband is a reader of atheist blogs. She was in such pain and in a quandary as to how to cope. Now I don’t pretend to have all the answers for each individual situation. I can only share what has worked in my life and marriage. 

Let me say that I love this young mom and wife. She is in the midst of fiery battles daily and is yet living for Jesus under tremendous persecution from her own spouse. And to add to the dynamics of her situation is how she is hard-wired, she hates confrontation. Many of us would go to great lengths to avoid confronting anyone let alone our spouse who holds a great deal of power to hurt us. 

I shared with my friend that there comes a time when we must say to our spouse that we are partners in marriage. That what our spouse believes does not diminish what we hold true. It’s appropriate to call them out and ask for our due respect as a spouse and a partner in the relationship. We must stand up and tell them that the words they speak against our faith are disrespectful and truly not what builds a marriage relationship. I know I advised her to tell her husband that she expected him to refrain from speaking about her faith and promise him that she would do the same about his atheist beliefs. 

Okay, that’s one take. For me, my moment of truth came unexpectedly. It was many years ago and I remember it clearly still today. 

My husband was angry. He was so riled up about my growing faith that he was constantly throwing arguments up for me to discount or contradict. He told me that I was foolish and that my faith embarrassed him. He was absolutely mystified that I, an intelligent woman, would ever even consider believing in a god. 

He was adamant and determined to “prove” to me God did not exist. 

At this point in our marriage, we had been down all these roads. You know, the paths of trying to defend my faith from a science point of view. Defending the truth of the Bible. Discussing intelligent design. Debates about the fossil record. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Etc. etc. etc. 

My friends, I’ve had every conceivable conversation so if you feel like you are all alone in this, I know exactly how you feel. 

Okay, after years and years of debate, conflicts and arguments with each of us trying to convince the other of the error in their thinking, I finally gave up. 

Whew! What a relief. 

What follows is the simple conversation that seemed to finally help my husband accept my faith. Here we go. 

Me: Honey, why does it matter so much to you that I believe in God? My faith doesn’t make me stupid.

Him: I does too matter. (He states in great anger and frustration I might add.)

Me: But why? Why does it matter?

Him: Because you are living a lie.

Me: But how do you KNOW that I am wrong? You don’t know for sure. And let’s say that at the end of it all, we die and nothing happens. No heaven. No hell. We just cease to exist like you presume.

What I know is that I lived a life that was morally strong. I lived a life filled with joy. I have many friends who I love and who love me. I have given of myself to this world to make it a better place. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy. 

Him: (silence) 

Now there is likely more to this conversation but I just don’t remember what happened after that. However, the dynamics in our marriage relationship changed upon that conversation. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy……. 

The key to this kind of conversation is waiting until they are truly ready to hear it. He was ready that day. 

Pray that the Lord will give you several things to equip you to walk this journey. 

  • First, that He and YOU seal your mind, heart and soul in the truth of your identity. Know who you are in Christ. 
  • Second, pray for courage, Joshua courage to step up to the task of confronting immature behavior and words toward your faith. 
  • Three, pray for discernment and wisdom and for an opening to have a conversation with your spouse. God loves to honor those prayers. 

Identity
Courage
and an open door. 

And this very day, I also give you dominion over your delete key. Decide today that you will not allow your husband to be used by the enemy to create doubt. Reject the fiery darts of the enemy. Live in joy. As Beth Moore says, “JOY, is our birthright in Christ.” 

Live victoriously and let the enemy quake with fear and the atheist blogs go wild, because we are children of the Most High God and NO ONE CAN TOUCH THAT. 

Be blessed, Lynn

If God had picture

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


Unequally Yoked and Disappointment

Last Tuesday as I zipped my travel bag closed and was about to drive to the airport, my iPhone buzzed.

Your flight has been delayed. Your new departure time is……

My mind screamed… We will miss our connection.

I scrambled about on the internet. There were no other flights available. Reality came crashing in. Tomorrow was one of the busiest travel days of the year. Nothing available tomorrow either. Everything was booked.

I sat in the chair in my bedroom and a reluctant memory of 30 years prior came rolling back into my mind. This same scenario was playing out all over again. A much-anticipated trip home, to Colorado, for the holidays. Cancelled and my joy ruined, and gloom overtook my heart. I truly didn’t know how to process the deep grief of my unmet expectations, dreams and hopes.

I realized that thirty years ago, I was visited by a wicked marauder…. Disappointment. And it has been a steady tormentor for years.

I know the cancellation of a trip is trivial when compared to a cancer diagnosis, world hunger, or lost souls. But for me, this demon has rendered great destruction upon my heart.

Disappointment has met me in turn, throughout my married life. Most of us SUMites walk this road of disenchantment. Our dreams of attending church with our spouse dissolve sometime early on in marriage. Unity in faith, raising kids as believers, tithing, praying together, these are only a few of battlefields where we’ve fought then were left bloodied and bereft of spirit. This demon, when left to propagate, invites in other invaders such as disillusionment, regret, unforgiveness and finally bitterness.

The only hope for us as Christians is to cut the head off the snake with truth.

Surrender…. I give the Lord my broken hopes and dreams. I cry. I sometimes pout. I’m often angry.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. —James 4:7

Repent….. Oh, this humanity thing is really hard at times. I really, really, really don’t want to give up what I want… But because of Christ… I CAN DO ALL THINGS! I rid my mind of the anger and lost hopes and broken expectations.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

Thanks….. Giving thanks and appreciating what I DO have already realigns my heart and then my emotions and head will follow.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. —Psalm 100:4

Restore….. I ask the Lord to show me in the situation where I could have done better and what was wrong or what occurred by the enemy’s hand.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. —1 Peter 5:10

Wisdom…. Lord, let me see all of this through your eyes. This is when the GLORY comes. I see my disappointment, the people involved and the circumstances through lenses of grace, mercy, glory and revelation. WHOA! This is when I can see the broken people. I see my husband and his fears when he turns down my invitation to church. I view those who are nasty in line at the store as fallen children of God who are crying inside. I behold those situations that were caused by demonic forces such as Chaos, lawlessness, pride, selfish ambition.

I choose to believe God will provide in every situation, even in the circumstances which He doesn’t provide a way through in the moment. When He says NO. He has a reason and I know that He will gladly explain in time.

I don’t know what demon holds you back but for me, disappointment rears its head often. Determined to make me recant my declarations of faith.

BUT IT WILL NOT HAPPEN! Even in the disappointment…. I remain faithful for God has been faithful to me. All of my life.

Interestingly, thirty years later as I sat in the chair dreading calling my mom and my daughter who was already on an airplane headed to Colorado, God showed up.

He whispered into my ear, “Not this time.”

My husband, a medallion frequent flyer, called the airline. A small miracle ensued. They booked us a departing flight on a different airline, on the second busiest flying day of the year. There was space and not only that, we were able to sit together on both segments out of California and into Colorado.

Whatever you are facing, God is in it with you. The answer may be yes. It may be no. It may be not now. But…… GOD IS IN IT!

My goal is that they (believers) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. —Colossians 2:2-3

Some pics from our visit to Colorado:

IMG_1381

IMG_1380

IMG_1353

IMG_1354

IMG_1420

IMG_1405
ya, that's a 90 foot drop behind her. NUTS!
image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-11-26/20e84046-3c38-4ce6-8d53-1b698eb4f1ca.png
Lynn, Caitie, Mike

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


A Note for the SUM Thanksgiving Tablecloth

Hi everyone, Ann here, I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving break!  SUM thanksgiving

I always love Lynn’s story of the Thanksgiving table-cloth, and this time it hit me even more: I seemed to hear God say ‘Get a mountain-sized table cloth ready!’  This is for us: Over time, I know our SUM community will have many thankful comments to share, many mountains that move, and many things to write. In some ways, this blog is our own communal giant tablecloth of thanks!

Anyway, I have one piece of thanks to add today, and it’s a cool story. I hope it will encourage any of you who hope to get to this year’s SUM Summit, because – get this – two weeks ago my husband and I sat together and booked my flight there -- A trip that will not cost me a penny. True story!!

Here’s how it happened:

When Lynn first started talking about the summit, a little thought bubbled up for me that hadn’t happened the previous time there was a conference. This thought was that I was to go, and that God would provide. With a big dose of optimism, then, I went onto our Facebook group and said:

“For the summit let's believe in miracles!” 

It would take a miracle indeed. I live in New Zealand, a 12-hour flight away, and can only leave my children for a few days. That wasn’t the most difficult aspect though: How on earth would I explain to my husband that I want to fly twelve hours for this?!  In his eyes it could be weird, and given the content, even slightly offensive.

A couple of hours after writing on the Facebook page, I found myself needing to do a bank transaction. This is something I do often, but that day I noticed something I’d previously ignored. At the very bottom of the screen there was a $$$ figure with the label “True Rewards”.  My husband and I had been collecting these reward points ever since we got married almost 20 years ago but ignoring them. My jaw dropped as I realized that we had over a thousand dollars in points, I could spend them at a travel agent and I had a way to California!

Wow.

This still left a hard part, though. I had to talk to my husband about it. I looked up tickets to L.A., and my heart sank. At US$1,300 the points would cover it but it was so much money for a 2-day trip. Shouldn’t I spend it on something we could enjoy together instead?

Time passed and Lynn announced the date. At this point, out of the blue my husband started mentioning these points for the first time in years, suggesting we buy a kettle with them!  Wanting to shout “No!” at him, “Don’t spend those points!!!” I figured God was dropping me a hint to pluck up the courage and ask.

It took a few days, but I finally did it. My husband has a kind heart, but our faith difference is not an easy situation for us. Nevertheless, he looked straight back at me with an affectionate smile and said, “Sure.”  Just like that.

Later, he surprised me again, “Come on then, let’s book it now,” he said. “Okay,” I squeaked, still feeling self-conscious. This was where one more surprise awaited: We went online to see that ticket prices had halved since I last checked, now being only $600. This meant that there would be points left over for transport and accommodation for me, and – better still -- enough points for my husband to get something nice for himself.

I know I’m to thank God for this, but I also feel gratitude for my husband's good heart. Today I have my thanksgiving going and am believing in more.

So, thank you, Gillian, for inspiring us with your story last week, and thank you, Alyssa, for sharing yours in last week’s comments. Both those stories help my faith in all this. These are three stories for our tablecloth of thanks representing three mountains that moved, and there will be more. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

Let's keep believing!  Share in the comments what you're hoping for, and let's pray for this summit.

Ann

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


Share Your Thanksgiving

SUMites,

As millions of us take time to give thanks to the Lord this week, I thought it would be so cool to share a scripture verse. Share a verse that you are thankful for and how the verse impacted your life.

Who knows, perhaps your verse will help someone else.

So this thanksgiving I'm thankful for:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:7

I can’t count the number of times as a young mom, something would scare me in the middle of the night. I would sit upright and speak this verse out-loud over and over until fear left!

I’m so thankful for the powerful Word of the Lord. SHARE YOUR VERSE IN THE COMMENTS!

Happy Thanksgiving. I love you, SUMite Family! Be Blessed, Lynn

Give Thanks SUM

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


A Tablecloth of Thanks 2018

 Every year I share a wonderful tradition that I began when my daughter was little, A Tablecloth of thanks. I’m reprinting the story today for all the new readers.

It’s never too late to begin a tradition of faith. And this one is perfect for believers and our pre-believers as well. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. I am so very thankful for all of you. Hugs, Lynn

-----

Tablecloth of Thanks 

Many of you know that I am married to an unbeliever. This past May we celebrated 15 years of marriage. Our unequally yoked marriage has had its challenges to say the least. Over the years, however, our ingenious God has maneuvered us through many touchy issues. 

Our disparity becomes more apparent during the holidays. Giving thanks to our Lord in November is a treasured time for me. I name my blessings one-by-one in prayer, thanking God for His lavish abundance poured into our lives. 

Like most wives living in an unequally yoked marriage, I long for my spouse to understand there is a God. To know He is intricately involved in our lives and everything we have is provision of our creator. I have also learned that forcing God upon my husband is a surefire way to push him away. I am careful to respect my husband and simply trust Jesus to reach him in his perfect timing. 

In spite of my husband’s unbelief, I discovered a unique way to draw him into the celebration of thanks, besides through his stomach. He loves turkey. 

Four years ago, I threw a new, pristine-white tablecloth across our dinning room table two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. I purchased several colored pens and placed them on top. A new tradition was born, a Tablecloth of Thanks. It began with my daughter. I told her, “I WANT you to write on this tablecloth.” She looked at me with skepticism in her eyes, wondering if her mother had lost her mind. 

“Really,” my smiled reassured. “Write down what you are most thankful for this year. Then write the year, 2004, near your name.” 

She grinned and began to write using several different colors. I joined in and wrote my thanks directly on the beautiful tablecloth. 

Later that evening my husband noticed the scribbles on the tablecloth. I watched as he walked over to read our words. I walked to his side and took his hand. I subtly asked him if he would also write down his thanks. He smiled and said maybe later. 

Finally on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, my husband picked up a pen and wrote; I am thankful for my wonderful family, great friends, and a very happy life. 

Wow! Was he giving thanks to our Lord? I am not sure. However, every year since he has continued to write a thankful list. Last year’s entry reads; I am thankful for all of my blessings…family, friends, and the dogs. 

Imported Photos 00001What? Did he use the word blessings? Small steps such as these lead to the Savior. I can’t wait to read his thankful list this year. 

The Thankful Tablecloth is one of my most prized possessions. Everyone who visits our home during the Thanksgiving holiday contributes to this permanent memorial of thanks. It is a visible praise to the King displayed in our unequally yoked home each November. 

One of my favorite thanks is this: 

2006
I am thankful
to be able to sit
on the couch and have
my people pet me.
Peanut 

Hmmmm, I wonder how the dog grew fingers and learned to write???? 

Psalm 69:30 (NIV)
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

 

Lord God, I will name my blessings one-by-one….. Jesus… eternal life…. clean water to drink…..capacity to love…..empowerment to forgive….. just for a start….. 

It is never too late to start a new tradition. If you want to start your Tablecloth of Thanks, I have a few helpful hints.

  1. Place a sheet of butcher paper under your tablecloth. (I have a permanent smiley face on my dinning room table from the year 2005)

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


Do You Need a New Recipe For Stuffing Your Heart?

Turkey-966494__480By Martha Bush

It's that time of the year again - - a time we set aside on the calendar for "stuffing the turkey" and "giving thanks for our blessings." We pull out our recipes, head to the grocery store to buy the ingredients needed for stuffing the big bird, and the cooking preparations begin. When Thanksgiving Day arrives, families gather together, have a time of giving thanks, and then carve the stuffed turkey waiting on the platter. For just a brief moment in time, most of us capture the true meaning of "giving thanks unto the Lord" on Thanksgiving Day, no matter what kind of trials we have been through during the year.

But, what about the day after Thanksgiving--“if you could actually put your heart on a platter like the stuffed turkey, what would you see stuffed inside that might rob you of a thankful heart throughout the year?"

I don’t know about you, but every now and then, I have to do a little soul searching. Well-----to be honest, I feel a nudge of conviction from the Holy Spirit that suggests I need to change the recipe for what is stuffed inside my heart. He then begins to talk with me about it, as He did recently, in a down-to-earth language just like other conversations we have together.

Complaining Attitude

“You remind me, Martha, of one of those stiff-necked Israelites--complain, complain, complain. “Ain't it Awful What Has Happened to Me!” You know, there is a big difference between a complaint born out of a real need verses a complaining attitude. The kind of complaining you have been doing has trapped you into seeing yourself as a perpetual victim, not more than a conqueror through me, which has left no room in your heart to give me thanks.”  (Me: And I thought I was completely justified in what I was complaining about.)

Facebook

“Remember the golden calf that the Israelites made to worship? Well, Martha, I wouldn’t say you have gone that far with your facebook antics, but you are getting close. I know you have friends and relatives in faraway places that I really do want you to stay touch with. But, you seem to thrive on seeing when people get up in the morning, when they go to the restroom, who has a broken romance, who needs an egg on Farmville, and so you scroll and scroll and scroll. As a result, you are using up precious time that could be used to give thanks for your blessings, not to mention using facebook as a tool for ministry to go into all the world.”  (Me: Facebook used for ministry? Who would have thought?)

Self-righteous Attitude

“Now, let’s talk about your self-righteous attitude toward your unsaved husband. You have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing alllll his flaws, but you seem to have none.  Give thanks for the good qualities that you see in him, and not the other stuff. Remember, it is not my will that any should perish, but that all will come into repentance, including your so-called flawed unbeliever.”  (Me: But, Lord-------he is just so---never mind.)

Your Time Table

“Isn’t it about time that you put down that time table you are clutching for the manifestation of promises I have made to you? My Word is Yea and Amen; in MY appointed time, they shall come to pass. In the meantime, be thankful that I have never left you in any season of your life.   (Me: "I know, I know, but do I have to wait as long as Abraham and Sarah?")

Giving Offerings

“You have always been good at tithing. But, may I break it to you gently--you are about as stingy as they come with giving offerings to those in need. Why your husband is more generous than you are! Don’t you know that insomuch as you have given to the least of my brethren, you have given to me? And as you give, thanksgiving just floods your heart---there is no greater joy than giving to those in need.  (Me: Yes, I am beginning to find that one out!)

"Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!!”

And so, I pulled myself up by the bootstrap, confessed my sins with a promise that with His help, I would stuff my heart with a new recipe, and strive to have a heart of thanks all year long. 

As usual, I just had to have the last word in my conversation with the Lord., and so I said:  "If I may say so myself, there are three things that I am eternally thankful for, and for the most part, give thanks for them every day.

  1. Your gift of salvation
  2. Lynn Donovan and this ministry. Lynn has brought me a lonnnnnng way in this spiritual mismatched marriage and for that I am thankful every day of the year. And through her, I have had the privilege of being in contact with my Sumite friends from around the world.
  3. My own SUM group in Orange, Texas. These ladies have blessed me tremendously for the past 7 years, and I am so thankful for each one of them."

 

  Thanksgiving-dinner-2018

Happy Thanksgiving from your SUMITE Sisters in Orange, Texas.  Here we are at  our monthly meeting in my home, November 4th with a Thanksgiving Feast and giving thanks to our Lord.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


SUMite Update - MUST HEAR VIDEO

SUMite Nation:

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been balancing three speaking engagements this past week and I have laryngitis. Yesterday afternoon I was going to cancel my talk: Maintaining Your Healing Following Prayer. But at 2 pm, (the meeting began at 4) the Lord said, “Get up and I will heal you as you are speaking.” WOW!

Suddenly I was filled with energy. Jumped in the shower and gave a powerful talk, equipping believers with tools to walk further into their healing. I was able to speak clearly and then prayed with several and watched God release His love and fire!!!  It was awesome.

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I want to let you know that the Lord said that I should hold off with the SUMite Summit registration until January. He said the momentum will be lost in the busy of the Holidays.

Following our community fast on January 14th, I will open registration. I will also provide airport information, travel websites, hotel accommodations, a Facebook travel group to coordinate airport pickups and more. I will also have the tentative agenda and the catering information. I’ve already confirmed a worship team… We are confirmed for April 5 & 6, 2019. And already most of the SUM Leadership has committed to attend Woo Hoo!! If you must make arrangements prior to January, please email me and I will give you the airport information.

The Lord said to ask each of you to be aware of how He will be bringing the funds into your life to pay for your journey (Christmas money, birthday, a gift of air-miles, ask your mom. Ask your Dad, Ask Jesus!!!!!

Already, Ann Hutchison, has a powerful story of provision that she will share in the future. Ann lives in New Zealand!!  Say what????

And, if you think it’s impossible to attend, then just listen to this story. This is Gillian Russel Meisner. Her story will blow you out of the water. She traveled from Nova Scotia to Houston, Texas, 2,499.3 mi. She traveled with a baby. She left her home and trusted God to get her there.

YOU MUST LISTEN. This will break every lie that you can’t get to our spring summit. Hallelujah!!

Also, Diane Woody, we acknowledge the passing of your husband over the weekend. Please know we are surrounding you with love and with our prayers of support and compassion in your pain. Love, Lynn and SUMite Nation

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


Abiding and Abounding

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Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello SUMite friends, Ian from Down Under here.

I keep bumping into a recurring theme of how to do this Christian life well. I’ve probably made reference to it in previous posts. It has two elements to it, and different people use different terms to describe these elements. A nun I listened to a few years back described a typical day as consisting of time for ‘contemplation’ and then time for ‘action’ ending the day with more of the former. 

Interestingly, if you studied a typical day Jesus lived we would probably find that’s how His day would be broken into. What’s critical is that a good life includes both elements.

Recently I came across an alternative description: ‘abiding’ and ‘abounding’ which are taken from two key New Testament verses: 

John 15:4 (NRSV) – Jesus says, Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) – Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

I think we all broadly understand the notion of abiding, of staying close to Jesus. The notion of abounding similarly is relatively straight forward, of doing the work of the Lord. One might suggest it’s hard to do the latter without the former but I think we all know from experience it’s often easier to do the ‘doing’ without spending any time ‘being’.

Tension Between the Two 

John Ortberg who was the one that brought this new moniker to my attention reflected on the tension between the two. It was a fact of life and we even see evidence of it in Jesus’ life when He was torn between doing more or spending time in quiet contemplation with the Father. 

We’re often implored to have ‘balance’ in life, aren’t we? Sometimes we’re even made to feel bad because life is nowhere near being balanced. Right? But I’ve been thinking that life is more about ‘seasons’. There will be ‘seasons’ when we do more of something and other ‘seasons’ when we do more of something else. Think of those weeks and months after having a baby, for example. Or those times when we had major projects to complete or exams to study for. Trying to achieve any semblance of ‘balance’ is simply not possible and why overlay ourselves with additional burden of feeling guilty about being imbalanced.

Yes, the Sabbath is very important to God and so it should be to us to. By that I mean doing it not just believing in it. So we should seek to incorporate regular times of rest in our schedules.

“Anyone seeking to have a long obedience in the same direction needs a regular rhythm of stopping.” (Rich Villodas)

Realistically there are likely to be seasons when we abide more and other seasons when we abound more. But remember there is always going to be a tension between the two and that’s okay. That’s normal. 

Systems

What I particularly appreciated in Ortberg’s outline was the importance of implementing systems in our lives to both ‘abide’ and ‘abound’.  Many of us will be more naturally inclined to do one or the other but a ‘system’ will help create healthy habits to implement the one we’re less inclined to do. 

I’m actually more inclined to spend time ‘abiding’ but am learning how to be more ‘active’ in doing the work of the Lord. BTW, I don’t think this necessarily means we need to be adding more things to our already busy schedules rather taking advantage of opportunities around us to “love in action”. Always remember the families we love are our closest “neighbors” when reflecting upon “loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.” It’s easy to forget that. Our homes are where we can actively demonstrate "love in action". 

A critical aspect to abiding is to get away from the noise within our individual worlds. That enables us to hear God. A healthy habit or discipline that enables us to disrupt all the stuff running through our minds is a positive thing.

“Uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing.” (Eugene Peterson)

I walk Beanie, one of our dogs every morning and night. It’s a wonderful time for me to ‘withdraw’ and free my mind. Interestingly, in the afternoon or night it can be the most productive time for me to get new inspiration for story ideas or for work. And that’s because I’ve switched my mind off from all the other stuff and simply focused on the one thing. 

In the morning though I try to start by looking up at the sky and praising the Lord for the day. Most days it’s sunny where I am so the morning sunshine is an easy thing to praise God for. Then I will pray Psalm 23 and meditate on each line. It’s a really soothing Psalm and so powerful in drawing us close to the Lord, our Shepherd. More often than not this will lead me to start praying for people or things in my life that I sense the Lord has put on my heart. It’s quote normal for me to start conversing with the Lord where we chat. About all sorts of things. I love these times.

But what we’re trying to do is give ourselves the opportunity to hear from God.

Similarly, with abiding we need to implement a system or discipline that help us to “abound in the work of the Lord”. I’ve already gone on too long so I might leave discussion of what this looks like for next time.

Where do you find the most tension between abiding and abounding (or contemplation vs action)? How do you go about creating some space to abide with the Lord during your day?

Blessings, my friends.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


Elections and Peace

I voted 2018SUMite Nation:

Tomorrow in America many will go to the polls to vote. Please pray for our nation because the potential for rage, distrust, destruction, and lawlessness looms high. (These are all demonic principalities, by the way.)

Our local friends who know Mike and I, always joke around election time that we cancel out each other’s votes. I might be a bit more conservative and Mike is far and away, liberal.

Ya, just another area in our lives where we are mismatched.

I know I’m not alone in this kind of a mismatch. So, for those of us who are trying to avoid arguments over candidates, issues, and government in general, I bless you today with peace.

Be the peace maker.

I know that many marriages on Tuesday will feel additional strain because the political climate is volatile and highly charged.

I know for me, I MUST press into the power of the Holy Spirit in some matters of faith and politics and bite my tongue. I believe because I’ve been spiritually mismatched for a number of years, I’ve learned to do this with discernment, wisdom, and with revelation. I simply choose not to discuss matters that will blow up.

The truth is, my husband is set in his beliefs. And, I’m firmly set in mine as well. I view everything that I do, think, and believe, through the lens of the Bible and that carries over to my voting stance as well. What is interesting, however, it that I am at peace. I don’t feel the need to try to convince my husband in faith matters and that goes for voting as well.

Jesus is the one who changes hearts, souls, votes, and nations!!  Hallelujah!! 

We, the SUMites, have learned to walk this journey in peace and acceptance. We love people. We can live peaceably with our pre-believer, with those we differ in faith and politics. We MUST be the model to show this world that the divisiveness doesn’t win hearts or souls.

It’s our love!

Please vote.

On Friday, I will have an announcement. Stay tuned. I LOVE YOU, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.


MORE THAN I COULD HAVE ASKED OR IMAGINED!

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-10-21/c226824b-9256-423e-bfb7-e2ae2cfe4502.png
Shelley Cruze with Husband and Son

By  SUMite, Shelley Cruz

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home but walked away from God as a teenager because I thought that I was missing out on all the fun in life. I married, started my career, bought a home with my husband and had two babies. After 12 years of living for myself, I finally realized that the “fun” and all the other things I used to fill the void were leaving me feeling empty. I knew what I was missing was a relationship with Jesus and in 1996, I rededicated my life to Him. I wanted my children to know Jesus and began to teach them and brought them to church with me. I longed for my husband to know Christ, so I began praying for him.  

Soon after, he began coming to church with me, but it became quickly became apparent that he was only coming to make me happy and to present a unified front to our kids. It was clear that his heart was closed, and it was difficult to have hope. Thankfully, my family and the women in my small group prayed for his salvation too and encouraged me not to give up! So, I continued to pray.

Over the years, I saw seeds being planted in his life with different situations he was in and people that were put into his life; I knew God was at work. However, after many, many years of praying with no change, I would get so discouraged and I’d wonder if this prayer would ever be answered.

And yet, things got even tougher. By the time our son hit the 9th grade, he became very rebellious. At age 17, the problems had come to a climax.  He was out of control and involved all kinds of risky behavior. Our lives were in total chaos due to the constant issues that would consume us, and I felt desperate for God’s wisdom on what to do.  

Unfortunately, it is often hardship that motivates us to want to pray continually. I also was feeling frustrated and disappointed in myself in my spiritual journey. Although I was going to church regularly, involved in Bible study and ministry, I often was inwardly consumed with worry and fear about my son, and sadness and discouragement about my husband. So, I used exercise, entertainment and busyness as distractions.

God began to show me that although I was doing many of the right things as a Christian, I wasn’t doing what was most important, which was spending time every single day in prayer and reading my Bible. My spiritual “roots” were not that deep. I had allowed other things to become first place in my life.

So, I began to make prayer and Bible reading a habit, the first thing I did each morning. I journaled, even the small answers to prayer I was seeing in my life. This began to encourage me as I saw God WAS answering my prayers by giving me peace, wisdom and direction. As I began to make time for God and talk to Him regularly, I found something: my attitude about Bible reading and prayer changed. My desire for that time with the Lord became something I wanted to do instead of something I should do.

Unfortunately, things continued to spiral out of control with our son.  After trying everything we could think of, God helped lead my husband and I to the decision to send our son to a camp for struggling teens. Our hearts were completely broken. This was the most difficult decision we’ve ever had to make, and the next four months were very painful. During the time he was gone, I could see things were starting to change for my husband. His heart was softening to spiritual things. He now wanted to come to church with me regularly, he wanted to read the Purpose Driven Life book that had been sitting on our bookshelf for 10 years, and he was touched by the outpouring of prayer, love and support by the Christians that were in our life.  

Four months later, our son came back from camp and although it was stressful and there were many adjustments, it was clear that he was on a better track. I was so thankful that God had given us direction to make this huge decision. This had truly been an answer to prayer. However, now that life was manageable, it seemed like nothing was happening anymore in my husband and I again felt discouraged. 

Two months later, we were driving home from San Diego and my husband suddenly turned to me and said, “I’ve made a decision to believe”.  I was in total shock…. I asked him if he meant that he had accepted Christ into his heart, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Yes, I have.” Needless to say, I could barely speak for the next 10 minutes as tears poured down my face…. WHAT A MIRACLE, AFTER 18 YEARS OF PRAYING FOR HIM. It made me realize that God had been working all along, even though most of the time, I couldn’t see anything. 

Our lives have not been the same since! God has truly transformed our marriage.  The spiritual and emotional intimacy that I had longed for all those years is finally here and God is the center of our marriage.  

I am so thankful that our prayers have been answered with our son and he has changed the direction of his life. God has healed our relationship with him, he has a job and just graduated from university in May!

Over the last five years since he made the decision to believe, I have watched God change my husband from the inside out. Although he was a good man before, I’ve seen God transform his heart, his desires, his actions and his purpose for his life. We serve in ministry together teaching spiritual growth classes at our church. We lead a small group in our home, he is part of a men’s group, serves in several other ministries at church, and we plan to go on our first mission trip together next Spring. God has answered my prayers so far above and beyond what I could have imagined! God has also given me a new ministry supporting and encouraging other women who are also in spiritually mismatched marriages.  He truly uses our pain for a purpose!

Maybe you have been praying for your husband for a very long time. Maybe you are getting discouraged and wondering if God is listening, or if anything is happening. If you are praying, please don’t give up! God is at work when we pray even if we don’t see it, miracles do happen!  

Shelley Cruze Family
Cruz Family!

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

MAJ Cover 100 size Thumb

Lynn has wonderfully mapped out the steps we all need to walk through to develop and grow this vital relationship with Him. This was the Lord’s intent for her transformation journey all along, and His intent for you too. Here she has spelled out the spiritual truths behind the principles and talked us through how she applied them. These truths are universally applicable to us all, though as the details of our lives, situations and hearts will be different, we will apply them differently. - Reader Review from Barnes & Noble.