Previous month:
September 2019
Next month:
November 2019

11 entries from October 2019

The Gift of Hospitality

By Martha Bush


As a child growing up on a farm in Southwest Georgia, it was not uncommon for family and friends to drop in for an unexpected visit.  It was also not uncommon for my mother to greet them at the door with a smile on her face and say: “Come on in. Y’all just sit down and talk to Roy, (my daddy) and I will have supper ready in one hour.”

And, as they would say in Georgia: “I guarantee you that in one hour flat,” a spread would be on her table, consisting of three vegetables, 2 meats, macaroni and cheese, and oh yeah, fried corn bread. Guests would remark:  “My goodness gracious! I never met anybody that could whip up this much vittles in such a short period of time.”

What really amazed me was that Mother never sat down to eat with her guests. She was up serving them - filling their tea glasses before it got empty, and continuously saying: “Y’all eat now, you hear! I’ve got plenty more food left in the pots on the stove.”

And then there were her favorite times of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, my goodness!  She baked tons of finger-licking goodies and cakes on top of cakes, just in case, as she would say, “Company might drop in.” 

Yes, Mother definitely had The Gift of Hospitality.

People with this gift can be described as:

  1. provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for
  2. meet new people and help them feel welcome
  3. create a comfortable setting where relationships can develop
  4. set people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings
  5. friendly, outgoing, trusting, sociable and relational caring
  6. they are the greeters at church, the potluck host, hospitality dinner team leader.   (Adapted from Cyber-Space Ministries)

During each holiday season, the people with The Gift of Hospitality just seem to “kick it up a notch,” as the famous chef, Emeril, would say.  They don’t mind -they love it!  It is their passion to serve. And, we ALL get to enjoy their gift.

Back to my Mother - she transitioned from this earth to heaven in 2017. During the last few years of her life, her body no longer allowed her to cook and serve the way it once did. Often I heard her say: “It just kills me that I can’t cook up a big meal like I used to and have a crowd of people sitting around my table.

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday season, somehow I believe Mother is “kicking it up a notch” in heaven now that her old bones have been healed upon her arrival. What a Thanksgiving spread she must be preparing to fix for all the heavenly hosts.

I also believe that she has her eyes on those Pearly Gates waiting for all her family and friends to arrive. I can just hear her saying as loved ones enter into heaven joining her: “Come on in. Y’all sit here and talk to Roy and Jesus, and I will have supper ready in one hour.”

Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother’s cooking genes, especially baking. But, I just have to believe that God places within all of us a touch of The Gift of Hospitality – some more than others perhaps. Why? It just sort of emulates God’s love and compassion. During His public ministry, Jesus and His disciples depended entirely on the hospitality of others as they ministered from town to town.

Do not take gold, or silver, or [even] copper money in your money belt,

10 or a provision bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff;

for the worker deserves his support. (Matthew 10:9-10 AMP)

My dear SUMite friends, during this Thanksgiving season, may we look for areas within our family and friends in which we can serve. Let’s join together in prayer for one another to make it a time to emulate God’s love and compassion, especially to our unsaved loved ones.

For starters, I have already set my table, (see image) and got my cornbread dressing cooked and in the freezer.


Let's talk in the comments:

1.  Name some ways you can emulate God's love and compassion during this season, especially to your unsaved loved ones.

2. If you have concerns of relating well with some of your friends or relatives who will be sitting at your Thanksgiving table, let’s talk it out, and pray about those concerns ahead of time.


What To Do About Halloween?


image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comFor years here at SUM, I've written this post every October. And now after raising my children, I'm asking this question again. Most of you are unaware, but I've been in training, learning how to pray to help those who were traumatized and wounded through Satanic Ritual Abuse. What I've learned about the demonic realm is truly horrific. If I shared with you what I've learned about what they do to children, you would vomit.

Sorry, just being real.

So, I struggle in my heart to know what to write because this day glorifies a being that is so evil, so wicked and filled with hate for children and Christians, I cringe in revulsion.

But I know that on my refrigerator is an invitation to a local neighborhood gathering, that ensues prior to trick-or-treat. And I'll likely attend to spend some time with our neighbors. And oh, my goodness, the costumes. Some of them are just so cute, clever and fun.... some are scary. 

The way I see it, we must keep a sober mind about what happens in the wee hours of the night on October 31st. (The witchcraft is intense. I scarcely can sleep.) And make this season a time of teaching. Help our children to be aware the darkness is real and to help them to overcome their fear and call on the name of Jesus. We must check their candy bags. 

If you walk the neighborhood with your kids, pray over it. Cover the people and homes with the love of Jesus. Bless each home you approach with an awareness of Jesus. Bless the kids. Bless those who come to your door. Release the MOST POWERFUL GOD of the universe into your world this week.

I love you. March on SUMITES... We WIN! Hugs, Lynn

Marriage Devotion - Patty Tower

My spouse is worthy of praise & honor

PATTY tOWER 2018I read an article about a woman in church talking to a couple members about her husband, and everything she spoke out of her mouth regarding her husband was negative. The members began to think negatively about her husband and the character of the man she married. When in reality, she married a good man, but she chose to only focus on the negative.

I reflected on my own actions and thought, “What if my husband spoke to others about me the way I spoke of him? What kind of Christian would I be?” I made a commitment to speak of my husband in a positive light in front of others. And if I ever had an issue with him, I decided I needed to talk to him respectfully about my issues or to seek counsel and wisdom.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:18

Reflection: Think of the last negative thing you said about your spouse and write them here. Ask God for forgiveness and ask him to help you speak about your spouse in a positive light. Pray you will see what God sees. Ask God to remind you that your partner was made in His image and likeness and that he crafted him with godly qualities.

The Christmas Project Planner


Most of you know that I've been friends with author, Kathi Lipp, for years. She writes amazing books that truly improve our lives. Well, a few days ago she sent me a copy of her recent book.

Christmas Project Planner Kathi Lipp

The Christmas Project Planner is amazing. It's beautiful gift to receive and work out of to retain your sanity during the busiest time of year.

Please order your copy at Amazon. And I'm offering a copy as a giveaway. Please enter your name and a comment why you need this book in the comments. I'll choose a winner next Tuesday so that the winner receives the book for November planning. 

Wahoo. God bless you Kathi! 

Waiting Upon the Lord - Chronicles of the Donovan Clan


Lynn here. It appears that this message, wait upon the Lord, continues to rise up before me. And I find myself, smack in the middle, of another classroom with Jesus. So, SUMers, I remain walking this faith journey out. Reaching the pinnacle, Mike’s faith in March, I believed would place me upon firm ground in the Promised Land and struggles would diminish.

Yet, here I find myself learning a number of lessons in quick succession. Most of you don’t know but Mike has been unemployed since May. And now after nearly six months of unemployment, I’ve discovered how I’ve made money a stronghold, even an idol (Forgive me, Father). I’ve looked to a steady paycheck for safety and security. Now you may be wondering over the details about our efforts to find a job. Let me assure you, we have been diligent but I find that we are lingering in this season because we both have many lessons to learn.

I DON’T LIKE WAITING! But everywhere I turn the scriptures pop up. On websites I visit, social media. There is a song on my play list right now: Let’s Wait Upon the Lord! I’ve prayed a lot about waiting and I believe I have heard from the Lord about all of this financial mess.

But, the answer I think I heard is so far out there, so impossible, that with all my years of faith, I’m struggling to grab hold….. and wait for God to move. Because His answer will take time. And I shake my head even writing this because last February when God told me Mike would be baptized, I struggled to believe.

SUMite, you aren’t alone. Waiting is the hardest part of faith. Waiting in the pain. Waiting when your husband is distant and angry at you, at God …. at himself. Waiting for your prodigals to run home. Waiting for the doctor to call. Waiting for your heart to heal. Waiting for the pain to stop.

What is it, my friends, that happens to us in the waiting? Do you know? Can you share with me? Can you encourage me. Encourage someone else. Who has overcome the classroom of waiting? Perhaps our entire journey on earth is learning to love and live…… in the waiting.

Thoughts?   Joining you today in the Marching….. Love, Lynn

Spiritually Mismatched: Been There, Got the Shirt

Ann here!Sumerfly

On this blog, we’ve been through many an adventure. Well, today, I'd like to share an insight God gave me about some of the purpose. I hope what I share will spur you on.

The insight came in the form of a dream I had in 2016. At the time I was a regular here, as were many others we still see here. Lynn and Dineen were our beloved pastors and we leaned on them heavily. That's how it looked in October 2016. Now for my dream:

I saw the SUMites walking forward as a group, wearing matching red t-shirts.

Lynn was walking in the front and middle, championing the group.

On each SUMite's t-shirt was a white butterfly, above the right breast.

The scene shifted to a room where the SUMites were gathered around a table, making these t-shirts for others.

It might seem flaky to talk about dreams, and some are definitely just our brains being silly; but this one felt different and scripture does attest that God uses dreams to convey mysteries. Well, this dream of the red t-shirts did something for me. I'll share a little now of what that was.

First, the dream showed Lynn championing us alone, which I didn't think much of at the time. However, a year later Dineen was called to exciting new pastures. As it was actually quite hard to wave goodbye to Dineen, this aspect of the dream opened my eyes that it was an OK new season.

Second, the dream showed SUMites in matching t-shirts -- Like the phrase, 'Been there, got the T-shirt'. I don't know about you, but I can certainly say that about this walk. Funnily enough, I found a 2011 video clip of Lynn and Dineen looking into the camera, smiling and saying to their audience: “Whatever you’re going through, know that we’ve been through it and got the shirt!” It makes me smile. A decade on, I believe many of us can say to those on the path behind us: "Whatever you're facing, I've been there". It feels so rewarding when I reach out my hand to another and say that. 

But there’s more. In the dream we are wearing red. To me, that speaks of love all over us. How brightly does the fire of the Lord, forged in hard circumstances, burn on us now? I like to think it's visible. And I can't resist telling you that these red t-shirts of love were even pointed to back in 2007 when Lynn, in an October post, posed the question 'What T-shirt are you wearing?' accompanied by a picture of a woman in a red T-shirt deciding whether her T-shirt would be the T-shirt of love. I hope I'm not jumping about too much here for you as readers, but I thought that was cool. 

As for the white butterfly on our right breast, I believe that represents the spouses carried fiercely on our hearts, in the right place. My love for my husband and my knowledge of his Life in Christ is the badge I wear. In fact, I took a trip through my laptop to find a picture of me in a red shirt for this post; and the one photo I found was this one, here. It stood out to me how much I hold him tight.11 IMG_0293

Finally, the dream showed us making t-shirts for others. I believe this to be a key purpose now. In time we reach the point of helping others clothe themselves with love. I wonder if you're finding this? That you're reaching out your strong hands to people who are just beginning their season of being spiritually mismatched? 

Today, here we are three years on from that dream. After 13 years of posts filled with hope, Lynn's husband got baptized in March. The week of that baptism a huge swarm of butterflies migrated across southern California, where Lynn and Mike live. Likewise, a swarm of transformation blows across us.

Foreseeing this transformation back in 2016, Dineen designed the graphic you see on this post. Called the SUMerfly, it represents the change that this community champions. I love it. I love it all.

So, friends, we are growing love, we are carrying transformation, and eventually we will pass that on!

Now for a question: What experiences are you having of encouraging others?

One Flesh: Stop Tugging Me!

By Ann Hutchison One flesh  SUM

I have an analogy that I often use when I begin to feel challenged by spiritual difference in marriage. It’s this: My husband and I are like conjoined twins. We're one flesh.

Does that resonate with you? I pull in one direction, spiritually; he might say ‘No!’ and before we know it we’re yanking and straining, stretched beyond possibility. Sometimes it gets too much; then one of us will yell: “Stop it! Ouch!” Being one flesh, we are knit together intensively.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

Thinking about this whole 'one flesh' thing, I decided to watch a documentary on conjoined twins. It might sound bonkers, but that is genuinely how I feel in spiritual terms. He is my other half. Anyway, others’ paths are good to watch, and wow what a path. In this documentary I was struck by one particular pair who were middle-aged and clearly different to each other. In the documentary, it interested me that they have taken decades to work together. I think a SUM can follow this progression too: with time we get a little gentler.

For example, I look back and cringe thinking about the time I said to my husband, “I’m so lonely being a Christian!” Good one, Ann, how did that make him feel? He threw a shocker back: “You’re a supernatural junkie!” At that, I bawled. These were not our finest days.

There are many curious ways ‘one-flesh’ plays out in a spiritually different marriage. There's the fact our resources are joint. If I spend my time on anything related to God, something at home gets waylaid. Often, the washing up or laundry. We all know that it’s busy running a home, so my use of time matters. Essentially, my stewardship of what God has given me affects my husband.

This one flesh thing is shown here, also:

The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband: and likewise also, the husband hath not power of his own body but the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

Although that verse is about sexual intimacy, it does reveal our conjoined condition.

So far, ok. But now here’s the added curve-ball that has – at points – sent me over the edge: We’re also one with the church (Ephesians 4:16). And how on earth does that work, when our partner doesn’t want in? I genuinely feel a connection with other believers, but it is Catch 22. Are we conjoined triplets: husband, wife, church? One thing's for sure, it's not comfy. Is three a crowd, or a three-fold cord?

Here's one little way I tense up: I can talk about God with other believers until the cows come home. But, when that happens there’s sometimes a check into my spirit. I become mindful of not being too tight with Christian friends at the expense of my husband. I suppose I make sure those friendships fit into my life with him, and this is a balancing act that I think carefully about.

On the topic of Christian friendships, though, I did have an a-ha moment that helped me. It came from Genesis 1:24: God designed a man to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. From this verse I was able to see that my Christian friends are brothers and sisters, but like father and mother they are secondary family compared to my husband. My relationship with him is tops. After God, of course.

Another thing that helped me was this: God made the wife-husband relationship to be physically intimate, which is something no other relationship has. That intimacy tells me something about the degree to which my relationship with my hubby is beyond any other. It’s in my power to protect that secret place that mirrors the intimacy we have with God (Psalm 91:1). And, if I protect that secret place in marriage, I’m honoring God’s design.

So, those are my musings today. I will be the first to say I have made many silly mistakes in my marriage. Bryce and I have been married twenty years now, which is ample time to accumulate successes and some less fine moments. But one flesh we are, and we try to walk it well.

Now over to you, my SUM friends: What challenges does the 'one flesh' condition raise for you, and how do you tackle them?

"I Will Build My Church and the Gates of Hell Shall not Prevail Against it"

By Martha Bush Build-church

Oh, how I wish my husband could have helped me deal with some problems I have faced the past few months. However, it is a topic that I felt I could not talk with my unchurched spouse about.

The topic? Sexual indiscretion among pastoral staff, financial ruin, division in the church body, a mass exodus of hundreds of members--all occurring at the church I have attended for the past 32 years. And, oh yes--the Harvey Flood in 2017 that almost completely destroyed the building, which still has not been fully restored. All of these things happened within a span of 5 years, bringing the average attendance on Sunday morning from 1,200 to 350.

Now, I ask you. "Would you discuss those things with your unchurched spouse--you know the one you have been praying for that he would sit in the pew beside you on Sunday morning?" Honestly, I find myself thinking, "Not now, Lord. It is not a good time for my husband to come to church with me."

To make the points I wish to make from these current church problems of my long-time church, come with me to the time my two (very nervous) teenage daughters and I entered the doors for our first Sunday after a move from across country. The service had already started when we arrived, and we quietly made our way up to the balcony.

The scene looked much like this:

• Awesome praise and worship was taking place.
• A pause in the service allowed people to run all over the church hugging one another.
• Recognition of visitors. We raised our hands, as the people applauded loudly for us.
• The sermon. Something told me as this teacher/pastor spoke, that our move across country was the one where our spiritual lives would forever be changed.
• The sermon ended and the last prayer was prayed. As we opened our eyes, there was a man standing beside my two girls. “Hi, I am the youth pastor; I saw you raise your hand as a visitor. Come with me and let me introduce to our youth group.” That was when my teenage girls’ nerves vanished.

And so it was, we settled in, and as time went on, my girls got involved with the youth, went on many mission trips, and were later married by the two pastors they met the first Sunday morning as teenagers. A firm believer in training his members in their spiritual gifts, the senior pastor opened the doors for me to start teaching Bible study classes.

Unfortunately, things changed after he retired. In just a couple of short years, our church switched from being the lighthouse in our local community to being the gossip of the whole town. It was as if right before our eyes, we were seeing a nursery rhyme unfold.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Shocked, discouraged, lost, confused, and angry were just a few of the emotions the remainder of the flock began experiencing. Nobody seemed to know what to do, or even if the church like Humpty Dumpty, could be put back together again.

My dear SUMite friends, as my own emotions have begun to settle down, my purpose in sharing this situation with you is, not to exploit my own church, but to tell you about lessons I have learned from this experience that might be of help to you should you experience troubled times in your own church body.

1. I was not alone. Just because my unchurched husband was not there for me to deal with church problems, I was not alone. My own SUMITE group rallied around each other during this time. The pastor of The Church Without Doors, Lynn Donovan, prayed for me and our church; Lori and my SUMite Sisters also prayed.

2. Forgive Leaders involved in the downfall.

3. Ask questions. In the future, I will ask questions, and not assume business matters are being taken care of in a Christ-like manner among the board members, etc.

4. Don’t judge those who leave the church during a time of trouble. I confess that I held a lot of resentment toward members who “Jumped Ship,” as I called it, when they believed the ship was sinking, rather than staying and helping rebuild. I could hear the Lord whisper to me: “If you love me, you do what I tell you to do; never mind what others are doing.”

5. Ask the Lord to forgive me and forgive myself for lack of intercession.

6. Shake off discouragement with the words of Jesus: "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  (Matthew 16:18)

That says it all.

Perhaps you have been hurt by your pastor, church board, or members. If you feel you want to share your thoughts, do so, and let’s all work together to help you move forward, so we can do Kingdom work.






My Husband Led the Way

By Martha Bush Footprints-in-sand

May I start off by saying, “My husband is a true southern gentleman.”

He still opens doors for me when we are out, as well as other ladies. He still says, “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” to the elderly; he stills says “thank you” and “please,” and takes care of repairs for the widow down our street. Why? Because that is the way his mama raised him in the little south Georgia town where we both grew up. If he didn’t, she would have taken him “out behind the barn,” as they used to say in Georgia, for a good old fashioned paddling.

Let me hasten to say that I call him a good old southern boy for doing those things, but I am sure it happens in all geographic regions. In fact, I meet many men right here in my great state of Texas, where I have been transplanted, who opens the grocery store door for me. It especially thrills my heart when I see young boys and teenagers doing the same thing.

But, I am using my husband’s courteous ways to show how he recently helped me maneuver my steps at an event we were attending that required a lot of walking to get to the main entrance. As we walked, we passed through areas consisting of deep grass, an old wooden bridge, and narrow sidewalks to get to the entrance.  It was not exactly like a walk in the park.

As we walked, his dialogue to me went something like this:

On the very grassy area, he walked ahead of me, and said, “Watch for small holes, as he pointed to each one of them.”

On the bridge, he moved to my right side and held my arm, saying, “I don’t want you to fall on these wooden planks, so I am going to walk beside you over the bridge.”

On the sidewalk, he moved behind me saying, “This is too narrow for us to walk side-by-side, but it is smooth; just watch your step and you will be okay.”

His courteous ways were protecting me every step of the way to keep me from falling. His mama would have been proud. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to take him out behind the barn when we got home for a good old fashioned paddling.

As we walked, the Lord began to speak to me: “This is the way I always lead, guide, and protect you.”

1. Sometimes I walk ahead of you: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. (Isaiah 45:2 NIV)

2. Sometimes I walk side-by-side you, holding your hand: I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God—and I say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you. (Isaiah 41:13 TLB)

3. Sometimes, I walk behind you: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

As if to bring His talk on home to me, the Lord concluded with: “Though your husband did not pick you up and give you a piggy back ride over the rough terrain areas of your walk, I want to remind you of the words of your favorite poem:

During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."


My dear SUMite friends, I know that this post is not deep into theology, and I know it is not something you don’t already know. But, I decided to write it for two reasons:

  1. First of all, being unequally yoked does bring with it many challenges. But, sometimes we need to stop and be thankful for the “little things” our spouse does for us that helps and protects us that we may take for granted. 
  2. The second reason is we might all need to remind ourselves that regardless of what we go through in life, God is always with us, and will never ever leave us stranded in the grass, on the bridges, on the sidewalks, or anywhere else we find ourselves. Remember, He walked on water to get to Peter.

So, in the comments, take a moment to share your thoughts of what your husband does to help and protect you and your family that you might sometimes overlook. And, of course, share your gratitude toward our Savior for each step of the way He has brought you.

Holy Assignment - SUMites PLEASE DO THIS!

Rosh Hashana Dream List 2015SUMite Nation:

I have a homework assignment for you.

Several weeks ago, I found what I’ll call a “Dream List” tucked inside my Bible. It was written on September 14, 2015. I wrote out this list in the early dawn of Rosh Hashana that year. I apparently decided to scribble down my future hopes, prayers, and aspirations that I longed to accomplish with the Lord.

I’m sharing this experience with you for two reasons.

  1. God hears our prayers. However, we forget that He responds because our current concerns block the memory of all He has done and provided for us. This is a good day to remember His provision and goodness.
  2. We are all blessed. God doesn’t only dream with me, but also with you.

It began:


This is my dream list: (And the answers)

I began to read down the list…. To my utter shock, many, I MEAN MANY of the dreams I’d scrawled out in long hand, had already come to pass. In four short years.

  • To love you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength – ANSWERED
  • To walk in increasing power and authority over the demonic and sickness – ANSWERED
  • Provision for college for Caitie -ANSWERED (Full scholarship and they paid her to teach. Say what?
  • More Prayer opportunities – ANSWERED. I pray with many of you from all around the world. and recently I was promoted to Director of Freedom prayer at my local church.
  • A House of Prayer in the Valley – ANSWERED. I’ve watched the prayer ministry grow into exactly this! WOW! Before my very eyes!
  • Mike’s salvation -ANSWERED. I’m still wrapping my mind around this reality. I’m wordless to express how stunned I remain even today, at all that God did to bring this into reality. Wait until you read the book, I share the detail in there.
  • Loose 30 pounds. Ahem, well…. I’m still working on this one *GRIN*

I humbly ask and submit these words of my heart to You, Papa. May you show kindness and favor upon them. Your daughter, Lynn

My list is way too long to share more. I like to dream……There are dreams on that list that remain to be fulfilled but so many more have already come to pass. I’m nearly in tears as I write with such deep gratitude and humility to know our Father loves me with such depth and care that he fulfills the dreams of an ordinary blonde lady.

So, as we approach Yom Kippur, a very hold day unto the Lord, sit with the Father and dream. Write out your dream list and put it away to find it again in a number of years. You will be overwhelmed by the love and faithfulness of our good God.

He loves you that much also. Start to believe it!

Share three items on your dream list with me in the comments. Let me pray over them with you. I adore you.

Dream bigger than you dare because our God is so much bigger than we allow.

Divine Moments

Image courtesy of

Hello, dear SUMite friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. I returned this morning from a whirlwind trip to San Antonio to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference. This is now my fourth conference and the reason I keep returning is that each time I go I experience a significant God-moment, writing and non-writing.

My first experience of this was at the 2012 event where I met our dear friend Dineen Miller who introduced me to SUM. I’ve written about our meeting a few times but in a nutshell prior to this conference I doubted I could ever have a ministry role outside my small little world as a result of being a SUM. Dineen both at the conference and, later through her contribution to SUM, clearly demonstrated otherwise and it dawned on me that I’d allowed myself to be deceived by the enemy.

Clearing Obstacles

I had felt the Lord’s nudge to attend this year’s event. It surprised me because it’s a fiction event and my energies this year have been focused around a non-fiction project. Surely, there was a disconnect. But the nudges kept on coming.

But there were some clear obstacles, the biggest being a financial one. We simply didn’t have the money for flights, conference and hotel accommodation. I kept saying to God, well, if you want me to go then you’ll need to clear this obstacle.

Six weeks before the event, mid-August, I received a completely unexpected financial gift from my parents. They were unaware of my desire to attend the conference. I was amazed. The Lord said to me, ‘well, that’s no longer an obstacle’.

I left chatting to Fiona about it for a week or so until she asked me what I’d like to do with the gift. And so I told her. She was kind enough to let me attend and when booking flights I was able to use frequent flyer points to get me across the Pacific meaning I didn't have to spend as much as first thought.

I’m continually amazed at God’s goodness.

Expectant Heart

I boarded my flight last Wednesday still unsure of why I was attending. I had set up some meetings but there was no guarantee they would provide anything of any great value. However, my heart was expectant both because of my three previous experiences but also because of how God had made it possible for me to attend.

It didn’t take long for things to start bubbling. The first worship session included the mention of a verse from Revelation that had been important to me during the first half of the year. Aha … is this it, Lord?

Even though I was able to share the significance of this verse to the two people who mentioned it and had a lovely moment with both, it soon became apparent it was simply a minor precursor to what the Lord had in store.


The second day proceeded uneventfully until an afternoon appointment I had set up week’s prior. It was with a man whose counsel I admire and on discussing my non-fiction project with him, it wasn’t long before I realised this was the ‘gotcha moment’ and the reason for my attendance. The feedback wasn’t exactly what I would have liked to receive but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Two subsequent meetings with agents confirmed the same.

I felt pretty flat and a little discouraged by the time night came about. I thought my project was headed in the right direction but it was clear it wasn’t.

Worship clears the cobwebs of discouragement

The conference always has a late night worship session where writers can sit and write as they listen to worship. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to worship. I needed to because it’s something that always lifts my spirits. And the worship band at ACFW is one of the best I’ve sat under.

The enemy hates worship. I reckon it’s like a persistent jackhammer banging away at their heads. They have to flee – remember Paul and Silas in the jail set to be executed the next day? What did they do? They “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25) What happened next? An earthquake happened, cell doors opened, chains fell off, freeing the two heroes.

Ephesians 5:18-19 is even more clear: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” The Holy Spirit is the one who changes the atmosphere and being filled with the Spirit through singing and praying weakens the enemy’s power.

The discouragement I had soon lifted even though I was unsure of the next steps in my project. I woke the next morning feeling refreshed and energized. The morning’s worship was tremendous even more so as the Lord’s presence was thick as He touched a number of people in a very gentle healing way.

The Dance of Dependence

God never lays out the blueprint of the future, does He? It’s always one step at a time so we continue to trust in Him to lead us. We have to depend on Him. I was reminded of how a dad dances with a young daughter. She places her feet on his and as He steps, her feet automatically follow. It’s a wonderful picture for how we can follow His lead don’t you think?

When was a recent time you followed one of the Lord’s nudges out of obedience even though you were unsure of what was to occur? Be great for us to encourage each other in the comments below.

Blessings, my SUMite friends.