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12 entries from March 2020

Calm in the Storm

Image Courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and Free Digital

Hi, Ian here from sunny Sydney. Wow, who could have imagined when I wrote about supernatural happenings and wilderness experiences in my last post that a few weeks later almost the entire would be thrust into wilderness.

It’s scary with how fast things have moved. Our lives have been turned upside down haven’t they, normal routines (as Ann reflected yesterday) for entire households have been dramatically changed, there’s no short term certainty about many of the physical things of life: jobs, incomes, schooling, church attendance, exercise regimes and of course the health of our families, particularly those of us who are in the ‘more vulnerable bracket.’

God is Unchanging

But God. He is the one certainty we have, and I also believe it is certain that this wilderness experience will end, however, none of us can be very sure either, when it will end, and what the next season will look like for each of us.

God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good.

What we Focus on is Important

Lynn in her weekend post shared of the bombardment of bad news. My morning routine usually involves me reading the paper before heading off to the gym. But I found I was carrying this understated anxiety and tension as a result of allowing myself to receive the bad news. The Holy Spirit nudged me one day as I trudged off to the gym and told me to stop reading the news. Now it’s been a habit since I was about eight years old (I used to sit with Dad reading the paper together eating breakfast), however, the next morning, I went straight to a meditation app as I sat down over my morning coffee. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of receiving good news first thing in the morning while setting my eyes on the Lord as soon as possible in the morning.

We’re probably all familiar with the following verses in Hebrews:

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)

How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus when everyone is home ALL THE TIME and trying to get some alone time is near impossible. I know there are many couples (put aside the kids for the moment) are just not used to spending so much time together and these couples have to work our new habits for both their relationship and each other.

May I encourage you to talk often about each other’s needs and how the other can help out. For example, for most of our 25 years together I’ve known it’s important for my wife that we spend time together in the evening. It’s not so much about doing the same thing but simply being present and enjoying each other’s company and presence. And so that’s we’ve done.

I suspect for many husbands this is a very unsettling time as we’re used to heading off to work, having a clear plan for the day and being away from the home. Similarly, for the girls, it’s strange having hubby around 24x7. And then there are the kids. Can’t take them anywhere, can’t have friends over and so on. There are only so many jigsaws you can do, right?

It's hard and unsettling.

But God knows this. He loves us so deeply and understands all that’s going on inside and outside us. He knows our needs and so staying close to Him is really good for us in this season.

Ann wrote about abiding and I want to share a little about how one can do this.

1. Start in the morning. If you are able.

I’m a morning person and it’s easier for me to do this because of the season I’m in. Getting the house up and running is a very normal daily activity for moms. A particularly important one. But may I encourage you though to consider tuning your soul in the morning. Why do you think Jesus went off to meet with the Father every morning?

Our souls get out of whack overnight. I’m continually amazed how I can be on fire for the Lord when I put my head on the pillow, only to wake in the morning like He’s a complete stranger. And that’s why our soul’s need tuning. Think of it like a piano or guitar; before we play them we tune them. It doesn’t have to take long. It can just be a few minutes of prayer, inviting God into our day and checking in on our heart, asking ourself how we’re feeling and giving those feelings, good or not so good over to God. Even ask Him, why am I feeling like this Lord? And listen for an answer. It may not be immediate but sometime during the day you’ll probably discover why.

2. Repeat this process during the day.

As often as you are able. You might even give yourself a reminder using your phone.

What’s important is connecting how your feeling in your heart with God. He knows, He cares, He wants to help us. If you’re reading say Psalm 23: v1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And you’re feeling tremendous lack of something: peace, hope, money, etc tell God that (He won’t be offended) and repeat the verse in your own words, “You tell me you’re my shepherd, Lord, I really need a shepherd now, help me see you as my shepherd today, taking care of my needs.” Gradually, God’s Word comes alive in our hearts as we discover that He is indeed a good good shepherd.

3. Ever so slowly it will become a habit.

A habit you’ll look forward to even when you’re at your crappiest because you’ve discovered how much God loves to be the one who tunes our hearts and souls.

It would be great for us to encourage each other with what we do to fix our eyes on Jesus in these strange and unsettling times.

Be blessed and keep fixing our eyes on the Lord. He’s a good, good Father.

What Happens While We're Locked In?

Hi friends, Ann here! Door SUM logo

How are you all doing, I wonder?

Well, here we are with a new normal that has been thrust upon us: That of being house-bound with all regular routines interrupted.

As far as I’m concerned everything has been interrupted, including my routine with God. And that last part is the hardest. Because right now I need my time with God.

Here’s the thing: Lately I'd developed a lovely routine of waving my family off to work and school, making myself an enormous pot of coffee and settling in for a couple of hours with God. I had time for prayer, reading scripture, and recording any things I seemed to hear from Him. It felt oh so healthy. I relished those times of stillness, it can get addictive being with God. In fact, I wanted more. What would happen, I thought, if I gave God my entire morning every day?

Well, some can now do that more than they could before, which is a beautiful treasure. But here in my home it's not quite so. The pandemic struck, and suddenly my family and I found ourselves together in our tiny little house, 24-7. When I say tiny house, we really do have a tiny little house. We’re talking one living area, and a small TV room off the living room.

For me, at points in this pandemic story the world's situation has felt intense. At times I've needed to do battle with fear and, to do that, I've been retreating into my precious prayer room (TV room). However, it quickly became clear this was not going to work. My family wants me around. And my husband wants me. He doesn’t want me sitting in that room being a hermit. He doesn't even want me 'mentally checking out' by spending too much headspace on spiritual matters. He's noticing my mind is elsewhere and he wants me to be present. This is a new challenge.

This is just one way that our faith difference is bubbling to the surface within this situation. We have different ideas about how useful my ‘quiet time with God’ is.  And hey, we have completely different responses to the whole situation. This could lead to frustration, and I’m battling that too.

What's the solution? Stay … Happily married. Be kind. Work hard on my family life. But also somehow carve out some time for stillness. Through it all, be kind, be kind. 

Love is patient; love is kind … (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Meanwhile, what is God saying to me during this time? He has been gently present, showing me that it’s all ok, it's all part of some grand renovation. This is a potentially strenuous time, but He knows it. If I can paraphrase what I’ve heard over the last few days, it’s something like this:

Ann, focus your eyes entirely on Me now, make that your strategy. It's ok to keep it simple.

Ann, yes it’s a dark period but My kindness is coming.

Why don’t you pause your usual scripture reading? How about instead you feed on parts I give you from the Gospels?

On that last point, over the last few days He has pointed me to little gems in the gospels here and there. He is speaking to me about the word ‘Abide’, calling me to consider what it means to 'Abide in Him' now. Perhaps in this current lockdown situation, where I am a busy Mum, 'abiding' doesn’t require me to fight my husband for quiet time but instead it means walking in a posture of trust, awareness, and waiting, through every hour of every day. While closed in my home, I can be closed in with Jesus.

This means I invite Him in while I’m washing up, I chat to Him under my breath while tucking my kids into bed; I acknowledge Him while I play with my kids, I wait on Him and stand still whenever I see a faith difference emerge, I acknowledge His presence while I’m watching the news, I stay believing, I remain hopeful and fearless, I last this thing out, and I dip into Gospel material – Because, after all, that is the good news. Who wants to watch the bad news when I’ve got the Good News -- Jesus -- in front of me?

So, friends, that’s me. How are you doing, and how is your faith routine changing during this period of staying at home?

SUMite Nation Checking In

Hello Sumite Nation,

Screenshot 2020-03-28 at 8.06.38 AMLynn here. I wanted to check in on everyone. Our house is feeling the strain of the shut-in as we go into week three. Two weeks and we are feeling a bit stir crazy. You?

I want to share a story with you. About a week ago I found myself sitting with my phone in the morning reading a news site that captures headlines from major news sources around the world. Here are a few from today:

  • Heart Attack? No, It Was Coronoavirus
  • Bill Gates warns lock-down could last 10 WEEKS
  • One dies every 17 minutes
  • Rhode Island Police Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge

These are somewhat tame from last week. 

So here is what happened. I was reading these apocalyptic headlines and found myself growing uncomfortable, even a tiny bit fearful. Will I catch this virus? I'm not typically fearful of much, but a strange uncomfortableness began to reside within.

This week the Lord spoke to me, "Lynn, why are you reading these lies?" You know much of this is over sensationalized news to attract readers. You are reading all of this and it's affecting your soul and this weakens your immune system. Also, Lynn, AM I not your healer and YOUR TRUTH?"

What is a bummer is that I now wished I HAD STOPPED reading them last week because I broke out with a virus, Shingles, for the first time ever. SAY WHAT????? Good grief. I've nearly prayed them into submission but I believe God was providing me with real time lessons about faith. I was allowing so many lies and destructive "what-ifs" into my mind, and soul that it manifested in my body. (Lord, have mercy.)

My friend, what are you reading? 

What are you listening to?

Don't get me wrong, we need to be informed and vigilant. But do we need to add more to our soul that we can't control or healthily process? Is the INTERNET BREAKING? No, it's slower, much slower than usual. Is our world out of control? No, it's in an unprecedented time but there are smart people on task working hard. Our world is filled with dedicated doctors, nurses, grocery store personnel, brave delivery people, and everyday ordinary people who are sewing masks and checking on neighbors.

God isn't surprises by this AT ALL!

STOP allowing the doom and gloom in and protect your heart. Protect your body and strengthen your immune system. ---> This is my message to myself. Ahem! Sheesh!

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Put down the phone. Read the WORD. Smile, love and stand in faith. Rebuke the virus from entering into your home and touching your family. 

We will get through this. And when it ends and it will - Every game will sell out, every restaurant will have a two hour wait, every kid will be glad to be in school, everyone will love their job, the stock market will soar, every other house will get TP'd, and we'll all embrace and shake hands. 

That's gonna be a pretty good day. Rise up SUMITE Nation. Let's lean into truth and BELIEVE for the miracles that surround us today. With Love, Lynn

What is TRUST- Word From Switzerland

Mountain lake 8  06Today a word from Anja Grotto-Ingold who lives in Switzerland.

Psalm 125:1 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

Dear SUMites,

This is important knowledge for all who battle storms in their lives!

Daddy has shown me this morning that what I received yesterday concerning trust towards the current situation with the corona virus goes so much deeper and he took me back through my experiences of the last years and showed me what kind of trust he meant in verse 1 and he has a powerful word for all of us!

First, we need to understand what “Mount Zion” is: The ancient Hebrew word Tsiyon (Zion) is “a Canaanite hill fortress in Jerusalem captured by David and called in the Bible ‘City of David.’" Zion can refer to one of three places: the hill where the most ancient areas of Jerusalem stood; the city of Jerusalem itself; or the dwelling place of God. ( Keep reading up on what “Mount Zion” all stands for and you will be amazed by the spectrum of meaning coming from it. However, I want to focus on its “geographical” attribute as a place.

So basically what we can say with security is that the places that can be referred to as “Mount Zion” have been and are battled for, built upon and torn down from. But still today, they stand! It is all there and archeologist find more and more evidence of proof in the stones of “Mount Zion” that shows the Bible to be true!

So what’s the point I want to make for our lives as believers in the Most High. In the storms of our lives and particularly those brought to us by a spiritually unequal marriage we often feel that everything we have known, we think to be true or hope for is taken from us and we are left with nothing. For me it always felt like slowly drowning and while fighting it, being stripped off of everything I know. Pure despair, fighting to keep afloat and fear every time you allow yourself to only think of what the future holds!

Do you know this feeling? If you do or are in such a place right now God is saying don’t give into it. This is not his TRUTH because whatever is taken or chipped away, whatever fortress is being destroyed in your life, the foundation on which you stand still remains and can never, ever be torn down. It’s your FAITH.

It’s the deeply ingrained knowledge that God is Lord of Lords, King of Kings and that he is the Truth and the Way. And this knowledge is HOPE for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrew 11:1). In your Hope, even if it as small as a mustard seed, you are able to trust. Because the in order to stand like Mount Zion, unshakable and enduring forever, in any storm life throws at you, you need to trust. Note that trust in Psalm 125:1 is a verb so it refers to an action - it is something you willfully chose to do! So this is what I hear God say: “Don’t confuse FAITH and TRUST - Faith is what you have, something nobody and nothing can take away from you, but in all circumstances you need to CHOOSE to fully TRUST me. It’s choosing the action of trusting that will keep you from drowning, that will give you peace when everyone around you is in fear, that will help you open yourself to me so that you can dwell in my presence where I teach and speak to you! Then you will be like Mount Zion, the place where the God of Israel, dwells (Isaiah 8:18; Psalm 74:2), the place where he is king (Isaiah 24:23) and where he has installed his king, David (Psalm 2:6). You will be like the place where I held my seat of action in history and continue to do so in the future. Steadfast and unshakable. So, let everything crumble and fall, let it be swept away, don’t try to hold onto or to fix things you cannot influence. Give it all to me and trust me with every fiber of your being because on your trust I will rebuild and bring forth fruit.”

To the whole SUM community I hear him say ”You are my chosen ones and as you stand in Trust you are my “Mount Zions” which I surround and protect and from which I will build my kingdom in your husband’s lives and in the lives of your families. It’s not time to be afraid, it’s time to trust for never will I forsake any of you. I will allow the storms of life to form you, but I will never allow them to tear you down!

So choose trust every time fear creeps in.

Choose it and you will see the walls of Jericho crumble!”

What Do You Do When Perspectives Collide?

Hey Sum Family, Tiffany here!

Each passing day brings news of another thing in the Carter Crew's daily lives that is affected by COVID-19. Though we are currently on spring break, Kelly-sikkema-RmByg5kFfQg-unsplashthe Elementary School is going to e-learning for the following two weeks. The zoo is closed along with movie theaters, public libraries, hair salons, family entertainment establishments, restaurants etc. As the days progress, I find the anxiety level of my husband is slowly rising.

Obviously the Coronavirus is nothing to take lightly. We should all take precautions to help prevent the spread and keep ourselves safe and healthy. I take no issue with doing my part in an earthly sense. However, I know the power and authority of the blood of Jesus. I know that when I plead and apply His blood that I am protected and safe. I am healed and whole. I am redeemed and restored. Because of the blood of Jesus, I have peace in my heart and mind. I am confident in knowing that everything is going to be alright. My Daddy has got this! In many ways, I "forget" there is a pandemic on our hands.

That being said, I was heartbroken when my husband told me to call my grandmother and tell her that she is not allowed to come and visit this week. Our two perspectives collided. I scrambled in my head, "Lord, what do I do? I am right about this. You are protecting us. We are all covered by the blood of Jesus!"

My grandmother is a mighty woman of God. She knows the power of the blood of Jesus. She is healthy and she is a fierce prayer warrior. She and I both agreed that she would be fine in coming. It was as though I had those cartoon characters on my shoulders. You know the ones - a red devil with horns, tail, pitchfork and an angel with a white robe and glowing halo.

At first I protested. I tried convincing him that we would be fine. I prayed for a change of his heart. I asked God to intervene.

I called my grandma and explained Jason's concerns. I sat there crying as I told her how much I was looking forward to her coming. I told her not to cancel just yet. I would talk to him one more time.

Jason wouldn't budge. I texted my grandmother later and told her the news and said, "I feel it's best to honor him at this time. I'm heartbroken but looking for the days ahead. Seeing you soon."

I understand my husband's concern. I am grateful that he loves my grandma and wants to keep her around for a while. The hardest part in all of this is not that she won't be here for the kids' spring break; but, the ugliness in my heart that rose up against my husband. When times get hard and we don't agree, isn't it so easy to say, "If only my spouse was a believer..." or "If only my spouse would agree with the truth of God's word..."

For a few brief moments, I had made my husband out to be the enemy. It is his fault that she can't come. I am angry at his decision and I am angry at him. I could feel the bitterness rising. I praise Jesus that He stopped me in my tracks. I had to repent. I had to forgive.

Colossians 3:13-14 — "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

John 17:23 — "I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Mark 3:25 — "If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand."

Friends, this is exactly what the devil wants. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. This time is crucial as we actively march around Jericho. We are
understanding our authority. We are breaking ground and taking back what is rightfully ours. We are standing in the gap and interceding. Mountains are moving. Hearts are changing. Miracles are happening.

Let us fix our eyes on the prize. Don't allow the enemy to distract you. Keep focused and remember we do not fight against flesh and blood. In times such as these, it is important to give our spouses grace and mercy.

I know I am not alone in this. What are some hurdles that you have had to jump over in your marriage? What wisdom has God shown you in how to settle disagreements in your home? What scripture or prayers have helped you to overcome?

Most importantly, how do you encourage your spouse in times of anxiety or fear? This is something that I personally could use some advice on!

See you in the comments. Blessings!

Boldness In The Midst of Fear - Our Light Shines Through

Hey Sum Family, Tiffany here!

On Thursday, my husband felt it was time to stock up on groceries. I had heard the "rumors" but as we walked the aisles, I was amazed to see that there truly was a shortage on many 20200312_194820things. I couldn't believe the long lines, rationing and deep concern on the faces of shoppers. If one person would cough or sneeze, they were quick to "swear" that they weren't sick. My heart was broken for these people who were legitimately scared. I released an audible outcry in the aisles, "Lord Jesus, I bless these people with peace."

With the times that we are living in, there is a lot of uncertainty, anxiety and downright fear. The media isn't helping ease any tension when it is the most talked about subject. It is important to keep up to date; however, we have to be careful on what we are filling our minds.

What does the Word of the Lord say about bad news?

Psalm 112:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.

They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

These verses are my go to in times of uncertainty and fear. We are God's righteous. The promise for us is we will never be shaken. We will have no fear of bad news. Our hearts are steadfast as we trust in Him. We walk in a unique place. We know the perspective of the Kingdom and we know the perspective of the world. Because of our march around Jericho on behalf of our spouses and families we are able to walk the line "in between."

Even though the darkness seems to be closing in, our light becomes all the brighter. In the midst of fear, our boldness for the Kingdom begins to shine brighter.

When we choose to stand in faith on the Word of God, it gives us a confidence in the God of the Word. Verses like we've read today are tools in our arsenal.

Just this last week, I have been able to witness to my husband with words. The conversation went like this:

Jason - So, I think that we will probably get the Coronavirus now.

Me - No we won't. Why do you think that?

Jason - My coworker was at that event where the first reported person was before being admitted into the hospital. She is doing nothing to self-quarantine herself. It is really frustrating.

Me - Well [the news] said that people at that event only need to be concerned if they played in the tournament. Besides, I plead the blood of Jesus over us every morning. We are going to be fine.

As we sat in silence for a moment, I was honestly surprised to see how easily that flowed from my vocal cords and out of my mouth. He was stopped in his tracks. I wasn't sure if he was receptive or if he quiet as to not start a conflict. A few days later, we had a similar conversation and again the words flowed, "My grandma is covered by the blood of Jesus. She will be fine." This time the response was, "Every time we talk about something like this, you don't have to always find a way to bring religion into it."

Whether receptive or not, we get the privilege to share the love of Jesus to those around us. We get the blessing of peace in the midst of the storm. We have the confidence and joy that the world needs.

Do not forget that perfect love drives out fear. Be blessed today. Know that the blood of Jesus covers us and our loved ones. Know that God is in control. Know that He is not surprised. He is still on the throne. In the words of Lynn - march on warriors. We win!

Let's talk in the comments. What are some of your favorites verses to help drive out fear?

Marching Into Truth

By Martha Bush


Hello, my fellow SUMite Marchers. Can you give a big shoutout to Lynn for this remarkable teaching in her new book, Marching Around Jericho!

Today, I want us to talk about those false belief systems and lies Lynn refers to in Chapter 1.

Quote, page 20:

“The majority of my march consisted of displacing deceptive mindsets and lies. I’m convinced seventy-five percent of spiritual warfare is stepping into awareness and out of deception. The remaining twenty-five percent, well, that is faith and prayer. Together, we’ll battle through false belief systems, religious mindsets, doubt, apathy, fear, and displace false identity. Expect the cheers of heaven each time we step out of a lie and become fully aware of God’s truth, his whole truth.”  (End of quote.)

Join me as I share with you a false belief that had almost paralyzed me both in the natural realm, and was about to paralyze me spiritually.

False Belief: “I must be approved (accepted) by certain others to feel good about myself? Approval Addict is the name of the game.

Some of the Symptoms I experienced were:   people pleaser, fear of rejection, easily manipulated with guilt trips, don’t rock the boat, strive for peace at all extremes

Those traits kept me paralyzed with fear of making a decision on my own. It got pretty bad when I couldn’t even make a decision in Walmart about the type of paper plates to use for Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, yeah, I would stop other customers and ask, “Which plates would you choose?"

My self-esteem rating was ZERO! And isn’t that just what the enemy wants us to think about our self-worth?

I finally discovered that this False Belief (I must be approved by others to feel good about myself) actually started in my childhood, where most of our beliefs, attitudes, and behavior patterns are formed. Sometimes, those beliefs are true; sometimes they are not.

My road leading to this false belief went something like this:

I never doubted for a moment how much my parents loved me as a child. They showered me with hugs, provided my every need, and disciplined me with firmness, yet with love and kindness. Through their love, I also sensed how much Jesus loved me.

So, what could be the problem with that? Many children would die for a touch from their parents, especially their father, whom I believe forms the basis of our relationship with God.

Here is where I was blocked: Out of my parents’ deep love for me, they kept me under their wings to protect me, in their view. In short, they smothered me. The results: I became a cripple at making decisions on my own and lost confidence in myself. I lost sight of how I felt, what I desired, and was too intimidated to pursue my own thoughts and beliefs. I became a puppet on a string in my adult life trying to please everyone with whom I interacted.

I began to sense the emotional strain this was having on me, but did not realize the extent of it until in my forties when I began to feel God leading me down a certain path. Upon discussing this new direction with my husband, I was met with total opposition. I was brought to a crossroad in my life: One road led to continuing to please others, the other road lead to pleasing God.

The truth of The Word of God literally stared me in the face with the following scriptures:

1. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 KJV)

Can I just say that it is hard to truly be a servant of God when all our efforts go into pleasing people and their desires, even our spouses.

2. We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29 KJM)

By now, I was getting close to making my decision to follow the direction God had talked to me about. The final scripture that brought it on home to me was Deuteronomy 30:19: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.

Though we are no longer under the curse, I believe there are times we have to make a choice as to which road we choose to take in order to become God’s servant. Stop and think about it—the world we live in is filled with people who demand that we please them in exchange for their approval and acceptance.

Praise God for Jesus’s sacrificial payment for our sins. Through this payment, we all can find forgiveness, reconciliation, and we are totally acceptable to Him at all times.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him Holy and blameless and beyond reproach. (Colossians 1:21-22)

What about you? Are there lies that you have believed? Let’s talk about them in the comments, and let’s all go marching into truth together.

Can I hear an Amen all across Cyber Space for the truth that sets us free? (John 8:32)

LCM Battling Bear Stadium: Home of the Battling Bears

By Martha Bush

Bear-stadiumLittle Cypress Mauriceville Battling Bear Stadium, Orange, Texas, is exactly what its name implies: The Home of the Battling Bears!

There was a time I spent every Friday night at the stadium watching the boys battle it out with that brown piece of pigskin, with their opponent. Not a football fan, I really went to the games to watch my two daughters perform at halftime with the LCM Honey Bear Drill Team.

After my girls graduated from high school, I became a regular attendee at the LCM Battling Bear Stadium. You see, it was here that I, too, did battle with my opponent, Old Slewfoot himself, as he began to send an assignment of grief to destroy my marriage, finances, and health, as one crisis after another made its entrance into our lives. I walked, ran, and skipped around the track praying, taking refuge from the storm that brewed from our opponent, Slewfoot.

In the past couple of years, due to changes in circumstances, my time at Bear Stadium has subsided. However, I was drawn back to the stadium March 4th to reminisce about those battling times. Though this stadium represented a place of real battling, I had some laughs with Jesus about some of my experiences, as I walked slowly around the tracks that day.

Come! Take a stroll with me around Bear stadium.

Passing by the vistors' bleachers, I spotted the bleacher where I lay flat on my back one afternoon about 5 PM with my arms stretched toward heaven crying loudly, “Oh, God, Oh God, help me, help me!” I grinned as I remembered the kids practicing pole vaulting nearby pointing toward me, laughing.

I giggled as I recalled running the track like "Warrior David," slinging his stone toward Goliath. I'd raise my index finger and verbally sling a chain of "for it is written" scriptures at my Goliaths. I was a sight to see for the other early morning walkers scattered around the track, but I didn’t care---there was a battle to fight for my family—I was determined Slewfoot would not destroy us.

I laughed out loud as I looked behind the bleachers. One morning, I ran to the bathroom underneath the bleachers, only to discover the doors were locked. With the adrenaline still flowing from my warfare on the tracks, I almost let loose, “I bind you, locked doors. In the name of Jesus, turn loose this door and let me in-I have an emergency!”   Some things you just don’t ask amiss; just tell yourself not to drink coffee before a morning of walk and pray. 

I shivered when I thought of the morning I arrived at the track at 4:30 AM.  My fellow walkers were not there yet. A nudge from the Holy Spirit told me it wasn’t a good idea to be out there alone. I was about to ignore the Holy Spirit’s word of caution when three men emerged from under the bleachers, making their way out to the parking lot where I sat. Their dress attire told me they were not there to walk the track. I quickly cranked up my car and sped away. No laughing matter.

I glanced at the picnic table in nearby Bear Park. One afternoon, I escaped to my safe haven at the stadium. The picnic table, nestled among the trees, looked inviting, and thus I began my battle cry. A woman crept up behind me and asked, “Are you okay?” I looked at her with tears flowing down my cheeks, snotty nose, and stammered, "Uh-uh; just doing a little praying."  I don't think I convinced her I was okay.

I remembered other experiences I had at Battling Bears' Stadium, as I strolled around the tracks March 4th, but today was different.  I wasn't  binding strongholds, throwing stones at Goliath, or whooping it up. I was not even asking God for a Word, because He had already spoken His promises to me years ago.

How well I recalled those promises when I stood still on the 50-yard-line and glanced up to the top row of the bleachers. Many mornings I didn’t run the track. Instead, I’d march up those steps and take a seat on the top bleacher. Sitting in the presence of the Lord, I listened as He spoke His promises to me and recorded them in my notebook.

Would you believe that as I stood there on the 50-yard-line March 4th, Jesus showed up again? He began talking to me just like my daddy did when I was a little girl.

Little girl, pay attention; I’m a-fixing to tell you something important. It’s your season for those promises I made to you here at Battling Bear Stadium to be birthed. I am ready to perform My Word.” (Jeremiah 1:12 NKJV)

“And BTW, little girl; I have a new work for you to do for Me. Get ready!”

Wait! Did I just feel a hug and a little fist punch on my shoulder like Daddy used to do? I got goose bumps all over my body.

As if on clue, a soft, gentle rain began to fall, but I continued walking, with my hair getting soaked, my glasses clouding up, and my hands stretched toward heaven in praise. I’m sure the men mowing the grass saw me. Oh, well---

There’s nothing like an intimate walk in the rain with Jesus.


Go Bears! Thanks for the Memories!



In the comments, I would love to hear your experiences of battling, as well as your intimate talks with Jesus.

Keep Playing The Christian Music

Hi friends, Ann here! Dance

If there's one passage in the Bible that brings a SUM moment to life, it's the one where David dances to the Lord, his wife Michal sees him through a window, and she 'despises him in her heart'. Gulp -- Let's take a look:

“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart."

(2 Samuel 6:14-16, NKJV)

David then returns 'to bless his household', and Michal is not feeling it:

“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v.20)

We don’t know what marriages were like in those days, but David must have felt sorely misunderstood. Nevertheless, his response shows determination:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore, I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22).

To leap and dance for God like David is akin to the intimacy with God that we're currently talking about in our community. I think we all have a leap to take when it comes to intimacy, and for my own part I can say I found it ever so risky to leap towards God and trust he would catch me. Specifically, I struggled to trust that I would not lose Bryce's favor. That was a biggie.

I was helped in this area by a friend whose Dad was a pastor. I wrote to this friend one day when it was all feeling too hard. My words went something along the lines of, "I think Bryce will go off me if I keep going." My friend duly consulted the Dad, who was old and wise, then flicked me an email:

“Ann, with God, the only way to go is forward. Now that you know that God is real, what else are you going to do? Sit in a dark room with a blindfold on? The fence is too sharp to sit on. But here’s what my Dad says: The closer you get to God, the more Bryce will see the spiritual bloom on your cheek. So keep going!”

This was great advice in theory, but I struggled to believe that Bryce would see this elusive 'spiritual bloom on my cheek'. My friend was saying, “Take the leap, Ann. God will catch you!” but the lie I was believing was “If I move any closer to God I'll lose out.” 

To cut a long story short, eventually I let go of the lie. Having leapt into God's arms I truly believe now that the more you love Jesus … Well, everything blooms. As David said to Michal, God has shown himself faithful.

David's response is a good one for us. Essentially he says to Michal, “Look, there is good reason I dance for him the way I do. I am going to carry on, and I will be playing my Christian music.”

Friends, did you catch that? Michal doesn't like his Christian music! I'm laughing as I type and I can't help but wonder if God slipped that part in for humor for us. Even in David’s day, Christian music was hard to play in front of the less believing spouse. Well, nothing there has changed. Eventually, like David, perhaps we stop caring and just play it. In fact, that's been a shift for me only in the last few weeks: I slip the Christian music on, Bryce laughs but doesn't really mind, I keep it on, and as I listen to it I leap -- In my heart.

Well on that happy note, I think the story got a bit more cheerful than at first it seemed. So keep on with that Christian music, friends. And perhaps we can chat in the comments: Has intimacy with God involved a leap for you?

Supernatural Happenings

Photo supplied courtesy of imagery majestic and

Hi! Ian here. Lent began last Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. I’m observing this season once again as I enjoy being intentional about seeking more of God and Lent and Advent seem to help me do that. Yes, I ‘give up’ something (sugar and Instagram this year) as it helps me focus on the wilderness element of the season; Lent, of course, mirroring the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

But this isn’t a post about Lent rather a sense I’ve had in the past week about stirrings within me that I thought I’d share. Recently, I’ve read a couple of short passages on the supernatural happenings of God. Abraham and Sarah only birthed Isaac through supernatural intervention. Mary and Joseph birthed Jesus only through supernatural intervention. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry work that took the Gospel to the Gentiles is attributed to supernatural means (Acts 14: 27)

And here in SUMite land we read in Ann’s previous post of some of our tribe’s spouses experiencing a revelation of God in being saved. Hallelujah! Yes, salvation requires a supernatural happening as it is not something that will occur in the natural.

How Does This Happen?

If we look at the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Joseph, Paul and Barnabas, what can we glean?

Deep intimacy with God

They all had their wilderness experiences. God uses these times to clear everything else away so we can be with Him. He wants us to let go of control so He's in charge. Interestingly, in Mary’s experience it was after she was impregnated supernaturally as we really didn’t know about her prior to her angelic encounter.  Similarly, Paul’s wilderness time was after his miraculous Damascus experience. God had to deal with his years of being a Christian terrorist before unleashing him on the Gentile world.

As frustrating and painful being in the wilderness can be, step into it. It’s a clear tactic of God’s to draw people closer to Him, so He can equip them for something more. Such seasons can involve unemployment, illness, relocation, sabbaticals and more.

Remember God wants deep intimacy with each one of us. It’s why He made us. For Himself.

This is why I love Lent because I get excited about being with God. Like one of our kids gets excited when Dad or Mom arrives home from work. Remember those days?

What do I do?

1. Soak in His Word – look at Psalm 1:

“Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.” (v2-3 MSG)

I love that idea of the Word thrilling me? I want it to thrill me everyday. The Word is alive with supernatural wonder desiring to reveal Himself to us. Reflect on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and how He batted back the temptations Satan put before Him: He used the Word. Don’t just rely on wonderful devotionals where it’s someone else’s interpretation that fills most of the page; read God’s word in the Bible. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the Gospel of John and/or the Psalms. I’ve been reading the Psalms repeatedly for the last three or four years; I just can’t get enough of them.

2. Spend time Adoring God

Talking about the Word thrilling you, there's a lady who helps us bring the Word alive. I’ve mentioned Sara Hagerty’s before. She's been on this “Adoration” journey for over five years now. She provides a monthly one-verse a day adoration prompt. It’s how I’ve started my day for the last five years.

Sara says: “Adoration is finding a pulse behind that Word and then saying that Word back to Him, in our own dialect … it all starts with a simple conversation, a friendship that ends in our destiny: falling in love with God.”

Try it for a few days, a month. Sit and speak the daily verse back to God. Thank Him, praise Him, adore Him using the words in the verse. 

3. Spend time Listening to God

My hunch is that the modern church lacks listening skills. In some ways it goes hand-in-hand with a lack of Bible awareness, we ‘listen’ to the Word when we read it. I discovered recently that the word, obedience, comes from a Latin word which means: “to listen attentively”. My logical brain tells me that if we lack listening skills, we’re lacking in obedience. And what does Jesus tell us is the way we demonstrate our love for Him?

“If you love Me, keep My commands” (John 14:15)

Jesus tells us that the sheep know His voice. But it takes time to learn to discern His voice and that’s why knowing and meditating on the Word is so important.

May I encourage you to use some of the time you wait, perhaps it’s in the school pickup line, at the grocery store, in the medical clinic, etc just to be quiet and invite God into this moment and say hi! And ask him a question or two. He may not answer immediately, especially in the beginning, but over time you’ll be surprised to find how many times He does give you an answer.

Let me stop there.

Believe the supernatural will happen. Think how often Lynn finds balloons on her prayer walks.:) Keep being intentional connecting with God. He wants it more than anything. Believe that deep in your heart. He made each one of us so we would fall in love with Him. I'm praying that we all will develop greater intimacy with the Lord and that He is indeed birthing something in each of us and our spouses that only He can bring to life!

Anyone else observing Lent this year? If yes, what are you doing to be intentional in drawing closer to the Lord? Please share in the comments.

Salvations in Our Community: What's Next?

Hi friends, Ann here! Kid gloves

There’s a curious thing happening in our ministry right now: We're seeing significantly more spouse salvations than we have before. For years we’ve known it would happen, and now it's visible. We’re seeing it mentioned in emails or on closed Facebook groups; that's how we know.

It started about a year ago. Before then, we’d had the occasional salvation posted on here, and often it was a story with a wow factor. Those stories helped us keep going, which we badly needed. But what we're now seeing is a quieter kind of conversion.

What’s happening with the current shift is that the stories are not being posted because the process is intense and private. One SUMite described it as feeling like she’d finally made fire, and now she needed to cup her hands around it and protect it at all costs. 

The shift comes at an interesting time. It’s a time where many are hearing God say He is bringing global revival and doing a new thing in the church. It occurs to me that revival might not be instantly visible because it happens first within hearts. For a community like ours we might be some of the first to see it because we have this online ministry and recognize change easily. What we’re seeing right now is spouses begin to turn their hearts, and a few have already been baptized. Others have publicly accepted Jesus.

From this steady trickle of salvations, I’m learning some lessons. The first is that I may have dearly wanted salvation, but it might not be as I expect. I should prepare for hiccups, stops and starts. Here's an analogy I keep thinking of:

If salvation is like a baby being born (John 3:3-5), the last bit where the baby passes through is especially tough for all involved; and then there’s the afterbirth. If we’re the midwives catching the baby, we’ll have to get to work: check the baby is breathing, give it its injections, make sure it can feed, clean up the mess. It’s serious.

On that point (thinking of midwives and their equipment), I hear God say this for us:

I’m giving you new kid gloves.

Yes, kid gloves are what we’ve used while 'winning without words' but now perhaps it’s a time for a new set that look more like pragmatic midwife gloves. Our new season will require delicacy, but instead of delicate evangelism it’s now to be delicate discipleship. Because many of our spouses are natural skeptics, it might be harder than discipling an eager churchgoer. There may also be the mess of spiritual battle. Well, friends, we are duly equipped with new kid gloves! Gloves for His new kids.

I'll share this: My own adult conversion was hard, so I feel for anyone who changes late in life. I myself faced intense doubt to the point of torment. I struggled with church culture. I had to handle issues like, "That Christian over there behaves really badly!" And then, the topic of Satan did it for me: In my mind it was just too far-fetched. However, then I realized Satan was real, and that was even worse. The day I realized demons existed was a bad day in the office. At that point I wanted to jump on the nearest boat, like Jonah, and sail away (Jonah 1:3). Except I couldn’t, which made it all the worse.

My conversion involved things like going to church, seeing people abandon their dignity just like King David did in heartfelt worship (2 Samuel 6:14) and thinking to myself, "If I go any further with God, I’ll be that.” All of these mental complexities happened while I had a prayer life with God, but it was just such a leap to go further with Him.

So as I write I'm sitting here thinking this thing won’t be a walk in the park. After all, when a person turns to God they have to respond to a call to bow their knee and to do that they have to decide if they believe it enough and want it enough. This means that they might stop for a while before carrying on. Salvation is a deep matter of the heart, and the path may be winding.

Nevertheless, it's a very exciting time for us. Now I'd love to hear from you, SUM friends -- Are you seeing it too? What do you think we can expect?

Nice chatting!