Previous month:
April 2022
Next month:
June 2022

13 entries from May 2022

Shift our Focus - Part 4: Don't Walk Alone

Photo courtesy of Abel Tan Jun Yang at

Hello dear friends. Ian, from a chilly Sydney here. First day of winter and the southern part of Australia has got caught in a cold snap that’s come up from Antarctica. Brrr …

This is the final part in my little series on shifting our focus away from ourselves and setting it on Jesus.

We’ve often talked about the challenges in our situations of being active participants in a Christian community. For many years, in fact too many, I chose to minimise my engagement in Christian community. As a result, I didn’t develop any meaningful relationships with other believers. I was doing life with Jesus alone.

And it was hard work.

God’s a Community

God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. We were made to be communal. Irrespective of whether we’re introverts and find greater enjoyment being by ourselves, the there is a deep yearning with us to become all we were made to be. This can only be realised with others. We limit ourselves, our relationship with God, and our families and friends, if we choose to walk alone.

In addition, the enemy loves those who are separated from the pack. We see it in the animal world.  We become easier pickings if we are always walking alone. There’s no natural defensive barrier that being part of a group (even a small one) provides.

Receiving Love

For a whole variety of reasons, many of us have been starved of love in our lives. As a result, we’ve never learnt how to receive it well. This often will reveal itself in us not really opening ourselves up to others because we’re unsure how we’ll be received. “What if they find out what I’m really like?” I discovered this in my own life. I had inadvertently ‘closed’ myself of from others. I wasn’t allowing others to love me.

For men this is often a challenge. The lone-wolf is so common amongst men. Yes, we connect with others on the surface about our jobs, sports and other things we do. But when it comes to sharing real ‘heart’ stuff we will often avoid it. To such extent that I know men who can’t really describe what’s going on inside. If we’ve never really shared emotionally or vulnerably before, it kinda gets harder and harder the older we get. Simply because we don’t know how.

One of the joys of a communal life is fostering a deep mutual connection. This can only be realised when both parties are willing to receive.  A willingness to open up and allow others to love us, to teach us, be willing to sit at their feet and learn. This can involve moments of tremendous vulnerability. And learning to trust.


Sunday marks the ‘Day of Pentecost’ when the Holy Spirit descended on the early church as promised by Jesus before He ascended to heaven. After the incredible happened as the Holy Spirit arrived as described in Acts 2, we get a picture of the beauty of true community:

“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” (Acts 2:42-43)

The first church chose to do life together. Nothing has changed. The invitation is there for us too: to do life together. Yes, we have an added complication, don't we? The SUM life is challenging isn't it?

For a variety of reasons, I’ve found myself having stepped out of community. As church has physically returned, I’ve chosen to continue to attend online. And it’s really struck me that I’m kinda treading water. And it’s in being with others that I can move forward.

We’re invited into a God-breathed kind of life and to experience it with others.

Perhaps in the comments we can share our own experiences of joining with others, whether a handful or many, and how it compares to walking by oneself. And also, what particular challenges do each of us have in finding community or being able to participate in it. And what are some ways you've risen above the challenges.

Grace and peace, dear Sumites.

The Love Dare

Ann here! Love dare 2

I've been having a little adventure lately with a book called The Love Dare. *

Here on this blog we talked in January about some of the things we want to focus on this year, and some of you said you'd like help with the area of how to love your spouse better.

Well, as we know, love is an action, and that brings me to this adventurous book.

I was recommended this book by one of our SUMites here in Auckland, Paula Blackie. She said, "It's really, really good." So, curiously, I ordered it.

Books take a while to get to New Zealand, but eventually it landed in my letter box, I ripped open the package, and here's what I found:

The book is a set of forty dares that you do over a period of forty days. Each dare is something you are asked to do for your spouse. Preceding each dare in the book there is a devotional first, with scripture references. 

There's also a movie called 'Fireproof' that's linked with the book, and it's about a firefighter who puts the forty dares into action in his own marriage. Sounds good, but I haven't watched it yet.

Anyway, I decided not to tell Bryce about the dares and instead to just dive in quietly. Here's how it began --

Day #1.

Day #1 was called 'Love is patient', and it went like this:

"For the next day resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret." 

"Righty ho", I thought, rolling up my sleeves. "This should be easy"; and for most of the day I didn't even see Bryce so that definitely was easy. However, we then sat down to the evening news with the boys, which we don't normally do. As soon as the news began, my whole family began speaking over the news, one on one side of me, two on the other. I didn't manage to hear a single part of the news that evening.

Irritation welled up immediately (Crikey, is this how easily I get irritated?!) and so I got to practice this good quality: patience.

Day #2

I seemed to be in a particularly serene frame of mind after practising patience and a controlled tongue the previous night. My task today, according to the book, was to continue not to say anything negative to my spouse, and in addition say something very kind to him at some point during the day. A short and sweet dare indeed. Well, at some point that day upstairs I trundled (to his home office), and told him something particularly nice about himself. He grinned back at me. 

I liked that dare. Who doesn't like being kind? 

Day #3

Day #3 was titled 'Love is not selfish'. The dare went like this:

"Along with refraining from any negative comments, buy your spouse something that says 'I was thinking of you today' ".

I like the fact the book has to keep telling you not to make negative comments. Oh dear! Is that what marriage is like? Well, that I can do reasonably easily. But the next part was hard as Bryce is the hardest person on earth to buy things for. I literally could not think of a thing to get him. In the end, I walked down to the local shop and bought him a Snickers bar, his favorite chocolate. I left it on his pillow. He said, "What's that for?" I said, "It's for you. Since it's your favorite."

And that's where I've got to so far. In thinking about love as an action, I guess this little book, The Love Dare, helps us try a few of the following things out:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)

Thanks again to Paula Blackie for inspiring this post; and now I'd love to hear from our community: What are some practical ways you show love to your spouse?


* The Love Dare (2013), by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville: TN.

Maintaining Promised Land Living? What Does That Mean?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

Maintain Warrior sword

1:to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity) preserve from failure or decline
2to sustain against opposition or danger : uphold and defend
3to continue or persevere in CARRY ONKEEP UP
4ato support or provide for
5to affirm in or as if in argument ASSERT
1the condition of being alive
2ameans of subsistence* LIVELIHOOD
3conduct or manner of life
*Subsistence - the state of remaining in force or effect.
Promised Land
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” -- Exodus 33:14
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. -- Revelation 21:7
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -- 1 Peter 5:10
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. - John 14:12
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. - John 15:7-8
On Monday I talked about some of the joys of Promised Land Living that I have been experiencing. Today I want to talk about the hardship.
A pastor once said, "You cannot have the victory without the battle." I sometimes wish that wasn't true. Wouldn't it be so much easier if we could just stroll through life without having to fight? I don't mean arguments with spouses or getting our children to obey. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. I mean the constant battle in the spirit realm. The tugging and stretching and exhausting of our hearts and minds.
I think about someone who lifts weights at the gym. The process in which a person continually works out in order to tone and firm up their muscles is called STRENGTH TRAINING. When we go through the spiritual battles of life - the constant pressure, getting on our knees, and clinging to Jesus - we are strengthening our spirit man. It is a refining process. Just like a diamond is made under intense circumstances, we too are made into mighty warriors as we continue to maintain our life in Jesus.
Right now, I feel as though I am taking one step forward and two giant leaps backwards. It has been exhausting trying to work a full time job, cook, clean, take care of my children, handle a dog who keeps pooping in the house, unpack, find time to abide in Jesus and sleep.
I do covet your prayers in the season I am in. We have had some very wonderful memories so far in our Promised Land...but mentally I am really struggling. It has been ROUGH. Some old strongholds are trying to move back into my life - perfectionism, orphan spirit, controlling spirit, depression, anxiety to name a few.
Just because I have arrived, doesn't mean I don't have to fight for it. Remember our definition of maintain? UPHOLD. DEFEND. PERSEVERE. These are action words. When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, they didn't instantly get the land. They had to conquer in order to advance. As we step into more of what God has promised us - in our marriage, in our loved ones, in our jobs, in our households - there will be more opposition. The biggest battle will be in our hearts and minds.
What about you? What does your Promised Land look like? I am seeing a LOT of victory and praiseworthy reports in our SUM community from salvations, spouses drawing closer to the Lord, willingness to accept prayer, miraculous healings, etc.
Have you noticed an increase in spiritual attack as you gain more ground in your Promised Land? How can we pray for you? What tools has the Lord given you to be able to maintain your Promised Land living?
See you in the comments. Many blessings of an open Heaven over you and your household!

Maintaining Promised Land Living

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! 20220305_165024 (2)

It has been just over a month since the Carter Crew has signed papers and moved into our new home. A lot has unfolded - both good and bad in this time. I was going to list some things for you but I don't want to make it sound like I am out to complain...

...because that is exactly what the devil tried to get me to do. And I almost fell for it.

The Israelites, setting out on their journey out of Egypt, began with excitement. That excitement eventually faded as they succumbed to grumbling and eventually ungratefulness. After 40 years of wandering, the time had come for the next generation to step into the promised land. All that waiting. All that preparing. All that anticipation.

Stepping into the promised land was not an instant garden of Eden or heaven on earth. They had to work for it. There were enemies that had to be conquered in order to take what God deemed rightfully theirs.

Just like the Israelites, I too have had to fight to conquer and claim my promised land. My fight is not of the physical nature. Remember "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The battlefield is in my heart and mind. Tiff house new color

I've physically stepped into my promised land. This beautiful home that I have invested 2+ years claiming, praying and interceding for, crying over, anointing, and welcoming heaven to come and dwell. I am HERE! I've finally made it. BUT...

One lesson I've learned in the short time that we've been here - being in the promised land does NOT guarantee promised land LIVING. I have had days that would only allow myself to see what I DIDN'T have. As I type this, looking out the window, I still do not have a sprinkler system or sod. We have weeds and dirt. Unfortunately, this means we have to take our dog out across the street to the middle school and allow him to go "do his business." Most days, even when doing so before work, we will come home to find that Skyler has soiled our unfinished basement. This is a whole other story in and of itself but suffice it to say, pray for my mental health over this issue. I am at my wits end some days.

BUT I've got a large yard for my children to be able to play in...they don't care if it is dirt and weeds. They just love to be outside. My dog is a wonderful companion and we love him dearly (though I have had to do A LOT of forgiving of his new bad habit). I've got more than enough storage places for our things. I'm closer to work so it is a little less of a drive. My kids have a group of people they walk to school with in the mornings so I don't have to worry about them being alone. Tiff and Jase r

The best part of this new season is the atmosphere. Inviting Holy Spirit to dwell and move into His home, welcoming an open heaven where angels reside in the rafters, it just feels different. I can honestly say with joy that I've been the "right hand man" to Jason on the various home projects that we had to complete. We've worked together with great communication and listening skills. We've completed projects without arguing, been patient, had a lot of fun! The amount of yelling that happened in the past and the impatience and tears - is nothing in comparison to the joy and peace in this season.

It hasn't been easy. I've had to really be intentional to walk and live the promised land life - gratitude, patience, humility, forgiveness, calm, and most of all love.

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." - Deuteronomy 30:19-20     

Tiff cabinetry rPictured: our house finally got painted! I absolutely love the color. Jason and I worked together and got our cabinets hung and set. More than the cabinets being hung, the beautiful memories of a happy and pleasurable experience was the best anniversary gift I could have ever received. We paid one of the men who painted our house to stain the cabinets. Waiting for our countertop to come in so we can finish our pantry with some backsplash as a final touch.

See you in the comments. Many blessings!



Nothing is Impossible -- A Testimony

Ann here,

A few years ago a friend at church told me how she and her husband used to be unequally yoked, but then he became a believer. "He did?!" I gasped. "How? How?" At the time her story really helped me.

Well, this week that friend came to my house and recorded her story on video, especially for our community. Here it is for your viewing pleasure, and may it spur you on.

"For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37, ESV)



I'm sitting outside in our new backyard as I write to you. This past weekend my daughter, Caitie, flew in from Portland to celebrate my birthday and to see the new house. 

I'm a bit overwhelmed by how many boxes and just "stuff" that I still have waiting for me to sort and put away. I suspect I'll be unpacking for several months. In the last several months I've been learning a great deal about healing and praying for others who need physical healing. I know that in the future I'll be offering a LIVE teaching about what the Lord is showing me. AND I've been practicing on myself. 


Anyhoo, here is a "hello" from me, Mike and Caitie. Be patient with me as I try to get back to some rhythm and normalcy. I will hope to have things together enough to reengage with my prayer ministry in June.

I love you all. Thanks for walking this journey with me. Hugs, Lynn

Mike Lynn Caitie 5 16 2022


The GREAT Power of Our Warfare

Jesus Names of SUMThe name of Jesus.

His name can launch a war, seal the fate of nations, change the destiny of a thousand generations. His name can cast out legions of devils and free captives from the darkest depression. His name heals the blind and destroys cancer. His name can bring freedom, deliverance, new destinies and fortunes.

For an entire season of my life, I would mumble around whispering the name of Jesus. Over and over, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. His name spoken aloud changes my heart and my home. Can I share something with you that is a peek into my life? Well, ahem, even today when I wake in the night and make a trip to the bathroom, without being aware, the name of Jesus still slips from my lips. “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, you are my King. Jesus, I adore you. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Oh, that we would all have the name of Jesus continually tumbling from our lips.

Everything changed for me when I came to wrap my mind, heart and spirit around three passages of scripture and how Jesus is at the core.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2: 6-7

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. — Colossians 1:27

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:3

SUMite Nation, come to the truth and grips with these passages. Let them dwell in you and you in them. We are seated with Christ in heaven. Christ is IN US, the hope of glory. We are hidden in Christ in God.

Who could ever touch us if these are true?

Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace

The weapons of our warfare: The Word of God, Worship, Blood of Jesus, The name of Jesus. And our offensive weapon is our Sword. 

Take care. I adore you. Lynn Donovan

(From the archives as I'm STILL unpacking!  grin)

When There is Abuse in a Marriage

Hi SUM family,Abuse

It's Ann here, and today I want to talk about a topic that perhaps needs to be talked about more in the church: Abuse in marriage.

I'll start by talking about our approach to normal marriages, and then will switch tack. So, on the topic of a normal marriage, first this:

Here at SUM we are covenant people, and that very much guides our writing. We love the institution of marriage, and we fight collectively for the wholeness and health of our marriages. So, for that reason you'll see us write a lot here about loving our spouses with gusto.

We also follow the principle that we stay in our marriages, if it is at all possible. That's scriptural guidance in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, and we believe in that. We know that some here are in very difficult marriages, while others are in easier ones. For those in difficult marriages, we know many have felt God has asked them to persevere and those of you in that boat have our respect: It is no light feat.

However, there is a time and place in a marriage where it looks different to just being a 'difficult marriage'. And then we have to reexamine that concept of covenant. If a spouse is being abusive, other spiritual principles apply too.

If you are in a situation where you fear for your physical or emotional safety, or that of your children, if you are being isolated by your spouse and repeatedly controlled, or if your spouse is oppressing you emotionally in a way that is making you feel enslaved, then it is not the case that you need to hold onto your marriage just for the sake of honoring a covenant. It is also not the case that you need to stay in order to enhance your chances of your spouse's salvation. 

There will be other forms of abuse too, besides what I've written above. You know your situation and if something is 'really not right' as opposed to just being 'pretty difficult', do seek help.

What is God's heart here? Well, I'd say God takes oppression and abuse of the vulnerable extremely seriously and does not allow it to go unchecked. We see that repeatedly in scripture (e.g., Isaiah 3:13-15; Exodus 22:21-24). Further, he views the oppression of another person to be an utterly wicked thing (Jeremiah 22:17; Jeremiah 9:9). The wrath of God is no light thing. Meanwhile, his heart is for you, his beloved, and he does not want you in unnecessary bondage.

Arguably, abuse breaks one side of the marriage covenant and then the abuser is like the unbeliever in Paul's words who has left their marriage (1 Corinthians 7:15). God does not expect you to keep turning the other cheek to this, or to try to pray your way into changing the abuser while staying in a scary or crushing situation. 

So, that's our heart too for anyone in an abusive marriage. We love covenant, but we stand against abuse.

There is so much more that could be said about abuse. It is complicated to be in it, and there are many resources written by Christians that are of help. But, all we want to say here is that if any of this is applying to you, then reach out to someone who works with domestic abuse, or a local organization that specializes in this. Keep praying, keep seeking God's voice and his help, and please know that you're always welcome to reach out to us too for prayer or counsel too.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Much love, 


The Different Kinds of Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Ann here! Couple

Over recent years I've really enjoyed finding out about our community, and how different people found themselves in a spiritually mismatched situation. We truly have a vibrant mix among our readership, and you can be sure that if you're feeling alone there is someone else here who is going through the same thing as you!

There are different ways in which people suddenly find themselves 'spiritually mismatched', and I thought it might be interesting to look at those today. After all, everything we learn about spiritually mismatched marriage from each other helps us minister to others who come up behind us on the path.

So, here we go: Broadly, people get into a spiritually mismatched situation usually through one of five ways:

  1. They were a Christian who married an unbeliever.
  2. Their spouse was Christian when they married but then left the faith.
  3. They and their spouse have always been Christians, but one person's growth took off after marrying, or one became lukewarm.
  4. They married someone they thought was Christian, then found out that person wasn't.
  5. They became a Christian after getting married.

Have I missed any? Let me know if your circumstance isn't covered in the above, I'd love to hear it. 

In terms of the prevalence of this among males and females, we all know by now that it is more common for women to be the believers in a spiritually mismatched marriage. But there certainly are men too. In our readership, we do have men as well as women. The men comment less, but we meet them behind the scenes in emails.

There are specific kinds of pain that apply to each of the above cases. For example, if someone has a spouse who is outwardly Christian but behind closed doors it seems they might not be (i.e., nominally Christian but no fruit), that can be particularly lonely. It's impossible to explain to the church without 'outing' the spouse, and then that becomes a question of 'where do I find friendship and support?'

For those who chose to marry an unbeliever, many struggle with guilt and/or regret. They have to work through the question of 'What is God's view of this now?' We'll write a post on that soon.

For those whose spouses leave the faith, there is deep, almost unbearable grief, and they are forced to get used to having a completely new person as their spouse: One who is now welcoming new things into the home (often atheism), and a spouse who is particularly resistant to being persuaded that Jesus is true.

Finally, those who convert after marriage find it extremely difficult to move forward in their new faith. Their spouse is part of their old life, they are now a new creation, and so they must navigate how to build a new life with their spouse, who is often unhappy: A 'new normal' that fits them both.

What an interesting mix of things there. But, there are commonalities that apply to most, if not all, of us who are spiritually mismatched:

  • There is an aloneness in our walk. 
  • We build our relationship with Jesus by ourselves, not with our spouse.
  • We have the responsibility to lead our family spiritually, regardless of our gender.
  • It's difficult for us to connect with the church, and yet we must.
  • The spiritual warfare of our particular situation is intense, and so we are frequently embattled.
  • We must learn to forgive our spouse for their unbelief.
  • We focus deeply on the covenant of marriage.

So all in all, that's our picture. That's our community. And what an adventure to journey together in it. Despite the above challenges, I know that many of us reach the point where we say "I wouldn't change it for the world, because of what it's done for my relationship with Jesus."

In the comments I'd love to hear how you got into a spiritually mismatched marriage - And what challenges does that specifically bring?

Much love to you all,


Do Nothing?

  Ocean Hello my lovely SUMites! I have a little story God put on my heart recently. It is a little bit intense, but I think it is the perfect metaphor for how some of us may be feeling in this season of life. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me. Then I will share one of my own experiences with letting go.

  Imagine yourself hanging over the edge of a high cliff. All you can see below your dangling feet is a dense fog. You have no idea if the ground is 2 feet or 200 feet away.  You start to panic! Your mind is racing, your breathing quickens, your heart is pounding in your chest. You are completely terrified of the unknown. As your mind races, questions arise, "How did I let myself get here? What happens next? How can I get myself out of this? Will I be stuck here forever? What am I going to do?". You start to feel hopeless, weak, embarrassed, and maybe even angry at yourself and the situation. Then, as gentle and quiet as a soft breeze, you hear a voice. The softest whisper calls out to you, "Trust me, and let go". This voice is so sure, so comforting, and so familiar! It is your father! THE Father! Calling out from somewhere just out of sight. Asking you to trust him enough, to love him enough, to have enough reckless faith to LET GO! Can you do that? Can you let go of what you have been clutching and let yourself fall into the Father's waiting arms?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5 CSB

The first half of this year has been full of lessons and trials for me and my family. And it all came to a head at a weekend ladies retreat with my church. The weekend was full of wonderful words and worship. On our last night there one of the pastors said she had a word from God for all of us in attendance. He told her that he knew we had been struggling with battles we didn't know how to fight anymore. And when we took communion that night our eyes would be opened and we would know exactly what we were supposed to do. Now there had been some serious struggles in my marriage and I was getting tired. I had been trying to fix everything for so long, and now I was at the end of my rope.

"You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace" Isaiah 26:3 CSB

So, as I waited in line for communion I prayed and I praised. We each took turns walking under an altar that represented his protection and love. Afterwards I found a quiet corner and stayed in worship mode. The Lord kept saying "Let go...let go...let go". I just couldn't understand that. I am a "fixer"! I like to get elbow deep into the issues and work them out! How can he be telling ME to let go?

Then, a woman I had just recently met, who had no idea about my situation came up to me. We prayed for each other. And right after she told me she felt like God wanted me to do...nothing. NOTHING! Whaaaaaat? I have no training for doing nothing! haha! This scared me and gave me peace all at once.

Later that night while I was in bed, God clarified by telling me it was time to have reckless faith! The faith that trusts enough to LET GO. Pray of course, walk in faith daily! But stop trying to make things happen on my own time. To loosen my chokehold on life, on my family, and on my marriage. To trust him like I never have before. This is a new and foreign place to me. I am still working it out. And some days I fail, but that is when I lean on his grace and start over. God has been so good and so patient as I fumble my way through this new season of faith!

What are some things God wants you to let go of? To step back and do nothing so that he can work? Let's discuss it together in the comments!


Meet our Community

Happy Friday, everyone -- Ann here.

We are truly blessed to have a community of inspiring, strong, faith-filled men and women here at SUM, and I'm really looking forward to more of the upcoming Let's Talk Live videos where we will get to hear some of their voices. Some weeks we'll have a guest, and some weeks it will just be me.

This week was our first one, and I had the pleasure of talking to Gladys Rosario Arias. If you missed it here it is:

I won't always manage to put the video on the blog afterwards, depending on what else there is to share in a given week; but you'll be able to find each one on our YouTube channel after we've gone live. 

Hope you have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday.


Shifting our Focus: Part 3 - Slow Down

Photos courtesy of

Over the past couple of months I’ve been sharing some thoughts on how we shift our focus away from our busyness and ourselves to refocus on Jesus. In my first post, we shared about meditating on Scripture and the second one in Holy Week was about the power and wonder of Stillness.

This time around I wanted to share about a practice that I’ve taken on more conscientiously this year … Sabbath rest.

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” (Dallas Willard)

I’ve read that quote from Dallas Willard, one of my favourite teachers, many times. Willard believed that hurry was “the great enemy of the spiritual life.” I think we can all testify to how challenging busyness is and how it can limit our time with God, and Christian friends. How frequently do you respond when someone asks ‘how are you’ with something along the lines of ‘good … just very busy’ or that’s the response you get when you ask similarly?

We live in a busy world. There are many people who believe it’s the enemy’s greatest weapon in keeping believers away from God: just keep them busy.

I only noticed the other day how I was feeling out of kilter. It didn’t take me long to appreciate why. I had been running around for several days being very busy and hadn’t spent sufficient time with God. I hadn’t refuelled. I was doing everything out of my own strength.

Jesus Walked

Yes, I know, Jesus lived in a time when there were no cars and really the only way to commute was by walking. But it’s fair to stay Jesus did a lot of it.

Jesus never hurried. Read that again.

Why should we?

Rest Day

We’re all familiar with the notion of the Sabbath. I’ll be honest I probably haven’t ever strictly adopted a practice of setting aside a day to rest. Be with God, celebrate with family and friends and try to do no work, even household chores.

But I’ve been trying to do it this year. And even then, I still seem to do one load of washing. But I’m not going to beat myself up about that.

We were designed to rest. Why? Besides the obvious physical and mental benefits of rest, Krispin Mayfield shares another practical benefit:

“... it is when we rest and cease our striving that we experience God’s presence more consistently.”

And that’s what we’re trying to do here, isn’t it? Shift our focus increasingly towards Jesus more consistently.


I don’t think Sabbath has to be Sunday. Many people do it on Saturday. I do sometimes. As life tends to be so different for each one of us, there’s no reason it can’t be any day of the week really. It’s more what we do with our time that’s more the issue, not what day we do it.

It's challenging with a household of kids, chores, kids sport, music lessons, and so on to be able to set aside a whole day to not do any form or work or anything. What about making lunch and dinner? That’s part of the feasting so I reckon that’s okay. (I really appreciated this during Lent. Fast for 6 days and Sunday is feast day. So no fasting! Woohoo!)

For we SUMites it can be even more challenging because our partner might not get the concept of Sabbath and expect weekends to be about household projects.

We can get very legalistic about it but like all things spiritual it's more about what’s going on in our hearts and our attitude towards such a practice. It’s about letting go for a while, resting, relaxing, loving and feasting. Not about ticking boxes off.

Remember, God knows our situations. He understands. He appreciates that our Sabbath might be a couple of hours here, a couple there. Just talk to Him, involve Him in it. Ask Him to reveal His passion for it and how He can assist you to introduce/practice it. His way is the gentle way; the easy yoke. No stressing allowed.

Next time, I’ll share some more on simplifying our days. In the meantime, be great if we could have a conversation in the comments about our Sabbath’s. Do we practice it? How do we do it? Once again, no guilt here, no condemnation. It’s only something I’ve finally started taking seriously. Let’s love each other in the comments.

Grace and peace.


Let's Talk Live this week

Hello friends, Ann here. Let's Talk Live

We have some nice news this week: Many of you will remember we used to do a weekly live chat on our Facebook page. Well, we're going to start that up again.

So, each Wednesday at 3pm Pacific time, I'll be hopping on to do a Live video, which will stream on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel. You'll be able to comment if you like, and we should be able to make it a little interactive. Exciting!

We'll sometimes have guests come on over the coming weeks, and we'll cover a different topic each week relating to spiritually mismatched marriage.

So, with that, I'm pleased to announce our very first guest who has kindly agreed to come online and share a little. Gladys picMany of you will have heard us mention Gladys Rosario Arias, who has been a great help to us behind the scenes and inspired a few of our events such as the 24-hour worship event. She is a long-time member of this community and an encourager to many. I can't wait to chat with her. She lives in Florida, and has a large family of adult children and grandchildren for whom she prays like crazy. Our topic for Wednesday is going to be thriving in your own faith rather than just surviving when married to a non-believing spouse.

While we're on the topic of live connection, we also want to thank you for all your feedback about our proposed Bible Study on Zoom. Lynn is going to do some planning for that, and we will keep you posted.

For now, I've got a question to ask and would love some more feedback from you: What topics would you like to see us talk about on these upcoming live videos?

Thanks in advance for your answers, and looking forward to seeing some of you in the video comments on Wednesday.