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14 entries from August 2023

And If They Accept Our Faith ...

Dear friends, Ann here again. Spectrum

In our community, our spouses sit on a spectrum when it comes to how much they accept our faith.

At one end of the spectrum, we have those spouses who hate our faith and fight tooth and nail against it. I'm sorry to say that: And it is so tough to walk through a season like that in your marriage.

Then, in the middle of the spectrum are those spouses who feel nothing about it. They express no interest either way and are completely ambivalent. "Meh, whatever," they'll shrug. 

Finally, on the other end of the spectrum are those spouses who are generously supportive. They welcome the concept of faith and Jesus, and they find it not unattractive in us ... At times they find it attractive, even. In this case, the spouse hasn't yet surrendered their life to Jesus, but they would be up for it if their passion or interest was ignited.

The acceptance levels of a spouse seem to evolve over time. In my own marriage that's what has happened: Bryce and I have gently, imperceptibly walked from one far end of the spectrum right to the other end.

Amazing huh! Where does your spouse sit on this spectrum right now?

It has got me thinking, and here's what I believe:

When our spouse accepts and supports our faith, it is an act of welcome to Jesus. They are welcoming Jesus in, because they have said 'yes' to it in us and therefore in THEIR life.

All along, they have had a choice. They could choose to leave, which the Bible says some do (1 Corinthians 7:15). It's a big choice for them: Are they going to leave, or are they going to stay sharing a bed and a life with someone who smells like the aroma of Jesus Christ? (2 Corinthians 2:15-17)

This decision, for them, might be one they evaluate, deep down, over months, years and decades. They are faced with us daily and therefore the decision is constant: How are you going to respond to Jesus in your spouse?

I see acceptance, therefore, as a really, really big deal. An accepting spouse might not yet have ticked the 'saved' box in terms of repenting, declaring faith in Jesus with their tongue, and getting baptized themselves, but their response outwardly tells us that in their heart they now find Jesus a sweet aroma.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  (2 Corinthians 2:15-17, ESV)

So, if your spouse accepts your faith, celebrate it! Their heart is in the right place.

And, on the other hand, if your spouse is currently sitting on the other end of the spectrum and fighting against your faith, do not fret -- Even if it has been years. It is not over till the fat lady sings: God is fighting this battle, and there's a walk along this spectrum that your spouse is going to be taking. You may not notice the shift even; but know that many shift into a place of acceptance eventually.

On that happy note, I say goodbye for the weekend. Where are you currently sitting on the spectrum? See you in the comments.


A Must-Read!

Dear SUMites, Ann here Hope is coming

A couple of weeks ago I walked into my local library. I wasn't even intending to get a book out, but my eyes rested on one singular book, sitting there innocuously on the shelf: 'Hope is Coming: A True Story of Grief and Gratitude'.

Looks interesting, I thought, and took it home.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I began reading at 2pm. By 5pm I was glued to the chair unable to put the book down even to go to the toilet. And by 7pm I had to shout upstairs to my two children, 'Sorry boys, can you get your own dinner? I've got this book....'

11pm rolled round and I was two thirds of the way through, having barely interacted with my family the whole evening due to the gripping nature of this book. Bryce called out 'I'm going to bed Ann!' and so I had to reluctantly lay ... this amazing ... story ... down. Until the morning.

I won't spoil it for you. It is a very sad book. It is about a woman whose husband got cancer in his early thirties. But it is a glorious and miraculous book. It is a memoir about a conversion: An unlikely conversion that happened in the most impossible of circumstances.

It will fill you with hope; and it will give you the kind of testimony that is important to have as a SUMite: A testimony that nothing is impossible with God, and that when his power comes sweeping into a situation it changes EVERYTHING.

It's well worth a read.

Hope is Coming: A True Story of Grief and Gratitude, by Louise Blyth (2021), published by Yellow Kite.

And, if you can't get the book and prefer to get a little synopsis of the story from the author herself, here's the video version of her testimony.



The Emotional Toll of a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage: Staying Healthy

Ann here! Juices

Here at SUM we do make a point of making our posts positive and hopeful: that is a great characteristic that God loves.

And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love .. (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things .. (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV)

That said, it's also important to be real and to allow each other to bleed. That is what helps us not feel alone. 

So today I wanted to talk about the emotional toll that a spiritual mismatch in marriage takes. Do you find it has left an emotional toll on you? I certainly have felt like that. I feel it less so now, thankfully, but I remember a few years ago thinking to myself, 'Wow, bringing faith into my marriage has really taken its toll.'

Some SUMites have even said they became unwell from the stress; that is, the difficulty took a physical toll for a while there. The reason it's so very difficult is it's a spiritual situation: the spiritual battle for the salvations of our families and our own spiritual health is real, and it is fierce.

So what are the specific challenges?

Sometimes it's helpful to put things into words, so I thought I might articulate a few thoughts here.

  • First of all we grieve the fracture between us and our spouse. We so badly want to be close to our spouse, but the fracture runs so deep that however hard we try to bridge it, it's there. That, in turn, causes sadness.
  • In addition to that, we cannot easily be our authentic selves in our home -- A place we should be able to be most comfortable. We suffer persecution for our faith from the person who should be our safest ally. 
  • Because our authentic self is often rejected in our home, we feel we have to hide who we are. We get lonely.
  • We wrestle with deep concern about our spouse's eternal future, and -- even worse -- deep concern about our children. We are continually convicted about their choices and intensely frustrated, yet we feel helpless to do anything about it, and susceptible to fear.
  • Some of us wrestle with huge guilt about our marriage, and then feel bad for feeling that way about our spouse. So there's a double guilt thing going on there.
  • We wrestle with envy towards other Christians who have more straightforward Christian lives. 
  • Friendships become complicated because we have different tastes in friends to our spouse. We grieve that.
  • And finally, any act of faith that we partake is in some way a battle - whether big or small -- because our spouse doesn't love it. That can get quite exhausting!

The difficulty we face is multi-faceted. And it's hard to explain to anyone who is not walking the path why it is so difficult. I have tried to explain to my parents, for example (who are Christian), and though they have always been good listeners I've never quite been able to fully convey it. 'The saint must walk alone', as A. W. Tozer said.

So that's the battle. And, what do we do with that? Well, perhaps we recognize the depth of intensity and go easy on ourselves a little. It is hard, and we can sit with that, acknowledge it as that, and keep bringing it to Jesus. "Lord, this is HARD".

And then, self-care is really important. I did a video on self-care a few months ago, here, and I noted quite a few things we can do to help ease the emotional toll. Self-care is critical for the sake of everyone involved. We spend a lot of energy working on being the best spouse we can be, because the Bible calls us to, but we mustn't forget to devote time and energy to care of ourselves as an equal priority. That's how we can be at our best for our families.

Finally, keep on taking those difficult emotions to Jesus. Lay them out on a table before him and talk through them with him one by one. He is our merciful and wise confidante - as is the Holy Spirit.

You can always reach out to this community too :-)

So, on that note I'd love to pray for you. If you feel like sharing, post in the comments what you're wrestling with at the moment, and let's gather round you.

Love you all


His and Hers Bibles

By Ann Hutchison His n hers 3

My friends, some time ago I discovered my husband's Bible, and when I did, I discovered something amazing.

He and I each got given Bibles by our parents when we were young. His was given to him in 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand, when he was eleven years old. Mine, meanwhile, was given to me eleven years later when I was nineteen years old, in Texas, USA. That was before I met him. I was studying there, and my parents sent me some money from England and told me to choose myself a Bible. So I went out and randomly purchased one. I didn't know what I was looking for, I didn't know anything about Bibles, but I purchased a nice big leather one.

Well, guess what I discovered... Is the following a coincidence?

Bryce and I have the same Bible!

There are slight differences considering their different ages; but they are the same Bible.

The Holy Bible

The New King James version

Wide Margin Edition with center-column references, concordance, etc. 

Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Two leather-bound Bibles: One black, one dark red. The same size. The same Bible. His n hers 2

His n hers. Ann and Bryce. Always known by God to be together.  Always known by God to be growing in faith together.

On the spine, Bryce's Bible says NELSON 476 while mine says NELSON 475BG. This too is cool: his name is Bryce Gavin. BG. So you could say his initials were inscribed on my Bible before I met him!!! 475, 476: Well, one would always turn before the other. One would go first, the other second.

But in the Kingdom the first are last, and the last are first. It doesn't matter.

Both Bibles have a satin ribbon bookmark. Mine is currently sitting in Jeremiah 40-41, where I left off reading this morning, the enthusiastic Bible-leader of the two of us. His? Well, let's take a look:

((I am turning to it as I write, curious what I will find ...))

Proverbs 2: The value of wisdom and Proverbs 3: Guidance for the young. Perfect verses for this blog post. I will write them below in a minute.

Bryce's Bible's sheets are crisp, with the odd highlighted passage from when he was a child. Clean, crisp pages, ready for a fresh faith start. Mine? Scribbled all over, from ten years of avid God-life. 

So, all in all, how cool is that? I love it. I love the fact my husband and I have matching Bibles. Is it one more God wink that He is all over this situation? I sure think so. After all, what would be the chances of this happening? 

I'll end with the passage that Bryce's Bible is book-marked at. It seems appropriate: His n hers 1

My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 2:1-3, NKJV)


My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. 

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4, NKJV)

And that, my friends, sums up my heart and prayer for my precious, precious husband.

Now I'd love to hear from you: How easy do you find it to believe that your spouse is on this path with you?

In His love,



Daily Bible on AmazonHi SUMers,

Lynn Donovan here. I want to tackle a question that was submitted through our community survey we took a number of months back.

Q: I need help with fighting anger and frustration at times as I am pulled in so many directions by family and work. Alone time with God is precious but a daily struggle to find.

As I consider this question, there are actually a lot of things this writer is asking. I perceive the questions as follows:

  • I’m angry and I don’t want to be, please help.
  • I want help with the family, how do I get it?
  • I feel guilty that my alone time sufferers because I’m so exhausted.

I hope my interpretation is close.

Many of you don’t likely know that I worked in Corporate America for 25 years. I struggled greatly to balance working, family, and time with God. I did discover a simple solution for daily time with the Lord that helped me tremendously. I’ll share that in a bit.

Let’s answer the overarching question that is really being asked here. I’m mad, sad, and have so much pressure to deal with. How do I cope and/or change my situation.

Let me state clearly here, the answer the world will give you is: DIVORCE

That’s not the right answer. Here is the answer and I believe it is directly from our heavenly Father.

Take the pressure off yourself. God never asked you to do all of these things. Nor do you have to do them to perfection. This is comparison to others and fear of man. The Father loves you exactly where you are. In your failures, your messiness, your flaws and when you sit around in your gym shorts.

God had to say these things to me one day when I was struggling. He said, “Lynn, I never asked you to do all these things. The pressure you feel, you place upon yourself. I know it’s hard down there, I just want you to do the best you can. That is more than enough.”

What a relief.

But back to the question at hand. I have some practical solutions. Afterall, I started this blog so we can share practical steps to thrive.

Well, start by excusing yourself from perfection. And if you have a demanding, perfectionist mate, it’s time for a sit down to establish new expectations. This sit down might also apply to the sharing of tasks with a spouse. Do your homework and offer sound information how the sharing of tasks is healthy and makes for a great marriage. Jointly establish clear expectations for you both as parents and also the children. Then follow through. This is key. If you say you are going to do something. Do it. That is called integrity and it garners respect in the future.

If your spouse won’t help and if you can manage it, hire help. Help with the housework. Order boxed meals for the family. Hire help for the kids and laundry. Pick and choose what you need the most and ask God for the resources. Then cut, cut, cut.

It used to be every six months God would show up and tell me to prune stuff from my life. I would overcommit and then never have the wherewithal to do everything I promised. I felt like an idiot and I felt really bad when I had to break commitments to people that I’d only recently made. But because I love a good cause, I would volunteer myself to help. Ugh!

I stopped doing that and am very selective about how I resource my time. I have balance most of the time, and only participate in things that give me joy.

Process your anger. Get help with counseling. Have a prayer session. Pray, pray and pray. Command that beast out of your life and home. Then, daily bless yourself with peace. In Jesus name. OUT LOUD!

Finally, commit to arise 30 minutes earlier than the kids. Open a daily Bible and read the portions for today's date. Then journal your prayers. Listen and write down the responses you sense from the Holy Spirit. This process begins as drudgery, but it will quickly become your desire and the best part of your day. And THAT’S A PROMISE.

Okay, that’s a wrap. I hope a few of these tips make your life and marriage a bit more blessed. I love you, Lynn

A Testimony, by Barb Twigg

Barb here with a testimony! Barb baptism

A few months back I felt led to start praying and declaring that our clubhouse belongs to the Lord and His Holy Spirit is welcome. I declared we’d see salvations, healings and deliverance. Our pool will become a baptismal. 

I live in a 55+ community where we meet on Thursdays for Bible Study. John is our leader at age 90! He sometimes will have me pray at the end of our study. So I started telling our little class these declarations and what I see coming. 

All of a sudden Yoga is being pushed into our clubhouse. You may not agree with me but I’ve done some research on Yoga and let’s just say our clubhouse serves the Lord and we will have no other gods before us. That was the first pushback we got after believing and declaring!

Then a few weeks ago one of our brothers in Christ pulled me aside and asked if I would baptize him in the pool! I didn’t even hesitate to say yes! He wanted to be baptized on his birthday. He explained he never got “dunked only sprinkled” and he wanted dunked. So be it! Thank you Jesus!

The day before the baptism I went over to a neighbor's and weeded his front garden. He’s elderly and I help him out. Wouldn’t you know after the last weed was pulled I stood up to walk away and BAM my lower back was wrecked. Granted, I did bend and twist but I always do!  Nope this was a straight up attack from the devil. He didn’t want this baptism to happen. I went to war and took care of my back and him!  The morning of baptism all was well with my back, except for a little kink, but a massive headache was coming on. Here again I’m like "not today Satan! Just get behind me because you aren’t stopping this!"  Then I get the courage to tell my husband I’m going to the pool to baptize a friend. He said “can’t you go to the beach?”  I didn’t reply, instead I took it to the Lord. I prayed he would soften his heart and take care of him. 

Headache gone! In the pool I asked if Don made Jesus the Lord and Savior of his life and he said yes! I and my sister dunked him and raised him to new life! Praise God! Such a wonderful day! On my way home it dawned on me that I didn’t say “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” How could I have not said that? I went back to the pool and thank goodness he was still there! I told him we have to do it again. A double dip on your birthday! He said "Sure, no problem." So into the pool we went, and all the right things were said! Hallelujah!

I get home and quietly enter. Nothing was said until later and my husband wanted to know who all came. He then asked if John did it. I said "no". He said “you did,” and I said yes! And that was it! Praise God for answered prayer. 

It’s times like these that we want so badly to share with our husbands, and most of all for them to be a part of it. The attacks, the baptism and the double dip! Don’t you feel sorry for them at times? They are missing out on the glorious life as a Jesus follower and doer. God knows our husbands' hearts. When they see us stepping out and doing ministry it’s got to speak to them! The most important take away: Obey the Lord. Do what you’re called to do and let the Lord take care of your husband. This has always been hard for me but I’m learning. Walk in His glory and celebrate with Jesus. Barb Twigg

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Barb Twigg is wife to Rick of 33 years. They live in sunny south Florida and are enjoying retirement. She was born to teach and encourage. The Lord led her to the book 'Winning Him Without Words' and she found her beloved SUMites! She loves to encourage in the Lord and operates in the gift of faith. If you have doubt, she’ll lead you to belief! She’s always willing to learn from the Holy Spirit and God's Word then teach it to others. She is active in her church and community to reach the lost and walk out her God given assignments.

The Story Behind the Pair-Shaped Promise

My friends, Pair shaped

Thank you ever so much for cheering me on with this book draft I've written. I got quite a few messages from you in the comments and privately, and do you know, that really encouraged me -- To keep going, and get the story out there.

It's Friday early evening as I type, my feet are up, my worship music is on, and now I'm settled in on my couch to tell you the story behind this book. It is rather a gorgeous story.

I wrote part one of this book way back in 2017. It was my testimony: My testimony of being an adult convert, and all that came with that. I described deeply what it meant for my marriage, but also the stunning things God did to show me he was real.

Once a week while Bryce and the boys would go out to swimming lessons I would write one chapter. Chapter by chapter over the following weeks the testimony took shape. But it had a core message that was at the crux of the book:

God had given me a specific promise. Ann Bryce 3

About my husband. And more.

After writing eighteen chapters, one day I heard God say "It's a wrap". Just like that. He was saying to me "Now wrap up this book, put it away somewhere, and I'll tell you when it's time to write part two."

"Should I get it published now?" I asked him.

"No. There's definitely part two," he showed me. "Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Dot dot dot .....

And so I did just that. I decided to wait. 'Part One' of The Pair-Shaped Promise sat wrapped up under my bed while I waited for my promise to come, for six whole years. I barely told anyone about it. But sometimes I would pull the manuscript out and read it as a reminder of where God had taken me, and what I was believing for next. 

Well, my friends, after six years of waiting, God said to me in February of this year, "It's time to write Part Two". He gave me about ten confirmations that this was what I needed to do.

And so I pulled my laptop to me ... And I began to write .... About how the promise was fulfilled. 

Because, my friends, the promise was fulfilled. It did come. It surely came. And I've written barely anything about it yet on the blog, so the book is a special little surprise story for you.

I find myself bouncing on the couch as I type this, in anticipation. But what I'll also say is this: 'Does God ever do things the way we expect him to?

Well, the plan is to get the manuscript proof-read next. Ian has offered to do a read-through too as he's a writer and has judged memoirs in writing competitions: What a blessing to have him. And then I'm thinking of self-publishing it.

On that note, I'd better hurry up and get it done so you can enjoy reading it. For, somehow, I feel this story will be an enjoyable one for you SUMites. You'll 'get' it. 

Well, have a lovely weekend everyone!


A New Book Adventure

Hello my friends, Ann here. Pair-shaped promise cover

Well, I've had a little interesting thing going on here over the last couple of months: I have been writing a book!

I've been going to the same Cafe repeatedly and asking God what to write, chapter by chapter. I've stayed for hours at a time sometimes, writing writing writing writing.

Lynn has also had a separate little writing spate going on too. She also has been writing a book, and she'll tell you about hers in due course.

With mine, I finally finished the manuscript this weekend, and here's a cheeky little front cover I whipped up. The book is called 'The Pair Shaped Promise: A True Story'.

It's a spiritual memoir. The book is my testimony, and it's deeply personal. 

I've written a blurb to go on the back, and it says this:


What would happen if you asked God if he was real? What would that do to your life?

One day, Ann Hutchison, a university lecturer and mum of two did just that: She asked God if he was real. That simple act brought a spiritual earthquake into her home, leaving her and her husband never the same again.

The two of them found themselves spiritually mismatched: One was pursuing God, one was not. And yet, Ann believed that God had given her a promise about something that would happen next. An impossible promise. Was it for real?

The Pair-Shaped Promise is a memoir about what happens when God gives you a promise, and what it looks like when that promise comes true.


So, my dear SUMites, I can't wait to share it with you! I've got a little more to tell you about it in my next post because the writing was a curious process. But for now it's just nice to be able to share.

Thanks for listening,

13 Years

Family PictureHello my friends! Amanda here! I have a special post to share with you this week. You see, today (August 13th) is my 13th wedding anniversary! There was a time when I thought we would never make it to this point. After all, we all know being in a marriage, any marriage, is challenging. When you throw in a spiritual mismatch it certainly adds an extra layer of complex difficulties. We have faced so many storms I was sure would sink our ship, yet here we stand! On solid ground and more united than ever! Is our marriage perfect? Nope! Is he saved? Not yet :). But Daniel and I are in a place now I once thought was impossible. A place of mutual respect, strong communication, and beautiful peace. I want my message today to bring hope. Hope to anyone out there struggling in their mismatched marriage.

While I was contemplating the last few years of our marriage, I thought of a few tips I would like to share with you all. Tips that I have found to be incredibly helpful in my marriage, and I am sure they can help someone else out there as well!

**Quick side note: I know Lynn covers a few of these topics in her book "Winning Him Without Words". If you do not have it GET IT! She goes into much more detail and her God-given wisdom is vital to this journey we are on! This post is just my personal take on my experiences with my hubby :).**

First, do not allow the enemy to make you think your marriage is doomed. That is was all a huge mistake and will inevitably end in disaster. That kind of thinking is partnering with death and has no place in any marriage! You can still have a beautiful, loving marriage even as a SUMite. I have come to believe that my marriage to Daniel IS part of God's plan for my life. Being with an unbeliever has pushed me into a deeper and more intimate relationship with God that I truly do not think I would have had otherwise. This journey makes us need God in a very unique way. And I am thankful for that!

Second, be the peace in your home! My friends, it is so very important that we do not give in to the fears and anxieties of this world! As the representation of Christ in our homes part of our duty is to bring the peace. We must remember where our hope comes from. We lean on the rock that never falters and will not be shaken! But our spouses are not looking up to the father for their guidance. They are looking at the chaos all around them every day trying to find a quiet place to land and feel steady. We can help there. Give your spouse a long hug at the end of the day, ask them what you can do for them when you see their stress or anxiety rising. The change won't be immediate, but watch how the atmosphere shifts!

Third, silence! Sometimes we need to speak up, speak out, and say no. Other times we need to be still and wait on the Lord! Not every disagreement should turn into a battle. Not every thought needs to be shared. And we are NOT always right (that one I struggle with haha). Pray for wisdom in this, ask God to shut your mouth you shouldn't speak, and give you the grace to speak in love when you do. Sometimes our silence speaks the loudest. Not when we are using it as a manipulation, but when we use it in wisdom. 

My last tip is to focus on the good! It is far too easy to complain. We compile a mental list of our spouses faults and drown ourselves in self pity or self righteousness. This is a snare that catches all of us at some point. It is in those times we must take our thoughts captive and replace each complaint with a praise! Even if you can only think of two good things to say about your spouse. Repeat them over and over! After a while you start to notice more and more things worthy of praise.

In closing, here is a bonus tip, the most important tip, NEVER stop praying for them! Bring them to the Father as often as possible, they need it!

I would love to read your tips in the comments!

Friendships -- A Christian Perspective. Guest Post by Jim Edwards

After our recent pair of posts on friendships, a long-time friend of this ministry, Jim Edwards, was inspired to write a third piece to it. So without further ado, I hand over to Jim --


Friendships -- A Christian Perspective Jim pic

I’ve been much mused at Ian and Ann’s wonderful descriptions of our different friendships and conversation styles, man to man, and women to women. So I started tossing around in my mind how would Christian to Christian conversation compare…. As a man, I’m not interested in girlie things, and I struggle with many men just as Ian so beautifully describes as I’m not really interested in their things either.

But there’s a passion and intensity behind the topics that interest me such as:

  • How did you come to meet Jesus, and the wonder, the joy, and the fruit of this intimacy with Him, and just what does that looks like?
  • How do we express that, especially with our words but in wider ways too?
    •             to our spouse
    •             to our children
    •             to our friends and work colleagues
    •             to our neighbors
  • Our adoption into His family and the covenantal bond behind that adoption, and hence the power of His promises to us (Hebrews 6:16-18).

Then there’s the presence and power of Holy Spirit living in us and outworking His gifts and grace through us (Romans 8:9). This naturally spills out into topics like:

  • The power of our words, for good or for evil,
  • How prophetic words carry Holy Spirit power to bring them about.
  • The importance of our heavenly language to build up our spirit being – like an exercise machine for working out our spirits.
  • The healings we have seen or personally experienced whether they be of body, mind or spirit, and our longings to see so much more.
  • How Holy Spirit is such a comforter to us in times of loneliness hurt and pain (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
  • His destiny for each one of us, and what does that look like for you.
  • Your longings and dreams and how they align with His plans and purposes.
  • The difficulty of taking His incredible promises to heart and believing them (Ephesians 3:20).
  • How the Lord gives and never, never ever takes away – Oh that’s a fun one! Romans 11:29: “All of His gifts and callings on our lives are irrevocable.”

And how we so readily leave the most important till last – just how can I help, draw you closer to Him, and bring His healing to those sore and hurting places.

I’m looking forward to picking Ann up at SFO and driving across to Lynn’s place. I’m expecting a very animated conversation as we compare our very different experiences of the same King Jesus, from our very different backgrounds.

I saw I was mentioned in the Facebook posts on the meet-up – I’m a Brit widower, who first met Lynn on her second visit to Bethel’s Open Heaven Conference many years ago and we’ve remained good friends ever since. I’ve contributed the occasional comment to the blog posts down the years and love the many aspects of Lynn’s ministry, so some will know me.

I love Bethel so much I bought a place near the church, just last summer, so I could spend more time there and become part of the Bethel family. Jesus tells the parable of a man who found a field with some treasure in it, so he sold all that he had to buy the field. This house is my field, and Bethel the treasure – I count it a wonderful privilege to have been able to do this.

I’m a writer and will have some books to give to each of you that are coming to Lynn’s, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting you all.

If I can help any of you on your journey to Open Heaven, or your time in Redding then do please ask. I will have at least two places in the car driving up on Wednesday morning, if you’re up for 2-3 hours of animated conversation.

Jim Edwards is a long-time friend of the SUM ministry. He lives in Selsey, on the south coast of the UK, and has a beautiful family of four grown children and two grandchildren. Now retired, he enjoys writing, travelling - especially to America, where his grandchildren live -- and, of course, spending time with the Lord. His website is here -

What does my husband think of this blog?

Hi SUMites, Ann here. Ann Bryce 2

Sometimes we've been asked how our spouses feel about our writing. Good question!!


I remember when I was a reader of this blog and before I contributed any writing to it, I often used to look at Lynn and Dineen who, at the time, co-ran the blog, and thought "What on earth do their husbands think of this?"

They shared that their husbands supported their ministry, acknowledging that it was useful and needed. After many years of pain, Lynn's husband's reaction when she decided to start the blog was "Honey, if it helps one couple avoid what we've been through then do it."

That's nice.

So what about my hubby?

Truthfully, when I sensed a clear call in 2017 from God that I was to step forward into writing on here -- and it was a clear call -- it was a very, very difficult proposition for me. Until then I had been quietly reading the blog and commenting sometimes, but I used to keep my presence low key lest my husband saw and got offended.

Then I sensed that call. God told me I needed to step forward bravely, and essentially 'fall on my sword'. That is, die to myself. I understood that he wanted me to be brave, be willing to put myself and our story on here and trust him to keep me and my marriage protected.

It was hugely difficult, that step.

But what I found happened felt somewhat miraculous:

Once I stepped forward in obedience it felt to me like I got 'covered' by God; that is, hidden by him. It seemed I was being hidden and protected from my husband taking any offence, or even taking much notice of the blog and my activities at all.

First of all, what happened when I asked Bryce if I could write publicly for this blog was he shrugged and said "Why would I mind?" Then, ever since then he has taken no notice of it. He knows I write for it -- Quite often I will say to him, "I just need to go and write a blog post if that's ok", or "I just need to have a zoom call with someone related to the blog". Or, I'll tell him a little about our writing team: 'Amanda who lives in Arkansas', 'Ian who lives in Sydney', and 'Lynn who lives in California'. He nods and takes more interest in them than in anything else, knowing they are my friends and it's kind of interesting to think of where they each live. But the writing and blog itself: No engagement.

Sometimes if I do mention the blog he will say "Oh that website about all those heathen husbands" and laugh. I then say back (feeling sensitive), "No no, it's a website that helps people have GOOD MARRIAGES. It helps people!"

He nods again.

One time he discovered the adjective 'unequally yoked' in some correspondence I had. I cringed badly at that. But all he said in a dry, humorous tone, was "Hmm, Christians do like to use a good farming analogy."


And through all this he has still never once read anything I have written on the blog.

"God keeps us covered in a weird way, doesn't he?" I said to Lynn once, having observed this almost noteworthy lack of interest on the part of Bryce.

"He does," she said. "We are covered."

And so us writers, we keep on writing, and we write smoothly and reasonably easily without it causing fracture. We do it bravely ... For each of us it will probably never stop being a leap of faith. But we know it's worth it because we know just how important it is when you're in a spiritually mismatched marriage to hear from others who are on the path.

Well, hope you liked reading that. I remain curious at God's covering, and just keep trusting that he will keep covering my marriage.

Love you all,


Standing in the Gap

Here at SUM we love, love, love prophetic words from the Lord; that is, words spoken by the Holy Spirit to one of us in our community for the edification of the rest of us.

Well, recently one of our SUMites, Libby from the UK, sent me something she had received from the Lord back in 2018 about our community. It was a set of words, and she was also inspired to draw a picture to accompany those words (the picture is included below). I hope it blesses you today and thank you to Libby for sharing.

The word was this:

Our unbelieving loved ones are here on earth and there is a huge abys between the earth and heaven (God). The dark chasm of sin separates humanity from God. The cross, representing Jesus' crucifixion, is a bridge that allows access across the divide. Without it, we could never bridge that gap, no human deeds could. Libby's drawing Nov 18

Us SUMites are 'standing in the gap' by standing on the cross. We form a human chain as we unite in prayer and intercession for the lost and unsaved. We provide a channel and are conduits for God to flow through. His love flows through us and onto the lost. This is our job and our position, to stand in the gap, and what a privileged position it is! Don't look down at the magnitude of the chasm; don't look across at the huge distance between the two sides; keep your focus on the cross of Calvary seeped in the precious blood of the lamb, shed for all the world. Remember, the cross is now empty! Our Lord is risen! The resurrection power of the cross forms the bridge, nobody on earth can get to the father, except through it (John 14:6).

Keep standing strong SUMites on the bridge, interceding for the lost until they join us and take up their rightful position. 


Thanks again, Libby!

Friendships ... A Female Perspective

On Wednesday, Ian gave us a male perspective on friendships.  Female friendshipsSo now I'm going to try to write a mirror post on females and their friendships. This should be fun!

I had a cute little thing happen to me recently that illustrated the difference between females and males in friendship.

As you know, I'm a mum of boys. Well the other day Miles (my son) asked if I would give a ride to two of his female friends from point A to point B. "YES!" I said excitedly. "I don't get to hang out with teenage girls, I would LOVE that!"

So I excitedly bundled these two girls into my car, thinking that we would have great chats for the next thirty minutes, them and I.

What happened instead was these two made a joint beeline for the back seat, leaving the front seat empty. Then, the minute the door closed they turned to each other and began to emit a stream of non-stop verbal consciousness, which I was not part of.

They only had eyes for each other.

There was not a moment's silence between point A and point B, and much of it was spoken at top speed.

They talked about their clothes, hair, plans for their hair, each other's hair, boys, friends, and conversations they'd had.

I eyed up these two curious creatures in the rear vision mirror and decided "This is not what boys are like."

Giving a ride to boys involves all boys sitting forward looking out of the window, me making the conversation, them being nice back, and extended periods of enjoyable driving silence. 

Uncomplicated. Straightforward. Boys.

Ian said that males tend to do things side by side whereas females in their friendships go face-to-face. That little car trip was the perfect example.

Adult Female Friendships

What about as an adult? Well, I'm approaching 50 and, truthfully, I'm still like one of those girls in the backseat. My observation is we can totally go there, us women, in baring our souls, processing our lives in detail, unpacking, unravelling, analyzing, and describing our inner world. Coffee between two females can go for three hours easily. If it's an evening the waiter might have to tell them when it's time to leave. All other things fade when one female sits across from another and bonds.

A whole coffee between two females might sometimes focus on one particular problem for the whole coffee because females have endless patience for talking things through.

A given coffee between friends will often include a cry or two. 

It will usually involve sharing some piece of our marriage, the good and the harder stuff. It also involves details of other friendships, because we need help processing those too.

We'll recount conversations we've had with our husbands. We like to process the ins and outs to assess what is normal.

"I do find you attractive," one friend's husband said to her. "But not when you're wearing that particular dressing gown." We giggle at that and order another coffee.

Marriage. Sex. Life. Kids. Our bodies. Friendships. The lot. It's all processed.

Then --

"Your hair looks nice, what kind of straightening product are you using?"

Beauty too; because women are creatures of beauty.

And these conversations feel like a lifeline. That said, I have heard quite a few females of different ages say they wish they had female friends.  Some women feel they look in from the outside; because there can be such a notorious intensity to female friendships. Like days in the playground where certain girls walk round holding hands, not every girl has that special someone.

Friendship with God

Well, God knows all these quirks. He made us to be his friend. But I wonder if to be a friend of God as a female looks different to what it might look like for a male?

For me, friendship with God looks something like sitting on the couch, getting a journal out and chatting away to him about all kinds of emotional issues.

Would men do the same? Or would they go fishing and exchange the odd comment with the Lord while sitting behind a rod instead? Or walk in nature and nod to the Lord quietly, 'This is nice.'

Curious topic huh!

What would you say about female vs male friendships? Have you noticed a difference in that area between you and your spouse?

Love you all, and have a great weekend!


Friendships ... a male perspective

Photo courtesy of Malene Leppanen at

Hello, dear SUMites, Ian from sunny Sydney. I trust you’re all doing well and for those of you in the northern hemisphere are managing the heatwaves that many countries have been experiencing.

Ann and I thought we’d share a little on friendships based on my last post on spending time with Jesus. Ann will follow up this post about female friendships. In that previous post, I made the following comment:

“For many men friendships aren’t something we prioritise. And even if we do, we might find people we are seeking to be friends with don’t prioritise it so it’s all a bit lopsided.”

For years, I didn’t really enjoy my male friendships because they tended to be very transactional in nature. I also felt ‘different’ and struggled a lot with own self-image as a man. It’s only in recent years as I’ve come to feel more comfortable in my own skin this has coincided with a desire to really seek to develop closer bonds with men realising that I have much to learn and also believe I have much to give. Finally, I began to enjoy male company and friendship.

For many years there has been an undercurrent in the media about male friendships. You only have to google male friendships and you’ll find all sorts of articles about it. Friendships are very important to our health as we age. Loneliness is a telling factor in early mortality and unfortunately, one of the big impacts of the pandemic was loneliness increasing across the board. One of the men at church mentioned it only this last Sunday, that he too was one who was only now beginning to prioritise developing friendships with men.

I don’t have many good male friends. Yes, I know plenty and can happily chat with them about all manner of things. I have two great friends who I see regularly, one (who has been my closest friend since our high school days) every Saturday for breakfast and another for a coffee catchup at least every second week.

But why?

It simply comes down to priority. Men generally prioritise their careers and building one takes significant effort and sacrifice. I did. Yes, I had plenty of work connections, other men I could have a meal with, watch the football, play golf, etc, etc, but in terms of developing something sustaining where we share what’s going on in our hearts, nobody did it.

Why did we choose such a life? I think it goes back to what we saw our father’s do. I grew up where Dad’s left early for work, got home late and we mostly saw our dad’s on the weekend. Our Dad’s simply didn’t have time to make good quality friends. And for many of us, we simply replicated what we’d seen our Dad’s do.

I did a bit of research about this a few years back and an Aussie man who has written several books on men and boys dating back 30 years, expressed the view that men are under fathered. The impact of this being that boys “were not given enough affection, teaching and example from their dad or other male figures to help them grow into mature men. Affection, teaching and example are the three essential vitamins of human growth:

Affection – to let boys know they matter and belong

Teaching – to help boys understand their lives, and

Example – so boys can learn by observation how a good man feels, thinks and acts.

These ingredients mostly disappeared from the lives of boys. We still matured into men but we weren’t given the necessary knowledge and skills to match.”1

We tend to have ‘side-by-side’ friendships while women are more likely to have ‘face-to-face’ ones. Men stand alongside each other in work, watching the football, go fishing together, helping another move house, or fix a problem. We enjoy being in a group where playful banter and relaxed catch ups occur. It’s less confrontational and doesn’t require sharing our emotions.

“It was okay!”

This naturally has a flow on to the heart. We can struggle to move beyond the surface level of life. We can be asked to express how we feel, and it can be difficult to get a good response. This can be out of defensiveness and pride or ‘not wanting to go somewhere that is challenging after a hard day at work’ so we shut off from it. Surprisingly, it can be out of simply not knowing how. For many of us we haven’t learnt the language of expressing our feelings. And it can take some time, lots of patience, and a kind guiding hand to help us develop such a language. Again, wanting to learn must be important to you, for example, our spouse is fed up with the standard end of day response of ‘it was okay!’ when asked the question ‘how was work today, dear?’

That was me.

Flow on to a Friendship with God

Life with God is all about relationship. For many of my early years as a Christian, I didn’t appreciate this. I prayed and worshipped, went to church and so on but switched off once I went to work. I compartmentalised my faith. God was kinda this nebulous being and it wasn’t until I began to want more from my relationship with God when my eyes were opened to how much truly was available to us. It’s adopting more of the contemplative practices of silence, solitude and using imaginative prayer that Jesus has come alive as a friend.

Once again, I believe we need to desire such a friendship as it takes an intentional practice or leaning into God to begin to discover how close He really is. As He says in Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20 ESV). We only have to open the door but that is an intentional act.

Let me leave it there. I hope this might have been useful and please do offer your own perspectives and/or ask any questions in the comments below. Once again, this is simply my perspective and I’m sure many of you may have experienced something different with the men in your lives.

Note: 1. Steve Biddulph, The New Manhood: The 20th Anniversary Edition (Simon & Schuster, Sydney, 2018) Kindle ed.