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10 entries from September 2023

Hi from California!

Hello dear SUMites  Lynn Ann 2

Well, I type this sitting in a hotel room in Redding, with my fellow SUMite Lucie from Canada who is packing her bags as I type. We're room-mates tonight and have become firm friends. So, while she packs, I wanted to pop on to say hello.

I had been meaning to write the odd update during this meet-up week, but in the end I found myself unable to: It has been just too spiritually intense and my head has been too full.

So, I will write next week once I've gathered my thoughts. In the meantime, here's a little pic of Lynn and me in the glorious sunshine at Bethel conference, Redding. We have had a God-filled, supernatural week together, and I can't wait to share about it.

I have thought about all of you a LOT during this past week. And at many times during this conference, I have felt like I was carrying the SUMites in my heart and on my shoulders: Representing you all in prayer, thinking of you all during worship, and so on.

Well .. Ok, I will look forward to sharing next week. 

Back soon! Loads of love ...

Ann x

Live Stream of Our Event Next Week

Dear friends, Join in LIVE

Lynn and I are deeply looking forward to the SUM Meet-Up in California next Tuesday -- The 26th of September.

I'm going to devote the next week and a half of posts to that event. So I will hop on as and when I can, to write. I leave on Sunday night (NZ time) to fly to San Francisco - And then on to Lynn's house to stay and prepare.

Most importantly, though, the vast majority of you will not be there in person - and yet you are so included. For YOU, we are live-streaming parts of the event.

You can find the Live Streams on our YouTube channel, and specifically, if you click on the following links you can access two specific sessions:

Morning Session, at 11am Pacific time 

Evening Session at 7pm Pacific time 

If you prefer, you can also find both of those sessions on our Facebook page.

We may add another session or two so keep an eye on the YouTube channel or the Facebook page. And even if you don't manage to catch these sessions live, don't worry: We'll leave them up on YouTube and Facebook afterwards for you to watch later.

Well, I will keep it short and sweet. But I will be back on here next week to say hello. And I'm so glad that you'll be able to join us from afar. We did not want you to miss out.

With love,


Do you Un-love Yourself? I did.

Hello my dear SUMites brothers and sisters,

Galatians 5 1 Freedom Inner Healing

Lynn Donovan, with you today. I’m feeling extra empathy and compassion for all of us who have walked this road of the unequally yoked.

In a prayer session this week, I was praying with a friend, and uncovered an area of unhealed pain that needed the love of Jesus….. and needed my love.

You see, Jesus took me back to when I was newly married, within the first three years, to the moment reality came crashing in that my husband and I were at odds about this major part of my person, Jesus. I remember that moment clearly. I experienced devastation when that understanding hit me. And frankly, the reality that my husband didn’t care, or seem to care, that I was in pain the devastation increased. Ugh!

It’s difficult to be transparent about this, as it’s a deeply personal moment. However, I’ve always chosen to be real with you because we learn together how to overcome pain?

Now here is the best part.

In my prayer time, I discovered that this was the moment where I became disappointed with myself. I realized that my fairytale wasn’t going to unfold as expected. This moment was the beginning of a lie that devil began to tell me that I was a disappointment to myself.

This is the moment when I began to unlove myself.

Ugh! I didn’t even know this pain and reality was inside. It was absolutely revelation from Jesus. Jesus then arrived to love on this young girl. And through this experience, He loved on me. I forgave myself for this disappointment. For the rebellion against God and not following His written Word. I forgave myself and acknowledged the difficulties this young woman faced and the deceit she lived in at the time.

I blessed her. And Jesus blessed me.

My love of self, found healing. And this morning when I woke, I’ve been surrounded by a simple peace. I feel whole unto myself. And I realized how much I truly love my husband, Mike.

SUMite, sit down with Jesus. (NO DISTRACTIONS). Ask Him if there was a place where disappointment and unlove entered in. Ask Him to reveal any roots to this pain and forgive yourself. Forgive others if needed. Love yourself. Bless yourself.

We are so hard on ourselves over our past mistakes. One of the great things I did in this prayer session was to forgive my young self for the choices she made. As my entire life has felt the consequences of her decisions. (And I realize it’s myself I’m speaking of, but that girl….. and the woman I am today, are very different people. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ.)

This process is inner healing. It is beautiful. It is necessary and it is FREEDOM.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

If you need inner healing, make a Healing Prayer Appointment with me. I am tender and full of compassion. Jesus will meet you where you are, and He will set you free also.

With great love and compassion, I greet you this day. Love, Lynn Donovan

Healing Prayer with Lynn Donovan

Marriage: Humbly Serve

Humbly serve our spouse. Hands

We are up to part two of our series on The Meaning of Marriage*, and today we're going to talk about being servant-hearted.

To be a Christian means to have a servant heart towards others. And what better place to practice that than in our marriage? Yep!

But, my friends, I'm not sure how well I do this personally. How about you?

Every marriage is different, but it's generally agreed that marriage is not easy, beautiful as it is.

Truthfully, I find the familiarity of living with Bryce can make me get easily annoyed with him, and impatient about many of the things he asks of me. Just being honest.

I LOVE him, but I do get annoyed. To be fair, he does too. Sometimes I drive him nuts.

There are things that matter to him that do not matter a jot to me (e.g., Looking after the car). So it's hard to care about the things he cares about. I also find I take him for granted. I find it challenging to stop and think 'Let's be servant hearted here, Ann', when he is so familiar to me. 

So, perhaps in this post we can talk about what servant-heartedness can look like in marriage? Ideas would be good.

A key scripture here is this one:

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21)

The word 'submit' is thrown around a lot in Christian circles, but it's important to know this word doesn't mean being a doormat. Instead, it means generously putting our own selfishness aside. It's about choosing not to be selfish. What's more, it is a call to both husbands and wives: Submit to each other and do it out of generous love.

  • Care about what your spouse cares about.
  • Treat your spouse 
  • Put their needs first as frequently as you do your own
  • Be lavishly generous-hearted

My friends, I want to do that because I have a reverence for God, as per the above scripture. How well I do that is another matter, and that's a battle between the spirit and the flesh.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

It is hard. Some of us are better at this than others - Some are more service-hearted than others. But, really, we can only do any of this best when filled with the Holy Spirit: We need to be so filled with him that we can, in turn, be generous.

So, a first step is to invite Holy Spirit to come in and flood us. Pray --

Flood me, Holy Spirit, and enable me to pour out humble service to my spouse!

And then perhaps ideas can help. Here's what it might look like for me. You might have a different list:

  • Bring him tea in bed.
  • Give him a back scratch while watching TV, as much as he does for me.
  • Do house jobs he cares about.
  • Help him carry stuff in from the car
  • Go on errands with him to help him
  • Hang out with his friends
  • Dish out his dessert before helping myself greedily first
  • Give him physical affection in bed when I can tell he'd like it
  • Talk to him about the things that interest him

Bryce loves listening to a political broadcaster on a Saturday and then talking to me about it. It is not my thing ... But ok, I can try to listen well.

At dinner time, I love my food. If Bryce asks me to dish something out for him on my side of the table once I'm eating ... Just do it for him.

And so on.

Now to you: What are some areas where you find it hard to serve? Or, what are some ideas for how we can humbly serve?

I look forward to hearing more about your marital adventures.



*This series is based on Tim Keller's (2013) book 'The Meaning of Marriage', published by Hodder & Stoughton, London; and today's post was based on material in chapter 2.

Let's Chat About Marriage

Let's talk marriage! Today we're beginning our series on The Meaning of Marriage, using the book of that name by Tim Keller. Ann Bryce 1995

I'll start with my own story: Bryce and I have been married 24 years now. Here's a picture of us at the beginning our relationship. We were 19 and 22 then -- Just babies, really. We are now age 47 and 50.

When I think about how I made the decision to marry Bryce, here were my criteria. These were very mature criteria, as you will see:

1. I was seriously attracted to him. Yes, my primary goal at that time was to be near/with Bryce Hutchison as much as I possibly could.

2. He made me laugh so was grrreat fun.

3. And finally, he was a guy who I could see had integrity and stability to him.

These three things made him the 'one'. He still is my 'one'.

Marriage, in my mind, was really about my goals. I was not walking with God, so what other criteria could I use except whether this man would meet my goals and needs, which were essentially sex, companionship and an interesting life. Yes, I loved Bryce selflessly and deeply, but my own needs were naturally the driver in terms of 'Do I want to marry him?'

How about you: When you chose your 'one' to marry, what were some of the things you were thinking about? 

Tim Keller in his first chapter of The Meaning of Marriage addresses this. He said --

"Men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community, but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are all looking for a marriage partner who will fulfil their emotional, sexual and spiritual desires."

The problem with that, continues Keller, is that it puts sky-high expectations onto our spouse. These expectations will inevitably cause disappointment: The spouse will fail to live up to them.

"It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live up to that."

No person can be what we need them to be: No person can be the source of all fun and satisfaction. Marriage is instead two broken, sinful people, running together headlong into something that is going to be way more challenging than they realize.

"Marriage is glorious but hard. It's a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories. No marriage I know more than a few weeks old could be described as a fairy tale come true" (Keller)

So how does God see it?

God loves marriage! It was his idea. He loves what it does to us, if it is working correctly, for it causes us to learn to love.

In Ephesians 5:32, marriage is described as one whopping mystery. It is a mystery of two imperfect people who will never meet each other's needs. God designed it so, because the goal of marriage was to build character in us. Keller

Oh dear. Character.

We know that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church (Ephesians 5:25), a picture of commitment, covenant, and care. So then we must ask what Jesus did to keep the church in union with him? The answer: He gave himself up.

He gave himself up for us. And so we too could model that with our spouses. We could think in terms of giving ourselves up for this other person.

Really? I think so.

I love these words by Keller:

"The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful, and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."

Now over to you, my friends:

  • What criteria did you focus on when you chose to marry your spouse? 
  • What are some ways we can 'give ourselves up' for our spouse, while keeping it healthy?

Note: If a marriage is abusive, it's a different picture. Seek help and counsel. But in this series, we're talking about normal marriages.

Nice chatting!


Our Next Series -- The Meaning of Marriage

Hello friends! Keller

I've had a particular book sitting by my bedside for a very long time, gathering dust ... Intending to be read.

It's a book by Tim Keller called 'The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Marriage with the Wisdom of God.'

Well, I think it's about time to read it; and what I want to do is use it as a basis for a series for us:

The meaning of marriage, and how we face the complexities of a spiritually mismatched marriage with the wisdom of God.

The book has eight chapters with intriguing titles, and what I'm going to do is read each chapter and then write a blog post for US on that chapter's topic. In each post we'll take a SUM view on the topic.

This means we're going to talk marriage, marriage, marriage for the next few posts.  

So, roll up your sleeves and settle in. Be prepared to chat in the comments, if you feel comfortable doing so. I know not all of us do, and that's fine too -- just read along if you prefer.

I don't quite know what to expect from this book, but let's give it a go.  We will kick off with our first post on Friday.

It should be good. See you then!


I Surrender All

SURRENDER1Hello all! Amanda here, I am so excited to share a wonderful testimony with you today! This one starts out rocky, but I promise it has a happy ending :)


I loathe that word, depression, it is a thief and a liar! It can creep up on us any time. If we are not keeping our eyes on the Father, living life in worship, staying in his word, and praying through the storms. It can overtake an otherwise healthy mind like a plague of locusts on a bountiful field, leaving nothing but barren wasteland behind. I have watched this demon (for that is exactly what it is!) attempt to destroy people I love more times that I need to discuss. For this reason I have a very severe kind of righteous anger/hatred towards this particular monster.

Because of all I had witnessed within my close circle of loved ones I had vowed to myself it would never happen to me. I was stronger than that. I could fight it off in my own strength (pride is an ugly thing isn't it?). I felt that I didn't even need to rebuke it off of me or pray protection over myself against it! Oh how wrong I was!

I sank slowly, not realizing it at first. I was oblivious to this thing that had crept up and attached itself to me. Life was so hectic and my days so full I hardly had time to cook a meal, let alone notice this thing clinging to me! It took several weeks and many dark days to realize something was definitely wrong. I won't lie, I was afraid, and that is when I started calling out to God. I also opened up about my struggles to two trustworthy people who I know love the Lord and love me. They shared with me that they were having similar experiences. We realized we were under attack! We quickly scheduled a group phone call so we could all pray together. We took turns praying over each other. I wish I could have recorded that phone call, it was amazing! God started moving that night! I felt like my ears and eyes had been opened. I could see what was happening now. But my battle was not over.

Some time passed with small victories, and losses, but it was not gone yet. I was hanging on to something but I wasn't sure what. Then, on a Sunday morning during worship God showed me something. I was trying hard to focus during the praise and worship portion of our service. As the music played, I closed my eyes and saw myself sitting on an altar, a large rectangular slab. In my arms I held my husband, my daughter, and my son. Jesus was sitting on the edge of the altar behind me and I was leaning against him. I thought this was good and right and how it should be. Is that what Jesus thought? Nope! As I leaned back against him, my brow furrowed with worry, he leaned over and said ,"Give them to me.". I moved over, he took each of them away from me and into his arms, my husband and our kids. He then reached out with his right hand and embraced me as well. He looked down at me, smiled, and said "Now... relax Amanda.". I tried! I physically lowered my shoulders, relaxed my brow, and unclenched my jaw. In my mind I saw him rub my arm, still smiling and then he said, "You're still not relaxed! SURRENDER it all to me! Surrender it all!"...and no, that wasn't the song that was playing haha! But in that moment I raised my hands and gave it all over! And I tell you that day I was healed!

I had gotten so caught up in trying to be everything and do everything for everyone, I was leaving no room for him. In my pride I was picking up burdens that were not mine to carry! I worried and toiled over things I had no control over, it was exhausting! After that Sunday morning things slowly began to change. That shadow had been cast away and the light of the world had taken it's place! I still feel myself coming alive more and more each passing week!

It is time for me to close now, I would love to hear from you in the comments! If you need prayer or want to share your own testimony, sound off!


'How Will You Compete With Horses?'

By Ann Hutchison Horses

"Why, why, WHY does it have to be this hard?"

This question we might well ask God. In fact, I imagine most of us have asked him this at one time or another.

"Why am I having to wait this long to see my spouse turn to you, Lord?"

While we wait for our spouse to join us in faith, we often feel hard pressed on every side. But there's a verse in the Bible that I really like, a verse that speaks especially well to this anguish of ours. It's a verse that was given by God to the prophet Jeremiah, when he expressed his anguish to the Lord about the hardness of the hearts around him and the loneliness he felt.

In response to Jeremiah's anguish God said this:

If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? (Jer 12:5)

In this verse, God is saying, "See it as preparation." He is saying, "I am allowing you to be equipped in the coal face, with this hard stuff (men on foot), so that you can cope with even tougher faith fights (horses)."

So it is with us too, SUMites. Through this SUM situation, we are being equipped to 'run with horses'.

In other words, we're being equipped to be a force to be reckoned with spiritually. We're being developed by God into fast, determined, focused, ferocious faith warriors.

Do you like that scripture too? I hope it spurs you on today, pun intended.

Lord, we thank you that you're equipping us to run with horses. Make us strong, and help us see the wearying parts through your eyes. In your name, Jesus, we ask this. Amen.

Well, with that thought I'll leave it there. Have a lovely weekend, everyone.


Dealing with Disappointment

Ian from sunny Sydney here. Spring is here, Down Under and the flowers are beginning to blossom as the temperature increases.

Photo courtesy of Mikhail Nilov and

We’re a little sad in our house at present. Fiona and I were off on a holiday last week, but I injured my back, and it didn’t make sense for us to travel. Besides the pain of the travel, I would have been limited in what I could do as my back slowly heals. This isn’t a new thing for me – as I’ve gotten older, these episodes occur every couple of years. Unfortunately, this time was particularly inopportune.

BTW, my back is slowly improving, and I have some plans in place to hopefully minimise future episodes.

Stuff Happens

We’re often disappointed, aren’t we? Things aren’t turning out the way they should be or how we hoped they would? We probably all can think of something in recent times where we’ve been disappointed. It might have been something small, or something bigger like a holiday being cancelled. Or there are the perennial ones that seem always to be in the back (or perhaps forefront of our minds) like our spouse still seemingly no closer to joining us in loving God, or one of our kids making decisions we don’t approve of, or our jobs not working out the way we want them to.

What about our dearest friendships? The intimacy we once shared has disappeared. Why, we don’t know. There’s an open wound in our heart that brings us to tears most weeks.

Why God why? It wasn’t meant to be like this!

We want our situation resolved now. We get disappointed when it doesn’t. Our hope fades. How many times have you wondered whether your spouse will ever come to the Lord? Me, too many to count!

It’s Okay to be Sad!

Too often in Christian circles we minimise disappointment and sadness. We all do it. We’re always wanting to help others in their sadness, confusion, or grief. We want to help them be happy and restore their hope. But many of us feel uncomfortable when someone we love is sad or disappointed. It’s a yucky feeling and experience, isn’t it?

But it’s okay to be sad. Remember, Jesus was sad a few times, one when he received news about John the Baptist being beheaded and when Lazarus was dead. We’re told he even wept when he arrived at Lazarus tomb. He, the creator of the universe, experienced every emotion we do. Really truly!

As Kate Bowler says, “You are okay to feel what you feel. We need freedom to acknowledge the brutality of life without minimising or pretending or justifying.”1


As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve been reading the Psalms continually for a few years now. I can’t get enough of them. They’ve been pivotal in my gaining a better understanding of God’s goodness, wonder and mystery. Lament psalms feature the most of any ‘category’ of the 150 psalms. Why? Because it reflects the human condition. Life doesn’t turn out the way we want, bad things happen, and there’s much we don’t understand. So, the writers of the lament psalms give us a means for expressing our feelings to God, knowing that He listens and is always offering us His love, protection and kindness.

One of the aspects of the lament psalms I love is they’re at times brutally honest. Here’s a sample:

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)

These are the words Jesus cried on the Cross:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)

Bowler writes, “But all the good things that can come from prayer – trust, acceptance, connection, occasional miracles – are there waiting for us. But first comes radical honesty. The more genuine our prayers, the more freedom there is to acknowledge the reality of all a life with God can be.”2

A Blessing for When you’re Disappointed.

I thought I’d finish with an abbreviated version of a Blessing Kate Bowler wrote about disappointment:

Blessed are you, dear one, when you are disappointed, when you have prayed and hoped and wished, and still your cry for help does unanswered. Blessed are you in the grip of the radical honesty that says, God, what are You doing? Why don’t Your answer? … Blessed are you, when you have lifted it all up to God and now must sit among the broken things and pray a one-word prayer of need. Help. Save. Come.

Blessed are you still there before God amid the unanswered prayers. For you are not alone. No. There is One who has come to feel what you feel, to suffer what you have borne. And this Jesus comes right to the heart of your pain. That’s the place he knows best. And desires to transform with the blazing light of healing love. That’s the only thing that makes the difference.

Blessed are you, sweet child. Daring to ask, God, help me trust You, even if You never tell me why. Then settling yourself into the reality that God’s hands are the safest place to be. And you pray again. Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Hide me in the shadow of You wings.”3


If you’re struggling with a particular disappointment right now, please share it with us in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so and we can pray over you. Grab a hold of the Word and draw close to Him. Let His Word minister to you. Remember He has never left you and is always working in the background. Just as He is with all our spouses.

Grace and peace, dear friends.

Notes: 1 & 2, Kate Bowler and Jessica Ritchie, Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection (Penguin Random House, New York, 2022) 135

Notes 3. Ibid, 136

Three Weeks to Go -- SUM Meet-Up

Hi SUMites SUM Meet-Up

Wow, I cannot wait to hug those of you who will be at the Meet-Up this month -- in person!!

(IF you're a hugger that is -- I will ask first before launching myself at you, LOL) 

It is just over three weeks until we meet for a day of connecting with each other and with God.

If you're planning to be there, but haven't yet registered, make sure you do so now by clicking here. Also, later this week I will email those of you who have registered, so look out for that email.

As for those of you who are not able to be there, you will be missed, and will still be able to take part: We hope to live-stream parts of the day so you will not miss out. We will be thinking of all of you, and we will take time together on the day to pray for our whole community.

Well, all for now - Can't wait to see you.

Love to you all