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10 entries from June 2024

Let My House Be A Blessing

Hello SUMites, Ann here. London house

There's been sweet aspect to my time in Europe that I thought I'd share today:

Before coming away, Bryce and I signed up to a House Exchange website and during this time in Europe we've been 'house swapping' with strangers. It has been totally fun!

It works using a points system: You let people stay in your house and you earn some points; then you can use those points to stay in someone else's house from anywhere around the world.

So, to start off, we had a lady from Iceland stay in our house, during a time when our home was going to be empty. Then a few months later, we gave a family from Tahiti our house. 

My family rolled their eyes a little at all this but went along with it - 'Mum and her crazy ideas'!!

However, this week Bryce and I reaped the blessings of this, as we had our first turn at staying in someone else's house: A beautiful family home in London.

We walked into this house in London and our jaws dropped open. It was our 25th wedding anniversary that day, and it felt like God had put his arm round us and given us a real treat.

All week, I was thrilled by this beautiful home. I ran up and down the stairs over and over again, like a little girl, just to have another excited peek at all the rooms!

Spiritually, however, this experience also made me ponder about how there's something so beautiful about the spirit of hospitality. Jesus was hospitable, and later on in Paul's letters, scripture says that a key characteristic of ministers is that they be hospitable. It is a kingdom principle.

There are numerous stories of hospitality in the Bible, and examples of where the physical or spiritual house of someone is a blessing to someone else. Perhaps we've lost that a little in our Western world compared to Biblical times. Perhaps it's something we can try to find again.

With this House Exchange thing, I've noticed how much I've wanted people to enjoy my home. When the Tahitian and Icelandic guests came to stay, I worked hard to get the house ready and I prayed for their visit. I loved the idea of them getting to experience a slice of real New Zealand. 

So, having gone through that experience, and especially having been blessed by someone else's house this week in London, I've been praying this: 'Make my house a blessing to others, Lord'.

By that, I don't just mean I want my physical house to be a blessing, although that too. I primarily mean make my family a blessing to others. For the word 'house', in scripture, means one's family.

Let my descendants be a blessing to other people, let our house be a house that serves the Lord, in ways that flow to others. 

SUMites, shall we pray the same for all our houses? Why not! Such a prayer may have surprising outcomes.

Lord, make our houses a blessing. Let our descendents be a blessing to others. Let our houses be houses that serve you, in ways that flow to others. Thank you, Lord.

I love you, SUMites!


Farewell Amanda


Time for a little ministry update:

Farewell Amanda

Our lovely Amanda, after writing for us for over two years, has let us know that she's needing to step down from writing to have more time to focus on her young family. Amanda and Daniel

Life is busy as a young mum, and many of us have been there -- I certainly have. So, though we will miss Amanda, we completely understand, and we wish her all the best. As it is often said, our families are our first ministry.

We're ever so thankful for the time Amanda has put in to writing on the blog, and we're thankful to Daniel, in the background, who gave his blessing for her to do this.  But Amanda will not be leaving our ministry: She will stay reading along and you'll see her in the comments every now and again.

What I've loved about Amanda's writing is she has often been an oasis of calm. When she writes, new voices have often hopped on in the comments as she has said something that has spoken particularly to their heart. God gives that kind of gift. She is one who nurtures her relationship with God as a top priority, and she is full of wisdom.

She and I have never yet had the chance to meet, despite working together on the blog. But one day I hope we will. Well, we will in eternity at the very least!

So Amanda, we wave you off with our biggest thanks, but we look forward to keeping in touch and hearing about your continued life adventures.

Lord God, we pray blessing over Amanda. We pray that all she has given to this ministry will be given back to her, and more, and overflowing! Lord, we pray life and life abundantly over Amanda, Daniel and their little ones. I pray that this new time she has will be a blessing for her family. We pray your protection over them, and that they will continue to be a family who grows together in the things of the Kingdom. In your name, Jesus, we pray. 


The Key to All This ...

Ann here! Washing up liquid

I said this morning: "What shall I write about today Lord?"

He seemed to whisper back: "Tell them about the key to success."

The key to all this? The key to being an overcomer in your faith life?

The key is: Absorb the Word of God. Drink it in as often as water. Drink it in regularly throughout your day. Meditate on it. Accept it. Believe it. Act on it.

Read it without your own cultural prejudices or ideas of what should be 'right'. If you see something in the Old Testament, for example, that doesn't sit comfortably with our modern-day culture don't judge it: Ask God about it and ask for the 'mind of Christ'. Read it with an open heart. Be willing to have your mind changed. Let the written Word of God do its good work in you. Let it implant itself in you.

My friends, here's a suggestion: Read Psalm 119 and note all the parts that talk about the Word of God and what it means to a believer. Here are a few phrases I underlined in there recently:

Happy are those who keep Your testimonies (v. 2)

I searched You with all my heart (v.10)

I take pleasure in the path of Your testimonies (v.14)

I will meditate on Your precepts and I will watch Your paths (v. 15)

Your testimonies are also my delights (v. 24)

Do for me according to Your word (v. 25)

I have joy in Your word like a man who finds a great treasure (v. 162)

Great is the peace of those who love Your law, and for those they will not fall (v. 165)

Your testimonies are for me a heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart (v. 111)

Oh how I love Your law! All the day I meditate on it (v. 97).

And so on. 

My friends, I think I heard it said once that Billy Graham used to read nothing but the Bible, and leave it open in his home all day long so that he could snack on it throughout the day.

I love that. And, that said, even that is not enough. The Word of God must be combined with an open heart to all that is in it. Ask God specifically to change your lens where it needs to be changed. Pray over your Bible and ask God to remove any lies you are believing in relation to its content. That's important!

From what I understand, it's possible to spend a lot of time in the Bible but not see truth, or not get to know God. The success of our reading hangs on us asking for the Holy Spirit and receiving all we read with an open heart. 

Finally, here is an analogy God gave me:

When you drink in the Word of God it is like drinking washing up liquid ('dish soap' in America!). You will have a bellyful of that soapy strong liquid. I will, in turn, add the water of the Holy Spirit to your belly, and you will bubble up and pour out a cleansing flow of goodness to all around you. That, in turn, will do its purifying work to those in your family and others around you. So drink!

My friends, let's commit afresh to drinking the Word of God as if our lives depended on it. And it will surely do its good work.

... And receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21, ESV).

Much love,


Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and Extended Family

Hello everyone, Ann here! Family

Last week, after the Camino, Bryce and I returned to stay with my parents in Oxfordshire, England; we have been spending quite a lot of time there recently.

Given this extended time we're spending with my parents, I thought it would be timely to talk about living out our spiritual mismatches amongst extended family.

For some of us, we live out our SUMs in the context of a full-on Christian family, where everyone except our spouse is Christian. That can be very helpful. It can be the only form of church our spouse encounters. And, if we have kids, the grandparents can be a helpful spiritual influence.

However, for others in our community, having a Christian extended family can feel sometimes 'unsafe' because you just don't know what your family is going to say. Or, you feel that your family don't understand. You might even fear your spouse being 'outed' because the family doesn't know about your situation -- You've kept it hidden out of respect for your spouse.

Then there are others in our community who have a whole other different ball-game to navigate: They are the only ones in the family who are Christian! Yikes -- Tough. If that's you, I guess you feel like a lone ranger. But you stand, putting a stake in the ground for that whole family. Though it is painful, spiritually what a privilege!

In my case, both my parents burn unusually hot for God. They each have a beautiful faith. And this means that over mealtimes while Bryce and I stay with them, the conversation inevitably turns to the topic of God. My stepdad especially loves a good old 'deep n meaningful', LOL, because it genuinely is his favorite topic. Well, it's mine too.

I personally have found this helpful. Because they're parents, and older than us, it doesn't seem to matter to Bryce if they feel a bit different to him on this front. I find it helpful that we're having the kinds of conversations at their dinner table that I don't get to have at mine.

I did have a giggle to myself last week though.

My stepdad loves the music of Handel's Messiah -- It is currently a form of worship for him, to listen to it on the TV and read the words alongside it. So he put it on the TV to show us a soprano singer who had a particularly beautiful voice.

The piece he played us was absolutely divine, accompanied by pictures of statues of the nativity. I sat back in the couch, and I am sure that a holy peace settled in the living room as the four of us soaked in the music.

He shall feed his flock.

God smiled down on this family, and this living room. 

My stepdad then put on another soprano singer who was singing a different song. At that point, a giggle welled up inside me: This singer's eyes were popping out of her head, her face was contorting, and she was singing over and over again the words 'The JUSTICE OF GOD' in such intense singing. The reason I giggled was I suddenly thought of my husband over on the other side of the couch.

The justice of God!

The justice of God!

The justice of God!

It felt like one of those moments where I wondered if Bryce was getting an overdose of all this. Well, maybe; but the next day, he and I walked a few miles to a country pub and had a little drink together. Over our drinks, he asked me about the justice of God. About truth. About salvation. About the heart.

So I do believe that whatever happens in our families, God uses all of it. Whatever gets spoken to our spouses, even if it is challenging, will not go astray. It will be like a rock thrown straight between the eyes. Sometimes our spouses will hear things that might make them uncomfortable: Well, so be it. It will make them think.

So, if we have a Christian family, let us be thankful for those in the family who carry the flame of their faith brightly and authentically. If we have a non-Christian family, know that you are honored in the sight of God for the lone flame that you carry.

Now over to you: What is your extended family like, faith-wise? 

Love to you all,


Prayer To Stand in the Gap

1 med Res Enforcer Front Cover
Similar prayers are in this book.

Hi, Lynn Donovan here,

I want to share a short but powerful prayer when we are standing in the gap for someone in the spirit. 

Lord, let me stand in the gap for_________________. So that his eyes will be opened, and he will be freed from demonic bondage, so he can see his need for, You, Jesus.  I also forbid any affliction, illness or attack to come against me, my family and all under my love, stewardship, jurisdiction.   And I also forbid the same for the person whom I’m standing in the gap for.  In Jesus name.  

Pray this aloud. 

Print this out. Place it somewhere that you frequent and then pray it aloud whenever you see it.

Blessings and hugs, Lynn

PS. Thanks for the prayers for Mike. He is in remission, and we are awaiting a donor for a bone marrow transplant that is in the near future. I'll drop an update when we have more info.


Spiritual Reflections from the Camino

My friends, this morning I woke and thought I would like to share some final reflections on how walking the Camino impacted me spiritually. Jesus sculpture

I had actually written a completely different post for today, but that one can wait. Funny how this happens! 

The Camino (which Bryce and I have just walked a part of) is essentially a celebration of the life of one of the twelve apostles, James. James is a character in the Bible whom I had not thought much about before. Yet, even though I had not given him much attention, James was one of Jesus's three closest disciples. Jesus named him and his brother John 'sons of thunder', for their sheer passion; and then there was Peter. The three of them, together, were chosen to be at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), a significant fact.

Peter went on to be the rock on whom Jesus built his church, John went on to be entrusted with looking after Jesus's mother and write some books of the Bible (it's likely he was the author of Revelation). But what about James? He was the first of the twelve to be martyred. And, before that happened, tradition says he went to Spain and brought the Gospel there. A son of thunder working for his deeply loved Lord: I pictured it as I walked.

The Camino is supposedly the path James walked, and his bones are supposedly buried at the end of the pilgrim trail. Whether that is true or not, we can't tell. The part about the bones could be superstition or legend; the history of him evangelizing Spain is also difficult to confirm, but I did find it meaningful that there was a whole pilgrim trail that celebrated his life. I mused to myself that perhaps God even set it up as a celebration of what James gave to, and did for, the church.

John got to write books of the Bible. Peter was the rock on which the church was built. And for James the walk he walked was celebrated. Church

On the trail, there were many ancient churches -- Some of them were very basic, like this one here. I stopped in them and prayed. I thought of the centuries of Christians. What was church life like for them?  Different to how has been for me. No mega-churches! This was all they knew. But it would have been complex, as church is. Imperfect. 

We also saw a few nuns, here and there, as we passed through villages. "What does it look like to dedicate your life to God in such a way?" I asked myself. "What does your life entail?"

Throughout the walk we saw artwork of various kinds that depicted either the life of Jesus, or Bible stories. This artwork came in various forms: sculptures, paintings, models. Sometimes the artwork rooted me to the spot, making me think about the scene it was portraying. For example, when I saw the statue of Jesus that I've included here, I imagined myself standing there in the crowd, watching him carry the cross past me. 

So that was how it went. It was an interesting experience, and one that got my busy little brain pondering all kinds of new things, purely from being in such a new scene. 

Well, that's the Camino. I will be back later in the week with another SUM thought, and in the meantime, have a great week!


Weariness in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

I've been thinking about weariness in a spiritually mismatched marriage. IMG-20240611-WA0029

Are you feeling weary of the wait? Or weary of the journey?

Weariness can be common. Some in our community have trekked for decades in this situation, holding out hope for their spouse's salvation, or for some kind of change to be seen. Others don't necessarily hope for change, but are just weary. 

This is despite Jesus promising that his yoke will be easy and his burden light. Well, we're human and this SUM situation is a place of spiritual growth for us all: Sometimes Heavenly promises don't come to fruition easily or instantly. They take some intentionality to reach.

While we're growing in the things of Heaven, sometimes we will feel embattled, or completely wiped out.

So what's to be done? If you're weary try this:

1. Ask God to refresh your Spirit.

Ask him to fill you with the living water that means you never thirst again. Ask him to be like an oasis, a place of calm and refreshment to you. Say out loud, "Lord, refresh my spirit!"

2. Take some rest days

Consider building a routine of Sabbath into your life, a day of rest, enjoyment and play. Or go away for a little 'retreat' for a couple of days

3. Get someone to pray for you.

When someone prays for you it strengthens your inner man. Ask them to pray specifically for the fatigue you are feeling.

4. Stay connected to church

Church, for all its difficult moments is a water trough that sustains and feeds us. Even just being in the room with Spirit-filled believers is healthy.

And finally,

5. Pray that your heart be guarded from a root of bitterness.

It is easy for bitterness to set in if your walk has been years. This is one we have to guard carefully against. Prayer does wonders. Create in me a clean heart, Lord!


As for news from here: Bryce and I have just finished walking the Camino today. We walked 130km in ten days and our whole bodies ache now. At points the weariness of the walk felt too much. That said, the walk itself was a rich experience.

We are now refreshing ourselves and taking a physical rest; but the experience of walking g many kilometers sure did get me thinking about the parallel of a SUM journey!

Well, SUMites, I will write again on Mlnday. Have a lovely weekend.


His Name Is...


Hello SUMites, Amanda here! I was listening to a teaching on Jesus this morning and the priest started talking about the names and titles of Jesus found throughout the New and Old Testament. As he started saying the various names of our Father, I could not help but lift my hand in praise as I drove! Sometimes we just need to be reminded of all that he is!

I wanted to share a similar list with all of you for this week! I hope it inspires you as much as it did me!

Read this list out loud today! Maybe even every day for a week to remind you of all that he is! 

(This is not a complete list! If I miss one you love, please share it in the comments!)

He is our CREATOR! The God Who Sees ME! Yahweh! Jehovah!

He is Jehovah-Rapha (LORD that heals)! He is the I AM!

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

He is the Star out of Jacob!

He is the Consuming Fire! The Shield! The Sword!

He is the Judge of All!

Faithful! LIVING! My Strength and Power!

The Father! The Friend! The Rock! The Fortress!

The Alpha and Omega!

He is all of these things and so much more! He is a great and divine mystery! And how amazing is it that he chose to share himself with us?! He chose us when he did not have to. He had (and still has) the universe under his feet, every planet, every moon, every star, yet he chose us!

I hope the weight of those words will stay with you in the coming days. If you are struggling in a hard season, or just get distracted with the business of life and need a reminder, come back to this list to remind yourself of who he is!

Rest in him. Hope in him. Depend on him.

Trust him!

Have a great week and be blessed my friends!

Camino de Santiago: Side by Side

Hi SUMites!Pooped at Pamplona

In the last week, Bryce and I have walked 78 Km, from France into Spain, phew! I am now writing this from a little guest house in the vibrant Spanish city of Pamplona. 

The Camino has been glorious, so far, but exhausting. This photo here captured how it felt to reach the city gates of Pamplona after hours of walking in the hot sun, LOL.

Is that a metaphor for what it might feel like to reach the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven?!

Have Bryce and I come together in any way spiritually by being on this 'pilgrimage' together? Well, I didn't have any expectations on that front, but there has been one pleasant little surprise:

On this walk, I brought my Bible to read, which I always read through chronologically. Currently I'm in the time of King David. 

Well, just before we started the Camino, Bryce wanted something to read and downloaded a novel onto his Kindle called 'The Source' by James Michener.

It turned out to be a fiction book about the history of Israel, starting from the beginning of civilisation right through to modern times.

The book itself is a story about a fictional town in Israel, and what happens to it over the centuries. It is well researched, draws heavily on details in the Bible, and brings in characters such as King David and Abraham, as well as cultural details like the Canaanites burning their first-borns in fire, concubines, pagan gods, and then Israel's special relationship with YHWH.

Strikingly, on the first day of the Camino, there I was in the middle of the life of King David in the Bible, and I discovered that Bryce too was reading about the life of King David in James Michener's book!

A little coincidence. Or a God-incidence.

So we started to talk about King David as we walked....

... And then we started to talk about other things in James Michener's book as we trekked through country paths, and villages. It's all about the Old Testament.

"Where are you up to now?" I said to Bryce yesterday.

"Oh about 200BC" he said.

"The Israelites have been captured by the Babylonians, returned from captivity, and now it's the Greek empire, right? Or is it the Romans?" I like history.

These have been stimulating conversations, and it is a tiny coming together, of sorts.

In our SUMs we have these almost imperceptible moments. Every so often it seems as if our spouse turns their head a little to our world.

Well, onwards! I hope you are all well.


Unlikely Pilgrimage

Dear friends, Ann here.Camino Ann

Today Bryce and I start walking the 'Way of St James', otherwise known as 'The Camino'. Yay!!

The Camino is a well-known pilgrim walk that takes the walker deeply into Spain. It is several hundred kilometers long, and involves staying in local hostels, monasteries and humble guest houses, with many a communal meal, and conversations along the way with fellow walkers.

The Camino has a deep spiritual history, and I am only discovering it now, with my backpack ready.

I originally wanted to do the Camino for completely non-spiritual reasons: I simply wanted to have a lot of coffee and cake in nice Spanish villages, LOL. That was all! Give me my Spanish hot chocolate and tapas! I think I was inspired by the film 'The Way', which made the walk look ever so idyllic. BUT, as I have spent the last 24 hours at the starting point, I have come to see that this walk is not about hot chocolate and tapas at all. It's going to be special for me in a different way.

A couple of days ago I received a clear word from the Lord. He asked me to spend a great deal of focus praying extensively along the route we walk. He also told me I was meant to be on this walk. He said, "You are exactly where you need to be at this present point in time." Pilgrim statue

So I will see what that feels like and looks like. I have asked God to bless my tongue, to inspire my prayers, and to pour his fire onto the words I speak.

Today I went into a church and spent an hour in prayer, asking him to bless this journey and this time with him. 

The Camino attracts people from all over the world, and I can see already that there is a colorful mix of characters on it. It takes several weeks to complete, though Bryce and I are only going to walk ten days. It ends at Santiago de Compostela, where tradition says the bones of James, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, are buried. Who knows if that is true. But Christians have been walking it in droves since the eleventh century. 

Even now, many people come on this walk to find time with God. For others, of course, it's a holiday. But there are serious God-lovers who walk it. Ian has suggested to me that it may well be a place where the veil is thin between heaven and earth, because of the number of Christians who have trodden the path.

In fact, testifying to this, I met a young woman a couple of weeks ago in France who told me she had actually become a Christian ON the Camino. She had had an encounter with God, and since then her life has not been the same.

It is my hope that I can slip away into a few churches to pray at various points. It is also my intention to only read scripture while on this little 'personal pilgrimage'. 

Well, I'll keep writing blog posts as I go, and let's see how God inspires this time. 

Much love,