17 posts categorized "Amanda Pace"

He Is My Everything

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  Hello beautiful SUMite family! Amanda here! I am so happy to get back to connecting with all of you! Ann and Ian have shared some beautiful insights this week. I am so honored to share this platform with them.

Today I would like to share with you all a bit about who Jesus is to me. But before we dive in, I have to tell you all about something that has been going on with me over the last few months. Since January I had been experiencing a bit of writers' block. I would get an idea, begin to jot down some notes, but then lose traction. Sometimes I couldn't find the right words, sometimes I would just go completely blank! If I could show you the journal where I usually write my blog ideas, you would find many half-written potential posts, or even just a few sentences before the idea just slipped away from me! I actually have a note on the bottom of one page that says, "I need to write, but I can't think!" It was getting really frustrating! But as soon as Ann asked us to write about who Jesus is to us, it was like a lightbulb came on in my head! I opened my notebook and immediately began to write. This time the words flowed freely out of me! It was as if the Holy Spirit had been waiting for this one. I think I needed this reminder more than I realized! I pray it touches some of you as much as it has me!

Who is Jesus to me? Over the course of my life Jesus has been many things for me.

When my heart has ached with the loneliness of this SUMite life. When the seat next to me on Sunday feels as though it will always be empty, and my husband's bible gathers dust. He comes in and fills the empty spaces with his love, and I no longer feel so alone. Jesus is my spiritual husband.

When the challenges of parenting (especially in a SUMite home) feel like they will overwhelm me. When fear and anxiety over the futures of my children start to swirl in my head. He swoops in and reminds me that they were his first. He loves them more than I can comprehend. He holds them in his arms. I do not have to carry that weight because he carries it for me. Jesus is my hope.

When a relationship (of any kind) ends, and I am left wading through the waters of rejection, self-loathing, and doubt. He reminds me in his word that I am not broken or worthless. I was bought with a price! I am cherished and loved by him. He will never leave me. Jesus is my friend!

When my health is under attack, when waves of sickness fly at me and my family like arrows. When I am overcome with fear and despair, exhaustion and even doubt. He runs in and declares that by His stripes I am healed! Jesus is my physician!

He pursues me, forgives me, waits for me, and loves me.

The risen Jesus - my sweet and precious Jesus- He is my everything!

I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it my dear friends! Jesus feels so near and real this week! In the coming holy days, I hope that you grow closer to him, open your heart and let him in to all the places you are lonely, sick, or hurting. He is just waiting. Waiting on you to let him in!

I would love to hear from you in the comments! What are some of the ways Jesus has shown up in your lives? I look forward to hearing from you all!


A Little Testimony

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Hi friends, Amanda here! I don't know about you all, but I cannot get enough of stories where God fills a big need in a big way! So today I want to share a big something God did for me and my family last week.

Last week my washing machine quit working. It was mid-cycle with our large bath sheets and just gave out! Let me tell you, hauling sopping wet towels up a set of stairs should count as a week's work out! Haha! The next day I called our repairman and prayed he could fix it as he has done many times before. He showed up right after lunch and got to work looking at the inner workings of the washer. It took him no more than 10 minutes to reach a verdict. In his words, 'This machine is dead." Not only that, but because the washer and dryer were a stacked set, we would have to replace the whole thing! He was very kind and hated to give me that kind of news, but there was nothing else he could do. I thanked him, paid him, and he left.

Then I started to worry.

I wish I could say that I walked in perfect peace and stayed totally calm, but I didn't. I was wringing my hands, pacing the house, and fretting over having to tell Daniel - who was working 7 days a week - that we had a new expense... a BIG one! 

I started talking to God, "How are we going to afford this? Where are we going to wash clothes in the meantime? Where are we going to find a replacement set? God, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!"

He responded to me so calmly, "You're going to trust me."

"Okay, but God I-"

"No buts, TRUST ME!"

Every time waves of worry would wash over me, I would hear him say those two words over and over, "Trust me."

After my initial panic, I messaged a group of local homeschooling moms I have been blessed to become good friends with and let them know the situation. I also posted on good ol' Facebook asking everyone to keep their eyes open. I started scrolling Facebook Marketplace and worrying some more. The price for a decent set, even second hand, was really going to hurt us. 

Within a few hours, one of those mom friends I had contacted texted that she had found a FREE dryer for us! All we had to do was come and get it! At the same time (literally within the same hour), another friend from the same group texted and offered us a BRAND NEW washer for a fraction of a fraction of what they normally cost! Again, all we had to do was pick it up! my friend with the washer said, "My husband has been waiting to bless someone with this. He just didn't know who!"

My washer broke on Wednesday night, by Friday evening I had a whole new set!!

I could feel God smiling throughout the whole ordeal. I could practically hear him chuckling and saying, "See? I told you to trust me!"

This was a reminder I needed more than I realized. Our needs matter to him, even our regular, boring, every day, household needs! They matter! 

If there is something you are in need of this week, talk to him about it! No matter how small you think it may be. I promise you, he cares about the little things too.

If you would like, share a need in the comments so we can all pray for each other's needs! Have a blessed week my friends!


Christmas Traditions

  Blog image Hello  SUMite  family!  I apologize for the delay in posting. I hope you all are having a wonderful December so far! The winter chill is just starting to settle in down here in the southern U.S. It makes me want to stay cuddled up at home with my kids, our dogs, and a few good Christmas movies! Some of these movies I know by heart and watching them every December has become one of my favorite traditions. Which brings me to my topic for today, Christmas traditions!

Traditions are one way we tie the past, present, and future generations together. They are a thread which connect us to our loved ones who are in heaven, who are living, and those who are yet to be. They can be small gestures, large parties, and anything in between. Regardless of their grandeur, their importance is often paramount during the holiday season. 

The first tradition I can remember participating in as a little girl was my mom lighting a candle and having us all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning. That small gesture helped us remember what we were really celebrating!

One of my favorite newer Christmas traditions is reading the gospel of Luke all through December with my kids. It often leads to deep discussions on faith and the life of Jesus. And I love it! Spending each night in the word puts our focus on the Father. Especially this time of year when the world is telling us to buy, buy, buy! The book of Luke is especially perfect for December because there are 24 Chapters! So, if you decide to get started now you could be done by Christmas if you read two chapters a night! ;)

Another favorite tradition of ours is making gingerbread houses! Each person makes their own and the designs everyone comes up with are always hilarious! I look forward every year to seeing what the kids and Daniel will come up with.

Then of course there are the gatherings with friends and family, gift exchanges, baking etc. So many beautiful experiences all packed into a short time. All of these experiences, all of these connections, are because someone somewhere in our families decided to start a tradition. And each generation held on to that thread, then passed it along to the next.  

I would love to hear about some of your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments!

P.S. I hope this Christmas season is a blessed one for you all! I hope it is filled with love, joy, and peace. Even if you are not surrounded by family. I pray you feel yourself surrounded by the love of our perfect Father, who adores you so! 

Merry Christmas to you all!

And Happy Birthday Jesus! 

 

 

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Bread and Water

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Hello again brothers and sisters, Amanda here! It has been a while, and I am so excited to get back to sharing with you all! I had been rolling around several ideas in my head for what to write this week, but the Lord took me in a completely different direction this morning (He seems to like changing things at the last minute with me ;) haha) so I will walk in His will and share what He put on my heart.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner for those of us in the United States, so I suppose it is no surprise that todays post focuses largely on food! But what kind of food? Read on to find out!

I started a new devotional this morning. Normally I pick one from the vast selection on my bible app, but this one is a physical book. I cozied up on my couch this morning and read the first devotion, which was about Jesus being the bread of life (John 6:35). As I read, I started thinking about the importance of bread and water.

Without bread (food) we become weak. Have you ever gone too long without eating? I am not talking about spirit-lead fasting, but rather those times when we may be so busy we forget to eat. Or if you have ever been so unfortunate (as I have) to not have food available. In those times of extreme hunger we can become very different people! I myself become short tempered, easily confused, physically weak and very emotional. Similar to how it feels when I don't feed my soul with His word.

What about water? Have you ever suffered from dehydration? It can get very serious very quick. I have seen men three times my size collapse from going too long without water. It is an absolute necessity for survival! Shouldn't we see our time with Jesus, the living water, as vital to our survival as actual water?

If our bodies are deprived of both food and water for a significant amount of time, we pass away.

After mulling this over, a few more questions popped into my head and I jotted them down. I feel lead to share these questions with of you now. 

Is He your bread and water?

Is He your source of LIFE?

Is He the fuel that starts your day and keeps you going?

Do you look forward to starting your day with Him MORE than you look forward to that cup of coffee in the morning?

Or....

Have you been filling your belly with the rancid food of this world?

Have you fallen into the trap of tasting distraction, complacency, lust, or self righteousness?

Are you feeding thoughts of resentment, self pity, or an obsession over what is "fair"? (This one gets me sometimes!)

Think on these questions. Do not be afraid! If you find that the world snuck in and is trying to take His place at your table remember God's grace and mercy abound in us! There is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1). Rebuke those temptations and appetites, spit that food out! Instead, let our precious and loving Father fill you with His goodness!

The food of this world will NEVER satisfy! You will constantly find yourself hungry for more, craving something different. Thinking the next thing will do the trick, the next temptation will be what fills you up. But the more worldly food you ingest, the emptier you feel! Your health (physical and spiritual), focus, and strength start to wither away on this diet. You become a shadow of what you were made to be when you fall away like this. 

It is only when we have Him, the bread of life and living water, that our bellies are full! Our strength is renewed, and our hope flourishes!

That is all for now, I hope you have a blessed week! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

 


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 :)

Depression

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!

 


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!


Book of Ephesians -- Chapter 5

Ephesians 3Hell0 all! Amanda here. Hasn't this study been incredible? I don't know about all of you, but I will definitely be looking back over this study again and again! Lynn, Ann, and Ian have all done an incredible job sharing their insights into the wisdom of God. I feel so very blessed to be  a part of this team! With that being said I am anxious to dive into chapter 5 with all of you!

 There is so much wisdom and instruction packed in to these 33 verses. Nearly everything about how we should conduct ourselves as children of God is summarized here. And yet there was a time in my life when I would have found a chapter like this too overwhelming to read, let alone study! As a teen and young adult I struggled greatly with condemnation and perfection. I would read chapters like this and feel so much despair, thinking to myself "Lord, I love you so much! But I fail at some of these things DAILY! How will I EVER be good enough for you?!" It was several years before I finally fully accepted and understood (or began to understand) God's grace and mercy. My friend I want you to know that God does NOT expect perfection. He just wants our hearts!

Now then, I am particularly interested in focusing on the last portion of this chapter. Which I feel is VITAL, especially as SUMites, so we will discuss the first part a bit quicker. In verses 1-5 we are instructed to "be imitators of God". We are to walk in love and refrain from immoral behavior of all kinds. It is not coincidence that one of the first things this instructional chapter tells us to love like Jesus loves. My friends, we must never underestimate the power of that kind of love! It draws those who are lost nearer to him.

Verses 6-14 give us a wonderful image of us as "children of light". We are to use our light to expose the darkness. While reading this I had this mental image of the children of God walking around in the dark with a soft glow about them. They would lean towards the darkness and it would turn into something vine-like, shriek and curl up! The children of God would simply smile and move on. It was pretty amazing! 

Verses 15-21 come in as a warning. They tell us to pay attention! Watch your behavior and don't be foolish. Speak of him often with each other. Share his wisdom with one another, praise him together! And remember to THANK HIM always (verse 20). This section shows us community is a BIG part of staying strong as a believer.

Finally we come to verses 22-33. Oh boy, I dare say I have seen the first few verses of this section misused and abused more than any other part in the bible. Though it is not always intentional, it can nonetheless be damaging when misinterpreted. SUMites especially have an extra layer of complexity added when we read and try to understand these verses. It is my hope to shine a bit of light on this issue here.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,..." Lets talk about the word "submit" for a moment. Especially in this context. What it is NOT saying here is that a wife is her husband's footstool, doormat, or slave. It is also NOT saying that the wife is less valuable, less loved, or in any way less important. What it IS saying is that wives are to be the ultimate helper and team player for their husband. We are to be a listening ear, a calm during chaos, and a comfort to them. We recognize them as the head of our household and treat them with respect. This works especially well when the husband does his part of loving their wives as Christ loves the church (verse 25). When a husband loves his wife selflessly she is much more inclined to behave in the ways previously stated! God intended for marriage to be a beautiful and reciprocal giving of love, protection, and care for one another.

Of course we know it isn't always so simple. In those cases we must lean on the Father to guide and direct us! For us SUMites, we are still called to be the best helper we can be. And what better way to help our spouses than by prayer and petition on their behalf, loving them as Jesus loves us, and being the peace when the chaos rises! It is a tall order I know, and one we can only accomplish with the help of the Father.

Okay I must wrap this up now, but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! I love you all!


Swimming in troubled waters

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Hello and happy Monday my friends! Amanda here, I had a little something laid on my heart last Sunday that I have been waiting to share with you all. I hope this blesses someone today!

It is summer time here in the southern U.S. and that means good food, cold drinks, nearly unbearable heat, and lots of swimming! My kids are so excited every year to get back in the water. Despite their enthusiasm neither one of them are very strong swimmers. They seem to fight the water more than anything haha!

I was driving home from church when this thought zapped me! It was like a divine download and I immediately turned on my talk-to-text and starting writing a rough draft of this post. My kids were in the car listening and they clapped when I was finished haha! I am taking that as a sign everyone needs to hear this!

The struggle of learning to swim can be a great analogy for the trials we sometimes face. 

It is often during life's trials that we have biggest the opportunity for spiritual growth. Those times when we feel we must cling to God the tightest (though we should cling to Him always) provide moments of immense grace, wisdom, empathy, and insight into His will...Only sometimes it doesn't feel that way does it? Sometimes we feel as though we have been thrown into rough waters without a life jacket and just cannot get out! No matter how hard we thrash we just can't break free from the raging current that keeps pushing against us. Intent on sweeping us away. So often during these times we scream and cry out to God to pull us out of the water. Begging him to pick us up and lay us on the dry shore where we can rest in the sunlight. And while there certainly are times when God absolutely does that, there are many times when He doesn't. 

Instead of pulling us out and letting us give up he says, "No my love, you MUST learn to swim through this. This current is here to teach you something. Do not be afraid. I will be your strength. I will show you the way, but YOU must do the swimming!". He will be there to feed us with his word so that we stay strong. Comfort and encourage us with his presence so we do not despair. And protect us from the attacks of enemy. HE is the life jacket!

Still, if the waters get rough enough, we may start to doubt Gods plan - or his goodness. We may believe the enemies lie that we are being punished, abandoned, or lose all hope that things will get better. That is when we start to sink, and we are at the mercy of the raging current. Drifting wherever it takes us. That my dear friends is one of the scariest things I can imagine, yet we do it often! We turn to "quick comforts" instead, things like food, TV, games on our phones, excessive sleep ect... Things that offer that instant gratification we so often crave. We feel comfortable, satisfied (briefly) and completely unaware of the fact that we are drowning! THIS is why we have to be vigilant!

We must keep our eyes on Him as we swim. If we listen to his instructions and his guidance. If we truly trust him. The growth and wisdom that are waiting on the other side are going to be more important and impactful than we can imagine. We will be able to not only swim farther and faster the next time we are in the water, but we will also be able to help others do the same! We will understand them on a deeper more personal level because we have been there and survived. We can help teach others to swim.

I'm going to leave you with this verse which is SO fitting for todays post, "When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you." Isaiah 43:2 CSB (emphasis mine).

I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!


Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

TreeHello all! Amanda here, I hope you had a great weekend and a wonderful Mothers Day! I have another "WOW God!" story to share with all of you (the picture is a little hint). So lets jump right in!

I have to start by saying the spiritual journey God is taking me on as a mother is nothing short of amazing. I have hard time finding the words to describe it sometimes (which, if you know me, is unusual haha!). I feel it is all at once joyful and solemn, fun and difficult, peaceful and chaotic! I am sure that is how most mothers view raising their children. I am so VERY aware that God chose me to steward these little warriors that sometimes it takes my breath way! And the event I am about to share with you was one of those breath-taking moments.

Almost every night since December we have read one chapter of the bible. It started with Luke as a way to celebrate the birth an life of Jesus nearing Christmas and we just kept going! We are in the book of Acts now and they love it! The three of us (my son, my daughter, and I) snuggle up on my daughters bed and start reading, stopping for questions and discussion along the way. It does tend to make for later bed times, but we love it! Our faith walks and connection to each other has grown deeper because of it.

On this particular night, after we had read our chapter, my daughter was looking particularly thoughtful. I could tell she was rolling something around in her mind. She has a very big imagination and she is very curious kid, so you never know what she might say! Anyway, she looked at me with the widest eyes and said "Mommy, do you ever think about how Jesus is like the stem (trunk) of a tree, reaching all the way to the top; how the disciples are the branches, and the rest of us are the leaves?". After I picked my jaw up off the floor in surprise at the wisdom my seven year old was spouting I said, "Wow June! That is very cool!'. Then she went on saying, "Yeah! And God is like the roots of the tree, and the ground is that 'thing' that separates us from God!". Again, jaw dropped haha!

Possibly the COOLEST thing about this whole conversation was the moment we all turned and looked at the tree I had painted on her bedroom wall EIGHT years ago, when I was pregnant with her, and counted the main branches coming off the trunk. Want to take a guess how want there are? Twelve...TWELVE! With a 13th that reaches the ceiling! When I painted this tree I was not attempting for it to symbolize anything! I was just planning on making a forest-themed nursery but stopped after one tree! haha! How interesting is it that it has suddenly become a symbol of something so powerful?! The three of us sat in silence for a few moments staring at the tree in awe. My son fell back on the bed giggling and saying his mind was blown, haha!

For me, this felt like a reminder, like the kindest wink and smile from Him, that He truly is in everything we do. We may not even be aware of the true significance of something we are doing at this moment, but years down the road we may see it for what it truly is! We could be lighting fires and fanning flames with no clue to what we are doing! I was simply painting my baby girls nursery, big and pregnant and so excited to meet her. I had no idea that in my joy, I was planting something so important! Now we look at that tree differently. My daughter sees our Father in her room now, and every time she looks at it she feels safer. 

God never stops amazing!

I have to wrap this up but, but I want to end by suggesting you go read John 15:1-8...Really the whole chapter, I feel, is relevant to this! I pray that our story blesses you all as it has us! God is in every detail of our lives, and He sees you beloved one!



Teach Your Children

 


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Hello my SUMite family, Amanda here with you on this Monday morning. I had something wonderful happen with my kids about two weeks ago and I am so excited to share it with with you all (trying hard not to say "y'all" here HAHA!). Lets jump right in!

Let me start by saying I believe in spiritual gifts, I believe we all have them in one form or another as believers. I also believe these gifts can manifest at pretty much any age, child, teenager, adult, or senior citizen. I believe this because I was given the gift of prophecy at the age of 12! God wants his people working in his gifts, and there is so much work to be done it just makes sense that some of us would start young!

Anyway, since my son was about six he has been able to sense spiritual forces. He is 10 now and can always tell me when something is not right in our home, and sometimes he even knows what was likely the cause. I have taught him how to pray and take authority over the darkness when he feels like it is trying to invade, but this last time was a little bit different.

I was brushing my teeth one evening when he comes rushing in the bathroom with wide eyes and says, "Something isn't right and I think we should pray!". I asked him what was wrong and he simply said, "I saw something.". That was enough for me! This time though, I felt like it was time to teach him and his sister about anointing and blessing in addition to rebuking. I went to the kitchen and made a very small bowl of olive oil and we took it back to his bedroom (where he said the problem was). The three of us sat on his shaggy grey carpet and I explained to them the practice of anointing with oil, blessing the house, and each other. I told them before we started on the house I was going to anoint and pray over them. So they closed their eyes and I put a drop of oil on each of their foreheads, I held my fingers there and began to pray over them with my eyes closed as well. As I prayed I felt them touching my forehead. They had dipped their own fingers in the oil and were blessing me at the same time, and when I looked up they were also blessing each other!!! It was truly one of the sweetest moments of my life! We sat there like that for several minutes, touching each others foreheads and blessing one another, all of us smiling and giggling with joy.

After that it was time to anoint the house and anything else they felt lead to anoint! Of course, both kids' first thought was, "We should anoint daddy!", who was sound asleep during all of this haha! I told them to anoint our bedroom door and I would pray over daddy before we went to bed. After that we anointed every single window, door, mirror, TV, video games, all screens, and even our dogs! Once we had finished I asked my son how he felt and he said, "peaceful" :). I tell you friends I went to bed that night bursting with gratitude and joy! Stewarding children, being chosen for this kind of work, is such a tremendous gift!

I do not want to give off an unrealistic impression though! Not every night in our house is filled with this sort of spiritual excitement, nor am I always such a patient and joyful mother! haha! Hanging on to these moments though, and never letting ourselves OR our kids forget them, WILL fuel the fire of our faith and theirs! They will get us through the mundane, the frustrating, and even the dark parts of life.

Teach your children to ACT on their faith

Teach your children to TALK about their faith

And teach your children to REMEMBER the moments that strengthened their faith!

What are some of your favorite faith strengthening memories? Please share in the comments. I would love to read them!


Rejoice in Hope

HOPE BLOG

 Hello all, Amanda here. I am excited to share with you all what has been going on so we are going to dive right in!

 I shared a post not too long ago about the throne of my husband's heart. How I audibly heard God tell me to be prepared for Him to take that seat, and the changes that would take place in my husband and in our lives as a family. Well, for a while nothing new happened. Things have been going along pretty normally and I had really stopped thinking about that moment so much. It seemed to spring up hope in me, and I was afraid that hope would lead to disappointment. So I put it on the back burner of my mind and got on with life.

 Then last Sunday something else happened. After church service an older lady I greatly respect came up to me and said, "I just want you to know God has put it on my heart to pray for your husband. So I want you to know I will be praying for him.". I almost started sobbing on the spot! Haha! I had not talked about my husband in a long time, and this woman and I are not super close. So it was very surprising for her to bring him up out of the blue like that.

Again, hope started to grow... God is something about to happen?!

Fast forward to this past Friday. I was grocery shopping with our kids and discovered one of my kids had stolen something! It was a very small, cheap thing, but stealing is stealing! I promptly took them back to the store and made them apologize and return it. When my husband came home that evening I told him the whole story, one of his responses was, "Did you tell them not stealing is one of the ten commandments?". WHAT?!?! You could have knocked me over with a feather in that moment! Haha! My "atheist" husband bringing up the commandments in a respectful way??? I sat there like a deer in headlights for a moment before I could respond!

Something must be happening...God, what are you telling me?

The cherry on top of this whole thing came this Sunday morning. One of the verses my pastor preached on was Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer" (CSB). Once again, I felt God shouting in my head, this time saying to REJOICE IN HOPE!

 My dearest SUMites, we cannot have faith without hope. It is vital to our survival, to our thriving and our growing. We MUST hope! We must have our eyes so very focused on the hope Jesus offers that even if the world around us is burning down we still have hope in HIM! Wild, reckless, consuming hope! Hold on to that hope during afflictions, it will help you to be patient. Believe in His hope during prayer, it will make you more persistent! Hope is key!

There may be times when we fail. When we lose hope and just cannot seem to find it again. If this is where you are it is okay, we have all been there. It will not last forever. I have found when this happens one of the best things we can do is reach out! Share with a trusted, Godly friend how you are feeling and ask for their prayers. Another thing we can do, the best thing, is GET IN THE WORD! The truth is, if we have time to be on our phones, we have time to read a few verses and pray for a minute or two. Just that happen alone can change the atmosphere of an entire household. Trust me on that one :)

I pray this post inspires hope in you my friends. I would love to hear how you keep your hope alive. What promises are you standing on? Let me know in the comments!


The Friend we Need

Blog PostHello all! Amanda here for day three of our fast. I hope all of you are doing well and staying hungry for more of HIM!

  As Ann mentioned in Monday's post, our theme this week is Friendship with God. I have been rolling this concept around in my head the last few days and asking myself the question "what does friendship with God look like?". I have been jotting down thoughts as they come to me and I wanted to take this time to share with you what I believe God wants us all to remember about what it means to be friends with him.

 For my side of the friendship it means I want to know him deeply. I want to know his thoughts, his desires, and what pleases him. I want to know what angers him, what he finds detestable, and what he will not tolerate.

  Friendship with God means I talk to him often. Throughout my day I have little conversations with him. I talk to him while I am doing dishes, sweeping, cooking ect. Just like I would one of my girlfriends on the phone. I chat with him about big concerns, little annoyances, and everything in between! One day I may be telling him all about how someone angered me as I furiously scrub pots and pans, another day I may just proclaim my love and thankfulness as I fold towels. No matter what I am doing I want him there with me.

  God and I being friends also means I can be REAL with him! I can let him in all the raw, ugly parts of my life and share what I am really feeling. I do not have to pretend like everything is fine when I am with him. I can let the fur fly! He already knows what I am thinking anyway so its not like any of it surprises him. He just listens patiently, as a good friend would do. He holds me as I cry, corrects me when I'm wrong, and comforts me when I hurt. Oh, what a wonderful friend he is!

  God is the kind of friend we all desperately need in our lives! Yes, he will hold you. Yes, he will comfort you. Of course he will listen to you! What he will NOT do however, is tell you what you want to hear all the time! God is that one true friend who is not afraid to tell us what we need to hear, even if it may sting a little. He is not a "yes man", he cares about us too much to feed us easy lies that may placate us for a time. He will always tell us the truth.

Here are few of the most beautiful things I learned about what this means: First, He loves us unconditionally. When we royally mess up, he loves us. When we get caught up in pride or people-pleasing, he loves us. When we say things we shouldn't, he loves us. When we are lazy, angry, or full of self pity guess what? HE LOVES US! 

Second, he knows us. He knows me. He knows exactly what shade of green is my favorite color. He knows I love the smell in the air after it rains. He knows I love music, sunrises, and lilies. He knows I love the beach, but loathe the feeling of sand between my toes. Haha! He knows my innermost thoughts and feelings. He knows exactly what comforts me as well. He knows ME. More than anyone else ever could.

The Father, our precious Lord, is closer than a brother, parent, husband, or human friend. He is the one in whom we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28). And he desires oneness with us! We only have to reach out and grab hold of him!

During the last half of our fast I hope you find yourself growing closer in friendship with our Father. Even if you don't "feel" him trust that he is right there, because Matthew 28:20 says he is! Enjoy your time with him as much as you can. Let him lavish his love on you, and soak it up!

I would love to hear about how the fast is going for you in the comments!

 


The Throne of His Heart

 

THRONE

Hey there SUMites! Amanda her, I am so excited to share something God revealed to me weeks ago that really rang my bell! 

 For several years my husband struggled with an addiction to alcohol. He was never violent or dangerous, but it was still slowly taking over his life and becoming a top priority. Drinking was what he looked forward to the most at the end of every day and the start of every weekend, it truly was his idol for many years. 

One night we were reminiscing about things and he started to talk about drinking. He spoke of it fondly, and admitted to missing it. That hurt my heart in more ways than one. Suddenly, while he was talking I heard God. Now, when I say I heard God I mean I HEARD Him, loud and clear! God said to me, "Can you handle him loving ME like that? Can you give me ALL the space that I will take up in his heart?". My head was actually buzzing, it felt like someone had rang a gong in my head. I cannot remember the rest of the conversation with my husband because God was so loud in that moment. I don't think God has ever spoken to me quite like that before. I had to shake my head to regain focus on my husband and continue our conversation.

I mulled this over a lot in the days afterward. The truth was, God had caught me in a heart issue. I am a fixer, when there is a problem I want to fix it myself. I like to be the one to make people feel heard, seen, and wanted. Most of all, I like being the number one source of comfort for my husband. The more I looked into my heart the more I realized I was NOT prepared! I had not been preparing myself for what would come when Daniel got saved.

You see, when Daniel takes an interest in something it consumes him. He has been that way since we were teenagers. When he was 16-18 it was The Beatles. We have every album (CD's and vinyl), a book of the complete music scores, pictures, shirts, ect... When he was 20 it was another musician named Gotye and Daniel learned a new instrument because of him. When he decided he was an atheist, he dove head first into that as well. He was listening to and reading from every atheist influencer he could find. He would spend hours researching and arguing his point to anyone who would listen. Daniel is an all-or-nothing man, so it is very clear why I would need to have my heart prepared for when salvation comes to him!

I know without a doubt in my heart that when God does reveal himself to Daniel my house is going to be turned on it's head! What a glorious day that will be! But I have had to face that, while glorious, it will also come with challenges. As God moves on to the throne of his heart, everything else has to take a step down! I will have to share him with the Father in a way I have never had to do in the 14 years we have been together. I will no longer be his main source of comfort and peace. He won't run to me first, he will run to Jesus! The dynamic of our relationship will shift, there will be a third party we are now both aware of! His views and opinions will change and grow as he changes and grows. He may want to try a new church, change what we watch, wear, and listen to. As for me, I have been the soul spiritual leader of our children for 10 years! You can bet that will not be easy for me! I like being in charge haha!

God has started this work in me slowly. This year has taught me a LOT about giving God control, about what it means to actually "give it to God". It has been no easy task, this heart change. BUT it is exciting! Because for God to speak to me in such a drastic way, it must mean that things are getting close to changing, and I better be ready!

 

Have any of you ever thought about the challenges that a newly saved spouse might bring? Has God ever spoken something so loudly to you? Drop a comment so we can talk about it! :)


How I Read My Bible

How I read my Bible 2Hello my lovely SUMites, Amanda here! I have loved reading Ian and Ann’s posts on how they read their bibles! It is always inspiring to me to hear or read how other believers like to study Gods word. 

I have loved bibles since I was a teenager. I wanted the one with the trendy cover or cool maps inside. I ended up with several bibles in a variety of styles over the years. Sadly, I was more interested in the look of them than actually reading them.

You see, I struggled badly with condemnation in my teens. I felt I could only study when I was “being good”, once I stumbled and did something that wasn’t good, I would feel too guilty to keep studying. This was a cycle that repeated itself into my early twenties. The Bible, especially the New Testament, was a book of rules in my eyes. It was a list of all the things I would never be and could never do. The enemy had twisted my mind into being afraid to open the word! I was completely missing out on Gods grace and denying myself His forgiveness and mercy! That all started to change when I was introduced to two things: a fantastic couple of local pastors, and page on YouTube called The Bible Project.

I have so much to share so I will keep this part brief. I started regularly attending church alone when I was 25. I met the sweetest couple who were joint pastors of this precious little church. This husband and wife opened my eyes to Gods grace. I specifically remember the wife preaching on grace one Sunday and at just the mention of it she was close to tears. I remember her voice trembling, and how passionately she spoke to the congregation. Her message that day was a big step towards me believing that I was worthy of it too! And so, opening my bible got a little easier.

A few years later, my younger sister introduced me to these guys on YouTube who called their page The Bible Project. I had never seen videos like these before, and soon I was hooked! Not only were their videos beautifully done, but they were FILLED with the goodness and truth of Gods word. They helped me begin to understand the importance of context; the when, where, and why a book was written. And the creators of the page were so passionate and excited about the Word that I began to feel excited too! I ate it up like candy! It replaced my condemnation and fear with joy and hunger! I began to read my bible even more ;).

Fast forward to now, in my early thirties, the condemnation still tries to see where it can creep in, but I know how to kick it so it doesn’t stick around long. The way I prefer to read currently is one book at a time. I like to start by watching a Bible Project video on the book and learning as much context as I can beforehand. My favorite mornings start with me grabbing my bible and journal as soon as I wake up. I write down 5 things I am thankful for, a declaration for that day (something like “I will speak lovingly all day” or “Today I will walk in health and peace”), I pray, and I read. I typically read one or two chapters at a time. After that it is time to get up with my littles and start our day. My kiddos are still pretty young (7 and 10), so not all mornings are this peaceful! But I can definitely tell the difference between when I start my days this way and when I don’t. 

I also really enjoy reading with my kids! I usually stick with one chapter, or even half a chapter, and make sure it is something I know well enough so I can answer questions (ALWAYS pray for wisdom before you start answering questions!). My daughter is very inquisitive and asks all the hard questions, which I love! It was this very thing that lead to her asking to get baptized a few weeks ago! Praise God! Even if you never get quiet time, read the Word to your kids in the noise. It plants a seed, even if you can’t see it!

That’s all for me folks! I would love to hear about your favorite ways to study in the comments! 


Gatekeepers

7EADF9A6-E07B-437C-A163-CC6B56E73862By Amanda Pace

I had prayed about what to write and settled on this story before I watched Lynn’s amazing video on spiritual warfare in the SUMite facebook group. Isn’t God’s timing amazing! This post will also be about warfare, but it is more of a personal testimony as well as declarations I feel God wants me to share with all of you to claim for yourselves. So here we go!

Years ago, I was attending my wonderful church and went up front to ask for prayer as I often did. I was feeling so weak and alone, like my life and marriage were falling apart. I was so scared of what might happen to my kids and their faith. In short, I was filled with doubt and fear. 

My pastors knew me and my situation, so I didn’t have to explain much when I came up for prayer. They knew my husband was and is an atheist, that I had two young children, and that my husband was struggling with depression and addiction. They knew I struggled with my emotions as well as my confidence at the time. So there was no shortage of things I needed prayer for!

My pastors wife (who was also Co-pastor) began to pray over me. During the prayer for strength and courage she paused, went to her seat and grabbed something, and came back. She had me open my had and put something in it. Keys. She wrapped my hand in hers and told me to remember that I am the gatekeeper of my home. That I CHOOSE who I lock and unlock the door for. I have the God-given power to kick evil out of my home! She said I am like Jeal, driving a peg into the enemies head (Judges 4:21)! Let me tell you, God showed up big time during that prayer session!

I came home feeling so emboldened with the power of the Holy Spirit! I remember going down into our basement, where my husband spent most of his time, feeling ready for battle! I swear I could have physically taken off a demons head had it shown up in the flesh at that moment! This daughter of the King was ready for WAR! But of course, this battle was not one of the flesh. So I stood there, in the darkness. The air felt thick and heavy, like the enemy knew I was there and could feel what was coming. I could feel them too. The weight of all my husbands demonic oppressors hanging over me. And I was filled with righteous anger. I began to rebuke every single spirit! I laid my hands on things I knew had been gateways and bound them up (TV, XBox, ect.). I cried out boldly, fearlessly, OUT LOUD, and in full confidence that I was working in God's will! It truly was glorious!

Some changes were immediate, and some were still a long way off. But I remember when things started to shift even my husband noticed he was changing without  intentionally trying to! I remember him asking me once, half joking, “What did you do to me?”. I just smiled. Someday he will know exactly what God did through me. And I cannot wait for the day I can discuss it with him.

I believe God brought this to mind for me to share to remind us all, yet again, that we DO hold power! Through HIM! Ladies and gents, we should walk into life every day like we are in a battle we KNOW we cannot lose! With our heads held high, confident, bold, glowing with His love! Take hold of His promises and SHOUT them out! No matter what things look like in the flesh - the flesh is a liar anyway! See with our spiritual eyes the truth that God has laid out before us! We are gatekeepers and warriors! Walk in peace and confidence because you KNOW He is walking with you!

What can you declare freedom from TODAY as the gatekeeper of your home? I would love to read about it in the comments!


Running the Race

By Amanda Pace

Blog picWe often think of running a race as just that, running, as fast as you can and as hard as you can towards a finish line. Blood pumping, adrenaline nigh, excitement and anticipation pulsing through your body as you see your finish line getting closer and closer! Running a race you can see the end to is easy enough, and many people would even consider it enjoyable. It's exciting because you KNOW you are going to reach the end, often you can SEE it before you even start running. But what about the races we cannot see the end of?  What about those of us who feel like we have been running for months, years, or even decades? Towards a goal, a finish line, that we never seem to reach. This message today is for us. The ones soaked in sweat and tears, the ones who live our lives falling and getting back up, bruised and battered and heart broken. Yet still we run. We run through valleys of depression, mountains of adversity, deserts of hopelessness, winding trails of illnesses, and sometimes we run through utter darkness, with no light except the Fathers promises. His Word guiding us towards that place of rest and peace in him.  This is just another reminder, one we all need. He sees us!

When we run through the valleys of depression, he is right there to comfort us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

When we face mountains of adversity he is our peace. (Philippians 4:7)

When we find ourselves in the desert of hopelessness he reminds us of his goodness(1 Chronicles 16:12)

When we are wading through illness he is our healer! (Jeremiah 17:14)

And when we are running through that utter darkness, lost and terrified and confused HE IS OUR LIGHT! (John 8:12)

I don't know about all of you, but during some of my races I find myself looking for an easy way out. Any way that I can side step the path in front of me and take an easier one with less resistance. After all, none of us want to run a race with illness or depression. And there are times when God will show you a quick way out. Then there are times when God says, "I know this is hard, but we have to finish this one. We are taking the long way this time". Those are the races that test us, that push us to the very edge. But those are also the races that build the most endurance! Which leads to stronger faith and closer intimacy with our father!

Our precious and adoring father knows we will stumble, struggle, and even fail. He knows how exhausted we are, and how afraid, and even doubtful we can be. The good news is he loves us anyway! He is the perfect One, he is the love, grace, and mercy every human needs in their life. He will always be right there to help us back up, give us a drink of his living water, wipe our tears, take our hand, and shine a light in the darkness. Every time! 

I hope this encourages you this week my dear friends. That it gives you just a bit more endurance to keep running your race. I hope it reminds you that you are seen. You are seen by the one who matters most. The one whose heart yearns for closeness with us. 

So that in the end we may say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV


Do Nothing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda