34 posts categorized "Kids Faith"

A Work of God in My Home

By Ann Hutchison Central church Ann 1

Hi SUM family!

Today I'm continuing on from Monday's post, with a curious story about something God did in my home this year. It shows just how good he is, and I really do hope you enjoy this story.

As I've shared before, last year none of my family was going anywhere near church. Sigh! But one day God gave me a most unusual word. He told me I was going to be on a year-long wait for something, starting on 21 June 2020, and that something would happen at the end of that year.

Goodness, how exciting!

Over those months, then, I waited. I waited … I waited … I waited.

I kept telling myself I should not have too high an expectation about what would transpire at the end of the wait (i.e., June 2021). I figured God works mysteriously and if I were to try to guess his moves, I would almost certainly be incorrect. 

That said, I simply couldn't resist trying to guess as the wait continued and, to add to my excitement, God gave me another two things: The phrase Let’s Go, and the name of a New Zealand town Whanganui.

By now this was all feeling highly suspenseful. "Is my family going to move to Whanganui, Lord?" I wondered. I was fit to burst with anticipation.

Well, my friends, I could never have guessed what would transpire next; and it's almost a little difficult to describe. But I'll give it a go. It turns out that these mysterious words related - at least in part -- to my family's church situation.

In February (2021), my pastor told me he was going to close the church I'd been attending for the past six years. I've shared this part with you all already.

Indeed, it was a shock. But then came an immediate move of God, a swipe of his power: As I've also shared, my son Miles’s school friend suddenly began attending a new church himself and invited Miles along. A miracle, in my eyes. I began attending there too, and now here’s a photo of the three of us at church together: Me, Miles (next to me), and his best friend next to him. As I write, these two boys are now fully engaged in this church. Ann Miles at church

Well, that was amazing. Suddenly I had gone from despairing at my family's lack of church attendance to enjoying it with my son. But there’s more.

I'd not been attending my new church long when they announced this:

“We’re moving into a new venue, St Paul’s College on 20th June.”

St Paul's college? 20th June? I nearly fell off my seat. You see, St Paul's college was the venue my old church had just vacated! I would be going back there? And on 20th June? That was the date my year of waiting was to end!

"Lord? What is this about?" I whispered, sitting in my seat, there in my new church.

It could still have been a coincidence … Until I saw the Facebook announcement about the new venue, and saw what phrase they had included:

'Let’s Go' !! Central church new venue

And it got even better. That weekend I just-so-happened to look at a map and saw something I’d never noticed before: The new church venue that I was moving back to (St Paul's) sits below a road called Whanganui Street!!

At this, I sat back, gob-smacked.

All I could conclude was that this church and my family were meant to be together, and it was as if the Father had given me signposts to confirm it.

The new church's move feels like a big new season for them; but also very significant for me and my family.

How does all this relate to my SUM? Well, this move has done something curious to my family. I can’t say why, but Bryce is fully relaxed about my involvement in this new church where it wasn't like that before. It could be because it's run by young people, and he can see how they treat Miles -- They're lovely. Or, it could be the fact he is seeing Miles thrive socially there. Nevertheless, it is a clear move of God in my family, it has been a major development in my SUM, and I thank Him. 

The motto from all this: Who knows how God will move in a SUM home, but he will surely move for us. We just... Have to wait. 

(Finally, to give you a final smile after Monday's post, I have even begun attending a weekly ‘small group’. But that is another story.)

My friends, I so hope this encouraged you. 

With love, 

Ann


A Continued Testimony: My Family and Church

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Sparkles over teens

A few weeks ago I shared about how my teenage son Miles is now attending church with me. Amazing, amazing, amazing!

If you missed that story, you can catch up here.

Today I want to give you an update because I know how encouraging testimonies can be. Specifically, I want to show you a photo at the end of this post. It's a photo that says it all: It shows what God can do in a spiritually mismatched home. But first, the update:

I started out this year with none of my family attending church with me. This is how it’s been for years and, as you know, it's difficult to not only wait for your spouse, but also your children. In my case it was both of my children that I couldn't seem to bring to faith. 

Somehow, God changed that in March of this year. Since then, Miles (my youngest) has gone to church youth group every week without fail, and now attends church with me. What's more, he's super enthusiastic. I think he feels he's met his 'tribe'.

This youth group and church experience gives him the messages I so badly wanted to give him myself. At youth group, for example, they have group chats. Last week it was on ‘Identity’. This week it was about the story of Daniel interpreting Belshazzar’s dream in the Book of Daniel. Amazing! 

There’s a youth leader running it who is about 22 and on fire for Jesus. Her name is Sam. She introduces herself to them as ‘Sam-dawwg’ (Sam-dog) in a rap voice. She is relatable in all the ways that I, as a 45-year-old, am not. And he listens to her. So when she says to him “You’re coming to church on Sunday aren’t you!” he gets up at 9am on a Sunday to get there.

Honestly, praise God for this girl! I want to buy her the biggest bunch of flowers. She has no idea how much it means to me. 

Fast-forward to today and Miles now attends church with me weekly -- The new church that God led us to back in March. It's full of people in their twenties, run by people in their twenties, Jesus freaks. They even have their own t-shirt that says ‘Jesus Freak’. I am one of the oldest in the room and ... I love it! There is no age in the Spirit.

The pastor gives anointed sermons, perfectly pitched for young ears, and convicting those listening to discipleship. Miles doesn’t sit with me; instead he sits with his new friends. I occasionally glance over at him and pinch myself at what God has done. Tshirt

So, to cap off this story, now let me show you the photo I mentioned. It's of my family, taken three weeks ago. Check out the t-shirt!! I did not get Miles the t-shirt - Nope, that was Sam's doing. Nor did I ask him to put it on. In fact, I couldn't quite believe my eyes when he came out wearing it.

As for my other son? And Bryce? Well, for a start Bryce didn't mind in the slightest that Miles was walking round New Zealand wearing this t-shirt for all to see. With him in this t-shirt we looked like the poster family for Christianity ((laughing)) .. And my husband did not bat an eyelid. I actually find that quite amazing. But, second, this whole story has been a lesson that I must trust God to move in the right way for the other two. And so I am learning to not strive, to keep praying, and to wait.

Thanks for sharing this ongoing story with me, my friends, and I hope you liked that!

Ann


The Curious Move of Jesus in My Home

Ann here! Globe

When you're driving in the dark it's a great place to talk to a teen. With both sets of eyes fixed on the road nothing too intense is going on. That's probably how a teenage boy likes it, and it's where my son and I found ourselves last night as we drove home from his third time at youth group.

(Praise God! If you haven't read it, he has recently joined in at church and the story is here.)

My friends, Miles is loving youth group -- Really loving it -- and I am pinching myself at this turn of events. He laughs at that. He knows I’m excited even though I’m trying to keep it all cool. 

Last night in the car, he and I talked about the idea that God might move at a specific time in someone’s life. We talked about his grandparents, who each became Christian in their twenties. We also talked about Bryce and me. Miles has never seen me be anything but fervent, but I told him I used to be the opposite.

"But," I said to Miles, "When God moves in your life ... It’s a very compelling thing!"

Has God moved now, with this whole youth group thing? Well, something curious happened a few weeks earlier. And this 'something' is getting me thinking. I believe the following incident was God's way of confirming that this move is His move: 

A few weeks ago, Miles came downstairs for breakfast, scratching his head.

“Mum? Umm… I woke up and my globe lamp was on the floor by my bed. Did you move it?”

“No.. I didn't. Mm. That’s strange!”

We asked Travis (his big brother) and we asked Bryce. Did any of them move the lamp? Nope. They didn’t. None of us moved it. So, somehow this lamp seemed to have moved itself from his bedside table to the floor. 

Now, it’s possible he sat up and in a sleep-walking state moved the lamp. But the thing is it sits at the back of the table, so he would have had to lift it over stuff.  Surely something would have been knocked? Further, the lamp is touch-sensitive in every part, so the minute you touch any part it turns on. If Miles had moved the lamp, it would have been on. But it wasn’t. There it sat as he woke: On the floor, right where his feet touch the ground.

We all found this odd. And, of course, I had a little sneaky thought: Is God doing something fun here?

A few days later, Miles and I were chatting about the lamp and a thought came:

“Oh Miles, the Bible says Jesus is the light of the world. And His word is a lamp to your feet!“

At that, my lovely boy gave me a grin. He seemed to think that was cool. I, meanwhile, quietly thought to myself, "That is super cool. I'll assume that was you, Lord!"

Jesus is the Light of the World. And He has moved in this boy's life.

His Word is now a lamp to my son’s feet.

It was only a few weeks later that Jesus moved. In my son’s life. And he became part of Church.

"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12, NKJV)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

When God moved in your own life so that you believed, how old were you? And how did God show you he was real? I would love to hear any stories you have of your own move.


Teenage Testimony Time Again!

My dear friends, Ann here. Teenagers

Thank you so much for your lovely comments on Monday’s post. It was as if the whole SUM community sent up a cheer of excitement to hear that my one teenager had joined church. The Body of Christ.

And we cheered because we get it. We get the pain. We get the hope. And we relate to what it says in scripture, that angels rejoice over one soul (Luke 15:10). One!

I thank Jesus for what he has done here. So, so much.

Well, Jesus is lavish! It seems he has decided we, the SUM community, will not just have one teenager to celebrate. We will have two! Little did I know this morning when I woke that it would be testimony time all over again today.

In my last post I shared that my church had closed. Four of us attended there without our husbands and we were great friends. One of these friends reads our blog regularly and cheers us on, a fellow SUMite. She'll be reading this, so I wave at her and beam her a hug while we're on here.

Anyway, this morning, I got a text from her that made my mouth drop open all over again. Are you ready? She said this:

“It’s been amazing reading your SUM posts. The same thing has happened with (my daughter)! She went to youth group and Easter Camp and is now downloading worship songs!”

She continued:

“It’s interesting, as soon as (our pastor) announced we were closing, she (the daughter) met a new friend at school who invited her to youth group – then it has been all on!”

I'm in awe of God. 

We may think our grown children's faith lives are as ‘good as dead’. But no! I think already from this past fortnight I have learned a big lesson: God will move.

The intriguing thing is that God sometimes has to close things down to enable that. My friend and I had to say goodbye to a much-loved church. And I can tell you, there were many tears. We loved the people dearly, and it was painful. But God knew what he was doing.

My friends, I want to share the following scripture from Hebrews. It reminds us that it doesn’t matter if something is ‘as good as dead’. We all know the story of Abraham:

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore (Hebrews 11:12, NIV).

And with that I'm going to put up a song below. It's called 'Stand in Awe'. For that's my stance right now.

Blessings to you all. Perhaps we can pray over our children collectively today? If you'd like prayer for your children, put their names in the comments and we can gather round these kids of ours. 

Sending much love,

Ann

 


God's Move in My Family

Dear friends, Ann Miles 2

Before I continue to share my story from Passover, I need to tell you about one of those less wondrous 'SUM moments' -- Because it forms the backdrop to what I share next.

It was one of those moments in church. All that happened was I turned around to see some kids having fun as friends. But these kids were the same age as mine. And mine were at home with their Dad. In that moment I descended into a bad space. I felt jealous of every family in that room who looked 'Christian picture-perfect' (Sorry -- I realize that's not good. Transparent post today). Oh dear!

While I've been learning to love, my children have continued to be 'unchurched' and disinterested in faith. Completely disinterested. And that's been hard.

BUT, oh what's just happened these past weeks has taken me by surprise. 

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6, NKJV).

So ... Here we go, and I hope it makes you smile:

Just before Passover, my church closed. Rather unconventionally, the pastor felt God wanted us to disband. He made a brave decision to close us, sensing that we were all to be released into somewhere new. I loved my church, but to me it felt a God thing. Certainly interesting!

At the very same time, my son Miles’s best friend Toby's family started going to a new church down the road from our house. My ears pricked up at this news, and I casually said to Miles “If I go to that church, would you go?”

“Yes.” He said.

That was the only thing we said.

Well, blow me down, I'd said nothing more, but shortly before Passover Miles spontaneously announced: “Mum, I’m going to youth group tonight, can you drive me over?”

I nearly choked on my biscuit.

(At this point my face took on a stunned expression).

A few days later the next thing happened: “Mum, can I go to Easter Camp?”

Easter camp is a nationwide Christian camp for teens. I couldn’t quite believe what was happening before my eyes … How does a teenage boy, age 15, become interested in church like this?

So we signed him up. I say ‘we’, because Bryce was part of it. And here you may be wondering what his reaction was? The answer: Happy. 

(Stunned expression, again).

The Passover lamb meal came and went, and then the day of camp came around. That morning, I went out and bought Miles a Bible, which I showed Bryce on my return. It was the last thing we got ready, and in the front cover I wrote: To Miles … I stopped. From Mum? My pen hovered. Then, I continued: From Mum and Dad.

Three days he was at camp. I drummed my fingers. The disciples’ three days of waiting were perhaps not too much more suspenseful. Well, ok, their suspense was bigger. But, would Miles be deterred or captivated at this camp? There’s free will. It could go either way.

I drove to pick him up; and there he was, cheerfully playing frisbee with Toby. Chatting with the other teens. We bundled him into the car with all his bags, and began to drive home. But within 200 metres this came:

“Mum, my favorite session was the Holy Spirit session.” And he looked over at me with seriousness in his eyes.

He continued:

“We all felt it. I mean, I got chills …”

I turned to him, taking my eyes off the road. I put my hand to my heart, and declared: “Oh Miles. I love the Holy Spirit.”

There we sat at the traffic lights, grinning at each other.

Later, he sat at the table -- Bryce on one side, me on the other -- telling Bryce about a healing he'd seen. Bryce nodded, "Some people have the gift of healing .. Don't they Ann?" "They do," I said, "But I think God invites every believer to pursue that gift."

Oh my heart.

Today's story ends here: This past Sunday, a certain teenager got himself -- quite remarkably -- out of bed early. That day I didn’t go to church on my own. No, I walked through those doors with my handsome son by my side.

And as I write those last few words ... I’m crying.

Love you all,

Ann


A Prayer of Blessing Over Our Children

Dear SUMites, Ann here! Vidya

As a mum of two teen boys, I have to say that parenting is the biggest thing I bring to the Lord. Dare I confess that it really can send me over the edge when I think too long and hard about my precious boys and how precarious it feels to let them detach from my apron strings and fly free. Anyone else out there feel this way? These days my prayers have ramped up for that very reason and, in particular, it's their faith life that occupies me.

Yet, just like with my husband, I find I can't just make this thing happen on my own strength. And it takes a good deal of thought.

I know that many of you feel the same, and it's a big part of our SUM journey trying to figure out how to raise our children effectively in faith.

Well, today I want to share a prayer that one of our SUMites, Vidya Rodney, has written for us. She too is a mum and I always love the thoughtful prayers she contributes. This one is a great one for us this Friday.

Thanks, Vidya!

***

Blessings Over Our Children

My child is the head and not the tail. My child is above and not beneath.

I bless my child with favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and others, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child with wisdom and understanding in all study and endeavors, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to be filled with the knowledge of the Father's will, bearing fruits in every good work, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to prosper at everything he/she touches, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child with divine protection, to be rooted and grounded in love, in Jesus' name.

I place the whole armor of God on my child, in Jesus' name.

I charge the Angels with flaming swords and flaming wings to stand guard at my child's sides to defend, protect and preserve them, in Jesus' name.

I bless my child to be a man/woman/boy/girl of integrity in everything they do, in Jesus' name, Amen

I bless my child to be established in perfect love which casts out all fears, in Jesus' name.

Amen and Amen

**

I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles, Missouri, and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.


About Our Homes...The Heavenly Perspective

Hi friends, Ann here.Sparkly nest


Today I want to share something that God showed me about the homes within this community: the Spiritually Unequal Marriage community. These homes are deeply special to Him, and although they are unconventional in Christian terms, what He showed me is that they 'sit under an open heaven'.

That's a great promise; I'll take it! But what does that mean?

To give you some background, most of you will know that my boys are teens and I have struggled to bring faith to them. Not all of us struggle with that, but some do. For those of us who do, it can feel overwhelming. Overwhelming, that is, until we have one of those moments where we stop and say "Nope, God's got this!"

A couple of days ago, against this backdrop of yet again wondering about my boys' faith, God showed me a picture that illustrated my home. It was pretty cool, and it cheered me along so much that I share it now with a smile.

What I saw was a nest, and inside sat two baby birds. “Those are your two boys,” I felt God say. These two babies had their mouths wide open, waiting to be filled.

The nest didn’t look a plain brown nest. Instead it had heavenly sparkles around it, within it, and above it. I sensed these sparkles were diamonds.

Then, in contrast, I saw a different house. That house was an actual house. It had a roof, thick walls, but its walls were also made of diamonds. I sensed my house was the nest; the other house was another kind of believer’s house. This other kind was one where there was a roof, where both parents were actively bringing their children up in faith, providing safe cover together (illustrated by the roof and walls). I actually sensed God was saying that my home will look like that eventually but, for now, it's the nest version.

Each house had its own strengths; neither was better than the other. They were both beautiful. In fact, both were adorned with Heavenly jewels (the diamonds). However, they looked totally different to each other, so to compare them would be like comparing apples and oranges. 

Back to the nest -- The SUM home. This kind of home can seem roof-less, lacking protection. It might appear far too exposed to the elements. For example, media might come into our home that we hope wouldn’t, or other influences. The diamond-walled house in the other scenario with its thick roof and walls appears safer to the eye. But the truth is, our own homes have safety too: It takes the form of an open heaven above us; and a God who takes care of His wee birds (Matthew 6:26). 

An open heaven was what the prophet Isaiah cried out for in desperation:

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!” Isaiah 64:1 (NIV)

Friends, I love that image of God rending the heavens open above us and bringing His presence. Like Isaiah, we can say to God, "Oh please, rend the heavens, come down into my home, and let all the mountains I’m facing tremble before you!" 

HeavensIn our open nest, while we gaze at the stars, our beautiful babies (children, teenagers, adult children) sit under that open heaven with a protective parent -- God -- hovering above them.
The fact we’ve built our house with such care on the rock of Jesus Christ looks something like the carefully crafted nest they now sit in. It means they have a great foundation as well as an exciting Heavenly life directly above. The Spirit of God hovers and broods, like a protective bird of prey. 

Finally, in this nest picture it's worth noticing that the baby birds’ mouths were wide open. This tells me that our children – The children of this SUM Nation – will surely open their mouths and receive God’s food. Perhaps it will be God who feeds them directly, more than us parents.

So with this beautiful picture, I rest. And I hope this post helps you along in that sense of rest too. As I said earlier, God's got this.

How are those of you who are parents finding it, bringing your children up in faith? If you'd like prayer for this, post a comment and our community will pray for you.

Ann


Endurance Training

Hi everyone, Ann again!

In Monday’s post I described how my children had sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and heard my testimony. Rear view mirror

Well, this week something crazy but parallel happened: My children sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and this time saw persecution. Yikes!

We were at a Mexican restaurant, laughing, when suddenly my friend’s mouth opened and out came a painful comment about Christians.

It was a comment that could have been considered funny but there was no opportunity for laughter as within an instant I went rage! I shot to my feet, hands on hips, stood over my friend, blurted out tempestuous words, and left the table. When I came back I was physically shaking.

Nobody enjoyed their burritos after that, especially not my husband.

Was my reaction good or bad? We turn the other cheek often, but this time felt different. My speed of reaction felt like I was a magnet being repelled. I know Jesus got mad sometimes. He sat at tables but he also messed up (overturned) tables in rage. I’m reflecting on that.

It’s now Friday as I write, and I’m unpacking the concept of persecution. What is it about? It seems so intensely spiritual:

“As he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now." (Galatians 4:29)

The Greek word for persecution, dioko, tells us more: Persecution is an active attempt to stop something. It is anything that resists.

As I’ve looked at scripture I’ve absorbed this: It’s the deal. Jesus sweated blood and we drink the same cup. To be a Christian is to be persecuted. In others’ eyes we are, by design, the scum of the earth, a spectacle, refuse and fools (1 Cor 4:9-13). Wow, that sucks -- I guess I forgot.

Scripture also shows us the reason: It is to stop the power of the cross and to destroy the church (Gal 1:13, 5:11, 6:12). Given this, should I ever be surprised by it? Perhaps, instead, I should go with a great phrase a friend gave me: “Oh, here comes old hairy legs again!”

All week I’ve been talking to God about it and I think I have some ways forward. It starts with this:

“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV)

I’ve been saying to God, then, “Thank you that I was persecuted because I see what it means. The Spirit of glory and of You rests on me.”

Second, scripture gives us a core word: Endure it (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:10). This tells me that I may be too weary to do anything except just sit it out. Last night, then, to endure I went to bed early, made myself a cocoa and sat and re-read some of my journal from a more encouraging time.

My final insight from this week was this: I should approach the Throne of Grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16). I’ve got a prayer room in my house, it's our TV room. This week I retreated to it to approach that throne. I lit a candle, got into comfy clothes (fleece onesie, slipper socks) and said to Jesus: “Please minister to me. Take me to this Throne of Grace. Please comfort me. Please smother me in your peace. Help!” I sat with Him in the quiet.

A few hours later an email hit my inbox. It was an older Christian from overseas who had felt led to sit and write to me. He wrote, “I know I need to write you but I don’t know what.” He waited, then wrote a collection of statements. It turned into a couple of pages. Those pages were made just for me. It was one of those God moments.

As for my kids? Well, they’re front-row spectators of the action. It’s more than what they’d get in Sunday school, but hey. 

We all have these moments and I'm smiling again now. If you happen to be struggling with this issue too, feel free to reach out in the comments and I'd love to pray for you.

Nice chatting!

Ann


You CAN Raise Your Kids to Faith as Adults - Read This!

IMG_0749SUMites,

Recently on our Facebook page, Patty posted a question: What topics would you like to see covered in future posts. Today I want to tackle a topic and perhaps will take on a few more in the month of June.

There were a ton of inquiries about raising children to faith. Gang, Dineen and I raised our kids to faith and if we can do it, so can you. And we wrote a GREAT book with powerful training, instruction and it’s filled with scriptures, truths, and hope. Here is a story from Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.

(Lynn) My daughter was bullied in High school. It went on for several months and she was a wreck and so was I. But I am a praying mama and when mamas pray, heaven listens. I’m convinced that the astonishing outcome of this terrible situation was because of the prayers I prayed. Here is what I prayed from pages 128 & 129:

Lord, My Holy God,

This very moment I’m asking for your Presence to surround Caitie. Lord, go with her into the halls of her high school. Father, in the name of Jesus I take authority from the enemy who is speaking lies into my daughter’s heart and mind. I renounce any lies that my daughter believes such as she is insignificant. I bind the enemy who has told her that she is ugly, stupid, or a fool. O Holy Spirit, rush with this car and remove thoughts of insecurity or fear. Lord, I bind this boy at her school who out of his own fears and insecurity pours words of harm into my daughter. Lord, I surround him and through your power he is unable to speak any evil into my daughter or to other students about my daughter. Move in his life to reveal your love for him this day.

Powerful Lord, my Father, Abba, now I hold up my daughter, Caitie, and in place of the lies, I now ask you to affirm her. Place your truth in her. Let others, including this boy, only say things that are truthful and uplifting about her and to her. When this young man hears her name, change his thoughts toward her to be good and not evil. When her name is spoken, prompt him to affirm and build up her character. Lord, you speak through her friends to break the lies and pour into my girl your truth. Father speak gently into my girl and remind her that she is beautiful. She is a daughter of the King. She is confident in her identity. She is a believer in truth and justice. Affirm her worth and let her see herself as you view her.

Affirm, protect, love on her with passion and reveal yourself to her daily. I pray this in the name of Jesus and by His authority and power. Amen.

Buy the book to hear what happened to the bully and my daughter. PS. When you buy the book, all the funds go to our ministry. It’s true!!!!

My daughter will be 23 years old on June 17th. She is in the middle of her Master’s Program at Perdue University. She graduated a year ago from a Christian college that she chose to attend. I didn’t pick it. She did.

I asked her a few weeks ago while we sat on the lake shore, fishing, “Caitie, now that you have had a college experience at a large, secular, University, and you can compare the two, how do you feel about your Christian college experience? Was it right for you?”

“Yes, mom. I’m so glad I had that experience and I will always have my faith. It’s very important to me.”

And remember while we were there is was my daughter who said to me and her grandmother, “God is so good that I would love Him even if I never received anything in return.”

SUMite moms, it’s not easy. It’s all up to you and you must do all the work. But my dear friends, it’s worth every minute, every frustration, every battle, and every prayer you mutter. It’s worth a life for the Kingdom and it’s not any life. These are the babies God gave you and He knew you had everything you need to raise your children to faith, even in a spiritually mismatched home.

Get the book. Read the book. And know that I am your prayer warrior right behind you because we will not lose one of these who have been assigned to us. In Jesus name. AMEN

Hugging you moms as the battle rages hot! Swing your blade, armor up, and tell the devil, “YOU CAN’T HAVE MY KIDS!”

Love, Lynn

Raising Godly Kids

Most recent review from Amazon (PS. whoever wrote this, THANK YOU!)

Honestly, I thank the Lord for this book! It takes a heartfelt approach to come alongside women struggling to hold on to their faith in the face of many fears. The scripture references are direct and given as tools to recall during dark moments to help build your faith. The exercises at the end of the chapters create a space to take knowledge from the head and apply it to the heart. The written prayers are so intimate, you can tell that these women have labored in God's presence for the reader. Appendices are informative and useful to use. Most importantly, these women are Godly women and understand that spiritually widowed women must continue to honor their husbands and in each chapter they provide encouragement on how to do that. Their writing style is honest and personal. Reading this book reminds me of God's love for me and I definitely recommend it to anyone that find themselves on this path of their journey...you aren't alone 😊!

Next topic: How to keep hope alive even after years pass.


Advice To Those Who Are Dating An Unbeliever - Please Share Your Thoughts.

Rings SUM logo 10 2017SUMites, did you read some of the comments from last Monday’s post about friendships? Man, o man…. Good stuff. And you know what I loved most about the thread of conversations?

The LOVE. The love, compassion and caring in those words to one another. Thank you. Bless you!!!

So, I want to do this again today:

I often receive emails from men and women who are contemplating a relationship or marriage to an unbelieving partner. Answering these emails is not as easy as you might think.

Firstly, the writer has been in the relationship for a significant period of time. Translation: She is already in love. She feels a commitment and her heart and life is fully engaged with this man.

Secondly: Most who write me were raised in faith and they already know what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Third, they are seeking hope that their marriage will make it.

Let me share with you that I never write back condemningly. I was there once. I married my unbelieving spouse when I knew it was wrong. I knew what the Bible said.

But, I also think that if they could see what marriage and day-to-day living is really like when the “Honey Moon” phase ends and children arrive, they might be surprised.

So, today, would you share, with a loving and compassionate heart, your (prayer or observation) of the struggle you have faced in your mismatched marriage. Would you also share how God met you there and helped you through it or how He is helping you through it now?

Make time to do this in the comments. It may change a life or marriage, even another SUM reader because you share how to walk through the challenge in victory.

I will start:

To my dear Sister in Christ. I know your heart and I also believe that love can overcome much and change the hearts of many. God has changed my heart. I also believed before marriage, that once my fiancé and I were married, it would be less than a year that he would discover Jesus and come to faith. My dearest sister that was more than 25 years ago.

I can’t tell you that you should or shouldn’t marry someone. You must take that question to the Lord, Jesus. But I can tell you that there are two common issues that become quite large and painful that you are likely to walk through in the years of a mismatched union.

Loneliness. You will do many things alone. You will feel alone often because of your different world views. Loneliness in marriage is a difficult path to walk out. It can be done with the love of Christ alive in you. But it is not the ideal of marriage and God wants for His children.

Children: I found that so much of my angst, fear and discord in marriage arrived when we had children. You will face the reality that their salvation and church experience will rest completely upon you. Can you stand up under that full responsibility? This will be a difficult road to navigate in your marriage and with your children who need spiritual guidance.

Today, I bless you to be filled with the love of God and that you seek His face for the destiny He has prepared for you. I believe that God chose a perfect spouse for each person who wants one. I pray you seek His face first and the right person will come to you. In Jesus name. AMEN

SUMites, share your wisdom. Share it kindly and share your life experience with difference to a young heart who needs love and honesty. Love, Lynn


A Tablecloth of Thanks 2016

I started a Thanksgiving family tradition a few years ago, quite by accident. This tradition has become my absolute favorite. I'm sharing it today, as I do every year so that our new readers can begin this tradition in their home. This is also a Family Faith Tradition I share in our new book, Not Alone.

I have a story to share and a photo. I also want to give you a chance to share some of your holiday traditions or giggles.

Join in today and share a Thanksgiving holiday tradition from your home or share a funny holiday hiccup.

My Hiccup: Like many newly married young women, I didn’t realize the turkey was stuffed with bagged giblets. Yep, I cook the turkey with the plastic bag and the giblets still inside. We ate it anyway.

Also, three years ago, I set the oven on fire when I moved the giant bird around. I freaked out. My husband came running. The house was crazy, people were yelling, crying and freaking… Perhaps it was only me doing the yelling, crying and freaking. My calm man put the flames out and to this day, I don’t know how he did it because we didn’t own a fire extinguisher.

The next morning I rose before dawn and went shopping at The Home Depot. NO NOT FOR CHRISTMAS… For a fire extinguisher. And now, every year BEFORE I bake the turkey, I check to make sure the extinguisher is charged and ready.

Sheesh!

Today, I'm sharing one of my most favorite family traditions. Here is a post I wrote five years ago for the Internet Cafe. Hope you start a family tradition this year. It's NEVER too late to have a Tablecloth of Thanks.

Tablecloth of Thanks 

Many of you know that I am married to an unbeliever. This past May we celebrated 15 years of marriage. Our unequally yoked marriage has had its challenges, to say the least. Over the years, however, our ingenious God has maneuvered us through many touchy issues. 

Our disparity becomes more apparent during the holidays. Giving thanks to our Lord in November is a treasured time for me. I name my blessings one-by-one in prayer, thanking God for His lavish abundance poured into our lives. 

Like most wives living in an unequally yoked marriage, I long for my spouse to understand there is a God. To know He is intricately involved in our lives and everything we have is the provision of our creator. I have also learned that forcing God upon my husband is a surefire way to push him away. I am careful to respect my husband and simply trust Jesus to reach him in his perfect timing. 

In spite of my husband’s unbelief, I discovered a unique way to draw him into the celebration of thanks, besides through his stomach. He loves turkey. 

Four years ago, I threw a new, pristine white tablecloth across our dining room table two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. I purchased several colored pens and placed them on top. A new tradition was born, a Tablecloth of Thanks. It began with my daughter. I told her, “I WANT you to write on this tablecloth.” She looked at me with skepticism in her eyes, wondering if her mother had lost her mind. 

“Really,” my smiled reassured. “Write down what you are most thankful for this year. Then write the year, 2004, near your name.” 

She grinned and began to write using several different colors. I joined in and wrote my thanks directly on the beautiful tablecloth. 

Later that evening my husband noticed the scribbles on the tablecloth. I watched as he walked over to read our words. I walked to his side and took his hand. I subtly asked him if he would also write down his thanks. He smiled and said maybe later. 

Finally, on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, my husband picked up a pen and wrote; I am thankful for my wonderful family, great friends, and a very happy life. 

Wow! Was he giving thanks to our Lord? I am not sure. However, every year since he has continued to write a thankful list. Last year’s entry reads; I am thankful for all of my blessings…family, friends, and the dogs. 

Imported Photos 00001What? Did he use the word blessings? Small steps such as these lead to the Savior. I can’t wait to read his thankful list this year. 

The Thankful Tablecloth is one of my most prized possessions. Everyone who visits our home during the Thanksgiving holiday contributes to this permanent memorial of thanks. It is a visible praise to the King displayed in our unequally yoked home each November. 

One of my favorite thanks is this: 

2006
I am thankful
to be able to sit
on the couch and have
my people pet me.
Peanut 

Hmmmm, I wonder how the dog grew fingers and learned to write???? 

Psalm 69:30 (NIV)
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

 

Lord God, I will name my blessings one-by-one….. Jesus… eternal life…. clean water to drink…..capacity to love…..empowerment to forgive….. just for a start….. 

It is never too late to start a new tradition. If you want to start your Tablecloth of Thanks, I have a few helpful hints.

  1. Place a sheet of butcher paper under your tablecloth. (I have a permanent smiley face on my dining room table from the year 2005)
  2. Use colorfast fabric pens.
  3. Store your tablecloth in an airtight Ziploc bag. 

Thank you, my friends, for sharing this Holiday treasure with me. I wish you were with me today and could share your thankful heart on the Tablecloth of Thanks.

(My friends, if you could, share this post on Facebook and Twitter. It's truly a wonderful tradition and I want so much for families to have an opportunity to share faith in this way. Thanks, Lynn  - click on the buttons below to share. Hugs)


Today At Church I Looked Down The Row And Was......


Raising Godly KidsHi Gang,

Well today it’s my turn to write about chapter four of Not Alone re-titled Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.

Churched Kids

My heart and head is full of thoughts and emotions when I consider raising our kids in church. I share a number of my thoughts and experiences in chapter four about kids and church, youth group (to go or not to go), the conflict within our homes with Dad and so on….

But in this moment as I write about our kids and church, the faithfulness of God overflows in my spirit and stirs my heart.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m pondering an ordinary, yet profound moment. You see, everything I’ve done to raise my daughter, all the words I’ve written about parenting culminated in this morning. I was humbled to watch the faithfulness of God unfold in front of my eyes in a beautiful moment.

I will tell you that my daughter, who was raised in a spiritually mismatched home all of her life, has been walking through a season of crisis and doubt about her faith. Several circumstances have contributed to this season. I have prayed with faith for her. I’ve talked with her. I’ve argued and there may have been moments of loud conflict between us *sheepish grin*. However THIS MORNING God showed me how very powerful “my faith and my prayers” have been in the life of this child. AND interestingly, in the lives of her friends.

Following one of our long discussions several weeks ago, I decided not to push her to attend church with me while she is home on her college summer break. So, on Saturday night I set my alarm and was heading to bed. My cell phone buzzed. It’s my daughter calling me from someplace in town where she met up with her friends for ice cream.

“Mom, I just wanted to catch you before you go to sleep.”

“Okay, I’m still awake.” She knows that I go to bed really early.

“Well, Mom, I want to go to church with you in the morning. Oh and I want to bring my friend who I plan to pick up and bring him to our house in the morning. Then can we swing by and pick up Gina because she wants to go with us too.”

“Sure thing Sweetie. I love you. See you in the morning.”

“Nite, nite Mom.

As I write this I’m an ordinary and thankful mother because God is so faithful. I sat in a row of chairs at church with my daughter who worshiped with her full heart. Her BFF, and two other young men who are her good friends were sitting with us. A row of young people who wanted to attend church. Young men and women who want to know Jesus and to walk in real faith.

I looked down the row and was overwhelmed by God’s love as I watched them all worship together.

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Mom and Dad, our kids watch us. They are looking to see if WE believe. They are looking to us to show them the way in a world that is confusing and brutal.  

We have two powerful weapons to war for our children.
We have profound influence in their lives.
AND we have the ear of the King!

Mom and Dad, your kids will choose one day to attend church on their own because you were faithful to love Jesus out loud before them. Day after day, moment after moment. Faithfully reading God’s Word. Daily praying for them by name.

THAT is what legacy is all about. That is what loving Jesus with our full heart will yield. That is what chapter four is all about…. Churched Kids, who will one day walk into a life-long faith in Jesus.

And if you are not seeing that right now, never stop praying! I believe the prodigals will be running home!

I would love to hear your thoughts about chapter four. It would bless me greatly if you would PLEASE share your stories of how you are impacting your children for the Kingdom. Please, please share because there is another mama or dad out there that needs your wisdom and your story to help them in parenting their children to faith.

I love you so much. Mom and Dad you are more powerful than you know. You are walking in a path of eternal impact. So WARRIOR ON and let’s lead our children by our love for Jesus.

Have an amazing week. Now go hug your kids and tell them that Jesus loves them!!! (An unexpected text works too) Hugs, Lynn


Did God See That Coming?

Listen In!!

 image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday's message is straight from my heart for every SUMite. 

Truth.... Perspective.... Courage.... No Fear.... Power.... AND Declaration Prayer at the End. Join me and be inspired and encouraged. I LOVE YOU.... LYNN

 

 

 

 If you can't see this video in the news feed, click here.

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Making GOoDly Choices

NotAloneStudyImageMy friends, this week I'm drawing from chapter 5 (Peaceful Kids) of our book, Not Alone. I find more and more that our choices are the starting points of success, whether that be in attaining goals or pressing in for breakthroughs. One of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is to help them understand that they have this ability and to help them cultivate and use it wisely. And choice is powerful.

Part of that process is being very careful to listen to what our children are saying and often reading between the lines. Because above all else, our children need to know that we, their parents, and their homes are safe places. Some kids are great about just telling you exactly what happened during their day. Others, not so much. 

My girls fell into the latter category. Their sensitivity tended to make them more inwardly reflective to process their day or a challenging situation. Initially they’d seem cranky and difficult. Or they’d react unreasonably to something I would mention they or we needed to do. 

That was my clue to ask, “What happened today?”

Our children need to know they are valued and heard. They need this foundation, to know they have a voice, starting at home. When we build this place of safety for them, we do two things in our children: 

  1. We give them confidence in who they are and are created to be.
  2. We give them a safe environment to figure out who they are and are created to be with permission to fail in order to learn. No fear of failure.

With this building foundation, they are more equipped in their classrooms, playgrounds and with friends. We want to give our children this sense of peace and grounding in who they are so that they will make choices from a place of confidence and safety, not insecurity and fear. This is the foundation that will make a difference for them in situations where they are faced with peer pressure, temptations and persecution for their beliefs. 

My friends, we want to pour the truths of God’s Word into our children to inspire them to greatness. It’s about building a legacy, not legalism. Legalism will tell them what they can’t do. Legacy inspires them to overcome and walk in faith and integrity. These are the future world changers who will bring Christ to the nations.

How do we do that? 

  1. Give your child a voice. Teach them to understand their opinion matters and that they can share these opinions in respectful and loving ways (Colossians 3:12). The choice here is, when to speak and when not to. Each challenge your child deals with in school—whether it be with a teaching that is clearly contrary to their biblical beliefs, dealing with bullies, or making friends—will present choices. When we listen first, we can walk our children through these situations and help them see the right way to go. Along with a lot of prayer! Remember, God’s Word says if we need wisdom to ask for it. So ask (James 1:5).
  2. Give your child a reason. Our children need our help to see the bigger picture. Why can’t they watch and do all they same things their friends do? If they were hanging out with Jesus, would they ask Him to come along to watch that movie or to do that activity? What’s really at stake? One, our children’s minds and hearts. When we help our kids understand that we are called to walk in integrity, humility, love and mercy (Ephesians 4:2), they will make more thoughtful choices. Especially if we are modeling it. Even as a adults now, my daughters know I’m very picky about what movies I watch. There are places I just can’t go with mind and heart. They’ll even tell me, “Mom, you won’t want to watch that movie.” And now I’m seeing them make similar choices. The choice here is about about discerning and choosing wisely, along with not being afraid of what others will think (Galatians 1:10).
  3. Give your child a cause. First reactions are often judgmental ones. We are quick to assume a person’s ill temper toward us is personal when that isn’t the case at all. So many people, including children, are walking this planet bereft of hope. And we are just a convenient target for them to vent their frustration. Helping our children to see beyond what they “see” is part of teaching them to see and love people like Jesus did. That’s our cause. It’s a delicate place to teach because our children can mistake our attempts to help them see beyond their own pain as taking sides with the one who hurt them. Our challenge is to make it clear we understand they were hurt, but let’s not stay there. What can we do about it? How does Jesus want us “see” the situation? Work together with your child to find the answers. The choice here is to do what is right according to God’s truth. And right choices build a lifestyle of forgiveness, integrity, humility and honor (Micah 6:8). 

The amazing thing is that as we help our children to learn and grow in these ways, we wind up influencing their friends when they are in our homes, and our children influence their friends at school. It builds and lives are changed!

My friends, I will stop here before it becomes another book! On Thursday, we will talk more about godly choices in a tougher area—helping our kids to choose between what is good and God’s best for them, especially in today’s culture that offers so much with the added implication that we have to do it all. This is challenging for us too, yes?

Question: In what situation have you helped your child that required a choice—what did you do and how did you help them reach the right choice? Or didn’t. Sometimes our kids wind up learning some things the hard way, just like we do.

Love you so much, SUMites! As school has started and is starting, please know that I am praying for you and your children. Hugs!

All in His love!
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Parenting Supernaturally

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHow is our parenting supernatural?

We find the answer in a powerful passage of God’s Word…. And this paragraph was written specifically for all of us who are married to unbelievers.

For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. — 1 Corinthians 7:14

Our love relationship with God and the promises of His Word are how are children are affected for the Kingdom.

In REAL LIFE: This plays out in my life in my prayers. If you read through my disappointment series, you will remember how much warfare surrounded my family on a single day. I became so mad at the demonic and the harm the enemy was inflicting, that I began to pray something like this:

Prayer: In the name of Jesus, I declare that my family and me are off limits. My children and my spouse are sanctified and a part of God’s plans according to my Lord’s purposes in 1 Corinthians 7. I cover myself and my children with the blood of Jesus and ask for the forgiveness of our sins and for the love and redemption of God’s mercy in our lives.

My children and my spouse are covered by God and are included in his plans for me and my family. I stand as a spiritual authority over my family through the power and love given to me by Jesus and through the promise of sanctification. Nothing can touch them. No weapon formed against them will prosper. I say that God has plans for us to prosper us and not to harm us. It is God’s will to give us a hope and a future.

I will stand against the enemy and speak love into their lives. I will live with faith and conviction and I WILL NOT RELENT IN PRAYING FOR THEM EVERY DAY. Devil you cannot have them. They belong to Jesus. It is in my Savior’s powerful name and by His authority that I bring my children before the mercy seat and declare them sanctified, holy, and covered by the plans of God. This day Jesus do everything possible to reveal yourself to my spouse and children. It is my heart’s cry that they come to full salvation through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name. AMEN

 

When we grasp this truth of sanctification and pray in faith through the Holy Spirit for our children, we need not live in fear for their salvation or for their lives. It’s not a guarantee for their salvation but we do not need to fear because Jesus will do absolutely everything to bring them into the Kingdom of God.

Of this I have zero doubt. AMEN.

Q: What does it mean to you to know you have the spiritual authority to pray with power and watch God supernaturally move for your children?

Q: Share with me an example of how your faith impacted one or more of your kids? I want to celebrate with you.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to School: Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture

NotAloneStudyImage
Hello, SUM family! I'm so happy to be back! As Lynn shared yesterday, we are getting ready to kick off a new series on Friday.

Let's face the facts: We live in a contrary culture that ignores sound biblical truths. But that doesn't mean God's truth is outdated or irrelevant. Now more than ever, our children need this kind of teaching to navigate new curriculums and teachings that are becoming part of the school systems. We need to equip our kids. 

Moms and Dads (and grandparents!), we want to help you. Join us on Friday, July 31st for the launch of Back to School: Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture. For five weeks we will take the principles from our book, Not Alone: Trusting God to Raise Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home, and apply them to equipping our children to navigate their schools and culture without compromising their beliefs.

We can do this, my friends! And not only do this, but do it well. We are about to impact our homes, schools and neighborhoods in ways we can't even imagine yet and can only be done through God's Spirit, and not our strength. So, let's get ready! Invite your friends—everyone you know who will benefit from this series and anyone the Holy Spirit places on your heart to share it with. God will do the rest.

And, be sure to check out our latest resource on myKLOVE about the "Sanctified Believer." Download the app to your smart phone if you haven't already and join the discussion!

I love you, my SUM family. I am so moved by the Holy Spirit to help all of us navigate what's ahead. I truly feel God's calling to be part of this equipping and I am honored to be a part of it. Lynn and I love you all so, so much. You are precious to us! We pray for you, we contend for you, and we walk with you. Always.

All in His love,
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Update and A Mother's Day Challenge

Hello SUMite Nation: (Challenge is below the update - read on!)

Well, you may have noticed if you are a regular subscriber that we changed our email provider to Mail Chimp. And do my great disappointment, Mail Chimp was unable to create our emails with photos and paragraph breaks. Grrrrr

So as of today, we are with Feedblitz our old service. How does this affect you? It doesn’t unless you subscribed or unsubscribed within the last three days. So, if you are a new subscriber, please subscribe again using the “Never Miss A Post” button in the sidebar -----. Thank you.

Also, a few of you have made donations toward these expenses. Your heart for this ministry and support mean the world to Dineen and I. I will be sending out an email thank you later this week. God bless you! THANK YOU!

As for other changes, in the next week or so we will be uploading our redesign to make SUM mobile friendly. Be patient if things still are wonky. We are working on it. Send me an email if you notice something that isn’t working in a week if it persists.

Funny that so many things happened in the last two weeks that required my “Tech hat.” I prayed God would give me the brain power to do all this myself. Guess what?

HE DID!

Other News:

Please, please visit my video CHALLENGE on MyKLOVE radio app. I have a unique Mother’s Day challenge that’s another opportunity to share your faith with your kids! In fact, I’m going to do this for my grown children. So, look up the app on the store and download it.

I still shake my head in wonder at the gates the Lord opens for Dineen and I. The “MyKLOVE contributor” privilege utterly moves my heart to unending thanks to my Father. My friends, the Lord has many gates for us to walk through and we need only take the keys from His hands.

Tomorrow watch for a post from Dineen about her own mother and on Friday, tune in for something hilarious! I love you so much. In my prayers the past two days, I have been storming the heavens in petitions for you and your families. I love you, Lynn

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Let Them Cry by Joanne Kraft

Joanne Kraft is offering a snippet into her newest book today. Joanne and I have been friends for a long time. Our lives have been interestingly and divinely intertwined. She is a good friend who loves God. I was able to read her book and endorse it. Today, she shares some of her parenting wisdom. Thanks Joanne. Love you girl. Hugs, Lynn

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image from joannekraft.comMy teenage son walked down the stairs with a frown on his face. College classes have gotten the best of him.

My pep talk with him yesterday apparently wasn’t as good as I thought it was and my future as a motivational speaker went down in flames.

When I brought my first child home from the hospital their cries were immediately met with a soothing rub and my full attention until the whimpers quieted. From baby tears to teenage sulking, I want to make my child happy. I’ve exhausted myself trying to make this happen. 

Here’s what I’ve finally realized– I can’t make any of my kids happy. 

            Here’s the clue you may be doing something wrong—when you exhaust yourself doing it. 

Years ago, when my mom watched me try to stop tears from my four children, she gave me my first golden bit of wisdom, “Let them cry. I promise they will be okay.”

When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had died, Jesus didn’t come that very day but waited two more days before heading back to them in Judea. When he arrived he discovered the funeral had already taken place, Lazarus had been dead four days now, and there were two very heartbroken sisters in deep mourning who had been crying for days.

Not only were Mary and Martha in tears but it’s in this passage of scripture where we find the shortest sentence in the Bible—Jesus wept. Two words packed with incredible meaning. Even our Savior shed tears. Even He felt sad. 

Let Them Cry 

Let them hurt. Is there anything more contrary to mothering than allowing a child to cry or hurt? Still, it’s much needed for their development. Come alongside and give them a hug.  Sympathize and validate their hurt, “Yes, I know you’re sad.” Or, “It’s okay to be sad. Sometimes mommy is sad, too.” And if a child is older, maybe you can empathize, “I understand how hard this is for you.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve been there, too.” Follow up with a personal story of your own about a past hurt or grievance.

Let them heal. Give them a little time. Don’t let their hurt sabotage your life or manipulate joy in your home. Scripture reminds us there’s “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Give them needed space but look for signs of healing; interest in friends, playing again, laughter, an appetite, and conversation.

Let them lean. When a child is young they lean on mom and dad for everything. As they grow older we need to let go so they can lean on God. I can’t expect my adult child to have BIG FAITH if they have little experience in leaning on a BIG GOD. If I answer their every whim and whimper, I become God in their eyes. Do you want to grow their faith? Let them lean on the only ONE who can meet and exceed their expectations. (Psalm 62:5)

As a mom, I’m not a magic joy-fairy called to sprinkle pixie-dust over my child’s every moment. I have to remind myself that my daughters and sons must feel pain while in my keep. God grows us through pain. How else will they know how to navigate life’s storms as adults?

image from i1298.photobucket.comAs a mom, I’m not a magic fairy called to spread joyful pixie-dust over my child’s every moment. I have to remind myself, my daughters and sons must feel pain while in my keep. God grows us through pain. How else will they know how to navigate life’s storms as adults?

Let your child cry today. Let them hurt and let them heal, but make sure through it all to let them lean on God. Like I said earlier, scripture reminds us there’s “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Maybe, today it’s time to let them cry. I promise they’ll be okay.

Joanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her recent book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. 

 

Website http://joannekraft.com/


Throw Back Friday?

Gang, Lynn here. I'm STILL feeling under the weather. On the couch again today. Ugh!!!!! 

Not feeling up to writing much so I want to ask a couple of questions. I hope to be in my office later today to join the conversation.

Q1: How do you deal with prayer at meal times? 

Q2: How do you model prayer to your children?

I recently heard some interesting teaching about the blessing over our food. What do you know about blessing our meals that you can share?

Let's share what has worked in our spiritually mismatched homes. Perhaps your life experience will profoundly help another SUMite reader. See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

 

Steps of faith


Prayer Day in Canada

Thank you for your prayers, God has answered wonderfully and beautifully. 

We were able to share the Gospel with so many kids today at the Oakville's children festival. We were making beaded bracelets on our blankets, and sharing the Gospel at the same time. After the kids finished the bracelet, each one got their copy of Jesus Christ story and sometimes also the Gospel of John and an adult tract for their parents and a ring pop candy:-) We were in the park from 1:30-4:30 and at the end estimated that we made about 90 bracelets, gave out the same number of Jesus story books and Gospel of Johns and some New Testaments. We prayed with maybe 15-20 of the kids to accept Jesus into their hearts as their Savior. 

There was no major opposition, only three parents returned the booklets and the materials to the blanket but the kids kept their faith bracelets on! "Some parents were staring from the distance as if kept by some force from entering and interrupting, although they did not look happy about what their kids were doing:-)" God put a hedge of protection around our craft area:-) 

God used our kids as they were bringing other kids to the blankets and asking them "Would you like to make a faith bracelet?" :-) Little fishers:-) 

In one of the pictures the bright light was shining in the middle as Kerri took a picture when kids were accepting the Gospels and listening to the story of Christ. 

The pictures are worth a thousand words to me...Also, the Lord held off the rain and the thunderstorm until after the event. There was a massive downpour, lightning and thunder all through the night, but there was a huge party in heaven! 

I also read this passage last night after the event, and I believe the Lord fulfilled it in the park yesterday so beautifully, as we were sitting down under this huge oak tree next to the lake and kids were tying faith bracelets on their wrists: 

Is 44 

For I will pour out water to quench your thirst

    and to irrigate your parched fields.

And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,

    and my blessing on your children.

4 They will thrive like watered grass,

    like willows on a riverbank.

5 Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’

    Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’

Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands

    and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

 

and Kerri also shared this Scripture with me which was fulfilled before our eyes:

 

Deuteronomy 6

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

God bless you and thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers!
Olga

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Abijah - Godly Mother of Hezekiah (Part 2)

My friends, here is the conclusion of Olga's beautiful post. Moms, I pray this encourages you to keep on trusting God with your little ones (and big ones like I have!), because He faithful through the generations. And that is a promise straight fromt the Bible! Hugs! ~Dineen

Abijah - Godly Mother of Hezekiah (Part 2)

"My Father is Yahweh"

859675_book___We left off at:

After that Hezekiah rededicated the Temple unto the Lord...

So the Temple of the LORD was restored to service. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly. — 2 Chronicles 29:35-36

Next, Hezekiah gave an order to celebrate the holy feast of Passover which the nation had not been able to celebrate in many years:

Hezekiah sent runners to gather people into Jerusalem for celebration. The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them. However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.

At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD. So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in mid spring[c] to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. — 2 Chronicles 30:10-12

Hezekiah encouraged people to serve the Lord and to trust in His goodness, Hezekiah prayed for his nation and the Lord healed them:

Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the LORD. Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the LORD, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” And the LORD listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.

Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the LORD. The celebration continued for seven days.

There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven. — 2 Chronicles 30:17-27

In Chapter 31 of 2 Chronicles we read that Hezekiah continued the religious reforms in the country.

In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful. — 2 Chronicles 31:21

Now remember, who Hezekiah’s father was and what kind of life he lived? Remember also who Hezekiah’s mother was and how God had used her to shape this young man into the king of Judah who would bring back the nation to Himself?

I hope God has touched all the single moms and the moms in spiritually unequal marriages through this incredible story just like He touched me, just like He always touches – with His Fatherly love, boundless power, and ever amazing grace! God has reminded me once again that He is the real Father of my child and He is in total control and He enables me to co-parent with Him leading me and empowering me by his Holy Spirit. Never underestimate how great God’s plan is for your kids raised in spiritual mismatches!

Thank you, Olga, for sharing this wonderful insight from Scripture! Such great encouragement!

Get to know Olga...
IMG_8027My name is Olga, originally from Russia, I now live in Oakville, Canada with my daughter Elizabeth. I accepted Jesus at a Campus Crusade for Christ in 1993. But in the last couple of years after a painful divorce, I have gotten to know Jesus even closer, not only as my Savior, but also as my Husband, my closest Friend, and the Heavenly Father to my daughter. 

 

 

 

 

 


Is God Good?

My Friends, 

I don’t even know where to start. So much has happened in the last seven days that I feel like every morning I wake, God has another “Holy Mind-Blow” in store for this ordinary, 5’4”, blonde girl. 

Do you remember back several months ago that I promised breakthrough. Well, boy howdy, I’ve had one. Probably SEVERAL. And likely the biggest thing that has yet to happen to me in the Kingdom is still coming. Woo Hoo!! I will be sharing this new adventure with you, step by step, as I move forward. 

But today, I have a word for all of you who worry about your kids. 

I worry about my kids. I pray, A LOT, for my kids. Today’s story has been more than a decade in the making. 

I’ve written before about my years of praying for my son who lived in Las Vegas. Since 1999 I’ve prayed years and years for God to move him to California that I may lavish God’s love upon him and help him to grow in his faith. And in February he, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter moved here. They have lived with us since then. Well as they have stayed with us, God has revealed the areas in their lives that He is desperate to bring healing. What an astonishing answer to my mama’s prayers. But God’s not done. 

I also have been praying like a mad woman for them to find new jobs with a livable wage, jobs that they will love and have opportunity for growth. 

Now to set the scene, my son had an interview for an awesome job several weeks ago. For more than a week following that interview, I prayed with every fiber of my being, soul, heart and mind for my son to be the candidate that the company wanted. I prayed, scriptures, I prayed in faith. I prayed with conviction, belief and prayed for hours. 

My son didn’t get the job. 

I was saddened, of course, and my son was affected. However, for me, I was baffled and I will admit confused and disappointed with God. “Why, God, didn’t he get this job? Please grant me understanding as I prayed in alignment with your word and as Jesus taught.” 

Well this week the kindness of the Lord and in His tenderness, He explained the reason. 

This week I will be attending a conference in San Diego. And while out walking, God said to me, “Ask your son to go with you.” 

“But God, the likelihood he would say yes and attend is ridiculous. He would never go to a conference like this with his mother. And Lord, what about child-care. Someone needs to watch the little one. And then Lord, on top of that, my son’s wife needs to be on board with all of this because she is affected and will also need to watch the baby when she gets home from work.” 

The list of reasons why this was impossible surged in my head. But I prayed and said, “God I will ask and I trusting you to make all of the details fall into line.” 

I came home from my walk-n-pray. Sat down in the playroom with my son and with my granddaughter on my lap, I simply asked him to go to this conference with me. 

“Sure, Mom, I would like to go.” 

SAY WHAT??????? SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!! 

Every detail fell into line and this Wednesday my son, Brad and I are off to a conference that God has promised will be the beginning of his healing.

As I sat in my office later that morning, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Lynn, this is the reason your son didn’t get that job. He would have been working and unable to attend this conference.” 

God is SO MUCH MORE interested in this young man’s heart, his soul, his healing and the rest of his life. 

I cried. 

Tears of love and thankfulness. 

God has good gifts for His kids. Many, many good gifts. And God is so much more concerned for our heart, our soul our emotional health and our healing than any old job. God has a million of jobs and when the time is right, my son will receive the perfect job. 

I know this because I know the tender love and faithfulness of our Lord. 

What have you been praying for that wasn’t answered how you wanted or expected. Ask the Lord to help you have understanding. Then wait. It may take a while to get the answer to you but I absolutely believe God wants us to understand He is good. He has good for His children and He wants us to have wisdom and understanding. 

Okay, gang, Brad and I are off on Wednesday. I’m expecting miracles, healing and more. Pray for this boy. I will keep you posted. 

I love you. 

And I promise, I still have so much more about Joshua and the Walls, so keep walking with me. The journey is exciting and breakthrough is ahead for all of us. I love you. I really love you, Lynn

Ephesians 1 17
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Another Audio Book Giveaway!

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This time it's for Not Alone! We love it when we can share with our SUMite family. Enter for yourself, enter for a friend, enter for a family member! No doubt Abba will lead your heart to someone who needs it. He's so good at that. :-)

Enjoy!
Dineen

 

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Weekend Worship — Share Your Testimony!

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My friends, Lynn and I had a fabulous time at FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine last week. These two men have such HUGE hearts for families and marriage. What a privilege it was for us to share our hearts with them. And they asked us some really challenging questions! Good questions. As soon as we get the details of the broadcast, we will share it with you. 

SUMites, you know our hearts desire is to encourage wives and moms in their mismatched places, in ALL walks of life and circumstances. And I see that desire in so many of you too. Abba has given us so much! So much hope and strength in our mismatched places. It just bursts out of us. That's why we wrote Not Alone. And let me say how grateful we are to our publisher, Regal Books, who believed in our message and ministry. These people are dedicated to Jesus and sharing His saving hope. Amazing!

In greatest honor to our sweet Jesus, I have a couple testimonies for you. My friend, testimonies are POWERFUL (Rev. 12:11). The enemy knows this and wants to keep us quiet and will even squelch us down if he can. Trust me, I know (and will hopefully share more on this soon). That's because he knows that testimonies increase faith and hope, and release God's power in our lives, our marriages, our children and the world! As Lynn and I sat on the plane on the way home, she turned to me and said, "We need more testimonies." And I agreed.

Yesterday as I walked and prayed I asked Abba for this, for more of His miracles to be released in this community and to bring us more testimonies. He will do it!

This first one is from our book and you'll recognize Gillian's name too. She is a righteous mama contending for her kiddos! I love how she used her children's toys to teach her children! Moms, don't be afraid to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you with ideas like this. It's fun!

1531631_10152189985277280_674821193_nI read a short story from a children’s Bible, and we sing a praise song or hymn each night at bedtime. “Jesus Loves Me” has become a favorite. Because they are very young, I sometimes use figurines and toys to act out Bible stories—it’s simple, but it really holds their attention and makes the story come to life for them—and for me. 

This is what I pray on the nights when I put my young boys to bed:

Dear Lord, thank You for _______, _______ and _______. Thank You for Your love for them and Your special plan for each of their lives. Please bless them and keep them, and lead them all their days. May they always know Your great love for them.

The last line I find especially important. That is the one thing everything hinges on, because it is when we lose sight of how much God loves us that we tend to fall away from Him. But even when life’s not fun, if we can still feel His love, it makes all the difference.

—Gillian Russell Meisner

This next testimony is one sent in by a reader. So amazing! As you read it, claim that this kind of miracle is possible for you too, becaue with God, ALL things are possible (Luke 1:37).

Hi Dineen,
I'm so sorry I missed the opportunity to join the week of fasting with the community, but I have no doubt that all will be blessed as a result.

We exchanged emails last year when I was going through a tough patch in my marriage and you gave such encouragement and wise words to me through that time.

Well, I wanted to share briefly with you the latest to encourage that God does hear our heart's cry and moves on our behalf, but He also looks for us to actively get involved too. Obedience and His power seem to go hand in hand - Father is so gracious that way, He loves to do things with us.

2013 was a tough year and continued to have challenges in my marriage right up to the end. But even I wasn't prepared for the conversation 2 weeks before Christmas that saw my husband announce the end of our 12 year marriage (and a relationship of 18 years). I was devastated but I knew that God had given me the strength to finally say no to something that was tearing us apart and was unbelievably unhealthy for our marriage and our souls.

Now my husband is a man who, when he makes his mind up, does not bend even if he is in the wrong. When he said our marriage was finished, I had no reason to doubt him. But only 5 days later he took my hand and said that this situation was very wrong, a waste of 18 years and that he didn't want to be without me.

I was stunned. Was this possible? Only with God, I would have to say! I knew that the prayers I had been praying and those of supportive Christian friends had been heard.

Then my second shock that night - I once again asked him to consider counselling. He has never agreed to counselling as he doesn't think it does any good. However, as he began his protestations, God directed me to say that surely if we wanted to save an 18 year relationship, counselling as a last resort was worth a try. He said, amazingly, that he would agree to "consider" a selection that I would provide him with. Again, this is a huge step forward.

So instead of the expected disaster of Christmas and the New Year, my beloved was just wonderfully kind to me, loving and sweet. It was the best Christmas present I could ever have.

Then, as if to add a cherry on this wonderful "cake", God brought another present to me. My husband has a sharp mind with an ability to debate and contest. I'm far more a feeling, sensing person, so he runs rings around me usually on the rare occasions we discuss Christianity.

However, the first Saturday into the new year, out of the blue we meandered through topics of conversation and ended up talking "religion." As mentioned above, I'm not very good at debating, certainly not compared to my husband but, this time, the Holy Spirit just dropped words into my mind and unbelievably my husband was arrested by them to the point that he was nearly speechless. A first in my experience!

The key moment was when, in response to one of his statements, I said I largely agreed with his comments on religion, but that faith in Jesus was actually about a relationship with a personality rather than an organisation. I was even able to share Psalm 139 with him.

Trust me when I say this was a big breakthrough. I'm not expecting my husband to become a Christian tomorrow, but I truly believe that something has been loosed in the spiritual realm to open his heart further to God. So whilst we still have a way to go, still need to get that counselling sorted and deal with our issues, I know that my Father has this marriage in His hands and that He will withhold no good thing from us for it's renewal and healing.

Amazing, amazing, AMAZING! And so GOD! As this dear woman said, God loves to do things with us. Have an amazing weekend bathed in the promises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. He is mighty to save—ALL of us!

Be shiney for Jesus!
Dineensig

 

  


Audio Books For Busy Wives and Moms

Hi Everyone: 

I have one more story to share about our book, Not Alone, before we launch into our next series. On Monday we are going to have a discussion about contending with the Orphan Spirit. And my friends, I can almost guarantee we have all faced this demon in some way or another. This is a must read! 

But today, as Dineen and I end our week sharing our hearts about parenting, I’m moved to share the words of our friend, Steve Smith. 

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Steve represents Oasis Audio. Oasis Audio published our books in audio and they were released about two weeks ago. Steve went way beyond inconvenience to allow Dineen and I to record the books in our own voices. The audio team worked with a couple of ordinary moms and put together audio books so that some mom out there, who is driving to work and doesn’t have time to read, can hear a word of encouragement from the Lord. 

Steve writes: 

Lynn and Dineen,

I have to tell you, I do popular big-selling inspirational books because they make money and keep our employees in jobs. When Elaine at Gospel Light showed me you titles, I thought about my mom, who fifty years ago was abandoned by my dad. My sister was five. I was two. She was fortunate enough to be a college educated woman and eventually climbed her way to the top of the corporate world, but our lives weren't easy and she did her best to be both mother and father to us. We were not aware of God in our lives until I was in junior high and my mom enrolled me in a Lutheran school because she didn't want me exposed to a public jr. high. When I saw NOT ALONE, I thought of my mom and how this book would have been very helpful to her. 

And then I looked at my own years as a youth pastor and the struggles single moms were enduring. You thanked me for serving the kingdom. I can't accept that noble honor. I made the choice because I wanted to serve women like my mom. But I think Jesus is very happy that you two wrote these books, and I am honored to publish the audio. I don't care if they aren't NY Times bestsellers. I want them to reach and help the people who need them.

 

IMG_1277[1]I about wept when I read this a few months back. I think of the years I spent working full time, driving children to school, feeling exhausted, and struggling with the demands and fears we face when raising children. Wow… 

So, today, Dineen and I humbly unveil the audio recordings of, Not Alone AND Winning Him Without Words. Please think about someone, who is a single mom who needs a word from the Lord to inspire her to stick in there and kept living her faith out in front of little eyes. A woman who needs to know she can come through the loneliness and pain of a spiritually mismatched marriage. Then if you are able, share this audio book with her. Let her know it exists and that all of us here exist to love one another and pray for each other. Buy her a CD if the Lord moves you to help her. Perhaps this woman is you? 

Thank you my friends. THANK YOU STEVE. Please know that Dineen and I continue to pray for you, your ministry and your mom. Thank you for opening another door with our message of hope and Jesus  and the value of a mother to her children. 

Hugs, Lynn & Dineen 

And, now for one more question….. Are you ready for some football strike….. Some warfare? I will make a bold promise. You are going to pray differently for yourself, your family and your marriage after we get started in the new series on Monday. And I promise… We start Monday. 

If you want to read some great posts about spiritual warfare that we wrote last January, visit the sidebar of the blog or click here: Spiritual Warfare: Terrorist Training Boot Camp

Note Alone Cover Art
Not Alone - Audio Book
WinningHim
Winning Him Without Words - Audio Book