156 posts categorized "Marriage"

Reflections on Attending Church Alone

Dear friends, Ann here!Church alone

Today I want to chat about one of our topics that is an old favorite: Attending church alone. I type this with a smile, but it's a wry smile. Whether or not we've got into a routine, I think most of us would say that Church-plus-SUM is super tricky!

I shared recently that my little church closed in March. It had about 60 people, and we loved each other. But, just before Christmas two things happened: The numbers plummeted and the pastor and wife lost their vision for it. Not for pastoring, just for that place. It was as if they couldn’t help but let go.

Gulp!

It seemed God was closing a season for us all, so the pastor bravely announced “We are closing. We are so sorry … But now let's transition well.” And he cried his way through the message. What happened in the weeks since, however, is that each family went somewhere different and new things blossomed.

My Dad who is a Christian gave me a word at the time: “Whatever your reasons for joining that church initially, those reasons have now been satisfied. Allow God to do something new.”

And so I am. Happily. But I'm also reflecting on what God took me through in those six years. Because they were pretty impactful.

The day I walked through those church doors -- Well, a converted underground carpark -- I was hugged, welcomed, and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh, it was wonderful, and of course I couldn’t wait to go each Sunday. But, as you know, with a less enthusiastic spouse it's not so simple: 

“Don’t tell me you can’t give it up if I ask you to!” Bryce said to me months later, fearing my absence. I guess he could see my attachment to it, and in his mind I was on my way to becoming a cult-following weirdo. Because of that comment, I became fearful myself. Fearful of what it would do to us. My attendance became sporadic and I miserably stayed home on a Sunday. Often.

“Are you alright?” My pastor asked me one day when I reappeared after about eight weeks. I whimpered back: “I just miss my husband so much …” Tears. And more tears.

He didn't say much. He just looked at me with sympathy. Bryce was the gaping, invisible hole next to me. Crap (can I say that?), this thing was hard. It was hard enough that it's making me cry to type this. That tells me how hard it was.

Time passed and I began to grow a desire to serve. “I’ve offered to go early and help on the door today ..” I said in a deliberately light-hearted voice to Bryce one Sunday. “Seriously?” He raised his eyebrows. “Why do Christians have to do that? Hellooo.” (He mimicked the sing-song voice of a Christian door-greeter, possibly teasing, but possibly not!) Maybe you can smile to read that because you know how this thing goes. But I tell you, my sense of humor had checked out. I was so sensitive to being mocked for my faith by that point, I was over it.

That was five years ago. But somehow, somewhere along the way, I began to laugh a little again. And somewhere along the way Bryce became ok with it all. Quite honestly, nothing could keep me from church anyway.

I served in different areas, but sometimes I stepped back. Sometimes I'd say, “I’m sorry – I just can’t … I have to balance it with my family.” Other times I'd say: "This I can do, yes." I followed the Holy Spirit on this one. "Yes? Or no, Lord?"

Six years in all. And by the time this little church closed I can say that, Sunday by Sunday, the whole experience grew me. God grew me, with the help of his team, his church. So, here's where I'm at now:

God is real. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Church is important. And so is my marriage.

Bryce knows the above.

And somehow, these days, we make it work.

Huge, huge growth over a distinct period. Huge.

So, if you are reading this and struggling with this whole area (gah!), I think I just want to say it’ll be ok. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, seeking wisdom with each step.

How is church involvement going for you these days? Looking forward to chatting in the comments.


Sow Bountifully, Reap Bountifully

Ann here! Seeds

I have a little thought for us today:

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NKJV)

Sowing. In a spiritually unequal marriage? Perhaps we can pause and think about this for a minute.

When we’re in a spiritually unequal marriage, one of our biggest laments (at least initially) might be that we can’t easily give -- That is, ‘sow’, into church life; into the activities of ministry. In Christian circles, the word ‘sow’ is often used for financial giving. I've often heard the phrase come from a minister, “If you would like to sow into this ministry, then …” These words can often make us gulp back some distress, because we don't have the dollars to give. If our spouse doesn't agree, and we share our money with them, we have very little to offer, financially.

In Christian circles, sowing takes other forms too: Volunteering on church rosters, making meals for the sick, and so on. Once again, those things can feel hard to us because we juggle our desire to serve with our spouse's feelings.

But, in a spiritually unequal marriage we have a beautiful and more hidden opportunity to sow. Our marriage is part and parcel of living out the life of Christ, and to sow into that is a rich thing. We can sow bountifully there in the comfort of our own home. And we will reap bountifully. In other words, it's so worth it.

Now, my pastor said an interesting thing to me last year. I'm not sure whether I can align it with scripture (let me know if you can think of where this might be in the Bible), but it's worth a thought. He said: "When you do sow into things you don’t necessarily reap in the place that you sow, but you will reap somewhere -- In some other way."

I think he was speaking more from experience, including the experience of other Christians' testimonies. So, if that is so, and if we choose to ‘sow’ enthusiastically into our marriages, we might find we don't necessarily reap there -- But will certainly reap in some way. We don't do it to reap, anyway, we do it because we love Jesus. But the encouragement is: Just go for it!! Be a bountiful sower!

So, friends, what are the ways in which we do sow into our marriages? We probably all feel we can do better at this. Well, I can anyway. Perhaps we can make a list for ourselves. Top of my list will be this:

Pray lavishly for my husband!

Bryce and I have been married a long time and sometimes it's easy to forget to do even the above so today I'm giving this a go. I'm going to find new and fresh ways to pray for my husband -- For all aspects of his life, including his health, wellness, and work.

Sowing ... Sowing ... And sowing some more.

How about you? Any good ideas for how we can sow into our marriages? We can chat in the comments.

In friendship,

Ann


Top Three Tips for Thriving in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage

Ann here! Mountain

Today I had an interesting faith conversation with a man with whom I cross paths occasionally. I know him in a professional rather than social capacity, but whenever I see him we have a good chat. So, I'll call him a 'friend-acquaintance'. 

Anyway, today I saw him for the first time in a year and we found ourselves talking about one of my favorite topics (and a topic I don't talk much about): A faith difference in marriage.

Well, who would've thought it, it turns out he’s kind of there too. He is finding himself in that place at home. And so we had a light-hearted (but on-point) chat about it.

Our conversation came about because he asked me if I was still working at the university. I said “No, these days I volunteer in Christian ministry!” “Oh!” He said, “Tell me more!” And so, I told him about this little ministry of ours on the web. I said, “Bryce and I have been through a lot there – There’s a lot to it. You have to learn how to stay happily married, and not annoy each other!”

My friend then shared that he had re-entered church and reconnected with his faith in recent years. His beloved had not. He said, it’s something he’s been wrestling with, especially recently. With that, I told him we had 1,000 + readers on our blog, and I said, “It’s a big need. It’s not uncommon. And, yes, it’s hard.”

Indeed. It. Is. Hard. The church often doesn’t know how to help us. We don’t fit the mold so we stay on the periphery. But the truth is, we’re a big segment of the church -- the Body of Christ -- and we need support. Some of us have figured out how to fit church with home life, and how to follow Jesus in our home. Others of us are still working that out.

My friend/acquaintance asked me a good question today, and one that I think is valuable for anyone new to our blog. He asked: “Ok, so what would be your top three tips for someone in this situation?”

It was on the spot, but here’s what came out of my mouth:

  • Win without words – That is, live your faith out without using a whole lot of words (1 Peter 3:1). 
  • Treat your spouse as the top human in your life. Make sure they know you prioritize that relationship.
  • Pursue your relationship with God above all else, even if your spouse doesn’t like it. You’ll get the most strength and peace if you keep moving forward towards God.

Mm... Those were my thruppence, on the spot. A few hours later I look at this and obviously would put point three at the top. Pursue God -- Jesus -- above all else and everything else will follow. But apart from that, yes those remain my top three.

How about you, what would you have said when asked that question? How would you have worded it? Interested to hear your thoughts, as always.

Great chatting, and have a good weekend!

Ann


Wrapping Up Our Series on LOVE

Dear friends, Ann here. Did I learn to love

Today we wrap up our series on love. 

Here in our SUM community there are many different marriages. Some have spouses who are easy to love; others have extremely challenging situations. But in every relationship – easy or hard – love is not easy. Nor is it simple. And even with the easiest marriage a faith difference brings a huge challenge.

Our love challenge is not just about loving our spouse. It can be equally hard to love those who are an extended part of our SUM situation. For example, I’ve been frustrated at times with Christian family members and the church because they don't understand. It's all been one massive exercise in love.

Love is, to me, like the diamond engagement ring on my finger. I hold it up in front of my eyes and examine it from different angles, for there are different facets to it. ‘Love’ looks kind and gentle on the one hand, but if I hold it up again I can see it also involves obedience, which might mean speaking truth or walking forward into a specific call from God (as Tiffany shared). 

Love is also a learning curve with inevitable failures or humbling experiences. As Lynn said, at 3am in the morning it might not go so well. 

And then we know that God is love. So we can take 1 Corinthians 13, hold it up like that diamond and ask ourselves 'What is God like?' Except there are tensions. Love is not easily provoked, and yet we see Jesus was provoked to anger. To delve deep into love, then, involves examining these tensions carefully.

When it comes to my marriage, I often think about the end game. I imagine coming face-to-face with Jesus, and being asked: ‘Did you love your husband well?’ When I think about that question, it’s less relevant to me what my husband is doing than what I am doing. 1 Corinthians 13 is the blueprint. And, I guess I hope the Lord will say this when we review my marriage and family:

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23, NLT)

There is lots to think about. Personally, I’ve loved hearing from Ian, Tiffany and Lynn with their love insights this month, and have enjoyed writing my bits too. Now, it's time to move on to some new topics on this blog, so I will be back on Wednesday with something different.

My friends, it's been great journeying on you through 1 Corinthians 13. What has spoken to you most in this love series?


3 am Is Very Telling? Do You Get Me? by Lynn Donovan

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUM Nation, I have a “real” question.

When you read this passage does you bristle a little?

Do you find it difficult to even begin to understand these words and what they are supposed to look like in real life?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Ann asked me to write about just the second half of verse four. Yikes. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. It is not proud.

You may think to yourself, HA, I’ve got these down. BUT I’ll tell you this. YOUR real core of yourself will show up when you are exhausted, hungry, stressed and lacking in your intimacy with God. THIS is a true measure of what’s deep inside. I still have moments when God shows me how much I have overcome and then there are moments when He reveals where I need a little work.

Ahem, last night at 3 am. I’m not well. Upset tummy and can’t sleep. 3 am my little dog, Grace, starts yipping from her crate in the other room. Grrrrrr, I know that yip. It means Mom, get up and take me out……. For whatever reason…..

I try to ignore it. I can’t. Once a mom, you never sleep soundly again. Double grrrrrr.

I nudge Mike three times, “It’s your turn. Grace is barking.” His response. Him mimics a dead log in the forest. Solid, not moving, sound asleep.

Finally, I throw the covers, slam a few doors, flip on lights, yell at the pups, take them out. Whisper yell some more because Grace wants to chase something by the fence and won’t come in……… It’s so embarrassing… I go back to bed and my husband stirs, ah,,,,,, what,,,, what is happening? As I aggressively flip the lights off.

I wasn’t feeling love. Oh gang, the practice of love is just that, PRACTICE. It’s a life-long journey of surrender, understanding our pressure points and creating an atmosphere where we thrive in love and minimize the strategies of the world to destroy love.

Most of you know that I generally walk in love. I truly love my man, I adore my puppy, Gracie. BUT love isn’t always easy. And I’ll be straight up here. I can’t love without the love of God first. I’m completely incapable of this thing….. love. Love without envy, pride or boasting.

I do believe I’ve arrived at a place where my insecurities are met by an overwhelming love of Christ that I’m able to genuinely celebrate when others are honored and accelerated. Well, most of the time. I’m a work in process.

Pride, envy, boasting and jealousy are really cloaking our deep insecurities. And through Jesus ALL of my pain and insecurities are nearly healed. However, like I said, I’m a work in progress.

And that’s all that matters to God. I’m progressing. I’m reflecting His character in my interactions with those at church, on social media and even in my marriage, except at 3 am when Gracie is barking. *grin*. Honestly, I’ve become really GOOD at apologies. My husband is so gracious when I don’t quite model 1 Corinthians 13. And I offer him the same.

And isn’t that what marriage is all about? It’s living with someone to echo your life. To be a witness, to honor and love you when it’s tough and when it’s really good. I love my husband more today not because of the good days but how he loved me when I was ugly, mean, and less than loving.

I still apply myself to all the measures of 1 Corinthians 13 and through Christ I can do all things and see myself stepping closer all the time. I pray you see yourself ABSOLUTELY THE SAME. Because you are on this path with me. Hallelujah.

Love well. That is our highest and best in this life. It’s the one thing we take with us when we head to our heavenly home.

I love you…. I really love you, Lynn


Nabal, Abigail, and David -SUMITES in the Bible- Summer Bible Study

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe left our story in 1 Samuel 25 with Abigail meeting David with provisions and a great big “SORRY.” Whew, that sorry and the honor she bestowed upon David saved probably more than 100 people from bloodshed. (verse 33 & 34)

She went home and arrived to ANOTHER drunken banquet. – Ugh!

Abigale was likely exhausted, angry at her mean husband, overwhelmed by the thought of what could have happened to everyone she loved on the ranch. And she came home, perhaps, somehow hoping her husband might ask her where she’d been and where she had disappeared to.

NOPE.

He was very drunk. The next morning when he sobered up and was in his right mind, she told him all about it. And the craziest thing happened.

Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 1 Samuel 25:37

It’s believed he suffered a stroke. Whoa! I wondered how Abigail processed this? The servants?

Then in verse 38; About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

Double WHOA!

The Word tells us he was struck by God. Yikes. Now, this sounds all like crazy goodness in that Abigail was rescued from a vile and evil man. It is good however, we can’t look at this story as the happily ever after we all desperately want.

We do know that David honors her request and remembers Abigail and offers her marriage, as the estate would surely not pass to her, as a woman. And she would likely be married off to Nabal’s brother. So David took her in through marriage. But her life wouldn’t have been a picnic. She left wealth to live in a camp with a bunch of hooligans. She wasn’t his only wife and David took on more wives, Bathsheba who we know he really loved. And Michal was with Paltiel.

Good grief!

So what is it about Abigail that God has included her story in the Word?

She was a believer in Yahweh. She trusted Him to save her. She was humble. She was wise. She walked in a beauty in her countenance. She was quick to react and she followed the Lord’s instructions. She was aware of her reality and what was going on around her (David and his past, present and future and what God was doing in him). She loved people and acted quickly to save them, even a wicked man.

Verse 41 & 42: She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

That’s the last we hear about our beloved, Abigail. But we know one day she will be a queen and live in a palace.

My dear friends, isn’t that what is ahead for all of us?

Where is God calling you to bow down? Where is He calling you into divine wisdom and humility? Where is the Lord asking you to wash the feet of others for a season? Is He calling you to the palace right now?

A queen in the Kingdom of God is a servant. Just as Jesus came to serve, our 80 years here are just that we are called to serve like Jesus. All we need is already provided in our King Jesus and the wedding supper of the Lamb will be our invitation just as Abigail was invited into a wedding by David.

Hallelujah! I love you, SUMites. Next time Ann will be writing about the GREATEST SPIRITUALLY MISMATCHED MARRIAGE in the Bible.

Okay, was this study of 1 Samuel 25 helpful? See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


Mother's Day - You Make the Day Great. Here's How.

Happy Mothers Day 2020Sumites, Lynn here.

I’ve been thinking about Mother’s day. Although it’s a few weeks away, today let’s chat about perspective.

In past years prior to the Covid-19 social distancing, us moms would ready our kids in the morning, head off to church-- to then, sit alone. I’ll be honest, it’s pain to watch other women be honored by their spouse and family at church. I’ll also share that the pain of disappointment will wane through the years as you take on more spiritual maturity and also understanding of marriage, spouses, and traditions in the church.

However, this year is very unique. Our entire world has been shut in and a number of us will continue to be shut in weeks after Mother’s Day. So, let me share a gem of advice.

You make the day special.

Don’t depend on your husband and family to set the day up by cooking for you, bringing you flowers and for your children to make you something. Take the initiative. I know this doesn’t sound exactly romantic and you may “feel” as though you are being robbed of a celebration by the hands of your family, but you aren’t.

Decide now to have a picnic somewhere together. Or decide to have a movie night with a projector and show it outside on the garage door seated in lawn chairs. Who knows the neighbors may join you, of course, six-feet apart.

Do some star gazing or roast some marshmallows with your family. Create a craft you can do with your little ones for spring. Have a singing contest or a fashion show. Or throw dinner in the crockpot and have a long bath in the morning.

And prior to that Sunday in May, be straight up with Mr. Right. Let your man know about your expectations. Sometimes they need a little coaching and reminding. Ask them to BBQ for you. Ask him to take the kids to buy a card if that’s possible.

Forgive those who forget or fail to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. And know that your job is applauded in heaven. Mothering is one of the great high and holy callings for humanity. It’s a gift and a joy. Mothering can also rip your heart out at times. But, raising little ones into men and women of God, is worth every effort, all your time, all your prayers, and priorities.

And hear this from me; the LORD is with you every day. He sees your silent sacrifices and knows all that you set your heart upon. Your love will accomplish so much through you and your children for the Kingdom.

Well done Mom.

And from me personally, You are amazing. Keep marching. I’m so proud of you.

Hugs, Lynn


Keep Playing The Christian Music

Hi friends, Ann here! Dance

If there's one passage in the Bible that brings a SUM moment to life, it's the one where David dances to the Lord, his wife Michal sees him through a window, and she 'despises him in her heart'. Gulp -- Let's take a look:

“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart."

(2 Samuel 6:14-16, NKJV)

David then returns 'to bless his household', and Michal is not feeling it:

“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v.20)

We don’t know what marriages were like in those days, but David must have felt sorely misunderstood. Nevertheless, his response shows determination:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore, I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22).

To leap and dance for God like David is akin to the intimacy with God that we're currently talking about in our community. I think we all have a leap to take when it comes to intimacy, and for my own part I can say I found it ever so risky to leap towards God and trust he would catch me. Specifically, I struggled to trust that I would not lose Bryce's favor. That was a biggie.

I was helped in this area by a friend whose Dad was a pastor. I wrote to this friend one day when it was all feeling too hard. My words went something along the lines of, "I think Bryce will go off me if I keep going." My friend duly consulted the Dad, who was old and wise, then flicked me an email:

“Ann, with God, the only way to go is forward. Now that you know that God is real, what else are you going to do? Sit in a dark room with a blindfold on? The fence is too sharp to sit on. But here’s what my Dad says: The closer you get to God, the more Bryce will see the spiritual bloom on your cheek. So keep going!”

This was great advice in theory, but I struggled to believe that Bryce would see this elusive 'spiritual bloom on my cheek'. My friend was saying, “Take the leap, Ann. God will catch you!” but the lie I was believing was “If I move any closer to God I'll lose out.” 

To cut a long story short, eventually I let go of the lie. Having leapt into God's arms I truly believe now that the more you love Jesus … Well, everything blooms. As David said to Michal, God has shown himself faithful.

David's response is a good one for us. Essentially he says to Michal, “Look, there is good reason I dance for him the way I do. I am going to carry on, and I will be playing my Christian music.”

Friends, did you catch that? Michal doesn't like his Christian music! I'm laughing as I type and I can't help but wonder if God slipped that part in for humor for us. Even in David’s day, Christian music was hard to play in front of the less believing spouse. Well, nothing there has changed. Eventually, like David, perhaps we stop caring and just play it. In fact, that's been a shift for me only in the last few weeks: I slip the Christian music on, Bryce laughs but doesn't really mind, I keep it on, and as I listen to it I leap -- In my heart.

Well on that happy note, I think the story got a bit more cheerful than at first it seemed. So keep on with that Christian music, friends. And perhaps we can chat in the comments: Has intimacy with God involved a leap for you?


God Will Ask One Question When You Arrive In Heaven

Chapter Fifteen
The Power of Love
Excerpt:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
MATTHEW 22:37-39

I’m of the belief that upon arriving at heaven’s gate, Jesus will look into our eyes and ask a single question, “Did you learn to love?”

Jesus commands us to love God and love people. God is easy. People, not so much.

I’ll be vulnerable here. There are many people that I meet who love easily. They always choose to notice the best in others. It’s not that easy for me. Walking into adulthood, I carried with me beliefs that no one was reliable or trustworthy and that I was utterly on my own. No one had my back. Including God.

Of course, these were lies, but I lived them out as truth for many years. Unwinding these false beliefs required years of God relentlessly loving me until over time, my heart finally cracked open. His love filled me to the point that I could love with authenticity and learn to trust people. Releasing my fears of abandonment and distrust felt as though I removed a giant backpack from my shoulders. And once gone, I became free to dream with God. I was freed up to imagine the impossible and discover gifts and abilities I didn’t know already possessed. And loving people became easier.

My dear warrior, our entire journey upon this planet is a quest to learn to love. Love is an easy word; however, it’s been hijacked, perverted, and applied to numerous ideologies. Our assignment for this life is to love people from the source, our heavenly Father. We can’t fail to get this one right.

Every day we make a thousand choices. With each choice, we walk down one of two paths, love or fear. Oh, let us choose bravely and walk in love.

As I write this book, I’m older now and have walked with Jesus for over 50 years. I’ve reflected on decades of life choices and the consequences of choosing fear over love. From my vantage point, the choice of love is always the best course with a better result than living in a false sense of security that fear perpetuates.

Choosing love is a risk. We risk our heart. We risk pain and rejection. However, living wholeheartedly far and away exceeds the risk.

In every decision where I chose to love over bowing to fear, contributed to my refining process. When I risked loving but I was met by disappointment and pain because love wasn’t returned, Jesus arrived with gold from heaven and filled the cracks of my broken heart. If you could picture my heart today, it is whole, but a closer view reflects tiny golden-white-light lines where the pieces of my brokenness were gathered together. All the heart-pieces rescued back from childhood pain, a divorce, an unexpected move, the loss of what I desired from my marriage.

Our heart is made whole by Christ’s love, redemption, and healing. Our hearts become a beautiful recreation of his design. A recreated heart overflows with empathy, compassion, and depth of understanding as well as a wealth of patience. This is the heart of God.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
EZEKIEL 36:26

Warrior, love heals all trauma. One touch of the Savior’s love and a difficult upbringing, abuse, disappointment, fears, and all failures of the past are redeemed. The Redeemer seals love and peace over our pain which silences the lies of the devil. He is our blessing. He is our peace. He is love.

Everything the enemy has used to hurt and destroy you, God will redeem. And in the Kingdom of God, the evil meant to kill you will become the very thing that God will use within you to rescue and bring healing to others. Your pain becomes your superpower. Your woundedness becomes your peace. Your destruction is the birthplace of a love that the demons cannot touch.

Love redeems our past, establishes our present, is our future and our children’s legacy.

Choose love and live strong.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Love Chapter


To Cherish ...

Hi friends, Ann here! Cherish

The other day I noticed something new about marriage in scripture. It was like a big flashing light going off in my mind, so I thought I'd share. See what you think of this:

In the Bible there are a few key scriptures about marriage, as we know. But what I noticed this week is that in two of those scriptures (one from the Old Testament and one from the New), it says that your treatment of your spouse determines whether your prayers will be heard.

What a thought!

Here are the scriptures in question, and I've highlighted the parts about prayer:

1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV):

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

And

Malachi 2:12-15 (NKJV):

“May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts.

And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” 

**

All of this got me thinking: I often have to guard my heart to stay good to my husband in relation to our faith difference. The spiritually mismatched nature of our marriage raises particular challenges that other couples might not have. I have to make sure I don't hold negative attitudes about certain things. I also have to guard my mouth to make sure when I talk about him my words are good words. The bar is high and I'm a total work-in-progress. 

The Old Testament passage in Malachi might have been addressing the letter of the law, perhaps physical infidelity; but we go beyond that in the spirit of the law, mirroring God's character and trying to be faithful in wider things, like our words. 

This thought takes me meandering back to a moment in 1999, when Bryce and I were getting married. In our heady twenties it was all fun fun fun. But, when we booked in a minister to officiate at our wedding he told us it was his code to give us marriage counselling and we agreed. There was not much that was sensible about the two of us so it was all we could do to stop ourselves losing it in giggles at various points -- Especially when the session turned to the topic of sex. It was all so serious -- Did we really have to be talking about this?! 

But, here's the golden question this minister asked us: “What does it mean to CHERISH someone? Your vows include the word cherish. What does that look like?” This man in his sixties knew what he was talking about. 

Fast-forward twenty years and here we are living with a faith difference that - if we aren't careful to cherish - could fracture us. Yikes, it's not exactly small stuff. What does it look like now for us to cherish each other?

Here's what my favorite old dictionary says about Cherish: "To protect and treat with affection: to nurture, nurse; to entertain in the mind." 

Honestly, I can think of many points where I have not been the shining star at cherishing Bryce. But what I’d like to do is treat him as my most treasured one. This is my heart, so I say 'Help me, God!' My marriage is entwined with the Kingdom. It’s part of that thing I want to seek first. And as I cherish him, then when I march in prayer around my 'Jericho' could it be that those walls of unbelief have a greater chance of falling? The above scriptures suggest perhaps so.

Do you have any thoughts on the concept of cherishing our spouse? We'll chat in the comments!


What Readers Are Saying About The Warrior March!

I can testify that this is the most amazing book!!!

Full of wisdom, hope, miraclesSmall 3D MAJ, Gods redemptive power of love and healing. I wept, I laughed, I hungered and thirsted for more as I turned the pages. You will rejoice with Lynn at her triumphs and faithfulness, marvel at her amazing relationship with the Lord and know that this is for all of us as she encourages and champions us forward every step of the way!!!!

It isn’t just a read through but a do through activation and empowerment to seek all that we are entitled to as children of God. Jesus lived as a man, suffered and died so we could have all and more. Lynn’s brilliant sharing of her journey is going to change lives up to a thousand generations🙏🏽♥️😭🙌🏽🥳🤗🩸💦👆🏽🎈🙏🏽

Visit Marchingaroundjericho.com for more information and read the first two chapters!

 


Be Like Nehemiah: Rise up and Rebuild

Rebuilding-the-wall

By Martha Bush

During this Thanksgiving season, I am so grateful for the “rebuilding blueprints” Neheniah passed down to us as he rebuilt the broken down walls of Jerusalem.

Join me today as I outline his plans for rebuilding. Let’s start in Chapter 1 and listen in on a conversation he is having with his Jewish friends.

How are the Jews getting along who have returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian Exile?”  “Well, things are not good; the wall of Jerusalem is still torn down, and the gates are burned,” they replied (Nehemiah 1:2-3 TLB)

Nehemiah knew that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. Now, his friends were telling him that the city had no protection from its enemies while they were rebuilding the Temple.

Weeping and fasting for several days, Nehemiah asked God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the king who gave him permission to rebuild the walls around the city. In spite of opposition, the wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

I was drawn to this story years ago when everything in my marriage was crumbling. Even though we were spiritually unequally yoked, we had a loving marriage. But, when I followed a new direction the Lord had given me, it was as though an army invaded our home stealing, not only our relationship, but our earthly goods as well. The comfortable lifestyle we had grown accustomed to was gone. Added to this scenario, serious health problems arose. With all the devastation around us, we both wanted to vacate the premises, as in SEPARATE.

Nehemiah’s example of rebuilding was a trumpet call to me to “rise up and rebuild” the broken down walls.

1. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his country, himself, and his ancestors.

I’m praying day and night in intercession for your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel. And I’m including myself and my ancestors among those who have sinned against you. (Neh. 1:6 MSG)

Like Nehemiah, I first confessed my sins for the part I had played in our situation. Next, I confessed generational sins on both sides of our families.

2. Nehemiah EXAMINED every broken wall.

By night I examined the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. (Nehemiah 2:13 NIV)

I asked the Lord to show me where the walls of protection in our marriage had broken.

  • Communication: We’d never learned how to communicate effectively, so when the hard times hit, we yelled and screamed because that was the only way we knew how to communicate.
  • Finances: Our financial strain was due in part because of bad decisions we had made, but some of it was a result of the enemy using various means to steal from us.
  • Parental Influence: Though we both had great parents, we had brought their problems into our own marriage.
  • Not understanding one another’s temperaments: When Mr. Choleric and Miss Phlegmatic came together in the heat of the battle, our opposite traits produced quite an explosion.

3. Nehemiah Had a Vision.

“Face it: we’re in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let’s build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer.” (Neh. 2: 17 MSG)

Andy Stanley, author of Visionary said, “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be.’ Vision often begins with the inability to accept things the way they are. Over time that dissatisfaction matures into a clear picture of what could be.”

Something inside me clicked. “Rise up and rebuild!”

4. Nehemiah Faced Opposition.

“What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?” What do they think they’re building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight.” (Nehemiah 4:1-3 MSG)

Unfortunately, for a long time, my husband did not share the same vision for rebuilding as I did. “Do you really think God can fix this mess? You need to get your head out of the sand, and face reality! It is over!”

5. Nehemiah’s Response to Opposition.

“Hear us, O Lord God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back upon their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their sin. Do not blot it out, for they have despised you in despising us who are building your wall.” (Nehemiah 4:4-5 TLB)

Nehemiah said nothing to his opposition,  prayed, and kept on building. Jerusalem was a city worth fighting for.

I finally realized it was useless to fight back with words at the opposition. By the grace of God, my husband finally joined me, and we have restored most, (not all yet) of those broken down walls that almost destroyed our marriage. Granted it took more than 52 days to get to the place we are today - we are a stiff-necked couple. The fullness of the vision is for an appointed time.

*****

My Sumite Friends, in the comments tell us how Nehemiah’s example for rebuilding the broken down walls applies to your marriage, finances, health,  church.  Together, we can "rise up and rebuild."

 

 

 

 


One Flesh: Stop Tugging Me!

By Ann Hutchison One flesh  SUM

I have an analogy that I often use when I begin to feel challenged by spiritual difference in marriage. It’s this: My husband and I are like conjoined twins. We're one flesh.

Does that resonate with you? I pull in one direction, spiritually; he might say ‘No!’ and before we know it we’re yanking and straining, stretched beyond possibility. Sometimes it gets too much; then one of us will yell: “Stop it! Ouch!” Being one flesh, we are knit together intensively.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

Thinking about this whole 'one flesh' thing, I decided to watch a documentary on conjoined twins. It might sound bonkers, but that is genuinely how I feel in spiritual terms. He is my other half. Anyway, others’ paths are good to watch, and wow what a path. In this documentary I was struck by one particular pair who were middle-aged and clearly different to each other. In the documentary, it interested me that they have taken decades to work together. I think a SUM can follow this progression too: with time we get a little gentler.

For example, I look back and cringe thinking about the time I said to my husband, “I’m so lonely being a Christian!” Good one, Ann, how did that make him feel? He threw a shocker back: “You’re a supernatural junkie!” At that, I bawled. These were not our finest days.

There are many curious ways ‘one-flesh’ plays out in a spiritually different marriage. There's the fact our resources are joint. If I spend my time on anything related to God, something at home gets waylaid. Often, the washing up or laundry. We all know that it’s busy running a home, so my use of time matters. Essentially, my stewardship of what God has given me affects my husband.

This one flesh thing is shown here, also:

The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband: and likewise also, the husband hath not power of his own body but the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

Although that verse is about sexual intimacy, it does reveal our conjoined condition.

So far, ok. But now here’s the added curve-ball that has – at points – sent me over the edge: We’re also one with the church (Ephesians 4:16). And how on earth does that work, when our partner doesn’t want in? I genuinely feel a connection with other believers, but it is Catch 22. Are we conjoined triplets: husband, wife, church? One thing's for sure, it's not comfy. Is three a crowd, or a three-fold cord?

Here's one little way I tense up: I can talk about God with other believers until the cows come home. But, when that happens there’s sometimes a check into my spirit. I become mindful of not being too tight with Christian friends at the expense of my husband. I suppose I make sure those friendships fit into my life with him, and this is a balancing act that I think carefully about.

On the topic of Christian friendships, though, I did have an a-ha moment that helped me. It came from Genesis 1:24: God designed a man to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. From this verse I was able to see that my Christian friends are brothers and sisters, but like father and mother they are secondary family compared to my husband. My relationship with him is tops. After God, of course.

Another thing that helped me was this: God made the wife-husband relationship to be physically intimate, which is something no other relationship has. That intimacy tells me something about the degree to which my relationship with my hubby is beyond any other. It’s in my power to protect that secret place that mirrors the intimacy we have with God (Psalm 91:1). And, if I protect that secret place in marriage, I’m honoring God’s design.

So, those are my musings today. I will be the first to say I have made many silly mistakes in my marriage. Bryce and I have been married twenty years now, which is ample time to accumulate successes and some less fine moments. But one flesh we are, and we try to walk it well.

Now over to you, my SUM friends: What challenges does the 'one flesh' condition raise for you, and how do you tackle them?


Loving Your Separated Spouse by Linda Rooks

Fighting-for-Your-Marriage-While-Separated-Thumbnail (2)Loving Your Separated Spouse

I know in this community of unequally yoked believers, there is someone whose spouse has walked out the door and left. Your heart is breaking right now, and you don’t know what to do. Perhaps your spouse has never accepted Christ or perhaps, like my husband did many years ago, he or she walked away from their faith commitment.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. After three years of separation, the Lord drew my husband back into relationship with Him again. We reconciled, and have now had twenty blessed and fruitful years of marriage since that dreadful time.

If this is where you are, finding your way through this complicated and confusing period of separation poses many challenges and heartrending moments of feeling hopeless. But with God as your anchor, you can do it. He will lead you through this season one day at a time if you keep your eyes on Him.

Your faithful but patient love to your spouse while he or she is in a place of wandering will show them Jesus, but you need to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matt: 10:16) as you navigate this difficult season of your marriage. Trust God in His timing. He knows what has to happen in your spouse’s life and yours before a successful reconciliation can take place. This may mean months . . . or even a longer period of separation. But as waiting spouses, it’s important not to get in the way of the healing God wants to do in both your partner’s life and yours. Give God time to do what He wants to do.

It begins by giving space to the one who has left so they can diffuse whatever conflict is whirling around in their head and clear their mind of confusion. A spouse who leaves the home usually doesn’t know what he wants, and chasing after them with questions about “why” and “when” can drive them further away. Meanwhile, pray for them as well as yourself. While you put them on the back burner of your mind, focus your attention on God instead. Let Him strengthen you and show you what He wants to say to you. This can be a time of growing ever closer to Jesus as you allow Him to speak truth into your heart and mind.

When you do have contact with your spouse, resist the temptation to make accusations and negative comments. Instead, offer positive encouragement, which shows that you care enough to accept him where he is at the moment. Affirm her as a person even though you don’t like what she’s doing right now. Positive words throughout this season of separation can offer a healing balm for unseen wounds that have brought division between you. Using positive words to create a safe place where the two of you can interact will help to open up lines of communication at some point down the road. Pray each step of your journey before and during each contact with your spouse. Let God guide you in your words and actions.

I know what I’m suggesting runs counter to what may come natural to do in this situation. Chances are your mind is racing with negative feelings and thoughts and you want to press in to tell your mate why he or she is wrong to leave. The flesh in us wants to do what comes naturally. When Satan attacks our marriages, however, he relies on us to do what comes naturally because he knows that in our flesh we are not strong or wise enough to overcome his strategies. So this is a time when you need God’s supernatural strength and wisdom to do what is truly unnatural. Take your pain and your negative feelings to God. Let Him carry you through this time. The message of 2 Corinthians 12:10 tells us when we are weak, then God can be strong within us.

Loving your spouse during a time like this is not something the world sees as natural, but Jesus didn’t ask us to do what comes naturally. When He told us to love our enemies, that was not natural. When He said to do good to those who hate us, that was not natural. (Matt: 5:43-44) But even though Jesus may ask us to do something unnatural, He never asks us to do something impossible because His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) What is impossible for us, is possible with God. (Luke 18:27) He wants us to lean on Him; He wants us to trust Him. When we look to God and rely on His Spirit to guide us during this difficult period of a marital separation, we can find the future and blessing He has planned for us. That is what I call winning. And when we win, the glory will go to God.

-----

Head shot Linda Rooks - blue scarfLinda W. Rooks is the author of Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated and Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation. She not only writes about separation, she lived through it for three years. For the last twelve years, she and her husband have been ministering to others in broken marriages through classes in Central Florida and seen many marriages healed. You can find out more about Linda and her ministry at http://brokenheartonhold.com  or http://fightingforyourmarriage.net 

(Lynn, you can use either web address you want. They both go to the same place.)


God's Promises Are Yes and AMEN!

SUM Nation,

Wedding pic 1992I'm writing this post on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Today is our 27th wedding anniversary.

So much is happening in our lives and I can’t wait to catch you up. Miracles are abounding!

But until I have time to sit in my office,  I want to be a voice of hope to you who are warring in the trenches of conflict and pain.

Hear my voice now, with Jesus, our marriage relationships will become easier. 

Jesus fills in all the missing places in your heart and life that your husband is unwilling or unable to meet. Stay strong.

I have some new messages coming in the future that will launch you into a new season of victorious battling for your spouse as well as the peace of heaven, at the same time.

Thank you, my SUMite family ,for praying for the salvation of my husband! God’s promises are Yes and AMEN!  I stand on His truths! 

March on Warriors! We Win!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9

Img_0006_0


Slay The Marriage Killers - The In-Laws

Slay The Marriage KillersMarriage Killers. How do we slay them?

Today, I want to talk about …

The in-laws.

Every marriage brings with it an extended family. My experience with in-laws was a good one. They weren’t intrusive. At the time I married Mike, he had lived on his own for years. He had a health relationship with his parents, and they lived in another state. Their involvement in our lives centered about holiday visits and trips to visit their place in the summer. And on occasion, a trip to the Santa Cruz where his parents and their friends and family would vacation every year.

Marriages struggle when either spouse fails to become fully liberated from their parents. This is often an issue with your spouse’s maturity and also a proximity issue.

I can tell you from many emails to this ministry that dealing with in-laws is a REAL thing that challenges marriages. I will also tell you that as a mother of an adult son, there is a very special and unbreakable bond between the two that is a life-long reality. (We have a healthy relationship and I live in five hours from him.)

So, what to do if your spouse is still linked to home and Mom-in-law or dad-in-law interferes with decisions and the direction of your family?

If you are dealing with an overbearing, and ridiculously interfering family member, of course, conversation with your spouse is where you start. Pray and ask Jesus to create a perfect opportunity to talk about extended family. Gang, BATHE this conversation, before it takes place, in prayer. Ask the Lord for the right words. Leave accusation and ridicule of the family member out of the discussion. Take about the issues and how the meddling creates strife and leads to conflict and unhealthy boundaries and decisions. Offense will arise quickly in a spouse when talking about a mom or a dad. Tread carefully but with sound examples and SOLUTIONS that would have made for a better outcome.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Love, love, love.

Determine to set healthy boundaries. In an overbearing situation, space is the only way to gain autonomy. And finally moving a distance away may become your only viable option.

Okay, I need help here. What are the in-law’s dynamics in your home? How have you handled interference? OR better yet, how have you and your spouse set healthy boundaries with the in-laws.

How to you restrain your own mother or father from interfering with your family? I’ll see you in the comments.

LOVE loudly this week. Love and bless your in-laws in your prayer time. Let’s see what happens by Friday? Perhaps a few tiny miracles in the extended family. Hugs, Lynn


The Wicked Marriage Killer

Slay The Marriage KillersWhat is the Wicked Marriage Killer?

Many years ago, my mother-in-law looked at my father-in-law and quoted me to him, “Just deal with it, Caitie.”

I bet my mouth hung open. It became obvious that Carole, was teasing and poking back at her dear husband with words I’d said to my then, hmmmm I guess ten-year-old daughter.

Gulp!

We decide we are going to handle everything!

Deal with it!

I’ll just handle it!

I’ll just do it myself and then I know it will get done and done right!

I will tell you, those words stung even thought MIL didn’t mean them to be harsh. And right now, I apologize to my daughter, Caitie, for telling her to “Just deal.” Ouch!

Although there is wisdom in teaching our children there are issues that can’t be changed. We need to equip them with coping and overcoming skills.

Thinking about marriage killers brought that old MIL memory back to me. Oh, how I like to “handle things.” I’ll handle the job. I’ll just handle the kid’s teachers!!  I’ll handle my marriage. I’ve got a handle on my church commitments and I’ll handle the money. I’ll handle my life and just make everything happen according to the gospel of Lynn. Yikes!

Attitudes like this may make you feel in control most of the time but what happens when you can’t handle anymore? When you hit the wall and then nothing is handled?

Am I speaking to anyone out there?

Oh, my dear friends, indeed, we need to take responsibility for many things but what I find it that in our society, the expectation of many is to take on far more than is possible to effectively manage. And that is the wicked marriage killer.

Over commitment.

We cram so much into our lives that we leave zero margin for the unexpected. No space to “date” our spouse. We slam meals together, pack the car, throw the lunches in backpacks and then off for the day. Rushing home, homework, church work, dishes, and laundry.

We don’t get enough sleep because we stay up watching mindless tv and then up again early the next day for another round. Time with our spouse as a couple is rare and rushed and it’s no wonder in five years you look at each other and think, “Wait, what happened to the fun spouse I married?”

Just callin’ it real here!

This thinking is wrong. People change as they grow older and have children together. There must be maturity and understanding that your spouse will not be the same person in five years. AND as a couple you must insist on margin in your marriage and in your life. Don’t over commit to an education, raising small children, restoring a home or building a new business all at the same time. It’s a recipe for disaster! Something has to give.

Talk to one another. Define a date night and declare it holy. Nothing can take its place. Choose to insert margin in your daily schedule. I know my friend Joanne and her family were so tired of the endless running and schedule demands of sports practice, school, ballet, and everything, so much so, that they took a sabbatical year. They kids didn’t participate in anything. It was the best year of their lives.

Talk to Jesus. Ask Him what must be a priority and what can be tossed out. In my early years, about every six months, Jesus would tell me to prune things out. I had a tendency to over commit. When I did, it created joy and peace. And who doesn’t want more of that in their lives.

Thoughts? Hugs, Lynn


Marriage Killers - Finances- Part II

Slay The Marriage KillersSumites,

The comments on Friday’s post were fantastic. Go read some of the advice, if you need financial ideas. And the private emails I received (Wes) were also encouraging. Financial education and equipping of the Saints are definitely needs as well as a marriage saver!

Before I move on to the next Marriage Killer in this series, I want to post once more time about finances and offer you a few more helpful resources. At my home church this past Sunday, it was ironic that the pastor’s message was also on the topic of finances. (They say great minds think alike *grin*). My local church put together some resources to assist people with managing their spending plan, Financial Stewardship Ministry <- click here. I’m including the link as it offers some helpful information.

Every dollar appI also wanted to mention that our pastor and his wife use a financial application, Every Dollar. This is an app for your iPhone or Android that keeps a monthly record on your spending. It allows to budget for date night, groceries, bills, etc. When money is spent it is accounted for and BOTH, husband and wife, can view and record expenditures and are on the same page as they reach the family’s financial goals in real time. *

Wow…. I wish I had something like that in the early years. We used envelopes. So, two things this week.

  1. Practice a new response to all who ask you, “How are you?” You respond, “I’m blessed and highly favored.”
  2. Today in the comments, let’s give the LORD honor. Share a story when you were at the end of your financial rope, your prayed and a miracle provision arrived. I will share some of your stories on our FB page (no names). I can’t wait to rejoice in your Testimony as you honor Jesus.

Okay, next post…. I’ll be covering the wickedest Marriage Killer that faces a bride and groom. Stay tuned! We are living strong and thriving in our marriages! Hugs, Lynn

*Thanks John Hansen


Slay..... The Marriage Killers.... FINANCES

Slay The Marriage KillersHello SUMite Nation,

Well it’s astonishing that half of January has passed already. We have fasted and the Summit registration went live. Already registrations are rolling in from Florida, New Zealand, Michigan, Washington DC, Minnesota, Nevada, Australia, and a few more places.

Oh, I’m so hopeful you can be here. This is going to be the Family Reunion/Family Summit of a lifetime! Here is the link to register, Hear The Roar. Here is the link to the Facebook Travel Group.

I’ve pondered over what to write about in the last few weeks. And sometimes I think I’ve said all I have to say about marriage to a pre-believer. However, I know that there are new readers arriving who haven’t walked this unique marriage path for the number of years as I have and because of that, I want write about the basics again.

For those of you who have been married to your spouse for more than 20 years, I’m asking you to add your experience, wisdom and encouragement to the discussions. Please take time to read the posts and share your thoughts. Your love and voice is needed to encourage some young wife sitting at her kitchen table, ready to throw in the towel. (That was me once.)

So, let’s talk about Marriage Killers.

In the next several post I’m going to share the top marriage killers. I’m asking the community to share your thoughts in the comments. Perhaps these posts will turn into a book one day that will help the next generation. So please share.

CONFLICT OVER MONEY

Fights about spending, credit card debt, and financial over commitment are the fuel to crash and burn a marriage.

Mike and I are fortunate because this is ONE area where we agree. It’s likely due to my many years as a banker, (I worked for 25 years in corporate America as a banker. I retired a Vice President/Lending Manager after starting as a bank teller as a teenager.) I gained an appreciation for financial restraint and a strong sense of responsibility over my checkbook. (I could be fired from my job if I bounced a check. I needed my job!)

Mike gained his financial accountability from his years as a starving college student. But what if you weren’t taught to budget? What if you grew up and mom and dad who virtually gave you whatever you wanted? Or what if spending and saving were not taught, talked about, nor modeled?

Destructive conflict with regard to finances in a marriage is where there are two spenders and a tit-for-tat attitude by both.

He says, “If she spends that much, then I will too.”

She thinks: If he is spending his paycheck like that, then I’m going to do the same.

Similar conflict exists where one spouse is responsible but the other lacks financial responsibility and disrespects the values of the saver.

Examples exist on both sides of the sexes. A husband drives home a new truck to an astonished and heartbroken wife who is saddled with a car payment they can’t afford and was not included in a large financial decision. OR a wife continues to spend on the credit card even when her husband points out they aren’t making a dent in paying it down.

In the Donovan home, throughout our entire marriage I have handled the checkbook, bank accounts, filed the tax returns and managed most of our money decisions. The stress of meeting obligations has weighed heavily upon me. This is true of every person who handles the money for the marriage. There were years where we lived paycheck-to-paycheck and I worried how and when to purchase groceries, pay the insurance or balance the bills.

And before my marriage, there were weeks I would pay the bills as a single mother and have $25 left for gas to get me to work for two weeks. Scary. But by the grace of God.

However, I always found a way to get the bills paid and I forced myself into restraint. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t splurge in certain circumstances. I did. But not outside of what I could afford.

So, SUMites it’s tax season. It’s time to talk finances with your spouse. If you are walking on eggshells over your money, it’s time to visit Dave Ramsey and get yourself out of debt. It’s time to take control of your finances and bring peace into your lives. It will be difficult at first but becoming financially free from debt and the constant stress of financial pressure will release an enormous freedom over your marriage.

Start with prayer. God cares a great deal about our money. There are over 500 verses in the Bible about money and 40% of Jesus’ parables deal with money. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask the Lord for supernatural provision. I could share several stories about when I needed money or provision and the EXACT amount came into my hands within the week.

But, God also expects his people to have self-control (gift of the Spirit). So ask for, and exercise, self-control and make a commitment together with your spouse about how and when to spend money. Talk about the boundaries that need to be set if one or the other oversteps this commitment.

Ask God for the money to get to the conference. I can’t wait to hear your story when it shows up.

Alrighty, what is your story about marriage and money? I’ll see you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


A Tablecloth of Thanks 2018

 Every year I share a wonderful tradition that I began when my daughter was little, A Tablecloth of thanks. I’m reprinting the story today for all the new readers.

It’s never too late to begin a tradition of faith. And this one is perfect for believers and our pre-believers as well. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. I am so very thankful for all of you. Hugs, Lynn

-----

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 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 dinning 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 dinning room table from the year 2005)

God Can Change A Man's Heart!

Nicki Hathorn 10 2018

by Niki Hathorn

Hello SUMite friends!

I have some wonderful news today.

When I met my husband in our early twenties, we were both believers but not even close to walking with Jesus. Fast forward to my early thirties, we were married, and I was pregnant with our first child. It was at that time when Jesus finally got hold of me.

I found a church to attend, started reading my Bible, I became involved in community with some wonderful ladies, and really began to grow. My husband would participate once in a while - when convenient for him, but I wasn't seeing much change in his life. In fact, debauchery and anger seemed to take over any joy that he had. It's been a long and difficult road.

In August, I went to bed on a Sunday night and fell asleep telling Jesus that I didn't think I could stay much longer. The constant tension and lack of peace in my home had become too much and I felt that my prayers weren't being answered. The next morning, I found out I was pregnant (total surprise) with our third child. I thought my husband would be upset about this wrench in our plans, but he was excited - which even surprised himself.

A few days went by and I started to see a lot of his anger and anxiety melt away. A few weeks later, our friends (who have a band) were releasing their first album and putting on a concert at a performing arts center. He suggested that we get tickets and make a date night of it! But on that day, he also attended a friend's birthday party at a brewery, so he showed up to the concert pretty drunk. I was a little concerned that somehow his anger would rear its ugly head that night but guess what! He praised, he worshiped, he sang, he wept, he had joyful fellowship with the wonderful Christian's in our lives. The dark and the light collided, and the light won that night.

As I drove him home that night, he fell asleep and that's when the strange behavior began. His limbs started randomly flying around. One time, he sat up and punched the windshield. After getting home and going to bed, his arms were still thrashing around - one time accidentally hitting me in the face. He would randomly start yelling profanities as if he were angry at someone. Then he started getting out of bed and stomping around our home, yelling and cursing. I have NEVER seen anything like this from him and he drinks OFTEN.

He woke up the next morning with unexplained burns on his arm. It did not occur to me until the next morning (as I was pretty freaked out when this was happening) that what I was seeing was demonic. I think the enemy showed up at the concert that night thinking he was winning, but instead he realized how much he is losing his hold on my husband. My husband has zero recollection of any of this.

Now here's the best part. Fast forward two weeks and our church's missionaries from Nigeria came to speak at our church. They told us that they have already planted 16 churches in their people's kingdom, but until they can be educated, they will never rise up out of oppression. The first step to educating their children, is to build a school in this specific town where they can get certified by the government so that the children can then move on to college (which is free) in order to become teachers and doctors and come back to their villages to educate more and the cycle continues so that they can rise above the oppression and poverty.

They need $10k for the land to build the school and $20k for the building We left church that day and in the car on the way home, my husband said he was going to give them the money they need for the land.

SAAAAYYYY WHATTTTT??????

Here is this man who I have seen in bondage for so very long and prayed for with so many tears... He's breaking free, he's feeling the Spirit, he's giving to the Kingdom without restraint. I just can't even.

This God of ours is BIG and so much better than I could ever comprehend. My faith has turned a new corner and I cannot wait to see what the Lord Jesus does with my family. Thank you for reading if you are still here! And I sure hope that this is an encouragement to you! Please rejoice with me today :) Lynn and Dineen, I have and have read your books and they have been SUCH an encouragement to me. Thank you for this ministry!

Niki, SUMite Nation

My husband and I grew up about 20 minutes from each other in Alabama, but didn't meet until we both moved to Tampa, Florida after college. We have been married for almost 8 years and have a girl, a boy, and a surprise baby on the way! We are currently living in Apollo Beach, Florida where he built us a house.


Unbeliever, Kids and Halloween

Originally posted: October 30, 2014, But remains Powerfully Relevant for HALLOWEEN.

Greetings, Halloween 2014

I have some thoughts about Halloween.

Halloween was always one of the highlights of my year as a child. I mean really. Come on. Free candy…. It’s a day to pretend you are someone else, costumes, parties, bobbing for apples, being scared (but not really). I know that there is disagreement about how believers should handle this day. I’m not going to judge. You need to follow the Holy Spirit as He directs your heart for your family. 

But today I want to share a prayer God has placed heavily on my spirit and with power. Because after the kids are home sorting their candy, after the paint is washed from their faces and the jack-o-lanterns have long burned out, there is a reality. 

There is a very real enemy of God and His people. And on this night in particular as the midnight hour approaches, there is a furor of activity in the demonic realm. Witchcraft peaks and the purposes of evil are spoken over towns, cities, entire regions. 

But…… 

We are the SUMITE NATION. We are the light of God shining brightly into our realm of the Kingdom. Our light is so powerful and anointed that the curses spoken in the darkness cannot land in our home or community. I absolutely believe that because we are all strategically placed around the globe in different cities, we are those who will break the intended purposes of evil with the glory of our powerful Jesus that shines from our spirit. 

Enjoy the antics, face painting and the mounds of candy, Snickers is my personal favorite. Grace your husband with the freedom to take the kids out for trick-o-treat. But also, let’s stand together, as a united SUMite Nation of believers. We are the light that has been strategically placed into our communities around the globe. Let’s pray together and let’s pray with power. Hugs, Lynn 

Holy and all-powerful Lord, Jesus who holds the keys, and Holy Spirit who directs my words, I know that there is a very real enemy of your people and Kingdom. Lord, I also know that you are our Victorious King who sends your mighty angel armies at our request to stand for our homes and communities. 

Lord, Jesus, we are now standing with a powerful light that extends up from our spirit into the spiritual realm. We are speaking/praying against evil, witchcraft, and occult intentions that are spoken to destroy our peaceful and love-filled homes. We declare this work of evil is powerless and falls to the ground. Lord, we stand as your Royal Priests and decree that our faith and love is more powerful than all the devices of the evil one. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Curses spoken in the darkness are immobilized. They are cast back against those who speak them. Lord, release your Holy spirit with great power as we pray and shelter our valley, our city, our nation from the intentions of this night. 

And following this nigh, we will rise up into a season of joyous Thanksgiving. We will be the ordinary fathers, wives, husbands, mothers, who have a love that the enemy CAN NOT DEFEAT. You reign. You are glorified. You are Holy and darkness cannot stand in Your marvelous light. 

In the powerful name above all names, Jesus. Amen

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Have a safe week and make this fun for your kids and not scary. Hugs, Lynn


Fill Your Kitchen With Love

IMG_1236Now for something completely different.

You know, I have discovered a secret to a happy marriage. Well at least it applies to the Donovan Clan.

Feed the man.

I’ve learned to cook. I didn’t know much more than spaghetti when we married. But I find cooking is one of the creative expressions I enjoy, a gift from God. So today, I’m delighting in the beauty and abundance of Autumn. I want to share what’s going on in the kitchen.

From my Pomegranate tree out back:

  Pom 2018

IMG_1238

IMG_1239

Roasted Veggies with pomegranate: A Pioneer Woman Recipe Served with Salmon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze.

Roasted Fall Veggies
I forgot the poms in this pic... Oopie. Grin. But it turned out great!

Yum and eee.  I was pulling the seeds out of the shell, when all of a sudden a spider was crawling across the cutting board. Eeeeek! 

Love you SUMite Nation! Hugs, Lynn

Fill your home with the smells of home cooking. Find your creative side in the kitchen. Enjoy some of these simple but wonderful treasures of living the abundant life.


An Open Marriage

Genesis 2 24 Man and WifeA couple of days ago an interesting article popped up in one of my online feeds.

“Couple Takes A Year Off From Marriage”

Ya, I had to do it.

So, I popped over for a read. After 17 years of marriage, the article begins…. Basically, this woman is board. She asks her husband to agree to a year-long open marriage. He agrees and they establish a few hard and fast rules. M-F they live separate lives, her in an apartment. They reunite for the weekend. They practice safe sex and don’t date mutual friends and finally, no  serious relationships. BTW, they both broke all the rules.

A year later she returns home. Of course, the marriage is OVER. He dated a friend and was in a serious relationship. And his wife, well she was more confused about everything than before.

So, I decided to ask Mike’s opinion about all of this because his views often differ from my own.  

Lynn: Mike, what do you think about this woman’s experiment (I just explained)? I mean, when you were in college you could have chosen never to marry. You could have chosen an open arrangement before you and I met.

Mike: I love having a companion. I like to live life with you. (Awe) I like sharing my hopes, disappointments and having a companion that knows me and loves me. (Dang, I feel all melty in my heart. Grin)

Lynn: So, What do you think about this woman and her experiment?

Mike: She’s completely selfish. I wouldn’t give her the time of day.

(Wow, now remember this is a very liberal man who doesn’t live with a Christian world view.) Interesting!

Mike: I married for many reasons. Companionship, security and to raise children. I believe children raised with two committed parents is the best for them to thrive. You know I believe this so much that I have had conversations with family members about it.

Lynn: Ya, I do remember. Neat.

Mike: This woman will grow older and after her looks are gone she will be a bitter, lonely, cat woman. (Okay, I threw in the cat part, grin) She only wanted an open marriage for the financial security, not the love of the man. She wanted a “just-in-case” scenario if she failed, got sick, lost her job.

Lynn: I love you Mike Donovan

So, gang thoughts?

And on Friday, I will share what is going on in the spiritual realm in open marriages. I pray a lot of deliverance for believers who were swingers before Christ. Stay tuned. See you in the comments. Let’s ROCK this world with TRUTH.

TRUTH = JESUS CHRIST!


Marriage Thoughts

Ya, so, I've struggled for a couple of hours tying to decide what to write about.....  (BIG sigh)

My writer is broken today. So, below is the video from Ask Me Anything from Wednesday's Facebook Live. The Questions: 

  • How do you handle husband's objection to church
  • Maintaining Hope
  • What seeps from the Television 

Put in your earphones and listen while cleaning or cooking dinner. :)  

 

My friends, when I was a young wife and mother, Dr. Dobson's daily radio programs were life-blood to my sanity and hope. I love Dr. Dobson and pray for him continually. Below are some links to great articles on marriage. I love you all. 

Women Have Needs That Men Do Not Comprehend

Men and Women Have Different Needs

The Ways Men Need Their Wives

Stay tuned for details about our SUMMIT!! And if you have decided that you can't attend, don't listen to that voice from the pit of hell. Tell our Papa God about your need and let Him astonish you in His provision. 

In His Grace, Lynn