82 posts categorized "Parenting"

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


The Attack Of The Grumble Bugs

Hello SUM family, Tiffany here! Family Photo Collage

Happiest of Thanksgivings from the Carter Crew!

The holidays are just around the corner. One of my favorites of the whole year is Thanksgiving Day. I love coming together with friends and family while sharing a meal and memories. I am bringing out my Tablecloth of Thanks after it being in hiding for 3 years. (You can read Lynn's post about this tradition here). I can't wait to see what everyone writes this year!

Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord and what He has done for us. As much as I love this holiday, I must admit, this is something I struggle to implement in my daily life.

At the ages of 5 and 6, my children are soaking in behaviors like a sponge. They are looking for cues from mom and dad every day. How we act and react make a lasting impression on them. They model our behavior.

Lately, I have seen so much complaining from my children. It has been a rough time in the Carter household for me. Hearing my children complain more than give thanks has become a "pet peeve" of mine. I am really struggling to show my children kindness and compassion. Lord help me!

As I really seek the Lord in how I can model Jesus to my family, I am able to see more clearly - I have set an attitude of ungratefulness in my home. ::GULP::

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:14-15)

It is natural for us to see the negative. Oh how easy it is to grumble and complain! How beautiful it is when conversing with someone who emanates gratitude. I love the genuine smile on their faces. Paul is right when he says, "you will shine among them like stars," they just seem to glow. They are people you want to be around. It truly is contagious. 

So, how do we get rid of the grumble bugs in our home?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

We must remember that we do not wrestle with flesh or blood (Ephesians 6). Our weapons of warfare are praise and thanksgiving. If the enemy can distract us with the grumble bugs than he can get a foothold in our lives and homes. I picture it like trying to get rid of fleas. It is not impossible but a LOT of work goes into eliminating them completely.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17)

Let's talk in the comments. What are some ways you've gotten rid of the grumble bugs? I'm sure I'm not the only one who would really love some input, especially how you taught or modeled the attitude of gratitude to your children.


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


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.


Men Stuff ... Part 2

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mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ian here again. Firstly, thank you for your engagement in the first of this occasional series of posts. I loved seeing the discussion and responding to the comments that were made.

I hadn’t planned on writing another such post so soon but the universe conspired (ie the power of 3 made me sit up and take notice) to bring some thoughts to bear that I thought might serve as a useful discussion. Firstly, I was chatting with a couple of wise men last week and we were particularly discussing how men communicate. Secondly, we’re all aware of the #metoo dialogue that has had significant airplay over the past few months. I recently read a fascinating article written by a bloke who explored how this predatory side of men had evolved and finally, one of my favourite authors, Tim Winton (an Aussie National Treasure) released his latest novel that explores the “toxic state of masculinity”.

I’m going to try to stick to the topic of communication but there are so many contributing factors that play a part in impacting how we communicate (both men and women) that I may touch on some of them.

Who Made Us

I’ve always found it fascinating that we often generalize between genders by saying women are more naturally better communicators. And in my experience I’d say that is a reasonable truism. But what is interesting is we all have been made in the image of a very relational Triune God. It’s inherent in His nature. And we’ve been made in His image: a God who passionately loves to communicate with His creation. So why do so many men, well perhaps, more significantly women, struggle with how we blokes communicate?

Brevity

When I was in my twenties and married, my common response to the question “How was your day, dear?” was typically single worded: “Okay,” “Fine” or “Good.”

I’d head off to change and after doing that would be back and was now home and it was time to talk about something else. Sound familiar?

It frustrated my wife no end.

I was reminded of this when one of those wise men expressed the view that often men appear a little “numb” when it comes to expressing how they feel. And this drives our ladies crazy, as you want to get inside and understand the how and what your man thinks and feels.

Think with our Heads

Because of the way we’ve generally been raised we weren’t taught to share how we felt. Put aside all the bloke-ish ‘man up’, ‘boys don’t cry’ talk, we typically talked about what we saw, what we did, what we learnt, etc. Yes, we would often be asked “what we enjoyed” but once again we described it in terms of what we accomplished and such. So we may not have got to really discuss why we might be feeling happy or sad and what was behind those feelings.

Often our fathers had been raised through the same style of communicating. There has been a lack of good role modeling and mentoring for boys and young men, probably for generations, which has perpetrated the shaming language of boys don’t cry, don’t show fear and so on. So notions of gentleness, compassion and kindness (yes, yes, the fruits of the Spirit) have been labeled as soft traits that a strong man shouldn’t show.

This Winton novel I’m reading “The Shepherd’s Hut” provides a severe example of what happens to a young boy who is treated badly by an abusive father. He struggles to express himself well and as an escape has moments where he explodes because he isn’t sure how he should respond, doesn’t know what the right words are for how he is feeling and life for him is reflected by violence and ignorance.

Men mostly learnt to think with our heads. And emotions were something we experienced but would often struggle to understand why we were feeling a particular emotion at any point in time. It wasn’t important to us when we related with mates or work colleagues.

But it did become important when we started to get serious about a girl. However, we still would often lack the know how of how to express our feelings.

We get married and life goes on.

Interesting, I believe this cycle is changing as we see more and more younger men grappling with emotions a lot more these days for a variety of reasons, eg, more attentive fathers, family breakups. 

Remember the mission

Our work or purpose dominates us and even though we might be starving for deeper connection we simply keep on keeping on. With life. With our purpose. And admitting that we might need that deeper connection can be terrifying too. But we still relegate relationships behind our mission.

As discussed last time often it’s when something goes awry with our purpose/job that all of a sudden we begin to sense those pesky emotions.

What’s the Answer?

Interestedly, a post a couple of months ago now by Lynn’s hubby, Mike, provided tremendous insights. This statement particularly grabbed me: “Also, be intentional to understand who he is and what is important to him.” Listening, more than talking. (you've probably all heard the old “we’ve been given 2 ears and 1 mouth and that should reflect how we communicate”)

Something I’ve found is invaluable to a good marriage (and I’ve learnt from hard experience) is for both husband and wife to be actively interested in each other’s vocation. If it is the enemy then there will always be tension. Get engaged in talking about the people your bloke works with, some of the decisions he has to make and how he arrived at it. Allowing each other to de-brief at the end of a day is both soothing and practically helpful. My wife is working overseas at present but we make sure we talk on FaceTime twice a day to allow each of us to de-brief each other’s days. 

And pray. Pray some more. For great Christian men to come into your man’s life. We all need a Paul and a Timothy, a great mentor and someone we can take under our wing.

What about My Sons?

Allow them to hurt, to cry, to enjoy hugs from both mom and dad. Don’t shame them for expressing emotions. I heard Tim Winton speak two weeks ago and he said this beautiful thing about boys: they’re all born gentle and tender but somewhere along the way they lose that. Why?

One of the strongest impressions I have of Jesus is His gentleness. With Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery, washing His disciples feet, allowing John to lounge on Him at the Last Supper. Jesus, is our Saviour and Lord but also our role model. He asks us everyday to “Come, follow Me.”

Sorry. I’ve gone on for too long even though there's so much more that could be said.

I do hope this has been of some use. I’m always a bit nervous about writing such posts as I can only share from my experience. And as always please do share what’s on your heart in the comments. 

Grace and peace, dear friends.


Raising Up Generations

Generation (1)

Being the mother of a toddler and kindergartner can certainly keep me on my toes. I am so thankful for the grace of Jesus; He is so merciful - Knowing that I don’t always have to have it all together, that I can be perfectly imperfect in my efforts to be the best mom I can be. As many of the SUMites here have experienced; raising children in a spiritually mismatched household can throw in a set of challenges that other Christian families may not face.

By the time my daughter was born almost 6 years ago, it was evident that my husband was agnostic. I was so thankful that he gave me his blessing to raise our daughter (and now our 22-month-old son) as a Christian. He has gone as far as standing with me as our children were dedicated to the Lord at our church and participating in prayer time. While he supports me as I guide our children to follow Jesus, he has reiterated time and time again that he will not play an active role in shaping our children spiritually.

As a new wife and mother, I held onto hope that my husband would ‘come to his senses’, so to speak, and take on this leadership role. I placed unrealistic expectations upon him, when he had made it abundantly clear from the beginning that he would not be fulfilling the role of spiritual leader in our home. As you can imagine, and likely have experienced, this unfulfilled longing can leave one feeling unimportant and cast aside. My actions and words relayed to him that he was not measuring up as a husband and father, when what he needs to hear is that he is loved beyond measure just the way he is. It was only after pressing deeply into my relationship with the Lord to fill my every need that I could see this clearly.

My job as a mother is to love unconditionally and model to my children a loving relationship between husband and wife. If I am not allowing the Lord to set the precedence for my each and every day, to build me up and become the foundation for my life, then I am unable to be this example for my precious little ones. God is the ultimate father and spiritual leader. Who should I turn to with this longing than the source Himself? I came to a point in my walk where I was ready to allow God to work within me so that I could begin to be this Godly example, regardless of where my husband happens to be in his own journey.

The more I have delved into my walk with Christ, the more I have realized an amazing truth; the modeling of a God-fearing spirit to our children is important for generations to come. We can become hyper-focused on life’s current circumstances and our immediate surroundings, very much self-absorbed instead of God-absorbed. Let’s try to readjust our perspective to see that we are on a God-appointed mission to change the trajectory of entire familial lines. The Lord has sent you to be an influence in the lives of a line of people that had no prior recognition of Jesus Christ. This is a huge deal! The gift of eternity! Allow God to work on the heart of your spouse while you ‘train up your children in the way they should go’ (Proverbs 22:6)!

The following are a few verses that speak of the blessings that we pass to future generations when we are obedient to the Lord and his teachings:

Genesis 22: 17-18

I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.

Psalm 112: 1-3
Praise the 
Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.

Luke 1:49-50

For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.

I will continue steadfastly in this walk with my children, my husband at my side, with a hope in my heart that we, along with ALL our future descendants, will spend eternity together worshiping the King of Kings. It is my prayer that each SUMite comes to a place in his or her journey where fulfillment is found solely in Christ Jesus, not in another human being. If we continue to chase a mere man (or woman) to fill the role of our Messiah, then we will always be left feeling empty. Let us release all our need to control to our Father (Proverbs 19:21)! Allow God to bless you today, that you may lead your little ones to follow Him, and to sense a supernatural peace in your heart as you continue onward.

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)

 


My Fearless Child in a Mismatched Marriage

Patty Tower and Family 2017SUMite, Patty Tower:

Thank the Lord. Although my husband and I are not on the same page spiritually, we see eye to eye when it comes to parenting.

Whether with a Christian background or not, one of the things we agree on in life is…fear limits us and inhibits us. Maybe you don’t agree on other things with your spouse while you parent, but perhaps you can agree that fear or producing fear is a bad thing.

My husband’s latest obsession has been mountain biking on the outskirts of where we live in Seattle. To gain more quality family time, we found a way for my 2.5-year-old son to be included in this newfound recreational activity.

The place where we go has a dirt pump track park, where kids and adults, anywhere from three years and older use it as a practicing playground on their bikes before they head into the woodsy area of the mountain. I do not sense a feeling of insecurity or hesitancy from my son at this park, where I find him hanging out with the big kids.

Of course, it’s not without falling the first several attempts of him riding up and down this track. And like anyone, he did not like to fall. Watching my son go, and almost as the Holy Spirit led me, immediately I clap and cheer, hearing myself say “Good Fall Levi! Great fall! You fell so well!”

I am chuckling as I write this, because even my husband thought I was weird.  

My husband looks over at me and asks, “Why would you praise him for falling? It’s like you’re telling him it’s ok to fall.”

“Because it is. I don’t want him to be afraid of falling. He makes mistakes and can learn and become better, right?”

And like that, my husband nods and totally gets me.

Someone once told me “The great thing about failure is that we create neuropathways when we fail. The more we fail, the more we force the neuropathway to grow. At a certain point the pathway is created and then practice of that same task creates a coating (myelin) that helps the pathway remain strong. I think it's great that God created the brain to create and expand through failure, not through success.”

Isn’t that awesome? Our God, our creator, created us to be strong through failure.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)


Sumite Parenting

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This weekend marked the passage of another year in my parenting journey and the turning of yet another page. My oldest child turned 14 and suddenly I realized that my sweet little goober has become more like a man and less like a boy. I say this with a twinge of sadness but also with a rush of excitement for what our future holds. Then I realize this is the perfect time to reflect and share the single most important thing that I've ever done for him and my daughter.

As a child there was no religion in my home, however, I was blessed with one set of extremely faithful grandparents. They radiated the love and kindness of Christ in every corner of their lives. Fast forward many years, I met my future husband at the age of nineteen, married by twenty one and had my son by twenty two. When he was born, I was still a child in so many ways but I knew one thing. I wanted to raise him in the home that was modeled by my grandparents and the first step toward that goal was finding a church. I asked my husband for permission to raise him in the church and he allowed it but promised never to join us. That was the beginning of my journey as a parent in an unequally yoked marriage. During those early years, I learned that simply going to church wasn't enough. I needed to learn what it meant to be made a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). In that moment I made the best parenting decision of my life, I dedicated all that I knew of myself to all that I knew of Christ. I know that sounds lofty but let me share the practicalities of that choice.

I began by asking God to provide us with a church-home then I committed to regular attendance and involvement outside of the worship hour. I know that's a really hard one for us but I cannot overemphasize the importance of gathering with a body of believers. It will be hard and at times you will feel like an odd duck but do not let the enemy keep you in a place of isolation. That's his favorite weapon to use against this fellowship of Christ-followers. Ask God to knock down any walls that stand in your way, ask him to soften your spouse’s heart to the idea and know that you are supported by the prayers of this Sumite community. Persevere and make church attendance a priority for you and your children. (Hebrews 10:25)

Another small change that had a gigantic impact on my progression was the decision to listen to only Christian music. I’ve learned that the Lord clearly speaks through worship artists. The lyrics often confirm messages that I’ve heard from other sources and aide in the healing of some of my deepest wounds. My pastor once said that the root of the word music is “muse” meaning to think or ponder. That is one purpose of worship music, to point our hearts and minds toward God and keep us focused on Jesus Christ.

Even more important than church attendance or choice of music is your own inner relationship with the life giving King, Jesus Christ. Perhaps begin by setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would. Wake up before your family and settle down with your Bible and a journal. Begin each morning with Him and allow the power of the Spirit to fill your soul. It’s also helpful to seek out a few online devotionals and begin to fill your email inbox with his word. Saturate your heart with the living words of God and he will never abandon you. John 15:4

I hope you see the point to all of this, we are called to make Christ the focus and center of our minds. I know it seems counter-intuitive for us as Sumite parents. The enemy wants us to believe that it's impossible, that we are too different, that our marriages are too hard, that we can't possibly be strong enough to raise authentic followers of Jesus Christ. I'm telling you now that the enemy is a liar and we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:31-39) If you stand up today and tell God that you want to devote your entire being to him then HIS Spirit will begin the work in your heart, taking you from lesson to lesson, transforming you into the image of Christ. In time, your husband and family will be transformed by the power of Spirit and no force on earth can stop that progression. This sold out dedication to Jesus Christ has been the most important aspect of my journey as a parent. I am a flawed and broken sinner just like every other human, so I cannot do this without the indwelling of the Spirit of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I think that God is raising a generation of believers who contain a faith, passion and obedience like no other generation. He has chosen our generation of fathers and mothers to parent these children. We are called to focus on Jesus Christ and model the same faith that Lois and Eunice modeled for Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:5) Will you choose to focus on Jesus Christ then allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you as your faith impacts the next generation?

Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home (book)


Fall, Lattes, and Back To School

SUMites,

Raising Godly KidsI love this time of year…. I enjoyed my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Starbucks yesterday. Can I just say, Yum and eee. I love the colors the leaves, and it’s Back To School. Back to church and just an all-around fun time as we move through the holidays in the weeks ahead.

Every year at this time, I think about parenting. I was on the phone today to my now grown daughter, Caitie, who moved to Indiana last month. She is now teaching at Purdue as well as doing her Master’s work. We talked for more than an hour. It was sweet and interesting, fun and a bit melancholy. I loved the years we had together when she was small, working on homework, decorating the house with pumpkins, and slowly but relentlessly training her up in faith.

I wasn’t a perfect parent, by far. But I love my kids and I was determined to raise them to know Jesus even in a home where their father didn’t believe.

So, thinking about this, I have a life-time of knowledge of how to help you also parent your children to faith. Dineen and I wrote about our experiences and victories, wisdom and prayers in our parenting book. That book was recently re-released with a new title, Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home – teaching Your Children to Love God Without Limits!

If you want time-tested and real wisdom on how to raise your kids in faith in our unique marriages, get your hands on this book. Dineen added a powerful chapter for parenting your adult kids as well. So many of our fears are address such as:

  • Am I enough to hold the family together? To teach my kids what they need to know about God’s love? To actually sanctify this house? (1 Cor. 7:14)
  • Am I enough to teach them the truth of Jesus Christ and lead them to salvation? Am I enough to be a godly mom and wife, a good role model, and help support them emotionally and spiritually?
  • Am I enough to be a Mom and wife too? How do I balance both?
  • Am I enough for my kids, husband and everyone else depending on me?
  • Am I enough to point the way to True North for my children, and never let my flag waver no matter how fierce the storm of the world may blow—even when the storm may be my own husband?
  • Am I enough to overcome my junk so I don’t pass it on to my kids?
  • Am I enough to overcome my own fears so my kids don’t experience them firsthand?

Take time to read this book. If you purchase it through the SUM store, all the proceeds go to our ministry. You can listen to it on audio book in the car on the way to work also. Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home

You are enough my friend but we need each other and we need wisdom. As an older mom now, I can be the voice to tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS. IT IS POSSIBLE. And you can do it well.

Have a great weekend. Hug your kids. Take them for ice cream. Swing with them at the park and tell them about Jesus every “catchable moment” that you are given. Hugs, Lynn

One other fun fact. I had the new book sitting on my desk. I picked it up to read Dineen’s new chapter. As I raised the book up, I noticed tiny flecks of gold dust all over the cover. Wild! Where did that come from? IT’S A BLAST LIVING THE BELIEVER’S LIFE!

 


Consuming Fears About our Children

2 timothy 1 7On Friday I shared some truths about stepping out of this curse of the fear of man. Growing in our faith was the first truth I shared and leads to victorious living. Our faith growth, learning and living out of God’s Truths is what I stand upon every day. I’ve become a ROCK, a house built upon stone and not sand (Matt 7:24). Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, I spend quality time with God. There is no agenda, like completing a Bible study assignment. It’s just me, my Bible, a journal and my Lord. Ahhhhhhh, bliss!

I will never stop preaching about the absolute need to spend time alone with the Lord. It is out of my intimacy with the Trinity that I can walk in victory, laughter, adventure, joy and hope…. Every… single…. Day. Hallelujah!

With that said, I promised last week to share a little about fear we hold as parents. When I speak or pray for moms who are parenting small children, I hear this over and over again., “I’m so scared something is going to happen to them. I’m afraid they will get hurt or that I’m not doing a good job raising them. I’m terrified they will die.”

Oh how my heart breaks to see their faces distorted by this kind of fear.

This is what I say to them.

Do you believe that God loves your children more than you do?

Of course they do, however if we are being honest, they also doubt.

I can promise you that God has amazing plans for your children. Each of them. He delights when they wake up every morning and it’s God who stands with them when they are playing on the playground or in their room or at preschool. I want you to pray with me this prayer:

Jesus, today I truly place each of my kids in your hands. I ask you to surround them with warrior angels that will travel with them all of their lives to protect them and also to guide them. Jesus, today I release this fear I’ve held in my heart that something terrible will happen to them. I say I will trust you and I ask you to give me wisdom and discernment when I do need to step in to protect but that I would also know through Your Holy Spirit when I can let loose and allow them to explore, create, take risks and discover this amazing world and life You have given them.

They are your children and I will pray protection over them every day, by name. And then I will trust you to walk with them and give them the abundant life. In Your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN

You may ask me, “Lynn, what if something does happen to them?”

My friends, we can always find a million reasons to fear. But why pick up anxiety, nurse it and nurture it when we don’t need to. If a day comes and my children suffer, you can bet this praying mama will ring the ears off my Papa God in intercession for them. Listen to what Jesus says about this:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. —Matthew 6:34

My friends, some of the worst things we will ever have to deal with are the fears about things that actually never happen. Don’t waste your time in fear. Today, pray and commit your children into the care of Christ. Then laugh with them, take them for ice cream, go outside and make mud pies or play in the sand or just be silly. Take them on adventures that they will never forget.

That’s the kind of life I live every day with my Father. Every day is a wild adventure with the King!

Have a blast. Love you, Lynn


Tablecloth Of Thanks 2015

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 book, Not Alone.

Enjoy.....Lynn

I'ts Never Too Late!

It’s never too late to start a new tradition in your home, especially one which brings honor to the Lord. 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.

I will share with you that 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 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 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)
  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)

Also, if you have started a tablecloth already in your home, PLEASE, take a photo and share it in the comments. I would love to see them. Hugs, Lynn

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Not Alone - The BEST Parenting un-Advice

SUMites, have you ever wondered why I am in ministry?

I'm convinced if I'd been stronger in my faith-walk as a young person, I wouldn't have slipped down the slimy slope into my prodigal years. When I finally emerged from those dark years, by the Sovereign hand of God, I became dedicated to a singular passion.

Equip the Saints!

I'm driven to help people to NOT live in, or as long, in satan's camp as I did. This passion and God's purposes have come alive in many aspects of my faith throughout the years. I served for years in a local church Bible study. The SUM ministry was born out of my heart to equip believers who are married to unbelieving spouses. 

The books on marriage and parenting were birthed because of the Lord's grace and the heart He placed into me to equip His people to not just survive but to THRIVE! It is our Papa God's will that we live well on earth and further the Kingdom of Christ.

Train up a ChildAs we close our Back To School series, I leave you with chapter 10 of Not Alone. This chapter is about passing to our children a legacy of faith. I hope you read this chapter because I focus on a legacy of faith recorded in the Bible about a man who was raised in an unequally yoked home. His name was Timothy. Once again I'm overwhelmed by God's compassion and love because this story about Timothy, his mother and grandmother appears in His Holy Word. The Lord is encouraging all of us who are living with pre-believers to have faith, courage and assurance that we can raise World changers within a spiritually mismatched home.

Do you know what Timothy's mother's name is when translated from Greek to English? VICTORIOUS! 

We are victorious and we are standing in faith the same as Timothy's mother and grandmother. All of heaven is watching. They are cheering us on as we lead our children in daily life with Jesus. 

Do not fear. Do not be discouraged. Stand strong and do not waiver for GREAT is your reward. Your love, prayers and example will win them all, even without words!

As I finished up the book, Not Alone,  the Lord down loaded a letter to my heart. It is a letter from Him to every mother. You can read it here. Take time to read this because it's worth it. "My Chosen Mother" at our Mismatched & Thriving website.

Finally, thank you moms and dads. Thank you for your courage and your faith. I know deeply in my soul that your years of parenting will be remembered and hailed in the heavenlies for all eternity. I can't wait to one day, witness all that you have done to raise your little ones to faith.

I love you. I bless you and I call you amazing. Beloved of God. Lynn 

 And now mom and dad, this is for you!


This Challenging Culture

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMite family! Lynn and I decided we should wrap our study up this week, because we have other things we want to move onto next week. Thus we will conclude our Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture on Friday with Lynn’s post about Legacy Kids. I’m sure it will be amazing too! 

My last chapter, “Challenging Kids,” that I wrote for Not Alone is one of my favorites. I share more of the story of my daughter’s recovery from cancer and two other stories from SUM moms who dealt with challenging questions and situations. I’ve been praying over what to bring out of this chapter and relate it to equipping our children and the Holy Spirit light bulb went on.

Moms and Dads, here’s where your children’s questions may become part of the challenges in your mismatched home. Your sons and daughters most likely will come home with questions about the new things they’re learning that will open up some controversy for you right in your own home if you and your spouse don’t agree on these issues. 

How do we navigate this? How do we keep biblical values in place when the school is teaching the opposite and your spouse agrees with it? How do we continue to stand in faith in our challenging culture.

My friends, we keep doing what we have been doing—trusting God. Yes, the challenges and “playing fields” may seem a little bigger, a little broader, a little more intimidating at times, but none of this is beyond God’s ability or reach. In fact, I believe He is standing ready to move with us, but He wants us to move in agreement and alignment with what He sees even when we can’t see it. 

The perfect example of this came as I’ve been reading the book of Joshua this week for very specific reasons, and one of them I believe was intended for this post, for this exact moment in our time and place as a unique community of faith in today’s culture. 

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” — Joshua 6:1-7

Scripture paints a clear picture for us here that Jericho was a fortified city—the first walled city the Israelites had encountered. And we’re talking about some heavy duty walls here too. This is what Joshua saw, but I believe that when God told Joshua to see, He was opening the man’s eyes to perceive God’s perspective, that the city was already conquered by His hand. It was done and finished.

My friends, let’s not look at the world today and see what the world sees. Let’s look at our schools, our workplaces, the places we shop, and every person we encounter with the eyes of God. Because just as the Israelites carried the ark of the covenant with them, which was the presence of God, we carry His presence with us every where we go. 

Let’s carry Him into this world and bring His presence with us every where. Let’s march our prayers around these places and bring God into the picture. Sometimes God will even call us to literally do this and sometimes it won’t make much sense. He told me years ago to march in prayer around my husband, more recently to march in prayer around a nearby park in San Jose for nearly two years, and now He has me doing this at another park where I live now. I can’t tell you why, but I know He’s laying down the groundwork and foundation for whatever is next. He wants to bring down the walls of hopelessness, unbelief, despair, pain, sickness, depression, oppression and even opposition.

SUMites, Scripture tells us over and over to pray for wisdom and knowledge. We can ask God to prepare this way for us and give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak. Trust Him to be there with you when your child comes home with questions that call you to stand in faith and give the reason why you believe what you believe. And if that could potentially create conflict with your pre-believer, ask the Holy Spirit to intervene now, to soften hearts, to give you wisdom and peace about how to navigate it. You both have equal place in your child’s life to teach and influence them. Trust God to make His truth stand out more than what our contrary culture is saying.

Nothing this world reveals surprises God and none of it is beyond His power to change. We are His hands and feet to bring His truth and healing to a hurting and damaged world. And we are empowered and equipped with His presence, His power, His grace and His mercy. Nothing is impossible WITH Him. Let’s live it like we believe it, SUMites. With Him, we CAN!

Question: SUMites, what is your greatest concern for your children right now? 

Prayer: Lord, fill every SUMite with more wisdom and knowledge of You. Inspire them with words, creativity and strategies of how to pray and navigate these upcoming challenges WITHOUT ANY fear or anxiety. I pray that they would rise up every morning, convinced and strengthened by the truth of Jesus Christ, that He is with us and will not fail us. I pray that You would fill their minds and hearts with a vision of what You are doing around them and are calling them to partner with You to accomplish. Lord, I pray that Your peace would fill every SUMite home and an impenetrable wall of Your angle armies would surround and protect them. Lord, all things are possible with You! Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak wherever we go. In the name of Jesus, amen!

I believe in you, SUMites!
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Power Prayer For Your Child That Moves Heaven

Sumites:

Junior move in BIOLA Apts 2
Roommate and Caitie

Saturday my husband and I drove my daughter to college. She is a Junior this fall at BIOLA and has moved into an apartment off campus with her roommate. It’s the next step in her life toward independence and adulthood.

Wow.

It’s a profound truth, as things change, they stay the same. Although this is a season of great change in my daughter's life, I’m compelled to pray similar prayers to those that I prayed during the years she lived at home.

As I prepared to leave her in her new home, I embraced her on Saturday and pulled her head to my shoulder. I prayed protection over her. I blessed her in Jesus name and prayed for her mind, her heart and her spirit. I also blessed her roommate. They probably think I’m just a bit wacky as I also walked about the apartment and prayed the blood of Jesus over it and for angels to come and stand in watch. I don’t know if they saw me doing this but this mama leaves nothing to chance. *grin*

As I think of chapter eight, Triumphant Kids, in Not Alone, I’m moved mostly by the prayer in the middle of the chapter. It was a prayer I prayed fiercely as my daughter dealt with a bully in high school. I’ve adapted it to my daughter’s current season. So, today moms and dads, please pray this over your children and let this school year be the best ever for your sons and daughters:

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 college and in her apartment. 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 to my daughter and remove thoughts of insecurity or fear from her heart, mind and soul. Powerful Lord, my Father, Abba, now I hold up my daughter, Caitie, and in place of the lies, I ask You to affirm her.

Place Your truth in her. Let others say things about her and to her that are truthful and uplifting. When others hear her name, change their thoughts toward her to be good and not evil. When her name is spoken, prompt her friends and professors to affirm her and to build up her character. Lord, speak through her friends to break the lies and to pour Your truth into my girl. 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.

I will join you in prayer for your children. Leave their names and we will stand unified under the Banner of Love for their identity and life in Christ.

I love you moms and dads. You are amazing and you are parenting better than you believe. God is standing right next to you. Now let’s help our children SOAR!!! Have a great week. I’ll see you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn  

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

PS. Winning Him Without Words is also on sale for $2.99 (e-book) this week and Not Alone remains $1.99

Find me today at lynndonovan.org as I share the Power of Ephesians and my personal testimony.  Leave your kids names before you leave. Hugs.

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For Every Mom Who Is Praying For A Prodigal

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comAMAZING stories were shared on Monday! SUMites, it is a privilege to be among you. Your love for Jesus and your family coupled with your wisdom, is truly a gift to me, Dineen and our entire family here on the web. 

Today I want to wrap up chapter four. I remain very passionate about the subject of raising our kids to faith and share many successful ideas in this chapter. If you listened in to any of the radio interviews I did this week, you heard me share some of them.

But today, my heart bleeds for all the mamas who are crying for their lost children. Those who have turned away from God. The adult children that cause our hearts to sting and our eyes to leak.

So this post is for those of you who are praying for prodigal adults. An excerpt from Not Alone, the Appendix 1: Rebellion and the Prodigal Adult:

Dry Bones

I shared in my story at the beginning of this book that I was a good kid. But I later spent a string of years as a prodigal, far from the God I had been taught to know. So I can tell you that even good kids choose to turn away from their faith. But I’m convinced that my return to God was brought about for two reasons.

One, the Lord of the universe, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit relentlessly pursued me with a powerful, redemptive love.

Two, my mother prayed and never gave up hope. She was my soft landing spot, even when I had screwed up my life and the lives of others. She always listened to me. She loved me even when I refused to follow her gentle words of wisdom. She was always an example to me of living faith and joy. In the darkest points of my prodigal wanderings, my mother always, always loved me. She affirmed me in a way that bridged the gap between her pain and my arrogance.

I called my mother to ask her for the first time what she had prayed during the years of my Nebuchadnezzar insanity (see Dan. 4). Before she told me, she reminded me that she had tried to help me see that I would regret the decisions I was making. She also acknowledged that she had felt hopeless as I politely listened to her but ignored her advice.

Ouch!

However, she added that she had never felt as if God had abandoned me or that He had ignored her pleas on my behalf. Mom told me, “I prayed with fervor for your protection from evil people and from evil spirits. I begged God to help you make some intelligent decisions, and mostly I prayed, ‘Lord, don’t let go of her.’ ”

My friend, God will bring to bear His great power and love in the lives of those for whom we pray. He is a God of redemption—He wants to redeem our lost kids and also our unbelieving spouses. We are called to trust with unwavering faith that God will save our lost loved ones.

Believe God with such conviction that you become completely certain there is no other alternative except for God to fulfill His promises. Our God moves heaven and earth to meet expectations and prayers such as these. Then watch and wait for the miracles. God gives life to dry bones:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’ ” (Ezek. 37:9-14, NLT, emphasis added).

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We need only BELIEVE & PRAY!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You are Not Alone in the Dark

Arlene PellicaneGuest Post by Arlene Pellicane Giveaway: 
31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom 

I was attending Dave Ramsay’s Financial Peace University when a not-so-peaceful thing happened.  On my way out of the restroom, I read a sign posted, “If you’re not using the lights, please turn them off.”  I thought I was alone so I flipped the switch.  Before the door shut behind me, I heard a shrill, fear-filled scream from inside the bathroom.  It sounded like a young girl. 

I hurried back in and turned on the light.  “I’m so sorry,” I said to the apparently occupied stall.  “I didn’t know you were in here.”  I thought about that little girl’s scream for a while.  The feeling of her fear lingered with me.  

She was terrified by the darkness and the uncertainty of being in the bathroom in the blackness. 

Are there things about motherhood that scare you stiff?  Toddler tantrums, potty training, boyfriends, girlfriends, and paying for college come to mind.  There are a lot of things for a mom to be afraid of.  You can worry about the distant future or about what will happen in the next minutes.  You can agonize about school assignments, questionable friendships, and stranger danger.

We’re afraid of what might happen in the future.  Many scenarios we fear as mothers are not really motivated by any clear or present danger.  We manufacture them in our own minds, like the time I pictured my children being abducted when they took a short walk around the block. 

Fear can muddle your thinking, keep you from using your gifts, and cheat you out of peace.  God knows we all struggle with fear.  Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us more than three hundred times not to fear.  In fact, “Fear not” is the most frequently repeated command in the Bible.     

Happy Mom coverWe can fear the inevitable disappointments in family life.  Your son might not make the basketball team.  Your husband could be laid off.  Your daughter’s BFF may find another BFF.  My friend author Karol Ladd told me about her friend who has five children, four of which are boys.  When she recognized life wasn’t going to be perfect and go according to plan all the time, she started saying to herself, “Oh well.”  That became her little go-to phrase.  Instead of succumbing to fear or frustration, she came to terms with her daily reality.  She trained herself to be flexible and to respond with “Oh well” instead of “Oh no!” 

I love what Karol told me,

We’ve got to recognize that life isn’t perfect.  People aren’t perfect.  I think a healthy, happy mom has to take that picture of perfection off the wall and throw it away.  Yes, we want to strive for excellence and do things well, but life is not going to be about having every duck in a row.  We need to be okay with that.  Often we want things perfect because we want safety and control.  We can make our plans but the final results are up to God.  A happy mom is one who has her eyes on a perfect God.  She trusts Him and relaxes.

Take heart my friend.  Look up to your perfect God.  Then trust Him…and relax.  Everything is going to be okay.  You’re not in the alone in the dark.  He is with you!   

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GIVEAWAY INFO:  We are giving away a copy of Arlene’s new book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom. 

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman).  She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. 

Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children.  

To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com   


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

 

 

 

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Don't Over-Schedule Your Kids

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My friends, what are your thoughts about this study so far? Is it helping you? Are there areas you want to talk about that we haven’t addressed yet? Let us know if you have more specific issues that we can address through this study.

Today I want to talk about helping our kids choose between good and God's best. I noticed way back when we first moved to California (Silicon Valley) when my daughters were in elementary and middle school. My oldest daughter found her footing in her new school quickly and made friends easily, thank goodness. She’d had a rough time in this area while we were living in Switzerland. My youngest, who had an easy time doing this during our time there, found herself struggling in her new CA school. 

And part of the problem wasn’t even in her realm of control. It was the parents. Many of Leslie’s classmates went from school to homework as well as many other “scheduled activities” during the day, like music, language and even additional tutoring. These weren’t students who were struggling academically either. None had time to schedule a play date during the week and many weren’t allowed to do so on weekends either, because they had to keep to their work and studies. This was third grade and the pressure on these kids increased as they got older.

This phenomenon was a growing epidemic in Silicon Valley, which is very multi-cultural, and still continues as the norm. I believe it affects much of society today too as part of the “get ahead” mentality. Unfortunately, these kids are growing up knowing all work and no play. They have no concept of what it means to relax, play and rest. And they’re growing up to be adults who find it difficult to enjoy times of rest and challenging to enjoy life without constant activity. 

I’m not saying these activities are bad for our children. What I’m saying is, we need to leave some room for them to rest, to be in God’s creation, to be kids. And the younger they grasp this, the better they will be at finding balance in their lives as teenagers and adults. 

Just this week I listened to a speak say we’ve lost about ability to discern in the church. That nailed it on the head and it’s one of the enemy’s most successful tactics. If he can keep us too busy to listen to God, we lose our ability to discern too. When we forget how to relax and rest our mind, we have a hard time hearing God, making wise decisions and we even hamper our creativity. 

Our children need down time to understand and learn how to listen for God’s quiet voice. They need to know that God is responsive to those who seek Him with an open heart, and they need to hear and see examples of how God answers. Our children need time to be still and know God (Psalm 46:10).

In this day and age, our children seem required to do more in order to keep up with the world as they get older, but let’s not do that at the expense of their spirituality. More than anything they need in this world, they need to understand the value of eternity and kingdom living—that these are the better pursuit, which will ultimately provide in this life as well as the next.

As parents we are legacy builders. We want our children to launch into this world with a strong faith and a hunger for God that will continue to grow and impact those around them. I know a lot of this we have to discover as we go, but I’d love to see my daughters and grandchildren learn some of this a lot sooner than I did.

So how do we do this, you’re probably asking and wondering. First, Moms and Dads, you set the pattern. Are you doing this yourself? Do you have a time that you spend to just be quiet with God and pray? If you find your day is too packed, ask God to show you where to make room. Be willing to let go of something if necessary, but above all, trust God to show you time during your day to meet with Him. A wise woman once told me that if you “tithe” 10% of your time to Him, He’ll make sure you get the rest done in the 90% that’s left. 

She was right. Didn’t make sense at all at first, but over the years this has proven true time after time. God even told me once in detail how to change my schedule to make it work. He’ll do this for you too, my friends. And why wouldn’t He want to and do whatever necessary to help you make it work? He’s your Abba, Father, and loves spending time for you. He’ll move heaven and earth to do it too.

He’ll do this for your kids too. So as school starts and the list of activities begin to grow, as more and more opportunities present themselves, as your budding daughter and son seems to have a growing social life, help them see that even in the midst of a see of good things, we need to choose wisely so that we can enjoy fully what is God’s best for us instead of being spread so thin that we’re just tasting the tip of His goodness for us. 

Two great activities clearly shaped for our child’s unique gifting and design is WAY better than four okay activities that they do because they think they have to.

They’ll need your help to discern (there’s that word again) the difference, but if you’re setting the example of saying, let’s take a moment and pray into this and trust God to give us an answer by the morning—or the end of the day, week, etc.—you will be teaching your child to take time to pray, to seek wisdom and to discern God’s voice. 

And that is by far a greater gift you can give them than anything else they would attain in this world, my friends. Greater by far.

Question: Consider your child’s daily schedule (yours too, Moms and Dads). What seems to be the priority most days? Do adjustments need to be made? What do you think God is telling you about it?

Prayer: Lord, give me courage and guidance to follow Your leading as I pray for wisdom, words and strength to teach my children to make good choices. Equip me each day to walk faithfully in my calling as a parent, and show me how to rely on Your strength, Lord, and not my own. Show me the unique gifts that You have given my children, and help me lead them in how to use those gifts for Your glory. Help me to recognize the potential You have placed in my children and to inspire them to be who You created them to be. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, hug your kids and tell them they are AWESOME! Tell them you are with them all the way and so is God! 

All in His love,
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Our Kids, THIS Culture

My Friends,

Lynn here. It's interesting to me that we are working our way through parenting our kids to faith and I'm in the middle of "parenting" both my "adult" children in different areas. I have a lot to tell you about in the weeks ahead.

But because of my hectic weekend, I haven't been able to prepare a proper post. So, I want to put forth a socially relevant question today. And let's talk with one another in the comments about how to walk through our contrary and perverse culture.

What do we do when little Johnny asks if he can have a sleepover with his best friend. And by the way, his dads will be picking him up. How do we explain gay marriage with love, respect and walk firmly in our Biblical convictions?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comA few years ago the school curriculum discussion with my daughter covered: Creationism vs the Big Bang. I will tell you more about that later.

Today in the state of California, the elementary schools include the story of Harvey Milk, an openly gay elected official. If we love our kids, we need to help them be prepared when they study ideas, suggestions, theories and history that isn't consistent with the Word of God. Our kids are depending on us! 

Our kids need to hear our voice, our voice of love, over all the other voices that are coming at them at an earlier and earlier age. We can lead our children even through these challenging issues.

So chime in and don't be afraid. We need each other to help one another. And on Friday I will have several proven suggestions to help you be a profound and effective voice in your family. 

I love you my friends. Have a blessed week. Hugs, Lynn

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It's even MORE on Sale

Only $1.99 

(Read the excerpt below written by a 21 year old who was raised in a spiritually mismatched home.)

SUMite Nation, our book, Not Alone, which we're using for this new series Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture is on sale for even less. It looks like the ebook for Kindle, Nook and iBook have lowered the price down to a buck, ninety nine. $1.99. 

That's as low as it's gonna go.

Read along with us through our series this month.

It's a great deal!

Excerpt from Not Alone

Page 74: The Payoff (Lynn)

My good friend Shelly has been married for 24 years. Her son, Rickey, recently shared with me a few words about growing up in a spiritually mismatched home. Rickey is 21 years old. He says,

I have to say that the most impacting thing that influenced my faith had to be my mother never giving me the “option” to go to church. It was mandatory. I didn’t want to go, because I would look at my father staying home on a Sunday watching television or whatever else he happened to be doing, and some days that’s all I wanted. However, because I was forced into that sanctuary every Sunday, I began to grow a love and desire for it. It became a necessity for me. I built relationships with the youth leaders and all the youth around me as well. Pretty soon, I was begging to go to church every opportunity I had. If there was an event at church, I made sure I was there. 

 

Rickey is living proof that Mamas can and do impact a child's eternity. 

Thank you Jesus. Give us boldness to speak love, mercy, grace and truth with compassion and passion into our children. In Jesus name. Amen.

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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.

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How To Be The MOST Powerful Voice In Your Kid's Lives

Back To School: Equipping Kids in a contrary culture (Lynn) image from dineen.typepad.com 

Every, single, day our children are bombarded with voices. Social media and television shout continual messages of entitlement, moral ambiguity, hate, lust and fear, to name only a few.

Sheesh! With so much chatter coming at our kids we can fear our voice might be drowned out by voices sent from the darkness. And there are moments in our own home where our children receive conflicting messages from Dad about moral choices, (television, video games, and cultural issues).

I know as a young mom I experienced moments of doubt and fear and this upsetting question would flash into my mind: Will my kids go to heaven?

How do we help our kids find and follow Jesus in today’s culture? How do we as believing parents help our children listen to the right voices?

I have a very simple answer: The most powerful thing we can do to help our children love Jesus is to love Jesus ourselves.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. —Mark 12:30

My daughter, Caitie, turned 20 years old this summer. Finally, the crazy teen years are behind us. Woo Hoo!! *grin* She is walking into adulthood. My daughter was raised all of her life in a spiritually mismatched home. But inspire of the disconnect about faith between her parents, she is walking into a faith-life that is her own. She and I have talked a lot about things she is still trying to sort out about God and she has discovered that living by faith is challenging on a college campus. But she knows the truth.

So much of her foundation in her faith came because she knew that I loved Jesus. She watched me reading my Bible in the early morning hours. She went to church with me every Sunday. I talked to her about the amazing things happening with me and Jesus in our everyday lives.

My love for God was THE most important “voice” in her life.

Mom and Dad, the BEST thing you can ever do to raise your children to faith, is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. This kind of love is ultimately irresistible.

And one more thing happens in your family dynamic when you love God in such a manner. It’s supernatural and I will tell you more about that on Friday. For now, this week, I have a challenge for you mom and dad:

This week make a commitment to pray daily for each of your children BY NAME. Bring them before the Mercy Seat of God and petition for them. Their fears, concerns, their hopes, dreams. Intercede this week and then let’s watch the Lord answer our prayers. I hope to share some heavenly impact in my children’s lives on Friday. I’m praying for them by name.

Lord, help me to be filled with grace, overflowing with compassion and kindness. Shape everything I do with forgiveness and hope. Let me love my children, guide them faithfully and remember always that they are Yours, In the name of Jesus. AMEN.

One more thing, share with me and with other parents in the comments, what scripture verses bring you comfort and encouragement in your parenting? Hugs, Lynn

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Introduction: Back to School Starts Here

NotAloneStudyImageMy friends, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to my heart the last couple months about the challenges moms and dads are facing as school starts back up. So many new teachings are being implemented in the public school systems that are complete contradictions to the truths of the Bible. Sadly, we feel helpless much of the time in how to deal with these things, as if our voice has been silenced. And the enemy has fed us the lie that we are powerless. 

The truth is, we are not. Is our God not big enough to help us with this too? I want to propose to you that just as we are mismatched in our homes, we are mismatched with our schools and culture. And the Holy Spirit has also lit a fire in my spirit for how we can help you get ready for school starting back up.

For the next five weeks we are going to pull key aspects from our book, Not Alone, and talk about how we can use the very same principles we suggest to raise Godly kids in a mismatched home in the schools they attend as well. We are raising the next generation to impact the world for Jesus just by living their faith. Now is the time to train up these future “world changers” (as Lynn so beautifully calls them) right. 

Moms, Dads and Grandparents, I firmly believe that just as we bring the aroma of Christ into our homes, we can do the same in our schools as well. We can display the love of Christ in how we handle these challenging areas to our children, to their friends, to their teachers and to those watching. I believe we are being called to rise up for such a time as this to bring kingdom atmosphere with us every time you step foot on that campus and every time you pray over your child’s day, friends, tests, challenges, etc.  

My friends, you are the voice of authority in your child’s life. What they are learning at church is great and can be built upon as well, but during the week, you’re the one who can help your child learn the truths in God’s word and how to apply them effectively to their daily world. And not only will you be helping them learn to navigate school, you will be teaching them the very skills they will need as adults too. We want our children to grow out of our faith and into their own relationship with Jesus. And during the most challenging years of teen and young adult, this foundation will help them stand strong in their faith and for Jesus.

Over the next five weeks we will: 

  • Strategically pray for our children to be equipped spiritually, mentally and emotionally for school each day.
  • Ask God for kingdom perspective of your school so you can begin to see how you can partner with your school instead of seeing it as the enemy.
  • Pray for divine appointments with your child’s teachers, other parents and the school faculty.
  • Look for ways to begin creating an “open-door” atmosphere for your child and his or her friends.
  • Pray for opportunities to show the love of Jesus and bring the Holy Spirit’s presence to the classroom.
  • Seek godly wisdom to know what battles to fight and how to speak in a way that displays the love and integrity of Christ. 

My friends, we can do this. You can do this. God is for us and has our backs. This is His heart for you and your children. If possible, get a copy of our book, Not Alone. Starting next week, we will cover key points from two chapters each week and have a coinciding discussion question to share our thoughts, strategies and opportunities 

In the comments, share the names of your children and their grade, the name of their school, principal and teachers. Lynn and I will be praying with you for your children and the people impacting their lives this year. Jump in and pray for each other too. 

My friends, I sense that this will have so much more impact on our schools and our children than we will ever fully know. Let’s be the righteous moms and dads our children need and let our prayers and faith be the greatest game changers and life builders in our children’s lives.

Today, this very hour, back to school starts here. SUMites, let’s get ready for an amazing year!

All in His love,
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Back to School: Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture

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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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