27 posts categorized "Raising Godly Kids"

Boundaries in Marriage, Part Four: Bringing the Gospel to Your Children

Hi everyone Boundaries 2

A few times over this past year I've received an email from a young person who has found themselves in a spiritually mismatched marriage. In each of those cases, they have expressed their fear about having children: "What do I do when it comes to teaching our kids? Should I even have children? I am fearful of whether I have the ability raise them in faith."

Yikes -- Those thoughts are so hard.

The first thing I say is: "YES, you should so have kids! God will sustain you and surround you as you raise them in faith,"

I tell them that Jesus in them is so strong that they have every ability to walk in victory in this area.

But second, there is the question of what are our rights and responsibilities when raising young children? Say I am a Christian, and my spouse is atheist, what should I fight for in terms of my desire to raise them in faith, and what should I allow my spouse to bring in? This is another area where it's helpful to figure out what some appropriate boundaries might look like.

I really liked Amanda's comment this week, where she said one boundary she and her hubby have agreed on is that neither of them disrespect each other's beliefs. 

I think the same can be a good rule when raising children. Each spouse in a marriage may feel strongly that their own views are correct. They might even feel strongly that the other's views will damage the kids: Certainly being Christian, it would mortify us to think of our spouse expressing atheist views to our kids; but, to be fair, an atheist might feel the same way: It might mortify them to think of a Christian parent bringing faith to kids.

Aggh!!! Catch 22 -- What's to be done? How do you walk this one out honorably to your spouse, but faithfully to God? 

Bryce and I have friends who are in a SUM with young kids. The Dad is the believer. He takes them to church, which he finds very difficult to do solo, but he does it. However, I was heartened when the mum told me once, "When I'm reading books to the kids about the world, I say to them "Your Dad believes God made this... Whereas other people believe xyz." She said it matter-of-factly. I guess they've fostered an atmosphere of respect.

So in terms of rights and responsibilities, here's a good way forward --

First of all, courageously bring faith to your children, even if your spouse reacts negatively. Be brave, be bold. We have to be! If this is currently challenging for you I pray boldness into your soul!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, KJV).

It may be that it causes unhappiness for your spouse; if so, express to them respectfully that you do have a right to share your views with your child and expose them to faith so that they can make an informed choice of their own. However, to be fair, if you ask for that from your spouse, you should really give them the same courtesy. In the spirit of walking out a respectful marriage, don't muzzle your spouse, just as you would hope they wouldn't muzzle you. Just explain to your children that you each see things differently but you respect and love each other.

Then, pray your heart out. Prayer is the most powerful thing you'll ever do for your children anyway. Pray for protection of your children's ears, eyes and hearts. And fear not, because what's in you is stronger than what's in the world --

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (1 John 4:4, NLT)

Our children will always come across other views, but as long as you have made sure they have plentiful access to the Gospel, you have done your bit.

Tough stuff! For those of you who've walked this out, how has all of this gone for you? Let's share our ups and downs in the comments.

Love,

Ann


Stories With My Mum

Hello friends, Ann here. Mum us

I've been a little quiet the last two weeks as my mum has been visiting from England.

My Mum is a woman of faith. And having a fellow woman of faith in my house has been wonderful.

My Mum grew up in a home with religious -- but-not-on-fire -- parents. Yet, at the age of 19 she began to study the Bible and ask God questions. A few weeks after that she was lying in bed one night and 'sensed' the hand of Jesus come down to meet her in bed, and her arm lift up to reach his.

She has never walked away since. And she has a feistiness in her for HIM.

She prayed for me and my two brothers, for years, often single-handedly, as she was a single mother for a while; and she watched us each wallow in faithlessness. I was the first of her three children to turn to God, in my late thirties. Mum Bryce

"You never walked away from Him, did you?" I said one day, as we sat in the sunshine of my outdoor yard. "No, though some periods of time I felt closer to him than others."

I admire that perseverance and longevity.

What's more, my Mum carries the spirit of Jesus in great measure. She serves like crazy when she's in our house.

"Your Mum's a great guest," Bryce said last night, and I can tell you he doesn't give compliments like that often.

Her children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28)

So yes, that's what we've been up to. Mum is now on a plane safely flying back to London, and it's time for me to pick up and think about what to write next on this blog.

I want to carry on with our Tim Keller marriage series, which we started a while ago. So I'll get writing over the weekend.

My friends, did you have a praying parent? Or a grandparent? Who prayed for you? I'd love to hear about how your faith legacy has looked. 

Love

Ann


My Dream Came True, Part Three

Mother's DayHi, my friends! Well, it's time to finish off the story of my lovely son giving his life to Jesus.  And I think you'll like this part just as much as the other two parts. I hope so. 

Part one

Part two

Ok, we've got to the part where Miles drove me home after I found out he'd given his life to the Lord. And yes, in the car drive home I was one giddy mum. I affirmed what he'd experienced, telling him I too had had a similar experience several years ago.

So we had an interesting chat.

Once home, in true teenage fashion he disappeared off to his room.

After he went upstairs I could see Bryce was stood in the kitchen alone. So I went over to him and quietly told him. I told him the whole story, in a slightly hushed voice because it felt ... precious. He was as stunned as me! "Really?" he said, in a hushed voice back.

Then he stood in silence, as I did, taking it in and thinking about it. He acknowledged that -- for our boy -- it was a highly unusual moment and must have been a real thing. A God thing.

Honestly, seeing my husband agree with it was as beautiful as seeing Miles come to God. This whole thing was special.

That night my whole family just so happened to be out of the house at different events, and I had the house to myself. I texted our SUM team the news about Miles, they all celebrated with me, and then I hit the floor of my TV room for the rest of the night and cried. I played the song "Good, Good Father on repeat." What an evening; what thankfulness I had for God.

But there was one more surprise to come:

Three days later I was standing in the kitchen cooking dinner when Miles walked in. In a particularly grown-up deep voice he said, "Mum, I'm going out to a small group tonight."

I nearly fell over with surprise but held it together outwardly. "Oh really? That's nice! Whose house are you going to?"

He told me then that he was going to a small group with 10-12 young guys at church who are only slightly older than him. These are young guys I know: Several come to that weekly prayer meeting that recently started at my house (for that story click here). These guys are on fire for God and the perfect fit for him.

Could it get any better? Not really!

That evening, then, as Bryce and I sat at the dinner table Miles came downstairs and headed to the front door, leaving for said small group. "See you later!" he calls out. Under his arm is his Bible.

His Bible!!!! The one that's sat untouched for two years upstairs.

"Bye!" we call out, in parental fashion.

The door closes behind him. And Bryce turns to me:

"Did he have just a Bible under his arm?

"Yep!" I replied.

And we both pulled a stunned face at each other.


Know Your Worth to Your Families

Happy Friday everyone! Bible and coffee

I had something happen on Wednesday that felt like God's way of saying to us: 'Know your worth to your families, SUMites.'

Know your worth to your families.

It was nice to get this, it felt like a real encouragement from God for our community. So here's what happened:

I've been recently choosing to sit and read the Bible in the morning at my dining table in the middle of the family clatter, while they're all getting ready for work and school.

The morning routine looks something like this: Bryce potters in the kitchen, Miles - age 17 -- sits at a breakfast bench on his phone while his Dad makes his breakfast, and I sit at the dining table reading my Bible.

There's the radio on, it's noisy, and I get interrupted.... But I've decided to do this as it must be a STRONG thing for a mum to sit reading her Bible in the middle of her family. She soaks in God's words, absorbs those words, and surely light emanates out from that. What's more, I want Miles to see it.

Now that he's a teenager it's one of the remaining things I can do.

Well ...

There I was, reading the book of Proverbs. And I had just read this verse here:

Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,

But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

(Proverbs 19:14)

I stopped at that, and reflected as I have done before with that passage. "A prudent spouse is worth rubies," I thought. And JUST as I thought that Bryce came out of the kitchen and over to me where I was sitting, stood over me, and smiled nicely:

"You're really dedicated to that aren't you?" gesturing at my Bible. Ann B Miles 2

Then --

"Why do you do it?" 

"I love it!" I said, beaming quite naturally. Not self-conscious this time. "It's like health to me. I love looking at all the linkages between things in the Bible."

"Even in the Old Testament?" he said, scanning the page and seeing it was Proverbs.

"Yep."

"Oh look, you've got markings on it too... You write things on it?"

At this point he was bending down and peering over my shoulder at my Bible.

"Yeah... I do!"

Then he went back to the kitchen.

And I was left thinking 'How cool was that, just as I was reflecting on the fact a prudent spouse is from the Lord, my husband comes over and notices.'

Be encouraged SUMites. I just felt that was a little God moment to show that we are a gift from the Lord, an inheritance to our families, and what we're doing is worth more all the riches the world could give, really; it's worth more than rubies.

Love to you all,

Ann


Witchcraft and Kids' Games

Hi everyone Media

Family and media part one

Family and media part two

I've enjoyed hearing your perspectives about media. It sounds like so many of us think about this area a lot. 

I said on Monday that I would share one final thought on kids' games, so here's that thought as we wrap up this series:

A lot of kids' games have references to witchcraft in them. For example, there might be characters that are wizards, warlocks, witches, druids, and then there are spells, enchantments, temples, shrines, necromancy, crystals, potions, and so on.

There are other things in games too like killing, but the witchcraft side of those games has stood out to me as a feature to especially notice, I suppose.

We have to seek the Holy Spirit for ourselves on what we're going to allow in our homes, and as I said before there are degrees of 'good' and 'not good' in media. But one thing of concern I would say is this: If the kids play those games that have witchcraft symbols in them and then start using those ideas to role play amongst themselves ... they might end up speaking words over themselves or others like: 

"I'm a warlock!"

or

"I'm casting a spell"

or

"I curse you!"

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)

I do know that witchcraft is real, and the above things are real. What's more, I know that what we speak matters: We can bless people with our tongue, or we can do damage with our tongue. The Bible says that the tongue can actually curse. This means that there are certain things in the spirit realm that, if we speak, the demonic can attach itself to and then gain a right to have greater access than if we had guarded ourselves. So, thinking about the above, we don't want our littlies to start speaking out witchcrafty things over themselves or others, even if they're doing it in play, and even if it's all lighthearted. 

Again, we have to keep our ear out to God and ask for his wisdom and his help in all this -- It is not an easy issue to navigate in our homes. But the above thought was just one final piece I wanted to share in thinking about media, our family, and trying to keep our kids healthy.

There is one final thing to say, though, as I do want to end on a positive note:

If you're like me and you've allowed your kids to be exposed to things in the past that you wish you hadn't then we can always turn to the power of prayer and pray healing of their young minds, while committing to walking this path anew. It is never too late to pray for such things. That's what I'm going to be doing as I reflect on this series.

And what a big encouragement that is! Thank God for Jesus.

Lord God, we ask for your wisdom, we ask for your voice, we ask for discernment, and we ask for strength in navigating media in our homes. Help us to be rightly balanced, and to walk out this issue in the way that YOU would want us to do. Gently convict us, while also helping us have grace for ourselves. Give us your eyes on it. Thank you God! In your name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

Love you all,

Ann


Media and Our Families

Ann here! Media

Today's topic is one I've wanted to write about for a while, but I've procrastinated. The topic is this:

How strict should we be about media, in our families?

The reason I've procrastinated is this:

a) I've walked this one out in my own home somewhat imperfectly

b) I've taken a while to work things out on this one -- As in, work out what God's heart is here.

But today I'm going to give this topic a go, and I think I have reached clarity in my mind about it. Here we go:

In a spiritually mismatched home, media is a hard area to navigate. Why so hard? Well, for most of us, our spouse will have a different view on what is ok and enjoyable to watch on TV. Further, they'll have a different view on whether certain shows, games, or other apps on children's phones are damaging from a spiritual point of view.

That is certainly the case with Bryce and me: We have widely differing views on this one. Like a lot of husbands, Bryce watches a lot of TV in the week to relax, and I can't watch many of the things he watches. I'm too sensitive to it. He's respectful of what I want to ask the kids not to watch, but he's much more relaxed about it all.

So, any rules on this front come from me.

The thing is, having an understanding of the spirit realm there will be things we might see on those phones, and on TV, that our spouses won't recognize. I will watch a TV show, for example, and will see that there is a demonic spirit behind that show. It might be seen in anti-Christ statements, a character that's demonic in nature, witchcraft, strange languages being used, making fun of God, sexuality, or more. But bigger than that, the spirit in me does not like it. 

Then, the question, for me, becomes: 'Well, do I stop my family from watching this particular thing? How much does it matter?'

I'll see this in kids' shows even. Or a show that doesn't seem 'all that bad' to my family. A family comedy, for example. I'll watch a show, see things in it ... and will squirm, thinking 'Oh... umm .. mm .. that's.... No.'

Added to that, once our kids are teenagers they most likely will have a phone, unless we're raising them to be technology-free, which most of us aren't. As Christians we will likely have a different opinion to our spouse about what we're happy for our children to be exposed to on those devices.

My boys are now 17 and 18 and honestly I've struggled to know how much of a 'stick-in-the-mud' to be about the various games, shows, and apps. 

I know that God wants purity in my life, and I have a responsibility for my home. 'As for me and my household we will serve the Lord' (Joshua 24:15), and that means no compromise. It's also a matter of their spiritual health: I don't want to open doors to the demonic in my home. But it is tough when you're in the minority in your home. And you do want to think about your relationship with your family too -- They have to make choices of their own and learn to make good choices for themselves.

The hard thing about it is doing it on your own. I get laughed at, for example, by my three -- nicely, of course -- for saying 'No witchcraft on TV'. They think I'm nuts. 'Mum hates witchcraft.' And I laugh along and say 'Yes, but please just humor me ok?' 

And given all of this, my question -- for myself -- has been:

'How important is this as a battle?'

Well, I'm going to write about that on Monday. But to give you a heads up, the answer I've come to is it is a battle worth engaging in very thoughtfully. It is a matter of their spiritual health, so it's important.  And it's one of those battles we have to fight with the Holy Spirit guiding us.

So I'll continue on Monday, but shall we chat in the comments? Is this issue difficult for you, and what questions/issues have you been wrestling with?

See you next time!

Ann


Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

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

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

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

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

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

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

God never stops amazing!

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



Raising Kids in Faith? A Personal Reflection

Ann here!

My own journey of trying to raise kids in faith has had its ups, downs and edgy bits over the years. As my boys are now nearly adult I thought I would look back and share a few personal thoughts.

Grab a cuppa, have a listen... and I wish you a happy Friday.


Sweet Gifts for a Grandmother's Faith

By Ann Hutchison  T M 2

You know, when it comes to my kids I've always found it super challenging to bring faith to them. In fact, it's no less challenging to bring faith to them as it is to bring faith to my husband.

Is it like that for many of you, I wonder?

Here's a pic of my precious two boys -- Travis and Miles. They are 17 and 16 and, like their Dad, they have not yet had a point in their life where they've said "Yes, I give my life to Jesus". That's not to say they haven't been exposed: Both boys were raised with me talking about God a lot. I would tell them God stories, I would pray for them, and I did take them to church for periods of time, but church never gelled for them and that part was a real struggle for me.

In his earlier years, my oldest used to express unbelief, or would challenge the existence of God. He's a very concrete person, geared around what he can see and touch directly. Those expressions of unbelief have now stopped, though - Interesting.

My youngest, meanwhile, joined church of his own volition a year ago too. THAT was amazing, and I shared that story here. He and I now attend church together, just the two of us. Still, with him I'm watching and wondering where he sits with it all. 

Well, two weeks ago something very special happened, because I saw a tiny shift happen separately for each boy in the space of one weekend. Glimmers of change. Mum Travis 2

I'll start with Travis. My Mum was visiting us and she and I happened to have the chance to go out for dinner on our own with Travis. It was a treat for her and I. As parents of teens know, it's nice to have the excuse to spend time talking with a willing teenager and we chatted about all sorts. Here's a nice photo from that night.

Well, partway through the evening, we started talking about Travis's friends and where they stand in their beliefs about God. He said, very casually, 'Yes, they've told me they don't believe in God, and I've told them I do believe in God.'

I've told them I believe in God.

Well that made me smile because I have never before heard him say that. And, when someone makes a statement like that it's a clear step forward to say 'My heart is open'. 

That was Friday.

Sunday rolled around, then, and my Mum and I drove with Miles (my youngest) to church. It was the first time my Mum had attended our church and she was looking forward to it. 

Our church doesn't do communion often, but they happened to have it that day. The leader said, "If you have received Jesus into your heart, then do come up and take some bread and wine". Miles was sitting on the other side of the room to us with one of his friends. I took a peek over thinking 'will he go?' and sure enough up he got, walked to the table, and took the bread and wine. He then went and sat down, and as I peeked over I could see he had his eyes closed, reflecting. It's the first time I've seen him take communion.

Like the statement his brother made - 'I believe in God' - Communion is powerful. It is the finest of feasts, and a way we can enter Him, by eating his body and drinking his blood. That day Miles took a step in the Heavenlies by receiving communion (Jesus). Mum miles 2

Later, my Mum and I were alone and I turned to her --

"Did you notice what Travis said in the restaurant?"

"Oh yes, I was going to say the same to you!" Her eyes sparkled back at me.

"And did you notice Miles took communion?"

"I DID! Yes, I noticed that too."

She and I grinned broadly.

My Mum has been a woman of faith since the 1970s, never wavering, never backsliding, and praying constantly for her family. It seemed somehow providential that she was there to witness those two new signs that my boys are getting there, that is, getting towards that momentous decision where they will say --

"Yes, I am going to give my life to Jesus."

Thanks for reading along today. For those of you who have kids, how old are they and how are things going faith-wise?

Ann


Praying for Adult Children

By Ann Hutchison Adult baby birds

Recently I was on the phone to my mum and told her I was going to take my two boys on a hike without Bryce. This sent her into instant Mum-anxiety mode. Breathing heavily down the phone she said, "Will you be ok?" and ... "Make sure you take water."

So funny. She will never stop acting like my Mum. Even though I am 46. To her I am like the big baby bird in this picture here -- Big, but still her baby.

I know many of you watch your adult children with baited breath: You watch them exercise their free will in matters that may get them lost ... And so does God watch them. I still have this to come, but I can only imagine how easy it is to get anxious about an adult child.

As an adult child myself who was spiritually lost, one day my Mum ever-so-gently gave me a book as a gift -- A Christian book. It was called Journey into God's heart by Jennifer Rees Larcombe. It was a powerful spiritual memoir and testimony. I read it on the plane home after visiting my parents and by the end of the plane journey I was bawling. That book had a big part to play in bringing me to God. Behind the scenes, of course, was my Mum.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe, that book's author, is now a minister in the UK and, because her book brought me to God I have a special love for her ministry (Beauty from Ashes). She remains one of my favorite people to read on Facebook. She is also a grandparent and has six adult children, some of whom have walked through some really tough stuff. 

Last week she posted this question on Facebook, and I'm going to repeat it because the replies people gave contained so much helpful stuff. She said: Jen's post

Could you help me with your practical tips?
I never know how to pray for my grown up children so I have a stone for each of them and, one by one, I pick them up and lift them to the Lord. What helps you?
 
Then she posted a photo of the stones .. Which I just had to include because it's lovely. I love the fact the stones are all different, capturing the uniqueness of each child.
 
Even better, in the comments an array of wonderful suggestions came back. Here's the link to the Facebook page where you can see all the suggestions more fully, which are well worth reading (the post is on 27 January), but for now here are some of the suggestions people gave:
 
- Make prayer for your adult children a daily routine; 
 
- Use a poem, hymn, or passage of scripture and insert their names into it, reading it out loud;
 
- Remember to thank God for these children and thank him for looking after them;
 
- Use a photo as a prompt to pray for them when looking at it. (One lady said she keeps a photo of each child in her Bible, another said she has a mug with their faces on and when she drinks from it she'll pray).
 
- Journal words of prayer and blessing over them.
(One lady said she writes their names down and then doodles creatively, writing ideas and words as she prays).
 
- And finally, don't forget simple prayers of simple trust, for sometimes we just don't have the words.
"Lord, I lift them up to you", "Lord, enter their lives", and "Lord I entrust my children to you."
 
There was so much more, and I was hesitant to copy people's individual responses so I kept the above summary broad, but if this topic speaks to you do take a look at the Facebook post (you don't have to be on Facebook to be able to read the post).
 
As for us, how about we answer the same question here: How do you pray for your adult children?
 
Nice chatting, 
Ann

A Work of God in My Home

By Ann Hutchison Central church Ann 1

Hi SUM family!

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

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

Goodness, how exciting!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At this, I sat back, gob-smacked.

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

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

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

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

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

My friends, I so hope this encouraged you. 

With love, 

Ann


About Our Homes...The Heavenly Perspective

Hi friends, Ann here.Sparkly nest


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann


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.


What To Do About Halloween?

SUMites,

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comFor years here at SUM, I've written this post every October. And now after raising my children, I'm asking this question again. Most of you are unaware, but I've been in training, learning how to pray to help those who were traumatized and wounded through Satanic Ritual Abuse. What I've learned about the demonic realm is truly horrific. If I shared with you what I've learned about what they do to children, you would vomit.

Sorry, just being real.

So, I struggle in my heart to know what to write because this day glorifies a being that is so evil, so wicked and filled with hate for children and Christians, I cringe in revulsion.

But I know that on my refrigerator is an invitation to a local neighborhood gathering, that ensues prior to trick-or-treat. And I'll likely attend to spend some time with our neighbors. And oh, my goodness, the costumes. Some of them are just so cute, clever and fun.... some are scary. 

The way I see it, we must keep a sober mind about what happens in the wee hours of the night on October 31st. (The witchcraft is intense. I scarcely can sleep.) And make this season a time of teaching. Help our children to be aware the darkness is real and to help them to overcome their fear and call on the name of Jesus. We must check their candy bags. 

If you walk the neighborhood with your kids, pray over it. Cover the people and homes with the love of Jesus. Bless each home you approach with an awareness of Jesus. Bless the kids. Bless those who come to your door. Release the MOST POWERFUL GOD of the universe into your world this week.

I love you. March on SUMITES... We WIN! Hugs, Lynn


A Community Question

Hi Lynn!
Can you post this question to get feedback from the SUM community (this has been on my heart for awhile now)??:

- how do you handle praying aloud with children when your spouse feels uncomfortable or threatened by it?

Thank you!
Hillary

Warriors, help a SUMite out. Share your successes and advice in the comments!!

For more helpful tips to raise your children in faith, check out our book. Interestingly, this title is having a resurgence currently and is selling successfully. God is good!

The advice and perspective in this book, is true, it's real and it is encouraging. Hugs. Lynn

Raising Godly Kids


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.


Wisdom, Wonder, A Few Balloons, and Mustangs

Hello SUMite Nation!

Caitie Lynn Corn Lake May 14 2018
Me and Caitie, Corn Lake, May 14, 2018

Colorado was awesome. I cherished the time with my mom and daughter on Mother’s Day and my birthday. Below are a few photos. I also want to share a beautiful word that came from my daughter while we sat on the lake edge with fishing polls in hand.

Because God is so good, I would love Him and serve Him even if I didn’t receive anything in return. —Caitie Donovan

SUMites, have hope for your children! Everything you do to pour faith and Jesus into their lives may come up before you while you sit on a lake shore and a child your bore shares from her heart and faith, something profound and moving. I nearly wept when Caitie said this because I haven’t entertained a posture such as this prior to now.

*****

Patty Tower & Baby May 2018Also, I want to say Congratulation to Patty Tower on the birth of Keenan Gabriel who arrived on May 14 which is my birthday. I feel like an Aunt already. Thank you, Patty, for the amazing ministry you provide on our SUM Facebook Page. I pray you are recuperating and healing quickly. 

*****

I don’t share often at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, the amazing ways that God speaks to me through Mylar balloons. But today, I want to share some of those photos and stories. I’m overwhelmed at the lengths the Lord will go to say, I LOVE YOU, to His Daughters and Sons. I pray you are encouraged to understand and search out the exhibits of the Lord discern how He is speaking love into your life.

On May 8th I was scheduled to leave California to travel to Grand Junction, Colorado. So, the day prior, I was expectant that the Lord might just send me a birthday wish through a Mylar balloon. For those of you who don’t know, I often receive Mylar balloons while on my walk-n-prays in the vineyards of Temecula. Balloons will arrive in many different aspects but mostly while I’m on my walks.

Happy Birthday May 7 2018While on the phone to my son and granddaughters, I was walking my usual trail and I spotted something shimmering ahead. I said to my son, “Brad, I think I see a Mylar balloon ahead.”

“Ya, Mom, what’s with all these balloons?”

“God speaks to my heart and sends His love and affection to me this way.”

As I walk nearer to retrieve the balloon I say, “I bet it says, ‘Happy Birthday’ on it because I’m leaving in the morning and He (God) wants to wish me a Happy Birthday.”

I pick it up. Yep, what does it say? Well look for yourself. (see photo)

Can I just insert a word here: AMAZING!

However, a few days later, the near impossible took place. My mom, Caitie and I decided to spend the day searching for Wild Mustangs. In the mountains about three hours drive from my mom’s home, wild horses roam free. If you are nuts enough to travail the dirt roads you might catch a glimpse of these allusive but regal beauties. (Caitie and I love horses. We were determined.)

We head out with bottles of water, some vague directions, and a ton of hope that we might catch a glimpse of the ponies.

After traversing miles of dirt roads, in a wilderness of BLM land with not a single home or any man-made structure except for the road, we finally stopped in defeat in a ravine to take a little break. Ahem, “that” kind of break. While stopped in the middle of the dried-up ravine, I spot something shinny and red up on the hill in front of the car.

I bounded up the slope and as I approached, I just knew it would be a heart-shaped Mylar balloon waiting for me OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE!!

Take a look.

Found May 12 2018 Little Book Wild Mustangs
See the cougar print just below it?

Hilside May 12 2018 Wild Mustang May 12 2018 Red Heart Shaped Balloon Wild Mustangs
All in all, over the past four weeks I received four of these heavenly communiques. The birthday balloon has balloons upon the balloon.

SAY WHAT???

God is so good that I would love Him even if I never received anything in return.

Have a great weekend my friends. Go on a treasure hunt with the Lord and uncover the love notes that surround you. 

Wild mustangs 1
The Paint horse on left is protecting her foal as we approached.
image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-17/f61d9e7c-b02f-43c6-97a0-924055b459e1.png
Beautiful and free
Mustangs 3
Regal animals, loved by God... and us!


Thank you for sharing life with me. I love you so much. Lynn


What Our Kid's Think - Part II

Survey with WMToday, I want to answer more questions that were asked through our survey: Laurie F. asked:

Q: I would love to know how adult children who grew up in mis-matched homes feel about all of the things we deal with. (Going to church and activities only with mom, not being able to pray/sing/share at home when Dad's around, worrying that Dad is not going to Heaven, etc.) I would also like to know how to answer my daughter's constant questions about those same topics.

The following is an informal Q&A between me and my daughter, Caitie, age 22:

ME: Do you worry about your Dad’s salvation?

Caitie: Yes, I worry. I do understand that my Dad is very stubborn, and he has made his choice. And yes, I’m sad about it. But I have given it over to God.

ME: Do you still pray for his salvation?

Caitie: Yes. I found it interesting that when I attended BIOLA (Christian University) and the subject of parents would come up, it would make others uncomfortable to talk about my parents differing faiths.

ME: That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. Why would it make them uncomfortable?

Caitie: Because most of the students came from two-parent believing homes. (This is true of our church experience.) It was difficult to talk to others about it and my friends would avoid talking about the challenges about being a kid in a mismatched home. However, my close friends and I would talk about it. Mom, every home has challenges. One of my roommates struggled with Father issues and he was a believer.

ME: Many, many people struggle with “Father” issues. I know that I have in the past. The devil works tirelessly to destroy the “Father.” When earthly fathers fail, it destroys our perception of a loving heavenly Father who loves and has only goodness for His kids.

Caitie: That’s true.

ME: Did you ever feel uncomfortable around your Dad about being a believer?

Caitie: No, not about my faith. Again, he was good about not stifling me and my belief. What was uncomfortable was the arguments between the two of you.

ME: Ouch. You know that most of our arguments weren’t actually about faith. It was just the dynamic and our own unhealed wounding from our childhoods, right? We’ve talked about that before.

Caitie: Yes, Mom. I do.

ME: But what is really cool, Caitie, is that your dad and I are still growing. Even after 25 years of marriage we are still finding healing and understanding. And I have prayed that all the mistakes, missteps, and the iniquity of our blood lines, are not passed along to you and your brother. I have faith that your future relationship will be free from some of the things we started with in our marriage.

Caitie: I know mom. Okay, I’ve gotta go study. I love you.

ME: Love you baby girl. Bye


Q&A From The SUM Survey (What Our Kid's Think)

Survey with WMToday I want to answer another question that came from the SUM survey. Laurie F. asked:

Q: I would love to know how adult children who grew up in mis-matched homes feel about all of the things we deal with. (Going to church and activities only with mom, not being able to pray/sing/share at home when Dad's around, worrying that Dad is not going to Heaven, etc.) I would also like to know how to answer my daughter's constant questions about those same topics.

So, I decided to call my daughter, Caitie, age 22 who now lives in Indiana. I asked her these questions and here is her response. She gave me permission to share.

I asked Caitie: So how do you feel now that you are an adult and can look back upon your childhood, about going to church?

A: Mom, many of my perceptions and answers are specific to our individuality and family dynamic. (She’s a Com major, grin.) Because I have a great relationship with my father, I’ve never felt stifled about faith. I didn’t feel shame and, so I didn’t need to make intentional decisions to hide my faith. I do know and understand that is something that other kids have to walk through. And it must be very challenging.

I did feel a weird pressure to attend church. Dad would only go to church when I went to church. When I didn’t go (once in a while in high school when she was in a play, etc.) I would feel personally responsible to attend. I felt pressure to create some magical family ideal, all of us sitting together as a family, in church. I felt responsible to you, Mom to make you happy.

ME: I said to Caitie, you know that we have discussed this before and I have asked forgiveness for issues or events that made you feel responsible when you weren’t. And I also appreciate your love and heart for doing that for me, even if it was not a perfect situation.

Caitie: When I went away to college, that was when I began to attend church for myself. And I knew it was for me. I loved my church. And I’m still searching for a good one now in my new location.

ME: Caitie, finding church, as an adult, it is also true of families with two believing spouses. Many kids raised in church go because it’s their parents church. They move away and then they attend church for themselves. (Inset note from ME, Lynn. This is one reason we fight, insist, and work diligently to take our children to church. It’s important and it sticks when they are older.)

Caitie: Yes, that’s true.

ME: Caitie, don’t give up on church. The enemy does this to so many people. It’s difficult to find the right church and you must try out several, sometimes many, before you find the right one. And it’s exhausting to keep visiting churches. The devil knows this and will influence you to go to every “wrong” church so that you simply give up and stop attending. DON’T GIVE UP.

Caitie: I won’t.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6

Next week I’ll share more of my daughter’s responses. I hope this encourages all of you who are raising your children in faith.

Next question: Do you worry about your Dad’s salvation?


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

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

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

So, I want to do this again today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will start:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Every Victory Begins With THIS!

Hi Family,

Who Am I SUMWe are a family. Being a part of something bigger than ourselves is part of our  spiritual DNA. We were created for connection. We were created to belong. To live in intimacy. Learning to love one another and learning to love our Father.

I’ve just returned from the Heaven Come conference. Three days filled with profound, life-altering worship and teaching that will live forever in my soul.

Attending an event for the Christian faith is an interesting experience. I wonder if you are like me in that you have attended many events that make you feel good about yourself and living for Jesus. However, you return home to the same-old-same-ole and quickly lose all the joy or hope that you came home with? Anyone relate?

However, each year that I attend this conference, something profound occurs. And this year I arrived home with such a powerful conviction to speak about identity.

IDENTITY.

Understanding our identity is everything to living in victory. So, I think that in the next few weeks, the Holy Spirit is urging me to lead all of us in learning about our identity.

Why?

Because out of our identity comes healing. Our understanding of our spiritual place in the Kingdom releases us into our destiny. Our identity is the core of our freedom, healing, hope and our future.

As we walk through identity, I also want to directly confront some of the societal issues that attack identity. Gender, sexuality, and more. I know these issues are controversial in the general public but also in the church. But right now, in our homes, we are trying to raise children to step into their God given calling and the enemy is doing everything to destroy them as men and women. Our spouses listens to the talking heads that shout absolute lies about who we are as people. And as SUMites, we are often shamed by our spouse who puts us down for believing in what they deem as a faith for the weak.

BUT let me be the voice of reason and truth. In the last several years, I have lived out of my full identity and I AM FREE. I am brave and I have helped others find their freedom. I have so much freedom and equipping to give the people of God. And I have insight to help you guide your children through love and not condemnation. I have wisdom, I believe, given by our Father to share how to walk in complete truth and faith in these modern days and handle the issues that confront the truths of God’s holy Word.

I also see our SUM community walking out of shame. Becoming free of condemnation and the need to “save” our spouse. Would you like to step out of shame? Would you like to silence the voice of confusion over sexual identity and know how to walk with others through this issues with love and hope?

Do you have a heart for those who are living in deception and fear? Are you living in fear and shame….. Well my dearest friend, GOD HAS HEARD YOUR PRAYERS. Let’s travel these next few weeks ahead and learn what is truth and how we can live and help our kids live in truth without being hateful or cruel.

And I ask all of you, SUMites, even if you ask the question of yourself, "Who am I" and you feel as though you have a firm identity in Christ, I ask you to walk this out because it may be that there are a few lies that remain hidden about who you are and whose you are that our Great God wants to bust wide open. 

God heals all and we are going to emerge from these weeks and guess what? Confusion will be banished. Love will be paramount. Our hearts will be filled with courage because we know the truth and truth will set you free. 

So, I enter this series with trembling and much prayer. It is scary to take a stand in social media for the Word of God but we are at a tipping point. We MUST learn the truth of our identity. We must walk in our true identity first and then we can help others discover their true identity. It’s in confronting the lies that our healing and healing of the world will happen.

Will you pray for me as I stand in the courage I’ve mustered up to share. Pray I am continually anointed by the Holy Spirit and all that I write is truth and wrapped in love.

What say you SUMites? Do you want to walk this difficult but needful path this season?

I love you. This next week is critical to launch into a the new season of God. Pray and seek His face. He has amazing assignments ahead for this new season and He wants us to be fully free and equipped to set in and behold the glory. Hugs, Lynn


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)