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Ann Hutchison
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Hi friends, Ann here. We're now in chapters 4 and 5 of Esther. As I begin this post, I have this in my head: Know your enemy. I don’t talk about the enemy much. I deliberately don’t give him airtime. But I do take careful notice of his activities so that I can move appropriately in prayer. One of my earliest questions as a Christian was whether there really was an enemy of our souls; a being, or beings who were influential in this world. Without going into detail, God did answer that question for me and showed me there is. On a couple of occasions, I’ve even heard a demon, though I’ve never seen one visually. Though I was surprised to hear the thing, it didn’t scare me one bit. It used a lot of F-words, and then spat out what its intentions were. My reaction was “You’re busted!... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Ann here! Oh, I enjoyed the story of the crazy King and Vashti on Monday. Now, let’s hurtle towards chapter 2, where we meet Esther, this “lovely and beautiful” daughter of God. She carries an intense cocktail of pain and growing strength. What is it we ourselves carry? Something similar I’d say, even though different. I see Esther as a fragile baby bird: Orphaned and snatched. But I also see her as strong as an ox. The 'ox' part comes later. Putting ourselves in her shoes, can you imagine being taken hostage for the sole purpose of a King's pleasure? It makes me inwardly choke. I wonder how she would have felt; I really don’t know. There was an honor to it, but a powerlessness. After her night with the King, in my mind it gets worse: She was shifted to a different house (v.14). No longer a virgin, she... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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I’m writing today with a change in gears. It’s time for our summer study on the Book of Esther, and I have the pleasure of kicking it off. Lynn will post next, and we’ll take turns. Many will remember we studied this book two years ago (April 2017) but we seem to hear ‘Esther’ again. I’m helping with the writing as I have a little more time than usual this month. So, are you sitting comfortably? I am! Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here! We’ve recently been discussing the power of words here and on the Facebook group, and these conversations have brought back something that happened to me three years ago. I thought I would share the story. It was a time when God showed me two alternative scenarios in terms of how I use words: One scenario was awesome, the other sobering. With words being a theme, I'll have a go at telling it. I’ll start with the awesome, which is the best bit. It was a bright February day, and God showed me something that gave me warm fuzzies. He gave me a vision of rainbows coming out of a person’s mouth, accompanied by these words: The prayers of a faithful person are like fountains of rainbows pouring over the one(s) for whom they pray. Wow. Rainbows represent God’s goodness, I loved hearing that. What’s even better... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi friends, Ann here! It’s my turn to write this week and I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a crazy story. I hope it makes you smile. Back in April, after our ‘Hear the Roar’ conference, I landed home with a spinning head. So much had happened, and I had a sense that it was truly a new season in this ministry. I was also unwell during that time, so once home I spent hours in bed. Those sick days turned into quality time with God, and I lay with three great things: prayer, pen, and notepad. On one such day I lay pondering and scribbling when suddenly God interrupted me with the most random phrase. Call me nuts, but this is what I heard: He was called Snake but his legacy is different. I’m smiling (Crazy or God?!) It was so random I thought I’d better... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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What does the SUM ministry and the blue-bottle jellyfish have in common? What a strange question, but it’s one that God gave me back in 2016 while our community was fasting. For those who are new here, we fast each year together and it’s not unheard of to hear a word or two for us all during those times. Indeed, there I was during that fast, hungry and horizontal, when suddenly a picture of a blue-bottle jellyfish swooshed across my mind -- Flash. It was gone as quickly as it came but I promptly knew it was about the SUMites. When something like that happens it’s an invitation to explore, so I went to Google, typed ‘blue bottle jellyfish’ and began to read. The lines progressed and, as they did, I began to link this extraordinary creature with our beloved ministry here. Some three years later I’d like to share... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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By Ann Hutchison “Come to my prayer group!” a lady sidled up to me one day at church, eyeing me closely. It was early in my faith and I had questions. I’d been attending for weeks but still couldn’t help wondering if Christians were nuts to believe. Hers was an invite I decided to accept: She was a lawyer, had a gentle manner, and I figured if anyone was likely to NOT be nuts, it would be her. So, I duly turned up one evening at a suburban house and rang the doorbell. She and a friend welcomed me in. The friend was a doctor. “Fantastic, another sensible one!” I thought. I know now that it matters not whether we’re butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, but at that point it helped that these ‘sensible’ women were Christian. Sensible? Well … um … I got the shock of my life that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann again! In Monday’s post I described how my children had sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and heard my testimony. Well, this week something crazy but parallel happened: My children sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and this time saw persecution. Yikes! We were at a Mexican restaurant, laughing, when suddenly my friend’s mouth opened and out came a painful comment about Christians. It was a comment that could have been considered funny but there was no opportunity for laughter as within an instant I went rage! I shot to my feet, hands on hips, stood over my friend, blurted out tempestuous words, and left the table. When I came back I was physically shaking. Nobody enjoyed their burritos after that, especially not my husband. Was my reaction good or bad? We turn the other cheek often, but this... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi friends, Ann here! Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror, glimpsed the road behind you, and realized that something’s changed? That happened to me recently in relation to a friend who didn't want to know about faith. I thought I'd share the story today. When I first turned to God, I began to tell my friends my testimony. Little did I know how unenthusiastic they would be. In their eyes it was a ‘fairy tale’. I realize now that this is normal, but at the time I was perplexed: “How can you not believe me?" I had a particular friend who epitomized this. At the mention of my faith she literally had a physical reaction. She raced to the other side of the shop we were in, and starting looking at shelves with her back to me. The months that followed brought honesty about her feelings towards Christians.... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Ann here! Lynn’s news last week was so amazing and today I just feel like speaking from the heart and sharing a little more about last week’s summit. Our summit intersected with a long-awaited baptism. What an almighty ROAR this was, one that we will now carry into our future. Our summit was called ‘Hear the Roar’, and our logo for the event was a lion. Well, the 'God winks' began when we arrived at Lynfield School and saw that its logo was a lion. We had fun taking photos of the lions adorning the school’s walls (here are a couple) and I still just keep coming across that word 'ROAR'. The whole Shortly before the event I developed a strong sense that this event was about the ‘whole’ of the SUM community. Alongside this, something crazy happened: Before I arrived at Lynn’s house, God gave me a picture of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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If you were to open Google earth right now, you’d see a picture of earth from on high. Zoom in, and you’d see New Zealand, Auckland, then a suburb. Zoom in. You’d see a house. Oh, and there inside that house, there’s a girl, me, where God placed her. Zoom out. Zoom in again. India. Another believer. Another location. Another heart. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I’ve been placed in New Zealand and how to live with the fact that my life here is so seemingly comfortable while other locations are less so. As I’ve lived with that question, though, I’ve come to see that everything in the Kingdom is topsy-turvy, and in Kingdom currency, the most comfortable people don’t have it easy. The important question is “What is my heart’s response to my circumstances, to this place God has me?” SUMites, in this post today I feel I’d... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here! Some SUM moments are so tough they’re funny when you look back, and I couldn’t resist sharing one with you. It was the time a well-meant speaker at church said these words from the pulpit: “Every year my wife and I sit down and decide how much to give to church.” I'm afraid that did it for me. I crumpled into a self-pitying heap in the back of church. See, I’d been attending for months, and gave nothing. Not a dollar. I hadn’t felt able to ask it of my husband. It was painful, I guess, because my heart badly wanted to give. I knew the pastor needed to at least eat. I knew God wants us to financially support the one who sacrifices their life for that work, so that they can survive (Gal 6:6). Eventually, I asked, saying to my husband, “Look, I at... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi SUMites, Ann here! I've been praying about what to write this week after our wonderful communal fast. I'm sure you're still reflecting on it as I am. Anyway, a phrase has kept coming to me for today's post, and it's this: One of the most important things you can do, in your place of commissioning, is receive God's love. This phrase is one that I've been carrying around for a while now. It was spoken to me by a visiting pastor who I met briefly at a university student gathering organized by some campus missionaries. At this gathering, he went person by person round the room and spoke a blessing over each of us. There were at least thirty of us, so it was a labor of love to give such personalized prayers despite not knowing any of us. It took a couple of hours and we all listened... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2019 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here! This morning, I want to share a special story that happened to me last Christmas. It was an event that wowed me and as we're deep in the gospels it seems timely to share. The story began when I sat sipping coffee with a favorite colleague. He’s twenty years older than me, a lovely man with a sharp mind. He also happens to have different views to me about Jesus. We agree to disagree, and we stay polite. Yet, this particular morning he couldn’t resist throwing an argument my way: “Ann, the gospels weren’t written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” I did not hold the same view, but to my surprise, out of my mouth came this: “I know.” Why on earth did I say that? As I left him to go back to work, it bothered me. Grrr. I could have engaged in a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here, I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving break! I always love Lynn’s story of the Thanksgiving table-cloth, and this time it hit me even more: I seemed to hear God say ‘Get a mountain-sized table cloth ready!’ This is for us: Over time, I know our SUM community will have many thankful comments to share, many mountains that move, and many things to write. In some ways, this blog is our own communal giant tablecloth of thanks! Anyway, I have one piece of thanks to add today, and it’s a cool story. I hope it will encourage any of you who hope to get to this year’s SUM Summit, because – get this – two weeks ago my husband and I sat together and booked my flight there -- A trip that will not cost me a penny. True story!! Here’s how it happened:... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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By Ann Hutchison “Away with Him!” roar the crowd. I open my curtains and peek out. In the crowd I see people I know: Atheists, agnostics, those who’ve left their faith, and some of other faiths. I stand and watch for a while. My eyes scan them, person by person. Some of these people are my friends. Finally, I go back to the calm of my living room and sit on the couch. I pour myself another tea, and say: “Jesus, help me again: Show me You're real?” Sometimes, I word it differently: “God, can I check again that I'm on the right path?” His response always comes in some way or other: It is Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Once, I had a night I'll never forget: It was a few years ago, and I'd been reading a book about another faith. I didn't know what I believed. That night,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, on the last day of our fast - we are so close to the finish line! It’s been wonderful adventuring with you and, as always, we’ve made memories. I often think of this site as a memorial of where we’ve been. I can just imagine sitting in a rocking chair as an old lady, looking back. Today we’re going to take communion together; it is the finest food and drink. In giving us this bread and wine, it is as if God has set us the most wonderful table; one we really cannot imagine. In today’s post I’d like to tell you about a treasured item that frames my home. I’ll tell you about it, and then we’ll have communion. Several years ago, when my husband and I bought our house, we decided to put in a new front door. We wanted one with a stained-glass window, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone As I write, it’s Thursday morning here in New Zealand, and I'm a hungry girl. Each fast I do more than I did before; and yet, this fast, like my others before, has been an imperfect one. Yesterday, for example, I went to work hungry. By 1pm it was awful. I left my office where I was putting on a cheerful front, shut myself in the toilet cubicle and said to Jesus, “HOW did you do this for 40 days?” It made me realize I hadn’t ever considered Jesus’s 40 days of no food or water. At 2pm, I freaked, I had a class to teach: “What if I faint in front of the class?” That was it. Seizing control of my situation, I reached for my bag, pulled out a small wrapped bar called ‘one square meal’, and gobbled it up. My hunger disappeared and I missed... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi friends How’s the fasting going? This one's ambitious for me – soup only for dinner has made me starry-eyed! But I'm enjoying the afternoons where I can just sit. I hope you enjoyed yesterday's clips. Amazingly, there is a part two to that story, which I've been excited to share. I'll start with this scripture, which I believe is for us today: “In that day, there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; ... And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.” Isaiah 11:11 (NKJV) Now to the story: Remember back in June the twelve Thai boys and their... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone! It's day two of the fast, and I hope you’re doing well. If one day you don’t manage what you set out to, don’t worry -- we just pick ourselves up and carry on. One thing that I believe God adores about the SUMites is our HOPE. Like Abraham, who had a son at age 100, we have been given something unbelievable to hope for: The turning of hearts among those who would be the least likely. Holding on to this hope is pretty difficult, but if we choose it we are partnering in God’s move: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” Romans 4:18 (NIV) What is hope? One possibility is that it's the actual picture of the victory, which we then choose to believe. It is, perhaps, the ‘different spirit’ held by Joshua and Caleb, who were sent... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi SUM family Welcome to day one of our fast, and happy new year! From what I’m hearing, we’re not the only ones who are being led to fast right now. Quite separately, even my home church is fasting and I know other Christians are too. We’re led by the same Spirit. This is my eighth fast with the SUM community, and every time it has been extraordinary. From these shared adventures, I now know that fasting does something very special. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my first ever fasting story. It’s a fun story, but it illustrates the fact that fasting shifts things. It was just before I found the SUM community. I’d noticed in scripture that fasting makes the impossible possible, and so I quietly planned to try it. The opportunity finally came when my husband and boys planned a trip away, leaving me home... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here. Next Monday it is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This day, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, was a festival given to the Israelites by God, commemorated by trumpet blasts (Leviticus 23:23-32). Trumpet blasts in scripture often symbolize gathering the people together for victory. To that I say, yes please! In past years the SUM community has honored this time by fasting together for the week. We’re going to continue the tradition this year, starting on Monday the 10th at sunrise, and finishing at sunset on Friday the 14th. I always find this fast a beautiful time. It seems to knit us together and bring breakthrough to different parts of our community. We’ve had some amazing things happen in these fasts, and I still get a high when I look back on the comments and remember those moments. Personally, because this time is one... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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By Ann Hutchison It was a Saturday night. The wine was flowing, and my husband and I were laughing with our friends. Then it happened: The host rolled his eyes, and said “Yeah, believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus.” Oh dear. That was it for me. After five years of spiritual loneliness, I’d had all I could take. “Excuse me,” I said, and left the table. When I returned, I did not exactly bring a cheerful mood with me. It was not my finest moment, and by the time I got home I was regretting it. “Why couldn’t I just have been gracious?” I thought. The truth was, my heart had just got too sore. I talked to my husband about it later and he didn’t think it disastrous, but he did say one thing that stuck: “Ann, I know this is hard but please don’t ask... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi everyone, Ann here! My husband and I have been 'spiritually different' for almost five years now, and it’s become easier for us both. However, there is one thing that continues to floor me and I thought I’d share it with you today. It’s this: The act of giving my husband a kiss goodbye on a Sunday morning, getting in the car, and turning on the ignition to go to… church. Hubby and I are like peas and carrots, we’re a packaged pair, and this whole walking out the door on a Sunday feels somehow wrong. Or is it? Each Sunday morning I drive through the quiet city, and the minute I turn on worship music it sends an oomph to my heart. At that moment the disconnect between that music and the breakfast clatter I've just left feels stark. I reach the church car-park and walk towards the hall.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
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Hi friends, Ann here! In preparation for today’s post I’d been asking God what to write. I had a head full of ideas but in the early hours of this morning those went completely out the window as I woke with a pounding heart and a picture of a cavernous wooden bottom drawer! As I lay trying to make sense of it, words from the Holy Spirit landed in my head: SUMites, as you fill your bottom drawer you’re providing for those who have been named ‘clear and bright’, and you are evangelizing through a microphone. This, it seemed, was to be today’s post: A bottom drawer, provision, and a microphone, what fun! I’ll describe where it took me, and I hope this word encourages you today. The Bottom Drawer In times past, hopeful young women used to collect special things in a ‘bottom drawer’ to bring to their marriage.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2018 at Spiritually Unequal Marriage