Satan’s pants are on fire

I sat on the floor clipping Watts’ toenails when Price marched into the kitchen.

“Mommy, did you know that Satan used to be a beautiful angel? Then he decided he wanted to be God and that’s how he became Satan.” (a direct quote, I swear).

I responded with, “You are so right Pricey. Did you know we sometimes make the same mistake as Satan? We think we can be like God and God has to remind us that isn’t true.”

Price kept going with his thought, “Yeah, Satan wants us to be on his bad team. He tells us lies and wants us to not be with God.”

“Buddy, you got it. Remember Satan’s first lie. He convinced Eve she could be smarter than God. He said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” That’s like Quade saying, “Did mommy really say not to have a piece of candy?” Sadly, Eve believed Satan’s lies.”

“Remember that song, mommy? ‘Satan’s pants are on fire. He tells you it’s not true. He sells you on the pretty fruit.’ That’s talking ’bout Satan lying, right?”

He’s only five and he gets it. There is a battle going on. It’s not visible. For we are each a soul with a body (C.S. Lewis).

Last Thursday at a faith & culture event, I heard the actor, Max Mclean, speak. His voice may be more well-known than his face. If you have the YouVersion Bible app, you have heard him when listening to the NIV translation. He also done wonderful performances of books from the Bible (here is the link for Mark chapter 1)

Max was in Dallas performing in his adaptation of C.S.Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”. This wonderful book is a series of short letters written from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew & protegé, Wormwood. He advises Wormwood on how to keep his “patient”, a British gentleman, from becoming a Christian. How to secure the man’s “damnation”. To keep him directed toward “our Father below” (satan) and keep him from “the Enemy” (God).

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In the preface to the book, C.S.Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” 

Either extreme is dangerous:

  • ignoring the existence of evil
  • an excessive interest in demons.

In writing my own book, I cannot ignore the existence of evil. I’m walking into the battlefield. Because Satan is the poster child for “pride” and Christ the perfect example of “humility”.

“Pride can degrade the highest angels into devils, and humility raise fallen flesh and blood to the thrones of angels.”-Cantebury Prayers (1893)

We have the choice each day to humble ourselves and admit God as the supreme authority. Or we can go the path of the fallen angel and “consider equality with God something to be grasped” (Phil 2:6)…which even Christ, who was God, didn’t claim.

As I write this book would you pray with me to keep Satan’s lies from my mind. To stay focused (so many distractions) on the message God wants me to share, a message of humility in mothering. With these words I’m striking Satan right between the eyes. “The devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked” (Thomas More).

Of course he would have me “feeling not like myself”, keep me from writing these words. He wants to keep me isolated. Alone. Discouraged.

Well not anymore. You chicas are my encouragers. My prayer warriors.

You need a prayer warrior too. If you desire to be a God-centered momma then you are being attacked as well. Can you write in the comments how we can pray for you? Will you pray for the request written right before your own? Like a little bloggy-prayer chain. 

Here is my prayer:

“Lord, keep my mind stayed on You. Don’t allow me to believe the lies that I have “nothing new” to say to moms. Keep me from the distractions of social media. Keep my family safe. May I continue to view this book as your project and not for my glory.” Amen

I wrote this post on Saturday. Monday morning I hired a sitter to watch the boys while I wrote for a couple hours. I had just gone upstairs and opened my computer…literally minutes later I heard Price screaming, “Emergency! Emergency!! Watts is really, really hurt” Then I see the sitter carrying Watts up the stairs. My sweet boy was bawling…and bleeding buckets from his head. Fortunately after 5 minutes of cleaning the bleeding source turned out to be a small puncture wound. Thankfully it wasn’t my first “my-son-is-bleeding-everywhere” rodeo. Unfortunately, thirty minutes of writing time was now gone.

Tuesday during “quiet time” when I planned to write, Knox woke up from his nap early and cried inconsolably for 45 minutes. Tuesday night I went to bed early planning to wake Wednesday morning at 5am to write. Sadly Price was up all Tuesday night with a stomach bug. 

I truly don’t believe this scenarios are coincidences. Please, please stop right now and pray for this project and for Satan to be bound. Quade, amazingly, shared the verse (pictured above) with me. Thank you Lord for a precious son who knows and speaks truth.: 

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:20

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Faith at a Fish Funeral

It was the lunchtime rush. Preparing food while tummies grumbled & mouths whined. I glance at the Betta fish tank sitting on our counter. Something seemed wrong. But I continued assembling sandwiches while comforting the newborn. Once the food was placed on the table and the boys were occupied I returned to check out Rojo Red (“the fish”). He wasn’t floating to the top, but he wasn’t moving. At. All.

Upon further investigation I noticed the gray coating on his scales and the absent look in his eyes. I wasn’t 100% that he had left this earth…he had fooled us before (floated on his side for over an hour then made a full recovery). So I transferred him into a cup. His stiff body confirmed my assumption: our first pet death.

Rojo Red’s days were numbered. He was nearing his 2nd birthday and for a Betta Fish that is a long life (particularly a Betta fish whose owners have 4 young boys).

My middle sons were quite curious to check out the “corpse”. My eldest son (the most sensitive of the clan) hung back. Finally I convinced him it would be a good idea to see Rojo really was “gone”.

Nervously he stammered, “You know what cute thing some kids do? They bury their fish in the backyard. Can we do that?”. I responded: “We could do that. Or some people flush the fish down the toilet.”

Before the words were out of my mouth the two middle boys were chanting, “Toilet! Toilet! Let’s flush him down the toilet!!!”

The only way to calm them down was by saying, “Rojo Red was actually your brother’s fish from his 5th birthday. So he decides what happens to Rojo. If he wants to bury him, that’s what we’ll do.”

I prepared the body…wrapping him in paper towel. The coffin of choice was a small contact lens solution box (a free sample from my recent eye appointment…in my busyness I had let my prescription expire & ran out of contact lenses).

We headed outside. I grabbed gloves and a small shovel. My eldest found a piece of wood from a previous Taekwondo board breaking. He began to write down his sentiments… 

After the box was placed in its hole and gently covered with dirt, the eulogy began. I asked if anyone wanted to pray…silence. 

Then my 4-year-old closed his eyes & simply prayed:

“Dear Lord, thank you for our fish. Pray that he will come alive someday. Amen”

Paul wrote: “In prayer, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…” On that day, I saw my son’s childlike faith. He demonstrated gratitude and made his request. A request that he wholeheartedly believed God could fulfill.

Until his older brother giggled and said, “Only Jesus can come back alive from death. Remember the Yancy song, ‘1,2,3, Jesus is Alive’. The fish won’t come back to life. Right, mom?”

I wanted to believe that with God “all things are possible”.  However, my years of experience and science background, would not allow me to believe in a fish resurrection.

I watched my 4-year-old’s face transform from hopeful to enlightened. “Oh yeah, that’s true. He can’t come back to life.” I saw the change, the tiny step away from childish ways. When too much knowledge is a bad thing. When we stop believing in miracles. When faith is bound by science.

He said to them…” if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

What struck me most is my lack of faith for this child. I was convinced he was averse to all things of God. Yet here he demonstrated pure faith. He believed God’s power could not be contained. He knew his heart’s desire could be innocently expressed to a big God who cared.

How often I say “I believe in God”, yet my actions communicate, “I don’t believe God”. If I truly believed God, then I would not worry about the future. My hands should be open to what He has for my family & my boys. Instead I strangle joy, white-knuckled out of fear.

The boy that I worried would not claim a faith of his own, demonstrated simple faith in a simple moment. His prayer was heard throughout the heavens. Although God may not bring Rojo Red back to life, God was glorified in the asking.

 Jesus. We loved him. He was 7 years old when he died. He loved God.

Do you believe God? Do you believe He is in absolute control over your life? Do you trust Him with the details? Do you believe He is capable of miracles, big & small? 

Danger of Too Much Training {Say less. Pray more}

I had an “ah-ha”parenting moment. I picked up the book “Hints on Child Training” by H. Clay Trumbull. Two older moms (including Sally Clarkson) recommended the book. H. Clay Trumbull, father of eight children & the great-grandfather of Elisabeth Elliot, wrote it in 1890. The advice he gives is Bible-centered, wise & applicable to children of any generation.

In my usual non-fiction reading habit, I flipped through the book and started reading a chapter that caught my eye. The chapter was entitled: “Letting Alone as a Means of Child Training.”

“Child training is a necessity, but there is a danger of overdoing in the line of child training.  The neglect of child training is a great evil. Overdoing in the training of a child may be even a greater evil.” -H. Clay Trumbull

Let that sink in for a second. No training is evil BUT over-training may be a greater evil.

I always judged those who gave their children no boundaries or discipline, as “bad parents”. But in reality I’m the one to be judged in my “over-training”.

“The young parents who are exceptionally conscientious, and exceptionally desirous of being wise and faithful in the discharge of their parental duties, are liable to err in the direction of overdoing in the training of their children.” -H. Clay Trumbull

In this stage of adding a new baby, I desire control over my kids more than ever. So I increase my training & direction. Fooling myself into the belief that I’m actually in control. The reality is that the more I direct & correct the more I push them to misbehavior. I don’t end up training their hearts.

Here is the advice of one father in his experience with his oldest child:

“I thought I must be training her all the time, and I forced issues with her, and took notice of little things, when I would have done better to leave her alone… I saw my mistake afterwards, and I allowed my other children more freedom, by letting them alone except when they must be interfered with; and I’ve seen the benefit of this course”

After reading this chapter I made a pact with myself…I would turn a “blind eye” to minor infractions of my boys. When one was too rough I would NOT remind him to be gentle. When they use potty talk I would NOT remind them to use “life-giving” words. I would NOT remind them to shut the back door.

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Oh my goodness is it hard! It’s become such a habit for me to correct all day long. AND it’s become a habit for them to wait for me to correct before they change their behavior. 

I realized they’ve become dependent on my words to direct their actions. Their internal monitors for behavior control were turned “off”. All behavior control was external. Not what I want. I can’t be with them at all times. They need to regulate their own behavior.

I also realized that when I didn’t direct them and allowed them to make the right choice, I could reinforce their good choice. Give them credit & positive reinforcement. In the past they were just doing what I asked, now they were doing it on their own…which is true training.

My mentor, Leslie, gave me the advice: “Use fewer words. Pray more.”  In those moments when I’m trying to hold my tongue, I pray.

I pray for the particular character quality. I pray for wisdom to know whether I should intervene. I pray for God to put a guard over my mouth and give me self-control.

Do you struggle with over-training your children? Are you primarily directing/correcting? Will you join me in the “pact” to say less & pray more?

Breathe…{replacing “me” with “He” series}

I desire to view my relationship with God as a rhythm, not a religious ritual.

But how?

Even if I find time in my morning  to pray, read His Word, meditate in solitude…by 10 am I am dry again.

The constant demands, noise, chaos, needs, spills, duties empty me of the joy and peace I found in the early morning. By 5 pm, I am completely and utterly spent. Not only is the peace not felt but anger rises. My words sting hearts. My impatience is palpable. I’m ready for the day to be done.

What can I do to stay in the rhythm with God throughout my day? To not just feel His presence in the early morning but remember His goodness and provision throughout the day?

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

I have 3 young children begging for my attention all day long. How do I pray continually?

It’s as simple as breathing.

Breathe in…

I can call on a “biblical name or image of God”** that has personal significance for me. Such as: “Lord Jesus”, “Heavenly Father”, “Most High”, “Merciful God”, “Abba Father”, “Jesus, Son of David”, or “Shepherd”.

Breathe out…

Then I can breathe out a “simple God-given desire”** Such as: “have mercy on me”, “give me peace”, “help me see as You see”, “help me”, “give my soul rest”, or “lead me by still waters”.

Put them together for a “breath prayer” such as: “Jesus have mercy on me”; “Abba Father help me see as you see.”; “My refuge give me security.”; “Lord focus my mind on truth.”

A breath prayer makes it possible to: “Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone” (Brother Lawrence)

Here’s an example of when you may pray a simple breath prayer during the day:

-Children are fighting while you are doing dishes. You feel your emotions rising. “Lord Jesus grant me peace.”

-Your toddler refuses to be buckled in his car seat while your preschooler is asking you why the sky is blue and your phone is ringing. “Lord Jesus grant me peace.”

-Dinner is on the stove. Your son just fell and his knee is bleeding. Another child is asking for help on a puzzle. “Lord Jesus grant me peace.”

As personal as breathing…

When choosing your “breath prayer”, consider the following:

  • Spend a period of time in prayer and His Word.
  • Seek your personal “name” for God 
  • Consider your request. It should come out of something God is teaching you or that you are going through at this moment.
  • Your prayer should be something that “centers” your life back on God.
  • Your breath prayer may change over time as what God is teaching you changes.
  • Consider praise & worship songs or scripture 
    (particularly the Psalms) for inspiration.
  • Stick to one sentence that you can remember throughout your day.

Lord Jesus grant me peace.

**“Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” by Adele A. Calhoun

just a little

Think about something you are struggling with right now.

the loss of a dream? absent spouse? difficult children? uncertain future?

I’ve shared from my own experience how I needed to trust God’s provision even when I struggled with his calling.

I shared how when I cried out to Him for clarity and a solution…He answered.

What if you don’t feel joy despite God’s goodness? Doubt and sadness are present even though He answered in a tangible way. 

But…there is also a small piece of your heart that believes God loves you and knows what’s best for you.  

God tells us all He needs is just that small piece. That tiny portion of you that goes back to the idea that He is good.

He compares it to a mustard seed.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”                      Matthew 17:20

“The mustard seed plants, when not crowded too closely with other plants, can grow to be fifteen feet or higher, and have a thick main stem, with branches strong enough to bear the weight of a bird. The parable of the mustard seed exhibits the smallness of the origin, as well as the greatness of the progress and magnitude of his kingdom.Ken Anderson.net

You may still be grieving the loss of the dream. You may still be saddened about the state of your marriage.  You may still be frustrated that your children are challenging. You may feel hopeless about the future.

No matter what you feel. As long as you have the tiniest bit of faith that God is good. That He loves you. That He sees you in your struggle. That He will provide a way out. A hope. A future. Then in His strength, with that tiny bit of faith, you can do the impossible.

something I know I needed to remember…

find your little bit of faith. plant it in your heart & watch it grow!

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He answered.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about my mini-crisis of faith. My challenge with trusting God’s plan. Doubting His calling. I was so focused on the possible “nevers” that I was missing all the future blessing & forgetting the past provision.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is “the sonogram”. I’m ready to see this child & to know that all is well.  Because of my little gender prediction test results I’ve been able to process my feelings regarding the potential fourth boy.

I have felt peace about having a fourth boy since God gave me a vision for him, but for some reason I did not have a peace about the upcoming sonogram. After talking about it with friends and my husband I realized my anxiety and dread was correlated with not knowing how to share the news from the ultrasound with those who are hoping I’ll have a girl.

When I share our special news I want to feel confident and at peace on the inside AND be able to exude confidence so others do not feel they need to express pity.

Friday morning during my time with the Lord, I laid out my concerns. In order  to be still and hear a word from Him, I first expressed what I was feeling & released my anxiety. Then I waited on the Lord. (ironically Lara Williams of “To Overflowing” wrote a post on her blog that same Friday about crying out to the Lord:  “for when we need direction“.)

Saturday morning during my Sabbath I spent time in prayer asking again for a clear word. I asked for a phrase I could confidently share with others about our exciting news.

At lunch that day we went to a fun local pharmacy that also is a restaurant. As we were leaving a sweet older lady, who was sitting near our table, stopped me and said, “Thank you for allowing me to relive my past by watching your boys. I had 4 boys. It was wonderful.”

She went on to tell me that when she had her 4th son a friend called her at the hospital and asked her if she cried. She was confused by the question and thought her friend was referring to the pain of childbirth. The friend clarified and said, “No did you cry when you found out it was a boy.” Her response was confidently, “Heavens no! We’re thrilled!”

She didn’t know what I had prayed for that morning. I hadn’t shared my own personal journey. She was used by God that day. Particularly when she said,  “With 3 cuties like you have, who wouldn’t want a 4th one!”.

Thank you Lord. I asked for a clear, confident answer for when people ask what I’m having.  This sweet stranger provided exactly what I was needing.

I have been blessed with 3 beautiful, healthy, sweet, fun, adorable, godly, loving boys…who wouldn’t want another one.

I don’t know what you are wrestling with today. I don’t know what you are worrying about. I don’t know what difficulty you are struggling through.

I do know that there is a God who loves you desperately. Who sees you. Who knows your steps from afar. He sees when you sit and when you rise. Call out to Him. Pour out your concerns.  No matter how small. He hears. He cares. He will answer.

“LORD, hear my prayer,
   listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
   come to my relief…

I remember the days of long ago;
   I meditate on all your works
   and consider what your hands have done.
 I spread out my hands to you;
   I thirst for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, LORD;
   my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
   or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
   for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
   for to you I entrust my life. ” Ps 143: 1, 5-8

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Life: Unmasked

no matter the cost…

“Are you willing to pray that your Father would glorify his name in your life, in your children’s lives, no matter what the cost?  Are you willing to smile at every weakness and calamity if it means that the power of Christ rests on you and the Father is glorified?” (Elyse Fitzpatrick in “Give Them Grace”).

I don’t think I’m willing. I want perfect kids. I want perfect obedience. I want success in the eyes of the world. I…

But it’s not what I want that matters. He is all that matters. I must trust His plan. I cry out:  “Lord I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief…”

“Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

It is through my weakness that His power is made perfect. It is through difficulty that I cling more to His all-sufficiency. He has saved me & is fully capable to save my children.

“So, go ahead.  Work at being a successful parent.  Manage, nurture, train, and correct your children in faith today.  Teach them of God’s precious promises that are able to transform their hearts.  Pray for their salvation and that they would come to know and believe the love that he has for them.  But hold all your labors, all your prayers, and all your plans very loosely.  And make it your overriding desire that the Father would be glorified in every aspect of your life, whichever way he turns it” (E. Fitzpatrick).

Lord, it is difficult for me to desire your glory even at the cost of my children not turning out “perfectly”. Change my desires. Help me overcome my unbelief. Help me to hold my plans loosely. Be the Father to my children.  Amen.

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