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).

photo credit

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

3 Easy Ways to Encourage a Friend

I’m blessed with amazing friends. I know this is rare and I treasure it. The reason I know it’s rare is because in my first 5 years of marriage I moved to 4 different new cities. Being the new girl is hard. One of the hardest parts is not having a community of friends to support you and encourage you.

2012 has been a year full of joys and trials (what year isn’t, really). In times of celebration you want to be surrounded by loved ones. In times of heartache you need your soul lifted up. Through my own experience I’ve found the following ideas to be great ways to encourage a friend…trial or triumph. The good news? Two out of three of them you don’t even have to live in the same city!

1. Write out a prayer

When you hear about a prayer request, instead of replying “I’ll be praying for you” or “You’re in my prayers”, just type out a prayer right then. There are so many prayer requests and needs, we cannot keep all of them in our prayers all the time. So remove the guilt and write out the prayer.

Lord, may my words encourage the mom reading them today. May she be held close by your loving, capable arms. Bring friends to encourage her and which she can encourage. Thank you for creating community. Amen

I honestly don’t know the first person who did this for me. I only remember when she did I cried. Yes, I’m a crier but reading her words to the Lord for me was invaluable.

2. Text her a verse 

I have dear friends who encourage me through Scripture. Being reminded of His truth in the midst of my challenge is more helpful than any “thinking of you” or “hope it gets better.”

If you have a smart phone, open your YouVersion or ESV Bible apps and copy the verse directly from the app or text from the app. Very easy to do for busy moms.

3. Drop off a coffee

For a new mom or a mom stuck at home with sick kids, one of the simplest ways to love on her is to pick up her favorite Starbucks drink and drop it off. Near us there is a drive-thru Starbucks making it even easier to pick something up with a carload of kiddos.

Either text her ahead of time so you can find out what she wants (or any dietary restrictions…I’m currently an iced caramel soy latte drinker…in case you were wondering. =)). Or you could get the drink if you know what to get and just text that it’s on her front porch. No need to stay and visit. Just knowing you took the time and made the effort to treat her special is oh, so encouraging.

What’s your favorite way to encourage a friend?

**In light of the upcoming holiday, I’ve decided to take a break from writing next week. Hope you and your family have a fabulous Fourth of July!!

“Say it to Her Face” Challenge

Last week I wrote how we can break the negative cycle by entering into Christ’s fruit-producing cycle. If I long for love, joy, peace, patience in my family life & my friendships, then (according to John 15) I must:

  • Abide in Him by…
  • Abiding in His love by…
  • Obeying His commands, one of which is…
  • Love one another, I can do that by…
  • SAYING IT TO HER FACE (instead of behind her back).

My tongue has gotten me into a lot of trouble. In second grade I was punished for making a girl cry because I was whispering about her to a friend…yes, I was a “mean girl”. Over the holidays I’ve frequently created or worsened tensions among family members by talking behind someone’s back (“A dishonest man spreads strife,  and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28).

Honestly, I didn’t want to write this post. I didn’t want to be held accountable by friends, family and my online community. However, if I am going to be obedient and experience the fruit of the Spirit in my life, this is one area I need to be held accountable.

WHAT IS THE “SAY IT TO HER FACE” CHALLENGE?

When interacting with others, I want to be aware of my words. Before I speak, I want to consider if it’s something I would say to her face. If I couldn’t say it to her face and she isn’t present, then I should NOT say it.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

As women we all know gossip is a problem & is wrong. Read Paul’s words:

“They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29b-32)

We know it’s wrong, yet we still do it & encourage friends to gossip. Look at the other groups mentioned along with “gossips” in this verse: “haters of God”, “inventors of evil”…ouch!

Another reason for this challenge is to set a good example for my boys. They are old enough to pay attention & listen when my husband and I talk with each other. Slander and gossip should not be a part of our conversation.

HOW DO YOU PARTICIPATE?

1. Pray each morning for God to “put a guard over your mouth and watch over the door of your lips (Ps 141:3)” and not allow any “unwholesome talk to come out of your mouth (Eph 4:29).”

2. Pray this again before meeting with a friend or attending a social event, spending time with family, etc.

3. Memorize this scripture:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

To memorize this verse I am going to write it on a card & keep it taped to my computer keyboard. I will also make the verse my wallpaper on my phone as a reminder before talking with a friend or family member.

4. When in a conversation don’t talk about ANYONE unless they are physically present. 

  • Even if she is a common friend (if we both know her still not ok to talk about her)
  • Even if I am speaking well of her (it’s a slippery slope!)
  • Even if I am just stating facts

5. Keep her confidence. If someone shares information with me, it is not my job to share it with other people.

  • Even if it’s exciting news (pregnancy, marriage, job)–> use the line: “That’s her news to tell”
  • Even if she needs prayer–> only if she wanted me to ask others to pray for her should I share a “prayer request”.
  • Even if someone asks me a question about a person not present–> I will gently direct them to that person (“You should ask her”).

6. Instead of talking about others, ask those I’m talking with these questions:

  • What is God teaching you lately?
  • What was your highlight/low light this week?
  • What specifically can I pray for you?

7. Give myself grace. 

I am going to fail in this challenge because I am sinful. Even if I fail & speak about someone who is not in my presence, I am going to give myself grace to try again in the next conversation.

Disclaimer: This is a personal conviction. It is not my intent to preach AT you or assume this is a problem for you. My hope is if you struggle with “gossip”, talking about others or keeping confidences, then you would join me in the “Say it to Her Face” challenge. 

Will you join me in this challenge?

5 Marriage Lessons from our First 13 Years

Thirteen years ago we said “I do”. Half of that time we had no children in our home and exactly half of that time we have been parents.We realized thirteen years from now we will have 4 teenage boys (pray for us!).

On this blog I spend a lot of time talking about being God-centered in my parenting. Humbling myself so I can serve my family. What I have neglected to mention is the first relationship that made me aware of how self-centered I am.

I got married right before I turned twenty-two. A mere baby. Soon after getting married I moved to a new city, with no job & no friends. My husband traveled 3 weeks out of the month and I was lonely.

Our first year of marriage was humbling. I received a degree in biology/pre-medicine. I hoped to attend medical school and have all my emotional & social needs met by my husband. Instead I found myself alone most of the time, with no planned career path.

It was only by becoming God-centered in our marriage that we survived to this point. I don’t claim that we have this marriage thing figured out, but I thought I would take this opportunity of our wedding anniversary to share some of the lessons we’ve learned:

1. We are on the same team

It took a few fights & defensive moments before my husband declared: “We’re on the same team!”

Pride & selfishness cause me to fight for “my way”, when in reality we should be working together as a team for “our way.” If my husband offers healthy criticism, I shrink  or become defensive. Instead I should recognize that he is on my team and wanting the best for me. Wouldn’t I rather hear about something I need to work on from my husband who loves me, than from a boss/co-worker/stranger?

2. Keep having fun

We like to have fun. We love to laugh. The times in our marriage that we have struggled the most is when we have neglected our “fun side.” When we allow life stress & obligations to force out fun, our relationship suffers. 

Now with 4 boys we intentionally set aside time for fun. Whether it’s watching a favorite comedian, reading hilarious auto-corrected texts, dancing to 80’s music after dinner or singing karaoke, we find some way to put laughter into our lives.

Fortunately our boys provide a lot of laughter and fun (when they aren’t being frustrating and disobedient).

3. Pray together

About 5 years ago my husband began the habit of making sure we prayed together each morning before he left for work. They aren’t long drawn-out prayers. We simply take the time to pray for each other’s days or what is on our hearts at the time.

I love to know how I can continue to pray for him throughout the day. I also know what to ask him about when he comes home from work. Most importantly our boys see us hugging each other each morning & making God a priority.

Dancing with my husband’s grandfather, who turned 95 on our wedding day. He was a godly man of prayer, who wore out the knees on his pajamas praying for each family member every day. 

4. Couch Time

Once kids entered our lives we found our communication getting worse and worse. By the time our 2nd child was 6 months old we had a “come to Jesus” moment. I had made the kids too much of a priority and my connection to the outside world a second priority (Facebook/blogging/etc). Unfortunately my husband was getting the leftovers.

After recognizing how far off-base we had gone, we set certain “connection goals”. One of these was Couch Time. After the kids were in bed & dinner dishes were cleaned, we met each other on the couch for at least 10 minutes. Often times it lasted longer. Conversations at dinner were too difficult. Conversation during the day were impossible. So this was our time to connect. Soon it became a habit.

5. Saying the Right Thing at the Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to communication. Choosing the right time to bring up an issue is essential to the success of that conversation & solution. Not overreacting in the heat of the moment. Instead, making sure to step back and evaluate what you really feel & want to communicate.

A friend also gave us the advice to never discuss important matters after 10 o’clock at night. His rationale was that you are too emotional at that time of night and it will not be a productive conversation.

That’s a glimpse into what God’s taught us thus far. I’m sure the next thirteen years parenting these four boys, we are going to learn sooooo much more!

What lesson or tip can you share from your marriage?

She speaks with wisdom…prayer for your children

Last week I wrote about how your children need to see you fall on your knees and cry out to your Savior for help. I also mentioned other times we pray with our children…at meals, before starting the day, when grateful, and at bedtime.

In addition to praying with my children, I try to spend time in prayer for my children.   A mentor of mine from our church, Nancy, recently shared with me what she prayed for her children and what she learned in the process.  Here is Nancy’s prayer for her children:

“I lifted them up to Him and asked that He might put them in a bubble of His love and protection so that Satan darts might bounce off of them. That they might become all He created them to be.”

She shared with me that the answer to this prayer looked nothing like she thought. She thought she was praying that nothing bad would happen to them. But they have been through “difficult” experiences. In the end, through tragedy and difficulty her prayer was actually answered:

 “they love the Lord their God with all their hearts, soul and mind, are being used for His glory and are raising their children to walk with their Master.”

 What do you pray for your children? Do you think that you can keep them from harm through your prayers? Are you willing to have them fail so that God can teach them and draw them close?

Let them see you cry out…

We know we should pray for our children. There are great resources/calendars that give us character qualities to pray each day for them (here’s one from inspiredtoaction).

We know we should pray with our children before meals. Stopping to thank the Giver of all things for the provision of food.

Some of us even pray with our children before we start the day and before they go to sleep. A prayer I frequently pray with them…”May _______ hunger and thirst for righteousness. May he come to know you and serve you. May he use the talents you have given him for Your glory.”

Since reading “one thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp, I have felt challenged to pray out loud short prayers of thanksgiving throughout the day. I am trying to reshape my ungrateful heart and live fully in the right now. I want my children to be more grateful. If I lead from the front in gratitude…they will follow.

photo credit: more good foundation 

What about when tragedy strikes? What about when a big decision has to be made? Do they see you fall physically on your knees crying out to your Heavenly Father for His strength and help in time of trouble?

When I heard that my mom was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Costa Rica I called the boys to join me on our knees in the kitchen. I thank God for His many blessings and I pleaded with Him for healing. I asked for comfort. I sought His face when all seemed out of control.

If I want to raise Spiritual Champions, one key is to model prayer & humility in difficulty. I want them to be men who humble themselves before the throne. Who seek God in all things. Who don’t try to control and manipulate circumstances but relinquish control to their Creator.

Let them see you cry out to your Father.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)