Respecting Our Kids (Part One: The Struggle)

Okay, let me paint a picture for you and then you can see if you’re reading the right blog 🙂

One or more of your children seems to need more attention than you think they should require at their age. They have one or more of these characteristics: They tend to be destructive. They lose, break, cut, and color on things. They tend to whine or fall apart at instruction. They are opinionated and don’t go with the flow. They lie sometimes, and their response to being found out is one of confusion. They have a hard time looking you in the eye and staying focused on more than one sentence at a time. Certain things really bug them, like socks being too big or noise or even hugs.  They don’t remember something they seemed to have grasped last week. They get anxious about learning new things. They aren’t compliant sometimes with simple things like putting on shoes or finishing their drink. They seem to disregard instructions, either forgetting or not prioritizing them. They’re often in a bad mood even when their lives seem quite fun and easy.

Even if these aren’t characteristics of any of your children, do you recognize any of the following characteristics in yourself?

You don’t know how to respond when your child did something irresponsible or flat out disobedient or is throwing a loud fit. Your first move is to give a lecture and a punishment. Your main priority is that they simply never do that behavior again. You ask “What were you thinking?” a lot. You holler from across the house what they need to be doing. You threaten time-outs and spankings without actually getting up from your chair. You feel angry, aggravated, and powerless. You give mean looks. Your expectations are rarely met.

Well, I’ve been there, I admit it. In fact, in order to implement the changes I have been learning about, I needed to grow in humility and have a major heart change. Here are just a few pieces to the heart-change puzzle for me:

  1. I had to recognize I don’t show love and acceptance to my children just as they are, right smack in the middle of their problems, and that’s not okay. I had to realize I was holding back smiles and warm, kind eyes from them when they disappointed me, and that’s not okay.  I was saying, “We’re your forever family, you belong with us, we love you!” but acting like “You better shape up, kid, and I’ll be keeping you at arm’s length until you do.” I truly had to repent.
  2. I had to let go of my expectations of them based on their age or what “should be” their maturity level. So many of my angry moments were spurred by this thought: “You should know better. You should do better.” I had to let go of the “shoulds” and accept what is, choosing to rise to the challenge. (P.S. None of us like to be “shoulded”…either we achieve something or we don’t, “shoulding” just makes people feel less.)
  3. I had to realize children are unique little people with quirks, idiosyncrasies, struggles, habits, and opinions, just like me, and they deserve the same acceptance and unconditional kindness and respect that I expect from others. They’re complex! They aren’t my canvas to paint on, they are their own, and we don’t really even know them until we make the effort to stop changing them.
  4. I had to understand there are real biological or psychological reasons behind some of those behaviors and difficulties, and grow in knowledge and compassion.
  5. I had to accept that it was my responsibility to set a new tone, make a new plan, and bring healing through our interactions instead of hurt and distance.

 

Respecting Our Kids (Intro)

Wow, my thoughts about this topic are completely commandeering my morning. If I sound especially passionate in my writing today it’s because God is digging deep in the garden of my heart…and because of my spiritual gifts of teaching and encouraging, I feel like I have to share.

First of all, my ideas of parenting changed completely through attending an Empowered to Connect seminar in April 2015 and then continuing to study and practice their teaching all summer. This training is specifically for parents and caretakers of children from hard places, whether that’s a foster care situation, trauma at an early age, or adoption. It’s for families who are raising kids who have experienced loss at a time they needed attachment and someone they could trust the most. But as I listened and as I have learned this summer, I have grown to believe this way of relating is for EVERYONE! It has revolutionized my home and now is revolutionizing my heart, affecting every relationship, beyond my children…and the real key to it all is respect. Yes, love, of course. But one of the ways love is shown is through the multi-faceted concept of respect.

Every person wants to feel respected, like they matter, like they are an equal, and like their voice is worthy of being heard. Every person needs to be able to share how they are feeling without fear of punishment. Every person deserves this and innately desires this, because we’re made in the image of God and by the hands of God! Whether we struggle at times with this concept of self image or not, something inside of us is always pushing us to know we are special and precious.

Is it possible that we teach our kids they are fearfully and wonderfully made, as Psalm 139 tells us, and expect them to grow up to have a great self-esteem, but then talk to them on a daily basis like we would talk to no other human being on this planet? I say every child needs respect whether they come from hard places or not, whether they’re fragile in the area of feeling like they belong or not, because it doesn’t matter how steady and strong your foundation is, none of us appreciate a lack of respect being shown to us and when there is a lack of respect we struggle to respond correctly in that moment. When the cashier says in an exhausted, sarcastic tone, “Are you gonna swipe your card or what?” When your spouse says, “I know I told you I would do this, but I did this instead…I’ll do your thing later.” When the person you were in a fender bender with yells, “What is wrong with you?” The three attitudes behind these examples…I have had them all with my children at times and that makes me sad.

It is possible to raise children with respect without them thinking they are in control and equal in regard to running the household. Here’s the good news: They don’t want to be in control and they don’t want to run the household. They simply want their ideas and words to be listened to, their feelings and desires considered, and to be spoken to and treated with unconditional positive regard.

This week I’ll be sharing blogs about this topic and will give examples of how we can change disrespectful habits into life giving, connecting interactions with our kids. I hope I can relay to you how imperfect I am at this, yet how much reward I already am receiving — I can see it in their eyes.

Being respected is being loved.

Learning to Trust

As I have talked about to pretty much anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me this summer, God is doing a major work in my life and that work is all about learning to trust Him!

 

First, I had to find out that I didn’t really trust Him…

then I had to find out why not…

then I had to seek His Word to reconcile how I felt with what I say I believe…

and now I get up every morning to face the situations that will drive those truths deeper and deeper into my inner being.

 

This is what is on my mind as I think about a situation I am having to face right now! I want to share this because I think it’s a good example of how truth can meet us in the middle of suffering.

Last year around this time, I had to have a medical procedure. I am not a wimp at all when it comes to pain, but this was a bad situation, and it took me awhile to get over it emotionally and physically. Yesterday, I went back to the surgeon and I have to have another similar surgery. It isn’t going to be in an emergency setting like last time, so I am grateful for that, but still, I’m really having a hard time accepting that I have to “go there” again. All of a sudden, I physically feel tired and like I want to cry all the time. It’s really affecting me!

 

But part of what I’ve been learning in this “trust process” is that a large amount of the pain we feel in suffering is our fear of it. This is the part that gets me pretty fired up. See, the enemy wants us to get caught up in being angry at God when we suffer, but the truth is that fear comes from Satan and it does not have to be a part of our suffering experience.  The part of suffering we can have power over, the part of suffering God is cheering us on to take power over, is here in our inner man. A spirit of fear does not have to accompany us in the trials of life; we can resist against his lies, and walk in freedom in the middle of the circumstance.

So that’s the part of suffering we can do battle against…but I believe there’s also a part of suffering we are encouraged to accept.

A large part of the pain we feel in suffering is our rejection of it.

Think of Job. Think of Jesus. Think of John. Think of Paul. They all understood that their suffering was allowed very purposefully and strategically by God, and while they were real and honest about the pain, they accepted it. They took the cup and drank it. They weren’t shocked by it, and they didn’t act like they were somehow too good for it. They wanted their suffering to achieve every high purpose God had in mind for it.

Amen?

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Look

I don’t really know where to begin. I am choosing to restrain myself from writing about everything all at once…in fact, I have a new goal in blogging that some of you will be really happy about! 500 word cut-off! Whoo!

That was 40 right there. Wow.

So, Jack and I went to Haiti this summer & spent two weeks getting to know the girls that will someday be our daughters. It was wonderful & weird, precious & difficult, all at the same time. Once that trip was completed, other pieces of the process could begin, so we were thrilled to finally be at that point.

We came home to a whirlwind of summer plans with our girls here (ages 7 & 10), and then they began school just a couple of weeks ago. I quickly dove into beginning and updating lifebooks for my girls, studying Haitian Creole, taking care of my inner life, and teaching music lessons while they are gone during the day.

One thing that has made all the difference in the world to me is my daily prayer time. I’ve been using the resources The Power of a Praying Parent and The Power of a Praying Wife to pray specifically for the people under my care. I genuinely feel like I am living out Philippians 4 that tells us the peace of Christ will guard our hearts and minds as we present our needs to Him, with thanksgiving. I’m thankful that every need I bring to the Lord He knew about, and my prayers are more about me reminding myself of His awareness, power, and love than anything else! It’s a truly remarkable difference. I am not afraid anymore. I’m not afraid of not praying enough or not remembering to say exactly the thing I’m asking for in exactly the right way. Oh, how small in my eyes that makes my God and how big in my eyes it makes me! The truth is my Father has got “my people” in the palm of His hand, and that absolutely includes my girls in Haiti and my girls in public school. He has so much restoration and solace for their souls, and my prayers are simply in agreement with & gratitude for His already-great plans for them.

We are currently waiting for our Authorization of Adoption, which usually takes 4-6 months, which means we should get ours between the end of October and the end of December. We’re praying that God will spur people in Haiti to make this process happen in a more reasonable time period. After that Authorization comes, there is another 6-8 months of the process.

Proverbs 21:30 tells us (and this is no isolated verse here!): “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

I don’t know what God wants to do in the seen realm about this adoption process, but I have no doubt in my mind (and am seeing with my own eyes) that He is the One in control & that He is providing for every need.

Take joy, little children, we have a good Father!!!!!

 

It Happened

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So, we are terribly behind in sharing the news because once IT happened, our life flew into a whirlwind! On May 29th, 2015, we got the phone call we had been waiting 18 months for. Our adoption agency had our referral letter for two little girls in Haiti! They are 3 and almost 5 years old. We are so excited to finally have pictures and names. I’m sorry to not share that part yet with the world, but we are letting more steps of the process occur before we “go public” about our newest family members.

After getting the referral, we were on a plane to Haiti in less than 3 weeks. We stayed in a nice guest house associated with the creche the little girls live in. Almost every day of our 15 day “socialization trip” we visited our children at the creche. The creche is a big house with many levels for different ages of kids and nannies in each room.

 


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Our girls quickly (like within minutes) wanted to be held and called us “Mama and Papa Blan”. They were told we would someday be their parents, and in case you don’t see the connection to the French word for “white” (blanc), the word “blan” is “white” in Haitian Creole. So basically we were White Mama and White Papa. (Yes, you can laugh, it’s pretty funny.)

The girls do not speak any English at all. This was certainly challenging, but we brought a lot of toys to play with together. We also sang and prayed a lot, especially when emotions were running high and deep. We got to meet many of the little girls’ friends, playmates, and nannies. It really struck me how unique the community in the creche was. Kids were happy for each other when their friend’s “Mama Blan and Papa Blan” came. They understood it would happen for them someday, too. There was a sense of hope and excitement, not despair. It was a really simple existence but not lonely and not miserable and certainly not fearful or unhealthy. The children also understood that when Mama and Papa Blan went away, they would be coming back, because they had seen other friends go through the same process. This comforts us greatly, because being with these precious girls for two weeks and then leaving was excruciating. I wanted to get back to my daughters in the U.S. very much, but it was very strange and sad to leave.

We are told we have 10-14 months before we get to bring them home. They are not yet “ours” and there are many legal steps to take, each taking weeks to months. We would love to have you praying with us to receive our IBESR Authorization and Adoption Decree swiftly. We are praying for miracles, but I want to say I have a joy and peace that honestly shocks me. Soon I will blog about the monumental way God has removed worry and fear from my heart and life! I can pray with thanksgiving and confidence that our Father has my family in His perfectly capable, loving hands.

I can’t wait to see what He does.

#HowToBuild: Why We Fast

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short blog series called #HowToBuild, about building ourselves up in our most holy faith. I wrote about being in the Word, prayer, worship, and about the enemy. I cannot even tell you how attacked I was after writing that blog about the enemy! The Lord really did allow Satan to sift me, like I wrote in the most recent blog, about Jesus and Peter. I felt dazed and confused for awhile, knocked down and not knowing what hit me. I came to the Lord and His Word but in every way I just felt unable to concentrate and get anywhere. And because I saw how valuable fasting can be in times like this, when things in the physical realm are unbearable and life in the spiritual realm doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough, I want to tag on another blog to that series…

Why We Fast.

I went through a time where I didn’t fast often at all, because I couldn’t really remember why it mattered. Honestly! I had this idea in my head that fasting was pretty much like holding my breath until God gave me what I was asking for, like “I’m not going to eat until that person is healed!” Um…I didn’t think that was quite right.

But in the sifting, in the disappointment and fear, it began to be really clear to me by God’s grace that I had to find a way to get more of His truth and power in me. Not only could I not be the wife and mom and witness I wanted to be if I did not have more of His Word and truth and love in me, but I could not survive on the inside, in the place where joy and peace was so desperately needed.

It’s clear to me now that when I am inconsistent in patience and love with my family, really the problem behind this is my inconsistency of coming and being filled by the living Lord Jesus and all His goodness.

That requires time. That requires attention. That requires setting aside escapes. That requires setting aside distractions. So for me, that requires fasting, and personally I fast from things like social media and Netflix because I know that’s where I go when I can’t handle things going on in my life. But what do I really need when I can’t handle things going on in my life, when I’m really hurting? I need Jesus, the same Jesus Mary and Martha cried to when their brother died, the same Jesus who looked with compassion on the masses. I need fellowship with Him and understanding of His parables. I need to know what I can expect from God, what happens when I pray, how to pray! I need to know He loves me, that others have suffered and made it through, and what faith really is! Sure, I’ve heard a lot of it before, but yesterday’s manna is stale. I have to gather, today, my portion.

Fasting is not about getting what we want in our prayer life.

Fasting is not about holding our breath, thinking if we take this drastic measure, He will do what we ask. He’s going to do what we ask if He wants to, I don’t think we have to fast to make it happen. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

Fasting is about prioritizing our spiritual nourishment for the marathon we are in, with great expectation that our inner and outer man will reflect the strength, wisdom, and peace we gain from Him.

Fasting is about feeding the spirit, which sometimes requires starving the flesh. It’s about focusing on the invisible, when we would normally choose the easier route: focusing on what we can see and touch and be quickly comforted by.

I’m at a place in my walk with God where I don’t have exact time frames of fasting, exact goals or beginning or ends, because then it becomes about the outer man, and my own self control. I want fasting to be about gaining a heart of wisdom, a life that chooses Him because I see the bounty there as opposed to what I would end up with if I spent that free time in another way. He wants to set our feet on higher ground, to look at our problems from a platform set up outside of the situation, rather than drowning in waves we can’t get our heads above.

Whatever it takes to get to that place, and stay at that place, oh, Jesus, give us grace to do it!

That Our Faith Would Not Fail

Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked permission to sift him like wheat but that He was going to be praying for him, that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:31-32) Then Jesus gave Peter a picture of what it would look like to follow Him. He said: You’ll be taken places you do not want to go. You’ll have zero control. When Peter asked if the others would have it that bad, Jesus answered: None of your business and not your problem! You must follow Me. (John 21:18-22) Whew. Those must have been some life altering moments for Peter. And like a few other life altering moments for Peter that I can call to mind from Scripture, I fit in his shoes quite well. Stepping out, sinking. Demanding, head lowering. Zealous, unfaithful.

What can we take from these encounters of Jesus with Peter when we ourselves have a crisis of faith, a mountain ahead we just don’t want to have to climb?

1) We can take from these conversations a realization that we ourselves may be in the process of being “sifted”, meaning when it’s over (this particular circumstance and this earthly life), some of who we are will be left and some of who we are will be gone, thrown out, dead. Satan intends the sifting for our pain, in hopes our faith will fail, but Jesus intends the sifting for our benefit, so that we are refined like gold. It hurts. There are cancers being cut out of us. He sees what we cannot, and if we are to be His vessels here to show His Kingdom to the world, there are things in us that simply cannot remain.

2) We can see this unbelievable truth right along with the first: Jesus Himself is interceding for us. And He is interceding to the Father on our behalf, praying that our faith would not fail. He is the leader of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Is He praying we will get everything we’re wanting? Is He praying our answers would come quickly and easily? I don’t see that here. I see His concern is our perseverance and character. I see His concern is our encouragement and an ability to keep going even when our plans fail and our hearts break.

3) We can see while our relationship with the Lord is incredibly enriched by community, there is an element of this relationship that is naked, alone, face to face, “just you and me here now”. We can’t worry about the size of other people’s mountains, callings, or pain. We can’t worry about the magnitude of other people’s success, riches, or ease. If we have given our lives to the Lord, they are just that: His.

It’s a death, a real death, to realize these things. We’re dying to self, to immaturity, to trying to make things true just because we want them to be true, not because they’re scripturally sound. It’s not taking on bitterness or apathy, it’s taking on the yoke that we chose in accepting Christ, the yoke that is only easy and light once we lose our strong opinions and absolute need to be in charge.

By His Spirit, we have joy in the journey, yes, even this leg of the journey. By His Blood, we have peace and friendship with God. By His dwelling in us, we have resurrection life that is the very breath in our lungs. Friends, in whatever mountain you’re climbing, whether you chose that mountain and now see how impossible it is to climb, or whether you are going through a trial you did not choose at all, I want to tell you this:

Whatever you have lost and whatever you feel you lack, you do have what you need to make it through.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, present nor the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.” (Romans 8:35-39)

What We Do When Our Naysayers Are Proved Right

I don’t know. Do you? I’m really tempted to just keep crying and find someone else much wiser and much more mature who can tell me. What do we do when our naysayers are proved right? What do we do when we finally “get” what they meant, when we finally see the pain they foretold?

We see ourselves as dreamers. Hopers. Big-time believers. We feel called. We don’t want to waste our lives just doing what’s easy, what’s normal. Nope, we have to pick the tallest mountain to climb. And not to gain attention, but because deep inside we have a sense that fully living means forgetting the status quo and living from our hearts. We have a sense that fully living means taking the words of Jesus as literally as we can figure out how to.

But yes, there’s a piece of this kind of person that is easily fooled, too. The naysayers see with complete clarity what we cannot. The passion and zeal and ideas and hope are so strong that no matter how many times we nod our heads in the beginning, saying, “Yes, of course I know this may fail and I’m okay with that, but I just have to try”, we really don’t know that. We really don’t accept the possibility. And if we genuinely do realize the possibility of failure, we aren’t in touch with just how painful and devastating it could be. The naysayers are feeling that for us. In advance. Thanks so much!

So when they’re proved right, that can only mean one thing: it happened. The worst, or close to it, happened. We find out we don’t have what it takes. We find out the path is steeper than we imagined. Maybe we will quit…maybe we can’t, because we’re in too deep. Maybe there will be miracles…maybe there will be regret. Maybe we’ll get over it, maybe we truly never will.

What do we do? Well, like I said, I don’t really know. But here’s a start…

*We grieve.

We grieve the dream or at least the version of the dream we had in mind, the process we expected. In grieving will come acceptance. Eventually. Acceptance of what is rather than what we hoped would be. Grief isn’t quick or easy. His disciples never need to grieve without hope, though. Hope that we’ll get what we’re aiming for? No, sadly. It may be time to die to that. We do have hope that He is good though, hope that He is with us, and hope that He hasn’t forgotten our story…no risk in this. It’s true, even if it doesn’t feel true.

*We take courage.

We get up every day and say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) We put one foot in front of the other, and focus on what is in our lap, given by God, for that day, for that moment. Do we pout and rage? No. We dig deep and find that bravery that seemed to force us to take the risk in the first place, and we use that courage to do the work at hand whether it is the work we planned to do or not. We are still the same people! Our fire inside must be used for something else instead.

*We learn.

We are willing to be honest with ourselves and others about it, no matter how many excuses we want to make or how stupid we feel. We’re willing to learn specific things from mistakes. We’re not embittered by the naysayers. We learn to see the value in their gifts, in a spirit of humility.

*We live.

Maybe our head is hanging low and our heart is broken and the tears won’t stop flowing…but we recognize that’s fully living, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Savior, What a Day!

I am going to keep this short and sweet (gasp! I know! Am I capable?) but I had to write a moment about today!

At church this morning, they did have Children’s Church but I felt led to keep my kids in church with us for worship and the baptisms. Our time worshipping together was so precious, so powerful! Gosh, I love to look to Jesus and sing His praise. He is WORTHY!! Sometimes, it is my only escape, my only way out of my worries, my fears, my mood, my SELF. As I was worshipping, I had these thoughts on my heart:

Words like grace, love, forgiveness…they are hard to explain, they aren’t concepts you could easily draw a picture of, but they took form and shape and being in the body of Jesus. In His day to day life. In His body being nailed to the cross for our sins. In who He was, because He was God…in skin and bones. I looked at the cross just steps away from me in the worship area, and saw grace, saw my rescue, saw all I would ever need. How can I not worship, how can I not raise my hands and sing my heart out?

Then I thought about how the body of Christ still today is to be the embodiment of these hard to define words. We, now, carry God…in skin and bones. He’s alive in us. His holiness abides in us…so when we have holy living, wise and kind living, it’s really just a matter of our selves–our skin–getting thinner and His light shining brighter. It’s a matter of Him increasing and us decreasing. It’s not us getting holier, ever. It’s us getting lesser and smaller and Him gaining more and more ground, more and more freedom, more and more invitation to take over and do what He wants to do in and through us. Loving and blessing the world as Jesus did won’t come through us trying to be better and do more, it’ll come through shriveling up and dying more and more each day to the old self, to the self-centered deserving-better wanting-more self…so that His life can take over in us.

Oh how I want this to be made manifest in me. All the time and not just for an hour or when I’m happy and “together” for goodness sake.

As I close I want to say, too, it was an incredibly special day for my family, because Yemi, my youngest (6 years old) decided to follow Jesus and was baptized! It was not planned, and I actually tried to keep her in her seat, but wow, I was reminded later of the verse where Jesus says, “Do not hinder the little children from coming to Me!” I’m very glad I didn’t force her to ignore that voice compelling her to go and be baptized, in her big fluffy new Easter dress and everything. So now both of my daughters have made public professions of their faith and you know, I don’t know all of what she will remember about this day (and the same for Selah who also asked Jesus into her heart at a young age) but I want to teach them something I didn’t realize until I was much older:

As believers, we are DAILY renewing our salvation! We are daily turning our faces back to Him, asking forgiveness, asking for His resurrection power to free us from the enemy’s clutches. This walk with God is not a one day thing…today Yemi just made the phone call. Now He’s on the line, not hanging up, until the day He sees her face to face in Heaven. As camp counselors, we used to joke about kids getting saved every summer or for the 27th time…Sure, they might not have completely gotten that right, but we sure didn’t either. What harm is it going to do to decide to follow Jesus every day, friends? What harm is it going to do to remember the cross, and thank Him and ask Him to come and take over yet again? He died once and for all, but nothing I, in my humanity, ever do is once and for all. Life is so daily. So is our salvation. We admit. We believe. We commit. I’m finding it’s an every day thing. We shouldn’t expect anything less. We shouldn’t expect a few landmarks in our timeline to guide our walk with Jesus…

I need Thee every hour. We need Him every hour. We need to plan on it…and guilt and confusion will melt away in just acknowledging our salvation is an active and living relationship, not a moment we prayed and hoped we got the words right. Jesus isn’t complicated, friends. He just says, “Come.”

#HowToBuild: Standing Your Ground

One of my favorite shows used to be ALIAS! Awesome music, Jennifer Garner kicking butt and saving the world, and of course I can’t leave out it was one of the first shows where the writers decided it’s not really necessary to leave a dead person dead! So an important character dies, but somehow they are back in Season 4. Love it! But anyway…

On that show, there was an evil man named Alvin Sloane. Time after time, he was always showing up with manipulation and just enough truth to get his lies accepted by his co-workers. Mr. Sloane wasn’t genuinely trusted by the third season or so, but there were times the CIA needed to use his expertise anyway and he would be in the brainstorming room giving suggestions. In one particular scene, they were discussing a problem and he piped in with his suggestion rather strongly, and the heroine, Sydney Bristow, who especially was aware of his ability to trick people, said: “Excuse me, you have no authority in this room.”

Remember that.

We are waking up every morning to an opportunity to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit, right? Like it or not, and actually even believe it or not, we are also waking up to the presence of both light and darkness, Jesus and the enemy of our souls. If we are in Christ, we have His presence around us and His Spirit within us. We can awaken to it and acknowledge it, by worshipping, digesting His Word, praying…or we can do nothing and sink deeper into the flesh, which is more Satan’s playground than we like to think.

He’s having a blast wreaking havoc in us and around us when we have chosen to stay in the flesh, yet he never actually had the authority to do that. He does it simply because we didn’t tell him not to. We have to stand our ground.

It may look like a sudden sense of confusion, or a sudden line of thinking that brings you back to an old habit or addiction. It may be frustration and anger that just takes you by surprise, and you can’t believe you’re feeling and acting so ugly. It may be a habitual thing or an acute thing, but it’s negative, harsh, unforgiving, or fear-filled.

In those moments, I don’t always realize it is the enemy. And of course, sometimes it isn’t directly the enemy. Sometimes we have a process to work through to get where we need to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But thank God, it’s not always a big long process! Sometimes it’s just as simple as recognizing what is going on. Whether someone is coming at us with one of these negative, irrational, overreacting emotions or we feel it rise up in ourselves, we are the ones with the authority in the situation, not the enemy. The name of Jesus makes the enemy flee! He can’t fill us, he can’t control us, and he knows it. He can only make suggestions that turn to thoughts that turn to feelings that turn to words and actions and habits and sin!!! We must know his schemes but also his gaping weaknesses.

Speaking, singing, and praising the name of Jesus makes the grip of the spirit of fear, confusion, bitterness, unforgiveness, laziness, lust, and anger loosen. We don’t have to stay in that place, abused and oppressed. With the knowledge that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) we can know our place of authority over the enemy.

Here are some further scriptures on this, and just in writing this, I am so spurred on to ask the Holy Spirit to help me be aware when evil, un-peaceful, and divisive spirits are at work so that I can choose to not go along with them. We need a new normal, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that new normal is recognizing what is going on in the unseen and standing our God-given ground!

Ephesians 4:17-5:21

Colossians 2:13-15

James 4:7-8

1 Peter 5:6-11

Matthew 4:1-11