I started writing this blog about getting ready for a large trip with a large family. I ended up writing my absolute favorite tips for battling the powers of darkness in our homes. That is why I love blogging. The real truth of our lives needs more than one liners.
Todd thinks I need to preface this by saying that I believe Satan is real. A lot of people do. I don't think we need to spend too much time talking about the influence of Satan, except to say that every single time you are trying to do something good, the powers of Satan will try to stop you. It's true!! If you don't believe this, you might not want to read this blog. If you do believe it, than here are some of my tips for keeping my home and family happy.
I loved this story of when Joseph Smith was trying to translate the plates. (Copied from Rough Stone Rolling pg 76-77.)
"Occasionally circumstances interrupted the flow of translation. David Whitmer said sometimes Joseph "found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his mind dwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with translation." Whitmer told the story of one interruption:
'One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard and made suplication to the Lord; and was gone about an hour-- came back to the house, asked Emma's forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he were humble and faithful.'"
We has planned to spend Friday packing and then head up to Palmyra for the Hill Cummorah Pagaent that night.
We had a cranky morning. Both Todd and I were overwhelmed trying to pack so many things for so many people. Todd took a trip to the Orchard (mowing) and I had a meeting in Syracuse.
We decided to take it easy that night, watch The Court Jester (Todd's favorite movie) with friends, and go to the Pagaent on Saturday.
I wish we were always kind, cheerful, and unified. But we are not. I think it's important to record days like this because if I only posted happy, smiling pictures those who read my life might think there was something wrong with their family if they aren't always smiling. I definitely think days like this are normal even though I think you can learn how to deal with them effectively so the crankiness doesn't spiral.
Laying in bed that night Todd pulled me close. He apologized, I apologized, and he said, "We really should have gone to the Pagaent tonight." He was right, but you know, we were still OK.
We know how to handle speed bump days. Slow down, apologize, and then keep on moving forward.
Our Saturday was a beautiful day. It was better because we were unified and because we realized that when you're trying to create positive experiences for your family, unseen powers and natural man tendencies will pull you apart and introduce contention into your midst. We need to be strong for each other.
I have some principles that I TRY to remember on hard days.
-- Pray! When days are hard to push through, I find myself on my knees praying SO often.
-- Repent! I realized that often my pleading prayers for strength and patience are actually prayers FULL of pride. It's like I'm ticked off at God for not blessing me with more patience and I'm demanding that He zap down greater patience or else I'm going to loose it. NO!
It is SO much more effective at these moments to REPENT and EXPRESS GRATITUDE. Honestly-- the reason I prayed for strength SO many times and never felt God's answer was because I was praying with a heart full of pride. EVERY SINGLE TIME I pray with humility, repentance, and gratitude-- I am endowed with greater strength, inspiration, and patience. It's magical.
-- One Thing is Needful! When I'm overwhelmed, I remind myself to focus on ONE THING with fullness of heart. I can do all things, one thing at a time. It helps for me to gather my family around for a song and prayer and decide with them what our one thing is. All for one, one for all!
-- Testify! I must admit, I can handle the crankiest of children but oh, how I turn into a beast when my husband is cranky. I need to stop that. When he is cranky and stressed, I need to TESTIFY to him. He needs me cheerful and faithful especially when he's overwhelmed.
--Contention takes TIME! I'm really good at expressing and talking through my cranky emotions. My kids have learned to be quite eloquent and sarcastic as they fight with one another. We could argue whether these discussions are helpful and necessary-- I used to think they were.
These days, I can think of SO many things I'd rather do. These days I tell myself that I could make the point that is sitting so beautifully on my tongue, but it will take time. Contention stops the forward progression. This is exactly why Satan loves contention. The hours you are argueing you aren't actually doing anything good together to build relationships. I guess I realized that it doesn't have to be awful to be a big waste of time.
-- Touch them! When I'm mad I pull away- spiritually and physically. I remind myself to pull together. Touch the cranky child and hug your spouse even when you don't want to. There is healing, loving power in touch.
-- Cast Satan Out! I know this sounds weirdo religious, but this is a great truth. Recognizing Satan is SO essential because we all have power to cast Satan out.
When you start to feel negative feelings boiling, it is ESSENTIAL to identify the source of your anger. Remember that hate, anger, and contention are the fruits of the Adversary. Blame HIM not your child or spouse, and cast him out of your heart and home.
You can do this literally by raising your arm to the square and saying "In the name of Jesus Christ I command the evil spirits in this home to depart."
I find myself doing this more when my husband is out of town or when I am alone. I believe that the Priesthood he holds naturally promps him to preside and protect us from negative influences, when he's gone, I feel that stewardship more.
If you want to do things a little more quietly, you can pray silently and ask that angels will surround you and that Satan will be bound in your home. Family prayers are a perfect way to cast Satan out. Pray that the spirit of contention will depart and that you will be filled with love, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Satan tempts the very best amoung us. Satan tempts us and tries to cloud our love for our family.
Recognizing this influence in ourselves and those we love can help us to call upon the power of God to restore love and peace to our hearts, our children, and our homes.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, 3 Nephi 11)
Yes, there are many things we can do to open ourselves up to negative influences. Sin, in all of it's varieties, makes us vulnerable to greater temptations. But, so does righteousness. Obviously, Satan wants to stop goodness. He really works hard on families!
I learned this lesson with one of my sons years ago. I'm so glad I learned it before these teenage years.
We were yelling at each other. I was SO mad and I felt like my sassy son was rotten. He was rude, mean, and I hated him (I know this is awful to admit). I was trying to send him to outer darkness (his bedroom) to protect his siblings from his awful influence. We don't often get to this place, but this time we were heated up and it wasn't getting better.
The problem was, the more I yelled for him to go to his room, the more defiant he became. Forcing your kids to their room only works until they become bigger than you. I felt quite self-righteous in my anger, he was wrong. But, I had no idea what to do. I only saw two options- give in or escalate the fight.
I prayed as I faced him and the Spirit whispered for me to touch him. I gently laid my hand on his arm. He flinched away, but I slowly tried again and he let me touch him. When I touched him and looked into his eyes, I loved him.
As I looked into his eyes I felt God whisper a gentle truth. In a moment he reminded me that I didn't hate this child, I hated fighting. I hated yelling. I hated meanness. I hated Satan. And, with this reality came the understanding I did have the power to cast Satan out. My child was not Satan. I could not cast my child away, but I had the power to cast Satan from my heart and home.
In my mind, I prayed with power, in the name of Jesus Christ, that all evil spirits would be cast from my home, and I felt Satan leaving me.
I prayed for more love. I prayed for forgiveness! I prayed for God to fill my soul with His love. And, I felt my anger melting and love filling and healing my soul. I felt an instant, literal and physical change.
I told that kid how much I loved him and I told him that he was good. I still asked him to go to his room for a moment, but I did it with love. And-- he went!!!! The fight left. Satan left. Peace and love filled the room.
Usually, I am the one who is changed. But, my change is the catalyst for the change in the whole house. It is easy to change once you recognize who the real problem is.
All that really happened was that in the middle of an escalating fight, I paused. I realized what was happening. I touched my son lovingly, I prayed in my mind with power, and I changed. It took one minute and in that minute, everything changed.
I think it is SO helpful and powerful to recognize that contention is from the devil-- because we can cast him out easily.
It is much harder trying to send a child to his room or trying to fix a husband or trying to get everything done so things aren't hard. Casting out Satan is way easier and faster than solving all the problems in your life. You don't need more patience! You just need to know the power you have access to.
I know that Satan is real. I know it. I also know that God is real. Light is always more powerful than darkness. Love is stronger than hate. When you cast Satan out, he cannot stay.
One more thing-- I really don't talk about Satan a lot at home and hesitate to mention him here on my blog. I know I've said too much already.
My kids know he is real and they feel when he is trying to pull us apart, but we focus on what we can do to fill our lives with the Spirit of God. I don't think you need to give Satan more power than he already has by really bringing him to the forefront. I definitely don't want my kids afraid. Once you recognize him, he has no power to stay.
Satan is like a pesky gardener snake that keeps slipping inside- once you realize he's there you just kick him back outside. It's easy.
If you know what you're dealing with, you will recognize him, pray, cast him out, and move on your way. I like to call him "Scratch" like President Grant did. He would laugh and say, "Oh, you thought you got me again, Scratch!"
I recognized Satan's influence in our home as we prepared for our trip. Of course he was there, stirring up contention. He always starts with Todd and I. That's why it's so important for us to pray together and fight for unity.
I actually think my most spiritually inclined children are also the most susceptible to temptation. It's important that they learn to discern between good and evil. I think I'm someone who easily feels spiritual promptings and so I can relate to these kids. It is SO important to remember that the strongest amoung us will be forces for good and targets for negative. We have to understand how to protect our children. It's as easy as putting on sunscreen or teaching them to wear deodorant. We've got this!
--Call for heavenly help. (Phone a friend- on Earth or in Heaven.) My mother was raised Catholic and she often said little prayers like "St Timothy, St Timothy, please come around, something is lost and cannot be found." I may have gotten that wrong, but I love this concept.
I pray to God for specific angels ALL THE TIME. I really don't know if God sends me the exact angels I pray for, but I do know that thinking about angels helps me to explain the specific help I need. Pray specifically and feel the heavenly help that is surrounding you. Our prayers are heard and answered.
I often pray for my grandmothers. When I'm trying to organize my home or plan a big event, I imagine that I have the help of many who have gone before me. I come from lines of strong, capable women. My confidence in US is greater than my confidence in ME. I know that together WE are enough.
I often send my grandfathers to school with my children to protect them, inspire them to be strong and work hard, and to let their cheerful spirits buoy up my kids after a tough morning. Sometimes I pray for temple grandmothers or sons of helaman angels. When I'm afraid at night or concerned about evil influences in my home, I pray for seraphim with flaming swords to surround our home and protect my family. I imagine the force field of light around us.
Maybe I wouldn't need angels if I lived closer to family, had money for hired help, or had more friends. But, I'm actually so grateful for angels in my life.
Maybe all of these prayers are just my mother's way of imagining protection for my family, but it works. I believe we have access to more power than we know. I believe in Heaven and I believe our families future and past are working every day for our good. I feel them near me and I call on them when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
Here is one example that has always stayed near my heart--
My close friend had a sister, Chelsea, who died a tragic death at age 18. it was fall 2013, my Mother-in-law had just left. Ben was tiny, Eve was two, and I was still very weak and recovering. I think I was sick and trying to get out the door with both kids for a doctor's appointment and really couldn't do it. We were all crying and a mess. I knelt down and prayed. I specifically prayed that Heavenly Father would send me Chelsea to help.
I continued getting the baby ready to go, pack his back, and clicked him into his car seat. I heard Eve in the other room and she was singing "I am a Child of God" to herself, happily. Chelsea was a beautiful singer. If she really were in my home, I knew that she would have been singing to my kids. I knew that she was there. I knew it. Eve sang to herself the whole way to the doctors and I cried.
This was just a small thing, but it reminded me that my burden is shared. God heard my prayers and He answered them. I know that we have help to do all that we are required to do.
Sometimes, things are hard because of unseen influences. Sometimes, things are better because of unseen influences.
I honestly don't go around all day in my spiritual world where demons and angels are battling. I focus more on what I am doing with my body, what I am choosing to say and do and imput into my life.
But- I am aware of spiritual influences.
I believe we have access to greater power than we sometimes realize. In this day and age, we need that power.
And that my friends, is all I have to say about cranky days.
Even prophets have cranky days.
Life is good.