Have you ever gone shopping and stood in line, sweating, wondering if you have the money to pay? Not that kind of pay (though I’ve been there, too), but the, “Do I have my wallet?!” frantic digging through a circus-tent-size of a purse kind. Or, worse yet, think everything is fine and open your wallet to find no card, no cash. . . Nothing but receipts and punch cards fancifully rearranged? 

My children are cherubs. They’ve left me with thawing ice-cream and a growing line behind my cart because of their “creative and explorative play.”

I don’t like it.

I like it even less when it’s metaphorical for our life and we are left gutted and spent, coming up short at every turn.

Two weeks ago, parenting and discipline issues starting cropping up with alarming regularity. And every time we put out a fire, something else would surface. By last Wednesday I told Susan, “My parenting bag is empty!” And it was, save for those punch cards and long-faded receipts.

This weekend, even those were tossed to the wind and the bag itself left in hanging tatters. Serious, upsetting decisions and actions were discovered and the more we dug the more we found. Suddenly the last week made sense but so did the reality that sin builds on sin and it spreads a wide circle.

Sunday morning Jac said, “I just feel really slimed right now.”

“By our children or the devil or . . . ?”

“By the devil. Because what the hell? Here we are, teaching other people the right thing to do and he’s attacking at home.”

Indeed. It was sneaky and back handed but why had we forgotten that that’s how he works?

I dragged myself to the cross in prayer and clung desperate to Jesus. Why? How come? Now what? 

This truth was spoken calmly. Loudly.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 

My spine straightened, strengthened for the fight. We’ve grown complacent, lost our vigilance. Auto-pilot was used when it should’ve been all hands on deck.

No one can raise six (seven!) kids.

Dot, dot, dot, without Jesus.

Jac and I served on the Heart to Heart retreat for engaged couples team this weekend. Twenty-seven engaged and married couples came away to learn about God’s plan for their life, love and marriage and it was beautiful. Even with the largest group we’ve ever had, God moved and powerful things happened.

The devil hates that. Usually Jac and I take the flak for it, our marriage attacked and riddled the week before. But this time, the week of prep was easy and affirming. I felt nervous twinges and waited for the bottom to fall out while I loved my husband and soaked up grace. It was a double offense that in our bliss the enemy came at our kids AND while we were back and forth from retreat, too. 

The bastard.

So we’ve upped our game the last 4 days. We’ve been physically alert and wide-eyed present. We’ve doubled down on prayer with and for our kiddos and with and for each other. Holy water is used liberally while sleep is in short supply.

And it’s worth it. Each little acceptance- Gemma is gleefully holding her hands under the water streams in the toilet? Hurray! More poopy diapers after we thought that stage was over? Yay! Another “chat” with another kid?- feels like a throat punch to the enemy. He’s not backing down easily but we keep reminding ourselves that we must be doing something right.  

So in the end, I don’t need to worry about how to pay because the Lord has the tab. If we stay close to him, we might stumble or trip but we will not fail. There will be no devouring of us or our family. The Lord will take care of us and that’s the best news I’ve heard in a while. Good news indeed.