the refiner’s fire, part 1

July 3rd, 2016

Two days after J’s first birthday party bash, things started to be a little weird.  We were in the process of starting potty training for F, and she must have run a fever or been pulling at her ear.  The recollection is foggy. I didn’t call the doctor, and just rode it out.

Life carried on as per usual, we celebrated J’s birthday together as a family with my mom, dad and sister at Chick-Fil-A, and kept on at the crazy pace that is having 3 children 3 and under!

July 8th, 2016

The next occurrence was more substantial, but with a different child.  We had planned for me to take the girls over to my friend Lisa’s house for a sleepover that night.  I made her aware of the situation early on.

“J has felt warm for the majority of the day, with little breaks. He hasn’t been napping as he usually does and just spit up a little bit.  Earlier, he had an explosive poop. Yesterday, he had a lot of dairy products, which usually makes his poop looser, but it also may be teething. The thing I’m concerned with is bringing any germs over to you to deal with on your own, and it would be terrible to pass it to the baby if it is a virus.  Would you rather reschedule to another day, or trust that it’s a passing thing?  It just breaks my heart to have to tell you, but I also don’t want to just assume everything’s okay.”

My husband and I carried on this conversation shortly after this.

Alison Brown:

“j is having explosive poop and throwing up

he’s happy

Micah Brown:


Alison Brown:

yeah but that means we probably aren’t going tonight

for the baby’s sake

Micah Brown:



you sure?

Alison Brown:


After a little while of debating with myself, praying, negotiating, crying because I so wanted to go so badly and couldn’t bear to tell the girls that we couldn’t go. I didn’t want to provide reason for anyone to fear that they would get sick as well.

Alison Brown:

“well tonight is still up in the air

i’m committing to go and just not hold the baby

but i’m praying about it and evaluating whether my heart is in the right place

Micah Brown:

could it be the dairy?

but if there is any doubt.”

At that point, Micah and I talked, he said I ought to present the facts of the case to Lisa, and leave it up to her.

Lisa was very gracious, was confident in the protection that God would provide for her littlest one, who was about a month old at the time, and said to come on over.

We had a grand old time (photos can be found here at Lisa’s blog) and Micah kept J.  He seemed to be tired, and slept like a little angel all night!  I had prayed briefly that J would be okay until we got home, as Micah had had a tiring day!  The next morning, Micah dropped him off at my mom’s house as he was on his way to work, and J continued with his diarrhea while he stayed there until I picked him up.

Another necessary piece of information was that by this point, we had weaned J off of his formula, Nutramigen (praise the Lord for the stuff!), and he took almond milk in his bottles multiple times a day.  Ever since he was 9 months old, and had gotten to the point where he could be comfortable with this formula, we had noticed that he was constantly thirsty, and on days where he had more bottles, he was much more calm.  He would wake up in the morning, sit in his high chair, and cry until he got something to drink!  Thankful to God for revealing a little tidbit of information about our little jigsaw puzzle.  I look forward to many more years of these little issues that lead us to rely upon the Lord to show us the answers to these mysteries.

At this point, I was wracking my brain as to what could be going on.  I found myself constantly Googling, asking those who had been around me, and spending a lot of thought on the cause.  Could it be the dairy that he had the day before?  Would that have given him a fever?  What can be causing this random fever?  Will this end within a few days? How could I figure this out and solve this problem?

It did.  I did not take this to the Lord right away, and was pretty preoccupied with the remainder of our summer, and all the events that were coming up.

Now that I look back and reflect on this period of time, I see the sin in my heart of prayerlessness.

I was not recalling Philippians 4:5-7:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Naturally, there was no peace in my heart.  There was only turmoil, fret, anxious thoughts, worries, and lack of trust in God.  When these thoughts would come in, I would welcome them, embrace them, thinking that they would lead me to the answer that was inevitably around the corner and within my grasp.

Here are excerpts from a Dave Butts article from 2013 that exposes the sin that I was clinging so closely to.

Most of us feel as though we do not pray enough. Whether we are praying for five minutes a day or an hour, it is not unusual to feel terribly inadequate in this vital part of our Christian life. But is prayerlessness sin? Though it is not listed specifically as such in Scripture, James, the brother of Jesus, said, “Anyone , then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins”(James 4:17). An argument may be made then that prayerlessness, as a lack of action, could indeed be considered a sin of omission.

Without a doubt we are commanded to pray. Jesus told His disciples to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8). Paul commanded us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Peter wrote that we are to be self-controlled so that we can pray (1 Peter 4:7). James commanded us to pray for each other (James 5:16). If failing to do something we are commanded to do is sin, then prayerlessness is surely a major sin for believers.

There are some very specific ways to help us move away from this sin and into greater praying. Perhaps the most foundational issue here is that prayerlessness is a declaration that we do not need God. Ronnie Floyd, in his great book, How to Pray, said there are two critical statements about prayer that we must understand: “Prayer occurs when you depend on God” and “Prayerlessness occurs when you depend on yourself.”

Failing to pray is also an indicator of a lack of love for the Lord. Prayer, at its heart, is communicating with God. What does it say to Him when we fail to find time to talk with Him? Do we say by our lack of prayer that we are not at all interested in spending time with the Lord or hearing anything from Him? When we do not pray, we move away from any possibility of intimacy with Christ.

When prayerlessness is prevalent in our lives, we are also guilty of failure to love one another. There is scarcely any greater way to demonstrate love than to pray for someone. In godly intercession, we lift the needs of another to God and watch as He moves to meet needs and provide for the one we are praying for. Through prayer, bodies are healed, families are knit together, individuals are saved, and churches are revived. When we withhold prayer on behalf of others, we demonstrate hardened hearts and a failure to love them enough to bring their needs before a loving Father.

The prophet Samuel certainly viewed prayerlessness as a sin. When he confronted the people of Israel with their sin of rejecting the leadership of God by wanting a king, they cried out under conviction, “Please pray for us.” His response is compelling for us today: As for me, far be it from me that I sin against God by failing to pray for you (1 Sam.12:23). Samuel’s responsibility as a leader of the Lord’s people required that he shepherd them through prayer. Failing to do so was sin for him.


How often has this been true of me?  Honestly, too many times to be counted.  This is one thing that I wish was not true, but I am thankful that God has used reflecting over the past month to expose the dark corners of my heart and convict me of this sin.

Dear reader, are you caught in the snare of prayerlessness?  Have you considered Philippians 4:5-7?  What will it cost you or a loved one in the long run? How will this contribute to your sanctification?  How will God be glorified if we remain in sin?  Sin separates us from a holy God, and though for those in Christ Jesus, we are not slaves to it any longer, we are not to give in to the temptations of the easily besetting sins.

I end this installment with Dave’s encouragement:

Brother or sister, are you convinced yet that to fail to pray is a grievous sin against the Holy Spirit, who “…Himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express” (Romans 8:26)? Can we look to the Scriptures that point us to the Savior who is even now interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25) and fail to see that He is calling us to join Him in this priestly ministry of prayer? We are never closer to the heart of the Father than when we have joined Him in prayer.

Ultimately, God is calling us all to a life of prayer. It is a life lived in close proximity to God. We learn to “pray as we go,” whether we are driving a car or studying in school. As we learn to live out the truth of Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” we will begin to understand more how the Apostle could command us to “pray without ceasing.”

The next post will share more about my children’s health.  Thank you for bearing with me.

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