Family Circle

Cultivating family time

THE BITTER TASTE OF SIN

Take a tiny pinch of coffee grounds and spread them over the kitchen floor. Invite your children to join you in the kitchen and ask them to help you find the coffee grounds on the floor. “Hey guys, I dropped my coffee grounds. Can you help me find them?” It won’t be easy to find them all spread out. Then ask them to close their eyes and quickly dump a visual amount on the ground. This time ask them to pick up the coffee grounds… but one little grain at a time. Spend a few moments attempting to do this impossible task. You might want to lie down on your tummy and get serious, “One, two, three. Sarah, how many did you get? Four, five?” When they lament that it is impossible, take a broom and sweep up the coffee. Sit the kids down and talk about the kitchen floor representing the whole wide world – there are no separate regions or countries – just one big piece of land. Explain that the tiny grain of coffee represents sin in the world. What is sin? Sin is anything we do that goes against what God has planned for us. Sin is when we break God’s household rules. He isn’t mad at us when we sin, but it makes Him sad because He designed us to be loved, blessed, protected, and full of joy, and sin robs us of that. Help them see that God knows every grain of coffee, even those they couldn’t find or see with their eyes. Explain to them that there are many coffee grounds (sin) in the world right now for others to see. Every family will have a different grid regarding what your children know about the world’s affairs, but you can filter it through the coffee grounds analogy when they see, hear or feel things.

Example: You are driving and see vandalism, graffiti, or broken windows. Mom – “That is sad that someone broke that window.” Child – “Who broke it?” Mom – “I don’t know.” Child – “If you don’t know who broke it, how can the police arrest them?” Mom – “Remember the grains of coffee on the kitchen floor? Breaking things is a sin; even if he gets away with it and never gets caught by the police, God saw it, and God knows.”

Example: The kids see or hear something on the news and ask you about it. You can give them human wisdom and intellectual understanding or anchor them to the truth that God sees, knows, and is aware. A GREAT response is, “Wow, that is a great question. I have some thoughts, but let’s ask Jesus what He thinks.” I did this once about something I was so assured of the response, and He showed me something different, which created a powerful family discussion. 

The God who sees, hears, and knows all has made Himself available to us through Jesus to come and talk to Him – ASK HIM! Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

Bitter Cup – We want to help our children understand that we ALL sin. Each of us has a grain of coffee (sin) with our name on it. Make some strong coffee and let your children take a sip. None of us are blameless before Him. Share something you did recently that was a sin. Ask them to remember something they did. Explain that sin is like strong coffee that tastes bitter. HERE IS THE KEY: While we ALL sin, God has given us provision for how to clean it up. How? By confessing (whoops – Jesus, I blew it) and by asking for HIS forgiveness (He took the spanking for us on the Cross). When we do that, He removes the grain of coffee with our name on it. 

In the days ahead, when they violate your household rules, you can lovingly remind them of the bitter coffee and say, “Sweetheart, when you _____, it was a sin. Do you want to hold onto that bitter cup or come give it to Jesus?” 

Cream & Sugar – He does not want us to pour some cream and sugar on the coffee (sin) to make it taste better. Sin is bitter, and He wants to remove it from us. Teach your children that when they sin and cover it up, keep it a secret, blame someone else or deny it; it is like pouring a pound of sugar in the coffee cup. You can do this as a visual for the children. Instead, He wants us to offer up the coffee cup to Him and hand it over, never to drink from it again. 

Injustice of No Discipline – Organically speaking, sin does not feel good. When we fail to discipline our children, we rob them of a way out of their sins, which only teaches them to ignore the guilt. By addressing sin, even at a young age, we allow them to make it right and remove the guilt. Guilt that is piled up can lead to shame. God knows we have flesh and live in a fallen world and has not left us in condemnation. Confessing sin is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and the opportunity to make it right with God and others. 

Sin is bitter. Forgiveness is sweet. It’s time to brew some coffee!

HELPING CHILDREN OVERCOME TRAUMA

Trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

Think for a moment about your child’s life back in 2020. Perhaps it wasn’t perfect, but within a short time, your child was thrown into a whirlwind of being home 24/7. Not being able to see friends or go out to the park, learning without peers, sitting in front of a computer, many faced hours alone as their mom and dad still worked. Some went without food, increased sibling conflict, missed birthday parties, felt fear all around them, not being able to go to church or their favorite store, and then the anger and violence that was unleashed in nearly every city. Most adults can’t comprehend all that is going on, much less a child whose brain isn’t fully developed. Folks, this is trauma. Add another layer of what was released in the atmosphere and the paralyzing fear, worry, and anger that slimed people without notice or warning. Kids feel it too.

While I am not trying to create a doomsday post, there is a reality that this past season has been brutal for some children. The events themselves do not bring damage to children. How adults respond to trauma can make a challenging event a lifelong wound. Your role is KEY! #1. Know your child’s love language and fill it DAILY! Five minutes of intentional “I see you” can fill their heart. #2. Connection – Talking, engaging, asking questions, hugging, smiling, listening, etc. Merely hanging out 24/7 is not the same as actually connecting to their hearts. #3. Joy releases a chemical in our brain that increases our will to fight and endure hard things. Dance parties, giggles, wrestling matches, dinner in the living room, tickling, being silly, special treats, dancing on the bed, or splashing in the rain. Your child NEEDS joy!

I know it is hard to give when you are enduring the same battle, but your response in this hour matters. Help children overcome by filling them up with love, connection, and joy, which are heaven’s tools to overcome. 

Validation – recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile. Validation is not trying to move someone out of their space but giving them permission to be where they are at.

It is saying things like: I am sorry that _____.” “It is not okay that _____.” “It makes me mad that_____.” “You didn’t deserve that.” “That must have been so hard when_____.” “Man, that stinks!” “You are so much more than that.”

THE SMILE GAME

We played the greatest game when the kids were younger, called the Smile Game!

Before we got out of the van at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or a restaurant, we all talked about the game and would remind everyone how to play it. Then, when we got out of the van, each of us had to give as many people as possible direct eye contact and smile really big, each keeping score of how many smiles we would get in return.

The game was hilarious, and joy always broke out. The kids would often be up to 50 returned smiles, reminding them that releasing the Kingdom is about JOY. It also showed them how to flip the atmosphere where most people do not acknowledge a single person in front of them.

HOW WOULD JESUS RESPOND?

I encourage you to watch this short four-minute video first and then call a family meeting and show the children. Stop the video at different times and ask them questions about what they see. Help them to crawl into empathy for the boy by saying something like, “Could you imagine how hard that would be?” or “How would that make your heart feel to sit in front of your friends after the teacher did that?” Just create space for conversation and then watch the video until the end. Ask them how they would want others to respond to them or how Jesus would want us to respond to others around us. The moral of the story is that we truly do not know what is going on in someone else’s world. 

“SORRY ” OSCAR WINNER MOVIE HEART TOUCHING MOVIE – YouTube

INTERRUPTED SLEEP

I posted this revelation and discovered 1,000’s of people have been affected. Praise God many have also experienced a sudden shift after praying.

How many of you, or those in your family, have had interrupted sleep patterns lately? Like can’t fall asleep, waking up many times throughout the night or just a foreign restlessness around sleep?

As a watchman in families, I am seeing something we must rise up in and take authority over. There is an attack on sleep right now. It comes in the form of oversleeping, a lack of falling asleep or waking up getting interrupted sleep. God has designed our bodies to NEED sleep – deep sleep – and has ordered the world according to work and rest. Even the fields work hard and need a season of rest.

Being sleep-deprived affects one’s mind, body, and spirit. It is like a numbing agent. Rest is part of what keeps us alert, clear-minded, and empowered.

Please discern this accurately and do not assume it is just your body being weird. This is in the spiritual realm and the way to solve it isn’t through natural means but with our authority.

Let’s PRAY – “I command every assignment of the enemy to disrupt my sleep and deep rest to be canceled in the name of Jesus. I declare my body will come into the order of heaven which includes cycles of alertness, productivity, and deep rest. I command the spirit of insomnia off my mind and body in Jesus’ name. I invite the Holy Spirit to come and fill my mind, heart, room, bed, home, and family with Your peace, power, and a clear mind that comes from rest.”

You do not need to put up with being bullied in your sleep. Take authority over the spirit and take back what is yours in the name of Jesus.

Now gather the children and invite them to pray over themselves. Explain that God has given us seasons like winter, spring, summer and fall. What would happen if it was winter all the time? We wouldn’t be able to enjoy swimming in the lake or planting food to eat. What if it was hot all year long? What if it rained 365 days? God, the Creator of the world and our bodies, has given us a rhythm and we are most alive when we follow His design. As a family, walk through each bedroom and pray for deep sleep and rest.

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD

It is important with all of the noise in the world and atmosphere that children are declaring with their mouth the truth. This is the double edge sword the Word mentions in Hebrews 4:12 (NIV).

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Watch this short video with your child and then have a special date to write out their own declarations. Hold them accountable each morning by asking if they have filled their mind with His truth (just like they care for their teeth, fill their belly, and put clothes on their bodies). 

Declarations – YouTube

GET YOUR UNDERWEAR ON!

Gather the family in the family room and talk about underwear! It is rather personal, isn’t it? But many would argue that it’s absolutely essential.

Have everyone take out a piece of paper and draw some fancy pants (underwear). Color it as you please. Wad the paper up in a ball and tell everyone to hide it somewhere outside – between the rocks, in the tree, by the bush, under the trash cans.

Come back in and read together Jeremiah 13: 1-14. I like to read The Message Bible as it often explains it in a language children can grasp easier.

Go after the heart of the passage. There is one thing God is wanting from us – to LISTEN!

In a day or so, gather everyone in the family room and remind them of this activity. Go on a tour outside to find the wadded-up underwear drawing and talk about how the paper got ruined, damaged, or destroyed.

We should be so close to God, as close as our underwear is to our body, and listen to whatever He tells us to do.

PRIORITIZE THE BIG STUFF FIRST

Grab a jar/bowl, sand (or small pebbles), and larger rocks. 

Call a FAMILY MEETING and talk to the children about Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What does this mean exactly? 

Take the jar/bowl and explain how their capacity of time is given in each 24-hour period. Part of their time is spent sleeping, eating, doing homework, etc. Make a list of each thing that demands their time every day and then pour a little sand into the jar representing each thing. Brushing teeth… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar. Taking out the trash… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar, etc. 

Now take some larger rocks and explain how that represents seeking God such as reading the Word, praying, declaring His truth, etc. The larger rock no longer fits because they have filled up their jar with the smaller things.

Dump the jar out and put the larger rocks in FIRST and then add the sprinkles of sand which will make its way around the rock, that way everything fits in the jar in the proper order, and no one can say at the end of the day they ran out of room (time) because they put the important thing in first.

THE GREAT SHAKING

Can you feel it? The tension with relationships, systems, church structures, and mindsets. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken.

Gather a strainer, powdered sugar, and small pebbles (or popcorn kernels). Invite the family to the kitchen and with the strainer resting on the counter throw in a pebble and call it ‘love.’ Toss in another and call it ‘kindness.’ Then dump a spoonful of sugar and call it ‘selfishness.’ Add another heaping called ‘jealousy.’ Continue to do this with the rocks representing the fruit of the Spirit and the sugar representing the things of the flesh. After a while, raise the strainer and begin to shake it back and forth over and over. As the sugar falls to the ground, explain that God is shaking things in our lives to remove the sin, mindsets, worry, fear, and flesh from us so that the only thing that remains is His Kingdom.

Read together Hebrews 12:25-27. Explain that the things that are of Him will endure the shaking and last forever, which is something we can align our lives with and celebrate. However, everything that is not of Him, or His Kingdom, will be shaken until it falls. Talk about the things in your world that God is shaking and the purpose of it. Allow the children to see that while we are enduring hard seasons, there is good behind it. How we respond to the shaking is crucial.

Hebrews 12:25-27 (MSG) – “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time – he’s told us this quite plainly – he’ll also rock the heavens: ‘One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.’ The phrase ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”

Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable Kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and He won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God Himself is Fire!

FINDING HUGS & KISSES

Grab a bag of Hershey chocolate kisses or a package of paper hearts and randomly place them where your child will find it. Attach a sticky note with a sweet note and let them find the surprise on their own. 

OR

Hide them throughout the house like an Easter egg hunt. Call a FAMILY MEETING and fix the ‘rules’ according to your family needs (such as many younger kids focus on a certain room where they are more obviously hidden, while older kids have to find the harder ones). Don’t think this is just for little ones – big kids love the adventure too! Fun way to release JOY!

Kids need to HEAR and SEE your love for them now more than ever!