How would you finish this sentence, “Jesus, have I told You lately _____?”
HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY…
The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
If this is what our children are up against, how can we stand against this force of reckless rebellion? By intentionally teaching and training character at an early age! What is good character? How can we teach our young children? How do we go after character without introducing legalism? How can we empower them through connection? How can we expect more out of our children?
I invite you to check out our CHARACTER COUNTS Magazine – Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
Once past the elementary years, a great parenting tool has been to simply partner with Holy Spirit to see how the discomfort can be placed on the child, not me. A child will step up to the plate when they feel the pressure and discomfort of their choices. When my kids transitioned from homeschool to formal school, I showered them with grace as they were learning so many new things involving lockers, tests, new classroom rules, eating lunch in a certain time frame, and so on. Months into it, I still found myself asking in the morning, “Did you brush your teeth? Did you make your bed? Did you…?” My mind was going to explode as I tried not only to get myself ready and out the door but to remember who did and didn’t do what! I sat on the kitchen counter lamenting to Holy Spirit that I felt like I was going to lose it. The kids came down only to confirm they had not done what was expected, and back up they went. I stayed on the counter, trying to keep my cool. This continued for nearly 20 minutes. We finally got in the car, when I calmly said, “Thanks for choosing to get all of your stuff done this morning. Great job. I just want you to know that the bell rang 20 minutes ago.” They begged me with tears not to make them go to school late, but I had to be tough to let them feel the discomfort of their choices. Upon entering the school office, I was asked the purpose of the tardy. I simply said, “My kids were learning to take responsibility this morning.” The office clerk winked at me and told the kids it would be unexcused and handed them their slips to enter their classrooms… late. Guess how many times they failed to do their morning routine after that?
**Toddlers need the training established so that you can use tools like this down the road. I would not attempt to do this with a toddler who is still learning right/wrong.
We pray, fast, ask others, do it on our own strength, lean on our understanding… but have we simply asked Him? Learning how to communicate with our Father and hear what He has to share with us is part of becoming a Son or Daughter. This eBooklet will not only strengthen your spiritual hearing but help you teach your children.
I wanted to give you a few things to consider regarding children walking through trauma (crisis, divorce, death, a move).
Talk – Children also endure what adults in the home are going through. Use age-appropriate language and ask them questions about what they saw, how they felt, what it was like for them, etc. Give them permission to talk. A great way to access their heart is by asking questions. Let Holy Spirit lead you in the conversation. Another great way to help them release what is in their hearts is by drawing pictures. Ask them to illustrate how their heart feels about the event. Be intentional to have family time alone together and check in to see how everyone is doing and where they are at in processing everything. I generally ask, “How is your heart feeling, and what do you need right now?”
Fear – Being scared is normal in the time of danger, but now that danger is over, we don’t want to continue to partner with it as it can turn into fear which welcomes the wrong spirit. If you see signs your child is holding onto the concern that something bad will happen, remind them they are safe, that the trauma is over and that God isn’t the one giving them that emotion, but instead God gives us power, love, and peace in our minds (1 Tim 1:7). If the fear continues, you may need to walk your child through commanding the fear to go in Jesus’ name AND inviting Holy Spirit to come and fill their mind, eyes, and emotions with peace, comfort, and joy. If your child reports an image they saw and it replays in their minds over and over, validate their concern over the issue, “Sweetie, I am so sorry you had to see that. It must have been so scary for you.” I would then remind them that Jesus’ blood covers it all and that we can use His blood to wash our minds. My kids would act out pouring His blood on their hands and then wash their minds (like pouring shampoo and washing your hair). “Jesus, we invite You to wash our minds of these images and fill them with Your love.” This is a powerful way for children to apply the blood of Jesus to their situation.
Joy – Returning children to joy is essential in trauma. It releases a chemical in their brain that helps them rise above challenging circumstances. While we can’t always change our circumstances, we can invite joy into them. Perhaps it is a 5-minute dance party, jumping on the bed, a game of balloon volleyball, or a tickle attack. Do not underestimate the power of these pockets of joy for children in a crisis.
Connection – Just because you are together 24/7 doesn’t mean you are connecting. Know their love language and intentionally fill it. Children’s love tanks empty quickly but fill fast. Connection is golden during this time, and it is an intentional verb. Go after 1:1 connection today. Grab a soda and sit in a corner alone together to talk, rub their back while holding them, tell them how proud you are of them for the way they have handled things, give them something as a token of your love for them (a note on their bed, a pack of gum, or a quick trip to the store to pick something out). etc. Be intentional. Know their love language and intentionally fill it. Children’s love tanks empty quickly but fill fast.
Limited Screen Time – I know it is hard because many are bored, and you want to be on your phone a lot too, but I strongly encourage you to try and limit it. Their hearts need real human contact and connection, not a lifeless screen. Screens increase joy chemicals but through artificial connection only leaving them more lonely afterwards. We do not want to throw our children into an addiction to screens just to cope with their pain and loss.
Build Their Faith – This is where we get to help our children see Jesus in the midst of the storm. Yes, it was awful, but we spend time focusing on calling out where Jesus was. Yes, we had a fire in our city, but Jesus kept us safe. Yes, we had to leave our home, but Jesus provided us with a hotel room/friends. Yes, we lost our beloved Whiskeytown, but God designed His creation to grow new life… keep it going. Validate the reality but focus on Him. These are bricks in their faith. God was there. God was in control. God helped me. The next time they are afraid, in need, or walking through a storm, you can remind them of their history with God, “Remember when we had to leave our home, and God took care of us? Let’s ask Him to do it again for you in this situation.” This is how they build their faith and confidence in Him.
Peace – Peace is His presence, and nothing ushers it in more than worship. Be intentional about having family worship time. He changes us in worship and realigns us to His face. Increase soaking time where you just put on music, lay still, and encounter His presence. This is super important for children.
Parents, you are enough during this season of chaos and pain, and you will know what to do because He dwells inside you. You will not only overcome this as a family, but it will make you stronger.
Be still for a moment and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of what makes Your heart happy?”
Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
My son came for some snuggles while I was having my time with Jesus. I had him ask Jesus if He wanted to spend time with him too, which He confirmed. Then I asked, “Ask Him what He wants to do with you,” and my son said, “Play on my tablet.” Of course, I didn’t NOT think that was Jesus, but guarding against being the middleman, I let it go. An hour later, as I was spiking his hair, he said he didn’t do very well playing his video game. I jokingly said, “How is that possible? I thought Jesus was playing with you,” and he said, “No, I was doing all of the driving,” and it organically turned into the sweetest conversation about letting Jesus be in the driver’s seat of our lives. Where I thought my son was more interested in his computer games than spending time with Jesus, He orchestrated the entire moment THROUGH the very thing that mattered to my son. He is so good!
Think of something going on in your life right now. “Jesus, what does love look like in _____?”
Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual hearing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
I got up early to finish some computer work, and Ellie came to me. She said she had a really bad nightmare. I held her for a moment, but it was too early for her to stay up. As I tucked her back in bed, I whispered to her, “Sweetie, ask Jesus where He is right now.” Still half asleep, she smiled ear to ear and said, “He’s right here with me.”
We can teach our children that Jesus is a 1st Responder who we can go to with our highs, lows, and everything in between.
Ask, “Jesus, what is Your favorite chapter so far in my life story?”