BIRTH ORDER

BIRTH ORDER

This is in response to the many questions I get about toddlers who are regressing or acting out when the new baby comes home. I had 14-month-old twins when their brother was born, so I went after making sure they felt secure. It is a big deal for a child to have their birth order changed. Think about it – they are the only ones who get Mom’s attention; she leaves for a few days and comes back with a new baby she is with all the time. Often, Mom is recovering physically, and others intentionally keep the older child away from Mom so she can rest. This is confusing to a child, and they can surely build up resentment toward their new sibling. One thing that was super helpful was the ‘5-minute dates’ with the twins when I knew Hudson would need me for feedings and such. I would bring them to the floor with me, and we would spend quality time together. If Hudson started to cry, I would say out loud, “Oh no, not now, Hudson. Lauren and Emma are very special to me, and I am spending time with them now. You will have to wait.” Of course, you don’t make a newborn wait long, but they have no concept of time. I was communicating to them that the baby has not replaced them, and they are still so valued and important to me. But then I would tell them it was Hudson’s turn and that they needed to play by my feet, watch a movie, read a book, etc. If they wanted juice or help when I was feeding Hudson, I reminded them it was his turn, and they had to wait. I intentionally filled them up like this for many days after we brought him home, and the transition was smooth for all.

WHAT DOES JESUS HAVE TO SAY?

Often, we focus so much on the struggle instead of the victory. Take a piece of paper and draw a huge heart. Spend some time being quiet before the Lord, and then ask Him to show you what HE has written on the heart of your child (do this separately for each child). What are the passions, dreams, desires, and strengths HE has put deep inside of them? Write down whatever you hear, then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them. Be the parent who says, “Guess what God told me about you today?”

HEART PLAY

People have asked me over and over to show them HOW I taught my children different things. Years ago, the kids and I sat down and recalled some of the key lessons I taught them over the years, and we put together a kit for parents to use in their own homes. 

This is a sample lesson: Heart Play (Playdough) – Teaching children to care for the hearts of others. Intentionally play with playdough with your children for a bit, and then ask them to make you a huge heart. Ooh and aah over their heart creation while you hold it in your hand. Talk about our physical hearts and why God gave each of us one, and how important they are to our survival. Every human has a heart – it is what makes them alive. Take the heart creation in your hand and talk about how gentle we need to be with people’s hearts. Now take one finger and smash it deep into the heart, then smash another finger in another place. Show them that the shape of the heart changed when you were not gentle and caring about it. Words aren’t just words; harsh words are hurtful to people’s hearts. Also, explain that many people have wounded hearts (not from us), but when we say loving things to them, it is like their hearts go back to the way they were originally. Act this out a few times and role-play how we can both squish and help people’s hearts.

In the days ahead, when your kids are having issues with unloving words, remind them of the playdough heart. Ask them, “Hey guys, do you think you just put love in that person’s heart or poked it?” “How could you do that differently without hurting his/her heart?” Also, when they get their own heart poked, show them how we can ask Jesus to put His hand on our hearts and heal them. “Jesus, my heart got hurt. Will You please touch it and make it all better?”

ASK THEM

Ask your children this question and privately share their replies with him. “Hey, kids, what is the one thing you want most from your dad?” Then have him ask the kids about you.

ATMOSPHERES

We spent a summer speaking on the road and continually came under new atmospheres and had to work through them. Honestly, it was exhausting. If it wasn’t me, one of the kids would be out of sorts. By the time the trip was over, I was not sure I would ever do that again. But here we are again, coming off of a five-week journey, and there is such a profound increase in not only discerning atmospheres but overcoming them. The first time it felt like we were being tossed around by powerful waves, yet this time it felt like we were body jumping, learning how to stay standing. Hotels carry some of the heaviest atmospheres because not all that happens inside of them is edifying. We can be fine in the car, walk into a hotel room and feel the anger, isolation, sexual spirits, strife, etc. God doesn’t allow us to encounter the atmosphere to harm or hinder us. Instead, He enables us to see and feel it so that we can bring the light and release the opposite. Learning to discern what is truly coming from within you vs. what is happening around you is a key to releasing heaven on earth and changing the world around you.

HEAL MY LAND!

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” One small two-letter word is the key to Him healing our land. **IF** What does He consider wicked? We would be wise to know what His heart is so that we can measure ourselves to His standard. Proverbs 6:16-19 (MSG) – “Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.”

It is easy to read this list and say, “Not me! Goodness, with all of the stories on the news today, I am surely not that bad.” But how about we ask Him?

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have walked in pride?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are things I have not been fully truthful about?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have partnered with anger rather than forgiveness?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have desired or acted on revenge?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have rushed to speak instead of seeking to understand?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have shared gossip or juicy stories not even knowing they were 100% true?”

REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have caused my family – immediate or church family – hardship or harm by my words or actions?”

REPENT – “Jesus, I confess I have partnered with _____ by _____. I see that this is not Your will for Your children. Will You please forgive me?”

Now go teach your children about these verses, give examples, and teach them how to ask for forgiveness.

HUMILITY INCREASES RESPECT

When God says be HUMBLE, He means for us to be humble, always, and that includes in our parenting. Often parents fear that if they are humble with their children, they will somehow lose their parental authority. That is not accurate. You will gain their respect because you are modeling for them the Kingdom and connecting with their hearts. It is okay to learn from your children and hear what may need to be improved upon. I often check in with my kids and ask them, “What is something Mom has done well?” “What is something you wish Mom would improve upon to make your heart feel loved and seen?” The answers always surprise me and motivate me to become more like Jesus in my parenting. The truth is, either way, you are going to hear it – either now or when they are older and dealing with the fruit. I would much rather listen to their hearts while they are still children and deal with it in childhood, where I can grow and make a positive difference in their lives. Don’t be afraid of feedback. Allow God to parent you in your parenting journey.

BLACK & WHITE – PART ONE

I want to share a perspective with you. People often ask me what my highlight of being a part of Azusa Now in LA was. My answer is easy. It was when they showed the video of all the awful things people have done to other humans (school shootings, Holocaust, 9/11, American Indians, etc.) and we began to declare louder and louder, “Father, forgive them! Father, forgive them!” I saw an older African American couple a few rows in front of me, and all I could say was, “I am sorry. I am so so sorry.” They received those healing words with gratitude. It still creates tears in my eyes. It was a highlight for me because the Father was highlighting something to me. I believe God was releasing an anointing to make things right with those who have been hurt.

Fast forward to our first hotel stay when we began our 2-month journey on the road. Every single channel the kids wanted to watch had to do with slavery. As we feasted on this ‘entertainment’ my stomach became sick. I could feel the control, the madness, the loss, the betrayal, the paralyzing fear, the lack of safety, the lack of belonging, the condemnation, and the anger. Humans were treated like animals, only worth their labor and performance, and their hearts were ripped out over and over. Tears poured down my cheeks as I told the kids to turn off the TV. I believe God was awakening this part of our history in me. God has been speaking to me a lot about the spirit of control. We are not wired to be controlled by anyone or anything; rather, we were created to operate out of our free will. It is how He designed us. When we are controlled, especially when it is ongoing, we respond by partnering with a spirit of rejection or a spirit of rebellion. Here we are with the great divide between whites and blacks being highlighted… once again. Could it be that the Lord is allowing pressure so that the heart splinter could be removed once and for all? Could it be that all those years of being controlled by the color of their skin have produced a generational line of rebellion or rejection? Could it be that here we are 100 some years later with a mess we didn’t create but still reaping the fruit of? Could it be that there are strongholds in the atmosphere who enjoy watching humans quarrel based on their skin color? Could it be that while we all have choices, there is a lot more going on in the spiritual realm than we are giving credit to? Could it be that the issue isn’t the color of our skin but more so the doors that have been opened for the enemy to continue to influence? Could it be that the answer isn’t just outward ‘unity’ but more so breaking agreements with the spirit of control, rebellion, and rejection? Could it be that those acting out the rebellion or rejection are actually crying out to be free from the spirit of control that has been in operation in their family line for so long? Could it be that we, white Americans, haven’t yet cleaned up our mess in the spiritual realm our ancestors have made? Could it be that the involvement of police officers is a prophetic statement of the authority we have been given and need to be using, not over humans, but the spiritual realm? 

Could we be a generation that changes the world of so many lives that matter by releasing freedom, acceptance, and belonging over them? I think so!

Be sure to check out PART TWO which will give you steps to take in your own home.

JESUS IS MY DEFENDER

I am so undone by the goodness of Jesus. I was processing some deep things as my daughter was walking through one of her biggest breakthroughs. It was breathtaking to watch her walk this out on her own. While spending time with Jesus, I kept hearing the story about the woman caught in adultery. There are many thoughts about what Jesus was writing in the sand, so I asked Him to show me. He answered my question by showing me the position of His eyes. While the men of the day, who deemed themselves mighty important and superior to the rest, dragged a naked woman before the courts (the shame and humiliation must have been brutal), Jesus looked away. Could it be He knew His presence alone was convicting, and He didn’t want to stare at her nakedness? Then I heard Him say, “I didn’t defend her sin, but I did defend the JUDGMENTS against her.” I wept! Jesus isn’t about shaming you publicly for your weaknesses, sins, or messy places. He is there to defend the part of your heart that is in need of a Savior. Read John 8!