When the kids were younger and would violate one of our household rules, such as no hitting, I would say to them, “Check your belly,” which means how does your belly feel right now. Sin never feels good or brings peace. I was helping them see that it wasn’t just about their performance or obeying the law but that it does not profit them to sin. As the years have rolled on, we have zeroed in on this principle of “how does your belly feel?” as this is where we gauge our peace. If you don’t have peace, no matter the circumstance, chances are you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Peace is His presence, and we want to be in peace at all times.
CHECK YOUR BELLY
Play a game with the kids today. Pick five random topics – sports, money, eating, horses and houses. Do a search to see what God has to say about these things. This is NOT an exercise in being legalistic but rather teaching them how to go to Him when issues and ideas come their way so that they develop their muscle of seeking Him first and hearing what He has to say about it. Have fun discovering the Word on a whole new level as a family. I did this often when the kids were little, and part of their process now that they are teenagers is to seek the Word when they have made a mess. Ex. My child was making promises for their own gain and then would laugh when others expected them to make good on their word. They had no intention of delivering but were just giving lip service to get what they wanted. It causes hurt and frustration with others. I asked them to spend some time in their room (not as a time out, but to pause for reflection and to be able to mentally process) and search what the Word had to say about lying. They came back so convicted that what they did was wrong and quickly made it right with everyone.
Years ago, I felt this insane craving to be alone with the Lord. I booked a hotel, got the four kids situated, and took off for my 24-hour date with Jesus. I spent my quiet alone time making my grocery list, journaling my thoughts, getting food, responding to emails, and reading a book. When it was over, I was physically refreshed but spiritually dry. I realized I treated my ‘date with Jesus’ as if I were the only one at the table and did all the talking. The second time I booked my 24-hour date with Jesus, I took nothing but my Bible, journal, and a large jug of water. My soul came alive. It was just Him and me, and I left feeling like we had spent a month together on a deserted island. I vowed I would make it a priority to get away at least twice a year.
When I became a single mom, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore because of finances. I heard God say so clearly, “Do not ever let money be a deciding factor between us,” and, in faith, I booked a hotel room on my credit card. Someone graciously took my children for the night, and I had the most glorious time with Him. There was a glitch with the hotel, and they ended up giving me the hotel for FREE. I laughed and vowed once again that I would never let anything stand in the way of my 24-hour dates with Him. Fast forward over a decade, and I am still sneaking away. There is no price tag to put on your intentional time with Him.
There isn’t a mom out there who can’t identify with my friend:
“This week, one of my kiddos is trying out for a new sport. For a few reasons, there is a good chance he won’t make the team. He knows this but is hopeful and excited to give it a go. I love this! At the same time, it stirs emotions in my own heart of fear. I think it triggers the times I faced disappointment or rejection as a kid and also stirs my mama heart that wants to protect my kids from any pain. But the truth is that facing disappointment is not the source of our greatest pain. Our greatest pain comes when we have to walk through troubles and disappointments alone. On the flip side, knowing that there is always someone by our side to walk through the ups and downs of life gives us strength and courage to face the big emotions that come with disappointment and find our way back to joy. As I was meditating on this thought, I heard a song on my computer that reiterated this point (Highs and Lows by Hillsong). It was as if God was confirming in my heart that He is with my kids through all they face in life and that He is with me. God tells us not to fear – not because trials won’t come, not because we will feel no pain in life, but because He is with us. What great comfort and encouragement this brings to my soul.”
Do you ever hear of a great testimony and say, “I want that?” While the heart of sharing testimonies is the confidence God wants to do it again in your life, the focus has to be on HIM, not the fruit. We can’t just say, “I want that fruit”; it has to be, “I want HIM.” So, when you see God move mountains in someone’s life, let it encourage you that He is able, but ask Him for the keys in your own life and follow whatever He tells you in your situation.
When you partner with the pressure of perfection, you will reap anxiety, worry, and lack of joy. On the other hand, when you partner with His perfection, you will reap peace, joy, abundance, clarity, movement, and solutions in your parenting.
The orphan spirit has anger and fits of rage, which makes sense when the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. However, for many people, it isn’t an anger issue – it is an orphan issue. They have not yet had the full revelation that Christ died to rescue us from the orphanage and bring us into the Father’s palace. We don’t need to operate as spiritual orphans anymore and can truly rest while He manages the world around us for our good.
I walked through some deep betrayal years ago and wrestled it deeply with God. I had this mental picture of Jesus holding both of us on His lap, and it made me mad. This person brought me so much turmoil and pain, and I didn’t like the fact Jesus loved them so much (this isn’t my true heart, but it was a moment in my processing the pain). I finally called my mentor because it was making my heart feel unsafe with God. How in the world could He love someone who has brought so much pain? Her response was brilliant and literally shifted something so deep within me. She said, “Lisa, you do not fully understand the picture. God loves this person just as much as He does you because He created them, but God is only on the side of righteousness, and this person isn’t choosing righteousness.”
It wasn’t a matter of whose side God was on as much as it was who was on His side. It was like my hands opened, and I dropped whatever offense, pain, or fight I was holding onto and clung to righteousness. It altered decisions and outcomes dramatically. The question is not “Is God on my side?”. The question is, “Are you on God’s side?”.
I was so struck while reading Psalm 119:143 – “In my distress and anguish your commandments comfort me.” I was reading commands as in obedience, but as I sat with this longer, the revelation came. What does God command us to do? To praise, not fear, rejoice, and give thanks. Whoa!
Praise – gets our eyes off our circumstances and on Him. We become whatever we set our gaze to.
Not fear – fear sabotages our faith.
Rejoice – means to partner with.
JOY – joy releases a natural chemical in our brain that restores our passion and fight.
Give thanks – focuses on what He has already done (and is capable of doing again).
The nature of distress is extreme anxiety. The nature of anguish is server suffering. God’s COMMANDS bring us back to the reality that He sees. He is in control; He is able; He has done it before and can do it again. Yes, His commands comfort me.