Giving up control-based parenting does not mean giving up your God-given authority. It does not mean the child is in control, nor does it mean they get to make the decisions.
- Authority, Encouragement
The number one thing I hear my children thank me for is teaching them how to hear God. We had a long season where they were learning and growing. We practiced and strengthened their spiritual muscle of hearing (just like reading the Word, worshiping, or praying). I was teaching them that He is safe, good, and trustworthy. In the beginning, it was never about the fruit; it was about building a relationship with Him so that they knew He was there in their time of need. They have repeatedly witnessed Him speaking, showing up, leading, guiding, correcting, healing, loving, encouraging, and helping them. With all of the parenting methods out there today, I am convinced the two greatest gifts I can give my children are knowing how to hear their Father and helping them resolve hurts, lies, and offenses.
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Years ago, I had my second lump removed from my breast. I scheduled my follow-up surgery on the same day my insurance expired. My doctor ran the test and told me I had a 65% chance of getting the most aggressive form of breast cancer within five years and suggested I go on a low-dose cancer drug. I told her my insurance ended that day, and she said, “Well, you better hurry up then and make a decision,” assuring me she could give me an extended prescription to cover me for a while. I was barely 40 years old, a single mom, and had four little babies at home under five. Flashbacks of losing my mom to breast cancer poured out of my eyes as I wept, sitting in my car in the parking lot. My ability to think and make rational decisions became paralyzed in fear. I was gambling with my life, and it was not something to take flippantly. I called some friends who had their journey with cancer and strongly suggested I take the drug. I cried out to God (literally), telling Him how scared I was (not just for me, but how this would affect my children), and asked what I should do. Suddenly, I got this overwhelming thought, “Why would I treat a cancer I do not have?” The doctor said I had a higher percentage that I COULD get it, but I currently did not have cancer. The tornado of chaos and emotions gave way to deep peace. I attempted to clean up the streaks of black mascara that stained my face and, with bold confidence, went back up to my doctor’s office to tell her, “Thank you, but no thank you.” I was fully aware that fear would knock, wanting me to play the What-If game.
I made an agreement with God that day. I reminded Him that He is my great Physician (years earlier, I was scheduled for a double transplant – until God stepped in). I already had faith in what He can do through my body, so I turned the issue over to Him and told Him, “I am not going to pay attention to this report. This one is on You, and You can alert me if something is wrong, but I will not let fear talk to me.” Over the years, I have had to remind myself of that agreement on a few occasions, and when fear knocks, I answer by blessing my body and cursing cancer.
Fast forward to one summer. We have always spent our summers on the road doing family ministry. That summer, we had our trip all planned down to the details, but the more things came together, the louder my lack of peace became. I finally laid it all down as I no longer wanted to fight for peace. A week later, I found a mass in my breast. Between swinging from one doctor appointment to the next and waiting for appointment day to arrive, we spent our summer walking out the reality that a tumor was found. I got the call while standing in the swimsuit section of Target and would be lying if I said the room didn’t spin a bit when I hung up the phone. But I asked God, “Is this my time?” and clearly, I heard, “NO!” My mind never played the What-If game, and I kept my peace all summer.
It doesn’t make it true just because someone speaks a word over you. Just because the odds are against you doesn’t mean you have lost. Just because a doctor says so doesn’t mean you have to partner with it. Just because fear speaks to you doesn’t mean you have to listen. I am happy to report that I am okay, and we are on the other side of this journey.
I wanted to share this conversation with a mom taking our class. I think it will help many of you (the lesson was on being spiritually clean).
MOM: “I have only seen a demonic spirit once, and I was about 16. I was briefly warned at some point and just commanded it to be gone in Jesus’ name. It fled immediately and dramatically, and my friend saw it too. Following that event, I was terrified that something bigger would come back to get me, and I wouldn’t be brave enough to make it leave.”
LISA: “It is amazing to me how powerful these events can be for a child (16 is still a child). If you came to me back then, I would praise you for using your authority over it, AND I would have encouraged you to ask Holy Spirit to fill you. The Bible says when we tell the bad to go, we must invite the good to come. You telling the bad to go but not filling yourself with Him left you vulnerable (fearing it would come back stronger). Had someone been able to help you pray for Him to cover and fill you, I do not think you would have battled the fear of its return. But now you know for your own sake and helping your children.”
MOM: “You articulate that the Holy Spirit was missing; it is obvious. Such a simple need but missing it has produced decades of timidity. Even when I was being bold, there was a lack of understanding, and I feel at peace now. My son had a bad dream one night, and my husband and I knew just what to do. We used our authority over the fear and invited the Holy Spirit, and he had a peaceful night.”
LISA: “I would go back to him and check in with him by saying something like, ‘Hey buddy, remember the other night when you were feeling scared? Have you had any thoughts like that again, or was it resolved?’ If it was resolved, help him to see how powerful the name of Jesus is and that He is always there for him in his time of need. If it has returned, you know what to do to help him so that it doesn’t follow him around for years. So proud of you!”
I dropped my keys in the toilet. No, really, I did. I was on the road and decided to stop to use the restroom. I went to flush, and my keys slipped out of my hands (why I was holding them in the first place is still beyond me). I immediately thought, “Oh gross,” and went to grab them, but before I knew it, they were sucked out to the river on the other side. I froze. I then raced out the gas station door and began to tell anyone who would listen that I flushed my car keys down the toilet, hoping someone had learned on Pinterest the magical way to retrieve them. Some laughed. Some gasped. Some told me the hard truth – I would never see them again. No problem, EXCEPT I was in a rental car, and all of my paperwork was inside. I left my phone in the car, and I didn’t know a single phone number from memory (at least not one that would be helpful). I was two hours away from home and couldn’t tell you what city I had stopped in. Panic came over me for a moment. I literally said the words, “I think I am going to freak out,” when I so clearly heard God say, “You won’t if you cling to the fruit of the Spirit,” to which I said in response, “WHICH ONE?” and heard, “patience.” If I cling to patience, I will be okay. I took a deep breath and made the mental decision that I would be patient. It was like my mind was going full speed ahead, and I intentionally put it back into neutral. I was able to start the process of getting help for both me and my stranded vehicle. I found a Mcdonald’s across the street and sat in that booth for THREE hours, periodically begging some stranger to use their phone. I was left with nothing to do, no phone, no to-do list, nothing. That is hard for me on a good day as I am highly active and thrive on productivity.
Detoxing from my phone in the middle of McDonald’s is not what I had in mind that day. But I DID IT. I kept not only my peace but joy the entire time. I prayed, dreamed, and thanked God for whatever I could think of. I covered my family and mentally thought through some situations that needed my attention. I dare say the three-hour break felt good. I realized how serious God was when He told me to cling to patience. It wasn’t the flushed keys, locked car, or no access to my phone that would have robbed me of my peace as I can handle all of those; it would have been partnering with impatience that would have wreaked havoc on my peace and joy. Clinging to the fruit of His Spirit was my lifeline. I was enjoying the fruit of growing and handling challenging situations with such grace and thanksgiving. I was so thankful for the opportunity to grow in patience (James 1:2-4). But by nighttime, I began to feel condemned. The entire time I was in McDonald’s, two children were destroying the place. Their mom was a worker, and these two kids offended nearly every customer I watched enter. They were running on the tabletops, squirting ketchup in their mouths, playing with the dispensers, letting the soda fill a cup, and then emptying it over and over. They were throwing ice everywhere, wasting lids, throwing a wet diaper on the tables, grabbing food from the kitchen (no kidding), and making sculptures out of the foam hand sanitizer at the door. Another boy came to join them when his mom started her shift, and the chaos was offensive. I began to feel condemned that I didn’t do more to love them or reach out to them. We were all stranded together. Perhaps I could have played games with them or gone over the $1 store to get them some coloring books or cards to play with. I could have prayed for them (one clearly needed deliverance). Did God allow for my mishap, knowing they would be there so He could use me? I was so sad that I had been so focused on my battle that I didn’t do something about theirs. Now that I am back home, it is easy to see that I could have brought love and joy to their worlds that were out of their control, too. I felt like I had failed and began to feel so selfish. But then Holy Spirit began to minister to me and reminded me that I am on a journey and God was teaching me something about patience that day and that I was faithful to the lesson before me. It was the enemy who came to condemn me for not doing more. It was the voice of the accuser who said I failed. It was condemnation that was trying to rob me of my victory. Condemnation and accusation do not get to speak to me or lead me. I am HIS, and He alone is the author of my story. I share that example of how we can so easily partner with the enemy to allow ourselves to be condemned for not doing enough when God is so pleased and proud of us for our response to HIM. Legalism says we have to ACT like Him. But being Sons and Daughters means we are on a journey of learning to BE like Him. This is called transformation. It is a journey where our mind, body, and spirit are being transformed into His likeness. Shake off the finger-pointing slime of shame and accusing voice that gets your eyes off what GOD is doing in your life and celebrate the joy of learning and maturing through the lessons He has for you today. I AM ON A JOURNEY!!
I believe in honoring my leaders and being part of the solution instead of just opening my mouth to tear people down. HOWEVER, there are some public people who are not making me feel very safe or relaxed. Their words are fear-producing. My go-to in this process has been whenever I read, see or hear something that ignites worry or fear to STOP, take that thought captive and begin to declare who God is over that person. I have a mental picture of certain public figures who feel big and scary, but they are like two-year-olds to God. I declare over this person that while they may be really LOUD right now, God is not moved by their need to control.
Psalm 118:6 – “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Psalm 146:3 – “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”
Give it a try. Instead of picturing certain voices as BIG, picture them in relation to GOD!
We invite what we fear. If you don’t want (blank) to invade your home, then do not fear it! Fear is a welcome mat; so is peace!
Every child of God should be asking this question right now. “Jesus, what season am I in?” If you do not know your season, you will work against the natural flow of God. You will be burned out, worst yet, taken out. This is a time to be awakened to YOUR season in this hour. For some, it will be silence; for others, it will be using their voice. Some will enter rest, while others will tap into the endurance He built in the previous season. Others will be in a season of healing, while some will be ministers. Some are to post; others are to shut down social media. Some will be on the front lines; others will be unseen.
Seasons build upon seasons. You can’t have a harvest time without a planting season. You cannot enjoy the fruit if you haven’t plowed. All seasons are vital. Your role in this season is important, but you must know the season YOU are in so that you can be the fullest version of yourself. “Jesus, what season am I in?”
God is not standing over you, watching you parent, or keeping track of your every wrong move. He is geared up, ready to jump in the moment you invite Him. So, give it a try today. Having a hard mommy moment? Frustrated over a child’s behavior? Hit with big news? Invite Him in and watch and see how He encounters you IN the moment.
This testimony touched me deeply because a mom in class took what she had learned in our class and taught her teen daughter, who then passed it on – three generations in ONE affected by Kingdom parenting.
She writes: “I have to share. My 16-year-old was babysitting for the first time. The 16-month-old was really fussy the whole time, and she decided to pray for peace and calm over him to calm him down. Within minutes he was at rest.”
Oh, the warriors that children are when they are taught the tools of the Kingdom!!!
I used to have this cycle where events would tell me that I didn’t belong. I would work it out sometimes rather fast, but it took my time and energy. Cycles can be exhausting and wear you out. I began to see this as unfruitful and pressed in further with the Lord. While it was great I could work it out in my heart, I wasn’t so sure God wanted me to be on auto-repeat with the same situation.
As I asked the Lord, I heard the word ‘cattle prod.’ Growing up around Minnesota farms, I knew what a cattle prod was but felt an invitation from the Lord to study them further. WOW! A cattle prod’s purpose is never to kill or destroy the animal; it is to CONTROL them with the purpose of getting them to MOVE IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. I asked God to show me who gave the enemy the legal right to use this tool on me, and I saw my mom. My childhood was full of pain and heart splinters, causing me to move out for good when I was in the 8th grade. But the picture He showed me was when I still lived with my family. Surprised by the time frame, God showed me that my mom would often make comments about me not belonging, or she would say, “Maybe you need to live elsewhere.” This taught me, long before I was removed from the home for good, that I didn’t belong in the circle. So fast forward to adulthood when circumstances gave me the message I didn’t belong; it was like a cattle prod in my side. It would get my attention, and I would stop doing what I was doing and spend time unpacking the hurt and lies. I always found the truth and peace again, but once I realized the root of where this was coming from, I forgave my mom for teaching me I didn’t belong and declared that tool no longer effective. I saw Jesus come to a herd of cows (and had the sense I was one of them). When He scooped me up, I morphed into a little lamb snuggled in His arms. He carried me away from the dirt and manure and brought me to the grassy field. But when He set me down, I immediately tried to run back to the herd. Why in the world would I do that if He just reduced me? He said, “Because it is familiar. You believe you are a heifer, but you are My sheep. The cattle prod is used on those who do not know who they are (identity). It is My job to keep you in the pasture, but I do not use a cattle prod to control you; I use My staff to lead you.”
The irony of the cattle prod is that it always seemed to happen right before something big in my life, and it caused me to not only stop but move in the opposite direction. Hmmm.
HeartWork – Do you have an area of your life where you feel like you get cattle prodded out of the blue, and it takes you days or weeks to find your footing again? Ask Jesus to show you what He wants you to see. Maybe this isn’t so much about you but about the enemy using past experiences to shock you into old cycles. Ask Holy Spirit to bring healing to the area you keep getting poked in and for Him to break the power of the cattle prod. You are not a heifer. You are His sheep!