DO NOT PRAY AGAINST GOD

DO NOT PRAY AGAINST GOD

When my sweet Emma was little, she had the hardest time grasping the concept that she could not help herself to whatever she wanted in the stores. She would come home with her pockets filled with unpaid goodies. I kept trying to teach her, but it wasn’t sinking in. When I found a pair of dangling earrings, I knew I had to take things to the next level. I took her to the store and asked for the manager. I had Emma explain that she took the items and came to return them. To my utter surprise, the manager told me to relax and then looked at Emma and said, “That is okay, sweetie!” I was dumbfounded and asked the manager if she would be okay with that response if she were 15 or 55, still stealing from her store. I was sad the manager was working against what I was trying to set up and instill in my daughter. I share that story to say we must know the bigger picture of what is happening. I was a mom trying to teach my daughter the value of not stealing, but the manager spoke against it and encouraged Emma that it was no big deal. There is SO much going on in the world right now, and we must must must hear from God what He is doing and align our prayers, comments, and voice with His. We do not want to be like the manager and speak out against what He is doing. We want to partner with Him. 

May I encourage you to gather the children and spend some intentional time as a family asking: “Father, what are You doing right now?” “Holy Spirit, how do You want me to pray today?” “Jesus, will You show me what You see?” He is a good Father and knows what He is doing. Let’s partner WITH Him and align our voices with what He is doing. 

FAMILY MEETINGS

I grew up having ‘family meetings,’ which meant we had to gather and listen to a very long lecture about something. I walked away feeling like I wanted to run away. They were not empowering or life-giving. When I began to have my own family, I, too, wanted to have family meetings but to create a time everyone had a voice, was able to share without fear, and could contribute to the process. I wanted my children to walk away feeling closer, connected, and empowered. We have done just that over the years. When I call out “family meeting,” they stop what they are doing and join me in the family room. They come expectant to be included and heard. We have intentionally gone on family meeting dates where we talk through a particular topic or issue.

Family means all people. Everyone gets a voice, each carrying something vital. Children have a perspective that is needed.

LAYING THE FOUNDATION

FIRST – When an issue comes up, you must ask yourself, “Have I taught, trained, and equipped them in this area?” That means, have you proactively taught them how to handle disappointments, the difference between right and wrong, how to handle when someone else wants your toy, or how to respond when someone is being unloving before the conflict? These things require intentional parenting in times of peace. This is where you get to cuddle, connect, go on dates, have family meetings, etc. You get to fill up their love tanks by connecting through intentional teaching with Mom and Dad. Much of the early toddler years are spent doing this very thing – some days without ceasing! It is the heart that says, “Hey, son/daughter, I have something to show (or teach) you.”

SECOND – Look for opportunities in real life to apply the thing you are trying to teach. This is where the training part comes in. You practice, practice, practice with real-life situations. Will a 2-year-old master self-control in the first week? Nope! You will be an intentional parent for 18 years and will need to teach and train them in the area of self-control in every stage of their life. Perhaps with a 2-year-old, your training subject will not be getting the toy they desire. When they are 10, it will be about completing their homework each night, and perhaps when they are 18, it will be having self-control with the opposite sex. These character traits should be something we build upon as they get older.

THIRD – You now have a foundation upon which you can build. Say you have already laid the first and second part of the foundation in the area of self-control. Now, when you take them to a meeting where they need to sit quietly, you can pull out that teaching and training to prepare them for what you expect from them. You can begin role-playing in certain situations. I would often park the van at the grocery store parking lot to do a quick family huddle about what was expected and how we could proactively use the skills I had just taught them. Here’s what it would sound like: “Hey guys, who wants dinner tonight? Okay, we are going to go into the grocery store for food, not toys. Hudson, will you get the door for us? Lauren, do you want to push the cart? Emma, will you be my big helper and put the food in the cart for me?” I am now leaning into the skills that I have taught them and cashing in on them. I am building us all up for a successful shopping trip. We are all doing our part while we are connected and creating fun family memories versus an unfruitful and frustrating experience for all.

LAST – When a foundation has been established, THEN you can add discipline, such as time-outs, consequences, removing privileges, etc. Can you see how confusing it would be to a child when parents keep disciplining them for the ‘NO’ behaviors but never spend time teaching them what IS acceptable? You could say it looks like this:

  • An issue arises that you want to see a change in (every family will be different on this).
  • Proactively teach during times of peace, using it as a connecting time to get to their heart. 
  • Now coach them by role-playing that issue in real-life situations. 
  • Look for opportunities where they can proactively apply that skill.
  • Discipline is now appropriate if the child chooses not to use the training you have established for them. 

Here’s another real-life example: Let’s say you are shopping, and your kids are touching everything, running crazy, and having a meltdown for a new toy. You have a few options. You can: #1. Conclude your children aren’t old enough for an outing to the store, and thus put the burden on yourself to either pay for a sitter or go late after they are in bed. #2. Get mad, yell, scream, and then feel awful! OR #3. Teach and train your children what it looks like to have self-control at the store. I heard a story of a mom who was so fed up with her grocery trips that she sat her kids down and explained to them what was required. Then every single day for an entire week, they would go to the store, not to buy anything, just to walk up and down the aisles so the kids could practice! That mom is now reaping the tasty fruit of grocery shopping in peace. Oh, did you hear that? What was the Kingdom of God again? Righteousness, peace, and joy! What is a specific area you need to intentionally go after in teaching and training your child?

PROCESSING YOUR HEART IN A HEALTHY WAY

Our children have been walking through so much, and I want to share this in confidence that it will help someone else reach their own child. 

While sitting at dinner, I noticed a mark on my child’s hand. It was unusual, and I asked about it. They immediately started telling me how no one had done it to them. I have a strong core value about siblings not using their strength to communicate, and they were trying to protect their siblings from getting in trouble, but something felt off. We were laughing on my bed the following day, and I noticed it again. I asked, and their response was almost pleading with me that it was nothing. I let it go, but about ten minutes later, I sensed God highlighting it again. I asked them to show me how it happened as their story didn’t line up. They acted out how the mark happened, and it was almost comical how impossible it would have been to create a mark like that. I knew something deeper was going on. I could discern two things: #1. They were covering up something, and #2. They were worried they would be in trouble. I told them I was not mad and that it wasn’t about getting in trouble but being free from whatever it was. I asked them to get their journal and process the story with Jesus (because they know they can tell Him anything and that He is their safe advocate). I was in my room praying that Holy Spirit would lead them and convict their heart (because we partner together to raise my children). They returned, holding back tears, and told me they made the mark themselves. Since cutting is a serious issue, I was most alarmed. They began to tell me that the other day they felt alone and wanted someone to SEE them (yes, kids can feel unseen when you are together 24/7 in a household of 7). This is a child in pain and not having the maturity yet to fully walk it out. 

Children often make messes in their pain. When we only focus on the ‘mark’ or mess, we will miss the pain that is underneath. If we are not alert, we will push the pain further, causing them to want to self-protect, which only traps the pain. I knew they had just experienced adult-sized rejection and radical injustice and asked how they felt about it, and they burst into tears sobbing. The injustice done to them would cripple most adults, and their pain was valid. My heart bled for them, but it allowed me to help them process the pain and bring it to Jesus. They needed to know that Jesus saw their heart (not just their immature way of communicating). Here is the sad part of the story. They got what they wanted – for someone to see them, but with it came shame and embarrassment for what they did. It gave me a priceless opportunity to sit all of the kids down and talk about healthy ways to process our hearts without the price tag of shame. Things like porn, alcohol, shopping, swearing, lying, self-harming, etc., are just flags being waved, saying, “I am in pain and need help.” Our children are also learning how to deal with their pain as sons and daughters.

BE STILL

Treat yourself to a few minutes of rest while you listen to worship. Don’t have time? That’s a LIE. Seek Him first, and the rest of your day lines up. You do have time. Put a movie on for the kids, listen in the car after dropping them off at school, while in the tub, or getting ready, and pop your earbuds in while working out or cleaning. You have time for Him, trust me! 

LET GOD MOVE!

There was a time God brought my daughter through some deep healing of trauma where I almost called 911 because she couldn’t breathe. The breakthrough brought such freedom that it literally changed the direction of her life. God was removing something in her heart. We once had a family meeting that was so messy I wasn’t sure any good would come of it. It brought forth the biggest breakthrough with the children’s father, and they have had a growing connection ever since. God was building something. We pulled Lauren from school halfway through the year, one of the hardest choices for her to make. Looking back, she learned some life lessons that shaped her identity and cemented her worth in Him. God was shaping her. Another child made such a big mess when she flat out rebelled against counsel and was playing with fire. She tasted it and decided it was not for her, and in the midst, God gave her the keys to help set other children free. God was building something in her. What’s my point? My point is that as parents, we have been crying out for God to move and act on behalf of our families. We have cried out about gender issues, sexual exploitation, the media that fills their minds, the attack on parental authority, lack of character, bullies, sexual perversion, promotion of sex, sex trafficking, online predators, threats to our parental rights, and on and on. LET GOD MOVE! We can’t cry out one minute, and the moment He moves, partner with fear. We have to stay in faith just as much TODAY as we did when we were crying out. God knows what He is doing. The world is messy right now, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t working. You are feeding faith or fear whenever you open your mouth. Whatever we feed grows. Either we can sit and call out every detail of the process in fear and worry, or we can zoom out and SPEAK and DECLARE the truth about who God is. Messes do not mean God isn’t working. Often, God allows the mess to be seen before He steps in. 

ARRESTING FEAR

This wasn’t a moment for my friend, Kelsi, this is her lifestyle. She shares: “Tonight, after I had put the boys to bed, this sweet boy came upstairs with tears in his eyes and shared he was having scary thoughts and couldn’t sleep. I pulled him into my arms and told him I was so sorry. I asked him if he wanted to ask Jesus for the truth and for Jesus to show him where He was in that moment. In a matter of minutes, my sweet boy encountered Jesus, his scary thoughts were replaced with the truth, and Jesus showed him where He was. I had him speak the truth of what God spoke to him out loud. The enemy can’t hear our thoughts, so it’s so important we speak out loud His truth. His demeanor changed, and he was ready to go back to bed. There is no junior Holy Spirit. God is a perfect Father. My prayer is that as my boys get older, they will turn to HIM in all things and that they wouldn’t lose their child-like faith!” 

Let’s raise children that know that their identity comes from Jesus and know who their Heavenly Father is! Imagine how their generation could change the world!

RAISING CHILDREN

People think parenting and raising children are the same thing. We raise chickens, not children. Raising chickens looks like letting them follow us around aimlessly, pecking at our ankles, throwing them some food, and cleaning up poop every once in a while. That should not describe our parenting. As parents of powerful children, we teach, train, and equip them through intentional actions. Simply having a child under your foot 24/7 is not parenting.

PARENT REPORT CARD

Do you want to get closer to your child? Spend some alone time with them by taking them out for ice cream or dinner and ask them what is something that you are doing really well in your parenting. Then ask them what is one thing you could improve upon in your parenting. Their answers may just bless and surprise you!

Here’s the deal – you are going to learn one way or another. I would rather hear about ways I could improve while they are still children instead of hurting adults.

IT ISN’T YOU

There are two ways to teach a child how to swim – on dry land, where you explain everything to their mind, OR by putting them in the water and giving them step-by-step instructions on how to survive. 

God is inviting MANY into the pool right now and wants to teach you how to use spiritual tools that have not yet been used before. It can be scary for a small child to hold their breath underwater for the first time, but once they trust their instructor’s instructions, they can master the skill and enjoy playing in the water. God wants to teach His children how to master the weapons of heaven so that they can play in His Kingdom on earth.

How many of you have felt a strange heaviness or unique feelings that you know are not you? After posting about what I was feeling in the atmosphere (this constant sense like I was in big trouble. Yet I knew it wasn’t me personally), many of you have messaged me saying, “Oh, I thought I was going crazy until I read your post.” No, no, no, you are not going crazy. God does not allow us to see, hear, or feel things in the spiritual realm just to crush us. Yes, some things are indeed big and heavy, but the purpose of having discernment is for Him to use you on earth. 

So first, if you have been feeling foreign and unique things that you know isn’t you (coming from unprocessed pain, unforgiveness, or offense), pinpoint what it is that you are feeling/sensing. This heaviness feels like _____. Second, ask, “Jesus, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear. What do You want me to do in response to this?” Third, OBEY whatever He tells you. He is the Commander of heaven and earth and knows how to lead His people. Your job is not to have it all figured out and understand the big picture. Your responsibility is to obey.

COME PLAY

What happens inside of you when you hear, “Mommy, will you come play with me?” If you have a strong reaction to that question, may I encourage you to ask Jesus this question? “Jesus, what about play makes my heart so uncomfortable?” So often, children are told that play is loud and messy and are taught to shut it down. As a result, children grow up being adults who do not know how to play and partner with JOY. It is God’s plan to redeem that in you through your child’s natural ability to play. If we do not learn to be re-introduced to joy, we will simply pass on to our children what was taught to us. So break the cycle – GO PLAY!