For those of you who do Easter eggs with the kids, hide one that is EMPTY. Make a big deal about it being the best one. When they open it, they will be confused. Explain to them that the BEST NEWS is that the tomb is EMPTY, and that is why we celebrate Easter. The Cross is part of the journey, but the EMPTY tomb is what we celebrate.
Give them the gift of peace. Soaking means to be saturated in His presence and nothing else (that means no to-do list, worrying, striving, or doing – just being).
Kids feel what is going on in the atmosphere even when they don’t have words for it. I actually think they feel it more because they have not yet built coping mechanisms and walls to shut it out like many adults. God doesn’t want us to manage it, nor does He want us to ignore it. He wants us to overcome it with the authority given to us through Jesus. If you feel an increase of unrest in your home, overcome it by pulling your family in closer. Home should be the safest place on earth. Have a family meeting and forgive hurts and offenses. Intentionally have a family night to connect and laugh together. Increase worship or soaking music. Pray about what is going on as a family. Remind your children how big God is by telling them stories of His incredible power in other challenging stories in the Bible. He always comes through and always knows what He is doing (always). Hug them and then hug them some more (yes, even teenagers who act like they don’t care). Remind them of who they are (not performance). Ask Jesus to show you what your children need today. Your children need to know they are covered, safe and secure, and our job as parents is to be that verb!
Gather the kids and talk about how incredible our bodies are. We have legs to run, ears to hear, eyes to see, and lungs to breathe. Each part is a gift. Ask them what part of their body they are the most thankful for. Take time to thank God for the way He created our bodies to move and our minds to work. He is so smart!
Do you realize that you have a mighty, mighty generational line? Each generation came from the womb, where they were knit together by Father God. Each and every one of your ancestors has left you something – something good and something not so good. The rich spiritual inheritance from ALL THE WAY BACK is yours. You can receive it. But you can also throw out the deficit that each generation has left in the spiritual realm, too. It isn’t so much that things like anger, abuse, etc. are in your ‘blood’; as much as when the door to the enemy is opened (foothold), and you are raised in an environment of trauma and fear. It is easy to adopt the same behavior because it is familiar. You have heard of the girl hating her alcoholic father and then marrying one, the child who cursed her overweight mother and then became overweight herself. Your bloodline isn’t the issue – it is the modeled and learned behavior. Christ came to realign us with our heavenly family so that we wouldn’t be held captive to the mistakes of our earthly one.
Go to the store, get a label/sticker, and write things like ‘loving,’ ‘kind,’ ‘helpful,’ ‘worthy,’ etc. Then, throughout the day, call out your child’s identity and remind them who they are. Ask Holy Spirit to make your ears sensitive to hear when your children call out a lie about themselves. Things like, “I am not good at this,” “I can’t,” “I am not smart,” “I am stupid,” “No one cares,” and show them their name tag and ask, “Is that who you are?” Show them it is a LIE from the enemy, and they can easily toss that lie out. It is important that children get practice hearing GOD’S words about them and learn how to toss out the lies. They will use this tool for the rest of their lives!
How many of you have to do things in life that require a sacrifice for your child? Selling a house? Long car rides? Going grocery shopping? Look at what this real estate agent did to EMPOWER the kids to be on the team rather than set it up for conflict and chaos.
“At my listing appointment tonight, I had the smallest residents sign their own contracts promising to keep their rooms clean, and toys picked up while the house is on the market. If they hold up their end of the deal, they each get a gift card from a store of their choice.”
Your body isn’t designed to carry the weight. For those of us in Redding enduring the crisis of the Carr Fire, we are divided into two camps – those who are givers and those who are receivers. Many are dealing with unimaginable loss. For those who haven’t lost their homes or loved ones, we are givers of our time, resources, energy, ministry, and helping hands. We are listening to the stories one by one, over and over, of the trauma, heartbreak, and tears. God never designed our bodies to hold onto the weight of other people’s pain. It can become extremely unhealthy if we are carrying the weight of their stories and not following through with giving them back to Him. I am hearing over and over that people who lost nothing are feeling stressed, depressed and lethargic. Yet, these are the ones who are walking side by side with those who are in pain.
One friend broke out in hives so bad she went to Urgent Care. When the second bout came, I knew she was holding onto emotions that needed to be released. I encouraged her to get the kids situated and go in her room alone with Jesus and process her heart, the pain of the stories, the fear, and deep sadness. She wept! And the hives left. God wants us to walk in compassion for those suffering, but He does not want us to carry it. Out of love and compassion, He wants us to put those burdens back on Him. When I walk or talk with someone who has endured something difficult, I have two choices. I can carry their pain as if it happened to me, or I can cry with them but remain true to my reality (the loss didn’t happen to me) and take their stories to the throne and intercede for them out of compassion. If you are in the role of being the giver to someone who is walking through challenging situations, your strength is found in putting the weight and needs back on the only One who is designed to carry our burdens.
Parents often feel pressure to lead their children spiritually. While there is a mandate to train and raise our children, I think sometimes we put too much focus on the HOW. My greatest tool for leading my children is to simply stay hungry myself and share with them what God is doing in my life. Every morning we would meet in the family room at 7 to check in, talk about our day, evening schedule, and it is my time to feed their spirits before they go out in the world. I was camped out in John 10 and came across this line, “My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me. I and the Father are one.” I highlighted to them that they could never be kidnapped from Jesus. They can never be taken away from Him. That simple line and 2-minute family devotion taught them a lot about who their Father is and placed a wall of security around them as they went out the door.
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?”
Take a balloon and blow it up as big as you can and then let it go and watch it flap all around the room. Now tell the kids that a balloon is like a heart and that we need to be actively putting good things in people’s hearts. Have them pretend that the balloon is YOUR heart. Every time they call out something good about you, take a big breath and blow into the balloon. The next person calls out something good about you, and you give it another blow. Keep doing it until the balloon is about to pop. They will all laugh and giggle; tell them that we can help people have hearts that are ready to explode with goodness by being kind and calling out the good!
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly