GIVING CHOICES

GIVING CHOICES

I am all about empowering children, as my ministry is based on equipping parents on how to empower their children. However, I do not believe in empowering them BEFORE the child has first learned to submit. If you are empowering your young child by offering them a choice with everything you are teaching them, they are the master of their own world, which ultimately is not entirely true. Yes, they alone control themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are not accountable to an authority greater than themselves. Some things need to be submitted to, such as our relationship with God, our desires, Holy Spirit’s leading, stop signs, not playing in the street, harming another human, moral compass, relationships, righteousness, and so forth. We may be free to do as we choose, but that does not mean we want to raise children who are only motivated to respond when they are in control. I see parents of little ones so eager to empower their children. Yet, they are missing out on the required seasons of laying the foundation of character training and intentionally teaching children to submit to their authority. This is raising children who are defiant and full of entitlement.

Let me share an example: My daughter, who is a naturally born confident leader, went to babysit for a family. She returned and declared she would never do that again because the kids never listened to her. I encouraged another attempt. She again came through the door and stated the same thing. Not so eager to let her miss this golden opportunity to grow in her capacity to lead, I made her do it one more time. But this time, she came through the door and was most upset. I honestly could not figure out what was happening because this was a wonderful family. Shortly after, the mom asked me for a playdate, and we met at the park. Her toddler made a mess, and she asked, “Do you want a spanking now or a time out when we get home?” Instantly, I knew the problem my daughter was facing. When we got home, I asked her if she gave the kids a choice of when to go to bed. I asked if she gave them a choice of PJs. If she empowered them to decide if they wanted to brush their teeth or read their book first. My daughter was frustrated and said, “No, I just did what the mom told me to do with them, and they wouldn’t listen to a single thing I said.”

The problem was that she didn’t offer them choices, and the only way the child knew how to respond to authority was if they were in complete control of the option. This only works if, everywhere they go, people offer them choices to feel powerful, but that is not how the world is set up. Ultimately this is not true empowerment; this is entitlement. It is overwhelming to a small child who doesn’t even have the total brain capacity to always be in the driver’s seat. They are not orphans, but children set in families with parents who make healthy choices on their behalf.

A child must endure some training at home that establishes authority and how to surrender their will by trusting those God has given to care for them. The toddler years are when this is established and skipping this season and jumping right to empowerment will reap the fruit that will give parents a run for their money down the road. The definition of empowering means to give (someone) the authority or power to do something. If you give children something they do not know how to use properly, it is like giving a baby food before they know how to chew or a car before they know how to drive. We set our children up for messy accidents when we empower them before they are ready.

Do I believe in giving children space to make choices? YES! Do I believe in doing it before they have been first taught to trust your leadership? Not at all. Perhaps we can move away from the ‘do as I say’ control-based parenting and yet not swing so far to the other side where we skip some of the crucial character development that comes with being able to carry the weight of being truly empowered.

TECHNOLOGY

I realize we are all first-generation parents stewarding the world of technology with our children. We will hit some home runs, and we will make some mistakes along the way. One day my son asked if he could take his phone with him on our family outing. I usually have them leave them at home because it is our time to connect, but I allowed it. He was playing a Spanish app and engrossed in it and barely said a word. I had to run to Walmart, and he asked if he could keep playing on it while I was shopping. I agreed to make an exception. The trip was chaotic. He was always a few feet behind us and not paying attention as he bumped into others due to looking down on his phone. I was in a bit of a hurry and was trying to find something for Ellie. I asked him to stay by the cart while I ran down the other aisle, and he absent-mindedly walked away, leaving my cart and purse unattended. I asked him to go back to the cart. A few moments later, Ellie came to me upset because Hudson was snapping at her. He was attempting to push the cart but ran into something because his eyes were on his phone. A few minutes later, I asked him to help me with something, and he had an attitude with me for ‘interrupting’ him. It was so chaotic and stressful. I went to him and held out my hand, asking for his phone. We finished and when we got into the car, I reminded him that I had raised him to be a helper, to see others, to be kind, to jump in where needed, to be a gentleman, to serve, be aware of his surroundings and to be a blessing. I did not raise a son whose eyes were locked looking down on a screen, walking around aimlessly without seeing a single person or contributing to the task. Every parent needs to make their own choice about technology, but for me, when they were younger, going to the store was our training ground for character, and I was not going to let a phone undo all that work. I care more about his development than his entertainment. I care more about the man he is becoming than his comfort. I care more about him seeing others than what he is watching for himself. The phone is not your friend if it is breaking connection with those around you.

SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

When my kids come home with stories about how someone was unkind, rude, or disrespectful, we walk through forgiveness and then release the opposite back to them in the spiritual realm. You can’t be a victim when you are partnering with the Creator of the universe.

Homework – Call a family meeting and ask your children what would happen if you walked into the middle of a busy street and held up your hand. Nothing would probably happen. Next, ask what would happen if a police officer walked in the middle of a busy street and put up his hand. Because of his badge, he has authority. Not only that, but all of the courts back him up. We get to be police officers in the spiritual realm because of the badge of Jesus, and all of heaven backs us up. We get to tie up the bad and then unleash all the good stuff. 

INTERRUPTING

How many of us get annoyed when we speak to our children, and they don’t listen because they are engaged elsewhere (book, TV, homework, screen time, etc.)? How many of you get annoyed when you are in the middle of something (book, TV, housework, screen time, etc.), and your kids interrupt you as if you aren’t doing anything? Hmmm… maybe we are actually teaching our children to interrupt by what we are modeling for them. We think just because we are adults, we can crash into their world at any time and expect them to instantly stop what they are doing and give us their full attention. While that would be awesome, that isn’t reality. Perhaps we should be modeling for our children how we would appreciate and value them interrupting us when we are in the middle of something, and they need our attention. I have taught my kids that when they need me, but see I am in the middle of something, to come and place their hand on my arm. I place my other hand on top of theirs to say, “I see you,” and they need to wait until I can switch my attention to them. When they got older, I showed them how to say, “Excuse me, Mom, is this a good time to interrupt you?” If I am engaged with another person (on the phone or in person), and the kids would not show honor, I would say, “Excuse me for a moment,” to the person and then say to my children, “You are so important, but I am important too, and right now Mama is talking to Ms. Smith.” This is a people skill that children need to be taught, trained, and equipped in with intentional parenting. Nothing welcomes favor more than honor and respect!

I AM THEIR TEACHER

Teaching children to walk in character is a VERB, and it is best done in the home by loving parents. 

WHERE IS HE?

How many of you struggle to see, hear, or feel God in this hour? The enemy is shouting lies to you such as: “He doesn’t care,” “He doesn’t see you,” “He is too busy,” “He is overwhelmed by world affairs,” “He is mad at you,” “He is withholding from you,” “He isn’t very powerful,” “He doesn’t care,” “He isn’t worth it…” I have never felt a season before where hearing Him has been so challenging. My heart is to do whatever He says, but if I can’t hear Him, I don’t know what to do, and it has made me feel confused and lost at times. Isaiah 30:21. 

I called a mentor friend, and we began to pray hard. The more she prayed, the more this picture in my mind became clearer and clearer. I saw smoke fill the air. It was a dark smoke like you would see from burning tires. It was toxic and heavy. But as she prayed, I saw a speck of light, and it got bigger and bigger. Soon I saw a man on a horse in a serious warrior position. As it approached me, I barely came to the horse’s hoof. It was MASSIVE! I suddenly felt so safe and covered. I kept asking, “What do you want me to do? Tell me whatever it is, and I will do it. I trust you. I will follow. What shall I do?” But the warrior just stood there guarding over me. I wanted him to look at me and talk to me. I wanted verbal reassurance and direction. This is the deafness I have felt in this hour. I know you are HERE, but I can’t hear you. Suddenly I heard, “It isn’t about me telling you what I want you to do, but you telling me what you want me to do.” We are to partner with heaven, and there are angels on assignment to defeat the works of the devil in our land. Angels have the POWER, but we have the AUTHORITY! 

Psalms 103:20-21 says, “Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will.” I began to decree and declare that no weapons formed against me, including my intimacy with the Lord, would prosper. I asked the warrior angel to remove the heavy smoke from around me so I could hear again, and instantly I saw him moving into action. The smoke dissipated, and I could see and hear in the spiritual realm again. The issue was never my spiritual ears – they work just fine. The issue was not God ignoring me – He is always talking. The issue was that I needed help from heaven to break the smoke between us in the atmosphere over the land. 

HeartWork – If this is your experience, call a friend and pray together. Declare and decree no weapon formed against you will prosper. Invite the warrior angels of God to fight the battle. Watch and listen to whatever He wants to show you. 

P.S. Your spiritual ears work just fine, and He still radically and passionately loves you!

EXPOSING FEAR 2/3

Shock and Awe

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is explained as a tactic based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy their will to fight. This is true in the natural times of war and how the enemy works. The enemy takes situations (opening a bill in the mail, news of a death, low grade, car accident, trauma, etc.) and uses this shock and awe tactic on people, including children. Their entire being is on alert, much like a hand where all the fingers are flexed simultaneously. The brain, mind, emotions, and nervous system are overwhelmed, and in that split-second moment before logic and coping skills kick in, the enemy whispers his lie (“You are all alone,” “No one cares,” “Your God is not powerful,” etc.). When the body, mind, and emotions begin to calm down (like fingers that go back to a relaxed state), the lie remains because, at that moment, the lie FEELS true based on the evidence. The enemy then gets to influence us because we partnered with the lie.

Here is an excellent example of how this plays out. Many in the world are beginning to calm down from the shock and awe over recent events and are overcoming this tactic of the enemy. “No, no, no, I will not be influenced by fear. I do not partner with the idea of doom or lack. I will not bow down, lie down, or shrink back. I am a child of God with a Father who has defeated the spirit behind this attack. I will cling to Him, His Kingdom, His power, His voice, and His resources in this hour.” I WILL arise!

HONEST DEALINGS

Our pastor shared a story about buying a pack of gum for cheap. He went in the next day, and they had raised the price because the clerk had made an error the day before. Our pastor digs in his pocket for the change to make up the difference. The clerk says it was his error and that he owed nothing. His response has never left me. He said, “If I am faithful to give you what is yours, God will be faithful to give me what is mine.” A few days later, I let my son play the video game at the table of our restaurant. When we got in the car, he showed me $7 that he ‘found’ under the video game. I heard our pastor’s words in my mind and immediately turned the car around to have my son explain to the waiter what had happened. My son didn’t do anything wrong, as he clearly thought it was lost money, but not making it right would have made it wrong. The following day I got tangled in L.A. traffic and ended up in a lane that required me to pay $20 for parking. I told the attendant I would just drive through and exit. While doing so, I made a comment that the guy would never even know if we just slipped into a parking spot, but my daughter instantly said, “But Mom, that would be dishonest.” Once again, I heard, “If I am faithful to give you what is yours, God will be faithful to give me what is mine,” and we drove off. Teaching children about character and modeling it ourselves is so valuable to the Father.

COMPASSION

God speaks, heals, and saves out of COMPASSION! Children need to be intentionally taught the character trait of compassion. When they see something ‘bad’ or ‘ugly,’ purposely talk to them about how you can seek to see underneath it and what God wants you to do to call out the GOOD and value in them. Compassion is the heart of the Father.

To that girl you called a slut in class today. She’s a virgin. The pregnant girl walking down the street. She got raped. The boy you called lame. He has to work every night to support his family. That girl you pushed down the other day. She’s already being abused at home. That girl you called fat. She’s starving herself. That old man you made fun of cause of the ugly scars. He fought for our country. The boy you made fun of for crying. His mother is dying. You think you know them. Guess what? You don’t! Your actions affect those around you.