Are you feeling discouraged? Alone? Give this a try. Set a reminder on your phone to go off once a day, and in that moment, ask Jesus how He feels about you. Nothing realigns your mind, body, and spirit more than hearing what HE has to say about you.
I have strived hard through the Let the Children Fly message to get parents to see beyond the behavior. Yes, train children to manage themselves better, but if we only focus on managing behavior, we will enter legalism and move away from the Father’s heart. We must be willing to endure discomfort with their behavior to explore with Holy Spirit WHY. If we can partner with Him, we will discover what is going on inside their hearts, and we can parent them in that place. This is where real transformation and growth occur. When we experience someone acting immature, wounded, and reckless, we have two choices: #1 Increase our power by using intimidation and fear to control them so that we feel comfortable or #2 come alongside their pain and usher them to Jesus. If all we are doing is managing triggers and outward behavior, we are actually separating ourselves from their heart. If we want to draw closer, we must become students of what is going on in their world.
The Word says if you have EVERYTHING (money, fame, status, awards, a big house, a perfect-looking family, IG followers, Pinterest-worthy snacks, A+ students, fancy cars, leadership titles, etc.), but have no love, you have NOTHING! Love matters because God designed our heart, mind, and soul to need it. I have seen the messiest of situations, exasperated parents, and the most challenging children MELT with the ointment of love.
A sweet friend who I have known and loved for over 20 years sent me a private message telling me that one of my posts did not bring her peace. My first thought was that I should remove the post out of love for her, as I would never want to be responsible for increasing someone’s fear. But it didn’t sit right with me. I held onto it for a few hours waiting for direction from the Lord. Finally, I heard Him say, “Peace is an inside job,” and I marinated in that truth all day. While we are to test all things according to His Word, the truth is someone’s post, the news, circumstances, and hard trials do not have to rob us of our peace. This is a spiritual muscle that many have been tested in lately. Are you keeping your peace, guarding it at all costs? Flex your muscle that says, “I am unmoved by anything other than the hand of God and remain anchored to His perfect peace!”
If you are a parent, you NEED to understand what your child NEEDS from you in the moment of their discomfort. You have the power to stop an event from becoming lifelong trauma.
“When someone slanders another to us, we must remember that we are not mainly fighting flesh and blood, but spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan knows that slander deadens and splits churches, poisons friendships, and fractures families. He knows slander quenches the Holy Spirit, kills love, short-circuits spiritual renewal, undermines trust, and sucks the courage out of the saints. So our goal, particularly in the context of the church, is to help each other shed demonic weights and avoid satanic stumbling blocks.
So how do we do this? The best way is to become people who are not safe to slander around. We must ask each other questions like: “Have you shared your concern with this person directly? I’d be willing to go with you to talk to him. Just to be clear, is this information I should know? Do you want me to help you pursue reconciliation? Are you doing everything you possibly can to put away ‘all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander’ (Ephesians 4:31)? How can I help you guard this person’s reputation like a treasure (Proverbs 22:1)?” In other words, friends don’t let friends slander. Friends don’t let friends act like God-haters (Romans 1:30).
Proverbs 26:28 – “The more we love people, the more we hate slander, because a slanderer hates his victims.” Let us remember that we are stewards of the treasure of each other’s good names. Let us resolve to avoid sharing information that is unnecessarily damaging to another person’s reputation and to repent to everyone affected if we do. Let us seek to silence the sin nature slanderer within and graciously give and receive others’ help when one of us slips, perhaps unaware, into slander. Let us do damage to Satan’s forces by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Let us lay aside the destructive sin-weight of slander. In an age of social media, that lacks the functional information-spreading restraints of past eras, let us be all the more slow to post (‘slow to speak’ – James 1:19) analysis, speculation, and commentary on information about another person or group, even if it has become public in our slander-saturated culture, that might eventually prove slanderous.
“All the serious biblical warnings about slander still apply, which should make us all, especially those of us with ‘platforms,’ tremble.” – Jon Bloom.
Want to give your children a gift today? Read through Psalms 139: 1-18 with them at the breakfast table. This is a powerful revelation of the goodness of God and rebukes the lie that we are alone. Anchor them today in His Word.
Teaching about the birds and bees is different from sexual safety. I believe sex education should start in the home so that children have a solid understanding and do not learn it for the first time on the playground with mixed and twisted information. Over time, this is an evolving process that happens in layers as they age and mature. However, sexual safety is something that every parent must be intentional with and proactively equip their children to be safe. We teach our children how to keep their heads safe using bike helmets, their bodies safe by not answering the door, their hands safe while holding yours, and their mouths healthy using a toothbrush, but we also need to teach them about sexual safety. What age is this for? ALL!!! I cannot stress this enough. Unless your child is with you 24/7, and I mean 24/7, then perhaps they don’t need to be equipped, but if they go to school, have playdates, overnights, babysitters, friends, neighbors, and attend Church, they need to be equipped.
Next time you are at the store buy a sweet treat that you know would be a big deal to your child. Sit them down and tell them you bought something just for them. Let them savor every bite and ooh and ahh over how good it tastes. When they have smacked their lips with the last morsel, lovingly joke with them, “Hey, give me back my chocolate.” Keep asking for it back until they say, “I can’t!” Validate them that they are right. The sweet treat has now gone into their body and became a part of them. There is no way to give it back. Tell them that God gave us a very sweet treat – JESUS! And that when we invite Jesus inside of us, He can never ever get out. He becomes a part of us, like the chocolate treat. Explain that when they do bad things, feel all alone, or like no one cares, Jesus is still there. Children who are taught that Jesus is always there are children who go to Jesus when no one else is there.
Once past the elementary years, a great parenting tool has been to simply partner with Holy Spirit to see how the discomfort can be placed on the child, not me. A child will step up to the plate when they feel the pressure and discomfort of their choices. When my kids transitioned from homeschool to formal school, I showered them with grace as they were learning so many new things involving lockers, tests, new classroom rules, eating lunch in a certain time frame, and so on. Months into it, I still found myself asking in the morning, “Did you brush your teeth? Did you make your bed? Did you…?” My mind was going to explode as I tried not only to get myself ready and out the door but to remember who did and didn’t do what! I sat on the kitchen counter lamenting to Holy Spirit that I felt like I was going to lose it. The kids came down only to confirm they had not done what was expected, and back up they went. I stayed on the counter, trying to keep my cool. This continued for nearly 20 minutes. We finally got in the car, when I calmly said, “Thanks for choosing to get all of your stuff done this morning. Great job. I just want you to know that the bell rang 20 minutes ago.” They begged me with tears not to make them go to school late, but I had to be tough to let them feel the discomfort of their choices. Upon entering the school office, I was asked the purpose of the tardy. I simply said, “My kids were learning to take responsibility this morning.” The office clerk winked at me and told the kids it would be unexcused and handed them their slips to enter their classrooms… late. Guess how many times they failed to do their morning routine after that?
**Toddlers need the training established so that you can use tools like this down the road. I would not attempt to do this with a toddler who is still learning right/wrong.
Going up to someone and saying, “Will you mentor me?” is a little like telling the guy on the first date you are going to marry him. Mentoring someone requires connection and the freedom to speak honestly into someone’s life. Often, this means hard conversations and truth shared in love. They are mentoring you to empower and help you grow, which means growing pains. Not everyone is in a place where they can receive this type of conversation without being offended, wounded, or defensive. The best mentors, I have found, are those that happen organically by the move of God vs. someone searching for one. If you long for this type of relationship, tell God and have faith in His ability to orchestrate it on your behalf. When God gives you this connection with someone, don’t view it as a relationship to take, but as one to serve and give out of the gratefulness in which you have received from their wisdom, time, and investment in you. One of my mentors is a single lady, so we would always be on the lookout for ways we could stand in the gap and help her with things like changing the oil in her car, bringing her meals, or sending her flowers on Mother’s Day. We both are blessed by the connection for different reasons. I positioned my heart to look for opportunities to bless and serve her. Oftentimes people don’t really want a ‘mentor’ but a person who will give them the gifts that a mother or father give, such as a sense of belonging, to be seen, community, wisdom, etc. Identifying what needs you are specifically seeking to meet helps to go after that person who carries that gift. Our greatest connections with those who are older (and wiser) than ourselves have simply evolved from intentionally getting to church at least 30 minutes earlier and extending a warm greeting to those around us, whether it be sitting in church, standing in line for childcare check-in, or greeting those we haven’t met before. This isn’t scary, but it requires a heart that is open to seeing and loving people. We have a strong connection to every regular attender who sits in the same section as us every Sunday morning simply because we have made it a point to see and welcome them. We have gotten together for Sunday brunch, dinners, playing games, going to each other’s homes, and texting often. It was organic simply by being open and friendly to those God has put in front of us. My kids have profited profoundly from having multiple adopted grandmas and grandpas. Who will you sit by today? Reach out, introduce yourself, be excited to see them again next week, and see what God does with it!