GOD USES ANYTHING

GOD USES ANYTHING

I went on a date with my son, and he broke down and told me how unkind Lauren had been to him all over the dog. We got home, and I asked her about it, and she didn’t express much care about it. The following morning, we talked about it again as a family, but her response was cool and casual as if to communicate she had no intention of changing (insert trigger moment for Mom when siblings are unkind to each other). She came to me a couple of times throughout the day and said she would ‘try harder,’ but this wasn’t about behavior management, as this issue has been there on some level since the day we got Boo. I told her she needed to fight harder for her freedom and that I was there to help, but she had to own it. By that evening, she asked if we could talk. She said she was upset with Hudson. About what? That he would do something that would harm the dog. I asked what she was afraid would happen if Boo was hurt. She said, “That he would be put down.” I assured her that would not be pleasant, but the reality is she will outlive the dog, and at some point, she will have to say goodbye. She agreed. I asked if she was feeling more compassion for Boo being in pain, that she had to let go of him or that she would have to deal with the aftermath of missing him every day, and with that, a burst of emotions came flooding over her. She was not afraid of losing him; she was afraid of longing for him. Instantly my mind recalled how she processed when she lost her dad. She was angry for a while and then just came to accept it. What I failed to realize at the time was that she was stewarding an unmet longing for him. She, like many people, despised the feeling of longing for something that you can’t have, and there was a part of her heart that jumped in to protect her from feeling that ever again. She wasn’t controlling Hudson. She was trying to protect herself from having to feel the longing for something you want and desire but can’t have. As her mom, I get a lump in my throat even writing that. She has gotten into a lot of conflict over the years for her ‘controlling’ behavior over her siblings with the dog, yet all along, she was scared of losing him like she did her dad. She was able to repent for her attempt to control and manage Hudson’s actions. She asked Jesus to forgive her for trying to do His job of protecting her heart and Boo’s life. She had a greater revelation that it is God and God alone who holds Boo’s life in His hands, and He already has Boo’s life figured out from beginning to end. I asked her if she could have faith that God also cares about Hudson and that He didn’t want Hudson to do something to Boo that would cause him to be put down and the profound way that would affect his relationship with Lauren. That God is protective over leading Hudson too. She began to cry and said she had never thought of that and suddenly felt compassion for him. Hudson isn’t the enemy here – her fear is.

Thank You, Jesus, that You parent our hearts and see what is really going inside of us. She didn’t need a consequence for her unkind behavior. She needed an encounter with a Father who has never left or forsaken her, who sees and hears her heart and cares deeply about what she holds dear. Okay, I might be crying myself after sharing that testimony of you.

A TOUCH FROM HIM

One of the things I love about traveling and speaking is the ministry time. One touch of God can change a life in a moment. I often spend a great deal of time with God before asking how I can partner with what He is already doing in a particular community, as I never want to come in and just do my thing. At one place over the summer, He said to do ministry time totally different than I was used to (love that!). The Presence was so sweet and tangible. As a minister, you want people to encounter and receive all they can, but there was something that wouldn’t let me move forward. I had to process what He was doing and how I could partner with it while standing on stage in silence. He said, “I don’t want to come in as Fire tonight. I want to come in as a Gentleman. There are people in the room who need to know I am safe.” People encountered a safe Father, and it was breathtaking. It was the simplest yet most profound ministry time I have ever led.

THE FRUIT OF OBEYING

I felt a check in my spirit to check my son’s bag. I did and found that he ‘borrowed’ his sister’s Fitbit (the one she waited for a year to get). She was already gone for the weekend, and after he and I worked through it, he put it back immediately. The following day I sensed God telling me to have him confess it to his sister. We all knew she would be pretty upset and feel violated, rightfully so. When he told her, she handled it like a rock star and was very humble and gracious. But then, a few hours later, he had it on his wrist again. When I asked him, he said, “Oh, she realized I valued it more than she did and gave it to me.” WOW. I gently pointed out that that would not have happened had he not owned his mistakes. God’s ways just work and have a crazy way of blessing us, even when we mess up. What a powerful lesson for him to see the fruit of humility.

SHY IS A LIE

Testimony from a mom: “One morning, our six-year-old was being funny when we asked her to pray about something. Her head was hanging down, and her hair was in her face. She said she doesn’t want to because she is shy (she has said she is shy before but is my bold adventurer!). We asked her what Father was saying to her. It took a while, but she finally whispered, ‘I’m powerful.’ So we asked if it was true or a lie that she was shy and spoke a few other things God has said to her. She knew it was a lie but was cowering in fear. I knew she could see in the spirit realm, so something was obviously going on. I remembered a story you had shared about Hudson kicking a lie out the door. So I shared it with her, and she thought it was funny. I asked her if she wanted to kick out the lie that she was shy. Still acting timid, we went to the door and together said, ‘I am not shy,’ and kicked it out the door. She shut the door and began to have this tiny smile. Then, she whispers, ‘Mommy, it’s like we kicked all the sneaky, snaky things that aren’t God’s friends out the door.’ Oh, my word. Our daughter has gotten so many words about being bold, powerful, and filled with God’s light. Blessings on our children’s destinies and callings! Thank you for sharing testimonies; they are powerful!”

RESISTANCE

We had a Let the Children Fly team meeting and I could sense many people were dealing with spiritual resistance (the refusal to accept or comply with something, the attempt to prevent something by action or argument). As I was sharing my experience, I saw this picture of workout resistance bands wrapped around one’s legs. They can still walk, but every step requires more effort because resistance is set up to oppose their steps. I got the idea to grab rubber bands and put them between our fingers to feel the resistance. I put on some worship music, and we just spent time aligning our hearts with His.

During worship, God reminded me of a story where a man came up against great resistance, but God put up the block for his training and development. When the challenging season was over, he knew his anointing had doubled. I began to process that some resistance is good and from the Father’s hand to develop us more like Jesus. But then I saw this picture of the enemy using resistance and disguising it as being from Him. And that is when God showed me the strategy. Many people are experiencing resistance and simply accepting it, going low, and submitting to the Father when in reality, it needs to be dealt with in the spiritual realm. The more they partnered with the resistance saying, “Well, it is just for my development,” or “It comes with the territory of breakthrough,” they were actually partnering with the enemy who was bringing the wrong kind of resistance against them, their minds, calling, assignments and relationships. What’s the difference? Your level of peace! God’s training, character development, increasing our capacity, and seasons of refinement are not always pleasant, but they come with a layer of peace. Only God can discipline you in a way that still somehow feels loving and protective. If the resistance you are experiencing makes you feel uneasy, unsettled, full of lack, discouragement, or hopelessness, then perhaps it is not more patience that you need but a revelation of your authority to resist the resistance and watch it flee. I gave each team member scissors, and we stretched the rubber bands between our fingers to feel the resistance and then cut it. The bands went flying everywhere, and joy broke out. We all felt lighter and restored to hope and confidence that He will complete the work in us and fulfill the promises over us in His way and in His timing.

SIBLINGS’ LOVE TANKS

Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!

ASK HIM

Random acts of kindness are when people go out in the name of Jesus and do good, kind, helpful things for others. While this is indeed praiseworthy and profitable Christian behavior, we need to be asking Him the who, what and where in order to be abundant in our harvest. Let me give you an example: One day, I was having a really hard day. I decided to get my eyes off myself and asked God what we should do with our day. I heard Him say to go be a blessing and rake leaves. I jumped into action. Logical thinking concluded that going to the poorest part of town and blessing the souls there would be best. I loaded up the van with kids and rakes and waved to my neighbor as we took off searching for the family that needed to be blessed. After forty-five minutes of driving around endlessly looking for a single family that had not yet raked, I was growing frustrated. What was supposed to help my day ended up making my day even worse. Defeated and somewhat mad, I made the trek back home. Upon entering our community, I heard the words, “What? You don’t think your rich neighbors need Me?” and instantly, I knew God gave me the WHAT (raking), but I ran with it before I asked the WHO or WHERE. I repented. Immediately upon parking in the driveway, the kids flung open the van door and ran across the street to the neighbor’s house (yes, the one we waved to on the way out) and raked all of the leaves. But the story doesn’t end there. Days later, I received a letter from the single elderly lady with a check saying she was so overwhelmed by all the work that needed to be done and was crying out to the Lord about her needs AS we were driving by waving at her. She finally had to leave the house with the yard work not done, and when she came back, she found ten bags full of raked leaves.

That is a perfect example of the harvest being ABUNDANT. God is a perfect economist. While one woman needed to take her eyes off her circumstances, another woman needed an extra set of helping hands. We can’t just DO in the name of Jesus. We need to ask Him the who, what, and where, too! And this requires communication – both talking and listening.

EMMA’S OUTFIT

I have favorite stories of my children about how God encountered their hearts. This is my favorite one of Emma’s because we are still seeing the fruit of it a decade later.

When Emma was five, she came to me sobbing that she hated her outfit. I encouraged her to pick out something else. She did, and that, too, produced an ocean of tears. She set off to find something else, but the flood of tears continued. At this point, I was getting a little annoyed and frustrated. We were already super late for Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, and clothes were simply a non-issue in my home up until that point. Why did they matter so much now? By the fifth outfit, I was about to give her a good lecture on, “naked you came, naked you will leave,” and I could feel my blood pressure rising. I heard her tears coming back up the stairs, and suddenly Holy Spirit whispered, “Ask her WHY.” I sat her down and asked why she hated her clothes. She stated immediately that it was because she wasn’t pretty enough (lie). But we had to keep asking questions. WHY did she believe she wasn’t pretty enough? She then revealed the painful splinter: “Because my daddy doesn’t love me.”

Satan had whispered to her that he didn’t like her because she wasn’t pretty enough and that if only she could find the right outfit, she would be pretty enough to be loved. Imagine if the splinter had not been dealt with that day. Fast forward several years to when she is fifteen. Her unresolved need for love drives her to dress for boys’ attention. What about when she is twenty-five and married and causes a great amount of debt due to her obsession with shopping in an attempt to feel good about herself?

The hurts, lies, and offenses are there to steal, kill, and destroy our relationships with God, ourselves, and others. I believe that the enemy was seeking to plant a lie deep in Emma that day that would reap a harvest for a lifetime through the pain with her father. I explained that the voice she heard was not Jesus but His enemy.

Because kids have free will, I always ask, “Would you like to tell that lie to leave?” It empowers rather than controls them. She said she wanted to get rid of the lie, so I led her through a prayer that looked like this: “Jesus, I confess I believed the lie that I am not pretty enough to be loved.” “Jesus, I forgive my dad for not making me feel like a princess.” “Jesus, where were You when I got my feelings hurt?” “Jesus, how do You feel about me?” She sat there with her eyes closed and her head bowed and suddenly got the biggest smile on her face. She looked up and said with excitement, “Mom! I wore this beautiful dress, and my hair was like a ballerina’s. I was dancing with Jesus, and He said I was HIS princess!” While that was indeed a sweet moment, what is so awesome about this story is that God used it all for good when the enemy came to harm and hurt.

To this day, years later, that girl KNOWS she is Jesus’ princess!

LOVE THAT COSTS SOMETHING

How would you handle it if your neighbor’s dog harmed your beloved pet? Look at how this family chose to handle their pain and hurt. Share it with your children as an example of love and connection over revenge and offense.

“Hi Lisa, please pray for our family. Yesterday a huge dog from our neighbor broke into our backyard and bit Candy really badly. We took her to the vet immediately, but she passed this morning. Josh (my son) is so heartbroken. There are no words to express how sad and sorry he feels that he lost his best friend. Our neighbors are Buddhist, and when my husband went to tell them about Candy’s passing, they kept saying that they needed to pay back for their fault and guilt. They were so ashamed and were crying for us. But we felt as a family that we were going to show them grace and God’s forgiveness. Joshi is still grieving and processing all of this, but he said he is ready to forgive our neighbors and the dog. Praise God for giving us the grace to share with our neighbor His love in the midst of great sorrow. We went to talk to our neighbor, and Joshi took Candy’s food and, with tears streaming down from his eyes, told him that he forgave him and his dog. The owner told us that in his 50+ years in this world, nobody had forgiven him like this. We were all in tears. We got to pray for him and his family, bless them, and plant a seed of love in his heart. He is a military guy, but his heart is so tender. He kept hugging Joshi and thanking Joshi for forgiving him. It was such a beautiful picture of God’s grace and forgiveness. Later, we biked to the lake, and for the first time in the past 24 hours, I saw Joshi’s smile and playful spirit reappear. He told me, ‘It was so good to talk to our neighbor and forgive him. I feel much better now.’ Wow! The power of forgiveness! Thank You, Jesus! And thank you for praying for us. The owner offered to buy a new dog for Joshi when his heart was ready. It’ll never be the same without Candy, but hopefully, Candy’s loss won a soul in the Kingdom and taught us the power of forgiveness in the midst of much pain and injustice.”

YOU CAN TRUST HIM

Messages like this make me jump up in my seat and give God a massive high five. A little girl is learning to trust her Father.

“I am feeling so encouraged and equipped to help my kids more and more. I’ve been practicing myself, and though I stumble over the words, something is getting through. Yesterday, my daughter could not find her special puppy and blanket. Instead of calling me immediately, she said that she tried to push back fear and kept asking God to show her where it was. For a brief moment, I felt bad that she hadn’t come to me asking for help, but then I rejoiced seeing how BIG of a thing that was for her! She was not consumed and paralyzed (like usual); she drew strength from going to Jesus first and asking for Him to show her. She did find it, and this morning we celebrated her victory over fear and her growth in going to Jesus and hearing him!”

LOST & FOUND

Have you lost something dear to you? I was at a conference when my phone began to go off multiple times. It was Hudson messaging me frantically that he had lost his Fitbit. He wanted to go back inside his school to look for it again, but his ride was coming, and he had to go. I messaged him many times, and he was so upset. When I got home that night, he was still very upset, and as the days rolled on, he kept saying how mad he was at himself. This is not his normal response to material things. When I pressed in as to why it was such a big deal (bummer, yes, but not this big of a deal), he said, “It was from my dad, and I wear it every day as a reminder of him.” Ugh! I realized at that moment that I could not replace it as it was not about the item but the sentimental value attached to it. I posted about it on the school page and heard nothing. Hudson was grieving the loss of something very dear to his heart. I knew I needed to help him channel his emotions and asked him if he believed God knew where it was. He did. I asked if He believed God cared enough about his heart and the meaning it held in his heart to return it. He did. I told him that his position needed to move from sadness and disappointment to FAITH. He came home from school that day with the news IT WAS FOUND!!! We cannot shield our children from bumps and bruises and disappointments in life, but we CAN direct them to the One who finds that which is lost, cares about their hearts deeply, and is with them in the process.