Have you ever had a season where you knew God was leading you, but it did not make sense to those around you, and their well-meaning counsel caused you to doubt yourself? It makes sense that their questions and concerns would plant seeds of doubt because part of what you are believing for is IMPOSSIBLE and foolish in the eyes of man. I had a ripped carotid artery that included a high risk of stroke or aneurysm. I was on blood thinners and bruised at the slightest touch. I was on a no-physical contact restriction, which was impossible being a newly single mom of four active small children. A spiritual fire began to grow in my belly, and no one around me understood it. I was so hungry, yet when I would try and explain it to others, I was met with a water hose. I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and did not understand what was happening, but I knew at that moment I was healed. I went to my doctor shortly after, who did a scan and said my artery was still ripped. I came home and cried to my mentor, saying I know that I know that I am healed, and she said these really powerful words to me. She said, “Lisa, no one would judge you for aligning yourself with the doctor given the seriousness of the issue. But you have to pick which one you are going to partner with – the wise doctor or what God showed you – you pick.” I told her there was no choice; I knew that I knew. I went off my blood thinners (If I was wrong, I was literally risking my life). But I had the gift of faith for it. Six months later, I had another scan, and the doctor said, “Hmmm, not only is your artery healed, there is absolutely no sign whatsoever of any past trauma (which is impossible).” It taught me to hold on for dear life to what I know that I know and to bless people for their care and wisdom but to know I am anchored to Him alone.
The other night my daughter was ANGRY and lashing out at everyone for the smallest things. Clearly, this was not her, as she is normally sweet as chocolate. The following morning, I asked her to do the dishes, which should have been a four-minute gig, and 1.5 hours later, she was still there. It was time to go, and she still hadn’t finished. I came to her and put my hand on her heart and said, “Babe, I do not know what is going on, but you were not wired to hold onto sin, and something is clearly coming out crooked. When you are ready to talk, I am here.” I didn’t know there was sin, but those were the words that came out of my mouth. She asked to talk hours later and, with tears, began to tell me that she was invited by her friends to vape at school. She declined the offer, but the realization that she had to stand alone was overwhelming to her. I wanted to assure her that it wouldn’t happen again, but the truth is she will have to stand alone and make choices against the pressure of the crowd for the rest of her life. It was a beautiful and tender conversation about what it really means to be a follower of Jesus in today’s world. We talked about the ‘high’ of popularity and the joy of obedience. The next morning at Church, worship began, and I leaned over to her and said, “Sweetheart, focus on this song with your situation in mind. Is He worthy of following, even if it means not vaping with your friends?” I HATE that she was asked by her friends to vape, but I am SO glad it agitated her soul to the point of being exposed and that God used it to be yet another building block in her story with Him. He IS worthy of it all!
A friend messaged me this: “Last night, our son (age 6), who can feel things in the atmosphere, said he felt scared and didn’t know why. His father explained that other people are afraid of something he doesn’t need to be afraid of. This would normally result in many discussions. But last night, he said, ‘Oh, okay. Can I talk to Jesus about it?’ To which the answer was, ‘Of course, bud!’ He got quiet, the room shifted, and he fell asleep! Yay, Jesus!”
IF A SIX-YEAR-OLD IS LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO TALK TO JESUS ABOUT FEELING SCARED, WHAT’S OUR EXCUSE? There is a KEY in this testimony. He felt it, talked to Jesus about it, and rested. It’s okay to feel, but we must bring it to Jesus for the rest to come.
My son got an invitation to go on a friend’s boat. I had peace and said yes. However, several hours into it, I realized it was the same lake a sweet friend’s husband passed away at. We also had a recent story in the news of a nine-year-old that drowned in the same location. Fear was knocking loudly, and I began to rehearse all these different scenarios and thoughts in my mind. Suddenly I realized nothing had happened, and yet I was reacting with my emotions as if it had. I identified it as the spirit of fear, told it where it could go, and slammed the door. Just because fear knocks does not mean I need to answer the door!
One night we went to the playground with some friends. They were all playing ball nicely when three boys entered the scene and joined them. The boys left early, and my kids came to tell me how mean they were and the awful things they were saying to them. I told them to shake it off and go enjoy the rest of the time at the park, but apparently, one of the boys said upon leaving that they would be back to beat them up. I could tell the kids were partnering with intimidation, so I asked them to ask Jesus if He would show them a picture of the boys’ hearts. All of the kids heard really big stuff. I then asked them to ask Jesus what the name of the KEY is that He wanted them to use with their hearts. They went off to play, and sure enough, the boys came back. I walked over to them, and this love just fell in my heart for them. It was so easy to see these boys were not bullies but treasures! I asked if they wanted to play ball with the other kids, and one of them confessed they didn’t know how to play the game the way they were playing it (aha, perhaps he wasn’t a bully, but feeling inadequate and afraid to admit his weakness). His eyes locked with mine, and I told him that I could see he was a strong leader and that I believed he had the skills to work it out and encouraged him to try again. They ended up being a friendly group of boys playing a mean game of ball!
A dad was struggling to get his teen daughters to understand why their choice of music wasn’t edifying. The girls argued that it was ‘just a little’ bit of bad language and that it wouldn’t hurt anything. The dad prayed for a creative solution to get into his daughters’ hearts on the subject. The next morning, he announced he was making a very special dessert with “a very special ingredient.” He made a big deal of the upcoming dessert all day, and after their dinner plates were cleaned, they were begging for the much-awaited sweet treat. They scarfed down the yummiest batch of brownies, and while smacking their lips, they inquired about the ‘special ingredient.’ The dad sat back and calmly announced, “Dog poop, but don’t worry, it was just a little bit.” They seemed to understand in that moment that ‘just a little bit’ can indeed be harmful. This glorious creative teachable moment can be used with music, swearing, drugs, disobedience, alcohol, lying, slander, etc. Sometimes kids need a visual to understand your point.
I was once wrestling with the kids, and Ellie jumped on my leg, and I reacted – strongly! It squelched the mood really quickly. While I was tucking Ellie in, she started to cry and said she was really sorry for hurting me (my leg was swollen). I held her and, with tears, also told her I was sorry for the way I handled it. I explained to her that while I have forgiven my parents, there was a lot of violence growing up, and sometimes when I get hurt, it is like my adult mind does not process the details, and I just go into flight/fight mode. She knew she was forgiven, and our connection was good. A little while later, she came to me and asked if she could pray for me. I thought she meant my leg, but she began to pray for my mind and that everything would come into order, and that whatever got ‘ruined’ by the violence in my home would be made right again. I thank Jesus so much for showing me how to teach my children about His Kingdom and that He shows them when to release it over ME!
I have been stewarding this dream for years and believe it is the time to share it. God was teaching me about family and, ultimately, the church because leadership should reflect good parenting. In my dream, the kids and I arrived at our new housing. It was a unique round building with a gorgeous custom kitchen and living room in the middle. It was designed with the intention of people doing life together. Off of the living area were master suites with private bathrooms. We walked in, each carrying a different-sized suitcase, like the ones that were passed down from parents or grandparents. There was no check-in station as it was designed to be set up like a family with connection between the occupants, not run like a motel or business. We were aware there were people gathered in one of the rooms. I knew in my dream they were aware we had arrived and were waiting, but they didn’t come out to greet us or give us instructions. I didn’t want just to assume which room was ours, so despite traveling a long distance, we waited joyfully. The landlord walked in to greet us like a mother eager to see her child. I felt at home when she hugged me. She began to flow with tears. It wasn’t an anxious, wounded, or fearful cry. Just tears of genuine sadness. She said, “I want you here, but you can’t stay. You would be a model tenant, but they were here first and don’t want you here.” It didn’t feel like personal rejection as much as just the way things were done there. The sincere compassion I felt for the landlord for having renters who did not honor her desires for her own building made it easy to take my eyes off of myself and put them on her. I hugged her and assured her we would be okay, even though it meant we would be ‘homeless’ once we walked out the door. This tender moment morphed into me, saying firmly, “I will go (to honor her), but I will not leave until I have taken a shower first.” I was so aware in my dream it was 4 in the afternoon, and I was already clean. I went to take my shower and noticed a line that went all the way out the door. End of dream. I woke up at 4 with a deep pang in my heart over what I had just witnessed in my dream. I got out of bed and sat in the dark living room, where I began to unpack the dream with God. He said, “Ask me who the landlord was in the dream,” and it was revealed she was Holy Spirit. I immediately fell on my face and wept. To witness Holy Spirit being grieved grieves me. To this day, I still can’t talk about the dream without tears coming to my eyes. I will never forget the genuine sadness in her eyes. The round living area represented what should have been a family room (not an empty living room). The people in the bedrooms were the parents/leaders who had authority just by ‘being there first.’ The dream highlights the need for instruction and guidance from them. Their closed room door and unwillingness to come out represents a wall they have built to shut out what they don’t want to enter. God sends children into families and people into churches carrying certain things (suitcases) because He knows what they need is inside of them. It grieves Him when we reject the ones He has sent to us to BLESS US. When we begin to run our families/churches according to our own agenda, we miss out on what He is doing in them. The lack of concern from the parents/leaders felt unloving, prideful, and downright rude, but the Lord showed me later that they were protecting something. Oftentimes when a parent/leader has wounds, hurts, jealousy or insecurity will, they will shut out the very ones God brings to them to help them. Just by their presence, a child/person can trigger the parents/leaders wound and cause them to ‘shut the door.’ This is a greater reflection on the parent/leader but often feels to the child/person like something is wrong with them. Parents/leaders can argue that what they are doing is right because they are ‘protecting’ something, but God never called us to be self-protectors. That is His job. I was aware in my dream, due to the uniqueness of the circle building, that the people in the closed room were at the 11 o’clock position. 11 can represent imperfection, disorder, disintegration, and chaos, which is exactly what happens when parents/leaders are unwilling to open the door, communicate clearly or welcome what those under them carry by God’s design. My shower represented my awareness that this interaction slimmed me, and I needed to rid myself fully and completely of any hurts, offenses, judgments, or bitterness. I assumed the words “you would be a model tenant” meant we were faithful financially, which is important to a landlord, but the Lord showed me that the word ‘model’ meant we, as a family, carried a model. There are five people in my family, and we all just happen to represent a different part of the five-fold ministry. We have an anointing in the area of family, and God has given us an anointing on how to model our families after His. We came into the family room, bringing that model with us. This is super important because we ALL carry things and that God wants to release through us. The vintage suitcases represented what has been passed down from each generation. We never meet someone with an empty suitcase. God has been setting things in motion in each family line for centuries. We carry what our parents, grandparents, and on did or didn’t complete on earth but may have sowed into. Each person’s suitcase is filled with valuable keys, solutions, and tools to build His Kingdom. My shower was at four which confirmed to me that I was FOR them, even though it wasn’t received. Taking a shower was about me, but FOR them as not to carry the offense against them. God also woke me at 4 am. Children are born FOR their parents until they are taught otherwise. Ironically, God woke me up at 4:44 am to release this dream. The long line indicated this dream wasn’t just for me but a corporate one, as many were slimed in the process of being shut out. This is a key and strategy of the Lord. We must clean ourselves of hurts, offenses, and judgments before we are fully free to move on.
A mom mentioned: “When I read about children with the language of acts of service wanting you to help them, I thought of my daughter. An example would be me fixing her hair. Sometimes I don’t have time to help her and ask her to do it herself, and she does get upset actually.”
My response: I know you love her and show it through providing breakfast, clean clothes, and getting her to school, but can you increase doing it in a way that she values and understands? What if sending her to school with her hair done by you filled her tank in a way that empowered and helped her throughout the day to feel safe and secure? Would you want to do it then? She is giving you the keys to her heart. The amazing thing about children is that their hearts are small and fill so fast. A five-minute hair session can literally change her day! How can you create the time to communicate love to her? Can you wake up five minutes earlier? Can you braid it the night before? When you honestly cannot do it, how then can you communicate that you still love her without being able to do her hair?
Let’s slow this down for a moment. A child is asking for help because that is how their tank gets filled, and the parent to whom they are offering their heart begins to get upset and frustrated with them for not doing it themselves. They now walk away with a tank even lower than when they first asked. I KNOW this is not the goal of many parents, but this is what happens when we fail to understand *their* language. We have miscommunication and a breakdown of deposits in their heart. Hear the difference: “No, I already taught you how to tie your shoes. You be a big boy and do it by yourself. Stop fussing and get it done now. No, I will not help you. You are going to make me late. Hurry up,” VS. “Oh, buddy. I love that you want me to help you, and my heart really wants to, but I cannot right now. I need you to tie your shoes. I am so proud of you for the way you have mastered tying your shoes.” Can you hear the difference? One sees the heart and affirms them, while the other only sees the task. It isn’t a yes/no, you do it/I do it response. It is seeing their heart and making sure you are communicating and affirming your love for them.
Who moves in the middle of a worldwide crisis? GOD DOES!! Many of you are asking for the back story of our move, and I finally have a moment to share. It is really quite simple. I didn’t have the grace to stay. At the same time we went on lockdown, our landlord asked for the house back so they could move into it. We already had tickets to Colorado for spring break, so instead of canceling them, we moved them up and spent the first several weeks of lockdown in Colorado, giving me lots of time to think, process, and pray. We were due back in Redding on Easter evening, and I could not do it. I would cry every time I thought of returning, and it felt so heavy. It was so strong that we changed our tickets to a later date. The following day I sat with the Lord wanting to process whatever was in my heart, and I so clearly heard Him say, “The grace has lifted” (from our season in Redding). There was never a decision. I never weighed the pros and cons or made an intellectual decision on what was best for our family. If God has given me the grace to endure a season that has cost me something dearly and deeply and lifts that grace, then the decision is simply to follow Him. I told the kids, and within days, we met with our landlord to confirm our move-out date. It happened very fast, mainly due to moving in the middle of Covid, the landlords moving back in, and the kids being on online learning already. We will continue to process our hearts with this massive transition for our family, but one thing I know for certain is that when God leads, it will be good!
This is how I taught my four toddlers how to grow in self-control during story time at the library. I figured it was an excellent place to train them because no one would notice either way. I sat them down at home and talked about the librarian. I asked Lauren to stand up and share the story of her birthday party. As she was talking, I began to interrupt, wave my hands, hang on her, and be super silly. Then I asked Emma to stand up and share what she had for lunch, and I did the same thing. Yes, we were all laughing hard, but we talked about how awkward it is to be trying to share and have people be disrespectful and rude. I role-played being the librarian reading a book. I taught them how to fold their hands and zip their lips. We talked about how we can be crazy loud monkeys at the park, but a library is a place where we use self-control and show respect. I was armed with training and ready to test it out. Before getting out of the van, I reminded them of the rules and what I expected. I praised them ahead of time, letting them know I believed in them. We entered, and chaos broke out as expected. A couple of times, they began to get up, and I would fold my own hands to model for them what I expected. If they were talking, I would motion to zip my lips, point to my ears, and then intently listen to the librarian. If they attempted to get up, I would give a firm no-no motion with my head. If one ran away, I would go after her and pick her up and set her back down. I would whisper that we are listening to the story. It took us three weeks before my children fully understood but let me tell you, the JOY they brought to the room was priceless. I noticed other moms trying to get their children to start listening, too. They got to enjoy the story because they were taught how to pay attention and show respect. I also had them go up to the librarian at the end of each story time and thank her for reading to them. The first time she had a tear in her eye and said, “I dread story time each week. It is the worst part of my job. Thank you for noticing my effort.” I don’t know about you, but as a mom, that isn’t okay with me. By the time school started, they were way ahead of the game because we had already gone after knowing when to be still and quiet and how to listen when adults are teaching/reading. It is training like this at an early age that sets them up for success down the road.