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.
Children with the love language of gifts are often viewed as materialistic. They are not really wanting the gift itself, but your love spoken through the gift. It is communicating the message, “I was thinking of you.” A Hershey’s kiss, balloon, or note on a gum wrapper has profound meaning to a person with this language. They look at your object as a token or symbol of being loved.
Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Make birthdays and holidays a huge deal. **Bring home small tokens from shopping trips (“I bought your favorite fruit”). **Celebrate milestones such as losing a tooth, getting good grades, overcoming a challenge. **Tuck notes in their lunch bag, under their pillow, or in their laundry. **Give them a dollar or two to spend at the store – just because. **Cook their favorite meal. **Pick out a rock or flower on your walk and return home with it. **Buy a package of Hershey kisses and intentionally play a game of spontaneously putting them where they can discover them. It took me a month to empty the bag, but she felt so loved and seen. **Keep a small stash of inexpensive gifts. When you see your child struggling, working through hurts, or just having a hard day pull something out.
I must note that the worst thing you can do for this person is to be flippant about it. Thoughtless gift-giving is like a harsh tone for a word of affirmation person. If your heart is not in it, you might want to hold off on giving it. Oftentimes they are givers of gifts too and like to leave notes, save souvenirs from trips, parties, and outings (like the napkin from the party or an empty container from the Tic Tacs that you bought them). When they give gifts of any kind to others, help them to make the connection between their action and speaking love, such as, “I love that you want to tell your sister you love her by leaving her that note.” “Thank you for loving me by giving me that flower.” Again, the focus is not on the item/gift; it is on the heart need and communication of love. Learn to value lavishing on others as it models a side of our Father, the Creator of the universe who owns the storehouse and lavishes richly on His children. Often when people were raised with a poverty spirit or parents who had fear over finances, this language can be challenging to speak. However, God uses this language in our children to re-align our thoughts and heart back to Him. I get this every time we talk about gifts – “So that means I just have to buy them whatever they want?” Of course not! But it does mean you would be wise to see what they are really asking for. They are saying, “Will you show me you love me by buying this for me?” In those moments, the key to their heart is discovering how you can tell them “No” in a way that still fills their heart.
We spent a summer speaking on the road and continually came under new atmospheres and had to work through them. Honestly, it was exhausting. If it wasn’t me, one of the kids would be out of sorts. By the time the trip was over, I was not sure I would ever do that again. But here we are again, coming off of a five-week journey, and there is such a profound increase in not only discerning atmospheres but overcoming them. The first time it felt like we were being tossed around by powerful waves, yet this time it felt like we were body jumping, learning how to stay standing. Hotels carry some of the heaviest atmospheres because not all that happens inside of them is edifying. We can be fine in the car, walk into a hotel room and feel the anger, isolation, sexual spirits, strife, etc. God doesn’t allow us to encounter the atmosphere to harm or hinder us. Instead, He enables us to see and feel it so that we can bring the light and release the opposite. Learning to discern what is truly coming from within you vs. what is happening around you is a key to releasing heaven on earth and changing the world around you.
My goodness, there is a lot going on in the spiritual realm. Can anyone else feel it? Trust me, if you feel it, so do your children. Here are some practical ways to increase the joy & peace in your homes TODAY! First, fill those love tanks (you have to know their language before speaking it, so make sure they have taken the online quiz).
This may surprise you, but not getting along, striving to be first, seeking their own way, being demanding, and focusing all on themselves is NORMAL for every child. It is called living in a fallen world. As Christians, we believe in harnessing our natural fleshly desires and learning to partner with the character qualities of heaven, such as power, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (James 4:1-10 & Galatians 5:17).
This is what the religious spirit looks like. A mom messaged me about a dream she kept having.
“Here is the dream: I am awaiting my turn to enter the Kingdom, and before I get there, I hear, ‘Do I know you? Do you know me?’ And I always awake abruptly. I have this worry when I wake, and I almost feel paralyzed in how to fix the problem. Like I have to jump through hoops to be back where I need to be. Or I have to perform to be good enough.”
I asked her if she was secure in her salvation. She was. I asked her how she felt when she woke up. She said she was anxious/worried. This is not how God speaks to us in our dreams, even if He is highlighting something. I told her to come out from under it, take authority over it and pray for Holy Spirit to guide her dreams. The spirit of religion was trying to groom her into thinking her relationship with God was not secure.
When my kids were all toddlers, I handed them a treat while we were out on a walk. They eagerly opened it, dropped their package in the middle of the sidewalk, and carried on. I stopped, got down on their level, and pointed to the whole walking path. I wanted them to see how big the path was. I said, “What would this park look like if everyone dropped their trash on the ground? No one would want to come here anymore because it would look like a garbage dump. Where do you think you could put your wrapper?” And I made them think about it. They could put it in the trash, in their pocket, or in the stroller basket. I focused on teaching principles of honor, respect, and kindness and not just the laws and rules. Let’s say they dropped their wrapper on the walk, and I simply instructed them to pick it up. Yet an hour later, they drop their empty water bottle on the ground, and I have to tell them again to pick it up. Only to find two hours later, their backpack finds its way to the floor. This approach teaches them the ‘rules.’ Do not drop a granola wrapper on the trail. Do not drop a water bottle at the park. Do not… Do not… Do not… 18 years is simply not enough time to teach your child about every single possible scenario in which they should not drop or leave behind something. It is an exhausting way to parent and produce children who struggle when they leave home because they find themselves in new situations and don’t know the rules. Instead, try parenting from a place of teaching the why or principles behind it. “Sweetie, when you drop your wrapper on the ground, who did you expect to pick it up?” OR “When you drop things like that, someone else has to clean up your mess. Mommy wants you to take responsibility for it.” That principle carries through when talking about shoes at the door, backpacks being dropped anywhere, dishes being cleared from the table, the garage being taken out, etc. When they are older, they will be able to manage themselves based on character and principles instead of rules.
Rest is not being inactive. Rest is the position of our heart after we have released something over to God and left it in His care. We cease taking matters into our own hands and operating in self-sufficiency. We hand over the transaction to Him, and at that moment, we are in restful confidence He can act on our behalf. We rest in the assurance that He is able, capable, mighty, willing, powerful, and active in our lives. Simply put, spiritual orphans can NOT find rest because the world’s weight is on them to self-provide, self-protect, self-defend, and self-secure. But as Sons and Daughters, we have a Father who is alive and well and wants to help us. Have you ever sat on an aircraft and watched people attempt to put their luggage in the overhead compartment? They struggle to lift the weight of their carry-on above their head while juggling their coffee, trying hard not to hit the person in front of them. Along comes a flight attendant in full confidence in their ability to help lighten the load and get them situated. Have you ever watched a child struggle to tie their shoes or fasten their pant button? They get frustrated easily with their lack of ability. A loving parent comes alongside them and, with ease, eagerly helps them. The Father is like the flight attendant wanting to carry your load. The Father is like a loving parent wanting to help in your time of need. Rest is not simply doing nothing. Rest is releasing your burdens for Him to do something.
HeartWork – “Jesus, I surrender and hand to You my burden of _____.”
If current events are causing your heart grief, please know there is an action that is demanded in response. Your mama’s heart was not designed to carry this weight, but He is allowing your heart to feel His heart SO THAT you rise up and release the burden back to the One who can move. I encourage you to intentionally spend some time carrying your mama’s heart into the Throne Room and interceding on behalf of those involved in the situation. Your voice is powerful!
Going to the library with four little ones was no small task, but I was determined. I discovered this glorious thing called “Toddler Story Time,” which to me meant someone else could take the lead, at least for a few minutes anyway. I was mortified at what my eyes saw. The senior librarian welcomed the children, but not one person in the room responded. She sat down to read the book, and chaos broke out. Kids were running all over the room as loud as they could be. No one seemed to care that she was trying to read to them. My shock morphed into judgment when a child began to play tug of war with the book that the librarian was trying desperately to read, and the mother did not feel led to assist the librarian in getting her book back. Before I knew it, my four joined the circus. I vowed I would never come back again. A week later, we were at the movie theater, and the same thing happened with kids running all over the place, making it impossible to actually watch the movie. Suddenly I realized what Proverbs 22:15 meant when it says, “A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him.” Many of us know the ‘spanking’ part of this verse, and we get lost in the debate if children should be spanked. We need to zoom out of that debate and see the bigger picture. Children are foolish by nature. They are selfish by nature. They are immature by nature. Their brains aren’t even fully developed by nature. My job as a parent is to lead them in the direction of honor, respect, kindness, and self-control. This is not a post on spanking, but it IS a post on parents guiding their child’s behavior as a shepherd cares for their flock with their rod. When a sheep is wandering outside of the safety zone, a shepherd uses his rod to guide him back and lead them where they should go. The heart of this verse is about helping our children move away from foolishness through corrections and guidance. If you want to decrease their foolishness, you have to increase your teaching.
Have you ever noticed that December is often the busiest time of year? Does it seem ironic that in our attempt to celebrate our Savior, our children get a little lost in the shuffle? If the Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, then it would make sense that the best gift we could offer back to Him is keeping peace and joy in our homes all month long. The best way to do that is to STAY CONNECTED!! Call a family meeting and come up with 25 creative, yet simple ways to CONNECT. Each day your child wakes up and discovers a new opportunity to connect for that day. Trust me; your child would be happy with it written on a sticky note in crayon. You can simply print this list out, cut it into sections and create a paper chain to be opened daily. If doing something more creative is your thing, go for it, but I urge you to select a creative measure that brings you JOY and where you can remain in the place of PEACE. Each day should be created, planned, and completed as a family. You will be connecting with them as you include, empower and solicit their help. You can manipulate which card they get on which day based on our schedule, but your #1 goal is to CONNECT AS A FAMILY!