How far would you go to empower your child’s faith? A dear brother mentioned they were coming to Redding for a quick trip. I could feel something so strong on this trip but he did not communicate the purpose. The night before they came I asked a friend if he would be willing to get a word for the family. But in the morning as we were getting ready for church, I felt like God said to focus on the eldest daughter. I called my friend and asked if he would seek God’s heart for her specifically. After the service, they remained in their chairs as the Lord was touching the daughter deeply. We connected with my friend who gave her a very powerful word. Hours later, back at my house, I asked him what made him feel led to come out. He shared that during their church planting summer in Spain, God began to speak to him about truly preparing his children for the call of mission. That it wasn’t just about taking them along but truly preparing the next generation. Shortly after their return from Spain his eldest daughter said, “I think God told me that we are supposed to go to Bethel.” This father booked round trip tickets for five, two hotel rooms and a rental car for a less than 24-hour trip JUST to sow into his daughter hearing from God and empower her in that area. He wanted to strengthen her own faith and get behind what God was doing in her life. Jesus, bless this father for having eyes to see that his daughter was learning how to hear you and getting behind it. Give us eyes to see how we can strengthen our children’s spiritual muscles.
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?
- Playing in the Kingdom, Testimonies
I was in one of my go-go-go modes and feeling frazzled by all that needed to get done. My daughter came to me so sweetly and said, “Mom, is there anything I can do for you because you really NEED to rest?” She was so gentle and kind but serious about it. She is only SEVEN but understands the concept of staying in a place of peace, rest, and trusting well. It would be easy to partner with feeling like a hypocrite in trying to teach my children about the Kingdom when I still struggle with things, but my kids will never have the years of trauma and emotional baggage I did as a child. While I am unlearning things, they are learning them for the first time at a young age. It is OKAY that I am teaching them about their Father when I am still learning. It is also OKAY that they are surpassing me in many (many) areas already. I think that is awesome, and I welcome the voice of a seven-year-old to remind me that it is okay to rest. She is a world changer and often changes mine!
I sat in a room with 80 young kids one night. Oh, my word, the world hasn’t yet seen what God can do with a group of children who are hungry for him. One girl said to her friends that her knee was hurting, and they immediately laid hands on her, and was healed. Her response? “Cool.” At first, I wasn’t sure how to process the flippant response, but I heard Holy Spirit say, “Because the supernatural is natural to her.” So powerful!
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.
Such a sweet testimony from my friend taking our Moms & Dads class on being seen, heard, and valued.
“While spending my time in prayer doing my homework assignment, He showed me that my daughter was doing something behind my back IN THAT MOMENT. This has never happened before. So, I rushed to her, and instead of coming down hard on her or shaming her (ways I have parented before), I asked Jesus to help me, and we walked through getting to her heart. It wasn’t anything huge, but it was dishonest. At the end of the conversation, I told her I wanted her to be honest so she could feel heard. I was given a great opportunity to try and use these gifts, and I feel like it went well! Thank you so much!!”
What I LOVE about this testimony is that she did not see her daughter as a liar but as robbing herself of using her voice to be heard. EMPOWERMENT!!!!
God has been highlighting my son to me for months now. Something just wasn’t quite right. I didn’t know if it was hormone issues, a heart splinter, or something else. I would cry out to God to reveal what was going on, and slowly the picture came into focus over a period of about six months – He isn’t a believer! There was a noticeable difference between him and the girls with attitude, interest in spiritual things, and even joy. God began to show me that when they were little, and we were going after hearing God’s voice, I would say to them, “Where does God live? In heaven? Out in the field? No, He lives in your heart,” but that isn’t actually 100% true. It is true that Jesus passionately loves us, and we can hear His voice and even play in His Kingdom, but each person must choose to receive Him and invite Him into their hearts. I believe the Lord allows children/us to play in the Kingdom so that we will enter the Kingdom, but playing in the Kingdom isn’t always the fruit of salvation. Matthew 7:22. I was keenly aware I could not go to my son directly and tell him, “Hey, I don’t think you are really a believer,” as that would have crushed him. I waited. I prayed. I cried out, and I waited some more. I knew God was after His heart and needed to let Him do the work. I continued being alert to His leading. It isn’t that my son didn’t know God, he did. It was that deep inside, he knew something was missing. He lives in a culture where kids are powerful, heal the sick, and hear God well. While my son was able to still participate in these things, he was keenly aware there was a space between his relationship with God. Others were modeling what he didn’t have. While it should have created hunger, instead, it created a wall of separation, and he felt exposed. It is hard to stand up against a culture and say, “Hey, I am not experiencing this!” We came home from church, and chaos broke out. I gave everyone the opportunity to enjoy some alone time. I sat in the living room asking God what was going on, and He told me to invite Hudson to sit with me. We sat face to face, and I could see the anguish in his eyes. I began to ask him about the space between him and God. A large teardrop fell, and I knew this was the moment I had prayed for. I asked for forgiveness for not clarifying when he was younger that someday he would need to make his own choice if he wanted Jesus in his heart. Such a sigh of relief validated his confusion over the months, perhaps years. I explained fully what salvation means; he was a sinner and has fallen short, Jesus died on the Cross for HIM, and Jesus longed not just to talk to him but actually reside and live inside of him. I passionately believe salvation isn’t just for the soul to enter heaven someday, but that salvation is for our mind, body, and spirit. We began to pray and ask Holy Spirit what parts of his mind, body, and soul needed healing. God had me ask if it was hard for him that his earthly father is very kind, even provides well for him, but doesn’t touch and interact with him. The tears began to pour out, and I asked, “And do you feel that way with Father God? That He is good, loves you, and provides for you, but that your heart longs for Him to touch, encounter, and embrace you?” With tears and the sweetest tenderness, Hudson became a Son!
One of the most vulnerable households for child sexual assault is the house that is run by ‘because I said so,’ and a legalistic one because they operate out of a list of rules and total parental authority and often fail to listen to the child. Children cannot hold in such a horrendous lie and/or the worry that abuse causes. They might not come right out and say that XYZ happened, but they will let it leak out, and we need ears to LISTEN TO THEM!
Here is a sad but true example: A little 4th grader came home from his youth group in a foul mood. The mom repeatedly disciplined him for his attitude, but he would not shake it. Finally, she asked him how youth group went, and he said, “I hated it.” She replied that he must go anyway because it was expected of him. He yelled out that his teacher was gay, and the mother swooshed him to his bedroom for talking inappropriately about someone. Had the mother listened to the child, she would have seen that he used to love youth group, and the sudden change warranted investigation. When a young child talks about an adult being gay, it should warrant you to find out why the child thinks that way, how he knows that of the youth leader, etc. If she had only asked and inquired deeper, she would have learned that her son was molested that night, only to come home and be disciplined for not wanting to return. I call it ‘pulling on the rope.’ When a child makes a harsh comment, pull on the rope by asking WHY questions. Not all ill words are a character issue; sometimes, they are flags waving to get our attention.
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.
Do not just take my word for it. Hear what moms and dads around the globe are saying about their own experience learning how to speak their child’s language.
“It is so true that when there is conflict, it is usually because a love tank is low. However, we often see it as a discipline issue, and when we punish, we withdraw from it more. I like seeing that visual image of it – it all makes sense now! We determined what love language each of our kids gravitate towards & made an intentional effort to fill them. The results were immediate & noticeable! It was as if their cup was running over & they had extra to share. Really neat! I’ve been spending 5-10 mins extra in the morning connecting with my 3yo (‘filling’ his love tank), and our transitions to daycare in the morning have been seamless. In the past, he struggled with that transition and would scream, cry, and cling to us as we tried to leave. Now he gives us a hug and a kiss goodbye and is then excited to go play with his friends! Teaching them to know not only their own but also their siblings’ is brilliant! Filling their bucket is so important. I need to be as intentional about that as I am about making sure they eat their fruits and vegetables. Ha! I am really seeing the need to take time out in the day with my busy work at home and make sure each child gets their tank filled. I have seen where I have not been laying myself down in this area and getting worn out. I even feel like if I can make some sacrifices to do this, I will feel more rested because the kids won’t be as demanding. I am so excited to try and teach my kids about the love languages for sibling rivalry. It makes so much sense. Thank you for planting the seed that when siblings are fighting, love tanks are low. I see the importance for all of us to know each other’s love language! A lot of times when our daughter starts acting out, we know that she is really just needing attention and connection. However, what she usually wants to do is spend quality time playing games, reading books, etc. While this is fine for me at times, I tend to be a pretty solitary person, so actively engaging all the time can be quite difficult when all I’m craving is some peaceful, quiet time alone. That said, I need to start doing these things because I don’t want her to be missing out on connecting with me just because it’s uncomfortable for me. We had this emphasized. Our 5yo was spiraling down when I arrived at the friend’s house she’d been staying with while I ran errands. The simple act of me offering a hug and giving the gift of sharing my tea was enough for her to be able to relax and be happy. Hubby has noticed that on the days he makes a conscious effort to play with each girl when he gets home from work, it makes a huge difference. Love this lesson! I asked all of my kids what they thought their love languages were, and they each identified a different one, and we had a great conversation about how we give and receive love. The hardest one for me is ‘gifts,’ and my middle one has that one. This really encourages me to keep finding ways to connect with my kids through THEIR love language and not my own!”
When we first became a solo family, I was concerned about how my young children would view men. God began to highlight certain men to us; one was good at loving his wife, another was super funny, and another was great at connecting with his children. Some were models to us far away, and others became the hands and feet of Jesus to us. I began to call out certain character traits in each of the men to my children, and we created a phrase, “They are a Purple Heart Dad.” Years later, we were writing out our prayers for the year, and my daughter, who has received many prophetic words about the medical field, wrote down, “I want to a Ph.D.,” which I assumed meant a medical degree. Months after praying for her Ph.D., we realized she meant Purple Heart Dad. To this day, we use this expression almost weekly as we see men being incredible examples of kindness, love, servanthood, protection, joy, wisdom, strength, etc. God has given us so many incredible men who have stood in the gap and shown us God’s heart for a man, father, husband, and friend.
Look at this precious testimony from a mom embracing taking communion together as a family.
“We had out-of-town company get to our house last night, and we didn’t do our normal evening family devotions and communion. My kids went to bed, and I was up talking with company when, an hour later, my 7-year-old daughter came out of her room, didn’t say a word but went to pour herself juice and break bread for Communion. She sat at the table like this and prayed while she partook. Then she came and hugged me and simply said, ‘I felt like I needed to do this.’ And went to bed. My mama’s heart burst.”