I’M NOT ASHAMED

I’M NOT ASHAMED

One year I showed my children the movie I’m Not Ashamed. I wanted them to see an example of a young teen walking out her love for Jesus in the midst of challenges. Her life became a legacy all too early, but I had no idea how the movie would plant seeds so deep in one of my daughters. She talks about the movie often and how her heart longs to love Jesus with no shame, regret, or fear of man.

I recommend watching this movie together and having a conversation. I’m Not Ashamed – Trailer – YouTube. 

I’M NOT ASHAMED is the inspiring and powerful true story of Rachel Joy Scott – the first student killed in the Columbine high school shooting in 1999. Devout teen Rachel Joy Scott (Masey McLain) shows compassion and love for her fellow students until armed classmates enter Columbine High School on a fateful day that changed America forever.

PRAY FOR GOD ENCOUNTERS

Years ago, I attended a church with a gal. She loved Jesus, but boy, was she messy. She had a lot of emotional issues that made it nearly impossible to have a connection with her. Years later, her name popped up on Facebook, and I immediately judged her as ‘that messy girl.’ The Lord stepped in and said, “Lisa, if you still hold her to that view, it is a judgment against Me and your lack of belief that I am capable of moving in someone’s life.” WHOA. Sure enough, I friended her, and God has done a brilliant work in her. She is a fabulous mother in a healthy marriage. I learned a lot that day about trusting God’s redemptive work in the messy places of others. Since then, when I encounter a messy person, I begin to pray for those God encounters and revelations knowing God is big enough to carry them into wholeness. I want to position myself on the life-giving side of the Cross in their life!

CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

Cultivate means to: cul·ti·vate verb 1. prepare for crops or gardening. 2. to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill). Gratefulness is a SKILL that is taught, learned, and strengthened. Kids are not born with it. It is something that needs to be tilled, plowed, dug, worked, fertilized, mulched, and weeded SO THAT it reaps a harvest of fruit in their lives. Nothing increases the favor and fruit in our lives more than a grateful heart.

YOU HAVE HOMEWORK

Every child needs to do this exercise! Do it 1:1 with each child, so you can hear their heart and pick up on any resistance. Have them outline a body on a piece of paper. Start with their hair and walk through their mind, eyes, nose, mouth, body shape, stomach, height, etc. Think of their interests and the things that make them come alive (sports, music, dancing). Write it out on the paper as you go through who they are, top to bottom. You are helping them see who they are. While we are constantly being transformed on the inside, there are some things we cannot change, such as our nose shape, eye color, height, gifts, what makes us come alive, etc. This is the package of who they were created to be. Now have them make a circle around the entire body. Explain to them that who they are is to be guarded and protected as if it is inside a bubble. Read Proverbs 4:23 and explain if any person, peer, teacher, sibling, social media post, song, friend, movie, leader, or thought tells them that something is wrong with their body, gifts, talents, etc., they are to reject it. Empower them with how to reject it. Perhaps they will take that thought captive and say to themselves, “That is not something I agree with, and do not give that voice permission to speak to me.”

When I was teaching my children this concept, Hudson (age four at the time) got up, went to the front door, made a kicking motion, and slammed the door. I asked what he was doing, and he said, “I had a bad thought, so I was kicking it out” Yeah, like that, buddy! They can write it on a piece of paper, rip it up, cross it out, or shred it. I had a season that we were going after this and put a set of colorful markers in the bathroom and would have my children write the lie on a piece of toilet paper with the colorful marker and then toss it into the toilet. The color would lift, making a beautiful swirl in the toilet bowl (isn’t that true of what God does with whatever we give Him? It turns it into something beautiful.). Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.

If while doing this with older children, you feel resistance or they say things like “This is stupid,” “Why do we have to do this?” “What’s the point?” Please do not back down. The resistance is telling you that they have already allowed a voice inside their bubble, which needs to be exposed. I would take it as far as you can, and then if it is time to back off (Holy Spirit will lead you), say something like this, “Okay, yeah, we can stop, but I need for you to hear this. Your resistance and wall to even talk about who you are is revealing that you have allowed a thought to enter your bubble. It is there to steal your joy, rob you of your peace, and tell you that something is wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you, and I am here when you are ready to deal with it.” I would intentionally speak their love language and look for creative ways to bring them joy because it releases a chemical in their brain that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. Give it a few hours or a day but circle back by saying something like, “Hey, remember when I asked you to draw that picture? What was happening inside of you when we talked about who you are?” Listen to them. Do not fix or correct them, but listen to what their heart has to say. For many older children, simply exposing it helps them reject it and realize that they are feeling icky about themselves because of a lie, not because something is wrong with them. Others may need to ask Jesus to show them who they need to forgive for speaking that their body, gifts, and personality are unacceptable.

Moms and dads, please do not ignore this exercise. Children who grow up with the wrong voices inside their bubble carry them around for years, shaping who they become. We can empower our children to reject lies and protect who God designed them to be.

Are you willing to put in the effort and help your child understand their value and worth?

I SEE YOU

We were away from home, and the kids were all getting in a funk; lots of small conflicts, attitudes, and agitations. Having to correct them constantly gets old, so I flipped the situation by turning it into a game. I gathered them together in a circle and asked them to keep their mouths closed, but they had to have eye contact with someone else at all times. I wanted them to SEE the people around them. Then I held up a mirror and said, “This is who you have been focused on, but I want you to keep your eyes on someone else.” When we went to breakfast, they tried to outdo each other by showing kindness and love to others. They were opening doors, putting garbage away, smiling, saying “thank you,” letting others go first, etc. The Kingdom is JOY, and sometimes partnering with the Holy Spirit to devise creative ways to get to their heart impacts them more than reaping the spirit of religious rules over their head!

GOOD NEWS

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!

FINDING OUR WAY BACK

Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message) – “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:  A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.” Every newborn is birthed from a place of utter seclusion with the Creator! This reality is beyond breathtaking. No wonder Jesus tells us to imitate children, for they just came from His Presence for nine months straight! God places something deep within every human being – an identity and destiny! Our identity is who we are, and our destiny is what we are called to do with our time on earth. However, the moment a newborn gasps for air and the umbilical cord is cut, they leave the place of perfect seclusion and enter into a fallen world. Instantly, they enter a world where the enemy tries to wrap them in insecurity, fear, and heaviness. They will spend the rest of their life finding their way BACK to their original position in the womb. I do not mean in the physical fetal position but the position of being fully loved, completely secure, and highly adored! A newborn spends nine months with God oohing and aahing over them. They are protected, safe, and loved just because they are! They do not have to earn anything, make anything happen, or work at anything. They just need to BE! Inhale that for a moment. They do NOTHING, yet God is so excited and pleased with them. He giggles when they wiggle. He smiles when they sleep. He protects their fragile being in His mighty hand. Then, they are born, and eventually, the world teaches them that they aren’t all that special and do not matter much at all. Their parents are too busy for them and long to be held and nurtured. The fighting in the house tells them that the safety of the womb is long gone. The kids on the playground do not like them either, so something must surely be wrong with them. They grow up feeling alone and isolated. They smile but are dying on the inside. They realize their voice is useless because no one listens to them. The fashion magazines tell them that they were created lacking what everyone else seems to be gifted with. The news reminds them that their world is harsh and cruel. They marry hoping their spouse will return them to that sweet, safe place in the womb, but instead, they only add more blankets of hurt, wounds, and feeling unsafe. HOWEVER… we are an army rising up and releasing God’s Kingdom, restoring our children to their Father, the way it was designed to be – absorbed in His Presence, safe and secure!

GIFT OF LOVE

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).

The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com)

HAVE I TAUGHT THEM?

When a child misbehaves, you first have to ask yourself this question. “What have I done as the parent to teach them?” If you have never talked to them about lying, stealing, hitting, disobeying, etc., and discipline them for their choice, it is nothing more than punishment. When you see a behavior you do not desire, you can correct it, but that is your clue you need to be proactive and teach them on their level right and wrong. Take a recent issue that came up. Ask yourself, “What have I done to proactively teach them in the time of peace how to respond? How have I taught them how to succeed in that situation?” There is a difference between the child who is being foolish and has never been taught how to respond appropriately and the child who has been taught and willfully chooses to disobey. Sometimes a child’s behavior is a reflection of where we need to do our part to teach, empower and equip them.

POWER IN REST

As we were preparing to go on the road as a family for five weeks, I kept trying to stay in a place of rest physically, mentally, and spiritually, but it was like one thing after the next challenged that. I was worried about starting our trip from an exhausted place, as being on the road takes a toll on you. I heard God say, “Don’t rest to go, go to rest.” I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but our first stop was in Reno, where we spent two glorious days doing nothing but resting by the pool. I could feel myself slipping back into that place of surrender, peace, and rest. The entire trip was a breeze filled with ease and had so many pockets of deep rest between events. A friend offered to take the kids for me so I could have alone time, and I realized I was so rested that I didn’t want the alone time. Rest is key to stewarding what you have been given as well as receiving more, and He is indeed teaching me how to remain in that place in all circumstances. In what area does God want you to rest your soul today?

ENCOUNTER HIM

Carve out some intentional time to sit with Jesus and ask the following questions. Listen and journal what He is speaking to you.

“Father, does my heart truly, sincerely want more of You?” 

“God, is there anything keeping me from going further?” 

“Jesus, is there anything in my heart that is afraid or fearful of more?” 

Next, pray this prayer: “Holy Spirit, I invite You to come and remove anything in my life that acts as a wall or barrier to going deeper with You. Remove everything that stands in the way of ALL You have for me.” After you pray, I encourage you to sit for a moment and let Him do some heart surgery. 

The following is an excerpt from Graham Cooke’s LIVING ON A HIGHER PLACE: “You are going to have to grow if you want to live with God at altitude because at a high altitude you must learn to walk at a pace that you can actually sustain. At high altitudes, you have to do everything for yourself. So high altitude, spiritually, becomes solely about your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. No one can do it for you. It has to be your walk. It has to be your worship. It has to be your faith, and it has to be your relationship with the Holy Spirit. You can’t borrow stuff from other people like you did in the valley because the way life worked in the valley does not work on the mountain. It has to be you.”