KEEPING EYES PURE

KEEPING EYES PURE

A mom told me that she started the Mommy & Me journal, where you go back and forth sharing journal entry-type messages. Her daughter placed the journal on the mom’s bed, and as she flipped the pages, she learned that her fourth-grade daughter was introduced to porn earlier that day by two classmates. She wrote that it was upsetting, so she told her classmates, “This is inappropriate,” and they stopped. I love that this little girl had no grid for porn, but her spirit knew it wasn’t okay, and she honored and listened to the voice within. I believe by her standing against it, she protected the other kids who were exposed but didn’t know how to stand up against it. I also love that she told her mom right away so that she didn’t need to carry this weight around with her. The Mommy & Me journal is a beautiful way to keep connected to your children. Get a notebook or journal and write notes back and forth to each other. It can take you a day, a week, or longer to respond, and you merely put it on their bed when you have something for them to read. It is a great way to ask questions, give them space to ask you things that may otherwise be hard for a child to do in person, and connect with their heart. I have been doing this for years with my girls, and we all love it. May I encourage you to share this testimony with your children? Use language such as, “Hey guys, I read the most amazing testimony of a fourth-grade girl. Want to hear?” And then use it as a teachable lesson. For the littlest of ones, I would not introduce them to the word porn but would say it was something inappropriate, or you can begin to have conversations about private parts being private. For older kids, perhaps you will ask them if their classmates have ever talked about or shared inappropriate pictures. Leave space for Holy Spirit to lead you in talking to your children.

PURITY RINGS

I love the concept of purity rings, where parents purchase a ring and give it to their daughter over a meaningful weekend, inviting her to guard her purity. I think all parents should take their child’s sexual purity seriously. However, I began to see over the years that the purity ring concept was actually setting the child up for greater failure. When a teen fails to resist temptation, they build a wall with their parents because it isn’t just about their choice but about profoundly disappointing their parents, who had created such high expectations. Purity shouldn’t be a pass/fail but rather a lifestyle of good choices. I think it is wise to keep the bar high (really high) when it comes to teaching, equipping, and empowering our children with their sexual health; however, we live in a culture that is so flamboyantly sexualized. When we teach purity, we also need to be taught HOW to take our mistakes, failure, and sin and bring it to God. Fear, shame, and pride keep us in our sin, while confession, humility, and honesty bring restoration. Moral failure is a top reason why teens fall away from God. They feel like they have committed a fatal sin and are now separated from God. While it is true sexual immorality does have profound ramifications that affect our mind, body, and spirit, it is only God who can heal and restore what was lost. We aren’t expecting our teens to crash the car once they get their license, but it is wise to give them instructions on what to do in case of an accident so that they are empowered should they find themselves in that mess.

I once asked a girl in her young 20s what contributed to her choice to remain pure despite continuous pressure. She told me how her parents laid the foundation by teaching her the power of sex, attraction, and moral health and then presented it in a way that empowered her that her daily choices were guarding herself FOR something and not just AGAINST something. One is empowering, and the other one is merely obeying a command through resistance. Ex. For the person dieting, they will be much more successful if they make a choice not to eat the cake BECAUSE they have their eyes fixed on a higher goal of denying themselves now SO THAT they can fit into their jeans down the road. The JOY of the future is what helped them to say NO to the cake today. They wanted their jeans more than the cake. Another person diets simply by denying themselves in a self-condemning, shameful way of managing resistance, which only stirs up the desire for cake even more. It is rooted in willpower, “I can’t,” and rules. This isn’t a recipe for success, longevity, or real transformation. I was inspired to keep the concept of the purity ring for my girls but to do it FOR their future husbands. I took them out, and we talked about purity (not sex ed, but the purity of their mind, body, dress, heart, emotions, and relationships), and then we each picked out a tie for their future husbands. They are placed where they can see them daily and are reminded that he is a living human being on earth today. They pray for him, think about him, and some are even keeping a journal about him (wondering, dreaming, and praying for him). This establishes that they are guarding their purity FOR HIM. My daughter came home one day, expressing an interest in a boy at school. I asked, “Is that the boy you have been praying for?” and instantly, she realized, “NO!”

CAN I PRAY FOR YOU, MOM?

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! 

LISTEN TO THEM!

A teen boy pitched a first-class attitude, walked out of a prayer meeting, and went to sit in the car. He was scolded and rebuked by the leaders. He didn’t care and refused to budge from his position. The leader confronted his parents on his attitude, which got them to explore things further. It was revealed weeks later that the male who was leading the prayer meeting was actually grooming his sister! Yes, son, you have every right to respond, react and refuse to follow when someone is threatening your sister. Sometimes kids are reacting to something that is WRONG. They do it in an immature way because they are children, but sometimes they react to something because they are discerning it doesn’t feel right. LISTEN TO THEM!

ACTS OF SERVICE

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.

SHE IS DIFFERENT

I took my twins on a day trip to go shopping. I had an allotted amount in my mind that I wanted to lavish on them. I envisioned spending the whole time focusing on them and making them feel seen and special. The first two stores were on my list, and I zoomed in and out at record speed, knowing we had a lot of ground to cover. We went to Forever 21, and two hours later, Emma was ready for the dressing room. There was no place to sit, so I camped out on the dirty floor as the girls giggled, tried on their clothes, and came out to show me. An hour later, Emma is still putting on her fashion show, and I am growing agitated. I rebuked my inner attitude and told it to be joyful (it didn’t work, but I tried). I have never been so excited to leave a store. We entered the next one, and the same thing happened. The first 30 minutes were fun exploring the store, but an hour later, Lauren and I sat there with her pile of selected items waiting for Emma to come out with outfit #88. I released my frustration by commenting, “Are you almost done?” with a tone that communicated I wasn’t enjoying this as much as she was. I felt like I was going to lose it and heard the Lord say, “Go ahead, but you will have to clean up your mess.” As I sat there processing the mess I was about to make (and weighing if it was worth it), I suddenly saw clearly that this wasn’t a case of Emma doing something wrong but about us having utterly different shopping styles. God showed me a picture of releasing my frustration in a way that communicated to my daughter that there was something wrong with her and that she needed to conform to make me comfortable. I realized this is how young girls shut down and turn from their true selves. They are raised to keep mama happy and deny their true selves to keep connection and peace. This is never a child’s job description, and we need to be super careful we are managing our hearts so that we don’t unintentionally shut down our true selves. Suddenly, I noticed that Emma came out of the room with her original clothes on but still had a pile to try on. Her entire demeanor was different, and the joy was gone from her eyes. I asked her why and she said, “It’s okay. I realize I took too long,” but her real heart was sad and disappointed. I wrestled with managing my own frustrations and caring for her heart. We sat on the bench outside the store, and I began to tell her what God had shown me. It was uber important for her to see that her style of shopping stretches me to the core, but that didn’t mean her way was wrong. She was NOT in sin or disobedience, nor was anything wrong with her. She would have giggled the entire time if she had been with peers. However, I explained to her that shopping with me meant she might need to tone it down a bit, not because it was wrong, but to honor those around her. I checked in with her a couple of times to ensure she wasn’t partnering with lies or feeling like something was wrong with her just because I am wired differently from her. I gave her examples of times I have stretched others and had to learn when to tone it down to honor them while still being true to how I was created. It is a dance of learning how to manage our hearts and parenting our child’s hearts.

FULL CIRCLE

My parents went through a terrible divorce, and we remained with my mom full-time. Before my dad died, he shared the painful story of how he went to Hawaii and wrote the names of my siblings and me in the sand. When the waves washed our names away, he said goodbye to each of his four children as if we had died. It was his way of processing the pain and letting go. Years later, I visited the very island my dad said goodbye to me. I felt the Lord wake me early to write my children’s names in the sand, but I am not letting them go, nor am I grieving them. Instead, I surrendered them to the Father, who will never leave or forsake them; a Father who holds their future and embraces their heart today and forever.

THE GIFT OF GIFTS

From the time Ellie was itty-bitty, she would ask me to buy her stuff. I am not a materialistic girl, and the best way to get me to save money is to give it to me because I won’t spend it. I am frugal to the core. Her requests bothered me, and I began to view her as materialistic. I spent countless hours training her to stop asking for things as I saw it as a character issue. One day I realized, oh my goodness, gifts were her love language. All those times, I pushed her away and scolded her when she was not really asking for the toy but wanting to feel loved. I came to her in tears and repented. She smiled the biggest smile, finally feeling understood. Now when she asks, I see it as my clue that she needs some lovin’. If I have to say “No” to her, I assure her of my love and that she means the world to me, though I am not able to buy her that item right now. I handle the request with much more sensitivity than I did before. I also proactively look for ways that I can give her little gifts. It is never the price tag that matters to her; it is the love through it. I am often leaving little things on her bed with a note attached. The other children only have a problem with it when their tanks are low. When their tanks are full to overflowing, they have no jealousy or sense of injustice that their sister is getting more gifts than they are.

EMMA’S OUTFIT

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!

PRODIGALS REVIVED

I see prodigals coming home. I see boys becoming sons. I see anger leaving. I see women becoming daughters. I see those in isolation being embraced. I see the Father with a tear in His eye over His babies. I see JOY. I see people staying up all night long having encounters with Him… again. I see homecoming parties in heaven. I see love. I see FAMILY! I see people being REVIVED.

HELPING EACH OTHER

This is a testimony I got from a young single mom.

“Lisa, I wanted to thank you for your obedience to your calling; the Kingdom parenting online course has tremendously helped my daughters hear the voice of God. We were in our prayer closet tonight, and my daughter (who used to have the hardest time hearing) said Holy Spirit told her that her older sister had something stuck in her heart. She invited her in and asked if she had something stuck in her heart, and she broke out in tears and openly received healing! We thank God for you, and I wanted you to know we love your family!”