LET’S ASK JESUS

LET’S ASK JESUS

“Jesus, will You show me a picture of how wet/dry my heart sponge is right now? What do You want me to do to fill it up today?”

Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is empowering for children because they witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual hearing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.

THE SOLDER, ATHLETE, AND FARMER

Gather the family in the family room and have the children read 2 Timothy 2:1-7. The more you allow them to participate in things like reading, the more engaged they will be in the lesson. Then, on a piece of paper or whiteboard, write out the different attributes of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. What types of character or skill sets does each of them require? What makes them unique? Think about how tired the soldier must get at times, how the athlete does what it takes regardless of how they feel, or how the farmer labors hard, not knowing if the sun or rain will appear. Read verse 7 and spend some time responding. Think over these three illustrations, and may the Lord help you to understand how they apply to you.

TEACHING CHILDREN TO HEAR

I encourage you to teach it as I have done with my children but by adding, subtracting, and editing according to your own creativity and family. Before I start, I have to remind you that you have 18 years with your children to influence them to hear their Father’s voice. Please do not (in your utter excitement) teach it to them and then get frustrated if they do not rattle off a million things they heard the Lord say. If your child’s ears aren’t immediately hearing perfectly, you have two choices – keep going or quit. You have to resolve that equipping them to hear His voice is a core value for your family, and you will keep at it until it is a family lifestyle for all. 

I had the advantage of being a home-school teacher and teaching my kids about our body – the hands, eyes, and nose – and the goodies inside us – brain, tonsils, and spleen. My kids never argued or doubted that we have lungs just because they had never seen one. They simply believed. I would suggest starting by pointing this out to your child. God gave us hands to touch and legs to walk. We have lungs to breathe and a brain to think. But inside our brains, God gave us each a chalkboard (or whiteboard). You can even get a real chalkboard to help give them a visual of what God put inside us. He put this board inside of us for HIS use. Be creative with this. Children love visuals and hands-on learning. The more you make the teaching FUN, the more they will want to be a part of it. Host a family meeting and get everyone involved via role-playing, laughing, and connecting. Tell your kids who are into games that their chalkboard is like God’s PlayStation, or for those who like superheroes, explain that the chalkboard is the command center. For the child who enjoys reading, explain that it is our reading manual. It doesn’t matter how you teach it, but kids need to know that they have a part of their bodies created for God’s voice. 

Come up with a list of all the ways God speaks to us (nature, colors, signs, people, etc.). When children are taught that God speaks to them through nature, they spot it often. The heart-shaped leaf, the wildlife He plants in their path to enjoy, or the fun cloud shapes – God loves communicating with those who have a child-like faith! Have them close their eyes and ask if they can picture their bed. What about what they had for dinner last night? How about Grandma, can they picture her? Have them open their eyes and explain that they weren’t in their room or with Grandma, but they could ‘see’ her on their chalkboard. That is where and how God speaks to us. 

Again, using these spiritual muscles takes practice, so keeping it lighthearted and fun while they are learning is key. Children love drawing, so this is a great non-threatening way to help them practice using their spiritual muscles. Complete the teaching above and have them close their eyes and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of how You feel about my family?” and then have them draw it out.

JOY!

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and JOY (Romans 14:17)! If we want God’s Kingdom in our homes, it has to be one filled with JOY. Many of us have heard of the Make-A-Wish foundation where they network to provide an ill child with a JOY-filled event. But what we don’t see is that the child is hours away from a major life-threatening treatment or surgery. Statistics were showing a small percentage of children surviving life-threatening illness, so they did a study on those who survived and found only ONE difference between the two groups. Those who survived had a larger amount of a particular chemical in their brain that is only produced through JOY. When God says laughter is medicine (Proverbs 17:22), He wasn’t kidding. So, they coordinate these JOY-filled encounters for children to raise the chemicals in their brain to boost their survival rate. Joy matters! My kids and I sat down to create a list of fun things you can do to keep your children’s energy moving and carve out pockets of joy. 

Create an indoor obstacle course with pillows, chairs, and jumping over a stack of books. Put kids in the shower with a can of shaving cream. Let them paint the walls. Network with a local middle school girl to see if she can come as a mother’s helper to help entertain the kiddos (it gets her out of the house, too). Mom stays home, but the mother’s helper occupies the kiddos. Blow up balloons and play indoor volleyball – my favorite! Get an indoor exercise trampoline and let them burn off some serious energy. Buy a bunch of inflatable beach balls and kick them around – Hudson’s favorite. Do a family puzzle. Finger paint with pudding. Hide-and-Go-Seek game (you can hide forks, socks, or pens – it doesn’t have to be anything big). Flashlight tag with the lights off. Walk around the mall looking for someone who needs a smile or kindness. Extra-long baths with lots and lots of bubbles. Create an indoor movie theater with another family. Bake cookies or muffins for your neighbor. Go bowling. Have a slumber party in the living room. Network with friends and have all the boys at one house and all the girls at another. Play a round of charades. Write letters/draw pictures for the firemen. Play Pictionary. Give them $5 and ask them who they can bless, and then go do it (buy someone’s coffee, give a meal to a homeless person, buy flowers for a worker). Pop some popcorn and have a quiet reading hour. Everyone in their places, even the little ones, flipping through books. Create a mall scavenger hunt with a check-off list of things they need to find and then take a photo of them with that item (a gal with a hat, a mannequin wearing shorts, a stuffed animal, a water bottle, a necklace, etc.). We did this for Ellie’s birthday, and it was so much fun. Rotate with friends taking the kids for a day and run a mini daycare giving other moms a break and allowing kids to have extra fun peer interaction. Have you heard of Studio C? It is like Saturday Night Live, but for kids and CLEAN! Have an indoor spa with pedis, manis, facials, etc. Put on a family talent show – hilarious! Have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Break out in a dance party – YouTube has some great ones. Skype family members and friends. Host another family for a picnic lunch in the living room. Play elimination card games to see who the winner is! 

INTERRUPTING

How many of us get annoyed when we speak to our children, and they don’t listen because they are engaged elsewhere (book, TV, homework, screen time, etc.)? How many of you get annoyed when you are in the middle of something (book, TV, housework, screen time, etc.), and your kids interrupt you as if you aren’t doing anything? Hmmm… maybe we are actually teaching our children to interrupt by what we are modeling for them. We think just because we are adults, we can crash into their world at any time and expect them to instantly stop what they are doing and give us their full attention. While that would be awesome, that isn’t reality. Perhaps we should be modeling for our children how we would appreciate and value them interrupting us when we are in the middle of something, and they need our attention. I have taught my kids that when they need me, but see I am in the middle of something, to come and place their hand on my arm. I place my other hand on top of theirs to say, “I see you,” and they need to wait until I can switch my attention to them. When they got older, I showed them how to say, “Excuse me, Mom, is this a good time to interrupt you?” If I am engaged with another person (on the phone or in person), and the kids would not show honor, I would say, “Excuse me for a moment,” to the person and then say to my children, “You are so important, but I am important too, and right now Mama is talking to Ms. Smith.” This is a people skill that children need to be taught, trained, and equipped in with intentional parenting. Nothing welcomes favor more than honor and respect!

THE DIFFICULTY OF BAD CHARACTER

The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

If this is what our children are up against, how can we stand against this force of reckless rebellion? By intentionally teaching and training character at an early age! What is good character? How can we teach our young children? How do we go after character without introducing legalism? How can we empower them through connection? How can we expect more out of our children?

I invite you to check out our CHARACTER COUNTS Magazine – Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

1ST RESPONDER

We can teach our children that Jesus is a 1st Responder who we can go to with our highs, lows, and everything in between.

I SEE YOU

I got this really strong impression on my heart, and I believe it is for some of your children. We can be together 24/7 and still feel alone. I sensed there was a child in the family feeling lonely and really needing the gift of being seen.

Ask, “Jesus, will You please show me which family member needs to be seen today?” and then gather the rest of the family members and say something like, “Jesus told me that _____ really needs to know we see him/her today. Let’s ask Him what we can do to celebrate them,” and then listen together. Do not underestimate mission work in your own home.

GET UP AND FIGHT – AUTHORITY

God has given us authority over anything that is out of alignment with the heavens, such as fear, strife, unbelief, anger, anxiety, or doubt. If it is not in heaven, you have authority over it. Rise up, speak to the anger, fear, and unbelief, and say, “NO MORE.” Break up with those nagging thoughts that are like flies swarming around us when we are worn out, tired, or weary. You don’t have to put up with them – deal with them. My bathroom mirror reads, “Stop the nonsense,” meaning I do not cross the mental line and partner with those words. I live by faith, not circumstances.

ETCHED ON THEIR HEARTS

My mom was a school teacher and not only had gorgeous penmanship, but she also had a high value for it. Homework wasn’t just supposed to be accomplished in our house; it was also supposed to be done neatly. My writing was never perfected like hers, but even as an adult, whenever I write something sloppy, I have an internal check that I should either slow down or redo it. When we proactively teach our children who they are, we are helping them partner with God’s truth about them, which anchors them through life experiences. Example: God told me early on that my son would be a gentleman, so I have called it out since he was two years old. I have looked for ways he can practice being a gentleman (opening doors, helping with strong things, giving up his chair for an elderly lady, etc.). When my son does not act like a gentleman, something goes off inside of him that feels funny because he is acting in a way that is contrary to his true nature.

Children will exercise their flesh and act out; it is the nature of a child, but having the truth written in them helps guide them to become the person they are created to be. When children are not told who they are, they are influenced to become the things God never designed them to be.

HARD WORKER

Moms, does your husband work hard at providing for his family? It has been a scary season for many men with the threat of loss of income, changes at work, and business adjustments. Why not take a moment and teach your children how to celebrate and honor him? First, gather the kids and talk about how hard Dad works to provide (make a list of how his provision blesses you – heat, food, house, car, treats, toys, clothes). Then, together, come up with a way to throw Dad a ‘thank you for providing’ party. Maybe you want to make him KING for the day? Have a special dinner? Write out cards? Show up at work with lunch? Let the kids contribute to the planning and show honor, gratitude, and appreciation for the man who works hard to provide for his family.