I vividly recall the day I put great effort and energy into making a special dinner for my family. I eagerly called them to the table to reveal my effort. I got less-than-sweet comments from each of the children, and they just got up and went off to play. I sat there with a huge mess to clean up and felt somewhat offended. I wanted to go on a cooking strike, vowing never to feed them again, but I realized that wasn’t a good option. I pictured them doing that in someone else’s home, and I didn’t like the thought. I knew I had to figure out a way to TEACH them what honor and gratefulness looked like in that situation. The following morning, they came to the table and I had them draw me a picture. Before they finished, I picked up and said, “Ick. I don’t like purple.” To another one, I said, “Gross. This is nasty”, and another I said, “I hate this.” They were mortified and in complete shock. I asked them how it made them feel. Awful! I explained that when someone makes a meal, it is like their artwork made with love for them. I never forced my kids to eat anything, but I set the bar for them to be grateful, gracious, and kind. After every meal, they are required to thank the person who made the meal and ask to be excused. I am not their maid, slave, or chef; I am their mother worthy of honor and respect.
MAY I BE EXCUSED?
Would you consider your child to be ‘strong-willed’? Then you need to be a stronger-willed parent in your resolve to equip them. Yes, these are the children who are born leaders and champions, but if they do not learn how to lead in love and submit to others, they will hurt people with their strength.
Of all the things I have endured in life, the hardest part has been the healing process of receiving the good. More often than not, things like joy, play, silliness, trust, lavishing, loyalty, and laughter have been taught to me through my children. They are made in His image, not mine, and God knit them with gifts, talents, and personalities to redeem and restore what was lost in my childhood. God continues to parent us through our children. It’s like He first gives us one set of parents to raise and train us. Then He addresses the neglected or shut down areas by using our children to parent us (our kids don’t parent us, but He parents us through them). This is why family is so important to Him. He is building something in us, and the generations are interconnected.
Teach the children about the sun, stars, grass, and trees. Who made them all? God did. OOH and AAH over His mighty creation. Then tell them that there is one thing that He loves more than anything else He has ever created and ask if they want to see it. Spend some time making a big deal out of it. When they can’t hold onto their excitement any longer, bring out a mirror and let them see themselves.
In the days to come, remind them often of just how valuable and important they are to Him.
Many believe we should shield our children and not talk to them about the big stuff. I disagree wholeheartedly! Children have some understanding, especially if it is something like a divorce or death, as they experience it, too. Not talking to them about it is not protecting them; it leaves them wide open for the enemy to whisper falsehoods to them. Do I need to tell my children all the details? No way. But it is so important that we communicate with our children. One of the reasons why kids are easy targets for lies is that their brains aren’t fully developed yet, and they do not have the same thinking capability as an adult. They aren’t mini-you’s; they are underdeveloped and therefore need a parent to guard, guide, and protect them. There is a reason that nearly all types of adult therapies, both secular and religious, take you back to your childhood. That is where lies are first embedded. Do not share all the details, but please DO talk to your children about their reality.
Someone asked me if I thought we were in end times. My response continues to be that we are closer today than we were yesterday. The final chapter will be played out, and God has allowed us to know the events that will take place. One of the biggest signs of end times will be deception. The antichrist is all about looking, acting, and being like Jesus; however, HE IS NOT JESUS!! Many will fall away from being caught up in deception because it looks, acts, and sounds like the truth, but it isn’t. One thing I see sneaking into the church today is a FALSE TEACHING that hell is not real and that no loving Father would be so harsh as to send His child to hell. THIS IS WRONG!! It is a false teaching because we are all destined for hell. ALL fall short of the glory of God – ALL! We are created by God, and He gave us instructions to follow. Satan tricked Adam, and sin entered. Because of that, every one of us is destined for hell. That is our future. But God’s LOVE saved us from that path by allowing Jesus to take the discipline for us.
The Word tells us in John 3:16 (paraphrased), “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son (to take our spanking for disobeying) and whoever believes in Him shall not go to hell (our destined place) but will live with Him forever.”
We are not destined for heaven, and God sends people to hell. We are all destined to hell because of Adam’s partnership with the enemy and opening the door. It is a loving God to give us a plan back to Him despite our fallen nature. Salvation and heaven are gifts to be intentionally received, not birthrights. Do not fall for this false teaching that twists the love of the Father and denies the entire purpose of sending His Son to hang on a cross. I exposed this teaching to my children and let them know there is a belief in the church that hell is not real. We had a good conversation about it as I want them to be on guard against the deception and be convicted of the truth. If you want to guard against deception in general, you have to be lovers of truth at all costs. The truth is found in the Word, not man’s opinion, science, or popularity.
Picture a jail. Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18 both talk about captives and prisoners, but what is the difference between the two? Both of them are in jail. One is a captive, meaning he was brought there against his will but is free to walk back out. The other one is a prisoner who has committed a crime and must have keys to walk out. The keys are in Matthew 18:23-35. When I first read these verses, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We cannot overlook this Scripture. I want to highlight verse 35. WHO? So shall WHO? It says, “So shall my Father in heaven do to you.” Guys, we have to grasp this. When hurts, lies, and offenses come our way, we have to get out of the jail they create around our lives as soon as possible, or else the unforgiveness we hold onto will hinder God’s best for us. If you are sincerely trying to get out of bondage but can’t seem to find freedom, chances are that you are a prisoner, and the name of the key to open the door is FORGIVENESS!
Here is a rough model to follow but let the Spirit lead you: “Jesus, who do I need to forgive?” Choose to forgive and pray to release them. “Jesus, what lie have I believed because of this hurt/offense done to me?” Choose to break agreement with the lie. “Jesus, what is Your truth?” Choose to receive what He has to say. I want to add that sometimes people have sincerely forgiven yet still are not experiencing full freedom. Sometimes we have to forgive not only the offense but the FRUIT of the offense. Say someone was abused as a child, and they have walked through forgiving their abuser. But there is fruit to the abuse, such as being unable to trust people, being self-protected, feeling isolated, not feeling safe at night, etc. Sometimes we have to walk through forgiving them for how their hurt/offense affected your life.
HeartWork – I encourage you not to be introspective about this but to ASK JESUS to show you. “Jesus, would You please show me if there is anyone I need to forgive?”
Jesus doesn’t have band-aids.
How many of you have to do things in life that require a sacrifice for your child? Selling a house? Long car rides? Going grocery shopping? Look at what this real estate agent did to EMPOWER the kids to be on the team rather than set it up for conflict and chaos.
“At my listing appointment tonight, I had the smallest residents sign their own contracts promising to keep their rooms clean, and toys picked up while the house is on the market. If they hold up their end of the deal, they each get a gift card from a store of their choice.”
I love this one. I often get a fun package of sticky notes (fun shapes, cool colors, cute animals) and then write words of truth to each child and stick them in their underwear drawer, between their folded shirts, in their lunch box, on the mirror, in their shoes – the ideas are endless. If they have a test, I will write, “You can do this!” and place it in their book or “Remember, you are never alone” in their lunch bag. If my kids spend the night elsewhere or go to camp, they are armed with TRUTH notes from Mom!
Give them the gift of peace. Soaking means to be saturated in His presence and nothing else (that means no to-do list, worrying, striving, or doing – just being).