MEASURING UP

MEASURING UP

Dear Let the Children Fly Family, I owe you a heartfelt apology. God is so good. Why He gave me this message of partnering with Him in our parenting is beyond me. I can think of 101 reasons why someone could do it better. But He has been preparing this message in me since the day I was born. I am passionate about family, restoration, seeing children (really seeing them), partnering with Him, and parenting the way He parents us. I have done my best to learn and grow how to steward all that He has given our family. As any ministry leader would tell you, the leader’s development is not for the faint at heart. God cares deeply about our process of becoming the fullness of who He created us to be so that we can carry our message with purity, grace, and longevity.

When I was in a long season of learning how to run a business, God told me, “Lisa, I did not give Let the Children Fly to a businessman. I gave it to you, a solo mom of four. Lead from your heart just like you do your children.” From that moment on, I felt the freedom to ‘raise’ my ministry from my heart and not like anyone else. But there has been another area of my development that has caused me much tension. I do not like the camera and never have, not even as a child. Not sure why, but I don’t. In order to steward well the voice He has given me and minister well to others, I have needed to cross that chicken line despite the fact it causes deep vulnerability. My greatest gifting is sitting with someone 1:1 where Holy Spirit shows up and ministers to them, so talking to a blank computer screen feels like I am talking to a house plant. It is just not my comfort zone. Over the years, I have overcome my dislike enough to do them anyway. I do it because I love you and want to share what God has given me to help you in your journey. It is important to have people who have gone before us model what the Kingdom can look like. We are never called to be them, but we can pull on what they model, knowing that God wants to do the same in us. I have two people who have been my ‘ministry models.’ They are women who have gone before me and have modeled women in ministry well. God has used them richly in my life to learn from, watch and glean how they lead. They are excellent, refined, polished, and beautiful and have set the bar so high, yet seeing their constant example of excellence has caused me to disqualify myself somewhere along the lines. I felt like the widow giving her all; it always seemed to pale compared to the giants around me. I recently heard God say I was to ‘break up with them’ in my mind. They are no longer the model for which I am to aim for and achieve. Once again, God told me, “I did not give Let the Children Fly to them. I gave it to you. Lead it with your face, your voice, your ability.” 

When we feel like we don’t measure up to the standard, we will disqualify ourselves in the waiting to get there. The goal is not to measure up. The goal is to change the measuring stick! I cannot tell you how many times God has shown up in our home, and I want to share it with you, but I don’t. I talk myself out of it because I am not ready like the women who have shaped my vision of what it ‘should’ look like. The lighting, sound, background, outfit, hair, speech, and presentation are perfect; I am not there yet. So I have allowed that to silence my voice and sideline me. God has been speaking to me deeply in this area. Those women are not newbies. One has been in ministry since I was in diapers (literally). They have earned their polished look by taking the same steps God is calling me to right now. Yes, we want to walk in excellence, but we cannot let perfection sideline us. The world needs what God has given us, and being polished can only come from our YES and stepping out, not our man-made perfection. While I love living in a community with so many polished leaders who are brilliant, beautiful, and polished, the truth is many have a vast team of people who are trained in marketing and social media and have incredible skill sets in those areas to help them. The hard thing about that is that it can shape one to think that is how it is supposed to look, feel and sound for someone starting out. I bless their journey and success, but it is so important that we lead and steward what God has given us, stay in our own lane and accept that we are on our own journey. 

So to you, my dearest friends, supporters, and passionate parents, I owe you a heartfelt apology for being silent when God has called me to speak. I ask for your forgiveness for caring more about the polish than the message. I repent of hiding behind a bar set so high and ungodly expectations of myself. The truth is I have crossed 101 chicken lines this year alone, and I am committed to crossing them again because I DO passionately believe in the message God has given me. You have my promise that I will no longer withhold from you when God tells me to share. I break up with the pressure to be anywhere other than where God has me. You deserve better. You are hungry for what we carry and have been so faithful to steward it in your own homes. I promise you that I will let go of that style of ministry and share my heart as if we are sitting across from each other. Will you please forgive me? 

What about you? Have you shrunk back from using your voice because it did not look like someone else’s success?

TREASURE HUNTING

I am sharing this testimony from one of my spiritual daughters:

“When the girls and I have some free time, we like to do what we call treasure hunting. We ask the Holy Spirit where to go to find someone that needs prayer. Today before our mission, I told the Lord I wanted to witness a real impact. For someone’s life to be completely changed (well, don’t be surprised when you get what you asked for.). We walked where we felt led at Walmart and ended up in an aisle face-on with my children’s father, who we had not seen in 9 years. Clear as day the Holy Spirit said that’s who you’re here to pray for. Umm, really, Jesus? You know our history, right? We said hello. Did some very minimal catching up and asked him and his now wife if we could pray for them, and they willingly received prayer. (For those of you that don’t know our story. Karina and I walked away from everything we owned when I was pregnant with Val to leave an abusive, toxic relationship and find safety). I truly believe this was a divine appointment. Never in my life have I felt the presence of God as strong as I did at this moment. His peace was definitely present. You know God has done a work in your heart when you can extend grace to somebody when they least deserve it. I am sharing this because I want you guys to witness that the power of God is real. If you knew me nine years ago, then you know this encounter would have been restraining order number four. My heart has truly been transformed, and to be honest, I’m still pretty shocked. What happened today was with strength I cannot take credit for. I would like my prayer warriors to agree with me in prayer for him and his wife to have shelter, find a successful treatment center, as well as some accountability to walk beside them. He told the girls he would be around again someday when he’s clean. I am proud of him for being honest and respectful.”

SLIME OF SHAME

Emma had a bit of a rough day, and I knew her heart felt tenderized. The following morning, I made an effort to really see her and gave her a long good morning hug. I began to call out the truth about who she was. When I said the words, “There is nothing wrong with you,” she let out a big sigh and relaxed in my arms. I realized what she needed the most was to be affirmed that SHAME (something is wrong with me) is a liar, and she had permission to ignore it despite the evidence making it feel very true.

BELONGING

Ellie was invited to spend the day at the coast with friends. They were having so much fun that it turned into an impromptu sleepover. She came home the following morning 2 minutes after we walked in the door from church. We were rushing around getting things done as we had friends coming over for brunch. I greeted her, hugged her, and continued to get ready. The entire time our friends were here, she was in a funk. She was snapping at her siblings and just being unpleasant. After they left, I heard her respond unkind and asked her to come to me. I inquired if anything happened on her adventure with her friend that needed to be processed. Nope. I asked if she was tired from the late night and needed a quick nap. Nope. I asked if she was hungry as our lunch was off due to late brunch. Nope. I finally said, “Then what is agitating your heart so bad?” and she burst into tears. She began to tell me how much joy and fun she had with her friends and that when she walked in the door, it was like no one cared that she was back. BINGO! I vividly remember Emma having the exact same scenario play out years ago. She cried big tears, saying that when she came back home, no one asked her about her time or stopped doing what they were doing to welcome her. I did not fully understand the scope of it until Ellie experienced the exact same thing. Friends give us a deep sense of belonging, so when a child has a great sleepover, playdate, or outing with their friends, their love tank in the area of belonging is overflowing. When they re-enter the family, they need a few minutes to be welcomed back home with intention, or it can send the message, “You don’t belong here.”

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.

KINGDOM COME

There are scores and scores of testimonies building up of how GOD is using this season to strengthen the family. If you could peel back the rooftops and have a birds-eye view into many homes, you would see this. Dads are connecting with their children. Mothers are letting out the pain instead of carrying it around. Fathers are on the floor, laughing with their kids. Moms are teaching respect. Marriages are being healed and restored. The kids’ love tanks are overflowing. Connections are being restored with siblings. Children are being taught who they are. Parents are teaching their children about His goodness. There is laughter. Families are talking again. Offenses are being forgiven. Siblings are playing and releasing joy. Children feel like they belong. Moms are being seen and heard. Dads are relaxing. Pain is being addressed and resolved. Dads are laying down the idol of money. Pillars of peace are being contended for. Families are readjusting their focus. Families are seeking Him together. 

Keep going! You are doing an incredible job allowing Him to use this season for GOOD. I know you are tired, and there are still so many unknowns, but you are doing it one choice at a time. When the FAMILY is strengthened, there is an advancement of His Kingdom. Revival happens when the family is REVIVED! May Your Kingdom come into the FAMILY ROOM!

DO YOU TRUST HIM EVEN IF…?

Excerpt from my book:

I was sandwiched between my pursuit of trying to help the kids with their deep owies and yet still trying to keep the bridge from burning fully with their father. I was struggling with letting them go to his house for the weekend, knowing it would only reap more trauma. Part of the problem was that we did not fully yet know what kind of trauma was happening, just that the kids were having strong reactions and saying things that were pointing to some very upsetting possibilities. My friend asked me, “Do you trust God even if something happens?” My immediate answer was, “NO! No, I do not.” I mean, I loved Him, and He was my Savior, but trust Him with my children? Oh my. That stretched a level of faith in me I had not yet tapped into. Her reply was both upsetting and convicting. She said, “That is the problem, Lisa. Unless and until you resolve that God is big enough, even if things happen to your children that bring pain, you will spend the next 18 years wearing yourself out trying to play God in their life. Resolve this issue first and then make a decision in their best interest.” This was perhaps one of the most painful yet defining moments in my parenting and one I have to ask myself repeatedly. Do I trust Him even if _____?

GET UP AND FIGHT!

Back in my 20’s, I was hospitalized for three months, and upon waking from my coma, I discovered I had kidney, liver, and respiratory failure. I was pretty sick and very weak. My vital organs were all compromised, and I almost died because of it. One of the hardest parts of that journey was physical therapy, where I had to mentally train my body to work again. All I wanted to do was lay down and quit. It was too hard. I did not have the muscle strength to do what my circumstances demanded of me. My muscles felt like a wet noodle. I wanted to stop. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be left alone, but my PT cared about my health journey and knew it was best to push me, call me further, and expect more of myself SO THAT I could be strong and healthy again. I am so glad they could see further down the road than my eyes could at that moment. I needed to trust their wisdom in order to pull myself out of that pit. 

Here’s the deal – many of you have been in a spiritual coma. Things have happened and caused your muscles to feel fatigued. You are like a wet noodle in the spiritual realm and have simply laid down and quit. You have allowed the toxins of life to affect your spiritual health. I get it more than you know. But we cannot remain in bed, hoping and praying that God will supernaturally step in and heal us where He has invited us to take our place. We must do our part. You have to get out of bed and begin using those muscles again, as hard as it is and as weak as you may feel. You have come too far to quit now. Your children will reap the fruit of your choices one way or another.

BE A STUDENT

We wrapped up two glorious weeks in Colorado and were up early for our flight. There was so much joy and gratitude pouring out of each of us. That is until we were going through security. It was hectic and very chaotic. The crowd had a subtle push as everyone wanted to get through the security line without further delay. Hudson started getting agitated and was letting everyone around him know it. I would ask him to do something knowing there wasn’t much time to tinker around. He was obeying but with extreme exaggeration. It would have been almost comical if it wasn’t holding up the rest of the people. I became annoyed and upset with his attitude. I made a sharp comment about his attitude which only made things worse. On the train, I was able to take a breath and heard Jesus tell me that I needed to be a student of my son and to allow him to teach me what he needs in this new teen brain season. I apologized for my sharp words that focused more on his outward behavior than his heart. I told him what Jesus showed me because it is always important to me that my children know while I am their mother and to be respected, Jesus is their friend and cares about their hearts, too. I love it when Jesus shows me where I have misunderstood my child’s heart. He is their advocate and I want them to know it. While on the plane, he asked to sit by me which was his way of communicating he wanted to reconnect. I knew he wouldn’t value having a conversation in front of everyone so I wrote him a note. His reply caught me off guard. His frustration was not within himself, but rather stemming from my rushed and chaotic parenting. He is still a child at 14, while capable of much, still a child, and simply needed more time.

LOVE WORKS

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!”

MY TESTIMONY

My childhood was brutal. It was full of torment, lies, abuse, deep hurt, and confusion. I was in a coma from a drug overdose when my mom died at another hospital of breast cancer. It took me years to unravel the pain and forgive her. It was not until my 30’s that the reoccurring nightmares ceased over the emotional torment with my mom. God did not just have to heal things in me; He had to rewrite ‘normal.’ I no longer have hatred in my heart toward her. I no longer judge her as a person or a mom. I no longer speak ill of her. I no longer blame her for my heartbreak and pain. 

Furthermore, I have not passed on the cycle to my children. Why? #1. God is good! He pulled me out, saved me, and restored the deep places in my heart back to Him. My parents were powerful influences in my life, but God is bigger. They have done many things wrong, but God is a Master of rewriting stories, redemption, and making broken places whole again. He is the ultimate perfect Parent. #2. My mom was not an evil person. If she was a member of Let the Children Fly, I think she would weep at the revelation of her own doing. She did what she did because she was a spiritual orphan trying to parent! Orphans can NOT produce a life of peace and joy. Let the Children Fly is simply the tools my mom needed but did not have to parent me well. God’s ministry through me is my love gift back to my own mother. While I may have lost my mom, I have gained thousands of parents around the globe who get to hear the message that they can partner with God in their parenting and can do things differently with their children. I am passionate about what I do because I have lived the fruit of a life without it.