NOT SO SWEET

NOT SO SWEET

Is anyone noticing an increase of bickering, cranky kids, and sharp tones in their family? I know I have, and let’s call it out – it is ANNOYING! There is nothing more grinding to my ears than listening to my children use unkind tones with each other over trivial things. As I was exploring what was going on in my family, I remembered ALL of the sugar they had been consuming. Normally I let them enjoy their Halloween candy for a day or so and then collect it all, but I had forgotten to do that. I told them to get their candy, and I was mortified when I saw the massive pile of SUGAR sitting on my counter, waiting to be consumed. Yeah, NO. This will not go well to allow them to have a steady drip of this much sugar. We are mind, body, and spirit, and we cannot feed our bodies poison and expect to produce sweet results any more than feasting our eyes on violence and expecting peace. Or allowing our ears to consume gossip and slander and expect connection. In one day of removing the sugar, I noticed a massive shift in kindness, care, and gentle words!

IDENTITY

Have you figured out yet there is a war raged against the next generation? The name of the war is IDENTITY. Matthew 4 outlines how Satan attempted to steal, kill and destroy Jesus’ focus, calling, and identity. I love Jesus’ response each time as He simply declared, “It is written…” The Word was the weapon that anchored Him in victory. Jesus didn’t have to ‘fight’ this battle. He simply declared, “Nope, Daddy said so,” and that was enough. We already know the enemy is defeated but we must do our part as parents to respond as Jesus did to protect the attack on our children’s identity. We learn from Matthew 4 HOW the enemy works to steal, kill and destroy identity. There are countless examples all around us of people who are losing or have lost the battle over their identity. But take heart, dear friends, because God, as always, provides us with strategy in the midst of the battle. He is looking for those willing to pick up the sword of the Word and claim victory in their family. The enemy came to Jesus when He was ISOLATED. God puts us in a family for a reason. The church is called to be a place where the parts of the Body come together as One with Him at the center. This is the epitome of being seen, covered and known. When we are connected in family and community it is like a pack of lions surrounding the young. When the enemy shows his head, the lionesses arise. However, when families do not offer children a “You matter” and “I see you” type of community, the child feels isolated, even in their own home. Parenting styles that operate out of legalism, control and continued anger isolate the child leaving them open to the temptation of the enemy. The enemy tempted Jesus with a WARPED VERSION of the very thing that He was hungry for. Jesus was hungry for His Father and denied Himself physical food so that He could spiritually feast on the intimate connection with His Father. The enemy attempted to feed Him with food that could not nourish His soul. There is a longing in the soul of man for his Creator, yet the enemy fills him with the tastes of the world that satisfy the flesh and leave the soul empty. The more one feasts on porn, addiction, drugs, phone addiction, alcohol, video games, anger, control, etc. the deeper the hunger for it grows. All of these things DO meet a need for connection and power, but it is a warped version of the real thing God has intended for us. People who are isolated (physically, mentally, or emotionally) have deep hunger pangs to be in community which is why they make easy targets for warped versions of the real thing. Have you heard of people in desperate situations where they are isolated and get so hungry, they drink their own urine? While it sounds extreme to us, it is survival to the one in isolation and lack. The enemy offers ‘urine’ and they are so thirsty they do not fully realize what they are consuming. God did not design our bodies to be nourished by urine. The enemy then whispers seeds of DOUBT by attempting to give ‘evidence’ that God can’t really be who He says He is. Doubt comes wrapped in lies that may even look, sound or feel true, but are still false. The nature of deception is to cause someone to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage. The enemy gains advantage when the lie is embraced because it gives him an invitation to influence that person. It is like going to the front door and welcoming him in our minds. This is also why it is pointless to shout at someone, “You can’t believe that” or “That is not true.” To them, it IS true. Children who have a big Daddy are less likely to get bullied. The bigger our faith, the less we are subjected to the temptation or ‘evidence’ to doubt.

Parents, it is vital to teach children that not every thought that crosses their mind is to be considered their thoughts or truth. We grab a hold of those thoughts that create arguments against God and toss them out. Oh, I long for you to see this. The war for our children looks like this: Isolate them in their own homes, feed them with the world that feds the flesh but empties the soul, cause doubt through lies that may sound true but are still lies, become their own god rejecting all others. God’s plan for our child’s identity looks like this: Put them in families where they are seen, heard, and valued, feed them with the Word of God, anchor them in His Truth and hold them accountable for living in a way that is pleasing to God, speak truth over them OFTEN, teach them to submit to God’s authority. This is an active, intentional strategy that requires parents to be engaged, plugged in and alert. 

HeartWork – Which area is being highlighted that needs to be increased in your family? Increasing connection? Speaking truth over them? Teaching them about His Word? Learning how to submit to God? Take some time and process this with God.

HUMILITY

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.

POOL JOY

We were enjoying a day at the swimming pool. Hudson asked for a sip of my pop, and I felt led to lavish him with the whole thing. Lauren came over and robbed him of his joy by being bossy, controlling, and ‘self-focused.’ I decided to treat the girls to one, too (it is a treat and not something I usually do). I gave it to Lauren to share, but she was being mean-spirited and controlling about it with her sisters, too. I called her over and pointed it out to her. She was frustrated with herself for being like that but didn’t know why. We asked Jesus to shine His flashlight in her heart and show us what was going on. She began to cry and say that the other girls would move away from her whenever she joined them. Bingo! Hurts, lies, offense. She was hurt and offended that her sisters were working on a skit together and were not including her. I explained that she was partnering with control and meanness to make herself feel better and listening to the lie that she couldn’t be weak and show tears (something she struggles with) and that in doing so, she was releasing the wrong kingdom. I asked if that was what she wanted (because she does have a free will, and I would rather parent with her will than try to control her against it). She didn’t want that and agreed to let her sisters know how she felt. She learned that it is safe in God’s Kingdom to show tears and weaknesses, which she revealed to her sisters. I declared over them that they were powerful and incredible world-changers who could devise a plan to resolve the conflict and then left them to figure it out, and the joy returned! Can you see how spanking, time outs, removing the treat, etc., would not have even come close to addressing the real issue of her hurt heart?

CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

Take a moment and introduce your child to Psalms 100:4-5. Children of this generation understand the language of needing a ‘password’ to enter. I love how we get to write His word on their hearts!

Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV) – “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good, and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

MIND, BODY, SPIRIT

If we are mind, body, and spirit, our parenting responses should reflect this. Not all outbursts are rooted in the same defiance. Sometimes it is because of body needs such as hunger, sickness, or tiredness. Other times it is rooted in emotional hurts (heart splinters). While other times it is a lack of character where the child needs additional training on healthier responses. How do you know which one it is? You don’t, but their Creator does. Ask Him! “Jesus, will You please show me what is going on with my child right now?” “Jesus, what do they need?” I have scores of testimonies of parents who were at their wit’s end with their child’s behavior, and ‘nothing was working’ until they asked Him and what He revealed was the KEY to their heart.

GET UP AND FIGHT – SURRENDER

Something that always brings a shift for me is when I hold my hand palms up and say, “Lord, I let go. You can have this one. I will not carry it, hold onto it or worry about it. This one is on You.” It removes the tension I feel from operating outside of my control.

CLASSIC LOVE LANGUAGE MISUNDERSTANDING

My son deeply needs to connect with his family. It is beautiful yet developing the skills can be messy at times. I was away on a ministry trip while he stayed at a friend’s house for the weekend. I reminded the girls he would need to reconnect upon returning, and they eagerly created plans to connect. About an hour later, I got a text saying he walked away and didn’t want to play anymore. I called to check in with him and asked if he felt like the girls were connecting with him, and he said, “NO!” Upon inquiring with the girls, they recited that they grabbed his favorite meal, ate together, and played games. In other words, they gave him a gift and quality time. I asked them what his language was, and they both realized immediately that it was words of affirmation. I asked if they affirmed him with their words, and they realized they labored so hard to connect at that moment, but through their language, not his. This is a classic example of people’s hearts in the right place, wanting to intentionally love someone else but missing the boat because they are speaking the wrong language.

DEFENDER

Pray this powerful prayer and allow Holy Spirit to restore connection with your child. “Holy Spirit, I give You permission to be my child’s Defender and Advocate. Would You please reveal to me where I have been wrong, caused a hurt or made a mess so that I can make it right?” If He showed you something, go low and ask for forgiveness.

COURTS OF HEAVEN TESTIMONY (SIBLING CONFLICT)

Like most families, we have our share of sibling issues, but something about it has always sat funny with me. It was like I could feel something working against them but could never put my finger on it. Their tones and attitudes toward each other don’t reflect the gift that they have been given. I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I told them we were not asking Jesus this time, nor did I want the right answer. I wanted an answer that reflected their heart. I asked them to give me thumbs up or thumbs down if they would feel something in their heart if they walked into a room and saw me in it. Everyone gave thumbs up. I asked them how their heart would feel if they saw their sister, a few thumbs halfway and one thumb down. I asked about each person, and their answers broke my heart. I was thankful for their honesty, but it pierced my heart deeply. I had them close their eyes again and asked them to give me thumbs up or down if, when they walked into a room with their peers, they felt awkward and like they didn’t belong. Each of them sheepishly put their thumb halfway or all the way down, almost surprised they were exposed to this truth of their heart. I would say all my kids are popular in that they are well-known and liked by adults and peers, yet their sense of belonging was under attack because of how they were functioning as a family. Children get their sense of belonging from siblings, not Mom and Dad. If we tolerate negative sibling connections and bullies in the living room, we are setting them up to feel isolated even amongst a crowd. I brought out the whiteboard and began to draw out our family line and how each generation has been influenced and affected by rejection. To the best of my knowledge, it started with my illegitimate great, great, great aunt who was fed rejection daily by those who called themselves family. After that, each generation hosted profound rejection between mother and child with favoritism towards one another.

I mapped out that my children will get married and have kids roughly in 2030. Their children will have children in approximately 2060, and their grandchildren will be around in 2090. Just like our ancestors of 100 years ago have affected their generational bloodline, so will they until the year 3000 – what a sobering thought. Our choices today affect future generations. We have been given a gift of life, family, and knowing Christ’s redemptive work and are called to steward it well in our lifetime. It was time to break it once and for all! We began to work as a family on our court case regarding the lack of sibling love. We argued that it violated God’s command to love each other and did not glorify His name to have such disunity. We searched for verses that backed up our case and took time to stand before Jesus, asking for forgiveness for the way we have partnered with the generation curse and allowed it to bear bad fruit. I had the children move to the same side of the room as if it were a real courtroom and had them repeat after me the court case before the Judge who judges all things. It was super powerful for all of us. One of the children heard the Judge’s gavel hit the bench, and with that, we rested our case. We put on worship music and sat in His presence together as a family. I encountered a flood of emotions as I felt the release of the conflict and was filled with His redeeming grace. Instantly I noticed a difference in the way they treated each other.

SHIFTING YOUR FOCUS

Learning to shift my focus is what really helps me in times of earthly stress. Say it is a money issue. I do not focus on the need for money to come in (which would seem the proper response). Instead, I focus on His goodness as my Husband. When I need something, my eyes and faith aren’t on the end result, but on HIM. Instead of praying, “Jesus, I need x-amount of money by Thursday. Please send the money.” I focus on, pray, and declare, “God, YOU alone are MY Provider.” See the difference? One keeps our eyes on the lack/need, while the other keeps our eyes on Him. The latter is the place of FAITH and REST. God whispered to me years ago to “enroll them” (meaning my kids at a Christian school in CA). That is all He said. Nine months of fear and doubt followed. Worry was on one side, and God’s gentle whisper on the other – I had to choose which one I was going to partner with. After I sold our house in Colorado, said my goodbyes, and drove four children across the country, the school called to say there wasn’t any room for them and asked what my plan B was. At that moment, my entire world could have crashed. I thought about the question and realized there was NO plan B because I wasn’t striving to make plans happen. I only had what God told me. My eyes weren’t on them getting into the school or not; my eyes were on GOD’S GOODNESS. He told me what to do, I did it, and whatever He had for us would be good because He is a good Father, Husband, and Provider. A week later, the school called back to say there was room for the children. Of course, there was; God told me to enroll them. Do we have a plan B when circumstances squeeze us? Either God is good, or He isn’t. Either He is our Provider, or He isn’t. Either He is love, or He isn’t. We can’t pick and choose when we want to take Him off the shelf and when we want to put Him back on it.