When the kids were little, they always wanted to go to the park after nap time, but I was exhausted from cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. I felt like my day was a perpetual cycle of complete and repeat. The thought ran through my mind that if I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t have to do all of this work. I hated that thought because I loved being a mom and my children. I rebuked that thought and remember the Lord leading me to EMPOWER my children to be a part of the family, not just takers. I sat them down and told them that I wanted to take them to the park too, but that part of living in a family is running a family that includes picking up after ourselves, cleaning, and managing our home. We came up with four areas that needed attention every day – floors, dishes, laundry, and garbage. From that day on, I haven’t touched a single one in nearly ten years. Each week we rotate chores and run the family together. When they were tiny, they didn’t do it perfectly, nor did I expect them to. But I used it as a time to go after character, self-control, honor, and faithfulness. When one fails to take out the garbage, it affects the family. When we rush and put clothes where they don’t belong, it affects the family. When dishes don’t get done, it affects the family. When they had attitudes, I went after their heart. I wasn’t training them in the area of perfection but in having the CHARACTER behind a chore or task. This is one of the best choices I made as a mom years ago, and I am reaping the fruit of four children who own the wealth, health, and success of our family unit. They were taught from an early age how to care for their family, and it started with chores. What have you empowered your children to do to help run the family?
PART OF THE FAMILY
I encourage you to get a box of name tags and write on them, “Hello, my name is… kindness, a gentleman, compassion, helpful…” and all day, call them by their identity name. “Hey, Compassionate One, can you come and help me with this?”, “GENTLEMAN, please pick up your shoes.”
I got this message from a mom: “Yesterday we did the name tag activity. My 6-year-old loved it so much that he wore it all day and stuck it on his PJs at bedtime so he could wear it to bed last night.”
Cultivate means to: cul·ti·vate verb 1. prepare for crops or gardening. 2. to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill). Gratefulness is a SKILL that is taught, learned, and strengthened. Kids are not born with it. It is something that needs to be tilled, plowed, dug, worked, fertilized, mulched, and weeded SO THAT it reaps a harvest of fruit in their lives. Nothing increases the favor and fruit in our lives more than a grateful heart.
God is looking for families who will take Him at His word. He says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Who are the people willing to march forth with this command?! If God commands us to do something, all of heaven backs us up. I challenge you today to equip your children and together take back ground in your home, community, city, and nation over the spirit of fear. We say NO to the fear that binds, robs, steals, kills, destroys, and the lie that says God is not in control or able. How do we do that? First, ask, “Jesus, will You please highlight any area where I have allowed fear to speak, rule, or influence me?” Deal with it by breaking up with it and declaring His truth. Second, release His power and love everywhere you go. Have you ever experienced walking by someone who just exhaled their cigarette, and the smoke goes into the atmosphere? That is what fear is in the spiritual realm. Someone partnered with it and released it. When others walk by, they are affected by the spirit. That is why so many people report feeling uneasy at the store, watching the news, or on social media. Way too many people are exhaling fear. I am not a victim to fear or someone else’s choices. I am a child of God with a calling on my life to release His Kingdom everywhere I go (and if you are a born-again believer, this is your calling too). When I pass someone who I sense is bound up emotionally or spiritually, I utter a prayer under my breath for them to encounter the love of the Father. When I sense fear, I say, “Fear, I see you, and you are exposed. I release you to go and invite peace to come in Jesus’ name.” When I walk into an atmosphere of anxiety, I say, “Peace come now.” When the kids get swirly out of nowhere, I ask them, “What are you feeling in your tummy right now?” They can call it out quickly when I ask that question. Oftentimes it is a feeling of not being safe. So we then release protection in Jesus’ name. When we witness someone having an angry outburst, we pray under our breath that they feel seen, secure, and loved.
Jesus says GO! Go forth in confidence that He has called you to be the change to the world around you. Say NO to fear and YES to exhaling His power and love everywhere you go. Who are the people willing to take God at His word?
Teach the children the difference between light and dark. Ask them if you can turn darkness on in the light. Ask if you can turn the light on in the darkness. Hand the kids a flashlight and have them go find ‘dark places’ in the house (in the cabinet, under the bed, in the closet, under the pillows) and declare, “Darkness, I see you,” and have them shine their flashlight in the dark to bring light. Share how Jesus is the Light and that He lives inside those who have accepted Him and gives us the joy of releasing His light in dark places. Read together John 8:12, John 12:46, and Matthew 5:16. Make a point to pray and declare, “Whatever is in darkness, come into the light” as a family over your home, community, nation, and world.
I realize we are all first-generation parents stewarding the world of technology with our children. We will hit some home runs, and we will make some mistakes along the way. One day my son asked if he could take his phone with him on our family outing. I usually have them leave them at home because it is our time to connect, but I allowed it. He was playing a Spanish app and engrossed in it and barely said a word. I had to run to Walmart, and he asked if he could keep playing on it while I was shopping. I agreed to make an exception. The trip was chaotic. He was always a few feet behind us and not paying attention as he bumped into others due to looking down on his phone. I was in a bit of a hurry and was trying to find something for Ellie. I asked him to stay by the cart while I ran down the other aisle, and he absent-mindedly walked away, leaving my cart and purse unattended. I asked him to go back to the cart. A few moments later, Ellie came to me upset because Hudson was snapping at her. He was attempting to push the cart but ran into something because his eyes were on his phone. A few minutes later, I asked him to help me with something, and he had an attitude with me for ‘interrupting’ him. It was so chaotic and stressful. I went to him and held out my hand, asking for his phone. We finished and when we got into the car, I reminded him that I had raised him to be a helper, to see others, to be kind, to jump in where needed, to be a gentleman, to serve, be aware of his surroundings and to be a blessing. I did not raise a son whose eyes were locked looking down on a screen, walking around aimlessly without seeing a single person or contributing to the task. Every parent needs to make their own choice about technology, but for me, when they were younger, going to the store was our training ground for character, and I was not going to let a phone undo all that work. I care more about his development than his entertainment. I care more about the man he is becoming than his comfort. I care more about him seeing others than what he is watching for himself. The phone is not your friend if it is breaking connection with those around you.
I want you to ponder your children and the way they interact and speak to each other. What does it look like? What do you tolerate? What don’t you tolerate? What are the stated household rules for getting along? What consequences can be expected when they don’t? I am not asking for what you hope for; I am asking what the current reality of your household is. Are your children allowed to hit their siblings? Are they allowed to slam doors? Say, “I hate you”? Are they allowed to pick their friends over their family? Every family has its own rhythm, and no two families will flow alike. Every family will have a different set of core values and different standards which they are governed by. As parents, it is important to be able to see the vision you have for your family. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.
For me, growing up, there was freedom to hurt and hate each other, which affected me greatly. When I started having my own children, I drew a line in the sand and was determined to teach them that we would be a family that communicated belonging and acceptance. True change doesn’t come from just outward performance; it comes from within. Instead of giving you a list of tools to use to whip your children into shape and force them to love each other (which, by the way, never works), I want to help you come into alignment in your heart first. It is out of that place where real change happens. Spend time pondering and processing this with the Lord. Ask Him to shine His flashlight into your heart (Psalms 139:23) and show you how He sees and feels about the way the siblings treat each other. Oftentimes there is a pang of great guilt for parents because they WANT their children to get along more but simply don’t know how. Confess that to the Lord – that perhaps you have allowed (for whatever reason) your children to be unkind to each. Allow Him to speak to your heart. I am going to provide you with some questions to ponder with Him. I encourage you to get a journal and write down whatever you heard or see Him saying to you. If He is really the head of your household, then give Him room to speak into this situation.
“Father God, would You please show me what makes You happy when you see family?”
“Jesus, would You be willing to reveal to me what in our family needs to come into alignment?”
“Holy Spirit, what does my child really need from me when there is conflict?”
“Father, what area do You want me to focus on with my children?”
“Jesus, if You were here today in the flesh, how would You handle my children?” (You may be surprised by the answer).
God is a perfect Father and knows how to lead your family into greater peace. Holy Spirit is your Helper, and there is nothing but hope ahead to have the family you have dreamed about. Let the Children Fly!
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.
I am so undone by the goodness of Jesus. I was processing some deep things as my daughter was walking through one of her biggest breakthroughs. It was breathtaking to watch her walk this out on her own. While spending time with Jesus, I kept hearing the story about the woman caught in adultery. There are many thoughts about what Jesus was writing in the sand, so I asked Him to show me. He answered my question by showing me the position of His eyes. While the men of the day, who deemed themselves mighty important and superior to the rest, dragged a naked woman before the courts (the shame and humiliation must have been brutal), Jesus looked away. Could it be He knew His presence alone was convicting, and He didn’t want to stare at her nakedness? Then I heard Him say, “I didn’t defend her sin, but I did defend the JUDGMENTS against her.” I wept! Jesus isn’t about shaming you publicly for your weaknesses, sins, or messy places. He is there to defend the part of your heart that is in need of a Savior. Read John 8!
Mamas, are you cursing your body? It is hard to raise daughters with healthy self-esteem when you model cursing your own body. My mom had four kids close in age and didn’t like the way it affected her body. I was secure and confident growing up with my body; however, the moment I had kids (also four close in age, including twins), I immediately turned against my body and felt like it was ‘ruined.’ I was intentional about building up my daughters and their self-image. God began to show me that what my mom taught me, by cursing her own body, is that motherhood ‘ruins’ your body. I was simply modeling that belief onto my children. I entered a season of greater self-love and acceptance for my body, which has miraculously produced life. I want my daughters to feel beautiful now AND after they become a mom. It isn’t about praising them but modeling acceptance for myself.
**This isn’t just for daughters. When moms curse their own bodies in front of their sons, they are teaching them that there is something wrong with a woman’s body, which we surely don’t want him to transfer to his wife someday.