I have a rule in my house – if I cannot participate in something and remain in peace, then I will not do it. As a result, I have had to say no, or decline many good things. I have made the choice not to allow even some good things to rob me of my peace or connection with my children.
PEACE IS MY GUIDE
People often ask me what I do for family devotions. I have done a variety of things over the years. My goal is to water their spirits every day just like I do their minds and tummies. I haven’t focused on the HOW as much as I have the WHAT. I felt led to buy each of them a personal devotion and a new journal for Christmas. I coached them on how to read, process, and journal. I felt like God was highlighting that my children are very comfortable with getting prophetic words for people, which I love, but sometimes we need to speak truth and life over people. It will only transform those around us if our words are anchored in HIS truth (the Word). I am having them read and process the following questions each day.
What did this reveal to me about who God is?
How can I relate to the story/Scripture?
What can I be thankful for because of it?
Who needs to hear this truth today?
And then they are crossing their chicken lines and growing in their capacity to ask God to highlight one person who needs to hear the truth they now carry, and they are speaking it over them through text, phone call, or email. I feel like parents need to hear this. Were my kids jumping up and down at the thought of a new journal and devotions? No. Did they fully understand the heart behind the concept of journaling? No. Did they do it on their own? No. Did they thank me profusely for caring about their spiritual growth? No. Did I do it anyway? YES!!!!! Because in this house, we serve the Lord, and this is what He has led me to do with them.
Name tags identify who we are. God has written over our lives who we are with permanent markers, and we will spend a lifetime exploring the depths of our identity. When we use labels on someone, we are smearing their name tag with shame (“something is wrong with you”). A person can no longer see and explore what God says about them because you just put a blanket of shame over them. They may lie, but they aren’t liars. They may be immature, but they aren’t brats. They may be weak, but they aren’t useless. They may be ignorant, but they aren’t dumb. They may be wrong, but they aren’t hopeless. Watch the dynamics of what happens in the spiritual realm when we do this. Someone has not yet fully understood the revelation of who they are and acts accordingly. People who do not know who they are act like starving, desperate, striving orphans. Someone else is uncomfortable with their behavior and slaps a label on them, which covers up their real identity (if they could have seen it in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did), and now instead of growing and discovering the reality of who they really are, they are doing battle with the enemy himself and what he says about them. This is a lose/lose situation. When we see people behave in a way that is less than God called them to be, do not partner with the enemy to feel powerful in your discomfort. Call out who they are despite their weakness to point them in the direction and give them a life raft of hope to cling to.
Parents often feel pressure to lead their children spiritually. While there is a mandate to train and raise our children, I think sometimes we put too much focus on the HOW. My greatest tool for leading my children is to simply stay hungry myself and share with them what God is doing in my life. Every morning we would meet in the family room at 7 to check in, talk about our day, evening schedule, and it is my time to feed their spirits before they go out in the world. I was camped out in John 10 and came across this line, “My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me. I and the Father are one.” I highlighted to them that they could never be kidnapped from Jesus. They can never be taken away from Him. That simple line and 2-minute family devotion taught them a lot about who their Father is and placed a wall of security around them as they went out the door.
Have you ever said, “PEOPLE ARE SO BLIND”? Raise your hand. How many people have read something on social media and thought, “They are crazy. How can they be so blind?” How many of you have seen the war of words with people attempting to change someone by proving they are wrong? STOP this! It only furthers the insanity. Here’s why! The Bible says if someone cannot see the truth, pray that the scales of their eyes would be removed. They aren’t trying NOT to see in many cases. They simply have scales on their eyes, making them blind. Speaking to their intellect and getting into a debate is not how God tells us to respond. We are to pray for them to have eyes to see. Give it a try. Instead of being the social media police telling people why they are wrong, try praying for God to remove the scales from their eyes. Trust me, GOD bringing revelation to someone is where real transformation occurs. Psalm 119:18 – “If you have eyes to see, pray for their eyesight to be as clear as yours. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”
We should be praying this over ourselves often too. “Jesus, open my eyes so that I may see as You see.”
Introducing your child to the free gift of salvation is the most – THE MOST – important and precious responsibility we have as parents. It is not to be taken lightly or carelessly. Their eternal choice affects your family’s generational legacy and is forever. I am not going to give you the 1,2,3 steps in how to lead your child because this is so much more than “Here, do this…” I encourage you to pray about this first and really sit with Holy Spirit and get His heart for your child and what He is doing in them right now. Take this seriously and partner with Him. There are no rules in how one can accept Jesus but there are some foundational truths in what Biblical salvation must entail. This is so important for parents to not only understand but to proactively teach it to their children especially in today’s world where there are so many false teachings, faulty understandings of God’s plan, and twisted messages.
Biblical salvation must include the truth that: #1. God loves me (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39) #2. I have sinned (Romans 3:23, Matthew 25:46) #3. God sent Jesus to take my place (1 Peter 2:24) #4. If I believe in Him, I will be adopted (Romans 10:9-10). I encourage you to do this in one sitting or pick one theme a day to build up the story. The goal shouldn’t be to get them saved (unless Holy Spirit is moving), but to arm them with truth and understanding. I bought these wooden pieces at the local craft store to help give visuals. Anytime you can role-play, act out or partner with JOY it makes the principles come to life for the child. I encourage you to pray about this and ask Holy Spirit to show you what He is doing in your child’s life already. Partner with Him.
#1. God loves us – period. This is the entire basis of creation and salvation. God loves us and desires that we would choose Him and have a relationship with Him that would reflect a child perfectly secure in their Father’s love, protection, provision, and affirmation. Talk to the kids about God’s love – what does it look, sound, feel like? Ask them if they have felt loved before from someone and then compare that to God’s love for them. Spend time exploring a love that can never ever be damaged or ruined. WOW.
#2. We are ALL sinners. Even cute, sweet little babies are born sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. No one, not one, can boast, except Jesus of being pleasing to God on their own. This is a massive lesson in humility and having an accurate assessment of our spiritual state without Jesus. Talk to the kids about sin and that it is anything that displeases God. Sin isn’t a list of rules, but things that make God sad because He knows it will not go well with us or bless us. Talk about ways we sin. Yes, some sin appears to be bigger like murder, but to God it is all the same. Talk about how many things we do a day that fall short of His best for us. Share your own experiences with the ways you have fallen short in the past 24 hours. Model humility.
#3. God sent Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins. Someone has to pay the price, be accountable for the crimes committed and God loves us so much He allowed Jesus to get the ‘spanking’ for us. Hell is a real place and when God says He sent His Son to save us, He isn’t kidding. While hell can be a big topic for small children it is important for them to know it isn’t a choice between earth and heaven. God spared us from a dark place that is for forever. You can use as strong or sensitive of language as appropriate for your child, but the picture of hell is that there is isolation/being alone, no connection, total darkness where there is no help, no peace or joy, and never being able to relate to Jesus. A good word picture small children would understand would be sitting in a dark closet in a time out for the rest of their lives. Jesus came to open the closet door and let us out!!! Jesus is the bridge between darkness and light. Jesus is the One who carries us to the Father in His arms. No one gets to the Father except through Jesus.
#4. We have to do our part in accepting this free gift and say with our mouth that we acknowledge we have sinned and believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. When we do that God adopts us into His family forever. Heaven is a huge concept for kids to grasp but zoom in on the fact it is unbreakable and forever. Talk about what it means to be a Son or Daughter in God’s Kingdom. Luke 15:10 – “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
I encourage you to use the verbiage, “Someday maybe you will decide you want Jesus in your heart,” instead of asking them if they want to pray. Why? Because children love to please you, and this is something that needs to be Holy Spirit-led. Your job is to teach them; His job is to save them. I cannot wait for your children to be adopted, move into the palace and join the party – FOREVER!
Often, we focus so much on the struggle instead of the victory. Take a piece of paper and draw a huge heart. Spend some time being quiet before the Lord, and then ask Him to show you what HE has written on the heart of your child (do this separately for each child). What are the passions, dreams, desires, and strengths HE has put deep inside of them? Write down whatever you hear, then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them. Be the parent who says, “Guess what God told me about you today?”
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.
My mom used to drive around in an old Chevy Monte Carlo with a bumper sticker that read, “Have you hugged your kid today?” I used to think it was awesome that she had a reminder each time she got in the car. I longed for her embrace as it made me feel wanted, safe and seen. Sadly, hugs were few and far between, but they still held a tremendous value. I want to ask YOU, “Have you hugged your kid today?”
Homework – Make it a goal to reach out and offer a hug to your child at least THREE times today. Set a reminder in your phone, do it before/after each meal, or when they ask for something. Be intentional and hug those kids today!
We were away from home, and the kids were all getting in a funk; lots of small conflicts, attitudes, and agitations. Having to correct them constantly gets old, so I flipped the situation by turning it into a game. I gathered them together in a circle and asked them to keep their mouths closed, but they had to have eye contact with someone else at all times. I wanted them to SEE the people around them. Then I held up a mirror and said, “This is who you have been focused on, but I want you to keep your eyes on someone else.” When we went to breakfast, they tried to outdo each other by showing kindness and love to others. They were opening doors, putting garbage away, smiling, saying “thank you,” letting others go first, etc. The Kingdom is JOY, and sometimes partnering with the Holy Spirit to devise creative ways to get to their heart impacts them more than reaping the spirit of religious rules over their head!
The Word says if you have EVERYTHING (money, fame, status, awards, a big house, a perfect-looking family, IG followers, Pinterest-worthy snacks, A+ students, fancy cars, leadership titles, etc.), but have no love, you have NOTHING! Love matters because God designed our heart, mind, and soul to need it. I have seen the messiest of situations, exasperated parents, and the most challenging children MELT with the ointment of love.