So touched by this. Years ago, we had a ministry student do some work for us, and she made a choice that caused my daughter intense pain and heartbreak. God used it for good in my daughter’s life, and she is completely fine today from the event. She reflects back on the story through the lens, not of pain and grief but of how the Father was so real to her. I recently received a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and it took me a moment to put the story together. It was from this young gal who lamented sincere repentance. I am not sure about the events that unfolded in her journey, but God was clearly convicting her, and despite the time passed, she was eager to make it right. She offered to send me money to buy something for my daughter and owned her choices. My goodness, there is something so beautiful about holy conviction of wrongdoing AND humbling yourself to make it right. My daughter was able to respond directly, assuring her that she was fine and that nothing was owed. I just wanted to share to encourage you that there is no time limit on clearing the air and making things right with others, especially in God’s family.
How far would you go to empower your child’s faith? A dear brother mentioned they were coming to Redding for a quick trip. I could feel something so strong on this trip but he did not communicate the purpose. The night before they came I asked a friend if he would be willing to get a word for the family. But in the morning as we were getting ready for church, I felt like God said to focus on the eldest daughter. I called my friend and asked if he would seek God’s heart for her specifically. After the service, they remained in their chairs as the Lord was touching the daughter deeply. We connected with my friend who gave her a very powerful word. Hours later, back at my house, I asked him what made him feel led to come out. He shared that during their church planting summer in Spain, God began to speak to him about truly preparing his children for the call of mission. That it wasn’t just about taking them along but truly preparing the next generation. Shortly after their return from Spain his eldest daughter said, “I think God told me that we are supposed to go to Bethel.” This father booked round trip tickets for five, two hotel rooms and a rental car for a less than 24-hour trip JUST to sow into his daughter hearing from God and empower her in that area. He wanted to strengthen her own faith and get behind what God was doing in her life. Jesus, bless this father for having eyes to see that his daughter was learning how to hear you and getting behind it. Give us eyes to see how we can strengthen our children’s spiritual muscles.
It was intense… I woke up one day and couldn’t figure out what was going on. It felt like the cartoon picture of a swarm of hornets attacking endlessly, and it lasted all day long. I felt pressure from all sides with no explanation or purpose. It was so intense I literally could not work or do much of anything. I tried to busy myself to manage and endure whatever was happening. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like that in all my life. The only emotion that I could identify with it was profound discouragement. I knew if I quit, I would feel better. The next morning, I woke up, and all was blue skies again. I felt led to ask, “Jesus, yesterday was insanely intense. I have no grid for what any of that was. Is there anything You want me to know?” and I heard Him say this, “There was a full-on assault against You yesterday” (yeah, the swarming hornets = full-on assault). I asked about what and heard the word “RAID.” I looked it up: a raid is a military tactic with a specific mission. It is not to capture but about using shock and awe to get your enemy to retreat to their previous line.
When my kids were little, I would drive 45 minutes south to attend a church in Denver that believed children could play in the Kingdom. I was so undone by the power they carried. They needed some coaching in the ‘how,’ but when it mixed with their childlike faith, INCREDIBLE things began to happen. I never wanted my children to feel like God was a religious burden or that walking out our faith meant putting them in uncomfortable situations. I wanted to teach them that it was a JOY to love those around us and that the Kingdom truly is FUN. I called it ‘Playing in the Kingdom,’ and they came to life. They are older now, and we all still look for ways to play in the Kingdom and love those around us in everyday situations.
When we first became a solo family, I asked God to show me how to restore my children’s faith and trust in males. I was concerned that they would project their hurts onto God, and that concerned me. At church one Sunday, I was mesmerized by a senior man being so affectionate with his bride of 60 years. It was like my eyes turned, and I was then drawn to the father who was tickling his giggling son. Then my eyes locked onto a man who faithfully came to church week after week to serve. I suddenly realized God was showing me examples of healthy males all around us. After church, I sat the kids down, and we began to talk about all of the men in our world and how each of them reveals a part of God’s design. We called these examples the Purple Heart Dad. Each one of them made up the whole picture of what God has designed for men. For years whenever the kids saw a male doing something that was a reflection of a good father, they would say, “That guy just _____. He has a purple heart.” God was building their view of a godly man. I want to thank ALL of you men who are loving your wife, protecting and shepherding your children, walking in your calling, leading people and walking in integrity. Others are watching more than you realize, and God is using your life in ways you cannot see.
A mom messaged me, saying that her daughter was believing lies and had shut down. She wanted my help with how to handle it. This is a great example of being led by the all-knowing Holy Spirit and not just checking off a religious formula. I first asked her WHAT the lie was. She replied that the daughter believes the parents are abusive and do not love her. While that is obviously a lie, it is the daughter’s truth. I then asked the mom to ask Jesus what He thought of the daughter’s words. The mom humbly came back to me and reported that Jesus showed her that she was using a tone and responding in a way that was hurting her daughter.
I was in one of my go-go-go modes and feeling frazzled by all that needed to get done. My daughter came to me so sweetly and said, “Mom, is there anything I can do for you because you really NEED to rest?” She was so gentle and kind but serious about it. She is only SEVEN but understands the concept of staying in a place of peace, rest, and trusting well. It would be easy to partner with feeling like a hypocrite in trying to teach my children about the Kingdom when I still struggle with things, but my kids will never have the years of trauma and emotional baggage I did as a child. While I am unlearning things, they are learning them for the first time at a young age. It is OKAY that I am teaching them about their Father when I am still learning. It is also OKAY that they are surpassing me in many (many) areas already. I think that is awesome, and I welcome the voice of a seven-year-old to remind me that it is okay to rest. She is a world changer and often changes mine!
Random acts of kindness are when people go out in the name of Jesus and do good, kind, helpful things for others. While this is indeed praiseworthy and profitable Christian behavior, we need to be asking Him the who, what and where in order to be abundant in our harvest. Let me give you an example: One day, I was having a really hard day. I decided to get my eyes off myself and asked God what we should do with our day. I heard Him say to go be a blessing and rake leaves. I jumped into action. Logical thinking concluded that going to the poorest part of town and blessing the souls there would be best. I loaded up the van with kids and rakes and waved to my neighbor as we took off searching for the family that needed to be blessed. After forty-five minutes of driving around endlessly looking for a single family that had not yet raked, I was growing frustrated. What was supposed to help my day ended up making my day even worse. Defeated and somewhat mad, I made the trek back home. Upon entering our community, I heard the words, “What? You don’t think your rich neighbors need Me?” and instantly, I knew God gave me the WHAT (raking), but I ran with it before I asked the WHO or WHERE. I repented. Immediately upon parking in the driveway, the kids flung open the van door and ran across the street to the neighbor’s house (yes, the one we waved to on the way out) and raked all of the leaves. But the story doesn’t end there. Days later, I received a letter from the single elderly lady with a check saying she was so overwhelmed by all the work that needed to be done and was crying out to the Lord about her needs AS we were driving by waving at her. She finally had to leave the house with the yard work not done, and when she came back, she found ten bags full of raked leaves.
That is a perfect example of the harvest being ABUNDANT. God is a perfect economist. While one woman needed to take her eyes off her circumstances, another woman needed an extra set of helping hands. We can’t just DO in the name of Jesus. We need to ask Him the who, what, and where, too! And this requires communication – both talking and listening.
Hudson’s salvation story is very different than his sisters. A guest speaker came to their school to speak at chapel. God showed up and touched the children so deeply that he was invited back the next week to speak to the older kids. Since I had three kids in that group, I was eager to go. I began to witness something odd happening. There were two groups of kids in that room that day. One group was hungry and clinging to every word and move of the speaker. My daughters were in that group. But there was another group of kids which my son was in, and something was different. While there is always grace with the things of God, their response, or therefore lack of, seemed off to me. Days later I couldn’t shake what I saw with the group my son was in. I would cry out for Jesus to show me what it was and over the course of a few days He showed me that those were the kids who haven’t yet made a choice for Jesus. They are playing hard in the Kingdom, know how to hear Him, prophesy, and heal the sick but when they watch others encounter Him, they feel like something is wrong with them because they know they aren’t encountering Him the same way. WOW! When we see that there is more it should produce hunger in us, but because these kids are surrounded in a culture where there is an assumption they are already believers, it creates shame in them that something is wrong. This broke my heart. Hear me when I tell you what this produces in a child. They are angry and frustrated and often sabotage the things of God in your home. Not because they don’t want Him but because they don’t know how to say, “Hey, I am scared to tell you that I am not experiencing what you think I am”. I have since counseled scored of parents with kids who are acting out negatively only to find out that they feel spiritual pressure to behave, act and feel a certain way with God. They get tired of pretending and grow sick of managing the feelings that something is wrong with them. I knew I couldn’t go to my son and say, “Hey, I don’t think you are saved,” as he already had a deep connection with Jesus, and I didn’t want to do anything to plant doubt or tear that down. It was one of those moments where I honestly didn’t know how to respond. We were at church one day and I left so filled with His love, yet the moment we got home all hell broke loose mainly with Hudson (don’t you just love those moments. Ugh). I was so frustrated that going to church was producing so much chaos that I sent all of the kids to their rooms for a break from each other. I sat in the living room and cried tears of pure frustration. I heard God say, “It is time. Bring Hudson out,” and I KNEW God was telling me it was time to close the gap. I called him to the living room and held him. I asked, “Hey buddy. Are there times you see other kids at school and know that you don’t feel what you see them experiencing?” His eyes got really big, and he had this look of complete shock that I knew. He began to cry and said, “Yes.” I reminded remind him that Jesus loves him and so enjoys playing with Him, but that Jesus wants to be IN him and not just come and go like a friend. Hudson accepted Jesus that day.
One of the most vulnerable households for child sexual assault is the house that is run by ‘because I said so,’ and a legalistic one because they operate out of a list of rules and total parental authority and often fail to listen to the child. Children cannot hold in such a horrendous lie and/or the worry that abuse causes. They might not come right out and say that XYZ happened, but they will let it leak out, and we need ears to LISTEN TO THEM!
Here is a sad but true example: A little 4th grader came home from his youth group in a foul mood. The mom repeatedly disciplined him for his attitude, but he would not shake it. Finally, she asked him how youth group went, and he said, “I hated it.” She replied that he must go anyway because it was expected of him. He yelled out that his teacher was gay, and the mother swooshed him to his bedroom for talking inappropriately about someone. Had the mother listened to the child, she would have seen that he used to love youth group, and the sudden change warranted investigation. When a young child talks about an adult being gay, it should warrant you to find out why the child thinks that way, how he knows that of the youth leader, etc. If she had only asked and inquired deeper, she would have learned that her son was molested that night, only to come home and be disciplined for not wanting to return. I call it ‘pulling on the rope.’ When a child makes a harsh comment, pull on the rope by asking WHY questions. Not all ill words are a character issue; sometimes, they are flags waving to get our attention.