PUPPY LOVE

PUPPY LOVE

This is where parenting becomes FUN! A prophetic act is simply acting out a Biblical principle, Scripture, or character of God to help people grasp His truth. You could all fold your hands, close your eyes, bow your heads, pray, or do a prophetic act to align your heart with His.

Play a game and have everyone act like a dog. Joy breaks out when Mom begins to bark, and Dad sticks out his tongue, wagging his tail. Ask everyone to act out being excited when the owners come home. Act out the dog being hungry and getting his food. How about playing with other dogs?

Then have them act out a dog being scared and nervous. The joy and confidence in the room moves to quiet and timidness. Sometimes when dogs are scared or stressed, they bite. 

Gather the kids and explain that dogs are designed to be playful and joyful, but when put in situations that make them overwhelmed, they can become very intimidated or aggressive. What does the dog need at that moment? An owner who loves them enough to protect them.

Explain that we can be like the dog at times and how we ‘bite’ those we love when we feel overwhelmed and stressed. But we have a God who is like the owner who loves, protects, and leads us. 

In the days ahead, when your child is acting like a stressed dog, remind them of this teaching and help usher them to God’s truth that they are okay and this will work out, He cares about their heart, and it will be okay. Remind them that their job is to be full of joy and love while God handles the details.

RAISING TEENS

As my children enter their teen years, I have been sensitive to the fact that things are changing, including my parenting and responses to them. What worked when they were five or ten doesn’t work with pre-adults, which is a good thing.

My son was in a funk for a month or so. I would describe it as he has shut down a little, has a wall, refuses counsel, and seems to be making 101 choices in the opposite direction. It was never anything significant, but many little things that added up. He was on a roll one morning, agitating everyone within reach. I was frustrated with the lack of getting through to his heart. On the way to school, I heard the Lord say to drop Ellie off and have Hudson jump in the front seat. I drove to the other side of the parking lot and had every expectation and intention of giving him a firm chat about his choices and attitude. I heard the Lord say, “Remind him of who he is,” and began to declare, “Hudson, you are my son. You are fiercely loved and profoundly cherished. You are a gentleman, kind and caring. You see others and value them. You are a powerful builder…” and on and on I went reminding him who he was.

When I ended, he said, “Is that all?” and left the car. As I drove away, I said out loud, “Well, that didn’t work, Lord.” I pulled into the parking lot of my conference when the phone rang. It was my son, and he was so distraught he couldn’t form words. I asked if he needed me to return, and he said, “YES.” I reversed it and picked him up. We sat in the parking lot (the same place we had been a moment before), and he sobbed. No words, just tears. He began to say he was sorry for all of the things he was doing that he knew deep down were wrong. We grabbed Communion at the Prayer House and took it to the Cross. It was time for him to go to school and me to my conference, but his tears would not stop. He has a compassionate heart but is not overly emotional, so I knew something deeper was going on and wanted to partner with whatever God was doing in his heart and brought him home. I went to have lunch with him, and the tears were still coming with ease. He had no words, just tears. He finally said, “Mom, I know I have been making a lot of bad choices, and I just needed to know that you believed in me again.” Gulp!

When was the last time you reminded your child of how you felt about them? They may need to hear it again TODAY.

I GOT MY DAUGHTER BACK

A dad approached me and asked for help with his teen daughter, who was saying really mean things to him, like, “I hate you,” “You are fat,” “No one likes you.” I asked what the consequences were for a child to speak to an adult like that, and there were none other than letting her know his heart was hurt. I encouraged him to learn how to speak firmly but lovingly to draw a line in the sand with her. NO CHILD FEELS GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES speaking to their father that way. He is indirectly teaching her that this is how you treat men, your boss, and those in authority. While her behavior may appear strong, she is actually feeling insecure. A week later, he told me the glorious story of how he lovingly but firmly told her that he would no longer tolerate those words, and she pushed back by accusing him of something he did not do. He was firm in speaking the truth to her, and freedom came to her heart. He laughed, telling me how easy and light the relationship had been since then. When the dad got back in his proper place of authority and covering, the LIE in her heart was able to come out. Together they dealt with it, and connection and peace reigned again. Fearing our children is not in our job description. They do not set the tone in the home, parents do.

THE GREAT SHAKING

Can you feel it? The tension with relationships, systems, church structures, and mindsets. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken.

Gather a strainer, powdered sugar, and small pebbles (or popcorn kernels). Invite the family to the kitchen and with the strainer resting on the counter throw in a pebble and call it ‘love.’ Toss in another and call it ‘kindness.’ Then dump a spoonful of sugar and call it ‘selfishness.’ Add another heaping called ‘jealousy.’ Continue to do this with the rocks representing the fruit of the Spirit and the sugar representing the things of the flesh. After a while, raise the strainer and begin to shake it back and forth over and over. As the sugar falls to the ground, explain that God is shaking things in our lives to remove the sin, mindsets, worry, fear, and flesh from us so that the only thing that remains is His Kingdom.

Read together Hebrews 12:25-27. Explain that the things that are of Him will endure the shaking and last forever, which is something we can align our lives with and celebrate. However, everything that is not of Him, or His Kingdom, will be shaken until it falls. Talk about the things in your world that God is shaking and the purpose of it. Allow the children to see that while we are enduring hard seasons, there is good behind it. How we respond to the shaking is crucial.

Hebrews 12:25-27 (MSG) – “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time – he’s told us this quite plainly – he’ll also rock the heavens: ‘One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.’ The phrase ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”

Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable Kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and He won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God Himself is Fire!

FILLED HEARTS

Jesus says in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Call a family meeting and give each person, including Mom and Dad, a piece of paper. Have them draw a large heart. Then, ask them to write or draw the important things to their heart, such as their family, their dog, Grandma, ice cream. When everyone has finished, take some time to share. Take a different color and write GOD in the center of their heart. Begin to ask them if they love God more than ice cream? What about video games? How about loving God more than Mom and Dad? That’s a big one, but that is how big God wants us to love Him. Even though Mom and Dad are the most incredible people on earth, God loves them even more! Call it out in the days ahead when you see God’s faithfulness, love, and protection over them. “Sweetie, that was God. He loves you so much”. “Buddy, that was God watching out for you.” “WOW, I love how God takes care of you by _____.”

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD

It is important with all of the noise in the world and atmosphere that children are declaring with their mouth the truth. This is the double edge sword the Word mentions in Hebrews 4:12 (NIV).

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Watch this short video with your child and then have a special date to write out their own declarations. Hold them accountable each morning by asking if they have filled their mind with His truth (just like they care for their teeth, fill their belly, and put clothes on their bodies). 

Declarations – YouTube

WHO IS FIRST?

Gather the family and write down all of the things that are ‘BIG’ in their world including school, making friends, etc. After the list is complete, draw a line under it (it is okay that the list takes up most of the paper). Under the line, write out John 3:16. And then flip the paper upside down. Explain how the things that are BIG in their world can feel heavy and can sometimes make us feel like God’s truth is small or even shrinking, but the truth is (flipping the paper upside down) that God’s character, promises, and faithfulness are unchanging despite circumstances, and we can filter every single thing written on the list through the lens of His perfect love.

PRIORITIZE THE BIG STUFF FIRST

Grab a jar/bowl, sand (or small pebbles), and larger rocks. 

Call a FAMILY MEETING and talk to the children about Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What does this mean exactly? 

Take the jar/bowl and explain how their capacity of time is given in each 24-hour period. Part of their time is spent sleeping, eating, doing homework, etc. Make a list of each thing that demands their time every day and then pour a little sand into the jar representing each thing. Brushing teeth… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar. Taking out the trash… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar, etc. 

Now take some larger rocks and explain how that represents seeking God such as reading the Word, praying, declaring His truth, etc. The larger rock no longer fits because they have filled up their jar with the smaller things.

Dump the jar out and put the larger rocks in FIRST and then add the sprinkles of sand which will make its way around the rock, that way everything fits in the jar in the proper order, and no one can say at the end of the day they ran out of room (time) because they put the important thing in first.

UNDER MY COVERING

When my children were all toddlers, I brought them outside on a hot summer day and gave them an umbrella to play with. Oh, they had so much fun with it!

I then took the garden hose and sprayed it up in the air to land on them. They all screamed and giggled under their protective covering. I asked them to set the umbrellas down by the door and they went off to play again but I surprised them with a burst of water from the hose. This time they were left uncovered, and all went scrambling to grab and open their umbrellas. We sure had a lot of laughter and joy that afternoon. 

I sat them down and explained that staying under the umbrella kept them safe from the hot sun and the water pouring down from the hose. While the sun and water did not harm them, if they stayed outside for a long time, it could. I helped them to see the same is true with the covering that God and I have put over them to keep them safe. There is freedom to laugh and play and have a great time, but when you get out from under the umbrella, you can get burned or drenched! 

I explained that my umbrella represents the rules of the home, and God’s umbrella represents Biblical principles and obeying His commands. When the kids would disobey, I explained that they were getting a consequence because they chose to get out from under the umbrella. The love, favor, and blessings NEVER leave no matter what we do, but we can position ourselves directly under His wing or move far from it. The choice is ours and it is called free will. We have the right to choose whatever we want but the question is what do we want to choose? His ways and remain protected, or our way and deal with the consequences? 

Soon the kids began to understand this principle and all I would have to do is take my one index finger and point it up while taking the other like a cup and holding it over the index finger (to represent the umbrella), which signaled to them they weren’t obeying or staying under the umbrella with their choice.

Why not have some fun today with an umbrella, garden hose and teaching your child how to stay under your covering?

TELL ME A STORY

I encourage you to embrace this activity as part of your family connection time. Children love hearing stories, and there is something so life-giving about hearing stories about your family members. 

Spend some intentional time thinking of your own childhood stories, as well as those of your parents and grandparents. 

Gather the children, perhaps over a fun dinner, cup of hot cocoa, or all piled on the bed, and tell them a story. 

Maybe you will want to draw a question out of a hat, or maybe you will want to make it a part of your bedtime routine for a while? Either way, just make sure you are passing down the family stories; even those that feel trivial will teach a child about where they came from.

Some great ideas to share with your kids would be a time you:

  • Were proud of your achievements
  • Got in big trouble
  • Traveled somewhere fun
  • Teased your sibling
  • Had fun with friends
  • Felt scared
  • First met Jesus
  • Moved into a new home
  • Met a new friend

Pass on the stories you were told about your parents and grandparents – where did they live, go to school, what did they do for work, how did they meet and marry? 

In this five-minute message, I share the importance of passing the stories onto your children from their generational line: What’s My Story by Lisa Max – Let the Children Fly! (anchor.fm)

WHO IS JUDGE?

My daughter got in the car, and I asked her why she broke my favorite mug. She had a shocked look on her face and was trying to process how to respond. I asked her again why she broke my mug. Finally, she said with almost tears in her eyes, “Mom, I promise I didn’t break it.” I assured her I knew because the mug wasn’t broken, but I reminded her that just moments before, she was accusing her brother of something I did, not him. Instantly she understood how awful it felt to be falsely accused of something. She apologized, and we had a good chat about not being so quick to formulate judgment until you have all the facts. 

Call a family meeting and share the above story with the kids OR go ahead and role-play the same scenario. Ask questions about how it made their heart feel or how hard it is when someone is quick to judge. Read the following Scriptures together.

Proverbs 18:13 (The Message) – “Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.” 

Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) – “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.”

Spend some time as a family asking for forgiveness for any way you have partnered with being a judge and hand over the job back to God because He alone sees all and judges justly and fairly.