Rest doesn’t mean sitting idle and doing nothing. It means getting your identity from Him, not in what you do. If rest is something you struggle with, ask, “Jesus, will You please show me what about rest makes my heart so uncomfortable?”
“Jesus, I need a hug. Will You please wrap your arms around me and allow me to embrace your presence?”
Be still and let Him encounter you. Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is empowering for children because they witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual hearing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
Have you ever had those days when you feel like you are constantly butting heads with a child, or they seem to be going out of their way to be a bully to their siblings, yet nothing you do seems to work? Try intentionally meeting their love language, and I bet you will see a sudden change. Children with empty tanks, even with siblings, will often fight to get it filled (obviously, in the wrong way), Love languages matter!
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.
People have asked me over and over to show them HOW I taught my children different things. Years ago, the kids and I sat down and recalled some of the key lessons I taught them over the years, and we put together a kit for parents to use in their own homes.
This is a sample lesson: Heart Play (Playdough) – Teaching children to care for the hearts of others. Intentionally play with playdough with your children for a bit, and then ask them to make you a huge heart. Ooh and aah over their heart creation while you hold it in your hand. Talk about our physical hearts and why God gave each of us one, and how important they are to our survival. Every human has a heart – it is what makes them alive. Take the heart creation in your hand and talk about how gentle we need to be with people’s hearts. Now take one finger and smash it deep into the heart, then smash another finger in another place. Show them that the shape of the heart changed when you were not gentle and caring about it. Words aren’t just words; harsh words are hurtful to people’s hearts. Also, explain that many people have wounded hearts (not from us), but when we say loving things to them, it is like their hearts go back to the way they were originally. Act this out a few times and role-play how we can both squish and help people’s hearts.
In the days ahead, when your kids are having issues with unloving words, remind them of the playdough heart. Ask them, “Hey guys, do you think you just put love in that person’s heart or poked it?” “How could you do that differently without hurting his/her heart?” Also, when they get their own heart poked, show them how we can ask Jesus to put His hand on our hearts and heal them. “Jesus, my heart got hurt. Will You please touch it and make it all better?”
Yes, there is a better way to parent our children than yelling but you do not need more of God so that you stop yelling. You need more of God so that He can comfort and heal those places in your heart so that you do not need to yell anymore.
God has given us authority over anything that is out of alignment with the heavens, such as fear, strife, unbelief, anger, anxiety, or doubt. If it is not in heaven, you have authority over it. Rise up, speak to the anger, fear, and unbelief, and say, “NO MORE.” Break up with those nagging thoughts that are like flies swarming around us when we are worn out, tired, or weary. You don’t have to put up with them – deal with them. My bathroom mirror reads, “Stop the nonsense,” meaning I do not cross the mental line and partner with those words. I live by faith, not circumstances.
What is something you struggle with the most with God? His presence? Going to Him in the day-to-day? Feeling His love? Talking to Him? Believing He cares about your world? This is a super FUN exercise. Put a reminder on your phone to go off every day. When it goes off, simply stop whatever you are doing at that moment and ask Him a specific question as it pertains to your struggle.
“Will You please show me where You are right now?” “What do You want me to know?” “How do You love me at this moment?” “Will You please help me with _____?” “What do You care most about me right now?”
We strengthen our spiritual muscles by using them. Go after the area that feels weak and allow Him to strengthen you in His truth. This is a GREAT thing to do with the kiddos too. Wherever you are when the alarm goes off, STOP and ask Jesus.
Declare this over your child, even when they are struggling and making messes. “I speak over YOU today there is still room for you at the table. Your messes are part of the growth process. There is still room for you. God has not weakened His gaze or affection over you. You have permission to be on your journey and learn as you grow! We live in a performance-based culture that values your A+ and rejects you for getting a C. God values your process and journey of becoming the full expression of who you were created to be. Break agreement with any voice telling you otherwise!”
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.
Do a teaching with your children on our mouth and taste buds. Explain that our tongue tastes things that are bitter and sweet. Next, blindfold the children and lead them into the kitchen for a science experiment. Place a tiny dab of horseradish on their tongues and ask them what they think and then place a drop of honey on their tongues. They will probably beg for more. Share with them Proverbs 16:24 and discuss how our words need to be like sweet honey, not bitter horseradish. Practice role-playing some scenarios: What would words full of honey sound like when someone takes your toy? Is in your space? Has hurt you? How can you use words of honey to encourage others? Show honor to your parents and teachers? The goal is not the absence of negative feelings or reactions but to respond in love despite being upset or hurt. You can also take the opportunity to teach them how to be intentionally ‘sweet’ with their words as opportunities arise to bless others. In the days ahead, when you hear harsh tones and unloving words, call out, “Oh, that sounds like horseradish to my ears!” When you hear them speaking kindly, you can say, “Oh, I love the honey coming out of your mouth!”
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly