I can assure you that when your child’s love tank is low, you are going to smell the fumes somewhere! Adults have learned (not-so-healthy) coping mechanisms to pretend that a low tank is still running just fine, but a child will not. Kids don’t need oceans full twice a year; they need continuous drops. I encourage you to sit down and write out at least ten easy, simple ways you can speak your children’s specific love language. This will help you to stay proactive in filling their tanks, even when your plate is full. I cannot tell you how many times a “Hey bud, go set up a game of cards, and I will play a round with you,” can change their heart, attitude, and the atmosphere of our home.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
One of the biggest lies about Christian parenting is that you have to master things yourself first (knowing the Word, hearing God’s voice, praying for others, soaking in His presence, etc.). Maybe, perhaps, it was God’s plan all along that you grow together as a family going after the things of the Kingdom. There is NO way I would be where I am now if it weren’t for my formal Kingdom training that was married with my children’s child-like faith. The KEY is in sharing what you are learning WITH your children and TOGETHER playing in the Kingdom.
I homeschooled the kid’s elementary years, so I was used to being their ‘school teacher’ in the classroom setting, but it was years into homeschooling when I realized that one of my primary roles as a mother was to be a teacher. As they were getting older, the tones and attitudes in their speech started to really wear on me. It was not what they were saying but how they were saying it. As I was praying about it, Proverbs 16:24 came to mind, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I suddenly got this idea to cash in on the science lesson I had just taught on senses. I told them to meet me in the kitchen and blindfolded them. I asked them to stick out their tongue and I put a small dab of horseradish on it. They yelped and moaned. We tried it again, but this time I put honey on their tongue. Yum. That was much better. I shared the verse with them and talked about how sometimes their words sounded like horseradish, but that God wants us to use words and tones that are like honey. We role-played what that sounded like when someone took their toy, when they wanted something, or were asked to do something. I pretended to be them and modeled what kind and sweet tones looked like, and then I molded what horseradish sounded like. They thought it was funny, and we all laughed.
Here is what I want you to see. I was good at teaching science and math, but when it came to teaching principles of the heart to train and equip them, I felt shy and ill-equipped. I was so tired of their tones and needed to do something, but honestly, after the teaching, I remember feeling like it was flat, not deep enough, and I doubted they would retain any of it. I felt awkward and so unsure of myself that it was making a difference. My delivery felt skinny and weak. As the days went on, I would come to them, get down on their level and say, “Remember when I put that stuff on your tongue? How do you think you just sounded?” They had to stop and think and redirect their choice of speech. I began to get the revelation that they were not mini adults and did not need the 12-week course or 2-hour lecture on a subject. They understood me fully, and I had their hearts because I was teaching them through connection and releasing joy through the science experiment. They got it, and I grew in understanding that if I just show up and teach them, they will respond. To this day, with tweens and teenagers, all I have to say is, “That doesn’t sound like honey to me,” and they know immediately their tone was off.
Like it or not, if you are a parent, you ARE a teacher. It might not be of other children or in the classroom, but you are, by God’s design, a teacher of your own children. The more you embrace this part of parenting, the easier life will be for both you and your child. I encourage you to say this out loud a couple of times until it really sinks deep. “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” Have you received the revelation that to be a parent means to be a TEACHER?
Be still for a moment and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of what makes Your heart happy?”
Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
Finding pockets of joy is a deal-breaker in the midst of the battle because it increases a chemical in our brain that gives us the will to endure hard things. Laughing when you are heavy is hard, but it is one of the greatest muscles you can utilize in the midst of a battle. Make a list of 3-5 things that would bring your heart a smile – DO IT!
If you have followed Let the Children Fly for long, you know that I am a big promoter of knowing and filling your child’s love tank. How many adults walk around with unmet needs waiting for someone to fill them? It is a lonely and isolating experience. The sad thing is few people can read your mind to know what you need. I have been very diligent in not only teaching my children about their love language but how to discern when they are feeling low, isolated, or disconnected and how to get their needs met in a HEALTHY, proactive way. Typically when their tanks are low, there is an increase of bickering, conflict, bad moods, agitation, and strife. While I went after character training, I also helped them to be PROACTIVE with their needs so that it doesn’t get to that point. Hudson came to me one morning and said, “Hey Mom, I set up a game of cards for us.” Truth be told, the timing wasn’t great, as I had a lot to do, but I had eyes to see that my son could have cared less about cards and was really saying, “Hey Mom, my love tank is low, and I want you to fill it before I go to school.” Yep! I can make time for you, son.
Rest is not being inactive. Rest is the position of our heart after we have released something over to God and left it in His care. We cease taking matters into our own hands and operating in self-sufficiency. We hand over the transaction to Him, and at that moment, we are in restful confidence He can act on our behalf. We rest in the assurance that He is able, capable, mighty, willing, powerful, and active in our lives. Simply put, spiritual orphans can NOT find rest because the world’s weight is on them to self-provide, self-protect, self-defend, and self-secure. But as Sons and Daughters, we have a Father who is alive and well and wants to help us. Have you ever sat on an aircraft and watched people attempt to put their luggage in the overhead compartment? They struggle to lift the weight of their carry-on above their head while juggling their coffee, trying hard not to hit the person in front of them. Along comes a flight attendant in full confidence in their ability to help lighten the load and get them situated. Have you ever watched a child struggle to tie their shoes or fasten their pant button? They get frustrated easily with their lack of ability. A loving parent comes alongside them and, with ease, eagerly helps them. The Father is like the flight attendant wanting to carry your load. The Father is like a loving parent wanting to help in your time of need. Rest is not simply doing nothing. Rest is releasing your burdens for Him to do something.
HeartWork – “Jesus, I surrender and hand to You my burden of _____.”
Parents often share that, deep down, they are afraid if they say YES to more of God, He will require something of them that they may not want to do (like sell everything and live overseas). I want to challenge this fear-based belief and say that it is more of a reflection of one’s belief about what kind of Father He is. The reality is saying YES to the deeper things of God means you are going to have to enter a training ground of learning how to receive His goodness, kindness, and blessings as a Son/Daughter. And that, for many, is the harder work!!!!
Discernment is knowing, sensing, the ability to determine right and wrong, and having eyes to see what isn’t in the natural. It is a spiritual gift that we can ask for more of. We had picked up one of the two moving trucks, and after loading it, I noticed one of the tires was low. We filled it, and it appeared okay after the 30-minute drive home. Others kept telling me it was okay, but I had the discernment that something wasn’t right and that it should really be checked out before we hit the road. The service crew came out and changed THREE different tires. He said the tire was splitting and would have blown once we got on the road. Thank You, Jesus, for discernment and the ability to determine that something isn’t right even when our eyes can’t see it in the natural.
Pray – “Jesus, thank You for giving your life so that we can access the Kingdom of heaven. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for the gift of discernment that leads and alerts us. Father, I ask for an increased measure of discernment. Strengthen my ability to see and hear what others cannot so that I may respond to Your voice in all areas of my life. Show me how to trust and listen to the gift of discernment as I partner with You. Teach my children how to walk in discernment. In Jesus’ name.”
Since the enemy is fear-based, I never wanted to teach my children in a way that educated them so much they were afraid of being afraid. I simply explained that God has an enemy who is jealous of Him and wants to be like Him (enough said). It is wrong to think that God is on one side and the enemy on the other, battling it out. The enemy is ALWAYS on the bottom because he is already defeated. Children need to have an accurate view of the ‘battle.’ The battle isn’t of random wins and loses like a football game, but that we are always victorious over the enemy and his ways always! While it feels true at times that the enemy is winning, the truth is that God is unmoved from His throne as ruler over A-L-L things. Read together 1 John 4:4.
Teach the children – Take out a sheet of paper and fold it down the center bringing the left side of the paper to the right side. Write God on one side and enemy on the next. Under God write out the things associated in their life with Him right now (provision, peace, safety, joy, covering). Under ‘enemy’ write out the things associated with him (fear, worry, doubt). Rip up the paper and tell them that this is not the truth about what is going on. Grab another sheet of paper and fold it in the middle (fold the top part of the paper down) and write God on top teaching them that God has no equal. Read Isaiah 40:12-31 together. Then take a pen and draw a line an inch from the bottom edge and show them the truth is the enemy is Jesus’ footstool. Romans 16:20.
The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.