A school classroom is loaded with atmospheres. You have the atmosphere of the leadership, the teacher, the little girl who feels isolation, the joy of the birthday boy, the sadness of the student whose friend is out sick, the child whose dog died, and the excitement of the child who is flying to Grandma’s when school is over. Each person is releasing something into the atmosphere. That which kills, steals, and destroys will always be around me, but because He who is in me is greater, I have the authority to release that which brings life, joy, and blessings! The key to releasing it is a VERB! We get to do something about the situations around us in the spiritual realm. Jesus said that He has all authority and then commissioned us to go out and do greater works than He did. If I walk into a room and suddenly feel super angry but know it isn’t me, I know I have come under an atmosphere. I simply say a prayer/declaration like this, “Anger, I see you and forbid you from influencing me and those around me. I release joy, happiness, and peace in the name of Jesus.” That’s it! It’s like being a police officer and walking into a room and saying, “Hey you, bad guy, get out.” They have to obey because you have authority as a law enforcement officer in the name of Jesus. We are heaven’s law enforcement officers!
- Atmospheres, School
If you have a child who can ‘flip like a switch’ out of nowhere, it could be that they are very sensitive to the atmospheres around them. I was this way as a child, and it brought about a lot of conflict because no one, including myself, understood why I could be perfectly fine one moment and angry or filled with anxiety the next. In my mind, nothing was bothering me, but it was like something had come over me. Once I realized I was coming into an atmosphere of ‘stuff,’ I began to learn how to take authority over it and flip it.
There is the natural realm – all things on earth. There is the heavenly realm – all things in heaven. There is also the unseen spiritual realm that operates between the two. Have you ever walked into a room or house and felt so much love? Have you ever gone somewhere, and fear met you at the door? Someone is releasing that into the atmosphere, and you are coming into that presence. Sometimes children walk into an atmosphere and react as if it is coming from them. Those most sensitive to feeling atmospheres are often described as ‘flip of a switch’ since they can be fine one moment and a ball of emotions the next. Chances are, they walked into the atmosphere. The sensitivity to atmospheres is generally a sign they have the gift of discernment, but until one understands how to use it, they often feel like they are tossed against the waves of atmospheres all around them. I often stop and ask, “What are you feeling in the atmosphere right now?” They never cease to amaze me at how strongly they feel JUNK! We simply take authority over it. We do this with certain people, in a new situation, over their classrooms, at Wal-Mart, after an interaction with a rude person, at a restaurant, etc. I am training them to first discern the atmosphere and then second to use their authority over it.
After having the world shut down for so long, many thought once everything is opened, all will be well again. I took the kids for a drive-thru lunch and noticed cars parked in a lot that has been bare for months. I soon learned that the local stores were opening. With three teen girls, we clearly needed to join the party and do some shopping. We exited the car, full of giddy joy and excitement. Our masks were on as we waited our turn in line before entering. We grabbed our cart, and something profound happened. The atmosphere was intense. It was eerie, unpleasant, and super heavy. All of the girls reported this weird feeling of being in trouble (fear). There was little joy in shopping in an atmosphere like that. We left, and as I pondered it deeper, He showed me this. The oppression was never about the economy closing, the inability to be out in public, or the lack of shopping. The oppression was about the SPIRIT BEHIND IT. If that is not dealt with in each of us, it will remain, and we will continue to carry it around with us. Opening the stores will not resolve it because it isn’t a financial issue but a spiritual one. Yes, it manifested IN the natural and HAS affected our economy, liberties, freedoms, etc., but we do not do battle in the natural when it is a spiritual issue. Oppression is a spiritual issue and can’t be fixed with tools in the natural any more than one can put a band-aid on a broken heart or rebuke a broken bone away. We have to have the right tools for the issue. What to do? Keep breaking the tension with fear and in your own heart. As believers, we can be in perfect peace everywhere we go.
God is creative. The enemy is not. He can only take what God has already created and twist and pervert it for his agenda, making it a counterfeit to the original design. But there is one thing he cannot counterfeit, and that is PEACE because peace is His presence, and he is not GOD! There is no such thing as ‘false peace.’ 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” I would argue that it is important to walk in His peace at all times, but I want to zoom in on the importance of creating peaceful school mornings. Chaos breeds hurt, pressure, fear, confusion, anxiety, low self-esteem, worry, insecurity, and doubt. It cripples their confidence and pushes them to act like orphans fending and striving. Chaos creates opportunities for them to take out their anger on others during the school day. Worse yet, it ushers them into emotional or mental isolation, which is the breeding ground for the enemy’s lies. Chaos sends our children to school feeling like they are a disappointment and disconnected from the ones who should love, value, honor, see and hear them the most. Chaos sets them up for hardships and conflicts with friends because they have unresolved heart splinters. Chaos can become a mental distraction causing an inability to focus well on school and learning. Their minds are focused on the lack of peace and connection from the morning, and it robs them of the freedom to engage in the moment. Some children spend all day fearing going home, knowing they disappointed Mom in the morning. This is the very opposite of our heart for them, yet we are gatekeepers for what we are allowing to transpire in our homes each morning. You are not a victim to your schedule or demands. Your child does not dictate and lead. You are a leader in your home. What you allow and tolerate is what you will reap.
I want to offer some suggestions for keeping order, even joy, in your mornings as you prepare for the day and get everyone out of the door.
Wake Up – Get alarm clocks for each person, making it their responsibility to get up on their own. Nothing creates more stress and sets the tone for the day than Mom yelling at a child to wake up for the tenth time. If my kids do not heed their alarm, I turn on their light. If they continue to refuse to get up, they lose out on get-ready time, but either way, my car leaves at the same time to go to school, and they will be in it. It generally takes an ‘I am serious’ moment for them to learn the lesson that getting up on time is VERY important as no child wants to go to school in their PJs. This applies to teens too. Nothing motivates a teen girl more to wake up than realizing she will miss out on doing her hair and makeup if she doesn’t manage waking up.
Role Play – For younger children entering school for the first time, have a mock school day where you wake up and pretend it is a school day. Walk through with them what needs to be done step by step.
Breakfast – Isn’t it interesting how we can be together all morning and never once even look at or see each other? Make a goal to sit together even just for five minutes. Talk about your upcoming day. This is a great time to cheer each other on for tests, tryouts, or heavier issues they are facing. I have a couple of great question games that we keep at the table to create conversation and laughter. Also, setting breakfast at a certain time each morning helps them manage what needs to be done by breakfast time (make bed, get dressed, etc.), as well as after (brush teeth, put shoes on, etc.).
Routine – Having a consistent routine and agenda helps children to be successful. They know what they can expect and what is expected. It helps them to be self-guided in managing their time, too. One thing that really helped when they first started formal school was to have them do it in order. They had to get up, then make their bed, then get dressed, then eat breakfast, then brush their teeth, etc. Doing it in order helped them to know what they should be doing next. When they got older, our morning routine included the kids getting up at 6:30 AM, at the breakfast table at 7:00, and out the door at 7:30. They managed themselves in between, but those three times needed to be honored. Establishing the expectations ahead of time took the pressure off me having to keep them moving. Do not be shy in creating a poster with the schedule and if you see a child not doing what they are supposed to be doing, ask them to check the schedule.
Lunches – Empower children to make lunches the night before, perhaps even on Sunday. Create an atmosphere of empowerment rather than pressure like it is a chore. Praise them for their effort and accomplishment. I told them they had to have one meat and one fruit/veggie, and one snack/treat, but they could pick what they wanted.
Clothes – Empower children to pick out their clothes the night before, including socks and shoes, or perhaps spend an hour on Sunday afternoon having them set out their outfits for the whole week. My girls love it! This includes a routine for gym uniforms. Picking out clothes in the morning can be a recipe for chaos, especially for girls.
Chores – Years ago, the kids wanted me to take them to the park, but I was too exhausted from the never-ending cycle of making meals, washing dishes, picking up, folding clothes, fetching juice, etc. I decided that day that since my children were a part of the household, they needed to contribute to the success. My top areas were the floors, dishes, trash, and laundry (which is perfect because I have four kids!). When they were younger, I printed out the weekly schedule and assigned chores and posted it on the wall in a frame. This empowered them to take responsibility, manage something, and feel good about their contributions. We have continued these chores to this day, but I have moved them to the evening so they can focus on other things in the morning. The only chore they have in the morning is managing themselves for school and putting their dishes away.
Bathroom – Is bathroom time a hassle in your home? Switch from AM showers to PM showers. Create a hair/makeup area in their bedroom, leaving the bathroom available for the basics.
School Papers – It caused me a lot of stress when the kids would shove a piece of paper in my face while driving, expecting me to sign it before we arrived. I created a system where anything that required my time, signature, or money needed to be placed on top of my coffee maker. I wake up early and review the pile while making my coffee. I respond and place the notes on the counter, making it their responsibility to get it in their backpacks. If they came to me in a panic about something, I would remind them of the system. Sometimes they had to get a ZERO on their reading log in order to learn that their lack of planning does not create a crisis on my end. I was holding onto my peace and teaching them to be more prepared.
Attitudes – If attitudes are something you deal with in the morning, it means their teacher is dealing with it, too. Do not ignore this character weakness, parent it. Pinpoint the real issue, such as a lack of humility, rebellion, or lack of self-control, and go after it in times of peace. Sit with them and let them know responding to authority that way is not acceptable, and then role-play some ways they could handle it differently. Go after that character trait in other ways. Teach, train, and empower them.
Family Meetings – I call “Family Meeting!” often in our home. The kids know they need to come immediately into the living room (yes, we had to practice what it means to come immediately and not 15 minutes later). I used this time to inform them of events, talk about issues, work through hurts/offenses, and allow their voice to be heard. We meet weekly, oftentimes more than that. During the school year, I made sure every Sunday we had a check-in and talked about the week, field trips, errands that must be run, things that needed to be added to the grocery list, playdates, permission slips, sports obligations, rides, science projects, etc. This helped us all to feel ahead of the game and not always reacting at the last minute.
What are some steps you can take to make sure you are sending your child out into the world armed with peace?
What would our schools look like if every parent sat humbly with their child’s teacher, asked for an honest review of their child, and then spent the summer months empowering and equipping them to grow in character? Teachers have a great view of how your child treats others, responds to authority, and interacts with peers. Simply put, they see how your child behaves when you aren’t watching. Every child has areas to grow in; it is the nature of a child. Childhood isn’t the time to expect perfection but rather the time to empower them with tools to be successful in life. Areas of growth in the classroom include listening well, respecting authority, serving others, being kind, being able to control their body and mouth, stewarding what they are responsible for (homework, gym clothes, library books), and being a blessing vs. distraction in class.
When all my children entered formal school for the first time, it was a huge deal for them. They got inundated with many new things all at once. My goal for the two weeks leading up to it was simply focusing on their love tanks. The more they experience love at home, the more they will be able to handle what comes their way. Isn’t that true for you? Are you a better parent on the days when you and your spouse have conflict and are feeling detached? I bet not. Love languages matter!
When the virus broke out, people freaked emotionally, and it was confusing to so many people why they ‘couldn’t handle it.’ Their minds told them it was not that big of a deal, but their emotions told them otherwise. I kept telling people, “The reason why this is affecting you so much is not because of the virus but because you are FEELING THE SPIRIT BEHIND IT.” So many things have come out in the past months, and I just want to zoom in on the fact many of you were feeling in the spirit but did not know it. It was overwhelming to you because, yes, you were feeling it, but it was NOT you. It was the atmosphere. This is a spiritual muscle to be strengthened. For those of you who felt ‘something’ intensely, take a moment and thank God for allowing you to feel in the spirit realm. Second, ask Him to increase the gift of DISCERNING what you are feeling. God does not allow us to feel things just to overwhelm us. He allows us to feel it SO THAT we can partner with Him and be agents of heaven on earth in the midst of it. More than ever, this is the hour to walk in discernment.
Morning School routine for a child: Get dressed – Eat breakfast – Chores – Brush teeth.
Morning School routine for a parent: Fill their love tank – Create pockets of JOY – Remind them of who they are – Fight for peace.
Before you send your child out into the world, arm them with: A belly full of healthy food – A mind anchored in the truth – A heart tank overflowing with love.
Before moving forward to the new school year, let’s take a look at the previous school year. How we end is generally how we will begin. Meaning if nothing is done to steward your child’s weakness from last year, you can bank on it being an issue again the next year. Let’s break the cycle and help our children become more successful in the area they need to grow the most. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions about each child: What is something that caused continued chaos or frustration (Low grades? Disciplinary issues? Being late? Attitudes? Missing items?)? We cannot help our children grow in their capacity if we are not willing to first acknowledge there is a need for growth.
For my son, the area that brought a lot of frustration was taking out the garbage. I wanted to scream every Friday morning, “You had but one job,” but that is NOT the issue. The issue had nothing to do with the garbage cans overflowing. It had everything to do with taking responsibility for the things that have been entrusted to him. Oh, and I can see that this is also an issue with turning in his reading logs and remembering to bring his gym uniform to school. He was learning how to manage and steward responsibility, which is a lifelong trait that will bless him or hinder him. If I want to HELP HIM grow his capacity, I need to be able to look deeper than the behavior or subject line (trash, gym shirt, reading log) and see the underlying character issue beneath. If we only parent the subject, life becomes a list of rules: “Thou shall not forget the trash.” “Thou shall remember to bring thy gym shirt.” But what is REALLY going on is that he lacks faithfulness, which is the fruit of the spirit that lives within him (Galatians 5:22). When I only see the failed trash, it creates frustration in me as a parent. When I see that my son has an issue where he needs to grow, I am positioned to equip and train him to increase his capacity. One focuses on the subject; the other focuses on his heart and character so that he can carry that character growth everywhere he goes.
Here is the catch about increasing capacity. It does not happen by expectations, demanding, or threatening. It comes by creating a PLAN. Let me explain. I can hound my son, give consequences, discipline him, take away his phone, etc. But it will do little to produce faithfulness in him. However, if I take a moment and create a plan, I would see that his lack of taking out the cans, turning in reading logs, and bringing his uniform to school has more to do with learning how to manage things that occur once a week. It is not that he isn’t willing or even has a bad attitude about it. It is that he needed a plan to remind himself of these items that needed to get done that were not a part of his daily routine (which he is great at). Whoa. Now I actually feel compassion for him and want to help him vs. being mad and frustrated at his failed chores. He put a reminder on his phone the night before and a note on the wall that he sees every morning. Suddenly his capacity to be faithful with weekly items increased. What is one area that brought continued chaos or frustration last school year?