Shalom isn’t the absence of conflict. It is peace in the midst of it. Declare it over your situation. “I speak shalom to ____.”
This is in response to the many questions I get about toddlers who are regressing or acting out when the new baby comes home. I had 14-month-old twins when their brother was born, so I went after making sure they felt secure. It is a big deal for a child to have their birth order changed. Think about it – they are the only ones who get Mom’s attention; she leaves for a few days and comes back with a new baby she is with all the time. Often, Mom is recovering physically, and others intentionally keep the older child away from Mom so she can rest. This is confusing to a child, and they can surely build up resentment toward their new sibling. One thing that was super helpful was the ‘5-minute dates’ with the twins when I knew Hudson would need me for feedings and such. I would bring them to the floor with me, and we would spend quality time together. If Hudson started to cry, I would say out loud, “Oh no, not now, Hudson. Lauren and Emma are very special to me, and I am spending time with them now. You will have to wait.” Of course, you don’t make a newborn wait long, but they have no concept of time. I was communicating to them that the baby has not replaced them, and they are still so valued and important to me. But then I would tell them it was Hudson’s turn and that they needed to play by my feet, watch a movie, read a book, etc. If they wanted juice or help when I was feeding Hudson, I reminded them it was his turn, and they had to wait. I intentionally filled them up like this for many days after we brought him home, and the transition was smooth for all.
I have an above-average sensitivity to whining. It grates on me deeply. I taught my children from the toddler years that if they whine, they lose. I even typed it up and framed it on the wall in our kitchen on their level (along with other house rules). I first taught them in the time of peace what I did want from them, and we role-played what whiny and peaceful words looked like. Then the first time they whined to get their way, I got on their level and said, “When you are ready to use your big girl words, let me know,” and I would walk away. It took a matter of seconds before they came chasing me and changed their tone. Whining is a lack of self-control and orphan. I want my children to speak to me with confidence and self-control. I laid the foundation, and this was something that brought a lot of peace in our homes.
The sense of belonging is something we all crave. It was given by God to Adam and Eve but lost when they exited Eden. God gives us families who know us intimately and provide a safe place where we can grow and learn. When that safety or trust is broken – physically or emotionally – it affects our core need to belong. Sibling relationships are where children get their greatest sense of belonging, so guarding this connection is important. When there is a conflict between two siblings, the enemy whispers, “You do not belong,” and a child who believes they do not belong will act like they do not belong. Explain this and ask if they have ever felt like they didn’t belong. Share a story from when you were a child and felt that way.
In the days ahead, when you hear siblings being rough and unkind to each other lovingly, go to them and ask them, “Are you communicating to your family that they belong?” “How can you speak to them in a way that assures them they matter?” I often say to my children, “You can express yourself in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they don’t belong.”
It is one thing to reject a person because of their looks, style, personality, or character flaws. While it hurts, there is a deeper form of rejection when someone ignores, dismisses, or devalues your destiny because your destiny is the core in which you were knit together. It is not rejecting a part of you, like your personality, character flaws, or weaknesses. It is rejecting the very core of your existence. This is why learning our identity is so critical. We have to know who we are so that when others, who don’t know who they are, speak demonically-influenced words over us, we can stand on His truth about our worth, value, and calling and not cower. The world needs what you carry. You are the answer to someone’s prayer. God knit you together to be a part of His plan for the world around you. It is time to break up with and flush the words and actions done in an attempt to shut you down, silence you, and render you useless.
May I encourage you to make a list of the actions or words that have crippled your ability to move forward? Write down the offense, but also write down the fruit of the offense. Ex: Someone spoke over you that your gifts aren’t good enough (offense), and the fruit of it has been that you have partnered with fear and intimidation, which has caused you to shrink back from other opportunities. Ex. Someone spoke over you that they don’t believe in you (offense), and the fruit of it has been that you have wandered around from place to place looking for someone to see value in you because you were too afraid to see it in yourself again.
FORGIVE the person for being used by the enemy to put a hook in your heart. HAND OVER the pain, hurt, and regret to Jesus. ASK Jesus to show you what lie you were believing about yourself because of this event. ASK Father God what His truth is about you. INVITE Holy Spirit to teach you how to activate and use your gifts again. BLESS your spirit and tell yourself that you believe in yourself and have permission to carry on. The attack on your calling gives evidence that it is something that causes the enemy fear. It is time to stop partnering with it and get back in the game. The world is waiting for YOU!
So many of you precious people are feeling worn out, discouraged, and in battle. May I encourage you? The enemy’s assignment is to wear you out (Daniel 7:25). But God has given us the tools of warfare. Now more than ever, we must know and apply our armor daily. Ephesians 6:10-17 outlines God’s protective covering over your mind, body, and spirit. But it is conditional – you must pick it up. Spend some time going over your armor, and then GET IT ON! This is not the season to do life on your own strength. In fact, Ephesians 6:10 says our power must come from His strength, not our own. You will overcome, but you have to do it His way!
The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
If this is what our children are up against, how can we stand against this force of reckless rebellion? By intentionally teaching and training character at an early age! What is good character? How can we teach our young children? How do we go after character without introducing legalism? How can we empower them through connection? How can we expect more out of our children?
I invite you to check out our CHARACTER COUNTS Magazine – Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
I hate that many people have been duped! They think that the fear they feel is real. If only they could see it for what it is – a smoke screen from the enemy to get you to partner with letting go of the goodness of God. Satan can’t alter the finished work of the Cross, nor can he change God’s love for you, so he strives to make YOU believe something else which diminishes your experience with the Cross and His love. But it is just all a big lie! “I can’t trust God,” “I am afraid of the unknown,” “What if I can’t handle what He tells me,” “I will be out of control,” “I am afraid I won’t hear right,” “I am afraid that I will lose my family,” “I am afraid that…” on and on!
Fear has a chain around its neck; while it can’t touch you, it can come toward you. The moment you welcome it, partner with it, and believe its lies, THEN it gets to influence you. This is why it is so important to discern it and use the tools of heaven over it.
How many of you would love to have someone there to encourage you, guide you, give you specific wisdom in your situation and help coach you through life? We all do, right? The WORD is your parent, mentor, and guide. We can proactively read the Word – read for the sake of spending time with Him without an agenda AND/OR We can read the Word based on what we are going through. Pinpoint the issue; conflict, anger, strife, fear, provision, etc., and then spend time researching what the Word has to say about it. I can’t tell you how powerful, validating, and encouraging this has been for me over the years. The counsel of man is fantastic in its rightful place, but some issues and situations are reserved for God’s opinion, counsel, and guidance. God has given us an outline of how to respond to a situation and conduct our lives SO THAT it goes well with us. Let Him lead and teach you through His Word.
Lauren greeted me one Sunday morning in her brand new (adorable) outfit, along with a scowling face. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I feel UGLY!” It was intense, and she was really feeling it. I simply hugged her and said, “Catch and release, sweetheart.” I have taught them they can catch those sneaky little lies that wreak havoc on our emotions and release them. I didn’t have to tell her it was a lie as her agitated heart was proof enough that it wasn’t of God. I have empowered her to RELEASE those pesky lies and not massage, embrace or feast on them. By the time we walked out the door, she was at peace again. I asked her later how she was doing, and she said, “Man, that lie hit me hard out of nowhere.”
Let’s face it – as adults, we don’t always catch and release this fast, but this is what the next generation looks like when they are intentionally taught from an early age that they can catch the lie and release it. Teach your child how to catch and release!
Of all the things I have endured in life, the hardest part has been the healing process of receiving the good. More often than not, things like joy, play, silliness, trust, lavishing, loyalty, and laughter have been taught to me through my children. They are made in His image, not mine, and God knit them with gifts, talents, and personalities to redeem and restore what was lost in my childhood. God continues to parent us through our children. It’s like He first gives us one set of parents to raise and train us. Then He addresses the neglected or shut down areas by using our children to parent us (our kids don’t parent us, but He parents us through them). This is why family is so important to Him. He is building something in us, and the generations are interconnected.