I took my twins on a day trip to go shopping. I had an allotted amount in my mind that I wanted to lavish on them. I envisioned spending the whole time focusing on them and making them feel seen and special. The first two stores were on my list, and I zoomed in and out at record speed, knowing we had a lot of ground to cover. We went to Forever 21, and two hours later, Emma was ready for the dressing room. There was no place to sit, so I camped out on the dirty floor as the girls giggled, tried on their clothes, and came out to show me. An hour later, Emma is still putting on her fashion show, and I am growing agitated. I rebuked my inner attitude and told it to be joyful (it didn’t work, but I tried). I have never been so excited to leave a store. We entered the next one, and the same thing happened. The first 30 minutes were fun exploring the store, but an hour later, Lauren and I sat there with her pile of selected items waiting for Emma to come out with outfit #88. I released my frustration by commenting, “Are you almost done?” with a tone that communicated I wasn’t enjoying this as much as she was. I felt like I was going to lose it and heard the Lord say, “Go ahead, but you will have to clean up your mess.” As I sat there processing the mess I was about to make (and weighing if it was worth it), I suddenly saw clearly that this wasn’t a case of Emma doing something wrong but about us having utterly different shopping styles. God showed me a picture of releasing my frustration in a way that communicated to my daughter that there was something wrong with her and that she needed to conform to make me comfortable. I realized this is how young girls shut down and turn from their true selves. They are raised to keep mama happy and deny their true selves to keep connection and peace. This is never a child’s job description, and we need to be super careful we are managing our hearts so that we don’t unintentionally shut down our true selves. Suddenly, I noticed that Emma came out of the room with her original clothes on but still had a pile to try on. Her entire demeanor was different, and the joy was gone from her eyes. I asked her why and she said, “It’s okay. I realize I took too long,” but her real heart was sad and disappointed. I wrestled with managing my own frustrations and caring for her heart. We sat on the bench outside the store, and I began to tell her what God had shown me. It was uber important for her to see that her style of shopping stretches me to the core, but that didn’t mean her way was wrong. She was NOT in sin or disobedience, nor was anything wrong with her. She would have giggled the entire time if she had been with peers. However, I explained to her that shopping with me meant she might need to tone it down a bit, not because it was wrong, but to honor those around her. I checked in with her a couple of times to ensure she wasn’t partnering with lies or feeling like something was wrong with her just because I am wired differently from her. I gave her examples of times I have stretched others and had to learn when to tone it down to honor them while still being true to how I was created. It is a dance of learning how to manage our hearts and parenting our child’s hearts.
SHE IS DIFFERENT
Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success.
The Bible teaches us there is a RIVER OF LIFE flowing from the throne of God. Gather everyone in the family room and read together: Revelations 22:1 – “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.” Have everyone stand in the same direction with your back facing the throne of God. Picture the river water rising and moving past you as if it were removing things off of you like shame, guilt, worry, fear, sin, temptations, strife, etc. Stand in the river for as long as you need and allow the River of Life to move in, on, and around you. Removing whatever needs to be taken care of, let go, washed, or aligned. Now collectively, turn around facing the same direction with the throne of God in front of you. Picture the River of Life releasing the things of heaven, such as peace, joy, identity, forgiveness, acceptance, belonging, faith, etc. Grab them, pick them up and hold onto them. They are yours!
Read Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I came down for my quiet time with Jesus one morning and so badly wanted to encounter His love, but a nagging issue was demanding my attention. It was heavy and consuming. I so wanted to let it go but couldn’t seem to find my way to peace about it. I was reminded of this encounter (above) that I had years ago and stood with my back facing the throne and allowed the River of Life to wash this demanding issue off of me, to consume me with His presence. Then I turned around and received the flowing gifts of peace, joy, and alignment to His power! It was breathtaking, life-giving, and so freeing.
Give it a try! The River of Life is waiting for you to encounter the throne of your Living God.
I am so undone by the goodness of Jesus. I was processing some deep things as my daughter was walking through one of her biggest breakthroughs. It was breathtaking to watch her walk this out on her own. While spending time with Jesus, I kept hearing the story about the woman caught in adultery. There are many thoughts about what Jesus was writing in the sand, so I asked Him to show me. He answered my question by showing me the position of His eyes. While the men of the day, who deemed themselves mighty important and superior to the rest, dragged a naked woman before the courts (the shame and humiliation must have been brutal), Jesus looked away. Could it be He knew His presence alone was convicting, and He didn’t want to stare at her nakedness? Then I heard Him say, “I didn’t defend her sin, but I did defend the JUDGMENTS against her.” I wept! Jesus isn’t about shaming you publicly for your weaknesses, sins, or messy places. He is there to defend the part of your heart that is in need of a Savior. Read John 8!
Here is the back story of our online Kingdom parenting class. It was evident God was doing a good work in us as He taught me how to partner with Him in my parenting. He was showing up in all sorts of messy places and encountering my children. I was working on my computer when I heard the Lord say to post on FB how He had just encountered my son to bring healing. I heard it again and obeyed, feeling a little vulnerable. Instantly people started liking the post, but it wasn’t my Christian friends who liked it. It was my non-Christian friends. One comment said, “Now, that is the God I want to follow.” A few days later, I heard Him say, “Now post this” (another example of Him showing up). It became a lifestyle for us, and I would often share how God was parenting with me. One day God told me to gather 12 moms and sow into them so that they, too, could learn how to partner with Him as a lifestyle and not just an event. I invited them, and they eagerly agreed. Since they were all over the nation, I decided I would write out some of my thoughts to teach them in an online classroom format. We were all set for a given date, and in the weeks building up to it, I could not seem to get anything down. Writer’s block is a real thing. I assumed He would show me on our upcoming vacation – nope. I thought He would show me if I went away to spend time with Him – nope. I assume He would show me if I got up extra early to be focused – nope. The night before the class started, I still had NOTHING. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to share; it was that I didn’t know how to organize it to share it clearly. I went to bed and soaked my pillow with tears. Apparently, I heard wrong about gathering these moms, and the only thing to do at this point was to come to them humbly in the morning and tell them I was wrong. I woke at 2 am, and it was like a computer download showed up in my brain. I could not turn my laptop on fast enough, and I typed for an hour straight, just releasing what was coming to my mind at record speed. I hit the send button (Lord have mercy, the spelling errors that were in that first draft) and sat there saying, “Jesus, I don’t ever want to feel that again. What do You have for Day Two of the class?” I labored ALL day long with nothing. I went to bed and cried again, assuming it was just going to be a one-day class and that I would have to wake early to tell the moms. At 2 in the morning, I woke up with my brain on fire again and raced to my computer to type as fast as possible. I told the Lord again, “I don’t ever want to feel that again. What is for Day Three?” and all day, I labored over the material, which produced nothing. I went to bed with tears… this went on for TWENTY-ONE days/nights. I never did catch on that He would be faithful to give me the message as He had done the day before. I walked those mamas through the material and assumed I would remain with them, but they had so much fruit in their parenting that their friends came to me and asked if I would mentor them, too. Easy enough now that the material was already written. And the following month, more people came again and again. Years later, God still keeps bringing people.
Here is the link to register for the class: Journey – ONLINE CLASS – Let the Children Fly
My friend woke in the early morning to have a sudden desire to check her phone (that was GOD speaking to her). She clicked on a message from a friend, and it almost read like a goodbye letter (the check in her spirit was Holy Spirit). The friend went offline, and she didn’t have her phone number. She got up and asked a mutual friend to call their friend right away. She didn’t answer the phone. My friend told her to call her husband, who confirmed his wife was still in bed sleeping. My friend wrote back, “No, have the husband go check on his wife.” (Holy Spirit was alerting her spirit). The friend called the husband again with instructions to check on her. He realized the door was locked and, after barging in, found that his wife had hung herself and was able to save her within seconds of her passing. God knew He could wake my friend from a deep sleep and that she would respond to His leading. It saved a little three-year-old girl from losing her mom that day. Hearing your Father is a lifeline to you and those around you!
We were on the road, and I woke early like I usually do, so I snuck out to get some coffee. It was still dark out, and I enjoyed the quiet moment to myself. This profound wave of deep joy and gratefulness came over me (like you feel on Christmas morning), and I began to ponder what TODAY has meant in my life. Yesterday was BRUTAL. It was the day my Savior was beaten and whipped for my sins. As I tell the kids, He took their spanking. It is hard to picture my Jesus nailed to a cross with spikes piercing His hands and feet. Tomorrow is full of JOY. Death is defeated. He IS alive! But TODAY is the day Jesus was in hell. From death to resurrection, He spent His time in hell. Doing what? Gathering ALL of the keys that the enemy stole. He has a key for your relationships, finances, decisions, parenting, attitudes, transitions, desires, conflicts, dreams, problems, heartbreak, and destiny. There isn’t a single thing you are walking through that Christ doesn’t hold the key to. He died naked but rose with the keys – ALL of them.
Teach your children they are never without a solution to their problems. No matter how big or small, Jesus has a KEY for it! When your child is struggling with something together, ask, “Jesus, what is the name of the KEY You want me to use in this situation?” You might be surprised how easy yet powerful the keys unlock your situation. Matthew 16:19.
We had just moved into our new home in California when I had the strangest dream about a yappy dog outside my patio. He wasn’t annoying me but trying to tell me something. It was so real. I woke up and sensed God telling me to turn the outside light on. I didn’t partner with fear but heard Him say, “Do not look outside. Just turn on the light.” I ended up staying up after that and never felt afraid as I knew God had my back but knew something was happening outside my patio door. It was the strangest thing. There is power in TURNING ON THE LIGHT!
I have been stewarding this dream for years and believe it is the time to share it. God was teaching me about family and, ultimately, the church because leadership should reflect good parenting.
In my dream, the kids and I arrived at our new housing. It was a unique round building with a gorgeous custom kitchen and living room in the middle. It was designed with the intention of people doing life together. Off of the living area were master suites with private bathrooms. We walked in, each carrying a different-sized suitcase, like the ones that were passed down from parents or grandparents. There was no check-in station as it was designed to be set up like a family with connection between the occupants, not run like a motel or business. We were aware there were people gathered in one of the rooms. I knew in my dream they were aware we had arrived and were waiting, but they didn’t come out to greet us or give us instructions. I didn’t want just to assume which room was ours, so despite traveling a long distance, we waited joyfully. The landlord walked in to greet us like a mother eager to see her child. I felt at home when she hugged me. She began to flow with tears. It wasn’t an anxious, wounded, or fearful cry. Just tears of genuine sadness. She said, “I want you here, but you can’t stay. You would be a model tenant, but they were here first and don’t want you here.” It didn’t feel like personal rejection as much as just the way things were done there. The sincere compassion I felt for the landlord for having renters who did not honor her desires for her own building made it easy to take my eyes off of myself and put them on her. I hugged her and assured her we would be okay, even though it meant we would be ‘homeless’ once we walked out the door. This tender moment morphed into me, saying firmly, “I will go (to honor her), but I will not leave until I have taken a shower first.” I was so aware in my dream it was 4 in the afternoon, and I was already clean. I went to take my shower and noticed a line that went all the way out the door. End of dream.
I woke up at 4 the next morning with a deep pang in my heart over what I had just witnessed in my dream. I got out of bed and sat in the dark living room, where I began to unpack the dream with God. He said, “Ask me who the landlord was in the dream,” and it was revealed she was Holy Spirit. I immediately fell on my face and wept. To witness Holy Spirit being grieved grieves me. To this day, I still can’t talk about the dream without tears coming to my eyes. I will never forget the genuine sadness in her eyes. The round living area represented what should have been a family room (not an empty living room). The people in the bedrooms were the parents/leaders who had authority just by ‘being there first.’ The dream highlights the need for instruction and guidance from them. Their closed room door and unwillingness to come out represents a wall they have built to shut out what they don’t want to enter. God sends children into families and people into churches carrying certain things (suitcases) because He knows what they need is inside of them. It grieves Him when we reject the ones He has sent to us to BLESS US. When we begin to run our families/churches according to our own agenda, we miss out on what He is doing in them. The lack of concern from the parents/leaders felt unloving, prideful, and downright rude, but the Lord showed me later that they were protecting something. Oftentimes when a parent/leader has wounds, hurts, jealousy or insecurity will, they will shut out the very ones God brings to them to help them. Just by their presence, a child/person can trigger the parents/leaders wound and cause them to ‘shut the door.’ This is a greater reflection on the parent/leader but often feels to the child/person like something is wrong with them. Parents/leaders can argue that what they are doing is right because they are ‘protecting’ something, but God never called us to be self-protectors. That is His job. I was aware in my dream, due to the uniqueness of the circle building, that the people in the closed room were at the 11 o’clock position. 11 can represent imperfection, disorder, disintegration, and chaos, which is exactly what happens when parents/leaders are unwilling to open the door, communicate clearly or welcome what those under them carry by God’s design. My shower represented my awareness that this interaction slimmed me, and I needed to rid myself fully and completely of any hurts, offenses, judgments, or bitterness. I assumed the words “you would be a model tenant” meant we were faithful financially, which is important to a landlord, but the Lord showed me that the word ‘model’ meant we, as a family, carried a model. There are five people in my family, and we all just happen to represent a different part of the five-fold ministry. We have an anointing in the area of family, and God has given us an anointing on how to model our families after His. We came into the family room, bringing that model with us. This is super important because we ALL carry things and that God wants to release through us. The vintage suitcases represented what has been passed down from each generation. We never meet someone with an empty suitcase. God has been setting things in motion in each family line for centuries. We carry what our parents, grandparents, and on did or didn’t complete on earth but may have sowed into. Each person’s suitcase is filled with valuable keys, solutions, and tools to build His Kingdom. My shower was at four which confirmed to me that I was FOR them, even though it wasn’t received. Taking a shower was about me, but FOR them as not to carry the offense against them. God also woke me at 4 am. Children are born FOR their parents until they are taught otherwise. Ironically, God woke me up at 4:44 am to release this dream. The long line indicated this dream wasn’t just for me but a corporate one, as many were slimed in the process of being shut out. This is a key and strategy of the Lord. We must clean ourselves of hurts, offenses, and judgments before we are fully free to move on.
I want to share a perspective with you. People often ask me what my highlight of being a part of Azusa Now in LA was. My answer is easy. It was when they showed the video of all the awful things people have done to other humans (school shootings, Holocaust, 9/11, American Indians, etc.) and we began to declare louder and louder, “Father, forgive them! Father, forgive them!” I saw an older African American couple a few rows in front of me, and all I could say was, “I am sorry. I am so so sorry.” They received those healing words with gratitude. It still creates tears in my eyes. It was a highlight for me because the Father was highlighting something to me. I believe God was releasing an anointing to make things right with those who have been hurt.
Fast forward to our first hotel stay when we began our 2-month journey on the road. Every single channel the kids wanted to watch had to do with slavery. As we feasted on this ‘entertainment’ my stomach became sick. I could feel the control, the madness, the loss, the betrayal, the paralyzing fear, the lack of safety, the lack of belonging, the condemnation, and the anger. Humans were treated like animals, only worth their labor and performance, and their hearts were ripped out over and over. Tears poured down my cheeks as I told the kids to turn off the TV. I believe God was awakening this part of our history in me. God has been speaking to me a lot about the spirit of control. We are not wired to be controlled by anyone or anything; rather, we were created to operate out of our free will. It is how He designed us. When we are controlled, especially when it is ongoing, we respond by partnering with a spirit of rejection or a spirit of rebellion. Here we are with the great divide between whites and blacks being highlighted… once again. Could it be that the Lord is allowing pressure so that the heart splinter could be removed once and for all? Could it be that all those years of being controlled by the color of their skin have produced a generational line of rebellion or rejection? Could it be that here we are 100 some years later with a mess we didn’t create but still reaping the fruit of? Could it be that there are strongholds in the atmosphere who enjoy watching humans quarrel based on their skin color? Could it be that while we all have choices, there is a lot more going on in the spiritual realm than we are giving credit to? Could it be that the issue isn’t the color of our skin but more so the doors that have been opened for the enemy to continue to influence? Could it be that the answer isn’t just outward ‘unity’ but more so breaking agreements with the spirit of control, rebellion, and rejection? Could it be that those acting out the rebellion or rejection are actually crying out to be free from the spirit of control that has been in operation in their family line for so long? Could it be that we, white Americans, haven’t yet cleaned up our mess in the spiritual realm our ancestors have made? Could it be that the involvement of police officers is a prophetic statement of the authority we have been given and need to be using, not over humans, but the spiritual realm?
Could we be a generation that changes the world of so many lives that matter by releasing freedom, acceptance, and belonging over them? I think so!
Be sure to check out PART TWO which will give you steps to take in your own home.
We can’t always shield our children from reality, but we can show them how God shows up in the midst of it. These are just a few God stories amid such ache, chaos, and loss. Share them with your children and let the events shape who they are and want to be! Don’t let this just be a memory of fear and loss. It was also a day of great character, love, and courage.
Do a google search on 9/11 God stories, and you will see scores of amazing testimonies. The Unsung Heroes: 12 Powerful Stories From September 11th (inspiyr.com)