SHIFTING YOUR FOCUS

SHIFTING YOUR FOCUS

Learning to shift my focus is what really helps me in times of earthly stress. Say it is a money issue. I do not focus on the need for money to come in (which would seem the proper response). Instead, I focus on His goodness as my Husband. When I need something, my eyes and faith aren’t on the end result, but on HIM. Instead of praying, “Jesus, I need x-amount of money by Thursday. Please send the money.” I focus on, pray, and declare, “God, YOU alone are MY Provider.” See the difference? One keeps our eyes on the lack/need, while the other keeps our eyes on Him. The latter is the place of FAITH and REST. God whispered to me years ago to “enroll them” (meaning my kids at a Christian school in CA). That is all He said. Nine months of fear and doubt followed. Worry was on one side, and God’s gentle whisper on the other – I had to choose which one I was going to partner with. After I sold our house in Colorado, said my goodbyes, and drove four children across the country, the school called to say there wasn’t any room for them and asked what my plan B was. At that moment, my entire world could have crashed. I thought about the question and realized there was NO plan B because I wasn’t striving to make plans happen. I only had what God told me. My eyes weren’t on them getting into the school or not; my eyes were on GOD’S GOODNESS. He told me what to do, I did it, and whatever He had for us would be good because He is a good Father, Husband, and Provider. A week later, the school called back to say there was room for the children. Of course, there was; God told me to enroll them. Do we have a plan B when circumstances squeeze us? Either God is good, or He isn’t. Either He is our Provider, or He isn’t. Either He is love, or He isn’t. We can’t pick and choose when we want to take Him off the shelf and when we want to put Him back on it.

PERFECT FATHER

Ponder this for a moment – EVEN IF you were perfect in all you do as a parent, you still wouldn’t be able to meet all your child’s needs. God designed it that way. There is only one God, and it is He who needs to fill certain places in a child’s heart that even the best of moms and dads can’t reach. That should encourage you that it isn’t all up to you and that you can partner together with the one and only perfect Father to parent your child.

DIFFICULT CHILD

Most of us have a child who challenges us greatly. I want to expand your thinking a wee bit about their behavior and how it affects you. God is a perfect Father and knows what YOU need. He didn’t create that child to annoy you; He created them perfectly to BLESS you. We often act like we are the wise old ones who know everything, and these little children are clueless and must be molded to OUR image, but the Word says the little ones were knit together in HIS image. I have a child who is extremely JOYFUL – like over-the-top joyful, bouncing off the walls, high-pitched voice JOYFUL. It took me a long time to figure this out, but the goal isn’t to calm her down to be ‘mature.’ God was sending her to me so that *I* could learn to walk in more joy! I have another one who is STRONG – like crazy strong and able to lead, make decisions, and determine right from wrong. She threatens me at times. But the goal isn’t to shut her down and win every argument; the goal is to partner with her to allow her leadership to blossom. Oftentimes God gives adults, who are high-strung, children who are super mellow so that they will learn patience through the child. Or a parent who is very relaxed and mellow, a child who is go, go, go so that they can learn about becoming more disciplined. Look at the child you clash with the most and ask Holy Spirit to highlight what it is that YOU are to be learning from THEM. We can still be adults while being students of our children.

INTERRUPTING

How many of us get annoyed when we speak to our children, and they don’t listen because they are engaged elsewhere (book, TV, homework, screen time, etc.)? How many of you get annoyed when you are in the middle of something (book, TV, housework, screen time, etc.), and your kids interrupt you as if you aren’t doing anything? Hmmm… maybe we are actually teaching our children to interrupt by what we are modeling for them. We think just because we are adults, we can crash into their world at any time and expect them to instantly stop what they are doing and give us their full attention. While that would be awesome, that isn’t reality. Perhaps we should be modeling for our children how we would appreciate and value them interrupting us when we are in the middle of something, and they need our attention. I have taught my kids that when they need me, but see I am in the middle of something, to come and place their hand on my arm. I place my other hand on top of theirs to say, “I see you,” and they need to wait until I can switch my attention to them. When they got older, I showed them how to say, “Excuse me, Mom, is this a good time to interrupt you?” If I am engaged with another person (on the phone or in person), and the kids would not show honor, I would say, “Excuse me for a moment,” to the person and then say to my children, “You are so important, but I am important too, and right now Mama is talking to Ms. Smith.” This is a people skill that children need to be taught, trained, and equipped in with intentional parenting. Nothing welcomes favor more than honor and respect!

FULLY AND COMPLETELY

When I would tell the four kids to do something, they would obey right away, but only partially. So, I would call them back, and they would obey right away again, but still not finish. I was asking them FOUR times to complete the dishwasher, FIVE times to clean the bathroom all the way, THREE times for the floor, and I was about to go mad! I realized it was an issue of taking responsibility, so I asked Holy Spirit for a creative teaching tool. Ha! Do you know one of the names of Holy Spirit? TEACHER! He rocks at teaching the kids and loves to do it in a fun way. I called all the kids back and gave them a piece of paper to wad up. I then told them they had to put the paper in the bathroom (the furthest room from the living room). They were all like, “Okay, easy peasy.” Then I said, “But… you can only drop it, stoop down to get it, stand up, drop it again, stoop down to get it, stand up, drop it…” It was super funny about four times, but after that, they wanted to cry. They were clueless about why they were doing this; it was NOT fun. I called them all back into the living room and explained that that is how I feel when I ask them to do something and then have to call them back again and again to finish it. When they are instructed to do something, they must stick with it until it is done fully and completely.

PORN

One reason why children look at porn is that their parents are not teaching them about their own God-given body and are too afraid (or ashamed) to talk about it with them, so they go to the internet out of pure innocence only to be exposed to the vulgar side of sexuality. Children need to learn about sex, sexuality, private parts, and body functions from PARENTS in the HOME!

TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT FEAR

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.

BECOMING MORE LIKE JESUS

I will be honest with you and say that two of my children’s love languages are easy for me; I speak their language with ease and fluency. Yet two of them have unnatural languages, even a little annoying to me at times. I started learning more about love languages when I became a single mom, and I assure you the LAST, the very last thing this mama wanted to do was to be childlike and play a game to get that quality time in. Ugh! It was almost painful for me to speak their language of quality time, especially since I was already with them 24/7, non-stop. But my children mattered to me, and God has entrusted me to steward them well. I was learning to lay ME down to fill THEM up. I am a good representative of A SIDE of Jesus, but Jesus has many sides, and my children allow me to become more like Him and walk in greater love as I let their NEEDS grow me into being more like Jesus. John 15:13-14 (TPT) – “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.”

CLEARING THE AIR

I feel a strong stirring in my spirit that we all need to do our part to ‘clear the air’ in the spiritual realm. Who do you need to forgive? Make things right with? Let go of offense? Believe the best? Ask for forgiveness? Repent of judgments? Confess slander? Call a family meeting and walk this out together.

In doing this, we begin to clear the spiritual air and allow ourselves to get the fresh air our spirit needs to be healthy.

YOU HAVE HOMEWORK

Every child needs to do this exercise! Do it 1:1 with each child, so you can hear their heart and pick up on any resistance. Have them outline a body on a piece of paper. Start with their hair and walk through their mind, eyes, nose, mouth, body shape, stomach, height, etc. Think of their interests and the things that make them come alive (sports, music, dancing). Write it out on the paper as you go through who they are, top to bottom. You are helping them see who they are. While we are constantly being transformed on the inside, there are some things we cannot change, such as our nose shape, eye color, height, gifts, what makes us come alive, etc. This is the package of who they were created to be. Now have them make a circle around the entire body. Explain to them that who they are is to be guarded and protected as if it is inside a bubble. Read Proverbs 4:23 and explain if any person, peer, teacher, sibling, social media post, song, friend, movie, leader, or thought tells them that something is wrong with their body, gifts, talents, etc., they are to reject it. Empower them with how to reject it. Perhaps they will take that thought captive and say to themselves, “That is not something I agree with, and do not give that voice permission to speak to me.”

When I was teaching my children this concept, Hudson (age four at the time) got up, went to the front door, made a kicking motion, and slammed the door. I asked what he was doing, and he said, “I had a bad thought, so I was kicking it out” Yeah, like that, buddy! They can write it on a piece of paper, rip it up, cross it out, or shred it. I had a season that we were going after this and put a set of colorful markers in the bathroom and would have my children write the lie on a piece of toilet paper with the colorful marker and then toss it into the toilet. The color would lift, making a beautiful swirl in the toilet bowl (isn’t that true of what God does with whatever we give Him? It turns it into something beautiful.). Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.

If while doing this with older children, you feel resistance or they say things like “This is stupid,” “Why do we have to do this?” “What’s the point?” Please do not back down. The resistance is telling you that they have already allowed a voice inside their bubble, which needs to be exposed. I would take it as far as you can, and then if it is time to back off (Holy Spirit will lead you), say something like this, “Okay, yeah, we can stop, but I need for you to hear this. Your resistance and wall to even talk about who you are is revealing that you have allowed a thought to enter your bubble. It is there to steal your joy, rob you of your peace, and tell you that something is wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you, and I am here when you are ready to deal with it.” I would intentionally speak their love language and look for creative ways to bring them joy because it releases a chemical in their brain that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. Give it a few hours or a day but circle back by saying something like, “Hey, remember when I asked you to draw that picture? What was happening inside of you when we talked about who you are?” Listen to them. Do not fix or correct them, but listen to what their heart has to say. For many older children, simply exposing it helps them reject it and realize that they are feeling icky about themselves because of a lie, not because something is wrong with them. Others may need to ask Jesus to show them who they need to forgive for speaking that their body, gifts, and personality are unacceptable.

Moms and dads, please do not ignore this exercise. Children who grow up with the wrong voices inside their bubble carry them around for years, shaping who they become. We can empower our children to reject lies and protect who God designed them to be.

Are you willing to put in the effort and help your child understand their value and worth?