SPEAK LIFE

SPEAK LIFE

When I was 24, I had a drug overdose and wasn’t found for three days. The first officer on the scene declared me DOA (dead on arrival) and literally went to get the body bag. The second person on the scene declared he found a faint pulse. I love that part of my story because it is so richly prophetic. Light always trumps darkness, and it only takes ONE person to declare life to that which appears to be dead. No matter what you are going through in your marriage, with your kids, your finances, health, or circumstances, DECLARE LIFE and watch God resurrect that which looks, feels, and appears dead! As I walked out my three-month hospital stay, which included being in a coma, kidney failure, liver failure, and respiratory failure, my brother got so tired of the ongoing grim reports spoken over me from the medical staff that he put up signs all around my room that said, “No negative words spoken here.” I am here today because LIFE was spoken and declared over me.

HONORING OTHERS

When I was in my 20’s, I was a part of a solid, healthy young adults ministry. We were away at our annual singles conference, where one of my friends played Jesus in a skit. Afterward, a small group of us were hanging out in the lodge with our pastor talking. The friend who played Jesus ordered a beer and came to tell us that someone had made a big deal about ‘Jesus’ drinking a beer. It seemed silly to many of us, but then our pastor asked him if that beer was something he would die for. He said, “No, it’s just a beer,” and the pastor encouraged him to lay it down because it was causing someone else to struggle. I was so moved by that, and it hasn’t left me all these years. I may have a right to do something, but I have the privilege and honor of loving those around me, and sometimes that means giving up, laying down, or sacrificing for their gain. This isn’t about the approval of others; it is about being winsome with our choices, words, actions, and character. I have taught this principle to my children – you don’t have to be doing something ‘wrong’ to affect someone.

LISTENING TO THE CHECK IN MY SPIRIT

I want to invite you into part of my personal journey in keeping my own children safe.

My daughter asked me one summer if she could get an app. After much dialogue, I agreed. The app was simply supposed to be a service for managing and tracking information. Fast forward to the present. I was away on a trip and noticed my daughter was not acting like herself. I called her numerous times and could just tell something was going on. I even FaceTimed her just to see her face. I hung up and said out loud, “She is lying. She is not okay.”

I came back from my trip and discovered a man was outside at night. Beer cans and bottles were left on different occasions in the same place; another night a pair of construction glasses were left behind. I felt a heightened sense of danger but could not for the life of me find my authority. Normally in situations like that, I rise up like Mama Bear and deal with it, but I was stumbling. It went on for a week. I discovered footprints outside my daughters’ bedroom window and one morning found evidence of someone in our backyard too. My fear was increasing. Clearly, they were not there to break-in, or they would have done it already. There was someone outside watching or worse yet, waiting. I was growing restless with concern. I met with the police and bought an expensive surveillance system. All the while my fear that there was present danger would not cease or back down.

I began to sense something so strongly in my spirit with my daughter. I would ask her questions, but her answers were not bringing me peace. She went to bed early one night, and my spirit was deeply agitated. An hour later I went into her room, turned on her light, sat down and told her I was not leaving until whatever this thing was broke. She lamented with great emotion that everything was fine and that she was not covering anything or intentionally lying.

Parents, sometimes we have to listen to our gut louder than our children. My spirit was alerting me, and it was to be heard, not ignored or dismissed. Yes, we want to respect their free will. Yes, they are becoming adults. Yes, we do not want to move into operating out of control. But if my daughter, who is still under my covering and authority, is struggling, in over her head or hurting, I cannot just turn from her because she resists me in the moment. It is my job to get involved.

Finally, I just started to pray out loud, pouring out my concern and sense that something was not right. I asked her again, and she said nothing. I continued to pray. “Jesus, what is this?” Finally, with great courage, my daughter mentioned that the app she got over the summer had private online chat groups (something that was NOT promoted ahead of time. One didn’t know about it until they were members). She began to tell me about the discussions from peers with instructions on how to pursue same-sex relationships and why kids should have sex before marriage. I asked what she thought about it and she said she knew it was not right. There was still something about this that was not matching the deep check in my spirit. I said, “Sweetie, you are right, that is not okay, but there is something else.” Her witnessing those conversations did not equal the danger I was sensing. She was adamant there was nothing.

I finally asked to see it and was MORTIFIED to discover my daughter was not talking with peers but grown men. Peers do not ask those kinds of questions and my spirit suddenly rose up like Mama Bear. The girls on this online chat were being deceived and lured. Because she violated my rules for safety AND ignored the warnings of the Holy Spirit she opened herself up to danger. And it was manifesting in the natural outside at night.

We walked through some serious repentance (she was horrified at the realization), deleted the app, rose up in our authority as a family and returned the surveillance camera.

God is serious about keeping our children safe, too. Holy Spirit put a check in my spirit that something was not okay. We have to get comfortable listening, honoring, obeying and responding to that nudge in our spirit and not talk ourselves out of it. My daughter had opened not only herself, but our family to danger and Holy Spirit was ON IT to reveal and expose it.

SELF-CONTROL AT THE LIBRARY

This is how I taught my four toddlers how to grow in self-control during story time at the library. I figured it was an excellent place to train them because no one would notice either way. I sat them down at home and talked about the librarian. I asked Lauren to stand up and share the story of her birthday party. As she was talking, I began to interrupt, wave my hands, hang on her, and be super silly. Then I asked Emma to stand up and share what she had for lunch, and I did the same thing. Yes, we were all laughing hard, but we talked about how awkward it is to be trying to share and have people be disrespectful and rude. I role-played being the librarian reading a book. I taught them how to fold their hands and zip their lips. We talked about how we can be crazy loud monkeys at the park, but a library is a place where we use self-control and show respect. I was armed with training and ready to test it out. Before getting out of the van, I reminded them of the rules and what I expected. I praised them ahead of time, letting them know I believed in them. We entered, and chaos broke out as expected. A couple of times, they began to get up, and I would fold my own hands to model for them what I expected. If they were talking, I would motion to zip my lips, point to my ears, and then intently listen to the librarian. If they attempted to get up, I would give a firm no-no motion with my head. If one ran away, I would go after her and pick her up and set her back down. I would whisper that we are listening to the story. It took us three weeks before my children fully understood but let me tell you, the JOY they brought to the room was priceless. I noticed other moms trying to get their children to start listening, too. They got to enjoy the story because they were taught how to pay attention and show respect. I also had them go up to the librarian at the end of each story time and thank her for reading to them. The first time she had a tear in her eye and said, “I dread story time each week. It is the worst part of my job. Thank you for noticing my effort.” I don’t know about you, but as a mom, that isn’t okay with me. By the time school started, they were way ahead of the game because we had already gone after knowing when to be still and quiet and how to listen when adults are teaching/reading. It is training like this at an early age that sets them up for success down the road.

BODYGUARDS

Ellie was feeling afraid, and I was reminded of a story I heard years ago that impacted me. It went something like this. A young girl was walking home late at night and passed a man who she later learned did some terrible things to another girl around the same time they passed each other. She couldn’t shake that it could have been her and went to the police station to identify him. She asked to speak to him and inquired why he walked by her and didn’t hurt her. His response was, “Are you kidding me? With those two big bodyguards walking with you?” I asked Ellie if two big bodyguards were standing at the door of her room, would she feel safer? Yes, of course. I then told her that the same God who protected that girl was there for her. She smiled and drifted off to sleep. Fear always reduces God to being powerless and incapable. Faith restores Him to His rightful place, position, and power.

I GOT MY DAUGHTER BACK

A dad approached me and asked for help with his teen daughter, who was saying really mean things to him, like, “I hate you,” “You are fat,” “No one likes you.” I asked what the consequences were for a child to speak to an adult like that, and there were none other than letting her know his heart was hurt. I encouraged him to learn how to speak firmly but lovingly to draw a line in the sand with her. NO CHILD FEELS GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES speaking to their father that way. He is indirectly teaching her that this is how you treat men, your boss, and those in authority. While her behavior may appear strong, she is actually feeling insecure. A week later, he told me the glorious story of how he lovingly but firmly told her that he would no longer tolerate those words, and she pushed back by accusing him of something he did not do. He was firm in speaking the truth to her, and freedom came to her heart. He laughed, telling me how easy and light the relationship had been since then. When the dad got back in his proper place of authority and covering, the LIE in her heart was able to come out. Together they dealt with it, and connection and peace reigned again. Fearing our children is not in our job description. They do not set the tone in the home, parents do.

I’M NOT ASHAMED

One year I showed my children the movie I’m Not Ashamed. I wanted them to see an example of a young teen walking out her love for Jesus in the midst of challenges. Her life became a legacy all too early, but I had no idea how the movie would plant seeds so deep in one of my daughters. She talks about the movie often and how her heart longs to love Jesus with no shame, regret, or fear of man.

I recommend watching this movie together and having a conversation. I’m Not Ashamed – Trailer – YouTube. 

I’M NOT ASHAMED is the inspiring and powerful true story of Rachel Joy Scott – the first student killed in the Columbine high school shooting in 1999. Devout teen Rachel Joy Scott (Masey McLain) shows compassion and love for her fellow students until armed classmates enter Columbine High School on a fateful day that changed America forever.

FEAR KNOCKED

My son got an invitation to go on a friend’s boat. I had peace and said yes. However, several hours into it, I realized it was the same lake a sweet friend’s husband passed away at. We also had a recent story in the news of a nine-year-old that drowned in the same location. Fear was knocking loudly, and I began to rehearse all these different scenarios and thoughts in my mind. Suddenly I realized nothing had happened, and yet I was reacting with my emotions as if it had. I identified it as the spirit of fear, told it where it could go, and slammed the door. Just because fear knocks does not mean I need to answer the door!

GET UP AND FIGHT – AUTHORITY

God has given us authority over anything that is out of alignment with the heavens, such as fear, strife, unbelief, anger, anxiety, or doubt. If it is not in heaven, you have authority over it. Rise up, speak to the anger, fear, and unbelief, and say, “NO MORE.” Break up with those nagging thoughts that are like flies swarming around us when we are worn out, tired, or weary. You don’t have to put up with them – deal with them. My bathroom mirror reads, “Stop the nonsense,” meaning I do not cross the mental line and partner with those words. I live by faith, not circumstances.

JESUS LOVES HIP HOP

I was completely engaged in worship one Sunday morning when I heard the Lord say, “I like hip hop.” It was so out of the blue. I heard it again and was like, “Okay. That’s great.” When I heard it a third time, the revelation came. I was raised in a good ole Lutheran church, and in my home, you wouldn’t be caught dead going to church in anything other than your Sunday best which included black patent leather shoes. I had come a long way, but I still had a deeply ingrained belief about what clothing did and did not look appropriate for church. My daughter had slipped her bright pink sneakers on without me noticing until we got to church, and I had scolded her, saying they weren’t appropriate church shoes. I had to humbly repent of partnering with the religious spirit because apparently Jesus likes hip hop and thinks bright pink shoes are just fine in His house!

JESUS AND NAILS

 We had to catch a morning flight out of Sacramento, and I kept changing the time I thought we should leave. Finally, half joking, I said, “Jesus, what time should I leave?” We left at that time. In the middle of nowhere, my light comes on, saying my back tire is low. We stopped, and the nice attendant turned on the air for free. I filled it up but heard God tell me to check the tire. I kept moving to rotate the tire so I could inspect it. Sure enough, there was a nail! I decided to see if it would hold, but I was losing pressure quickly within minutes. I pulled off, and a tire place was right there. But it was only 7 am, and they didn’t open till 8. If I waited till 8, I would have missed my flight. We called, and the manager answered, saying he would start his day early for me. As I pulled in, he was waiting for me. Expecting to walk out with two new, unexpected tire purchases, he said he could patch it and then had the heart to not even charge me. I tried to tip him but to no avail. From the time I pulled off till I was on the road again was *15 minutes*. Had that happened just two miles later, we would have been stranded on the side of nowhere! I swelled with His goodness and laughed when I heard Him say, “I know about nails.” He knew the nail would be in the road and had me leave earlier, stop when and where we did, and provided each step of the way. Wow!