THE FRUIT OF OBEYING

THE FRUIT OF OBEYING

I felt a check in my spirit to check my son’s bag. I did and found that he ‘borrowed’ his sister’s Fitbit (the one she waited for a year to get). She was already gone for the weekend, and after he and I worked through it, he put it back immediately. The following day I sensed God telling me to have him confess it to his sister. We all knew she would be pretty upset and feel violated, rightfully so. When he told her, she handled it like a rock star and was very humble and gracious. But then, a few hours later, he had it on his wrist again. When I asked him, he said, “Oh, she realized I valued it more than she did and gave it to me.” WOW. I gently pointed out that that would not have happened had he not owned his mistakes. God’s ways just work and have a crazy way of blessing us, even when we mess up. What a powerful lesson for him to see the fruit of humility.

“I AM BUILDING HER TESTIMONY”

God said, “I am building her testimony,” – My daughter wanted to try out for a sport that was important to her, but she called me asking if she could skip it and come home. Everything within my mama’s heart wanted to tell her no and make her do hard things (because I knew her heart wanted to do it). But I heard the Lord say, “Let her come home. I am building her testimony.” We went for a walk and talked about it. I began asking her questions about what had happened and what her heart was experiencing. We talked about risk and how there is a chance it may not end well. We talked about other things she attempted in life that did not end so well, which made her laugh. She realized she had the capacity to handle it if it didn’t turn out the way she hoped. I then asked her, “Is the fear of risk greater than the disappointment of not making the team because you were too afraid to try?” She began to see it as a risk but worth it. We created a plan to help empower her. While I could have ‘made’ her do it, her faith would not have been built. She will forever have a brick in her testimony wall of how God walked her through her fear of taking a risk.

ASK HIM

Random acts of kindness are when people go out in the name of Jesus and do good, kind, helpful things for others. While this is indeed praiseworthy and profitable Christian behavior, we need to be asking Him the who, what and where in order to be abundant in our harvest. Let me give you an example: One day, I was having a really hard day. I decided to get my eyes off myself and asked God what we should do with our day. I heard Him say to go be a blessing and rake leaves. I jumped into action. Logical thinking concluded that going to the poorest part of town and blessing the souls there would be best. I loaded up the van with kids and rakes and waved to my neighbor as we took off searching for the family that needed to be blessed. After forty-five minutes of driving around endlessly looking for a single family that had not yet raked, I was growing frustrated. What was supposed to help my day ended up making my day even worse. Defeated and somewhat mad, I made the trek back home. Upon entering our community, I heard the words, “What? You don’t think your rich neighbors need Me?” and instantly, I knew God gave me the WHAT (raking), but I ran with it before I asked the WHO or WHERE. I repented. Immediately upon parking in the driveway, the kids flung open the van door and ran across the street to the neighbor’s house (yes, the one we waved to on the way out) and raked all of the leaves. But the story doesn’t end there. Days later, I received a letter from the single elderly lady with a check saying she was so overwhelmed by all the work that needed to be done and was crying out to the Lord about her needs AS we were driving by waving at her. She finally had to leave the house with the yard work not done, and when she came back, she found ten bags full of raked leaves.

That is a perfect example of the harvest being ABUNDANT. God is a perfect economist. While one woman needed to take her eyes off her circumstances, another woman needed an extra set of helping hands. We can’t just DO in the name of Jesus. We need to ask Him the who, what, and where, too! And this requires communication – both talking and listening.

JESUS IS ALL YOU NEED

I wrapped up six weeks of classes at the local rescue mission for moms with drug and alcohol addictions in an 18-month program. Let me tell you – when Jesus is all you got; He becomes all you need. These ladies are so precious, and the transformation was visible. They shared stories of how they are learning to partner with God in their parenting. So many reported that the entire house is calmer, and the kids are much more at peace. They are learning to see, really see, their children for the first time, and the fruit has been incredible. Jesus, you are so amazing, and I am so thankful I know you and get to tell others about you.

LOOK BEYOND THEIR FLESH

Picture a toddler screaming and crying in the middle of the grocery store. No matter what you say, he turns a deaf ear to you. He is kicking and flapping his arms hysterically – a total and complete meltdown. Everyone is looking at you in the checkout lane, wondering why you can’t control your child. You feel the piercing stares of judgment. How would you respond? 

How about this scene? Picture sitting in a country club – the kind where they eat lunch in diamonds and pearls – and in walks an elderly man and four children. The children are all nicely dressed but unruly, bouncing all over the chairs and disrupting the people around them. The youngest won’t stop crying and the eldest are bickering. The guests are getting more and more agitated at this appalling site. Judgment and stern looks are being thrown towards the man allowing such disgrace to intrude on their well-to-do luncheon. 

What would you say if I told you the young toddler above was dealing with a double ear infection, and his eardrum just popped? Is the issue the meltdown or bacteria in his eustachian tubes? I am sure the words ‘eustachian tube’ were the last thing on your mind, but that area of his body is raging with pain, and nothing else matters to him at that moment. What would you say if I told you the rest of the story of the kids at the country club? Finally, the affluent guests couldn’t take it any longer and called the manager over to request the immediate removal of such nonsense. The manager replies, “Oh, I am so sorry. That is their grandfather, and they just came from their parent’s funeral. They both died in a car accident last week.” 

I share this to make a strong point – we have to look beyond their flesh and have to discover what is REALLY going on inside of them. Spanking, time outs, discipline, removing toys, withholding dessert, doubling chores, yelling, ignoring, giving them an electronic or bribing them with a sugary treat is as foolish at that moment as treating a broken leg by doing laundry. When we are empowered with the truth of what we are dealing with, we will be so much better and help them overcome and win the battle.

UNBALANCED SCALES

I like to get away with God to give Him space to speak to me without an agenda. This is what He showed me during our recent time together. I saw a snake wrapped around me I assumed it meant some sort of deliverance (yikes), but He began to talk to me about being ‘joined at the hip’ and how the snake serves as fuzz in Velcro, preventing it from fully attaching and sticking together. I also saw a picture of slime, which by nature, is to be repulsive. Hmmm. As I inquired about the snake, He said the word, ‘scales’ three times. At first, I thought He meant the skin of a snake, but suddenly I saw a picture of a weight scale and instantly heard in my spirit, “God despises unbalanced scales.” This has to do with cheating on the true worth and value of something. I saw a line across a page, and He began to show me that when we are adopted, we are to live in that space. It includes our identity, worth, value, destiny, abilities, energy level, faith, etc. He showed me how people elevate themselves above the line with pride, idol worship (and allowing others to worship them), taking up space that isn’t theirs to take, self-promotion with an orphan heart, striving, building a platform over building His Kingdom, etc. This picture was easy for my mind to see and grasp. Then He said, “But there is another unbalanced scale that I hate,” and He showed me those who operate below the line by partnering with being disempowered, lack need for permission or approval, lacking godly confidence, being timid, shrinking back, not owning their voice, dismissing their gifts, comparison, etc. One elevates themselves above where God has them, and the other lowers themselves below God’s call on their lives. Both are out of balance of the true worth and value of a life called and adopted by God for His Kingdom and purposes. The only way to fully attach to others in the way God intended is to do so from the position He has called us. It is nearly impossible to connect in a healthy way to an idol, just as much as it is hard to thrive with someone who partners with lack. If you find yourself in either camp outside of the balanced God-given space, I encourage you to take some time to make this right with Him. Confess it and ask Him to bring you into His measurement of who you are!

CONDUCTOR

Years ago, as I was learning how to play in His Kingdom, I often struggled to balance my hunger for Him and being a full-time solo parent of four small children. I wanted to attend meetings and training, pray for people, give people prophetic words, and be on the ministry team, but I felt like I couldn’t because my children needed me. I felt trapped between my two loves. Then, at church, a gal who barely knew me gave me a prophetic word that I was a conductor of the orchestra. She said God knew my heart longed to play the instrument, but it was time for me to pick up the conductor’s wand and help others play their instruments. I knew at that moment God was saying that I was to empower my children on how to play in the Kingdom and get under them to help them fly. Our world shifted at that moment, and I no longer felt the pull in two directions but poured my hunger into my children. Nearly a decade later, my children travel and minister with me. It has been a dance of giving them opportunities and crossing chicken lines. I watched the fruit of that one prophetic word and felt like I was witnessing my legacy. Tears of utter gratitude came freely that God did not call me to lay down my desires but multiplied them four times.

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.

GREAT PHYSICIAN

Have you ever had a season where you knew God was leading you, but it did not make sense to those around you, and their well-meaning counsel caused you to doubt yourself? It makes sense that their questions and concerns would plant seeds of doubt because part of what you are believing for is IMPOSSIBLE and foolish in the eyes of man. I had a ripped carotid artery that included a high risk of stroke or aneurysm. I was on blood thinners and bruised at the slightest touch. I was on a no-physical contact restriction, which was impossible being a newly single mom of four active small children. A spiritual fire began to grow in my belly, and no one around me understood it. I was so hungry, yet when I would try and explain it to others, I was met with a water hose. I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and did not understand what was happening, but I knew at that moment I was healed. I went to my doctor shortly after, who did a scan and said my artery was still ripped. I came home and cried to my mentor, saying I know that I know that I am healed, and she said these really powerful words to me. She said, “Lisa, no one would judge you for aligning yourself with the doctor given the seriousness of the issue. But you have to pick which one you are going to partner with – the wise doctor or what God showed you – you pick.” I told her there was no choice; I knew that I knew. I went off my blood thinners (If I was wrong, I was literally risking my life). But I had the gift of faith for it. Six months later, I had another scan, and the doctor said, “Hmmm, not only is your artery healed, there is absolutely no sign whatsoever of any past trauma (which is impossible).” It taught me to hold on for dear life to what I know that I know and to bless people for their care and wisdom but to know I am anchored to Him alone.

GODLY CHARACTER

When my kids were all toddlers, I handed them a treat while we were out on a walk. They eagerly opened it, dropped their package in the middle of the sidewalk, and carried on. I stopped, got down on their level, and pointed to the whole walking path. I wanted them to see how big the path was. I said, “What would this park look like if everyone dropped their trash on the ground? No one would want to come here anymore because it would look like a garbage dump. Where do you think you could put your wrapper?” And I made them think about it. They could put it in the trash, in their pocket, or in the stroller basket. I focused on teaching principles of honor, respect, and kindness and not just the laws and rules. Let’s say they dropped their wrapper on the walk, and I simply instructed them to pick it up. Yet an hour later, they drop their empty water bottle on the ground, and I have to tell them again to pick it up. Only to find two hours later, their backpack finds its way to the floor. This approach teaches them the ‘rules.’ Do not drop a granola wrapper on the trail. Do not drop a water bottle at the park. Do not… Do not… Do not… 18 years is simply not enough time to teach your child about every single possible scenario in which they should not drop or leave behind something. It is an exhausting way to parent and produce children who struggle when they leave home because they find themselves in new situations and don’t know the rules. Instead, try parenting from a place of teaching the why or principles behind it. “Sweetie, when you drop your wrapper on the ground, who did you expect to pick it up?” OR “When you drop things like that, someone else has to clean up your mess. Mommy wants you to take responsibility for it.” That principle carries through when talking about shoes at the door, backpacks being dropped anywhere, dishes being cleared from the table, the garage being taken out, etc. When they are older, they will be able to manage themselves based on character and principles instead of rules.

MOTHER DOESN’T ALWAYS KNOW BEST

My 14-year-old twin daughters felt like God was leading them to start a small group for their 11-year-old sister and her friends. I supported them, telling them that it would be just as much for their growth and development as leaders as it would be for the girls receiving from them. I would mentor them while they were mentoring the girls. The third week in, they couldn’t get their act together. There was conflict over the lesson, and the morning of it still wasn’t done. I didn’t think it was wise to have all of the girls come if they weren’t prepared, so I went to text the moms. I was just about to hit ‘send’ when I heard the Lord say, “Do not cancel.” Hmm. Okay, sometimes the Lord allows us to reap what we sow, and I figured the Lord wanted the girls to experience what happens when you don’t steward what you have been given. My heart hurt for them as I knew it would be uncomfortable and awkward being an unprepared leader. 

When the group was over, the girls came to me and said it was the ‘best group ever.’ What? No. It couldn’t be. They weren’t prepared at all. How? And that is when I heard the Lord remind me that I have always taught my kids to lead and speak from the heart. It isn’t about memorizing lines but knowing the issue in their heart and speaking from that place. I ultimately failed to realize that God was the one who called them to do this, and He was sufficient to speak through them. Perhaps the group was such a success because it wasn’t all planned out perfectly, and God had room to move. Sometimes mother does not know best, and we need to learn to trust that the Father has their back and knows what He is doing with them.