From the time Ellie was itty-bitty, she would ask me to buy her stuff. I am not a materialistic girl, and the best way to get me to save money is to give it to me because I won’t spend it. I am frugal to the core. Her requests bothered me, and I began to view her as materialistic. I spent countless hours training her to stop asking for things as I saw it as a character issue. One day I realized, oh my goodness, gifts were her love language. All those times, I pushed her away and scolded her when she was not really asking for the toy but wanting to feel loved. I came to her in tears and repented. She smiled the biggest smile, finally feeling understood. Now when she asks, I see it as my clue that she needs some lovin’. If I have to say “No” to her, I assure her of my love and that she means the world to me, though I am not able to buy her that item right now. I handle the request with much more sensitivity than I did before. I also proactively look for ways that I can give her little gifts. It is never the price tag that matters to her; it is the love through it. I am often leaving little things on her bed with a note attached. The other children only have a problem with it when their tanks are low. When their tanks are full to overflowing, they have no jealousy or sense of injustice that their sister is getting more gifts than they are.
THE GIFT OF GIFTS
A sweet friend who I have known and loved for over 20 years sent me a private message telling me that one of my posts did not bring her peace. My first thought was that I should remove the post out of love for her, as I would never want to be responsible for increasing someone’s fear. But it didn’t sit right with me. I held onto it for a few hours waiting for direction from the Lord. Finally, I heard Him say, “Peace is an inside job,” and I marinated in that truth all day. While we are to test all things according to His Word, the truth is someone’s post, the news, circumstances, and hard trials do not have to rob us of our peace. This is a spiritual muscle that many have been tested in lately. Are you keeping your peace, guarding it at all costs? Flex your muscle that says, “I am unmoved by anything other than the hand of God and remain anchored to His perfect peace!”
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.
When Lauren was five years old, I was dealing with a ripped carotid artery, and the kids needed to know the signs of stroke and how to respond. I attended a church in Loveland, Colorado as a visitor when Rob & Ellie Hein were missionary guest speakers. Rob called people forward, and I had a powerful encounter with Jesus. Rob noticed Lauren and came off the stage to her side. He asked if she was afraid (I later found out she thought I was having a stroke) and began to tell her that Jesus was encountering me and that I was okay. He then prophesied over her that he would see her someday in Africa. The seeds planted that day went straight to her heart and took root. By the time she was eight, she had asked for and read all of Heidi Baker’s books. She was in Mexico for a mission trip and texted me to say, “Mom, I was born for missions.” My heart wept as God continues to grow the seeds of this girl’s mighty destiny.
One night we drove through our old community, walking down memory lane. There is something so fun about hearing your child’s childhood memories. I pulled into the DQ drive-thru to continue our ‘remember when’ discussion. Across the street from the DQ is a large lake that people walk around. And I was undone by a particular memory and how it shaped my family. Years ago, when the kids were all under seven years old, I read a book about the children in Africa and how they were sad they didn’t have unity amongst the believers and decided to do something about it. I was interrupted with questions about our own community as Holy Spirit was stirring something up in my children for the unity of their own town. I began to ask them questions about what we should do. I let it be 100% led by them. They wanted to write to all of the church leaders and invite them to a unity prayer walk around the lake, which we did. They prayed over the envelopes before mailing them. They wanted to make prayer signs and put them around the lake for things to pray for (unity, the leaders, and families). They wanted to unite the believers as lovers of Jesus despite their differences. God gave us a glorious sunny day; they walked their little legs around the whole lake and hammered the stakes into the ground. And waited and waited. In the course of five hours, only FIVE people showed up. One stopped along the way and appeared to be reading the signs and responding. Three walked right by and didn’t even notice. They watched from the other side of the lake as one took the time to destroy each of their signs, tossing them on the ground. As we walked around the lake to pick up our trashed signs, I felt such a profound mix of utter discouragement and disappointment but an odd sense of growing JOY. We endured a silent car ride home as I cried out to the Lord to show me how to steward the events with the children who so clearly were led by Him and cared about the unity of their community. I called a family meeting to allow them to process. They did not see a lack in their efforts but a lack of unity, which was all that mattered. They began to pray with an incredible passion for their city. The Lord spoke to me later and said, as a mother, I can’t use the measuring stick of FRUIT or QUANTITY in training my children to follow Him. The ONLY thing that matters is OBEDIENCE! We obeyed whether the entire community showed up or none. We followed HIS leading, which paved the way for us to respond to His voice countless times over the years to impact our community. It taught us that we live for an audience of ONE.
Have you ever had those days when you feel like you are constantly butting heads with a child, or they seem to be going out of their way to be a bully to their siblings, yet nothing you do seems to work? Try intentionally meeting their love language, and I bet you will see a sudden change. Children with empty tanks, even with siblings, will often fight to get it filled (obviously, in the wrong way), Love languages matter!
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.
I do not mean a bad day, but a season where you weren’t sure you would make it? A season where pain, words, betrayal, disappointment, and discouragement knocked you down so low, you weren’t sure you would ever rise again? Yeah, that season. We must must must forgive the people who are on their journey and say and do things out of an orphan place, but after true forgiveness comes a season of rebuilding what was lost or stolen in the previous season. Sometimes we get thrown into the pit and bound up. Not because of something we have done but what was done to us. It may not be our fault, but it is our responsibility to get back up. So many of you have walked through brutal chapters in your story, and your hearts have found peace again, but in the midst of the battle, you have lost your voice, confidence, and empowerment. There is nothing wrong with you being in this season, as long as you are owning your journey and not allowing it as an excuse to stay down or quiet. The world needs YOU at your fullest, and you owe it to yourself to keep fighting, climbing, believing, and clinging to Him. You will find your voice, confidence, and empowerment again, but with a renewed sense of resolve because you have overcome great odds!
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!
I am often asked at what age a girl should begin to wear makeup. In response, I share our journey. Lauren and Emma were 12 years old when they asked me if they could start wearing makeup. For one, I said yes, and for the other, I said no. I asked each of them, “Are you walking as a Daughter and want to put on mascara because it is fun and you want to enjoy it? Or are you walking as an orphan who needs mascara to feel beautiful?” There is a world of difference! If it is the latter, I am not helping my daughter’s beauty by encouraging her to use makeup (or anything else) to become her false identity. I took the one shopping to buy her first cosmetic product while I worked with the other one to know the beauty of her worth and value FIRST, and then we went shopping. Both girls know who they are today and do not need makeup to feel beautiful. They are able to enjoy it as a Daughter and feel secure with or without it.
This is a GLORIOUS testimony of a mom who had lots of tension with her stepdaughter. She tried everything, and nothing worked until she partnered with Holy Spirit!
“My ten-year-old stepdaughter lives with us, except for every other weekend when she would visit her mom. When she would return, she would have an attitude and contempt for us. She also shared that she felt ‘awkward’ hugging our family. I felt like these were all symptoms that caused her heart to hurt. Lisa did a private Q&A with a few of us that brought a lot of feelings to light, especially grief and belonging. She brought up journaling, and I immediately felt led to write my stepdaughter a letter and let Holy Spirit lead me in what to say. She said she loved it and immediately connected with her brothers! Two weeks later, she came home from her mom’s, and her attitude was COMPLETELY different. She ran to her brothers and hugged and kissed us all. I am BLOWN away by what has happened. It took maybe 15 minutes to write the letter; it took her 10 minutes to read it, and yet Holy Spirit has completely CHANGED our relationship.”