THE ROD

THE ROD

Proverbs 29:15 – “A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.”

Do not see the word ‘rod’ as spanking or beating a child. The rod was used by a shepherd to pull in, correct, and guide their sheep. It was also used to ward off predators. The rod in this concept is loving, kind, and shepherding. Orphans receive this verse as punishment. Sons and daughters receive this word through the heart of the Father, full of love and instruction.

HEART PLAY

People have asked me over and over to show them HOW I taught my children different things. Years ago, the kids and I sat down and recalled some of the key lessons I taught them over the years, and we put together a kit for parents to use in their own homes. 

This is a sample lesson: Heart Play (Playdough) – Teaching children to care for the hearts of others. Intentionally play with playdough with your children for a bit, and then ask them to make you a huge heart. Ooh and aah over their heart creation while you hold it in your hand. Talk about our physical hearts and why God gave each of us one, and how important they are to our survival. Every human has a heart – it is what makes them alive. Take the heart creation in your hand and talk about how gentle we need to be with people’s hearts. Now take one finger and smash it deep into the heart, then smash another finger in another place. Show them that the shape of the heart changed when you were not gentle and caring about it. Words aren’t just words; harsh words are hurtful to people’s hearts. Also, explain that many people have wounded hearts (not from us), but when we say loving things to them, it is like their hearts go back to the way they were originally. Act this out a few times and role-play how we can both squish and help people’s hearts.

In the days ahead, when your kids are having issues with unloving words, remind them of the playdough heart. Ask them, “Hey guys, do you think you just put love in that person’s heart or poked it?” “How could you do that differently without hurting his/her heart?” Also, when they get their own heart poked, show them how we can ask Jesus to put His hand on our hearts and heal them. “Jesus, my heart got hurt. Will You please touch it and make it all better?”

THE PURPOSE OF FRIENDSHIPS

Let’s start by defining the purpose of friendships. The Word says God’s Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy. It goes without saying that peers of all ages bring us tremendous joy. Whether it is swinging at the park together, giggling into the wee hours of the night, or greeting each other with a high five, friends bring us a feeling of great pleasure and happiness by God’s design. Jesus is the ultimate friend and life companion who was willing to lay down His life for us. Being friends with Jesus is where we get our deep sense of belonging, which is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. God gives us siblings and peer friendships so that we can tangibly experience that deep sense of belonging on earth. To belong means you are seen, heard, known, valued, appreciated, and accepted. Belonging gives you a sense of security, confidence, ability to live from your real self, grow, thrive, and take risks. When friendship flows as God intended, it enriches our mind, body, and spirit; however, when it is disrupted, it can bring tremendous heartbreak and pain.

The opposite of BELONGING is ISOLATION. Isolation means to be far away from (remote, out of the way, outlying, off the beaten track, secluded, hard to find, lonely, in the back of beyond, in the hinterlands, off the map, in the middle of nowhere, obscure, inaccessible, cutoff, unreachable; faraway, far-flung, lonesome). I am confident no parent would desire this for their child, yet scores of children experience isolation daily. I believe it is our job as parents to help give our children the character and tools needed to be successful in relationships with siblings and friends because they will greatly influence who they become. Let’s go after empowering our children to steward valuable friendships and increase their capacity to become great friends.

JOY!

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and JOY (Romans 14:17)! If we want God’s Kingdom in our homes, it has to be one filled with JOY. Many of us have heard of the Make-A-Wish foundation where they network to provide an ill child with a JOY-filled event. But what we don’t see is that the child is hours away from a major life-threatening treatment or surgery. Statistics were showing a small percentage of children surviving life-threatening illness, so they did a study on those who survived and found only ONE difference between the two groups. Those who survived had a larger amount of a particular chemical in their brain that is only produced through JOY. When God says laughter is medicine (Proverbs 17:22), He wasn’t kidding. So, they coordinate these JOY-filled encounters for children to raise the chemicals in their brain to boost their survival rate. Joy matters! My kids and I sat down to create a list of fun things you can do to keep your children’s energy moving and carve out pockets of joy. 

Create an indoor obstacle course with pillows, chairs, and jumping over a stack of books. Put kids in the shower with a can of shaving cream. Let them paint the walls. Network with a local middle school girl to see if she can come as a mother’s helper to help entertain the kiddos (it gets her out of the house, too). Mom stays home, but the mother’s helper occupies the kiddos. Blow up balloons and play indoor volleyball – my favorite! Get an indoor exercise trampoline and let them burn off some serious energy. Buy a bunch of inflatable beach balls and kick them around – Hudson’s favorite. Do a family puzzle. Finger paint with pudding. Hide-and-Go-Seek game (you can hide forks, socks, or pens – it doesn’t have to be anything big). Flashlight tag with the lights off. Walk around the mall looking for someone who needs a smile or kindness. Extra-long baths with lots and lots of bubbles. Create an indoor movie theater with another family. Bake cookies or muffins for your neighbor. Go bowling. Have a slumber party in the living room. Network with friends and have all the boys at one house and all the girls at another. Play a round of charades. Write letters/draw pictures for the firemen. Play Pictionary. Give them $5 and ask them who they can bless, and then go do it (buy someone’s coffee, give a meal to a homeless person, buy flowers for a worker). Pop some popcorn and have a quiet reading hour. Everyone in their places, even the little ones, flipping through books. Create a mall scavenger hunt with a check-off list of things they need to find and then take a photo of them with that item (a gal with a hat, a mannequin wearing shorts, a stuffed animal, a water bottle, a necklace, etc.). We did this for Ellie’s birthday, and it was so much fun. Rotate with friends taking the kids for a day and run a mini daycare giving other moms a break and allowing kids to have extra fun peer interaction. Have you heard of Studio C? It is like Saturday Night Live, but for kids and CLEAN! Have an indoor spa with pedis, manis, facials, etc. Put on a family talent show – hilarious! Have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Break out in a dance party – YouTube has some great ones. Skype family members and friends. Host another family for a picnic lunch in the living room. Play elimination card games to see who the winner is! 

TECHNOLOGY

I realize we are all first-generation parents stewarding the world of technology with our children. We will hit some home runs, and we will make some mistakes along the way. One day my son asked if he could take his phone with him on our family outing. I usually have them leave them at home because it is our time to connect, but I allowed it. He was playing a Spanish app and engrossed in it and barely said a word. I had to run to Walmart, and he asked if he could keep playing on it while I was shopping. I agreed to make an exception. The trip was chaotic. He was always a few feet behind us and not paying attention as he bumped into others due to looking down on his phone. I was in a bit of a hurry and was trying to find something for Ellie. I asked him to stay by the cart while I ran down the other aisle, and he absent-mindedly walked away, leaving my cart and purse unattended. I asked him to go back to the cart. A few moments later, Ellie came to me upset because Hudson was snapping at her. He was attempting to push the cart but ran into something because his eyes were on his phone. A few minutes later, I asked him to help me with something, and he had an attitude with me for ‘interrupting’ him. It was so chaotic and stressful. I went to him and held out my hand, asking for his phone. We finished and when we got into the car, I reminded him that I had raised him to be a helper, to see others, to be kind, to jump in where needed, to be a gentleman, to serve, be aware of his surroundings and to be a blessing. I did not raise a son whose eyes were locked looking down on a screen, walking around aimlessly without seeing a single person or contributing to the task. Every parent needs to make their own choice about technology, but for me, when they were younger, going to the store was our training ground for character, and I was not going to let a phone undo all that work. I care more about his development than his entertainment. I care more about the man he is becoming than his comfort. I care more about him seeing others than what he is watching for himself. The phone is not your friend if it is breaking connection with those around you.

CREATIVE DISCIPLINE

Growing up, I remember hearing of a man who tried to use the HOV carpool lane by putting a dummy in the front seat. He was caught on more than one occasion, and the judge gave him a choice. Did he want jail time, or did he want to stand on the corner of a busy street with his ‘passenger’ holding a sign that read, “Don’t be a dummy and cheat the HOV lane”? The man picked holding up the sign but was so convicted of his wrongdoing, he later wrote to the judge and said it worked. In parenting, sometimes we need to discipline their flesh, and other times we need to discipline their heart. Holy Spirit loves giving parents creative ideas to help parent children. 

Character Counts is a downloadable resource that gives you many creative, easy ways to go after character training in children. Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

DISCIPLINE

A mom and dad were asking me about how to discipline their daughter who would put up a fight at bath time. She would try to get out of going upstairs for the bath but then enjoy it once she was in. When the dad would say that it was time to get out, she would stand up right away and then fight him. He was concerned for her safety. Something wasn’t sitting right in my heart that this was a character or discipline issue. We asked Jesus together. Jesus revealed that when she heard “bath time,” she knew it meant the bedtime routine, and she didn’t want the day to end. When Dad told her to get out of the bath, she obeyed right away but then realized getting out meant saying goodbye to her dad. She was struggling with missing him during the day. She wasn’t being defiant; her heart was saying, “Daddy, I love you so much and do not want to have to let you go again. I want to spend more time with you.” GAH. Jesus is the best at helping us see what is going on inside of our children. I have to add seeing the dad’s reaction to what Jesus showed him is probably going to be etched in my mind forever. So so so precious.

WALKING THROUGH TRAUMA

I wanted to give you a few things to consider regarding children walking through trauma (crisis, divorce, death, a move). 

Talk – Children also endure what adults in the home are going through. Use age-appropriate language and ask them questions about what they saw, how they felt, what it was like for them, etc. Give them permission to talk. A great way to access their heart is by asking questions. Let Holy Spirit lead you in the conversation. Another great way to help them release what is in their hearts is by drawing pictures. Ask them to illustrate how their heart feels about the event. Be intentional to have family time alone together and check in to see how everyone is doing and where they are at in processing everything. I generally ask, “How is your heart feeling, and what do you need right now?” 

Fear – Being scared is normal in the time of danger, but now that danger is over, we don’t want to continue to partner with it as it can turn into fear which welcomes the wrong spirit. If you see signs your child is holding onto the concern that something bad will happen, remind them they are safe, that the trauma is over and that God isn’t the one giving them that emotion, but instead God gives us power, love, and peace in our minds (1 Tim 1:7). If the fear continues, you may need to walk your child through commanding the fear to go in Jesus’ name AND inviting Holy Spirit to come and fill their mind, eyes, and emotions with peace, comfort, and joy. If your child reports an image they saw and it replays in their minds over and over, validate their concern over the issue, “Sweetie, I am so sorry you had to see that. It must have been so scary for you.” I would then remind them that Jesus’ blood covers it all and that we can use His blood to wash our minds. My kids would act out pouring His blood on their hands and then wash their minds (like pouring shampoo and washing your hair). “Jesus, we invite You to wash our minds of these images and fill them with Your love.” This is a powerful way for children to apply the blood of Jesus to their situation. 

Joy – Returning children to joy is essential in trauma. It releases a chemical in their brain that helps them rise above challenging circumstances. While we can’t always change our circumstances, we can invite joy into them. Perhaps it is a 5-minute dance party, jumping on the bed, a game of balloon volleyball, or a tickle attack. Do not underestimate the power of these pockets of joy for children in a crisis. 

Connection – Just because you are together 24/7 doesn’t mean you are connecting. Know their love language and intentionally fill it. Children’s love tanks empty quickly but fill fast. Connection is golden during this time, and it is an intentional verb. Go after 1:1 connection today. Grab a soda and sit in a corner alone together to talk, rub their back while holding them, tell them how proud you are of them for the way they have handled things, give them something as a token of your love for them (a note on their bed, a pack of gum, or a quick trip to the store to pick something out). etc. Be intentional. Know their love language and intentionally fill it. Children’s love tanks empty quickly but fill fast.

Limited Screen Time – I know it is hard because many are bored, and you want to be on your phone a lot too, but I strongly encourage you to try and limit it. Their hearts need real human contact and connection, not a lifeless screen. Screens increase joy chemicals but through artificial connection only leaving them more lonely afterwards. We do not want to throw our children into an addiction to screens just to cope with their pain and loss.

Build Their Faith – This is where we get to help our children see Jesus in the midst of the storm. Yes, it was awful, but we spend time focusing on calling out where Jesus was. Yes, we had a fire in our city, but Jesus kept us safe. Yes, we had to leave our home, but Jesus provided us with a hotel room/friends. Yes, we lost our beloved Whiskeytown, but God designed His creation to grow new life… keep it going. Validate the reality but focus on Him. These are bricks in their faith. God was there. God was in control. God helped me. The next time they are afraid, in need, or walking through a storm, you can remind them of their history with God, “Remember when we had to leave our home, and God took care of us? Let’s ask Him to do it again for you in this situation.” This is how they build their faith and confidence in Him. 

Peace – Peace is His presence, and nothing ushers it in more than worship. Be intentional about having family worship time. He changes us in worship and realigns us to His face. Increase soaking time where you just put on music, lay still, and encounter His presence. This is super important for children.

Parents, you are enough during this season of chaos and pain, and you will know what to do because He dwells inside you. You will not only overcome this as a family, but it will make you stronger.

MAKING MEMORIES

How many of you have memories of your childhood? Is it super powerful and amazing to think that TODAY you have the power to create a memory that will stay with your children for the rest of their lives?  The best memories rarely have to do with how much money was spent, how Pinteresty it looked, or how big it was. Instead, they generally circle around how deep they feel seen, heard, and valued.

CALLING ALL DADS!

By God’s design, dads are the ones who speak protection, provision, and identity over children. I want to stir up the anointing that each father has to speak protection and covering over their child. I implore you to rise up as the superhero that you are in your child’s life and cover them with the cape of your words. 

Here are some creative ways to communicate covering to your child: 

  • Put a big blanket around your back and outstretch your arms like wings. 
  • Come to them and pull them close under your wing and tell them that just like the blanket offers shelter, you are there to cover and protect them. 
  • Read with them Matthew 18:10 and show them that they have a personal angel assigned to them. 
  • Put your hand over their heart and pray over them. Tell them that you are so glad God allowed you to be their dad and that you take your job to keep them safe seriously. 
  • Validate that a lot is going on in the world right now but that they are safe and secure in your house. 
  • Ask them if they are worried or concerned about anything and process it together. Just asking alone makes them feel safe and secure. 
  • Gather the family and read out loud Psalms 91. Act out parts of the verse to help them understand deeper. 
  • Intentionally speak their love language today. If you do not know what it is, take the online quiz as a family to discover each person’s language of love.

Break agreement with the lie that your wife is better at this stuff than you are. God has given you a powerful role to speak protection over your family, and they need to be reminded of that in this hour when so much is swirling around in the atmosphere. Go be their superhero!

P.S. This is for dads of children of all ages. Adult children need to hear words of protection and covering over their fathers too.

DECREASE FOOLISHNESS

Going to the library with four little ones was no small task, but I was determined. I discovered this glorious thing called “Toddler Story Time,” which to me meant someone else could take the lead, at least for a few minutes anyway. I was mortified at what my eyes saw. The senior librarian welcomed the children, but not one person in the room responded. She sat down to read the book, and chaos broke out. Kids were running all over the room as loud as they could be. No one seemed to care that she was trying to read to them. My shock morphed into judgment when a child began to play tug of war with the book that the librarian was trying desperately to read, and the mother did not feel led to assist the librarian in getting her book back. Before I knew it, my four joined the circus. I vowed I would never come back again. A week later, we were at the movie theater, and the same thing happened with kids running all over the place, making it impossible to actually watch the movie. Suddenly I realized what Proverbs 22:15 meant when it says, “A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him.” Many of us know the ‘spanking’ part of this verse, and we get lost in the debate if children should be spanked. We need to zoom out of that debate and see the bigger picture. Children are foolish by nature. They are selfish by nature. They are immature by nature. Their brains aren’t even fully developed by nature. My job as a parent is to lead them in the direction of honor, respect, kindness, and self-control. This is not a post on spanking, but it IS a post on parents guiding their child’s behavior as a shepherd cares for their flock with their rod. When a sheep is wandering outside of the safety zone, a shepherd uses his rod to guide him back and lead them where they should go. The heart of this verse is about helping our children move away from foolishness through corrections and guidance. If you want to decrease their foolishness, you have to increase your teaching.