WATERING A WILTED HEART

WATERING A WILTED HEART

Have you ever seen a plant that just desperately needs a drink? My daughter looked that way to me, so I told the others to find something to do for 30 minutes while I had an in-home date with her. I told her to meet me in the rec room in 5 minutes. She had no idea what was happening but was waiting for me. I walked in, handed her a drink, and told her I just wanted her all to myself for a few moments. Then, I asked her about her heart, life, friends, and school. When we were done 15 minutes later, her comment was, “I feel so alive.”

Just because we are with our kids ALL the time doesn’t mean we have their hearts. Ask Holy Spirit how you can creatively water their heart today in a unique and meaningful way.

LOVE COVERS

Whenever we endure something big such as a stressful season, a death, a move, etc., my main goal is to make sure I am filling their love tanks intentionally. I was really sick years ago with a ripped artery in my neck. I was on blood thinners and was at high risk for a stroke or aneurysm. It was not an easy season being a solo mom of four young, active children. I literally made myself a chart with each child’s name and the days of the week. I forced myself to speak their love language DAILY. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons we got through those rough waters together with our connection intact. Love covers a multitude of bumps and bruises! When in doubt, I fill the tank. Love languages matter!

LOVE KEY

I am not seeking to offend anyone with this, nor am I turning this into a debate, but I believe that the following story is KEY to understanding the NECESSITY of communicating LOVE to our children. 

Years ago, I led a small group with a friend I had known for years. I adored him and felt like he was my brother. One day he announced to me that he struggled with same-sex thoughts. I was dumbfounded; how could a man who loved and obeyed Jesus struggle with something so profoundly and I did not know of it before as his friend? Something in my heart demanded a breakthrough to understand his journey. I remember him telling me that his mom and dad were the best parents ever and that they loved their four kids passionately. The dad, however, never spoke his love language. The other kids shared the language of quality time, and the dad was excellent at that, but my friend’s language was touch, and his dad was not a touchy-feely kind of guy. He explained that as a child, he longed to be held, touched, kissed, patted on the back – just touched by his dad – and he never got it. He explained how he was almost obsessed with being touched by a man as a child. When he entered his hormonal teen years, he would find himself fantasizing, not about sex with another male, but about a man’s strong arms or big chest and what it would feel like to embrace them. The enemy will use anything, and soon, as his hormones were raging, confusion began to wage war, and he found himself moving inch-by-inch into sexual thoughts about another man. At that point, he had never acted on it, but it was a daily battle to control his longing to be held and touched by a man. 

Do you want to know what the saddest thing about this story is? Think about those struggling with these desires, and what happens to a person when they finally share their deepest secret with the parent from whom they long for love? They get rejected and stamped as unacceptable. And guess what that fuels? Their need and longing for love. Love matters!

SPEAK UP

Of all the languages in the world, the most confusing is silence. Silence shouldn’t be a language we are communicating to our children as it opens them up to the enemy to fill in the blanks for them (and he will, it just won’t be something that brings life). Make it a point TODAY to intentionally tell your child how you feel about them!

BEDTIME STORIES

Remind your children how big God is by telling them stories of His incredible power in other challenging stories in the Bible. He always comes through and always knows what He is doing (always). Make it a family date to have a bedtime story each day for a week using the stories of the Bible. You can read them out loud or simply share them in your own words.

ISOLATION

Emotional and mental isolation is worse than physical isolation, as it is a breeding ground for the enemy’s lies. A real war is happening for your child, but you are not a prisoner, and there IS a way out. So rise up, Mama Bear! We need you, protective Father! We must help our children process their grief and help them stay connected to the family, others, and even themselves in this hour. JOY releases a chemical in their brains that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. One of the most profound ways you can help them is to find pockets of joy throughout the day.

What is a pocket of joy? It is finding those little moments to crack a smile, giggle, or roar with laughter. It is dance parties in the middle of math, eating chocolate chip cookie dough, running in the rain, jumping on the bed, and being silly and childlike. Whatever your day looks like, let it include pockets of JOY! It is NOT entitlement and buying them whatever they want. It is joy through connection and face-to-face smiles, not just things.

FAMILY MEETINGS

I grew up having ‘family meetings,’ which meant we had to gather and listen to a very long lecture about something. I walked away feeling like I wanted to run away. They were not empowering or life-giving. When I began to have my own family, I, too, wanted to have family meetings but to create a time everyone had a voice, was able to share without fear, and could contribute to the process. I wanted my children to walk away feeling closer, connected, and empowered. We have done just that over the years. When I call out “family meeting,” they stop what they are doing and join me in the family room. They come expectant to be included and heard. We have intentionally gone on family meeting dates where we talk through a particular topic or issue.

Family means all people. Everyone gets a voice, each carrying something vital. Children have a perspective that is needed.

REMEMBER

The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.

FINDING HUGS & KISSES

Grab a bag of Hershey chocolate kisses or a package of paper hearts and randomly place them where your child will find it. Attach a sticky note with a sweet note and let them find the surprise on their own. 

OR

Hide them throughout the house like an Easter egg hunt. Call a FAMILY MEETING and fix the ‘rules’ according to your family needs (such as many younger kids focus on a certain room where they are more obviously hidden, while older kids have to find the harder ones). Don’t think this is just for little ones – big kids love the adventure too! Fun way to release JOY!

Kids need to HEAR and SEE your love for them now more than ever!

LIKE JESUS

Learning to love your children well provides YOU with an opportunity to know and reflect a SIDE of Jesus. Example: If your child has a love language of quality time and values playing together, but you do not value childlike play, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Example: If your child has a love language of words of affirmation and you do not value speaking mushy words, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about using your words, building others up, and bringing praise to your lips. Example: If your child has a love language of touch, but you do not value affection, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about receiving healthy and appropriate touch. Example: If your child has a love language of acts of service, but you do not value having to do things for them, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Pressing in and learning how to speak THEIR language allows US to grow in being more like HIM.

CLASSIC LOVE LANGUAGE MISUNDERSTANDING

My son deeply needs to connect with his family. It is beautiful yet developing the skills can be messy at times. I was away on a ministry trip while he stayed at a friend’s house for the weekend. I reminded the girls he would need to reconnect upon returning, and they eagerly created plans to connect. About an hour later, I got a text saying he walked away and didn’t want to play anymore. I called to check in with him and asked if he felt like the girls were connecting with him, and he said, “NO!” Upon inquiring with the girls, they recited that they grabbed his favorite meal, ate together, and played games. In other words, they gave him a gift and quality time. I asked them what his language was, and they both realized immediately that it was words of affirmation. I asked if they affirmed him with their words, and they realized they labored so hard to connect at that moment, but through their language, not his. This is a classic example of people’s hearts in the right place, wanting to intentionally love someone else but missing the boat because they are speaking the wrong language.