Stewarding a child’s heart with God needs some sensitivity. When we lived in California, scores of parents would come to me confused why they sold everything to move halfway around the world only to find their child resisting the things of God. Over time, it became apparent that many of them did it FOR their children, the hope of deeper and greater things, but they failed to do it WITH them, which would have allowed them to walk out their journey and taste and see the Lord’s goodness. Ultimately the children were mad at God for taking away their grandparents, friends, favorite stores, and all things familiar. Knowing this, I have been very careful with my child’s heart when I feel God asking us to obey in a BIG way. The moment I started to realize we might not be staying in Colorado (about a month after arriving), I mentioned it to the kids in question form, “What would you think if God was telling us not to stay in Colorado?” and I was allowing them to get used to the idea. We learned how to steward the question together, often talking and processing different options. It allowed us to dream together (Ellie was convinced God was going to send us to Australia). Lauren and Emma were excited and open from the get-go. They have seen God be faithful, and while they love their friends here, they were ready for God’s adventure, their faith was already built that God is good. Ellie does not like not knowing what to expect. She is empowered with information, so her part of the process was learning to trust God in the dark and when her mind can’t see it for herself. She did a great job of working it out, yet once she went to North Carolina with me and saw it for herself, her sail of faith went up, and she was on board. However, my son was different. He hates change and is super loyal, so he doesn’t like leaving people; it is harder for him. He didn’t want to move to California and then didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want to go to Colorado and then didn’t want to leave. I know this about him and attempted to help him process it in stages. We were on day two of our scouting trip, and I could feel a wall in the spirit. It was frustrating. I called a FaceTime family meeting, and it was revealed that Hudson was speaking against the trip. While the girls had their sails of faith up, Hudson had an anchor. We are so connected as a family I could FEEL it 1,000 miles away. I was a little frustrated but knew it was better that I wait to move forward and do it together rather than do it FOR him, or he would blame God for leading me where he didn’t want to go. I finally told him this, “Hudson, I am not asking you to get your heart right to move to North Carolina. I am asking you to process whatever is in the way of being fully surrendered to God so that you are willing to go wherever He leads us.” There is such a difference. He took the time to surrender the things that he was holding onto ABOVE wanting God’s will, and by the time I came home, he met me in the driveway with tears and his blessing to go wherever God was leading us. Doing things FOR our children is kind. Doing things WITH our children allows them to build their faith and trust in God’s goodness.
WITH THEM, NOT FOR THEM
Two of my teens were working through some big things. It caused us all to find a new way of responding and relating with each other. They aren’t five years old anymore and need to be given the space to manage things on their own, even if it means they are waffling a bit. It’s challenging for me at times. God woke me up quite early, and I snuck out of bed to spend time with Him. I heard Him tell me to pray for the kids, but I got this sense I was to sit outside their bedrooms. I grabbed my worship music and AirPods, sat in the dark at 4am outside their bedrooms, and just prayed in the spirit. I began seeing things affecting them, weighing on their hearts, and I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion for them. I asked, “God, how come I haven’t seen that before?” and heard Him say that I so often expect the kids to come into my world – my agenda, my schedule, my teaching, my instruction, my leadership, etc., but haven’t been very good about crawling into their world. UGH! I repented! And then prayed like a mama bear for her children.
When my sweet Emma was little, she had the hardest time grasping the concept that she could not help herself to whatever she wanted in the stores. She would come home with her pockets filled with unpaid goodies. I kept trying to teach her, but it wasn’t sinking in. When I found a pair of dangling earrings, I knew I had to take things to the next level. I took her to the store and asked for the manager. I had Emma explain that she took the items and came to return them. To my utter surprise, the manager told me to relax and then looked at Emma and said, “That is okay, sweetie!” I was dumbfounded and asked the manager if she would be okay with that response if she were 15 or 55, still stealing from her store. I was sad the manager was working against what I was trying to set up and instill in my daughter. I share that story to say we must know the bigger picture of what is happening. I was a mom trying to teach my daughter the value of not stealing, but the manager spoke against it and encouraged Emma that it was no big deal. There is SO much going on in the world right now, and we must must must hear from God what He is doing and align our prayers, comments, and voice with His. We do not want to be like the manager and speak out against what He is doing. We want to partner with Him.
May I encourage you to gather the children and spend some intentional time as a family asking: “Father, what are You doing right now?” “Holy Spirit, how do You want me to pray today?” “Jesus, will You show me what You see?” He is a good Father and knows what He is doing. Let’s partner WITH Him and align our voices with what He is doing.
Words are important. God said let there be light and there was light.
Stop for a moment and dream about your ideal summer. What does it look like with connection and activities? How do you want to feel at the end of every day?
This is not a “name it -claim it” teaching, but a model of following our Father and speaking into existence that which is already available into the spirit realm.
Have a family meeting and together make declarations about what you want your summer to be about. Such as, “We will release joy everywhere we go.” “Our summer will be filled with joy.” “We will connect deeply as a family.” “We will love ourselves and others well.” “We will laugh daily.” “We will take responsibility for what is ours.” “We will grow as a family this summer.”
What we are declaring over our families becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When our children hear us communicating that we are dreading the summer or we are so glad school is starting again, it communicates to them the wrong worth and value. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight any false declarations that you have been declaring over yourself, your parenting or your children for the summer months. Ask for forgiveness, if needed.
Flipping Mindsets – Summer is when you get to regroup and get a new vision for your family. You get to shake off all of the events of last year, re-calibrate as a family, go after character growth, learn new skills for life, grow deeper in your connections, and build memories.
Family Rules – 3 big things were lost in the Garden; our sense of BELONGING, our WORTH and our SECURITY. Whatever our household rules, boundaries, limits, or ‘no’s are with children, it must be done in a loving way that still intentionally communicates that they have a place where they belong, that they are incredibly valuable and important and that they are secure and safe. Things like disunity, arguments between parents, ongoing sibling conflict, atmosphere of worry and stress, anger, belittling, disrespect, and lack of intentional family time can all inflict the orphan spirit. I am not talking about a one-time deal like you had a bad day and yelled once. I am talking about lifestyles and norms. Our goal in parenting should be to model heaven.
Rules – Review your household core values and rules as a family. If your children cannot tell you what the rules are, then it will be hard to expect them to govern themselves by them. Play a round of charades acting out what honor, respect, kindness, etc. looks like.
Vision – What is the vision you have for your family? If you do not know what you are aiming for then you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.
Children need us to parent, lead, guide, direct, and discipline their bodies and emotions because they are small and aren’t fully mature yet. HOWEVER, the Holy Spirit that lives inside them is the same size as Billy Graham’s, Mother Teresa’s, yours and Jesus’. Holy Spirit is to be respected, honored, and heard. God has A LOT of things to share with us through those with little hands and feet. So don’t dismiss what God wants to teach you just because it comes in small packages!
When a child (of any age) is having an emotional meltdown, they need either compassion or comfort. We have to find their rhythm of receiving compassion and comfort as some like to be touched, others like to be verbally comforted, and others feel comforted by being alone. AFTER they have calmed down and we have connected with their hearts, THEN we can teach, train, and equip them how to increase their capacity and do it differently next time. When the child is upset, teaching and training is like teaching a dog where to poop when he is in the middle of it. He won’t be able to hear you. Teach and train in the time of PEACE so that you can cash in on it in your time of need. Parents end up breaking connection because they want to be teachers when their child needs a comforter.
If punishment and isolation were effective leadership/parenting tools, prisons would produce the most successful people.
I am seriously high-fiving Jesus right now. A mom called and shared that she sensed something was going on with her TWO-YEAR-OLD. Yes, she’s young. Yes, she is learning self-control. Yes, she has a strong personality, but the mom could tell there was something else spiritually happening. She couldn’t see it, but she could feel it. The mom had a tragic pregnancy loss before her being pregnant with her daughter. The doctors told her the chances were high that this pregnancy would not end well either. The mom had a ton of grief (rightfully so) and fear with her pregnancy. While the mom wasn’t doing anything ‘wrong,’ she was parenting with fear and anxiety, and her daughter came under the fear (yes, it is possible even from the womb). I led her in asking for forgiveness for letting fear scream at her and for partnering with it, and then we prayed, telling it to leave her daughter. GUYS!!! This mama dealt with the spirit of fear with her *2* year old, and it was RESOLVED. Many adults are still battling with fear and anxiety because they didn’t have a parent who had eyes to see. This isn’t about blame but a serious testimony of, “This is what it looks like when you parent with HIM.” Jesus is my HERO!
Three big things were lost in the Garden: our sense of BELONGING, our WORTH, and our SECURITY. Whatever our household rules, boundaries, limits, or ‘no’s are with the children, it must be done in a loving way that still intentionally communicates that they have a place where they belong, that they are incredibly valuable and important, and that they are secure and safe. Disunity, arguments between parents, ongoing sibling conflict, atmospheres of worry and stress, anger, belittling, disrespect, and lack of intentional family time can all inflict the Orphan Spirit. I am not talking about a one-time deal like you had a bad day and yelled once. I am talking about lifestyles and norms. Our goal in parenting should be to model heaven.
Empowering children to obey fully and completely the first time (Deuteronomy 28:1). Expose your child to horses, whether that be taking a field trip to a horse farm, simply pulling off the side of the road near one, getting a video from the library, or finding them on the Internet. They are so beautiful and powerful. Talk about how a horse is powerful on their own, but when the bridle is in its mouth, they are trained to obey the rider right away. All the rider needs to do is gently move the reigns to the left or right, and the horse automatically goes in that direction. They are not stubborn or demanding of their own way; they simply follow the rider’s commands. Explain to your child that God wants us to respond this way to His instructions. He doesn’t just want us to obey in the end but wants us to do so fully and completely right away.
In the days ahead, when you need your child to follow your instructions, remind them of the character of a horse. Often when my children were younger and not following the instructions I had given them, I would simply say, “Mama needs you to be a horse right now,” and they all knew that meant they were behaving in a way that was the opposite of what I had instructed. It was an excellent tool for when we were in public as it spared them the embarrassment of being called out in front of others.
The goal is not to use spiritual tools to ‘fix’ our children. The goal is to lead our children to an encounter with their Father!