Joy

HELPING CHILDREN OVERCOME TRAUMA

Trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

Think for a moment about your child’s life back in 2020. Perhaps it wasn’t perfect, but within a short time, your child was thrown into a whirlwind of being home 24/7. Not being able to see friends or go out to the park, learning without peers, sitting in front of a computer, many faced hours alone as their mom and dad still worked. Some went without food, increased sibling conflict, missed birthday parties, felt fear all around them, not being able to go to church or their favorite store, and then the anger and violence that was unleashed in nearly every city. Most adults can’t comprehend all that is going on, much less a child whose brain isn’t fully developed. Folks, this is trauma. Add another layer of what was released in the atmosphere and the paralyzing fear, worry, and anger that slimed people without notice or warning. Kids feel it too.

While I am not trying to create a doomsday post, there is a reality that this past season has been brutal for some children. The events themselves do not bring damage to children. How adults respond to trauma can make a challenging event a lifelong wound. Your role is KEY! #1. Know your child’s love language and fill it DAILY! Five minutes of intentional “I see you” can fill their heart. #2. Connection – Talking, engaging, asking questions, hugging, smiling, listening, etc. Merely hanging out 24/7 is not the same as actually connecting to their hearts. #3. Joy releases a chemical in our brain that increases our will to fight and endure hard things. Dance parties, giggles, wrestling matches, dinner in the living room, tickling, being silly, special treats, dancing on the bed, or splashing in the rain. Your child NEEDS joy!

I know it is hard to give when you are enduring the same battle, but your response in this hour matters. Help children overcome by filling them up with love, connection, and joy, which are heaven’s tools to overcome. 

THE SMILE GAME

We played the greatest game when the kids were younger, called the Smile Game!

Before we got out of the van at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or a restaurant, we all talked about the game and would remind everyone how to play it. Then, when we got out of the van, each of us had to give as many people as possible direct eye contact and smile really big, each keeping score of how many smiles we would get in return.

The game was hilarious, and joy always broke out. The kids would often be up to 50 returned smiles, reminding them that releasing the Kingdom is about JOY. It also showed them how to flip the atmosphere where most people do not acknowledge a single person in front of them.

WHICH KINGDOM ARE YOU USHERING IN?

The Kingdom of GOD is righteousness, peace, and joy. I can still remember when the eyes of my heart first understood this verse, which was mind-blowing. 

Righteousness – the quality of being morally right or justifiable. Peace – freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Joy – a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. 

Here are the OPPOSITE meanings of the words. 

Righteousness – wickedness/lawlessness. Peace – noise/irritation/conflict. Joy – misery/tribulation/despair. 

Which kingdom are you ushering in? If others partner with lawlessness, noise, conflict, misery, and wickedness, the only way to bring the Kingdom of God is to partner with and release RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, AND JOY! 

Righteousness – doing what is right even when no one else is looking, walking in the fruit of the Spirit, and not repaying evil. 

Peace – being in His presence through worship, prayer, and soaking in His Word so that we release what is saturated inside of us – declaring peace to hostile situations. 

Joy – Coming out from under the orphan spirit and aligning our thoughts with the FAVOR He gives us. Having dance parties, singing in the rain, and choosing to be joyful. 

Deuteronomy 30:19 – “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Which kingdom are you ushering in? 

I SEE YOU

Whip up a batch of cookies as an after-school snack and sit with them, talking about their day for an extended period of time. Go deeper than the “How was your day?” You are giving them the gift of being seen and heard.

Get moving – nothing stirs up our natural endorphins like exercise. Pick them up from school, play some family basketball, kick the ball around, or play tag. Join the fun and play with them. You are giving them the gift of play which is critical for a child’s brain.

Joy – Find a pocket of joy today (simply doing something that ignites great joy). Jump on the bed, dance in the rain, have a wrestling match or tickle attack, or cook together. Joy increases the chemical in the brain to endure hard things. You are giving them the gift of hope.

Speak truth over them – remind them of who they are. Call out their identity. “You are my favorite,” “You are passionately loved and fiercely wanted,” “You are unique and special,” “You bring me joy.” You are giving them the gift of being valued.

Which one will you do today (for their heart and yours)?

CHARACTER COUNTS

Character, like a stake on a young tree, is what supports the fruit the Father wants to bear through each of us. Simply put, character matters because it matters to God! I’m often asked, “At what age should one start teaching about character?” My response is – character is for all ages, but the younger you start, the easier it will be to set the standard. It is much easier to teach a two-year-old about self-control than a teenager who has lived without it their entire life. If your child is able to use the word “NO!” and mean it, they are ready for character training. Often parents give young children all the freedom in the world in fear of stifling their child’s exploration and creativity, but as they get older, they begin to clamp down on their freedom. This creates a power struggle that results in a frustrated parent and a relentless child resolved to keep the unrestricted freedom they’ve already tasted. Perhaps a better approach is to empower a child with freedom as they relate to their ability to walk in self-control to manage the freedom well. The Bible says in Romans 14:17, “The Kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace, and joy…”  I don’t think it was an accident that righteousness was listed first. It is hard to walk in peace and joy when unrighteous ways like selfishness, rudeness, and a lack of self-control are present. If you want to release the Kingdom of God through your children as a family lifestyle, then here is your parenting job description: Cultivate a home where righteousness, peace, and joy are plentiful because this is where the Kingdom of God is. This isn’t a one-time teaching but a lifetime of cultivating righteousness, peace, and joy in your home. Your child will have a harder time hearing God’s voice if they haven’t been taught to listen to yours first. You will have a greater challenge getting them to care about others if they have been taught that they are the only ones that matter. Parents want the fruit of well-behaved joyful children but often do little in times of peace to sow into that. No child is born with the character to change the world around them. They need to be influenced, shaped, molded, corrected, and taught intentionally. 

We have a popular eBooklet called CHARACTER COUNTS that empowers parents in the area of character training by defining what it is, why it is important and how to create a family lifestyle around it. We also provide parents with easy, fun, hands-on activities to do with their children to go after healthy character traits. Going after this TODAY will reap fruit for a LIFETIME. Nothing opens doors of favor more for our children than good character. You can get your instant download copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

GO PLAY

How many of you can relate to this mom in the area of PLAYING with your children? 

“The first word that came to mind that He wants me to do differently is PLAY! I am not good at playing. It’s not natural for me, but I see my kids come to life when we lighten things up and PLAY. So, Holy Spirit, come and give me a spirit of playfulness! Let me have FUN with my kids!!”

Lisa’s response: Can you sit with it and ask Him to show you what about play makes your heart so uncomfortable? This is where God uses the next generation to align and restore the current generation and what was lost. Allow Him to reveal, heal and restore the art of joyful play.

THE CHURCH IS NOT CLOSED

The church is not closed – never has been – never will be, according to Ephesians 3:21. If you are not able to go to the church building of your choice tomorrow, CREATE YOUR OWN. Doing church at home is a great way to come together as a family. Have someone pick out a verse to share and discuss it as a family. YouTube is loaded with worship songs that have the words on the bottom. Pass juice and bread/crackers and take Communion together, talking about the meaning. Go around in a circle and share one thing you are thankful for (keep the game going until you run out of things to think of). Put on worship music (with or without words) and just lay quietly as a family, enjoying the peace of His presence. Ask Jesus what He wants to say to each person and spend time asking, listening, and sharing. Spiritual intimacy is great for family connections. Gather the kids and ask them for ideas – they always come up with great ideas. 

Remember that the Kingdom is JOY – partnering with JOY as a family for your home church brings the Father great delight. Play a game, laugh, be silly and enjoy the JOY. Invite another family over to join you!

COME PLAY

What happens inside of you when you hear, “Mommy, will you come play with me?” If you have a strong reaction to that question, may I encourage you to ask Jesus this question? “Jesus, what about play makes my heart so uncomfortable?” So often, children are told that play is loud and messy and are taught to shut it down. As a result, children grow up being adults who do not know how to play and partner with JOY. It is God’s plan to redeem that in you through your child’s natural ability to play. If we do not learn to be re-introduced to joy, we will simply pass on to our children what was taught to us. So break the cycle – GO PLAY!

GET UP AND FIGHT – JOY

Finding pockets of joy is a deal-breaker in the midst of the battle because it increases a chemical in our brain that gives us the will to endure hard things. Laughing when you are heavy is hard, but it is one of the greatest muscles you can utilize in the midst of a battle. Make a list of 3-5 things that would bring your heart a smile – DO IT!

HIS KINGDOM

The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, yet one of the biggest reasons why Sunday school leaders have a hard time finding volunteers is because adults are uncomfortable with JOY. Teach parents how to be restored to joy, and they will be drawn to those who carry child-like joy!