The past few years of my life have been the workings of deep process. While it is true that we should always strive to continue growing, something deep, life altering and holy has been taking place in me. In this process Aba has become just that, a father. I have learned Him in new facets. He is no longer only Lord of my life, but He is Truly my Good Heavenly Father. I have learned what it means to be held by Him. What it is to wake up at night so He can share with me what breaks His heart and what excites Him. I've learned what it is to curl up in bed and feel His wrap around love cradle me at night when I feel alone. I have learned what it is to sing my heart's prayer to him, regardless of how awful I feel I sound when I do, then to hear Him sing it back in reply! I've learned what it is to be found in the secret place by Him. I've learned to sit where it is uncomfortable with no intention of getting up until He says so and to not leave a place of resting in through it all.
I've learned that not every good thing I do is God ordained and how to let go of said things. I have learned to put my hand to things I thought were impossible or unreasonable to learn that they're not. I've learned to take my hand off things that I feel make total sense for my hand to remain on. I've learned what it is to step out in faith. I've learned what it is to hear His voice in new ways. But perhaps the one thing I am most thankful for is that I am learning more of what it is to rest in His sweetness, daily. A bit ago, I was invited to go and listen to a workshop in the middle of "ain't got no cell towers for 50 miles so don't get lost..." Alabama with a sweet, sweet friend. The 6 hour workshop was intended to teach what it is to sit and love on the Lord and to just rest in His presence with no agenda. But what I walked away with was a heart of flesh, desperate to fully know what it is to simply abide in His sweetness. To spend so much time with Him, with no agenda, that those I'm around could smell the perfume of His love as I walk by. I spent the following weeks setting an alarm at 4am to spend 2 hours in His presence, singing and speaking nothing but my love and honor for Him and asking nothing of Him. Just in doing that I begin to see a difference in the way I carried myself, both outwardly and inwardly. I began to find myself singing while doing housework. Whispering little prayers of thankfulness as I scrubbed dishes. And being bold in my prayers because the more time I spent in my Abba's arms, the more I knew His love for me and the more I knew His heart for me and for those around me. I began to be confident in what I spoke because I knew I heard His voice and I knew I can always trust it. But the coolest thing that happened was that I gave permission to my children to be free in knowing God for themselves. Then one day, W asked me to teach him to pray where God would listen to him. Then I realized, it is critical that my children understand that Yahweh doesn't require perfect speech and petitions to capture His ear. He doesn't request that we set aside exactly 60 minutes a day filled with 25 minutes of prayer and 5 chapters of reading complete with jotted notes. He simply longs for us to long to be with Him. In the sweetness of His presence. Where He has our full attention. Hearts open to hear whatever He wants or needs to speak to us in those moments. For us to grow to a point where we are ever aware of His voice and presence. Free to dance or sing or cry or paint or pray whatever we feel in our hearts to do. To abide in Him, and Him in us. Learning from both His written Word, and His spoken Word; directly to you. So that's exactly what we began to do. I moved my Secret Place into my living room with my children by my side. We would put on worship music and just begin to sit and wait for Him to speak. Whatever words we needed to express, we expressed. If we needed to cry, we cry. If we needed to lift someone in prayer, we did so as a family. I have tried to model for them what the Secret Place is. A life of devotion. Since beginning this, W finds himself having images the Lord gives Him to share, and they're wonderful! O will have words of encouragement for us that spoke directly to things we had not shared with the children. GJ and N would mellow out and begin to sing new love songs to Jesus. And H would sing as much as her tiny self could before falling asleep. As time has continued, I've found W praying in his room, interceding for people we're connected with who were going through some difficulties and when those circumstances would shift, I have watched tears of joy and thanksgiving roll down his cheeks as he thanked the Father for healing or touching that place in their lives. O began to notice people who were sick or sad in public and walk up to them to just encourage or pray for them. And G.J. began to tell me about dreams and songs that he's had. And I know that all three of our sons know what the presence of the Holy Spirit feels like. What it is to know that King Jesus is in the room. I began to see the fruit of the Secret Place in the lives of my children!! And it has wrecked me for anything less. I know, with everything in me, that there is not a lesser juvenile level of understanding for children. That they are capable of understanding probably MORE than most adults will ever understand because they are so outside of tradition and customs or rules that we've placed on ourselves of how things should look even when the very Word of God says that they are the ones that inherit the Kingdom- because of their faith. But I must say this in all honesty, the past few months of living like this, so open in front of my kids started out intimidating; really intimidating. I was so scared they would see me fail, or what if God didn't respond or help out in the teaching? All of which were lies. So I called it for what it was and began to declare fruit from whatever I taught them. No matter how big, no matter how small. And He has been faithful every step of the way. Even in using my children to stretch and teach me! I share all of this not to 'toot my own horn' or to downplay wherever your devotional life is or to batter you with 'I do it better'. NO. I am writing to encourage you that this is doable. This lifestyle is totally obtainable. And your children WANT this. They want to know God the way your do. They need to know who they are, seated in their Beloved Identity; Hidden in Christ. I felt the pressing of Holy Spirit to write this. And this is me being extremely transparent because I don't care if anyone ever sees the great things I do with my kids. Or the incredible times I spend with Abba. But over the past few weeks I've had so many friends comment on how incredible my children are and how they could never do what I am doing themselves with their kids. Or how they don't even know where to start and it frightens them to let their kids see them pray. Questions of some practical ways to do this. So I want to say to you, momma, that YOU ARE CAPABLE! Yes, YOU. You are capable of allowing your children to know how important God is in your life. You are capable of not getting things perfect and still doing a great job! You are needed and such a vital part in teaching your children NOW what it means to love and honor and serve the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength. So I encourage you with this; abide in the Secret Place. Speaking OUT LOUD to The One who absolutely adores hearing your voice and your thoughts and your desires from out of your mouth! Even if it is awkward at first, keep doing it! He so loves and looks forward to time you freely give to Him. Think of it as a coffee date with your best friend. A time where you both get to speak to each other sharing secrets and confiding all things with each other. Secondly, don't feel it has to be a specific schedule of time unless you're feeling that He tells you a specific time or length of time- OBEY this. I promise you, it is so good when you do! For me and this season of my life with two toddlers running around and a whole roost of folks who wake up before the butt crack of dawn, morning times, specifically, with Him isn't always something that will happen for me. Sometimes I find my moments between all the activities and I roll with that and give whatever and however I can in a day. Because for me it is as simple as always wanting to talk to my friend. It is not an obligatory thing I do to check a list that says I was a good Christian today. It's that I want to spend so much time beholding Him that I become so much like Him, I walk by people (or my hubby and kids) and being a fried of God is modeled without any necessary verbal identification. He is so faithful to honor and make the most of what I'm giving because He loves time with me. Just like He will love and eagerly anticipates time with you!! Learn to be still and quiet. Communication is not always speaking to someone, but also listening as well. He is always talking with us. Hoping that we take time to communicate. Sometimes He will have a lot to say, and others, in those moments He may just be enjoying being in the room with you. What a beautiful thing that is! Because in those moments you aren't completely fixed on what He is speaking, you become so in tune with what He is doing in the room with you.
Speaking of Him being in the room with you, don't let that scare you! God LOVES to be with us. It is for us to be enfolded in His presence, always. He posses all the attributes of a person, including our desire and longing for relationship and conversation. We know this because we are told that we're made in His image. Momma, enjoy getting to know that side of Him. I PROMISE you, you will learn so much from Him and about Him. And it is so worth it! It makes parenting so much easier and He has ALL the answers for all the questions you have about your kiddos and how to raise them. But my biggest advice... Just do it! Get past the fear of not being enough. Get past the fear of not knowing enough. Get past the fear of not being spiritual enough. Get past the fear of failure. Position yourself to sit in His presence and allow Him to teach you just how enough you truly are, beloved daughter. Sit in front of Him, face to face, in the comfort of your own home, and allow Him to whisper to you just how He loves you. Sit in front of Him and give permission for Him to tell you who you are and how He has created you to be. Then parent your kiddos from an overflow of THAT. Now, I do not by any means, feel that I do everything correctly at all times. I fall short regularly. However, I have come to realize that as individuals, being created this way by a loving Father, the scripture that instructs us to raise our children in the way they should go doesn't simply mean to keep them in church and remind them to be good people and say prayers when things are bad. It means that I have to submit my hopes and dreams to my God, the one who made my babies and trusts me with them. I have to seek HIS will for them and their lives and I have to trust how He tells me to raise them. I have to give them permission to go there with Him. To seek His will for themselves from a place of knowing Him, not just the idea of Him. I have to do things differently because I am raising my children to be different. To go against the preset grains of religion that were grooved by man and not the ones set by Jesus himself. We are raising men and women in relationship with their Heavenly Daddy who has a good and perfect plan for their lives and knows their BEST destiny. So that's why we do things this way. Because we are choosing to raise disciples of Jesus. Because we are choosing to allow our children to experience the depths of His love now, instead of down the road after the world has had it's fun with them. We are choosing to raise our kids in the way they SHOULD go. One day, I pray, when they are able to make the decision to stay or go, they choose to stay. And never from the fear of what Hell would be like. But because of their relationship with a Good Heavenly Father that has been a friend for all their days. A Good Father that has held them in His wrap around love at night when they felt alone. Because they know what it is to share secrets with Him, and Him tell them His secrets. Because they have watched Him do the unthinkable in their lives time and time again because they have trusted and granted Him permission to be there always. Because they know what it is to hear HIM sing their heart's song to them because He knows them like that. Because they grew up knowing their Beloved Identity through experience and not just by someone else's account. Momma, I know this seems impossible. Or like it's too much. Or like you aren't capable. But you are. And it's not. Because believe me when I tell you that if I can, so can you. It just starts with you. You in Him. And Him in you. Abiding in the sweetness of your Heavenly Father.
So just start there.