What Real Love Looks Like to Kids

real loveREAL LOVE: I stepped into “Little House on the Prairie” reruns when I visited friends’ homes during childhood. A home very different from mine.

People in these homes blessed each other with words of affirmation:

“Beautiful picture, honey. I can barely wait to show grandma.”

“You remembered to put away your books. You are so responsible!”

“I appreciate that you called home to say you’d be late. That meant a lot to me, that you cared.”

Raspberry kisses, tummy tickles, and high fives interspersed these blessing words. I watched these dreamy interactions unfold and harbored more than a little jealousy. Have you too wanted something you didn’t have?

Where’s Real Love?

But at my home, dad yelled and mom withdrew into stony silence. Often I covered my ears to muffle the hate words. I also tried make my parents happy. From age 8 or 9, I washed floors and tubs, dusted and vacuumed, finished my homework without reminding, and played with my older brother, Ted.

But my presence made little difference. And Ted just seemed to irritate them. A bonafide IQ of 148 and report cards with Cs and Ds–he had trouble finding a place of belonging at home or school. It seemed, we were side tables in a white clapboard, one-and-a-half-story house in a Chicago suburb. Just furniture. We believed we had no voice.

When Ted turned 16 or so, the drug scene lured him. I tried to fit in with the “popular” girls and failed. Again. Do you relate?

God Steps In

Perhaps the influence of an unhappy childhood is one reason I became a counselor. My work as a biblical counselor permits me the privilege of helping children and teens know God’s care, love, and purpose in their lives. It’s encouraging that very often a child’s pain evaporates like a puddle on a hot summer day as the child (or teen) and the parents choose to love God above all. (Matthew 22:37)

As God transforms hurting hearts, thoughts, actions, and emotions as well as beliefs come together and reflect the heart of Jesus. Did you know Jesus welcomes little children? Our wonderfully radical Lord invited them to come near.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ Luke 18:15-17, ESV

The truth: Children do matter. Toddlers or teens, they deserve our love. Real love. Christ-like love.

Real Love in Good Times, Bad Times

What does real love look like during good times at home?

Conversation at dinner time, playing board games, and going for walks.

What does real love look like in bad times?

Repentance, forgiveness, consequences.

Reality is a phenomenal teacher. When a child does his homework, he gets the satisfaction of good grades. When a preschooler bites a 3 year old at the playground — yes, I am a mom of a former biter — she is escorted from park immediately. When a teen refuses to clean her room, her cell phone goes in timeout.

Real Love: Messy!

Healing came as I recognized I cannot change my family of origin. But my husband and I can rewrite the script for our children. With God’s help, we can leave a legacy of real love. We mess up, of course. Real love isn’t perfection. Rather, it’s hugs and tears and laughter in the middle of mess.

JUST FOR YOU: Would you like help with struggles that perhaps go back to childhood hurts? I offer a short, complimentary phone consult. Sign up here.

 

Discover Your TRUE Heart’s Desire

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Friend, do you know your TRUE heart’s desire? Knowing and fulfilling your heart’s desire can change the direction of your life–from burned out to rest-filled, from down-in-the-dumps to delightful.

Listen to the story of three of my counselees. Notice how different they are. Yet each is making a difference for God’s kingdom. See if your story is similiar.

  • Kim teaches Sunday school to preschoolers, showing them the love of God through simple Bible stories, songs, and Jesus “parties.”
  • Dora has a decorative flair. She beautifies her church’s worship center, making it inviting to regular attenders and visitors.
  • Tanya cleans the homes of elderly folks in need of a helping hand and conversation.

In this brief article you’ll learn:

  1. why you want to know your heart’s desire.
  2. 2 quick steps to discovering your heart’s desire.

Why You Want to Know Your Heart’s Desire

You want to know your heart’s desire because. . .this knowledge empowers and energizes you to make a difference in your own life and in other’s lives. Most important, God wants you to know your heart’s desire to honor him. Does this make sense?

When you know your heart’s desire, you are energized to make a difference, honor God, and be happy.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Sometimes this verse gets mangled. God doesn’t say he’ll give you anything you desire, though at first glance it may sound that way. Reread the verse part of the verse. God gives you the desires of your heart as you submit to Christ.

As you delight in him, you’ll desire what he desires. Yes!

2 Quick Steps to Discovering your Heart’s Desire

God made you unique. There’s no one on this planet just like you. You have your own DNA, life experiences, upbringing, talents, and spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

God wouldn’t change a hair on your head. He is for you. He is with you.

QUICK STEP 1: 

What propels you out of bed in the morning (other than an amazing cup of coffee)? Are you keen on empowering single moms? Encouraging war veterans? Designing organizational systems? Taking photographs that tell a story?

It may help to jot answers to these questions:

  1. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
  2. What do other Christians say you’re particularly good at?
  3. Which of the following people groups tug at your heart? The homeless; women who’ve had abortions; impoverished families; couples in healthy marriages; children with learning disabilities; substance abusers; families of prisoners; the elderly; the ill; women (or teens) in emotional pain; gifted children, other: ___________.

Look over your answers. Do you see a theme? Now write down: I believe my heart’s passion may be _____________.

If you’re not sure, this is OK. As you try out your interests, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Let’s go to quick step 2. It’s truth-telling!

QUICK STEP 2:

Did you know that usually people’s heart’s desire comes from their life experience, especially the difficult ones?

On a 8 1/2 by 11 paper, turned sideways (also called “landscape”), write My Timeline at the top. Then make 3 long, parallel lines. Divide your current age by 3.

On the lines, you’ll record events (happy and sad and disturbing). The top line is for the first third of your life, the second line for the middle third of your life, and the bottom line for the last third of your life. Got it? Good.

Among the events to record are…

  • Birth dates
  • Death dates
  • HS graduation
  • Anniversaries
  • Marriages and divorces
  • Hospitalizations
  • Moves to new locations
  • New jobs, lost jobs
  • Other important events

Now What?

Once you finish your timeline, prayerfully review it and notice what tugs at your heart. Perhaps you faced a home foreclosure and have a heart’s desire to minister to the homeless. Or, maybe you desire to write a book on fear or to teach Crown financial budgeting principles to others.

Maybe you lived in a blended family and have a heart’s desire to help second and third marriages stay intact. Or possibly you were a victim of a crime and your heart’s desire is to become a first responder, teach self-defense classes, or lead a Bible study in prisons.

Next, look over your timeline. Why not pray over what you discovered. Then, reread your answers to the questions in Step 1.

Finally, write a preliminary statement: my TRUE heart desire may be: _____________.

Chances are, over time you’ll refine your statement. Here’s mine.

Isn’t it amazing that God often uses your story to foster hope in others?

The Takeaway

When you live your heart’s desire, you help others, avoid burnout, glorify God, and are truly happy.

Do you have questions? Would you like help making your heart’s desire a reality? Then contact me. It’s beautiful to hope.

Counseling Hearts to Hope!

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God’s Peace Plan: P.R.A.Y.

planPEACE PLAN: Remember the spunky Miss Clara in the movie War Room? She narrates: “We fight for power. We fight for riches. And we fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about.” Yet. . .

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

In this post, war-roomI’ll outline a simple, Spirit-inspired peace plan to pray. Miss Clara prayed in her closet she calls her “war room” and taught Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, to speak fervently with God about her crumbling marriage.

Is your marriage in trouble? Are your emotions out of control? Is your teen making poor choices? Are you ill? In financial duress? Brokenhearted?

God has a peace plan for the war you’re in. Prayer is your battle cry!

God’s Peace Plan

It’s a four-letter word: P.R.A.Y.

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6

Read this familiar verse again. Then think on it. Now do what it says: P.R.A.Y. This is your peace plan!

P: Praise

Begin with praise. Praising God puts your mind where it need to be: focused on God. He is the One who not only created to universe, but also knows your hurts and deeply cares.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16, NIV

R: Repent

To repent is to change your mind and line up your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Repentance is a gift from God, and I’ve noticed in counseling, those who repent make lasting, positive, godly changes the quickest.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

A: Ask

The Lord invites you to approach him confidently and share what’s on your heart. This is part of deepening your relationship with him. He promises to give you all that is good.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:2

Y: Yield

As you pray, believing that God can handle your problems, your faith will increase, and you’ll become calm and confident.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

Go ahead, PRAY. I will too. Tell me how it goes.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses are comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Embracing the Truth of God’s Character

GodWhen you embrace the truth of who God is, your burdens lift. . .even in trials. Dr. Donna Hart, PhD, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here, shares loving truth. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.

When our burdens seem too heavy a weight to carry, we can be tempted to believe that God has unjustly piled them on us. The heaviness of the burden may lure us toward unbiblical views leading us to distrust his goodness. Then we may feel depressed.

He loves us too much to give us inner peace when we hold on to attitudes or beliefs about him that are not true to who he is.

False belief: I should get what I want

One belief we are prone to have is our right to certain things or relationships. We can mistakenly believe we have a “right” to what we want. We fail to realize the truth that it is a blessing to have. It is not a right.

Then anger often emerges, prompting us to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. This path of thought will lead us to presume we know better than God. And we will likely try to do things our way.

Do you ever think God is arbitrarily making you miserable? If so, you may base your thinking on persistent feelings of discomfort, rather than upon God’s words of promise. So it’s is no wonder you’re miserable!

Asaph Questions God’s Character

Asaph questions God’s character in a similar way in Psalm 77:7-9:

Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show His favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld His compassion?

Fortunately, Asaph asks his questions from a place of faith in God. Our questions may be like Asaph’s, but they may not be asked from a position of faith.

An unbiblical interpretation of our lives can lead us down a slippery slope of false beliefs, which cause us to become more deeply saddened, thinking the future holds no hope.

False Belief: This world is all there is

Our hearts can start to think this world is all there is and seek only temporal relief rather than longing for his glory. Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says,

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

When we continually reject the truth of the Word by believing our own thoughts and emotions about our circumstances, we start to feel guilty. We also assume he has rejected us, leaving us with little hope.

Our hearts often cry out as Asaph did, asking if his will ever return. But we must remember that it is not true that he has forgotten to be gracious or that he has withdrawn his love, leaving us victims.

We must rebuke the lies that cause us to think God is standing with a raised hammer just waiting for the opportunity to lower it on our heads.

Asaph foresaw the inevitable judgment on Israel. In his heart he cries to God as he anticipates the coming misery of the Israelites’ suffering in captivity. He voices his fears but continues to appeal to to God’s divine power to change all that is to come.

False Belief: Trials are bad

The truth is, God ordains our trials to teach us to trust him and to grow our faith. In those trials, we must exercise a strenuous faith and give God glory and honor regardless of the circumstances. Be determined to resist self-focused desires of insisting on comfortable lives with easy answers, and convenient timetables.

As we learn to give God the glory and honor him no matter the circumstances, he will help us to. . .

  • make discerning decisions with the right perspective
  • grow in our faith
  • persevere with joy

Let us learn to not gaze long and hard at our own suffering. Rather, may we stay focused on the promises God has set before us.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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