Dear New Driver

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Dear New Driver,

As much as Disney and Pixar want you to think your car has a personality, I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t. You can name it. You can put eyelashes on it. You can put a girdle in front of it or decorate it with a tail on the back. You can call it by a name all day long, but your car does not have a personality. I’m so sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart that you have a friend you think is real and legit; it’s not.

Let me tell you this: since your car does not have a personality, it takes on your character. When you hop in the car, if you are happy, your car will be happy. If you are sad, your vehicle is going to be sad. If you are angry, your car is going to be angry. It will be blasting through traffic, flying around people, thoroughly annoyed. If you are in a hurry, your car will be fast. It didn’t turn into a sports car overnight. It’s not a Camaro. But you put that pedal to the metal and press it down because you need to get somewhere on time.

Just because you’re a new driver who can drive does not mean you have to. When you are in a hurry or distracted, asking your parents to drive you where you need to go is okay. Tell them, “I’m in a really big hurry, and I don’t want my car to be in a hurry,” or “I’m very upset right now. I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive through my tears,” or “I won’t be able to drive without anger.”

If you recognize that your car takes on your personality, you can stop it. You can say, “It’s not okay to drive an angry car around town because that could hurt people.” There are consequences to driving your car when you are emotional. When your vehicle is angry, you can end up in a wreck by hitting another car or someone walking on the sidewalk. Wouldn’t that be awful? That is horrible. You would have to live with it.

We don’t want to do that. We want to ensure we realize our car does not have a personality—but it takes on ours.

Perspective and Little Annoyances

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I don’t know about you, but I can get upset at the dumbest things.

There was a time I was driving home from the gym and saw an emergency vehicle swashing near my home, and for a moment, I would stop and think, “Lord, I hope my husband’s not in that accident.”

We are so foolish when the only thing we have in front of our eyes is temporal crap. We are so full of it. We can get so frustrated over the dishes or running water. But yet, in a blink of an eye, our loved one may not be present to run the water, leave dishes in the sink, smack our ear, or hug us. We take it for granted that they are going to be there tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. We can be so mad over the dumbest things.

For example, with my husband, I get frustrated because he is defensive. If I talk to him about anything, he automatically defends himself instead of pausing and processing what I say and then talking back to me and giving me a logical statement. I can become so frustrated—but then I am not carrying the love of God. I know the minute I see an emergency vehicle and pray to God it’s not him, the defensiveness does not even matter. I clearly love the man.

If I could keep in mind the eternal perspective that life is short—it’s merely a breath—can you imagine how differently I would respond? How would I respond differently today?

I would like to challenge you today to live with this in mind: What if your loved one, your spouse, or your friend were gone tomorrow in a blink? Is there anything you would do differently? Is there anything you have said but would take back? Is there anything you’d like to stop nitpicking about? Is there any little thing in which you use your words to tear someone down but would turn around and build them up instead? Is there someone you would hug more today? Someone you would call and tell them you love them? Don’t hesitate—do it.

The next time you are frustrated about something small, pause and picture in your mind an ambulance picking them up off the ground, and then see if you want to say something about it.

Emotions: A Can Opener to the Soul

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One of the greatest things about having kids who are old enough to do things is bossing them around. “Hey kids, do the dishes.” “Hey kids, vacuum the floor.” “Hey kids, do all of my motherly house chores.” When I tell them, command them, or ask them to do something, am I asking them to do something they couldn’t possibly carry out? I mean, how difficult is it to unload the dishwasher for a 15-year-old? She uses the dishes. I use the dishes. Why is the house the responsibility of the mother? It shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t all fall on my shoulders. 

When I ask her to do it, there is a purpose behind it. It’s not something she is unable to do. I didn’t say, “Hey, go reroof the house.” I’m not going to say, “Hey Chandler, I know you are not old enough to drive and you don’t have a driver’s license, but can you drive my car to the store to get us some groceries?”

Right before Jesus was crucified, He was giving His last words to His disciples. But they didn’t realize that in the moment when Jesus said—in John 14:1—“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (NIV). Distressed or agitated is how the Amplified Bible defines that. He told them not to let their hearts be troubled. That is a command. He gave them a command. He was telling them, “Hey, I am going to be crucified. Now when this happens, don’t be agitated. Don’t be distressed.” Would He give them a command they could not carry out? Would God ever do this? Would He give you something to do if He hadn’t equipped you for it already? Absolutely not.

When they took Jesus away to crucify Him, all the disciples fled because of shock, awe, and fear—even though Jesus had told them what was going on and what was going to happen. It was like they did not truly believe Him. They didn’t understand. They didn’t have full comprehension of what was going to go down. 

When it happened, it’s like it spiked their five senses. Their emotions started going wild, like, “What is going to happen? I am afraid. What if they take me, too?” Peter denied Jesus three times because he didn’t want to be associated with Him. What would make someone deny Jesus three times? Fear. Fear for their own life, fear for their own harm, and fear that if Jesus was accused, they were going with Him.

Jesus had just told them not to let their hearts be troubled, not to let themselves be moved. Our emotions are like a can opener to our soul. They can completely and immediately invoke fear and a response if we aren’t being intentional about pausing. The moment it hits us and our heart wants to be troubled, we have to pause, take those emotions and thoughts captive, and put truth to them every time. The moment they heard or saw Jesus being taken into captivity, the disciples should have paused and remembered, “Wait a second. Jesus told us this was going to happen. He told us not to let our hearts be troubled. How can we band together and keep that from happening?”

Instead, their immediate reaction was to flee. They all fled. They ended up separated. What does Ecclesiastes say? “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NIV). Yet they all fled. They went on their own. They ended up isolated. Peter ended up isolating himself when he denied Jesus. He didn’t have a band of brothers, a cord of three strands.

In John 14:27, when Jesus was finishing His last words, He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV). He told them to stop allowing themselves and permitting themselves to be agitated and disturbed, to be fearful, intimidated, cowardly, and unsettled.

Jesus had given this command to them, and immediately following that, they didn’t carry through with a single thing He had told them to do. They were fearful; they were disturbed. They were agitated. They were cowardly. They were unsettled. They were in denial. They didn’t cling to the truth. They didn’t cling to Jesus. They didn’t remember His words. They forgot. They didn’t linger on the last words of their leader. They gave up, quit, and ran in fear. They didn’t remember He said not to be troubled. If they hadn’t been troubled, they would have remembered, “Oh, He said this is only going to happen for three days. In three days, He will rise again.” But they couldn’t remember that because their emotions took over and their flesh responded.

Whenever we have an emotional response and our hearts are troubled, we have to ask ourselves, “What is it that we truly believe? What lie do we believe that is preventing us from being stable-minded?”

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” (AMP). When your emotions flare up and your heart is troubled, distressed, and agitated, you aren’t resting in the shelter of God. We have to ask ourselves what it is we believe that is untrue and triggering this emotional response.

My automobile has dashboard lights. I have two of mine on right now—one is maintenance required and the other is low windshield wiper fluid. Those dashboard lights are there to tell me, “Hey, your car needs maintenance. You might want to get it checked out before it breaks down on you on the highway.” Emotions are the same thing. They flare up to tell you, “Hey, it’s a reminder. Remember God’s promises. Don’t forget the truth He gave you. Don’t forget the words He spoke to you. Go back to the last thing He said. Remember His promises so you can be stable. Trust in Him. Rest in Him to be stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Do a heart check. What is causing this trigger to happen? What is the source? Release it in the name of Jesus and be free from it. Emotions are a can opener to your soul. We are supposed to worship God in spirit and in truth. We need to be protecting. When our emotions jump up, we should pause and take a look at our dashboard. Say, “Hey, what lights are up? God, remind me of Your promises. Is there some lie I believe and I need to speak to right now in the name of Jesus and release? Do I need to forgive myself or someone else?”

We need to stop being moved and controlled by every emotional response and not let our hearts be troubled, distressed, and agitated. He left us His peace, not peace like the world has but the peace that transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds when we rest in Him.

One Tool To Get into Your Child’s Heart

Pillow talk.
Did you know that our children’s minds review their day’s events every night? Every night in their bed, they contemplate and review everything that happened that day. Now, you have one of two options as a parent: you can stay up late as the child is processing and talk to them and stay up all night, or you can choose a tool called pillow talk.
Pillow talk is a journal that is passed between the parent and the child. At night, when a child is processing their day, they can open up their journal and write down what was the greatest thing of their day. So pillow talk journal, you may ask questions like, “What is the greatest part of your day? What part of your day was the most disappointing?” etcetera. Children remember the good, but they also have regrets at the end of the day that they process at night—regrets of failing a test or disappointing behavior that they showed or regretting the way they treated someone. They also consider their wounds.
This is actually the time of the night that they can monopolize your time until the wee hours of the morning if you let them. I have many friends that stay up all night long with their child because that’s when their heart is the most vulnerable and open.
It sounds great in theory, but if you work or homeschool or anything else that you need to do to be productive during the day, you cannot healthily live without sleep. And if you’re married, your husband may want some of your time too. I believe that if you stay up all night with you kids every night and available to them every beck and call that two things happen: one, you lose intimate time with your husband or your spouse; and two, your kids don’t learn to process and how to healthily communicate at an appropriate time. If you’re OCD, you need the time that your child is in bed to reorganize and pick up your house and clean it up for your own sanity the next day.
Rest is an important part of healing. But I also don’t wanna miss out on my time with my kiddos. I don’t wanna miss out on their sweet vulnerable hearts in the time that that they’re processing. So what can you do? Sleep, clean or have late night talks with them, help?
I personally cannot live without sleep. I’m exhausted. When it’s time to go to bed, I’m usually ready for everyone to go to bed. I want to be horizontal. I don’t need to close my eyes, but I need to be horizontal.
I found the tool that lets me into my child’s heart and allow me to sleep. Pillow talk. It’s a journal the kids and I used and it’s a fun game.
What we do is I will write a note to my child. I may write a note about my heart or maybe a way that I behave with them that I want to apologize for. I may write something that I’m disappointed in, and just my life, being vulnerable and transparent. It has nothing to do with them, but just something that I’m just being transparent about. And then I would write some questions like, “Is there anything that has been bothering you lately? Is there an area that I can encourage you more in, or an area where you’re feeling discouraged?” And these don’t need to be long answers, but the answers will help me ask and have appropriate conversations the next day when we’re alert and awake.
Then we sneak it into each other’s pillow. So I would sneak this under my child’s pillow and leave it there and when they read it at night. It also helps steer their thoughts at night. So at night it gives them something productive to think on. I may even put in a positive message or encouragement in their pillow talk journal, or put a bible verse, or a picture. Sometimes, I draw pictures. I’m a horrible artist but I draw pictures for their entertainment. So we sneak into each other’s pillows and see if we can get in there without getting caught. And it’s just a lot of fun.
When it’s under my pillow, I get to read it and I get inside to their heart. So I can be intentional about my time during the day to pull them aside and make sure I have some one-on-one time to discuss what I read. It’s an open door to have an healthy conversation with them at a time when we’re all rested and healthy.