Praying for Your Children On Purpose

I’ve gone through seasons of being incredibly intentional about praying for my children — notice I said seasons. I admit, I’ve not been faithful in prayer, as I wish would have when I look back on the fifteen years of parenting that have already passed.

Praying for Your Children

There was this one year that I prayed for each child on a different day of the week. And another year in which I participated in a Moms in Prayer group — and oh my, we saw the Lord move on behalf of our children in amazing ways! But for the most part, my prayers for my children have amounted to something like this. . .

Oh God, be with them. Keep them safe. Help them to be wise. May they love you fully. And may they want to know you personally and make you known.

While this prayer may seem fine, it sort of feels like the cliff notes version of a larger book that should be read in order to get the full appreciation of the content. It’s not all that I can do as a praying mother. And I want that to change.

Lamentations 2:19

Arise, cry out in the night,
    as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children . . .

Although I have journals scribbled full with pleas and petitions to the Lord, there aren’t enough of those pages filled up with prayers for my children. I think I’ve pushed praying for my children aside because their needs feel so easily met by me at the moment. In light of other circumstances we’ve faced, like family tentions, life-changing decisions, and health crises too many to count, my children are doing just fine. Fine is fine. But for how long?

Their lives will only get more “un-fine” as they grow up, which is why they need their momma praying for them on purpose . . . now. {click to tweet}

So as I turn to face the next decade of being a mother, I want to invest my time in bringing more than passing pleas to the Lord. I want to pause long enough to reflect on their needs and pray for them the way I’d want to be prayed for by others.

I want to give to the Lord what I see in their personalities that need His touch.

I want to talk to God about the struggles they face and the fears they feel.

I want to hand over to their Maker my concerns about their relationships.

I want to yield to the Lord His plans for their lives and get out of the way of the story He is writing.

These desires to pray diligently for my children may be lofty, but I think they reflect the heart of God.

 A longing to pray for our children comes from the Spirit’s conviction and most certainly will face the enemies opposition.

So how can we move forward with a plan to pray for our children that won’t be stumped by fleshy distractions? It think it looks like this:

  1. We need to start with prayer, asking God for His strength to move in this direction.
  2. We need to ask for someone to hold us accountable — someone who shares the passion and will be willing to ask us weekly, “So how did you do in praying for your children this week?”
  3. And we need a simple plan for how to pray, like this resource you can download from moretobe.com, so that we can be intentional.

What do you think, momma?

Will this be the moment in which you decide that you’ll pray for your children on purpose?  Will you embrace the fresh start, here at the beginning of a school year, and set a goal of sticking with it for more than a month?

I hope so. And I’m willing to ask you to hold me accountable, too. I want the next decade of my mothering to be marked by a commitment to pray for my children. Let’s do this together.

Shine Bright & More Beautiful,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

 {Don’t forget to grab the “Praying on Purpose for Your Children” download available at More to Be!}

Giving Thanks for the Space You Call Your Home

The sound of rain hitting the tree tops and the clanging of the dryer spinning with rocks inside, thanks to my boy of course, break my concentration long enough to remind me of an important truth.

This is what I always wanted.  

A family of my own.  

And a safe-haven to dwell in together when the storms of life hit noisy and loud.

But if I was still living for my own dreams, I would have missed the reality of this blessing.

See, I’ve always wanted to own a home. And yet what I’ve wanted has not been a part of God’s plans. My husband is a boarding school teacher, and housing is a part of his package. In all our years together, we’ve lived in 7 different homes, from apartments to condos within a dorm to houses small and large. They are not all created equal, nor are the responsibilities that go with each one. And none of them have a white picket fence with an ocean view I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl!

How we live in the spaces we're given . . .

For the first ten years of living in this place, I wrestled with God over our housing situation. I was ungrateful. Plain and simple. And I was discontent with our circumstances, until one housing fiasco led to another and I had no choice but give it all up to the Lord.

“God, from this point forward I will thank you for the place you’ve given us to live in. No matter what. No matter where.”

God took me up on that prayer. Only a few weeks after surrendering to the Lord, we moved into a beautiful, large home rented by the School. I was overwhelmed by God’s provisions. Humbled and grateful for the way that house enabled us to have an extended family member live with us for my than six months, and meet a need in her life. However, God did not plan for us to stay there long term.

A year later, we had to move again, and settled into a smaller, condo-like home in a girls dorm. I loved the responsibilities, but it wasn’t an ideal long-term commitment. Two years later, we were packing boxes again.  In a bittersweet departure from dorm life, we moved into a what seemed like a reasonable size home for a family for four, only to find out a few months later that we were having twins. Our roomy home vanished into a world of baby gear and discontentment took over my soul. I set my eyes on the larger school homes, aptly named the battleships of the fleet, convinced that the larger space would make my life better.

In God’s perfect plan, we did not move into one of those larger homes. We had no choice but to stay put for another three years, before we moved into a house with more bedrooms — a grace place where our spiritually adopted daughter would have room to live with us. We thought this was the end of the line for our moves at the school, and then we were graciously offered the opportunity to move into a home with more common space — the house we now call our home. It’s not a perfect place. It’s not without it’s little issues. It’s required creativity and flexibility to make some parts of it work for us. But it’s a home we give thanks for, as much as we did for the last three — because it’s the place we get to live together as a family and serve those who God brings in through the back door.

I’ve learned through this journey that a house isn’t a home because you’ve paid the mortgage and call it your own.

It was in the squishy, uncomfortable home in which the twins were born that I truly learned how to give thanks for the home God gave us — then and now. The Lord changed my heart and perspective, opening my eyes to see that no earthly dwelling is meant to be our forever home.

It’s the relationships and interactions and experiences lived within the walls that define our home that matter more than the decor and accessories and square footage and taxes paid.

Whether it is small or large. Whether it is newly renovated or shabby but not chic. Whether it is beautifully decorated or filled with clutter. Whether it is rented, owned, or assigned.

It’s what we do within the spaces we’re given that matter most to God. {click to tweet}

A home on this earth is only meant to be a temporary dwelling . . . a space that most likely will cause us to groan with longing for something more.

Eternity.

Humbled and grateful,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

If you would like help in shifting your mindset about your home and space,
consider using this living intentionally resource and the benefits of life coaching.

6 Summer Projects for Your Tweens & Teens

Are you a mom who dreads the summer months with your teens, fearing the unscheduled time and worrying about them being on their screens too much? Do you feel anxious about the rhythm of packing and unpacking for camp drop-offs and pick-ups in between family vacations?

Imagine being the type of mom who looks at the calendar and sees a blank canvas ready for doing life together, especially with your tweens and teens.

That’s what I’ve asked the Lord to do in me this summer, recognizing that I only have a few years left with my tween and teen at home. I’m so keenly aware that now is the time to make life-time memories, while also seizing the moment to train them up with the skills I’d like to see them take into their future.

Summer Projects for Tweens & TeensSo rather than letting a summer pass without purpose, I’ve come up with six summer projects that I can do with my tween and teen that will enable us to connect while expanding their skill set.

1.  Paint a Room {or Something}

Learning how to paint a room or a piece a furniture is a skill worth having, so look around your home — or maybe a grandparent’s place — for a small space that can be painted in a day with a gallon of paint. This is a low budget project that offers a great reward!  Work with your teen, teaching them how to pick out the paint and supplies as well as prep the space:  clearing out the room, getting the walls ready (Spackle, sand, etc), taping edges, cleaning the floor before painting, etc. And then do the job with them, showing them how to roll, cut in, etc. If painting isn’t a skill you have, watch some tutorials on YouTube and do the research together before you start.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.22.20 AM

2.  Prepare the Food

How about having your tween or teen plan the family’s menu for a week, or for an upcoming trip, and prepare all the food? Offer them a budget as well as assistance in the shopping and food prep time. Use the process to teach about how to select produce and meat, what unit price really means, shelf life for food, how to determine quantity, measurements, etc. Depending on your son or daughter’s maturity, let them handle as many of the responsibilities as possible. You could even toss in an incentive for an older teen, such as “Here’s the amount we spend on food per week.  If you can fix our meals for less than that amount, without us eating bread and water all week, you can keep what you save.”

3.  Purge Something

I’m guessing that you have a closet, storage room, garage, or cabinets that need some purging and reorganizing. Maybe even your tween or teen has a personal area that needs some TLC — like their dressers, bedroom, or old toy room. Let them pick one space to totally purge and reorganize. Be involved in the process in the beginning, but also give them space to figure it out on their own. You can keep it simple and have them focus on “keep, give, toss” for the space. If there is enough to give away, considering letting them organize a Yard Sale and keep the proceeds for themselves.  Or, if your budget allows, you can let them redesign the area, including painting and creating organizational systems.

4.  Put on a Party or a Small Gathering

Since everyone doesn’t have the gift of hospitality, learning how to put on a party or small gathering is another skill worth developing. Consider hosting a party for a birthday, anniversary, or a milestone celebration, or put on a small “themed” gathering for your tween or teen’s friends or your own friends. Have your son or daugther organize the details, including the invitations, menu, decor, party schedule, and setting up the house as well as clean up. Offer a budget as well as working with them through each step. If you do not have the gift of hospitality, don’t fret. Here’s some help just for you, and ideas for a simple tween party here and here.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.23.13 AM

5.  Pick a Project

Is there a project your teen would like to work on, but needs your approval, input, and budget help? Maybe it’s learning a new instrument or developing a new skill, like how to paint with watercolors or write an app for a smart phone. Take your tween or teen out for ice cream and ask them, “What is one thing you’d like to learn how to do this summer?” Help them brainstorm and offer your support in the process, making a timeline and setting attainable goals.

6.  Plan for the Future

This one is definitely the most serious of projects, but worth the investment of time. Have your tween or teen begin the process of preparing for their future — specifically their college years — by creating for themselves a College Bound Checklist & Portfolio (CBC&P).  They can do this either in a binder or notebook, or online using Google Docs, which they can share with you. Their CBC&P can be divided into sections based by grade-level, with a “to do” list for each year. We’re using the Countdown to College: 21 To Do List for High School as our guide. Your teen can also include in their CBC&P a list of college scholarship opportunities (something that can be researched throughout the summer), college picks, and a record of their volunteering, work experiences, and awards throughout high school.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.22.02 AM

What summer projects are you doing with your tween or teen?

How are you using side-by-side experiences to connect with your teens while they are still at home and train up skills they’ll need in their future?

Shine Bright,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

 

For more ideas on how to connect with your tween or teen, especially a daughter, visit moretobe.com.

 

When that Heart on Your Sleeve Tells His Story

May I confess something to you?  I’m a heart-sleeve wearer, and always have been, although my motives have changed over the years.  As a teen, I’d share my heart hoping someone would hold my secrets tenderly, love me unconditionally, and promise to protect me forever, which was certainly a by-product of inheriting a legacy of dysfunction.

But now, I wear my heart on my sleeve, not because I’m looking for something in return, but because I have something I want to share — a story of God’s amazing, extravagant, wildly transforming work in an ordinary life.

I’m not who I was 20 years ago, when God rescued me from a life destined for destruction, and revealed to me a different way to live. My desire to travel the world and pursue a life of corporate success was laid down in favor of marrying a Christ-with-skin-on type of man who wanted to lead a simple life as a high school teacher and raise a family together.

When that Heart Tells His Story

I’m not who I was nearly 15 years ago, when God poured out His grace in the life of our firstborn daughter — a miracle considering the life I lived during my early college years.  God continues to show me evidence of His touch, as I mother all four of our children — but by His grace.

I’m not who I was seven years ago, when God took my mask-wearing, good-girl living and said enough through the words of truth-tellers speaking with love who challenged me to become more than an angry, hurting, yelling mama. It was time to deal with the guilt, shame, bitterness, and unforgiveness that had overtaken my heart and was overflowing hurt onto my family (Ezekiel 36:26).

Even as a passionate go-getter type of woman, with a whole lot of hutzpah as my Jewish grandmother would say, I couldn’t fix my issues on my own. I needed God more than ever before, even for the courage to walk into that counselor’s office.  It was there that God showed me how years of Scripture study and wet-eyed prayers were not wasted. He burst forth in me a season of radical healing, as learned how to trap my thoughts, and my memories of the past (2 Corinthians 10:5), and give them over to Him so that He could transform them — and change me — with the truth (Romans 12:2).

I’m not who I was, and I’m not yet all that God has created me to become. I’m work in progress, but that doesn’t mean I can’t yet tell of His story.

Philippians 1:6 NIV
. . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God continues to move His Spirit into untouched places in my heart, as He writes His story of extravagant grace and wild transformation. That’s why I go forth with my heart on my sleeve — not to show how much better I’ve become, but to point to the One who changes lives from the inside out.

I want women to seek God for themselves and to know the impact their changed lives will have on the next generation. {click to tweet}

I’m finally becoming the wife and mom I wanted to be and that’s because of God’s work within my heart, mind, and soul.  All that I do is an overflow from what He is doing in me — whether I serve as a mom and wife, as a life coach or mentor, as a writer or speaker, as a ministry leader at More to Be or as I engage with the community right out my back door. It’s because of God’s changing work in my heart and all for Him to use His way and in His timing.

Friends, I’m hear to say it’s true:  When we give God access to our heart and surrender to living in light of the Truth, He will change our thinking and thereby change our living. He will change us from “as is” into that new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) we long to become, so that He can use us to impact this world, starting with our families, for His glory.

Because of Him,

Elisa

moretobe.com & elisapulliam.com

This post is a part of our “Who We Are” Series. For all posts visit,

“Who We Are: The Stories Behind TBM Writers”

Who We Are at The Better Mom

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