The Unexpected Meal {Teaching Hospitality Through Example}

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Recently, in a concerted effort to get our house sold, we decided to have the carpet replaced throughout the house. If you’ve ever had carpet installed, you know it is mayhem. Everything in the rooms of your home displaced and moved from room to room. Workers in the most intimate parts of your home…for the entire day, if you have a lot of carpet.

Ours took from morning until supper time, as we had the entire upstairs — 4 bedrooms, a loft, and 6 closets — to re-carpet. And for the entirety of our day, three men who we’ve never met, walked in and out of our closets, bedrooms, and through our front door.

Five of my young boys were home that day, and they looked on with wonder at the work being done, and the workers doing the work. These were men that didn’t dress or talk like their teachers at school or church. These were men that took breaks outside in a cloud of smoke. These were men who’s bodies were covered with images and words they don’t see on their parent’s arms and legs. These men worked hard and worked quietly, and like everyone else…had a story. And that story was now spending a day in my home.

When lunchtime came, the boys and I started hunting for what we had to eat. We landed on simple turkey and cheese wraps. My 10 year old offered to help, and while we began to make lunch, I asked him to run upstairs and get a lunch order from the men carpeting: Turkey and cheese with salsa or with mayo/mustard. I assumed they would decline and spend lunchtime away.

But, no. They all wanted turkey wraps. I listened from the kitchen, and each of them paused in surprise, and accepted.

My son ran downstairs with the most enthusiastic smile on his face. I knew what he had just discovered: The joy of hospitality. He worked diligently to compose paper plates of turkey wraps, chips and salsa, and even placed two oreos on each plate. He was delighted and proud. It wasn’t the lunch he was proud of…we’d had fancier. No, it was the delight of knowing he was about to bless some hard-working men who were in his home for the day.

One by one the men came downstairs, grabbed a plate and sat outside to eat. One by one, they came in with empty plates and thanked us for the meal. And my boy beamed.

You see, I learned that day, that our children take our cues about hospitality. Our children hear us when we say,

“We don’t have anything worth sharing,”

“That’s awkward to feed strangers,” or

“Let’s keep to our business.”

They also hear us when we say,

“Share whatever we’ve got,”

“Give with a cheerful heart,” or

“We are blessed to be a blessing.”

They value what we value and get excited about what we think is worthy. Let Christ be our true treasure; for when his is worthy, any and all who he brings to us become souls…of value.

Blessings,

Ruth

www.gracelaced.com

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!}

Fall Into Grace: 4 Steps to a More Peaceful Home this Fall

Friends, my family has been through quite a year. We’ve been through health issues, unexpected upheavals and big changes – not the least of which was moving halfway around the world to a place we never thought we would be!

Our little family has weathered the craziness of this past year really well. My husband and kiddos are rock stars!

But gals – and I don’t know about you – I’m tired. Body and spirit, I’m weary. I’m still faithfully spending time in the Word and in prayer; but most of the time these days it feels like my prayers are hitting the ceiling and the words from The Word are hitting plexiglass instead of a pliable, open heart.

And my family, y’all. After a year of change and movement, we need some peace. We’re all tired, we’re a little rough around the edges and we’re all a bit on edge.

How about you? Could your heart use a little bit of peace? Could your home use a little bit of peace in this season of back to school, impending holidays and pumpkin-everything?

(Note: “peace” does not necessarily mean absence of action, or even absence of conflict. Rather, a deep seated contentment in your current season.)

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think/feel, “If only someone would calm things down around here I could be the patient and loving wife and mother I long to be!!” You and I both know that we are the ones who set the tone for our homes and families. If someone is going to usher peace into our chaotic lives, it must start with us.

I know.

Fall Into Grace: 4 Steps to a More Peaceful Home This Fall

So, let’s do this together. Let’s take 4 simple steps to make our homes and families a little bit more peaceful this fall (and all the year ’round!).

1. Choose a theme verse. Spend some time praying, searching God’s Word and talking with your husband. Ask God to lead you to a verse to be your theme for the fall. Commit to memorizing it, praying it daily, and talking about it with your family. I’m thinking about choosing Psalm 119:165:

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

I also want to incorporate verses 166-176 into my daily prayers for my family. Print your verse and hang it in prominent places in your home. Is there a song that incorporates your verse? Play it! Sing it! Learn it! The Word of God is living and active and the most powerful resource at our disposal to bring about positive and lasting change in our own hearts and in the hearts of our families.

2. Examine your schedule. It’s hard to have any time of peace or rest if you’re running six ways from Sunday everyday of the week. Talk with your husband and together come up with a plan for how many extracurricular activities in which each child can participate. We can’t do everything, and we shouldn’t try. For our family, in this season, our rule of thumb is one extra activity per child. That may change over the years, but for now it works for us. Decide for yourselves, too, how many extra things you will participate in. Do you really need to lead the women’s Bible study at church, coordinate the nursery rotations, make snacks every week for the youth group and go visiting the homebound every week all while running a blog, personal business website and planning your next mission trip? By all means, serve!! However, let’s find the places He is really leading us, and serve there. It will free our energies to cultivate peace at home, and it will free up ways for others to serve!

3. Concentrated time alone with God. My quiet times have been struggling lately. Oh, I’ve been in the Word. I’ve been praying…or trying to. But as I look ahead to cultivating a season of peace at home, I cannot give (or cultivate) what I myself to not have. We need hearts at peace in order to be agents of peace in our homes. Set aside time daily – a good chunk of time where you will have minimal interruptions – and really spend time with God. You may just need to sit quietly at first and focus on His presence to allow your heart to soften and open. If you’ve been through some stressful times this year, you may have been building a protective wall around it without realizing. This time can be early in the morning, during nap time or after the kids are in bed. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you take it. Set a reminder on your phone, write in on your calendar. Protect this time like your life depends on it – because it does.

4. Accountability and Encouragement. We cannot do this parenting gig alone. Find some friends from church, work, other school moms, whatever to come along with you on this journey of peace. If, like me, like-minded friends in person are a rare find, there are loads of online resources to help you, too! The past few years I’ve been participating in the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge from Courtney at Women Living Well (this challenge will run again this year, every Monday in October). Last year I fell in love with the book, Autumn Bliss, from Denise Thompson. So many great ideas for cultivating peace and rest in our homes.

So, are you in? Leave us a comment and tell us which one of these steps you’re either most excited about…or most terrified of! :)

Blessings,

Jen Deibel

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

I feel rather blessed.

Being the mother of several teenage daughters—young, bright, and beautiful. All of them hoping to get married some day.

These girls dare to dream.

But to tell you the truth, they’ve grown a little doubtful lately.

The girls observe these marriages around them falling apart right before their eyes. They’ve seen the destruction of divorce and have stayed up late comforting dear friends whose parents are parting ways.

Or, they watch while some couples stay together, yet grow increasingly cold and distant. Tension filling the air.

It troubles them to think of their lives ending up in this unhappy way.

It messes with their minds and messes with their dreams.

They’re not little girls anymore and they understand that life is no fairytale.

But they can’t help wondering where did all the good stories go? You know, the ones with a happy ending? Whatever happened to happily-ever-after?

And this is what I say to them…

My dear girls,

I believe in a good God who desires to write a beautiful story for our lives.

Rather than looking at the messed-up world around you, fix your eyes on Him who is more than able to care for you. He is the One you can trust for your hope and for your future.

…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (I Pet. 5:7)

I believe in a God who is in the business of changing people. He can change me and He can move that man of mine. He has the power to transform our marriage into something wonderful and glorifying to Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

I believe in a God who restores and redeems. He can heal the broken and save the lost. I’ve seen Him turn lives around and rescue marriages from the most impossible situations.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps. 34:18)

I believe in a God who sees the big picture. While we might only see the snapshot – what is happening today – He knows what our future holds.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

Take your dad and me, for example. Here we are, two imperfect people who have learned to love each other—who are still learning to love each other. Look at the good work God is doing in and through our life together. Growing, learning, forgiving and loving some more. This is the stuff that makes for some of the best stories.

This is a real love story.

So that’s the kind of story I’m hoping for our daughters and the kind I’m hoping for you. Not because I believe in fairytales, but because I believe in a good and powerful God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

The Jacobson Girls

So go ahead and dare to dream, girls.

Because we know the God who is the Author of the greatest love story – and we are known by Him.

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

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