Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—August 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—August 2021

August 2021: Re-Committing to Critical Conversations

We are sharing resources that will support you in recommitting to critical conversations with your kids and spouse on pornography and sexual health and wholeness, how to keep the “main thing the main thing,” discussions in your CG group and recommitting for another year, and considering yearly rhythms with God.

Resources to READ this month:

 

Parenting Prayer Journal (A Resource for a Daily Rhythm of Committing to Praying for Children) This journal aids you in praying for your child on a daily basis. Praying consistently and with focused intention for our kids is a real challenge in the midst of family and work pressure, social media, and busy schedules. This prayer journal will provide a framework for praying a specific word over our children each week of the school year.  Supplies are limited so be sure to grab your copy of the Parenting Prayer Journal: Joyful, Patient, Faithful

Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World  (Daniel Weiss and Joshua Glaser)

Authors Daniel Weiss and Joshua Glaser connect with parents in Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World as the first generation to raise kids in a digitally connected, porn-saturated world. Porn can be accessed in locker rooms, buses, cafeterias, classrooms, bedrooms—anywhere kids have access to digital devices. Worse yet, fringe pornography is increasingly mainstream. This is misshaping our children’s understanding of sexuality, stunting their capacity to process emotions, and crippling their ability to form healthy long-term relationships.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds (Kristen A Jenson

This newly revised edition of the original bestseller from Defend Young Minds makes the daunting discussion of pornography with your kids easy! Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a read-aloud story about a mom and dad who explain what pornography is, why it’s dangerous, and how to reject it. Featuring easy-to-understand science and simple analogies, this internationally acclaimed book engages young kids to porn-proof their own brains.

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World (John Mark Comer)

John Mark Comer writes on the subject of slowing down in a world that propels us to do the exact opposite…we would highly recommend carving out space and time to lean into the biblical wisdom, principles, and truths shared in these pages. To live like Jesus requires us to rethink the speed our lives are operating under.

Necessary Endings (Dr. Henry Cloud)

Henry Cloud, the bestselling author of Integrity, The One-Life Solution, and co-author of Boundaries, offers this mindset-altering method for proactively correcting the bad and the broken in our businesses and our lives. Cloud challenges readers to achieve the personal and professional growth they both desire and deserve—and gives crucial insight on how to make those tough decisions that are standing in the way of a more successful business and, ultimately, a better life.

Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing (Jay Stringer)

Jay uses the foundations of his ground-breaking research of over 3,800 men and women to address the key drivers of unwanted sexual behavior, including use of pornography, infidelity, or buying sex. Jay helps us discover the core of the struggles and key practical steps toward healing.

Resources to WATCH this month:

Common Sense Media: online resource to check for content of movies or shows for your family

Covenant Eyes: filtering to help protect your family from pornography

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

Courageous Gathering Sale!

Don’t miss your chance to get 50% off the Courageous Gathering Breakout Bundle and Conference-To-Go. With dynamic keynote speakers, inspiring worship, and over 40 expert breakouts, you can enjoy each breakout a la carte or purchase the entire gathering to enjoy on your own timetable! Shop here.

Keep an eye out for the Living Wholehearted’s Podcast Episode #92 on August 17th with Joshua Glaser, author of Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World

Episode #33 of the Living Wholehearted Podcast with Jay Stringer author of Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—July 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—July 2021

July 2021: Cultivating Rhythms of Play

 

Resources to READ this month:

 

It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier and Less-Stressed Home (Dr. Kevin Leman) Do you sometimes feel like a gerbil running on a wheel inside a cage as you scurry from place to place, chauffeuring your children from one endless activity to another? What if, for one moment, you could just step off of the wheel . . . and relax? How would you feel then? And what if that single moment could stretch into an hour, or even a whole day? It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil will provide practical solutions and helpful insight to get off the activity wheel so that you can put your time and energies where they really count: in establishing strong character and a love for home and family that will serve your kids well for a lifetime.

 

The Cure and The Cure & Parents (Trueface) There are many ways to parent…how do YOU want to parent? We can wrestle with trying to manage our children’s behavior or reflect on how God sees them…LOVED. Grace-based parenting means we parent from an identity that we are LOVED and that our children are LOVED. How do we do this? Check out Trueface’s The Cure and The Cure & Parents

Why Play Therapy?

Play Therapy, Unpacked – Living Wholehearted blog (Sarah Dangaran, MA, LMFT Intern)

Resources to WATCH this month:

Grab your tweens and teens and enjoy this family friendly musical on Netflix called “A Week Away” which shares the story of a troubled teen that takes a leap of faith by attending summer camp — and unexpectedly finds love, friends and a place to belong. Your whole family will be dancing and singing to classic songs by Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and For King and Country.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

Episode #14 of the Living Wholehearted Podcast:  Helping Our Kids (and Teens) with Their Big Emotions, Part 1 – Guests: Play Therapists Sarah Dangaran and Roshana Grile unpack avenues to help our kids share and manage their emotions  with healthy coping strategies.

Receiving Rest

Receiving Rest

Receiving Rest
A Discipline and an Invitation

Do you regularly lie down to rest?

It’s not an easy thing for most adults living in western cultures. With never-ending lists and demands piling up, the pulse of productivity ticks on, making it difficult to prioritize anything else, especially stopping to rest. There is simply SO. MUCH. TO. DO!

If you are anything like me, sleeping in is a luxury seldom realized. Naps? Forget it. The second I try to settle down I know someone will need something. It’s not that we avoid good rest or doubt the value of a power nap, it’s just that attempted self care or r&r time seems virtually IMPOSSIBLE!

Chuckling to myself, I listen to sermons admonishing Martha, a woman from the Bible, as a busy body. If you are not familiar with her story, it is worth reading. It’s a story of two sisters: Mary and Martha. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words and being present. Martha is occupied by all the preparations that had to be made. In other words, Martha was a distracted doer, running around the kitchen performing ALL THE THINGS that needed to get done in order to host someone as amazing as Jesus in her home. Jesus tells her point blank: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:38-42). Few things are needed. Before you think that might have been a bit harsh, consider Jesus’ tone. Understanding someone’s tone is almost as important as the actual words they say — it’s the message underneath the message.

He was gently and graciously offering Martha an invitation to sit down with Him and enjoy the time together.

In terms of the CVI, Martha was likely more on the practical side. She considered all the implications of what needed to be done as well as the cost of the those tasks not being completed. Worry was her companion. Mary, probably more on the relational side, was never interested in practical things; the dishes could wait. What she needed most was time with Jesus.

Isn’t time with Jesus what we all really need?

Though I don’t think Jesus was making a commentary on which Core Value or hard-wiring is better, He was speaking to the heart of our motives. Specifically, He was asking Martha to recognize the importance of sitting down with him, suggesting that there would be time enough to complete all the other items on the to-do list later or to let go of some tasks.

The Psalmist says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalms 23).

If God desires us to “lie down in green pastures,” then what is it that keeps us from resting, from sitting at the feet of Jesus and just receiving His presence and peace? 

No doubt 2020, and the first several months of 2021, have brought FORCED REST. The problem with anything forced is that it often stirs up anger, resentment, and a bit of our stubborn streak. I do not want to be told what to do. I am not tired! Yet, by March of 2021, with activities starting up again and plans being made, I found myself saying, “YES!” to them all! Perhaps it was out of starvation for something “normal” or for much-needed social interaction for the kids. Whatever the motive, I watched many people, myself included, go from 0 to 60 pretty quickly. After twelve months of forced rest, so many of us anxiously pushed the productivity throttle all the way back up (and not just in the drawers and cabinets that have been re-organized ten times around the house).

In all the excitement and relief that comes with life picking up speed again, we would be foolish to forget the clear message that Jesus gave Martha about stopping to rest. If you’re paying attention, can you feel God’s gentle Hand pressing upon your shoulders saying, “Sit down and trust me. Let me do the work.” Can you hear Him whispering to you to “enjoy, breathe, and take in the work I have already done”?

We have a compulsion to value results — what we can see accomplished. And yet, Jesus clearly stated that, “Mary has chosen what is better.” Resting is both a discipline and an invitation.

In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, we are reminded that there is a time for everything:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2) a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3) a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4) a time to weep and a time to laugh,  a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5) a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6) a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7) a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8) a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
9) What do workers gain from their toil?  10) I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  11) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

As a practical tool, I often refer to this list in Ecclesiastes, circling the numbers that come easily. I also ask God to help me with the ones I resist. It’s actually a great passage to use to take inventory of our ability to balance priorities and our rhythms in life. Teaching our children to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, as well as to love others, requires us to model in real life moments, slowing down and more fully experiencing what God has done.

It means teaching our children to live in a culture that awards productivity and achievement (we’re still giving away trophies even though everyone gets one now), but to live differently — with their eyes open and clear. We need to help them understand where their true identity comes from and that wholeness requires both work and rest. Raising children as believers requires us to keep this at the forefront of our own minds so that we can model the unhurried pace; not with the goal of being lazy or unproductive, but to allow time to taste and see that the Lord is good. To sit and to experience the fruit of who He is and what He has already done.

Learning to rest is a vital part of practicing the greatest commandment. It also means that we’ll be swimming upstream in an achievement-based culture that breeds performance-based spirituality. Believing that it’s “all up to me” is a product of our culture and can be seen in each of the four CVI values:

  • If you are a MERCHANT, you may think it is up to you to make others feel at home and appreciated. You carry the conversation, cook the home-made soup, respond to every text thread, and love on every friend and stranger that passes by.
  • If you are an INNOVATOR, you have the tendency to think it’s up to you to solve every problem that presents itself. If you don’t come up with the solution, no one will. Challenges find you, even when you sleep, and they often prevent you from ever truly resting.
  • If you are a BANKER, you might believe that every T must be crossed and every I must be dotted; precision must be achieved before you’ve “earned” down time. Excellence oozes from you while order is your middle name. And yet, in a fallen world, your job will never be done.
  • If you are a BUILDER, you may want nothing more than to write out a to-do list and see every last item crossed off by the end of the day. There is no person, email, or tornado that will stop your tenacious can-do attitude. Completing tasks is a badge of honor.

Thankfully, no matter our hard-wiring, God finds ways to put His kind Hands on our shoulders and says, “Come to me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-29).

God says we are loved even when we rest. Do you believe that for yourself? How about for your children? For your spouse, your friends, or your staff?

I can love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength while I nap. I feel His presence as I take time to breathe in fresh air, when I hear the sounds of birds, and even when I read a book for no other purpose than to enjoy it. We must understand that our value and worth is separate from our achievements; this understanding helps us to love others apart from their achievements, too.

As you consider Father’s Day, the first days of summer, and recovering from this past year of forced rest, consider what slowing down looks like for you. How does time for rest take shape in your days? There is no formula — that’s the beauty of it. Resting is both a discipline and an invitation from a God who modeled the importance of this by creating the world all week long and then intentionally rested on the seventh day. Did the God of the universe need rest? No. He demonstrated to us how to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Rest is a discipline and an invitation.

The next time God gently puts His hand on your shoulder and makes you lie down in green pastures, when He leads you by the quiet waters, remember to pause. Don’t hurry through the experience, anticipating the next agenda item. If you allow Him to, God will refresh your soul. He will guide you along right paths for His name’s sake. And then, when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the storms of life), you will fear no evil. For then you will know — not just with your mind, but with your heart, your body, and into the depths of your soul — that He is with you and that you will lack nothing (Psalms 23: 1-4).

Written by Terra Mattson, MA LPC, LMFT
Co-Founder of Courageous Girls & Living Wholehearted
Author, Speaker, Podcaster, Executive Coach

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—June 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—June 2021

June’s resource list includes topics that will aid in supporting living wholehearted, with our mind, body, and soul. One way is having a daily or weekly rhythm of rest.

Resources to READ this month:

 

Sabbath Keeping (Lynne M. Baab) A great read to support your Sabbath-keeping journey.

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World (John Mark Comer)

Truth For Today Cards (designed by Emily Lex) Fill your mind and home with beauty and truth with this set of 31 illustrated scripture cards. Use them daily or weekly as memory verse reminders. Share them to encourage a friend.

“Surrendering our children to God means surrendering their entitled lives” (blog on Christian Parenting). As parents, we can live more wholeheartedly in our minds and hearts by removing the weight of creating a perfect childhood for our children.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives (Richard A. Swenson, M.D.) This book is a resource to help reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from.

Resources to WATCH this month:

For Girls Like You – She Is Yours for Fathers – Introduction – YouTube – Jonathan Pitts shares in a 3 part video series on one specific relationship that God has given every dad the ability to impact—Her Relationship With You, Her Relationship With God, and Her Relationship With the World Around Her.

Season 2 of The Chosen is now available to watch! If you haven’t had a chance to watch Season 1, we would highly recommend it as well! Follow along with Jesus and the disciplines in this docu-drama.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

Episode 47: John Mark Comer (Living Wholehearted Podcast) The author of Ruthless:The Elimination of Hurry, shares about burnout and the need for rest.

Episode 75: Trauma-Informed Theology (Living Wholehearted Podcast) The integration of mind, body, heart and soul.

The Point of Parenting

The Point of Parenting

Keeping the long-term picture in mind, Jeff and I have made it one of our MAIN goals to help our girls KNOW experientially that they are loved and to teach them to turn again and again and again toward God, REGARDLESS of how their story unfolds.

In keeping the main thing the main thing, behavior modification and sin management are low on our priority list.

Children will always have behavior issues. It’s called sin. (wink) Teaching a child what to do when temptation arises and how to respond when they make a painful choice is really a better goal for ourselves.

Let me share why.

Poor behavior is not okay because it keeps us from experiencing the fullness of life. And yet, it can be a vehicle toward transformation, depending on how we respond to it. If the point of parenting is to stomp out bad or unwanted behavior from our children, it is likely that they will become hollow and compliant human beings who are vulnerable to attracting controlling spouses and following controlling leaders.

The POINT, my friends, is to help our children grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of our God so that they will trust Him with all of their being. (see Ephesians 3:16-20)

This understanding doesn’t result from the delivery of our profound theological lectures, but rather from the small, and often mundane moments of disciplining.

We commonly find ourselves on one side or another of the parenting coin due to our natural hard-wiring and childhood stories. One side is the over-controlling parent who has a rule and a consequence for EVERYTHING. The other side of the coin is the parent who coddles their children and allows them to lead the relationship out of fear of conflict. Each parenting approach has several likely consequences. So, let’s consider the way God parents us.

We have a sign in our home (yes….another sign) that says, “Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 30:20. When the kids were little, we added a melody and would sing it often to tuck it away in our hearts (including us parents!). We still sing it today as God brings it to mind. It grounds me in my parent role as I remember that God is the ultimate good Father whom we can cling to in all seasons. In the Old Testament, we see how His chosen people keep leaving and returning to God, loving and then forsaking God. In the verse just before Deut.30:20, we hear God parent His children:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

God gives choices. Choose life. OR choose the ways that lead to death and eternal separation from Him and His family.

And God explains the consequences up front.

Our God is a God of choices. There are many times when we become overwhelmed by the behaviors of our kiddos. Yet, the point of parenting is to help them choose again and again. Life and the ways God has said are best for us. Or death.

What I love about what God models is that He gives the choices and consequences up front. Throughout the Bible, He gives us a clear and upfront scenario. He gives choices AND, in great mercy, warns us of the result based on each decision. He doesn’t micromanage and He doesn’t leave us guessing. This plays out in our day-to-day choices and with the things He has given us autonomy and choice in, but we have to be careful not to over simplify this or apply it inappropriately. An example of this could be believing that someone’s cancer diagnosis came as God’s punishment for earlier choices or stepping outside of God’s boundaries. In other words, our human and worldly tendencies can be to start thinking that people get what they deserve. We can judge others by their actions/outcomes, but be much more lenient of ourselves because we naturally judge our own intentions. This is what is so amazing about God’s grace. It can’t be earned, He gives it freely to all who receive Him.

What can this look like in our home?

“John, you can choose the cookie now and not have the birthday cake later with the family OR you can pass on the cookie now and have the birthday cake with the family later. You choose.”

YOU CHOOSE. No temper tantrum. Healthy power of choice given to a child. Win-win.

When a child is two, their choices are smaller. “Do I want a red shirt or a blue shirt?”

When they grow older, their choices expand and so do the potential consequences: “Do I date? Who do I want to date? What will I do with my body?”

Before we can help our children make choices by leaning into the voice of God, they need to know that He is kind and good, and that He loves us deeply. God’s love is not dependent on our choices. As parents, we are our children’s first experience with God the Father. How they experience us, especially when they make poor choices, is connected to how they experience Him. Yikes! But it is so true.

When our children are making poor choices, it often means their “lid is flipped.” So, how do we handle a flipped lid or a flooding of emotions?

Dr. Siegel, author of the Wholehearted Child, reminds us that when a child’s lid is flipped, they cannot hear or receive any direction from their parent. In fact, when your lid is flipped, you are not in a place to parent well either!

Too often, we discipline our children for trying to cope with their feelings of being overwhelmed, scared, hungry, tired, anxious or excited. When they are flooded with emotions, they are merely reacting and often in the process of learning what to do with these normal emotions. This, my friends, is not the best time to offer discipline (though oh, so tempting!). This is when we are to offer comfort, care, and attachment, so that our kids know they are never alone in their uncomfortable or overwhelming emotions.

Emotions are part of being a human. We need to learn what to do with emotions and help our children do the same.

So, the next time your child exhibits one of these behaviors:

  • Stomps off to her room.
  • Yells back when you ask him to clean his room.
  • Steals cookies from the cookie jar.
  • Throws a temper tantrum at the store.
  • Bites the babysitter.
  • Pushes his sister.
  • Rolls her eyes and calls you mean under her breath.

Remember, his or her lid is flipped. The brain is flooded. This is not the time to negotiate, punish, argue or ignore your child. It’s the time to lead your child to healthier coping strategies. It’s can also be the time to calm yourself, which may mean a parent time-out so your own brain and body can calm down.

Our children need our help to not feel lonely in the ups and downs that accompany a growing brain and the human experience of emotions. For older kids, try giving some space so everyone can chill. For younger kids, lean in, which is called a “time-in” instead of a “time-out”. They grow to realize that nothing can separate them from the love of God (or the love of their mom and dad). Try moving through these steps:

  1. Name the emotion: “You are angry.”
  2. Identify where it shows up in her body: “It seems you want to punch something with your hands.”
  3. What does the emotion need (a hug, a banana, a friend to talk to): “Do you want to hit the pillow?”
  4. Meet the need: Let her hit the pillow.

You might be thinking, but don’t kids need consequences?

YES. In fact, a child without consequences will learn to use their emotions and behaviors to manipulate their world. However, a child who is only given consequences without comfort, care, and attachment from a parent is more likely to seek other, unhealthy, sources of comfort in their life: drugs, sex, eating disorders, pornography, self-harm, workaholism.

If consequences are necessary and both you and your child are calm, then you can talk about what’s next and discover a solution. Let the consequences match the crime. Sometimes the consequence includes grace – offering undeserved favor. If you decide to give grace instead of a consequence, it’s important to share the “why” with your child: “Even though we deserve punishment, God still lavishes His love on us….even when we do not deserve it.”

Use grace wisely. It’s meant to be profound and used in impactful moments.

Good news! Not one of us has this parenting thing down perfectly. But, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit living and abiding in us, the more we connect with His heart for us, the clearer this all becomes, we focus less on behavior management for our kids and more on helping them capture the heart and voice of our God, learning to love the One who already loves them. This comes through experience in real time.

In the end, the point is for us, as parents, to live in step with our God, who loves us deeply, and wants our children to experience that same love. God loves you! Love has boundaries. There are consequences for the harmful choices we make in life. God uses (doesn’t waste) consequences to help re-attune our hearts, minds, and bodies back to Him and His ways so that we can do life with Him now and forever. His love, even through consequences, keeps us close and meets our needs. Teaching our kids that they can trust coming to us with any struggle, will help them trust their God with struggles all the days of their lives.

In this way of parenting, we keep the main thing the main thing.

Let’s choose life!

Written by Terra A. Mattson, M.A. LPC, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor
Author, Speaker, Podcaster & Co-Founder of Courageous Girls & Living Wholehearted

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—May 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—May 2021

May’s resource list includes topics that will aid in seeing God’s mercies, even in the hardest spaces, equipping parents to love from a place of mercy and grace, and encouragement to remind you of God’s love and mercy.

Resources to READ this month:

 

Just Mercy (Brian Stevenson) is a powerful account of Bryan’s journey as a lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. This inspiring account will illuminate the need for God given mercy and compassion.

The Whole Brain Child (Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.) gives in-depth insight into your child’s developing brain and ways to parent with mercy and compassion when emotions run high for your toddler, tween, or teen.

In No-Drama Discipline, Dr. Siegel provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears—without causing a scene.

 

Signs of Hope is an intimate collection of stories from Amy Wolff’s personal life and those impacted by the movement, about the power of hope and love in the midst of suffering. Amy is a Courageous Girls mama and was the emcee for the Courageous Gathering.

Be sure to listen to Episode #72 on the Living Wholehearted Podcast as Amy shares you can be an agent of hope in a world.

The 5 Loves Languages book series (Gary Chapman) offers profound insight and tools to understand the unique ways your spouse and children experience love.

In Grace Based Parenting, Dr. Kimmel recommends a parenting style that mirrors God’s love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for behavior.

Resources to WATCH this month:

Season 2 of The Chosen is now available to watch! If you haven’t had a chance to watch Season 1, we would highly recommend it as well! Follow along with Jesus and the disciplines in this docu-drama.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

You will not want to miss Episode #74 of the Living Wholehearted Podcast with Pastor Bill Towne. This one is SO rich with mercy, compassion, and grace as Bill unpacks two big topics: the heart of the future of the church and the intersection of the LGBTQ+ community and the church.

In Episode # 73 of the Living Wholehearted Podcast, parents in all stages will find value in learning from author, podcast host, and business owner Crystal Paine as she shares about shifting her parenting style to hearing more of the heart of God for all His children, big and small.

Starting and Sustaining a Healthy Courageous Girls Group

Starting and Sustaining a Healthy Courageous Girls Group

Join Courageous Girls Co-Founder, Terra Mattson, for a virtual training on “Starting and Sustaining a Healthy CG Group”.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned CG leader or are thinking about starting a CG group, you will NOT want to miss this unique time of teaching and equipping!

Join Terra and the CG Leadership Coaches, Beth & Steph, on May 19th & 26th (10-11:30am PST) for direction, interaction, and personalized training.

Can’t attend live? No problem! Recorded sessions will be available for a short time during the training so you can watch when it fits into your schedule.

Registration opens May 3rd, but space is limited!

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—April 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—April 2021

Resources to READ this month:

There are many ways to parent…how do YOU want to parent? We can wrestle with trying to manage our children’s behavior or reflect on how God sees them…LOVED. Grace-based parenting means we parent from an identity that we are LOVED and our children are LOVED. How do we do this? Check out Trueface’s The Cure and The Cure & Parents this month!

Signs of Hope is an intimate collection of stories from Amy Wolff’s personal life, as well as people impacted by the movement, about the power of hope and love in the midst of suffering. This book discusses:

  • The drain of compassion fatigue
  • Why we should show up imperfectly to help others
  • How to claim hope for ourselves
  • Practical ideas of how to respond to suffering
  • Strategies of how to love people who are “different”
  • Resilience when love-spreading efforts backfire
  • How to raise a compassionate generation
  • The science of hope

Be sure to listen to Episode #72 on the Living Wholehearted Podcast as Amy shares you can be an agent of hope in a world.

Resources to WATCH this month:

We wanted to share about two incredible virtual events; one for parents and one for dads!

PERFECTLY IMPERFECT VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

Don’t miss Jeff and Terra Mattson, CG co-founders, at the Perfectly Imperfect Virtual Conference. They’ll be sharing about how to raise Wholehearted Leaders who know they are loved and love others well. Using the Core Value Index (CVI) and how God uniquely wires each of us, Jeff and Terra will help us lay a foundation every child needs: to be seen, known, and valued. Join them and other incredible speakers like New York Time’s Best Seller Bob Goff, baseball favorite Darryl Strawberry, and Jerrad Lopes of Dad Tired at this year’s Perfectly Imperfect Virtual Conference on April 23 & 24. Register today!

Born To Be Brave Workshop

CG Dads—You will not want to miss this incredible virtual workshop that is designed by Dads for Dads on April 22!

Register for the Born to Be Brave Workshop today!

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

 

Trusting God through the Seasons

Trusting God through the Seasons

Farming is so similar to life.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. God’s Word is wise with allegories, intertwining His creation and our lives. Like life, one season is full of rich, lush greens and yet in another, everything turns to muck, becoming bare and appearing dead. It is during these bare seasons that we can quickly forget that there is still a purpose at play. We forget that this too shall pass, and hope is not lost.

Can you relate?

Winter lingers a bit longer. The rain beats the windows and mud gathers under the cow hooves. The garden acquires all manner of manure, fallen leaves, old summer plants, spent straw and whatever the chickens won’t eat. On the surface, the muck is abundant. And below, the worms and microorganisms are making gold. In His clever wisdom, God has ingeniously made a way to transform this muck into vitamins and nutrients needed for future fruit, which brings joy and fuel.

I only hear silence and see death. He sees this critical season as necessary for what’s to come – healing.

On the other hand, there is Summer. The harvest and sight of hoped-for fruit. Those garden vitamins tower corn stalks over our heads and fill our hands with ripe tomatoes, ready for feasting and preserving. The pasture provides vigorous grass and full cows, chickens chasing bugs and a big farm dog napping in the shade. The flowers drip nectar and fruit hangs from the trees and bushes.

The work is heavy, but the gifted bounty is full of joy. Rich nourishing fruit for fuel.

Today, it’s Spring. The in-between time where I work, wait, trust and hope for what can come this Summer.

I delicately plant tiny seeds with a handful of soil, carefully trying to replicate God’s perfect combination of timing, light, temperature and air movement. I monitor, thin, transplant and baby these starts for the hope of Summer.

Outside, I prune the fruit trees and bushes, monitoring them for bugs & disease. I calculate the depleting hay in the barn and the increasing space in the freezers for the hope of Summer.

I plan our crop rotation and animal harvesting, then check fences and sharpen the tools. I squeeze the garden dirt and check the weather for planting for the hope of Summer.

I work. I wait. The unknown is massive. What will do well and give surplus? What won’t and leave us lacking? What will the aphids, birds or gophers eat? How will the rainfall and temperatures impact it all? It’s out of my control.

More working, waiting and trusting. And hoping. Such is life.

Winter lingers a bit longer. There is suffering, a distressing discovery, death, a painful diagnosis, hardship. Life feels cold, wet and full of muck. Some souls feel God’s very presence while others feel utterly alone and want to hibernate. God is still at work.

Summer is the hoped-for fruit. It is the time to dance, to laugh, enjoy the bounty of richer and healthier relationship and selves. The time to have peace in the place of healing that God has brought you. It is a time to celebrate.

And then there is Spring – the in-between.

It is the tension between the painful manure and the promised bounty. Sometimes with grieving and waiting. Sometimes with working, undergoing treatment or processing the pain with God and with others. The preparation is necessary and yet there is so much out of our control.

We work, we wait, we hope. And we trust.

Regardless of what season you are in, may you hold tight to the truths of God’s Word. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds each of us to trust in the LORD with all our hearts and to not lean on our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him, And He will make our paths straight. Romans 8:28 goes on to say, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Be encouraged. No matter what season your soul resonates with, God is in it all. Trust. He will produce the harvest in time.

Written by Beth Kershner
Courageous Girls Leadership Coach, Farmer and Mom of 3
Faith & Feast Farm outside of Portland, OR

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For a deeper look at how God uses the manure in our lives to create richness, read chapter 2 in Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace by Terra Mattson or When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd.

Living Courageously

Living Courageously

Written By Amy Sheldon, Courageous Girls mama and co-leader

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9                                     

For over 8 years, I had the pleasure of working as a fitness instructor and encouraging women to chase their health goals, regardless of their fitness level. One of my favorite quotes is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”  If we don’t fight through the discomfort that comes with the challenge, we do not experience the joy of the growth. 

Similar to facing physical discomfort, our spiritual muscles also grow as we face hardships. We learn that our strength is found in the Lord. Looking back on seasons burdened by obstacles allows me to celebrate how God uses them to transform and forever change me. This past year has been no exception!

As we navigated the challenges of a global pandemic, I see three ways God has been shaping my spiritual muscles:

  • Removing distractions
  • Reminding me of His truth
  • Redeeming the bad for good.

First, God gave me the Removal of distractions to reveal areas of personal growth in my life. 

Like many of you (especially in times of stress), I love a good project list and am very good at staying busy. It feels good to cross something off of the list! God has graciously been showing me that the lists, the “doing” and the pursuit of productivity can be a large part of my self-worth and value. 

As shut-downs and quarantining became our new reality, I found my comfort zone being challenged. As my children (6th and 3rd graders) began online schooling and my job shifted to working remotely, I found myself wrestling with the loss of identity. Normal opportunities for community and connection were also stripped away. However, it was through the stripping away of my normal busyness that God reminded me that the remaining relationships of my family were the ones He wanted to deepen the most. 

God has also used this time to Remind me of His truth. 

In Him, I lack nothing (Phil 4:19), am chosen (Eph 1:4) and am redeemed (Col 1:14). With this as my foundation, I’ve found courage to pursue these relationships, trusting that He has equipped me specifically. 

In all honesty and vulnerability, I had not made these relationships my first priority out of fear of not being enough. This awareness has come in the time given to process it. God reminds me that there are no boxes to check off, only a slowing down to pour into my people. It’s not always easy or affirming, but I am deeply grateful to be given a chance to grow in this area. 

What does this look like? Sometimes it’s choosing a walk with my husband rather than bike boot camp. Playing catch with my son rather than the laundry pile. Catching up with my daughter rather than a house project. I’m learning that deepening these connections does not require extravagance and is not without sliding backwards. However, as I hold onto God’s truth, He provides gentle reminders that my identity is in Him and I have strength to try again. 

Within the removal and reminding, I also see God’s work to Redeem this season. 

In the pursuit of these deeper connections, I’ve been given the gift of renewed relationship with Him. He has challenged me to seek Him, trusting that He is working all things out for good (Rom 8:28). We are called to have courage in Him and He moves the mountains. 

Reflecting on the lessons of this past year has given me the opportunity to celebrate the growth found in the challenges, to live courageously and cling to His promises as He leads the way.

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—March 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—March 2021

March’s resource list includes topics of the beauty and craziness of emotions, building healthier relationships, grieving and one of our favorite children’s books to help your kids pivot when disappointment hits.

Books

Why Emotions Matter (Tristan & Jonathan Collins)
A read to help us unpack our God-given design as an emotional being

The Tale of Three Trees (Angela Elwell Hunt)
This children’s book helps us pivot when disappointment hits and repurpose what we think our life should be.

Codependent No More (Melody Beattie)
A book defining dysfunctional systems and moving through the lie that “my needs don’t matter”.

Boundaries (Cloud & Townsend)
When to say Yes and how to say No to take control of your life.

My Wynter Season (Jonathan Pitts)
Jonathan writes about seeing God’s faithfulness in the shadow of grief as he shares about losing his wife, Wynter.

Hope Heals & Suffer Strong (Katherine & Jay Wolf)
The Wolfs share their story of suffering and the tremendous hope and impact of their faith as they follow a new course.

Audio

Courageous Gathering Keynote speaker, Terra Mattson: Shedding Shame
Courageous Gathering Keynote speaker, Katherine Wolf: The Healing Found
Courageous Gathering speaker, Tristan Collins: Why Emotions Matter
Courageous Gathering speakers, Roshana Grile & Sarah Dangaran: Big Emotions and Children

 

The Power of Sisterly Love

The Power of Sisterly Love

Written by Courageous Girls, Merin (age 10) and Tessa (age 9)

We are Merin and Tessa Brown and we are in our second year of being in a Courageous Girls group together. We look forward to meeting every month! We’ve made good friends in our group and our favorite part about CG is that we get to have fun together AND talk about God and important things in life. No one ever feels left out because there is always someone to talk to.

Being able to do both fun and spiritual things together makes a strong relationship between people and so we really appreciate our CG friends.

Even though we look really different from each other, and if someone saw us together at a park they wouldn’t even know we were sisters, we are each other’s best friend! Sometimes we feel a little sad for our friends that don’t have siblings close to their age. Of course, we argue and get frustrated with each other sometimes, but it’s pretty great to have a built-in friend to talk to and play with 24/7!

Ever since we were little, we have worked hard at coming up with fun activities that we can both do together. This means we have to share a lot of ideas to figure things out, so we learn to have a lot of patience with each other. We get pretty crazy with our ideas sometimes! We play games with Tessa’s wheelchair and she drives while Merin hangs off the side. And then we will change it up and Tessa will ride in a wagon or on a skateboard and Merin will pull her around the yard. We usually split up the housework and work as a team- Tessa puts all the hangers on the clothes and then Merin reaches up in the closet to hang them up. Or Merin sweeps the kitchen and Tessa holds the dustpan for her.

Our mom often tells us that it’s important for everyone to contribute and so we just have to figure out how we can each do our part with the abilities that we have.

Sometimes people feel nervous about being around someone who is different from them. But there really isn’t anything to be nervous about at all! People can always find something in common to talk about. And it’s pretty fun to come up with games that include all types of abilities so that everyone can play. You just have to try!

Our physical differences are what most people notice when they first meet us, but we are different in almost every other way too- like our hobbies and what we like to do for fun. But we’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it just mostly matters what’s on the inside, like loving, caring and being gentle and kind with the people around you.

You can find a lot of things to admire and learn about people if you just take the time to ask questions and get to know them

Differences and disabilities aren’t things to be intimidated by or to feel sorry for someone about- they are opportunities for working as a team and coming up with lots of creative ideas for how you can come together and have even more fun and strength than you would have on your own.

Having a sister to us means caring for each other, friendship, and practicing sisterly love.

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—February 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—February 2021

Many of you are asking us, “What can I read or have my daughter read regarding…?” So, each month we are bringing you relevant resources to help you lead your daughter well. These are simply supplemental resources to your monthly Courageous Girls Lessons to help us all navigate the various issues we are facing today.  

February is Black History Month

A core value of Courageous Girls is loving others well and we value the incredible contributions made to our community, nation, and world by countless African Americans. Take time to research or read with your daughters about the inspiring, heroic, and courageous African American women and men. The list below is in no way exhaustive, but merely a starting point.

You might not know

Carter G. Woodson (author, historian, and second African American Harvard Ph.D. graduate) is known as the “Father of Black History”.  Woodson’s parents were enslaved. As an adult, he saw a void in the educational system regarding lack of information and achievements made by fellow African Americans. To act on this, Woodson proposed a national “Negro History Week” in February 1926, but  it wasn’t until 1976 (during the civil rights movement) that President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week into Black History Month.

Resources to READ this month

You will not want to miss these powerful reads by Dr. Ron Archer, inspirational speaker, business executive trainer, author, recipient of the MLK award and former NFL chaplain. He also happens to be the guest speaker on The Living Wholehearted Podcast (episode 64), see below. 

Coming Soon!

Creative God Colorful Us by Trillia Newbell Check out this  incredible book of truth and wisdom that invites you into a deeper understanding and knowing of God’s truth. God could have made us all exactly the same, but He didn’t. And our differences are good! Every person is made by God, in His image, and therefore is equal in value and worth.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee is ideal for readers 8-12 years of age. This incredible story follows  four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. 

The Story of Ruby Bridges  by Robert Coles tells the courageous story of six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family who moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in 1960. As a 1st grader, Ruby was ordered by a judge to attend an all white school. In doing so, she faced angry mobs of parents who wouldn’t send their children to school. Ruby’s story of courage, faith, and hope continues to inspire hearts of all ages.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson is a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it’s trying to break her. This is a poignant read for ages 12-17. On a side note,  Renee grew up in the Portland, Oregon area and there are many pieces of her personal story that come to life in this book. 

Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A by Arlisha Norwood introduces readers 8-12 (and beyond) to 51 black leaders and role models from both history and modern times.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a powerful memoir that shares about Jacqueline’s childhood through poetry. This memoir would be a poignant read for ages 10-14.

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brings the reader back to August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history.

Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum. Written for children, this book features 15 powerful stories of courageous female scientists that advanced their STEM fields. 

Resources to WATCH this month: 

Join CG Co-Founders Jeff and Terra Mattson for a FB Live on the “Core Value Index: Understanding our Wirings”on February 17th at 1:00-1:30pm PST.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

The Living Wholehearted Podcast.  Ron Archer, a recipient of the MLK award has an incredible message to share with the CG community, but particularly our Courageous Girls dads. Be sure to listen in on Ron Archer’s powerful story, which posts Feb 2nd. Also in February, don’t miss Jeff and Terra sharing their love story and the return of Jonathan Pitts with an inspirational message! 

Powerful song of Lament by The Porter’s Gate He is Among Us”

 

Celebrate Your Daughter with a “13 Women” Party

Celebrate Your Daughter with a “13 Women” Party

At my daughter’s middle school, one of the litmus tests of your popularity is if your locker gets decorated on the morning of your birthday. Will your friends remember your special day and tape Twix bars and random cat memes to the front of your locker?

For those stricken with a summer birthday, there’s no need to fear as “half birthdays” are acknowledged if you fall into this camp. If it falls on a weekend, the Friday before is the day to find out if you’re loved.

While this special gesture can bring delight to some teens, for others it is just another reminder that they are unseen and insignificant—once again.

Moms have become so keenly aware of the anxiety-ridden tradition that they’ve taken matters into their own hands by approaching their children’s classmates weeks before to remind/require them to decorate their child’s locker. I think there may be a secret stash of random decorations and candy in case of emergencies.

Just thinking about the first time I encountered this phenomenon, I feel butterflies in my stomach. As a mom of two teenage girls, the sheer complexity of their social hierarchy and its ever changing rules are daunting. I recognize that it’s normal in the teen years to compare and define their identity based on what other girls think of them. But are secret phone calls to other moms to make sure their locker gets decorated really how I want them to be assured of feeling loved? Knowing that on any given day it just might slip from one of the girls that Morgan’s mom “made me” decorate her locker.

I’m so done with middle school, people! I don’t want to play those games anymore!

We all want to be known and loved and maybe most acutely as a teenage girl. And before you write that sentence off as a cliché, let’s define what the word actually means.

Cliché is a phrase or opinion that’s overused and betrays a lack of original thought. It’s a “duh” moment—so much so that we usually blow right past it. With teen girls we’ve become accustomed to it being a time filled with low self-esteem, petty drama with friends, and an all-out war on who’s the most powerful/influential person on social media.

It’s cliché.

Depending on how our personal teen years played out, we may assume that like us, they’ll just “get through it”. They’ll experience the ups and downs of teen girl drama and come out of it just fine. Or, we may start to demonize the girls who hurt our daughters—making them the problem and our sweet and innocent daughter the victim. Perhaps, we curate their experience by planning their social life for them and shielding them from heartache. All in an attempt to make sure they feel known and loved by their peers.

But can I offer you another option? One that I’ve seen work miracles in my own two girls’ lives?

Invite mature healthy women into the lives of your teen girls in an intentional way and allow them to speak into your daughter’s identity. Because let’s be honest, her peers don’t have a fully developed frontal cortex as they swirl around in their own self-centered hormonal hurricane. Allowing the voices of our girls’ peers to be the loudest or carry the most weight is problematic to say the least.

The beauty of the Courageous Girls movement is that our daughters learn to have healthy encouraging relationships with one another by watching their mothers as models.

But maybe you’re like me and Courageous Girls wasn’t a thing when your daughters were younger. So now you’re wondering if you’ve missed your window of opportunity? I want to encourage you that you haven’t! There are still ways to invite women into your daughter’s life.

When my daughters each turned thirteen, we planned a special celebration that we called The 13 Women Celebration. The preparation began months before their birthday. We talked about how they felt about becoming a teenager. My oldest was excited, ready to become a teen and have more freedom and opportunity to spread her wings. My youngest felt intimidated—like she was being expected to suddenly become more mature and more “grown up” than she felt. By seeing my two daughters’ drastically different takes on becoming a teen, I realized that they both had preconceived notions of what becoming a teenager meant. Having the talk about how they were each feeling about becoming a teenager was a great opportunity for me to get a peek into their world.

We talked about some of the challenges that can happen in relationships with other women. I wanted them to know that this wasn’t just isolated to their teen years, but that tensions happen between adult women as well.

I also wanted to normalize that sometimes they would feel misunderstood, mistreated, or even like they were a mistake. As much as I wanted them to be alert to all relational heartache they might experience, I also wanted to model for them what healthy relationships with women could look like. It was then that I had a vision of creating an opportunity for them to experience the power of being seen, known and loved.

So I had my girls identify thirteen or more women that had played a significant role in their lives. This was actually much easier than I thought it would be. My girls included beloved friends, teachers, coaches, church leaders and even babysitters. The women ranged from single, married, divorced, current moms and to young women who were still in their twenties. Most were Christians, but not all. I wanted my girls to have input from a variety of women as each would bring their own unique voice to the celebration.

Once we had our list, I sent an email to each of them, inviting them to participate in two ways.

First, I asked them each to write a letter to the birthday girl. Here’s an excerpt from that email:

Please write a letter to Morgan, whatever God brings to your heart. Here are a couple of ideas to get your creativity going, but by no means is this required! Words of encouragement as she launches into early adulthood, affirmations of what you see in her, perhaps God will give you a vision for her future, scriptures that God brings to mind, a story of a way you’ve seen God work in her life or through her life. I really trust the spirit to work through each of you in a unique way! It could be written, printed, scribbled on a napkin, you could even email it to me…whatever works for you! 

Second, we invited them to join us for a 13th birthday celebration at our home. We gathered in a circle in my living room and each woman was asked to read the letter to my daughter out loud. (Consider collecting videos if distance or a pandemic limit a gathering.)

I’m having tears well up in my eyes as I remember these special moments. My heart is warmed as I think about how these women called out my daughter’s unique talents, funny anecdotes that bonded them together, and brought words of encouragement and hope. My oldest daughter is gregarious and loves to be on stage. Her eyes lit up like she was the lead in a Broadway musical and her audience was giving her a standing ovation. My younger daughter is more shy and reserved. Her head was low as women started reading but as the words flowed over her I saw her body straighten up, her eyes sparkle and a smile radiate over her face.

They experienced, in their own unique ways, the overwhelming love of God—to be the center of His attention, the apple of His eye, His beloved. Remarkable themes emerged from what each woman wrote. Many Bible verses seemed to be repeated. My girls’ hearts were touched in the most tender of places. God knew exactly what they both needed to hear as they were walking into their teen years.

All of the letters and cards were then gathered and put into a large scrapbook. Now, when my girls receive a special note or card, they add them to their book. It’s not uncommon to walk past their room and see them flipping through the pages. On difficult days when they are feeling unseen by their peers, I encourage them to go grab their books and be reminded of who they are. And secretly, some days I open their books to be reminded as well.

Author Amy Oliver and her daughters

What surprised me most about this celebration was how much it impacted the women who were there. From belly laughs to tears that couldn’t be held back, each person was touched by something they heard. We jokingly said that we all needed to have “13 Women” parties for ourselves so that we could hear that we were loved and known. Words intended for my daughter’s hearts were used by God to touch each of us. It was a foretaste of heaven right in my living room and such a beautiful depiction of what friendship with women is meant to be.

We ALL need to hear words of affirmation and hope. Being a mom can be a thankless job sometimes and I can often fall into the belief that I’m not doing it very well. I’m also a single mom, and sometimes that makes me feel guilty or less than because my kids aren’t growing up in a two-parent home. But hearing other women call out the beauty in my daughters helped me realize that they actually are pretty amazing girls. I recognized that for all the ways I’ve worried I was messing my kids up, there were 13+ other women who were picking up the slack. These women were loving them, knowing them, and helping them mature into the women they would become.

Circling back to our cliché, we ALL need to be known and loved. There is a teenage girl inside each of us, wondering if we’ll be remembered. Not just on our birthday, but in the everyday seasons of life. This experience has propelled me to speak words of life not only into my girls but into those around me in the everyday. I want to call out the beautiful that others might not recognize in themselves. I also want to receive those words from others instead of shrugging them off with some lame false humility when I really NEED to hear that I am loved and known.

We all have a book full of letters to return to when we are needing to be reassured we are loved. God’s Word is full of the riches of His unwavering love for us. He knows the tender places not only in our girls’ hearts but in ours as well. He knows the themes playing over and over in our lives and He has just the right words we all need to hear. God is the Master Decorator of our proverbial locker and we’ll never have to worry that we’ll be forgotten.

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—January 2021

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—January 2021

We’ve curated these books, articles, movies, videos, tools, courses, and more—just for you!

Special Holiday Resources:

Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently shared that Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

As our nation honors Martin Luther King Jr. this month, we wanted to share a few resources with our community that can foster continued understanding, growth, and hearts pointed to Jesus as we navigate the social injustices across our nation together.

Little Lights Urban Ministries in Washington, D.C. is a ministry committed to providing sanctuaries of encouragement, hope, and practical assistance to at-risk children, youth, and families in southeast Washington, DC. Little Lights Founder, Steve Park, has a heart for bridging racial divides in the D.C. community and started leading group cohorts on race and reconciliation several years ago. With the social unrest in 2019 Steve expanded the class virtually to allow individuals across the nation to participate.

The Race Literacy 101 class is an 11-week study and discussion group that meets weekly to learn and discuss authentically and thoughtfully on the issue of race and racism in an honest yet grace-filled environment. The next cohort begins the week of January 13th!

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr.

Resources to READ:

The Daniels Sisters series follows the lives of the Pitts girls who grieve the loss of their mom and move to a new state with their dad, a pastor. In faith and with a new family structure, they begin a new life. Overnight their lives completely changed, but one thing stayed the same — God’s sovereign, guiding hand.

This series is an engaging read for girls ages 8-12, and is part of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. It also teaches tweens about overcoming obstacles, developing patience and the importance of kindness!

We are so excited to share this tangible way to minister to your daughter’s heart by giving a note of love and encouragement to her.  This simple act of love can have a big impact on your daughter’s heart! NOTEworthy Kids—50 Encouraging Notes Every Child Needs to Receive – Christian Parenting.

If you haven’t subscribed to the For Girls Like You Magazine, now is a great time! CG Co-Founder, Terra Mattson’s, youngest daughter Neveah, will be featured in the January/February edition. The For Girls Like You magazine is offering 20% off to our CG Community, with the code COURAGEOUS20. Get a subscription for your daughter here www.forgirlslikeyou.com/subscriptions.

Amazing journal idea! These can be used as part of the CG Curriculum or for any mama & child relationship.

A few great blog articles that we wanted to share with you:

The real digital dilemma: Our children need us to lead – Christian Parenting

The Scars We Have and the Scars We Give — Hope Heals

Resources to LISTEN TO:

Powerful song of lament by The Porter’s Gate Wake Up Jesus

The Bible Project: Justice

The Living Wholehearted Podcast by Jeff & Terra Mattson (co-founders of Courageous Girls). Subscribe so you don’t miss one!

Resources to WATCH:

Facebook Live
January 20
1:00 – 1:30pm (PST)

Join Terra and her daughter Adonia on the My Courageous Girls Facebook page for our first 2021 FB Live session: “Healthy Relationships

Just Mercy is a bestselling book by Bryan Stevenson that has been adapted into a feature film. It is a story of justice and redemption. A powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative, the people we represent, and the importance of confronting injustice.

Courageous Book Study
This 5-week online study begins February 3rd and is led by author and CG co-founder, Terra Mattson. Join Terra for this encouraging study and get registered by January 31st. You won’t want to miss it!

Courageous Girls Limited Edition Handmade Kintsugi Vases

Courageous Girls Limited Edition Handmade Kintsugi Vases

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Oregon artist, Stephanie Schmidt, started making Japanese Kintsugi because she believes the symbolism of this ancient art form tenderly realizes the juxtaposition of beauty and ashes we find in our lives. 

These limited edition Beloved-Beauty from Brokenness” vases are inspired from the words of Isaiah 61 (beauty from ashes) and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (His grace is sufficient), and are each handmade by Stephanie for our Courageous Girls Community. Even in the midst of brokenness, beauty can be found. In fact, the brokenness can be mended into something that is far stronger than its original form. Beauty from ashes. Truly, it is through God’s GRACE that the brokenness is made into something beautiful again.

In Courageous Girls, we want to help moms discover their own courage in raising a daughter who knows herself as LOVED. These Kintsugi vases serve as a reminder to Courageous mamas and daughters that we, as Courageous Girls, can be honest about our frailties and limits, knowing that God is not after our perfection. He is after our heart. God wants us to trust Him with all of who we are so that He can make all things new. 

Our mistakes, our wounds, our brokenness do not define us. Each mama and daughter was designed for a purpose, and is uniquely equipped for that purpose. God uses ALL of our story, not just the parts that are Instagram worthy, but the parts where we have experienced brokenness, pain, and hard. Stephanie leaves one piece missing in each of her vases to remind us that He will complete us when we see Him again in Heaven and in the brokenness of our humanity, there is beauty. 

These parallels to life are deeply meaningful to Stephanie. Like most people, she has suffered brokenness in life and knows the pain and hard work that goes into repairing the “cracks”. However, she believes there is a beauty in what has been healed…even when scars remain. 

To support the CG movement in walking alongside moms and daughters as they experience God’s grace, Stephanie will donate 15% of the proceeds to the Courageous Girls Movement when you purchase a Courageous Girls Limited Edition Handmade “Beloved-Beauty from Brokenness” Kintsugi Vase. You can buy these limited edition vases in CG Shop now!

 To hear more of Stephanie’s personal beauty into ashes story, check out Episodes 53 & 54 on the Living Wholehearted Podcast, aired by CG co-founders, Jeff & Terra Mattson.

Lessons Learned From 2020: A “Good Hard” Year

Lessons Learned From 2020: A “Good Hard” Year

Suffering has most certainly been a daily theme playing out over the course of this last year. We know, you probably just want to shove it aside and not talk about it anymore. But the truth is, we did find some treasures in the midst of all the hard. 

A global pandemic has brought new weights of worry as to how to keep our family and friends safe, as well as economic concerns, social unrest, and emotional discomfort. The disparities of injustices present in health care, education, and communities has heightened visibility. Essentially, the life we knew in 2019 had come to a screeching halt in 2020.

Grief, anger, fear, anxiousness, uncertainty, and doubt are emotions you may have experienced at one point or another during this past year. Maybe all at once? 

We all wrestled with how to bring a sense of “normalcy” to our families when nothing felt “normal.” Perhaps you thought turning the clock forward to 2021 would distance us all from toilet paper shortages, stay at home orders, and online learning. 

To use a term coined by Katherine Wolf, author of Hope Heals and Suffer Strong, what if 2020 was a “good hard” year and now that it’s in the rearview mirror, we can consider what good it brought in the midst of hard? 

What if we stepped back to see it from a different perspective? 

A clearer perspective. 

What if we could see it from God’s perspective?

God’s 2020 vision

The decreasing of kid activities were a gift of TIME for creating new family rhythms and deeper connection. Feelings of loneliness and isolation gave us the OPPORTUNITY to LEAN into Him more, trust Him more, and evaluate where we put our hope. A slower daily rhythm allowed us to not only see the injustices, pain, and suffering around us, but to maybe ACT in love toward our community. 

God’s 2020 vision provides a different perspective. A vertical one rather than a horizontal one. Through His lens, we are seen, regardless of the year or circumstances, allowing us to finally see others. We are not the only ones suffering. In 2020 we began to see others and their struggles. Maybe we developed some empathy muscles? 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”  1 John 4:7

The daily burdens of working from home, monitoring online learning, managing kiddos that seem to disagree more than agree build RESILIENCY in us moms. In our kids. We were stretched to near breaking points, yet tangibly felt God meeting us and helping us carry our burdens. 

“He tends his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arm; He will carry them close to His heart and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11

The hopelessness felt in our world with rising political tension, surges in COVID cases, mounting racial tension, and continued isolation have been an opportunity to surrender the baseline of our faith. Our HOPE is found only in Jesus. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The omission of gleaning happiness from travel, sporting events, concerts, or eating a meal out was an awakening to CHOOSE joy and happiness in God. Maybe not every time, but we sure had opportunity. For in praying for joy, we are asking for God to grow the Fruit of His Spirit to sustain our hearts, rather than holding tight to our calendars. 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2

Mamas, as we reflect on the year 2020, may we be encouraged in knowing that God has been with us every step of the way, even if we haven’t felt Him. As we prepare to venture further into 2021, consider taking time to remember and reflect on what God has done in you and through you this last year. He is at work. Even in the darkest of seasons. 

We are so thankful for each of you and the opportunity to walk together in raising daughters rooted in God’s amazing grace and abundant love.

Be loved and love well. 

Steph West & Beth Kershner
Courageous Girls Leadership Coaches

 

Courageous: 5-Week Book Study with Terra Mattson

Courageous: 5-Week Book Study with Terra Mattson

If you find yourself weary, isolated, confused, and burned out, you might look around and wonder what’s next. After a year of twists and turns, it’s time to shore up where we are… we need each other and we need our God.

Terra A. Mattson, co-founder of Courageous Girls and Living Wholehearted, author, podcaster, and licensed professional counselor and coach, is leading a personalized 5-week book study through her first book, Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace. Grab a warm drink and your Bible for a conversation about holy crap, feeling it to heal it, tuning into the voice of grace, being known in community, friendship, being fearless… almost, dreaming big, and finding rhythms of rest.

Terra CANNOT wait to personally encourage and equip you for such a time as this. This is for any woman who is ready and willing to be reminded of who she is, who her God is, and how to live a life rooted in grace. Start your year off with roots where you need them most.

The 5-week study starts Wednesday, February 3, 2021 and will meet each Wednesday from 10:00 – 11:00 AM (PST) through March 3.

Don’t worry if you miss one of the sessions—each meeting will be recorded and you’ll have access to recordings.

You can sign up at the Living Wholehearted Store where you can choose from two options:

  • Already have the book? The cost is $20 for 5-week study.
  • Need the book? The cost is $30 for the 5-week study and includes a mailed, signed copy of Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace. Your book will arrive 6-8 days after you order.

Registration ends January 31 so sign up today!

Great gift for a family member or friend!

Living Loved and Loving Others Well

Living Loved and Loving Others Well

Liz Dooley daughters Rowan (left) and Finley (right). Photo credit: Crystal Pettit Photography.

My newborn daughter lay in the NICU, fighting for her life. Nothing I could do would fix her situation (which is especially challenging for a person like me who is wired as a strong Builder-type personality). I prayed and pressed into God like I never had before. I searched for and listened to sermons about waiting and suffering online. One sermon in particular grabbed my heart. A local pastor said, “What do you do while waiting in a season of difficulty? Get busy doing good. Move the focus from yourself onto others. We are blessed to be a blessing.”

We are blessed to BE a blessing.

When I look back on my own life, I see several examples of how God used other people to step in to BE my blessing. They were His hands and feet loving me, protecting me, and providing for me. Many times over I was blessed by the way people shared God’s love with me tangibly.

When I was 12, an evangelical pastor moved into my backyard. (Literally, our back yards butted up against each other.) I started babysitting for their two children and our relationship grew. Their home became a refuge for me; I would escape there when things got difficult in my own home, run by alcoholics. On multiple occasions they asked me to attend church with them and eventually I ran out of reasons to avoid saying ‘yes.’ On the first day of a new year, I answered the altar call and asked Jesus into my heart. This family didn’t have to look far for a life to impact. They looked around at where God had planted them and sowed seeds for the Kingdom in their own back yard.

A few years later, things reached a boiling point within my own family. I was 16 years old with an ulcer eating away inside of me. Eventually, I felt like it was no longer possible to remain in my own house and asked a friend if I could live out the rest of my senior year with her family. They said ‘yes,’ and I spent my final months of high school living with the Mousseau family. Being 17 years old, I didn’t spend much time pondering about what things might have been like if they had not said ‘yes.’ I just felt assured that I had a soft place to land as I stepped independently away from my dysfunctional home.

From that point on, people consistently showed up to hem me in, offering protection and help over the next few years. With support, I graduated college, began volunteering, and got married. Excitement abounded when we learned we would be growing our family with the birth of our first daughter. It seemed like life was on the upward swing. Shortly thereafter, we got pregnant with our second child. At the 20-week ultrasound, which we hoped would tell us the gender, we got a life changing diagnosis.

This baby I was carrying had a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), and we were told that she had a 40% chance of survival. (I have since learned we were given an outdated statistic. CDH reportedly has a 50% chance of survival, but this number varies depending on the hospital.) CDH occurs when there is a hole in the diaphragm. This hole allows lower organs to migrate into the chest cavity, often compromising lung development and displacing the heart, potentially causing secondary heart defects.

After the initial shock wore off and my non-strop crying waned, I was blown away with how people showed up for us. Thoughtful gifts, emails, texts, and calls — all helped to ease the sadness and doubt we felt over the next five months of pregnancy and beyond. The way we were loved and supported while we walked through this dark valley became the light we walked towards. Meals made and delivered. Special gifts brought to our two-year-old so she wouldn’t feel forgotten. Jesus showed up through the hands and feet of many!

It is hard to invite others to walk with you during painful seasons. Self-protection speaks lies to us and tells us to cocoon ourselves away; it tells us that no one can understand or handle the level of pain we are burdening alone. Not only does this lie hurt us, but we miss out on blessing others who we might allow to walk next to us, carrying just the slightest bit with us — being blessed to BE a blessing.

Staring at my newborn in her NICU bassinet, attached to so many wires and tubes, dependent on a ventilator to help her breathe and medicines to reduce the carbon dioxide in her blood, I thought about how I had never given much thought to breathing. None of us do, until it becomes hard to do naturally. God planted a dream in my heart that day. I decided that regardless of the outcome, we would hold a race to raise money for CDH treatment. We would move our bodies in celebration and gratitude for our breath. We would be blessed by blessing, despite the darkness that the blessing came from.

Finley had surgery on her 19th day of life, and spent 49 days in the NICU before coming home. She returned to the hospital at four and a half months for another surgery, and once again our village showed up. Meal trains activated, text messages streamed in with prayers and encouragement at just the right times, and love flowed through the actions of people through both large and small gestures. It all felt like a message from God saying, ‘I see you. I’m here. You are not alone.’

One year later, Ladybug CDH Foundation and its race, Ladybug Run for CDH Awareness, was born. Both exist out of the abundant generosity of individuals and families who have come alongside us to make it happen. The Foundation exists to offer similar support and love to other families, to help give to them what was given to us.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Beyond our own foundation, there are several organizations near and dear to our hearts that we link arms with. I don’t think of volunteering as something separate from my daily life. It is a piece of my life — a crucial, breath-giving part of this life, where blessings flow through us, and sometimes back to us. It seems appropriate now, in the midst of a global respiratory pandemic, to be reminded of the blessing of breath and to find gratitude for the ways our bodies work. Take a minute to close your eyes and breathe. Listen for the small voice that shows up to guide us on our blessing path. Can you hear it? Will you respond?

Some days ‘being the blessing’ looks like supporting an organization or responding to a call for help. Other times it is just looking around to notice where God has you planted, then seeing more clearly how you can make an impact in your own backyard. Here are some ideas: send a note of encouragement or gratitude to someone struggling, isolated or on the frontlines, a meal or game for a single mama, check in to see how your friend is really doing, a phone call, a text, giving someone a safe place to stay. During this difficult season, it doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day and be a light to others. Love has so many different faces. Just listen for the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit and respond with action.

I’ve found that my girls have a natural desire to help others and we say ‘yes’ as much as possible when they have philanthropic inspirations. From a bake sale for a nonprofit, to blessing bags or a hot meal to those living on the streets…we want them to see other people and to be people that want to love others the way Jesus loves us. In the end, I think this is the best way to share the gospel with our children: by actually living it out. Less words, more action. As my favorite human, Bob Goff, says, “Love does.”

Let us let the love of Christ flow like a river through our families and pour over the streets of our neighborhoods. Let us be blessed to be the blessing.

The Real Digital Dilemma: Our Children Need Us to Lead

The Real Digital Dilemma: Our Children Need Us to Lead

Client: I just reached 10,0000 followers on my instagram account! 

Me: Wait. You have 10,000 followers? You are only 14 years old. Who is following you?

Client: I don’t know. People. They just like my photos.

Me: Can I see your photos? 

Client: Sure. They are mostly pictures of me posing. Nothing special. 

Me: Well, you are quite beautiful. Some of the photos seem more seductive than others. What message are you trying to put out to the world on your account? 

Client: Message? I don’t know. It’s just fun to see what people like about me. I feel more confident.

Me: Do your mom and dad know?

Client: Yes. They are fine with it. They really don’t pay much attention. 

 

Instagram entered the world in 2010. Just two years later, in 2012, the underbelly of the Instagram beast regularly showed up in my office in the form of disconnected, self-doubting, anxious users.

I knew very early on that the long-term effects of this “new addiction” would drastically impact developing identities of its users. It took years to have documented evidence showing just how bad it really was; the addiction had rooted itself in the lives of millions, and its poison flowed quickly through its victims.

Sadly, the conversation above is just one of many I have had with teens and young adults over the twenty years I have spent as a professional in the field of marriage, family, and mental health. For the past fifteen years, I have observed changes and trends from within my private practice. In my book Courageous (2020), I unpack memories of sitting with young teens, listening to them recount how worthless and ashamed they felt, in large part due to social media. Many never realized they would end up feeling this terrible from something that seemed so harmless. They were blind-sided, and so were their parents.

Clients struggled with eating disorders and sex addictions.

Some, quite young, agreed to “hook-ups” with random guys that gave them attention online.

Other clients watched Facebook affairs end their marriages.

Young girls sat across from me, confused, lured by predators, unsure of how to disentangle themselves.

Boys learned hard lessons after blasting nude pictures across public platforms that ruined lives. Pornography addiction skyrocketed, among men and women alike, while depression and anxiety spun out of control.

My office was a hot-bed for the trauma brought about by this new addiction.

If you have recently viewed the Netflix special called The Social Dilemma, then you know I am not alone in recognizing the need for reform.

Without shaming parents, who are learning in real time how to manage the overwhelming rise of technology in the home, I do want to help you wise up to the reality of where we really are as a culture. We cannot make any changes without an honest awareness of our current reality. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” referring to the truth of the gospel. This also refers to acknowledging the truth of where you are at with this very real “dilemma,” and how it is impacting your life.

Social media exacerbates vulnerabilities and preys on individual weaknesses, but it doesn’t necessarily create the brokenness. Brokenness happens when a core need is not met.

For many young social media users, that need is legitimate relationship. Unfortunately, young teens and pre-teens don’t easily know how to get that need met in a healthy manner and are often slow to ask for help.

As a therapist, I can say with total confidence that many adults struggle with this very same issue. This internal desire for deep relationship is actually God-given. He designed us for community and needing others is a big part of how that evolves. Our culture (and social media outlets) has done a brilliant job coming up with a “quick” fix to this wide-spread emptiness, but it doesn’t actually meet the human need for connection.

While our kids have constant access to countless, conflicting voices, they really need to be hearing a consistent refrain of love and acceptance from one or two caring adults on a regular basis.

Thanks to technology, we now enjoy a wide-spread lack of emotional regulation across society. No need to look any further than a public parking lot to see evidence of that!

We have also lost the ability to make eye contact and to maintain conversation. This is true for many young people, but it’s also true for adults and parents who model these behaviors to their own kids.

In 2010, little was known about the long-term consequences that would affect both children and families, Parents did not have many tools to intervene in growing addictions. Many parents and adults assumed kids were “safe” because everyone else used it, too.

The impact of the digital age has changed our neurobiology as well as our expectations of life. We have different ways of relating to one another, and to the world around us, but the truth is that we were never designed to find our meaning or purpose beyond real life, one-to-one relationship. In fact, research shows that the average person can only handle 60 relationships at any one time (give or take a few). Trying to manage the opinions and needs of thousands, sometimes 24-hours a day, is beyond anyone’s ability, let alone a twelve year old child.

Courageous Girls launched in 2012 out of a response to what I saw daily in my office.

The impact of the digital age on moms, daughters, sisters, wives, (as well as husbands and sons) was too much to bear. I hoped Courageous Girls would be a force moving people in a new direction—one that encouraged healthy and whole relationships; where moms and daughters could come together to exercise their muscles in trust, grace, and face-to-face, authentic relationship. Courageous Girls was founded on the desire to help girls (and moms) discern God’s voice, and to be grounded in the self-actualization that happens when we truly understand that we are loved, just as we are.

After years of avoiding social media myself, I joined Instagram in August, 2019.

Despite the mountain of evidence against such apps, I felt like Instagram could still use a few more hope-filled voices, and I set out to share the message of Courageous Girls and Living Wholehearted.

Before officially signing on, I set up boundaries for myself and for my family. So far, I’m still on. However, I constantly hold this part of my job loosely; if at any time I feel my addictive nature is triggered, or that the platforms are breaking down my family unit, I will jump off.

My daughters cannot hold that same tension on their own. Their reasons for engaging are more fragile and they are more easily influenced. As an adult, my discernment muscles are far more seasoned than theirs, and this is precisely why we, as parents, must engage our kids to help them build similar muscles. We must raise them to resist the pressures of the “social media world” in order to keep them from becoming another commodity for the system at large.

The voices from our screens tell us we need to do more, be more, and have more; they heighten our sense of urgency. It’s not by chance that now, in 2020, the inventors of many of our most addictive platforms confess they never imagined the damage their creativity would cause.

The Social Dilemma, a recent Netflix feature, introduced us to Justin Rosenstein, an innovator who curated the “like” button. He shared that the goal of the original design was to help spread love. No one ever imagined it to be a key factor in teen loneliness, depression, or suicide. Young minds naturally struggle to distinguish the feedback from their own parents and peers, let alone the opinions and comments of strangers across the world.

So what do we do? How can we begin to scale our kids back to solid ground?

Tips going forward:

  1. Watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. View it together with your family, if kids are old enough, and have conversation about it.

  2. Check out my dialogue with my husband, Jeff, from November 18, on Courageous Girls Facebook Live.

  3. Create a digital device family contract and start using it! Include everyone. Renegotiate as needed.

  4. Talk to your kids about the hard why. We need to teach them to swim in the shallow end of the pool before we toss them into the deep end of social media and smart devices that are trying to woo them as potential consumers.

  5. Ask them for honest feedback regarding how you are doing with your own screen time (TV, computers, gaming, phone, social media. etc.)? Be open to listening to the feedback given and then take that feedback to God in prayer.

  6. Consider waiting to hand your child a smart phone as long as you can. There are other phone options, like the GABB phone, to fill the need for a communication tool. The smart phone does create addiction tendencies and can cause higher levels of anxiety, attention deficient, depression, and other mental disorders. Smart phones also make boundaries tougher to implement around social media usage, because of the availability and accessibility.

  7. Wait until high school (or beyond) for social media on any device, and then limit usage to 1-2 platforms. Every child is ready at different ages. There is not one standard “fit.” Be thoughtful and do your own research. Have full access to all accounts and have regular dialogue regarding usage, time limits, messages your child is wanting to give others, and how she can engage her friends in more “real life” ways. Having a text conversation is not the most helpful skill set for life.

  8. Most young adults complain that they have higher anxiety having face-to-face conversations than over a device. We need to change this phenomenon quickly and Courageous Girls is a part of that movement. Check out the topics and conversations at www.mycourageousgirls.com. You’ll find curriculum, hot topics and resources to help you.

In this together,

Terra

Terra A. Mattson, M.A. LMFT, LPC is the co-founder of Courageous Girls and Living Wholehearted, Author, Podcaster, Counselor and Executive Coach.

@terramattson   www.terramattson.com

Be Loved, Love Well