Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—April 2022

Recommendations Resources to Listen to, Read, and Watch—April 2022

April’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.

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

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

December 2021—Jesus’ Radical Generosity of Grace

December’s Recommended Resources are curated to support you in having critical conversations with your children, spouse, CG group, and community, to allow a deeper understanding of Jesus’ Radical Generosity of Grace.

Resources to READ this month:

Over Being Overwhelmed: The Heart of the Matter – Living Wholehearted (Terra Mattson, CG co-founder).

 

101 Simple and Thoughtful Ways to Give This Christmas Away (Matthew West) – Matthew West shares 101 inspiring ways for you, your family, and your church to give this Christmas away. This book will share practical ideas and inspiring stories of giving that will help you give the message of the ultimate Christmas gift this year—Jesus.

The Sparkle Box (Jill Hardie) A book on the transformative power of kindness and loving others well.

The Invisible Thread (Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski, et al.) A powerful story that captures the true meaning of Christmas and will be one you’ll want to share with your family year after year as a reminder that a gift from the heart is always the best present under the tree.

Voices of Christmas (Nikki Grimes) The Christmas story unfolds, as never before, through the voices of those who witnessed the Messiah’s birth.

Christmas Tapestry (Patricia Polacco) A beautiful story bringing together two families and two faiths on Christmas eve through a tapestry lost but found in the most divinely appointed way.

Iam the Lamb (Madison Karr) The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Lamb of God – innocent and pure – who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world.  Iam (pronounced EE-um) the Lamb is a symbol of this gift to remind us of what Christmas is truly about. Jesus was born to bring God’s glory to earth – to turn darkness to light – and Iam wants to encourage you to shine the light of Jesus throughout the world.

Resources to WATCH this month: 

Dear Mattsons Each week, Jeff (MA ORGL) and Terra (MA LPC, LMFT) Mattson, co-founders of Courageous Girls, will answer your BIG and small questions about raising kids in today’s anxious world. Tune into YouTube for their first episode. Got a question for the Mattsons? Submit a question!

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

100 Day Bible Challenge (Soulspace) Be sure to check out their podcast and encouragement on how to cultivate a daily presence in God’s word.  Listen to the podcast episode.

Over Being Overwhelmed: The Heart of the Matter (Living Wholehearted)

Over Being Overwhelmed: The Heart of the Matter (Living Wholehearted)

This time of year brings nostalgic memories, painful losses, and a whirlwind of a running to-do list. It’s the most wonderful time of year, and yet the hustle and bustle is so counter to the meaning of the season.

We said good-bye to Thanksgiving before Halloween even started. All my favorite stores were stocked with green and red before October could close it’s last pages. We are all in a hurry in every sense of the word this time of year. Anxiety is high and expectations are even higher. I, for one, am pledging to strike and not participate in the overwhelming any more. You with me?

Read the rest of this post at LivingWholehearted.com.

“Be The Light” Kintsugi Votives

“Be The Light” Kintsugi Votives

Created by Oregon artist, Stephanie Schmidt 

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 and native, Stephanie Schmidt, started making Japanese Kintsugi because she believes the symbolism of this ancient art form tenderly reveals the juxtaposition of how God brings beauty out of ashes. She intentionally leaves a missing piece out of every design to symbolize our work in process and the hole that can only be filled by our God. These treasures have been a gift to many throughout the world during times of both joy and sorrow. God is the greatest Artist with our stories and Stephanie’s works of art continue to speak to the heart of Courageous Girls. 

Hence, the limited edition Be The Light votives. They are inspired from the words of Ephesians 5:8-9. Stephanie has prayerfully and graciously handcrafted each and every votive for our greater Courageous Girls Community. In raising her own daughters, God has made her increasingly aware of the messages that the enemy and our culture want to whisper to them. False messages about what beauty is, about their worth and about their identity. She believes that part of our job is to counter these lies with God’s truths: He defines true beauty, determines our worth and is the only One who can define who we truly are. The message of learning to walk as Children of Light and walking in God’s truth is shared throughout the Courageous Girls curriculum. Stephanie values the ministry of CG as it helps put words to so much of the weight of the culture’s impact on her own family. Written from the heart with grace, love and encouragement, the CG ministry helps to better equip and empower me as a mom. 

The soft glow of the light through the brokenness of these votive pieces reminds us that God uses all of who we are and experienced to draw others to Himself. Our job is to love Him and allow Him to have His way with our lives. This stance brings hope to a world that has darkness, loneliness and despair. 

Stephanie’s prayer for each recipient would be that they would feel the freedom to allow God’s healing light to shine in them and through them. Sometimes we feel urged to hide our imperfections and struggles, but she believes God beckons us to rest in the identity He gives us and allow healing light to shine through to others.

In Courageous Girls, we support moms in discovering their own courage in raising a daughter who knows she is LOVED, despite what her own voice or other voices in her world might tell her. These Kintsugi votives  remind us that God beautifully uses us right where we are, just as we are, for His glory. 

About the pieces: 

Each ceramic votive stands approximately 3 inches tall and holds a tea light. Votives are either jade green or soft blue and designed with a glossy glaze over a cracked finish. A personally handcrafted Be The Light card is included with each votive.  

Each Kintsugi Be The Light votive is uniquely and personally handcrafted, carrying slight variations from the pictures shown. If you’re purchasing a vase for international shipping, please check with Stephanie for shipping arrangements.For decorative purposes only. Never to be used for food or drink and should never be placed in a microwave or dishwasher.

Metal in the piece may show a natural tarnishing over time. To many, this makes the piece more valuable as it ages while others may choose to restore it to the original gold tone. If your piece tarnishes, please use a dry silver cloth to gently remove the discoloration. Never use chemical cleaning agents.

About the artist:

Stephanie Schmidt started making Japanese Kintsugi because she thinks the symbolism of this art form so perfectly reflects life. Even in the midst of brokenness, beauty can be found, and what was once broken can be mended into something that is stronger than its original form. Stephanie has been married to Monte Schmidt, a former pastor and one of the front-line clinicians at Living Wholehearted. They have three adult sons, two adopted daughters, one daughter-in-law and a brand new grandbaby. 

If you have a specific question about the limited edition Be The Light votive, reach Stephanie Schmidt at NWHeartCreations@gmail.com.

To learn more about Monte and Stephanie Schmidt, listen to Episode #53 and #54 of the Living Wholehearted Podcast with CG Co-Founders Jeff and Terra Mattson.

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

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

November 2021—Cultivating Happiness with Gratitude

November’s Recommended Resources are curated to support you in having the critical conversations with your children, spouse, CG group, and community, allowing a deepening in understanding of God’s design and intention for happiness.

Resources to READ this month:

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

  

One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp) A beautiful way to cultivate happiness is focusing on gratitude. Ann helps to guide us in the rhythm of giving thanks.

You are Mine (Max Lucado) This children’s book (for all ages!) is such a simple and proud reminder of looking to our God for value, being grateful for how He made each of us.

Be the Light Blog This month’s CG blog highlights Oregon native and Kintsugi artist, Stephanie Schmidt, who has created specific Kintsugi designs for our CG community. Read about her “why” and learn more about her heart for daughters and God’s redemption in our lives.

Twirl (Emily Lex) This simply delightful story from watercolor artist Emily Lex encourages children (ages 4-8) to become exactly who God created them to be, living freely and lightly for Him.

Resources to WATCH this month: 

Dear Mattsons Each week, Jeff (MA ORGL) and Terra (MA LPC, LMFT) Mattson, co-founders of Courageous Girls, will answer your BIG and small questions about raising kids in today’s anxious world. Tune into YouTube for their first episode. Got a question for the Mattsons? Submit a question!

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

Living Wholehearted Podcast (Episode 96: Cultivating Happiness with Tristan Collins)

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

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

October 2021—You Are More Than Enough in God’s Economy- Diffusing Voices of Shame and Leaning into God’s Grace

October’s Recommended Resources are curated to support you in having the critical conversations with your children, spouse, CG group, and community in deepening your understanding of knowing you are more than enough in God’s economy and helping to diffuse the voices of shame and leaning into God’s Grace.

Resources to READ this month:

Shame No More: A Framework for Healing Through Grace (Dr. Richard Shaw) invites us all to fully lean into the inherent worth and infinite value we were each created with. Dr. Shaw shares how as humans, we are image bearers of God and we reflect the beauty and brilliance of Him. By leaning into God’s grace, we can start to shed our shame.

“More Than Enough in God’s Economy-Diffusing Voices of Shame and Leaning into God’s Grace” (Ally Hotchkiss) In October’s blog, you might recognize Ally from the Living Wholehearted Podcast (Episodes 57 and 58). Ally and her husband, Ted, live outside Portland, OR with their two little girls. Married 7 years, Ally lives with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and several other conditions and Ted is her full-time caregiver. Ally also works as Director of Operations for a nonprofit called TrueFace, an organization committed to helping us shed our masks of shame and live authentically and freely in the way God designed us to be. In this blog, Ally shares how she has learned to lean into God’s grace over and over again in order to combat the shaming voices and lies that she regularly faces.

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 our children are LOVED. How do we do this? Check out The Cure and The Cure & Parents!

The battle against shame starts in childhood – Christian Parenting (J. Kevin Butcher) He is also the author of a new book entitled Free: Rescued from Shame-Based Religion, Released into the Life-Giving Love of Jesus.

Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)  is a powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, and shares the life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love and grace. CG uses this book in the Year 7 CG curriculum.

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

Resources to WATCH this month: 

Season 3 of The Chosen

Christian Parenting’s Every parent wants to knowvirtual event is coming up on October 15! Join CG Co-Founders Jeff and Terra Mattson and other insightful and fun speakers as they give voice into what we all want to know as parents.  For more information and to register, visit Christian Parenting.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

“Enough” (Jess Littleton, Joi Hailey, and Courageous Gathering Band) is a song that reminds us we are enough because of Christ!

Courageous Gathering keynote session: Shedding Shame (Terra Mattson)

Living Wholehearted Podcast, Episode 91: Shame No More (Dr. Richard Shaw) Dr. Shaw’s training as an ordained minister, licensed marriage and family therapist, and licensed counselor has equipped him to dedicate his life to helping people find healing through grace. 

Living Wholehearted Podcast, Episode 57: Hope in the Darkness: Trusting God through the Hard, Part 1 (Ted & Ally Hotchkiss)

Living Wholehearted Podcast, Episode 58: Hope in the Darkness: Trusting God through the Hard, Part 2 (Ted & Ally Hotchkiss)

Living Wholehearted Podcast, Episode 99: God Made You to Be You: Fighting the Lies of Comparison (Jamie Ivey)

More Than Enough in God’s Economy: Diffusing Voices of Shame and Leaning into God’s Grace

More Than Enough in God’s Economy: Diffusing Voices of Shame and Leaning into God’s Grace

This is a guest post by Ally Hotchkiss.

Shame is a voice I know well.

The enemy continually shoots messages of shame with lies that I’m not a good enough mom, wife, worker, friend, etc, resulting in a seemingly daily battle to trust the voices of God and the safe and trustworthy people He has brought into my life.

I have a chronic and difficult illness that deeply impacts our life.

I am also the mom of two beautiful toddler daughters and the sole income earner for our family, which allows my husband to provide full caregiving for myself and our girls. The illness progressed quickly during my second pregnancy. I shifted from being a fairly average mom of a 1-year-old with a husband working outside the home to quickly losing mobility and an ability to care for myself and daughter in a very short time.

The quick pivot to spending many days in the hospital and becoming disabled brought on an assault of psychological and spiritual struggles. The lies of shame felt like a never-ending battle: “I’m not a good mom because I’m so sick and can’t do very much caregiving, playing or homemaking. Other husbands have a wife who is a more equal partner; he would be better off with someone else. Normal moms are not limited to part-time work. I’m not a good friend because it takes me a long time to reply and I rarely leave my home.”

These lies would kill, steal and destroy if God didn’t continually draw my eyes to focus on His sweet truths: “I love you. I made you. I am not surprised by anything you’re going through. You’re good enough in My eyes. You do not have to fight to please Me.” I only need to trust Him, His strength, His goodness, His faithfulness to bring my family through these hardest years. His grace is enough.

For almost 8 years, I have worked for a ministry named Trueface, an organization that encourages us to look “behind the mask” of shame and performance to a life of authenticity with God and with each other. One of my favorite Trueface phrases is:

“What if there was a place so safe that the worst of you could be known and you would be loved more, not less, in the telling of it?” ~ The Cure, by Trueface

Wow. What a beautiful and warm mental imagery of building a community where we can be real with one another and with our God. Shame thrives in the darkness of solitude. In God’s Kingdom, shame is not welcome. When we authentically speak with the Father about our shame struggles and let Him speak into them, we can find healing and freedom. The same can happen within safe, trustworthy relationships. When we share our struggles, it can allow brilliant light into hidden dark spots. We can step from loneliness into a place of being known and joined in battle. This is what we desire in our home for our girls and in our relationships.

As the battle between shame and grace continues in my own life, I see God’s Hand as He reminds me to be fully present and real in front of Him…He loves our vulnerability. He doesn’t want perfection. He doesn’t need me to try harder to please Him or be a different wife, mom, worker or friend than I am. He uniquely created me, intimately knows me and understands the daily battles. He uses me for His Kingdom just as I am, even with my significant physical limits. I am reminded that the power of the shame voice can be diminished because He is so, so much bigger!

What voice of shame do you hear? Regardless of the season you are in, God is with you, on the good days, the hard days and the days when the enemy’s voice is the loudest with shame. Our Comforter is always present and always ready to wrap you in His strong, unconditional and utterly safe embrace. No matter how you show up. He just wants you to show up.

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

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

September 2021—Get Used to Different: The Beauty of Discovering the Uniqueness of Yourself and Others

September Recommended Resources (link here) are curated to support you in having the critical conversations with your children, spouse, CG group, and community about the God given design of being “different”. These resources aim to deepen your understanding of this topic and ability to offer greater dignity, love, and compassion to those who are different from us…which is everyone. 

Resources to READ this month:

The Dignity Revolution (by Daniel Darling) illuminates the worth of humans and shares what it means to bear God’s image. A valued and insightful read.

When Charley Met Emma (by Amy Webb) shares Charley’s encounter at the playground meeting Emma, a girl with limb differences who uses a wheelchair. Charley is uncertain of how to interact with Emma. After talking to Emma, he learns that different isn’t bad, sad, or strange–different is just different, and different is great!

Different-A Great Thing to Be (by Heather Avis) is an open conversation and dialogue about God’s different and beautiful design for each of us. For preschool to late elementary school aged students, this book aids in deepening the emotional connection for valuing different.

 

Best of All (by Max Lucado) shares a powerful lesson for each of us—reminding us how we are designed with great intention and purpose by our Maker. Being different is a beautiful thing, and this tale from Wemmicksville will help remind us all of how special we each are in our Heavenly Father’s eyes.

The Power of Sisterly Love | Courageous Girls (mycourageousgirls.com)

Our children can be powerful and beautiful teachers. Two Courageous Girls and sisters, Tessa (9 yo) and Merin (10 yo), exemplify honoring their differences and understanding each other’s giftings. In doing so, they love and serve one another in some pretty incredible ways. This blog is for the whole family!

Loving Our Differences 

CG Leadership Coach, Steph West, shares in the blog Loving “Different” how growing up with her sister Christina who was born with distinction-an extra chromosome on her 21st chromosomal pair (aka Down Syndrome), was instrumental in cultivating a lens of compassion, love, and justice for God’s creations that many in our society feel uncomfortable connecting to or deem “less than.” 

May Christina’s story inspire you to celebrate the “different” in each of our stories and keep your eyes and heart open to Jesus’s great love for each of us.

Suffer Strong (by Katherine & Jay Wolf) is an autobiography. After surviving a devastating stroke at age 26, Katherine and her family had to adjust to a new normal—but that isn’t the end of the story. Embracing suffering as a privilege instead of a punishment, the Wolfs offer practical strategies for trusting God with an unknown future. Discover how to redefine loss, beauty, limitations, commitment, and more.

Emmanuel’s Dream:The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls)  

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana, West Africa, with one leg that was deformed. He was invisible to most people, but his mom saw his potential. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Be sure to check out this inspiring true story!

Resources to WATCH this month: 

Emmanuel’s Gift is a documentary film that shares the incredible calling on Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s to transform perceptions of his fellow countrymen in Ghana to see someone’s “ability” instead of their “inability.” A powerful film to share with your family! 

Season 3 of The Chosen is coming out soon, so now is a great time to watch (or rewatch) Season 1 & 2. Follow along with Jesus and the disciplines in this docu-drama. 

I’ll Push You shares the journey of two lifelong friends as they embark on a 35 day, 500-mile-long journey to hike Spain’s famed El Camino de Santiago. Together they encounter mountains, deserts, hills, and valleys with Justin enduring the journey in a wheelchair. A beautiful partnership of friends leaning into each other’s strengths.

Resources to LISTEN to this month:

The Living Wholehearted Podcast Episode 86 with Heather Avis

The Lucky Few Podcast with Heather Avis

The Living Wholehearted Podcast Episodes 2-5 “Living From Who You Are-The Core Values Index”

CG mini-podcast: Steph interviews Meagan, Merin (10) & Tess (9): CG sisters Tessa and Merin Brown have the unique opportunity to be in the same CG group and share about the boundless love they share with each other. CG Mama Meagan shares vulnerably about how she has seen God’s abundant love poured out in the beautiful way God has brought her family together. Find a cozy spot to sit with your Courageous Girl, grab a cup of tea, tissues, and listen in to this powerful podcast.

Loving “Different”

Loving “Different”

In my family, I grew up as the oldest of four girls. People loved to notice the similarities of three of us: cornsilk blonde hair, ocean blue eyes and tall stature. People then quickly highlighted how different my other sister looked from us. Christina was gifted with beautiful deep brown eyes and hair and a shorter stature. As a girl, she always wore her trademark glasses and jewels to ensemble every outfit. Christina was born with extra distinction – an added chromosome on her 21st chromosomal pair.

“Different” can be a painful word in the world’s economy. God says otherwise: You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) He intentionally designed each of His image bearers to carry unique and distinct gifts – “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” (Rom 12:6) He delights in the “different” that we each are. So, why do we shy away from allowing our uniqueness or others’ differences to shine through? Why is it so scary or embarrassing to be different?

Not only did God design us to be one-of-a-kind, but we each also have a unique story. Being “different” can look like having a health challenge, physical or developmental disability, family with divorce, adoption, fostering, unique cultural background in our community, an interest in a sport or activity that is uncommon to our peers, trauma, a heart of justice in an unjust workplace, etc. If you feel “different”, you’re in good company!  Jesus Himself was different…He intentionally sought to not conform to this world but rather to be transformed by the renewing of [His] mind. (Rom 12:2) God created us to be one-of-kind and is glorified beautifully in our differences.

Within our family, growing up with Christina in our home didn’t feel unique. She was just one of the girls and loved everything we loved: swimming, playing dolls, going to school, and renting princess VHS tapes for Friday night movies. She continues to be loved beyond measure and valued just for being Christina.

However, outside our home, the world often sees Christina differently: on the fringe and even “less than”. On the playground, other kids would tease Christina for wearing glasses, talking “differently”, or taking extra time to climb or walk. This has always been (and continues to be) a painful part of living in a world that differs from God’s economy. However, God has used the gift of Christina and being her older sister to provide much growth and great purpose in my own life.

From age 2 when I first held my infant sister to the present day, as I walk beside Christina, who is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, there has been an unspoken understanding between us. We both lean into the incredible and different giftings of each other, equally precious to God and to each other.

Christina has taught me to slow down and truly see people and hear their story. Amidst a lifetime of nosy stares and unkind remarks, my sister sees the heart of a person, not their status or physical character. Having a sister with Down Syndrome has given me a lens of compassion, love and justice for all of God’s image bearers, including those who many may find uncomfortable to connect to or even judge as “not enough”. She has taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and to treat others with dignity, love and respect – regardless of differences. This lens has grown a gift of building bridges between people in my own life as I have helped others see Christina the way Jesus and our family see her – a woman overflowing with unwavering faith, bold confidence, wisdom, fierce determination, courage and a jokester!

She recently helped me learn these lessons on a deeper level when I was with her in the hospital and her oncologist visited. When the doctor solely spoke to me to update Christina’s medical state, I asked him to first address my sister and ask her permission to share her personal medical information with me. Others feel seen and valued when we lead with dignity and respect.

Christina showed me these lessons in the real world as I started dating. She was my litmus test for all potential suitors: Did they look Christina in the eyes? Carry on a conversation even if difficult? Show genuine interest or kindness? My husband, Nick (aka “Mick” to Christina), passed every test to the point that I ended up as the third wheel on most dates so that Christina could sit up front!

Heather Avis, author of Different-A Great Thing To Be, chatted with CG co-founders Jeff and Terra Mattson on the Living Wholehearted Podcast, posing the question: “Whose feet are under your table?” How are we currently loving others who are different from us? What does it look like in our own lives to love others with great love like Jesus did? Here is a place to start:

  1. Pause & Pray: slow down and open your mind, body & soul to the Spirit’s prompting. Take an inventory of your family’s giftings, staying open to how God will use them. Also, consider, who do you see in your life that you haven’t been seeing? ie. someone in your building, neighborhood, community, workplace, school or church.
  2. Get to know their story: ask questions with love, lead with dignity and appreciate differences in your stories.
  3. How are you called to give compassion and care to this person or family? With time, talent, treasure or a combination?

When “different” is valued and incorporated into our lives, great beauty can be revealed at our dinner tables, park playdates, CG groups and Sunday school classes.

May Christina’s story inspire you to celebrate the “different” in each of our stories and keep your eyes and heart open to Jesus’s great love for each of us.

“Not all of us can do great things.
But we can do small things with great love.”
~Mother Teresa 

Stephanie West
Courageous Girls Leadership Coach

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

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

___
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.

Be Loved, Love Well