Bi-Weekly Meal Plan for March 29–April 11

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Welcome to The Better Mom Whole Food Meal Plan.

This delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki with veggies is a classic meal your whole family will enjoy down to the last bite.

This delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki with veggies is a classic meal your whole family will enjoy down to the last bite.

Our free bi-weekly GF menus open into a convenient pdf that includes links to each of the gluten-free recipes featured making it easy to access them with just a simple click.

Once you click on the graphics below, you can easily save these gluten-free menus to your computer for easy access anytime you need them. Then, simply click on the links within the meal plan pdf to gain instant access to each of the recipes. (Please note: Many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf document. So be sure to save the meal plans to your computer first.)

March 29–April 4 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for March 29–April 4: (To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf. So save the meal plan to your computer first.)

April 5–11 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for April 5–11: (To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf. So save the meal plan to your computer first.)

In addition to the gluten-free meal plans above, we're pleased to provide you with a free meal planning template perfect for creating your own custom meal plans:
• Meal plan template PDF 

To learn more about meal planning, please check out my FREE Video Course: Mastering Meal Planning. My hope is that this will be a great resource and encouragement for you whether you’re just getting started with meal planning, or are a seasoned expert.

Always a treat to share healthy meals with you! Let’s give thanks to the Lord for providing us the opportunity to nourish our families in this way!

Joyfully Serving HIM, Kelly at The Nourishing Home


Encouragement For The Weary Wife

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Are you weary? There comes a point in every wife's journey where she has to fight for her marriage and her heart. Be encouraged if you are in a season of fatigue.

 

Marriage is no easy feat. Anyone who has been married for a few years can tell you that. But on the flip side, marriage is one of God's greatest gifts to His creation. One gift that requires hard work, determination, patience, grace, forgiveness, wisdom and lots and lots of unconditional love.

But what happens when a wife becomes weary?

When a wife becomes weary she must decide to enter into battle and fight for her marriage and remove anything that is in her way. Yes, anything.

I have a close friend that married her childhood sweetheart. She and her husband had been neighbors since the day they were born. They grew up together, went to school together, experienced loss together, and learned how to do life together. So when they got married, naturally, they believed they could conquer anything together with God on their side.

The first couple of years of their marriage my friend and her husband lived just down the street from the homes they grew up in. They were living out their dreams. They wanted to be near their families and have their children grow up around their large extended family. It all seemed so perfect.

And then it happened.

My friend became weary.

She was tired because of all the family members who were placing themselves in her and her husband's business. She was exhausted from the constant barrage of knocking on the door and the ringing of the doorbell from family just "stopping by". She was tired of hearing the question, "When are you going to have children?" when she was finding out that she was barren in her womb. She was weary to the point she didn't want to do anything anymore. She nearly wished her life was over.

And then one day while she was praying through tears, God began to give her the wisdom she needed to end the weariness and allow His strength to be made perfect in her life and marriage. After much prayer and discussion her and her husband packed up and moved away to another city to seek the path God had for them there. Because, you see, He never wanted her and her husband to live in that town. They chose to do so.

And that's just it. We become weary when we lean to our own understanding and take our lives out of God's hands and put them in our own hands.

But there is always hope! Wives, when you become weary, be sure to place your life back into the Father's hands. Give Him the reigns and allow Him to steer you onto the narrow path that He has carved out for your life. Allow Jesus to give you the sustenance you need to thrive in your marriage and not just survive. Let Him take your weary heart and make it full of His strength and purpose.

Perhaps you have allowed something into your marriage that is putting an unnecessary strain upon it. Pray and ask God to remove anything in your marriage that isn't sanctifying it. Pray and ask God to give you the wisdom you need to rise on wings like an eagle and soar above your circumstance!

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 KJV

And our faithful and merciful God will do it. He will give you what you need to bless your marriage and every other aspect of your entire existence. Because He cares for you and loves you. Don't give up, dear sister! Don't grow weary in well doing, because if you stand strong in Christ you'll reap your harvest in due time. And it will be worth every single minute of your trial!

Could you use some practical Christian wisdom and encouragement for your marriage? If so, I invite you to join myself and 10 other anointed wives for the Wisdom for Wives Online Conference this spring! I believe that you will walk away from these sessions an entirely different person and I cannot wait to see you there! And if you register soon by clicking the link above, you will save $10 off the regular price :)

Until next time,

xoxo Carlie K. @ManagingYourBlessings.com

Interview with an American Idol Mom (What She Prays for Her Son)

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What would you do if your child found themselves on the national stage? We are going behind the scenes with an American Idol mom today to learn how her family prepared for this moment and what qualities are essential to build into our kids lives- for wherever God may take them!

The last few months have been a little crazy for the Seavey family. Keri and Jeff never imagined that they would watch their son Daniel Seavey make it into the Top 24, let alone Top 11, on the popular American singing competition series known as American Idol.

I know Keri as-- wife to Jeff, a senior pastor and church planter, mom to four children (Tyler, Christian, Daniel and Anna), women's ministry leader, biblical counselor, speaker, and writer who blogs regularly for the Biblical Counseling Coalition and who has written about parenting for The Gospel Coalition.

I asked Keri if she'd be willing to share from a mama's perspective-- what God has been teaching her through this process and how God is using this incredible adventure in their lives.
While most of us will never face the challenges (and excitement) of their specific experience, many of Keri's parenting struggles and prayers are ones that as moms, we can all relate to...

1. How did Daniel end up auditioning for American Idol?  What is the backstory to ending up in the Top 24 and now the Top 11?

Keri: Daniel has wanted to audition for American Idol since he was a small child. We watched the show for many years as a family. He has also always been a very musical child, playing instruments by ear since he was about five.

When the auditions came through Portland, OR on a bus tour, Daniel made the choice to go with his youth group on a missions trip to Mexico where he helped build a home for a homeless family. We were very proud of him for the decision he made. Because of that, we made it a priority to get him to the San Francisco auditions. We let him audition for the experience and for fun, and he just kept making it through the rounds of auditions.

2) What have been some of the highlights so far in this experience?

Keri: It has been such a joy to watch Daniel learn, blossom and grow in many ways right before my eyes. With all of the opportunities that come from American Idol, he has grown as a musician and performer every week in different ways. Much of this growth has come from the example and encouragement of the other contestants. They all seem to genuinely love him and treat him like a younger brother.

He continues to learn how to courageously put his best foot forward under immense pressure and challenging circumstances (Hollywood Week's craziness, moving forward when you just don't feel like it, performing while sick). I have been so impressed with his positive, joyful attitude and determined perseverance as he rises to the occasion, realizing that "the show must go on." He has had a steep learning curve in learning how to conduct himself for interviews and live television. He has had to learn how to be respectfully assertive when trying to protect the shaping of his image. Daniel has been vigilant about aiming for humility throughout this journey.

I am very proud of how he has been dealing with his overnight popularity. He's learning the value of not  "believing his own press" with respect to over-the-top praise or difficult-to-hear-read negative feedback. He is learning what it means to anchor his identity in who he already is in Christ, and not what people think of him or how they respond to him. It has been my profound privilege to navigate and grow with him through all of this. Daniel and I have grown so much closer as we have maneuvered through this together.

3) What have been some of the struggles? Dangers? Fears you've had for him going into this process?

Keri: Let me start by saying idealistically and in theory, I would never want my fears to stand in the way of opportunities and experiences that God ordains for our children. However, realistically, my son's experience with American Idol gave dormant fear a chance to sprout and grow in my heart. There are a plethora of obvious fears regarding the industry, success, and Hollywood.  When Daniel made it through his first rounds, he began doing interviews and photo shoots at a dizzying rate. When my husband and I were alone in our San Francisco hotel room after a long and crazy day after Daniel had "made it through to Hollywood" I said, "I want to put Daniel in a basket and hide him far, far away!" My husband said something in response that is simple, yet profound. He said, "This is God's doing and His grace will be sufficient." This is gritty truth with teeth that has stuck with me and continues to stabilize me when I (often) feel weak-in-the-knees and panicky.

Yet, there is another fear I discovered in my heart that wasn't quite so obvious that manifested itself in the weeks prior to heading back to Los Angeles for Hollywood Week. While Daniel was picking, learning and practicing songs, I turned into something of a "tiger mom," standing over his shoulder, picking things apart, always reminding him to practice. One day, while Daniel and I were talking about a song, he reluctantly told me that I wasn't being too encouraging and that he felt pressure from me. After taking some time to think and pray about what he said, I confessed to him my fears (through tears).

Daniel had some health problems as a small child. He was severely underweight and couldn't keep much food in his system. It made him very weak and fragile. I took extra care with him, always wanting to protect him from getting hurt. And now I felt the same way with the American Idol experience. In my desire to protect him from getting hurt, I realized that I was trying to control what I thought I could, to ensure his safety and protection. If I could get him to rehearse enough, to work out all of the weak spots, he would not have to deal with hurtful, negative feedback or the "haters" whom I knew would be lurking out there, ready to pounce on my fragile, young son.

I was so afraid of him getting deeply hurt and not being able to recover. I was not trusting God with my son, but rather trusting my own illusions of control. I explained myself to him and asked for his forgiveness that day, which he freely gave. I asked him to pray for me to trust God more with his well-being. I also gave him the freedom to tell me in the future when "tiger mom" would rear her claws. I am so grateful we had this conversation early on as we now live with the reality of some of those fears, having to face some hurtful, negative feedback. We both are challenged weekly to continue to trust God, anchor our identity in who are in Christ, not fear man, or try to control the uncontrollable in life. I have learned over my parenting years and through this process that safety and control are myths anyway. God is sovereign, good and trustworthy and able to protect and provide for my son far better than I.

seavey

4) How have you seen God using this unique opportunity?

Keri: God has used this opportunity in more ways than can be enumerated. Personally, the heart challenges with fear and anxiety give ample opportunity to exercise our faith and find our strength in Christ. Missionally, and contrary to what one might expect, the opportunities for the Kingdom of God have been abundant! We have prayed with people, encouraged people, spoken truth to people, had spiritual conversations with many people, and have had the blessed opportunity to truly love people who are in many different places spiritually. It has been an incredible honor.

5) What are you praying for Daniel in the middle of all this and what can we be praying?

Keri: I pray that God's will would be done regarding how far we ride this crazy train! More importantly, I pray for Daniel's heart. My desire is that this experience with American Idol would be a means that God uses to help him understand and live in the reality of who he is in Christ. I pray that both the  praise and criticism he receives would be light and inconsequential in comparison to the weightiness of the acceptance and love that he already has in Christ.

My son's name, Daniel, means "God is my judge." How fitting! I pray that as Daniel is judged weekly on his singing performance, that his true and deeper joy would come in knowing that the true Judge has based his love for Daniel on the perfect performance of Christ. Daniel does not need to perform for God to earn his love. He already has it by faith, because of the performance and merits of Christ!

I just want to thank Keri for sharing this experience with us and I pray, along with Keri, that God will continue to use this opportunity for their good and for His glory!  

With Love,
Kara

P.S. As of tonight... Daniel made it into the Top 9, so their journey continues.  If you'd like to show your support, as he walks through these doors that God continues to open, you can find more information here

Kara Chupp

Kara is 18-years-married to her husband Jason, one of the funniest and most generous people she knows. They have 5 kiddos, 4 here and 1 in Heaven. They also have a muppet-like-mess-of-a-dog Penny, non-breeding Madagascar Hissers (who have had over 100 babies), chickens, fish, and a bearded dragon named William Wallace. Kara writes mostly about family adventures, adoption, grief, Heaven, education, books, and most importantly, clinging to God in everyday life.

The Real Power of Parenting

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While babies across the earth warmed in their mama's insides, mine was a photograph on my fridge. She had fingernails and eyebrows and could open and close her eyes, already. She'd done so for years when her picture wasn't on my fridge. I couldn't feel her kick, but I studied that one photograph and saw the will that is often forged within the vulnerable who are fighting desperately to be invulnerable. She was still kicking.

My only parenting tactic back then was what I prayed in secret for her.

Prayer takes the ceiling off our children's lives- it connects us to God's heart for them and is a very real and true power we have as moms. How will you pray today?

It was too late to pray for healthy baby, healthy delivery. I prayed for one-day-healthy heart. I asked that she would be open to me, that she'd desire love -- because sometimes when you don't get it for long enough, it's easier to just stop wanting it than it is to wait for it to come. I prayed that she'd want God.

I spent months in asking for God's promises for her, this little girl who'd likely shelved dreaming for surviving. I prayed big.

Before we met her, we named her Hope -- and it was a season during which I really needed hope. It was a reach for both her and me. I knew enough of her story to know that girls like her had moxie and drive and fire in their eyes, but probably not hope. I'd walked enough of my own story -- barrenness and loss and always-waiting -- to know that girls like me were at risk for losing hope in Him.

But something about this child made me pray hope and not just call her Hope, even before I ever held her. It was as if I could raise the ceiling of my expectations for Him, in her, and in ways I had a harder time doing for myself. I prayed big. I prayed expectant. I saw with my eyes in prayer what the physical might never have told me, for her life. His unseen was powerful as I prayed.

The day we met her -- that day she still had her given name, that day she didn't yet know she was "Hope" -- she nervously led us around the back of the orphanage building to the room where she slept. I wondered if she knew that her days in that bed were limited. We walked into a room of monotone bedspreads on shabby beds. Her bed, however, was the only one in the room with a splash of color. On it, this remnant of a Western decorated bedroom, read these words: "Hope it's happy." 

She'd been sleeping under her new name for months.

Our most powerful parenting happens in the unseen. The months or years when this child is an idea -- forming within us or under another's roof -- are when mamas are indoctrinated into what really shapes a life.

We wash and fold laundry and make lunches and page through dozens of read-alouds in a day. We referee squabbles and kiss ouchies and train fingers how to hold a pencil, but the real power lies in the One who made them be our connection to Him. It's found in prayer, and it takes the ceiling off of our children's lives.

When I stood at the edge of my little girl's bed -- the one who hadn't given me any reason to falter in my sky-high prayers for her -- and I read that bedspread, I remembered the slight whim by which we'd named her. I'd felt like a teenager picking a name and a future that seemed well beyond what my experience and my wisdom might tell me.

Prayer is like that.

It hooks us into that which could seem laughable to the human eye. It links us to the heart of God -- who used harlots and beggars and swindlers to carry His message. The heart of God who set a bush aflame in the desert and walked across a thin sheath of water. The heart of a God who left His grave clothes behind that third day.

Shortly after we saw her bedspread we subsequently learned that the staff of the orphanage had previously given our little girl the nickname in her language which means ... hope.

They never knew that we had named her this, from across the ocean.

What we may write off as whimsical -- these prayers speaking great exploits, both internal and external, that are tucked in His Word -- may be the very words of life for that child who is stuck.

Is our prayerlessness preventing us from seeing His unseen unfold in their lives? 

Putting it into practice: I made this for me, to nudge me out of my prayerlessness and into BIG prayers for their little hearts. Join me? One letter a week, a day or an hour -- let's ask the Creator of their hearts to unlock them.

Love, 

Sara

(Click the image to download a printable pdf.)

Photos and printable compliments of Mandie Joy.

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing, both on her blog and in her book – Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

Resurrection Cookies

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We are so excited to share an Easter project that is sure to become a special tradition with you! And the best part? It just shines Jesus to our kids!

Over the past twenty years that my husband and I have been parents, we’ve tried many fun and faith-based traditions to teach our children about the real meaning of Easter. We’ve made a wooden cross to display with a spotlight in our front yard. We’ve taken our kids to a passion play that depicted the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. We’ve made crafts and done local service projects for those who were struggling financially. But one of their favorite activities—should you ask my kiddos—was making Resurrection Cookies.

For over a decade, when our children were small, we did this creative activity every year, usually on the evening before Easter. It is a kitchen endeavor that not only makes a yummy treat, it walks children through the story of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection right on the the pages of the Bible.

Here are the items you need on hand:

1 c. whole pecans

1 tsp. vinegar

3 egg whites

pinch salt

1 c. sugar

resealable plastic bag (1 quart-size or 2 smaller)

wooden spoon

masking tape

Bible

Preheat oven to 300°F. Put pecans into plastic bag, seal, and let the children break them into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1–3. Set the nuts aside.

Remove the cap from the vinegar and allow the children to smell it. Put vinegar into a mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28–30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. The eggs represent new life. Explain that Jesus gave his life so that we could live eternally with God and have a new life here on earth. Read John 10:10–11.

Sprinkle some salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it. Sprinkle a dash of salt into the bowl. Explain that the salt represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’s followers. It also represents the bitterness of our own wrong choices. Read Luke 23:27.

Tell the children that there is a sweet part of the story. Add sugar to the bowl. Explain the best part of the story: Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents that God sees us as without sin thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice. Read Isaiah 1:18.

Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a wax paper–covered cookie sheet. Explain that each spoonful represents the tomb where Jesus’s body was put after he died. Read Matthew 27:57–60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door, and turn the oven off. Give each child a piece of masking tape to “seal” the oven door. Explain that Jesus’s tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65–66.

Acknowledge that the children may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’s followers were sad too when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20, 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Point out the cracked surface and explain that on the first Easter Jesus’s followers were amazed to find the tomb open. Now take a bite of the cookie. They are hollow! And the tomb was empty too because Jesus had risen! Read Matthew 28:1–9.

Rejoice in the fact that He is risen! Happy Easter!

Blessings,

Karen Ehman

NOTE: For more fun activities to do with your family all year long, check out Karen Ehman’s book Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide for Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions.

Parenting Your Middle School Girl: On Rollercoasters

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I spent six weeks of one summer vacation in a driver’s education class. We memorized laws, worked through driving simulations, learned how to adjust the car mirrors, and practiced driving for hours with the big yellow “Student Driver” sticker on the back of the car. 

But I did not get even one hour of training before my daughter turned 12. 

This oversight is the parenting equivalent of handing car keys to a four-year-old. 

So now that I’m 46 and have the most precious adult daughter, I have some hard-earned wisdom to share with you. 

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