Living Hope: New Music From Your Favorite Christian Artists {a Giveaway!}

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Some days we really just need to hang on to hope. We need to remember His promises and the truth of His word and simply cling to Him. Living Hope is a beautiful compilation of music to help you do just that.

This post is sponsored by Pizza Ranch. I was given a free copy of Living Hope to review, but all opinions are my own.

It may seem strange to you that a pizza joint would put out a worship album. But everything we do for the Lord is intertwined, isn't it?

Many people who eat pizza still need to hear words of hope and inspiration. That's why Pizza Ranch put out the Living Hope album, with the help of the contributing artists, of course. 

You see, they have a vision and that vision is to glorify God by positively impacting the world. That could be by making and serving pizza's to their customers and it can also be compiling an album of songs from artists who are passionate about the Lord and want to pass on that passion to others. 

Artists include the Sidewalk Prophets, Matthew West, Francesca Battistelli, Phil Wickham, Mark Schultz, Colton Dixon, Ellie Holcomb, Passion Band, Kevin Max, Michael W. Smith, Laura Story, and Bart Millard. 

This is the perfect mix of artists with songs of hope, worship, and trusting in the Lord for our future. 

They offer us hope through our brokenness by reminding us that we truly find ourselves when we come to the altar. That God holds our future in His hands. It's there we find peace and comfort. 

And don't we need to constantly remember these truths? Music is such a powerful way to remind us, over and over again, that He is our Rock, our Hiding Place, our Salvation. It moves us to worship as we mix truth with our worth to Him. 

And it doesn't matter what yesterday held -- today is a new day! His mercies are new everyday. What a comfort! Today, we can start all over again. His mercy empowers us to live for Him. 

I encourage you, check out the webpage where they have the artists and their stories listed

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of the Living Hope CD!


Christin

Christin is wife of 14 years to her high school sweetheart and mother to seven children. She looks for beauty in the simple and appreciates a good cup of coffee. She is learning to live everyday with joy, find gratitude in the mundane, and speak words of grace. You can find Christin writing through her days on her blog, christinslade.com.

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan August 2–15

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Welcome to The Better Mom Whole Food Meal Plan.

Our free bi-weekly whole food 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.

This Summer Veggies Pasta is an easy dish for kids to help prepare. And since kids are more likely to eat what they make, getting your kids in the kitchen is a wonderful strategy for encouraging them to expand their culinary horizons. Besides, it’s just plain fun to cook together!

This Summer Veggies Pasta is an easy dish for kids to help prepare. And since kids are more likely to eat what they make, getting your kids in the kitchen is a wonderful strategy for encouraging them to expand their culinary horizons. Besides, it’s just plain fun to cook together!

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.)

August 2-8 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for August 2-8: (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.)

August 9-15 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for August 9–15: (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

Kelly Smith

Kelly loves the Lord, her family, and sharing her passion for gluten-free, grain-free cooking and meal planning with others. She is a full-time homemaker who loves spending time with her awesome hubby and two sweet boys. Kelly's whole food, gluten-free journey began six years ago when she was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder. Since then, the Lord has blessed her with an amazing recovery - a testament to His grace and the health benefits of eating whole foods. Kelly shares her knowledge and love for whole food cooking at The Nourishing Home.

A Mom's Ministry of Letters

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“You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.” - Jane Austen

I've always had a charming scene in my mind where I envision my days at a beautiful old- fashioned secretary, sunlight glowing through the windows, billowy sheer curtains flowing in the breeze. I'd sit and write, sharing ideas and scripture and anecdotes about life with all the friends we've met living and traveling all over the globe. The environment where I write and read is vastly different than that of my imagination, but connecting through letters still nourishes my soul with a depth I crave.

In the age of quick glimpses through facebook and instagram, we may very well be the most connected ever, have the most up to the minute information about one another's lives and yet in all our knowing, lack the intimacy that is at the very core and heart of beautiful friendship.

It has been said that those who write letters, are often the people who may not need to. Meaning, at the very essence of letter writing is a personality that excels at the art of communication. While this is likely true, I stand firmly on the side of the line that believes there is a great need to cultivate this art, and to practice a ministry of connection and encouragement through the written word. As moms at home with little ones or juggling careers and kids, it can be so difficult to find time for a ministry that can touch the hearts of those we know are hurting. Many of us would love to have a "ministry" but we aren't sure how to go about it, or how to make time for it.

What if the very fabric of a beautiful ministry is as simple as the pouring out of my life in a simple offering? What if a ministry of writing letters is the way to reclaim the art of heart connection with souls in my sphere and under my care?

What if we each just wrote a letter today? And perhaps again tomorrow.

I'm actually writing and stamping and mailing a humble offering of paper to touch  hearts. I'm trusting that God will give me words to shine light in the darkness of difficult seasons, to pour out in ink the beauty I see in sisters and brothers and families, to be hope and community. In my own places of quiet, may He bring ideas and literature and truth from his Word that can be copied into pages offered up as a meal for the heart to my friends. 

Will you join me? Join the movement to love wildly, to reinvent and upend our modern notions of connection? Who in your life needs a lifeline of hope? 

Blessings,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

Kristen Kill

Kristen is a Northwest native who grew up surrounded by family, books, alpine peaks and lots of green. She never thought she’d leave. And when she did, she landed in a lot of concrete in a city that shapes the world’s culture. Now she's figuring out a life that she longs to have marked by gratitude and grace, good food and conversation; beauty, art and homeschooling all squeezed into a Manhattan apartment. She writes about living with intention as a wife and mother of four in the midst of a city that makes her heart beat just a little bit faster every time she walks outside at Hope With Feathers. She also relishes in her role as the Editor of The Better Mom and loves sharing snippets of her life on Instagram.

To a Year of Seizing the Moment

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I am so not good with transitions. Can anyone relate? When my toddlers went to school full-time, I grieved. I kept thinking, when would we go to the park? (I have since realized we have thousands of park dates left.) When my teenagers got their license, I grieved when would we have captive conversations in the car? (I have since realized we have thousands of more miles together.)

For all the moms headed into transitions, from preschool to mufflers, high school to college: this is your year to seize the moment! This is your time to make a memory! This is your year to engage before the day you have to let go.

Now I have two kids who will be seniors this month and I am telling myself this isn’t the end, but the beginning of a whole new relationship with them. While we are enjoying our last weeks of summer together, I’ve asked them to share their expectations and fears for what the next year (and beyond) will hold and what they wanted from me. So, Mamas, on behalf of 17 year olds across the country, here is my summary commitment to their list.

1.     I am going to ask more about their present than their future. I want to hear their excitement over final sports seasons, new jobs, latest test scores, and new relationships. I won’t get a chance to share all of that with them if I’m too focused on what they don’t know about what’s next.

2.    I commit to being more interested in who they are becoming now (rather than what they will study) in college. Statistics show this generation will change jobs more often than any other previous.  They will find, keep and advance in their future employment because of their integrity, appetite to learn and willingness to work with others. This is my final year to influence full-time these values. I am committing to not missing this opportunity.

3.    I am refusing to parent with the carrot or the stick. As their parent, I can lazily resort to controlling their behavior through rewards (If you get this grade, If you cut the grass, If you stay for dinner… then…) or through punishment (If you don’t clean your room, If you don’t get a job, If you don’t get these grades… then…) All these conversations do is extrinsically motivate them to behave a certain way or manipulate a situation in their favor. As soon as the circumstances change, they might no longer motivated to do the right thing. In contrast, I have this beautiful season I can enjoy transitioning into parental influence. Through relationship, I can guide, instruct, encourage and admonish, setting myself up as life-long sounding board.

4.    Seize the moment. No one knows the future, and I refuse to see them as projects to complete. They are people who will never forget this last year of school under my roof. This is the time to wake up and make pancakes on Saturdays, to say ‘yes’ as often as possible, if it enriches our relationship and creates a memory.

I wonder if in the middle of all this saying-yes-listening-cheering on-influencing, I might become a fan of transition after all.

Here’s to a year of remembering ‘who’ is more important than ‘what’ or ‘where’ or ‘when…’

Blessings, 

Beth

Beth Guckenberger

Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in education, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Since founding the international arm of Back2Back in 1997, they have hosted thousands of guests on the ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children. Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014). Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014).Beth is the recipient of the the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry Legacy Award and the Cincinnati Christian University Salute to Leaders Award for her and Back2Back’s impact on children internationally. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings and church services. Her style is based in story-telling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary and parent of nine children for illustrations of biblical concepts.

Letting Go of Anxiety

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What has been holding you back, keeping you up late at night, stealing your thoughts and weighing heavy on your heart? What do you need to cast on the God who cares for you beyond comprehension? He longs to sustain and guide you as you bring your life as an offering to Him. If you struggle with fear and anxiety there is hope for you today. Come see....

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

I was startled awake recently by the sound of one of my children having a nightmare. Still in a fog myself, I ran into her room and immediately began to console her.

It took longer than I expected to help her realize that her dream was just that – a dream. The line between nightmare and reality was a bit fuzzy for her.

Truthfully, that line gets fuzzy for us as moms too. I know I can be a worrier. The fear of what might be can paralyze me if I let it. My guess is this is true for most of us.

So where do we turn when this anxiousness wells up inside?  My favorite place is the book of Psalms. I love the psalms because they are real. They are full of life – real life fear, real life anger, real life worry, real life doubt. All of it. It’s the stuff we all feel and try to make sense of.

And yet the psalmist rarely ends with an emotion or feeling. But rather, takes those feelings to the feet of God - almost as a way of saying, “This is too big. Do something about this!”

And God always does. Like a parent who consoles a child, God graciously reminds us of what reality is – even when our reality is scary, hard, and disappointing.

He takes us to His Word.

Preaches His promises.

Sings His love over us.

Soothes us with His truth.

So what has been holding you back, keeping you up late at night, stealing your thoughts and weighing heavy on your heart? What do you need to cast on the God who cares for you beyond comprehension? He longs to sustain and guide you as you bring your life as an offering to Him.

Every moment as a mom that you clench tight in desperate fear to control, God has it under control. Let go my friend. He is with you right now.

If it is a hard place, He is there.

If it is a confusing place, He is there.

If it is a lonely place, He is there.

If it is a stressful place, He is there.

As a Father with infinite grace, wisdom, and power, He has not and will not, leave you alone. Hold fast to Him.

·      What part of motherhood is most difficult to surrender to God right now?

·      Where do you need God to comfort you the most? With His truth, His promises, or His love?

·      How can you begin today to walk in faith instead of fear?

Father, thank You for the reminder that You are near. Help me to know You and trust You. I cast my cares, my concerns, and the fears I have been carrying, on You. Fill me instead with Your joy and with Your peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Blessings,

 

 

Ruth Schwenk

Ruth Schwenk is the creator of The Better Mom, and along with her husband, the creator of For the Family. She is a pastor’s wife, mom of four energetic kids, a lover of coffee, and dreamer of big dreams. She loves leading, speaking, and blogging. Ruth is the co-author of two forthcoming books with Zondervan. A graduate of The Moody Bible Institute, Ruth and her husband have been serving in local church ministry for nearly fifteen years.

5 Things To Do Instead Of Get Lost In Facebook

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Are you attached to Facebook? Always skimming through and ready for another fix of social connection? If you are ready to learn how to put the phone down and engage in your offline life, Mamas, we are here to help with these tips for how to kick the habit and what to do with your time (and heart) instead.

Do you feel that silent nudge that you're becoming addicted to the internet? What a difficult and ever-so-present temptation for our generation of mothers. If you feel discouraged and unsatisfied by the time you're spending on Facebook (or Pinterest, or Instagram...or whatever other computer/iPhone black hole you are sucked into!) - THERE IS HOPE.

Here are the two steps I have realized to help with Motherhood Internet Addiction. (It is a thing!)

  1. Tell your husband. The first time I told my husband, "I'm so tired, and all I feel like doing is going on Facebook!" he said, "That is the most honest thing you've ever told me. Thank you." The point is, we need accountability, and (in most circumstances) there is a definite, intangible blessing and help that comes from our husbands.
  2. Realize the need behind the addiction. Like any other addiction, there is a reason you are filling an emptiness inside you. I feel most drawn to my iPhone when I am a) stressed about something b) exhausted. What are you really feeling when you feel drawn to technology?

So now, when you are stressed/tired/disappointed/worried and drawn to your iPhone, what can you do instead?

  1. Nothing. Yes! One time my college professor told us, "Sometimes I sit in a chair and do nothing. It bothers my wife, but I think we have lost the art of just sitting and thinking!" I agree. Look around you. Observe. Let your mind wander. We hardly no how to do that anymore.
  2. Read a magazine. This really helps because I can relax, but in a way that somehow seems more productive. I love magazines! My mother-in-law is always subscribing me to something, but I've often thought they'd be worth the cost anyway!
  3. Read a book. Different sort of relaxing. In order to do this, you need to have them lying all around! Here are the books I'm reading this summer.
  4. Be goofy with your kids. I'm sure if you think about it, most of the time you can find something completely hilarious that is happening around you. It just takes some eyes to see it! Nothing like REAL laughing to get you out of a slump.
  5. Think about what is really bothering you, and say it out loud. Perhaps in a prayer-form? Such healing in being honest and admitting when we need help.

Fight the good fight, mamas. We do not want to look back and regret the time we have spent with our eyes on our computers!

What are your tips for resisting the technology lure? Share!

Blessings, 

Jessica

Jessica Smartt

Jessica Smartt used to be a librarian and an English teacher, but now she works much harder just being a mom. You can find her blogging at “Smartter” Each Day where she pokes fun at the everyday challenges of motherhood, shares all her delicious allergy-free recipes, and rejoices that God loves her no matter what phobia she’s recently developed. She is blessed to the moon and back with two energetic little boys and a husband who actually never worries.