Remembering Memorial Day... When You Almost Forgot

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It's Memorial Day and no matter what you already have planned, it's never too late to honor the men and women who have sacrificed for our country. Teach your children what they can do to encourage our military all year long starting with these seven practical ideas!

Maybe you are reading this on Monday morning and you didn't really plan ahead for Memorial Day...

Or maybe it's Monday night or later in the week and the weekend was packed full of camping, barbecues, friends, family, good food, and you had a great time, but are realizing that you never really honored Memorial Day in the way that you'd intended.

Just know that it's never too late to pause and reflect.
To give thanks both in word and deed.

To remember the men and women who have given so much for--

“God, principle and love of country.”

honor those

7 Ways that You Can Show Support for Those in Our Military Any Day of the Year:

1. Take time to read about the history of Memorial Day.

2. Write a letter of thanks to a local veteran in your church, neighborhood, or community or visit a local VA Hospital with flowers and cards of appreciation.

3.  Make a trip to visit a National Cemetery and place flowers or a flag on the grave of a fallen hero. On this list of national cemeteries you can find your state, choose a cemetery and under it, there should be a list for notable persons with a list of the names of Medal of Honor Recipients.

4. Bring a meal to a family who has a member that is currently deployed or offer to watch children for a husband or wife whose spouse is in active service.

5. Learn about (and then teach your children) proper flag etiquette and why it's important.

6. Send a care package to a soldier, marine, airman, coastguardsman, or sailor through the organization anysoldier.com. 

7. Spend some time praying for the men and women in our military and for their families.

It's never too late to pause--
And remember.

Lest we forget...

Lest we forget

“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” – President Ronald Reagan

With Love,
Kara

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.

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan May 24–June 6

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Welcome to The Better Mom Whole Food Meal Plan.

Celebrate this holiday Weekend with our easy and delicious Memorial Day menu that will allow you to spend more time with your friends and family and less time in the kitchen!

Celebrate this holiday Weekend with our easy and delicious Memorial Day menu that will allow you to spend more time with your friends and family and less time in the kitchen!

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.)

May 24–30 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for May 24–30: (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.)

May 31–June 6 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for May 31–June 6: (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

6 Ways Your Children can Serve 'The Least of These'

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How do we teach our children to love as Jesus loved? We show them. In the way we care for them, and in the way we care for those without honor, without resources, and often without hope. Here are six ways to love on those who are hurting together as a family.

As moms there are many things we want our children to know, but as a mom for 25 years now (and my youngest still only four years old) I find as the years past my priorities for my kids focus more on Jesus' priorities. And what was one of those priorities at the top of the list? Caring for “the least of these.” More than anything Jesus wants us to care for those without honor, without resources, and often without hope. When we do this for your children, we are training them to love as Jesus loved.

As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (ESV): "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” 

So how can we train our children to serve the least of these? Here are six ways. 

  1. Create toiletry kits for the homeless. Have you ever had an awkward moment when you're stopped at a stoplight and there's a homeless person standing a few feet away? Instead of looking away or fiddling with your stereo, use that time to offer a toiletry kit. Have your children help you put together kits in gallon zipper bags and keep them in your car. Things to include: soap, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, hand wipes, and fingernail clippers. You can also include a bottle of water and a few granola or snack bars. Your children can also write out Scripture verses to tuck inside.
  2. Pull weeds and do yard work for an elderly neighbor. Do you have someone in your neighborhood or your church who could use a helping hand? Take an afternoon or even a full day to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Bring your own tools and supplies. Even young kids can pull weeds or pick up trash.
  3. Host a shoe-cutting party for Sole Hope: Sole Hope helps African children live lives free from jiggers, which infect and deform their feet. Instead of just buying and providing shoes, Sole Hope also helps African men and women by teaching them a trade: how to make shoes. Older children can invite friends to work together to help underprivileged children get shoes. Included in kit from Sole Hope are patterns for the shoes. With old jeans, willing volunteers, and a small donation, children can do their part in put shoes on the feet of kids who have none. 
  4. Create art work and take it to a senior care facility. My kids love to share their art with others, and senior care facilities are the perfect places to share it. Elderly people are some of the loneliest in our country. They love to have visitors and know people are still thinking about them. It's a win-win for artistic kids and for elderly people who will treasure the art. 
  5. Cook a meal and deliver to a foster family. Foster parents take in children who have been removed from their parents' care due to no fault of their own. When foster children first join a home the whole family is disrupted, and it takes a while to find a new normal. By providing a meal you are giving foster parents one less thing to think about. Then parents can provide for the additional needs of foster children.
  6. Deliver diapers and baby items to a young mom. (And maybe a book, too!) Teen moms face the same challenges as every mother, but they often don't have the same resources. Teen moms chose LIFE for their children, and they can use love, support, and encouragement. By supporting a teen mom we are NOT encouraging teen pregnancy. Instead, it's a reminder to our children that all life is important. When we love teen moms, we're loving as Jesus would. Buying diapers, wipes, and other physical items is a huge blessing to any mother, especially to young moms.

And consider also offering a copy of Teen Mom: You're Stronger Than You Think. This is a book that speaks to the unique needs of young mothers. It's a book that offers hope and reminds young moms God will always be there during all their parenting challenges. Also, here's a video that can help you understand the challenges of being a young mom so you and your children will know how to better serve.

I hope you and your children will pick one of these ways to serve. But don't stop there. Consider your family, your gifts, and “the least of these” near to you. Then let God lead you in service in unique ways. As you do, your children will come to understand God's heart. They'll also see that they CAN make a difference in someone else's life … for God's glory!

If you want more ideas on how to get your kids to volunteer here's another article I've written for you. 

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published fifty books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. She was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites.

When You Feel Like Everyone Else Has Friends....and you don't.

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Do you feel lonely, isolated and far from friends? So many moms feel that they desperately need a friend. But how to we engage when our hearts are hurting? How do we open up when we are afraid? You begin like this...

We moved into our new home an hour away from the familiar with a two year old, a dog, loads of boxes and a second child in my womb.

My husband’s occupation moved us from close friends and family and I must admit, I was none too thrilled to be leaving the comfortable and secure.

Moving to another city where I knew no one was not part of my plan.

Not to mention I was just a month shy of delivering the aforementioned baby.

Or so I thought.

Ten days after the moving trucks pulled out of our new driveway, my water broke.

Our second child was coming three weeks early – ready or not.

When we returned home from the hospital, my husband’s new job required long hours and he definitely felt the stress of being the sole provider for four people.  

I felt very alone at a time when I needed friends. Desperately.

Between feedings and twenty-minute naps, my heart longed for our former community. We had lived near my two closest friends and I saw them daily. Friends since middle school, they knew me inside and out and I was so excited to live so close to them as we were starting our families. We giggled over our young children and dreamed of raising them together.

Yet God had other plans.

Months after my son’s birth, I felt like an outsider when I would see women near my age together. Whether they were laughing at a shared joke at McDonald’s while their children played or having coffee as I sat in the drive-thru line of Starbucks, I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

It seemed like everyone else had friends – except me.

My poor husband certainly began to notice the longings of my heart, too. Tired at the end of the day, he would stumble through the door and I would pounce on him. An adult! Someone who will eat something other than Cheerios! Someone who can carry-on a conversation!

Yet I soon learned that while our husbands are a blessing, they can’t be our everything.

But God can.

During this season of loneliness, my relationship with God grew to a deeper level because I was finally vulnerable and real with Him. In full disclosure, I had moments of anger. “Why would you pluck me out of my comfort zone now of all times, God?” I wondered. “Why aren’t you putting godly women in my path so I can start building community? Why do I feel so alone?”

I took off the mask I wore before the throne and allowed His light to shine on my bare and broken face. This is where the healing begins.

I shared the desires of my heart and started to pray that God would place healthy women who loved Him in my life.

I won’t say it was easy. God did some serious work with me during that period of “friendlessness” and sometimes, it was just plain painful.

God wanted to perform open-heart surgery and for the first time, I allowed Him to cut through my chest. 

During this surgery, He revealed that sometimes, my relationships become an idol – in other words, I place their importance over His importance.

He also showed me that too often, I expected my husband to fulfill needs only God can fulfill. I can’t imagine the pressure I placed upon his shoulders as I subconsciously communicated unrealistic expectations he would never attain.

Eventually, I felt the nudge to start dipping my toe into the friendship waters. I joined a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Group. I enrolled in a Bible study at my church. I asked new acquaintances over for play dates. All beyond my comfort zone but made bearable through courage instilled from God.

I also felt led to be more authentic in my relationships  – for the first time ever. My new transparency with God allowed me to be more transparent with others.

When we’re transparent, we’re vulnerable - and vulnerability is the key to all healthy and authentic relationships.

Maybe you’re feeling alone right now. Maybe you feel like everyone else has great friendships and you don’t. Maybe the thought of being vulnerable with another person scares you to death. Or maybe God just wants it to be the two of you for a while.

Regardless, friend . . . don’t lose hope.

Pray for godly girlfriends. Keep having the courage to “put yourself out there.” And keep going – so often, we quit before we see the fruits of our labor.

Most importantly, trust Him to do His work on His timetable.

Because God’s timing is always perfect and the wait is always worth it.

Natalie Chambers Snapp is a Jesus-lover, wife, mother, writer, speaker and book lover. Her first book, Heart Sisters: Be The Friend You Want To Have, was released from Abingdon Press on April 21, 2015.  She blogs at www.nataliesnapp.com in between dealing with laundry, shuttling kids and potty-training a very naughty puppy.

 

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 Have you ever been hurt by a friend? Struggled to balance friendship with everyday life, or experienced a friendship “break-up”?

Friendships with other women are as important to our mental, physical and spiritual health as rest, exercise and prayer. We don’t just want friends – we need friends. Yet sometimes they can be as difficult as singing a song without the lyrics.

Heart Sisters will help you:

·      Overcome your fear of being hurt by other women,

·      Practically examine issues so you can work your way through conflicts,

·      Recognize when it’s time to establish healthy – and holy – boundaries,

·      Get right with God so you can get right with others, and

·      Discover the secret to authentic friendships.

With discussion questions and real-life examples, Heart Sisters will help you be the friend you want to have.

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.

Seven Powerful Words Every Person Should Ask

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Do you have relationships that are being challenged to grow? Or do you desire them to flourish even more. It's gonna take guts and a whole lot of humility, but asking these seven words can change your life and mothering today.

Have you ever asked yourself, “how can I be a better mom”?

There is a movement among women today. Moms everywhere are opening up, being real, and sharing about the sanctifying side of motherhood. The side of motherhood where our sinful nature is revealed and where by we are humbled and brought to a new realization of how unworthy we are of God’s grace, yet how overwhelmingly grateful we are for it at the same time.

None of us are immune from being tempted by the enemy’s lies about who we are. And sadly, many women feel like a failure. I’ve been there before. In those moments where I have compared myself to what I think other mothers are doing, what they are like as a mom, and I begin to think, if only I_______.

We can be our hardest critics, can’t we?

And it isn’t always the enemy’s lies, or even comparing ourselves to others that does it. I think that when we are honestly introspective, we see our sin, our mistakes, and ________, we do see room for improvement, room for growth.

Over the years I have learned a lot from my husband. I have observed him as a leader, both in our marriage, our family, and in his place of work. He doesn’t even realize this, but one of the ways he has consistently challenged me over the years is by his example of humble leadership. His humility is the one thing that stands out more to me than any other. How does he show it? By asking seven powerful words.

How can I be a better husband?

He has asked me this numerous times throughout our marriage. I have witnessed him ask his employees and co-workers how he can be a better leader. And he has asked our children many times how he can be a better dad.

I have never witnessed anyone else ask this question, let alone with such sincerity of heart. When he asks, he is opening himself up for criticism, scrutiny, judgements, and conflict. How many of us would willingly want to listen to that? Isaac usually asks this question in the midst of a hard season or when a relationship is just not working. Why? Because he wants to take responsibility for his part and do what he can to proactively change.

Have you ever had anyone ask you how they can be a better _______?

Have you ever asked your husband, your mom, your friends, or your children how you can be better?

It’s a scary question unless you are ready to hear what others have to say. It takes true humility. But just asking the question actually grows humility in you as well. Because as you hear the answers, you can’t help but be humbled and challenged to grow.

Humility isn’t something you can earn, or work at. It is a character quality that is developed in a person who has a realistic view of their humanity, and understands that they have not arrived.

Do you feel like you are just missing the mark with one of your kids, like something isn’t jiving? Maybe you should try asking your kids how you can be a better mom {or grandma}.

Do you want to have the kind of relationships that are willing to grow and be challenged? Do you want to be a better mom?

How do you think it could change your marriage if you asked your husband,

How can I be a better wife?

It starts with you. And like my husband and I, it may take 15 years before it really becomes a habit of the other individual, but once it does, the intimacy is worth it. 

Do you have relationships that are being challenged to grow? Or do you desire them to flourish even more. It's gonna take guts and a whole lot of humility, but asking these seven words can change your life and mothering today.

At first, asking these powerful seven words was the hardest exercise for me to add into my life. How can I be a better mom? Until I realized that the question is not all about me. This simple question reveals so many things. Of course it can reveal areas of sin you may have been blind to seeing yourself, but it also reveals what your husband and children yearn for in their relationship with you. It reveals their expectations, both unrealistic and realistic expectations, which offers the opportunity for deep conversation about going to God for only what He can give. 

Our human nature is to automatically think everyone is like we are, even though we know cognitively that isn't true. We still struggle to treat others the way we want to be treated, to love and value others in the ways that make us feel most loved and valued. Asking questions like this help us to value and love others in a unique way that speaks intimacy and appreciation like no other. 

So while this question may seem hard to ask at first, I had to recognize the importance of choosing to undergo humility training and follow the path that leads to making my children feel most valued and loved by inviting them to speak their needs, wants, and desires about our relationship.

But the fruit that has grown in my relationships with my kids and my husband because I was willing to ask has made it worth it. 

Angie Tolpin

Angie has been married to Isaac for 15 years and they have six children ranging from 4 to 14, with one on the way. They have just moved to Central Oregon, after living on their small hobby vineyard for the last decade. She is the author of Redeeming Childbirth, and writes on Leaving a Legacy through marriage, motherhood, and mentoring at her blog. She is releasing her first online study, The Quiet Fight Between Women: Redeeming the Division & Cultivating Unity Spring 2015! She loves redeeming social media for the glory of God and you can find her on facebook and pinterest.

Four Simple Words to Lead Your Child in Prayer

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Prayer is a window into our children’s hearts. I learn more about what is stirring in the hearts of my three boys from our nightly prayer time when they are all nestled into their beds than I do during our conversations gathered around the kitchen table.

Let me assure you that not all of our nights conclude with a meaningful prayer time. Sometimes it takes everything in me just to collapse into their beds, exhausted of patience, and muster up just enough strength to mumble, “Lord thank you for loving us. We love you too.”  

One of my favorite ways to pray with our boys is by using the A.C.T.S. model of prayer. However, I quickly learned that the words (A) adoration, (C) confession, (T) thanksgiving, and (S) supplication didn’t resonate with our boys, so we began to simplify

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