Sunday, October 31, 2010

493 Years


493 years ago today, a note posted on the door of a church in Germany began something that would change the course of history. An innocent note, intended only to inspire discussion between theology professors ended up reforming the church throughout the world! Today, we'll be remembering this and thanking God for His grace in raising up godly men like Martin Luther who were then bold enough to carry the Truth forward regardless of the cost. One must wonder who, if any, will rise up in this generation and do the same.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Coming Home: Why? (Part 1)

 **If you missed it, you can find the introduction to this series here**

In a day when it seems the vast majority of women choose to pursue careers outside the home, some may wonder why it is worth it to give up your career to spend your days at home. The foremost reason to come home is because home is where God has called us to be, in order to best glorify God by ministering to the needs of our husbands and children first, and then to the Body of Christ and the lost. The family is central to the advancement of Christ's Kingdom, and God has clearly assigned roles to each member of the family, including the wife/mother, as a means to accomplish that end.

In Proverbs 31, we find a description of the virtuous woman:
10  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21  She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22  She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24  She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
By focusing the vast majority of her time and energies on her family, she meets their needs by providing nourishing food and warm clothes. In addition to making their clothes, she makes enough to give to the poor, ministering generously to their needs on behalf of her husband and family. She also sells some of what she makes to supplement her family's income. Her husband is successful, in great part because of her ministry to him. He and their children are blessed to call her theirs, and they all "rise up and call her blessed." If our virtuous woman was gone 40+ hours per week for a job outside her home, she would undoubtedly be unable to accomplish much of what she does.

I know when I worked full-time outside the home for several months before Katie was born my day looked somewhat like this:

Wake up early and get ready to go, fix something for breakfast and then leave for work, usually leaving behind dishes to wash when I got home (unless we drove through Dunkin' Donuts and got a bagel on the way, which we did at least a couple times every week). At the end of the day, I'd come home tired, but I couldn't rest long because it was time to make dinner. Most of the time, I'd cook, though we frequently ate something ready-made or went out for dinner. After dinner, I'd clean up and have a two or three hours to spend with Ben before it was time to go to bed and do it all again. Though everyone's situation is different, I am confident this is how life is for the majority of women who work outside the home.

I had a relatively easy job working for my dad in his office and the extra income was really nice. However, Ben and I both realize now that it probably would have been worth it to forgo that income so I could have stayed home more. Sure, we would have had to sacrifice things to have been able to make ends meet on one income, but there is much that could have been gained as well. We would have been able to eat a lot healthier, I could have set aside time to exercise to have a healthier pregnancy, and I would have been able to focus more of my energies on helping grow Ben's business, among many other things. Even as just a wife, before any children came along, we now believe my time would have been better spent if I had spent more of it at home.

What do y'all think? Next week, we'll talk a little more about the role of the mother at home, specifically.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pregnancy Update, 32 Weeks

Baby Bump at 32 weeks. Excuse my hair--it was really windy!
 A whole four weeks have gone by since my last pregnancy update. I am amazed at how fast time is flying and can hardly believe we're due to meet our little man in just eight weeks! We had a check-up with my midwife yesterday morning, and everything looks great. I only have two more check-ups until I reach full-term status. Unbelievable!

Baby Benjamin is still head-down {yay!} and he seems to be growing well, based on my measurements. Over the last couple weeks, I've definitely felt his movements getting stronger and more frequent. I have also been able to feel him hiccuping as of late--I'm going to guess this is more fun for me than it is for him! The work the Lord does in knitting together each person in his or her mother's womb never ceases to amaze me. Just seven months ago, our sweet baby was smaller than a pinpoint. At this point, he is well developed enough that even if he was born in the next couple of weeks (which I hope he's not, of course), he would most likely do fine with very few long-term difficulties. Wow!

As for me? I think I'm doing pretty well for being seven and a half months pregnant. I'm definitely starting to feel BIG. I've noticed a slight waddle to my walk, and simple things like bending over and rolling over in bed are becoming more difficult. I'm so thankful for my sweet husband--he's always willing to help with things that are difficult around the house as I'm getting bigger, and he graciously puts up with my need to hog the bed sprawl out at night in order to be comfortable.

My blood pressure hasn't given any indication of being problematic like it was during my pregnancy with Katie, and we're hoping and praying it stays that way. If it does, everything looks like we'll be good to have a midwife assisted home birth sometime in 6-10 weeks!

How are you other pregnant mamas doing? Have any of you had your babies yet?

Febreze Wooden Wick Candles: Giveaway!

I like to keep a tidy, clean home (though it's not always that way!), but decorating and beautifying are not my strongest points. I think our house is pleasant (thankfully--since I spend most of my life here), but I'm just not terribly creative. However, candles are one item I do usually have around the house. I love the homey appearance a burning candle gives, and it's so nice to have a warm aroma wafting through the house. 

When MyBlogSpark contacted me a few weeks ago about trying out new Wooden Wick Candles by Febreze, I was excited! Here's what Febreze says about them:
No fireplace, no problem. Breathe a sigh of relief because the new Febreze Home Collection Wooden Wick candle has you covered. Bring the calming crackle of a burning fire into your home anytime of year with 80 hours of "ahhhhhhhh." 
Available in nine premium scents, these tranquil candles are specially designed with a wooden wick to recreate the ambiance and sound of a crackling fire indoors. Offering a brilliant range of everyday fragrances, Febreze Home Collection Wooden Wick candles can help inspire a scent and design transformation in your home.
Be sure to look for Febreze Home Collection Wooden Wick candles at your local Walmart in fragrances like Green Tea Citrus, Pomegranate Mango, Cranberry Pear, Orange Honeycomb, Rosewood Plum and Willow Blossom; as well as seasonal scents that include Anjou Pear Spice, Gingersnap Vanilla, and Yumberry Sangria.

They sent three candles for me to try (Rosewood Plum, Cranberry Pear, and Anjou Pear Spice). They actually do crackle a bit like a fire place when the candles burn, an especially pleasant sound this time of year! Though they all smell wonderful, I think my favorite of the ones they sent me is Anjou Pear Spice. 

Febreze and MyBlogSpark also sent me a $15 Walmart gift card to give to one of you so you can try this product out yourself! If you are interested, leave a comment on this post and tell us which scent you'd like to try. If you'd like additional entries, you can subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS Feed, follow me on twitter (@mrsmurch), and/or tweet about this giveaway. Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. This giveaway will close on Wednesday evening.
As a small side note, I forgot to announce the winner of the Motivated Moms Planner last week, though I did contact the winner by e-mail. The winner was Comment #5, Tara! For those of you who didn't win, you can try out the planner for the remainder of this year for just $2!

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Disclosure: MyBlogSpark and Febreze provided me with three candles to try, as well as the gift card to give away. I was not compensated in any other way, nor was I obligated to post a review or giveaway. The opinions is this post are all mine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan, October 25-31

Cooler weather has definitely set in around here. We've already pulled out hoodies, sweaters, and boots out of hiding and they are getting some use! The time has officially come for nice, Autumny/Wintery meals (though in truth, my cooking does not change as much with the seasons as some folks'!). I am hoping to get my hands on some pumpkin soon, as few things say "Autumn" to me like the smell of something pumpkin in the oven!

Here's what we've got on the plan for this week.

Breakfasts: grits or whole wheat pancakes all served with scrambled eggs

Lunches: grilled cheese, quesadillas, leftovers

Monday~ Adobo Red Rice and pinto beans, salad
Tuesday~ Chili, cornbread (didn't get to this last week)
Wednesday~ leftovers
Thursday~ Shipwreck Casserole, green beans
Friday~ leftovers
Saturday~ Pizza, salad
Sunday~ at the farm

For lots of menu planning inspiration, be sure to head over to OrgJunkie

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Flexibility, Humility

I have been reading through an excellent book during my morning devotions this week. Part of what I read on Friday really stuck out and was an excellent reminder for this mama's heart.

"Our Wise Woman is steadfast in her faith and commitment to her Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58) and is, at the same time, flexible with His plan for her life (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Flexible, by definition, suggests the ability to bend without breaking, a willingness or predisposition to yield; pliable; or adaptable. It is the quality of being able to adjust to change and the capacity to modify our plans in order to leave room for God's plans (1 Peter 5:5-6). Humility is the underlying character quality that yields a flexible response."
 ~Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God, p. 90 (emphasis added)
To me, that was such an amazing thought and I read through it several times. How applicable it is to the life of just about every mom. When I complain about 'interruptions' to my day, it is out of pride! God is the one who ordains everything that happens during the course of my day, including the events that I (sinfully, pridefully) get frustrated about.

Every time Katie 'interrupts' what I'm doing to have me read the same book for the eighteenth time, every time she begs to 'help' me wash dishes when I just want to get it done fast and move on, when she wakes up half an hour earlier than expected from her nap, when Ben has something different in mind for our evening than I do, and even when I sit down at the end of the day and feel like I didn't get anything done for all the interruptions! All of these 'interruptions' are part of God's perfect plan, and rather than grumbling, I ought to exercise flexibility and humility, acknowledging that His plans truly are far better than my own!

Will you join me this week in seeking to exercise more flexibility and humbly submit to God's perfect plan without grumbling?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A little of this, a little of that

Katie and I have already been back home for a week! The time has really flown. It has been nice to return to a somewhat normal routine, though Katie was still not feeling well for a few days of this week, so it wasn't completely normal. She needed her mama a lot more than usual!

As you may have noticed, blogging definitely got the back burner this week. Thank you all for sticking it out and being patient with me. I'm setting aside nap-time today to get some posts ready for y'all for next week. You can keep an eye out for the next installment in the On Coming Home series, a fun giveaway, and a few other posts. 

It's amazing how much effort it takes to get back into the swing of all my household 'stuff' after being gone for so long. I dragged my feet a little more than usual this week, but I think I'll be ready to go when next week rolls around. PLUS, we're getting our dryer fixed today. The thought of doing laundry and actually being able to use the dryer instead of hanging everything just about makes me giddy. Ha!

It has started to get pretty chilly here. In fact, last night I think we had our first freeze. We are really thankful for our wood stove. Ben fired it up this week for the first time this season, and I think it'll get plenty of use over the coming months. We do have central heat, but if we used it, our electric bill would be over double what our rent is for a month!

I reckon that's enough rambling for one Saturday. I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend with your families!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Menu Plan, October 18-24

Katie and I arrived home on Friday morning. I was amazed at how COLD it was (in the 40s!). We had a really nice trip visiting my sister-in-law and then my parents, but Katie came down with some bug Wednesday night before we left, and has kept me pretty busy until today when she seems to be {mostly} back to her normal, sweet self! It is soooo nice to be home--that was definitely the longest Ben and I have been apart since we've been married, and I don't think I'll ever go away that long again if I can help it!

In addition to being very, very {did I mention I missed Ben a lot?!} glad to see Ben, it is nice to be back in my kitchen as well. Here's what's on our meal plan this week. Sorry it's a day late--Katie still wasn't feeling well yesterday and just needed her mama!

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs with sausage and grits (we've been eating this just about every day--it's healthy, cheap and filling enough to keep a very pregnant mama out of the kitchen for a couple hours...ha!)

Lunches: Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, leftovers, snacks

Monday~Spaghetti Pie, fried apples (we were supposed to have salad as well, but I didn't make it to Kroger 'til after dinner!)
Tuesday~dinner at the farm (a family friend is coming into town)
Wednesday~BBQ Chicken Sandwiches on homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies
Thursday~Chili, Cornbread
Saturday~Homemade Pizza, salad
Sunday~dinner at the farm

What are y'all fixin' this week? For meal planning inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday every week!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

So, I'm still in Florida and it isn't very autumny here yet, but I thought it was time to change my menu plan banner of choice anyway. Afterall, it's nearly mid-October! Katie and I will be flying home Friday morning, and I am so ready to see my hubby! I don't really have a great idea of what's waiting in the fridge and pantry for me when I get home, but Mom and I did sit down together last night and plan out meals to fix together the rest of the time I'm here.

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs with sausage and toast, cold cereal
Lunches: hot dogs (all natural, nitrate free, etc) with fruit, leftovers, ravioli with steamed veggies

Moday~curried beef with brown rice, steamed green beans
Tuesday~white chili
Wednesday~lasagna, salad
Thursday~Mom's beef stew

What are y'all fixing this week? For lots of menu plan inspiration, be sure to visit OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Motivated Moms Planner

For most of our married life, I have really struggled with managing my household chores well. I have tried all sorts of methods and schedules and nothing seemed to really 'fit.' A couple months ago, I went ahead and downloaded the Motivated Moms Planner after reading a review by Happy Housewife It is a printable chore list. There are various options you can choose (weekly pages, daily pages, large pages, small pages, etc.), but they all include chores that need to be done daily as well as various chores to keep your house clean througout the month. Monthly, seasonal, and annual tasks are interspersed throughout the lists as well.

Here is a sample of the tasks for one day:
::Change dishcloth/towel
::Change handtowels in bathrooms
::Clean middle shelf of refrigerator
::Vacuum main/public rooms or first floor
::Vacuum furniture in living room
::Clean toilets
::Replenish stock of toilet paper in bathrooms

I usually just go around the house and get the day's tasks done after I do my morning chores (clean the kitchen, make the bed, etc). Normally, I can get it all done in under half an hour, and it just feels so good to check everything off and know that my house is getting clean! When Katie (and Benjamin, eventually) is older, I'll probably assign one or two of the more simple tasks to her each day, but for now she just 'helps' me with all of them.

This planner has seriously done wonders for my home management. I'm a list person, and having a list (that someone else put together, at that!) I can check off really motivates me to get things done.

Deann of Motivated Moms has graciously agreed to give away the rest of 2010 as well as a full 2011 planner to one of y'all! You can choose any format you'd like. The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday evening, October 13.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, you can subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed, follow me (@mrsmurch) on twitter, tweet about this giveaway with a link to this post (be sure to include @mrsmurch as well), and/or blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A little update and the giveaway winner

My absense this week has been because we made a trip down to Florida. My sweet sister-in-law gave birth to a precious baby boy last week, so my mother-in-law, my other sister-in-law, Katie, and myself piled into the minivan and came down to Pensecola to help out a bit. How fun it was to hold a sweet newborn boy in my arms! He is absolutely precious. Of course, seeing him made me look forward to December and meeting our sweet boy all the more! I'm in Orlando now visiting my parents. Katie and I will be heading home next Friday. Most likely, this will be my last trip down with just one baby in tow. Pretty amazing to think about!

In other news, selected comment #12, Janice, as the winner of the Tropical Traditions lotion giveaway. Thanks to all who entered! I have e-mail Janice. Stay tuned for another great giveaway later today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Diaper Fail

I am somewhat notorious about not replacing our paper products before we run out, and unfortunately, diapers are no exception. I typically order a huge package of diapers from when they have a good coupon code out. I am quite partial to Pampers, and I've found I can get them cheapest this way. However, I haven't seen a coupon code for recently, so the past few weeks, I just bought packages of Comfort Babies diapers at Kroger. They're reasonably priced and work okay, but--they're definitely not Pampers (let's just say we've had more leaks than usual).

Recently, I've been hearing some buzz in the blog world about Amazon's new Amazon Mom program. You get 30% off of diapers and wipes, in addition to free Amazon Prime for 3 months, which gives you free two day shipping. It sounded pretty good to me, so when I started getting low on diapers, I finally got around to looking into it for myself. I finally decided to order a big box of 156 Pampers Baby Dry diapers, on Saturday night (the 18th).

This is where the big fail comes in. When I placed the order, I had fewer than 10 diapers left, and because of the timing of the order, my diapers weren't going to get to me until Wednesday, and FedEx comes around our house in the evening. I made a mental note to go ahead and get some diapers at Kroger when I did my weekly grocery trip just in case. However, since I didn't write diapers on my list, I forgot to get them.

A trip into town costs us about $5 in gas, and a package of 27 diapers at Kroger is $6.99, making the grand total almost $12 for 27 diapers if I headed back into town. When I did the math (especially consider I paid just over $18 for 156 Pampers after two $5 gift cards), I was determined to NOT make a trip to town to buy diapers. However, I faced the impossible task of making eight or nine Size 5 diapers last 3 whole days and night. Ha! I dug around in Katie's room and found some Size 3's, which she wore during the day, and I saved the 5's for nap-time and overnight.

By Wednesday afternoon, I had used up all my Size 5's and all my Size 3's, and FedEx still hadn't come. So, we did the unthinkable--we dug through Katie' closet and found some Size 2 Pampers Swaddlers from eons ago. They were pretty small but covered her up just enough to avoid disaster.

Wednesday evening, we had a pretty big storm and it got pretty late and FedEx still hadn't come. Major rain, wind, and thunder/lightening do not allow for great driving conditions, so I was really hoping they were just running late. Our power went out after dinner so we decided to drive 1/2 mile to my in-laws' farm and when we got in the car, the box was on the driver's seat. Ha! Only in the country. :o)

So, that's the epic story of the diaper fail. What in the world am I going to do come December when I have TWO in diapers?!

For more fails, by sure to pop over to Friday Fails at My Blessed Life!