Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lessons in Motherhood, Pt. 2

If you missed it, go here for Part 1.

As Katie has grown from newborn to toddler, her needs have changed quite a bit. She is naturally much more independent than she was as an infant. She is a very strong-willed child (perhaps evidenced early on by her propensity for screaming). When she wants to read a book, she wants to read it now. If she’s ready for a snack, it simply cannot wait, no matter what I may be doing. Self-centeredness is part of our fallen human nature, and a quality we’ll need to do our best to train out of her. Because of that (and often because necessity requires it), I don’t always give her what she wants. All too often, her response is undesirable. She whines or cries, and occasionally has an outright fit.

As Katie’s mother, it is my duty to discipline her when she disobeys or misbehaves. However, discipline has to be done out of love for my child and not because I’m irritated about her whining or angry because she has disobeyed. Having my own fallen nature to contend with, Katie’s growing sense of self-will and lack of self-control has brought with it many an opportunity for me to learn a lesson in patience. I am often reminded how patient and loving my Heavenly Father is toward me despite my frequent sin--and how much more offensive it is for me to sin again Him than it is for my two-year old daughter to sin against me.

All that said, I do prefer to say “yes” to Katie more than I say “no” in part so that my “no” carries plenty of weight with her, but also because she is one of top priorities. Spending quality time with her reading books or playing is often more important than what I may be doing. As she has gotten older, many opportunities for self-sacrifice on my part have become optional and easier for me to ignore. Her persistence, while not always a positive quality in her, continues to be a tool for the refining of my own character.

In addition to more opportunities for Katie to show her sinful nature as she has gotten older, there are plenty more such opportunities for me. When I’m tired from the combined lack of sleep and chasing babies all day, it is far too easy to say no when I should say yes, or to snap at my daughter rather than responding in love. Then of course there are things I do by accident: tripping over her when she is underfoot, stepping on her toes, or--worse yet--bumping her in the head with a weight while working out. When I offend or hurt her, in her childlike state of love and trust, she is so quick to forgive. Within a few short moments, it is as though she has completely forgotten that I raised my voice at her (or bumped her head), and giggles, hugs, and kisses resume their usual sweet fervency and I am her very best friend again. Seeing this quality in her is a painful reminder of my own shortcomings and an encouragement to forgive as I am forgiven--by my family and friends and ultimately by the Christ whose law I so often transgress.

When I consider the depth of the love I, in my fallen and dreadfully sinful state, have for the two precious children I have borne --a love that is nearly inexplicable, one I could not have imagined without having become a mother myself--I cannot help but to think about the love of God. To know that the love I have for my children pales in comparison to the love God has for us as His children is a truly blessed and humbling reminder.

Being a mother is much different than I expected it would be. Before I had children, I thought secretly, in my naïve state, that it would be easy. I mean, what could be so hard about changing diapers, cooking meals, and cleaning up messes all day? In two short years as a mama, I have quickly learned there is so much more to it than I originally thought. In many ways, having children has taught me what it is to really love someone--to sacrifice for a person and expect nothing in return, to be patient in spite of their shortcomings, to forgive no matter how many times you are sinned against, to love them as God loves His own.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who is really sovereign?

Below is an excerpt from a post over at Reformed Inquisitor entitled The Little Bit of Sovereignty We Keep for Ourselves. I thought the post was very well done and thought provoking (and it happens to be written by my husband!).
Calvinists are a zealous bunch. We are diligent in the perusals of deep theological truths. We delight in the logical soundness of the five points. We are quick to refute the gainsayers. We love our books. We love our knowledge. Books line the walls. We have Calvin’s Institutes on our nightstand, Augustine’s City of God in our restroom.

Yet, like the man who missed the forest for the trees, it seems as though often times we miss the absolute sovereignty of God for God’s sovereignty in one area — soteriology. We so frequently forget simple truths (or forget to apply them), namely, God is sovereign and we are not. We have our heads so far up the TULIP stem that we neglect to apply the doctrine of the sovereignty of God to every area of our lives.

But let us not forget; God is not only sovereign in salvation, but over you and me — He is sovereign over the totality of our lives. We have recognized God as the sovereign over spiritual things (election) , but have we forgotten that God is also sovereign over material things (for the earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof).
Go here to read the whole post!

Menu Plan, March 28-April 3

My mom is in town this week and we're all really enjoying having her here. If only she and Dad could move in right down the road... :) Anyway, she'll be here until Thursday, and here's what we're cooking up. What have y'all planned to fix this week?

Scrambled eggs, smoothies
Baked Oatmeal, scrambled eggs (x4)
Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffins, scrambled eggs (x2)
Sandwiches (grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly or banana)
snacks (crackers with cheese, fruit, veggies)

Monday~Layered Cheesy Enchilada Casserole, beans
Tuesday~Chili, cornbread
Wednesday~birthday dinner with the in-laws (my youngest brother-in-law is turning 13!)
Thursday~Italian Cream Cheese Chicken Casserole, salad

Friday~Pizza, salad
Sunday~dinner with my in-laws

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Free pasta at Kroger! (and a couple other deals)

Guess how much I paid for all that pasta?! 


It was free plus $0.01 overage per package. As part of Kroger's Mega event where you buy 10 qualifying items and get $5.00 off, the Ronzoni Smart Taste and Healthy Harvest pastas are on sale for $0.49. You can go here and print coupons for $1/2. You can print two per computer (and there are coupons for both types), so you can get 8 free packages of pasta per computer. We eat pasta about once a week, so this should last us at least 4 months, but probably longer than that since we don't go through a whole box every time.

 A couple other noteworthy deals that are also part of the Mega event are Annie's Homegrown Macaroni and Cheese for $0.49/box (no coupon required) and Triscuits $0.99/box (some of the flavored ones have MSG, so check the ingredients!). To get the crackers at that price just like Triscuits on facebook, and you'll beable to print a coupon for $1 off.

Note: The sales do vary by store, as I know some Kroger stores/affiliates have the pasta on sale for $0.89 instead of $0.49, which still makes for a pretty good deal after the coupon--just be sure to check your store's ad. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And I thought I loved him then

the engagement photo that was on our wedding invitation
Three years ago this week (March 21), Ben asked me to be his wife. Seven weeks later we said, "I do." It's amazing to me how much has changed since then--two new little people being the biggest of those changes (!). Being married to a godly man is wonderful. Ben's self-sacrifice, protection, provision, and leadership are such great blessings to our family!

Lessons in Motherhood, Pt. 1

 I recently wrote a paper for my English Grammar class about things I've learned since becoming a mother. I've edited it some and broken it up into parts to share with y'all.

As a little girl playing with dolls I dreamed of the day when I would have a real baby of my very own. Ben and I were married just five months after my 18th birthday and a positive pregnancy test not six weeks later meant my childhood dreams were going to be a reality. In February of 2009 we welcomed Katie and then in December of 2010, Benjamin. With two children so young, my days are filled with nursing, snuggling, boo-boo kissing, cleaning up messes, playing with toys, reading cardboard books, fixing snacks, and more love than I could have dreamed of. Who would have thought a couple babies could teach me what it means to live a life of self-sacrifice, patience, and forgiveness--what it means to really love as God has called us to?

There is nothing quite like the experience of holding your baby in your arms for the first times. You’re filled with so many hopes and dreams and, as it turns out, a lot of adrenaline. In my first days of motherhood, I learned what a great blessing the adrenaline was when I went from Thursday morning to Sunday morning with a total of four or five hours of sleep. Katie was what they call ‘a screamer.’ The moment she was delivered, she screamed louder than I’ve ever heard a baby scream and she kept on screaming for a few weeks. My romanticized ideas of motherhood were quickly dispelled, though I was eventually able to get a little sleep as she started sleeping through the night at just five weeks.

Benjamin is a completely different baby. He was one who took his time crying at birth and still only cries when he is hungry, tired, or has a messy diaper (or if his big sister inadvertently pokes him in the eye or otherwise offends his sense of personal space). He slept a lot in the first few days after his birth, allowing me to rest and recover quite well from labor and delivery. However, five weeks came and went about six weeks ago and he is still waking up two times most nights to nurse. This means I am often quite tired during the day, and with a busy two-year old I don’t usually get to rest a whole lot.

As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve known that loving someone was being willing to sacrifice yourself for them, but mothering two very different newborns has brought this lesson to a whole new level. In order to meet their needs, you have no choice but to lay down your life and put their needs ahead of your own--and you do it because you love them more than words can say.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan, March 21-28

Spring is definitely here, and I'm pretty happy about it! Having grown up in Florida, I'm ready for some warmer weather. My mom is coming into town on Thursday and we're going to take the kids and spend Friday and Saturday with my Grandma--an exciting week, indeed!

Here's what's on the menu at our house this week. What are y'all fixin'?

Scrambled eggs, smoothies
Baked Oatmeal, scrambled eggs (x4)
Banana Pancakes, scrambled eggs (x2)

Sandwiches (grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly or banana)
snacks (crackers with cheese, fruit, veggies)

Monday~Crystal's Lasagna Casserole, salad, bread machine buttery rolls
Tuesday~Country fried steak, mashed potatoes, salad
Wednesday~Layered Cheesy Enchilada Casserole, fruit, beans
Thursday~Chili, cornbread
Friday and Saturday~Grandma's house
Sunday~dinner with my in-laws

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sweet baby smiles

I *finally* caught my little guy smiling on camera! Isn't he just precious? His personality is just as sweet as his little pudgy face, too. What a joy he is! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No greater joy

When my children are grown I want to be able to say with the Apostle John, " I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." He may not have been talking about physical children, but it certainly applies. As a mama, my main purpose in life is to see that my children grow up to serve the Lord. In addition to daily family worship, weekly church attendance, and discipline when necessary, there are a couple of tools we have found that we really love and are using to help teach Katie (and eventually Benjamin, too!) biblical truths.

The first is a set of CD's produced by Songs for Saplings. The CD's go through each question in the Children's Catechism and put them all to music. Katie loves listening to them and I love that they are helping to plant the truths of Scripture in her heart so young.

The other tool we have begun using is a simple children's catechism called "First Catechism." Since Katie is so young, she only knows the answer to the first question ("Who made you?"). We've been working on the second ("What else did God make?") and she can say it with some help.

What do y'all do to impart Scriptural truths to your littlest ones?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Plan, March 14-20

Here's what we're planning to eat this week. Just out of curiosity, do y'all plan out your menus for the week? Even though I rarely follow my plan perfectly, I find it's so helpful; when I have a plan, and make a grocery list accordingly, at least I know I have ingredients on hand for meals for the week.

Cold cereal
Apple and cranberry baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs (a 9x13 lasts us 4 days when I serve it with eggs!)
Cheesy potato pie

Pinto beans, cornbread, cabbage
Yogurt and fruit smoothies, peanut butter toast

Monday~Beef Stew, Irish Soda Bread
Wednesday~chicken pie (a recipe from my aunt--I may just have to post it for y'all!), steamed veggies
Thursday~Chili, cornbread
Saturday~homemade pizza, salad
Sunday~dinner at the farm

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Katie Turns Two

Katie turned 2 on February 26. This is her birthday letter from this year--I meant to get it up on her birthday, but I got sick!

Dear Katie Lee,

I guess I'll probably say this every year, but it just doesn't seem like it was all that long ago that I held you in my arms for the very first time, and yet February 26th has rolled around again. It has been quite a year! You've grown and changed and learned so much. Being around to watch it every day has been such a joy; I wouldn't trade my job as your mommy for anything in the entire world.

Over the past year, you have really transformed from a baby into a little girl. You talk a lot (!), have all your teeth, and wear 2 and 3T clothes. You are also learning to be a great helper for Mommy. You throw things away, grab items from around the house, put your clothes in your drawer (good thing they're pretty much all wrinkle free {wink}), and help empty the dishwasher. You also love to bring in a bag when we're bringing groceries in. And, you really don't want anyone to help you with it!

Just after your first birthday, we found out you were going to be a big sister! Watching you fill this role since Benjamin was born has been really neat. You can him "Muh-nuh-nuh." You're so sweet to him, showing a great deal of concern when he cries ("Mommy, Muhnuhnuh 'rying!). You love to help me care for him by getting his pacifier, finding clothes for him, and turning the music on on his play mat.

In the past several months, you have also begun picking up the concepts we've been trying to teach you. You know nine of your colors (red, pink, blue, green, yellow, black, white, purple, orange) and you can count to 7. You're also starting to identify letters. You know the answer to the first question in the children's catechism and we've been working on teaching you the second. Most Sundays, you sit through church quietly without us needing to take you out--this is such a blessing for us! We are still working on teaching you to obey the first time we tell you something, but you've certainly shown a lot of improvement over the past several months.

One of the hardest things for me over the past year was when you decided to wean at 16 months. I'm so thankful for the time we had breastfeeding and I'm thankful weaning was very non-traumatic for you since you initiated it. The timing was good, though I do still miss that special time snuggling with you. You're a very busy girl! You sleep about 11 hours at night and take a 2-3 hour nap most afternoons--and you really need it with all the energy you burn the rest of the day!

Katie, I am so thankful the Lord gave you to us, and I'm looking forward to many more years of being your mommy. My prayer for you today and every day is that God would grant you repentance and faith at a young age and that you would ultimately grow into a woman who lives for Him! May He grant me wisdom to live my days out as a godly example before you.

Love you more than words can say,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kroger Cartbuster Sale (&Giveaway!)

Through the end of this week, the Kroger family of stores is running one of their largest promotions of the year, their Cartbuster Savings event. Several popular brands have come together to make the sale happen, including a couple of my favorites--Muir Glen organics and Cascadian Farms. I've taken the opportunity to stock up on organic pasta sauce and organic breakfast cereals--you can find coupons for both brands on for extra savings. Another great thing about this sale is that a lot of store brands are marked down as well, making for some good deals on already lower-priced items.

In addition to the great sales, Kroger is giving away 1000 items every day through their e-coupon program on their website. At 3pm each day, they coupon for a free item is posted here and the first 1000 people to add it to their card get it. The first day of the promotion, I got a coupon for a free bottle of Tide laundry detergent! They have also given away free Pampers (I was bummed out to miss out on that one!) and ice cream.

The Kroger family of stores and General Mills/Nestle/Proctor & Gamble through MyBlogSpark were kind enough to send me a $25 gift card to check out the sale, and they have provided a $25 gift card for one of y'all as well! 

In order to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. Feel free to earn extra entries by posting about this on your blog or twitter, subscribing to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed, or following me on twitter (@mrsmurch). Just leave a comment for each additional entry, and a link where applicable (ie, your blog post or tweet). The giveaway will be open until this Saturday evening.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I can't do it on my own

Thank you all so much for your patience during my recent 'hiatus.' I really just needed to step back for a bit and refocus.

Last week, I woke up Monday morning ready to tackle everything. I pushed myself and the house stayed quite clean all week, I was able to work while the children's naps overlapped, and I was totally exhausted (and grumpy) at the end of every day with an achy back. By late Saturday morning, I was sick in bed with a (really painful!) breast infection, complete with a fever. Then I had to stay home from church Sunday because it was so painful when Benjamin latched on. I spent the weekend in bed nursing Benjamin and taking Vitamin C and raw garlic trying to avoid antibiotics. Thankfully, it worked and I'm completely better.

When I was reading articles on breast infections, almost all of them had one thing in common: breast infections are an indicator that you need to slow down. That taught my a valuable lesson. More than my family needs a spotless house, they need a healthy wife and mom. Taking care of myself is essential if I'm going to take care of them. And, if they need me to be healthy physically, how much more do they need me to be spiritually healthy? I can't be the wife, mother, and homemaker I need to be on my own. I need the strength and grace of God to get me through each day. I need to saturate my mind with His word and bring my family before Him in prayer. When I was pushing myself just as hard as I could last week, I didn't 'have time' for the Scriptures because I 'had too much to do.' I have learned a valuable lesson--I don't have the time or strength to not make that a priority.

This week has been much better. I'm spending time reading Scripture in the morning when I nurse Benjamin. For cleaning, my priorities are to have the kitchen clean and the clothes washed and the other tasks, I'm just fitting in as I'm able. And instead of working while the children are napping at the same time, I'm trying to relax and instead do my work in bits and pieces throughout the day.

At the end of the day, at least we have healthy food to eat (and none of it rotting for lack of washing the dishes!), clean clothes to wear, and happy hearts. God has truly been gracious unto us.