Friday, July 29, 2011

The wife I planned to be

Yesterday we had the privilege of attending the wedding of a wonderful couple from our church. Few things compare to observing firsthand the sheer joy of a godly couple on their wedding day; all the love they have for each other finally culminating in life-binding vows before God and His people, all the hopes they have for the future they will spend together, the plans they have to build a family and a home together. It really is a sacred, holy, and joyous sight to behold.

We've had the opportunity to attend many weddings (10?) in our 3+ years of marriage (I guess we're at the age when all our friends are getting married!) and at each one, I have been reminded of the wife I planned to be.

Our wedding day
 I Mary Jo, take you Ben, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for rich or for poor, in prosperity and in adversity, in sickness and in health, to love, honor and to obey, to keep myself pure unto you alone, until death parts us.

When I said those vows to Ben on May 10, 2008, I meant them with every fiber of my being. There was nothing more I wanted than to be Ben Murch's wife and spend the rest of my life by his side--if we were poor, or if we were rich, if we had trying times or easy times. I was going to love him, honor him, and obey him no matter what Above that, I was going to keep a perfect house, get dressed beautifully every day (including doing my hair and make-up!). I was going to have dinner ready when he walked in the door every night (and I would certainly never resort to take-out or frozen pizza). I was never going to nag, complain, or argue and I was going to change every diaper and give every bath without asking for his help. I was going to love him faithfully, tenderly, perfectly for all the days God gave us together.

Obviously some of my expectations were unrealistic (who puts make-up on every day? Besides, Ben honestly doesn't care if I wear make-up every day, or even most days). But my desires were pure and God-honoring. In this life God has given me, my number one calling above all others is to be Ben's helper, lover, and friend. When God was knitting me together in my mother's womb, He was doing it with Ben in mind. All throughout my life, God was shaping me for this task of being Ben's wife.

All too often, it's easy to forget that. It's easy to nag, complain, and stress about the little (and big) things, forgetting that God has chosen me for the task of being Ben's wife. Ben has chosen me out of all the women in the world to be the one he spends his life with, and has faithfully loved and served me these past three years.

So, I'm thankful for another couple united to the glory of God (and finally another married couple our age at church!) and another reminder to aspire to be the wife God has called me to be. Even though I'll never be the perfect wife, I need to commit to making my role as wife my number one passion and pursuit for the rest of my days, to the glory of God. Who's with me?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Natural baby deals

Zulily is another daily deals site and they have a couple deals running today that sparked my attention--I wanted to share them with y'all in case you could make use of either of them!

The first is a cloth diaper deal, for Trend Lab diapers. I must confess, I've never heard of this brand of cloth diapers. But, they seem to have a simple and functional design, and at $9.99 each (for a diaper with one insert), they are a great price! You can also pay $19.99 for one shell with five inserts--a great price for 5 diapers changes! One interesting feature these diapers have is that the blue liners have thicker padding in the front (for boys) and the pink ones have thicker padding in the back (for girls). The neutral ones have equal padding in the front and back. I am thinking about adding a set of these to our stash since it's such a great price!

The other deal they have going today is discounted Melissa and Doug toys, starting at $7.99. We love this brand of toys; theirs are usually the first I look at when I'm looking to buy a toy for one of our children for birthdays, Christmas, etc. If I couldn't get them on sale, I'd probably be willing to pay full price for the high quality--but of course, a discount is always a bonus!

Disclosure: The Zulily link is my referral link, and I will receive site credit if you buy through my link. Thank you for supporting Covenant Homemaking!

My home management system, pt. 2: weekly chores

If you missed part 1 of this series, you can find it here.

At our house in this season of raising littles, things can get crazy and messy quickly, so keeping up with daily chores is the priority. However, the toilets still need to be cleaned and if I don't dust it's bad for Ben's asthma (not to mention it looks gross!). So, that's where my Motivated Moms planner comes in. I have mentioned it before, and almost a year later, I'm still using it to make sure I get all the necessary cleaning projects done each week.

Each day's list includes weekly, monthly, and even yearly cleaning projects--I haven't found that it's missing anything and it sure does make my life easier to have someone else tell me what to do and when to do it. Each week when I do my planning, I write down the chores from each day on the to-do list on my daily docket form.

For example, here are the chores listed for today in the planner. The ones on my list (which, ahem, I haven't done yet--yet!) are bold.
  • Clean out/organize pantry
  • Clean outdoor trash can (something Ben does when he takes our trash to the landfill, so I don't have this one on my list for the day)
  • Wash windows--hallways (we don't have any hallway windows)
  • Clean blinds/curtains--hallways (see above)
  • Straighten master bedroom closet
  • Clip children's nails
  • Clean/wash hairbrushes and combs
As you can see, there are occasionally chores that don't apply to everyone's unique situations. But, that's fine. I either give myself a low cleaning day, or if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll add it an extra project (usually something more fun, like going organizing pictures).

Right now, you can get the Motivated Moms planner for the rest of this year for just $4! This is a great opportunity to try it out at half price. If you don't have a good system in place, I think you'll find it's definitely worth it. 

What do use to keep your weekly chores organized? Please tell me I'm not the only one who was married for a few years before getting a handle on this house cleaning gig! ;)

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, and if you purchase a Motivated Moms planner through this link, I receive a small kickback. Thank you for supporting Covenant Homemaking!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My home management system, Pt. 1: the Daily Docket

As I've mentioned in the past, home management (as in, keeping the house clean) has been a struggle for me since we got married. I've tried every cleaning schedule in the book and have always ended up falling behind and living in a messy house. The past several weeks I feel like I've finally found a system that works well for me (for now!). I've been using three great (affordable!) resources, so I wanted to take a few posts to share them with y'all in hopes that you'll find them as helpful as I have.

 The first is the Daily Docket form found here, from Money Saving Mom. I use the one that's already filled in, though there is a customizable form you can use as well. On Saturdays, I print out six of these to use Monday through Saturday the following week.

It has a place for my daily to-do list, blogging stuff, meals for the day, and a pre-written daily chores list as well as a place to check off whether I've exercised and read my Bible. I stick a page on the fridge every morning, and I find it very motivating and useful. And, since Crystal is in a somewhat similar season of life (staying home with littles--though she has three and two of them are older than mine!) the daily chores she has on it are pretty close to what I need to do every day to keep things running smoothly. Plus, they are divided into what time of day they need to be done, which I find helpful as well.

There's just something about having a pretty list to check off--and the fact that it's pre-written motivates me to do things I might not get around to even if they should be done.  I also love having everything I need to do for the day written on one sheet of paper. It's much better for me to stay organized when I don't have a different page for everything. Using this Daily Docket has really been a lifesaver for me.

I'd love to know what y'all do to keep yourselves and your homes organized! Please share in the comments. :)

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan, July 18-24 {And a question for my readers!}

It is nice to be back in the swing of things. After almost seven months (!) of life as a family of four, I feel like I've finally found the new rhythm for our family--at least for now. Though we definitely still have our crazy days, and I doubt that will ever change!

This week I'm doing a "pantry challenge" of sorts. I did pick up a few necessities (eggs, milk, produce, brown rice, dry beans) over the weekend, but I'm going to try to work through some of what we have in the house rather than spending my full allotted amount for groceries this week. There are a couple bulk foods and household purchases I'm trying to save up for (our 'grocery' budget covers foods, cleaners, paper products, diapers, etc.) so I'm hoping this will help.

The question I have for y'all is: Would you be interested in a weekly look into exactly what we buy with our grocery money, something along the lines of  A peek into the kitchen of an aspiring frugal real-foodie? I have been saving my grocery receipts and thinking about doing this, but want to know if it's something y'all would enjoy.

Here's what I'm planning to fix this week (though it's definitely subject to change!):

Oatmeal apple raisin muffins, fried eggs
Potato custard
Soaked pancakes with butter and real maple syrup (YUM!)

Strawberry-banana-yogurt smoothies
Peanut butter smoothies (we LOVE these! I usually do 3 bananas instead of 2, though)
Snacks (chips, veggies, dip, fruit, etc)
Rice & bean burritos from the freezer

Monday~Baked spaghetti, salad

Tuesday~Burritos (shredded beef is cooked and in the freezer)
Wednesday~ Quesadillas, fruit
Thursday~Corndog muffins, watermelon, sauerkraut
Friday~ steak, mashed potatoes, salad (this is the same steak that's been on the meal plan for weeks! I just haven't cooked it yet!)
Saturday~Week 1 of cooking through The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook at the farm with my sister-in-law
Sunday~Family dinner at the farm

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, head on over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday (hosted this week at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Babies grow up {WAY too fast!}

It seems they get bigger every time I blink my eyes! 
I think often about how fast these "little years" are passing  by. It doesn't seem that long ago I found out I was pregnant with Katie--she was the size of a pinpoint, and I was in love already. How is it that my SECOND child has already been outside my womb for almost 7 months? When I lament how fast my babies are growing up, Ben wisely reminds me that that's the point. We have babies so they'll grow up. And he's right. The goal is to grow them up into Christ-loving, Kingdom-advancing adults. But the lightning fast speed at which they seem to be growing up still makes this mama's heart hurt just a little bit.

So for now I'll stare into their eyes, memorize the sweetness of their round cheeks and chubby legs, and hold onto precious little hands; little girl hands that will one day bear the ring of a man who will take her away from us to start a new covenant family, little boy hands that will one day be bigger than mine. I'll play dolls with a little girl who will grow up and have real babies, hold close a fat baby boy who will one day hold his own fat babes. I'll answer the same question (lately: "How you doin', mama?") a hundred times, read the same books all day long, and do the "ABC's letters" (ABC flascards) again and again. I'll play puzzles and change diapers and clean up the endless messes that come with the true bliss (and extreme challenge!) that is motherhood.

May God give me grace to do it all with joy. Because one day the diapers and toys and flashcards and picture books and messes will be gone, and no one will be in the crib in the other room to wake me up to nurse (or just to snuggle) during the night. One day the little chubby feet that pitter around my house will get big and carry my babes out into the world.

When that day comes, I hope, by God's grace, to be filled with joy at the adults my babes have grown into. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I will miss these sweet 'little years'. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Save time and money with these 2 deals

I wanted to share two great deals that are available today.

The first is an excellent time-saving resource, Tell Your Time, by Amy Lynn Andrews. I mentioned it back in my post about Time Management Resources I use. Amy's insights are so helpful and encouraging. She helps you determine your goals and "budget" your time accordingly--a system I have found helpful, even though I must admit I don't have my time perfectly budgeted out (does anyone? If you do, please share your secrets!).

Though I think the original ebook is really great, Amy is revamping her book and re-releasing it in August. Until then, you can purchase the original ebook for just $2.00--an excellent price for such a great resource, which was originally priced at $12. To purchase it for the discounted price, go here and use the code 2BUCKS at check-out.

The other deal I wanted to share is Eversave's (another great daily deal site) deal of the day. You can get a 6-Month subscription to All You Magazine (there are also several other magazines you can choose) for just $5. This was a deal I took advantage of, as I frequently find myself wishing I had the high dollar coupons this magazine often contains. I used some of my leftover grocery money from this week to purchase it, and based on the rave reviews Money Saving Mom gives it, I'm confident I'll get my $5 back plus some over the course of 6 months.

To get the All You subscription for $5:

::Go to Eversave and create an account. You will receive a $2 credit just for joining. 

::Purchase today's deal. It is originally $10. Your $2 credit will be automatically applied to the order, and if you use the promo code SHARE, you will receive another $3 off your purchase.

::Once purchased, you will receive an email with a link to download your voucher, which contains your unique voucher code and the URL you go to to redeem it.
 Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through my links, I will earn a small kickback. Thank you for supporting Covenant Homemaking!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Biblical Hospitality

Nicole over at Historic Homemaking put up an excellent post yesterday about the homemaker's call to Biblical hospitality. Here's a glimpse:

We live in a society that tells us it's okay to get away with being greedy and selfish with our resources, because... well, sometimes, we just don't have enough of them to merit the sharing.  If that isn't upside-down and topsy turvy from the Kingdom of God, then I don't know what is...

But, here's the beautiful part of this entire hospitality journey.  I find that in giving my humble loaf of bread and two fish, the Christ who called me to minister hospitality multiplies the offering and there is never any lack. Our family has discovered that if we give in our need, He is faithful and has never left us forsaken. 

Head here to read the rest!

PS: I've known Nicole since I was about 12 or 13 when we attended the same church. We weren't super close back then but have re-connected as Christ-loving wives and mamas. She has been posting a lot of GREAT things lately. I'd highly encourage you to browse her archives when you get a chance. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan, July 11-17

Well, my mom went home last Tuesday. I miss her a *ton*! I still haven't totally gotten back into my normal routine. My dear friend (who also happens to be my sister-in-law!) was in town with her two sweet boys (22 months and 9 months) all last week, so I was able to enjoy sweet fellowship with her and we had the children together as much as we could for some fun cousin time! So this week, it's back to normal for real, and while I definitely miss Lauren and her boys and my mom, of course, I do love returning to normalcy after weeks of great family time.

It has been downright hot in these parts, so I'm avoiding the oven as much as possible. With that in mind, here's what's on the menu this week.

Amish breakfast casserole, fruit
Zucchini bread (make an extra loaf to share at church on Sunday), scrambled eggs
Crustless mini-quiche, fruit
Homemade cinnamon rolls, scrambed eggs

Peanut butter smoothie
Strawberry banana smoothie
Chicken salad wraps, fruit

Baked spaghetti, green beans (x2)
Beef hot dogs, fruit, baked potato wedges (x2)
Chicken salad wraps, fruit
Sloppy Joes, fruit, salad
Sunday dinner at the farm

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, head on over to OrgJunkie for a few hundred other menu plans!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mirroring God's love in motherhood

Sometime in recent weeks, the "terrible twos" have hit our house in full swing. Katie has always had a strong will, but lately it's become stronger. She doesn't ever want to obey anything I tell her, despite my efforts to train her otherwise. Somewhere along the way, in my frustration I lost sight of the goal--the reason I'm Katie's mommy. That is, to point her to Jesus. I don't want to raise a child who is outwardly compliant for fear of being disciplined but is seething with rage on the inside--I want to raise my daughter to be a godly woman, one who submits to authority with joy in her heart because she loves Christ.

Ben came home this morning in the midst of an ugly scene. Katie was flipping out, and Mommy flipped out too. I think we were feeding off of each other. I raised my voice, she raised hers back. It was ridiculous and certainly not creating the loving, joyful atmosphere I so desire in our home. I wanted to leave and run Ben's errands for him so I could get away, but he wisely suggested that he take Katie with him and I stay home. And I am so glad he did. As soon as they left, Benjamin went down for a nap (and fell asleep pretty quickly with very little fuss!) and I was able to spend some time singing hymns, reading some Scripture and godly wisdom, and repenting. I really needed that time to refocus and regain the right perspective.

I wish it wasn't so easy to lose sight of the goal when the going gets tough in this (mostly beautiful) life as mom. How thankful I am that my Heavenly Father doesn't get exasperated and moody when I repeatedly and knowingly disobey. He is steadfast and unwavering in His love and tender mercy toward us, delighting always in His children and faithfully and lovingly administering discipline when we need it.

That's the kind of parent I want to be, mirroring the character of God to my children. I want them to look back and remember their mother as merciful, loving and compassionate--not harsh and easily irritated. May God give all of us the grace to mother our children without regrets--and may they all grow up to love and serve Him.

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind. Charity envieth not: charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil: rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth: beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, emphasis mine)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Menu Plan, July 4-10

I'm back! We had a wonderful week-long visit with my family (on my dad's side) and my Mom came home with me and has been here since last Sunday (not yesterday--the week before), so I just haven't given blogging a whole lot of thought. It's a blessing to be able to take time away and cherish time with people I love so much. Mom is flying out tomorrow (does she have to?!), so I decided I'd try and get back in the swing of things this week--beginning with the menu plan. I guess it's back to cooking by myself--what fun it is to make dinner with Mom every night. :)

Here's what's on the plan for this week:

Oatmeal pancakes with apple topping (x2)
French Toast Casserole, scrambled eggs
Eggs, toast, bacon (x2)
Crustless mini-quiches, toast (x2)

Smoothies (x2)
Lunch out (tomorrow when we go to the airport)
Corn dog muffins, fruit
Leftovers (x2)

Family dinner for 4th of July (it was supposed to be a picnic, but we ate at home because of rain)
"Mock" Chipotle burritos (x2)
Salmon patties, salad, mashed potatoes, green beans
Southwest roll-ups, pineapple
Potato soup, tomato biscuits (trying these because I got some V8 Juice for just $0.29!)
Sunday dinner at the farm

Hope y'all had a wonderful day today with your families. What are you cooking up this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.