This is the place where we explore what it means to be a wife, mother, businesswoman, leader, artisan, and godly woman, as seen in Proverbs 31.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies… She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her [family]. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Prov 31:10, 14-15, 27).
Today I was going to post one of my go to recipes but I am still getting used to taking pictures when I am cooking – trickier than it sounds! Plus I wanted to share a great photo of the end product with you…you know, the food on the plate…but we ate it! <<sigh>> Obviously, I’m not ready for Food Network or Southern Living Magazine, but baby steps, baby steps. So coming soon…justArecipe. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, I wanted to share a time saver, money saver, sanity saver. Monthly menu planning. Ok, I did not invent this. In my family, my mom invented it, though I am pretty sure someone else may have done it before her. I can remember her hand drawn table/calendar with her pretty, small, swirly cursive writing. She would post it and we could see for ourselves what was planned for dinner. And if we didn’t like it, there was always tomorrow. And for me, the most dreaded menu item? Meat loaf! But enough days of spaghetti, homemade fried chicken, tacos and lasagna would wipe away the memory of meatloaf until the next time…
When I first got married I had a totally different idea for running my kitchen. The idea was to stockpile all the staples for our favorite dinners (I had seen suggestions like this in various magazines). It was what I would call an “inventory control model”. I just kept track of each item: canned tomatoes, canned mushrooms, a variety of pastas, marinara sauce, ground meat, chicken breasts, etc. and made sure that we always had those basic food items on hand for cooking. We would look in the pantry and decide what we felt like eating. But this model had a few problems. The first problem was not knowing till the last minute what to make…made for some late dinners! Then, we were eating the same things over and over. But if I would try to add in new recipes and they had an off-beat ingredient, I might not have that item at home; this was problem number three. Problem number four was space…our pantry was teensy and we could not abide the stockpiling for long. And problem number five was money, money, money (or was that problem five, six, seven?). It was expensive to buy things we weren’t necessarily going to eat, just to “have it on hand”.
The next method I had for running my kitchen was very expensive. We ended up eating out a lot. That makes your pocketbook skinny and the rest of you fat. And that is just not a winning combination! But hubby and I were at work/school most of our waking hours so that was the only thing that worked then.
Then I was at home, waiting to have my first baby. We had just moved away from my job and we had planned for me to stay at home with the baby, so suddenly I had plenty of time on my hands. I began to make homemaking my job and I remembered my mom’s method! Monthly menu planning: I have done this for the last ten or so years. Exhale! Now I just take some time at the end of the month to plan the next month’s menu and then post it on the fridge or pantry door. Each time I go to the store I check the menu to put together my grocery list. If I need to defrost something ahead of time I can see it. I don’t waste as much food by buying things we won’t eat right away and I have the ingredients I need for the meals I am making. I plan my cook-ahead meals for our busiest evenings, deciding which days I will just reheat those items. Planning a month of meals helps insure variety which makes us happy and keeps us healthier.
I have always used Microsoft Word calendars to type up my menus. This is easier than handwriting for lots of reasons. First you have access to the previous months with just a few keystrokes. Then, you can cut and paste from previous months for the regular meals. You can print as many copies as you like. Finally you can change it easily if needed. This month I am trying a new method – using google calendar. I like this even better because it syncs with your regular event calendar and it also already lists holidays, both of which you would have to type into Word. But before I go any further let me direct you to a great webpage on menu planning with lots of helpful tips. Click here to see it on simplemom.net. She uses del.icio.us for her online recipe book. I am old school and still like to download recipes to have them in my hand while I make my grocery lists and cook, but I can see where this could be great for menu planning! I wonder if Pinterest would work as well? Here’s this month’s menu:
Anyway! I hope some of my ramblings may have inspired you to try monthly menu planning, if you don’t already. It is some peace of mind in a busy schedule. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor 14:33). The God who brought chaos into order to create the Earth and sky and sea can provide you with the ability to create a little order in your life too! If you haven’t tried monthly menu planning – are your willing to now? If you have, how do you like it?
JustAgirl…just like you
Valentine’s Day: a joyous occasion for some – a dreaded day of disappointment for others. When you are single, Valentine’s Day can be like salt in the wound, punctuating your alone-ness; so that you look forward to the day that you are married and always “have someone” on Valentine’s Day. But being married for Valentine’s Day doesn’t guarantee a Hallmark Channel love story. And so we come down to what really matters…
When my husband and I got married, the man who was going to preside over the ceremony, an Episcopal priest, required us to meet with him for some pre-wedding counseling. When you are young and foolish, you go to these things, thinking – this is just a formality. When you are older and wiser, you see God’s Hand was on you every step of the way. So that day, we settled into our meeting, feeling a bit complacent, our minds more on the wedding than the marriage. But Father Rudy had been married somewhere around thirty years; he did have real experience in this area and so after all the small talk was over, we got down to brass tacks.
“What is the single most important thing you must have for your marriage to succeed,” he asked. Was this a trick question? Too easy!
My dear fiance (now husband) was the first to pipe up, “Love!” He shot me a look of triumph, having nailed it right out of the gate.
“Trust!” I countered, and sat back in the chair, quite pleased with myself for having trumped him (this is another post altogether – duking it out in front of the priest!).
Imagine my surprise at Father Rudy’s response. “You’re both wrong”.
“It may be hard to imagine now, but there will be times in your marriage when you don’t ‘love’ each other and there may be times when don’t trust each other. What every marriage needs is commitment to keep working at it when love is exhausted and trust has disappeared.”
Zing! What a downer on the eve of our wedding – to talk of not feeling love or trust…before we even get to the altar! As I look back now, almost eighteen years later, I see that it was the best piece of marriage advice I have ever heard and I am so thankful for having heard it!
Love, love, love – it’s all we hear this time of year. People talk about feeling butterflies in their stomach, feeling warm and fuzzy, feeling their hearts skip a beat… But love is a decision. Love is work. Love is a commitment to someone else’s well-being. Often, love is NOT romantic; it is action that moves us beyond our momentary feelings of tiredness, irritability, frustration, hurt, selfishness… because love is doing the right thing, in spite of our circumstances: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13:4-7). Love is intentional.
Many would say that the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is one of the most overused passages in scriptures. True, it is well-used and well-loved by Christians and non-Christians alike, but with good reason! We must be sure not to miss the point of it, but rather must implement its wisdom, with purpose, in all of our relationships, with all people, at all times, so that we may be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22). We should utilize these words as a sort of inventory, a checklist, a compass for when we get off course. Remembering that, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It is what we were made for. To be in relationship with God. To be in relationship with people. To be interested in the welfare of others, rather than self. This is the high calling. This is the narrow way. This not the way of the world. This cannot be accomplished in our own strength, but it must be done. As Paul, reminds us, the stakes are high. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 1:1-3). But Jesus tells us that the reward is great. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:11-12) . So tomorrow I wish you love in action and joy in Him.
So, January is National Hobby Month! There was a time when all I did was work…I had no time for hobbies. What a sad, boring life! Now I blog here, study the bible, make jewelry (mostly I bead), love to cook and bake, try to make time for reading, and sew a little. My Momma makes beautiful quilts (can sew anything), can cook almost anything, taught me to bead, is a lifelong Bible student, loves to garden and read and knit and play word games and started a ministry at her neighborhood school…okay, so I have some catching up to do! Most of my friends have fun hobbies too. I got to thinking about how we are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27) and that He is a very creative being. And creativity is one of the things that distinguishes mankind from the animals. And there were times in the history of Israel that God used specially gifted craftsmen in order to accomplish His purposes (Ex 35 – 39: the building of the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, 1 Kings 7 building of the temple). Then have a look at some of the verses about the godly woman from Proverbs 31:
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands. (vs. 13)
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers. (vs. 19)
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (vs. 22)
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes. (vs. 24)
I guess what I am saying is that God gives all of us some spark of creativity that we can use to bless our families and friends, to glorify God, to further His Kingdom, sometimes to provide an income, and always to give all of us enjoyment. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). Click here to see what crafty thing my Sweet Girl did last week. I want to hear from you…what kind of crafts or hobbies do you have?
JustAgirl…just like you!
This past summer, we moved from our home of five years. We also moved away from my Sweet Girl’s very best friend, ever. Emma and her family were a special part of our introduction to homeschooling and our families got along so well…we all just “clicked”, parents with parents and kids with kids. They moved far, far away from our little town not long after we got settled in at our new home. We were so blessed because they were able to visit us on their way to their next duty station. But my Sweet Girl has missed her special friend so much since then. Today is Emma’s birthday and we made her a present to show her how special she is to us. Here is what we did (and you can too!):
We bought two coordinating pieces of fabric – one piece is 3/4 yd and the other is 1/4 yd (about 45 inches wide). I love to use the fabric that is in the quilting section – usually lots of cute patterns. You will need some thread that matches. You MUST wash and dry the fabric before starting work on the project, then trim all the ragged edges and make sure that the edges are straight. Iron both pieces of fabric to smooth out the wrinkles. Please forgive the lack of a “before” photo – I thought about taking pictures a little too late!
Fold the 1/4 yd piece in half, lengthwise, right side out. Iron. Now you have a piece that is about 4 and 1/2 inches wide and 45 inches long.
Pin the unfinished edges of the folded piece to the cut edge of the larger piece, right sides together.
Sew pinned edges together.
Iron the seam open.
Fold the entire piece in half lengthwise, right sides together and iron.
Pin all around the edge, leaving the flange end open.
Then the last seam is sewn, all around the edge (except for the opening at the flange of the pillowcase). The seam makes an “L” shape. Now you have a pillow case (just inside-out). So turn it right-side out, and iron, if needed.
When you are nine, and you can sew a present for your BFF by yourself, that’s Abundant Living!!
And when you are seven and cannot sew (and do not want to learn), you draw a picture.
Every mom wants her kids to have good memories of how she made them feel special. Some are better at it than others. I struggle with “fun” crafts…can’t stand them…don’t do them often with my little ones, and when I do it is a labor of love. Some cook with their kids. We do this periodically; but if it is a new recipe I am more than likely to get distracted by all of the safety violations and endless chatter by my kiddos. So cooking together has been haphazard – though each year it gets easier – they are getting so big nowadays that we do it more often <<sniff, sniff>>. But I always try to make them a special birthday cake. Box mix, homemade icing and lots of Googling to find great ideas for their particular theme. We all agree that my Hello Kitty! cake was my greatest success (though I can’t rest on those laurels since that was 4 years ago!). I have done a (very bad) firetruck – my first attempt at being a Cake Boss. A superhero cake (first time with homemade fondant – pretty awesome result). Starwars, that was a cheater, I added little figures to the top – but it is not hard to impress a 5 year old boy. Ballerina Shoes – that was cute! Last year we did an “Art Party” and let the girls decorate their own cupcakes (that was easy!).
This year we did a the Pirate Treasure Chest Cake for my Sweet Boy…found it on familyfun.go.com
Last week mySweet Girl and I used the Wilton method to make flowers…well, sort of. We made flowers and we used the Wilton tips but I think we were inventing our own flowers rather than reproducing actual flowers that you might see in nature – but who cares?! Love the Wilton website – lots of helpful hints. We bought the Wilton cupcake tree from Amazon and it was better in person than in the picture – collapses too for storage.
Forgive the photography! Still working on that, but one project at a time. This time we were focusing on cupcakes and kids. We are so totally proud of our results – for first timers, we did alright!
JustaGirl…just like you!
Today I am just giving you my own thoughts. I say they are my thoughts but in fact they are shaped by the Word of God, my experiences and a wonderful book called Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I also recommend a great book called Teach Them Diligently: How to Use Scriptures in Child Training. Here is some good news: we are to use God as our parenting role model – we do not need to model after our parents or the latest fad in parenting; we can use His Word to find the Truth. Actually, His Way is the only way to teach them diligently, as Deut. 6 says to do: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut (6:4-9)
We must teach our children about God’s Way - we are commanded to do this. In addition, we are accountable to God for the way we parent. I think we are given this task as part of our Christian growth too; because once we really understand that the only way to teach it, is to live it, that can be life changing! They will do what we do, not what we say (if they don’t match up). We cannot parent as hypocrites – saying one thing and doing another. Parenting our children can help make us better Christians. How do know where to begin? There is a biblical model of parenting we are to copy; we are to model ourselves after God, and be the kind of parent He is: The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. Lord, the eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. 16 When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked. PSALM 145:8-9, 13-20 Here is another truth we have forgotten: God does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17) – He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We must parent the same way, the godly manner, regardless of whether it looks like it is “working” and let God work in the child. Our culture has told us, “if one thing doesn’t work, try another”. God does not tell us this. He does not give us multiple-choice. He makes it simple. We make it complicated. There is just one Way. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:16). Every situation, every blessing, trial, or interaction with other people shows the kids a way – but, every time we must do right by them and by the Lord; we must show them The Way, the way to the Father. To do that we will have to accept that God’s way is better, seek Him ourselves, and then we must leave the timetable and the results up to Him!
JustaGirl…just like you