Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 20

Discipline and Diligence: 
The Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 woman was to serve as a model for King Lemuel in his future search for a wife. Although the Proverbs 31 woman was not a real women, she could exist--these characteristics are not unattainable. It is comforting to me to realize she did not necessarily do all of the activities listed all in one day. Whew!

I must admit number six on Courtney Joseph's list of what a wife of noble character does not look like: "she does not spend her days doing leisurely shopping, texting, emailing, Web browsing, watching movies, and sleeping in" most convicts me. I am not currently working outside the home and we do not yet have children; thus, the demands on my time are not many. However, I have a responsibility to make better use of the extra time God has given me in this season of life.

My mom was an excellent homemaker. She spent a lot of time devoted to teaching me homemaking skills. However, I was not overly interested in acquiring these skills until I began living on my own. I am becoming more confident in my homemaking skills, but still have so much room for improvement. Cooking and cleaning are two areas I am fairly confident in, but still growing in. Meal planning and canning/preserving are two areas I have been learning/growing in most recently.

Once we move into our house, I am hoping to plant a vegetable and herb garden which will hopefully help us to cut costs in our food budget. I still continue to look for ways to cut our food budget, as this will prove even more important once we add to our family and food costs go up.

Colossians 3:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
If our aim is to serve God, and we give it our best effort, our efforts are not in vain. We are not dependent on the affirmation of others to recognize our hard work. God sees us and notices the work of our hands. With this perspective in mind, I feel it would change my attitude towards my husband and help me to be more content in the managing of our home.

You’ve come to the close of this book. What is the one major take-away you have learned? How do you want what you have learned to alter your actions as a wife and/or mother? May God bless you as you serve your family and as you continue to walk with the King!

Thank you to Whitney for inviting me to guest post this summer on her blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first experience in the blogging world.

Recently Whitney visited our home, along with her husband and new baby. This was the first time we had seen each other in 5 years. The visit was short, but sweet. Here is a picture of the two of us in our home before they headed over to their hotel for the night.

In Christ,

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 19

Media and Your Homemaking -- Times Have Changed!

     Several years ago only a few homemaking blogs were available. Now, there are hundreds -hundreds of voices offering critiques and other opinions. At some point it all became noise and clutter to the revitalization of homemaking. I am one of them.

     Homemaking in the media has transformed into a highly competitive entity. Whose voice is louder? Whose numbers are greater? My possession of either of those qualities is unimpressive, and I often feel as though my voice is lost entirely. What is my voice anyways? I get the impression that I’m expected to instruct, advise or otherwise place myself in a position expertise. This is what I read in bloggers. Yet, this is not achievable for me as I am most always still learning lessons myself. My original intent for the Reviving Homemaking blog was to simply share what I was learning and experiencing on my journey of rediscovering homemaking.  Nonetheless, I repeatedly must step away to reconnect with this purpose. How quickly I become entangled in the web of homemaking blogging. Honestly, I don’t want to compete. I simply want to share.

     Sharing, though, is made difficult when the threat of unabashed criticism lurks. I write and rewrite spending hours on posts making sure each sentence is as acceptable as possible. The vast majority of the time the desired words never make it to the screen at all. I’m too consumed with the potential for criticism. Honestly, I struggle enough to hold my head up against nit-picking criticism offline, much less to expose myself further via online presence. It takes tough skin to be a blogger, especially with polarizing subject matter. The truth is my skin is so thin. The sting of words lingers. On one occasion, I learned that another blogger had taken my words from a post of mine and written a critiquing response on her blog. I took a break from blogging afterwards.

     There has been many times in which I've stepped away from the online realm of homemaking. With so much input on the subject, it becomes murky and messy. My ability to see my own homemaking path becomes less clear. Despite the intent of blogs to encourage, so often they leave me discouraged and needlessly burdened.

     In ways, homemaking in the media has had a negative impact on my homemaking journey. I turn it off in search for peace and purpose. In other ways, media has uplifted and revitalized homemaking. It’s made it accessible to all women. Women who are experienced in the practice are able to share insights and those who are novices are able to turn to this resource for learning. There is a positive and negative side to everything. There is also a balance to all things. I’ve learned that it is important to occasionally turn off the screen and step away in order to define and establish one’s own practice and purpose. 

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 18

Routines That Bring Rest

    One challenge of motherhood that I've encountered has been finding balance in getting everything done in a day. Initially, I felt as though it was an either/or situation- either I'm fully attentive to my child or I'm fully attentive to my housework. In the end, both remained lacking. Instead, I needed to get organized! I began to adopt a routine or schedule to be a guide for each day. We rarely follow it precisely, but at least I know what goals are realistic and how to achieve them!

     A good schedule provides a time for the most important areas or tasks for the day. By listing out those areas or tasks as well as the time in day, it is easy to see when I might be taking on more than I can realistically accomplish. (Thus the closure aspects of Reviving Homemaking and significantly downsized presence on the blog). A schedule allows for all activities to be assigned to an appropriate time of the day, and thereby increases the likelihood of accomplishment. 

    I believe a strong schedule or routines for the day is healthy for a child. It establishes predictability and expectation for them. Activities can be anticipated and transitioned into instead of spontaneous. A schedule/ daily routines are also helpful for heading off known meltdown triggers. For instance, over-tired is a huge meltdown trigger for myself and Tennyson. Neither one of us tolerate this state very well. So, it's important we create adequate opportunities for rest.  Also, it's a great tool for teaching self-discipline, a skill which will serve a child well into adulthood.

    In general, a schedule/routine calms the chaos, mess and stress. Without it, I feel like I'm conducting the day always two steps behind. I'd much rather be proactive than reactive! When I am proactive and everything is accounted for, then I am able to relax more during family time with my husband and child. There's no lingering "to-do" list to distract me. If there's something I didn't get to today, then I know that that area is already planned and accounted for the next day. 

"The more I practice the schedule, the less it is a schedule ruled by the clock and the more it simply becomes a routine or rhythm in our home (p. 184)"
      Establishing a schedule/routines for the day is all about accounting for everything in the day and allotting appropriate time. In the end is a smoother day and happier home. 

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Menu Plan: Summer (July 27 - Aug 2)

**There is now a photo album on the RH Facebook page just for food photos. If you like to see a photo of a dish to judge whether you want to try it or not, then follow the link to view the album. (I tend to like recipes & cookbooks that include lots of photos). Let's be honest, some dishes are just too pretty to not take a picture! ;) **

  • I'm enjoying more leftovers for lunches nowadays. Some days I have a bit of extra time to cook a full meal for lunch. Other times, though, I'm more pressed for time and we end up doing breakfast for lunch at the last minute. (Plus, leftover lunches is also a great way to reduce expenses because I don't have to purchase as many meal ingredients).
  • Fridays has become pizza night in our home. But we're not talking the standard cheese and pepperoni pizzas. We try to find a new pizza recipe each week, and we've come up with some interesting ones over time! Last week we had caramelized onion and white bean pizza, and this week's selection will be black bean nacho pizza. It's fun to end the week with pizza (and it still be plenty nutritious!). 
  • There are some types of meals we include each week such as grill, sandwich, pasta, pizza, and brunch for lunch/dinner. I've noted these meals with [ ] in the menu plan below. I'm adding a new one- slow cooker/make ahead. It would be nice to have a meal ready to go on Sundays after church. The only problem is that I've not used my CrockPot for cooking meals. So, I need your help! What are your favorite slow-cooker or make-ahead meals?
  • We were given lots of bell peppers from a friend, so we have several meals involving bell peppers this week


*Note: I include links to the recipes if they are available online. Some recipes are from cookbooks we have at home, and while I can't share the recipe I can direct you to the source. Other dishes or meals are created by myself or my husband, and we can do our best to explain how to recreate it. If you'd like additional information on any of the meals or our menu planning, then please feel free to contact me. :) 

-cereal with fruit
-eggs, toast

-leftover pizza
-corn chowder (I use fresh corn & potatoes instead of cans)
-repeat sandwich
- repeat corn chowder
-breakfast for lunch: french toast, bacon, fruit

-Chicken quesadillas (chicken, bell pepper, monterrey jack cheese, salsa), tortilla chips & salsa
-pierogies with cabbage and sausage
-veggie plate: corn, black eye peas, cornbread, tomato, cucumber, squash
-stuffed bell pepper (using a variation of this recipe)

- fruit and peanut butter
- popcorn
- snack bars
- melon

Grocery Shopping
all purpose flour
monterray jack
cream cheese
tortilla chips
fettuccine pasta
heavy cream
sour cream
smoked sausage/ kielbasa
plum tomatoes
turkey sausage
avocado (for Tennyson)

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not affiliated with any of the sites or companies included in the links, and was not asked to include or recommend them or their recipes in this post. (I simply like what they have to offer!)

What's on your family's menu plan this week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 17

Making Your Home a Haven

     "Home." What sentiments does that arouse within you? Is it a place you delight in and eagerly anticipate returning to at times. Or, is it a place you detest and returning met with fierce resistance? The home has a powerful impact on one's life. I'm mindful of the kind of home my child will grow up in, and if it is/will be the kind of place that will bring joy to his life long after he is grown and moved out. 

     I want my child to think fondly of his home, and enjoy being here. I want my husband to find rest and joy at home upon his return at the end of the day. I also want friends to feel welcomed in our home. It's tempting to think that more pleasing decor or elements of entertainment would make the home a haven. However, even with all these elements in place a certain depth would remain missing. I could have all the decorative elements, utmost style and entertaining gadgets or toys in our home, but the space would remain empty without meaning presence of people. 

     That presence begins with me. Courtney says it perfectly when she says, "It is not the things we have or the things we do not have that make our homes a haven. It's you ... you are the key to making a home a haven" (pg. 173). My demeanor contributes significantly to the well-being of my home. As Courtney says, "When I am tense, the rest of the family is tense. When I am crabby, my family is crabby right back at me. I want to have a peaceful home, and I have learned that it starts with me (pg. 172). My attitude, energy and overall character will either build up or tear down our home.

      I'm not always mindful of this truth. Today was a prime example as it was one of those days which started two steps behind and then battled exhaustion, stress and meltdowns. My attitude, energy and overall character stunk, and consequently so did my home. Fortunately, this goal of a positive and pleasing presence within the home is always one that can be worked towards. Tomorrow is yet another opportunity to make my home a haven for my family and guests. 

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 16

Juggling Homemaking, Ministry, and Work

I was fortunate to grow up with a mostly stay-at-home mom. My mom stayed at home with my brother and I until I entered junior high. She then went back to work part-time, but it was flexible so it was something which could work around our family's schedule. When I went to college, she went back to work full-time as a nurse. Working outside the home was necessary as we got older and our household expenses increased, but my mom found a way to juggle both work and family. Likewise, my husband grew up with a mom who worked part-time, but worked as a nurse so it was only on the weekends. 

Going into marriage, our backgrounds have certainly impacted the decisions my husband and I are making now, in light of a future with children. We are currently buying a house on my husband's income only in light of my desire to be a mostly stay-at-home mom. I am also exploring ways I can supplement our household income while still putting our family first.

Each of us wears many hats in one day. Some days it seems as if our best efforts are never enough and we can't please anyone around us. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted all the time. However, I don't think God desires for us to live our lives overwhelmed and exhausted.

I am learning it is okay to say "no" sometimes in order to be available to say "yes" to the specific things God has called me to do. In order to know which things I am called to do, I must ensure I am making time for quiet times with God a daily priority.

I love this quote and graphic Courtney Joseph shared on Facebook:

Proverbs 31:

The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I don't know about you, but this list seems daunting and unable to attain. However, I underlined part of verse 30 which is my ultimate goal in becoming a godly woman. If I am to be a good wife to my husband (and all the other hats I wear in my life), I must seek to seek God's will first in my life. I must keep my eyes focused on who I am willing to please...God. He is watching me and notices all the little things I do for my family even when it seems like no one else does. 

How can knowing “who you work for” help you to obtain a godly attitude as you go about your tasks at home? Write out a two or three sentence mission statement that sums up for whom and why you tackle your work at home.

In Christ,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 15

Schools of Thought, Schools of Choice

      My husband and I both attended public school K-12. We can each reflect upon our experiences and acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of our education. We've discussed many times the options available to us when the time comes for our child(ren) to begin school. Currently, our decision is -- it depends. 

    There are many factors we'll consider in making the choice, but the ultimate goal is to provide the best fit for our child(ren) and family. I enjoyed how Courtney shared two beliefs in regard to schooling options: 1) it's a personal decision  and 2) it's not a permanent decision (pg. 151). These two beliefs hold true for my husband and I as well. 

     As we approach this topic, we are mindful that this is a polarizing issue (and we do have family members who very passionately support their preference of education). Courtney was entirely correct in saying that there are "extremely strong feelings about ... school choices that can make navigating this sometimes difficult decision even more difficult" (pg. 151). All I can say is this- "to each his own." We respect each family's decision for schooling just as we'd hope our decision would be respected. 

(I realize I just barely scratched the surface on this topic. If you're interested in learning more from our family's perspective, then please feel free to send me a private message via email)

    Using Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as a template, sketch out a job description of a mom who is commanded to diligently teach her children about the Lord. Then, spend a few minutes in prayer asking God to empower you to tackle the job to His glory!

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well - Chapter 14


I'm Gonna Blow My Top!

     I'm in constant pursuit of the kind of woman, wife and mama I want to be. A central characteristic to this goal is the desire to not be angry or temperamental. As a mama, I'm conscientious of how my words and demeanor towards my son will remain with him. Peggy O'Mara has said, "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." Yet, I'm realistic in knowing that as he grows and explores his independence there will probably come moments in which I will resonate with the title of this chapter and feel like "I'm going to blow my top!"

      Courtney provided an interesting bit of research. She reports that "Research has shown that when a parent raises his or her voice at a child, a defense mechanism kicks in that helps the child emotionally protect him- or herself by tuning out what you are actually saying" (pg. 142). It would seem that the greater emphasis given to words the greater the understanding. However, a child actually comes to lesser understanding. It's easy to see how a child who has received harsh words withdraws instead of gains wisdom. (If learning does occur it is the result of fear, which inhibits a healthy parent-child relationship). 

      She then provides wonderful counsel to maintaining gentleness in parenting. She writes, "We must control our tempers and intentionally smile more, hug more, slow down, listen, and take a deep breath. When we feel like screaming, whisper instead. Pray, Pray, and then pray some more" (pg. 144).She also suggests to meditate on the fruit of the spirit, but I think reading and meditating on all God's Word is vital to parenting. Proper parenting cannot rely on instinct (or reading parenting books) alone. It must be entirely dependent on God. I really enjoyed how she provides the reminder to pray continuously in the above quote. I'm learning more and more how valuable it is to turn the the Lord immediately in those moments of bitterness, anger and any other upset. I need that in my life, and my child needs to see that in me as well!

      Will moments in which I lose my temper occur during my parenting? Of course. (Especially when I'm exhausted or stressed- two significant triggers for me personally). The importance is not to excuse my behavior, but to learn from those mistakes and constantly strive for greater character. I must be intentional and proactive. I must also lean on the Lord at all times!

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Series: Women Living Well- Chapter 13

Motherhood Mess-Ups

    There was a time in my life in which I didn't allow myself to desire having children because I was too afraid of messing up and producing an adult who still struggled with his/her upbringing. Then, as time passed I grew more confident and secure in God, my marriage and myself. The desire for children became strong. Yet, even while pregnant with Tennyson I wondered if I could do this motherhood role. I still have many moments in which I mess up personally and as a wife. How would I be as a mother? This child will look to me for guidance and steadfast love, and those are two very weighty responsibilities. Fear. Fear of messing up in motherhood.. yeah, I've been there. 

      Fear can serve two purposes- hold us back or push us forward. I would like to think that my fear of messing up in motherhood motivates me to strive harder. When a day seems to progress two steps behind and he's fussy as a result, then the next day I work harder to be more disciplined at following our routine/schedule (which works wonders!). When I find myself wondering if we're getting enough play in the day, then I look up additional ideas for us for the next day. 

      Perhaps the greatest mess-up potential, though, is in regard to how I present myself. Children begin learning at a very early age how to respond to situations based on their parents' example (ie your stress or anger will likely coincide with a fussy baby). Courtney is absolutely correct when she says, "My children will only be as disciplined with their emotions as I am with mine." Am I emotionally calm or reactive? Does how I present myself convey steadfast love? An infant's developmental task is to establish trust, and an emotional roller coaster inhibits that progress. Fear can quickly take over, but because I recognize these things I'm, instead,  motivated each day to work towards self-control and presenting myself in an manner appropriate for guiding a child in life.  

      I'm learning more and more the necessity of depending on the Lord. I liked how Courtney discussed the importance of a prayer in one's mothering- prayer for oneself as a mama and one's child. She writes, "I love parenting books and have read many, but none of them can replace the prayer of a mother for her child (pg. 137). I also love parenting books, but these can only get me so far. I need faith most of all in my parenting. I enjoy our Mama & Tennyson walks each morning as they provide a wonderful opportunity for prayer.

Using Joshua 1:9 ("Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (BibleGateway)as a springboard, pen a prayer here begging God to help you in the midst of the mess that is often motherhood. Then, believe that He will do it. Believe that He is always with you every step of the way!

Follow link to download a copy of the series schedule

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of or the publishing companies (Thomas Nelson & HarperCollins Christian Publishing). No compensation has been received by either of these entities for the review of the book. All opinions are my own. 

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